Floor-standing drill presses: Worth it in 2018?

After the last round of tool recommendation begging (we picked up the Milwaukees on Black Friday and are impressed so far, thank you for all the guidance!), another topic came up from our head teacher: drill presses.

We’ve got one WEN bench top unit, and one Harbor Freight bench top meme that is about done. The team had a floor-standing drill press in a past build space, but it was a cast-off from another CATE program and was so aged by the time of the last move that it got purged instead.

I usually pay heed to Spectrum’s FIRST $1000 and FIRST $10000 spreadsheets on equipment, and they recommend another bench top WEN model (different from the one we own). We found the usable height and power limiting on ours last year, and thought about investing in a larger floor-standing unit for our shop.

This brings out two questions:

  1. Teams with floor-standing units, are we nuts for wanting one?
  2. If we aren’t nuts, what should we be looking for to get a good one? It seems like Jet, Delta, and WEN are the usual suspects here from my Googling, but I haven’t been hands-on with any of them.

Our team has one only because the school has an engineering class. Generally, it’s pretty nice.

How far are you from being able to get a mill?

I haven’t used my drill press (at home) since I got a mill, in 2010…

To add onto this question, Team 1918 has one of these Harbor Freight mills and it’s worked out pretty well for them.

Personally I find it to be a tool that is irreplaceable. For quick jobs that need a “straight hole”. the “problem” with a mill is that you need to locate your part which takes time as apposed to a centerpunch mark, and most people cant drill a perpendicular hole. it is also useful to start a straight tapping operation.

I was recently shopping around for a standing drill press as well. Sent you a PM with details of what I looked at.

In general, I decided to hold off on another drill press (we have a decent Jet benchtop) and invest those funds in a router instead. Another drill press really only provides marginal benefit when you already have one.

Back in April we finally got tired of our 2nd floor drill press and replaced it with the biggest and baddest benchtop drill press we could find: the JET J-2530. 15 inch swing!

On the other hand, at work, I use drill presses instead of mills all the time. The presses have more power/Z travel and generally track center-punched points a lot better (since often times one uses a drilling vice not rigidly mounted to the table). Not to mention that most taper shank bits (if one has them) do not fit most mill tapers w/o an adapter and since drill presses usually have a drill chuck mounted, it’s a lot more convenient to just toss the bit in the drill press, center punch the drill point (if not already punched), and knock it out.

Obviously one can drill with a mill, and generally works better than a press in the case of using a DRO to find drill points (not layed out and punched by hand). If one could have either I’d say get the mill first; but if one can have both, having both is better (not to mention two tools means two people can work on things instead of one.

But those are all tasks that can be accomplished with a beefy benchtop drill press, for hundreds of dollars less than a floor-standing drill press. If I had about $500 to purchase drill press(es) for an FRC team, I’d rather buy two of the WEN 4214 benchtop drill presses instead of one base model floor-standing drill press.

3946 has a rather nice floor-standing drill press, inherited from somewhere rookie year. When our cutting shop was indoors, in an area that was controlled by the team, or the exclusive classroom of the head coach, it was used pretty extensively. However, once we moved to another facility, where the floor standing model was about a dozen steps away, it hardly ever got used because the biggest advantage over the benchtop model (once you get it to where it doesn’t rock) is the large throat depth - and we never needed it.

I agree that there’s almost certainly a shop tool out there for the money which can give you more marginal utility than adding a floor drill press to a benchtop one. Do you have a horizontal band saw? rod benders? box/pan brake? throatless shear? router?

We just bought this to replace a beater JET floor drill press that was well beyond it’s last legs.

We probably would have liked something a little beefier, but we don’t have any additional 3 phase power we can use for it.

The Nova Voyager DVR 5800 is an interesting option for a FRC team:

Has a DRO, digital and mechanical depth stop, closed loop speed control, tapping assist, no belts to mess with, load meter, power spindle hold if you want to use a keyless chuck, auto start/stop and claims to be able to stop if it detects if your workpiece has come loose.

FRC 4607 purchased two JET Drill presses in 2013 (older generation of this). We had a Delta 17-990X in shop (floor standing model) in the shop - and it was purchased at a pretty penny in 2008. That was at the time when Delta switched over their manufacturing to China - and it was a turd. It was terrible in most areas that a floor Drill Press (or any Drill Press) are judged. The quill was difficult to remain true; there was not top (OSHA knocked us for that); and it was so finicky when transitioning the speeds and range.

The Jets that we purchased for a lot less (two for less than the price of the Delta) are still in service after 5 years.