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charlieboy

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I'm thinking of buying a benchtop pillar drill for woodwork and notice a couple of differences in designs:-

1. Some have a rack & pinion mechanism for adjusting the table height and some have a simple collar which just slides up and down.
2. Some have a table with parallel slots and some have diagonal 'X' shape slots.

What are the pros and cons of these differences in design.

Thanks,
Charlie
 

Jameshow

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I'd look at one with the rack and pinion.

Makes adjusting the table easier.

If you have the space 16mm capacity machines are much more solid.

Others have gone for the bosch style machines but I have no experience with them.

I have a naerok and it's been great like this one...


Cheers James
 
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bourbon

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I have an Axminster radial pillar drill, floor mounted. If you don't really need radial, don't get it. They take up twice as much room. It was an ex display model,. Rack and pinion table is a must in my opinion, makes the job a lot easier. Slot position, you can make jigs to suit the slots, so I think that shouldn't matter to your decision which one to get. Most will have a quill travel of around two inches until you get a bit spendy.
 

pe2dave

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The diagonal X slots, combined with a drill vice (parallel slots), allows moving the vice to nearly
any position on the table, under the drill head. Combine this with a rotating table and the full range
of movement is possible.
My record power has this, and once I'd figured it out and bought nuts/bolts to attach it, I'm now
good to go to hold nearly anything solid whilst drilling. I no longer risk life and limb hand holding
stuff :)
 

AES

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And don't forget that even on a smaller model pillar drill, the table will - I think - almost certainly be quite a substantial cast iron "lump" - i.e. even a small table will be pretty heavy.

So imagine you need to move that table up and down the column (which happens frequently) and you've bought a model without a rack and pinion height adjuster. As soon as you release whatever is locking that table you're suddenly supporting the whole weight of that table with only one hand, AND probably with your arm stretched out a bit from your waist. Ughhh!

For that reason alone I'd consider rack and pinion (or similar) table height adjustment essential.

Radial movement of the table is IME "useful" but as has been suggested above, not often used- not in my case anyway.

BUT, IF you can afford it, a model that allows you to change speeds without changing belts (i.e. a gearbox, or an electronic control, or perhaps both combined) would be VERY useful.

In my own case with a 16 mm bench-mounted machine (Rexon in my case) I find I have to stand on a stool to get up into the head to change belts. A bit of a fag.

BUT gearbox/electronic controls (like the Bosch machines frequently seen) were beyond my budget when I bought my Rexon, and they still are come to that. While the prices on those machines (for the "hobby market") has come down a bit, I guess their prices are still a bit high for the average hobbyist.

The accuracy of the chuck (runout) is by far and away the most important feature IMO.

HTH
 

Ttrees

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I have the same as Jamesshow's
It has an upgraded motor (I think/thought, as is has a Brook Crompton motor also) and was used in a workshop making plastic
stuff, I bought it for 40 pounds.
Just got there in the nick of time, as someone else was nervously loading a heavy Wadkin ripsaw on a not so heavy trailer.
Lock the table if you are going to lay it on its side for transport!
It's a great yoke, compared to the other pillar drill at the folks.
The return spring was broken, so bought one for a fiver.
It needs a new chuck really, yet to buy, about 20 quid sometime,
and the threaded arms are broken on the boss, so must fix that.
(that common design is really crappy on some new ones too.)
oh, and the crank for the table is broken off, and making do with a welding vice clamp for now.
Must get the wee shoebox welder out and fix those things soon.

It locks really solid and there isn't much play in the quill, compared to the other 10 year old one I have used.

The switch is a bit awkward, and doesn't stop sometimes with a single press...
and with an large motor things needs to be clamped down.
Some of the newer designs, model at the folks probably still available
have a switch at the front instead.

A sound drill IMO
Mines 240v though, that job looks like some kind of elecktrickery!
 
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MamTor

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I'm thinking of buying a benchtop pillar drill for woodwork and notice a couple of differences in designs:-

1. Some have a rack & pinion mechanism for adjusting the table height and some have a simple collar which just slides up and down.
2. Some have a table with parallel slots and some have diagonal 'X' shape slots.

What are the pros and cons of these differences in design.

Thanks,
Charlie
Even with rack and pinion you still have to clamp it in place at the pillar so it doesn't make it much quicker and still requires both hands. You tend to get rack and pinion on all models above a certain size/price so perhaps you should first decide on how much you can spend and then focus on all the benefits that come from spending more. One -ve of rack and pinion is the awkward way you swivel the table as anything more than about 5 degrees requires the entire rack to rotate with the pinion clamp.
My table has slots in a X shape but I wish it had parallel slots. I find with my large drill vice I only want to slide it left to right as I can simply move the object forwards and backwards within the vice jaws. But the X slots don't allow simple parallel movement in any direction as you have to keep changing bolt holes to get the jaws in line with the chuck... I've ended up buying a step block clamp kit with t-nuts and I clamp the vice in place. This is the only way I get slide it anywhere I want.
Again, you'll only get a parallel slots bed once you pay above a certain amount, e.g. £600 so you don't usually get a choice below that.
Good luck.
 

Terrytpot

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..table will almost certainly be quite a substantial cast iron "lump" - i.e. even a small table will be pretty heavy.
...I'd consider rack and pinion (or similar) table height adjustment essential.
..IF you can afford it, a model that allows you to change speeds without changing belts
..The accuracy of the chuck is by far and away the most important feature IMO.
I've got a floor standing Meddings pillar drill on which the table is roughly 13" wide by 14" deep and over an inch thick, it's VERY heavy and it kills me that it didn't come with a rack and pinion means to raise and lower it. I've had smaller bench top models in the past but none of those needed it as the tables just weren't that heavy or hard to move. I would love variable speed but moving the belt is not that big a chore. Whilst the chuck obviously needs to be accurate I also appreciate a quality method of setting depth of cut and mine is pretty good at that. Like so many folks on here say, buying older heavy machines can pay dividends if you can find one at the right price. If I was feeling flush I'd be very tempted by one of these:
 

AES

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Well to the above points I can only say:

1. On my Rexon, the table is "only" 30 x 25 cm (I've just been out to the shop to measure it) but together with the cast iron "arm" it's mounted on (which allows the table to be rotated around its centre point (useful), AND to be tilted either side of horizontal by about 45 degrees each way (not so useful), the whole caboosh weighs a bloody "ton", so I definitely would NOT be without rack & pinion height adjust!;

2. The rack (which is about 40 cm long) is NOT fixed to the central column itself. Instead it sits inside two collars each of which has a "dovetail slot" machined into it. One is mounted on the column right near the bottom, one up near the head. When you unlock the table to adjust the height (which is done with just one hand BTW) this leaves the whole table and rack and pinion assembly held at whatever height was previously set but also free to rotate around the central column to any position you like;

3. Agreed that shifting the belts to change speeds is not such a MAJOR problem, but as said in my last, it IS a bit of a fag - to the extent that on some jobs, rather than change speeds I say to myself "that speed'll be about OK". (I tend to leave it around set at around the middle range of the range of 12 rpm's available). OK, agreed, I'm a "lazy barsteward" but I stick with what I said before - I wish I had had (or have) the budget to go for a gearbox/ electronic control model.

Otherwise my Rexon suits me down to the ground for what I's probably best described as your average hobbyist/jobbing shop.

BTW, my Rexon (model DP 330-A if you want to look it up) cost about one tenth (new) of the over one thousand+ quid that the West Country Machines model linked to costs. BUT I did then spend the equivalent of about another forty quid on a new, close tolerance Rohm chuck (3 to 16 mm). I use a separate "small" chuck for small jobs from 0 to about 4 mm.

No idea where my Rexon came from originally (China I guess, but I bought it here - Switzerland - over 10 years ago). It's specced at 20 mm max capacity (but it's done a LOT bigger holes than that - carefully!) and is B16/MT2, which makes it compatible with a wide range of easily available chucks, etc, etc.

All I'm trying to say that a couple of the points raised above about table adjust/rack & pinion are not necessarily 100% correct (I don't doubt the poster's points, BUT you need to look closely at the exact machine under consideration to be sure of the details).

AND IMO today there's no way that I'd spend over a thousand quid on a single pillar drill unless - perhaps - I was equipping a professional workshop. Just not necessary for the hobbyist (again IMO). Remember that everything that comes from China is not necessarily "carp", a lot depends on which factory and on whether or not the factory is making on behalf of a "known" label, and on whether or not the label owner has his own QC people overseeing the job. OK, I'm 75, but my Rexon will easily outlast me (and my son, if I had one).

Oh. I forgot! P.S. The depth setting on my Rexon is not exactly "brilliant" but with care it does work, and once correctly set it's easy to repeat drilling loads of holes of the same depth one after the other.

Again HTH
 

charlieboy

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Thanks guys for you helpful comments. I guess it raises a few more questions!!

For context, I guess I am looking to spend no more than about £250 for a bench-mounted drill (though I would consider buying 2nd hand). I am constrained by space, and could not consider a floor-standing model or anything very big.

1. I assume a simple collar-type table can be swivelled out of the way (so that you can drill with the workpiece on the base, if greater height is needed). Is this also true of a rack & pinion table - or does the rack prevent this? (MamTor - I didn't quite follow your first point - is it related to this question or is it to do with tilting the table?)

2. If you need to drill a hole deeper than the quill travel, I assume (provided you have a long enough bit) you can achieve this by raising the table so that the bit enters the hole for a 2nd drilling. If so, does a rack & pinion table offer any advantage here - e.g. how accurately does it maintain the alignment?

3. I would be surprised on smallish bench drill, if raising the table by hand would mean really heavy lifting (unless you already had a heavy workpiece on the table - e.g. as per Q2). So, I'm still struggling to see the real benefit of a rack & pinion table.

4. If a parallel-slot vice is used on a parallel-slot table, so that the slots are at right-angles, does this give any less positioning flexibility than a parallel-slot vice on a diagonal X-slot table? At first I was swayed by pe2dave's preference for the X-slot, but having now seen MamTor's argument for parallel slots giving parallel movement in on either axis, but in one direction at a time, I am wondering if this might be better.
 

Jameshow

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On a smaller 13mm machine it would be much if a hassle but on a bigger 16mm ir would be a pain.

Also the machining quality will be more likely be better on a bigger machine.

Finally a bigger machine can drill bigger holes without a sweat which might stall a smaller machine.

You might find yourself buying again a year or two!

Cheers James
 

Sandyn

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I have an old, but very good floor standing Meddings MF4/3 which is bigger than you want, but the things I find really useful on my drill are:
An easy quill lock right on the front with a large knob.
5" quill travel.
Slots on the table are parallel.
A really good ruler guide linear depth stop at the front.
I have variable speed from a VFD, but I only use 40Hz to 60Hz, I also use belt change because it's so quick it's a 10s job.
The accuracy of the machine.
When drilling and using a lot of pressure, the table never flexes in any way. It is rock solid.
It's quiet.
It just feels beautiful and is a pleasure to use.
Things I don't like:
Scary power with larger drills (20mm+) if the drill bites.
Table has no rack and pinion and it's heavy, possibly 20-30Kg, but on a smaller bench-top. I don't find it a problem.
My table doesn't have a hole in the middle (no great hassle)
 

clogs

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Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
I'd always buy one with a rack.....better fine adjustment on drill starting point.....
also with a rack a decent cast iron vice will add to the weight of the table.....
the rack is made to twist out of the way with the table on every drill I''ve ever used....
the better machine has the chuck on a proper morse taper.....then u can use taper drills.....
I have a lovely old Meddings floor standing drill the only prob is there is no rack for the table lift.....
when I next get time will put a puley balence weight system on it to ease the ar*eing about moving said table....
lastley forget electronic speed controls, only give trouble and great expense to repair.....belts take sec to change....
mine stay in the middle ranges so adjust drillspeed to suit.....plus I have 10 drill presses to choose from.....
nearley one for each common size of drill.....and will still buy more machines if the price is right.....
just got a 25,000 rpm, 3 phase Meddings bench drill.....yes that is 25,000rpm...no idea what I'm gonna do with it yet.....hahaha....
 

