xlur8ed

Basic Drill Press Question(s)

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Hello all,

First time poster, name is Jason from Fargo, ND.  I have been accumulating tools and woodworking equipment for a year or so, and finally started into my first real project.  A nice dog kennel for inside the home.  I'm using 'stud' quality 2x4's for everything besides the top and bottom (and vertical bars, of course).

I used the straightest 2x4s I could get my hands on, but do not own a planer so I'm at the mercy of 'pretty straight'. 

I've already learned a lot (like don't sand/prime/paint the pieces before all holes are drilled), but have hit a frustrating brick wall with my cheap drill press.  I have the 10" Wen Drill Press special from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UKGLAS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and everytime I try and drill the holes for the 1/2" aluminum pipes, the drill press/bit is grabbing the test chunk of wood and ripping it out of my hands.  I started with an auger type 1/2" bit, and it would get 0.5" into the wood and grab it out of my hands and tweak itself in the wood and lock up the drill press.  I was smart enough to try it on scrap wood just to get a feel for it so I didn't ruin my otherwise finished pieces...but I still had no success getting the bit down to the desired 1.25" down in the 2x4.

Things I learned along the way:

Speed for a drill press matters.  The first 2 auger bits I tried were at speeds over 2800 and I let it run without any load...apparently per the packaging this is a rookie mistake and can warp the bit...which could potentially explain why I couldn't get the bit to go down very far before it grabs it and twisted it out of my hands.

I made 3 trips for different bits (yes, 3) last Sunday, and in the end ended up with a Forstner bit at 5/8" (Home Depot was out of 1/2" so I figured the extra play would be ok...not realizing a 1/2" rod in a 5/8" hole is WAY too much play...but I DID learn by this 3rd bit to lower the speed down to 2400, and I was able to get the bit all the way down in the wood. 

I hope to tackle the last of this project this weekend but would greatly appreciate advice from those more experienced than myself.  My research over the past few days has led me to buy the Wen Drill Press Table and Fence attachement, and some Irwin clamps.

 

With all that build up, here is my question(s): Should I be clamping down the piece I'm drilling into?  Is that something I should always do?  I feel like the high tech drill presses back in high school 20 years ago didn't require anything but a firm grasp...but we also were using small regular drill bits, nothing resembling a forstner bit/auger bit....

 

I've desired to get into this hobby for most of my life, and although I decided to cheap out on the drill press, absolutely everything else in my shop is new leading brand 18v product (I'm smart enough to avoid stating the exact brand on the internet for risk of topic derailment). 

 

My other worry is the chuck or spindal in my cheap Wen drill press isn't straight.  I feel like my success with the 5/8" bit drilling a perfect hole proves everything with the press is straight, but I honestly have no clue. 

 

Any help, guidance, mockery, humor is welcome.  I'd just really like to avoid the bit grabbing one of my painted finished pieces and sending me back to the miter saw, sander, priming, painting station again and again. 

 

Thank you kindly and I'll attach a picture of my build plans.

Dog Crate Build.jpg

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Welcome, good thing you didn't end up floating down the river this year I heard the flooding got dicy in some areas.

I remember setting the chuck in my drill press taking an extra try or 2 to get right. I'm not sure if yours came pre-installed but check those instructions again and make sure the chuck is installed with as little run out as possible.

The RPM you are running is still really high. I almost always error on the low side for my drill press. I drill most everything at 600 rpm or lower this is 1/8" bits and up. I recently had to drop that for a tapered plug cutter but that's a different story. Most of the time slow isn't going to hurt you it'll just make things a bit slower.

If you ever decide to graduate to hardwood the guy that runs valley hardwood in Dillworth is a super nice guy and humored me for a few hours one day.

If you feel more comfortable with pine as you get started i get that. If you have a table saw and can rip boards I typically get some 2x10s and rip them to width. The wider 2x material is a bit more expensive but generally gets a higher grade of wood and is usually dried a bit better. Also I have better luck buying pine from the box stores and storing it for a few months before using it. It usually comes in pretty wet and should dry a bit before making indoor furniture related stuff.

IIRC there is some new guy in Fargo that was specializing in urban timbers or something as well. Think they were downtown but they may not have made it, nope guess they are making it, Dakota Timber. never mind they are way up north by the dome.

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Clamping isn't a bad idea but if you are drilling a series of holes in a straight line down a piece you should clamp a fence on the table. You should aleays have something to counter act the torque of the drill bit. 

