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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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 the job (and your budget), here’s a rundown of some of the best options.
Jet 354301 IDP-22 Industrial Drill Press
WEN 4208 5-Speed Drill Press
A powerful 8-inch benchtop drill press that operates at five different speeds and can cut through metal, wood, plastics, and more.
It has a strong cast iron work table, adjustable locking depth stops, and on-board key storage. Features convenient speed ranges. Backed by a one-year warranty. Decently priced.
Doesn’t feature a laser guide. Less powerful than high-end presses. Feels wobbly.
WEN 4214 Variable Speed Drill Press
A 12-inch variable speed drill press with a 9.5-inch worktable and a motor that delivers plenty of torque.
Infinitely variable speed ranging from 580 to 3200 RPMS. 120V 2/3hp induction motor with ample power. Cast iron worktable can be adjusted and beveled up to 45 degrees from left to right. Includes a laser and table roller extension.
No spindle lock present. Drill press is very tall, which can pose a challenge.
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
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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.
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 2021
The Jet Industrial Drill Press is an impressive tool capable of drilling through just about any type of metal. This 22-inch industrial drill press is supported by high-quality ball bearings and is built out of cast-iron steel. Plus, it includes a hinged metal belt and pulley cover with a quick adjustment motor mount, so you can drill more quickly, safely, and conveniently.
One of the best features is its powerful heavy-duty motor. It comes with a 1.5-horsepower, 115/230V motor, so it’s quick, durable, and efficient. It also includes a rotating 45-degree tilting hand-operated worktable with a quick-release clamp, plus a ½-inch diameter external positive depth stop with a three-nut locking feature for quick adjustment of the drill. It even comes with an LED machine lamp to help when operating in dark or low light conditions.
One of the biggest negatives about this drill press is its weight. Some websites list it as 120 pounds, but it actually weighs about three times as much at that, so there are discrepancies between these sites and the manufacturer. Another drawback is the machine is rather expensive, particularly compared to other options on this list.
The WEN 4208 is a professional drill press that includes a two-inch spindle travel fitted with a locking depth, a ½-inch keyed chuck, a chuck key, an eight-inch swing, and a cast iron base. That’s all the necessary tools needed to assemble the unit and get it to drill through material that’s eight inches in diameter and two-inches thick.
It’s a five-speed system with a reliable 1/3 horsepower induction motor that allows for variations of speeds ranging from 740 to 3,140 RPM. With that range, you can easily bore through material of different thicknesses, including metal, wood, plastics, and more.
The unit stands on a beveling worktable measuring 6.5 by 6.5 inches. The bevel can be adjusted in either direction by 45 degrees. For precise and uniform drilling, the unit uses adjustable and easy-to-read locking linear depth stops. 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 and is easy to set up.
A major downside of the product is that it has no laser guide for precision alignment. Additionally, it doesn’t have as much power compared 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 higher speeds.
The WEN Variable Speed Drill Press makes using a drill press quite simple. This electric drill press, which measures 13.5 x 36.63 x 16.75 inches, eliminates the need for manual belt changes. This powerful tool can work with metal, wood, and other materials effortlessly.
It uses an infinitely variable speed ranging from 580 to 3200 RPMS and a 2/3 HP induction motor that delivers consistent torque. The tool has a spindle travel of 3-⅛ inches and a locking linear depth stop for accuracy. It’s also easy to see what you’re doing with an LED readout display that shows the tool's speed.
It comes with a 9.5 x 9.5 cast iron work table that features rack and pinion height adjustment and bevels up to 45 degrees both left and right. Overall, its mechanical variable speed, laser, and versatile work surface make it simple to operate.
Any DIY warrior will appreciate the Dewalt DWE1622K for its lightweight and portable design that comes with a convenient carrying case. The unit has a lot to offer, from its 10-amp motor with a two-speed setting to the Quick Change chuck system that allows the user to seamlessly switch between a 3/4-inch Weldon Shank and a 1/2-inch keyed chuck. The motor can handle anything, from light routine jobs to heavy-duty applications.
We are impressed that it has a three-point removal handle that releases at the push of a button, and you can reattach it on the opposite side of the tool for a better working angle. Also, you can regulate the flow of cooling fluid with the help of the magnetic, self-feed cooling tank by either placing it on the tool or on the work surface. In addition, this drill press is designed with an overload protection feature, which helps to prevent premature motor damage and excessive accessory wear.
However, this unit is prone to overheat. Fortunately, there’s an on-board LED light that blinks red when the unit starts to overheat to warn you that it will automatically turn off after a few seconds. You’ll have to give it a few minutes to cool down before restarting it.
