Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


GMC LSR13DP 1/3HP LightSabre Benchtop Drill Press
with Laser line Generator
Review

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LSR13DP Quick Specifications

  • Motor: 1/3 HP Induction Motor
  • Speed: 5 Speeds
  • Laser: Adjustable Laser Line Generator
  • 2 Year Home-Use Replacement Warranty
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

     

Please note: Since this review was published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com appears to still be available online and offers some product information and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support or spare parts for their products.

Laser-enabled tools seem all the rage these days to make woodworking much more accurate and faster. Most laser line generators are found on drill presses and miter saws more than anything else and often, these lasers are sold as an after-market add-on rather than built into the machine itself.

The GMC LSR13DP Benchtop Drill Press, however, features a built-in laser line generator to enable quicker sighting of the target position when drilling. But of course, it is no point having this feature if the machine it is attached too is not up to par. So let's take a look at the LS13DP that carries a price tag most suitable for the hobbyist or weekend woodworker (Around AUD$150)

Product Build & Assembly
The LSR13DP is manufactured in China and branded by GMC in their standard royal blue colors. Many will hear the word "China" and immediately think a product is sub-standard, and they can rightfully hold that opinion as in some cases, this is true. However, the fact is that many, many products sold by even the biggest and most well-known companies are manufactured in China and Taiwan and it really comes down to how well the parent company supervises the production of these items to meet their own pre-determined performance and quality standards.

The LSR13DP requires some assembly as almost all woodworking machinery does out of the box. It is basically a 4-part system: The motor/head assembly and spindle, the drill press column itself, the base and the drill press table. Assembly takes around 5 minutes at most and is almost foolproof. Instructions are provided, but you probably will only need a touch of common sense to assemble the product. But of course, one should always read the instructions carefully and pay attention to safety warnings and rules outlined in the manual before using the tool.

The Jacob's style chuck is packaged separately and requires you to assemble it onto the drive spindle. Simply slot it on, then you can either give it a few firm taps with a mallet or set up a block of wood on the table and lower the chuck/spindle (without any drill bit inserted) to push against the piece of wood. Apply a moderate amount of pressure to seat the chuck on the spindle. Removing any oil and cleaning out the chuck taper beforehand will ensure the chuck will hold firmly and not drop off at any stage of use.

Space Limitations
Being a small benchtop model, there really isn't a great deal of room to drill larger and/or thick pieces of wood, particularly after you have inserted the drill bit. While this is not a specific issue to this machine, it must be a consideration before laying down your money to buy one. So if you are planning to use thick stock wood or perhaps drill into the end grain on long pieces, you are going to need a floor model drill press. You could mount your drill at the end of a bench or stand and then swing the head assembly sideways to drill longer pieces of wood for say once off situations, but if you are going to be drilling tall pieces frequently, look at getting a floor model drill press.

With a standard length 29/64" drill bit sitting in the chuck, you have about 3" of working space between the end of the drill bit and drill press table (when in its lowest position). Obviously, with smaller diameter, shorter bits, you have much more room to play with (up to 5" with a 1/8" standard length drill bit in the chuck). If you need more room, you can gain another 3 1/4" in height (less thickness of wood to be drilled of course) by swinging the table out of the way and using the base of the drill press stand as your table. So, in effect, this drill press will handle most work pieces if you are prepared to use the base of the drill (or perhaps a drill press vice mounted to the base) as well. End grain drilling (unless if its a very short piece) is probably out of the question unless you swing the head as mentioned above.

Being a benchtop model, it means the drill press takes up very little physical room (roughly 23" high, 14" front to back and 9" across) and is relatively portable, unlike floor models. You can easily drag this model around to your worksite if you need to go elsewhere to complete a project.

