I am looking for feedback about drill presses. Any opinions about the best/most accurate drill press for metal that doesn't cost a fortune (under $150)?
Harbor Freight makes a nice small drill press that works great and is inexpensive.
Thank you. I'll look into it. :)
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Tom & Kay
Here's our response to appear in the July 2013 issue:
When it comes to purchasing a drill press, like most other tools, one must take into consideration what is to be accomplished with the tool before making a purchase to prevent buyer’s remorse. Since you’ve indicated you want a press for jewelry-scale metalwork in the $150 price range that is the basis for our recommendations.
Many jewelers have purchased small general purpose bench top drill presses from Harbor Freight or other the big box stores. In fact, we own one ourselves and while it’s great for our general wood working and lapidary projects we don't use it for our jewelry metal work because of some of its short comings. These drill presses are equipped with a large 1/2" chuck which is incapable of gripping the very small drills used for jewelry work. They are large and cumbersome taking up valuable jewelry bench real estate in the studio. We equate it to using a sledge hammer to set a fine rivet.
There are small precision drill presses available which are more appropriate for your needs that have a smaller footprint and are in the $150.00 range. The first one that comes to mind is the Foredom® DP-30 which allows you to clamp your #30 flexible shaft handpiece into it for precision drilling that is available from most jewelry suppliers. The handpiece easily accommodates the smaller drills used for jewelry making. We have used these presses and they work well with the only drawback being the time consuming inconvenience of installing and uninstalling the flex shaft handpiece when using the flex shaft for other purposes.
The current Rio Grande catalog, www.riogrande.com, 800.545.6566, lists a mini drill press made by Proxxon that has its own motor and spindle built in for about half the price of the Foredom unit. We have no personal experience with this press but it should fill the bill.
Micro-Mark, www.micromark.com, 800.225.1066, also offers two Microlux precision drill presses in the $200 range that should also meet your needs but again we have no personal experience with them.
We have used a Cameron Ultra Precision Micro Drill Press series 164 for the last 15 years. This is a fantastic machine that sells for over $1000 which is normally well out of our price range; however, when we saw it in pawn shop for $75 we immediately snapped it up.
Thanks for your interest. Hope this helps. Tom & Kay