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Decent Drill Press?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Decent Drill Press?
I figured some of you probably own one.

I'm tired of my hand drill and am thinking about investing in a drill press to make enclosure assembly easier. I want one that can sit on my workbench. I don't need anything fancy, but I don't want a hunk of shit. I want to spend less than $200 US. Is there anything decent in that range? Any models to stay away from?

I'm in the US, so I'm not interested in products that aren't available here.
unintentional states
I bought this cheap one from Harbor Freight for $55 about six months ago. d-drill-press-38119.html

I'm sure someone will tell you it's shit, but It does everything I need it to do and has made my life 1000x easier. `
I have one of these in the workshop: 42.html

Got it for $200 in store using one of those 20% off coupons that are in every newspaper/magazine.

It's overkill for what I need, but it has come in quite handy.
Yes, the Harbor Freight Drill Presses tend to be shit, but every once in awhile you'll get one that's great. Still, for the amount of use it'll get, they're probably not a bad route to go.

The trick with drill presses is that the cheap ones tend to be pretty wobbly, giving you slightly oval-ish or larger holes than you wanted.
My rule on harbor freight stuff is if it's a tool I use all the time, go somewhere better.. but if it's something I use infrequently, then Harbor freight is ok.

I have a floor standing drill press from there, but haven't used it yet...
You can get a decent table top drill press from Sears, Lowes, or Home Depot for about $125.
Yeah sears, $100, no brainer. Get a nice stepped drill bit and if you reall wanna get fancy, an x y locking slider table.
I have the Sears $100 one. Made many of guitar pedals with it.
Here's a tip: As far as cheap drill-presses go, I found that setting it to its slowest speed makes better, rounder holes in 3mm aluminum panels.
Don't skimp on drill bits though.. Avoid the black oxide coated bits in general unless you're drilling "whatever" holes in wood.
You don't need cobalt bits. (They're for high temps)
Look at the tip of the bit as it spins before using it.. Is it wobbling? Did you buy the cheap bits???
AVOID the "pilot" bits dewalt has out there. Get traditional angled tip bits.
A step bit is a good idea for thin sheetmetal.
For 1/8 aluminum I'd stick with traditional twist bits.
Get a fine scale, 6" ruler, a center punch and layout/mark your holes carefully.
Start with a small bit, drill a pilot hole. Then step it up to final size.
If you're drilling anodized or coated panels of some sort and dont want to mess up the finish on them, cover the panel with some low tack masking tape first.
If you're drilling alot of the same panels, maike a pattern panel and use it to mark the rest of the panels, it will save you lots of time and they'll all come out the same.
Get a fine scale, 6" ruler, a center punch and layout/mark your holes carefully.
Make sure you have good lighting right at the drillbit so you can locate the pilot right where its supposed to be.
Make sure your table is really set at 90 degrees to the bit. (dont trust the rivited or glued on protractor marks)
Get a fine scale, 6" ruler, a center punch and layout/mark your holes carefully.

I drill press all day
have fun!
I highly recommend the spring loaded center punches, instead of the traditional "hit it with a hammer" style.
tony d
It's been a long time since using a drill press and i have a 16"x7" panel i am getting ready to drill about 100 holes in. I assumed w/ a press that a center punch would be unnecessary if you got your bit lined up perfectly with your center mark.Are my assumptions wrong ? Is there still room for the bit to wander when using a press ?
The problem i'm having w/ my center punch is the panel is etched and the original image had crosshairs dictating the center marks so when i try to punch on the center mark the punch wants to move slightly to the side of the center point.If i start w/ an 1/8" bit and work my way up to the correct hole size would this be a work around to using a center punch ?
Any advice on the proper way to go about this would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone use the drill press that holds a Dremel? I have a Dremel and thought that might be a good thing for the very occasional DIY faceplate or pedal enclosure.
A "normal" drillbit will wander when you first touch it down. So using a center punch, or short, stubby center drill to get a mark right where you want it is the way to go. Even a sharpened nail and a tap with a hammer will get you a divot to guide the bit. No need for fanciness, but I would recommend something to get a center mark. Your drillbit doesn't see crosshairs. And yeah, start with a small bit (1/8 is fine) and then use the correct size bit to open it up to final diameter.

