The beautiful, big black Powermatic 2800 Onyx variable speed 18” Drill press arrived well crated with sturdy wooden skids, a wood frame and heavy corrugated cardboard protecting all sides The crate was quite heavy, about 302 Lbs. so I recruited a helper to assist with the unpacking and assembly. We carefully unpackaged and inventoried all the component parts and hardware before proceeding with the assembly. The entire process took about 45 minutes including taking photographs while following the instruction manual throughout the entire build. We moved it to its permanent location in the shop with convenient power nearby. I was anxious to light up this beast and get the motor turning.
The thing you need most in a drill press is accuracy; this means a good fence for dead on, repeatable holes. It is also important to have a good arbor and chuck with very little run-out. I measured the Powermatic 2800 three times with a consistent run-out of less than 0.0012 of an inch which is beyond good. We used a redline dial indicator to do the measuring. Finally it was time to drill some holes. I drilled a total of 500 holes using every size that I had in my set of regular bits. We noted no problems with the Powermatic 2800 in the initial tests. Next we broke out a forstner bit set and went through the entire range, drilling each hole adjusting the digital speed control and setting it to the optimal speed according to Wood Magazine’s drill speed guide. Throughout the drilling process we used the Powermatic’s laser guide which was fantastic. I am a fan of laser guides on chop saws and radial arm saws but I have to say having them on a drill press is even more useful. The laser guide aided the accurately, hitting the marks exactly where I wanted them each time.
One of my pet peeves is having the debris cover the marks making them difficult to see. Powermatic has addressed this historic headache with a well designed vacuum port that fits most typical shop-vac hose like a glove. I have mine piped directly into my central dust collection system and it works very well. Not needing to add yet another hose is a big plus.
In my decades in the shop I have never had the privilege of using a drill press that was actually designed especially for woodworking. The built-in LED lights illuminating the work table was a pleasant and unexpected feature. Because the lighting comes from two points it cast no shadows like most work lights do.
The table rotates from 0 to 90 degrees like most models of high end drill presses however this is an element you would not want to be without. Another key design feature that I noticed while making some 80 bit changes, is how the keyless chuck performed flawlessly it was easy to get tight and didn’t get stuck once during the test, or even during the weeks of actual shop use on different projects. I worked on. Considering all of these features and the superior performance I experienced, nothing came close to the on-the-fly speed control. There are no belts to mess with in awkward positions at the top of the drill press. On the Powermatic 2800 you simply move a lever and the digital readout shows the exact spindle speed, ranging from 400 to 3,000 RPM allowing you to use the recommended settings for each type of bit. Let’s face it, how often did you really ever change the speed on your drill press to get close to the recommended speed? Odds are you set it somewhere around 700 to 1,000 RPM and lived with it. If this is you, I want you to know you are not alone as almost everyone I talked to admits they simply adjust the speed of their drill press somewhere between rarely and never. The Powermatic 2800 will allow you to drill holes using the right speed setting and believe me it makes a huge difference in performance.
Moving on, another great feature is the generous table. You won’t have to go out and buy an aftermarket table or take the time to make one yourself. The table is a huge 16” x 14” and is equipped with movable outriggers that let you expand the table even wider to an unheard of 16” x 26” making it the largest table in its class.
One thing that has always driven me nuts is the tiny little crank handle used for raising and lowering the table that you find in most models from the various manufacturers. This problem has been addressed as well. Powermatic has made the handle nice and large, angling it so it is very easy to operate. On the table top there is a pair of wide t-slots that are milled into the table so you can lock down jigs and other accessories this also allows you to adjust the excellently designed fence which is attached using these slots. Another feature is the 90 month warranty, compared to the regular 60 month warranty on the standard version. This is one of the best warranties in the business.
In conclusion when I think about this tool it is the first and only drill press I have ever seen that was truly designed for the woodworker. It is well outfitted with lasers and LED lights, the biggest table of in the business, the largest motor in its class at 1 HP, and the best warranty in the business. It also has a great fence and convenient vacuum port that is very effective. It is a beautiful, big black machine that is unbeatable in the field of drill presses available on the market today. I can enthusiastically report it is the best drill press I have ever used in my entire woodworking career and yes, it was made to the gold standard.
I am pleased to recommend this tool. A good Drill press is a necessity for any serious woodworker and the price is very good as well at $1,100.00. If you are shopping for a drill press, be sure to get the 2800 Onyx before the 90th Anniversary is over and the special Onyx line is discontinued. You will not regret this purchase and I assure you I consider it worth every penny.
Lance “The Dude” Granum
||Powermatic® 18'' Variable Speed Drill Press
This new drill press was designed with the woodworker in mind. Its design has many convenient features that other so-called woodworking drill presses do not offer. The twin LED lights are designed to ..
Powermatic® 18'' Variable Speed Drill Press