As any weekend DIYer knows, a hand drill is one of the most useful tools on the planet. However, there are times when you need more precision or drilling power than a hand drill is capable of providing. In these cases, the best drill press offers spot-on precision and all the torque you need to drill plastics, wood, or metal. However, in order to make sure your drill press meets your needs, you should consider components that impact functionality, versatility, and accuracy.
Best Drill Press Mini Guide
Simply put, the size of the chuck represents the size of the largest drill bit the press can accommodate. Many drill presses will handle a 3/8-inch bit. However, sometimes, you need a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch drill bit. In these cases, look for a chuck with a 1/2-inch capability. For larger bits, you will need to purchase bits with 1/2-inch shanks that will fit in the press.
Height versus drilling depth
The height, measured in inches, represents the widest material that will fit in the drill. Drilling depth represents how far into that material you can drill. A 10-inch drill press does not mean you can drill right through 10 inches of material, but you can drill into it. Usually, drills have drilling depths 2 inches and 6 inches.
The speed of the drill bit as it is spinning enables the bit to drill through various materials. Some harder materials require higher speeds. Some softer materials require slower speeds. However, speed also impacts the type of drill bit you are using. Because of the vast number of variables involved when drilling, drill presses often come with variable speeds. For the best results, you should select a drill press capable of drilling between 250 rounds per minute (rpm) and 3,000 rpm.
Because so many jobs require so many custom drill solutions, look for a drill press capable of drilling at angles. You should also ensure the lock mechanism locks the press securely into position and that the calipers are precise–especially for metal.
As indicated above, accuracy counts. Eye-balling it, as they say, will cause your holes to not align, and your project will suffer. As such, look for a press with a laser guide. Additionally, look for one that allows you to clamp the material into place.
Table top versus standing
A table-top press is much more portable than a standing press. However, for proper security, stability, and safety, you will need to bolt it to the table. A standing press offers more horsepower (hp), so you can drill a wider range of materials.
For small projects, a .5 hp drill press will suffice for any project you might encounter. If you are using a large, 1/2-inch drill bit or larger, look for a press with .75 hp or 1 hp. For larger projects that require a lot of metal or hardwood drilling or for jobs requiring very large bits, look for a press of 1 hp or higher.
Best Drill Press Reviews
This 8-inch press by WEN offers five variable speeds, so you can drill through a variety of materials with an equal variety of drill bits without fear of burning the material or bluing the bit. At 1/3 hp, the motor delivers plenty of power for smaller jobs, and the drill table measures 6.5-inches square, allowing plenty of room to secure your material.
In terms of versatility, the work table adjusts in angles up to 45 degrees, allowing you to drill a variety of corners and dowel holes.
The base is cast iron, so you have plenty of weight and stability. For increased stability, there are two bolt holes that you can use to bolt the press to your work table.
The press comes with a chuck key, and a storage clasp that connects to the top edge of the press, ensuring you always know where to find the chuck key.
- cast-iron base
- work table tilts up to 45 degrees
- chuck-key storage
- 1/2-inch bit capacity
- five speeds
- no laser sight
Much like its little brother, the 4208, the 4212 offers a 1/2-inch keyed chuck and cast-iron base. You can set the speed anywhere between 530 rpm and 3,100 rpm, ensuring you have the precise speed necessary for your bit and material. The work table tilts to 45 degrees, and you can bolt it to your table via the two bolt holes in the base.
Additional features include a laser sight for precise accuracy. All you have to do is turn on the laser guide, mark your material, and align the laser to the mark. Doing so ensures each and every drill hole aligns. The digital speed readout allows you to know exactly what speed your bit is spinning at, and the spindle raises and lowers according to the depth-adjustment guide. The depth-adjustment guide allows you to set the drill depth, so you know you will never drill too deeply.
- adjustable work table
- cast-iron base
- laser guide
- digital-speed readout
- variable speed drill
- overall weight requires two people to install and setup
The Jet J-2530 offers 3/4 hp, making it powerful enough to provide both the speed and torque you require to drill through just about any material. For durability, the head casting permanently lubricates the ball bearings.
The 15-inch capacity of this press allows you to drill into the widest materials, and the press can accommodate bits up to 5/8 inches. Finally, the quill is extra-wide, allowing for a more accurate drilling process.
- 15-inch capacity
- 3/4 hp
- large quill
- no laser guidance system
- base not entirely cast iron
The Dremel 220-01 is a Dremel-powered drill press designed to provide maximum versatility with all the drilling power required for crafts and small projects. For instance, the Dremel press will drill up to 2 inches, and it is compatible with a variety of standard Dremel bits. Because the bits are interchangeable and varied, you can do such things as sand, grind, or buff with this drill press.
