I have been on the quest for a new or used drill press for quite some time. That quest came to an end today with a trip to Harbor Freight. Now, I know this is a Chinese machine which certainly won’t hold the tolerances of my fathers old Buffalo Drill. However, I cannot wait any longer to find a used American machine nor can I afford a new American machine. I would love to be able to support our economy and purchase an American machine but unfortunately there are not any on the market currently under $200 that I could find. i am mainly wood working and so a Harbor Freight special should stand to my use. If I can find an American machine any time soon at an auction then this HF DP will be going back to the store. Once again, I am not proud to buy Harbor Freight tools as they are usually foreign junk but, at this time in life I would rather be able to do some wood work than be absolutely broke to buy an American machine.
I figure for most of my work I only needed about 10″ of clearance and a couple speeds would be nice. Finally, I decided on this little number from Harbor Freight ITEM # 44836. It has 100″ of clearance and 12 speeds. The 12 is a bit over kill for my needs but its there. I also picked up some other various bits and pieces for the shop such as some chisels which I’ll do a review on later.
Arriving home with the typical brown box, I opened it to find a nicely packed box. As usual most everything was coated in oil and had to be cleaned up with a little mineral spirits. I then began assembly.
First off, dont forget to get some lock tight since nothing has lock washers.
The collar on the rack gear on the mast needed to be removed to slide the table on. Before I placed the table on though, I applied a heavy amount of grease to the worm gear assembly. I also noted one possible improvement in the future, I would add a set of brass bushings to help the shafts turn smoother as currently they bind a little being steel on steel. Once the table was on, I secured the top ring back over the rack gear. I then lifted the top assembly on. Next I pressed the chuck together and inserted it into the upper assembly and I was done. Total assembly took about 20 minutes.
In taking it for a test drive on some hard maple, I noticed a few things. With the drill off, there is a minute amount of slop in bearing assembly maybe 5 thousandths at most. I was impressed to see a good set of sealed bearings in the spindles. It had plenty of power at mid speed to buzz through the maple with nice clean, straight, and plumb holes. Afterwards, I left the machine idle running for about 15 minutes to see how things would settle in. The slop seemed to be reduced as the bearing sat in place. The only real negative I can say about this is that the motor did get hot enough that I couldn’t hold my hand on it after the 15 minutes of running. Also the castings are what you expect from HF, there is some excess metal in the slots but the critical surfaces have been milled flat. Also the depth gauge is relatively useless and the angle gauge on the table is not all that trust worthy.
Soon I will be working on some pen projects on my lathe so the drill press will get a lot of use. Overall, I give this machine 4 out of 5 stars. Taking away for the sloppy casting and useless depth/angle gauges. Thanks for reading.
Without tools, we are just another animal.