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Drill press


#1

Is there any advantage to the mini drill presses in Jeweler’s
catalogs vs., the bench top drill presses found in home improvement
stores? I have a couple of the latter, but none of the former. Should
I invest in the mini or am I good with what I havee?


#2

Hi Chris,

It depends on what you have. The standard benchtop drill presses
from the DIY warehouses are OK, but not spectacular. They’re
optimized for spinning pretty good sized bits (by our standards)
through wood. So the speeds are on the low side for us, generally.
For general metalsmithing type drilling, they’re fine, but if you’re
trying to do layout for micro pave, that’s a whole different thing.

The big issue is the bearings, and chuck. If you’ve got a good set
of bearings, and your chuck tightens concentrically, you’re golden.
But that happens less often than it should with current overseas
gear.

The micro drill presses are faster, but generally not as beefy.
They’reintended for spinning small (sub 3mm) drills through metal,
so they’re fast, but leave a lot on the table in terms of strength.

There are things called ‘sensitive’ drill presses that are intended
for production drilling of small holes, but they’re (A) expensive,
and (B) HEAVY.

I have one, a thing called a Hamilton Vari-matic. A drill press
limited to a max of 1/4". It weighs somewhere north of 150 pounds.
(178 sticks in my head for some reason.) It’s just about the same
size as a Bonny Doon press. But heavier. They turn up on ebay pretty
regularly. Search for “sensitive drill press” “Hamilton” “Sigourney”
“Dumore” “Servo” o r"Levin". They’re ballparking around $500 USD at
the moment. (I just looked.) I lucked into mine at an estate sale.
All hail Craigslist! (Remember that I said that concentricity
matters with little drills? The runout on a gauge pin held in the
chuck of the Hamilton is.0002". My big floor model import drill
press? .003".) (A human hair is around.003", and for little drills,
that’s enough to break one. Doesn’t matter at all for a 3/8" bit
chewing through wood.)

If you’re comfortable messing about with old tools, I’d look
strongly at one of the older ‘industrial’ ones. They’re built like
tanks, and much more rigid than the little Proxxon or other current
units.

I’ve had Hamilton and Sigourney units, and both were solid, well
built machines. Some of the Levin and Dumore units can be a little
on the flimsy side, but they’re still stronger than the little
plastic things.

I also have a Foredom flex shaft drill press holder. Works great for
what it is, and is small and light enough to live on the back of my
bench, and get dragged forward when I need it quick. Much cheaper
and easier to deal with. (If you get one, budget another $50 for a
spare #30 handpiece to just leave bolted in place. Much quicker swap
it into action that way, and less chance of crunching the bearings.)

FWIW,
Brian


#3

I bought a few years ago the mini drill press (the expensive
version) after the first few times I never use it anymore, it is
easier to use the hand piece, I use the Foredom LX low speed version
(maximum 5000 rpm) on the lowest speed, I also hardly ever break a
drill piece anymore, what was a problem using the mini drill, the
hand piece gives me more control. If you still want a mini drill
press: I have one for sale, hardly ever used. The only “problem is”,
I live in Spain, so if you live in this area make me an offer.

Re the Foredom LX this is a great machine, I use it for anything,
the Foredom SR model I use only for sanding and polishing.

peter
spain


#4

Hello Chris,

I started with a ‘full-size’ drill press. It now resides in the
garage workshop. Love my little mini-drill press because it has a
small footprint, is variable speed, has very smooth action, has a
Jacobs chuck that accommodates the smallest drill, and is darn cute.
My drill press is offered by Stullers and Rio Grande - probably other
suppliers. It has performed very well.

Judy in Kansas, who has been using the drill press when making lots
of pierced settings. Getting good at sawing all those curves, too!
(Thank goodness for my Knew Concepts saw.)


#5

The only advantage I see is you could use the very small jewelry size
bits in it that might not fit in a bigger chuck. If you haven’t
needed it up to now you probably don’t need it. What do you use your
drill press for?


#6

I dont like the tabletop drill presses that most jewelry tool
companies sell. I really love my Dumore sensitive Drill Press which
I use with a Lucas rheostat. These presses are available new but i
have found mine on ebay. Worth every penny spent.

Linda Kaye-Moses.


#7

Chris,

This is a NoBrainer. if the couple that you have is working for you,
than why would you want to invest in a mini drill press found in
jewelers catalogs. I always say, “If it ain’t Broken, Don’t fix
it”… Regards, Richard Lucas, LUCAS DENTAL CO.


#8

I find with powered tools I tend to try and do more with it than the
machine was designed for. For my shop the mini is perfect. I use it
for drilling small holes in small things which it does admirably
well. I must admit I have drilled an occasional 1/4 inch hole with
it but it is way under powered for such an adventure. I find that if
a piece binds in the mini the “O” ring drive belt will slip and it
will be less of a safety hazard from spinning work pieces.

Do you need to have both? No. But it is another excuse to have
another tool.

Don Meixner


#9

It really depends on what you want it for. Very small drills require
high speed and precision. Small drill bits are very easily broken,
so mustn’t be allowed to wobble, larger drills require slower speeds
and are far more tolerant of slight inaccuracies in the chuck and
spindle.

I wouldn’t dream of using my large bench drill-press with a 0.5mm
drill, but my miniature press handles it OK. Its also much easier to
place the hole with a small drill-press.

A clear case of “horses for courses”.


#10

Just get good with your handpiece. Put your money into that with a
good low torque motor (expensive foredom) and a 30 handpiece and a
budget for drill bits. Use sharp ones. If they dull on something they
hit in the metal or from wear get a new one and keep the old ones and
I’ll send you a video on how to sharpen the them. It’s a little hit
or miss but very satisfying when you sharpen one that cuts better
than the new ones.


#11

Rio Grande sells a drill press into which a Foredom hand piece may
be mounted. It works very well for drill bits that fit in the hand
piece. The top speed of drilling depends on the Foredom speed.

I use the press to end mill waxes to various thickness. I mount a
large burr with teeth on the end in the hand piece. Works very well.

Lee epperson


#12

Just get good with your handpiece. Put your money into that with a
good low torque motor (expensive foredom) and a 30 handpiece and a
budget for drill bits. Use sharp ones. If they dull on something they
hit in the metal or from wear get a new one and keep the old ones and
I’ll send you a video on how to sharpen the them. It’s a little hit
or miss but very satisfying when you sharpen one that cuts better
than the new ones.


#13

You use an end mill in it or like a ball burr? Ring waxes or other?
I’m not picturing this in my head and am curious.