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Customer Review

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper 21st Century woodworkers pillar drill, 28 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Bosch PBD 40 Bench Drill (DIY & Tools)
Note that I say woodworkers - not metalworkers - not a production drill for the trade. This drill is clearly designed for the DIY woodworker. Since it doesn't have an adjustable table, it only does vertical - it does not do angles - working with wood I have never done angles either, but if I wanted to I'd knock up a jig. In comparison with conventional pillar drills it is innovative and far superior.

Most importantly it has infinitely variable speed control over two speed ranges, starting at 200 rpm - the speed is easily and instantly adjustable using a control dial at the front, right where you'd want it to be. No mucking about with belts (a royal pain in the arse especially when they're at the top of the drill 6ft above ground). Although I am aware of one other bench drill that has this form of speed control, it is physically very large, is a very heavy cast iron lump and costs twice as much as this one. Ryobi used to do a good one but it was so good they had to discontinue it.......this form of speed control might not seem very exciting to the trade user who might use the drill very heavily but for a narrow range of tasks and only ever use one speed - but to the keen DIYer who might want to drill a number of very different diameter holes in quick succession, this feature alone is worth the price.

Next, the power. Most drills of this size are 1/4 hp or 1/3 hp (180w or 250w); this is 710w and that makes a big difference. My old NuTool 1/4 hp jobby (now sadly demised) could really struggle with forstner bits. I've just tried out my largest (54mm) with a bit of beech and it was like a knife through butter with no hint of labouring under the load - it is clear that it is capable of much more than that despite Bosch only rating it to 40mm in wood.

Then the work table. Conventional pillar drills have a small stand (that serves no purpose other than as a surface to keep a metalworkers vice) and a small height adjustable table that is raised to reach the fixed drill head. This one dispenses with the adjustable table and instead has the base as a table (and the head moves down the pillar to meet it) - it is cast aluminium, at least four times the size of the conventional table, has a groove across it to stabilise cylindrical objects and there is a very effective adjustable clamp on the pillar to secure the work - this can be swung out of the way when not required. Because the table/base is so large it makes the drill rock solid on the bench despite the fact that, with an aluminium table and a plastic body, the whole unit is light enough to be easily moved from bench to bench (or from storage onto a bench) without agitating that old hernia you developed trying to pick up that good old fashioned drill you used to own! The other benefit is that the large table is far better suited to woodworking, although it does have the necessary slots to accommodate a vice if required.

So far so good.

Now what about the gripes and "design faults" you may have read about in other reviews. The design fault mentioned is the fact that conventional pillar drills have a fixed head with an extending quill allowing the drill bit to travel usually 80mm vertically whilst drilling into the workpiece which is placed on the adjustable table - because the head is fixed and the quill is designed to close tolerance there is virtually no play when you apply lateral pressure to the tip of the drillbit. This is desirable for metalworkers. This machine has a head that moves vertically on the pillar to meet the workpiece which is held on the fixed table/base. It does not have the conventional quill arrangement and there is a small amount of play in the chuck if you apply lateral pressure to the tip of the bit - to be fair I think there was a small, although lesser, amount of play in my conventional drill. For the metalworker this may be a problem, although I'm not sure why - I don't know, I'm not a metalworker. For the woodworker it poses no problem. My advice: if the bit plays slightly when you poke it sideways, DON'T POKE IT SIDEWAYS!! If you just leave it alone a straight bit remains steady and always lands on the same spot no matter how often you raise and lower it - I know, I've tried it out - and the maximum stroke is 10mm greater at 90mm. A totally rigid chuck is only necessary in a work environment where the tool is required to automatically drill a series of holes to a design with no human intervention. I don't know of any woodworking task where I wouldn't mark out my work and then drill accordingly. If I were mass producing complexly drilled panels for a flatpack piece of furniture I wouldn't use this drill I'd use a VERY expensive piece of CNC machinery and call myself IKEA. Believe me, the chuck on this drill is very good quality and is up to any task that I can imagine executing. But again, I state I am a keen DIYer, not a metal worker and not a tradesman. The laser guide on mine is accurate but the light beam is quite wide and tends to make any marking out difficult to see. I use it as a rough positioning guide, then switch it off and finish positioning the old way - I don't need it and would be just as happy without it. Similarly the working light - a nice touch but, with sufficient workshop lighting, who needs it?

Now for the only gripe I'm not going to defend this drill on. It's performance is superb, but it's VERY noisy. I think the Bosch engineer who designed the powerful motor in this machine had been headhunted from Lockheed Martin - this drill sounds like an F-16 warming up and, the faster it goes the more intense it sounds. I use this drill on a fairly casual basis several times a week typical of the kind of general DIY work that I do. If I were using it throughout every working day there would be two requirements: one, ear defenders; two, psychiatric help - it would drive me nuts - Mr Bosch what were you thinking of; couldn't you find a louder motor to put in this thing?

Despite that one gripe (which I don't really think is important in a DIY environment) I'm giving this 5 stars because I think it's the perfect piece of kit for the person it is clearly designed for - the DIY woodworker. Other drills can do everything this drill can - it's just that, with this drill everything is so much easier - it's a real pleasure to use and is far better than the standard Chinese badly engineered cast iron lump in a small workshop. It is compact, stable and lightweight but capable of greater capacities than the competition and stands out as a quality piece of kit in comparison.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jun 2015 22:57:17 BDT
Excellent review. Much appreciated. I have a 6' lump of Chinese made metal that passes for a drill press and am considering the Bosch unit. Your review has persuaded me to add this to my birthday wish list.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2015 23:24:36 BDT
philhippos says:
Good for you - so long as you are a woodworker - it's a while since I wrote the review and I still rate this as a GREAT drill for woodwork - It is certainly NOT a metalworking drill - horses for courses -for wood work there is nothing better - for metalwork it is a non-starter.

Posted on 19 Oct 2015 22:25:56 BDT
The sideways play referred to in reviews occurs for two very simple reasons. 1) because metal is hard the drill bit will skate sideways at the bottom to reduce strain, 2) if you are drilling a cylinder the the natural camber of the cylinder will 'push' the drillbit sideways.

The later might also occur when drilling hardwood legs.

Posted on 8 Mar 2016 20:17:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Mar 2016 20:20:06 GMT
MrT says:
This is the best review ever, many thanks for taking so much time to compile it. I did not read it in full until mine arrived today. I really like the way the drill moves to the work not fiddling with the cast iron table on my old Jet bench drill. I was sold on the weight and the fixtures which help with workholding for wood working which with my arthritis was going to be a real issue with my Jet -which is now definitely going to the charity barn. I expect to very very pleased with this drill. As well as workholding I like the size of the throat which will be enough for almost all the holes I need to do on woodturning bowl blanks -I always feel they should be perfect (eg perfect 90%) for the woodscrew chuck. Thanks for comment about capability with forstener bit, I guess it would cope with an even bigger hole saw.

Posted on 11 Apr 2016 23:21:15 BDT
Hi. I have tested the PBD40 and found there is a very serious CHUCK WOBBLE which is actually coming from where the motor housing sits around the bench drill column. You can test this by locking the motor housing to column with lever, and then by using your hand to move the motor housing from left to right, you will see the wobble. This is a tragic fault in a bench drill as there are no adjustment screws or levers to adjust wobble. When drilling into thick metals, absolute precision and pinpoint accuracy is required, especially when threadng the hole for a bolt. Thanks. PHIL.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2016 07:08:06 BDT
philhippos says:
Chuck wobble is indeed a serious problem in metalwork. This is a drill for woodworkers only.
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