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A woodworker without clamps is no woodworker! :D

Buy some clamps, and clamp and extra piece of 2x4 to the table to act as a fence. True auger bits are meant for very low rpm, as in turned by hand in a brace. The forstner will give you clean holes, but also needs low speed to reduce heating. Like @chestnut said, set the machine as low as possible.

Another tip - working with softwoods, a cheap paddle bit does a pretty good job, so long as it is sharp. Bonus with paddles is that you can file down the edges to fine tune the size. Take care to remove equal amounts from both sides to keep it balanced.

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I agree with others. Your choice of an auger bit and high speeds is a bit scary. Is your pipe 1/2“ od or id? I would measure the outside diameter of the pipe and buy the closest forstner bit (or paddle bit) to that size as possible and slow down the speed. I guess I sound like an echo, don’t I? :mellow:

Welcome to the forum! 

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Also remember that you may need to occasionally back out the drill bit to allow the chips/waste to clear out. Some style and quality bits are better than others at clearing the waste. Feed rate also matters. 

Even if the chuck has some runout, you should be able to drill pine with a 1/2-5/8 forstner bit without too much trouble. 

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Thanks all!  I did order a drill press table and fence prior to posting.  Sounds like that, lower speeds, clamps and forstner bit SHOULD provide success.  I look forward to going into it more confidently.  

In regards to an earlier question, the aluminum piping is 1/2" OD....so I'm hoping to get a sliver of play with the bit/pipe combo to help in alignment during assembly.  That could be the next/last challenge, but I suspect I could just drill out the top boards to 5/8" being they will be unseen, and leave the bottom holes 1/2".  Get everything put together, flip the kennel upside down and toss some glue down the 5/8" holes to secure the play in the pipes.  At least that makes sense in my amateur brain.

 

I really appreciate the time, energy and effort to help a rookie.  Assets like y'all will help keep this hobby alive for the next generations!

Cheers!

 

 

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Various answers to this.  I use a table and a fence with fence stops.  The fence and stops provide a bracing effect at a couple of points and make hand-held stock safe for a lot of operations with smaller bits.  My table has tracks in it and I have various hold downs and so clamp my work most of the time.  I always clamp my work for larger bits, circle cutters, angled holes, etc.

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2 minutes ago, gee-dub said:

Various answers to this.  I use a table and a fence with fence stops.  The fence and stops provide a bracing effect at a couple of points and make hand-held stock safe for a lot of operations with smaller bits.  My table has tracks in it and I have various holddowns and so clamp my work most of the time.  I always clamp my work for larger bits.

Thanks for the reply.  The table I got has a T Track in the fence and comes with a ~3" x 3" block of wood to use as a stop.  I hope that helps solve my issue.  

I also realized last night as I was watching YouTube videos of my drill press, that I had another stupid rookie mistake in my first go.  I didnt tighten the drill press table in place after raising it to the proper position.  I just thought it wobbled cause it was cheap and not good quality.  Cranked that down last night and it took away all the wobble....which was another potential cause for my issues.  Sigh.  I didn't grow up with a dad that used tools, so it's going to be school of hard knocks for awhile...  hopefully I'm smart enough to prevent an ER visit or loss of a finger!  Ha!

One follow up question to you mentioning you "always clamp your work for larger bits"...could you define "larger bits"?

Thanks again guys and gals!

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I generally decide whether to clamp based on bit size relative to the size of the piece I am drilling into. 1" forstner bit drilling into a 2"x2" piece has far more pucker factor than into a 10"x10" or even a 2"x10" piece.

If you're doing this for a hobby, there's no harm in taking a few extra seconds to clamp the piece down before drilling. Best to stay on the safe side, at least until you get a better feel for the tool. You'll never regret not losing a finger.

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Just now, JohnG said:

I generally decide whether to clamp based on bit size relative to the size of the piece I am drilling into. 1" forstner bit drilling into a 2"x2" piece has far more pucker factor than into a 10"x10" or even a 2"x10" piece.

If you're doing this for a hobby, there's no harm in taking a few extra seconds to clamp the piece down before drilling. Best to stay on the safe side, at least until you get a better feel for the tool. You'll never regret not losing a finger.

Fantastic advice, but rest assured taking the time to do it wasn't the issue, it literally is my lack of understanding of 'Drill Press 101' and unknowing if a clamp was good/bad/dangerous/helpful/necessity.  

