Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The mighty drill press

Various forms of hand held tools had been designed thu the ages to bore holes, but to really ensure a level of angular precision, requires some sort of fixed apparatus which hold the drill implement at 90 degrees (some have adjustable table for angles in between). Enter the drill press. And yes they made their apparition long before electricity...

Besides holding the bit at a fixed angle, the other requirement is a down feed force. Either supplied by you via a lever or spining a wheel, or... with some sort of mechanical ingeniosity.

The Miller-Falls No 25 Breast drill equiped with a chain drive on the chuck.
As the chuck rotate, it tigthen the chain and pull the drill bit into the workpiece.
Makes drilling into metal or hard woods much easier


Some of the early design, simply mounted a regular hand drill in a special frame to hold straight. And of course some were simply made with a built in drill apparatus. Similar construction as the lowly hand drill but not removeable.
These rather smallish DP were meant to be bolted temporarely on a bench surface, hence being "portable". They stand about 12 to 20 in hight above the bench



Miller-Falls bench DP using a replaceable hand drill.
Don't let the pics with the hand drill mounted fooled you, it has been modified to look more permanent. It does indeed use a regular hand drill and probably only certain model(s) ?? Lever action push the drill down.
Pics from EBay


A Goodell-Pratt Toolsmith small bench DP
On this one, the down force is exerted by spinning the top wheel
Pic from EBay

Miller-Falls No 210 bench DP

It use a built in mechanisn rather than a removable hand drill
Pic from EBay

This similar sized one is meant to be more 
permanently bolted to the work surface. 
This one still sport the archaic one size hole chuck 
with a set screw sticking out.
Pic from EBay

Similarly, today, they make small bench rig to secure a portable electric hand drill, transforming it into a small drill press.

A well made bench drill rig. Cast aluminun and steel.
Never used it, but at $5 in a yard sale, I just had to have it :-)

This Rig the Port-A-Lign hold the electric drill by its chuck shaft, 
meaning you have to remove the chuck to put it on then reinstalled it.
 Annoying, I left a dedicated drill in it for years. The taped parts are the drill original screw parts for that operation

And here is the dedicated drill I used on it.
The long space between the drill housing and the chuck, was to hold the removable sliding piece between the post.  I left it on for eons, making it a knuckle buster with an often rotating piece, but I got used to it, Heather not so much, oups, hence why I finally removed it 

Another design, which was also portable, was the Beam Boring Machine (BBM). It enables you to bring the drill press to the beam, which is a smart idea since it is a lot easier to bring the tool to the beams than vice versa.

Beam Boring Machines, or Carpenter Boring Machines
 or Barn Beam Boring machine and etc.
They come in two flavours: Upright (fixed) or Angular

Mine has a fixed drilling colunm, but fancier models, have a tilting head, enabling angle drilling and... enabled the head to be lowered almost flat on the bed for easier storage and portability.

An angle adjustable or angular BBM
Fold not quite flat for storage
Pic from EBay

In use, you lay down the BBM bed on the beam and sit on it to secure it in position. That put you in front of the machine and you can just turn the handles to operated it. At the end of the operation, most have some sort of rack and pinion device to crank it back up out of the hole. On mine you simply slide a gear over to engage that feature.

Slide the gear on the handle's square shaft to the feft to engage the rack gear.
Mine is missing the top clip to hold the head.
The big set screw sticking out of the chuck would give OSHA a heart attack, but you are sitting in front of it a fixed distance, it would be hard to lean into it 

When it reach its uppermost position, it engage some sort of clip to secure the head up, ready to be moved for the next hole.

The retaining latch and clip are seen in the middle of the top arch.
It is missing on mine, I will have to come up with something.
Pic from EBay

Another mechanical contraption of the days, was the Post Drill Press, or sometimes refered to as a Blacksmith Post Drill

1902 advertisement

The idea being that long before electricity, blacksmith and farmers, often required the ability to drill thru metal. A hand tool is great in this application since the drilling speed is only as fast as you make it. In other words, its slow rotation and steady down pressure makes it ideal to drill thru metal and being of constant down pressure, it is easier on the bits. Their somewhat slower speed are not as great in wood drilling, but they still work fine.  Some, such as mine, have provision to select two and sometimes 3 speeds by simply moving the handle boss on a different pinions.

Mine in the garage, awaiting a good degunking and possibly a paint job (?)
The only thing I had to replaced so far, was the missing bolt to secure the drill press table on its moveable bracket. It is in operating condition and complete. It has 2 speed and a lever operated auto retraction mechanism. 
Quite a fancy model from Champion Blower & Forge Co.
I have yet to identify this model, it is not cast into it, as they usually are ??

They are called Post Drill because they were meant to be installed on a post inside a barn or a blacksmith shop. Mounting one straight on the wall will not allowed enough clearances for your hands and you will scraped your knuckles.

I have an old 6X6 post, drying in the garage
 and I bought a post block for it.

Their ideal mounting height should allow you to comfortably crank it without
having to reach up while cranking. Note also that the handle's extension sticking out is adjustable. That way you can accomodate differing height persons and varies the strength of the stroke. The mass of the flywheel attached to one side, smooth out the rotational jerkyness of the hand cranking and gives it momentum.

They are quite safe in use. A late friend of mine used to have a little shop in Digby, called "The return of the toy maker". Kids could make and assemble a small boat kit under adult supervision. He had a few hand operated and foot operated machinery, such as Post drill, Barnes foot pedal Scrollsaw, Delta hand cranked scroll saw and etc. It was safe and fun for the kids to make the few operations required: Cut the shape on the scroll saws, drill holes for the mast on the Post drill and etc


These post drills used 1/2 inch shank bits and they must be long enough to enable the full range of drilling.

My one and only BBM bit, shown mounted on its chuck, 
also worked on my Post drill. 
Same size's archaic chuck as used on my Post Drill chuck.
They are much longer than the regular brace bits.
In case you wondered, the bit is sticking out at an odd angle
 because the BBM is in pieces on my bench...still

They often have a flat spot on one side of the bit's shank, since the typical chuck of the day was simply a round cylinder with a matching sized hole (smidgen bigger opening) and a set screw sticking on the side. This screw sticking out was one of the first modification to appears in the name of operator safety. The spinning chuck with a screw sticking out can bite you if you forget about it.  Now, when spinning by hand, it is not much of a problem, since if you stop turning, it can be made to stop quickly. But as we transitioned toward line shaft driven machinery, and still using the same archaic chuck design, it became more of a safety issue with the corresponding increase in speed rotation.

And once mandated, there were of course a few patented "safety" chuck available to retrofit lots of machines for the safety of the industrial workers.
Some simply recessed the screw inside the chuck body, others were a tad more complicated. The "safety" types chuck quickly became standard issue until replaced by the Jacobs chuck, still in use today

Incidently, the most commun modification for them is to simply mounted a Jacobs style chuck onto the existing cylindrical chuck.

NO modification required and you can used various drill bits easily and even used an extension shaft for the bits if required. That simple hack also correct one of the original chuck design flaw, because the bit was simply push to one side for attachment, you end up with a slightly offset bit. Amazingly, because the work piece is normally not secured but held in your hands, you can get by with a amazing amount of offset (within reasons) and still drill straight down, because the piece is moving along the eccentricity of the bit. You have to experienced it to believed it, (or watch You tube) but it does work well in spite of the offset... and the missing flywheel in this video

The ingenious part of them is the simple but efficient auto-feed mechanism.
Imagine that, you just crank up the handle and the bit advance automatically at a constant rate. You can also adjust somewhat the feed rate for the material on hands.

These patented features on the Champion are said to 
really speed up the operations required to drill

That simple mechanism allow you to used one hand to secure the piece while cranking the DP with the other hand.
Check out this amazing contraption in use

Having been primarely designed for metal working, they have the same limitations as today's Electric Drill Press, a small work table... Since I am going to introduced it into my hand tools shop, I will probably make up a bigger worktable better suited for my uses.

