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Thread: Drill Press--New vs. Old

  1. #1
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    Drill Press--New vs. Old

    I'm looking at new drill presses--nothing fancy, something in a 15-17" swing and speed adjustment via pulleys is fine. My current one has probably 3-3/4" travel which I don't think has ever been a problem and is 13" swing which has been a little too tight some times with my table and fence. I don't think I'd care for the laser because I envision the lines being too wide to be very precise base on my experience with laser levels. Good power is important because I'll use it about as much for metal as wood. The current one stalls out kind of easily.

    I looked at the Ridgid, Craftsman and Delta 17-950L tonight which are $330, $350, and $370 respectively. There is also an old arn 15" Buffalo and an old arn 15" Rockwell on Ebay relatively close and the possibility of buying a few year old Delta from a friend. I'd guess used would be in the $250 range by the time I buy it, drive to pick it up, and refurbish it in the case of the Buffalo.

    New ones are more refined but the old ones seem to be beefier (the Buffalo weighs 200lbs.) Old might have hidden problems but then again new quality isn't what it used to be. Any thoughts on the benefits of new vs. old? What features on the new ones would I wish I had on the old?

  2. #2
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    DPs are kind a nice to buy since there are so many viable choices, even from the discounters. Personally, I do think you should consider quill travel if you're going to buy a new machine...the more the merrier as it will sometimes allow you to reach over things and still be able to drill a decent depth hole. Also check that you like the stop system...there are several methods used. And since you're a metal worker, check for low speed choices...handy in WW for safe use of wing cutters, too.

    I own the 17" Jet and have been quite pleased with the tool. Maybe someday I"ll put a VFD-driven motor on it...
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Maybe someday I"ll put a VFD-driven motor on it...
    Funny you should mention that as that thought crossed my mind too. The motor would have to be oversized though to make up for the power lost to the VFD, but since small 3PH motors are dirt cheap it wouldn't be bad. And the original motor could be stored away safely or Ebay'd to offset the cost.

  4. #4
    Any good, older, industrial drill press that runs well, is smooth in adjustment, and has acceptable run out would be my choice. An Atlas, Rockwell, Powermatic, Walker Turner, would all be good. The only problem with the older DP's is that a lot of them have 3phase motors - which may not be a problem with VFD's getting cheaper all the time.

  5. #5
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    VFD's???????

    Gary K.

  6. #6
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    Variable Frequency Drive. It varies the input frequency on the power between 0 and the standard 60Hz to change the motor speed. And just as important for use at a residence, it allows running a 3 phase motor on single phase power with some power loss.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Wilson View Post
    Any good, older, industrial drill press that runs well, is smooth in adjustment, and has acceptable run out would be my choice. An Atlas, Rockwell, Powermatic, Walker Turner, would all be good. The only problem with the older DP's is that a lot of them have 3phase motors - which may not be a problem with VFD's getting cheaper all the time.
    Steve's got a good list going, I'd add the old Deltas to it also. The 3ph motor would be a plus in my book. Might even look for a 3ph machine, they usually go for a good deal less than single phase because of the 3ph motor Couple it with a VFD you'd have the best of both worlds, old iron and variable speed! Don't sweat the power loss from the VFD, you want to keep the step pulleys to compensate for the loss of torque, which is not as bad as some would lead you to believe.

    Mike

  8. #8
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    I think I read somewhere that Delta or some other manufacturer is coming out with a variable speed drill with digital read-out. No more changing the belts.
    Gary K.

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    Off Topic, Sorry

    Could you run a bandsaw with a VFD. Wouldn't that make it a metal cutting saw. As far as I can tell, variable speed is the only difference between a metal cutting bandsaw and a wood one.

    Matt

  10. #10
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    I have an old floor standing Shopmaster, and it's awesome. It had a foot switch that broke, so I got a new one from McMaster.

    Jacobs chuck needs a little attention, but other than that I'm still using the same belt in the same position.

    Bryan

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lentzner View Post
    Could you run a bandsaw with a VFD. Wouldn't that make it a metal cutting saw. As far as I can tell, variable speed is the only difference between a metal cutting bandsaw and a wood one.

    Matt
    Yes, as long as you put a 3-phase motor in it. I wouldn't want to cut metal with my wood bandsaw though. I've got one of the Harbor Freight 4x6 bandsaws and a plasma cutter for that. The metal chips would get embedded in the tires very quickly. In fact, the drill press is about the only tool where I mix wood and metal working--and I use an auxillary table for woodworking. Oh, and my belt/disc sander.

  12. #12
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    After having read some positive reviews and having heard some good things from folks, I purchased a Jet JDP-17MF about a week ago. The Jet is usually more expensive but MSRP has been dropped by Jet to 379 for the summer. I unfortunately have not had a chance to take mine out of its box yet, but I did get to play with one in the store, and it seems like a very solid machine. You might think about taking a look at it. It is sold by both Woodcraft and Rockler.

  13. #13
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    I'll cast a vote for getting an old drill press over a newer one. The beefiness is certainly noticeable in how smoothly it runs. Plus, there's something cool about old machinery that the new stuff just doesn't have -- a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will.

    Here's a Walker-Turner drill press I just got this weekend. If you want to read the whole saga, check out my story over on WoodCentral. It's a 15" drill press, with 4.25" spindle travel.



    As you can see, even the "hat" is made of cast iron. On today's drill presses, this would be sheet metal, aluminum, or maybe even plastic.

    There's not much that can go wrong on a drill press. In addition, the older machines were often really intended for production work, which explains their durability. There may be runout/alignment issues, but even today's drill presses often don't have adjustments for that. Bearings can go bad, but replacements can usually be found, although some old drill presses use bearings that may be hard to find. For the more common companies like Rockwell, parts are available, and may even still be in production.

  14. #14
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    Matt,
    I do quite a lot of metal working and have a couple of drill presses. One is a 30 year old Craftsman Commercial that does a fair job but has one of those shoe string belts. My second is an industrial drill press that takes a #3 Morris Taper, I have found this to be better for metal drilling and adding accessories. I use slug cutters in an adapter chuck and can cut up to 2 inch holes accurately. You can do so much more with a heavy duty industrial drill press. You have the range of travel and you can put a xy table on it. Another handy item is a crank up table so you can adjust the table height with out getting a hernia.
    David B

  15. #15
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    When comparing an old drill press to a new one, be sure to check on the safety aspects as well.

    New drill presses have self ejecting chuck keys, good belt guards and a rack and pinion table elevation mechanism.

    Old machinery can have it's good points, however you can purchase a drill press with worn bearings, pulleys, chuck, and a spindle with excessive runout for only slightly less than a new machine.

    That said, I like old machinery, and have a 1930 motorcycle with acetylene lighting in the garage to prove it.

    Regards, Rod.

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