Wednesday, February 1, 2012

V3.5 - My friend, The Drill Press

So… last year I got to thinking (yes, my wife was shocked at that, too), I write about tools and I’m sure that some readers see what I write and think, “What the dickens is he talking about?”… because they have never heard of a wood shaper or a drill press or a bandsaw. So, I thought that this year, for as long as it lasts (not the year, the tools) I would introduce the crowd to the tools. That was the reason for the intro columns about the Wood Shaper.

Our next series will be about what’s likely, my favorite shop tool, the Drill Press. I’ve done a few columns about the chuck and stuff, but not any about DP’s in general. I call this my favorite tool because it’s the only one that’s ever tried to seriously maim me…and it was MY fault. The story is that I was getting ready to race my dirt track stock car for the very first time and I needed to make an accelerator bracket. So I had this piece of flat steel that I had bent on one end and I needed to drill a hole in that end. I was “in a hurry” and set the bent end flat on the Drill Press table, which left the other end sticking up at an angle…and I thought ‘oh, I can just hold it and it will be fine’… yea, right. I held it, started drilling the hole and BAM! before I could move, the bit grabbed the metal and swung it around so fast…and I looked down at my arm and all of a sudden I had this huge slice in it…started bleeding like a stuck pig and all because I was in too big of a hurry to clamp my work or put it in a vise. To this very day, I have a scar on my left wrist that looks like I tried to commit suicide. Seriously.

Anyway, back to our lesson…the Drill Press (hereafter referred to as a DP) was originally designed for the metalworking trades; however, with the availability of woodworking techniques and of cutting tools, jigs and attachments, the DP is now one of the most versatile tools in the shop. It not only drills in metal, it bores in wood and performs other woodworking operations such as mortising and sanding. In fact, after the table saw, the DP can easily become the second most important piece of equipment in the average home shop. Notice one technical distinction: it “DRILLS” in metal and “BORES” in wood. Since I am a tech-guy, such nuances are important. They really are. We’ll talk more about DP’s next time.

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