WEN is an apex manufacturer of drill presses, so it’s no surprise that more than one option makes our list. The 4210T is powered with a powerful and durable 3.2-amp induction motor that can be adjusted between five variable speeds ranging from 600 to 3,100 RPM. The motor is designed with ball bearings for smooth and reliable performance for an extended period.
The entire unit is built to last, starting from the cast-iron frame and base that provides stability to the beveling work table, which can be adjusted by 45 degrees to either the left or right side. An onboard laser light makes an X-spot on the work table to indicate the exact place that needs drilling so that you can make precisely angled holes and minimize waste of material. Lastly, it features a ½-inch chuck with a JT33 spindle, which can accommodate a wide variety of drill bits.
Unfortunately, the work table may be a bit wobbly, especially when you are adjusting the height. Also, there’s a slight learning curve to using the laser before you can make precise and smooth drills.
Standing 20 inches tall, the JET 354170 is a powerful floor drill press that is powered with a 1.5 horsepower motor. The motor is adjustable to 12 speeds ranging from 150 to 4,200 RPM. To change the speed, you only have to open the metal hinge cover, deactivate the motor, and slip the belt to the preferred pulley. It will be good to go once you turn the motor back on. The power switch is located at the front panel, so it should be easy to access it.
The design features include a ¾-inch drill chuck, a key, and a built-in work lamp to help illuminate your workspace. The worktable can tilt by 45 degrees, thereby making it possible to make angled cuts. Also, you can get the work table to raise or lower with just a simple turn of the crank. The best part is that JET backs this handy piece of equipment with a two-year limited warranty.
Unfortunately, this drill press doesn’t come with a bulb for the work lamp, so you have to buy one separately. Also, the belt might slip from the pulley during high-torque drilling or after the machine has been lubricated.
The Shop Fox W1848 possesses quite a number of unique features that make it stand out from the competition. For one, it features an oscillating spindle so that you can easily switch from drilling to sanding operations without necessarily adding extra tools. Therefore, it’s a two-in-one drill press that can be used to make a smooth finish when sanding after you are done drilling the hole. The oscillating process also helps to reduce heat build-up.
The unit is powered with a 0.75 horsepower motor rated at 110 volts, and the motor speed can be adjusted by 12 variable speeds ranging from 250 to 3,050 RPM. What’s more, you can adjust the height of the work table or tilt it by up to 90 degrees on either side to achieve better-angled cuts.
The main issue with this drill press is that the instructions that come with the package are somewhat vague, so you may have to rely on online tutorials to use it. Besides that, the mechanism that secures the worktable is painted and chips easily when the table is moved.
Most drill presses have a pulley system where you have to change the position of the belt to change the speed. Well, the Powermatic PM2800B ventures out of this typical design by integrating a digital RPM readout, which allows the user to change the spindle speed without manually changing the belt position.
This drill press stands steadily on the floor and has a 14- by 20-inch work surface that can be tilted by 90 degrees on either side for optimal maneuverability when drilling through tough material. With only a single turn of the handle, the spindle will drill six inches through the material, so it is a great choice for getting work done faster. In addition, it has laser guides and an adjustable LED light for maximum accuracy and better illumination when drilling.
Unfortunately, the chuck might fall off and the table might start to wobble after several months of use. Also, the digital RPM readout may fail to function due to the buildup of dust. It’s important to clean it out after you are done working.
Finishing off our list is the Genesis GDP805P, which is an affordable drill press that is powered with an almost noise-free 2.6-amp induction motor. The motor is easily accessible from the pulley housing, and you can adjust it by up to five different speeds. It features a ½-inch chuck that accommodates larger bits and can drill to the center of an 8-inch thick material, including metal and thick wood.
As for the construction, it features a cast iron base, which can be bolted to the surface. It also comes with a cast-iron work table with an adjustable height and can rotate by 45 degrees on either side. Generally, it’s a great option for working on large material if you don’t want to buy a larger press, and its compact design is suitable for workshops with limited space.
The unit is top-heavy, though, so it's recommended that you bolt it to the floor to gain some stability as you cut. Also, just as with most budget-priced drill presses, it has lower speeds in comparison to industrial-grade drill presses.
- 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 Jet IDP-22 Industrial Drill Press because it's a high-end drill that is capable of drilling through metal, wood, and hard plastics at variable drilling speeds.
If you are on a tight budget, you could go for the WEN 5-Speed Drill Press, which is a great tabletop drill press for woodworkers.
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