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Drill press - drills don't clamp in exactly straight


I have a brand new drill press which I actually bought before
Christmas but only just opened and assembled on the weekend. It seems
pretty good except for the fact that the drill wobbles around
everywhere… I figure the drills don’t clamp in exactly straight. I
was going to buy a new chuck anyway - I want to get a keyless chuck
for ease of use (and no having to hunt for the key after other people
use it). Is it likely that a better (more expensive) chuck will fix
that problem? In case you need to know it is a Ryobi drill - one of
the fairly small ones.

Also, is there a recommended speed to set the drill at that will
suit all of copper, brass and sterling silver. If I need to drill
timber and steel at other times should I change speeds?

RR Jackson


RR Jackson.

I don’t know what brand drill press that you are using, though from
your words you are using a Ryobi drill.

My personal suggestion buy yourself a foredom flexshaft and a
foredom drill press.

You don’t have to get an expensive model, the cheapest will do fine.
don’t bother with quick change or a keyless model, then you are
restricted to 3/32" shanks. Twist drills are much less expensive. (I
do have a wonderful quick change handpiece that I use for setting
and things were I am changing bits very frequently) I use my handpiece
on metal, wood, ivory, bone, well, just about anything I
can…drill, carve, polish. I use the drill press to drill holes
usually less than 1mm in diameter in metal, which will break any
drill if it’s not straight. With the foredom handpiece, the drill is
entirely straight, or wobbles, and you can certainly tell the
difference. I can drill lots of little holes (in metal) before
eventually breaking or dulling the drill. The foredom handpiece is
variable speed that is controlled by a foot pedal.

I couldn’t imagine working with a different handpiece. Startup costs
for the Foredom handpiece with foot pedal and motor about $200.00
(additional quick change handpiece, I use a quick change "tecknique"
from switzerland…about $200.00) Foredom drill press that fits most
foredom chuck key models about $150.00. You can also buy additional
chuck keys with large handles on them from most suppliers for about
$10.00…makes them a little harder to loose.

just my two cents…hope it helps.

-julia potts
julia potts studios



If you have a new drill press and the bit wobbles, return it if you
can, it should not do that. Not only may the chuck be off, but the
shaft could be damaged in which case a new chuck would not help.

As far as drill speeds, they are selected primarily by the size of
the bit, the smaller the bit, the faster you can go. On my drill
press, if I use a 1 mm bit for drilling stone, I run it at about 2500
or 4000, using a 3/4 inch bit in wood or steel, I set the speed at
300 to 600 depending on the hardness of the material. Just remember
that if your bit gets real hot, then you are turning to fast or
feeding to fast and nothing will kill a bit quicker than heat. By
heat, I mean something in the 300 F and above range.


I have a brand new drill press which I actually bought before
Christmas but only just opened and assembled on the weekend. It
seems pretty good except for the fact that the drill wobbles
around everywhere... 

A drill or drill press that doesn’t spin true is an ugly paperweight.
You should not have to buy a new chuck (though you can probably tell
whether this will sove the problem by examining the part that holds
the chuck as it spins. If it looks “fuzzy”, it is not spinning true
either.) This should be Ryobi’s headache, not yours. Contact Ryobi or
the seller about exchanging it!



A master machinist once told me that I should wiggle the drill bit
while closing the chuck. I thought he was crazy until I managed to
clamp a bit with only two of the three jaws to make for a very wobbly

TIR, a specification that you will find on the very best of drill
presses. It is the run out of the spindle. A smaller TIR will mean
less wobble in the spindle. You will notice this when you drill with
a bit that is 0.010" but not so much with one that is 0.250".

A center punch has helped me hold down a wobbly drill bit when using
drill presses with bad spindles (a.k.a. the paperweight). It puts a
ding in the work piece.

Jeff Simkins
Cincinnati, OH


50 years experience with drill presses and the like at yr service

First thing - I recommend strongly against keyless chucks. Unless
you are willing to consistently exert extreme two-handed torque to
the chuck and locking collar, they are unreliable. Drills are likely
to slip and come loose unpredictably either in forward or especially
in reverse mode. Of course, you can use pliers and vise grips and
then you’ll have to look for those instead of for the chuck key. I
have two newish keyless drill chucks I bought to eliminate the
lost-key problem. They ain’t worth the trouble. Much easier in the
long run to invest a little time in fixing the key so it cannot get
lost. I usually use a length of brass plumber’s chain to keep the
key with the drill press. It looks spiffy and professionally
elegant. It is worth the trouble because you can really lock a bit
in the chuck with a key and trust it will stay put. I can’t wait to
wear out (or throw out) the keyless wonders and go back to the real

Second - if your drills are truly not turning on center and you are
sure that you are not putting them in the chuck wrong, (like getting
them caught between 2 jaws before they are centered and gripped by
all three jaws), then there is something wrong with the chuck or
spindle of your drill press (take it back where it came from) or
your drills are bent (unlikely)

Or, if your problem is the drills don’t start drilling but instead
walk all over the surface, leaving tracks behind them, perhaps you
don’t know about using a center punch to mark the spot where you
want the center of the hole to be. Cheap tool - put the point on the
spot - tap it with a hammer to make a small dent - then drill…

Third - Different materials have different drilling and machining
characteristics - too many variations to list here. In general, the
speed of a cutting tool is described in terms of the speed at which
the cutting edge encounters the material (officially known as
"surface speed") So, in the same material, a larger diameter bit
should revolve at fewer RPM’s than a small diameter bit. So it is
not the RPM’s but the surface speed you want to be aware of. It is
vanishing rare that you need to do this precisely or else you’d have
to have an infinitely variable speed drill press. But that’s the
general rule. Get a machinist’s handbook and it will show you best
surface speeds for various materials and maybe even will have a
table of how to approximate the desired surface speed for various
diameter bits. In general you will be able to see which materials
can be cut better at higher or lower surface speeds. You will learn
how to tell if your drill bits are sharp and cutting correctly by
the nature of the shavings that come out of the hole.

Fourth - Different materials require different lubrication while
cutting, or none at all. This is not intuitive or common sense.
Lubrication is to keep tools cool and prevent loss of their temper -
also helps chips clear out of the hole. Some materials will sound
terrible while being drilled no matter what you do. Brass, for
example, squeals and screams famously but that is just how it is.
You can’t fix it. But you should know about that so you don’t think
something is going wrong. Some materials benefit from grinding drill
bits in non-standard ways, changing rake or point angles etc

Good luck. Do a little machine tool research. Nobody can give you
the whole story on email.

Marty Hykin in Victoria BC where I won’t mention the weather