Best Drill Presses: Accurately Measure and Drill Holes On Almost Any Material
Bore into hardwood, softwood, metals, plastics, and more with our top picks for the best drill press
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PUBLISHED ON July 18, 2019
A drill press is an important tool in any workshop as it helps you drill through metals, wood, and other materials. It is basically a large table with a drill and a clamp attached to it. It provides precision drilling on a properly shaped, spaced, and sized material. If you’re looking to get the right drill press for your job type and budget, here’s a rundown of some of the best options.
- Best OverallWEN 5-Speed Drill PressSummarySummary
A powerful 8-inch benchtop drill press that operates at five different speeds and can cut through any material.ProsPros
The unit is eligible for hard plastic drilling, woodworking, and metal sheet drilling. It has a strong cast-iron work table. Features convenient speed ranges. Backed by a one-year warranty. Decently priced.ConsCons
Doesn’t feature a laser guide. Less powerful than high-end presses. Feels wobbly.
- Best ValueDremel Drill PressSummarySummary
A portable 2-inch drill press that drills uniform perpendicular and angled holes.ProsPros
Affordable and portable. Has an adjustable height. Includes a tool holder and cord management clips for storing power cords. Compatible with most Dremel rotary tool models.ConsCons
Low horsepower. Lightweight design. Doesn’t feature an induction motor.
- Honorable MentionSKIL Drill PressSummarySummary
A 10-inch benchtop, laser drill press with a powerful, 3.2-amp motor that produces smooth and clean holes.ProsPros
Includes an X2 laser dual-beam guide for a precision cut. Has an adjustable depth stop. Includes a rapid shut-off for safety. Backed by a three-year manufacturer warranty.ConsCons
Expensive. The lasers use separate batteries. It’s a bit underpowered for some applications.
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Benefits of a Drill Press
- Drill accurate holes. Drill presses come with mechanisms that allow you to adjust the depth and angle of the cuts. A depth stop on the press allows you to stop at the right drilling spot if you don’t want to drill all the way through the material.
- They’re superior to handheld drills. A handheld drill is convenient and affordable but often makes a lot of jerking movements. That can make it difficult to make a precise cut. A drill press is perfect for precision work as the drill head barely moves when mounted on a sturdy column shaft.
- Drill through different materials. Depending on the quality of drill press you choose, you can bore through metal, wood, and hard plastics with ease. Some drill presses can also be used on pebbles, gemstones, clay tiles, and concrete.
Types of Drill Press
Tabletop and Benchtop Presses
Benchtop models are the best shop drill presses as they don’t take up much space and offer the best value for the money. They have the ability to drill straight and accurate holes on any material. The presses offer vertical and horizontal adjustability for precise measurement, but the height adjustment may not successfully accommodate large pieces.
Floor Drill Press
Consider a floor model if you need to do some heavy-duty drilling projects. It’s a larger drill press model that frees up your workbench space. The unit is ideal for both professional and hobbyists. Floor models have a larger drilling platform and allow for larger vertical movement ranges. They are typically more expensive than benchtop drills due to the allowance for additional features and raw power.
Portable Drill Presses
If you don’t have a designated work station, you should opt for a portable drill press. The units essentially have mounting mechanisms, either a clamp or a magnetic plate, that can attach to any worktable. While they do not have the most powerful motors, they do come with pocket-friendly price tags.
Edmond Michel founded SKIL in 1926, and it’s currently a global manufacturer of electric power tools under Chevron (HK) Ltd. Some of its products include belt sanders, jigsaws, mixers, routers, planers, cordless screwdrivers, and drill presses. The company has its headquarters in Nanjing, China. One of its best-rated drill presses is the SKIL Drill Press.
WEN is an American designer and distributor of power tools such as drill presses, chainsaws, electric engravers, electric jigsaws, knife, and wet wheel sharpeners. Nick Anton founded the company in 1952. WEN is lauded for its fantastic customer service, and its power tools often get a consumer rating of four stars and above. Some of its high-quality drill presses include the WEN 5-Speed Drill Press and the WEN Variable Speed Drill Press.
