drill press can be a very versatile tool, and if one has caught your interest you might have a few questions about them. The good news is that getting one will probably change the way you think about your craft and open your mind up to a new world of possibilities. The bad news? There are so many to choose from! This article will take you through everything you need to know about purchasing the best woodworking drill press.
Table of Content
- 1 Finding the Best Floor Standing Drill Press
- 2 Which Drill Press Is Right for You?
- 3 What to Look for When Buying a Drill Press
- 4 Bench Drill Press versus Floor Drill Press
- 5 Safety Precautions When Operating a Drill Press
- 6 Helpful Tips and Tricks for Using a Drill Press
- 7 Wrapping Your Head Around Everything
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
Finding the Best Floor Standing Drill Press
So, you want to drill holes in wood. The only problem is that you are unsure as to what the best tool for the job is, and your trusty handheld drill just will not cut it this time. In this case, a floor-mounted drill press might be exactly what you need to start making the holes you so crave, so we have devised a list of things you should know before giving in to your hardware buying impulses.
Remember, drill presses come in all shapes and sizes. For the sake of simplicity, we will be looking at floor-mounted drill presses specifically – how they work, where they can be found, what they do, and ultimately how they can benefit you.
What Is a Floor Standing Drill Press?
If you have ever been to a lumber yard, you have probably seen one of those massive wood saws. A floor-standing drill is much the same in its design, although instead of a wood saw, it has a drill unit that can be moved up or down on a Y-axis. The unit has a table and chuck attached to it that can be used to secure your workpiece, and this can be moved back and forth on an X-axis and even up and down, depending on your need.
These machines are typically used for large-scale manufacturing and high-volume output environments; however, they do come in smaller varieties for the avid craftsman and/or small business owner. These drill presses are mounted to the floor to ensure the stability and maneuverability of larger workpieces that would otherwise be challenging to manipulate, while also allowing you ample power and control over your immediate work environment.
Depending on the size and design of the press you choose to buy, installation can be challenging. Because of the semi-permanent nature of the drill press, it does require a substantial amount of space and is not easy to move around. Therefore, a floor-mounted drill press might not be the best option if mobility is important in your craft.
Where Is a Floor Mounted Drill Press Used?
You do not need to be a genius to see how versatile these machines are, so you probably won’t be surprised to hear that they are typically used in environments that require high output and precision drilling. Typically, you can find them in most upholstery businesses, furniture manufacturing warehouses, woodwork emporiums, mechanical workshops, and even in factories that manufacture plastic goods.
What Are They Used On?
If you thought that these machines could only be used to tap and drill holes in wood, you are definitely not alone. Although they are typically used to manipulate wood for furniture, you can also use a drill press to design cutouts for specially commissioned construction projects such as countertops, light fixtures, door frames, and ceiling trims.
You might like to know that these machines can also be used to drill holes through metal for applications like modifying machine parts, bearings, and door hinges, and can even be used to tap threaded holes into objects for bolts and screws.
What Else Are They Capable Of?
One of the lesser-known applications for floor-mounted drill presses is that of modifying plastic. In some cases, they can be fitted with multiple spindles that can penetrate an object simultaneously instead of you having to raise and lower the chuck to drill each hole. As you can see, there are various materials that can be manipulated with a floor-mounted drill press and its applications are virtually limitless.
Advantages of Using a Floor-Mounted Drill Press
So, you know this tool can be used to drill through most commonly sold materials, but then again, so can your trusty handheld drill, right? Well, you’re not wrong; your old faithful has undoubtedly helped you hang countless curtain rails, pictures, key holders, and even secure the odd kitchen shelf here and there. However, there is one fatal flaw in your trustworthy hand drill that simply cannot be overlooked, and that flaw is (without prejudice)…you.
As the saying goes, there are very seldomly machine errors, mostly human errors. Your hand drill might be powerful and designed to drill through virtually anything you point it at, but your human tendencies very likely may the cause of certain mishaps. This is because the drill does not get tired, its eyes do not get strained, and its tendons don’t cramp when they have been stuck in one position for a long period of time.
At the end of the day, the accuracy, depth, and fluidity of the hole you are drilling are entirely dependent on your hands and eyesight, but with a floor-mounted drill, this is not the case.
