Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tool Review: MicroLux Drill Press

The lab needed a new drill press, so a "Microlux Benchtop Varible Speed Mini Hobby Drill Press" was purchased from Micro-Mark. Here are some initial impressions.

It comes well packed with all the parts in plastic bags covered in packing grease. Grab a rag and maybe some gloves before you open the box. Assembly is straightforward, though you may forget to put the stop ring and collar on before the headstock. The t-slots (square nuts 13mm wide by 5mm high) look like they are going to be very useful for setting up jigs. The machine is in metric except for the ruler to the right of the t-slots.

The configuration for the belt and pulleys seem reasonable, though you will need a screwdriver (included) to remove the cover.

The belt tensioning system looks like a good idea but time will tell.

It comes with a JT1 taper on the spindle, which means you shouldn't (ab)use the drill press as a mill. JT1 is a standard taper so replacement chucks are available.

The stop ring is a nice feature to prevent the chuck from being driven into the table if you were to accidentally drop the headstock.

The drill press comes with a digital read out which is a nice idea, but the display is nearly unreadable. It really needs a light. One of the annoying features is that it shipped with a nearly dead battery, just like the last calipers I bought which came with nearly dead battery and a backup nearly dead battery. I'm not sure which upsets me more, that vendors are cutting corners on batteries thinking nobody will notice or complain or that there is a factory somewhere making nearly dead batteries. This also means there is a market for nearly dead batteries, and there is probably competition to see who can make the cheapest batteries that function for the shortest period of time.

It comes with a screwdriver and hex keys, but I would have rather they spent the extra few cents on a real battery. Right now I am not enthusiastic about the handle shown above the screwdriver, in the future I expect to hate and or modify it.

It has a depth stop which appears to work well.

Here is the variable speed controls with a replaceable fuse and knob to control the speed.

I'm usually a fan of warning labels, but this is silly. Some dust? I want to know what dust to not known to the state of California the be harmful. There is no useful information being conveyed, except that you should be afraid of some but not all dust.

Overall, the drill press has a few nice features and the price is reasonable. The biggest problems are that the DRO is hard to read and the end of the handle isn't rounded. These problems are pretty easily fixed and considering the prices of some of the alternatives, this may be the only reasonable option despite the dead battery.

Available from Micro-Mark.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious now 3 years later how the drill press has held up.

I Heart Robotics said...

Still works fine, though it has only gotten light use.