Friday, July 26, 2013

V4.30 - Wrapping up Drill Presses

As promised, this is the wrap up for our review of Drill Presses. My main objective for this year is to give my readers (um, there IS more than just one of you…isn’t there?) a bit more knowledge about the various shop machines that are available.

Who knows, maybe you’ve kind of toyed with the idea of setting up a machine or two in your garage and as we go through the different tools, you might discover one that is something you really need. Hopefully, these articles will help you.

Ok, this week, we run into number 9: A full line of accessories will help you get the most from your Drill Press. Accessories which are supplied by manufacturer of the Drill Press that you choose are designed for that particular tool and it will not be necessary to use ‘workarounds’ to be able to use them to their best advantage.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times, during my 23 years with Delta Technical Service, that I would get a call from someone who had bought an accessory at a bargain store, only to come home and find out that it ‘don’t fit’, or wouldn’t ‘do what it says it will’. Come to find out, that accessory was made by some third party who had nothing to do with Delta. It turned out to be my job to gently explain to the customer that Delta did not design, build or endorse that accessory and that it ‘not working’ was not our fault. Most of the time we had a similar accessory but of course, it wasn’t sold at those rock-bottom prices that the customer had found at ‘Joe’s swap meet’. Sadly, that left Mr. Customer in a bind, unless they were able to get ahold of the manufacturer of the ‘outlaw accessory’, and that was mostly impossible.

On to number 10: It costs very little more at the start and much less in the long run to equip your shop with the best in power tools. Choose a Drill Press produced by a manufacturer who has an established record of reliability and quality. Yes, there are some ‘low-cost’ options, but if you intend to use your tools and actually rely on them, it is always better to buy good stuff on the front end. I’ve heard so many examples of customers who buy the cheapest, smallest tool they can find and then expect it to perform like a machine that costs 3 times as much as they paid.   

Or like this one fellow, he ‘bought cheap’ and got a small bandsaw – a WOODcutting bandsaw mind you – and was trying to cut deer meat with it. Naturally, the blade kept slipping off the wheels from all the meat fat and blood - Duh. Yet, (you saw it coming- right?) he kept fussing with us as if this was a problem with the bandsaw.

Ah, customer stories… I got a million of ‘em.  See you next week.

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

V4.29 - Drill Press: Why no Parts?

Last week, we were talking about the way tool companies supply their replacement parts, and we started outlining how Delta got into such a hole with theirs. The thing is that once Delta got taken over by the portable tool folks (first Porter-Cable, then Black & Decker) the idea of supplying parts for decades went down the drain. Truthfully, there is quite a lot of difference in the philosophy behind supplying parts for portable tools and for stationary machines. P-C & B&D just never did ‘get it’.

Sadly, it was about to get worse.

In the grand scheme of parts, once B&D had fully taken Delta over, it was not unheard of for them to discontinue a tool and immediately no longer have any parts for it. No one was doing that ‘long-distance planning’ that I told you about last week. In the portable tool world, one could buy a drill for 40 bucks, use it for a year or two and they’ve pretty much gotten their money’s worth out of it. Not so for someone who bought a lathe for 500 bucks and then, a year later, can’t get a drive belt for it. THAT is what Delta is still dealing with right now. B&D would not get a supply of replacement parts for future support of Delta tools. In fact, I know of several instances where a tool is currently being marketed and sold and a customer has a need for a part and that part is ‘no longer available’. This is NOT what a customer wants to hear… this is one of the reasons that B&D sold off the Delta brand back in 2011. The lack of foresight of B&D has really put those guys in a hole. Eventually, they will climb out of it, but it’s going to be a while. I suppose, being honest again, if I were in the market for a new drill press, and I were considering a Delta, I would make sure that it was made after 2010. I do know the ‘new Delta guys’ and they are committed to supporting their products, but they’ve been left holding an empty bag. I have even done some consulting for them and we’re working thru issues one at a time. If they can hang on, I know it will turn around.

It’s always important to consider the company you’re buying items from, or at least I do. I try my best to support businesses that employ our citizens. Think this means “Buy American”? You’re absolutely correct. Fortunately, even though a tool may be manufactured outside of our country, ‘tool service’ is still a homegrown effort. So, even when a machine is made in China, you can bet that you’ll be talking to someone in the USA if you have questions about it. 

