Drill presses are stationary tools–some stand on the floor while others sit on a workbench–with a sturdy and adjustable platform to hold the object being drilled, and an overhead chuck that holds the drill bit in place. Like a portable handheld drill, a drill press is a tool for making holes in wood or other hard materials, but drill presses go far beyond handheld drills in terms of power and precision.
A handheld drill is sufficient if you merely need to occasionally drill holes into wood for simple repairs or construction. But for drilling into very hard wood or metal, drilling through thick pieces of wood, producing large holes, drilling at an angle, or achieving the utmost in accuracy, a drill press is the tool of choice.
Whether you are looking for the best benchtop drill press or a floor standing model, for woodworking or metalwork, our review pages are designed to be a comprehensive guide with all the information you need to make the right choice.
Power, accuracy, reliability and consumer feedback are some of the factors that were taken into account when we rated the top drill presses. This handy power tool is a must for any serious woodworker and along with a table saw, considered to be the most important tools in the wood workshop.
The comparison chart lists all the important features and specifications that you need to consider to make your final choice. This chart enables you to do a side by side comparisons, and include factors like consumer ratings, speed settings, swing size, and weight.
What to Look for in a Drill Press
The swing of a drill press is the measurement in inches from the chuck—the clamp that holds the bit in place—to the column, which is the thick metal pole supporting the drill press head, multiplied by two. So if the measurement from your drill press’s chuck to column is 5 inches, then the drill press has a 10-inch swing. Swing tells you the largest piece of wood or metal the drill press can accommodate while drilling a hole right in the center. The larger the swing, the larger materials a drill press can handle, so keep this in mind if you regularly work with big pieces of wood or metal.
Also called spindle travel or quill travel, the stroke distance is a measurement of how deep a hole the drill press can create without having to stop and readjust the drill press table or the material being drilled. Smaller or less expensive drill presses often have a mere 2.5-inch stroke distance, sometimes even a little less. Large, heavy-duty floor-standing drill presses can have as much as 6 or more inches of stroke distance, but most hobbyists or general DIYers won’t require this level of performance. As a general rule, around 4 inches of spindle travel is more than sufficient for most typical tasks.
Floor or Benchtop Design
There are two basic styles of drill press: floor and benchtop.
As the name suggests, floor drill presses are large tools that stand on the floor. These have a lot of power and typically a swing between 13 and 20 inches. Floor-standing drill presses are best for professional or heavy-duty use.
Benchtop drill presses sit on a workbench. These smaller machines generally have a swing between 8 and 12 inches, and handle light-to-moderate drilling tasks. Generally, these are the best choice for the average DIYer or hobbyist.
What Are Drill Presses Used For?
Drill presses are popular in woodworking, metalworking, masonry, and gunsmithing, and are used to build furniture, toys, and other household items, like coat racks, pegboards, spice racks, and many, many more. Small craft business owners also use drill presses for their various creations, especially when there are a lot of items to get through as a drill press can cut down boring time by providing efficiency, accuracy, and speed.
There are many different drill bits available for purchase, but some drill press kits come equipped with the basic bits needed for drilling into many materials. For small drilling tasks and repairs, a regular power drill would be better suited; a drill press would be overkill as they tend to cost more than regular drills and take up much more space.
Keys of Drill Press
If you are looking for a drill press for your workshop for drilling holes into different objects, you can find various options out there. And this makes choosing the perfect one for you a bit difficult since you have to consider various factors like the following ones:
- Drill Size: The easiest way to differentiate between different drill presses is the drill size. It is simply the distance a drill can move for making holes in a given object. You can find drill size options like 12 inch and 18 inch where an 18-inch option is made for heavy-duty applications and the 12 inch one is more than enough for your home.
- Chuck Size: You should also check the chuck size offered by a drill press. It tells you the size of the supported drill bits in the given drill press. The chuck of a drill is adjustable and can have a maximum size of ½ inch or ¾ inch where the ¾ inch option can take up larger bits for a better drilling performance.
- Motor Power: Since drill presses are power tools, you should also check their motor power. This motor power can be described in either RPM as the rotation speed or HP (horsepower). You can find motors with a power rating of ¾ HP or 2 HP and 1500 RPM or 2000 RPM while buying a drill press.
Best Drill Press Reviews 2021:
WEN is known to make a wide range of power tools for all kinds of applications. It even makes various drill press options, including the WEN 4208 drill press.
The WEN 4208 drill press is present in the 1st position as it is the cheapest option when compared with other options in this article. Even then, it can offer an excellent drilling performance with this 8-inch drill size that provides a balance between form factor and drilling performance. This drill is powered by a decently powerful ⅓ HP motor.
