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Thread: Help buying my first drill press

  1. #1

    Help buying my first drill press

    Another rookie here looking for help with my first Drill Press purchase. Who knew there were so many things to consider when buying a drill press? I mean, it seems like a simple enough machine. A motor that spins a bit that drills a hole. How tough can it be? Right!? Well, the more I look the more I learn and the more confusing it gets so Iíd appreciate any input on what to look for, what to stay away from, what features are worth paying for and which are not, etcÖ As for a budget, I donít have any money ! but I can probably find $400+ for this. Is that unreasonable?

  2. #2
    Don,
    I have had a 50 dollar atlas benchtop drill press that worked well all these years. a couple of years ago my wife bought me a new powermatic. The only thing i didnt like about the old one was it did not have a crank to raise and lower the table which was a big pain. I would recommend that you hold out for one with a crank.
    Stevo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
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    Leeds Point, NJ
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    11
    Second the crank advice. I have a benchtop Ryboi that is years old at this point and has no table height crank and it's a PITA (It was supposed to have one but I think it was missing a part and at the time I had no clue it was important!) The DP is mostly fine otherwise, if a bit wimpy and it is a bit small. I think the modern ones have a working crank and run for less than $200.

    Once I can rationalize it I'll swing for a Nova Voyager, but that's quite a bit beyond your budget.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    56,218
    DPs are not complicated tools. Aside from the crank comment, there are two parameters that revolve around "size"...throat depth which is the distance from the center of the quill to the post and the the depth it can drill. Given your budget, keep your eye out for a used DP that's both a floor model and is in that common 16-18" throat capacity. The drilling depth will likely be in the 4.5" range for a machine like that. Don't worry about the metal working style table they all tend to have...most woodworkers make or buy a larger, rectangular table more suitable to woodworking and fasten them on top of the metal table. Try not to buy a "first" DP...try to buy a DP that will work for you over the longer haul unless you get in the position of being able to get something much higher end, such as the NOVA.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
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    I bought my first drill press almost 10 years ago. Over the years I have upgraded a few of my machines, but the drill press is still the same ol drill press that I bought years ago from home depot for $199. its a very basic drill press, it drills a hole and you can change speed by changing the belt.

    Depending on if you use it very often or change speed very often, some people go for the Nova Viking.

  6. #6
    Do you have any specific projects planned? You might be fine with a lower end and or used DP if youíre trying to keep the cost down. Mine was purchased from Harbor Freight about 10 years ago specifically to hog out 3Ē diameter holes in some reclaimed wood. Cost was a consideration, precision was not. I still have that ($200?) DP and still use it mostly with large and small forester bits and donít notice any play. It also works fine when I just need to drill a few 90 degree holes for shelving or whatever. A better DP might be necessary for other projects which is why I asked about your planned use.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Lee View Post
    I bought my first drill press almost 10 years ago. Over the years I have upgraded a few of my machines, but the drill press is still the same ol drill press that I bought years ago from home depot for $199. its a very basic drill press, it drills a hole and you can change speed by changing the belt.
    I did the same as Albert and bought a RIDGID from Home Depot. I've had it several years and it does everything I ask of it. The drilling depth and throat depth are basic and reasonable. Manual speed changes are not difficult. Mine has a light and that is very helpful. Are there bigger, more capable machines around? Sure there are. But if you are on a budget, the RIDGID machine is likely to meet most "average user" needs. Today's model is "RIDGID 15 in. Drill Press with LED" and it sells for $399.

    Or, you could also wait around for a used drill press and either get more throat depth, drill depth, features, or maybe save some money. For me, it wasnt worth the time - a DP is a very basic machine. But YMMV.

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Lee View Post
    I bought my first drill press almost 10 years ago. Over the years I have upgraded a few of my machines, but the drill press is still the same ol drill press that I bought years ago from home depot for $199. its a very basic drill press, it drills a hole and you can change speed by changing the belt.

    Depending on if you use it very often or change speed very often, some people go for the Nova Viking.
    I donít know exactly what the OP has planned, but he might ask the question, Do I need a drill press at all? I went for many years without one, and I donít think it made any difference to my work. I can drill a straight hole with a hand-held drill.

    I have the floor-standing Nova now, partly because I got a super good deal on it back in 2019. The hazard of owning such a machine is that you want to drill holes in everything you make, and your projects end up looking like Swiss cheese. You donít want that. I think Iíve been good at controlling it so far.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
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    431
    I'd check craigslist in your area. I just checked my area and found a nice old Sears Craftsman benchtop for $50. There are others than go up to $500 for a large floor standing model. I'd buy something cheap and stupid and give it a try. If you use it a lot, you'll understand what features you need and can buy something better on round two, selling the first one on craigslist.
    Regards,

    Tom

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Seattle
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    469
    I inherited a '70's vintage Craftsman DP(twenty yrs ago) and use it all the time-great machine.. Went shopping for a DP with newer features--digital speed control, +++quill travel, and table lift crank--but couldn't justify the cost for the gain. If budget conscious a good used DP is a good bet. I would check for quill runout, good bearings, and ease of speed/belt change. Good luck shopping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    5,601
    Location? With that budget I would buy a older heavy USA made three phase model. Then run it with a vfd and get variable speed, power brakes and instant reverse. Any DP made with a factory 3 phase motor is probably much better then anything sold today under $750 new. It is easy to and cheap replace the bearings on a DP. There are only four bearings.
    Bill D.
    PS: Do not buy a 15" walker turner DP, it uses custom bearings that can not be sourced today.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    One not-so-common feature I could not live without is a quill lock. I love my older Craftsman, just added a table and a table crank using an old trailer jack. Just two pulleys and a thin belt that has lasted for years doing light production work.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Ole Anderson; 01-14-2021 at 11:29 AM.
    NOW you tell me...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Western Nebraska
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    I did the same as Albert and bought a RIDGID from Home Depot. I've had it several years and it does everything I ask of it. The drilling depth and throat depth are basic and reasonable. Manual speed changes are not difficult. Mine has a light and that is very helpful. Are there bigger, more capable machines around? Sure there are. But if you are on a budget, the RIDGID machine is likely to meet most "average user" needs. Today's model is "RIDGID 15 in. Drill Press with LED" and it sells for $399.

    Or, you could also wait around for a used drill press and either get more throat depth, drill depth, features, or maybe save some money. For me, it wasnt worth the time - a DP is a very basic machine. But YMMV.

    Fred
    I have that same same machine and it has been a good one for my shop. I like the depth stop too.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    A drill press was my very first stationary power tool. Almost 40 years ago, I got a 17Ē craftsman floor standing machine. Other than swapping out the motor for a variable speed one, that thing has been rock solid. I did get rid of the depth stop and replace it with a piece of 1/2-20 all thread and a Morton Quill stop. I use that all the time.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    I suggest you go to Lowes and Home Depot. Either can help you.

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