While configurations differ, you’ll also usually get a depth stop, a mechanism to lock this into place, and a belt tension knob.
You tighten the drill bit into the chuck with a matching key then lower it down into the work using either a spring-loaded handle or a feed lever.
Although initially conceived for metalworking, you can now use a drill press for boring into wood as well as metal. You’ll also be able to perform other woodworking operations like sanding or mortising.
A drill press comes in 2 main variants which we’ll look at right now…
For use in the home workshop, a benchtop drill press usually makes most sense.
These scaled-down machines are cheaper while also eating up less precious workshop real estate.
You can expect 8 to 12 inches of swing from a benchtop drill press with the stroke reaching anywhere from 2 to 3 3/8 inches.
The power range of a benchtop drill press is normally between 0.3 and 0.5 HP while you can expect anywhere from 5 to 15 or more speed levels.
The compact size and attractive price makes this type of drill press tailor-made for light household jobs.
Benchtop drill presses don’t make a good fit for any heavy-duty construction work and for working with longer pieces.
With an increased swing from 13 to 20 inches, the stroke varies from 3 inches through 6 inches.
Power is from ¾ HP to 1 ½ HP while speeds levels start at 12 and rise to 16.
You’ll get far more oomph from a floor drill press and you’ll also be able to comfortably deal with longer pieces of material.
Another benefit of opting for a floor-standing drill press is the extended range of accessories and attachments you’ll be able to make use of.
In return for more power, precision and stability, you’ll need to pay more and you’ll also need to ensure you’ve got enough workshop space to accommodate a larger drill press.
Now we’ve polished off out drill press reviews, it’s time to give you the lowdown on what to look out for when you’re tracking down the best drill press for your needs.
First thing’s first, though, why do you even need one in the first place?
Who Needs A Drill Press?
Whether you’re working with wood or metal, if you need to drill holes through, the best drill press will help you to do far more rapidly and accurately than you could by hand.
Whether you’re in the home workshop, out on the jobsite or working in a commercial setting, a drill press will be one of the most effective investments you could make.
While the core purpose of these magnificent pieces of kit is basic – it improves your drilling – there are nevertheless a few things to look out for when you’re on the buying trail…
When you’re hunting down the best drill press, the first thing you should do is think about your intended purpose and use that to help determine your budget.
Let’s face it, if you only plan to use the machinery once a month, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest in something like the costly Delta laser press. Equally, if you’re intending to put this drill press through its paces on a regular basis under challenging conditions, it pays to buy the very best you can afford.
Reading plenty of user reviews generally gives you a balanced idea of what actual users think of the product in action. Once someone has spent out on any given product, they’re usually keen to point out genuine flaws as well as what that product does well. If you see certain issues constantly reappearing in user reviews, it’s worth paying attention to these and doing some further research.
Beyond that, here are a few simple pointers to bear in mind when you’re looking for the best drill press.
What To Consider When Buying a Drill Press
Type of Drill Press
Before anything, you’ll want to determine whether you want a bench top drill press or a floor-standing model.
If you’re looking to undertake more ambitious projects and accuracy is key, target one of the larger floor units.
When space is at a premium but you still need assistance when it comes to small drilling jobs, a benchtop model is the ideal choice.
If you’re looking to bore wide, long holes through harder materials like iron or steel, you’ll understandably want to shoot for a drill press packing plenty of horsepower.
The more power you have on tap, the less your drill bit will end up being stressed and the lighter work you’ll make of piercing thicker, more resistant materials.
You’ll be able to fine-tune your table so you can make drilling easier and more accurate at the same time.
Design and dimensions vary with tables.
With some tables, you’ll be able to swivel it completely as well as making micro-adjustments.
Think about your intended use and angle for a drill press with a table in line with that.
Size matters and it certainly does with drill presses.
The tool you have in mind needs to be wide enough to hold the piece of wood you want to drill into. The area between the bit and the drill press post accounts for the throat depth. The greater this depth, the bigger hunk of wood you can use.
The weight of your drill press is important for the way it impacts both stability and portability.
Benchtop models are obviously much lighter than their Floorstanding counterparts so if you’re looking for portability, these make most sense. Not only will it weigh less, you’ll be able to shift it around if your needs change.
That said, the heavier the drill press, the more stable it will be. You’ll get less vibration and this will enhance the accuracy you can achieve with the machine.
Not all applications are equal. If you plan to work with metals or certain types of wood, you’ll appreciate having the ability to play with the speed.
Pretty much any first-class drill press will give you several speeds to choose from.
Whether you want to slow things right back to work with metal or amp up the pace for certain kinds of wood, look for a drill press offering you the speed selection you need.
Serviceability and Warranty
However much you spend on a drill press, you’ll need to look after it and also to be prepared if something goes awry.
Check out in advance if spare parts are available for the model you’re considering.
Tied in to this is the length and strength of the warranty you’ll be offered. Let’s face it, manufacturers don’t intend to lose out by offering this kind of coverage. As a rule of thumb, you might generally expect to start experiencing problems some time shortly after the guarantee expires.
Look for a drill press that won’t let you down even if you need to spend a few dollars more.
If you’re on the verge of investing in a drill press, make sure you think of the following before committing to purchase…
- Look for a flat base for maximum accuracy
- Make sure the framework is solid and built to last
- Make sure there’s a stopper so you can’t drill too deep
- Iron heads are the most effective way to keep the bit protected
Now you’ve got a solid overview of what to look for in the best drill press, how about actually using one?
Usage and Maintenance Tips
If it’s possible, you should locate your drill press on or between some long benches. This enables you to keep longer boards nicely supported horizontally.
If you want to drill with any degree of success, you’ll need to focus on these factors:
- Selecting the right drill bit for the application
- Accurately centering
- Properly supporting the workpiece
If you’re screwing holes, all you need to do is mark and center punch the holes. Supporting the workpiece with your hand while you’re drilling is more than enough.
When you’re looking to carry out some more precise boring work, you should shoot for a machine dowel bit. Clamp or hold your workpiece against a fence or guide and you’ll ramp up the accuracy without sacrificing too much speed.
Jigs, templates and other attachments can all help extend the scope of work you’ll be able to perform with the best drill press.
Drilling speeds vary from around 600 RPM right through 4000 RPM and above.
- Low Speeds: Large diameter drilling in hardwoods and all kinds of drilling in metal
- High Speeds: Smaller diameter drilling in wood. Routing, grooving
Check out this handy video for a hands-on guide to tuning your drill press and making sure it gives you years of faithful service.