Picture of Restoring a Homecraft Drill press
Note; This is my first instructable and my first attempt to rebuild a drill press

I have been itching to set up a shop again after many years without one. One of the first items any good shop needs is a drill press. I am on an extremely limited (near zero) budget, and the cheap presses I have come across do not inspire confidence in their capabilities. Then I came across this instructable:


marshon did a lovely job with his restoration project, and I felt up to a similar challenge especially if it came at a similar price!

I had only been searching for about a month when I came across the press by accident. My girlfriend and I were walking home from the beach when I spotted a gorgeous '60 Chevy, so of course I went over to drool on it. It was parked in front of a garage sale, and I found the press rusting away on the bottom of an old metal cart. For 15 bucks, I now had a drill press, sort of.

It took quite a bit of work, and I got lucky finding a motor, but I now have the drill press restored and operational. See the before and after photos below.

My goals for this project were not to build a "museum quality" artifact of antique equipment, but to have a fully functional piece of workshop kit. I am satisfied that I have accomplished this, and the build quality of the unit appears superior to anything new I could have afforded.

A chemical rust-stomper is great for projects like this involving iron and steel. Forget Naval Jelly. I never found anything I liked better than Os-Pho.

Knock off and clean up loose rust. Hit with rust-stomper. Let dry. Paint.

The rust-stomper chemically reverses the oxidation process and shoves it into reduction. Takes care of invisible rust too. Product is often available at boat yards, if you can't find it elsewhere.

seekir4 years ago
Just FYI itzmark, the small protrusion with a hole in the casting just aft of the quill shaft on the left side of the press "head" below the manufacturer's plate (visible in the first photo here on this page) is the chuck key's normal storage location - the rod that passes through the factory chuck key and acts as a lever to tighten/loosen the chuck slides into this hole for storage so that it's easily available and handy. Mine is stamped with the number "32" which may refer to the size/type of chuck key.
blkhawk4 years ago
Great instructable! Thank you for taking the time to go into details and post it. Great work!
aristocob4 years ago
marshon4 years ago
Nice job! Isn't it satisfying when it cuts it's first hole?
pfred24 years ago
I love old rust and fixing it up and bringing it back to life. I don't worry too much about keeping anything original though. Half the fun for me is customizing! Here is a messed up bench drill press I found in my grandfather's cellar I fixed up:


To the left is an old messed up grinder I did some work to and a radial arm saw that needed some desperate attention when I got it as well!

3ddennis4 years ago
I have a Delta in my garage that needs the same treatment. It looks almost identical to this one except it has a regular base and motor. Need to breakdown the motor to see why it has 1/2" of end play in the shaft.
seekir5 years ago
It's not clear to me in the segments of your post I've read whether you're aware of it, but the unit you made this from is part of a multi-tool that was a table saw, drill press, and jointer combination. The press dangled alongside the table saw when not in use, and was swung up into position atop the table saw where I believe the shaft stand was captured, maybe by a thumbscrew arrangement, I can't clearly recall. The long drive belt looped over the two pulleys which were mounted (where you've placed the new motor, and then down to the pulley on the motor which drove all three tools) I have the same unit which I dismounted and rescued from my Dad's old combination tool (which I believe was a Craftsman). That's the reason for the "funky" base. I haven't mounted a motor on mine yet, you did a good job - where did you find the three-tier drive pulley you mounted on the motor? You probably have a different speed range with that mounted, I believe the drive-side of the original arrangement was a single (two inch?) pulley. I think the part you (and I) bolted to the bench top was originally bolted to the side of the saw table with the bolts in the plane of the top so that the saw top was flat/clear when the press was dropped down when not in use.
itzmark (author)  seekir5 years ago
The man I bought it from did say it was originally attached to a table saw and used the same motor, but I did not see the saw and I have not come across any pictures of the combined unit.

The replacement pulley for the motor is a 4 step pulley I got at a surplus store in Oxnard (great place). Ace Hardware listed one on their website, but none of the stores had one in stock. The speeds may be slightly different than original, but should not be too far off. If I had tried to use a single 2" pulley I would have had to make a motor bracket that raised up and down to get the belt alignment correct.
seekir itzmark5 years ago
Sorry I don't have any photos of Dad's assembled Rockwell. You're probably aware the pulley configuration you used is the industry norm for dedicated drill presses, and it likely provides a wider range of speeds than the original setup which required the lengthy (and perhaps hazardous) exposed belt which needed to be threaded through the complex original pulley configuration each time the press was swung up and locked in place to be utilized. I don't remember Dad using it much, but I do remember thinking it worked great when he did. It seems to have a lot of travel (depth capacity) and a good, robust chuck.
seekir5 years ago
Correction, mine has a Rockwell label on it.
NutandBolt5 years ago
You did great job bringing back to life an antique drill press, I love restoration of old stuff :-)
Phil B5 years ago
Your motor looks like a washing machine motor. I would guess it to be from the late 1920's or sometime in the 1930's.

If you want to develop a shop with very little money, take a look at an inexpensive way to get a decent table saw (warning: shameless self-promotion).

This will also allow you to use a sanding drum to do the work of a joiner for fine woodwork. (more shameless self-promotion)

Thank you for an interesting Instructable.
itzmark (author)  Phil B5 years ago
I had not thought about the motor being from a washing machine, but it is possible. Before it came to me it had been mounted on a piece of plywood painted red, as evidenced by the remains on the bracket.

I had already given thought to the table saw idea you mention, that is a future project. I will be working with small pieces (less than 48") for now, so it is not a priority.

I plan on getting/making sanding drums and shapers for the press though. The manual that I found shows this press being capable of using router bits, and even shows how the setup works. However I have seen quite a lot of comments on this being a bad idea and why, and I agree for the most part. Some shaper bits and burrs are meant to work at lower speeds, those would be better I think.
Phil B itzmark5 years ago
If you were to enlarge the table on your drill press by clamping a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to it with screws from below, preparing edges for gluing would be pretty simple. I have a radial arm saw. It accepts a 1/2 inch drill chuck on the back end of the motor. In theory I can use it to hold router bits. In practice I have found the speed to be too slow at 3,000 rpm. The cuts are not clean and the bits chatter enough that the jaws of the chuck loosen.
rimar20005 years ago
I applaud you, you've done a great job!
Bongmaster5 years ago
lovely :) wish i had one XD
Nice. I desperately need a drill.