Dremel is an American brand that manufactures powered screwdrivers, contour sanders, hot glue guns, scroll saws, and rotary tools, which are its headliner products. The company has been in existence since 1932, and Albert J. Dremel founded the company. Dremel products have a legion of following among DIY enthusiasts as they are detailed and easy to use. One of its best-selling drill presses is the Dremel Drill Press.
Best Drill Press Pricing
- Under $500: This price range houses both portable and workbench drill presses. The products get cheaper as their sizes decrease and their drilling power reduces. Moreover, some cheaper options may not come with induction motors or laser guides for accurate drilling.
- Over $500: This is the price range for most high-end benchtop and floor model drills. The units here often come with highly adjustable angles, mechanically variable speeds, adjustable material stops for accurate repetitive actions, optimizable spindles, and laser guides for precision cuts. However, some higher-priced products have poor consumer ratings so be sure to read the reviews before buying one.
A tool with more horsepower is always better if it’s within your budget. A drill with more horsepower is capable of doing heavy-duty jobs. It can also be tuned to a lower power setting to perform light jobs. However, powerful drills may draw too much power from your electrical system.
Most drill presses primarily use electricity as the main power source. However, there are some models that are battery-powered, but such cordless units don’t output as much power as their alternatives. Cordless units also can’t drill through tough materials. Always invest in a corded drill for high precision and power.
You need to check on the drill’s compatibility with accessories and the materials it drills through. The drill press should have the ability to mount other accessories that make the drilling job easier. It should also be able to drill through metal, wood, and a variety of other material. However, if you only do woodwork, most portable drill presses can comfortably drill through any type of wood.
- Rotations Per Minute (RPM): Most drills come with a system for adjusting the spindle speeds when working on different materials. The spin rate is given in RPM and often ranges from 100 to 3,000 RPM. The drill press should have at least two adjustable speeds—a high-speed rate for drilling through softwood and a slower speed for metal.
- Construction: It’s important for the drill press to have solid construction. Steel is the best material for the base to enhance overall stability. The unit should also contain hard plastic parts but minimally in comparison to metal.
- Adjustability: The best drill presses have adjustable angles that allow you to drill through curved or tilted wood. You should look for a drill press with a greater capacity for incline and adjustable clamps.
- Weight: You need a heavy drill press that won’t rattle and vibrate when you work. Stability is key, especially at the base of the unit. Consider a floor model if you need to do some heavy-duty drilling projects. A light drill may be portable, but you would have to hold it firmly for stability as you make the cut. That can be an inconvenience.
- Size: The drill press should be large enough to get the job done but small enough to fit into your available workspace. This will depend on your job type. Most professionals prefer a large floor model while DIY enthusiasts go for portable workbench drill presses.
Best Drill Press Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: WEN 5-Speed Drill Press
WEN is a professional drill press that includes q 2-inch spindle travel fitted with a locking depth, a ½-inch keyed drill chuck, a chuck key, an 8-inch swing, and a cast-iron base. That’s all the necessary tools needed to assemble the unit and get it to drill through any material that’s 8 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick. It’s a five-speed system with a reliable 1/3 horsepower motor that allows for variations of speeds ranging from 740 to 3,140 RPM. With that range, you can easily bore through the material of different thicknesses.
The unit stands on a beveling worktable measuring 6.5 by 6.5 inches. The bevel can be adjusted either horizontally or vertically by 45 degrees. For precise and uniform drilling, the unit comes with an adjustable and easy-to-read, locking depth stop. In addition, it has onboard key storage on the side of the drill for easy access and safe storage of the chuck key. Lastly, the product is backed by a one-year warranty by the manufacturer.
