Monday, August 11, 2008

New drill press

Biz news: several new pipes are available, including two Seasonal Beers and a really nice egg shape.

In a previous post I said that my old $100 drill press was really treating me poorly. For a couple years it had become progressively worse until pieces actually started breaking off, like the power switch for example. All of that I was able to deal with, until I discovered that it would no long drill a straight hole, and I decided that I needed a new one. When I went to drill a 1.5-inch hole in a piece of pine and it started to bog down, I was dead set on getting a new one.

Now, the problem with running out and buying a new drill press is that, all of them are pretty much made in the same factory in China. Seriously, take a good look at the benchtop drill presses the next time you're in a tool store. Once you get past the accessories like laser sights, built-in clamps or drill-stops, and the size of the table, they all are virtually identical. Look at the main casting for the head - it's the same casting for Delta, Jet, Hitachi, Task Force, Rigid, etc. The spindle is the same, the pulleys are identical, and so is the quill. So now you're left with a problem - why is the Hitachi 40% more than the Task Force?

The answer lies in what the brand is willing to pay for. Some brands are willing to pay the factory for the top-specced parts for their products, while others haggle and demand lowest pricing. The folks demanding lowest pricing tend to get the parts that don't quite meet spec. Just look at what Wal-Mart does with their suppliers - it's so bad that some manufacturers won't even support the products sold through Wal-Mart.

Back to tools. I did a bit of research and found that some brands ranked significantly higher in user satisfaction than others - specific to drill presses. Hitachi, Jet, and Powermatic seemed to do quite well. Delta and Rikon followed closely behind, and then the various store brands behind them. On top of this, I have a friend who is a cabinet maker who is now buying nothing but Hitachi tools - and this guy really works his tools hard. Based on all of that, I decided on the Hitachi 10" drill press.

I've been using the new drill press for about a week and a half now, and I must say I'm very pleased. I'm using it exclusively to drill pipe kits for sale on eBay, and it's got none of the stability and off-angle drilling issue my prior press had. It came with a laser sight, but honestly, It's not worth turning it on. It changes it's location based onthe hieght of the workpiece, and the difference of a couple inches in height means up to about a quarter of an inch in slew from front to back. It's best to leave it off and go by feel - the same way that we've been drilling for hundreds (thousands?) of years with great results.

And just to add some incentive, when I did finally head out to the big hardware store to get my drill press, they had dropped the price by $30. Nice! That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

And just to make sure we've got pipe-related content here: I finally figured out how to drill a consistent hole for the factory-turned stummels for the Countryman line. It's stupid simple, and I feel like an idiot for not doing it before. Expect a couple more of these in a day or two!