Drill presses aren’t that cheap, and when you finally get one, you want that tool to last as long as possible.
As owners of many tools, we, as DIYers or woodworkers, should always strive to maintain our tools and equipment regularly as a preventative measure against mechanical failure.
Proper drill press maintenance can not only save you money, but also prevent you from wasting time on broken equipment.
A drill press is nevertheless easy to maintain and requires little time.
To maintain a drill press, it is sufficient to check the belts once a month, lubricate the moving parts, and check for rust, strength, and loose parts once a week.
Column drills are still often overlooked because they are not directly linked to maintenance. Everyone sees them as sturdy and durable machines, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need occasional maintenance.
In this post, I’ll explain how to maintain a drill press and what to look for. Regular, quick yet effective checks can help you get the most out of your drill press.
- The most important drill press parts
- What do you need to maintain a drill press?
- Drill press maintenance in 6 easy steps
- How often should you maintain a drill press?
The most important drill press parts
Before you think about maintaining a drill press, it is good that you know all the most important parts. Knowing your machine inside and out will give you better insight into which parts need maintenance.
Knowing these drill press parts will make the rest of this article easier to understand.
I discuss the most important drill press components below.
Drill chuck: This is where your drills will be stored. There is a little hole on the side of the chuck for a wrench. The chuck is locked and unlocked with this key, which allows bits to be inserted and removed. The drill head that comes with your drill press, in most cases, is the JT33.
The chuck arbor is a long metal rod that connects the chuck to the shaft, which is the motor’s turning mechanism. A tapered press connection implies the chuck is solely kept in place by friction.
Spindle: A belt connects the drill press’s spindle to the motor.
The head, the motor, and the belts are all part of the same system. The drill press motor is a high-torque electric motor that uses belts in the head to power the machine. The head is simply a covering for the belt and gear inside. To modify the drill press’s speed, move the belts around on the pulleys.
The drill press is secured to your workstation or the floor by the base. Screw slots are also included for fastening the machine. This is required to ensure that when functioning, there is little vibration and runout.
A column joins the head with the base of the drill, providing support. The table is supported by a column made of a robust tube that can be lifted and lowered.
Handle: This regulates the drill’s depth in relation to the table. Every time you drill, the handle is utilized to control the depth of the bit.
The drill press table is there to assist you with your task. The table’s height can be adjusted for various jobs, but once you start editing, it stays the same. To secure your vise, utilize the slots carved into the table.
What do you need to maintain a drill press?
To maintain a drill press you can get started with a minimum of tools:
- Dry lubricant spray
- A clean rag
- an air compressor with a blow gun
If you find parts that are damaged, you will have to replace them as soon as possible so that the operation of the drill press and your safety is assured at all times.
What is dry lubricant spray?
Dry lubricants are lubricants in which the solvents evaporate quickly after application and leave a dry film. Dry lubricants are good for lubricating moving parts that come into contact with dust and dirt because the dust doesn’t stick.
If too much is used when using these lubricants, wipe off the excess. The disadvantage of dry lubricants is that they do not displace water and wear quite quickly under load, requiring more frequent reapplication.
Drill press maintenance in 6 easy steps
Now that you know more about the drill press and drill press maintenance, we can move on to the drill press maintenance checklist. It consists of 6 simple steps which are explained below. After following all the drill press maintenance steps in this drill press maintenance checklist, you can be sure that your drill press has received the best care it needs.
The pulleys and drive belt
The belts and pulleys are an important part of transferring the rotations from the motor to the drill bit and are used extensively in a drill press. It is therefore very important to carry out some checks on this.
Remove the cover and check the belt and pulleys for good condition.
We start with the state of the pulley. To carry out a check on the pulleys, check the following points:
- Are the pulleys still in place?
- Is there wear that allows them to move freely on the pulley shaft?
- Are there any burrs that could possibly damage the belt?
After the pulleys, it’s time to check the belt. You do this by checking the following points:
- Is the belt slack and stretched?
- Does the belt have all its teeth or grooves?
- What is the condition of the belt? Are there cracks, is the belt crumbling?
Then check the belt tension.
The belt should not be overtightened as this will damage and wear the belt and wear it out before its time.
However, if the belt is too slack, your drill press will lose power and the belt may slip, causing all engine performance to be lost.
