More Drill Press Mods: Adding A VFD Means No More Belt Changes

A decent drill press is an essential machine tool for almost any kind of shop, and marks a significant step up in precision compared to a hand drill. The ability to drill square, true holes is one thing, but the added power over what’s possible with a portable tool is the real game changer. If only you didn’t have to switch around those damn belts to change speeds, though.

You don’t, of course, if you go through the effort to add a variable frequency drive to your drill press like [Midwest Cyberpunk] did, along with some other cool mods. The donor tool for these mods came from — where else? — Harbor Freight. Some will quibble with that choice, but the tool was pretty cheap, and really all [Midwest] was interested in here was some decent castings and a quill with acceptable runout, since the entire power train of the tool was slated for replacement. The original motor gave way to a beefy Baldor 3-phase/240-volt motor controlled by a VFD mounted on a bracket to the left of the drill press head, allowing the stock belt and step pulley transmission to be greatly simplified.

[Midwest] also added a digital tachometer to the spindle and some RGB LEDs for zazzle. We don’t really mind the LEDs, but the lack of a safety cover on the belt drive gives us the willies. But that’s a personal choice, of course. As for performance, the mods seem to work pretty well; the advantage of a VFD is constant torque even at low spindle speeds, and that certainly seems to be the case here. Not having to play with belts to change speeds is another big plus, of course.

All in all, we like these mods and have to keep them in mind for our own drill press. We’ve seen a couple of drill press mods lately, including this extreme drill press makeover. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend.