Are all drill presses belt driven? If so, why? Every time I use mine
I wonder why a modified electric hand drill design wouldn't work just
as well, especially now with the variable speed controls, brakes, etc
which have been developed. (I know I could get a converter frame and
stuff my Bosch drill into it but it's not quite the same as a dedicated
Is it the assumption that many things done on a press will be "heavy
duty" and therefore will tear the gear guts out of a hand drill design
whereas the belt drive is more robust? Personally I use a press more
for accuracy than anything else.
Why saddle us with the nuisance of having to change belt wheels
according to the material we're drilling or bit we're using when all we
should have to do is flick the speed selector from 6 to 2 or whatever?
Again, if the question sounds dumb, apologies to the group.
Generally if you're running a drill press at low speed it's because you're
using either a large-diameter bit or drilling a hard material, either of
which require greater torque than a smaller bit or softer material. A belt
drive gives torque multiplication with speed reduction, a variable-speed
motor unless it's quite elaborate and expensive gives reduced torque at
lower speeds, as unless there is a variable-frequency drive the speed
reduction is achieved by reducing the amount of power going to the motor.
A belt reduces vibration, protects the motor, and allows for the cone
pulley assemblies for speed changes. A direct drive AC motor drill
press is possible, but then you could not change speeds. Changing to
a DC motor makes changing speeds easy, but drives up the cost. I
don't change speed often, find it a hassle to change speeds but it
only takes a minute. Most of the time I'm using 1000 rpm. I have a
Delta floor model drill press and very satisfied with it. It's not
the best, but cost under $400. It gets frequent use in the shop,
more than I had anticipated.
There are variable speed drill presses.
Belt drive has advantages on big work or where the motor is powerful. If a
bit jams, instead of tearing a piece from the clamps, the belt will slip and
do less damage. You can have motors designed for longer run times, more
power, and quieter.
If everything done on a drill press was heavy duty, belt drive would NOT be
the way to go. Direct or gear drive would do much better for that. The
reason for belt drive is that it is cheap and easy, period. There are
variable speed drill presses out there and, if that's what you want, get one
of them. Be aware though that they too are belt drive, they just use a
variable diameter pulley to change the speed. If you are drilling the usual
wood, plastic, ect that is common in a home shop, set your speed at around
300 to 500 rpm and leave it there. That will work for 95% of all situations.
The only time I change mine is for sanding with small drums or mixing paint.
The reason for so few variable speed drill presses being on the market is
that they are more expensive and relatively few people need it enough to
justify the cost. With HSS or carbon tools, there is no such thing as to
slow but there is such a thing as to fast. Feed rate is key.
Yes, that is partly right. While some tasks normally reserved for
the drill press would tear up the gears in a handheld drill, it is
almost wholly a motor choice. The brushes in a handheld drill motor
wouldn't stand up to the rough service normally seen in a drill press.
The motor in a handheld drill is designed more for speed than torque
(of course, some will argue that hammer drills and more durable impact
drivers are exceptions to this), and just couldn't stand up to the
frequent high torque, low speed use like a drill press.
Good question, not dumb!
No, but the ones that aren't are built for specific applications, and
are priced accordingly (google for "magnetic drill press" for one
example-- but make sure you're sitting down when you read the prices).
Some people have been converting various types of machines to use either
surplus DC motors with an electronic speed controller, or used 3-phase
motors with an electronic variable-frequency drive (aka "VFD"-- these have
1-phase input, so they don't require 3-phase power). There's no reason why
you couldn't do that with a drill press. Both of these approaches became
viable because the electronics got cheaper (but still not quite as cheap
as a set of step pulleys).
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