It’s simple to check the belt tension. With one finger, push the belt halfway between the two pulleys. You should be able to push the belt inward up to 1/2 inch (12 mm) deep when doing so. If you can press further, tighten the belt more; if you can barely push the belt in, loosen it.
In my article, What Drill Press Speed Should I Use? (+Drill Press Speed Chart), you can see how to tighten a belt and how to position the belt to use the correct speed.
Side note: some machines like the Bosch PBD40 do not have pulleys and a belt but an electronic speed controller. This check is therefore not necessary with these machines.
Lubricating the moving parts.
A drill press has quite a few moving parts. To keep your drill press performing and working as it should, it is important to lubricate these rotating or moving parts. But lubrication also has other advantages. I go through them below.
In this section I will suggest products that you can use to maintain these parts, however, always refer to the manufacturer’s manual when lubricating those moving parts to ensure you select the correct oil and lubricant.
This is a solid part of the drill press, but it can also wear out over time. Check this part for damage and treat it with dry lubricant spray. It can happen that the drill press chuck just comes loose while working. To solve this problem my article, why does my drill press chuck keep falling out can help you.
The chuck arbor, spindle, and handle
These parts ensure that you can lower the drill. Just like with the chuck, you can treat these parts with dry lubricant spray.
Table and column
These are rare, but worth a visual inspection to check for cracks or breaks in the frame. Here, too, you can treat it with dry lubricant spray.
As I mentioned earlier, lubrication is not only good for making moving parts move smoothly, but a lubricant has other functions as well.
Since the drill press is usually made of metal, it can rust if it is exposed to moisture in the air for a long time. Lubricants can prevent rust from forming on the metal by sealing the metal from the moisture in the air.
Keeps dust and dirt out.
The drill press is normally protected from dust and grime by the protective housing they are built with. However, there are parts that are still visible and dust is very hard to stop as it is very fine and this gives the chance to get into every little gap or hole. Lubricants can seal these small gaps, making it harder for dust and dirt to get in. Regularly applying a new layer of lubricant is recommended to always keep these openings closed as much as possible.
Remove the dust
One of the most serious issues in woodworking operations is dust. Dust can float for a long period in the air before landing on the floor, your workbench, or your tools.
Dust can collect on the drill press, causing it to grow unclean, rust faster, and allow dust to enter via small cracks.
As a result, clean the drill press on a regular basis.
This can be accomplished by vacuuming the dust or blowing it away using compressed air.
When working with compressed air, it’s best to do so outside or in a well-ventilated room. When blowing away the dust, use minimal pressure; otherwise, the dust will not blow away, but will enter much deeper.
Check the cable and plug
This is a much forgotten but very important step. Before checking the cable and plug, disconnect your drill press and then visually inspect the entire length of the cable. Look for signs of damage, especially where the cable meets the plug. This is the point that can sometimes come loose from frequent use or when the cord has been pulled while plugged in.
The plug should also be looked at. Look for any damage or signs of discoloration. Noticing this could be a sign of overheating. If this is the case, the plug must be replaced immediately.
Check The connection between the base and the workbench
A drill press is a machine that produces a lot of vibrations. As a result, bolts are frequently used to secure the drill press’s base to the workbench.
While doing your drill press maintenance, make sure these bolts haven’t come loose by inspecting them, so the stability of the drill press is ensured.
Check the On/off Buttons
The last step in this drill press maintenance checklist is to look at the on and off buttons.
These buttons are provided by the manufacturers with dust caps or other ways to keep dust out. Check that there is no damage here that could allow the dust to sneak in.
If there is a safety button that you can use in emergency situations, also test whether it certainly still works.
How often should you maintain a drill press?
Not all 6 steps on how to maintain a drill press that I went through above need to be performed with the same regularity.
To maintain a drill press, it is best to lubricate it once a week and remove the dust. Visual checks such as belt tension and broken parts checks are sufficient if you do them once a month.
However, a full drill press maintenance as described in all the above steps together only takes 1 or 2 minutes, so why not go over the complete drill press maintenance checklist weekly? With proper drill press maintenance, you will be sure of a good working drill press. That way, you can get started right away at any time.
Do you want to know more about the drill press? Check out the list with all the articles I wrote about the drill press here.
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