While your basic handheld drill is awesome in its versatility, there are just some things that it can’t do. If you’re planning on drilling holes using a variety of drill bits on various materials at different depths, then nothing beats the precision, power, and capability of a drill press. Of course, like any good tool, a drill press comes in various shapes and sizes. These have a variety of features as well. So, it’s definitely going to take quite a bit of time to filter through the choices available. If you haven’t got the time or the patience to drill, er, dig deeper into the features that make up a fantastic drill press, check out our selection of the best drill presses in the market below.
Top 7 Drill Presses Of 2020 Reviewed
1. WEN 4214Best Drill Press With Laser
The WEN 4214 is a 12-inch drill press that features 2/3 HP motor with a variable speed of 580-3200 RPMS. The spindle or quill travel is 3-1/8″ and has an easy-to-read locking, linear depth gauge. The cast iron worktable measures 9-1/2 x 9-1/2″ and has a rack & pinion height adjustment.
You can also tilt the table up to 45 degrees on both sides. The drill press comes with a 5/8″ keyed chuck & key, a laser, and a table roller extension that extends your workspace up to 17 inches. Other highlights include the LED screen displays that display the current speed of the drill press, a work light, and a speed adjustment lever to make switching speeds convenient.
However, some owners have reported that their LCD display broke which can mean you may end up guessing the speed of the machine at some point. The speed does not go low enough for drilling harder metal with large bits. And when you run it at speeds lower than 1500 RPM, there is a noticeable vibration.
- Includes a laser
- Table roller extension
- Speed adjustment lever
- LCD display may go out
- Not for drilling hard metals with large bits
- Vibrates when speed is lower than 1500 RPM
2. Dremel 220-01
The Dremel 220-01 is a workstation that can be transformed into a drill press. Using it as a tabletop drill press, you can create perpendicular and angled holes up to 90 degrees in 15-degree increments. The Flex Shaft Tool Stand allows you to adjust the height of the drill press from 16 inches to 29 inches. There’s a crow’s nest for storing drill bits, wrenches, and other accessories.
The unit comes with cord management clips and depth markings for the depth stop. To secure the drill press to your table, there are 4 clamping points on the sturdy metal base. This 3-in-1 workstation can also function as a rotary tool holder and a flex-shaft tool stand. However, this is not the most stable of workstations. It’s definitely not for the serious woodworker. But for the price, it can be a good addition to a workshop of a not-so-regular DIYer or hobbyist.
- 3-in-1 workstation
- Depth stop and depth markings
- Crow’s nest for storage
- Not stable enough for precision work
- Not for serious woodworkers
3. WEN 4208Best Drill Press For Home Shop
The WEN 4208 is an 8-inch 5-speed benchtop drill press that comes with a 1/2-inch keyed chuck as well as an onboard key storage (so you never lose it, right?). The range of speed is 740, 1100, 1530, 2100, 3140 RPM. The quill travels up to 2 inches with depth stop markings that are quite easy to read. The motor, in case you’re wondering, has a power output of 1/3 HP.
The worktable measures 6-1/2 x 6-1/2″ and angles up to 45 degrees to the left and right. The height of the table is also adjustable. The cast iron head, table, and base ensure the machine’s durability as well as its stability. The maximum diameter workpiece is 8 inches. However, adjusting the height of the table requires both hands. However, the depth stop collar is plastic and may break easily. The table flexes a bit when you put force on it. This drill press is not designed for heavy use.
- Depth stop markings are easy to read
- Cast iron head, table, and base
- On-board key storage
- Height adjustment requires both hands
- Depth stop collar is plastic
- Not designed for heavy use
4. SKIL 3320-01Best Drill Press For Gunsmith
The SKIL 3320-01 is a 10-inch benchtop drill press that features a 3.2-amp motor, a 1/2-inch keyed chuck, a bump-off switch, and an adjustable depth stop. It comes with 5 different speeds ranging from 570 to 3050 RPM. The table tilts up to 45 degrees to the left and right. And this little machine comes with two beam lasers for precise hole alignment. It has a throat depth of 5 inches.
And the entire machine was pretty easy to assemble. For the money, this is a decent drill press for the average DIYer. However, the belt is hard to adjust when setting the speed and the table has a slight wobble even when tightened down.
- Bump-off switch
- Includes 2 beam lasers
- Easy to assemble
- The table is slightly wobbly
- Hard to adjust the speed
5. Shop Fox W1668Best Drill Press For Wood And Metal
The Shop Fox W1668 is a benchtop drill press that features a 3/4 HP motor with a 13-1/4-inches swing, a 5/8-inch drill chuck, and a 12-speed range of 250 to 3,050 RPM. The quill or spindle travel is 3-1/4-inches and the maximum table tilt is 90 degrees to the left and the right. One of the highlights of this particular drill press is its oscillating feature for sanding jobs.
