Powermatic or Nova Drill Press (or other)?

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Forum topic by glen posted 06-12-2018 04:28 AM 3070 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View glen's profile


172 posts in 3353 days

06-12-2018 04:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press question

Hi all – with a recent influx of pen-turning work, I’ve come to realize that my handmedown of a handmedown cheap drill press (bench top unit, 2” of travel only, 2” of run out ;) !) isn’t going to cut it. Add to this that my wife has taken interest in a few projects that will need a press, and I’ve been given the go ahead to buy a new one.

I typically try to get the best tool I can afford, so I’m looking for advice here. I’m looking at both the Nova and the PM2800 presses. The Nova has some cool tech in it, like the depth stop thing, but I’ve heard complaints about it as well, and let’s be honest – do I really need a computer on my drill press (a question I realize only I can answer). All the “pro” reviews (FWW, WWGOA, etc.) are positive, but they typically are for these things. The PM2800 looks solid, has a nice table and fence, but I’ve heard of belt slipping problems which have made people not like their PM2800 (apparently it’s that bad for some).

Or would I be better with a Delta, or just cut the cost in half and get a “lesser” brand. I know I’m not the kind of person who will change belts to change speed unless 100% required. Mind you, I just listened to the latest woodtalk, and Marc mentioned that he rarely if ever changes speed, which makes me wonder – I never change it on my crap press because it’s such a pain – would I bother if it was easier? What do you all do?

Used tools aren’t much of an option where I live.

I’m open to people’s thoughts.

Thanks for your time


10 replies so far

View Woodmaster1's profile


1499 posts in 3387 days

#1 posted 06-12-2018 11:34 AM

I have the Delta 18” drill press and it works great. Six years and no issues. My woodworking club shop has the powermatic that has had the belts replaced after 6 months. Both are good drill presses but sometimes simplicity is the best method. The Delta has an idler pulley you release change the belts and your good to go, not many ways that can go bad. The powermatic speed adjustment is easy but the belt does sometimes slip and does not adjust the speed. The powermatic can only change speed when running which in the club shop you need to trust people follow that procedure or problems will arise. Either drill press will be good for you since only one person will be using it. The nova electronics do sometimes have issues and the electronics is overkill in my opinion.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1303 days

#2 posted 06-12-2018 11:42 AM

I have the PM2800. I like it, it is a very nice well made press and I have had zero issues with any “belt slipping”, in fact, this thread is the first I have ever heard of it. I have had to drill some heavy metal castings and experienced no slipping at all. I did lock up the bit a few times, to the point I had to use channel locks on the chuck to get it to release.
The infinitely variable speed is real nice and I like the way it mechanically adjusts. I have had many machines over the years with variable speed adjustment methods and just about all of them besides this press were a gross disappointment, many of them failed miserably very quickly and were just not well thought out or designed very good. Not the problem here. There is a lot of winding on the handle if you are going from the slowest to the highest speed, but I have not had to change it back and forth like that. It also comes with a built in LED light that works good. It is right there where you need it and it has plenty of light, but it doesn’t knock your eyes out. It also comes standard and you wont have to blow $150 on a cheesy work light to go on the press and be in the way.
The keyless chuck is first rate with zero runout. The laser pointer spotter? {? I don’t know what else to call it} device that shows you where the drill bit is going to hit the target works and seems to stay adjusted, but I really don’t use it much. The good thing is you can turn it off and forget about it or use it, which ever you prefer. The table adjust up and down easy and locks secure.
The depth stop is the fast adjust screw type that I prefer, but it is not quite as positive as I would like it to be…it’s just a little too loose on the screw threads and I have trouble getting a good positive feel for the stop. Maybe it’s me, but it seems like I have to play around with it and never really get a good feel when to stop feeding down. Maybe “mushy” is the right word when “hitting a brick wall” is how it should stop. I like the fast adjust button idea, but I would rather wind on it a while and know I am going to have that brick wall to stop on than spend two seconds setting it and the rest of the operation worrying if it stops at the same depth each time.
Powermatic tools all have LED lights that remain lit when the machines are plugged in but off and at first I thought this was a waste, but now I kind of like it because it makes me unplug the machine before I close the shop for the day. The handle on the speed adjustment wheel broke off clean the first time I tried to use it so I had to make a new screw to reattach it. The handle itself doesn’t spin with my hand anymore, but it is smooth enough that it can just slip in my hand as I turn it. I am certain Powermatic will send me a new one if I asked, but that one will probably just break too.
If there is one thing I would change about the press if I could {I can and will change the adjuster to be more positive} it’s a little bit bigger table. It seems a little undersized for the possible sizes of woodworking projects that might need to be drilled. I like the square hole in the middle of the table which is filled with a wood or composite plug to drill through. It is big enough that you should never ever drill the table itself and easily replaceable and also adjustable for dead flat to the table. Overall though I like the press a lot more than the other drill presses I looked at and I would buy another one. If you have any specific questions or I confused you on anything don’t hesitate to ask.