Control and Accuracy
A floor-mounted drill not only gives you complete control and accuracy over the drill bit, but also allows you to secure, offset, and center your workpiece. We mentioned previously that the floor-mounted drill is not exactly what you would call portable, but as a trade-off, it provides unparalleled precision and perfect drilling depth with every single plunge. Other benefits include an adjustable three-tooth chuck and a removable spindle that can be used to equip attachments such as circular cutting blades, external thread dies, and internal thread taps.
Which Drill Press Is Right for You?
There can be a lot to consider when looking for a floor-mounted drill press. Since space comes at a premium these days, size is a big factor in the decision-making process. This means that choosing a drill that suits your needs, price range, and available space can be tricky. Fortunately, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with the top three floor-mounted drill presses that money can buy!
Best Overall: WEN Variable Speed Drill Press
There are some impressive drill presses out there with features that would rival the latest iPhone, and even though this box of dynamite from WEN may not take pictures in 4K, it has other features that will leave very little to be desired. Making a run for arguably the best floor drill press on the market at the moment, this product by WEN offers a variety of creature comforts that its competitors do not, giving it a super-premium feel for a reasonable price.
Overlooking the rouged finish, the WEN drill press makes its argument for the best floor drill press on this list by offering a revolutions-per-minute (rpm) range from 580 rpm all the way up to a staggering 3200 rpm, giving you the optimum drilling speed at all times. If accuracy is something that makes you tick, this drill press also comes standard with a laser-guided spindle and a 45-degree cast-iron adjustable table that will accommodate any material you throw at it.
The spoils don’t end there, though. If you are working in an enclosed environment, lighting can often become an issue when trying to set your depth or line up the drill bit with your workpiece. Fortunately, this machine compensates for this with an adjustable lighting unit that can be removed and attached to your liking. Do you feel the need for more? How about a digital RPM readout so that you know exactly how hard you’re pushing your machine at all times?
The guys over at WEN really swung for the fences when they put their hats in the ring for the best floor drill press!
Best Value: SHOP FOX Oscillating Floor Drill Press
Our number two contender for the title of the best floor drill press is that of Shop Fox. Unlike the other drill presses on this list, the Shop Fox has the added benefit of functioning as a sander, a function that it can switch to seamlessly with little to no effort required, making it the second-best drill press for woodworking on this list.
There are other versatile functions provided to you when you choose the Shop Fox, such as the press table that can be manipulated by 90 degrees in either direction. This feature is extremely useful, especially when sanding workpieces that are an awkward shape or have awkward angles which would otherwise be unreachable. Even if this feature is not used for sanding, it can be useful for tapping threaded holes in objects that require a bit more power than your trusty handheld drill can provide. The entirety of its design does lean heavily toward a woodworking drill press.
Overall, this is a great entry-level package, although it might leave much to be desired for those looking to do more robust work. Why? Well, the powerplant of the Fox Shop gets up to roughly 3050 rpm, which is adequate for cutting through most materials but, as we covered previously, high RPMs more often than not indicates quite a noisy machine. This is also the lightest machine on our list which, coupled with the high RMP redline, ends up causing quite a bit of vibration while working.
Despite this, you do have the advantage of being able to relocate it with relative ease, making it a great woodworking drill press.
Most Affordable: BILT HARD Drill Press and Drill Vice
We live in an age of instant gratification. Things are available to us with a click of a button and often at awe-inducing prices, so although we have come a long way since having to haggle with the village carpenter, the age-old saying still rings true. You (almost) always get what you pay for, and nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than with the Bilt Hard drill press unit. Priced to go, this unit offers oodles of power through a motor operating at roughly 6.8 amps and redlining at 3600 rpm.
Reigning in this power is a 16-speed control unit that will have you smiling no matter which material you are facing down. It is also quite sturdily built, featuring a top, table, and base made of cast iron for increased stability at a high RPM. The cast iron base is also equipped with several pre-punched holes that are perfect for semi-permanent mounting to things such as the floor or your workbench. It offers further rudimentary features like its table, which can be manipulated at 45-degree angles.
We did say that you always get what you pay for, although the team over at Bilt Hard did try to sweeten the deal for potential customers by offering a bunch of goodies to entice you. In addition to the unit being battery powered, you also get a woodwork vice, a set of hex keys, a keyed bit chuck, and a 90-day warranty!
Although there are no bells and whistles to mention on this unit, it offers a lot for the entry-level hobbyist or the craftsman on a budget.
