How to Maintain a Drill Press

We all want to get as long as possible out of our tools especially the more expensive ones that is why we should always try to maintain our tools and machinery regularly as a preventative measure.

In fact, preventative maintenance is the norm in commercial and industrial professions because it is so effective at saving money by preventing broken equipment and lost time.

Drill presses are normally built as robust and tough machines but this doesn’t mean they don’t need to be maintained and lubricated from time to time.

They are also a fairly simple machine which also makes them highly reliable tools, almost bulletproof if looked after correctly.

how to maintain a drill press

With the correct maintenance, you will prevent poor accuracy and underperforming use of the drill press.

drill press inner workings

Some of the common components of the drill press that should be checked are:

The pulleys and drive belt

The belts and pulleys are heavily utilized in a drill press so need to be checked over from time to time.

Remove the cover and check they are in good condition. are they still a nice fit or have any become slack and stretched over time.

This will cause your drill press to lose power and the belt could start slipping losing all the performance of the engine.

Has the belt got all its teeth or grooves? The belt should be in good condition and shouldn’t be over tightened as this will damage the belt and wear it down and make it worn down before its time.

Lubricating for better performance

Lubricating is vital to keeping your drill press performing and running how it should.

You should always refer to the manufacturer’s manual when you are lubricating those moving parts to ensure you select the correct oil and lubricant.

The drill press spindle

Not normally any problem with this as it is built from solid steel and only over a very long time will this become worn at the teeth of the cogs.

The chuck

Another normally solid component of the drill press but it can become worn over time as well. Check it for rush and treat it to some lubrication from time to time.

Table and column

These are normally reliable and very rarely have any problems but still worth a visual inspection just to check for cracks or fractures in the frame.


Rust whilst very rare can be a problem, with the drill press is mostly constructed from metal when it is exposed to moisture in the air over a long time it will start to rust, It is simple to prevent by using some anti-rust lubrication on any moving or exposed parts.

Keeping the dust and debris out.

The drill press is normally protected from the dust and debris by the protective casing they come built with but there are parts that still are exposed and dust is very difficult to stop as it is very fine and this gives it the chance to get in any tiny gap or hole.

The casing is easily removed on most models and you can gain access to the insides with just a few bolts or screws.

Clean the dust and debris when it has had heavy use or has been operated quite a few times.

Drill bit maintenance

Often worked into the ground and then thrown away but the life can be extended with the correct usage of the drill press and keeping the drill bits sharp.

Drill bits can often become warped or bent from being used whilst the end is dull or from the excessive force on the spindle caused by the operator trying to get through tough materials that the drill bit wasn’t built to withstand or trying to drill faster by putting more pressure on the drill than should be.

The cable and plug

This is a very important one. First, unplug your drill press and then visually inspect the length of the cable for any signs of damage.

I like to run it through my hand by holding the cable in my hand and pulling it through feeling for any nicks or abnormalities in the cables outer protective cover. These steps will normally pick up any problems with the cable.

The plug should be looked at looking for any damage or signs of discoloration which is a sign of overheating.

If there is any sign of overheating then it should be replaced.

Also, check the plug socket as this will often show signs of discoloration that is more visible than some plugs because of the plug colors often being brown.

You can perform a test with an electrical tester to ensure the integrity of your cables but this should really only be carried out by a competent professional.

The workbench

This is often overlooked but when the drill press is fixed to a workbench it should be checked to make sure it hasn’t come loose as this part is subject to a lot of vibrations.

It is a good idea to make sure it is nicely secured so it doesn’t cause problems with the drill presses base and the accuracy of the machines drilling.

It also worth checking the stability of the workbench to ensure it hasn’t developed any problems or hasn’t become uneven.

Buttons and switches

These sometimes can get dust in them but it is normally eliminated by manufacturers creating switches and buttons that don’t let the dust enter the inners.

Always test the safety off button numerous times especially after it hasn’t been used for a while.

Screens and protective guards

It goes without saying that it is important to keep any safety guards or screens in good working condition.

Give them the once over and make sure they still perform as they are intended to.

If you look after your drill press machine it will serve you well for many years and will be a very good value for money so just take a little bit of time every few months to inspect it.

This will pay you back many times by running as it should with no breakdowns or replacement parts needed.

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