Back in the days of line shaft driven machinery, the Camel back Pillar drill made its apparition. It gets its name from its overall construction details/look.
They are still prized today. Their mass and slow speed are much appreciated.
Most in uses today, have been converted to electricity, that is, they replaced the line shaft with an electric motor.

NOT the kind of tool to buy thru EBay, the shipping alone would be horrendous :-) These are better off to see in person and make arrangements to bring it back safely. Either in your own truck or have it shipped via commercial shipper.

They were quite plentiful and are still around. As I mentioned earlier they are still prized today.

And of course, once electricity made it everywhere (the electrification of rural America) the form of the electric drill press we are accustomed to, came rapidly  into general useage.

And although designed primarely for metal working (hence the small table) it quickly became a fixture into many woodworking applications.

An auxilliary table, better suited to woodworking 
is a must have, easy to make, accessory
Pic from Woodcraft

 The only bad thing, being that the sharp increase in rotation speeds, necessitated different bits design. But if you dont respect the different speed requirements of the various bits (I.E. change the speed up or down via multiple pulleys arrangements) you will damaged the bit caused by the heat generated by the rotation speed. That was never an issue in hand cranked operated machinery...
Having long recognized the limitations for woodworking usage, some manufacturers have came out with various design better suited for drilling wood. Multiple speeds to accomodate the drill bits and the material being drilled, a better suited work table and etc.

But if there is one thing, I always found frivolous, it is the introduction of various laser pointing system, so you can see were you are about to drill. Really?? Have you tried lowering the bit to the spot...

A laser gizmo doodad to add to your DP...NOT
Pic from manufacturer


Drill presses have comes a long way and they are still very much handy to have in your shop.  For working on both metal and wood. As we saw, they came in various flavours and sizes for every jobs imaginable in various price points. Get one... or ... collect them all :-)
And NO, I have no room for a Camel back DP :-)

Bob, making room in my hand tool shop for the Post drill

Friday, December 1, 2017

Travelling back in time...

I have been slowly, but resolutely be making progress in my downsizing/organizing/cleaning up my "ahem" storage spaces AKA shops.

I would not reccomend such a heater in a power tool shop, because of the dust generated, but in a hand tool shop, it's working just fine to keep me toasty warm... within range

Oh so true!
"If I could live my life over,
 I'd make the same mistakes, 
but I'll start sooner"

Long overdue, I know, but to me, it can take forever because as I sit down to go thru a box, I can get lost in a whirlwind of memories....

And sure enough, when you go thru boxes that have been around the country and back, you are bound to find all kind of small reminders of days long ago...
For such is the life of a former military man, you pack away some of your life, awaiting yet another destination.

Carleton Place Ontario 2003
6 months after we bought the place...
Somewhere in there there is some sort of future shop.

Funny the stuff we put away thru the years... Some of the kid's home crafted Christmas ornaments (our kids are now in their 30s and 40s :-), Christmas cards, letters, etc. Of course, before I part with anything I have to read it one last time.

So yeah, it can take a while... But I find solace in knowing I am not alone, many have worn these steps before me and, yes, I am loved once again!


I received my new garage windows earlier this month, but it is getting obvious , that it is getting too cold, too often, to put them in now.
The new front door got installed, but these windows will have to wait till Spring.
That meant storing and protecting them for a while, which in turn spurred yet, another round of purging in the garage, another area in badly need of "downsizing"!!

This area was the first and easiest to organized.

Seeing that pot, the first one I burned, since taking over kitchen duties when Heather got sick, sent me back a few years...

Bought that set for Christmas 1986.
I since burned another pot before I got wiser...

Not sure why I keep it after I replaced it, but it has to go...

Similarly, in my hand tool shop downstairs, a few recent acquisitions are begging for a proper space. One of them being my new to me Post drill, a Champion blower & forge as of yet unknown model, but quite a beauty. I need a post in my shop :-)


And of course, need to clear up the wall area where the Boring till is gonna go, so more re-shuffling and cleaning.

Another recent contender for shop floor space is an organiser Jean got me.

Slowly moving hardware from garage to my hand tool shop 

I had to move stuff off the wall to put it in, but I still need to re-arrange more stuff around and find a place for the post drill

Not to mention, I still have to update my shop lighting

So, slowly but surely, life is moving on, and so am I.
I reccon I should be done with my re-re-re-organizing by ... All bets are off :-)

Bob, a tad nostalgic, but OK

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The NOBEX Champion Model 180 Miter Box

A recent find at a local auction house, at a steal price really, but how does it work??



My first initial reaction at seeing what I got, sight unseen, was, Oh wow.
Then looking at it more closely, I'm thinking, hum, I would had expect maybe a tad better blade tensioning system, and the lack of ability to park the saw up was I thought a bit of a dissapointement.
Redeeming features are the use of a cast metal (Zamak or aluminum?) for the saw carriage. I have seen too many cheap ones with plastic components, it is impossible to tension properly a plastic frame...
Similarly, the MB bed is made of cast aluminum with machined surfaces were it count.

The only plastic is on the saw guides themselves, making for a smooth action.

But was I missing parts, is it complete? And then I had this part which I have no idea if it even belong to this MB??

Strange looking part found at the bottom of box lot

Looking it up on line I saw a video which explain the features on this model.
Lo and behold it is able to park the saw up, using that strange left over part I found in the box :-)

Still from above video. 
Recognize it?

Well, well, lets see...

It was easy to figured out how the part fit, there was still a distinct outline on the dusty plastic slider :-)

Works as advertized, how about that!
When pulling up the saw (and of course its captive carriage), the flat part of the bracket flips up unto the top of the post, holding the saw carriage up.
Pushing the saw forward in its carriage sort of work, but it is easier and faster to just push it in to release it. Notice it is only being supported at the rear on top of the post.

And there is also a provision to make stop cuts by using a small depth stop on one of the straight guide rods, one in front, one in back .

Still from above video.
The small red depth stop with a black knob is seen.
It does not seems to appears on earlier models?

Front posts, no depth stop

Rear posts, no depth stop

This saw does not have one. Looking thru my older LV catalogs, I can see that this model never had this feature since sporting this style handle.
An easy thing to retrofit, or maybe I can get spare parts at LV? Will see.

In the video, they also claimed that the saw cannot hit and cut into the bed. Well I will beg to differ, maybe only if you have the depth stops??

You can see that the saw is resting too low and 
cutting into the miter pivot bolt in the rear.

I wrote about Miter boxes before see here
The saw on the video is the same model, but a newer version. Lets have a quick look at this model history.

Not much on line to be found. 
So I resorted to my LV catalogs collection 
and fixed my scanner, has been U/S for a while :-)


Quote. Nobex is based in the north of Sweden producing some of the best tools for the carpenter, tradesperson or cabinet maker. Since the 1980's Nobex have fully refined the mitre saw, for example, whereby the accuracy can be guaranteed to a startling 0.08 of a degree. No other mitre saw on the market offers this level of accuracy. This is a clear testimony to their attention to detail and Swedish quality. Unquote

They manufactured a small range of Miter Boxes (MB), the largest being what they call their Professional Champion model, the No 180
But it was NOT always build as the model we know today...

From my earliest LV catalog 1984-85
Earliest model had a totally different carriage and machined aluminum bed.
It used 22 in blades and the capacity is stated at 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 4-1/2 in vertical capacity.


From 1992-93 LV catalog
Part of bed painted green (was blue).
Has high extension for the back of bed (screw in)
Still 22 in blade, capacity stated is 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 6 in vertical capacity. Notice the newer smaller model on the right, called their Standard box, it would become their next professional model in a larger incarnation.

