First time using a drill press, burning and stalling

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Forum topic by Bcemail posted 11-29-2020 08:32 PM 288 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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48 posts in 1477 days

11-29-2020 08:32 PM

I’m working on candlestick holders for my wife and I got a drill press to make the project easier. I got a cheapo drill press (HF) and some mid-priced forstner bits (Rockler). I was making the holes in the end grain of cherry blocks, 25 total, 7/8” diameter and about 3/4” deep. I had plenty of burning wood as I was drilling and often the bit would freeze. For the burning, I lowered the speed as I read that would help, and tried to move the bit quicker, but still couldn’t prevent it.

For the stalling, I opened up the top, and it wasn’t the pully slipping, the spindles were stopping. I’m assuming this is just down to lack of power?

At first, I also forgot to quench my bit, so that was getting pretty hot. It got that blue rainbow look to it, so I think that means I may have screwed up the metal, but it kept cutting and I started quenching it after each hole.

Was there something I could have done to make the work better? In the end, I did make all the holes and they were straight and lined up nicely, so much better than trying to go with a hand drill. Just hope I didn’t damage the press or the bit, but they made it through OK.


4 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


6972 posts in 1543 days

#1 posted 11-29-2020 09:32 PM

I can’t remember all the ranges, and feed speeds, and whatnot when using a drill press, so I keep this in a plastic sleeve, that hangs on the back of my drill press, so it’s always handy for reference.

Cherry is a SOFT Hardwood, with a Janka of just 950, compared to White Oak at 1335, and Poplar, even softer at just 500. Many of the spruce, fir, and pines are in the range of Poplar.

Plus crap drill bits give crap results. It hurts at first getting over the price, but every time you drill with a Fisch bit, you will congratulate yourself for being so smart. BUT, also check the drill. Is it possible the drive belt is slipping?

I do know cutting too slowly, and or with a dull blade on a table saw, Cherry is a prime species to burn. Correct feed rate, and a sharp blade, and you cut Cherry slick as can be.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Madmark2's profile


2056 posts in 1557 days

#2 posted 11-29-2020 10:32 PM

Peck at the joint instead of drilling in one go. Raise the bit and blow the edge clean and cool after each drill peck. Use a carbide forstner instead of HSS. The spindle stopping indicates you’re over feeding.

What do you mean that you “quench” your bits? Umm, that doesn’t sound right. Quench implies liquid. That is not good for your bits. Use air to remove chips and cool the bit. Back off on drill & clear chips oftenbefore smoke appears.

Make sure the belt tension is tight.

Bit diameter and speed have an inverse relationship. Smaller bits / harder material = faster speeds, bigger / softer = slower.

On a cheap drill press you’ll not to be able to drill 3” dia. on the slowest speed.

So the biggest bit is slowest and the chuck size (usually 1/2”) or smaller is fastest. Adjust speeds accordingly.

Not perfect but close enough for most work.
For hardwoods go up a speed (faster)
For soft softwood go down a speed (slower)

  • 1/2” & under – fastest (5)
  • 1” – medium fast (4)
  • 1-1/2” – medium (3)
  • 2” – medium slow (2)
  • 2-1/2” & over – slowest (1)

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile (online now)


7239 posts in 3378 days

#3 posted 11-29-2020 11:19 PM

For sure get a better bit, carbide would be best. Feed rate and clearing the debris are also important. Doing 25 holes with a so so drill press and a so so bit, usually does not work out well. That is more production work. Once that bit got blue, it is over. Sure it may nibble and such but cutting it is not.

For serious work like this I would break out the best bits I own. Other work for pine and poplar, mid range bits will do the trick.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View bondogaposis's profile


5929 posts in 3320 days

#4 posted 11-30-2020 12:51 AM

Forstner bits don’t clear chips very well. You have to raise the bit frequently to clear the chips then take another bite.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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