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The JET JDP-17DX has lots of features and capacity without the major price!
Click image to enlarge

JET JDP-17DX 17" Floor Drill Press

16 speeds, lots of power and a (useable) laser to boot!

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 9-21-2008

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press is loaded with nice features in an easy to use package. JET has tweaked this age-old machine to better suit the modern woodworker. The huge range of speeds, thoughtfully designed table and separate switches for the work light and laser systems show that JET has been paying attention to their customers. Oh yeah. The price is right also.

Durability

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press is based on large chunks of cast iron and steel. The powerhead is big, heavy and machined nicely. The 12-1/2" by 19-5/8" cast iron base keeps this machine steady and has slots for clamping vises or other fixtures. The base also has holes for bolting it to the floor.

The motor hangs off the back of the powerhead, on a mount that includes the easy-to-use, tool-free belt tensioning levers.

The heavy-walled steel 3-1/8" column keeps things rigid. The column is nicely ground, allowing the table to move up, down and side-to-side without binding.

Big Motor - Cool Belt Drive

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press is equipped with a stout 3/4HP, 115V (only) TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) motor. Keep in mind that JET rates its motors using a continuous duty cycle so you really know what it delivers during use. They skip the smoke and mirrors "peak" or "max developed" claims lots of other companies continue to toss around.

The motor is mounted to the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press using a nicely thought out system that incorporates a tool free belt tensioning system. A pair of locking knobs (one on either side of the powerhead) and a single handle control the Poly-V drive belt tension. Finding the higher-end Poly-V belt on a drill press is a little unusual but welcome. This belt style runs cooler, smoother, has near zero stretch and slips less. That means it lasts longer.

Lots-O-Speeds

Three stepped pulleys connected by Poly V-belts makes changing speed simple. A sticker within the cover shows all belt configurations.
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The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press has a wide 230 RPM to 3,630 RPM range, broken into a do-anything series of 16 steps! If this range of speed choices does not answer everything on your drilling wish list, you need to start saving for a very expensive industrial unit.

This array of 16 speeds is made possible by a set of three stepped pulleys, each with four positions. A second Poly-V belt connects an idler pulley with the spindle pulley. Moving the belts among the pulley steps produces the various speeds. A large sticker inside the flip-open top shows the belt positions related to the 16 spindle speeds. You don't have to remember what goes where. It's all spelled out right there in front of you.

Spindle & Controls

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press has an impressive 2"-diameter spindle that eliminates any rigidity concerns you might have throughout the full 4 3/8" of travel. A tool free spindle height limiter/stop system makes repetitive drilling tasks precise. It also makes using accessories such as sanding drums easier. Naturally, the spindle turns in high-end, permanently lubricated ball bearings that will keep it spinning free and easy for years.

The tool-free depth stop is effective, as is having all of the switches grouped on the front of the powerhead.
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The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press spindle has a #2 Morse taper that accepts the included arbor and 5/8"-capacity chuck (with chuck key). A knockout release key for removing tooling from the Morse taper is also included. This virtually universal taper size will accept a huge number of drill press accessories available on the market.

The spindle is plunged using a three-spoke wheel. Each handle has a large rubber grip that keeps it comfortable. The handles can be moved to the left side of the powerhead using an identical hub that makes the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press left-handed user friendly!

A work light is set into the bottom of the powerhead and accepts a standard (60W-max) light bulb. With the bulb recessed it can illuminate the table area without glare or getting in the way. Another nice feature is that the work light has its own switch so it can be used only when needed.

Laser Targeting

The twin lasers are simple to use and adjust. That means you can actually use them with precision. The 5/8"-capacity chuck is included.
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The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press laser crosshair system may not be military grade but it does make shooting holes exactly where desired nearly automatic. Another nice point is that this laser system is AC powered through the machines 115V wiring. It also has its own switch so you get to decide when it is on and when it is not.

The twin laser emitters are easy to reach and align. The instruction manual covers the alignment procedure with text and photos that you can actually understand and follow!

Useable Table Features

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press features a 18-1/2"-wide by 14-1/2"-deep cast iron table that tilts to 45-degrees left or right. The table size is nice on its own but there is more. JET devised a contour along the edges that eliminates that annoying rim and replaces it with flat surfaces that make clamping workpieces to the table very easy.

The table also has X-shaped slots in the surface for additional clamping access. At the center is a replaceable sacrificial 2-11/16"-square (3/16"-thick) insert. You could drill through the insert to reduce back side splintering or remove it entirely to use through the table accessories like sanding drums.

The flat table edge (left) makes clamping work easy. The T-bolt grooves will be appreciated far more once you start using them. The work light (right) is well-placed, works well and has its own switch!
Click images to enlarge

JET also added a pair of front to back slots to the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press table. These slots are designed to accept 3/16"-diameter T-bolts that make designing and securing your own jigs and fixtures easier and safer.

The table moves up and down on a traditional but smooth operating rack and pinion gear drive. The range of vertical movement gives the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press a 0" to 29-1/8" spindle to table range. With the table pivoted to the side the spindle to base capacity goes to 49"! The overall swing capacity (spindle to column) is 16-1/2".

In the Shop

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press is solid, versatile (speeds and capacity) and comes at a surprisingly low price. When I first read the feature list I expected the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press to cost far more than it does.

In use, the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press seems to loaf along. It handled all of the drill bits I could find with ease, including spinning large Forstner bits through thick oak. The laser emitters are placed out in the open where they are easy to reach and adjust. The adjustments are also very simple which means you can actually use this laser system.

The work light is well thought out in terms of its location and size. It uses a 60W bulb but illuminates the work surface well without producing glare. I like the separate On/Off switch and the bulb being recessed into the head casting where it is out of the way of work pieces, your hands and tools.

Video Tour!

The table design is also well done. The removable center is nice but the flat edges are very handy and make using common woodworking clamps to secure stock easy. The front-to-back T-shaped slots that accept 5/16"-diameter T-bolts will prove to be exceptionally handy when you have to make specialty fences, jigs and fixtures. Very nice touch

Conclusions

The JET JDP-17DX Drill Press looks to carry a street price of $499.00 (9-12-2008) which puts it well below several lesser-equipped competitor versions. The traditional JET durability, a full range of work-friendly features and plenty of capacity should make the JET JDP-17DX Drill Press a must-see for anyone needing a drill press.

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