An acquaintance of mine is going through some tough times, and was downsizing some of his stuff, so I wound up buying his drill press from him. Here’s the first photo I took when I got it into my garage:
It’s a Craftsman 150 Drill press with the Vari-Slo attachment — it’s a continuously variable speed control that utilizes a reeves drive to alter spindle speed. It’s a neat piece of kit, and is apparently a fairly rare attachment. The whole thing was made in the early 1960s, by King-Seeley Corporation (a division of General Motors) in Michigan.
Working with stationary tools from this era, one develops a new awareness of gravity. No plastic parts or sheet metal here. Everything is cast or machined, and incredibly heavy. The weight is a big advantage in tools like this, as it helps keep them firmly planted when trying to use them. Lighter things tend to move around and vibrate and generally be annoying, but the heavy duty stuff like this press just stands its ground. It’s really a pleasure to work with.
The Vari-Slo attachment on this press is a really interesting piece of kit. It consists of a framework supporting two self-adjusting pullies that sit between the motor and the spindle. The handle over the front of the press shifts the pullies forward or backwards, causing the adjustable pullies to change in size, adjusting the drive ratio smoothly from the lowest to the highest speeds (marked 350RPM and 3750RPM)
One of the previous owners of this press, in a time long forgotten, added this lovely foot switch to the press. The original power switch on these models was a switch wired in line with the cord, like a table lamp switch, and was a pain to use. They did away with it entirely and added this incredibly beefy foot pedal. The switch weighs almost as much as my belt sander, and doesn’t wander away from where you’ve put it on the floor. If you haven’t used a foot switch of any sort on a drill press before, I suggest you give it a try. It makes using it a real pleasure.
It’s a neat piece of work, and I look forward to tearing it down for restoration. My plans are to strip it down and paint it black and gold. I’ll update with more details when I start working on it. For now, enjoy these photos: