Pillar drill recommendations (240v, single phase)

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Wilson joinery

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Hi all

I’m thinking about getting a bench mounted pillar drill (drill press?). I’ve searched the forum and have seen that startrite mercuries often get recommended, are there any others that I should be looking out for? I actually had an old Churchill drill press which I believe was from the 1950’s or so but I sold it as it scared the hell out of me!! So I’m preferably looking at a British made drill but not too old however I wouldn’t rule out an Axminster offering or similar if any of you would recommend one of those? I’m fairly handy with most things but electrics aren’t my strong point so that’s why I’d like a more modern old one if you catch my drift. Otherwise I’d probably have to look into fitting new electrics and that’s something that’s probably beyond me. Oh yeah and if any of you have something suitable that you’re looking to sell then let me know!!

Cheers
Pete
 
Hi all

I’m thinking about getting a bench mounted pillar drill (drill press?). I’ve searched the forum and have seen that startrite mercuries often get recommended, are there any others that I should be looking out for? I actually had an old Churchill drill press which I believe was from the 1950’s or so but I sold it as it scared the hell out of me!! So I’m preferably looking at a British made drill but not too old however I wouldn’t rule out an Axminster offering or similar if any of you would recommend one of those? I’m fairly handy with most things but electrics aren’t my strong point so that’s why I’d like a more modern old one if you catch my drift. Otherwise I’d probably have to look into fitting new electrics and that’s something that’s probably beyond me. Oh yeah and if any of you have something suitable that you’re looking to sell then let me know!!

Cheers
Pete
As well as the old British titans look for sealey or Korean Naerok drills - well built model machines which go for a song.
 
Startrite Mercury
Meddings DrillTru or Pacera
Fobco Star/Universal, or 7/8
Elliott Progress

All can be found in single phase, most have been discussed on here at some time and get good reviews. They are older drills but in looked after condition nothing would need doing to electrics.

Fitz
 
Hi all

I’m thinking about getting a bench mounted pillar drill (drill press?). I’ve searched the forum and have seen that startrite mercuries often get recommended, are there any others that I should be looking out for? I actually had an old Churchill drill press which I believe was from the 1950’s or so but I sold it as it scared the hell out of me!! So I’m preferably looking at a British made drill but not too old however I wouldn’t rule out an Axminster offering or similar if any of you would recommend one of those? I’m fairly handy with most things but electrics aren’t my strong point so that’s why I’d like a more modern old one if you catch my drift. Otherwise I’d probably have to look into fitting new electrics and that’s something that’s probably beyond me. Oh yeah and if any of you have something suitable that you’re looking to sell then let me know!!

Cheers
Pete
I recently purchased an Axminster radial arm pillar drill from their Ebay outlet store that was significantly reduced. I absolutely love it. It also comes with a keyless chuck which is great, as I'm a genius at misplacing chuck keys :)
 
Many years ago I purchased a bench mounted pillar drill. I noticed that on mine the pillar is the exact diameter of a scaffold pole. A pole was dule set into the floor of the work shop. A floating T piece was added (along with a short length of scaffold - will become clear why in a minute)so that the table can still be used, at the top of the "pillar" a t piece was added at 90 degrees in to which another scoffold pole. Another t piece at the end with a short scaffold pole to which the drill was attached. Hey presto a really robust radial arm pillar drill which cost me the princely sum of the drill( around £50 second hand) and a night in the pub for my friend (who owns a scaffolding buisness) the drill is still used regularly only takes a couple of minutes to adjust the set up saved me loads of money. Is still accurate stands me in less than £100 pounds. Worth a go if your on a budget you might be like me and get on with the end result so well that there is no need to change it !
 
I recently purchased an Axminster radial arm pillar drill from their Ebay outlet store that was significantly reduced. I absolutely love it. It also comes with a keyless chuck which is great, as I'm a genius at misplacing chuck keys :)
I lash the key or pin spanner to the lead at the plug, it makes me unplug power tools to change bits/blades/discs etc. and I haven't lost one in 40+ years.
 
For a bench mounted pillar drill, what are you actually going to be using it for? How often? You might laugh but I have one of these PBD 40 Bench Drill | Bosch DIY not for commercial use, but for the holes I want to drill it's perfect. Laser cross hairs (which you can adjust to high precision if you take the side cover off - mine were slightly off out the box), digital depth gauge, 2 speed gearbox and variable speed drive, nearly 1hp motor. Bit plasticky in parts (like the levers for depth control which you might want to tweak) but overall a very handy little bench-top. Maybe not for highest precision engineering, but for wood it's good.
 
I've just got myself one of those Bosch PBD40s, to replace a really old bench pillar drill branded Clarke. So old it had an on off switch, no NVR and no stop button.

So here are my thoughts after a week or so.

First, Bosch don't publish key data on throat and max chuck to bed, I went through numerous user reviews and found throat 120, I reckon its a bit more but 120 is safe, max chuck to bed 280. So its bigger than it looks in the pictures, stroke is an impressive 90mm.

Bed is bigger than most diy pillar drills, 330x350 they say, so it takes up a bit more bench space. Having said that it has no overhang to the rear or side so overall takes up a bit less space. I've mounted mine on a 3 sided 2x2 sub frame so you can get a hand under to remove shavings and dropped drill bits. It doesn't really need fixing down so a plus for those short of space is that its light enough to move easily and put on the floor beside the bench when not needed. Its all sturdy alloy so I don't expect any rust prpblems in my cold workshop/garage.

Some things are excellent, the electronic continuously variable speed, the way the whole body can easily be moved up and down to suit various jobs, the electronic depth indicator (you press to set zero when the bit touches the job, then it tells you how far you have gone) and a depth stop for repeat work, the light, the laser cross hairs. All so much easier and quicker than my former bench pillar. The clamp, once you get used to it, is really quick and means I will never think "might just hand hold this", but you can swing it away if you don't want to use it. Fence is useful, and drilling round stock should be fine because the transverse 'groove' is a decently deep V and the clamp will work well.

Chuck - gets a not-sure yet rating from me. Quick release but you need to think carefully and it almost feels like you need 3 hands to fit small bits. I'm sure I will get used to it.

It doesn't have a tiltable base or table. That's a minus if you do lots of angled drilling but a big plus if you don't. Its always at 90 degrees, in the past I've spent ages making sure my tiltable table is 'just so'. It should be easy to make 30 or 45 degree jigs to sit on the base but I've not played yet. Another plus is that the chuck is always over the hole and the transverse slot, unlike a conventional tabel which can swing about.

BUT, there is one big but - side to side movement in the non-adjustable spindle bearings. Its definitely in there not in the chuck. If you search for spindle play in PBD40 it's 'a thing' - not just my example. Using a brad point bit is fine, and I'm sure a twist drill will be fine in well punched metal. A conventional twist bit in hardwood can move about a bit when you start and be thrown off a bit by grain. My brief experience makes me think that high speed + slow feed to start with helps a lot, and brad point gives no issues. If you are after absolute precision this might not be for you, but its much better than the clanky old thing I had before so I will stick with it - probably. 30 days to decide.

So overall I really like the design and useability. Slight worry about absolute accuracy.

(Does anyone know a source of reasonably priced brad point bits in 0.5mm sizes, approx 4 to 10mm? MIne are deWalt 4-5-6-8-10 so not even a 7 and 9. I can find lots of sets at £70 but that/s OTT for my needs)
 
I've just got myself one of those Bosch PBD40s, to replace a really old bench pillar drill branded Clarke. So old it had an on off switch, no NVR and no stop button.

So here are my thoughts after a week or so.

First, Bosch don't publish key data on throat and max chuck to bed, I went through numerous user reviews and found throat 120, I reckon its a bit more but 120 is safe, max chuck to bed 280. So its bigger than it looks in the pictures, stroke is an impressive 90mm.

Bed is bigger than most diy pillar drills, 330x350 they say, so it takes up a bit more bench space. Having said that it has no overhang to the rear or side so overall takes up a bit less space. I've mounted mine on a 3 sided 2x2 sub frame so you can get a hand under to remove shavings and dropped drill bits. It doesn't really need fixing down so a plus for those short of space is that its light enough to move easily and put on the floor beside the bench when not needed. Its all sturdy alloy so I don't expect any rust prpblems in my cold workshop/garage.

Some things are excellent, the electronic continuously variable speed, the way the whole body can easily be moved up and down to suit various jobs, the electronic depth indicator (you press to set zero when the bit touches the job, then it tells you how far you have gone) and a depth stop for repeat work, the light, the laser cross hairs. All so much easier and quicker than my former bench pillar. The clamp, once you get used to it, is really quick and means I will never think "might just hand hold this", but you can swing it away if you don't want to use it. Fence is useful, and drilling round stock should be fine because the transverse 'groove' is a decently deep V and the clamp will work well.

Chuck - gets a not-sure yet rating from me. Quick release but you need to think carefully and it almost feels like you need 3 hands to fit small bits. I'm sure I will get used to it.

It doesn't have a tiltable base or table. That's a minus if you do lots of angled drilling but a big plus if you don't. Its always at 90 degrees, in the past I've spent ages making sure my tiltable table is 'just so'. It should be easy to make 30 or 45 degree jigs to sit on the base but I've not played yet. Another plus is that the chuck is always over the hole and the transverse slot, unlike a conventional tabel which can swing about.

BUT, there is one big but - side to side movement in the non-adjustable spindle bearings. Its definitely in there not in the chuck. If you search for spindle play in PBD40 it's 'a thing' - not just my example. Using a brad point bit is fine, and I'm sure a twist drill will be fine in well punched metal. A conventional twist bit in hardwood can move about a bit when you start and be thrown off a bit by grain. My brief experience makes me think that high speed + slow feed to start with helps a lot, and brad point gives no issues. If you are after absolute precision this might not be for you, but its much better than the clanky old thing I had before so I will stick with it - probably. 30 days to decide.

So overall I really like the design and useability. Slight worry about absolute accuracy.

(Does anyone know a source of reasonably priced brad point bits in 0.5mm sizes, approx 4 to 10mm? MIne are deWalt 4-5-6-8-10 so not even a 7 and 9. I can find lots of sets at £70 but that/s OTT for my needs)
Can you not buy them by the 10 from UK drills or Rennie drills on eBay?
 
I also have the Bosch - and you will see a number of threads about it on this forum... it is generally seen very positively.
On key point though is that it is almost always reduced in the Amazon Black Friday Sale, so look out for discounts... it is currently at £280 reduced from the nominal RRP of £339 but you can see historic prices here: https://uk.camelcamelcamel.com/product/B00766C1A8 and it has gone below £200 and frequently down below £230 - either of which is a good price.

lovely machine to use and the digital depth gauge is superb - my BIL came over recently to do some fettling of bed pieces and we set up a jig, clamped it on and then drilled a sequence of perfect holes all exactly 20mm deep...
 
I've just got myself one of those Bosch PBD40s, to replace a really old bench pillar drill branded Clarke. So old it had an on off switch, no NVR and no stop button.

So here are my thoughts after a week or so.

First, Bosch don't publish key data on throat and max chuck to bed, I went through numerous user reviews and found throat 120, I reckon its a bit more but 120 is safe, max chuck to bed 280. So its bigger than it looks in the pictures, stroke is an impressive 90mm.

Bed is bigger than most diy pillar drills, 330x350 they say, so it takes up a bit more bench space. Having said that it has no overhang to the rear or side so overall takes up a bit less space. I've mounted mine on a 3 sided 2x2 sub frame so you can get a hand under to remove shavings and dropped drill bits. It doesn't really need fixing down so a plus for those short of space is that its light enough to move easily and put on the floor beside the bench when not needed. Its all sturdy alloy so I don't expect any rust prpblems in my cold workshop/garage.

Some things are excellent, the electronic continuously variable speed, the way the whole body can easily be moved up and down to suit various jobs, the electronic depth indicator (you press to set zero when the bit touches the job, then it tells you how far you have gone) and a depth stop for repeat work, the light, the laser cross hairs. All so much easier and quicker than my former bench pillar. The clamp, once you get used to it, is really quick and means I will never think "might just hand hold this", but you can swing it away if you don't want to use it. Fence is useful, and drilling round stock should be fine because the transverse 'groove' is a decently deep V and the clamp will work well.

Chuck - gets a not-sure yet rating from me. Quick release but you need to think carefully and it almost feels like you need 3 hands to fit small bits. I'm sure I will get used to it.

It doesn't have a tiltable base or table. That's a minus if you do lots of angled drilling but a big plus if you don't. Its always at 90 degrees, in the past I've spent ages making sure my tiltable table is 'just so'. It should be easy to make 30 or 45 degree jigs to sit on the base but I've not played yet. Another plus is that the chuck is always over the hole and the transverse slot, unlike a conventional tabel which can swing about.

BUT, there is one big but - side to side movement in the non-adjustable spindle bearings. Its definitely in there not in the chuck. If you search for spindle play in PBD40 it's 'a thing' - not just my example. Using a brad point bit is fine, and I'm sure a twist drill will be fine in well punched metal. A conventional twist bit in hardwood can move about a bit when you start and be thrown off a bit by grain. My brief experience makes me think that high speed + slow feed to start with helps a lot, and brad point gives no issues. If you are after absolute precision this might not be for you, but its much better than the clanky old thing I had before so I will stick with it - probably. 30 days to decide.

So overall I really like the design and useability. Slight worry about absolute accuracy.

(Does anyone know a source of reasonably priced brad point bits in 0.5mm sizes, approx 4 to 10mm? MIne are deWalt 4-5-6-8-10 so not even a 7 and 9. I can find lots of sets at £70 but that/s OTT for my needs)
Reviews I’ve seen of the Bosch PDB40 have been pretty scathing regards the accuracy and ability cope with anything other than light duty. I wish you luck!
 
Reviews I’ve seen of the Bosch PDB40 have been pretty scathing regards the accuracy and ability cope with anything other than light duty. I wish you luck!
What do you consider anything but light duty work? Mine will happily push a 40-50mm forstner bit through oak with no issues... not sure how much more heavy duty I would need? The only limitation I have is size of work - because the table doesn't swing you have a very fixed height capacity, where a floor-standing pillar drill with a moveable table would have bigger capacity, but if that were ever to be an issue I would add a floor standing drill to the workshop... the Bosch has worked flawlessly for everything I have needed for c. 18 months
 
I've just got myself one of those Bosch PBD40s, to replace a really old bench pillar drill branded Clarke. So old it had an on off switch, no NVR and no stop button.

So here are my thoughts after a week or so.

First, Bosch don't publish key data on throat and max chuck to bed, I went through numerous user reviews and found throat 120, I reckon its a bit more but 120 is safe, max chuck to bed 280. So its bigger than it looks in the pictures, stroke is an impressive 90mm.

Bed is bigger than most diy pillar drills, 330x350 they say, so it takes up a bit more bench space. Having said that it has no overhang to the rear or side so overall takes up a bit less space. I've mounted mine on a 3 sided 2x2 sub frame so you can get a hand under to remove shavings and dropped drill bits. It doesn't really need fixing down so a plus for those short of space is that its light enough to move easily and put on the floor beside the bench when not needed. Its all sturdy alloy so I don't expect any rust prpblems in my cold workshop/garage.

Some things are excellent, the electronic continuously variable speed, the way the whole body can easily be moved up and down to suit various jobs, the electronic depth indicator (you press to set zero when the bit touches the job, then it tells you how far you have gone) and a depth stop for repeat work, the light, the laser cross hairs. All so much easier and quicker than my former bench pillar. The clamp, once you get used to it, is really quick and means I will never think "might just hand hold this", but you can swing it away if you don't want to use it. Fence is useful, and drilling round stock should be fine because the transverse 'groove' is a decently deep V and the clamp will work well.

Chuck - gets a not-sure yet rating from me. Quick release but you need to think carefully and it almost feels like you need 3 hands to fit small bits. I'm sure I will get used to it.

It doesn't have a tiltable base or table. That's a minus if you do lots of angled drilling but a big plus if you don't. Its always at 90 degrees, in the past I've spent ages making sure my tiltable table is 'just so'. It should be easy to make 30 or 45 degree jigs to sit on the base but I've not played yet. Another plus is that the chuck is always over the hole and the transverse slot, unlike a conventional tabel which can swing about.

BUT, there is one big but - side to side movement in the non-adjustable spindle bearings. Its definitely in there not in the chuck. If you search for spindle play in PBD40 it's 'a thing' - not just my example. Using a brad point bit is fine, and I'm sure a twist drill will be fine in well punched metal. A conventional twist bit in hardwood can move about a bit when you start and be thrown off a bit by grain. My brief experience makes me think that high speed + slow feed to start with helps a lot, and brad point gives no issues. If you are after absolute precision this might not be for you, but its much better than the clanky old thing I had before so I will stick with it - probably. 30 days to decide.

So overall I really like the design and useability. Slight worry about absolute accuracy.

(Does anyone know a source of reasonably priced brad point bits in 0.5mm sizes, approx 4 to 10mm? MIne are deWalt 4-5-6-8-10 so not even a 7 and 9. I can find lots of sets at £70 but that/s OTT for my needs)
Rutlands do a lot of different sets and all ways are on sale
 
Reviews I’ve seen of the Bosch PDB40 have been pretty scathing regards the accuracy and ability cope with anything other than light duty. I wish you luck!
Comments on here are from actual owners. Agree - not sure what "light duty" is, but mine has been used loads (had it about 2 years), and with a nearly 1hp motor it's certainly not lacking in grunt in low ratio. If by "accuracy" you mean the cross-hairs laser, I can agree out the box mine were 1mm out, but its 5 minutes work to take the side cover off and adjust the allen key adjustment. I don't even find the very small amount of play in the spindle an issue for woodwork - it's nowt to bother about for me. Would I use it for precision engineering in metal? maybe not. Would I buy it for commercial use day in day out? again probably not. But for DIY/occasional use it's a handy little tool.
 
Thanks for various suggestions for Brad point bits. UK drills don't do half mm sizes, Rennie don't seem to do them at all. I had rejected Rutland, £70 ish sets, but I now see a set at £25 so will go there.

The only limitation I have is size of work - because the table doesn't swing you have a very fixed height capacity, where a floor-standing pillar drill with a moveable table would have bigger capacity,

I've seen one review where the user describes mounting the base with the pillar at the edge of the bench and turning the pillar 180 degrees so the only limit is the distance to the floor. Might try that one day.

The more I use it the happier I am, there are always scathing reviews but I try to read lots and see what the balance of opinion is.
 
I've just got myself one of those Bosch PBD40s, to replace a really old bench pillar drill branded Clarke. So old it had an on off switch, no NVR and no stop button.

So here are my thoughts after a week or so.

First, Bosch don't publish key data on throat and max chuck to bed, I went through numerous user reviews and found throat 120, I reckon its a bit more but 120 is safe, max chuck to bed 280. So its bigger than it looks in the pictures, stroke is an impressive 90mm.