What to Look for When Buying a Drill Press
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding which drill press is right for you. As we stated previously, space comes at a premium these days and a floor-mounted drill press can eat up real estate pretty quickly if you don’t know what you are doing. This is just one of many factors to consider when deciding which machine will suit your needs.
The distinctions between needs, want, and practicality can leave even the most experienced craftsman as frustrated as a two-year-old trying to understand why they can’t have the toy they want. It is important to be realistic not only about the space you have available, but also the type of work you will be doing the most.
A floor model drill press is an impressive and useful tool to have in your arsenal, but if all it is going to be doing is standing idle in your workspace for five days out of the week, then you are essentially depriving yourself of perfectly good space, not to mention losing money on quite a big investment (depending on which unit you purchase).
Consider the size of the drill press you have your eyes on versus how often you will really be using it, and ultimately whether you can justify buying it in comparison to something like a bench-mounted press.
We all know that having the right tool for the job is often what separates a good workpiece from a great workpiece. You might love your trusty hand drill and revel in all the adventures the two of you have had together, but every tool has its limitation and when push comes to shove, your beloved sidekick will not be drilling through reinforced steel or re-tapping threads on an engine block.
Considering the average size of your workpieces and the volume of the work you do can go a long way in narrowing down which drill press is right for you. Will you be doing a lot of cutting? How often do you find your current drill setup to be inadequate in accommodating the size of your workpiece? What power output would be best for your needs? Do you need a workbench that can be positioned to 90 degrees or 45 degrees?
Needs versus Luxury
We are sure that you have an idea of what your ideal drill setup would be, but this is not always indicative of what your needs are. As we stated previously, it is important to be realistic about the type of work you do regularly as well as what your skill level and applications are. Once you have these narrowed down, you should then consider things like chuck size, the adjustability of your table, and the power and speed of the machine.
The size of your chuck essentially determines what kind of bits and other attachments you will be able to use on your floor model drill press. Some chucks are highly adjustable and are able to accept a wide variety of tools, however, these can cost more than those that are limited to standard bits, taps, and so forth. You should also keep in mind that presses with keyless chucks will cost a bit more as this is seen as a luxury, although in our opinion, it sure beats pulling your hair out trying to remember where you put your chuck key.
Your drilling table is arguably one of the most important and often overlooked parts of the floor-mounted drill press. A good table often has features to assist in both securing the workpiece and marking where the bit will penetrate, typically with a laser guide. Drill press tables used to be produced in cast iron as a standard in order to ensure sturdiness and therefore had the added benefit of vibration reduction due to the density of the metal. These days, if you are willing to fork out a bit more cash, you can have a table that can tilt all the way from 45 degrees to 90 degrees if you need to drill at an awkward angle.
Power and Speed
Most floor drill press reviews will let you know that the maximum power and speed of your machine will dictate what kind of work you will be able to do with it. However, big power is not always all that it’s cracked up to be and can come with some drawbacks. For instance, drills have small motors, so what they lack in torque they make up for in RPM. The higher the maximum RPM of a drill, the higher the horsepower output, but with a small motor revving to those speeds, it can make for quite a noisy environment.
Consider whether the materials you are working with require a drill with a high RPM, and always keep in mind that your neighbors might not like your new machine as much as you do.
Bench Drill Press versus Floor Drill Press
If you are still unsure as to whether a floor-mounted drill press is a good choice for you, there is no need to panic. If you don’t plan on using a dedicated drilling unit for long or simply do not have the space to accommodate a floor-standing drill press, you always have the option of installing a good old-fashioned bench press. To assess which option is best for you, we have created a list below detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Bench Mounted Drill Press
A bench-mounted drill press is commonly known for being the best drill press for woodworking, particularly for small workpieces such as boutique furniture units and wooden ornaments. These presses are compact, easy to install, and much less expensive than floor-mounted drill presses.
Floor Standing Drill Press
Considering we are this far in, you probably know what the bench-mounted press is up against, but in the interest of being comprehensive (which we pride ourselves on), here are some facts for comparison and some things you might have missed!
Safety Precautions When Operating a Drill Press
Before you get that credit card ready, there are a few drill press safety precautions you should be aware of before you hit “add to cart” online. It is important to remember that any drill press has the potential to be a danger to your hands, fingers, eyes, legs, and torso. Drill press injuries are no joke, so we highly recommend having a look at the information below.
