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Sick of struggling with a micro-mill machine from Harbor Freight to drill holes, I decided to buy a real benchtop drill press. I really didn’t want a full-size floor model because I don’t have the floor space for it in my shop, but I have plenty of bench space. A few years ago I did the research and determined that a Delta DP350 was the best option, but lost my good judgment at the last minute and figured I could do more with a micro-mill.  Now, after a little more research, I discovered not much has changed.

I headed on over to my local Rockler to pick up the drill press, but was dismayed that they didn’t have any on the floor, even though they had in the past. I thought maybe I should have called first, but figuring it never hurts to ask, I found out they had a few Delta DP 350’s in the back. So I ended up paying about $230 after tax and Rockler’s super secret 10% discount, which is about what you’d expect to pay looking at the street price.

Hefting the box into my truck with the manager, I noticed it was damn heavy, about 80 lbs. of awkward box. Although the weight was a good sign, there was no way I was carrying it by myself down to my shop; I would have to take it out of the box and transfer it piece by piece down to the basement.

Opening the box in my garage, my first impression was the smell of oil; yes, all the metal parts were soaked in oil to prevent them from turning into a pile of rust while it was shipped overseas. After unpacking and safely carrying down the base, table, column, and miscellaneous parts, I lifted up the head and wondered if I should’ve asked for some help. In the end I was able to carry it down to my shop, but just barely.

The first step was to wipe the oil off all the parts. Delta recommended using a cloth moistened with kerosene — not gas, not lacquer thinner, and not acetone. Who has kerosene just lying around? Not having any on hand, I just used a cloth to wipe down all the components. They also recommend coating all the unpainted surfaces with paste wax, but I’m holding off on this step until I can properly remove all the residue.

The next step was to attach the column to the base with four bolts. Compared to the weight of the column and the base, the bolts seem rather small, but we’ll see how well they hold up. The raising rack has flat spots on both ends, so you can’t just lower the table onto the column and rack — you need to remove the ring and the rack.

The rack fits into a groove atop the flange on the column and the bottom of the ring so it can rotate around the column with the table. You need to slide the table with the rack over the column and replace the ring in just the right position — too tight against the rack and it won’t rotate freely, too loose and it’ll move up and down with the table. Add the crank and the table clamp screw, and the table is in place.

The head sits atop the column and is kept in place by two set screws. The bottom set screw went in fine, but the top set screw kept turning and turning. I was afraid that maybe the head wasn’t fully seated on the column — that I would screw the set screw all the way through the inner wall and it would drop into the column. Eventually, I did start encountering some resistance. It turns out that the set screw it just short and the top threads are very deep.

Finally, after screwing in all the handles and mounting the chuck on the tapered spindle, I turned on the machine and tested it with a 1/2″ Forstner bit and a piece of crap wood. I didn’t measure it, but there was practically no run-out so I did a good job mounting the chuck.

A few notes from the experience: As far as I can tell, all the pictures in the assembly instructions are actually taken of a fully assembled machine; they just zoomed in on the area of interest for the step.  The most glaring example of this is when they show the chuck already mounted to the head many steps before you are supposed to do it. Plus, they never actually tell you to screw in the handles on the speed selector (though if you couldn’t figure that out on your own you probably shouldn’t own a drill press).  Despite these flaws, the instructions were pretty easy to follow.

Look for the next post about the DP350’s specs and features soon.

Shopmaster DP350 [Delta]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Shopmaster DP350 [Rockler]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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14 Responses to Delta DP350 Drill Press: Assembly

  1. Stacy says:

    “Who has kerosene just lying around?”

    Any self-respecting motorcyclist does… 😉

    I’m in the market for a good benchtop drill press so I’m looking forward to your impressions.

  2. Jon says:

    Looked at the Amazon link and the customer images have a few notes on deficiencies that seem to be easy enough to fix.

  3. Phil says:

    You might not have kerosene laying around, but I’m sure you have WD-40. It’s practically the same thing, and its’ what I use to clean off that thick grease or cosmoline that is applied on the bare metal areas of machinery. It also does all those wonderful things WD-40 is known for, and your new machinery will thank you for it.

