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The drill press hasn’t changed much since the first electric-powered one was built in the early 20th century. So I was happily surprised to see several key innovations on Delta’s new 18-in. drill press, model 18-900L.
In a nod to woodworkers, they improved the table’s capacity and holding power. The extra-large rectangular table is better than the typical small, often round tables favored mostly by metalworkers. T-slots in the table accept hold-downs (not included) that make it easier to clamp workpieces. A fairly generous flat area underneath the perimeter better accepts the jaws of woodworking clamps.
The table has another strong feature. Like most drill-press tables, it tilts 90° to the left and right for angled drilling. But this one also tilts forward to 48°, offering the added convenience of being able to drill at compound angles—a plus for chairmakers.
Although it doesn’t offer variable speed, the machine makes it easy and fast to change between the 16 speed options. In an improvement over the pulley systems typically found on drill presses, on the Delta you just slide a lever to the right to release the belt tension. To change speed, slip a pair of belts onto the appropriate pulleys, then release the tension lever, which automatically re-tensions the belts.
Model 18-900L has plenty of power: I was able to drill a 2-in.-dia. by 3/4-in.-deep hole in hard maple in just 8 seconds. The quill stroke on this machine is a very generous 6 in. Most drill presses have a stroke that’s less than 4-1/2 in., forcing you to position the table twice for deep holes.
A spring-loaded depth stop is another clever touch. Setting the stop is quick, easy, and accurate. The same type of stop locks the quill in place.
The machine also has a very accurate laser system, which helps you align the bit with a layout mark on the workpiece.
click to enlarge
Quick-release depth stop No need to waste time spinning the depth stop up and down the post. Simply depress a quick-release button and slide it into position.
Quick-release tension lever Speed changes are a breeze.
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