Quantcast

Drill Press or Milling Machine?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
I haven't seen this discussed for a while, so looking to get the latest views. I've got a Sheppach RABs16x floor-standing radial pillar drill. It's OK, I've drilled lots of holes with it, but I can't say it delights me. My current dissatisfaction is mainly that it's too "long" for the new space I'm putting it in, plus (being floor standing) I can't use the space underneath for anything useful. And space is my most precious commodity.

Looking around at the various drilling presses available, my choice seems to be either a hunk of vintage metal (Fobco, Meddings,...) or one of the better imports (probably something Axminster). I'm not really mechanically capable, so refurbishing an old model isn't something I aspire to. If I could guarantee to get a good one, then great, but I'd be buying sight unseen, which is always risky.

Most of the modern ones are probably little better than my Scheppach. So then I saw a comment on here about Milling Machines. The SIEG SX2P HiTorque Mill seems like a nice bit of kit. Small, quiet, just-about liftable single-handed, and way more accurate than I need (I really only do woodworking).

So I suppose what I'm asking is whether a milling machine like this is over the top when I mainly intend to use it as a drill press for use in wood? Are there any reasons (other than cost) why this would be a stupid idea? (For the record, most of my machines are vastly overspecified - my theory is that they compensate for my total lack of ability, and help keep me out of trouble.)
 

Trevanion

Greatest Of All Time
Joined
29 Jul 2018
Messages
3,477
Reaction score
312
Location
Pembrokeshire
The fastest way to ruin the accuracy and smooth movement of a milling machine, fill it up with wood dust! Probably doesn't matter on the cheap new chinese ones though, as they won't be treasured like the old Bridgeport, Adcock Shipleys, Cinncinati, Etc... mills. You can get really nice, refurbished Meddings, Fobcos etc pillar drills for about the same or less as that Mill would set you back. I would personally choose the old, super heavy duty, built to last forever pillar drill over something of questionable manufacture and questionable longevity.

Nobody starts off mechanically capable, it's a gained trait by doing mechanical tasks. Restoring a pillar drill is probably one of the most simple things you could start out with, yet you would gain a lot of experience in multiple areas.
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
I agree with you on almost every count. But,....

Almost every Fobco I've seen for sale is at least 150 miles from me, which means I have to rely on a few photos to decide whether it's a nicely restored gem or a heap of junk with a shiny new coat of paint. (Plus in most cases they are collection-only, which is extra hassle.) And I suppose even the heaps of junk can be refurbished, but my hobbies are woodworking & electronics, not metal bashing. You're absolutely right that I could (should!) learn the skills, but I've reached the age where I just pay people to do the stuff I can't be bothered to do (so I can do other stuff that I *do* want to do).

Your point about dust is thought-provoking. Even if I don't plan to use the XY tables much (if at all), it would be annoying to have them sitting there useless. And if the Z axis gums up, well that makes the whole thing a waste of space. Would you say that pure dust that would be a problem, or is it the mixture of dust & oil? I don't intend doing any metalwork on the drill, so there'd be no cooling liquid flying about. (But I guess there is always some lubricating oil on the movable parts...)
 

Trevanion

Greatest Of All Time
Joined
29 Jul 2018
Messages
3,477
Reaction score
312
Location
Pembrokeshire
boardgamer":3ahiohmy said:
Your point about dust is thought-provoking. Even if I don't plan to use the XY tables much (if at all), it would be annoying to have them sitting there useless. And if the Z axis gums up, well that makes the whole thing a waste of space. Would you say that pure dust that would be a problem, or is it the mixture of dust & oil? I don't intend doing any metalwork on the drill, so there'd be no cooling liquid flying about. (But I guess there is always some lubricating oil on the movable parts...)
What kind of work do you do with the drill?

There's really no point at looking at a milling machine if you're not going to use the X & Y function, that's the only thing I could think of that would make it remotely preferable to a pillar drill so that you could mount router cutters in the chuck and do precision slotting, moulding or surfacing using the X&Y feeds. Other than that it's really just a glorified pillar drill if you plan on using it for woodworking.

A pillar drill is far more versatile, you can tilt the table easily so you can drill angled holes or clamp a piece to the table and drill down it vertically, far more power than what that little mill would put out despite being 500w due to usually higher quality motors and pulley ratios (only really matters when you're doing big holes.

