When it comes to power tools or shop equipment, drill presses rank pretty low on the danger scale. While you would have to put some real effort into losing an appendage to one, accidents can and do happen every day.
When thinking about drill press safety, we like to keep things simple. We have outlined several key areas to consider below whether you are a rookie or an old seasoned pro.
Safety tips to always follow
Your work area
Do you work in a shop? If so, are you responsible for keeping your area clean or is it a group effort of sorts? It doesn’t matter if it’s a machine a half-dozen people use throughout the day or one that’s all your own, take care of your work area.
If the drill press is in your home, the same rules apply. Keep the table clean of any debris and check the floor around the machine as well.
Check your clothing
Loose fitting clothing is comfortable, that is something we can all agree on. When its winter, a shop or garage can get cold so long sleeves are common. Well, they definitely not a great idea when working with a drill press.
With drill press safety, one of the biggest tips is to simply roll your sleeves up. Don’t get anything near the bit or spindle that could become entangled and draw you in.
If you’re working with metal, wear gloves. Safety glasses are a lock regardless of the materials you are working with, and ear protection might be a good idea as well.
Operating the machine
Before you ever turn on the drill press, make sure the bit is secure. It’s not going to hurt anything if it falls out but could cause damage to your stock or yourself if it’s only hand tight and flies out at full speed.
Always make sure to use the right bit for your machine as well, and only bits made to work with your drill press – don’t get fancy.
The other area you want to “lock down” would be the stock you plan to drill. You need to make sure metal, wood or any other material is firmly secured on the table before firing up the drill. Clamps are ideal, and something you will find in any good wood shop.
It is always a wise idea to use backer board beneath your stock as well for support, and when drilling long stock, you should keep the “excess” to your left. If something does happen and it spins on you, it’s going to hit the post, not your body.
Do not try to do too much.
By this we mean, don’t force the bit or try and work too quickly. Drill presses are heavy machines that can put a hole in anything. They are made to do the work for you, so you should never have to apply excess pressure to make a hole.
Some materials tend to heat up quicker than others as well, so keep heat in mind at all times. Too much heat can damage your bit, so again, go slow and let the machine do the work.
It is also a great idea to lift the bit from the hole frequently when drilling deep. This gives the bit some time to cool and allows excess material to be cleared from the hole as well. Whatever you do, never dry to clean out holes or the stock with your hand.
You should keep your hands a minimum of 3-inches away from that whirring bit of metal at all times. Never, ever reach around the back or underneath the drill while you are working, or you could pay a heavy price.
Stop the drill if something goes wrong, it only takes a few seconds to fire it back up.
With that in mind, never try to stop the spindle yourself. It may be tempting when it slows down to give it an assist so you can swap the bit out quicker, but don’t do it. Keep your fingers away from the spindle until it completely comes to a stop. Trying to stop it prematurely may also damage the drill itself.
Drill bits get hot, especially when going through metal. Even after your press has stopped, you still may need to let the bit cool. Gloves can get around that, and are something you should wear when brushing debris away from your work piece after a hole.
People that have never used a large piece of equipment can still operate one with ease as long as they keep safety tips in mind. Even professionals use drill press safety on a daily basis, which includes wearing goggles and other gear even if it is uncomfortable at times.