Drill Press Recommendations

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SOPiiAC
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Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:14 am

I'm going to be making some patchbays and modding some existing equipment in the near future. I have the need for drilling some precision holes. I'd love to get some recommendations for a drill press. I'm looking for something that's not too big, would be sturdy on the table but stowable when not in use. Of course it needs to be able to drill through metal.

Thanks for your insight! Cheers!

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Altitude909 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:41 pm

"drill press" and "precise hole" are two phrases I rarely use in the same sentence. IDK what your budget it is but if you want something reasonably precise, a small metal cutting desktop CNC mill would serve you much better

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by astrosound » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:50 pm

What does precision mean to you? 0.001" or 0.010" or more? Drill press is not gonna give you repeatable 0.001" accurate hole spacing but they are adequate for one off panels and such.

If you've got the space, bigger is better. The tiny desktop ones are fine for tiny holes but once you get past say 1/4" holes they shudder and rattle too easy. I miss having a big old floor standing Rockwell press around.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:41 pm

One off panels is what I'm after. Thanks for the tip on the size. 1/4" holes is the bulk of what I need to drill.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Flounderguts » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:58 pm

He's making patchbays, not aileron actuators.

DON'T buy a Harbor Freight or Kobalt drill press. They usually have a visible amount of runout, and can be a project in and of themselves.

Older Delta and Jet drill presses are pretty good. Generally, the bigger the casting around the quill, the better it's going to be.

Look at the Public Service Auction website for your state (publicsurplus.com) There are often good deals and nice postwar machinery for sale.

If you have a Dremel tool, there is a drillpress attachment that is actually pretty good, as long as you don't use a huge amount of pressure. I wouldn't drill hard steel with it, but aluminum or stainless is fine. A step drill bit generally leaves a rounder hole than jobber bits (in sheet and thin plate)

If you insist on a new, cheap benchtop jobbie, then the one from Baileigh isn't awful. The Rikon is better than most of the cheap junk, and the one on Amazon called WEN 4210 is supposed to be the easiest one to adjust and tune...it's also made almost completely of cast iron!
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:58 pm

Many thanks for the recs. I'll look into those.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:11 pm

If you're just doing panels a Chinese drill press will do you just fine (Harbor Freight, and so on). I built over five hundred stomp boxes as well as everything in my modular project with the same TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD "made in china" drill press that I bought at Harbor Freight. It is plenty accurate, a better chuck may not hurt though. I replaced the chuck with an economy "Jacobs" chuck after the original one took a shit. That same drill press was also what I had in my brick and mortar repair shop for fifteen years, and subjected to some ham fisted employees for those years as well.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by weasel79 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:37 pm

fwiw i recently bought the dremel drill press accessoire and it feel extremely wobbly. in my wood workshop i have this slightly better wabeco stand with a regular euro drill holder but i wouldn't reallly recommend it for somewhat precise frontplate work either tbh
https://www.wabeco-remscheid.de/bohrsta ... f1240.html

as others said, try to get an old used massive-as-possible proper drill press, something like this:
Image

of course, if you reallly only wanna do 2-3 panels, don't spend crazy money. dremel will get you there i guess. but if you're serious about it - rather buy quality once than trash twice.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Eloc » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:30 pm

To be honest, I bought a Roper Whitney no.XX metal punch with a couple of extra die sizes to cover almost any panel hardware. It cost me about £250-300 pounds, but I use only this and a centre punch to do all my panels, and I have a big old high quality floor standing pillar drill and I would choose the punch over it any day. You will be paying more than that to get a good drill press + drills + deburring tool anyway. You are limited by the throat depth of the punch (it's never been an issue for me with the no. XX model), but you get super clean burr free holes consistently.

Drill presses are obviously more versatile. So it all depends on what you're going to be doing to be honest.

Most importantly if you are using a drill press, buy high quality drill bits meant for the material you are using. I only buy Dormer drills. Don't skimp on the drills. Cheap ones will chatter (which is exacerbated by a cheap drill press with a sloppy quill), and you will get oversized misshaped holes and lots of burrs, and they will 'bite' especially when coming out of the bottom of the material.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by KSS » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:53 pm

I'm with Eloc. At least on the punch vs drill part. And definitely on the use good drill bits part!

A 20 dollar Harbor Freight whitney punch clone and a couple step drills will handle quite a few electronics panel jobs. The step drills may be used in a handheld electric drill -clamp your workpiece!, or will add greatly to the precision available using a cheap import drill press.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:05 pm

I had a Ryobi cheapo 10" drill press that I bought at Home Depot for $107 US, and used it for almost 10 years, and probably drilled 1,000,000 holes on it (mostly in PCBs). (I stood at that drill press for about an hour per day for ten years.) I also drilled panels, quite accurately, with it. The key to drilling accurate holes in panels is to pre-punch the hole with a guide divot, then drill a pilot divot with a smaller drill bit.

Ultimately, one of the belt pulleys broke (the slowest speed broke off) so I sold replaced it with a King Canada 10" model for which I paid about $160 CDN. It's a superior drill press, but the chuck that came with it wouldn't take the tiny #68 drill bits I mostly use for PCB work, so I swapped out the chuck with the old one that came with the Ryobi. I sold the Ryobi for $25 on Craigslist with the new chuck.

