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on September 29, 2006
I just upgraded from an old Rockwell benchtop drill press. The old tool is built great, but it only has 5 speeds and changing speeds takes about 10 minutes. As you may guess, I didn't do it nearly as often as I should. Given this experience, I was naturally attracted to the variable speed drill presses.

With models from other brands costing over $1000, I started looking at the Delta X5 model. Overall, the reviews seemed decent, but it was still a little more than I wanted to pay for a drill press. When I noticed the 968, I immediately downloaded both manuals to compare features. The mechanicals looked similar. The longer stroke, style of quill lock, and slightly lower minimum speed favored the X5. The head cover, light, accessory table, Morse #2 Socket on the spindle, larger chuck, and much lower price favored this model. I decided that, even though some of my large hole saws may benefit from 50 fewer RPMs, the slightly lower speed and 1" longer stroke were not critical. Also, while I have no firm plans for it, the Morse 2 Socket may prove useful someday.

Assembly was easy. The finish isn't pretty and the grind on the table is no work of art, but everything is functionally adequate. Runout is just over .001" and I couldn't get a .0015" feeler gauge (the thinnest one I own) under my Starrett rule anywhere on the table. The unit runs quietly with practically no vibration, though turning the speed control all the way to the stop in either direction results in a little too much slack in the belt and a corresponding noise. Backing off very slightly eliminates the problem. The quill lock looks cheap, but it does a fine job. Some reviewers of the X5 have criticized the depth stop bracket. You can make it deflect noticeably with very strong pressure on the handle, but you're not likely to overshoot by more than .01" before realizing you're against the stop. That seems like adequate depth control to me.

I just got the tool and can't vouch for how well it will hold up. Initial quality seems fine. I'll revise this review if I encounter any problems. Right now, it's hard to imagine how you could do better for the price.
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on September 25, 2006
Let's see... the Delta 17-968 has been available for a few years and not one review? Well, that's got to tell you something! Human nature says that people are more apt to voice their opinions (complain!) when something doesn't work properly, than when it functions flawlessly. I've had mine for a couple of years and it works like it should. The continuously variable speed control is a very nice asset... if there's a more convenient speed-control for a drill press, I don't know what it is! :) The drill press comes with flexible lamp, depth stop and has a quill lock... the only thing missing is a laser sight, but a quick trip to Woodcraft can rectify that. If I was forced to pick a problem area it would be the on/off switch (actually, a pretty minor complaint), it's the standard all-plastic power switch Delta uses on most of their low/mid-priced stationary power equipment and it take a bit of force to activate it... the on switch is slightly recessed and pushing it with your fingertips takes more effort than it really needs! The off switch isn't nearly as bad because it's not recessed and you can use your palm to push it... just thought you should know.
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on March 7, 2007
I don't understand why the Delta 17-968 drill press doesn't get more attention: It's a powerful, heavy, high quality machine that runs quietly with little or no vibration or runout. At this price and with the free shipping offered by Amazon, it represents excellent value. It is the only drill press in this price range that has variable speed and a quill lock, which is absent from the much pricier Powermatic 2800. I also considered the 17 inch General, which is also extremely well made, but decided in favor of the Delta because of the variable speed, the positive stops on the tilting table, and the innovative depth control, which has a quick release that enables you to change depth settings quickly without rotating the adjusting nut all the way up and down the threaded rod. Yes, the 17-968 lacks the laser positioning of the more expensive machines, but as the laser has to be focused every time the drill setup is changed, I never found that option attractive. The only problem I had was getting it into my basement, because it is so heavy. As others have noted, transporting it and setting it up is definitely a two man job (and trying it by yourself is dangerous!). I fabricated a carriage out of scrap wood to fit the contour of the underside of the head and bolted the carriage to two 2x4 rails, which enabled two of us to carry it quite easily. The variable speed moves nicely toward higher rpms, but requires some force to shift to lower speeds. A nice surprise was the gooseneck lamp that bolts to the side of the head. My last drill press had a lamp built into the underside of the head and it seemed that the point of contact of the drill bit with the workpiece was always shadowed. Not any more!! I just position the lamp as needed. All in all, it's an excellent machine and excellent value.
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on February 21, 2007
I just received and put together my Delta 17-968. It is a solid drill press and went together smooth. I fired it up and let it run for a minute. Then I slowly started to change speeds. After taking the speed down about half way it suddenly jumped back to full speed. To make a long story short I took it apart and found that a roller had come off. It took three hours to disassemble the head and reinstall the part. Not a serious flaw but a major pain. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come. I may up the rating after I have had a chance to use it and if I experience no additional workmanship issues.
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on February 24, 2007
The assembly was easy and straight forward and took me about an hour and a half including setting up a Shop Fox mobile base. A half hour was spent staring at the drill press head trying to decide if I could get it on the shaft by myself. It's definitely a two man lift but one man can get it done if you're hard headed enough and willing to take the chance of hurting yourself or the drill head (or both). Like the other reviews, the finish on the table is rough but the machining is uniform. The unit runs quietly with practically no vibration except at both low and high speed extremes. I let it run for approximately 10 minutes at different speeds due to one of the other reviews but everything performed as it should. I drilled some scrap oak with various size Forstner bits and have no doubt the way it came from the factory will suit my needs. I didn't try it with metal but that's not something I do very often.
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on March 8, 2007
I had been waiting for a sale on a high qualitiy floor drill press. The price I paid was roughly 60% of MSRP. I am very pleased how easy it was to assemble. Setup instructions were easy to follow.

I will be using this machine primarily for my wood working hobby. I also do furniture repair, stipping and refinishing. The machine is accurate as it come out of the box, not "tweaking" required. Changing speeds is as simple as turning a knob (no belts to re-position).
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on February 12, 2007
Just recieved the Delta 17-968 this week. Assembly was easy and all tools were provided. Took roughly an hour. The drill press is one heavy sucker. Which provides the needed stability to keep it vibration free. I am loving the variable speed control which works flawlessly and quietly except at both ends of the spectrum, 200 RPMs and 2500Rpms. No biggy, just a bit louder. It comes wired for 110 and after hogging out a few 2" holes in some sugar maple to test it with a forstner bit, I see no reason to up it to 220. This motor did not bog at all. I am very pleased with this tool, more than likely the last drill press I will buy.
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on June 19, 2013
i just bought the delta 17-968 and am amazed at how solid the machine is. i am the second owner(i paid $350). the variable speed is flawless and smooth. when the motor is on there aren't any vibrations. i've been looking at DP's in the $1000 range and so far the delta is worth its weight.
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on November 23, 2007
Excellent machine. I have no regrets. I'll buy it again. Good Work delta.
Keep it up.
Happy woodworker, San jose, ca.
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