Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The Drillnado - dust control for your drillpress
We generate a ton of sawdust and wood shavings at the shop. In fact, whenever possible, we donate it to people who can use it. Gardeners, animal rescue groups, worm farms -
there are plenty of happy earthworms around town, who live in our dust! Not to mention some animals at the local orchard who bed in our shavings.
When Chris Buczek sent me a message, offering some drill press relief, I jumped at the offer. And voila! A few days later, a Drillnado arrived at the shop.
And since we're getting ready to cut tons of plugs for the upcoming classes, we jumped at the chance to test it out.
Some people get a little giddy at the thought of product testing. I won't mention any names.
The installation was pretty straight forward, easy to bolt in place, with basic tools that anyone would have in their shop. We have two drill presses at the shop - a Jet and an old donated Craftsman. Even with the extra bushings that were included in the kit - the Drillnado only fit one of them. That was a little frustrating, since it didn't fit the one wanted to install it on.
The existing depth stop rod and its attachment brackets had to be removed to install it. In all, it took maybe ten minutes to get everything in place.
The parts are fairly solid and well made, although the external flange that will have to be drilled (so that the depth stop rod can be reinstalled) wasn't located in a good position for this. It forced us to angle the bracket in a direction that wasn't where we wanted it to be, causing the vacuum hose to sit in an odd position. Still - not a huge deal.
If it were just a bit taller and wider, it would be easier to drill it for the rod.
Once the main housing was bolted around the chuck, it was easy to snap the expandable housing in place. This lower housing is flexible and expands in length, for the times you're using a longer drill bit in your press.
We had to fool around with the height of the housing, because the two pieces need to interact with each other at just the right height, to allow wood chips to flow into the vacuum tube. This took longer than anything, with about 15 minutes of tests, and a few calls to Chris.
Here it is - installed and ready for testing.
When using larger sized bits, you have to trim the end of the expandable housing. We did that, and installed a 1" bit.
After a little trial and error, we had it mostly set up for use, so later that week, we did a short demo of the device at a Sin City Woodworkers meeting held at the shop. There were about 30 woodworkers in attendance, and frankly, our group had mixed feelings about the Drillnado.
While everyone agreed it did an excellent job of collecting the dust while drilling, the biggest complaint about this device was that it obscured a clear view of the drill bit while drilling holes. Some felt that if the expandable housing was clear, they might feel a little safer about drilling in the blind. But chances are - static electricity would build up inside the housing, collecting saw dust, so even if it was clear - it probably wouldn't matter.
Let's face it - seeing the drill bit is pretty damn important.
During our testing, we found that this device works well with smaller bits, but once we installed some larger diameter bits - some effectiveness was lost.
Another woodworker opined that since the device was fairly inexpensive, he might be willing to buy it for the various times when he had a ton of drilling to do.
My opinion? While I appreciate the fact that it does a good job of collecting dust, I think that its shortcomings wouldn't be worth the trouble to use it. I didn't like the fact that it only fit one of the drill presses, and really didn't like that I had to remove the depth stop rod assembly to attach it. I'd like something that could bolt on with minimal changes to my existing machine. In my mind, it's just as easy to have a shop vac handy, and clean up the mess as I go.
So in the end - if you had a ton of drilling to do - the Drillnado would be a worthwhile purchase. (It costs around $40 plus shipping.) Interested, or want to see their video? Here's a link. Many thanks to Chris for sending us this to test - it definitely has value in some woodshops that do a ton of drilling.