Drilling down

The saga of my drill press continues.

For years, I have had a full height drill press – Woodman series, that I purchased pretty early on in the scheme of things, making the best decisions that I could at the time.  That is to say in hindsight, I have been a bit disappointed in it from the start.

I tried many different ways to deal with the shortcomings – different table tops



(the second was very interesting, but WAY too heavy!)

different chucks, but what began the end-game was when one of the capacitors blew.  That was back in May 2014, and somehow I have been dealing without one ever since.


Can’t exactly remember the timing, but either late last year/earlier this year I finally got around to trying to fix the motor, replacing the failed capacitor with another.  Seemed to work, and a few 5 second runs seemed to show it was back to being functional.  Still, after having it out of action for so long, I’d learned to work without it, so it didn’t get used.

I finally needed to on the weekend – a small hole with a forstner bit.  3/4 of the way down (20mm or so), and the motor on the drill press was smoking more than the workpiece!  Soon thereafter, and the motor ground to a halt, and this time it will be permanent (at least as far as I am concerned).

So it was off to the store once-known as Masters (now in liquidation), and picked up a bench-top drill press a couple of friends have also purchased, and have been pleased with.


Got it for 10% off (liquidator’s price), then an additional 5% with my soon-t0-be defunct Masters trade card.  Cost about $350.

That will keep me going at least until the Nova Voyager drill press is finally available from Teknatool.

Can’t wait!!

Well that’s not right!

After the rain the other day, I noticed a large area near the drill press that had been wet (and the sawdust in the vicinity was still damp), near the edge of the roller door.

Frustrating – the roller door edge must be letting water in I thought.  It was right below the switchboard, so I was looking around for signs the water had been coming in above the switchboard, but didn’t see anything.

It was a bit of an unusually coloured puddle – quite a black/purple, but again, didn’t think anything of it – who knows where the colour had leeched out from (a rag, some old sawdust etc).

Photo 3-05-2014 8 57 02

I needed to turn a pen later in the day, and the drill press is useful in that process, so I decided to have one last look, before writing it off permanently in my mind.

I recently got a new air compressor that had suspected problems with its starting capacitor (turned out not at all), and while investigating, I discovered how simple motor design is, with the capacitors tacked on the side.

So I wondered in this case, if was also a capacitor problem, and not something more serious.

Of course anything to do with motors etc is the job of an electrician!

Took off the covers to the capacitors, and one looked wet.  To the extent there were still droplets of liquid on the top, in the plastic retainer, and the ends of the ‘paper’ wrapped around the capacitor were also wet.

Bloody hell.  How did rain get in there?  But I couldn’t see how that was possible.  Outside, all the fine dust on the surface was undisturbed – there was no external source of water.  Something is not quite right here.  There was also a weird smell – acidic smell.  The capacitor (and it was only one of the two – the other looked normal) looked something like a battery that has leaked.  Can capacitors leak??  It felt lighter than the other one, but that is neither here or there – they are not rated the same, so that could be normal.  One way or another, that capacitor looked US, so I cut it off, with a view to replace it.

Photo 3-05-2014 8 57 17

When I turned it around, I discovered the answers to all my questions.

Photo 3-05-2014 8 58 19The capacitor had blown.  Literally.  Blew its top off.  The shrink wrap around looked melted in the vicinity.

1. The capacitor had failed, which is why the drill press had no power

2. The shed hadn’t rained on the drill press – the liquid in and around the capacitor was internally sourced.

3. The shed roller door may not have leaked – the liquid on the floor must have come from the capacitor (and there was a lot of it), so whether it had mixed with a bit of rain seepage, who knows.  But the strange colour (and very strange odor) definitely had come from the capacitor.

Sourcing a replacement isn’t so easy – the few placed I tried (including Jaycar) had nothing in that range.

Anyone know where a 50uF, 250V AC, 50/60Hz capacitor can be sourced from, let me know!

One way or another, I’ll be able to get the drill press back into operation, but it will find its way to the sale area anyway.  I need something bigger (as in more power).  It is 3/4 HP and wasn’t very expensive at the time, but my needs have changed!

DVR Drillpress is getting closer


The 2nd gen DVR drillpress is in NZ at the Teknatool laboratory, being put through its paces.

Must be getting closer to a release candidate. Can’t wait!