The press, itself, articulates, so you can rotate and adjust the bit to the precise position that best suits your project. If you need to sand or buff at an angle, you can, for instance, rotate to 45 degrees. However, if you need a level sanding station, you can swap the drill bit for a sanding bit, articulate the press to 90 degrees, and sand your project to smooth perfection.
Finally, for even more versatility, you can set the height between 16 and 29 inches, making it possible for people of various heights to work comfortably.
- adjustable height
- does not accept larger bits
As the name implies, the Delta 18-900L is an 18-inch drill press. With such a massive height capability, you can drill just about any odd-sized object. The 6-inch quill stroke offers deep drilling, and at 3/4 hp, the motor will deliver all the power you need to drill at such depths.
For anyone needing a floor-based drill press, the Delta 18-900L is a solid press that will deliver up to 16 speeds, making it perfect for any material. Because you do not want your bit to seize or snap inside the material, this press also offers auto-adjusting belts that ensure you have all the power for hard materials. Finally, the work table is extra large, providing you a comfortable, stable work space for over-sized projects.
The 5-year warranty ensures protection of your investment, and the twin laser offers redundant lasers for improved accuracy. Because of the dual lasers, this press is perfect for machining-grade drilling that requires precise location of the holes. Additionally, the micro-stop depth guide ensures you drill to the desired depth–every time. As such, this press allows for quick, repeated drilling.
For extra comfort and precision, the drill comes equipped with an adjustable work light that provides targeted light and eliminates shadows on the location you need to see.
- work light
- 5-year warranty
- 6-inch drill depth
- over-sized work table
- 3/4 hp motor
- might be too heavy and large for casual users
This drill press by NOVA is a workhorse. At 1.75 hp, it delivers all the horsepower you need for cast iron, steel, or a variety of dense hardwoods like maple.
The speed ranges from 50 rpm to 5,000 rpm, ensuring it will go slowly enough to not burn your material and fast enough for the hardest materials you can find.
Additional features include software guidance that allows you to set the speed and depth and displays the drill specifications. After you are done drilling, you can zero the press with just a push of a button. The software allows you to also designate the type of drill bit, and the speed chart helps pick the precise, optimum speed, ensuring your first try at drill sensitive material is the only try you need. Because of its power, speed, and precision, it even works for glass.
Finally, the work table measures a whopping 16 inches, allowing you to secure mid-sized to large objects without any part of your project overhanging the table.
- powerful motor
- capable of drilling glass
- computer-aided settings and guidance
- Because it is a floor press, jobs requiring repeated drills might not be comfortable for very tall users.
For demanding, mid-sized projects, the Shop Fox W1680 provides a full horsepower with all the stability you need in a floor-mounted drill press. It can accommodate 5/8-inch bits, and it plugs in into a standard 110-volt socket.
In terms of versatility, it is difficult to beat the W1680. For instance, it allows you to adjust the bit within a 31.5-inch range, making it possible to find a suitable drill position for odd jobs. The 14-inch work table tilts up to 90 degrees. Additionally, the 17-inch press allows you to successfully drill into the thickest of objects.
- versatile table adjustment
- 17-inch material handling capability
- work table tilts up to 90 degrees
- only 1 hp
This bench-mounted drill press offers a drill capability into materials as thick as 10 inches. For precision, it offers X-mark laser guidance, and at 2/3 hp, the motor is more than sufficient for medium drill jobs.
- Tools are provided for assembly, and the beveling station can allow you to adjust your material at 45 degrees.
- 10-inch press
- X-mark laser guidance
- upper range only 2800 rpm
- some assembly required
The WEN 4214 offers 12 inches of drill capacity, and the variable speeds ensure you have an acceptable range from which to choose when drilling hardwoods or metals.
The LED readout displays the speed of the drill press, and the 9.5-inch work table is larger than most every other bench press. However, for longer jobs, the table also offers extensions that will help keep your material level and secure.
For precision, the X-pattern laser allows for spot-on guidance, important for jobs requiring micro holes and small bits. Additionally, the rotary depth guide helps you dial the drill depth.
- large bench drill press
- 12-inch capacity
- X-pattern laser
- variable speeds
- no automated software system
Of course, you sometimes need a drill press capable of drilling into very thick items. For these jobs, the JET 354170 offers 20-inch capacity. Additionally, it offers variable speeds between 150 rpm and 4,200 rpm. At 1.5 hp, the motor delivers enough torque for demanding hardwoods and metal, and the 2-year warranty ensures you have plenty of financial protection for your investment.
- Extras include a work light and a chuck key.
- large capacity
- no software system