Our Recommendations

We reviewed 12-, 14.4- and 15.6-volt cordless drills in AW #91, December 2001, page 47.

We liked many of the drills in the $160 to $195 range. The Panasonic 12-volt slightly edged out the rest, primarily because it's so compact. All of our Editors' Choices were 12-volt models with one-handed chucks, 1/2-in. chuck capacity and small- or medium-sized handles. They all weighed 5 lb. or less. Go for a 14.4 or 15.6-volt model if you need the extra power but don't mind the extra weight.

We chose two drills under $100 as Best Buys. Drills in this price range are very light and comfortable. If you don't push them too hard, too often, they'll do just fine in your shop. On the downside, they generally come with only one battery, a slow charger and one speed. However, the Ryobi 14.4-volt HP1442M has two speeds, a 1-hr. charger and two batteries. The Black & Decker 12-volt FSD122K features an unusual removable chuck. Hidden behind the chuck is a screwdriver tip, so you can go from drill to drive in one quick step. AN

Best Buys

Editors' Choices

Ryobi 14.4-volt HPI442M; $85.

Ryobi 14.4-volt HPI442M; $85.

Black & Decker 12-volt FSDI22K; $80.

Black & Decker 12-volt FSDI22K; $80.

Bosch 12-volt 3360K; $ 170.

Craftsman 12-volt 27121; $ 140.

Hitachi 12-volt DSI3DV2; $170.

Panasonic 12-volt EY6407NQKW; $ 180.

DeWalt 12-volt DW980K-2; $ 170.

Metabo 12-volt BSTI2Plus; $220.

Panasonic 12-volt EY6407NQKW; $ 180.

Bosch 12-volt 3360K; $ 170.

Craftsman 12-volt 27121; $ 140.

DeWalt 12-volt DW980K-2; $ 170.

Hitachi 12-volt DSI3DV2; $170.

How to Buy a

Drill Press

When it comes to drilling accurate holes, you cant beat a drill press. Its a versatile machine that can also be used as a drum sander and for cutting mortises. It may not be the first stationary tool you buy, but a drill press is one of those basic tools every woodworker needs.

The Family

Drill presses are sized by swing capacity; a designation that harkens back to their origin as metal-working machines. Swing indicates the diameter of the largest circle the machine can drill the center of.

Drill presses are either short enough to sit on a bench or tall enough to stand on the floor. Fixed-head design is standard. On radial machines, the head is movable.

Floor Models

Stationary drill presses top out at larger than 6 ft., weigh a ton and take up a lot of floor space. For woodworking, 13-in. to 17-in. models offer the best compromise between capacity, footprint and price. Prices for these models range from $200 to $800.

Benchtop Models

The largest benchtop drill presses have the same features and drilling capacities as the smallest floor models, except for stock thickness. They're too big and heavy to be considered portable. Expect to pay $150 to $250.

Benchtop machines smaller than 12 in. are the lightest and cost the least, but they usually come with small tables and limited capacities.

Radial Models

The head on a radial drill press swivels for drilling at angles other than 90 degrees. It can also be extended for increased throat capacity. Radial drill presses can cost up to twice as much as fixed-head models. Ridgid DP 1550- $300

Visit vwvw.americanwoodworker.com for a complete list of manufacturers, models

Floor Model

Benchtop Model Radial Model

Floor Model

Jet J DP I7MF;$420. Fisch DP2000; $230. Shop Fox W1670; $275.

The convenience offered by radial machines is great if most of your drilling is done at angles. But for consistent accuracy at 90 degrees, especially if the machines you're comparing are similarly priced, go for the fixed-head model.

Features

Throat Depth

Throat depth measures the distance between the center of the chuck and the column, so it determines how far you can drill from the edge of your workpiece (Photo 1). A drill press's throat-depth measurement is half of its swing.

For general-purpose woodworking, a 12-in. drill press is the smallest size you should consider. Its 6-in. throat is adequate, but we prefer the extra throat-depth capacity of larger machines. However, drill presses larger than 17 in. take up too much floor space to be practical in most shops.