Starting with the center of the hole even a tiny bit off... no good. Visually it is magnified because you most likely have even rows of holes planned. 1/16 here, 1/16 there, pretty soon you have 1/8" variations. -There goes your $200 panel.

Dremel drill press would be ok for very occasional use, but really, a dremel spins too fast and at too low of torque for anything over 1/8 or so. It's great for drilling PCB's though.
What about the drill press things that hold a handheld drill, anyone used one?
In my experience with etched aluminum panels, an etched crosshair does a pretty good job of guiding the bit into the correct hole. I don't typically use a center punch if I've got etched crosshairs.
i looked into this sollution for a while

here in australia a dremel sollution is a lot more expensive than getting a low end drill press. the only instance in which i would look into getting a dremel is if i needed to cut square holes - and even then it looks pretty difficult to do well with a dremel. you could probably get some sort of milling bit for the drill press which would work better anyway.

also watch out if you ever are using powerful drill presses. it can get pretty dangerous with them if they catch on something - you can loose your fingers pretty easy. cheap low powered drill presses are great - they are a good investment as they suit all diy synth tasks pretty well.
Tony- Maybe you could get a small, sharp chisel and push it into the crosshairs to make a centered groove to guide your bit.

Does that make sense?
tony d
Thanks for all the info guys. I actually did go and pick up a spring loaded punch and that is much easier to get sitting exactly centered. Think i was having issues trying to hold the punch and balance it on the little nub left in the middle of the cross hairs and the hammer in the other.
Reopening this issue -- gonna go get a drill-press. Decided not to use the dremel one. I'll just use the dremel for clean-up.
But is there some way to clamp panels for drilling? Or is it even necessary? My first project will be putting six small holes in a row in a 4hp Euro panel for a Rotating Clock Divider breakout. I worry about having to grasp this tiny panel as the drill is guided down...

Edit: I see now that there are various clamps and stuff for drill presses available. Maybe the questions should be what's a good "starter kit" for projects that would include Euro panels as described as well as stomp box enclosure top and sides?
for drilling small holes in aluminum euro panels I don't think you'd ned a clamp... Although it definitely makes it a nicer process. But it makes it take 3 times as long. Get a 6" screw clamp from HD, make sure to use a piece of wood to back up your panel and when you clamp the work down, put something under the clamp foot so you don't mar/dent the panel. Also, don't squeeze the hell out of the work, you'll dent the panel.

So.. get your drill press and:

-a foot of poplar as your back up board, I'd cut it to match the size/shape of your presses work table.

-decent drill bits, NOT the pilot point Dewalt ones.. NOT the cheapest black oxide ones either.

-6" or so capacity clamp to hold things down.. (I like the wooden hand screw clamps, because they are the most versatile.. but they take a few minutes of figuring out)

-Scrap aluminum or just buy a piece for practicing on. You'll use it for a project eventually.

-Safety glasses.

remember, no loose clothing/ties/sleeves/strings/jewelery when operating the drill press!!!

have fun
I agree...clamps and whatnot just make things take longer.
Thanks fellas.

I have a NEVER used Sears Craftsman drill press I bought for this about 10 years ago for exactly this. Anyone in the Seattle area want a deal on it?
You can get a pretty cheap vise made for drill presses that have grooves in the jaws for holding pipes. Those grooves are perfect for holding small panels while drilling. The vices are made with holes to bolt them to the slots in a drill press bed, but I never do that. Just the weight of the vise is enough to make it easy to hold while drilling.

For larger panels I just hold onto them, but be careful not to hold it in a way that if it spins it will chop your finger off. I just press down onto the top of larger panels with my hand. Not hold it by the edges. That way if it spins, nothing gets chopped off.
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