I'm learning by the hour, and that's pretty fun.  I hope to get into more challenging projects down the road, but as mentioned above starting with cheap 2x4s/pine was about the only thing I've gotten right for this first project with real hope of an acceptable piece in our home.  If nothing else, something I can look back on in 10 years and giggle thinking "remember when I didn't know you should tighten your drill press table down and I asked a forum how to drill a 1/2" hole down into pine 1.25" Haha :)

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We all make stupid mistakes at times, just try to be safe. Wear protective equipment for your eyes, ears and lungs. I was amazed at how much less tired I got after wearing hearing protection.

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3 hours ago, Chestnut said:

There can be a lot of good advice here. When you go to assemble think of each of the sides as a separate assembly. Then connect the sides together. Breaking things down into pieces makes things a LOT easier.

Also each project is just a series of steps don't get lost trying to focus on step 39 when you really need to focus on step 2. After you get all the basics out of the way complex projects are just combining those basics together. If you flip through projects in the Project Journal Section of the forum there are TONS of tips in every project.

Also i don't think you should ever use an auger bit in a drill press again. They aren't really meant for that. The screw on the front is meant to feed the bit and it won't stop until it goes out the other side. A drill press runs continually so once it starts it'll run away  on you. They were originally meant for old hand powered bit and brace drills but are also useful in modern powered drills.

I got lost in the first replies, and never got a chance to personally thank you for your help!  Thank you!  Sounds like you are well familiar with Fargo.  I used to work for a home builder (a clipboard holder, not a laborer...if you could devise that from my multiple posts) and we used Dakota Timber on a few reclaimed walls.  Small world :)

In regards to your latest post, I can greatly appreciate what you are saying.  A failure to my being is always trying to be 2-200 steps ahead of myself.  It leads to be prepared in a business sense for forecasting (as a profession), but leads to time, expense and injury in hobby arenas.  It's supposed to be fun, not a chore.  I struggle with getting that part of it down.

And the auger bit in the drill press is absolutely comedy as I think about it.  I appreciate the politeness in your statement, but what you are suggesting is pretty simple.  The threaded start to the bit doesn't just pull up and out with ease.  I almost wonder if you didn't solve my issue right there.  As I tried to hold the wood in my hand, on a loose table, drilling with an auger bit and getting down a little bit and as I try to lift up, it wasn't to grab the wood and rip it out of my hands.  Well duh hahahaha.  It's threaded in!  My Lord maybe I should just sell my tools and stick to something I'm naturally good at.  My 2 left thumbs has haunted me my whole life.  I just hope I keep both of them before a table saw takes one off.  (Ok I'm overselling myself a little for humor, but I am pretty green and unafraid to jump into something...things I try to teach employees I manage to avoid)

Thanks again for your time and VERY helpful responses!

 

1 hour ago, Byrdie said:

I'm a little late to the party so forgive the repetition.  First, I agree that your spindle speed is too high.  Lower your RPMs - the larger the hole the slower you want to go.  Second, either a clamp or a fence or the combination of the two.  Something needs to resist the torque the bit is imparting on the wood.

Finally, what others are calling "paddle" bits I assume are what I know as "Spade" bits and, as mentioned, those should be plenty good for drilling soft stud grade lumber.  Sounds like you aren't making through holes but if you do, you may want to stop just as the tip of the bit pokes through and flip your piece to finish from the other side.  It'll make a cleaner hole and possibly straighter too.

Spindle speed down as low as it can go has been ingrained into my soul.  The curiousity in me has to ask...  What is the purpose of having a drill press that can go 3000-10000 whatever RPMS?  Is that more metal work?  High speed and lubrication?  Or harder the wood, higher the RPM (while following directions on the bit for max unloaded RPM)?  Maybe a longer discussion than a simple answer...

Great advice on the spade bit, I understand what you're saying completely.

 

Thanks again all for the help.  I'm off for the weekend to go help my dad tear off some hearty board siding from his house/garage...  Hopefully my 2 left thumbs don't fail me with the newly acquired wonder bar :D

 

Cheers to the weekend!

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2 hours ago, xlur8ed said:

Sounds like you are well familiar with Fargo. 

Grew up 75 miles north of Fargo and got my engineering degree at NDSU.