Bed is bigger than most diy pillar drills, 330x350 they say, so it takes up a bit more bench space. Having said that it has no overhang to the rear or side so overall takes up a bit less space. I've mounted mine on a 3 sided 2x2 sub frame so you can get a hand under to remove shavings and dropped drill bits. It doesn't really need fixing down so a plus for those short of space is that its light enough to move easily and put on the floor beside the bench when not needed. Its all sturdy alloy so I don't expect any rust prpblems in my cold workshop/garage.

Some things are excellent, the electronic continuously variable speed, the way the whole body can easily be moved up and down to suit various jobs, the electronic depth indicator (you press to set zero when the bit touches the job, then it tells you how far you have gone) and a depth stop for repeat work, the light, the laser cross hairs. All so much easier and quicker than my former bench pillar. The clamp, once you get used to it, is really quick and means I will never think "might just hand hold this", but you can swing it away if you don't want to use it. Fence is useful, and drilling round stock should be fine because the transverse 'groove' is a decently deep V and the clamp will work well.

Chuck - gets a not-sure yet rating from me. Quick release but you need to think carefully and it almost feels like you need 3 hands to fit small bits. I'm sure I will get used to it.

It doesn't have a tiltable base or table. That's a minus if you do lots of angled drilling but a big plus if you don't. Its always at 90 degrees, in the past I've spent ages making sure my tiltable table is 'just so'. It should be easy to make 30 or 45 degree jigs to sit on the base but I've not played yet. Another plus is that the chuck is always over the hole and the transverse slot, unlike a conventional tabel which can swing about.

BUT, there is one big but - side to side movement in the non-adjustable spindle bearings. Its definitely in there not in the chuck. If you search for spindle play in PBD40 it's 'a thing' - not just my example. Using a brad point bit is fine, and I'm sure a twist drill will be fine in well punched metal. A conventional twist bit in hardwood can move about a bit when you start and be thrown off a bit by grain. My brief experience makes me think that high speed + slow feed to start with helps a lot, and brad point gives no issues. If you are after absolute precision this might not be for you, but its much better than the clanky old thing I had before so I will stick with it - probably. 30 days to decide.

So overall I really like the design and useability. Slight worry about absolute accuracy.

(Does anyone know a source of reasonably priced brad point bits in 0.5mm sizes, approx 4 to 10mm? MIne are deWalt 4-5-6-8-10 so not even a 7 and 9. I can find lots of sets at £70 but that/s OTT for my needs)

Here???

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/22466541...ar=523514359018&widget_ver=artemis&media=COPY
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/16353982...tixoXeJTeO&var=&widget_ver=artemis&media=COPY
 
Comments on here are from actual owners. Agree - not sure what "light duty" is, but mine has been used loads (had it about 2 years), and with a nearly 1hp motor it's certainly not lacking in grunt in low ratio. If by "accuracy" you mean the cross-hairs laser, I can agree out the box mine were 1mm out, but its 5 minutes work to take the side cover off and adjust the allen key adjustment. I don't even find the very small amount of play in the spindle an issue for woodwork - it's nowt to bother about for me. Would I use it for precision engineering in metal? maybe not. Would I buy it for commercial use day in day out? again probably not. But for DIY/occasional use it's a handy little tool.
Just what I’ve read from reviews by owners. Perhaps there have been quality issues with some batches? User setup error? I’m very interested in getting one as my inherited cheapo 500w Ferm struggled with drilling ash for tea light holders. I am about to do a project drilling 8mm mild steel plate. It may cope but I’m looking for an excuse to replace it lol 😊
 
User setup error?

There's the drill as in drilling machine and drill as in drill bit. If the latter is blunt you could use a supercharged V8 engines and a 16 ton weight on the handle and it would still struggle. The other thing is expectations. I don't expect to drill steel at production line speeds, but with a good bit, the right speed, lubrication and a modest feed rate most machines should do most things, albeit slowly.

I often wonder if some reviewers have unrealistic expectations about what a £300 drilling machine can do.
 
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