Initial Impressions of this drill press

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Review by AjayO posted 04-25-2010 08:41 PM 16065 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Initial Impressions of this drill press Initial Impressions of this drill press Initial Impressions of this drill press Click the pictures to enlarge them

I wanted to share my initial impression of this new Jet drill press. This is a new 12” portable drill press offering from Jet with digital speed readout (hence DRO: Digital Read Out in the name), variable speed and laser cross hair alignment. I picked it up as a barely used from a local person about 1.5 months ago. I haven’t used it a lot but have been looking for a drill press for quite some time so at least wanted to share some initial impression.

I compared this press to Delta portable drill press, Craftsmen 12” and Ryobi 12” variable speed (I know not in the same league). I will start with finish quality first and then my initial comments on functions and limited use so far.

I found the overall finish quality to be just above with Delta and Craftsman not a lot. Top casting, the table and column are finished well. Chrome finish on the handles is sub-par and could be improved. The housing where lasers reside is too tight making adjustment of laser rather difficult. I did not like the plastic that is used for the top cover and even the plastic is not very robust and I am worried it could fail. This is a failure on Jet’s part to make an otherwise very good and solid drill press look “cheap”. There are some other smaller quality issues that prevent this press from getting 5 stars. Read Amazon review on this with good solutions I intend to implement ( ).

Press has good array of basic features that I was interested in. Variable speed from 500-3000RPM with a lever that is mounted on the side with adequate length to provide good leverage. The digital speed readout (the DRO feature) is more useful to me then the depth indicator in Craftsman. The depth adjustment itself is screw type like on Craftsman and I prefer that over radial ones. Led lighting that is built in between chuck and column is fairly bright, functional and location couldn’t be better. Given these are LEDs, they will last a long time…surely longer then the press! Lasers are bright and can be easily seen with LED light and garage lights turned on. The chuck key is spring loaded, a nice safety feature. I drilled some holes in soft material and a larger 2-1/4 hole with Fostner bit in plywood. No issues with smaller holes, but it did get bogged down with the large Fostner bit. I believe that to be a combination of variable speed (the back pulley is spring loaded so could be slipping) and begin little aggressive. Don’t see an issue with this size press and most of what I will use it for.

These are my initial impressions and will try to follow this blog with more details later. I also intent to make a drill press table soon using some invaluable knowledge/plans shared by Lumberjocks community here.


-- - Ajay

View AjayO's profile


27 posts in 4239 days

6 comments so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3843 days

#1 posted 04-25-2010 10:06 PM

Thank you for the review. The variable speed system you have is called a “Reeves system”. It’s been my experience that these systems are hard on belts. Some machinery with a Reeves system use a special kevlar based belt that holds up much better. I suspect (not certain) that you just have a normal belt on your Jet.

When the belt starts to stretch, your slowest possible speed will go up. When you notice that, it’s time to change the belt.

I would be interested in hearing how this belt holds up over the first year. On my lathe with the Reeves system I had to replace the belt within 3 months. Of course, you tend to run your lathe for more hours of operation than a drill press.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dave Price's profile

Dave Price

90 posts in 3743 days

#2 posted 04-25-2010 11:05 PM

Thanks for the review. I have this drill press and so far it has done everything Ive asked of it.

-- Dave Price , Roswell New Mexico

View AjayO's profile


27 posts in 4239 days

#3 posted 04-26-2010 06:24 AM

Rich, thanks for the tip on belt. I agree the original Jet belt is flimsy and was the one of the first thing I thought of replacing.

-- - Ajay

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3843 days

#4 posted 04-26-2010 04:03 PM

Note – Your original belt is probably metric. You may not be able to easily find an exact replacement. Don’t worry. Switch to Imperial measurements and get the belt that is just a little bigger than the original. With the Reeves system, too big is better than too small.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4054 days

#5 posted 04-26-2010 11:17 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ve been wondering about that drill press.


View bdjohns1's profile


43 posts in 3460 days

#6 posted 04-03-2011 06:15 AM

Just as a note, I picked up a MasterForce benchtop drill press at my local Menards for $179 which appears to be a dead-on copy of the Jet. I looked at one at my local Woodcraft, and they’re spot-on aside from the color scheme. Between this and my Harbor Freight lathe which is basically Jet’s 12×36 with cheaper legs, I appear to be assembling a shop full of clones.

-- Ben - resident cheese whiz.

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