Think some Australasian testing might be required (hint hint!)

Dust Circles

It is a little known fact that although crop circles have all but been proven as hoaxes by the scientific community, dust circles also exist. Unlike the crop circles in wheat and other agricultural produce, dust circles are created, not in the dust as the name implies, but in solid wood, which in turn creates a lot of dust. (Perhaps better called dust-creation circles).

Some still suspect the hand of man is involved in these creations, but overwhelmingly, the dust circles have been subsequently used in furniture making and period details, disguising their true origins.  They then go by another name, one you may be more familiar with: rosettes, as they also are representative of flowers and this second term is the French diminutive of rose.

In modern times, companies have provided woodworkers with the tools to make their own rosettes that they can use to add period details to their creations, and it is one of these tools that we are looking at today.

Today being the operative word, as this rosette cutter comes from Toolstoday.com


Unlike many other rosette cutters I have seen in the past, the one from Toolstoday.com has some unique features that are particularly interesting.

For one, the cutter has replaceable/exchangeable carbide edged knives.  Rather than spending money on the shaft and body of the cutter each time, you can buy the much more affordable cutters of different profiles and insert the style you want for a particular job.

Being carbide edged, these are sharp with an enduring edge. There are 15 different rosette profiles to choose from, as well as blank knives that you can have made to a specific custom design.

The cutter may look like a router bit, but it is far from it (and would be incredibly dangerous if mounted in a high speed router).  The shaft has flats on it, which is an excellent feature as these allow the teeth of a drill chuck to grip it firmly and prevent slippage.

They are designed to be used in a drill press, lathe, mill or similar, running around 800 RPM or so.  However, as I found as well, the drill press has to be heavy duty.  My floor pedestal drill may be ok for basic drilling operations, but it was not up to the task of a rosette cutting operation.  Too much runout in the shaft, too much slack in the components, and the rosette cutter had a tendency to whirl offcentre, and the subsequent vibration was not able to be resisted by clamps, table or drill head, and the chuck kept falling out.

However, I may not have the best drill press (yet – as in that one will get sold once I have a replacement lined up at some stage (hopefully the Teknatool DVR drill press won’t take forever to come to market)), but my lathe is well up for the challenge.

With the chuck (and MT2) secured in the tailstock (with the rosette cutter), and the workpiece held in the lathe chuck, the workpiece was spun up to 1000 RPM, and the non-rotating tailstock wound in.  The net result is the same effect, and the whole system a lot more stable than my drill press.

Photo 2-01-2014 20 29 52

In this case I was looking more for a test, so grabbed a scrap of timber that the jaws could grip easily.  It was prone to tearout, so the rosette wasn’t as pristine as is possible, but still it confirmed the proof-of-concept.

Photo 2-01-2014 20 29 33 Photo 2-01-2014 20 30 05

(For those playing at home, that happens to be the Titan chuck with Powerjaws – that puppy wasn’t going ANYWHERE!)

Back to the rosette cutter, and just to reiterate those points – tungsten carbide blade edges, interchangeable knives, and solid body – it is a serious rosette cutter.  I was thinking that it would make for an interesting wheel cutter if the particular knives were made, and being interchangeable, you could have a much wide range of sizes, and wheel types without the cost of a full wheel cutter each time.

Photo 2-01-2014 20 34 27

You can get this particular rosette cutter here, knives here, and start making your own dust circles!


Although I put up the small storage shed last weekend, I really didn’t get a chance to actually make use of the space.

Today, I had a crack at trying to sort out the garage (where the majority of my machines are stored).  For a while it didn’t seem to be going particularly well – too much stuff, not enough storage, but slowly, slowly, things began to fall into place.

In the end, the 8m3 shed was filled to the brim – I would struggle to fit anything more in there at all.  And once I got that much stuff out of the garage, it was just sufficient to provide sufficient flexibility to move things around. As far as the decision to go with a shed rather than using a storage unit – I am storing pretty much all that I intended to, and now I’ll have a shed to show for it after the 2 months is up (the intended time I thought I’d need the unit). If it happens to be more than 2 months (every chance the way things always go), then I’ll be ahead on the cash stakes.  Money for jam.