Dust and oil are a horrible mixture, they won't damage anything (Perhaps they would over decades of use) but they will gum up and just make a horrible mess. Dust really stiffens precision parts, I'm constantly cleaning down and lubricating machines which aren't that precise because they stiffen up and start seizing (Panel saw sliding table is a good example), I really wouldn't like to see what would happen to something that was spot on accurate, especially something with gears and racks. A pillar drill doesn't really have that problem because it's hard for dust to get up into the quill and there's really not many moving parts.
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
I mostly make furniture, so the drill just makes plain vanilla vertical holes - mostly up to 13mm, but I do use Fortstner bits fairly regularly. My current pillar drill would in all honesty be fine in terms of accuracy & capability, but I want something a bit smaller (especially length front-back). However *if* I'm buying a new toy, ....er....., a replacement, then I'd want it to be as good as possible (I've never regretted spending too much on a tool, but often regretted the other way around).

I've never had a milling capability, so I've never missed it. I *might* use it to make slots or something, but I already have 4 routers (6 if you count Dominos as routers), so I can't offhand think of anything they can't already do. I could imagine some solutions might be easier with a milling machine, but I have no particular application in mind. (But then often I don't know exactly what I will do with tools until I have some experience with them.)

I guess I was attracted to the accuracy and small size of the model I quoted, with the potential to do "other stuff" in the future with the new capabilities. Whether I would ever actually use them - who knows? I definitely don't *need* a milling machine, but if I can get a lot of potential for not too much extra cash, then why not? However if the dust/oil issue is going to neuter the extra accuracy/functionality, then I totally agree with you, I should stick with a (good) bench pillar drill.
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
1,589
Reaction score
66
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
Something else to keep in mind with those baby mills is the distance from the chuck to the column. There isn't much and it is frustrating when you can't make a hole because you are a few millimetres short.

Pete
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
Yes, throat depth is a very valid point. In this case it isn't too bad - for the Mill it's 168mm (compared to (for example) a Fobco Star which is 155mm). I've got a huge throat distance with my current machine, but I can't think of a single instance where I've needed it, so I think anything around 6" is fine. If I need more I'll get my cordless out!
 

porker

Established Member
Joined
15 Oct 2009
Messages
590
Reaction score
14
Location
Butlers Cross, Buckinghamshire
I do a bit of both, metalwork and woodwork and have a couple of drill presses, a cheap radial press and a startrite mercury floor standing. I also have a Bridgeport mill. I think I only drilled wood once with it when I used a large blacksmith bit and the shank was too large for my drill press. As mentioned before sawdust is one of the issues. Mills tend to be oily and I don't want sawdust everywhere gumming up the ways. You also mention milling - Drill bits are not designed to mill and most milling machines won't spin a wood router cutter fast enough. A router is the right tool for the job. I know there are exceptions to this. If I was working mostly in wood I would definitely go for a drill press although I do understand your thinking.
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
@porker Thanks, that's interesting. I hadn't really looked into milling, but I had vaguely assumed I'd use collets holding xxxx. I knew drills wouldn't work, but just assumed xxxx would be something equating to low-speed router bits. I hadn't considered such things may not even exist!

Humm, I can see I'm being steered firmly towards a drill press. I've enquired about a Fobco (only 130 miles away), so we'll see what happens. Transportation is my main bugbear.

Thanks to all for the sound advice. Keep it coming!
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
I know a Fobco Star weighs about 67kg (148lbs), but if I were transporting, I'd (presumably) take the head off to make things easier. Does anyone know how much the head weighs separately? (Just trying to get a feel whether it's a one-man job to load into an awkward-shaped boot.)
 

sunnybob

be afraid, be very afraid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,348
Reaction score
130
Location
cyprus
Think about this logically;
the drill press will go into three parts, the base, the column and the head.
If the total weight is 67 kgs, the head is going to be less than half of that, maybe 28kgs or even as low as 25 kg.
A holiday suitcase is 23 kgs.
providing you dont have any disability, carefully lifting even 30 kg into the back of a car will be quite easy. as long as you dont have to carry it 300 yards across the car park of course :shock: :shock: :roll:
Remember to always bend your knees, not your back when lifting heavy stuff and youll be fine.
 

AES

Established Member
Joined
18 Feb 2011
Messages
4,306
Reaction score
90
Location
Switzerland, near Basel
I have to agree with everyone else, why buy a mill when you don't need anything but holes drilled? Apart from anything else you're paying for a much more substantial set of head bearings in a mill (they have to be in a mill, to cater for the X and Y axis movements, which any pillar drill is not really designed for) AND to "add" to the higher costs, you'll most likely be getting a lower capability - diameter of drill to be held; overall drilling depth; and most likely, a smaller back-to-front capacity (from centre line of drill to support column.

I appreciate your concerns about space (aren't we all limited???) but if the relatively small footprint of your current floor-standing pillar drill REAlLY is a problem, then why not convert it to a bench top drill?