Quill Stroke

This measures how deep a hole you can drill (Photo 1). Most machines can drill a little more than 3-in. deep— good for most projects, but not quite enough to make it through a 4x4. Smaller benchtops have shorter strokes and a few large 17-in. machines have strokes larger than 4 in.

36 American Woodworker 2003 tool buyer's guide

The Easy Rout

The Leigh Dovetail Jig has it all. Hobbyist or professional, the Leigh D4 Dovetail Jig will ensure you create your best work. Versatility, precision and superb value make the Leigh Dovetail Jig better than the rest. Rout through and half-blind dovetails up to 24" wide in boards up to lV2 thick, with infinitely variable spacing of pins and tails — all on one jig. Plus, rout sliding and angled dovetails easily with the D4. And create decorative Isoloc joints, finger joints, and multiple mortise & tenons effortlessly with Leigh attachments and our exceptional user guides! Make routing easier with Leigh. Call toll free now!

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User-Friendly Operator's Levers

For comfort and leverage, nothing beats big, round grips and long, stout rods (Photo 2). Smooth grips are best. Threaded rods can be removed if they're in the way.

Clamp-Friendly Tables

Look for tables with wide, flat rims (Photo 3). They make it easier to clamp fences and fixtures. We prefer square tables to round ones because it's easier to clamp a straightedge to a straight edge. Tables designed for metalworking have an oil trough around the perimeter. Flat tables without a trough are better for woodworking.

Easy Speed Changes

On many machines, getting the belts on and off to change speeds is difficult because the belt-tensioning mechanisms don't have enough travel.

Variable-speed machines put an end to fighting with tensioning mechanisms and belts. Instead, you change speeds on the fly, by moving a lever.

Rod-Style Depth Stop

Rod-style stops, attached to the spindle, are easy to use and lock solidly every time. The best rod-style stops have large-diameter locking nuts (Photo 4). Ring-style stop mechanisms attached to the operator's lever are common, but we find them difficult to set a.nd likely to slip during use.

Adequate Power

Drill presses don't need monster-sized motors. A 1/2-hp motor is adequate for most drilling operations, but 3/4 hp is better. On most machines, using large-diameter Forstner bits will cause the belts to slip before the motor stalls. Wide belts are less likely to slip than narrow ones (Photo 5). Poly-V belts, touted for their smooth and efficient power transfer on other woodworking machines, are just starting to show up on drill presses.

Switches

Front-mounted power switches are the most convenient. Paddle and push-button styles are best (Photo 6). Off switches should stand proud so they're easy to hit in an emergency.

Big, round grips without serrations are most comfortable. Long rods give you better leverage.

Wide, flat table rims make clamping easier.

Rod-style depth stops with three large-diameter nuts are great. The third nut, located under the stop collar, acts as a low-tech quill lock.

Throat depth and quill stroke determine how far in and how deep you can drill.

Big, round grips without serrations are most comfortable. Long rods give you better leverage.

Wide, flat table rims make clamping easier.

Rod-style depth stops with three large-diameter nuts are great. The third nut, located under the stop collar, acts as a low-tech quill lock.

Wide belts are better.They have more surface area than narrow belts, so they don't slip as easily.

Paddle-style switches are the easiest to operate—you can even shut the machine down with your shoulder in an emergency.

Paddle-style switches are the easiest to operate—you can even shut the machine down with your shoulder in an emergency.

quill stroke

throat depth

Throat depth and quill stroke determine how far in and how deep you can drill.

throat depth quill stroke

Mortising Attachments

Mortising attachments on drill presses don't work as well as a dedicated mortiser. Drill presses aren't designed to exert the amount of force required to cut a mortise, especially with large (1/2 in.) chisels. For occasional use, and mortises no larger than 3/8 in., the attachments are adequate.

We liked the attachments offered by Delta and Ridgid because of their superior hold-downs.

metric standard

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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