What’s happening

One of the many things currently going on in my woodshop is a search for a new drill press to replace my current one. The one in use now is in very good condition, but there are several shortcomings that I would like to eliminate. One is a very limited quill travel (commonly referred to as stroke) of only 31/8″. This becomes a problem when you go from a short drill, such as a center drill to a larger drill bit. If the longer drill is more than 3 1/8″ longer than the center drill then you have to move the table down. Not a big problem unless you are using a fixture to locate your workpiece. In that case if you move the machine table you loose your location. I use fixtures to locate both knobs and totes for drilling. Thus for me the short quill travel is a serious handicap.

The other main problem is that of quill side play. With the quill extended to it’s full travel you can move it side to side more than 0.04″, that is 3/64″. This seriously affects accuracy.

So far I have eliminated all but two drill presses.

The General model 75-20

The General model 75-20

From the specs this is a very good machine, but I have to see one in person to assess the quill side play. You can read more about this machine here.

The Delta 18-900L drillpress

The Delta 18-900L drillpress

The second machine under consideration is the Delta model 18-900L. Again I have to see this machine in the flesh to check the quill side play. You can read more about this machine here.

Millers Falls #26 hack saw.

Millers Falls #26 hack saw

I’m working on a restoration of the Millers Falls #26 straight handled hack saw. I prefer the strait handle to the modern pistol grip style. The line of thrust is inline with the blade.

The MF#26 disassembled.

The MF#26 disassembled.

Here you see the hacksaw parts awaiting de-rusting and polishing. I will make a new handle. I think apple will be the choice here. I have some that a friend gave me some time ago. In fact I posted an article about this apple on May 12, 2012. It is dry enough to use for tool handles now.

Chisels for restoration.

Chisels for restoration.

Also in process are four chisels for cleanup and re-handling. The upper one has been cleaned up. The wood of choice for these handles is hickory in a traditional style.

I will put up pictures of the finished tools when done. As for the drill press selection, well, I’ll keep you informed. Both of these machines are pricey for a machine that only drills holes.

As always, thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment.




Professional furniture maker and restorer. Dealer and collector of vintage and antique woodworking tools.
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5 Responses to What’s happening

  1. John says:

    I’ve read several old reviews of various drill presses and the limited quill travel is always mentioned. As I recall, few have more than a 4″ stroke. Your point about the side play is well-taken, too. Never thought about it before but it makes perfect sense.

    • The stroke length is important when you are using multiple tools for a hole. Such as a center drill, a jobbers length drill and a countersink. The center drill and the countersink are short and the jobbers length drill is 4″ long. You can’t move the table if your workpiece is clamped as mine usually are when using a fixture. This can be a problem with a short stroke. Most drill presses have a 4″+ stroke, but mine is only 3 1/8″ and has caused me problems many times.

      Quill side play is a much bigger problem than spindle runout. Most drilling tools are somewhat self centering, so runout of .005″ inches or so is not a problem. But, 3/64″ of quill side play is a big problem when trying to locate holes precisely.

  2. John says:

    3/64″ is nearly 0.05″ – that seems like a large amount of runout for a precision machine. Could it be that, e.g., the bearings are worn? Or maybe I misunderstand what quill side play is – how is it different from spindle runout, please?

    • The spindle runs in bearings in the quill. The quill is the part that goes up and down by turning the wheel. The side play is causing problems when I locate a fixture concentric with the spindle, as when drilling knob blanks.

      If this is still unclear please ask questions. Thanks. Bill

  3. Rob Porcaro says:

    Hi Bill,

    Have you checked out the Steel City drill press? It has a split head casting that can be adjusted initially and later to eliminate quill play. Steel City is the only manufacturer I know of that still has this feature in reasonably-priced models. 6″ stroke. About $850. Here’s a link:


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