The table is round with a 12-3/8-inch diameter. Now, this drill is pretty expensive but it works pretty well when drilling plastics, wood, and metals. Assembly is easy and it has a larger speed range than what we’ve reviewed so far. The most common problem with this machine is the height adjustment of the table. The mechanism is a bit clunky. Also, changing the speed is a pain to do. For the price, we kind of expected automatic adjustment and maybe even a laser.
- Oscillating feature
- Large speed range
- Good performance on a variety of materials
- The mechanism for height adjustment is clunky.
- Changing the speed is not easy
- Very expensive
6. Craftsman 12-Inch Bench Drill Press
The Craftsman 12-Inch Bench Drill Press features a 3.2-amp motor with five operating speeds ranging from 620 – 3100 RPM. The rack & pinion table elevation system makes height adjustment a breeze. And the quick belt tension and release makes changing the speed a lot easier. The drill press comes with a 1/2″ keyed chuck which makes it compatible with a lot of drill bits and sanding drums.
For extra precision, the Craftsman comes with a steel fence to help guide your workpiece, a working LED light so you can work in the dark and a laser light system for better accuracy. There are also insert mounts to increase the stability. However, we’d have loved it even more if there were measurement marks on the fence. And you’ll need to get AA batteries if you want to use the laser which uses up said batteries within 30 minutes of use.
- Working LED light
- Laser included
- Steel fence
- AA batteries required
- No measurements marked on the steel fence
7. JET 354170/JDP-20MF
The JDP-20MF is a 20-inch floor drill press that features a powerful 1.5 HP motor. The worktable raises and lowers smoothly with the turn of a crank. It also tilts up to 45 degrees on each side. The range of speed is from 150-4200 rpm. And the drill press comes with a built-in work light, a 3/4-inch chuck, and the chuck key. The throat depth is 29-1/8 inches while the table size is 18-1/2 inches by 16 inches.
The weight capacity of the work table is 80 pounds. Now, this is a really heavy duty tool and will perform as expected. However, installation is not easy and the instructions were of no help at all. It does vibrate at the highest speeds. And the machine is made in China which could possibly account for the shipping problems encountered by several of the buyers.
- Wide range of speed
- Built-in work light
- 1.5 HP motor
- Not easy to assemble
- Vibrates at highest speeds
- Made in China
How to Choose the Best Drill Press: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Now, most workshops will typically have the hammer, the saw, and the handheld drill. But if your projects require varying drill speeds, sizes, and depths, you’re going to need something more than just your good ole power drill. You’re going to need a drill press. A drill press not only provides you more accuracy, power, and depth, it also gives you the ability to drill both straight and angled holes… on purpose.
This makes a drill press one of the most essential tools for woodworking, whether your an amateur or a pro. This tool even allows you to drill holes in metal and plastic. However, not all drill presses are equal. These tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes with numerous different features to boot. Choosing one is going to take some time and a whole lot of inspection. If you’re in the market for a drill press, you’re going to need help. And this buying guide should do just that.
What is a Drill Press?
While a drill press can vary from one model to another, there are some components that are basic to them all. This tool typically has an electric motor which is attached to a gearbox. Inside that box will be two sets of stepped pulleys with a v-belt running between them.
The number of speeds available will depend on the number of steps in the pulley. The v-belt will transfer the power to the quill which is a rotating spindle where the drill chuck is attached to. There’s a handle on the side of the machine that raises and lowers the chuck. It can also set the maximum or stop depth of the drill.
The drill head (everything we’ve mentioned so far) is supported by a steel column. The height of the column will vary per model as well as the type of drill press – floor type or benchtop. There’s a large base, often made of cast iron, for stability. At the side of the column is a gear rack where a table will be clamped on. A handle on the table will enable you to raise or lower it.
What are the Specifications?
Motor and Gearbox
When it comes to drilling presses, the horsepower of the machine isn’t going to matter much. Anything between 1/3 HP and 3/4 HP is going to be powerful enough to drive your drill bits through a variety of materials.
What’s the important spec here is the number of gears in the machine? This is because it directly affects the speed range available. When you’re drilling a hole, the size of the drill and the material you’re going to be drilling into will require a specific type of speed to produce the best result. For example, to drill a 3/8-inch hole in maple, you should use 1,500 RPM but if you were to do the same sized hole in a piece of acrylic, you’ll need 2,000 RPM.
