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Danjmath

B&D Firestorm Drill Press any good?

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I have an quite old HF drill press which is wasting me money.

I mostly make knifes, and its taking me too long and costing me too much in damaged drill bits going through annealed metal.

I have to go at higher speeds than I should, because at lower speeds it just stalls at the first contact.

Someone is selling a Firestorm Drill Press near me for $50. Will this be any better than my HF, and if so, good enough to drill through annealed blade steel?

If not, how powerful of a drill should I get?

drill.jpg

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That's one huge can of worms question you are asking.  

With these chinese machines, none are very good but it's hit and miss as to whether they are terrible or tolerable.  With most, the spindle run-out is so bad that they will tend to snap small bits easily.  Most often on this class of machine, most of the runout is because they use rock-bottom drill chucks.

So...my advice (without having the presses in front of me) is that your best bet is to pull the chuck off the existing drill press (usually they are on a tapered shank so can pop right off) and then check the runout on the spindle itself.  If the spindle is not bad and runs fairly true (preferably as measured with a proper dial indicator), put your money into a better chuck rather than a new drill press.  Sometimes a non-chinese-junk chuck can make a huge difference.  

Power wise, you shouldn't be bogging down as much as you mentioned so something else is likely going wrong there--most likely using poor quality drill bits.  NEVER use the Chinese, taiwanese, or similar low end bits, no matter how tempting they are.  Most "home center" bits are not much better.  What you want are drill bits that are marketed to the machinist trade and from quality makers.  Mcmaster.com is one source as is mscdirect.com.  Get USA made in a couple of sizes you use and they will be like night and day vs "home center" and infinitely better than the Chinese junk.

As to upgrading to the "firestorm"...at 50 bucks, maybe, but I wouldn't expect a huge difference unless the current drill press is truly a complete dog. Basically you are upgrading levels of junk at that price point.  It'd be wiser to save for a more significant upgrade if that's an option for you---so at least try the better drill bits and possible chuck replacement on yours first.  The better drill bits cost you nothing because that's what you need anyway--and the chucks are not that expensive (and can sometimes be found as orphans at swap meets and similar)  

Drill chucks and the tapers they have sometimes gets to be a sticky area so you might do some internet research to learn a little more.  I can't go into more about that without knowing he HF model and looking up the current spindle tapers it has.

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