A major downside of the product is that it has no laser guide for precision alignment. Additionally, its horsepower is low in comparison to other high-end drill presses. The base tends to wobble even when placed on a flat surface, and it has a cheap drill bit that also wobbles especially at high-speed settings.
Best Value: Dremel Drill Press
Dremel is an adjustable, benchtop drill press and one of the most affordable options in the market. It’s adjustable to a height of about 16 to 29 inches and also includes adjustable 15- to 90-degree increments. The unit easily converts rotary tools into drill presses and is compatible with about 18 rotary tools from Dremel.
The unit comes with convenience features like built-in cord storage and a “crow’s nest” for storing drill bits and wenches. It also includes clips for securing the rotary tool’s cord. You could use the press to hold Dremel rotary tools at 90 degrees for sanding, polishing, and grinding jobs. The manufacturer backs the products with a one-year warranty.
The main drawback of the product is that it feels weak and wobbly due to its weight. It only weighs 26 pounds. Also, its horsepower is low and is not suitable for heavy-duty jobs. The unit doesn’t have a motor and you would, therefore, have to pair it with any of the compatible Dremel rotary tools to create the best workstation drill press.
Honorable Mention: SKIL Drill Press
SKIL is one of the best benchtop drill presses due to its construction quality and additional safety features. It comes with a five-speed angle that allows you to switch from light to heavy-duty jobs. The unit includes a ½ -inch keyed chuck and a speed motor capable of a maximum torque of 570 RPM and an RPM of 3,050 for fast drilling.
A notable feature of the product is its X2 dual-beam precision laser coupled with a depth adjustment system that guarantees precise cuts at all times. Its adjustable work surface can turn by zero to 45 degrees on either side. It also features a panic stop button at the front of the chassis that shuts down the unit in case something goes wrong.
The downside of the product is that it is more expensive than most standard benchtop drill presses. It also underperforms when cutting through some metals like steel and aluminum. Its worktable wobbles even when you tighten the clamps correctly, and you would have to purchase separate batteries for the laser guide.
- When it comes to adjusting the speed on a drill press, maintain a simple rule. Select faster speeds for drilling through wood and slower speeds for metals. Remember to use a coolant when necessary, and stop occasionally to clear chips from the drilling channel for a faster and cleaner cut.
- Safety comes first when operating a drill press. Be sure to secure any loose clothing or personal items, and tie back long hair to avoid injury or damaging the spinning gear. Wear safety goggles and a face mask to protect your face from airborne particles.
- Lubricate the gears to prevent rust, and blow off any excess particles from the system to ensure that it spins freely and smoothly. Also, always ensure that the pulleys and belts are intact so that they don’t snap or fly off when you run the machine.
Q: Can I pair a standard workbench drill press with other accessories?
A: It’s good to pair your drill press with some accessories such as an attachable work light that can be turned on and off when necessary. Also, include an angle vises for clamping material at an angle and a bit storage bin for quick access to drill bits. You could include fences if your press is doubling as a router or sander. That allows you to move around the material for an accurate cut.
Q: What safety measures should I take when using a drill press?
A: First, ensure that the unit has a start and stop button that’s within your reach and an emergency stop button. Additionally, you should wear safety glasses and remove any pieces of jewelry or lose clothing. Always secure the material with a clamp or a drill vise.
Q: What’s the difference between variable speed drill presses and step pulley systems?
A: Most drill press systems are step pulleys with configurable speed settings. They are cheaper and easier to use but take a longer time to change from low to high speeds. For that reason, they are mostly used for assembly line work where repetitive action at a constant speed is needed. Variable speed drill presses have a button that changes the spindle speed and working diameter of the spindle pulley to swiftly change the speed setting even without removing the material.
Our top pick is the WEN 5-Speed Drill Press because it's a decently priced, high-end drill that can bore through metal, wood, and hard plastics at variable drilling speeds.
If you are on a tight budget, you could go for the Dremel Drill Press, which is a great tabletop drill press for woodworkers.