 

4 hours ago, xlur8ed said:

In regards to your latest post, I can greatly appreciate what you are saying.  A failure to my being is always trying to be 2-200 steps ahead of myself.  It leads to be prepared in a business sense for forecasting (as a profession), but leads to time, expense and injury in hobby arenas.  It's supposed to be fun, not a chore.  I struggle with getting that part of it down.

This depends on the phase you are in. For someone starting out i recommend doing what your  are doing. Draw a plan and get everything laid out the way you want it. Then break the build into pieces and take it step by step. It's good to plan like you do but once you are done being the designer and put on your peon hat it's good to focus and take things 1 step at a time especially if the steps are daunting and new to you. You don't worry about the color of shingles the roofer is going to install when you can't get that danged surveyor to finish platting the lots.

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OP, another thing that I don’t think was mentioned and may not be apparent. When setting your fence for this project for repeated holes down the center of the board, it does not have to be square to anything. I would start somewhere close to the center of the board for the first hole to be drilled. Bring your bit down to the center of the first hole and while holding the crank (there’s probably a correct word) down with the bit touching the mark, set your fence in place. Each repetitive hole will then be centered in the edge of the board. Also, there is a depth stop on this “crank” to make each hole the same depth. Didn’t mean to be elementary if you already knew these. 

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23 hours ago, gee-dub said:

Various answers to this.  I use a table and a fence with fence stops.  The fence and stops provide a bracing effect at a couple of points and make hand-held stock safe for a lot of operations with smaller bits.  My table has tracks in it and I have various holddowns and so clamp my work most of the time.  I always clamp my work for larger bits.

Thanks for the reply.  The table I got has a T Track in the fence and comes with a ~3" x 3" block of wood to use as a stop.  I hope that helps solve my issue.  

I also realized last night as I was watching YouTube videos of my drill press, that I had another stupid rookie mistake in my first go.  I didnt tighten the drill press table in place after raising it to the proper position.  I just thought it wobbled cause it was cheap and not good quality.  Cranked that down last night and it took away all the wobble....which was another potential cause for my issues.  Sigh.  I didn't grow up with a dad that used tools, so it's going to be school of hard knocks for awhile...  hopefully I'm smart enough to prevent an ER visit or loss of a finger!  Ha!

One follow up question to you mentioning you "always clamp your work for larger bits"...could you define "larger bits"?

Thanks again guys and gals!

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I don't really clamp untill it's over 2" but that point comes with experience. I'd say anything over 1" the trouble is it depends.

A spade bit is more likely to catch as it exits so i'd clamp on smaller diameters of that. Also as pointed out before it also depends on your work piece. If it's 2" x2" clamp every time if it's 10" x 96" i can probably drill in that and hold it steady. So again experience.

 

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I got one of these clamps for Christmas for my drill press. I think it's fantastic, especially for repetitive operations.

16F0220s6.jpg

I drilled a half inch hole through my drill press table to use it, and haven't needed any other clamps since. I'm also far more likely to clamp because it's easy.

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You use different speeds based on the type of bit, size of bit and material you're drilling into.  There are a ton of "drill press speed chart" available on the web.  ("Drill bit speed" is another good search phrase)

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@xlur8ed I think everyone on this forum would agree, we'd much rather answer your elementary questions of inexperience than commiserate with you on an Emergency Room experience.  So ask before doing if you have doubt.  

I agree with all the good advice you've already been given, but especially the need for safety equipment.  Eye, lung and hearing protection are important, but let me also mention that gloves are OK for handling lumber, but are a no-no when working with any motorized tool.  

We get that you're new to this, but it's doable.  It's wood engineering, not quantum mechanics.  So ask away.  And don't be intimidated if you get more than one answer to a question.  There's usually more than one way a thing can be done.  

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Well ladies and gents...

For the future greenhorn that may come across this thread, I think all of the advice was extremely helpful in tackling this monster.  In the end, it was really really easy at slower speeds with a fence.  I believe the biggest of my many issues had to do with speed.  At 800rpms, I am comfortably positioned, cleanly shaving wood and the hole is perfect.

It's a small victory for this fellow.  I just assembled the gate piece and it is perfect.  Feels fantastic and I can only imagine how it will feel when you near the end of a month/year long build.  

Appreciate all the advice, thank you all!  I'll keep reading, learning and commenting as necessary in hopes of someday being able to contribute quality advice to a newcomer!

 

Cheers!

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