The moral of this story is that just about any cheap-ass drill press (less than $200) will be more than adequate to do what you want to do. The main thing is how you execute your drilling. If you use a centre-punch and drill pilot divots, then she'll be right.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:09 pm

Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:05 pm
... The moral of this story is that just about any cheap-ass drill press (less than $200) will be more than adequate to do what you want to do. The main thing is how you execute your drilling. If you use a centre-punch and drill guide divots, then she'll be right.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:40 pm

Oh wow, I didn't even know about punches like that. Another thing to consider, haha. Thanks!

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Mungo » Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:39 pm

Flounderguts wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:58 pm
If you insist on a new, cheap benchtop jobbie, then the one from Baileigh isn't awful. The Rikon is better than most of the cheap junk, and the one on Amazon called WEN 4210 is supposed to be the easiest one to adjust and tune...it's also made almost completely of cast iron!
The 4214 variable speed version is also worth considering. They can have some resonant speeds and the fully variable control helps avoid them.
SOPiiAC wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:40 pm
Oh wow, I didn't even know about punches like that. Another thing to consider, haha. Thanks!
Depending on your needs a punch can be a big improvement. Notched/D shaped panel holes for connectors, or rectangles are just as easy as round holes. If you're always using the same shaped hardware parts it will be faster and cleaner.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SlightlyNasty » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:09 pm

I just spent ages looking through local tool shops until I found the one affordable chinese press that was made entirely out of big chunks of real metal and had no discernable play or runout in the chuck. For me, big, dumb and heavy are the order of the day when it comes to drill presses.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by weasel79 » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:16 am

or, since is the diy forum, just make one

hint - further down the playlist he is building way more elaborate/heavy models than this thumbnail.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:59 am

I ended up picking up a Roper Whitney no.xx. Thanks for your help everyone!

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Graham Hinton » Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:59 am

Eloc wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:30 pm
Drill presses are obviously more versatile. So it all depends on what you're going to be doing to be honest.
Yes and it is no more stable that what it is mounted on, bolted to a concrete floor is best.

Look carefully and the table and chuck. A table with holes through (like pictured above) it is intended for woodworking, a metal drilling table has T-slots for bolting down the work and no holes so that you can drill with lubricants.

Look at how the chuck is fixed. A good chuck, such as Jacobs, has an arbor to adapt it to the machine, typically a Jacobs taper on the chuck and a Morse taper in the quill. The Jacobs taper is not intended to come out again, although it can be done with the right tools, and a Morse taper is so that the chuck may be changed. There are other methods on up market machines.
Most importantly if you are using a drill press, buy high quality drill bits meant for the material you are using. I only buy Dormer drills. Don't skimp on the drills.
Seconded and even Dormer drills vary. The modern ones made in Brazil are inferior to those made in Sheffield and ones I've had since I was a teenager and used for building work for years are better steel and can be resharpened whereas modern TiN ones are junk once the coating is worn.
SOPiiAC wrote:I ended up picking up a Roper Whitney no.xx.
I don't see any spec on that for maximum material thickness. It might just do 2mm aluminium, but 2.5 or 3mm will be difficult.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Eloc » Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:45 am

Graham Hinton wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:59 am
SOPiiAC wrote:I ended up picking up a Roper Whitney no.xx.
I don't see any spec on that for maximum material thickness. It might just do 2mm aluminium, but 2.5 or 3mm will be difficult.
It depends on the size of the punch used. I punch 2.5mm thick ali panels with 3/8" punch well enough. Just keep everything greased to minimise wear

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:08 am

The harbor freight drill press is way better than the other $60 drill press I got. If you are in the $60 range, get the harbor freight. I love those big drill presses but if you can't spend the money, you can still do something on a $60 machine. The difference is mostly in precision, run-out.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Graham Hinton » Sun Jun 21, 2020 3:04 pm

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 11:08 am
The difference is mostly in precision, run-out.
The reason that all drill presses look similar when you shop around is because they are. Made in China with a paint finish slapped on to make it any particular brand, maybe with the odd custom feature. You have to read the small print and between the lines though. Some brands rate their models as hobby/trade/professional and that gives a clue to the real difference--the motor. The cheap hobby rated ones won't stand up to heavy or continuous use and the motor will overheat or burn out if you try. You don't get what you don't pay for.

Another tip: if you want to cut larger panel holes for, e.g., MIDI or XLR sockets, try a Starrett TCT Stainless Steel hole saw instead of a step drill. Not the yellow bimetal ones these.
Use a slow speed and some cutting lubricant and a 6mm pilot hole.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by SOPiiAC » Sun Jun 21, 2020 4:39 pm

Knockout punches are great too if you need the same size holes frequently.

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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:30 pm

I have cut arcade switches with stepped bits on my consumer grade Kawasaki. I ignore manufacturer ratings for precision on a $60 machine. this is anecdotal but I have found the harbor freight to be more precise on the actual hole that was drilled on the machines I compared. both $60 machines. I thought the harbor freight must be horrible but in the end I was jealous. I can't say if I had a harbor freight if it would still keep going like the Kawasaki because the Kawasaki never broke after all these years. I used it for polishing and sanding sideways. all kinds of no no's. still going.
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Re: Drill Press Recommendations

Post by Dr. Sketch-n-Etch » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:37 pm

I have always had my 10" drill press on an IKEA white melamine rolling cabinet (the "Piecoshit") that we stored under the kitchen counter in our last house, but was going to go to the dump otherwise. It's great. I keep other tools and various crap in the cabinet part, and have the drill press on top. It's the perfect height for drilling (I don't have to bend over -- I've never been a big fan of bending over) and I can roll it around to wherever I need it (or wherever the light is best).
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