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In trying out the notion of drilling out a hammer head before drifting (to save my arm a little wear and tear) I decided to keep alive the old school character of my shop by acquiring a ca. 1900 hand powered drill press. It is a Silver Mfg. Co. (Salem, Ohio) model 1 1/2 and it tore through the 1” square 4140 bar that you see here. With right hand cranking the handle and the left hand slowly tightening the top wheel I was ripping out what looked like pretty impressive wood shavings. At my approximately 60 rpm rate the bit, which I kept lubricated with oil, stayed cool and the entire job took less than 5 minutes. As efficient as an electric drill press? No, but lots of fun seeing this old machine do its thing so well. 

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Slow speed, high pressure and lubrication are sort of the basis of drilling large holes in steel.  I've used my Cole drill to drill 1/2 and 3/4" holes through 1/2 in plate while standing on the upper rungs of a ladder when I was building my shop!

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the large "nut" does the advance of the drillbit while the crank provides the circular motion.  Handy thing is that it's portable and does not need to be plugged in!

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Seems that the harder the steel, the longer the shavings. Minor point to be sure....but kind of fun seeing this 120 year old machine work so well.

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