A drill press is an important power tool in any workshop, and it is not only used to make holes in metal but also for woodworking operations. It is the perfect tool when your project requires a precise speed or drilling at an angle, but this will require a little understanding of how a drill press works.
Steps on how to use a drill press
When choosing a place to install your drill press in the workshop, ensure to choose a place where you can easily handle the workpiece and use the drill press safely. Also, provide good lighting in the work area even if the machine is equipped with an inbuilt work light. Having a storage area nearby for your bits and other accessories is also going to enhance your drilling experience.
A bench-type drill press can easily be mounted on a workbench of any kind. You’ll need to use nuts and bolts to fasten the tool to the bench to ensure stable performance. While the best place to mount these types of drill presses is on a benchtop, some deliver satisfactory performance when placed on a stand (you can purchase a steel or wood stand with the drill press)
On the other hand, floor-standing models need to be secured to the floor due to their big size and to prevent tip over. If you have a wooden floor, you can use lag bolts to secure your machine. For concrete floors, there is a range of anchors and masonry bolts you can use to secure your drill press.
II. Choosing the right speed
Most drill presses provide variable speed operations to offer versatility based on the projects you’ll be performing. The factors to consider when determining the best speed to use includes;
- The kind of material being drilled
- Size/depth of the hole
- The type of drill bit/cutter
- The quality of the hole
As a rule of thumb, the speed should be lower for harder materials and higher for soft ones. If you use high speed on dense material such as metal, it can burn out the bit or damage your workpiece. On the other hand, too slow a speed can cause the drill bit to tear or “chew” the workpiece, which can stall the tool. As such, always work within the recommended range and if you are in doubt, go with the lower speed first.
Most drill presses will indicate the exact recommended speed in the manual or on the tool itself. Ideally, the speed selected should allow you to cut smoothly and without resulting in vibrations or wobbling regardless of the material you’re working on.
III. Select the drill bit
Most drill presses come with drill bits to get you started, but you can get your own set of drill bits depending on the projects you need to perform. Drill bits come in many types and sizes, including standard twist bits for boring wood pieces, masonry bits, as well as spade bits for large woodworking projects.
IV. Inserting the bit
Once you have chosen the bit you need for your project, the next step is to insert it inside the chuck. Typically, the chunk should have a capacity of 1/2 of an inch to ensure that it will support various sizes of drill bits and different accessories.
With the chuck open, slide in the bit and then tighten the chuck with a wrench. Make sure to tighten until the bit is tightly secured between the three metal jaws of the chuck, then remove the key.
Always ensure that the key is removed before you power on the machine. It is recommended to go for a chunk with a self-ejecting key to avoid leaving the key inside the chuck accidentally.
V. Setting the drill press table
Ideally, the hole in the center of your drilling table should align with the drill bit to ensure that that it will enter the opening during drilling. When setting up your work in place, the quill should always be brought down to test if the bit will enter into the table opening. Readjust your table until it is perpendicular to the drill bit.
Alternatively, you can set the depth stop to avoid drilling into your work table. Also, you can place a piece of wood beneath to help with the same.
When it comes to the height of the table, most models have a crank that adjusts the height to the desired level. This allows you to set the height that is most suitable for the operation you need to perform. Other than that, the table can be tilted to different angles for angled drilled or even moved out aside to create more space for larger projects.
VI. Clamping the workpiece
Effective drilling requires that you find the means to hold down the workpiece while it is being drilled. Most drill presses come with a vise to help you clamp your work down. The vise needs to be tight enough to secure the workpiece and ensure it does not move while you work. If it is too loose, the piece you’re working on might fly off the table or cause accidents.
VII. The actual drilling
Once the setup is complete, it is now time to put your drill press to work. Ensure that the drill is spinning at the recommended speed before you lower it to the workpiece. You can then proceed to lower the bit to the workpiece by swinging the quill and the spindle to bore a hole. Once it has finished drilling, the spindle should return upwards automatically, thanks to the spring-loaded return.
Always take safety precautions while working with a drill press. Read the user manual carefully to familiarize yourself with your drill press. Learn its specific applications as well as its limitations to avoid going overboard. If you need to make any adjustments, make sure the power is off. Also, always wear proper PPE, including safety goggles, a face shield, and gloves when drilling.
It is important to remind you that these tips are for the general use of a drill press, but it is applicable for most drill press. Always check the owner’s manual for specific data for your drill press to enable you to get the most out of your machine.
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