Motor and Performance
The LSR13DP features a 1/3HP single phase motor... a common size for most smaller benchtop drills. It is an induction motor as you would expect and operates fairly quietly. In testing, we found the motor to perform adequately given its size, but you can expect it to stall in some circumstances when it comes under heavy load. This is to be expected, however, this can be minimized by selecting the correct speed for the drill bit you are using. Larger drill bits or borers require a slower speed for best cutting/drilling action. You must also manage the feed rate to keep the motor from bogging down. With a little common sense and experience, you will find the 1/3HP adequate for most small drilling operations. You wouldn't expect this type of motor to handle a 2" Forstner bit drilling through dense hardwood... it will bog down quite frequently or may not cut at all, however it does handle 1" Forstner bits well with a touch of patience and the right speed/feed rate.

I managed to stall the motor twice during testing, however a change of feed rate and drill press speed remedied that problem quite quickly. The motor performs as you would expect for a 1/3HP outfit, and as long as you know its limitations, and compensate for them, you should be fine. If you expect the smaller motor to perform like a 3/4HP motor, then you will be disappointed, and I might suggest a course in logic as well, taught by Dr Spok no less :)

The LSR13DP has 5 adjustable speeds driven by a single drive belt. To adjust the drive belt, a small thumbwheel is used under the top cover to move the motor in and out. The 5 pre-set spindle speeds are as follows:

  • 500 RPM
  • 890 RPM
  • 1400 RPM
  • 1900 RPM
  • 2500 RPM

Strangely, however, There is no indication or sticker anywhere on the machine to indicate the the belt positions needed to attain each speed. The manual does not even show this. Perhaps the sticker was missing? Of course, this is no big drama if you have used a drill press before, but for new woodworkers who might have purchased this machine as their first drill press, confusion could arise and the sticker would certainly make life easier as a ready-reference, right on the drill press.

Drill Press 'Runout'
Certainly a hot issue with drill presses. You want the drill bit to run as true as possible without shaking, vibration or excessive movement at the tip of the bit, particularly when first engaging the cutting edge into the work piece. If you have bad runout, you will certainly notice it, see it and hear it. Runout can be caused by a poor quality chuck, or loose or inadequate seating of the chuck taper on the drive spindle (fixable), or there could be some general 'play' in the spindle itself, which is much more troublesome and not easily repairable (if at all). A dial indicator can measure the amount of runout on the drill press. We measured a runout of roughly 0.005" at the chuck, which is not too bad at all for a budget-priced drill press. I was expecting worse, but was presently surprised. I only hope all of this particular model that come off the production line perform the same in this department.

General Machine Features
The LSR13DP sports the following features:

  • Swing (Throat) Capacity: 104mm
  • Max Spindle Travel: 50mm
  • Chuck Capacity: 13mm
  • Weight: 17kg

The depth stop feature on the LS13DP requires you to loosen the hex screw on the inside of the feed wheel and then adjust the marked collar with the depth gauge to the desired depth of travel and then re-tighten the hew screw. Rather time consuming, and a little frustrating, but it works, however, there are simpler methods that could have been employed in the initial design.

Table height adjustment is the basic un-tighten, manually slide the table into position and re-tighten again routine. It's what you would expect on the budget machines and the adjustable/rotatable lever-type clamp means the table can be held securely in position, but you must then re-center the table so you don't end up drilling through it!

The table itself features the closed "X" patterned slots with a central 3/4" drill protrusion hole. The table can be adjusted to 45 degrees left and right by loosening the bolt underneath the table at the drill press column. The table can be deflected downward when significant force is applied, however, you would not normally apply such a force during normal drilling operations. Just a thing we like to do around here to test strength and durability!

There is no work light on the LSR13DP, so external lighting is necessary if you work indoors or in a low-lit room, however, the laser line generator is more visible is slightly darker rooms.

The top cover on the LS13DP is another itching feature. The top cover is secured with a Philips head screw and becomes frustrating when you need to change drill press speeds. It certainly takes much longer to remove and replace the top cover than your standard flip/latch type cover. I found I ended up leaving the screw out and just sitting the cover on top. By its design, it will stay there happily without falling off, but may create some noise if vibration occurs during drilling.

The feed wheel handles are comfortable and the feed wheel itself turns smoothly throughout the full range of spindle travel.

