It does what it is supposed to

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Review by 47phord posted 08-17-2012 02:09 AM 10800 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
It does what it is supposed to No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was in need of a drill press but I was short on funds, and after searching around here and other places I decided to go with this unit. Having been burned a couple times before with smaller power tools, I was a bit leery about buying anything big from Harbor Freight, but most of the reviews I saw were more or less favorable so I went for it. When I went to the store to buy it, it was on sale for $239 (reg price of $299) and the cashier let me use my 20% off coupon (which I am pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to do) so I ended up scoring it for $187 including tax and being that I was able to pick it up at the store myself, I avoided the $90 shipping charge. Unpacking and assembly was easy- I think it took me a half hour to put it together-the manual was as good as made-in-china manuals get i.e.-it wasn’t always clear but it got the job done, and no pieces were missing. First off, I installed a 1” paddle bit (the biggest one I have) and set about boring holes in some scrap oak to see how much power this thing really has. The instructions state that the motor is rated at 3/4 hp and that it draws 8 amps, I haven’t checked the amperage draw but if it is really drawing 8 amps then the motor is closer to 1hp. I could get it to bog down and stop, but to do that I had to lean on it way harder than I would under any normal circumstances. I checked the spindle and it is square to the table. Changing the speed is accomplished by rearranging two v-belts on three sets of pullys on top of the machine, there is a diagram taped to the inside cover that shows what configuration makes each speed. It’s not hard to do though I wish the lever you use to tension the belts was a bit longer. So, it does what a drill press is supposed to, it drills square holes without getting stuck-what more could you ask for?

Well, a couple things actually. First, the adjustable quill stop is a pain in the tuckus to use. It is a collar-style stop that wraps around the feed handle shaft and is held in place with a thumbscrew. To use it, you zero it with the quill all the way up, then turn it to whatever depth you want and tighten the screw. Two small problems with this, first is that the collar is graduated in 1/16” increments but there are no numbers other than for whole inches, so if you count the little hash marks wrong, you get the wrong depth. Second and even worse is the fact that no matter how hard you twist that thumbscrew, it is still possible to pull hard enough on the feed handle to go past your set depth. I learned that one the hard way while I was drilling out some mortises. Bottom line there is I don’t completely trust it. A second issue is the fact that the spindle does appear to have about 1/32” of run-out on it, which to be honest doesn’t bother me that much, it’s still way more accurate than drilling by hand and I’m not running a machine shop. The only other thing I noticed is that it does seem to be a bit top-heavy, the base appears to be cast-steel and could stand to gain a few pounds (in direct opposition to me, if you get my meaning). I haven’t knocked it over, but I get the feeling a good jolt from the side could tip it.

As a side note, the table that comes with it is miniscule and round so if you get one you will probably have to make a better table for it-but then a lot of folks do that anyways. Also, Central Machinery model# 38142 is the same drill press only bechtop sized. So, in summary, if you are a hobbyist woodworker on a budget like I am, I would recommend giving this drill press a look.
EDIT 8/17/12: I incorrectly stated the run-out on my drill press, it is actually closer to 1/64”. The mistake comes from the fact that I do not own a dial-caliper or anything like that and had to eyeball it using my machinists ruler that is graduated in 32ths. So, I had 32ths on the brain when I wrote the review. A thousand apologies for my oversight!
Edit 4/5/13-It turns out I am a dumbass, I had been using a bent drill bit to check the runout. It turns out there is none that I can see, and I don’t have a fancy dial indicator to check; not that I would even if I did.

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3037 days

20 comments so far

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4032 days

#1 posted 08-17-2012 04:18 AM

For the most part, I have had good luck with Harbor Freight’s large power tools. It’s the small handheld stuff they sell that scares me… YMMV of course…

I have the Northern Industrial (Northern Tool) version of this same drill press. It’s punched a LOT of holes for me, and aside from user induced stupidity, never given me a moment’s trouble.

Your comments about the depth stop are dead on. But I have noticed the same issues with big, high dollar Deltas as well. I sort of figure they are all junk, and use stops on the bit itself where possible… If using the quill stop I am VERY careful to not go past my setting.

The issue with the table is again, not unique to this drill press. Actually most, but not all drill presses are made this way. Honestly they are designed for machine / metal work. Woodworking is just something they happen to be good at. Most people make upgraded tables for their DPs…

One issue I have with mine, and it is likely just a prior owner didn’t take care of it worth a tinkers hoot, is the slide / adjuster that allows you to tension / release tension on the belts to change speeds on mine is tight as a drum. The original owner did not do a great job of maintaining this thing, so no shock there… I need to figure out where, and how to lube it…

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View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3377 days

#2 posted 08-17-2012 11:58 AM

I have the ridgid drill press and it has the same type of depth stop.
I’m not crazy about it but I learned to live with it. I haven’t noticed slipping, but I haven’t really tried either. I take care not to bottom out the depth too hard.

