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.