Laser Line Generator
The laser line generator is the main feature of this drill press. The feature that sets it apart from other budget-priced benchtop drills on the market. The generator itself is enclosed within the main body of the machine directly between the drive spindle and the drill press column. It is a battery operated laser unit, and takes two AA size batteries which are accessible by removing the top cover and accessing the battery compartment. Two AA batteries are included in the box to get you started.

The generator emits two beams of light from the underside of the main body, behind the drill press chuck. These beams are adjustable by rotating small wheels at the output source point of the laser. The laser line is generated by a simple flip switch on the front of the machine, right next to the main ON/OFF switch for the drill press. Simply flick it on and your laser lines are projected, Flick it off and they are gone. Simple stuff.

When turned on the 2 laser lines intersect at a specific point which, after you have adjusted the beams, should point to the exact location where the tip of the drill bit with engage your work piece. The lasers meet at an angle of roughly 45 degrees which provides a fairly precise intersection point, although it may not be absolutely exact given the intersection zone may consume a millimeter of space itself, however, it does provide a good guide to the entry point of the drill bit and will certainly save time when drilling multiple holes frequently.

Being a laser product, you should of course never stare directly into the beams as this may be detrimental to your health, nor should you leave the laser light on while drilling. Sight up your work with the laser on and when the piece is correctly positioned, switch off the laser and commence drilling. Laser beams can also be reflected off shiny or metallic items, so please do take care and exercise some common sense when using this device.

One problem noted with the implementation and use of the laser generator is that it had to be re-adjusted slightly when you raised or lowered the table. As you raise the table, the point of intersection of the laser lines will move closer to the drill press column the higher you go. There is perhaps a 2mm difference at intersection point between the lowest and highest position of the table. There was no easily identifiable difference in lateral position of the beams across the range of table height adjustment assuming you keep the table itself centrally aligned with the drill bit and chuck.
So, you must be prepared to make some small adjustments to the lasers if you are moving the table up and down over a large height distance. Another issue is that when using large diameter bits, like Forstner bits for example, the laser line may be blocked by the bit itself and a drilling point cannot be determined.

In testing, we found the laser was quite useful in decreasing 'alignment to a mark' time when drilling multiple holes at the same table height. Changing drill bits did not affect the accuracy as the laser should be aligned to the central part of the spindle/chuck. The laser lines are bright and easy to see in most conditions, but like all lasers, may be difficult to see in direct sunlight.

Conclusion
The GMC LS13DP Lightsabre drill press is both a joy and a minor headache to use. The drill press itself is very functional and performs well with a very low runout score for a machine with its price tag. It will handle all your weekend work and is a great machine for the beginner, hobbyist or occasional woodworker. The laser line generator is a very useful feature and will certainly save time when drilling continuous holes, however, the time saved here may be given back by the cumbersome and slow top cover removal and replacement and the time consuming depth stop mechanism.

If you choose to buy this drill press, you can at least be safe in the fact that you have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a full 2 year replacement warranty on the product. GMC as a company do provide excellent after sales support on their items and are open to user suggestions and comments. At around $150 Australian dollars (or the equivalent exchange in your area), the LS13DP offers expected performance for its size and motor and is suited to those that find themselves drilling lots of hole on a repetitive basis due in part to the Lightsabre feature not commonly found on its direct competition in the price range.

GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com
 

LSR13DP Photos
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The LSR13DP Ready for Action!


Under the hood... 1 belt... 5 speeds


Belt tensioning wheel


Choose a slower speed for larger drill bits


From left to right... Power Indicator Light - On/Off switch with removable safety key - Laser Line Generator Switch


The Depth Stop Adjustment Gauge


2 x AA-batteries is all you need to power the laser generator.


The laser projects onto the table marking our point of contact...


With our laser lines adjusted, we have an accurate point of entry of the drill bit sighted in advance...


The table locking mechanism and angle gauge for tilting table operations.


13mm chuck is keyed for maximum holding strength.


The 1/3HP motor can handle most smaller tasks. Here we are drilling into hard Ipe wood without any problems.


While you may have trouble with the larger forstner bits, this 1" bit happily bores away.

 

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