The Bench Drill I Sent Back / ATDP13B Bench Pillar Drill Press

I decided to buy a new bench drill.  I needed something a little more rigid, so I could drill holes in aluminium. I’m working on making some new CNC machine plates, but the current version of my CNC machine is not rigid enough to make the smaller holes as quickly as I’d like.

Because I have a limited amount of time that I can be here in the workshop, what I’ve decided to do is spot mark and cut the aluminium out on the CNC machine, and later drill the holes using short stub drill bits the exact sizes that I need.

The old bench drill in the workshop has been around for some time. I made some modification back when I first started making videos on YouTube and in fairness it’s decent enough on wood and softer materials, but I had notice a little flexing in the table when the drilling metal.

The new drill weights 3-4 times that of the old one and is a lot more rigid.

Ok I bought a new pillar drill. I bought the smaller one ATDP13B. If you’re not from the UK they’re like the… well I don’t know how to explain it. They’re like the John Lewis of tools. They’re pretty good. Quick delivery. Really good customer service. I’m going to shove it on here for now.

Nice big cast iron… hey that looks like that fidget spinner John Heisz made. I’m taking stuff out. The box looks a bit battered. This must be the chuck. That box looked entirely feked. There’s some serious amount of lube on this.

If the paint doesn’t crack you haven’t tightened it up hard enough.

This is when all that lube on the components becomes dangerous.

After I had assembled the machine following the instructions I began giving it the once over. I checked the table with my engineering straight edge, which seemed flat enough but there is a little bit of light bleed on one side. The dressing on the surface looks quite course as well, which is a bit disappointing from the John Lewis of tool companies.

A weird dink here and there. It definitely looks like they needed to sharpen what they were doing that with.

I am now installing the chuck guard. This drill has an electronic microswitch which prevents the chuck turning if the guard is not in place. I could trick the mechanism to not include it, but for now I want to see how it operates as designed. so I’m guess, looking inside there, that’s holding a bit of metal probably very thin and flexible, and I think the switch has to line up with that. I start by attaching the rigid mounting bracket, and later the microswitch within its housing, then the aluminium extrusion and the plastic guard. I can’t tell if the plastic is polycarbonate – it feels a bit yellow to be honest and more like acrylic.

They don’t give you much room for adjusting this. It’s very tight between there. I think that’s a very bad design and really what they should have had was the depth locking wheel on the handle there. You can see the handle turns so I almost wonder if this is something you can actually made yourself.

This entire section feel like the cheapest and most flimsy part of the design, almost doesn’t feel worth having. The most annoying thing is how it covers and blocks the depth adjustment. This is a really bad design and the sort of thing that will really annoy me over time.

I then checked for squareness using a dial gauge secured on an arm across from the chuck. I checked the cast iron table itself by turning the chuck around and comparing the measurement readings. That’s 0.6. that’s zero there and zero there. So it’s pretty good this way and just needs a little tweaking that way. I just put a bit of wood down as I just realised the surface of the bed is not ground that nicely and even just rubbing my fingers against that I can feel some really harsh ridges.

I later did the same but with a scrap piece of MDF resting on top of the table. There was a noticeable improvement on the MDF but it later occurred to me that I should have rotated the bar in the jaw of the chuck just in case I had somehow compensated for the error between the chuck and table.

So it’s about 0.09. I just swapped the positioning of how I had the depth gauge set up just so I’m not using this weird contraction here. I feel like it adds some error. 0.0, maybe 0.06. That’s not bad. I can live with that.

I also used the dial gauge to check the runout of the Morse Taper on the main shaft of the drill. This is where you normally put the chuck into. This was pretty good with a runout of 0.02mm but when I fitted the chuck and checked the runout on a piece of precision round engineering steel I got a reading of 0.3mm. I mean this is machine steal, clearly it’s the chuck or the morse-taper. Ok I don’t like the chuck. I’m not impressed with that.

I would like to try minimise this as I am working to quite a high tolerance, but when I got in touch with Axminister they said: Hello Savvas, the manufactures tolerances on their drill chucks is 0.4mm runout with a bar fitted in the chuck measured 100mm away from the chuck so yours will be within tolerance and the manufactures tolerances for table top levelness is 0.20mm.

Sorry if that freaked you out a little bit but that’s the voice I hear when I read emails, and comments. Especially disappointing ones.

This was quite a heavy thing to put together and I don’t really want to dismantle it, and in any case I’ve already thrown the box away. I may not have set the chuck on the Morse Taper properly or that into the main shaft of the drill but that said there’s not much to go wrong there. Anyway I think I can get around this if I buy a Morse Taper to ER16 collet which I can replace the chuck with. The runout on a CNC spindle less than 0.01mm and the collets are designed to self-centre more accurately than a drill chuck.

It is important that I minimise any errors in the pillar drill before making the holes on my CNC plates. Anyway after the excitement faded I began to realise there was quite a bit of vibration in the drill. I could also feel it in the hand which isn’t a good sign.

Ok I just moved it from over there, to over here, onto that, which was over there under that now next to this.Actually this… sounds really really loud. In the end a combination of the poorly designed depth stop position, the vibration in the arm, the noise from the pulley cover convinced me that I should return the machine. Had I bought this second hand I would feel more comfortable to pull this apart and work out where the vibration was coming from, but I don’t think I should spend 400 quid to do this. I cut my loses which were a non-refundable voucher for 20 quid, and sent this back. In the end I bought two bench drills for less than half the price I paid for this drill alone. In reality I’m never going to get the tolerance I want unless I move to engineering machines, and well if you saw the wet rot vs workshop video, I don’t think this studio floor could take and engineering machine.

In the next I’m going to tare down and re-build an old bench drill I bought on ebay. As with all second hand machine tools there’s always something that looks like bird shit on it. (it’s spiders eggs) As usual thanks again for watching, don’t forget to sacrifice a thumb, let me know what you hated about the video in the description, and you’ll catch me in the next one.

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