Personal Protective Gear
Wearing the correct protective gear can be the difference between you walking away from operating the drill with a full set of fingers and undamaged eyes. The following personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times when operating a drill press of any kind.
- Regulation protective eyewear (safety goggles)
- An overall or other non-woven torso protection to protect against stray wood/metal shavings
- Steel tipped safety boots to protect your digits from any falling materials
- Regulation safety gloves. Ensure your sleeves are not exposed to prevent them from getting caught by the drill bit/ spindle
- Long hair should always be covered or tied back when operating a drill press
- Make sure that your clothing fits snugly but does not impair your mobility
Standard Operation Safety Practices
It is of the utmost importance that you understand that the forces exerted by a drill press can fatally injure you if you are absent-minded or ignore safety precautions while operating these machines. Below are some basic safety tips that should always be followed while using a drill press.
- Make sure that you know the location of and can reach the drill power button.
- Ensure that you have removed the drill key from the chuck before operating the press.
- Be certain that your workpiece is clamped securely to the table of the drill before beginning.
- Never force a bit into a material. Instead, allow the bit to feed in at its natural pace at the recommended RPM.
- Do not try to slow the spindle or any other moving part down by hand.
- If your workpiece dislodges from the table clamps during the drilling process, stop the press immediately and do not attempt to salvage it.
- Keep your hands away from the workpiece, spindle, chuck, and drive belts during the drilling process.
- Never interact with any moving part while the machine is in operation.
- Do not clean off any of your clothing with compressed air as it could cause stray material to penetrate your skin.
Helpful Tips and Tricks for Using a Drill Press
Depending on your skill level, there are some tips and tricks that can be useful in operating a drill press. Whether you work in mass production or are simply a hobbyist, there are little things you can do to improve both the longevity of your machine and the quality of your work. For your convenience, here are a few things we recommend for upping your drill press game.
- When working with wood or metal, mark your point of penetration with a center punch so the drill bit takes to the material a bit easier.
- When working with metal, use cutting fluid to ensure the longevity of your drill bit. This reduces the heat created in the cutting process and will also reduce the amount of bur!
- Use slower drilling speeds when attempting to penetrate a metal workpiece.
- Always clean your chuck and spindle before starting on another workpiece to ensure optimum output and accuracy.
- When drilling an exceptionally dense material, ensure that you rain the bit every once in a while to clear some of the material. This will reduce the resistance to the drill bit and improve the cutting experience.
- Keep an eye on the RPM of your machine. Going too fast or too slow on initial penetration with certain materials can cause unnecessary pressure on the machine and/or damage your drill bit. Always stick to the recommended RPM.
Wrapping Your Head Around Everything
We have no idea what your state of mind was when you started reading this, but we certainly hope that this article has helped you make a more informed decision regarding what drill press best suits your needs and craft. There are many variables to consider, including space, price, features, performance, power output, and even aesthetics.
So, now that you are armed with all the information you could ever need to know about drill presses, there is nothing stopping you from going out and making the world a slightly better place with some marvelous creations. Remember to choose what suits your needs and your pocket, thoroughly check floor drill press reviews, and always keep safety first!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Make My Drill Press Mobile?
People typically get a floor-mounted drill press because they need something that is a bit more rouged and powerful than a bench-mounted drill. However, there are many sources online that show you how to add a wheeled platform underneath your drill (or build an entire wheeled cabinet around it) in order to make it mobile. This grants you moderate mobility without having to compromise on power, which is an absolute win in our book.
Does a Drill Press Need to Be Mounted to the Floor?
This does depend on what kind of work you will be doing. Drill presses naturally have a high center of gravity, which means that if the top is tilted past a certain point, it can fall over. However, this is highly unlikely. There are advantages to securing your drill press such as vibration reduction and increased stability, but it is nice to have the option to move it to a different spot should the need arise without having to unfasten it.
How Do You Size A Drill Press?
A drill press is measured by way of the swing. Essentially, all you have to do is measure the distance from the center spindle to the end of the main column. Take this measurement and multiply it by two and you will have the swing, which is the engineering measurement term for the size of a given drill press unit.
I was born in 1984 and have been into woodworking since 2005 and woodturning since 2011. Because of my love for wood and woodworking, I started woodhappen.com to teach other enthusiasts about how to finish and seal wood, the best woodworking tools, the different types of wood, and everything else related to wood!