Drill Press Safety – 11 Safety Rules for Your Drill Press

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If you’re into precise, heavy-duty drilling and own a drill press then it’s well worth brushing up on some important drill press safety rules. If you do such drilling and don’t own one of these machines, you really should consider getting one – they are a must have when it comes to a wide range of drilling applications.  

Drill presses can easily take on the tough drilling jobs that a hand drill wouldn’t have a hope of getting through. A drill press is easy to operate and usually not the most dangerous power tool in a workshop when compared with grinders and saws. 

But certain drill press safety information does need to be understood, and in this guide, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about drill press safety and how to work this incredibly powerful drill in the safest way possible. 

If you’re thinking about buying one of these machines and you don’t want to spend a fortune, you can check out this guide with some great drill presses for under $200

drill press diagram

11 Drill Press Safety Tips to Keep You Safe at Work 

The On/Off Switch

Knowing exactly where the on/off switch is and having fast reactions when it comes to pressing it off can be the difference between a close call and a nasty injury. For example, if the piece you’re drilling into becomes unsecure and starts spinning around with the drill bit, the safest thing to do is keep your hands away from the bit and hit that off switch in a hurry. You can deal with the problem when the drill press has safely come to a stop. 

Hand Brush at The Ready

Whatever material you are drilling, dust, debris, chips and splinters are going to start building up around the work area. Wiping this away with yourkraft tool hand brush bare hands will end up with you getting stuck with endless metal and wood splinters. Some metal splinters that get under your skin are so tiny you’d need a magnifying glass to see them, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel them. 

Having a small hand brush by your side to brush the work area clean every now and then will save you a lot of pain. The brush also comes in handy when large shavings of metal sometimes peel off the work piece and start to spin around with the bit. The brush can be used to break them off and keep the work area clear.

If you happen to be in need of a decent hand brush, then this soft horsehair brush by Kraft Tool is an excellent choice. At 13-inches long, it’s a good length for keeping your hands out of the danger zone. It’s tough, durable and affordable too. Most people who bought it have only great things to say about it. You can check it out here on amazon.com.

Secure Your Clothing

Drill Presses have very powerful motors and can spin bits at more than 3,000 revolutions per minute and one of the worst drill press hazards is lose clothing getting caught up in the spinning drill bit. Needless to say, you don’t want to get anything wrapped around the bit that is secured to your body. 

Long hair, long sleeves, dangling jewelry, hoodie strings and more are a major risk to your health when it comes to operating a drill press. Roll sleeves up to the elbows and have a good look for any other clothing hazards before getting to work. 

Safety Glasses Are A Must 

Sometimes when drilling, slivers and splinters will come flying off the piece you are working on. You don’t want to take any of these to the eyes, soDewalt safety glasses never drill anything without your eye protection on first. When drilling deep holes, clean out the hole regularly to avoid extra flying debris.  

A great pair of safety goggles are these DeWalt anti-fog goggles which are available on amazon.com. They are quite large and fit really well over most regular glasses. They have heaps of brilliant reviews from real users and are well worth a look if you’re in need of a good pair of safety goggles. 

Keep Your Work Environment Clean 

It doesn’t matter how confident you are with a drill press, if you stumble over debris while drilling, all bets are off. You’ll be relying on lady luck as to whether or not you go head first into the rotating bit. A clean workshop will keep you much safer around the drill press and all your other power tools. Also, watch out for build ups of oil and grease on the floor which can be even worse than debris. 

You should also keep your work table clean and tidy. Only have the piece on which you’re working on the table and give it your undivided attention. 

Leave the Gloves Off 

Having talked about endless splinters when using your bare hands to wipe down the drill press table, you might think a good pair of gloves is just the answer. That would be a big mistake. Gloves, like all other fabric that gets too close to the spinning bit, can easily get caught up in it and suck your hand in. The same goes for sleeves, watches, rings and bracelets which are all high up on the list of drill press dangers. 

Always Clamp Down Your Work 

One of the most important drill press safety procedures is always clamping down your work. If your work piece isn’t securely clamped to the drill press A woodworking clamptable and the drill bit gets stuck in dense material as you’re drilling, the work piece can start to spin around. Drill presses can easily have upwards of a ¾ hp motor. This is a brutal amount of turning power that can do you a lot of damage quickly. If a work piece begins to spin on you, never attempt to stop it with your hands – take a step back and hit that off switch. 

Know How to Adjust the Work Table 

The process of adjusting the height of the work table can vary depending on the type of drill press you are using. Some presses have a gear system for lifting or lowering the table. In this case, you usually have to first unlock it with a lever, then turn the handle one way or the other to lift or lower the table (and don’t forget to lock the table again when you have it at the height you want). Turning the handle to adjust the table before unlocking it can damage your wrist and the gears. 

Some, usually cheaper drill presses, have a more basic system for adjusting the work table. It is essentially just a clamp that holds the table in place. If you loosen the clamp without holding the weight of the table, the table can drop all the way down and land on your feet – or catch some other part of you on the way down. With this type of system, always control the weight of the table before untightening it, and don’t let go of it until it’s tightened back up at the height you want it. 

For a little extra safety, you can place a heavy-duty spring on the base to stop the table falling all the way to the floor. 

Take the Chuck Key Out 

A chuck key is something you’ll use on a regular basis to change drill bits. This gets dangerous when the chuck key is left in the chuck and you powerchuck key being tightened on the drill. The chuck will spin and so will the chuck key. The key can fly out at a rate of speed in any direction. If you happen to have the chuck key on a chain – things can get even more dangerous as the chain too gets caught up in the spin. 

The best solution is to only use a spring-loaded chuck key. This will force the key out of the chuck and stop you leaving it in there. 

Check That Small Drill Bits are Secure and Centered in the Chuck 

Sometimes, when you tighten small drill bits into the chuck, depending on your angle of sight – the bit can look like it is secure when it is not. If the drill bit isn’t centered in the jaws of the chuck it can spin out of control and even get thrown out of the chuck.chuck and drill bit 

When changing drill bits, try to bend down beneath the chuck and look up to make sure the bit is properly centered inside it. 

Be Mindful of Your Drilling Speed 

Drilling the right material at the right speed is something that needs to be done. Using something like a hole saw bit, you’ll need to keep the speed low because you are drilling out quite a large area of material. When using smaller drill bits on material like wood, it’s best to drill at higher speed to help clear dust and chips from the hole as you’re pushing through.  

Summing Up 

Drill presses are among the more predictable power tools you’ll find in a work shop and when treated with respect and common sense, they are very safe machines to operate. Abiding by the drill press safety tips we’ve covered in this article will keep you well clear of objects spinning out of control, projectiles taking the form of chuck keys and all the other mishaps that might me bestowed on a woodworker not showing a drill press the respect it deserves. 


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