Pros:Sturdy, powerful, convenient, and easy to adjust speed.
Cons:May need tweaking or slight repair for complete satisfaction.
The Bottom Line: This is a very good machine. Even if you pay retail you're getting a deal. Just make sure you get one with the setscrew on the motor pulley.
I run a SCCA race car with a buddy of mine. He fronts the money and I do the work basically. He has an appetite for modifications and I finally got sick of trying in vain to build precise things using my pistol drills so I went off in search of a drill press. I looked at Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, MSC, Harbor Freight, and eBay. Honestly, I fell in love with the DP350 the moment I saw it. It just has a serious look about it with the hand-wheel speed control, cast iron head, and flexible work light. I'm not going to drown you in specifications as the other reviewers have done a good job of summarizing them and they can be found at Delta's home page, which is here:
Recommend this product?
I'll just cut straight to the highs and lows of my experience so far.
Luckily I accidentally found reviews for it here while searching for Delta's home page. I was a little nervous when I read about the problem with the drive pulleys but decided to buy one anyway for better or worse. The deal with the pulleys is that the one on the motor comes apart because of a design flaw. The solution is the installation of a setscrew on the upper half of the motor pulley. See Bradman's review for details on this.
The big news in my review is that I found a way to get this drill press for $50 less than anyone else and have it come pre-fixed to boot. I was at Lowes one day drooling over it when an old salt of a salesman came to assist me. I asked him about some accesory I wanted for it, which they didn't have, and he ended up telling me about this place where he thought I could get it. As it turns out, Lowes has some sort of deal where it refurbishes tools that are broken and replaced under warranty or returned after the sneaky customer is finished using them. They send these tools out to this place, where they are torn down and rebuilt and then re-sold at a discount. They aren't re-sold at Lowes, but at some satellite location of some sort. Needless to say I forgot all about that accessory I was looking for and went there looking for the drill press itself. Indeed they had two of them in stock and were willing to let me inspect before I bought. I looked and there was that setscrew, right where Bradman says it needs to be. I discovered in conversation with the technician that there was a service bulletin about this issue and that it was common for these machines to come back for it. So, when you go to buy this thing, ask around the tool section until you can find someone who knows where this refurbishment place is. Mine turned out to be in a small storefront that sells Makita and Porter Cable tools.
As for the performance of the tool itself, I'm very happy with it. When the other guys say they notice no runout in the chuck, they are serious. I don't have a dial indicator to test it with, but I can't perceive any runout and I have actively looked for it. I have worked with some very nice drilling equipment and this machine has a good chuck on it. Plenty good for a drill press. It also has plenty of power. I work mainly with steel and I have not stalled this machine while drilling holes up to 1/2 inch. I imagine you could hurt yourself trying to overpower it in wood. I ESPECIALLY like the quill lock. Say you want to enlarge an existing hole. How do you get it centered? Forget eyeballing, find a transfer punch or drill bit that fits the existing hole exactly, chuck it up, lower it into the hole in your part, and lock the quill. Now your part is dead on where it needs to be and you may clamp it at your leisure. Then just withdraw the quill, chuck up the bit for your target size and drill away, knowing that you are exactly on center. The same goes with drilling any hole, really. Just lower the bit down onto your punch or pencil mark lightly and set the quill lock. Now your work is held in the dead-on proper place while you do your clamping. As I received it, there were only two problem that I felt it had. Firstly, there were dead spots in the speed control wheel at the minimum and maximum limits of travel. I just had to take it apart and see why that was. It turns out that there are two "stops" for the speed variation mechanism, one for the lower limit and one for the upper. If you are brave enough and mechanical enough to take off the sheetmetal cover and run the machine without it, you will see what I'm talking about right off the bat. Beyond that, it's just a matter of adjusting these stops so that you get full travel of the mechanism. Take care, though, when adjusting the stop for the high limit as it is there to prevent a stationary part from contacting a moving one. Mine was set very conservatively here so I adjusted it to within a hair. Now I get adjustability right down to the minimum and almost up to the maximum. Secondly, I have noticed that the table deflects a couple of degrees when drilling aggressively in steel. Also I suppose that the markings on he table tilt thing could be easier to see. That's about it for problems, though. Considering the target audience of this machine, these are very minor issues and will certainly be worse with any comparably priced units I've seen.
Having owned this machine for a while now I have a few notes. First, the flexible stalk that the light is on is really nice to have. However, it won't stay in some positions and may eventually go limp. I'll let you know if that happens.
The next point is that the minimum RPM (500) is a bit fast for some operations in metal. This is not a crippling problem though and can be worked around by enlarging a pilot hole in several steps or by using cutting oil, which is not going to be a big deal for metal working guys anyway.
I recently had occasion to drill a number of large holes in wood with one of those adjustable spade bits. These bits have a center point and a cutting arm on one side, which produces an asymetric load on the quill assembly. I'm happy to report that it performed well even with a hole diameter of around 2 1/2 inches.
I've had no problems with the speed control, but I have one more bit of advice on it. Having taken it apart to maximize its range I have learned that the "resting position" is the max speed setting. All this means is that there is a spring loaded assembly on one of the pulleys and the spring is fully relaxed on the high speed setting. If you set it on high when you finish using it for the day it will be less stressful on the spring. Not that there is any problem with the spring. This is one of those extra little things you can do to minimize aging.
Lastly, I got a comment about not giving enough info on where to buy the unit in its refurbished form. I finally found a way that anyone can find a local place to do this. You just go to www.deltawoodworking.com and click the "service centers" link. Then provide a zip code and you should find the closest one.
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