"All" you have to do is to reduce the length of the present column (and the table lift rack if separate).

If that sort of job is not up your street (and that column will be a substantial lump) I'm sure a local jobbing metal worker/farm machines/garage type outfit would do that for you.

As sunnybob has already said, you would re-use 2 of the 3 parts untouched - both the head and the current floor plate (for mounting on the bench - possibly cut that down a bit too if bench space is also at a premium and you don't want a stand-alone bench for the drill - which will have a bigger footprint than the present floor stand!); then re-mount the head on the shortened column and off you go.

Just an idea.
 

boardgamer

Established Member
Joined
13 Jul 2017
Messages
147
Reaction score
0
Location
Suffolk
Sunnybob: is the head really less than half the total weight? - I had assumed with the motor attached it would be well over half, but I've never hefted one of these, so have no real idea. You're right, if each piece is anything like 25kg, then I'd have no problem in dealing with it. (Even with 2 discs that don't work any more - been like that since my teens....)

How does the column attach to the base? Is it bolted through from underneath?

AES: I appreciate the thought! That was actually Plan A. However I've not progressed it for 3 reasons. Firstly, you're right that cutting down the column will fix the height issue, but being a radial drill, it's *very* long in the fore/aft direction (ie protrudes into my "corridor"). This is my biggest objection, and can't be altered. Secondly the column fits into an extremely tall collar at the base - I'd lose about 300mm of table travel at the bottom. I guess I could fabricate a new shorter collar (like the corresponding bench drill has), but I'd worry about losing stability with a home-made effort. Thirdly, you're right that the rack would have to be shortened. None of these problems are absolute deal-breakers though, and I still might go down that path. It is certainly the cheapest option!
 

memzey

Established Member
Joined
8 Apr 2013
Messages
1,736
Reaction score
0
Location
St. Albans
I wouldn’t recommend trying to remove the foot/base of a fobco. I’m not sure it’s possible but I’ll have a look next time I’m in the shed. The table and head simply clamp on to the column with hand levers. There is also a sleeve that sits under the head to make rotating the head easier. Bring a rubber mallet as the levers can get a bit stiff. The column is solid steel by the way as opposed to hollow for most modern drills. That alone is super heavy. If it’s a bench top version I’d say the head and the column/base are fairly even in weight, once you’ve slipped off the table. A free standing drill would be heavier in the column and has a substantially bigger base but exactly the same head.
 

Trevanion

Greatest Of All Time
Joined
29 Jul 2018
Messages
3,477
Reaction score
312
Location
Pembrokeshire
AES":1nrn8k0i said:
I'm really surprised that the column is solid, but I bow to memzey's superior knowledge.
Quite a few of the older ones like the Fobco, Elliot, and some Meddings have solid posts. "Whompin' heavy" is an understatement for a full-size floor standing model :lol:
 

sunnybob

be afraid, be very afraid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
11 Oct 2014
Messages
8,348
Reaction score
130
Location
cyprus
So the consensus of a sold shaft says that the head will be a LOT less than half the 68kg.
I would guess something like 25 kg head, 30 kg base and coloum, and 10 kg for the table.
Now your only question is how long is the coloum and base plate combined and will that fit into the car?
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
1,589
Reaction score
66
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
If it were me I would keep what you have and modify the bench or make a pair to enclose the pillar allowing the base and column to sit in the opening. When not needed rotate the head 90º to the room so it isn't in the way. I'd love to have a decent radial drill press. Having a bench mounted drill press kind of gives a false illusion of gaining more room because you are sacrificing the bench space it occupies and a mill, because of the X/Y table, takes up even more bench space especially when you are using the X-axis.

As for the older drill press. Do you have a neighbour, woodworking buddy, son, nephew, etc., that could go with you or if they have a bigger vehicle, take you to get it? More hands make lighter work especially if they are younger and stronger. :wink:

Pete
 

AJB Temple

Finely figured
UKW Supporter
Joined
13 Oct 2015
Messages
3,061
Reaction score
302
Location
Tunbridge Wells
I drove from Tunbridge Wells to Devon to buy my Fobco. I made sure seller confirmed full working order and quill run out and he knew I would turn round and go home. You may as well at least ask. Trip was well worth it.

I can lift mine on my own, but I had my wife with me and the bloke at the other end helped lift it into my car (which is a 4WD bit enormous boot so easy to get things in and out) and my wife helped lift it out. It's not a big deal with two people. I can shift it around my workshop on my own when having a re-arrangement, but would not like to walk far with it. The column is indeed solid. The tool is top quality and built to last forever.

This is an indispensable tool in my workshop. It is also handy to have a machine vice for holding work. I eventually found an old Record off the bay.
 
Top