I put an auxiliary table on mine:

One of these days I’ll look into adding a threaded rod type depth stop.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 08-17-2012 12:16 PM

I bought the same drill press used (but never used; the previous owner never had the time to use the tools he bought (drill press and band saw), that’s why he sold them to me. I paid $100.00 for each.)
I installed the HF table on it and it works very well for me.
My only reproach: the chuck travel is too short and iti s top heavy, I made a new and wider base for it

-- Bert

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3037 days

#4 posted 08-17-2012 09:43 PM

dbhost- That was my line of thinking when I bought mine. I read reviews on “brand-name” drill presses like Jet and Delta costing anywhere from $300-$700 and still seeing complaints like excess run-out on the quill and under-powered motors that bog down when using a forstner bit to bore holes in hardwood, plus the comments that stated the included table was inadequate. So I figured I would take a chance on a lower-priced machine and hope for the best-and my gamble paid off!

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1057 posts in 3076 days

#5 posted 08-17-2012 10:03 PM

Nice! Hope it works out good,

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4117 days

#6 posted 08-18-2012 11:54 PM

NiteWalker: Is that a sink cutout you used for the auxiliary table?

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View timjr's profile


28 posts in 3627 days

#7 posted 08-20-2012 08:11 AM

That base is meant to be bolted down. That’s why it seems top heavy.

View Rob Lopez's profile

Rob Lopez

9 posts in 3990 days

#8 posted 08-20-2012 02:35 PM

Actually you can use your 20% coupon on any sale price at HF. That’s what they are made for :)

-- Boards, Don't hit back! - Bruce Lee

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3278 days

#9 posted 08-21-2012 12:04 AM

I think all drill presses are top heavy mine is bolted to the concrete floor it sucks for sweep up but that is what I did for safety.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#10 posted 09-05-2012 07:49 PM

I picked this up over the weekend for around 170 new (on sale + coupon) with the 2 year warranty. I agree with a lot of what you posted and wanted to throw my observations out there. I haven’t used many drill presses, but this one seems pretty decent.

1 – construction. This appears to be really well made. The fit and finish is the nicest on any tool I have owned from HF (and I have a few). Assembly was SUPER easy. It took me maybe 20 minutes.

2 – Use. I am inclined to agree about the horsepower rating. This could be closer to 1hp. In fact mine has a “3/4” sticker over the actual HP rating on the motor. I have been borrowing an older 3/4 hp drill press to drill pen blanks and there is really no comparison.

3 – It drills straight. The chuck does not have much run out at all. When drilling pen planks for tubes, I can’t use epoxy and had to go back to CA glue. The tube just barely fits in the hole. It needs some coaxing from a rubber mallet. With the DP I was using (older delta), I had to switch from CA glue to epoxy because the hole was too large. I am using the same whiteside and colt brad point bits (7mm and 27/64”)

4 – Speed changes are REALLY easy. Tensioning is also really easy and locks down from both sides.

5 – I like the table height adjustment. It moves very smoothly and locks down tight. I agree about the table, but that looks like a standard design for any DP these days.

6 – I can also overrun the depth stop if I want to. But I don’t want to. I am just careful not to hammer the bit down when I get close to the end and it stops. To go past the stop I have to pull much harder than I normally would.

Probably because I am new to to drill presses, I expected this to be a lot more stable without being bolted to the floor. It isn’t. I feel like I could easily tip it over. I did end up bolting it to the concrete even tough I didn’t want to.

Why don’t manufactures include the chuck hey holders on the power cord like Milwaukee does??. I am going to attach it with some sort of tether and heat shrink tubing.

I have no idea what a drift pin is for.


View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3037 days

#11 posted 09-06-2012 01:37 AM

Lumberjoe: if by ‘drift pin’, you mean that wedge of metal that your drill press came with, it’s for knocking the arbor loose from the spindle shaft. Lower the shaft, and you’ll see a slot for the wedge. Glad to hear you’re happy with yours!

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#12 posted 09-06-2012 12:56 PM

ahh, thanks! I didn’t see anything in the instructions for it and I don’t like having extra parts after I assemble something. Now to look for ideas for a DP table


View phlepper's profile


21 posts in 4053 days

#13 posted 02-04-2013 10:09 PM


Does anyone know what size the bolt is under the table that allows the table to rotate off 90 degrees? It is smaller than 1 1/8” (the closest wrench socket I have), but I can’t tell how big it actually is and I can’t get any of my crescent wrenches on it to loosen it). I also couldn’t find a size for it in the manual. Any help would be appreciated.

I picked this up a couple of weeks ago. Like others, I got it on sale for $239 and I was able to use the 20% coupon on it so it cost close to $200. I put it together myself (no assistant) and it really was fairly easy. This is my first drill press, so I don’t have much in the way of expectations (or expertise). It seems fine so far in limited use :)

Since purchasing it, I also purchased one of HF 300-lb mobile bases ($40 less 20% coupon) and mounted it on that. Easy to move around the shop and easy to stabilize. I highly recommend.

Next up will be a DP table for it.

-- "A hammer in search of a nail..." (

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#14 posted 02-04-2013 11:51 PM

If you get the HF table (and I did), it does require slight modification to get it mounted. You need to move the bolts IN a bit. They are about 1/16” too far out. I contemplating just hammering it down and galling the threads a bit then chasing them with a die, but I didn’t want to risk cracking the cast table.


View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3804 days

#15 posted 02-09-2013 09:32 PM

I have been looking at this DP, thanks for the heads up

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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