From 1993-94 LV catalog
New model introduced, it is based on last year Standard model, but on Steroids.
Saw carriage redesigned for better tension, used the grooves in bed indentations to hold trim pieces at the correct angle vertically for true compound cuts.
Now using a 25 in blade, the capacity has increased to 7-1/ 4 high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. Also featured clip on high pieces in the back to support tall pieces. This is like my model

The cast bed of these new models, have indentation molded in the bed to prop up the molding pieces, for example, at different degrees (sprung angles)
The smaller Standard model has grooves for 20 to 55 degrees in 5 degrees increment, while the bigger Professional model has grooves for 20 to 60 degrees in 10 degrees increment. This enable true compound cuts. That is why the rear fence extensions are removable, they are not always needed and could get in the way in other operations (?)

From 1999-2000 LV catalog
The new handle shape, slight changes to the tensioner.
Tensioner screw now in front on handle side and fitted with a wing nut.
Used to be a round knurled nut. So you get more torque out of it

 Two small adj lock screws appears on the top of the post, front and rear.
Uses unknown, probably some sort of parking mechanism??

From  2002-03 LV catalog
The new quick acting clamps make their apparition.
Notice that the adj lock screws on top of post are gone.
The current parking metal clip is visible on rear post.
The cutoff stop now has some sort of attachment to it,
 used to be a simple 90 bend in the rod. 
Used to have a 36 in capacity for the stop, now 33 in

Mine used the older screw format.
New quick action clamps were introduced in LV catalog in 2002

Based on information listed in my LV catalogs collection, my model falls between 1993 and 1998. Those were during my power tools days, ironic :-)

The Nobex Champion Model No 180 is touted as having the biggest capacity of any MB made: 7-1/ 4 in high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. . .

Catalog copy, notice depth stop is present


For example Stanley biggest one, Model No 2358, has a capacity of 5 in high, 9-1/2 wide at 90 degrees and 6-1/2 in at 45 degrees
The difference in width are mainly due to the construction details of both MB design. Note also that the Nobex used a 25 in blades were as the Stanley used a 28 in blade. In both case they loose 3 inch in width at 45 degrees

Accuracy is stated to be to .08 of a degree. Claim is based on the accurate milling on the bed and the pivoting, locking, mechanism that pivot the saw carriage.

It also come equipped with two clamps to secure the work piece to the bed.
On my older model, it used a simple screw mecanism, the newer ones have a quick acting clamp that can be secured two ways to the bed to better hold various shapes.

There is of course a pull out length stop, whose capacity varied from 26, 36 and now 33 in long. A newer model, the Pro-Man also has an available bed extension.

The provision of adjustable depth stops would be a great addition to an otherwise great saw, and sure enough, it came about at a later date. Should be easily retrofittable to my model. As long as the diameter of the post have not changed, new parts should fit If not, I'll make my own.

One feature I really like, is the ability to park the saw side ways on the bed, latch it with a supplied clip (dont have it) and you can transport the MB by the saw frame... Not sure I would trust that, but it does make for a smaller, secure package for travelling. That I like, and being aluminum, it is a lot lighter than my older cast iron behemoths (Stanley's and Millers-Falls)

Saw carriage in park position.
Brilliant idea!

Of course no tool review would be complete without actually putting it to use.

Unfortunately, I still dont have much room in my shop right now, more of a storage area...
And for some strange reasons, I am not allowed to used the dinning room table as a work bench anymore (don't ask why :-)

So it would have to wait for later. I did sneak in a quick cut on the floor and it work pretty good, smooth cuts! (yes dear I cleaned up after :-)
The resulting cut is pretty smooth, smoother than any of my Stanley's MBs.
The combination of a thinner blade, with more PPIs and less set makes this difference. It is however a bit slower than my Stanley's, no surprise there for the above reasons. Curious to try the Japanese Ikeda teeth blade in it, that may make it as fast or faster than the Stanley's ??

Special blade with Japanese Ikeda teeth pattern

I whish I could tension the blade a smidgen more, will investigate later. I heard of people using washers to change the adjuster range, maybe that is what I need.

Bob, tool enabled, work space challenged