The Basics of How to Use a Drill Press

Learning how to use a drill press is one of the most important skills a woodworker can develop. With a drill press, you can more easily and accurately complete woodworking projects.

While many woodworkers would argue that you could make do with hand press, a drill press would make your life simpler. In this article, we will explain why a drill press is important in addition to how to use it. 

What is a Drill Press?

This power tool is used to drill holes in wood and other materials. There are two main types of drill press – bench and floor.

Bench presses take up less space and have less power. Floor presses, on the other hand, allow you to work on bigger pieces of wood and make deeper holes.

Benefits of a Drill Press

A drill press allows you to drill holes more accurately than a hand drill. You can drill holes with the exact angle, depth and width required and ensure that they are evenly spaced.

Since you can set the depth and angle of the holes to be drilled, you can work more quickly. You no longer need to gauge these carefully since the drill press automatically makes the exact type of holes you need.

A drill press is safer since it has variable speed controls that ensure the drill bit does not break while you’re working. You can also use a vise to secure the material you’re drilling so it does not slip.

Drill presses are also versatile since you can perform a variety of other functions with them through attachments to the drill head. You can use it for sanding as well as cutting mortises.

Components of a Drill Press

The head of the drill press consists of the spindle and the sleeve, an electric motor to run them as well as the feed mechanism. The entire mechanism is installed on a column.

The spindle holds the drill bit or other cutting attachment. It is housed in a sleeve, where it revolves in a fixed position.

The sleeve is movable and can be lowered to feed the drill bit into the work, and raised afterwards. Pressure is applied to the sleeve to drive the drill into the material being worked.

The work surface is attached to the column via an arm. It can be moved up or down or swung to one side, as well as tilting at an angle, depending on the work you’re doing.

How to Use a Drill Press

Adjust the speed by moving the drive belt to the right pulley. Slower speeds are best for drilling through metal, while faster ones should be used for wood.

Insert the bit by opening the chuck, sliding it in, snugging the chuck around the shaft and tightening its jaws. Remove the chuck key afterwards since it poses a safety hazard when you turn on the machine.

Adjust the table to the desired height for the work you’ll be doing. Some presses have a crank mechanism while others let you make adjustments by releasing the clamping lever.

Adjust the depth gauge if you are drilling a hole with a fixed depth. Set the bit to the proper height then adjust the knurled nuts to the right stopping point.

Start drilling by positioning the bit over the work and swinging the rotating lever to lower it. After you finish, release the lever and the bit will return to its starting position.

For specialized jobs, you can place attachments over the drill bit. For instance, attach a drum sander to sand irregularly shaped wood.

Drill a Mortise with the Drill Press

A mortise is a rectangular hole intended to fit a rectangular projection (“tenon”) to lock together two parts. Mortises are usually made with a hand chisel or a specialized machine called a mortise with a square chisel.

However, you can also use your drill press to drill mortises. Although there are mortising attachments available, they are not necessary since you can use the procedure described below.

Draw the outline of the mortise in the wood. Place a drill bit whose width is close to that of the mortise into the chuck.

Adjust the depth gauge to the desired depth of the mortise. Position the mortise outline underneath the bit and start drilling a hole inside the outline.

Make sure that the hole you’re drilling does not go outside the drawn outline. Keep drilling holes until the material in the outline has been nearly hollowed out.

Secure the board in a vice or with woodworking clamps. Use the flat side of a bevel-edged chisel to remove the remaining material and finish the mortise.


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