A drill press is a tool that is engineered to accurately drill holes of different shapes and sizes in all kinds of materials. These include wood products, metal pieces, plastic and other similar items that can be worked upon and used for diverse purposes. While there are different types of drills, the drill press is achieved more precision due to its sturdy composition and vertical alignment. This allows it to drill from a standing position and create relatively large holes much easier than the conventional hand operated the drill. Standard twist bits, Forstner bits, and spade bits are some of the bits that are used to drill such holes.
However, the drill press must be set up carefully to ensure that it functions precisely. This largely depends on alignment and positioning. The process of getting a drill press properly tuned up involves basic maintenance operations that should be carried out at intervals to keep it functioning at optimal capacity. Here are the key steps to help you align your drill press the right way.
Give it a stable base
The foundation on which a drill press is placed plays a vital role in how it performs. A solid foundation ensures that the base and stand of your press are firm and secure. Due to the varying weight placed upon the platform on which the drill press is placed, it is important to ensure that it is placed on a completely flat, and stable enough to handle the weight of the drill press and the accompanying workplaces that will rest on it.
A floor standing drill press might be easier to set up compared to the table mounted type but the drill itself is a considerably heavy tool and a shaky foundation can lead to accidents that can affect the personnel operating it and the work being done. Although the base of the drill itself is quite heavy, it will not hold under a lot of lateral pressure. You need to employ the use of an anchor and a strong lag bolt along with washers to ensure that the base is securely fixed to the surface on which it is resting.
The column will rest directly on the base and should be fastened firmly. Riveted bolts should be used to link the column to the base and the connection should be checked by applying some pressure on the column from multiple directions to see if it would give way. A well-fixed column will remain immovable and it is ready to receive the motor head that will spearhead the drilling process.
Mount the motor head
After you have secured the column, the next step is to place the motor head on it It is necessary to study the type of drill press before mounting the head. Some models adjust the height of the drill press by raising or lowering the head. Mount the head and tighten each bolt multiple times to ensure that the connection is firm and stable.
If the motor head moves in any way or rotates on the column, it is not fixed firmly enough and you should loosen and tighten the bolts again.
Check the table
Your drill press table needs to be positioned at an angle of 90° to the movement of the quill to drill square holes to the face of the board. Check this position to save you the stress of repeatedly drilling the same hole to achieve the right amount of accuracy. Place the center of the table about eight inches below the chuck of the drill press and clamp it securely. Put a cylindrical piece that is less than a diameter in thickness into the chuck and lock the jaws.
The next step is to place a combination square on the table and bring the vertical part of the square in line with the side of the drill punch. The sides of the punch and the square should align perfectly if the table is in the correct position. An uneven space between the two indicates that you need to adjust the table.
Conduct this check on both sides and tilt the table until it is in perfect alignment with the square. Your table is now ready to drill accurately to the face of the table and any other workpiece you intend to work on.
Secondly, your table needs a degree of flexibility to be able to rotate in two directions away from the column. Loosen the table and try to turn it left and right. If you notice that it isn’t moving as freely as it should, move the set screws on top of the rack gear system around until it rotates around the column as required.
Keep your rack and pinion gears clean and moving
Most drill press types have a rack and pinion gear system mounted directly on the column to allow the table to move up and down depending on the position of the quill and chuck. However, constantly using the drill press over time without adequate maintenance can leave the gears choked with accumulated particles of sawdust and other waste products generated by the different workpieces. This can affect the smooth motion of the installation and interfere with the maneuvering of the table in different positions.
This means that the rack gears need to be cleaned out entirely to restore the seamless movement required during the drilling process. Apply a cleaning spray to the gears and use a clean piece of non-abrasive clothing to swipe down the dirt on it. Check the teeth for any dirt as well. Dust them clean with a strong brush and scrub out all the dust and wood particles within the rack.
Unclasp the table lock carefully and move the handle to lift and lower the table along the rack to check if it is moving as smoothly as it should. If its movement is hindered, the pinion gears need to be cleaned as well. Use a spray cleaner to flush out any hidden grime or goo hidden in the system and keep testing it until it is moving freely. When this happens, a dry silicone lubricant should be sprayed on the rack and pinion gears to ensure that it is operating functionally.
Your drill press is now ready to use Keeping your gears clean should be a periodic maintenance activity to keep your drill press working for the longest possible time It is a durable piece of equipment that needs to be kept as clean as possible at all times. If you have been doing this, you only need to conduct a routine check after your drill and table are in place.
Properly aligning your drill press will allow you to work smartly and accurately without wasting precious time. Stopping in the middle of a drilling activity to correct the position of your table or tighten a few bolts will disrupt the flow of work and affect the accuracy of the drilling operation. In addition, skipping one of these steps could lead to physical injury as the weight of a toppled drill press can crush bones and damage flesh leaving you with an unplanned medical emergency.