The drill press was designed originally for the metalworking trades. However, with the availability of cutting tools, jigs and attachments, the drill press is now one of the most versatile tools in the shop. It not only drills into metal, but also bores into wood and performs other woodworking operations such as mortising and sanding. In fact, after the table saw, the drill press is easily the second most important piece of equipment in the average home workshop.
Construction and Sizes
The conventional drill press consists of these main parts: the base, column, table and head. The base supports the machine. Usually, it has pre-drilled holes for fastening the drill press to the floor or to a stand or bench. The column, generally made of steel, holds the table and head and is fastened to the base. Actually, the length of this hollow column determines whether the drill press is a bench model or a floor model. Floor models range in height from 66 to 75 in.; bench models range from 23 to 48 inches.
The table is clamped to the column and can be moved to any point between the head and the base. The table may have slots in it to aid in clamping holding fixtures or workpieces. It usually also has a central hole through it. Some tables can be tilted to any angle, right or left, while other models have a fixed position only. An auxiliary table made of plywood or particleboard, which can be readily fastened to the regular drill press table, is available on some models, or it can be custom made in the shop.
The term head is used to designate the entire working mechanism attached to the upper part of the column. The essential part of the head is the spindle. This revolves in a vertical position and is housed in bearings at either end of a movable sleeve, called the quill. The quill, and hence the spindle which it carries, is moved downward by means of a simple rack-and-pinion gearing, worked by the feed lever. When the feed handle is released, the quill is returned to its normal up position by means of a spring. Adjustments are provided for locking the quill and presetting the depth to which the quill can travel. Incidentally, the quill usually has a stroke or travel of from 2 to 3-1/4 in. in most home workshop models.
The typical drill press has a 1/2 in. capacity geared chuck with a key. This chuck offers the best grip for most work. Most drill press accessories fit directly into the geared chuck.
The spindle usually is driven by a stepped-cone pulley or pulleys connected by a V-belt to a similar pulley on the motor. The motor usually is bolted to a plate on the head casting in the rear of the column. The average range of speeds is from 250 to about 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). Because the motor shaft stands vertically, a sealed ball-bearing motor should be used as a power unit. For average work, a 1/4 or 3/4 horsepower motor meets most needs.
The capacity or size of the drill press is determined by the distance from the center of the chuck to the front of the column. This distance is expressed as a diameter. For example, a 16-1/2 in. drill press will drill a hole through the center of a round piece of stock that is 16-1/2 in. in diameter. The actual distance from the center of the chuck to the front of the column is 8-1/4 inches. Conventional drill press sizes for home workshops generally range from 8 to 17 inches.
The drill press is one of the most versatile of power tools, it is essential that it should have the qualities and operating features that permit it to be utilized fully. Listed are a number of features to look for when buying a drill press for the home workshop:
Part II - Bit and Drills
Part III- Drill Press Accessories and Drill Press Tables
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