A Question on Drill Presses

It was a good question posed in a recent comment, so thought I’d post the response here.  The issue experienced (and I’ve had it as well, as have many others I’m sure), is the morse taper that holds the chuck of the drill press falling out. (The other benefit of posting the answer here, is it then is a post about drill presses that I’ve apparently been somewhat remiss in my coverage 😉 )

My first solution in this case, is to wind the jaws fully into the chuck (so they don’t get damaged), then tap the base of the chuck with a wooden mallet to drive the taper tight.

Over time, if there is any slippage, the taper can become rather polished, so rubbing a bit of chalk on it, then tapping the taper home can help dramatically.

Getting more involved, you can coat the taper with Engineering Blue, push the taper home, remove it and see where contact is being made.  If there are  few high spots, you can carefully polish them down with a bit of wet & dry sandpaper.

If the contact area is very poor (and that would be an obvious reason why a taper just won’t stay put), you can get a morse taper reamer for about $A40 or so.  Given it is pretty much a 1-use tool (you really are unlikely to ever need it again!), it is debatable whether it is worth going this far.

Finally, I’d recommend staying away from Loctite – it makes removal when required very nasty (needing heat etc).  I also would stay away from deliberately roughing up the surfaces.

I wouldn’t be against using a touch (as in a single small drop) of Cyanoacrylate (aka SuperGlue).  The reason is – it is a very brittle adhesive, so when the taper needs to be removed (assuming you have one with a slot higher up to use a wedge and hammer to remove the taper), the glue will fail under impact loading (hammer!), can be removed with a solvent, and does not permanently damage the metal surfaces.

So there are some options – hopefully one poses a good fit 🙂 (pun intended!)

6 Responses

  1. A very timely response, because I’d been having exactly that problem. Although I think my problem is also being caused by having quite a lot of runout on the drill, a different problem that I’m trying to sort out. I’m starting to wonder if the taper is actually off center or something equally horrible.

  2. I took the heavy handed approach a while back…used the edge of a ‘bastard’ file and tapped the shaft a number of times….. not what you recommended though Stuart…. an old ‘woody’ said that’s what he does….. It worked well so far. Seems the theory is to create very small burrs on the surface which tend to lock it in place…..
    But then again I was originally brought up on a farm with a do whatever is needed attitude….

  3. Dental lathes use Morse tapers as well, and we would tend to use a soft wax to give some grip – but we change fittings while the motor runs at 3k rpm – so might not be a solution that crosses disciplines. It sticks until you need it not to, and it’s great for that, but I can’t comment on the drill press problem since I don’t have one (yet).

    • Sounds like an interesting solution – if it works in that situation, I don’t see why a woodworker’s one should be much different. Wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind however – I often use wax as a lubricant, and wouldn’t be looking to make the situation more slippery. Perhaps the typical wax used in dentistry has much longer carbon chains than the waxes used in woodworking! I doubt our standard wax would make a good basis for a set of dentures for example!

  4. Are we talking of the taper in the back of the chuck or the one in the spindle? Surely the drill chuck taper is a Jarno Taper (JT) not a Morse Taper (MT)?

  5. The one most commonly causing a problem is the morse taper on the spindle.

    The taper on the chuck itself rarely causes a problem, and I’d hesitate to suggest that a lot of people would even know that one was there.
    Of course, I could be wrong! 🙂

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