Opinions on radial drill press?

I've been considering purchasing a radial drill press, in particular the Busy Bee/Craftex floor model, I believe this is the same as the Grizzly. It contains some interesting features i.e. tilting head and huge 34" diameter swing.
When compared, however, to a typical fixed 13"/14" model in the same price range the radial model appears somewhat flimsy especially when fully extended and I fear continual alignment, adjustment and general accuracy problems.
Does anyone have any advice, experience or comments on this type of drill press.
Thanks, Dave
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DaveH wrote:

A friend bought one a LONG time ago and the problem he had was flexing of the arm when puting any pressure on the drill. ie. drilling metal or even hard wood requires some downward pressure and the arm deflects upward. Unless you talk about a machine shop radial drill ( with column and arm of 8 to 10 inches diameter or biger ) I think they are a disaster. ...lew...
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DaveH asks:

I've used them, tested them, etc. If you absolutely HAVE to have the extra size, see if you can't work out some kind of holder for your portable drill. That's about as accurate.
Short of immovable industrial models, all the radial drill presses I've seen will give you just what you fear: alignment, adjustment and accuracy problems.
Charlie Self "Health food makes me sick." Calvin Trillin
http://hometown.aol.com/charliediy/myhomepage/business.html
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job for which you might not have the exact tool to work with. I do a wide range of jobs which require holes in large panels or holes drilled to various angles. I find that with a decent standard drill press that has a good table with angle capabilities, you can build a fixture or jig to bore any type of hole with great accuracy. The secret is having the proper tools to put the hole in the right place and the patience to accomplish the task. I often have jobs from one client that require stepped holes in multiple locations on 4 X 8 sheets and I have only a 14" clausing drill press.
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I looked for a long time before buying a radial drill press. I finally settled on the floor mounted ShopFox. It's similar to the Grizzly, although not identical. Delta couldn't tell me the diameter and thickness of the tube used to form the arm or the vertical support. ShopFox could. They don't seem to deflect. I'm drilling a number of 1-3/16" holes at 35 degrees in birch. The Morse taper used to mount the chuck is not appropriate for an application that is going to see lateral force and chattering such as I get when I'm starting to enter the work.
I have just noticed some noticeable deflection of the quill as I enter the work in a direction that causes the bit to move away from the vertical support. I have yet to have time to measure it or see what is causing it.
All in all I'm satisfied with the drill press. It's not a vertical milling machine but it does what I need now.
RB
DaveH wrote:

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I've got an old Rockwell that's similar to the Grizzly. When extended far from the vertical column, it's not going to be as accurate as a standard press, but, on the other hand, the standard press isn't going to drill *anything* at that distance, either.
For what it's worth, I've found mine to be useful for woodworking regardless of the degree of horizontal extension, and useful for light metalworking with the head retracted (which gives it a swing similar to astandard press). And, the head tilts, which can sometimes be useful.
The biggest downside to it is the usual price one pays for versatility. Everytime I move the ram in or out, I find I need to recheck the orientation of the bit relative to the table, just to be sure it's exactly 90 degrees. Got a little engineers square to do that with, and it's become somewhat automatic. Don't have to do that on a regular press, so if that matters to you, take it into account.
All in all, I'm happy with it; if I did any serious metalworking, I'd get another conventional press to do that, and keep this one for wood.
Hope that helps, Henry Bibb
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two words there- "drill" and "press". Anything with that long of an arm will make a lousy press.
Go for a regular floor drill press, and use your handheld drill when needed.
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (DaveH) wrote in

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Dave, I don't think of a drill press as a 'high-tech precision instrument'. Especially if it is in the price range of what most of us can afford. {I used to work in the printed circuit manufacturing business - THERE were some *really* precision, 12 head {and up}, programmable drill presses - About $50, 000 and up !!}
99.5 percent of the time I use a 'starter/locator' hole so that adds to the accuracy of the hole placement . . . the most critical time, in my opinion.
Because I try to have every tool capable of doing multiple tasks {comes either from being cheap, or a small boat sailor}, I agonized over this same question. What I opted for was the Grizzly 'Table Top' Radial Press. For stability it is BOLTED to the CORNER of a 'small' but HEAVY bench that is in the corner of the shop. It is secured to TWO cinder block walls, and has 4x4 front legs.
The 'upright' of the press, and the 'arm' are both about 4 inches in diameter. The 'corner' mounting gives me the ability to swing the head around to give an additional 30 inches of available height, from the floor. The arm 'extension' gives me the ability to reach into a large panel, or other awkward piece. The entire arrangement doesn't seem 'flimsy' at all. Just from the standpoint of 'good engineering practices', I don't store the 'arm' in the extended position. I always leave it in a 'balanced' stance. It is also the only tool that is 'permanently' fixed in position in my shop. Everything else is, in some way or another, mobile.
For me, the 'trade off' wasn't so much Radial vs. Fixed, as it was the lower end speeds. Large bits, 'fly-cutters', and 'saw bits' typically have recommended speeds of 250-300 rpm. The slowest speed on my unit is 500 rpm. Therefore I have to be careful and use different 'tricks' to avoid burning, etc. HOWEVER, the choice was MY decision based on MY type of usage. {I also have an OLD 'Port-Align' that is fixed to an OLD Rockwell portable drill for that 'odd job' or 'aboard' use that occasionally comes up}.
YOU have to decide which features/abilities are *most important* to what type of work you do. Then select the tool that gives you the most 'operations'.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

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