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Thread: Drill Press: Geared table, or use a counter-weight?

  1. #1

    Drill Press: Geared table, or use a counter-weight?

    Yep, I've got DP's on my mind this week.

    I have never actually used a drill press, ever, except for my little Dremel DP. (Which is surprisingly useful, in an incredibly limited way)
    So I have no idea about the ergonomics of the thing.

    I'll be buying something used, and floor-standing of course. I know that crank-tables are found on all modern DP's, and that most folks prefer them, especially when using large w-working tables.

    However, I'm thinking those could also be kind of slow, if you need to make a large change. (Unless I'm missing something.)

    And now I've seen videos of some very nice counter-weight systems, which folks have rigged onto their "plain pole" DP's.
    This kind of thing:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwr5mzClsWA

    This doesn't seem hard to do, nor expensive at all, and it actually strikes me as probably a much more convenient method of adjustment. Even if a geared table had some kind of quick-release (do they?) a well-constructed counter weight seems easier to deal with, at least to me sitting here at my computer, not actually drilling any holes.
    - Begging the question: "Why are they not made that way today, from the factory?"

    There must be a "gotcha" or else they WOULD be made that way today.
    So... which way do you think is better, or does it not even matter all that much?
    Last edited by Allan Speers; 05-11-2019 at 6:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Thats interesting, first I have heard of counterweighting. I found an old socket that fit the crank of my drill press (after removing the crank of course), drilled a hole in the socket for a set screw and just use a ratchet to crank it up and down. Just leave the socket on the press. Works surprisingly well.

  3. #3
    I have rarely ever needed to move my DP table more than a few inches up or down and usually only precisely enough to have the quill clear the work piece so the crank gives a degree of fine control. My biggest issue is my over-sized custom table has to be moved back from the column to turn the crank so I've considered changing it for a hand wheel. I saw a video of a mod where someone motorized theirs and that would be ideal so I also might consider doing that some day, but among shop projects, modifying my DP is way low on the list. It's certainly an area that manufacturers have ignored in DP marketing features.

  4. #4
    Left hand. If you think that some form of assistance is needed when cranking up the DP table, place your left hand under the front edge of the table and lift slightly when cranking. It's really not worth the trouble to modify that part of the DP.
    On the other hand (seriously), I have two small mods to my DP technique which are useful.
    I have a small sacrificial table that has a footprint about the size of two bricks and about 2 inches tall. Keeps me from having to replace inserts on the table to keep the top pristine. It's normally not clamped in place, so I don't have to worry about drilling a hole in the same spot always. You can have a few bases of different heights if you don't want to crank the table to accommodate different workpiece thicknesses. You can also clamp small work to it if you want to keep your hands away.

    The other mod is a cable looped around the pinion (where the handles for lowering the quill attach) to assist in lowering the quill and occasionally maintaining it in the lowered position while adjusting the workpiece. It is foot operated and the cable is threaded through a pulley attached to the motor mount.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    A crank handle is not that bad. Use an old one without any kind of lift on the table, and you will think it's a luxury.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    A crank handle is not that bad. Use an old one without any kind of lift on the table, and you will think it's a luxury.
    After over twenty years without anything to help, I finally came up with this, a crank from a trailer jack. https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ack&highlight=
    NOW you tell me...

  7. #7
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    I used that same setup on one of my old 1150's, and then found a raising mechanism off ebay, off of some other type of drill press that had the right sized shaft, and now I don't even have to bend over.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2005
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    First off, if you have decent quill travel (5-6Ē) you likely will rarely need to change the height of the table. I have a PM1150 and added a trailer jack to the bottom to move the table up and down. Not the most graceful, but it works. The counterweight is much cleaner but the trailer jack is a quick project and works. Iíd prefer a geared table like I had on my old Címan. Simple and works.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    My DP has 6" of quill travel and I rarely move the table.

    I have often thought of installing a linear actuator to move it. I do not need it but would be fun to do.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    I have a floor standing drill press into which I installed a counter-weight some 15 or more years ago. The crank was removed as the custom made table was in the way, cramping its use. While the combination has worked over this time, I really wish it had the facility to crank as well - of course I lost the parts a long time ago ...

    The issue with an entirely counter-weight system is that all mating metal parts must remain clean and, ideally, be lubricated to run smoothly as seen in the videos. Yeah right, as if dust never happens and I have the time to polish metal .....

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Like Larry, I have a limited travel quill - 3 1/2" - 4" and seldom move the table. I do sometimes use one or more pieces of plywood to raise the work piece if necessary. My DP is a bench top and I did buy a cheap hydraulic jack that works to raise the table on the rare occasion I want to do that.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    I've made a drill bit cabinet that lowers down with a internally springed window counterweight instead of using a solid weight. Seems simpler.
    If you drive at the speed of light, do your headlights work? - Steven Wright

    If a man points at the moon, an idiot will look at the finger.

  13. #13
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    Mar 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    After over twenty years without anything to help, I finally came up with this, a crank from a trailer jack. https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ack&highlight=
    +1 I also have modified a trailer crank, mounted upside down to the column, works great. I have expanded my table size significantly so its much heavier than normal, so the trailer crank or something is needed to help move it up and down. Also my old Delta drill press had no geared mechanism to raise or lower the table like some. Randy
    Last edited by Randall J Cox; 05-12-2019 at 11:27 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Greeley, CO
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    For 30 years I had a benchtop Craftsman 150 without a rack&pinion lift and never liked moving the table vertically. I finally popped for a used Jet 16.5" with rack&pinion lift and couldn't be happier esp as I approach the start of my sixth decade. These days I wouldn't consider buying a drill press without r&p lift, too easy to find one with it.

  15. #15
    In 20+ years, I've never seen a counterweighted drill press table that wasn't a bear to adjust. Im sure it can be done, I've just never worked on one. Most DP tables just don't have smooth enough travel. I always ended up wiggling and twisting to get them to move

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