A drill press enables you to create holes in a controlled and accurate way. It consists primarily of a base, column, table, and head that contains the motor and drilling equipment. The best drill presses have adjustable elements including the height and position of the table.
While a drill press cannot be easily moved, unlike a hand drill, it is more suitable for work that requires large diameter holes, greater precision, or when the user needs to create a range of different holes without the risk of the material moving while the drill bits are being changed.
However, a drill press is only beneficial if you know how to use it correctly and effectively. In this blog, we will take you through how to use a drill press step by step.
Before taking any of these steps, ensure that your drill press is unplugged from the mains. Not doing so puts you at risk of a wide range of injuries. We also recommend checking the manufacturer’s guidelines before you get started.
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Drill Press Step by Step Guide
- Step 1: Setting the speed
Adjusting the speed on the drill press requires you to move the drive belt from one pulley to another. The speed of spin is related to the size of the pulley. So, the smaller the pulley on the chuck axis, the faster the drill will spin.
It is generally recommended that when drilling metal, you should use slower speeds. When drilling wood, faster speeds should be used.
- Step 2: Fitting the bit
Start by opening the chuck. Now slide in the bit and snug the chuck by hand around the bit’s shaft. Now tighten the three jaws of the chuck with its key. Ensure that you then take away the chuck. Leaving it in situ risks it becoming a hazardous projectile once the drill is turned on.
- Step 3: Adjusting the table
How the table moves depends on the make and model of the drill press. Some models move easily once the clamping lever is released. Others are adjusted by a crank. Check with your manufacturer’s manual if you are unsure which method your drill press uses. Set the table at the right height for your needs, consider the procedure you are undertaking as well as your height and physical needs.
- Step 4: Gauging the depth
The depth gauge is the threaded rod that controls the distance the spindle moves. The importance of undertaking this step depends on the operations that you are undertaking. If you’re drilling a simple hole in a block of wood, then you may not need to make an adjustment. But, if you are creating stopped holes at fixed depths, you may need to adjust the depth. Do this by lowering the bit to the height you desire, then adjusting the pair of knurled nuts on the depth gauge until they are at the desired stopping point. One stops the spindle, while the other locks the first nut in place.
- Step 5: Securing your workplace
Safety is always your first concern. Before you operate your drill press ensure that the material you are going to drill is fixed securely in place. Use the clamps that are on the work table to ensure that the rotation of the drill does not spin the metal or word workpiece.
- Step 6: Drilling
If you have followed all the previous steps, you are now ready to get drilling. Ensure the drill is spinning at full speed, then over the bit to the material, lowering the bit by moving the rotating lever. When you have completed the hole, release the lever so that it returns to its original position.
Additional Drill Press Benefits
There are several different types of holes and actions that you can undertake using a drill press. Here are just some of them:
- Center finder
A center finder improves the accuracy of your drilling. It sets the spindle of the drill over a specific point. It is made from two separate pieces that are spring loaded together. To use the center finder, it needs to be installed into the chuck with the pointed end placed into the centerpunch mark; now press down lightly on the quill.
The two parts may not be concentric at the beginning; however, the bed of the drill can be adjusted until the two halves are concentric. This can be checked by running your fingers up and down the center finder. If no steps are detected, then everything is ready to go. This technique allows you to find the desired position within 0.001 inches.
- Hole deburring
While the top edge of a drilled hole is usually fairly clean the bottom edge is not always so clean. This edge can often contain considerable burrs that need to be removed. A deburring tool can be inserted into the hole and moderate pressure used to run it around the edge of the hole.
- Hole reaming
Generally, holes are drilled within two-thousandths of an inch diameter accuracy. Where greater precision is needed for interference or slip fits, a reamer can be applied. The reamer has straight flutes, meaning that it cannot be used to drill the hole. Before using the reamer, you need to start by drilling the hole slightly undersize. The reamer can then be used; it should be driven down using a constant, slow speed.
- Cutting mortises
Mortises are generally cut on a specialist machine. However, if you don’t have access to a mortiser, a drill press can be used to create mortises. Many of the best drill presses come with a hollow-chisel mortising attachment.
- Spindle sanding
An oscillating spin sander is the best way to sand curved cuts from a band saw or jigsaw. However, you can also use a drill press as long as it has a barrel sander attachment. The drill press’ variable speeds mean that adjustments can be made to the spindle sanding speeds, allow it to accommodate almost any material type.
Creating the precise holes needed for inserting doweling rods is an ideal job for a drill press.
A drill press is an exceptional piece of machinery that can really transform your wood and metal working. It provides precision and control while working and has a multitude of uses that reduce the need for multiple pieces of equipment. This is ideal if space is a consideration. However, it is important that you always put safety first and follow our step by step guide to setting up and using a drill press.