Drill Press Runs Faster On A Treadmill Motor

Drill press modded with a treadmill motor, speed controller, lights, and a tachometer.

Are you tired of the same old video style from your favorite content creators? We can’t say that we were, exactly. But nevertheless, we appreciate this creative departure from [Eric Strebel]’s regular fare as he soups up his drill press with an old treadmill motor and a few extra features.

First off, that commentator in the video is right — 2.6 horsepower is a crazy amount for a drill press. Fortunately, [Eric] also added a variable speed controller and a digital tachometer to keep things in check. As an added bonus, he no longer has to get under the hood and mess with the belts.

We like what [Eric] brings to the drill press motor mod, which is already well-documented on YouTube. We love the re-use of an office chair bracket as a new motor mount. It’s probably our favorite bit aside from the 2-color forward/reverse switch plate idea: print it in whatever letter color you want with proud lettering, paint the whole thing black, and sand off the letters so the color shows. Check it out after the break.

There are many ways to make your own drill press, and one of the easiest is to mount a hand drill.

Did you miss the Industrial Design Hack Chat with [Eric]? It’s okay, you can read the transcript over on IO.

20 thoughts on “Drill Press Runs Faster On A Treadmill Motor

  1. “2.6 horsepower is a crazy amount for a drill press”

    That depends so much on other factors. At low speed, where I might WANT 2KW to hog out steel, the power is much less than 2KW. At higher speed where the full power is available, it is interesting to think what might happen to the bearings in this machine, but bearings are cheap and easy when toasted.

    2KW at 4000RPM, on that machine, would scare me.

    My large shop machine (personal, at home) is 1200W (1.5HP, approx), and does a good job turning a 40mm twist drill in steel, with sufficient pilot, and will do a good job with a 50mm or larger hole saw or rotabroach in steel, as well. In no way frightening, and the machine is designed for the forces. My shops largest one at work is 15HP (about 11KW), and underpowered for many jobs, so is run with reduction gears lower than desired, doing heavy steel and stainless sections. Our old machinist was rightfully frightened on the machine, and not much scared him (no gloves or shield shrinking pins with liquid N2, for example. Drop em in, pick em out with tongs, and drop em in the holes).

    At my prior shop, trepanned holes and finished seats on a drill press (1.2m column to spindle, weighed in at maybe 5T) with a 10HP motor. It would turn a 3″ twist drill through SA516-70 without a pilot hole. WW-I vintage awesomeness.

    1. You don’t want gloves with liquid nitrogen. Bare skin is protected by the leidenfrost effect, but gloves can interrupt that effect or get full of liquid nitrogrn, holding it against your skin until the leidenfrost effect goes away and it gives you frostbite. That’s not bravery, it’s common practice. In fact, you can safely plunge your hand into liquid nitrogen with no safety risk, so long as you remove it no more than a few seconds later.

      1. But you want gloves when dealing with the 2Kg steel pin just removed from liquid N2. Or handling the dewar.

        Also, no gloves is, at best, debatable when dealing with the liquid. Gloves are common practice in the facilities I have worked in, and required by safety plan. General requirement is loose fitting for fast removal, but required. See, for example: Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards form the National research Council (there’s gotta be a link, but I am looking at the print version)

        I’ll leave it at that.

  2. i’m not really sure why this is posted other than it is youtube clickbait. small shop guys with mini mills have been doing this for as long as i can remember. this is nothing new and been done countless times and also documented just as many. so please stop posting youtube clickbait.

      1. Neither had I. I’m not doing this to my 1HP drill press any time soon, I hadn’t really thought about the clothes racks/treadmills as a source for a reasonably powered motor and speed control.

        Ever since I saw this video a few days ago I’ve been wondering just how cheaply made a treadmill can be and still provide a useful, extractable motor and speed control. Because I don’t have enough salvaged stuff jammed into my garage already.

  3. I just came here to share something that happened the other day that yall might find funny.
    I used the term “standing proud” the other day in refference to a screw.
    The guy I was working with turned to me and asks in total deadpan “I dont get it, was that supposed to be a racist joke?”.
    It took me 20 minutes of explaining it to this guy for him to get it and I’m pretty sure he still thinks that he works with a nazi now or something.

  4. Those DC motors can be had for free – look for “treadmill” in the free section of craigslist. (There’s like 7 of them in my craigslist area as I type this.)

    Also, be sure to get the motor speed controller from a reputable source. The cheap Chinese ones on eBay *tend* to use smaller SCRs that will appear to work under light load and fry when used at full power.

    1. If a cheap Chinese controller simply fries in this application, you’ll be lucky. A potentially worse scenario for a shop machine is the typically-undersized triac (and inadequate heat sinking) overheating. A hot triac is apt to fail full-on with no warning, meaning the motor will run away. Ask me how I know…

    1. I’ve been wondering about this. I’ve saved a motor complete with belt and pulley from a Bosch machine for this purpose.

      They seem to have a huge speed range, able to turn a the drum at 30 to 1400rpm even through the reduction of the belt-drive. Looking at the spec of some for sale, the placarded power is in the range of 400-800W and they seem to have a max speed of over 12K rpm at the motor shaft.

      They’re available for about 25 GBP on eBay.

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