Likely Everything You Need To Know Before Adopting A Drill Press

Oh sure, the thought of owning a happy whirring drill press of your very own is exciting, but have you really thought about it? It’s a big responsibility to welcome any tool into the home, even seemingly simple ones like a drill press. Lubricants, spindle runout, chuck mounts, tramming, and more [Quinn Dunki], of no small fame, helps us understand what it needs for happy intergration into its new workshop.

[Quin] covers her own drill press adventure from the first moments it was borne into her garage from the back of a truck to its final installation. She chose one of the affordable models from Grizzly, a Washington based company that does minimal cursory quality control on import machinery before passing on the cost to the consumer.

The first step after inspection and unpacking was to remove all the mysterious lubricants and protectants from the mill and replace them with quality alternatives. After the press is set-up she covers some problems that may be experience and their workarounds. For example, the Morse taper on the chuck had a few rough spots resulting in an incomplete fit. The chuck would work itself loose during heavier drilling operations. She works through the discovery and repair of this defect.

Full of useful tips like tramming the drill press and recommended maintenance, this is one of the best guides on this workshop staple that we’ve read.


33 thoughts on “Likely Everything You Need To Know Before Adopting A Drill Press

  1. I’ve always gotten by with a drill press adapter from Black and Decker. Not perfect, but an intermediary step. You fit your B&D drill into it, maybe other drills work too. I’ve had it for forty years.

    I even splurged a few years ago, spent $3.00 t a garage sale on another drill, so I can leave it in the adapter.


  2. Yah, I’m taking heat for the GFCI, but I think the problem with inductive loads is overstated. Mine is working just fine. Easy to swap out if it starts tripping. I’ve run all my big tools through them with no problem though, and the peace of mind is nice.

    1. There will always be someone to give you heat over a choice you’ve made. I’ve had blog posts get published on big sites and there’s a glut of people telling me how I did it all wrong. Whatever… I did it, not you, and it works, so live with it LOL

    2. Really, people complain about using a GFCI? They’re mandatory here (AU) for all buildings, including both commercial and residential premises.

      People run whole factories with GFCI protection. It’s fine. It’s a hell of a lot safer when you chew through a power-cord or whatever.

        1. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve been an electrician in Australia, but there always used to be an exception for hard-wired devices that use big heater elements since they nearly always have some leakage. I vaguely remember covering that in my apprenticeship.

    3. Everything in our house is GFCI (Germany). One of these days I’ll get around to replacing one of the breakers with a more tolerant one: I have this 2000 W 220-110 V converter (a big-ass transformer) that blows it at least once a week from the inrush current.

  3. Personally I like to set the tramming without relying on a square, just another possibility for error. I clamp a piece of wire in the chuck (3.2mm welding rod in my case) bend it out so that it touches just inside the table’s edge without touching the pillar. By hand rotate the chuck. Bring the head and table together. Next adjust until it just,just touches everywhere. Done.

  4. She did a great wright up.
    Very good. Mind you a good electrician never uses those offset conectors at the end of the EMT to goto the boxes, He bends them. Only takes half a sec.
    Other then that little pet pev. It was great.
    Thank you.

    1. I agree. We need smaller tools that have greater accuracy for today’s work.

      I bought a metal cut off saw expecting something small enough to fit on the bench and when it arrived it was huge. It has a 14″ cutoff disk! So now I am considering making a cutoff saw that uses 4″ disks, from scratch.

      I have a drill press and it has the same problem. It’s not suited for what I want as it’s too large and the accuracy is poor.

      But if you have to consider a drill press then look at bench top units if you are stuck for space. I bolted my bench top drill press to the back of the heavy work bench and it is fine there.

        1. I don’t have enough of a need for a ‘cut off saw’ to warrant buying a band saw. I just want to cut small aluminium (aluminum) extrusion. The largest would be 50x50x3mm (2″x2″x1/8″) box section but I could do that with a hack saw or my existing cut off saw as there wont be much of that. The rest could be done with a 100mm (4″) disk.

          Were you cutting aluminium (aluminum). Perhaps what I need is just something to move a hacksaw back and forth.

          1. I put a bit of wax or paraffin on the stock before cutting an that stops the auminium (aluminum) binding to the abrasive disk but cutting still gets very hot. The linear velocity at the edge of a 14″ disk is huge.

            I was using a hacksaw and finishing with files and that gives good results but it takes a lot of effort and is time consuming.

            I might try a smaller *chipping* cutting disk instead of the abrasive. If all else fails then I will get a 14″ chipping disk for the cut off saw I have.

  5. One of the most important factors when selecting a drill press is throat depth; the distance from the drill chuck centre to the support post. It determines the size of the largest piece of stock you can work on.

  6. Obligatory community-editor pedanticism: There should be a period or exclamation mark before the first [name] tag; there are multiple spellings of “Quin[n]” in the name tags.

    Very informative. As someone who’s owned multiple shops full of tools for years, my advice is that of my father “dont buy a tool twice”. Read all you can to know about the machinery you’re buying, then go buy a quality item that will last as long as you need it to with no “mystery fluid” and poorly-machined parts. There are multiple good options out there. For instance I had a Jet standing drill press for 14 years that was a precision tool and even survived a full shop fire only needing new belts. We sold the press and it was still working as well as when we bought it.

    1. I like that advice but when you are only a hobbyist working on a hobbyist buget it is pretty tough to follow. I’m trying to go the route of filling a shop with affordable tools and then hopefully replacing them a piece at a time with good quality ones over the course of my lifetime. My goal is to never buy a tool 3 times!

      1. I’m with you on this. I buy budget-priced and if I find myself using it until it breaks/wears out then I spend the money on a higher-quality item. I’m not going to rush out and drop $500-600 on a Milwaukee or DeWalt miter saw when I can (and do) get by with a Ryobi that cost half that. Read reviews, both professional and consumer, and shop smart.

        Hand tools are the exception, though, I buy only the best there.

  7. Back when FGI’s were over $30 a pop I could understand why people would piggyback more outlets on one of them. It made a slim degree of sense. I say slim because the piggybacked outlets were not obviously on the GFI, which may lead people into a false sense of security.

    Now that you can get them inexpensively I would never ever piggy back them. Just use a GFI outlet everyplace you want to have a GFI. This is better in so many ways. First, there is no question that are are plugging into a GFI. Second, if you trip the GFI, the scope of what you take the power away from is limited to just that outlet. Not that outlet and whatever else happens to be strung on that circuit. And last, and this is a big one. If you trip the thing, it is (hopefully) right in front of you, and easy and obvious. When people daisy chain GFI outlets, god only knows where the actual GFI is. This can lead people to venturing to the breaker box and doing things like resetting every breaker and resetting every clock in the house and still not resetting the recalcitrant outlet. So much nicer to have the GFI right where you plug in. No question about where it is and it’s state.

    And the very very 100% worst option, IMHO are the GFI breakers. I tried very hard to talk a friend out of them in his new house. They were the most expensive so they had to be the best. I really tried to warn him. Now when his hair drier falls in the bathroom sink, rather than the outlet it is plugged into right in front of him having the GFI that pops, and resetting it is noting more than pushing the reset button, he gets to walk down two flights of stairs and across the basement to where the breaker box is located. Oh, and if you are drying your hair you are probably just out of the shower so you get to go down two flights of stairs and across the basement, wet and naked.

    My 2 cents is put the GFI’s one per outlet, where you need them. You can cause yourself and your family a lot of frustration otherwise.

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