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 3867 days

#3 posted 06-12-2018 11:50 AM

I have the 2800b and like it a lot. when I sat it up if memory serves I got it to within .0015 runout, which for my function is fine. The nova, I do believe can go down in speed a lot lower, which would be good for metal, and precision drilling, almost milling like capabilities.

If you get the Powermatic, you will need some assistance. I did not appreciate the weight of that sucker till attempting to lift the head up to put on top of the post.


-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Redoak49's profile


4795 posts in 2788 days

#4 posted 06-12-2018 12:27 PM

I have the Nova Voyager Drill press for over a year. It is a very solid quiet running drill press. The run out on the chuck is very small. The quill travel of 6” is useful.

The electronics are like they have on their lathes for quite awhile with few problems. It is so easy to change speeds and has great torque at low speed.

It is one of the best tools in my shop.

View glen's profile


172 posts in 3353 days

#5 posted 06-12-2018 01:00 PM

Thanks for all the replies everyone… I still don’t have a clear “winner” in my head, but this has given me a few more things to think about. Ah, overthinking – sign of, and curse of, the woodworker.

Take care everyone

View Blindhog's profile


158 posts in 1848 days

#6 posted 06-12-2018 01:33 PM

Another vote for the Delta 18”. I’ve had mine for a couple of years with no problems and I really like the 6” quill travel and the large table. Easy set up for vertical as well as horizontal operations and as previously stated, the belt change is very easy. Just some more info to help with your decision.

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View Steve's profile


2106 posts in 1382 days

#7 posted 06-12-2018 01:52 PM

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 3867 days

#8 posted 06-12-2018 05:27 PM

Just saw the Powermatic 11% off on amazon with free shipping…..

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View alexpab's profile


1 post in 661 days

#9 posted 10-12-2018 03:11 PM

I decided to go with either Wen or Skil because they have good drill presses at best prices. WEN 4210 Drill Press is very popular, it is a 10-inch laser drill press, which will cost you approx. $120, if you buy from Amazon.

View Planeman40's profile


1499 posts in 3561 days

#10 posted 10-12-2018 06:29 PM

$1,300 is a hell of a lot to spend on a woodworking machine that pokes holes. My view from 60 years of woodworking experience is you can get everything you NEED with a LOT less money. I see you live in Alberta, Canada. I would imagine used woodworking equipment is hard to come by there, though I may be wrong. Make a list of all of the things that would be meaningful to you in a drill press and see what is available. My list would be: 15 or 16 in. throat, floor model, good table raising mechanism (very important), depth stop, quill lock (this is especially handy) adequate motor. I wouldn’t worry about the size of the table too much as most likely you will be fitting a larger auxiliary table to it. If I could, I would buy a good used light industrial press. You would spend half the money or less. Maybe much less. Light industrial equipment, particularly the “old iron”, never seems to ever give out if kept in good condition.

That’s my two cents and it’s worth every bit you paid for it!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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