Variable speed drill press?

How important is variable speed in a drill press? Do you guys find that you will run them at one speed and never change it? I am wondering because Delta has a variable speed drill and a 16 speed drill and I am trying to decide if variable speed would be worth the extra money. Regards. -Guy
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It just so happens that I did a ton of research on this recently because I was in the market for a drill press. I discovered that the Delta variable speed drill presses are absolutely riddled with problems. In addition to frequent failures of the pulley system, you have to do routine maintenance all the time just to keep it running. And even then it's still prone to breaking down often.
If you want additional opinions check out the reviews on Amazon.com and also ask around on woodnet.com and woodworking.com forums. This has been a topic several times recently and the overwhelming majority of people with experience have had almost nothing good to say about the Delta variable speed drill presses.
In case you were wondering, I ended up buying a Grizzly 16-speed floor model drill press and I could not be happier with it. Yeah you have to move the belts to change the speed, but it's easy to do. Plus, the mechanics of it are infinitely simpler than the Delta variable speed drills, so there's not much that can go wrong.
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Problems aside, the variable speed would be the best. You'd always use the right speed for the operation you are performing. In reality, I rarely change speeds, only when going from very small to very large.
Considering the comments about the VS above, I'd stick with belts until the technology is improved. Ed
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I recently changed my Jet 4 speed drill press to one that is infinitely variable by taking off the old motor and adding a DC motor and controller I bought from Surplus center. It's controlled by a power supply with a speed control that goes from 0-top speed (can't remember what it is but it's fast). I can slow this down to near 0 when when drilling metal etc. Very handy. I don't remember the cost but it was under $100.

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On Mon, 29 Dec 2003 08:04:52 -0600, "Guy LaRochelle"
What's "variable speed" ? A 3-step cone pulley ? 48 combinations of belt drive you can't understand ? Some huge geared-head from the 1950s?
Drill press gearing is like bicycles. You'd like to have 30 closely-spaced gears so that you're always in exactly the right one. But what you really need most is _range_, from slow speeds to high speeds.
For woodworking, make sure you have some slow speeds - especially when using Forstner bits. If it's a small drill press and intended for metalworking, you may find that it doesn't go slow enough (metalworking bits rarely exceed their shank diameter)
-- Klein bottle for rent. Apply within.
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No, there are true variable speed drill presses out there...Delta is just the first to bring it to the home-owner price range. Just two pulleys that are adjustable. It's called a Reeves Drive. Turn on the motor and turn the crank and it will change the spindle speed.
My lathe...a Jet...has the same type of drive...the only real difference is that on the lathe, the control lever locks into one of 6 or 7 speed settings, rather than staying exactly where you put it.
Mike
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What you are talking about is called "continuously variable", like a CVT transmission used in some vehicles. Both that and the type with fixed ratios are variable. The difference is whether you are limited to a discrete set of pre-defined ratios, or if you can pick any ratio in the range.
Continuously variable sounds nice, but I would be satisfied with a reasonable number of fixed speeds spread over a wide range. I cannot see that there is much difference two very close speeds - say 600 RPM and 601 RPM or even 610 RPM.
For me, the ability to change speeds easily is MUCH more important than having a large or infinite number of speeds available.
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I absolutely agree...the only true advantage to continuously variable is that you don't need to be too picky about where you stop moving the speed lever...a pretty minor nit to pick, I'll grant.
Mike
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Shopsmith has had a truly variable speed drillpress out since the 1950s. It is variable between 700 and about 5200 RPMs (you can get a speed reducer to take it down to 100 RPM). 1-1/8 HP moter. It has a nice big table with a fence and miter slots that is tiltable and moves in and out on a rack & pinion system.
Oh yeah, it is also a horizontal borer, lathe, 12" disk sander and a tablesaw. Other attachments available :)
Dave Hall
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It's called a Reeves Drive. Turn on the motor and turn the crank and it will change the spindle speed.
My Oliver 159 lathe Has that system .It works quite well. Thanks, Tony D.
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On Mon, 29 Dec 2003 19:21:13 -0600, "The Davenports"

Not a new thing. I have a drill press that I inherited from my grandfather - he died in 1974, so this is not a new drill press. It is a 'Power Kraft' - which were marketed by Montgomery Wards - there is a knob on the front of the drill press that allows me to adjust the speed continuously.
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I'm not saying this is right, but since you asked... I have a 12 or 16 speed DP and even though it's easy to change speeds I think I last changed the speed back in '94. Wow, coming up to ten years, maybe I should run it through a few more speeds so I don't forget how to do it. I personally would find minimal value in variable speed. YMMV
--
Larry C in Auburn, WA

"Guy LaRochelle" < snipped-for-privacy@sasktel.net> wrote in message
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Do you guys find that you use a post drill often enough to warrant one? Regards. -Guy
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Guy LaRochelle wrote...

Wow! Shouldn't that question be posted to alt.traditional.blacksmithing.tools or something?
Jim
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I adjust the speed on my drill press almost every time that I use it. It's really easy to change the speed on mine because it's basically a 2 (mechanical) speed drill press driven by a 3 phase motor with the speed controlled by a VFD.
Mine was built that way but it shouldn't be too hard to put something similar together while avoiding the mechanical complexity of the variable pulley systems.
I hardly ever change the speed range though. Bob S
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On Mon, 29 Dec 2003 08:04:52 -0600, "Guy LaRochelle"

I have 16 speeds, but need to change the belt position on either or both pulleys. It is not a big deal to change speeds, maybe takes less than a minute. You need slow speeds for hole cutting, metal boring, mortising attachment and larger bits. I usually keep it at 900 rpm 80% of the time. Faster speeds for sanding, buffing, polishing. Having a variable speed would be nice, but it has not crossed my mind too many times in the past 15 years of drill press use.
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It seems I'm one of the odd ones who actually changes speed on my drill press. I have a chart near by that has speeds for various bits and attachments and try to follow it pretty close. It probably takes less than a minute to change pulleys and belts. I waste more time trying to remember what I was going to do next.
On Mon, 29 Dec 2003 08:04:52 -0600, "Guy LaRochelle"

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The theory:
For cutting in any particular material, there is an optimum "rim speed" for a drill bit, Bigger bits -> slower RPM. Depending on the bit size, you adjust the RPM to hit that 'optimum' rim speed.
The practice:
In _wood_, there is a fairly wide _range_ of rim speeds that produces "acceptable" (albeit _not_ 'optimum') results. And, you can "mostly" ignore the issue of the type/species of wood. Extremes -- e.g., balsa vs. lignum vitae -- however, *do* require compensation.
If you set the speed to the 'high end' of the 'acceptable' range, when figured for the largest bit you regularly use, you can probably go down to 1/4 (or somewhat less) the bit diameter, without getting to a rim speed that is 'unacceptably' low.
When working in materials _other_ than wood the acceptable variance in tool 'rim speed' is much smaller. And the material involved is also much more significant. The 'right speed' for steel is different than the 'right speed' for aluminum, or for Plexiglas, etc.
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