Steel City Tool Works 17" Drill Press

Well built, fully featured, and nicely priced


Steel City Tool Works 17" Drill Press

A drill press is one of the 'got it, use it' machines in most woodworking shops. They don't get the kind of attention that jointers, planers and table saws get. However they are just as important.
A well tuned drill press will enable you to quickly and accurately drill precise holes at exact depths, at almost any angle. You can use it for wasting out mortises, and with a sanding attachment, smoothing curved parts.
The new Steel City 17" drill press has a lot of nice features packed into its competitively positioned street price of just under $500.
The stand out features has to be its 6" quill travel (the maximum depth to which the press can drill holes). No need to drill half way through a piece of stock, turn it over, and then drill the rest of the way through.
The keyed chuck takes bits with shanks up to 5/8". The #2 Morse taper spindle is standard for a machine of this size. We found run out to be less than .004", which is excellent.
The up front power controls have a paddle style 'off' switch, which makes it quick and easy to turn the machine off. We think these paddles should be standard on most machines - they're a great safety device.
The Steel City drill press uses the old style split head. The theory is that over time some side play may arise between the head casing and the quill. Tightening the locking nut at the bottom of the split head would serve to eliminate this movement.
The micro-adjust is the same kind as found on other high end drill presses. You turn the knob to make precise minute height changes, or depress the button the knob to slide the nut up or down on the rod for quick height changes. This is a very good design that works we really like.
As on most drill presses there is a 3 arm feed handle. This design has been around for generations, and could stand an upgrade. Perhaps a wheel would be more effective. The belt tension handle is right behind the feed handle and you have to be careful not to rap your knuckles against it when turning the handle.

Keyed chuck on a #2 Morse Taper spindle
3 arm feed handles
Speed selection is via a two belt system on top the drill press. You have a choice of up to 16 speeds from 215 rpm to 2720 rpm. Certainly, you don't run a 1/4" bit at the same speed as a 1 1/4" bit, but 16 speeds is overkill. Having a single belt and a selection of 5 or 6 speeds would be sufficient. One less belt would also serve to reduce noise and vibration levels - though this drill press does well in both these categories.

Paddle style off switch
Dependable micro-adjust mechanism
The 12" x 12" cast iron table is flat. As on virtually every drill press on the market, these tables are designed for metal workers. You'll want to build your own auxiliary table and install a fence on it as well. We did like the large table raising and locking handles.

2 belts for a choice of 16 speeds
12" square tilting table
In a lot of shops the drill press gets 'left over space', often in an area with less than adequate lighting. The light is a great feature that we found very useful.
If you are looking to upgrade to a larger drill press or if purchasing your first drill press, the Steel City Tool Works 17" drill press won't let you down. It's well built, fully featured, and nicely priced.

Table raising/lowering handle is large, as is the locking handle to the right
Sturdy 12" x 20" accommodate bolts to secure the drill press
to the floor (or a plywood base)
Drilling Tips:
  • Adjust the table so that it is square to the bit. Regularly re-check that it is still square.
  • You will get better cuts if you use the right speed for the bit you are using (consult the speed chart on the drill press or in your user manual).
  • Adjust your feed speed and pressure for the bit you are using. A smooth, steady stroke is best. Using too much pressure on the feed lever can cause chips to plug the hole you are drilling, or chipping on the sides of the hole. Using too slow a feed rate can burn the wood (and overheat the bit).
  • Replace (or re-sharpen) bits when they become dull.
  • Use an auxiliary table - you don't want to drop a bit on the metal table, or drill through a work piece into the metal table.
  • Use a fence to ensure accuracy for repetitive cutting.

  • 3/4 HP, 115/230V
  • 16 speeds - 215 to 2,720
  • #2 MT spindle taper
  • 5/8" chuck size
  • 2" quill diameter
  • 6" quill stroke
  • 17" swing
  • 12" x 12" table, tilts 90° left/right
  • Chuck to table maximum distance - 24"
  • Chuck to base maximum distance - 43-3/4"
  • Weight: 227 lbs
  • 5 year warranty
NOTE: This unit has now been replaced by Model 20525

Manufacturer:Steel City Tool Works
Retail Price:$499.00
Model #:20520
Made In:China
Carl Duguay, August 2009
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