So it is a shed of sorts – not able to handle large materials, but I can access each of the machines in there – the tablesaw, router table, jointer, thicknesser, both bandsaws, drill press, CNC (while I still have it), the lathes, and even the benchtop machines – there is an existing workbench along one wall in the garage.

Sure it is all a compromise, but hey – anything beats the last 5 months!  The thicknesser and tablesaw can only be run off the generator – no 15A power available otherwise.

IMG_4119 IMG_4121

Tomorrow I might even get to make some sawdust.  Exciting!


With Eager Anticipation

This is something I have really been looking forward to ever since I heard it was being developed.

As mentioned a ways back, Teknatool (inventors of the 4 jaw self-centreing chuck for wood turning, and the DVR lathe) have turned their attention to other products that could benefit from the significant ease of operation, power and easy variable speed of the DVR motor.

One such product is the drill press, and Teknatool have chosen the Wood show in Las Vegas to demonstrate the prototype.

It is a perfect synergy.


The drill press is constantly assessing the drilling operation. If the computer detects anything abnormal, such as a catch (happens often as the drill bit is just exiting the workpiece on the far side, which sometimes results in it simulating a helicopter!), a slipping bit etc, the motor will cut out surprisingly quickly. They use this same feature on the lathe for when the chisel takes too big a bite and catches.

It can detect if your bit is blunt or damaged, or if you’ve gone and caught some clothing around the bit. This is going to be an awesome drillpress!

Complete control over the variable speed, digital speed readout, constant speed with the DVR motor ramping up the power as needed to maintain the speed under load.

Expect around 9-12 months before products start hitting the shelves.



The display at AWFS is also very interesting – if you look closely at the picture of the chuck on the right, it looks like a SuperNova2, but I suspect this is actually the new interchageable jaw chuck (it doesn’t use twin bolts to hold each jaw on – one set can be slid out, and the next set slid in – toollessly (is that a word?))


Interesting to see the accurate digital readout of depth, load set speed etc.  The ability to zero off your drill bit (very important for accurate drilling, given they are all different lengths!)

Given that the motor is direct-drive to the shaft, I was surprised to see that the head is fixed, and cannot tilt, and the table is such a traditional design with a coarse thread height adjustment.  Wasn’t expecting that – it still leaves a margin for inaccuracy if the operator doesn’t level the table properly.

It may be that this is an example of the head-only model (will seek clarification) – they are first releasing the drillpress head, so you can upgrade your existing drill press, and then down track releasing a full drillpress model.  Upgrading an existing drill press will obviously be cheaper, but you have to wonder what innovations Teknatool will bring to the lower half of the drill press!

***Update*** I can confirm that this specific example was a DVR drill press head mounted on an existing base, and is not an example of the full Teknatool/Nova Drillpress solution.

Irrespective, the addition of DVR technology into the drill press is a massive step forward, and I am certainly looking forward to the next tool to receive the DVR treatment – the tablesaw is certainly in their sights. Will this become a serious contender to the SawStop?  The DVR motor may be capable of providing that sort of capability, and without the blade destruction of an aluminium brake slamming into the blade teeth.  Of course I am speculating wildly!

In any case, I can’t wait to see the new drillpress on the market!

Ready for the next revolution?

With the addition of the DVR motor to the lathe, it was transformed into a stunning machine, powerful, energy efficient, futuristic even.

So the next revolution? (Sorry about the pun!)

Teknatool are developing a DVR drill press!

No more belts, pulley slippage, belt vibration.  No more bogging down of a drill bit as the bit meets resistance and because of the pulley ratios, the motor is stalled.

The ability to easily tilt the drill head over and angle it to the workpiece which is maintained on a flat surface, rather than having to angle the workpiece to a fixed head.  I know there are some drill presses that can achieve this, but few and far between.

Instead of drilling a hole at whatever speed that the drill press is set for (and just how often do we change the belt speed for a single hole)? you’d have no excuse not to dial in exactly the right speed, each and every time. It is going to be a great drillpress!


Thinking about it, with the motor onboard the head (direct drive), then the plunge mechanism moves the whole lot – chuck and motor combined.  There is no limit then to the amount of plunge that is available.

DVR Drillpress

DVR Drillpress

Looking forward to seeing the DVR motor included on other machines – thicknessers, saw tables, bandsaws etc.  Instead of a router mounted under a router table, how about a DVR motor?  Seriously awesome!