  4. Rob says:

    I could probably look it up somewhere, but if you happen to remember when you write “the next post about the DP350’s specs and features soon”:

    What’s the travel on the thing? That is, how far does the tip of a drill bit move from start to finish? Most drill presses suck at this, having really short travel distances. A few of the floor-standers do manage about 6″, and that’s fine. I’m guessing a bench-top model such as this one sucks, though.

  5. @Rob:

    The reason I didn’t just tack on the “features and specs” to the end of this article was that I was planning on going over the specs and actually measuring them and verifying that they were what they claimed — but that’ll take some time, I was hoping to do it this weekend. I might have to go buy a tachometer to test the speeds (shucks), that or build a stroboscope.

    But for starters Delta claims 3-1/4″ of quill travel which for my needs was more that enough, but I read many places that listed it as much less.

    @Jon: Yeah I saw those, I have yet to open up the top to look at the variable speed mechanism on mine, one of the reviews said Delta changed the pulley to fix the issue.

    Unlike some of the reviews I’ve adjusted the speed several times without problem yet. We’ll see what happens after I use it a while.

    @Phil: Doesn’t WD-40 leave a residue? I think the thought behind kerosene is that it’ll evaporate and leave bare metal — then you coat the bare metal with paste wax, which I’d trust more than WD-40 for long lasting protection.

  6. Jim Crockett says:

    Kerosene = Fuel Oil (more or less) which works admirably for cleaning the protective oil from steel parts. If you live in the North, you or one of your neighbors most likely has fuel oil.


  7. aaron says:

    i thought one of the problems wtih WD40 was that it didn’t leave a residue – sure there are some low volatility components, but eventually they all evaporate… which is why it’s not as good as true lubricating oils for permanently lubricating parts ???

  8. Christopher Fitch says:

    According to Wikipedia, WD40 does leave a residue, unlike most penetrating oils (which are usually volatile):


    My uncle always advised against using WD40 as a long term lubricating oil based on his experiences.

  9. Clint says:

    I have one of these in my shop. It is excellent for drilling holes but is a little underpowered with only a 1/3hp motor. The variable speed is nice but I find I rarely change speeds for most tasks. The Quill travel distance is fairly good and will suit most tasks.

  10. Gary says:

    You assemble a big floor model tool, having kerosene or mineral spirits on hand is definitely worth it. I use either one to clean up old hand tools too.

  11. Bajajoaquin says:

    Plus, if you have kerosene, you have an excuse to buy a kerosene hurricane lamp! They make a good outside patio light, and an excellent blackout emergency light source.

  12. Phil says:

    WD-40 does leave behind a light residue after most of the volatile components have evaporated, which is why I use it in these circumstances. Paste wax is great for machine tables, it helps the workpiece slide easier. I use the WD as a spray-and-wipe cleanup for things like the drill press column and chuck, lathe bed ways and other pieces that move, turn or slide against each other. It helps to wash off the small bits of chips and swarf and keeps things lubricated.

  13. Mike47 says:

    A machinist recently advised me that WD-40 is hygrophyillic, meaning it attracts water. This is consistent with my understanding that it was invented as a Water-Displacement formula. Depending on how you use it, it may attract water to components you don’t want water to come in contact with. As long as you wipe or clean off any WD-40 residue from metal parts, you’re probably O.K.

  14. Chris says:

    Mike47: The word you’re looking for is either “hydrophilic” (water-loving) or “hygroscopic” (water-absorbing or -adsorbing). 🙂

    However, I’m not sure I believe your machinist friend. WD-40 was indeed invented to *displace* water; how can you displace water if you’re absorbing it?

    It’s quite possible you could displace water away from an exposed surface into an otherwise *un*exposed area, though, which could certainly cause corrosion in the long term. If there’s really that much moisture around, it’s probably best to use an alcohol (which will indeed absorb moisture) to dry the surface first, then use something like kerosene to wipe it down.


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