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What's the nature of your use?  Yea, I know...smithing and fabrication...but is it a home shop situation or are you looking for more of a production quality machine?

For occasional use, you are probably about stuck with a lower cost chinese machine (on the new market)  As long as you get away from the bottom of the barrel, most can be tuned up to work adequately.  Part of that tune up is usually replacing the chuck with a much better quality one which will set you back another $ 50 to $ 125 in general.  After tune-up, they are perfectly adequate machines.

If it's got to be a better machine than that, I would be patient and look for a used machine.  You can get a great quality press, likely even USA made, on the used market at the upper ends of your budget plus a little more.  These tend to be 220v and are sometimes 3 phase.  They are definitely worth it.  My Do-All brand geared-head drill press (so darned easy to change speeds with a geared head!)  was $ 500 at auction and worth every penny.  There are similar units with variable pulleys so you can change speeds by cranking a dial---much better than changing pulleys.  A couple of the better industrial brands are Powermatic and Clausing...but there are others.

Checking internet links, it seems that the industrial presses have gone up a little in price on the used market so you might have to be patient and wait for a deal to come along.  Like anvil shopping, patience is your best friend.

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G: Ditto Kozzy. I bought an El CheapO import at Bob's Closeout tool sales at least 30 years ago and for how often I use it it's been perfect. You want as many speeds as possible, I wish mine were faster on occasion. 

Get as good as you can reasonably afford. You'll never be sorry for buying higher quality than you really  need. A real important thing to know about used drill presses is what happens when someone puts side pressure on the spindle, say using a mill cutter or drill bit like one like you may see on FIF. Spindles do NOT have thrust bearings side pressure wears them out quickly.

When checking out a used drill press: 1, Check lash, extend the spindle all the way, take hold of the chuck and push sideways. A LITTLE (tiny) bit of lash (rattle) is okay but very little. 2, can you turn the chuck by hand, how smooth is it? 3, how smooth is the feed?

If all three are good look at power requirements, etc. etc. Make sure everything else is tight and works, Is the table solid, does move easily when loosened? Does it tilt? Is the chuck smooth, opens closes by hand? 

Drill presses will make some noise but it should NEVER grind, whine, rattle, etc. Gear heads tend to hum, belts sing, with the motor noise.

Drill presses are a prime MUST in a good shop, even my El CheapO is a serious must have, I use it all the time.

Don't hesitate to get on the used tool news letters, you aren't far from Portland and heavy industry requires tighter equipment than most of us need so it gets surplussed with fewer hours on it. I could WISH I lived that  close, I'd have a better equipped shop but pay much higher taxes. 

TPAAAT works for anything, don't hesitate to tell every darned body you talk to what you're looking for. Some folk just want that . . . junk :o  out of the way.

Frosty The Lucky.

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If you can find a center with a straight shank take it along with you. Put the center in the chuck and turn it on. Ideally the point of the center should run dead true. If it wobbles, it could be the chuck, or the spindle. I prefer a drill press that has a Morse taper in the spindle so larger drills can be used without a chuck.. Dad got a Taiwanese one back in the 70's that was very well made; Blanchard ground round table with tilt and swivel, ground post , Morse taper, and everything is tight and smooth to operate. I have seen tables that were crowned- that is not good - take a straight edge along to check that. The only problem we had was the centrifugal switch set screw came loose and it blew a capacitor - easy fix.

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When I was looking at replacing my small bench top drill press there weren't many used ones for sale in my area. So I did some research and the best one I could find in my price range (around 300$) was the Porter-Cable 12 speed floor drill press. It's a really big improvement over my small craftsman bench top. I especially love the moveable lamp it has.  When I bought mine it was around 325$, I just checked on the website and now its 399$.

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1 hour ago, BIGGUNDOCTOR said:

If it wobbles, it could be the chuck, or the spindle. 

(in case the O.P doesn't know) Most chucks mount on an adapter...jacobs taper that fits in a tapered recess in the chuck and morse taper to fit on the spindle end.  You can pay about 15 bucks for a soft chinese made adapter that's primarily machined finish or about $ 40 for a fully ground and hardened USA made version (very rought numbers..it's been a while since I purchased).  That makes almost as much of a difference as a quality chuck.  The actual spindle bores tend to be pretty close, even on Chinese machines---it's the error added from the lower-quality adapter and chuck that usually give you bad runout.  Definitely agree with your recommendation for a MT spindle. 

Dylan's comment about the light is an excellent one also.  I battle poor light constantly, always thinking that I'll do something about it "some day".  There are aftermarket magnetic lights that are not expensive for an easy "fix".  Light is well worth it as a feature to add or look for in a press.

Oh...and it's been said before but is worth saying again:  Top quality drill bits are an order of magnitude better to use than some of the home center (or worse) crap.  It'd be better to spend an extra hundred bucks on top quality bits than that same extra hundred on a fancier press in most cases--more bang for the buck.

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