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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
- 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.