How to Measure a Drill Press Belt

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Every drill press uses a belt inside of the machine to power the motor and the drill bit you are working with. It stands to reason that at some point, you might need to change that belt. Whether you change it from routine maintenance or perhaps because the belt has failed, you need to know how to change it out.

Your drill press uses a V-belt and when it comes time to replace it, it’s quite possible the markings will be long gone.

When that happens, you will probably need to measure your belt to know what size you need.

Check out these tips for measuring your drill press belt when you need it.

V Belt Measurements

A V belt is measured on the inside of the belt length. You never want to measure the outside as this could vary depending on the brand of your drill press. However, if you stick to the inside, you can use whatever belt you want that fits the measurements.

There are measuring tools out there that you can use but you can also just use your tape measure as well.

If you want the easiest way to measure, grab a string or a rope and your tape measure and follow these instructions.

  1. Power off your drill press and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Remove the belt from the pulley.
  3. Start by measuring the diameter of the pulley. This is the width across the center. Note that measurement down.
  4. Then, take a string or a rope and wrap it around the belt pulley. Mark it or cut it at the exact place that the two ends meet on the circle.
  5. Measure the length of the rope that you cut or marked.
  6. Your V belt should be that size for replacement.

You may need the diameter as well as the length when you go to purchase a replacement belt so keep both of those numbers handy for replacing your belt.

But wait, before you order, there are some other things you will need to know to get the right belt.

Type of Belt

type of belt

You also need to know what type of belt your machine takes. Some people choose to change the types of belts for their own preferences but if you aren’t sure, you should stick with the same type of belt that your drill press already has.

There are both Type A and Type B belts. This is easy to determine. First, measure the width of the belt.

  • Type A belts measure 1/2 an inch in the width
  • Type B belts measure 5/8 inches wide

From there, there is also a belt known as AX.

AX still will measure just like the A belt. An AX belt has notches on the underside of the belt where the A and the B belt are smooth on the underside instead.

Take note that while there is a Type A, AX, and B, these belts are all still V belts.

Clear as mud, right?

If you have the belt, you can just measure the belt instead of worrying about the rope and tape measure as we shared above.

Measuring Your Belt

If you have the belt, you can follow these steps to measure the belt instead of measuring the parts above. It will probably give you a more accurate measurement. If the belt is broken, just measure the total length.

Otherwise, follow these steps.

  1. Use a soft and flexible tape measure.
  2. Lay your belt down so it will stay still while you measure.
  3. Use a soft tape measure to wrap around the inside of the belt and line it up.
  4. Take note of the measurement where your tape measure meets from the tip of the tape.
  5. Take note of this measurement.

If you don’t have a soft tape measure, you could again use a rope or a string here, and then once it’s marked perfectly, use your other tape measure to determine the length.

Some experts would tell you to measure the outside length of the belt and then subtract to get your correct number.

If you do that, you need to subtract 2 inches for an A belt and 3 inches for a B belt.

Once you’ve got your length, you should be able to identify the belt that you need based on the length and the belt type. The reading will probably go something like this.

A45

In front of the A or B 45 (or whatever your measurement is), there might be other codes from the brand or manufacturer. It really just depends on how they mark it.

The two main points are you need these details.

  • Belt Type
  • Belt length

Understanding the Size of Your Drill Press

understanding the size of your drill press
Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

You may need to know the size of your drill press when you are looking at belts. Most likely, you will be able to find your belt with the measurements and details we provided above. However, it’s best to be over prepared.

You may already know the size of your drill press and if you do, that’s awesome! However, there are a lot of people that just don’t pay attention to that detail and maybe that’s what brings you here.

When you hear or see the size of a drill press, it’s not actually the size of the drill press. What the “size” refers to is the throat capacity of the press.

When you see a size 10 drill press, this means that there are 10 inches from the center pole of the press to the spindle of your drill bit. It also means that your drill will drill to the center of twice that much. So a 10 drill press will go to the center of an item that has a 20-inch diameter.

Another term that you might see is the swing of your drill press. This term means the same thing but the swing is the actual measurement of the reach. So if a drill press is described as having a 14-inch swing, this means it can reach the center of a 14-inch diameter. So really, in essence, it has a 7-inch reach in this case.

Spindle Travel

spindle travel
Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Another term often used with a drill press is spindle travel. All of these numbers relate to the reach of the drill press.

Where the size, the swing, and the throat capacity all have to do with the reach in length to the center of a piece, the spindle travel has to do with how deep your spindle will go. It basically helps you know how deep of a material you can work with.

The spindle travel is how far down the spindle, which holds the drill bit, can travel down and then up again.

This is the plunging depth of your drill ultimately. You will find that the best drill presses will range from 3-6 inches but there are presses that fall outside of this range so keep that in mind as well.

Conclusion

Measuring your drill press belt is really pretty simple if you know the ways to do it properly. With these steps and tips, you should have no problem figuring out exactly what size and type your V belt is.

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