The Camera is Mightier than the Pen

With the upcoming Carbatec pen demo (31 July), I have been giving some thought to the whole pen-turning process, and just what equipment I use these days when making a pen.

Before I start (and you may have already glanced ahead at the collection of photos), remember that pen turning is a good beginner exercise, and as such you do not need such a collection of tools to produce a pen.  They help obviously, but are not mandatory.

Even the lathe is optional. You can turn a pen using other means, the primary alternative being the humble drill press.  You don’t even need turning chisels – many a pen has been made using a sharpened screwdriver.

Mini Lathe

A lathe makes life a lot easier of course.  I haven’t used a dedicated pen lathe, but my feeling is they would be too underpowered to really be effective.  You can use a belt-driven one or variable speed – I tend to run it flat out for pen turning, so that makes the decision rather moot.  I have a mini lathe, but it would be no issue using a larger lathe as well.  So long as the lathe is accurate (the two ends (head and tail stock being directly in line).

Variable Speed Mini Lathe

A variable lathe does have the advantage when dealing with larger, or more out-of-round blanks – being able to change speed easily without having to move belts between pulleys.

Drill Press

A drill press can substitute as mentioned – turning the pen vertically rather than horizontally. It also is particularly useful for drilling the centre of the blank to insert the brass tube core. This drill press has the laser attachment for centering the bit on the blank.


A bandsaw is useful for easily trimming the blanks and can also be used to knock the corners off before turning if the blank material is prone to chipping/splitting during the initial turning to round.

It also has a major advantage in preparing blanks – scavenging materials from offcuts, resawing dried branches/logs etc.  You can take a lump of timber full of defects and still extract plenty of material for pens.  If you ever get into segmented turning (and yes, you can do segmented pens), then the bandsaw becomes critical. Not sure where the photos of my harlequin pen have gone…

Harlequin Pen

…..found a poor version back from about 2006.  Made from Red-gum, Pittosperum and Purpleheart. I only made the bottom half of the pen in harlequin – wasn’t happy with the result to justify continuing this experiment, but the principle is valid.

I also made this slimline for an informal pen comp where the theme was cross.

Cross Pen

I went with a traditional cross, with the obvious religious overtones. So I decided to take the photo on the woodworker’s bible (no insult intended).

Disk Sander

I find I use a disk sander for some jobs as well – trimming the ends of a blank down close to the length of the brass insert ready for the pen mill.  It isn’t particularly critical – I use it because it is available, and convenient.

Spindle Gouge

As far as turning tools, you can go the whole hog – roughing gouges, skews, gouges.  For a long time this was the only one I needed – a basic spindle gouge.  Used it for roughing and finishing, and details.

Detailed Pen

Captive Ring Pen

Even with a pen, you are only limited by imagination.  The captive ring was made by taking a very cheap skew and sharpening it to a much longer point so it could reach right under the ring as it was forming.  You can buy dedicated captive ring chisels – never tried one (yet), but the basic tool still achieved a perfectly good ring.

Hamlet Mini Turning Chisels

For very fine detail, a set of mini turning chisels can be quite effective, but again not critical – I got these more for dollhouse furniture than pen turning.

Wood Pen Blanks

The blanks themselves can be either timber, acrylic, bone, horn, metal (cartridge) etc etc.

Acrylic Blanks

Acrylics are interesting to work with, producing some quite colourful results, but I never feel like the pen is fully my own, and it won’t until I get into producing my own acrylic blanks.  This isn’t too difficult, but I need to learn how it is done so I can really feel like some of  these pens are really fully my own creation.

Laser Cut Blank

You can get very elaborate with blanks.  This for example is a laser cut kit from Rockler, and is a development of the segmented turning concept.  Pens made from these sorts of kits are also very interesting, but you are nervous the entire construction because of the cost of the ‘blank’ (around $US50 for this one, and the one below).

Fire Pen

Drill Presses

Have had a bit of a look at drill presses out there, particularly given that it has been a while since I purchased mine (a fair few years ago now!)

I have a Woodman Drill Press as it happens, which cost under $300 at the time (and comparable models seem to still be around that price).  I haven’t tried any of the current models (across the range), so thought I might contribute my experiences of my current model in a hope it will help anyone going through the decision process.