It offers 5 different motor speeds that range from 740 RPM to 3140 RPM as per the user’s requirement. Such high RPM speeds in an 8-inch drill press allow you to drill quite easily using various drill bits that can fit in its ½ inch keyed chuck. Unfortunately, this drill press only comes with a 1-year warranty against any issues with the drill press.
Not a true drill press, but rather, a workstation that allows you to use your Dremel rotary tool in a similar manner to a drill press, this workstation/drill press fits into the category of “small but mighty,” and is perfect for delicate tasks such as crafts, jewelry, or work on electronics. Your rotary tool fits into the workstation, allowing you to angle the tool at a variety of angles for your needs.
The workstation screws into a worktable for stability without taking up too much valuable space. Note, however, that it does not include the Dremel rotary tool; you’ll need to purchase that separately if you don’t already own one.
For the price, you actually get one of the most flexible drill presses available. The flex shaft attachment works with the drill to allow you to rotate the head for angled holes up to 90 degrees horizontal. A tool holder and router mount extend the capabilities of this press, enabling other work such as plunge routing and sanding/grinding to be done all in one workstation.
JET tools are as at home in a production setting as they are in a DIY workshop, and that includes this beast of a benchtop drill press. The J-2530 from JET has a 15-inch throat and 3/4-horsepower motor for drilling through some serious materials. The work table tilts 45 degrees left and right, and swivels 360 degrees if you need it out of the way. The motor has 16 speeds, adjusting from as low as 200 RPM to as high as 3,630 RPM. It has a 3 3/8-inch travel to complement its wide throat. It also features an oversized on/off switch and a bit guard.
Two things made the JET the runner-up instead of taking our top spot: its lack of a digital readout and its heft. It weighs over 150 pounds, so make sure your benchtop is sturdy.
Skil can be another great option if you are looking for powerful power tools like drill presses. While it offers options at different price ranges, we are here with a budget option.
If you are on a budget, this drill press can be a great option as it is one of the best value for money options out there. Despite its comparatively lower price tag, you get a 10-inch drill size in it. This drill is powered by a powerful motor that offers a spindle speed ranging from 570 RPM to 3050 RPM. You can adjust this speed from one of the given 5-speed levels in this drill press.
Despite the lower price tag of this drill press, you get a pretty decent build quality and a 3-year warranty with this drill press. As a result, it is much more durable when compared with other options out there. It comes with an inbuilt laser that can be quite useful for precision while drilling using this drill press.
The Shop Fox W1668 is a compact bench-top drill that is cleverly built with efficiency and the ability to handle multiple aspects of your project in mind. Featuring an oscillating sander that can be used for contour sanding when the need arises, an incorporated clearance hole in the table, and a dust collection port for any sawdust or other debris that might jet out of the machine so that your wood working space will stay clean, this bench top drill press is more than just a drill.
That being said, drilling is, of course, this Shop Fox product’s primary function — it is still a drill press, after all — so we’ll get to that first. This machine is huge for bench top model and makes an excellent drill for bigger projects. It offers a ¾ HP, 110-Volt motor with 12 speed options between 250 and 3050 RPM. A 5/8 inch drill chuck makes for more drilling options as well.
Now, for the sanding. The Shop Fox drill press’s sanding capabilities are quite impressive. The above mentioned dust collection and clearance hole are useful inclusions to help with the sanding you’ll be doing, but they are far from the most important ones. The W1668 can be converted into a sander within a matter of seconds with only a few tool-free steps. The 3-piece oscillating spindle sander drum is designed to reduce heat build-up during sanding so it leaves you with a smooth finish. Not bad for a drill!
Can I use the same bits in my drill press and handheld power drill?
As a general rule, as long as the shank size of the bit is not larger than your drill press’s chuck—the most common chuck size for a typical benchtop drill press is ½-inch—you can use the same bits with your drill press as you do with your corded or cordless power drill. Drill presses can handle larger diameter bits than the average power drill, however, which is one of the main benefits of these powerful tools.
What can a drill press do?
The function of a drill press is simple: to bore precise holes into wood, metal, and other materials. Drill presses do this by offering variable speed drilling that enables users to set the RPM of the drill bit to match material-specific requirements. For example, benchtop drill presses should be set to a low RPM when drilling through metal to prevent the bit from overheating and warping.
Why did my drill bit stop spinning?
Drill bits typically stop spinning when they bite and bind into the material you’re drilling, preventing them from moving.