Drill Press Comparison
|RPM||530 – 3,100||620 – 3,100||570 – 3,050||750 – 3,140||0 – 8,500||620 – 3,100||250 – 3,050||170 – 3,000||0 – 8,500||620 – 3,100|
| Left Tilt
| Right Tilt
|11.50 x 16.50||10.00 x 12.00||20.00 x 15.00||6.50 x 6.50||6.75 x 6.75||4.75 x 4.75||12.36 x 12.36||20.00 x 14.00||6.75 x 6.75||6.25 x 6.25|
Drill Press Buying Guide
What is a Drill Press?
Designed originally for metalworking trades, the drill press today is one of the most versatile tools you can find in the shop, allowing you to use cutting tools, jigs, and attachments that make this device a powerhouse. When you find a high quality drill press, it will not only drill into metal, but also cut into wood and accomplish other woodworking operations like sanding and mortising. Some even say that after a table saw, a drill press is clearly the second most important piece of equipment you can have in the average home workshop.
With all these benefits and features, you can clearly see why it’s time to own a drill press for yourself. However, there are a lot to choose from out there, and you need to be armed with facts before you make your purchase. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll highlight what you want to look for when searching for the perfect drill press, so you can narrow down the competition and find that press that is just right for you.
Construction and Sizes
All conventional drill presses consist of three main parts: a base, column, table and head. The base is designed to support the machine, and usually features pre-drilled holes for fastening the drill press to the floor or to a bench. The column is usually made of steel, and is meant to hold the table and head. It is fastened securely to the base. Keep in mind that the length of the column determines if the drill press is a bench model or a floor model. You’ll find that floor models feature a height range of 66 to 75 inches, while a bench model ranges from 23 to 48 inches.
- The Table: You’ll find on a drill press that the table is clamped to the column and can be moved to various points between the head and the base. You’ll find on the table there are slots to aid in clamping and holding fixtures for workpieces. There will be a central hole through the table, and some can be even tilted to various angles, or from right to left. There are some models whose tables can only be used in a fixed position. Some models will feature an auxiliary table made of plywood or particleboard which can be fastened to the regular drill press table, and if your press doesn’t come with this, you can easily get one custom made in the shop.
- The Head: ‘Head’ is the term that is used to designate the entire working mechanism that is attached to the upper part of the column. The most essential component of the head is the spindle, which revolves in a vertical position and is housed at each end of a movable sleeve, which is known as the quill. Since the quill carries the spindle, it is moved downward via a simple rack-and-pinion gearing which is worked by a feed lever. Once the feed handle is released, the quill then returns to its normal up position via a spring. It’s possible to lock the quill and preset the depth to which the quill can travel, dependent upon the kind of hole you’re looking to make. You’ll find that most quills have a stroke of 2 to 3-1/4 inches in the majority of home workshop models.
- Key Chuck: You’ll find that a typical drill press has a 1/2 inch capacity geared chuck with a key. This is here to provide you with the best grip onto your work. This is an accessory, and not all models have it, but it’s good to look out for. The majority of drill press accessories will fit directly into the geared chuck.
- The Motor: A stepped-cone pulley or pulley connected by the V-belt will drive the spindle. You’ll find that the motor is bolted to a plate on the head casting in the rear of the column. In terms of average range of speed, you’re looking at 250 to about 3,000 revolutions per minute, or RPMs. The motor shaft of your drill press stands vertically, so a sealed ball-bearing motor is used as a power unit. For your everyday needs, the average 1/4 or 3/4 horsepower motor will get the job done.
You can determine the capacity or size of your drill press by the distance from the center of the chuck to the front of the column. This distance is usually expressed in terms of diameter. Take for example: a 16-1/2 inch drill press will drill you a hole through the center of a round workpiece that is also 16-1/2 inches in diameter. So this means that the distance from the center of the chuck to the very front of the column is exactly half of this, or 8-1/4 inches. Usually drill presses that are designed for home use fall within a range of 8 to 17 inches.
10 Features to Look Out For
You’re going to discover that a drill press is one of the most versatile tools that you can own, and when looking for the right press for you it’s important to find a model that has the qualities and operating features that allow you to get the most out of your power tool. Here are some of the most important features that you can find when seeking to add a drill press to your home workshop.
- Solid Construction: Be sure that the drill press that you seek is solidly constructed so that you can enjoy a long life and prolonged precision. Solid construction is one of the most important qualities you can have in a drill press.
- Ribbing: Be sure that the table and base of your drill press are ribbed for the ultimate in strength and rigidity. You also want to look for a base that is slotted, with slats and ledges on the sides for easily clamping your work. This will ensure the ultimate in safety and convenience.
- Flat Table: You want to find a table that is ground flat for the most accuracy in your work. Also look for a base with a flat surface to hold larger workpieces in place. You want to be easily able to adjust your table up and down, left and right, which allows you to adapt to different drilling situations.
- Cast Iron Head: When you find a drill press with a cast iron head you’ll enjoy excellent support and protection for all parts of the drill press. This particularly applies to the motor, quill and pinion shaft.