The most basic drill presses will have 5 gears and speed ranging between 700 to 3000 RPM. More expensive drill presses will feature 16 gears and a higher range, possibly starting at 150 RPM with more increments in between. The top speed in most, if not all, models is 3000 RPM.
Most tables in drill presses are small which is probably why a lot of woodworkers will “install” one of their own. It’s typical that the table will be somewhere between 6 square inches to 8 square inches. While this is sufficient for a lot of jobs, it’s not ideal for long pieces.
And some professionals just prefer a larger sized table for stability and space. Some manufacturers do offer bigger tables so you may want to look out for those. Take note that these tables can be tilted at an angle (45 degrees to the left and to the right) to allow you to drill holes at an angle. Some will even tilt the table forward for creating compound angles. The Dremel 220-01, for example, can tilt horizontally up to 90 degrees.
The quill, as we’ve already mentioned, is the part of the drill press that holds the chuck. Now, in a drill press, the quill travels up and down. The distance that it moves is called the quill stroke or the quill travel.
This is an important spec to look at because it lets you know how deep a hole your drill press can make. This also lets you know how thick of a material your drill press can handle. Most entry-level drill presses like the WEN 4208 have a quill stroke of 2 inches or more while professional-grade models can travel a distance of 6 inches or more.
You’ll often see drill presses called a certain size. For example, an 8-inch drill press or a 14-inch drill press. Now, this measurement does not refer to the size of the machine. What this measurement refers to is the maximum-diameter workpiece or the workpiece capacity. It is double the distance between the steel column of the drill press to the bit. For example, an 8-inch drill press can drill a hole in the middle of a piece of material that measures 8 x 8 inches.
Here’s a different perspective: divide the maximum diameter workpiece by two and you’ll get the throat depth. The throat depth is how far the column is to the chuck which is exactly how far you can drill a hole into a piece of material if you back it all the way into the column. So, an 8-inch drill press will have a throat depth of 4 inches.
There are no keyless chucks in drill presses. This is because a keyed chuck allows you to really tighten the drill bit into the chuck. Because of the amount of force that a drill press can produce, having a keyed chuck will provide you with a measure of safety. It won’t be coming undone unless you purposefully do so. And you won’t have to worry about the drill bit turning inside the chuck instead of drilling a hole into the material.
Generally, there are two sizes available – 1/2″ and 5/8″. This does not indicate the maximum drill size, Instead, it allows you to see the maximum drill shank that can fit into the chuck. Most home workshops will only require a 1/2-inch chuck size since a lot of the drill bits used by DIYers will fit that size.
However, professionals may require a bigger chunk size due to certain tools that have a 5/8-inch shank such as mortising chisels. When you shop for a drill press, you’ll need to make sure that the drilling bits you intend to use will fit in the chuck of the drill press you’re intending to buy. The WEN 4214, for example, is fit for professionals with its chuck size measuring ⅝”.
Any Other Considerations?
While the specifications we’ve just discussed are a priority, you might want to look at some features that add a lot of value to any basic drill press.
- If you want a quieter operation and a more efficient use of electricity (consumes less electricity), look for a brushless motor. As an added bonus, brushless motors are more durable.
- Check if the drill press has a depth stop for the quill. This allows you to easily create multiple holes of the same depth.
- Variable speed selection can be a pain, requiring you to open the gearbox and move the belt into a different position. There are some models like the WEN 4214 that feature a lever or a dial that allows you to change speed. While this is definitely easier, it also comes with a higher price tag.
- If you really prize accuracy above all things, you might be interested in a drill press that features laser guidance like the SKIL 3320-01. The lasers (there are two of them) will project onto your workpiece, showing you the exact spot where you’re going to be drilling a hole. This is very convenient for drilling the same hole into a great number of pieces where the need for speed and precision is high. However, you’ll need to make sure that the lasers are properly calibrated which requires you to check them regularly.
Before You Buy That Drill Press…
When choosing a drill press, the priority is placed on its performance. And it should because you’re going to be using it in a variety of projects. What’s the point of buying one that won’t be able to do what you want it to do? However, let’s not overlook one almost as important feature – size.
Drill presses aren’t small machines. Even an 8-inch benchtop drill press is going to take up valuable space in your workshop. The higher the price tag usually means the bigger the drill press. Floor-standing models will offer the largest capacities while taking up the most space. Whichever drill press you end up choosing, make sure that there’s enough space in your workshop or garage to accommodate it. That includes the amount of space you’ll need to operate the machine easily and comfortably.