Sunday, February 17, 2008

Craftsman Drill Press Model 315.11970

Craftsman 3/8 Inch Portable Drill Press

MODEL: 315.11970

I picked this up on eBay for pretty cheap. Judging by the logo (used from the early 60's to the early 70's) and its plastic housing, I'm guessing it was manufactured in the early 70's.

It has an iron base, a thinwall steel tube clamped to the base with a set bolt, and a motor that rides on the tube with another set bolt with a hand knob so the motor can be raised or lowered on the tube.

It arrived in good condition, there doesn't appear to be any abuse to the tool. But the thing is unstable as hell.

I did some tests with the following bits:
  • 1/8" brad point drill bit
  • 3/4" spade bit
  • 1/4" twist bit
All tests done with a scrap of pine 2x4.

The screw holding the base to the vertical tube was tightened as tight as possible without risking snapping the bolt. The motor housing was lined up to match the base, and the hand knob cranked as tightly as I could. Everything I could tighten from outside the housing was tightened.

I set the speed to "L", put the brad point bit in, and turned it on.


It sounded like a cheap model airplane! It seems Craftsman put their bottom-of-the-line hand drill inside this housing. At least, that's what it sounds like. Loud and horrible.

I used the handle to lower the bit to the wood. The bit started to take a bite then it jumped 1/4" toward me from where it started. It seems not only is the shaft bearing worn (or just sloppy) but the whole mechanism is loose inside the housing. Not much. A smidge. But enough to allow it to move the bit on the workpiece.

Being this was a brad point bit, I didn't expect any improvements using the spade bit or the twist bit.

I wasn't disappointed.

I am willing to accept the fact that it's a weak hand drill motor powering this thing. For its size and weight that's probably a necessary trade off. But the instability of the chuck is too much to deal with. So off the bench it went, onto a shelf. I'm not going to plug it in again until I have a chance to completely disassemble it and see if I can find the slop.

Of course I'll post what I find. Did you think otherwise?


scarrgo said...

I hope this is not the press I just got from e-bay. you e-bay add sail works and like new. Hope you fixed it may be coming back to you

Don said...

LOL, no. I have no eBay auctions running at all, certainly not for this piece of crap. I gave mine away on Craigslist.

jesse said...

Thanks for this post, I ALMOST bought this on craiglist. Maybe yours is being passed around the country, lol.

Anonymous said...

i actually just over paid for this same drill press... 50 bucks . and mine dide the samething , walked atleast a quarter inch . so i took it apart and almost all of the screws were loose inside . tightened them up and now it works pretty good

Bob said...

I was gifted one of these back in the early 80's from my brother. I guess I ended up with it because even though it was only a few years old at the time it wasn't good enough to use for the woodworking he was doing. I have used it once every couple of years since then and always complained that it would move side to side and it was barely better than a hand drill.

After seeing what you get for $75 bucks at Harbor Freight and not really using a drill press enough to justify the $150 one I took it apart figuring I had nothing to lose but an hour on a Sunday Morning

I found that there are a pair of set screws that slide along a vertical shaft that keep the drill press from moving left or right on a horizontal axis. One of the two set screws was missing, likely for the last 40 years.

The casting they screw into is some sort of white metal and the threads were loose enough that the 10-32 set screw I installed wouldn't hold. I rethreaded it, no I really didn't, I forced in a larger screw, cut off the end and adjusted the gap using the other set screw.

A bit of grease and it is back together working just fine. I figure it will work for another 40 years as long as I use it only once or twice a year.

BTW, it is noisy as heck and I believe that is a combination of the strait cut gears and the brushes. Just turning it by hand the brushes make a lot of noise.