My old bench-top drill press served me reasonably well for several years. It was about as cheap as one might find, a small bench-top unit, totally bare-bones, without even an adjustable depth stop. But it would spin a bit, and drill a straight, clean hole.
Until recently, that is. A couple of weeks ago, it began to produce disturbing noises, and I noticed an unacceptable amount of wobble in the spinning bits.
I discussed the problem with my wife, who suggested that I go ahead and replace the old machine with whatever I needed to keep my current project moving along.
Now, I wouldn’t be averse to having a large floor-standing press, with plenty of horsepower, extra-long quill travel, and electronic variable speed control. I mean, who wouldn’t love to have such a tool? But in reality, I have no need for a machine like that, no floor space to put it in, and would find myself in actual pain over shelling out that much cash for no good reason.
So, after evaluation my true needs, I decided that all I really had to have was a replacement for the worn-out tool. The bench-top size was enough, the horsepower was adequate, and I could manage with the limit stroke of the quill. The only “upgrade” I really wanted was an adjustable depth stop.
Fortunately, my local home center had just what I was looking for, right on the shelf. The Porter-Cable model PCXB620DP was exactly what I needed. It is slightly larger than my old machine, although the quill stroke is the same. The motor is almost identical, as is the belt drive and stepped pulleys. The Porter-Cable includes an adjustable depth stop that the old machine did not, as well as a rack and pinion table height adjustment, also missing from the old press. The overall height of the machine is a couple of inches more than the old one, giving room to manage slightly larger work pieces.
Two things have changed in the decade or so since I purchased the old machine. Price has increased considerably. I recall paying less than $50 for the old press, where the new one retails around $120. I also noted that the cast iron parts (table, table collar, and base) are noticably thinner and lighter than those of the old machine. This may be trouble down the line, as I noticed the threads in the table mounting collar were broken on the store display model. These threads allow the split table collar to be tightened around the support post by means of a lever bolt. The table of the store display would not get tight, therefore would swing side to side during use.
Aside from this, the machine seems decently made, for its price point. Time will tell how it holds up. Look for me to post a full review after putting it through its paces for a while.
The critical specifications for the Porter-Cable PCXB620DP are:
- 1/2 hp motor
- 5 speed belt drive
- 2″ quill travel
- 1/2″ chuck capacity
Here is my “unboxing” video, if you would like to see how it goes together.