Safeguard a Drill Press, (How-To)

inHow-To Series by John

Drill presses make holes inside wood or metal by using a rotating drill bit.  Safeguarding a drill press is quite simple. However, the choice of safety guard might be tricky.  We will try to make choosing a safety guard easier.  These are areas to safeguard on a drill press:

  1. The chuck area.
  2. The belt and pulley cover.
  3. Anti-restart protection.

Manufacturers are under no obligation to sell you a safe drill press.  We will try to break down the individual parts of a drill press that may need safety upgrades.

Safeguard a Drill Press Chuck

The chuck area needs a safety guard to prevent entanglement.  Placing a shield in front of the chuck is the most popular safeguarding choice.  Many options are available such as magnetic goose-neck or clamp type shields on drill presses.  The problem with this type of guards is that it’s super easy just to ignore them.  You will most often find these guards lying on the ground behind the machine.  Forgotten and unused.  A better solution would be to install a permanently fixed safety guard.

Ferndale Safety has a great selection of safety guards for a variety of machines.  Safeguard your drill press with Ferndale’s range of drill press safety guards – see them by clicking here.  The great thing about Ferndale’s guards is that they have electrical interlocks,  which means that, if you try to start the machine with the guard open, it just won’t start.  Another great thing about interlocking is that it will force you to remove the chuck key.  I will admit, with some shame, that I have done it before.  I forgot to remove the chuck key, and moments later, I have to fetch it across the room.  Luckily, it didn’t hit me or anyone else, but it sure could have been a lot worst.  If I had an interlocked shield that I had to close back then, I wouldn’t have forgotten to remove the key.  The guard would have just not locked into its “safe” position, preventing me from turning on the drill press.

Safeguard The Drill Press Belt & Pulley Cover

Covers on top of drill presses are there to cover the drive belt and pulleys.  An operator can easily open this cover while the drill press is running.  To prevent someone from opening a guard while the machine is running, you should install a fastener or safety switch.  A bolt can’t be something you can easily unscrew with your hands.  If you must open the guard, a tool like an Allen key needs to be used to unscrew the bolt.  This is actually a general standard for any machine.

A belt cover can have an interlocked installed instead of a fastener.  The advantage is that you don’t have to remove the bolt every time you need to open the cover.

Anti-Restart Protection

What is anti-restart protection?  Anti-restart protection means that a machine won’t start automatically by itself without human intervention.  A crucial step to safeguard a drill press is to install a motor starter.

For example, You have a drill press without anti-restart protection, and it shut down because of a power outage.  As soon as the power comes back on, this drill will start right back up, provided that nobody turned it off during the power outage.

The best thing to do on your drill presses is to install an anti-restart device such as a motor starter.  Ferndale has some great and inexpensive options for motor starters.  Click here to see an excellent motor starter for drill presses.

Further Reading

Check out this excellent PDF from OSHA’s website.  On page 41 in the PDF, you will find great information on drill press safety.