I ordered my drill press from the palatine woodcraft a couple weeks ago when they had their pre wood show sale. Originally, I had planned to get the 20" grizzly drill press. But the allure of the variable speed feature was too much to ignore. And grizzly's variable speed DP is $1500. Also, the sale price brought it in a little under the grizzly price. I also decided that I was much more likely to use the variable speed feature than the extra capacity of the 20" grizzly. Woodcraft was having problems getting machines from delta so it wasn't until Monday night that I was able to pick up the machine. They had a loading dock and a ramp with wheels. We rolled the machine into the back of my van. My wife and I caught it as it rolled down the ramp. The box was about 250lbs. I picked up some casters and a cordless impact wrench on the way home.
At home, I easily wheeled it into the garage with a hand truck. I had expected two boxes, but it all fit in one making it sort of a long box because of the post. The directions said to mount the cast iron base to a piece of plywood 21" by 28" to help stabilize it. I cut the piece of plywood, then went to bed.
I couldn't work on it again until last night. I attached the casters to the plywood, then attached the cast iron base to the other side. There was a little cosmoline on the base. It weighs a lot more than it looks. I put the base on the floor and attached the post. The post is held on with four 17mm bolts. It bolted up easily and all the holes lined up. Then I cleaned all the oil off the post. The rack and pinion mechanism for raising and lowering the table is similar in design to my old delta bench top drill press. There are two rings at the top and bottom of the post that capture the rack. The rack is supposed to hug the post as the ends of the rack travel in grooves. I don't care for the design. And in this case, when the table is up high, the arm holding the table acts on a point high on the rack. The rack flexes and binds in the groove at the bottom making it's motion sort of jerky. Oiling the bottom ring would probably fix it. And the reality is that I'm not likely to move the table from side to side much once I build an auxiliary table.
My daughter and I stared at the 120lb plus drill press head in its neatly formed Styrofoam cradle. It mocked us in all its cast-iron glory, laughing that I would even consider simply picking it up and placing it on the post with nothing more than my arms. I shifted the head out of the Styrofoam so that I could get my arm under it. I locked the casters on the base and tightened down the table just in case. I grabbed the head, one hand under the switch on the cast iron housing, the other under the motor. My daughter put her hands under the head. We both stood up together resting the head on my chest. I had just barely not enough power to lift it up to the top of the post. My daughter provided the last bit needed to put it on top. I felt sort of light and strange after getting it up there. The moral of the story: that was dumb. I should have had two men doing this job. I got it up there none the less.
I lined everything up and tightened down the head, then attached the table and other hardware. I spent about 15 minutes cleaning the spindle, taper, and chuck. Mineral spirits cleaned it right up. The chuck went on without incident. And it's a big chuck, about the diameter of a coke can.
It came wired for 110, and I'll probably leave it that way. There's a diagram on the back for switching to 220. The lamp that came with it has its own power switch and plug, so wiring for 220 won't affect that.
I switched it on and was greeted with a bit of a rattle. It seemed like there was more racket than there should be. As it ran, it sort of got comfortable and started to get smoother and quieter. I can't discern any run-out with my eye. I don't have a dial indicator.
Turning the variable speed handle is a bit odd. You turn it clockwise to go faster, and counter clockwise to go slower. Going slower takes a bit of strength to turn the handle. But turning clockwise to go faster can be done with just a finger. It stays where you put it though. I'm not sure if this is right or not, but it doesn't seem to affect the usability of the machine.
I chucked up a 3/8" twist bit and grabbed a piece of 2x4 for a test. On the slow speed, the bit grabbed and tore out wood as it entered. As you'd expect, it also tore out when exiting the other side. After a few holes, I turned the speed up to full blast and tried it again with the same bit. Entering was perfect. All the wood was sheared instead of torn making the hole perfectly round and clean. It didn't even tear out on exit, and this was in a soft wood with a semi-dull twist bit. I had intended to test a large forstner bit, but it was getting late.
So far I'd say I'm very happy with it. It does seem a little top heavy, but I don't really feel like it's about to fall over. With the casters unlocked, I can grab it by the table and wheel it around. It feels good and stable. I'll probably put some long 4x4s under the plywood base as out-riggers just to be safe.