Dumb (possibly) drill press question


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 unit!)
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.
FoggyTown
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foggytown wrote:

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.
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The reason for lower speed with a larger bit or harder material is to prevent burning up the bit, not torque.

belt
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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.
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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.
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There would be no advantage to using a motor that had more power than the drive will transmit. Belts and pulleys are cheap. That's the reason.
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and
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That certainly all makes sense. Thanx.
Foggytown
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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.

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A variable speed direct drive motor and it's controls are too expensive.
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Foggytown,
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!
Shane Andrews
foggytown wrote:

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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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