Select the right drill press to meet your needs
Drill presses allow you to drill holes in metal, wood and a variety of other materials more precisely and conveniently than you could with a handheld drill. They also provide more power to drill through tough materials. The stationary bit provides accuracy and control, allowing you to drill at perfect right angles and make consistent repetitive holes. Optional accessories also make this machine quite versatile, so you can use your drill press for such diverse tasks as sanding, mortising, buffing, grinding and shaping. Before you learn what types and features are available, use these questions to help pin down your drilling needs:
Capacity, Power and Application
Before you learn about more detailed features, you'll need to choose a type of drill press - floor-standing or bench-top. Bench-top models are more compact and tend to be less expensive. They are best suited for smaller workpieces and less demanding jobs. Floor-standing models offer more power and can typically handle a wider range of materials. If your needs are highly demanding or you frequently undertake specialized tasks, you may want to consider a specialty drill press, such as a radial or electromagnetic model.
Capacity: The size of a drill press is two times the throat depth (the distance between the chuck and the column). This measurement, known as swing, determines the width of material the drill press can handle. For example, a 15" drill press has a throat depth of 7-1/2", allowing you to drill to the center of a 15" workpiece. Another capacity consideration is stroke, or quill stroke, which determines how deep you can drill.
Power and Speed: Because floor-standing models have a larger capacity, they need a more powerful motor. Floor-standing models tend to be 1/2 to 3/4 hp (horsepower), while bench-top models are typically 1/3 or 1/4 hp. Floor-standing models also tend to offer more spindle speeds, giving them greater versatility. If you'll be drilling metal and wood, you'll need a wide range of speed settings because metal is drilled at lower speeds while wood is drilled at medium or high speeds.
Specialty Drill Presses: Depending on your needs, you may want to consider a radial drill press or a magnetic drill press. While standard drill presses often have tables that tilt to allow angled drilling, it is more convenient to drill with the table and workpiece flat. Radial drill presses allow just that by offering a tilting head for angled drilling. Also, the head extends to provide more than twice as much swing as standard drill presses. Magnetic drill presses are used primarily for structural steel and other heavy-duty metals.
|Type||Capacity||Power and Speed||Key Details||Recommended For|
||Light- to medium-duty home and professional use|
||Medium- to heavy-duty professional and home use|
||Frequent angled drilling and/or drilling workpieces wider than 17"|
TEFC Motor: A totally enclosed fan-cooled (TEFC) design protects the motor from dust and delivers long-lasting performance.
Poly-V Belts: Poly-V belts transfer power smoothly and efficiently to enhance performance.
Rack-and-Pinion Height Adjustment: A table that offers smooth, precise height adjustment enhances efficiency, convenience and accuracy.
Mortising Kits: Mortising accessories allow you to use your drill press to make rectangular holes, though drill presses are not as ideally suited to this task as dedicated mortisers.
Table Versatility: If you have to drill at angles, you'll need a tilting table unless you decide to go with a radial drill press. Also, a table that rotates around the column offers more drilling flexibility. A table with a wide, flat edge is ideal for clamping on vises and fences.
Convenient Controls: All controls should be easy to access and convenient to use. The on/off switch should be front and center, so you can quickly stop the machine in case of emergency.
Depth Stops: Depth stops control the stroke, delivering repeatable accuracy for drilling multiple holes of the same depth.
Cast-Iron Construction: Cast-iron construction delivers rugged durability for lasting performance.
Built-In Lamp: Attached lamps enhance visibility, and many provide a flexible neck for adjustable positioning.
Drill Bits: Drill bits are designed for specific applications and materials. Masonry drill bits are for use with masonry, tile and marble while cobalt bits can handle stainless steel and other hard metals. Installer bits are available in lengths up to 18" and are used to bore into hardened steel and for producing large holes for wire or pipe installation. Brad-point, spade-type and Forstner bits all have a sharp center point with a cutting edge and range in size form just 1/16" to more than 3". They are designed for use on wood and other soft materials.
Different materials and holes require different bits. Make sure you have the right ones for all of your intended applications.
Pick up vises to safely secure your workpieces to the table while using your drill press.
Mortising accessories allow you to make rectangular holes with your drill press.