Jump to content

Accurate Drill Press


Recommended Posts

Hey guys/gals, I have been farting around with my first few folders and have finally realized how poor my drill press really is. I am looking for a press that will drill an accurate hole more than once.

I don't have the cash to spend on a mill or I would already have one, does anyone have one they can recommend for folder work? something under $500 would be great.

Thanks, Steve in NS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You would be surprised at how many top folder makers use $100 mini drill presses, the trick is to set up the table and hold it there. Screw jacks are made for this purpose. If the bearings are good and the table is square you can do good work.




I use one of the small mill/drills that are coming out of India for much of my accurate drilling, but you still have to set it up. Maybe one of our machinists could give a short tutorial on setting up a drill, that would be greatly appreciated.

Don Fogg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The current batch of drill presses Sears/Craftsman is selling are pretty good. They have a 12 inch benchtop for $190 that I think is well worth the money. ( made in China but pretty good quality)


IF you go for a cheap import one from China and India, you need to check the quill carefully before you buy. In the last couple of years some of the copy-cat stuff is just absolutely shitty beyond all hope of usefullness. Run the quill down and check it physically for side-to-side play, at full extension there should be very little, barely noticable. While it's down, look at the slot in the quill that lines up with the adjustment screw, this is the spot that shows wether it was actually made by somebody who gave a shit or if it's just more Chinese crap. It should be milled smooth and clean... if it's rough and nasty looking, don't buy it, there will be nothing you can do to make it tight and accurate.


Watch for cosmoline too. The better companies don't fill all thier stuff with cosmoline, it's just oiled, and when they ship it it's boxed and bagged properly, individually, for the boat ride. IF the one you look at has gooey gunky amber cosmoline stuck in all the cracks and crevices, and sometimes all over, it's one of the generic copy-cat outfits, they just bolt them all down to a pallet, hose em with grease, and send them on thier way.


Stay away from Delta consumer-grade drills, bandsaws, and stuff, they went low buck last year and the quality went in the toilet.


grizzly sells all import stuff but usually thier stuff is pretty decent, you might wanna take a look at what they have also.


Beware of HArbour Freight, most of thier stuff is unworkable if accuracy is needed.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

This company sends me a catalog once a month, for which, I routinely cuss them with a check. Okay you've all been warned then.


This is one of the nicest drill presses I've used. 199.00 and variable speed with digital depth control. Very accurate from out of the box. There are a ton of accessories available, but I warned you about the catalog, didn't I?



There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My drills are all ex-industry machines. They've worked hard for sixty years before I bought them and will be working long after I'm dead. You'll find them on eBay for less than the price of a new Chinese machine.

Edited by Bob Geldart
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Drills are terrible for creating a round hole. They can create relatively accurately places holes if used correctly. Size can vary using the same drill bit based on variables.


There are some ideas from the machine tool world that helps here.


Make sure the drill is sharp. We had to learn to sharpen by hand, and I still do that for larger bits. Get a drill doctor otherwise.


The drill needs to be run at the correct speed. Running a drill bit too fast or too slow will shorten it's life span and not cut properly. The slowest speed on your drill press is not necessarily the best one. Let's say that you're planning on drilling a hole to thread with 1-72. To calculate rpm's, you use this formula: (4 X cutting speed of material)/diameter of cutter. So, let's say that it's stainless and you're using a regular hss drill bit. Here's how it plays out, (4 X 40)/.0595. The cutting speed comes from the machinist handbook normally, this time it's just from memory. This works out to almost 2700 rpm's. That's a far cry from the slowest speed on the drill press. Now I understand that not all drill presses have that many speeds, this is often used for programming CNC machines. It gives a ballpark though.


After the speed is taken care of, make sure that the setup is rigid. The spindle and clamping setups have already been mentioned, but are really important, so I'll mention it again. Make sure everything is as solid as possible.


Next, spot drill the hole. It doesn't need to be much, just a little dimple so that the regular drill bit doesn't wander as much.


Now if I want a fairly nice hole, or I need the location relatively precise, I'll use a process called drill reaming. This is not the same as reaming (I'll get to that shortly). Using the same example of drilling a hole with a #53 drill bit (0.0595), I'll spot it, drill it undersize (say with a 3/64 or something) and then drill it to size with the #53. The tip of the drill bit wanders and this removes that as a variable.


A quick side note, a drill that measures 0.0595 will not drill a hole that is 0.0595. It will be bigger. Even if it's just a few ten thousandths of an inch, it will be bigger. Otherwise you'd end up with a press fit and you'd lose all your drill bits at the first use.


Reaming is a good way to get a clean, round hole, but does nothing to guarantee location. A reamer is long so that it follows the hole. If the hole is off, it will be after it's reamed as well, but it will be rounder and cleaner.


Make sure that the the cutter is lubricated at every step. Your tools will last longer and cut better.


When drilling the hole, either stop downward pressure or back the bit up a little bit every so often. We've all drilled holes where the big coil of material is whipping around. By stopping momentarily, it breaks the chip off and get's it out of the hole. When I was doing CNC programming, I used half of the diameter of the drill as a guideline for what depth to break that chip.


We spent quite a lot of time in tech school on holes. I'll check to see if I still have my cheat sheet that I was given on the art and science of holes.


Mike, that drill press looks pretty nice. I'll have to look around that website. Oh yeah, my check book just starting cussing in your direction. ;)



Edited by polarbearforge

Jamie Boley

Polar Bear Forge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jamie's give a good second lesson holes for folders and it's very good advice. Drill undersize and ream to precise dimensions.


Hey, I warned you about that catalog...not my fault if you get sucked in...

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a good lookin drill press for folders Mike.


I use the smallest Jet drill press and it's been a good one for 12 years or so, made many folders with it. I also have a larger Shop Fox from Grizzly that has been very good.


The best thing I did for my press and folder making was true up the table like Don said and I got a keyless chuck from Enco, it is the German made one and high quality. The chucks on these import machines are junk, a good chuck makes a world of difference.

Don Hanson lll My Webpage

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the help guys.

That press looks really nice! I might have to try ordering one.


I'm using a cheapie $100 press right now, the chuck does suck and the way the table is set up it's one nut holding it, problem is when I tighten up the nut after I get it close to square it moves every single time.

I find it really hard to get it truely square and when I think I have it about right it moves on me, talk about pull your hair out...

I have a small 4" vise on the table and trying to get it squared off with the vise is a nightmare.


I have been using a reamer for my pivot holes which has helped clean it up and the pivot has 0 play.


the jack idea sounds like a good one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I agree with everyone........ I use I cheap delta. here is how I leaveled the table....... and I changed to a keyless chuck also........ an X_Y table helps but you can drill a couple holes and tap them in the table so that your blade is held down and once you drill the pilot hole all the other drilling and reaming is "in Line" ....

I also use a lap to fine tune the reamed hole.

hope the photos help explain better .



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...