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Any of you more seasoned build-o-philes have tips, mods, or tricks for an 8"(or any size) drill press? Answered

I was recently given a very well taken care of 8" Craftsman 1/3hp 5 speed drill press. It works fine, but it's a little grimy. So I'm currently cleaning it. Actually I wanted to ask someone if it's okay to clean that gunky layer of grease off of it because the grime has mixed in and it's essentially "sanding" the post. If it IS okay to clean off, do I replace it with different or newer grease once it's been cleaned? Also, ever since I was a kid, I was captivated by the swirling grinder or polisher pattern on the drill press table. Mine has a thin layer of rust on the table. Is there any way to remove the rust without ruining my beloved swirly pattern? So to wrap up here is the list of questions...
1. What are some modifications, tips, tricks, jigs, etc. for an 8" Benchtop Drill Press?
2. Is it okay to clean the grease off of the entire machine? If so, do I regrease it afterwards? What's the best product to use?
3. Is there a way to remove small layer of rust off the table without compromising the original swirl pattern?

ANY and ALL help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you Instructables community!!(That made me think of a town whose entire population was comprised of Instructables members. Ha! Got a question about robots? Go to Ted's three doors down. Building a welder from car batteries? Oh Tom two streets over would be more than happy to help! I know...ridiculous.)



Best Answer 6 years ago

For the table, you might consider electrolytic removal of the rust. It's not hard, and it's a lot less work than sanding.  There are a number of sites on the web showing the process:


Don't use stainless steel for the electrode, it will generate hexavalent chromium which is none too good.  Be sure to clean and oil as soon as it comes out of the bath.

As to modifications, I made a new column for my (tiny) drill press to make it about a foot taller and extend its range.  (I have a metal lathe, which helps).  Also, I put a magnet on top of the pulley cover.  All I need to do is get the chuck key somewhere in the vicinity of the magnet and it will grab the key and hold it.  More convenient than most other key holders.

Good luck!

Yes, clean it.

Yes, re-grease the sliding surfaces.

As for the rust, difficult to say without seeing it, but I'd say have a gentle go with coarse sand-paper, swirling in line with the pattern you're trying to preserve.You could try a rust-converter compound, but they change the colour of the surface.

+1 but to clean the table, I'd use automotive rubbing compound (not polishing compound) with a buffing pad on a hand drill. No scratches and it cleans and seals the tiny grooves in the swirl pattern.

This is such an amazing online community. Before joining Instructables, if I encountered any sort of problem with a specific project...I would breathe that slow puffy cheeked sigh while my forehead slowly drifted down to the tabletop. I would search Google for local experts or businesses that may have the knowledge I so desperately seeked. Ninety percent of the time, the employee or so-called "Expert" had no clue what I was talking about and looked more stumped than me. I could be to blame, as you can see from my question, I tend to ramble and overexplain. The point of this pointless story is to emphasize the overall importance of this website. It is my belief that the sort of people that make up the member group here enjoy instructing and assisting the less knowledgeable. Maybe because they were once the stumped young'n who pined for instruction. Sorry for the long post, I'm just a heartfelt dude. Mega Ultra Super Hardcore THANK YOU to those of you who took the time to share knowledge. It would not have affected your day whatsoever to not reply to my question, but you did it anyways. The hardest part is choosing the best answer!

"I built that..."
"...are you spelunking serious?!"

Yes, it's OK to clean/remove the old grime. I would use carburetor or break drum cleaner. They will cut old oil and grease easily. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses and work in a well ventilated area. Once you have it clean, then reapply a thin layer lubricant such as white grease. To clean the table I would try Scotch Brite pads and some mild abrasive cleaner like Ajax or Bon Ami. Then lightly oil the table.

A good sliding drill press vise is probably your best investment after drill bits. If you plan to drill metal, you'll want to get an oilier of some type.

The best advise I could give for beginners using a drill press is safety first. Remove loose clothing, watches, and rings before you start. Don't try to hold the stock with your hands, use a vise or clamps. Drill slowly. Too much speed will create unnecessary heat and will damage your drill bits.

+1 on the comments about cleaning off the rust & greasing the column.

As for accessories, buy a good drill press vice -- one of these can save your fingers (and your work). Also, depending on what you build, a tilting drill press vice can also be very handy.