- Key Chuck: You absolutely want to find a drill press that has a chuck that can either be tightened by a wrench or key instead of by hand. This chuck should have a 1/2 inch capacity to accommodate various sized bits and accessories. There are some drills that have a taper-mounted chuck, and this practically eliminates run-out so you can be guaranteed accurate drilling. There are some chucks that will also have a self-ejecting key to ensure the key will not be left in the chuck by accident.
- Depth-Adjustment Gauge: This will allow you to drill many holes at the same depth as your original hole. If you want to eliminate the guesswork, then this is a good feature to have, allowing you precise, accurate drilling.
- Adjustable Motor Bracket Support: Your motor bracket support should definitely be adjustable, and it should also be sturdily constructed to best support the motor, and at the same time easily movable for proper belt tension.
- Various Speeds: Look for a press that has various speeds to choose from for drilling metal, wood, plastic, glass, and ceramics. You can even find a triple pulley arrangement to easily select 12 different speeds ranging from 250 rpm to 3,000 rpm.
- Replacement and Services: It’s always important to find a drill press that will provide you with proper replacement parts and services should you need it.
- Accessories: Look for a manufacturer that offers a full selection of accessories that work in conjunction with your drill press. This will mean that you won’t have to use makeshift arrangements to get the most out of your tool. The manufacturer should include a complete list of the possible accessories that you can have.
When you purchase proper accessories for your drill press, it allows you to do more jobs, and make these jobs easier and faster. Below are listed some of the most common accessories available for drill presses.
- Sanding Drums and Abrasive Sleeves: It’s possible to sand on curved surfaces with a drill press when you have a sanding drum. You’ll find various sizes of sanding drums on the market, as well as aluminum oxide-coated sleeves for metal and garnet-coated sanding sleeves that are designed for wood. All of these can be found in different grits and sizes to accommodate various drums.
- Disk Sanding: It’s also possible to achieve disk sanding with your drill press. This is designed mostly for portable drill work, and the typical 1/4 inch shank-arbor adapter will fit a standard drill press geared chuck, while the 5 inch rubber backing pad can easily be attached to the adapter with the use of a screw and washer. There are various grades of sanding paper that you can install on the pad. It should be noted that you should not use a backing pad that is larger than 5 inches on any standard drill press.
- Buffing Wheels and Polishing Bonnets: Look for buffing wheels and polishing bonnets that are 5 inches or less. Some other accessories that can also be used include rotary rasps, rotary files, and a chuck with a flexible shaft. You’ll find that the rotary rasps are beneficial for fast wood removal, shaping, and slotting. It’s also possible to use rotary files for filing metals, removing burrs and scale, elongating slots and holes, light milling, and various other metal finishing operations. A flexible shaft will allow you to use the drill press as a power source to sand, drill, and shape anywhere within reach of the shaft. Flexible shafts are usually about 40 inches in length.
- Vises and Hold Downs: When you’re wanting to drill small workpieces with your drill press, you can either hold the piece in the press vise or clamp the work to the table. This is the more secure option. C-clamps are wonderful for holding-down small, flat pieces, and often for securing long and unwieldy pieces to the table.
- Lamp Attachment: You’ll find that a lamp attachment is convenient for providing sufficient light on your work at all times. This enhances safety and ease of use.
It’s important to have a brief discussion about the drill press table, as this is important for the overall performance of your drill press. Most home shop presses made today will have a tilting work table. These tables can often be tilted by loosening a nut located under the table. There will also be a pin fitting through corresponding holes to provide a good stop at horizontal and vertical angles.
If you’re looking for a floor drill press, you’ll find that it allows you to adjust to the height of your workpiece. In this case, you want a table that can quickly be setup for your drilling work. When you want to speed table setup, you definitely want to find a rack and pinion table assembly. Simply unlock the table bracket lock and turn the handle until you get the table into the proper position, and then tighten the table bracket lock.
Lastly, an important table characteristic is being able to swing left or right, and around, for the proper drilling alignment. Sometimes you’ll have to completely swing the table out of the way and you should be able to do this with ease by loosening the table bracket lock and rotating the table.
Most people don’t realize that a drill press is one of the most versatile tools that you can have in your home shop. It performs a number of functions, and with the right accessories, you’re going to be amazed at how much you can accomplish by owning one of these amazing power tools. When you’re ready to take your home woodworking to a whole new level, then it is time for you to purchase a drill press. It can be slightly overwhelming when you’re on the market for a drill press, as there are so many out there to choose from. The above buyer’s guide is intended to give you a head start on the road to finding the right press for you. Once you’re armed with knowledge, you’ll be much better equipped to find a press that is just perfect.
Consider what size of press you want, how much you want to spend, and what you will be using your press for. Answering these questions will guide you on the path. It’s always suggested that after you purchase a drill press you fully read all the instructions so you know how to properly use and maintain the tool. Whether you choose one of the top rated drill presses above, or if you find another one that better suits your needs, you’re going to see that work in your home shop is easier and more efficient than ever.
- Jet Tools: http://www.jettools.com/us/en/p/12-drill-press-w-dro/707300
- Rockwell: https://www.rockwelltools.com/en-US/
- Skil: http://www.skiltools.com/Pages/Home.aspx