Saturday, August 27, 2011

V2.19 - Drill Press know-how

I thought that for this week, I would just go over some of the little tidbits of information that I like to call ‘Tips & Techniques’. Since we have been discussing Drill Presses the past 2 weeks, we might as well stay on topic.

One of the areas that folks need some assistance with is that of choosing the correct bit speed for their particular project. The main rule of thumb is: ‘The harder the material, the slower the bit needs to turn.’ Right behind that comes this: ‘The bigger the bit, the slower it needs to turn’. How that plays out is like this. If you’re drilling the same size hole in wood and metal, the speed will need to be slowed down for drilling into metal because it is a harder material. By the same token, if you’re drilling into pine wood and making a ¼” hole and a 2-1/4” hole, slow it down for the 2-1/4” hole. It may be that not much speed change is needed between these two, but the idea is that you don’t usually want a 2-1/4” cutter turning as fast as a small ¼” bit.

Now, let’s talk safety. First and foremost, dress appropriately when using a Drill Press. Wear your safety glasses, roll up your long sleeves and pull your hair back out of the way (IF your hair is that long). I once saw a training film that showed what happened when a lady got her long hair tangled in the Drill Press she was operating. It was not a pretty sight. She reminded me of what Custer’s men must have looked like after being scalped.

After you have all those bases covered, here’s another ‘first and foremost’- ALWAYS clamp your work. I cannot over-emphasize this. Yes, it’s a pain and not always convenient but it IS necessary. I have a nice 2” long scar on my left wrist that is a constant reminder of the need to clamp your work. The very afternoon that I was going to drive my dirt track racecar for the first time, I was making an accelerator bracket and need to drill a hole in it. The bracket was just 8” long, ¾” flat stock, with one end bent at a 45 and that was where I needed the hole. So I go to my DP and hold the long part and place the bent area on the table under the bit. I started drilling the hole and OOPS…it grabbed and swung around 360 degrees and in the blink of an eye it made a few revolutions before I could get it shut off. Unfortunately, on that first swing, the top end of the stock sliced my wrist open and I wear that reminder to this day. It looks like I tried to commit suicide. So, I tell everyone - clamp your stock.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

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