Suffolk Brian

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Interesting comments here. I have two. A small(ish) Naerok (Korean backwards - get it?) and a Chester which is not quite floor standing. The Naerok is good. Top speed 1600 RPM, rack on the column for the round table, depth stop on the quill. Morse 2 taper, all I have done to it is fit a 10 mm keyless Chuck. The Chester I bought as a demo model (fairly cheap) from an exhibition to save them putting it back in the truck. Just *feels* much more, shall I say *agricultural*, much bigger capacity, of course. 13 mm Chuck. The only (petty) irritation for me is the rubberised knobs on the downfeed have all started to rot. The Naerok is my “go to” machine, no doubt. You have to decide what work will you want it to do, then add a bit for vice, clamps etc, and what quality are you prepared to pay for?
 

DiyAddict

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I have a Meddings MB4 bench drill with a three phase motor and a VFD. This model has a back gear so I hardly ever need to change the pulley position. It doesn't have a rack & pinion table lift, but I get around this with a bottle jack under the table, with a small wooden adapter to align the jack and ensure the jack doesn't tip over. I bought it a couple of years ago from a dealer for £200 plus pallet delivery, so they are within your budget if you look around, but ebay ones seem to be nearer £400.

1. Yes, you can swing the table out of the way. My other Meddings is a floor standing monster with rack and pinion, and this also allows you to swing the table, but I'm not sure whether the newer ones allow you to do that.

2. I've looked at videos of users raising rack and pinion tables and they sway from side to side during the lift, so there's no way alignment is maintained. Hence, I'd say quill travel should be a major factor in your decision. 2 inches wouldn't work for me. The Meddings has 5" .

3. On small, new drills, the tables are easily light enough to lift by hand, so I agree you wouldn't need a lifting mechanism. The downside is that they tend to flex.

4. I think the table slot positions come into play more with small lightweight drills, and I know you have a size constraint. I use a an Axminster fence on mine for woodwork, and a small but beefy 'Nippy' vice for metal. There's rarely any need to clamp the vice, and when I do, a single bolt suffices. Don't forget that you can also swing the head in a sideways arc, which allows extra positioning freedom.

Personally, I'd always go for old iron over the chinese offerings which just dont have the stiffness, but a lot of old drills are knackered. Look out for damaged morse tapers, excessive quill play/bearing noise, and cracks in the castings near the clamping points. Get a good one and you will never look back. If you're happy to change pulley positions, you can pick up a Meddings Drill-tru on ebay within your budget. It's virtually identical to the MB4 but without the back gear.
 

ossieosborne

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You don't neccessarily need a rack and pinion to move the table of a bench mounted drill press vertically. I use a car scissor jack under the table of my Fobco Star.
 

AES

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IMHO that sounds like v.hard work compared to winding a handle?

Yeah, and IMO, somewhat inconvenient compared to turning a handle too.

But at least the OP now has a number of differing options to think about in terms of what will be really important to him and what jobs he does.
 

recipio

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Like a bandsaw , power is everything in a pillar drill. The smaller benchtop drills usually have a weak 350 watt motor. They are simply not designed to drill 30 mm holes all day long. I have a 10 year old Ryobi and managed to burn out the motor by drilling 25 mm x 30 holes in plywood. Apart from that I could say variable speed is a great bonus as it comes with a digital readout ( on the Ryobi anyway.) They seem to be gone off the market but would be worth a punt secondhand.
 

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