Bilt Hard 12 inch variable speed drill press

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  • dbhost
    Slow and steady
    • Apr 2008
    • 9215
    • League City, Texas
    • Ryobi BT3100

    Bilt Hard 12 inch variable speed drill press

    So most likely you know I have lamented for years, more like over a decade that I missed the clearance of the Ryobi DP121L I think the model was, but it was their blue 12 inch variable speed benchtop drill press.

    I have been eyeballing the Wen 12" variable speed benchtop model as its specs were where I wanted them, but I just couldn't make myself pull the trigger on it for some reason...

    Well this past fall I ran across one on a Youtube video covering the best bench top drill presses of 2022 made by some Chinese company and branded / imported for the US market known as Bilt Hard USA.

    The specs for the spindle travel, depth stops, variable speed etc... were dead on the same as the Ryobi, and in many ways it appeared to be more or less the same machine with a couple of minor cosmetic changes.

    And to top it off, AFTER tax it was only $184.01, so I bit the bullet and ordered.

    I had wanted to test it out and then post a link to it for others to pick one up if it wasn't a complete sh** show. Well it's not, but as it would happen, looking at both Amazon, and Bilt Hard's web pages, this model is now out of production. So I guess I lucked out and grabbed one of the last ones. At least I didn't miss this one.

    Well I found I had some slight rework of my drill press table to do to make it fit as the holes in the cast iron table are oriented differently than my table was set up for. No biggie. Done...

    Today I set the table square, and tried some drilling with it. It squares up very nicely, all of the adjusters work smoothly, and reasonably accurately, as the height adjuster like I have experienced in every drill press I have been around including just post WW2 vintage Rockwells, they are all a bit fiddly to my taste, but I digress...

    The adjusters for the table do their thing exactly as expected, they lock down nice and tight. There is a table angle adjustment on this one that is however not a hand lockdown, but requires an 18mm wrench to secure. Not sure I like that, but I rarely drill off square anyway...

    The laser sights are dead on accurate, much better than I could have possibly hoped.

    The work light is a small LED light behind the chuck. Let me say that again, BEHIND the chuck. So it puts light where you do not need it. So I am still going to need a small gooseneck LED work light for accurate alignment since the built in work light throws shadows right where I am trying to look. Oops...

    In operation, everything is quiet, and smooth. I have been around a number of inexpensive drill presses, and I expect the startup of the motor to come with a bit of a clunk and a rattle. There is absolutely none of that here.

    Honestly, it is kind of freakishly quiet. And smooth.

    Adjustment of the various speeds requires some force, but operation is smooth and it is not like anything is wrong, it just lets you know it's not going to shift on its own.

    Speed, once set is stable.

    Like most of these, the depth stops work, but is built a bit looser than I would like, I can work with it, but for repeated cuts I will need to keep an eye on it to insure it doesn't walk.

    The rotating assembly that plunges the bit operates smoothly with no feeling of any kind of snags or burrs, however I did notice one of the handles would back out as my hands tent to twist counter clockwise when I use them. I am going to loctite them to keep this from happening. It is honestly my fault...

    The only thing that seems cheap or, somehow less than about this drill press is the funky blue gloss paint on the belt cover and the very obvious ultra cheap Bilt Hard label on same said cover.

    The feature set is not the same, but in overall build quality impression, I have to put this on the same level of the old Hitachi bench top units that Lowes was selling about 10 years ago maybe. I think LCHIEN has one of those... And a college friend of mine here in the bay area (Galveston Bay that is...) has one.

    Will it hold up like the Hitachi? I hope so. The VS setup is the only thing I would have any concer about but everything else seems pretty much standard commodity components so repairs down the road should they be needed should not be impossible...

    I bought this thing because I wanted to save the wasted space of the long column of my floor model drill press. Honestly, this thing functions so well, benchtop or floor model, it was WELL worth, well honestly double what I paid for it!

    So long story short, IF you happen to be in the market for a bench top drill press on the larger side with all of the drilling features of a floor model just in a shorter column, and you can find one of these on the used market, GRAB IT.
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    Internet Fact Checker
    • Dec 2002
    • 20958
    • Katy, TX, USA.
    • BT3000 vintage 1999

    Instead of lock-titing the elevation handles (all drill presses I have owned they seem to come loose) I have always cured then using teflon tape as you would air fittings. around the threads. they don't back out and they are neater and cleaner than even the blue lock-tite when wanting to remove them as I have had to sometimes when they interfered with something tall on the table.

    Anyway all three DPs I owned had this problem and all were fixed with teflon tape.

    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
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