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When do you use a drill press vs a mill?

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Aaron_W

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#1
Just wondering when / why you would choose a drill press over a mill or a mill over a drill press for drilling holes? It seems like many home shops with a mill still maintain a drill press so there must be situations where that is preferred. In a commercial setting it makes more sense to have both as one wouldn't want to tie up a mill with work a cheaper and less complex drill press could do.

In my case I already have a 1/2" benchtop drill press and a smaller dremel drill press. If I had a drilling only project I would go to those, or for something bigger than the mill could do, I'd obviously use the larger drill press. For something I was doing on the lathe or mill though not sure when I might consider moving to a drill press rather than the mill. I only have a little experience with the lathe and none yet with the mill though, it might become obvious once I have more experience.
 

mikey

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#2
I'll take a shot at starting the discussion.
  • When you need precisely positioned or spaced holes, the XY table of the mill makes it easier.
  • When you need to have a precisely sized hole, it is easier to drill the starter hole and then bring in the boring head. The hole will already be accurately centered under the spindle.
  • When you need to use an end mill or a counterbore to dress a hole, the accuracy and stoutness of the milling spindle is better than the drill press.
  • When you drill wood, you are better off keeping that dust off your mill so use the drill press.
  • Keep in mind that a Sherline mill has no quill or feed; you have to crank the hand wheel to move the headstock down in Z. It is slower to use it as a drill press, albeit much more accurate.
  • Whenever you have the need for a hole or multiples of holes that need not be all that accurate, use the drill press.
  • When you need larger holes, bigger than about 3/8", it is better to use the drill press instead of the Sherline mill.
That's about all I can think of this early in the morning. The other guys can add on, I'm sure.
 

Asm109

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#3
Speed and tolerances drive the decision for me.
Accurately located holes are done on the mill.

When making parts for a weldment or other "fabrication" I lay out the hole locations with a square and a scriber. Center punch the location and move to the drill press. Hold the part in a vise and let the center drill "find" the center punch mark and go to town.
 

firestopper

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#4
I'm fortunate to have two mills so one is a glorified drill press. If you have limited workspace a mill would do the work of a drill press with better results if you have a DRO set up. You could also build a square table (Bolster) that your vise secures, mill flat and square. Your mill will be more versatile for other operations like drilling and much more without removing the vice. You can also screw or clamp material down. Once it gets chingered, just mill flat again.
IMG_1363.JPG
 
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Dave Paine

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#6
My needs may differ than most of you folks who work mostly with metal.

I have been making wood work projects for decades. In 2010 I got a wood lathe and started to make turning projects. Some of these needed holes to be drilled. My wood lathe has slop in the tailstock so not good for deep holes since I will get some wandering of the bit.

I got tired of the hassle of nudge-and-fudge to clamp the work on my drill press and line up a hole. I eventually got a compound table and milling vise.

This made it easier to hold many projects to get the hole aligned.

Milling_vise_compound_table_on_drill_press_2608.jpg

An example of using the drill press at the time was drilling the holes for a pepper mill mechanism. Mount the blank in the vise, get it on centre then move the compound table to drill the two small holes. Move to the middle for the deep hole.

Salt_mill_sycamore_purpleheart_good_centred_hole_3919.jpg

I still had a problem with the holes wandering off centre. Easy to see in a laminated black. I found out this was partially due to the drill press table flexing under load. I now have a clamp under the table in expansion mode. A hassle if I need to move the table.

Pepper_mill_jatoba_canarywood_Rita_blank_drilled_cut_3022.jpg

I purchased my metal lathe in 2014 and my milling machine in Jan of this year.

I now use the mill for all of my drilling operations in metal and most in wood. As

The times I drill with the drill press are if I am drilling pieces of wood which are too large for the vise or are not critical for position and are through holes.

Holes which need control of depth of cut are done on the milling machine.

When I drill wood on the milling machine I always use the shop vac as I drill.

My drill press gets used mostly with a wire brush for cleaning up rust from metal or for buffing wheels for buffing the finish on turned projects.
 

T Bredehoft

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#7
Parts I manufacture requite two holes, drilled through them. one 1/16, one 3/32, .375 apart. I have a drill jig which secures the piece in place, and two small drill presses, one with each drill. I only have one milling machine, so the two drill presses do the job quite well. The piece is 3/16 diameter and 5/8 long.
 

wrmiller

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#8
If I had already had a drill press when I bought my mill, I probably would have sold or gave it away because I don't have the room for both, nor can I think of a reason I'd use the drill press instead of my mill.

Now if I had a small table top mill that didn't have a quill, I would absolutely keep it. :)
 

Chip Hacket

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#9
I have a Taig Mill which has no quill. I have a cheap 10 in. drill press that I use quite a bit. It is pretty sloppy so I am actively looking for a replacement. Finding a quality replacement within a hobby budget is quite a challenge.

--Chip
 

David S

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#10
I have a JET circ 1970 made in Japan bench top drill press, very heavy that is my drill press and mill. Added compound table and vise..best of both worlds...and yes ...sigh worst of both at times.

David
 

Eddyde

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#11
I have a mill and 2 drill presses*. One press is left set-up with a countersink for deburring, the other for times when the mill is set-up for milling or it's just a one-off hole thats quicker to set up on the drill press.
*I have a third drill press that is currently out of commission, I intend to fix and set up with a tapping head.
 

chips&more

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#12
A milling machine can mill AND drill. It can do both and well. A drill press can drill but is not intended for milling. Milling on a drill press is iffy at best, hard on your drill press and not safe…Dave
 

cathead

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#13
If I am drilling accurate holes, I use the mill, for drilling out established holes, I generally use the drill press for that. In reality,
if you have a mill, you really don't need a drill press. I really can't think of a case where a drill press outshines a mill...
 

wawoodman

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#14
I have a mill and two drill presses. In my brain, the mill is for accurate work, when layout and control are important. When I just need a hole, it’s the drill press, every time.

The drill press is faster to adjust the table-to-head, and has a longer spindle. And, the small DP (an old Delta 220) has a foot feed.
 

Bob Korves

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#15
If you want to drill a hole in a three foot thick something, you either need a milling machine with a turret or a floor model drill press, though a bench drill press can also do the job with a bit of setup. With a bench type milling machine, you can run out of thickness capacity and options. A drill press is also often quicker for quick and dirty jobs than a milling machine is. For anything needing to be accurate that will also fit on your mill, that is the way to go. I have both and no plans to sell either. I find them complementary.
 

JimDawson

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#16
Most of my drilling gets done on the mill, even those ''drill press'' type jobs. Mostly the drill press gets used for chamfering/deburring. It normally has a countersink in the chuck.
 

Glenn Brooks

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#17
Generally speaking I drill small holes in most things with my drill press. However, the DP bogs down with most any work over 1/2" diameter - so larger than 1/2" diameter goes onto my mill.

Now, when my 21" Canedy Otto camel back DP comes back into service, With its 2" hole capacity and power down feed, I may be tempted to abandon my mill altogether for simple drilling operations. To much fun!

IMG_1108.JPG IMG_1111.JPG IMG_1112.JPG

Glenn
 

Ulma Doctor

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#18
drill presses and milling machines compliment each other and other machine tools too.
i find myself doing a lot of drilling in my lathe, than in my drill presses.
i use the mill when i got to do a lot of accurately spaced holes, (it has a DRO)
otherwise i use the drill press for repetitive work, using jigs and/or stops to speed things up
 

Aaron_W

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#19
Ok, thanks. Mostly what I expected to hear, and a few thoughts that hadn't occurred to me.

The speed of drilling multiple holes is something I really hadn't thought of, but makes a lot of sense.

In my particular case size (too big for the mill) is definitely a consideration, but I see a few of you have large mills that result in the reverse (too big for the DP).
 

Buffalo20

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#20
I’ve never drilled a hole in a mill, unless the part was in the mill for other machine needs. I own a big buck drill press, along with 3 other ones, I use on a daily basis. The mill have 1-1/2 to 2 hp motors, while the large drill press has a 3 hp motor.
 

BGHansen

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#21
Not adding anything here, but I use my floor drill press for non-precision work as it's not as rigid as the mill. Do drilling of wood exclusively in the DP also. Use the mill when the job needs accuracy or involves larger drill bits.

Bruce
 
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