Despite its apparent simplicity and straightforwardness of use, the Drill Press(DP) is one of the most hazardous pieces of machinery in metal or wood workshops. This is likely consequence of being frequently used, but also derived from being the least respected equipment in the workshop. Work ethics and safety standards in professional workshops should make it easy and safe to use drill presses. But the unfortunate reality revealed by health statistics leaves little doubt that these principles are often disregarded by workers.
At home, most of the work ethics and safety principles are absent. Therefore, it is mandatory to learn proper safety measures and conduct before using these drilling machines. This article will enlighten you about DP safety measures. After reading this, you will have the necessary knowledge to work safely and proficiently with this type of equipment.
How To Safely Use Your Drill Press
Correct mounting – This is an often neglected issue, but the truth is that if the drilling press is not firmly and stably mounted, the consequent trepidation is likely to pose a serious threat to personal safety. This is particularly true for beginners and lousy workers. The basic structure and design of all drill presses is the same, so whether you’re using a domestic or professional model, the first thing to ensure is that your equipment is correctly bolted to the floor or table it lays on. The less trepidation there is, the safer you can work.
Read the owner’s manual – The owner’s (or instructions) manual will guide you through most of the safety and working procedures of your specific model. It will also inform you about the recommended accessories, its capabilities and limitations. Always follow the instructions to ensure your safety and the quality of your work.
Power off – Always make sure that the DP is powered off when you’re performing some adjustments or maintenance. A spinning chuck while you’re absentmindedly cleaning the adjustable platform, adjusting the speed or bolting a drill vise in place, is very dangerous, especially if you’re wearing loose clothing or have long hair. Bear in mind that often it is not enough to keep the power button off: serious injuries due to accidental clicks on the button do happen. Disconnect the DP from the power source altogether.
Drill Press Safety Tips And Measures
Basic common sense – This is pretty self-evident, but it can never be repeated enough. Always remove the chuck key before starting the machine. Never try to stop the spinning chuck with your hands. Never try to remove a stuck of broken drill bit with a punch and a hammer. And never put your hands directly under the hole you’re drilling.
Safety equipment – Always wear safety glasses or a face shield when you drill. This will protect your eyes/face from flying chips and potential burns from heated lubricate oil. Never wear gloves, watches, rings, anything that might get in the way of your work. Avoid loose clothing near the rotating parts. Roll the sleeves above your elbows. It’s pertinent to mention that gloves and loose clothing are the most common causes of injury with the DP. If you have long hair, tie it or wear a hair net Wear a breathing mask if you’re drilling a material that releases potentially hazardous dust or if you’re allergic to it. You may want to wear a steel toe shoe or boot if you’re working with a particularly heavy piece.
Maintenance and hygiene – Always keep the work place clean and free from potentially dangerous cluttering. The area around the DP should be kept free from oil or grease, especially the floor. Keep the surrounding space relatively free from obtrusive objects. If there are any sensitive or even flammable materials around the DP, remove them to another place or cover them.
Ventilation, lubrication and cluttering – Always use some lubricate, oil or water, to drill metals. This will prevent excessive heating and potential hazards that might accrue. If you’re drilling a deep hole, remove chips frequently as you dig further. If the material to be drilled expels a lot of dust, make sure that your space is properly ventilated to avoid build up and obstruction of view. Remove oil, grease and chips from the adjustable table before or after using it. Avoid build up of any kind by cleaning the DP with a brush or vacuum.
Handling – This is another particularly touchy aspect of DP safety. Never secure the workpiece with your own hands, especially if it’s small; use a drill vise or a clamp. Bolt them firmly to the adjustable table before proceeding to make sure the piece is secure and to minimize trepidation. Make sure you align the piece’s drilling target with the center hole of the adjustable platform. This way you have some margin of maneuverability and avoid damaging or wearing the equipment. Relieve some pressure once the drill bit breaks through the other end of the workpiece, otherwise the it might get stuck in the hole and dangerously pull in the workpiece. This is extremely dangerous if the piece is not being firmly held in place by a well-bolted clamp.
Speed and drilling capacity – Never exceed the recommended speeds and drilling capacities stated on the instructions manual. Excessive speed may cause any number of dangerous hazards depending on the material. Not to mention that it can considerably speed up drill bit wear. One rule of thumb is an inverse relationship between drill diameter and rotating speed. Specific values naturally depend on the material and drill bit type employed. Always use the appropriate chuck for the drill bit you’re using. Refer to your model’s instructions manual to see which chuck types are compatible.
Drill bit wear – The cutting tool, the drill bit itself, should always be apt for use. This naturally means that any significant wear or damage that might get in the way, no matter how small it is, should render the cutting tool unfit for use. The cutting edges should be kept permanently as sharp as possible. The shank, the part of the drill it that is secured in the chuck, should be as wear free as possible. Any wear on this part may hinder proper alignment of the drill bit once it is secured by the chuck. A misaligned and spinning drill bit is likely to jeopardize the quality and precision of your work and it can pose a threat to your safety.
Ultimately, your safety depends on the effort you’re willing to invest on that regard. It is never too much to mention that a good dose of responsibility, conscientiousness and common sense are necessary to ensure proper DP safely. The same goes for all other types of potentially dangerous machinery. With a sage conduct and work ethic, you will be able to ace through your work without having to worry about your well-being.