Next week, we’ll wrap up our Drill Press review.

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

Sunday, July 14, 2013

V4.28 - Drill Press: Parts and Parts

Last week, we left off at item number 8 on our list of things to consider when buying a Drill Press. Item 8 is a very important thing to consider if you intend to keep your Drill Press for a while. It’s also something that is a problem for some companies. We’ll explore the reasons it’s a problem, even though there isn’t a lot that we consumers can do about it, except let the manufacturers know of our displeasure.

Ok, so number 8 says: Be certain you can get proper replacement parts and service, if needed. Now, I could leave it at that and just dump you, but I am just not that way. Any advice I give in these columns has to be impartial and honest, above all. Frankly, there is a company that is near and dear to my heart that is having some serious part delivery issues right now. Truthfully, it wasn’t their fault that they got into this condition, but they have to deal with it now.

Of course, I’m talking about Delta. For those that don’t know, I was a founding member of Delta’s Technical Service Department back in 1985 and I finished my career with them in 2005, as their Technical Service Manager. Had things not been so discombobulated (that’s a southern word meaning: messed up) I’m sure I would still be with them…but that tale was told in this column a couple of years back - so let’s move on.

Anyway, Delta - when its tools were made in the USA (and I mean FULLY made here, not just assembled here) used to be able to supply parts for decades. They stored the patterns and kept the blueprints like, forever. They understood the value of being able to support their tools far into the future. I think some of that mindset might have been due to the efforts that Delta made in the war support and schools markets. Both of those groups would probably require their supplier (Delta or whoever) to be able to support the product for a set amount of time. So let’s step aboard the Wayback machine and take a look at Delta once it started making tools in the far East. That was when Delta discovered the same thing that other manufacturers did. Once a tool that was say, made in China, was discontinued, the Chinese manufacturer destroyed all of the molds and patterns, and probably the actual blueprints. The trick to keep this from biting you was to obtain a decent record of your part purchases and make your best forecast of future part purchases. Then you’d order however many parts you think you’d need for however many years you intend to support the tool.

We need to stop here for this week, but we’ll do it more next time…

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

V4,27 - Drill Press: How to pick ‘em

Alright, if you’ve followed along for the past 3 weeks, you (hopefully) know more about the workings of Drill Presses. We’ve told you about just how versatile a Drill Press can be. Now, you’ve made the decision that this is one machine your shop could really use… but what to look for? What are the most important features to consider? What will it have that will allow you to fully utilize its capabilities? Well, let’s just take a look at some of those thoughts and give you some ideas.
1: The entire Drill Press should be solidly constructed to allow for long life and the ability to continue precision work over time.
2: The Drill Press table and base should be ribbed for strength and rigidity. They should be slotted. The table should have flats or ledges on the sides, which can be used for clamping the work. (This offers convenience and safety to the user.) The table should have a precision-ground work surface which helps keep the work accurate and the base should also have a flat surface for holding large workpieces. The table should be easily adjustable, up or down – left or right, for adapting to different drilling situations.
3: The Drill Press head should be cast iron since that offers excellent support and protection for the most important parts of the Drill press, the motor, the quill and the spindle.
4: The Drill Press should be equipped with a chuck that is tightened with a key, not by hand. The chuck should have a one-half inch capacity so that it will accommodate the various size bits and accessories. Many drill Presses feature a taper-mounted chuck. By having a taper-mounted chuck, the runout of the chuck/spindle is practically eliminated and the user is assured of accurate drilling. Some chucks feature a self-ejecting chuck key which ensures that the key is not accidentally left in the chuck.
5: The Drill Press should be equipped with a depth-stop. The depth-stop will allow the user to drill many holes at the same depth as the original hole. It eliminates guessing and allows precision accuracy.
6: The Drill Press should have an adjustable motor bracket support. It should be sturdily constructed to support the motor, yet adjustable to allow for ease of setting proper belt tension.
7: The Drill Press should have a selection of speeds for drilling wood, metal, plastic, glass and ceramics. Some Drill Presses feature a triple-pulley arrangement for easy selection of 12 different speeds, ranging from a low of 250rpm to a high of 3000rpm.
We’ll stop here, for this week…
Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.