Woodman Drill Press

Woodman Drill Press

I went for a full height pedestal drill press, not wanting a bench mounted version (not having a bench was probably a factor, plus the increased capability of a full height (and they are not that much different in cost)).  It is belt driven, 3/4HP, 16mm keyed chuck with a MT2 morse taper, and speed range from 220 to 3480 RPM.

I was convinced by a sales guy at the time to go for this model because of the increased number of speeds, rather than a very similar press with 12 speeds and a larger table.  Always regretted that.  I only use about 3 speeds when I bother changing it at all – dead slow, medium, and maximum.  Unless I was drilling a wide variety of speed sensitive materials that needed all the precise intermediate speeds, I can’t see that it is a real advantage compared to a decent sized table.

This is less of an issue now because I’ve added the Pro Drill Press Table, but until I did that, I was always frustrated by the small table size.

3/4 HP is an absolute minimum.  I don’t recall being particularly limited by that sized motor, but I have gotten close on a number of occasions for needing more power, so I’d never go for one smaller.

The chuck is keyed, which I don’t mind, but may readdress that if I ever upgrade the chuck.  It is a 16mm chuck, which gives it good capacity for the larger diameters, but at the same time the larger chucks are limited in the size of the smallest bits they can take.  I think mine cannot grip smaller than around 3.5mm bits, which has occasionally been an issue.

The column itself is fine, but has a pretty basic method of securing top and bottom – a single grub screw top and bottom, and that has lead to slippage on occasion – with the head of the drill press being able to twist off-centre.

The other couple of variables that impact on the use of the press, is how far the centre of the bit is from the column – the further it is, the larger the item is that you can drill into.  The other is the range of the plunge.  Some people claim that there is no point having a particularly long plunge because the bits are only a certain length, but the typical length of plunge is too short to my mind.  For two reasons – some bits are longer (spade bits for example), and it would be good to be able to use their range without having to change the table height partway through drilling a hole.  The other is the number of times you have to change the table height.  For example, if I change from a 6mm bit to a 12mm bit, the chances are I am also going to have to change the table height because of the short plunge length.  This particularly impacts if drilling into metal, where you do work up through bit sizes, and especially when drilling multiple holes in the same project.

It would always pay to test the drill press runout when purchasing – shaft runout, chuck runout.

I’ve always had problems (from new) with my drill press chuck.  I even replaced the first one for the issue, but the replacement has still had jamming issues – occasionally it sticks, really badly, and I’ve found the only way to free it is to pound the daylights out of it with a wooden mallet.  One day I will toss the thing in the bin and buy a decent chuck.  At that point I will again decide between keyed and keyless, and the minimum and maximum bit sizes it can cope with.

I guess some of these frustrations I’ve had are to do with having a $300ish pedestal drill press, and not one that costs $800 and upwards.  So long as it drills accurate holes (when the chuck works), for the amount I use it, it’d be hard to justify a really expensive model (some exceed $2000, but they tend to be geared head models, not belt driven).

The Woodman Drill Presses are available in Australia, but at least a couple of suppliers (Woodman Group) of them have not listed them on their websites. Not sure if this is an omission, or means something else.

Router Bits in Drill Press

I’ve spoken in the past about whether you can use the drill press as a surrogate router (in general the answer is NO!), but there are some circumstances when it would be rather useful.

I’m not suggesting that I have changed my opinion of the use of the drill press for routing, sometimes though a router bit would be very suitable in a drill press setup.

One of the problems is the drill press chuck is specifically designed to hold a wide variety of shaft diameters, and in doing so, it’s ability to grip is compromised. A router on the other hand has a chuck that can cope with a single shaft diameter, and grips it very tightly (you do not want a router bit coming out at speed!) Also, the drill press jaws does significant damage to the shaft of a router bit which needs tightly maintained parameters to fit the router collet.

My thought is then, that a router collet is threaded onto the shaft of the router, and instead if this was a shaft that could be gripped in the drill press jaws, it would be rather useful, because then you could mount a router collet into your drill press.  Router bits could then be used in the drill press without fear of damage from the drill press jaws.

The only reason this came to mind was I was thinking about how I could use a 1/4″ solid carbide laser tip router bit to create some fine point, tapered holes, precisely placed into a grid.

%d bloggers like this: