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A drill press is one of the most essential tools in both a professional shop and a home workshop. They make drilling multiple holes a quick and precise science, which will help you to get more done in less time. But not all drill presses are the same. Some models are made for wood, while others are for plastics. If you intend to drill metal, then you need the best drill press for metal in your shop, since all of the others won’t have the necessary power.
There is a lot to consider when you are looking for a new drill press to use on metal. The first thing you need to think about is the power of the motor. From there, you need to decide on the number of speeds and the speed range. Finally, you should look for a press that has the proper weight for the work you wish to accomplish.
If that all sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry! We have done all of the hard work for you. When we were compiling this article to help you find the best drill press for metal possible, we spent hundreds of hours reading through thousands of user reviews. We then picked the best of the best and compiled our comprehensive quick reference list and our in-depth reviews. If you are not quite ready to decide upon your new drill, then be sure to check out our buyer’s guide, which will detail everything you need to know to find the perfect drill for your needs.
If you are in the market for the best drill press for metal, then you absolutely need to take a look at the Nova 5800 Voyager. First of all, it has the most powerful motor on the market today. It can crank out 2 HP, providing that you wire it for 220V, which can provide you with a huge range of drilling speeds. This can go as low as 50 RPM for thick metal or all the way up to 5500 RPM if you are working in a thinner material.
While all of this power is awesome, a drill press cannot just plow through whatever material you are working on. If you do that, you are bound to mar your work. Thankfully, this drill press allows for a soft start to help keep your drilling under control. It also has an incredibly smooth operation, thanks in part to its direct drive system.
This is also one of the easiest to set drill presses. Thanks in part to an easy to read display, you can quickly and automatically select the speed with which you wish to operate. It even has a handy material guide that will help you select the correct speed every time.
The Nova is an extremely heavy-duty piece of machinery. Once you have it placed in your workshop, you won’t be able to move it again without some difficulty. Thankfully, this also helps to provide a ton of stability no matter how fast it is spinning or the kind of material you are working on. This helps to make it an incredibly stable and accurate drill press.
While this press is certainly not as powerful as the Nova, it is no slouch either. It features a 1.5 HP motor that can provide up to 4200 RPM. It can also be dialed down to 150 RPM, which will allow you to drill through pretty much any material you want to, no matter if it is metal or wood.
This is, unfortunately, one of the harder to assemble drill presses out there. This is partly because it is so heavy. Thankfully, once it has been assembled, the drill works extremely well. The only drawback for this model is the depth gauge, which is really hard to use accurately. The motor on this drill comes with a quick adjustment motor, which will give you the ability to switch spindle speed really quickly. This speed change can be carried out completely tool-free, which is another big time saver.
One of the best features for this drill press is its larger than average table. The table helps to make this a great choice for large-scale projects. It can also rotate all the way up to 45 degrees in either direction. This makes doing any angled drilling on your projects very simple.
The table is very easy to adjust. This is because of the quick release clamp, which doesn’t require a ton of pressure to be moved. The table has a high capacity, as it can hold all the way up to 80 lbs. This, in addition to its large size, helps to make this a great drill press for larger size projects.
While most drill presses claim to be heavy-duty, this model certainly backs it up. First of all, it is an extremely heavy machine, weighing in at a whopping 364 lbs. If you decide to purchase this drill press, be sure that you have a spot set aside for it, because once you get it there, you won’t be moving it any time soon. This extra weight does come in handy, however, as it makes this one of the steadiest presses you can buy.
Part of the reason that this is such a heavy-duty piece of machinery is the top quality materials that it is made out of. There are no plastic pieces on it, aside from the spindle guard. This makes it a highly durable drill press that should last through pretty much any job that you have in mind. It also has a large 1.5 HP motor, which adds to the overall weight. This powerful motor will give you a good size speed range, however, so it is well worth the extra weight.
The only downside to this durable construction is that some parts are not that easy to adjust. The chuck, for instance, is sometimes difficult to tighten and loosen. While this helps to make the bit more secure during operation, it is a pain when you are ready to switch to a new bit. The table is also somewhat difficult to adjust. Once you have it in the proper place, it is very secure, but it would be nice if it were easier to move up and down.
Usually, when you think of a drill press for metal, you are going to think of a floor model. While these heavier drills are great because of their power and stability, that doesn’t mean that a smaller model won’t work.
This drill, which is made by Rockwell, is small enough to fit on a benchtop, and light enough to be moved around your shop easily. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t powerful enough to drill metal. On the contrary, its 2/3 HP motor can still provide plenty of power and reach a respectable top RPM of 3200.
Though it has a pretty big speed range, there are only five speeds to choose from, so you will be limited as to which RPM you choose. Thankfully, each of these settings will work for a variety of materials, from medium thickness metal to wood and plastics.
Thanks to its small size and lightweight design, this is the most budget-friendly options on our list. If you are looking for a high-quality drill for occasional drilling projects and you don’t want to spend a ton of money, then this is a great drill.
This drill is nice and straightforward to use. The adjustable height and easily maneuvered table make it easy to get use it for a variety of sized materials. The two-inch quill travel helps in making sure that you can get your holes drilled quickly and accurately every time.
Not only is this a powerful drill press, but it is also highly accurate. This is thanks in part to the precision laser that helps to mark exactly where you are going to be a drill with a high degree of accuracy. These laser lights make targeting your drilling area a cinch, which helps to make sure that you are more precise in your work.
One of the big issues with working at high rates of speed on metal or any other material is that it could cause your drill to overheat. This drill, thankfully, has channels built into the spindle that helps to keep it nice and cool while you are drilling. This will help to make sure that your drill bits and the drill itself last don’t suffer any long-term damage due to overheating.
The table on this drill press is a bit of a hit or miss kind of a thing. The table itself is very well made. It is made out of weatherproof cast iron that is highly durable. The problem, however, is the table clamp spring. This is very flimsy and might break if you aren’t gentle with it. Whenever you move the table, be sure that you don’t move the clamp too quickly.
Though this drill press is relatively heavy, you will have to be careful with it at higher speeds. It tends to vibrate when it is at its maximum RPM range, which could result in inaccurate holes.
Why is it special?
Digital speed display
Easy to use work light
Easy to adjust speeds
Laser for precision drilling
What are the flaws?
Vibrates at higher speeds
Flimsy table spring
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through everything you need to keep in mind when looking for a high-quality drill press for metal.
Advantages of having a top-quality drill press for metal
The biggest advantage that a drill press offers you is precision. Since the drill is in a fixed position, you don’t have to worry about getting a straight hole each and every time. This is especially important when you are drilling metal. Unlike wood, which can be filled if a mistake is made, metal cannot be fixed if a mistake is made. That’s why the precision of a floor drill press for metal is so important.
Metal is also, obviously, one of the toughest materials out there. That is why you need the powerful torque and accuracy that a drill press can offer you. Without the power these drills possess, making a hole in even thin metal would be next to impossible.
Even if you were able to drill through metal with a handheld or benchtop drill, you would have to deal with burred edges. This is less than ideal, since these edges not only make a project look unfinished, but they can also be dangerous since they are usually sharp. Thankfully, if you get a high-quality drill press for metal, you won’t have to worry about this problem.
Features to consider when looking for a drill press for metal work
There are lots of different features that you need to take into account when you are looking for the best drill press for metal. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the best press for your needs.
Type of drill press
When it comes to drilling presses, there are two different types that you can choose from. You can either select a bench top model or one that sits on the floor. Benchtop models take up a lot less space and are much lighter, which makes them more portable. Due to their smaller size, however, they might not always be the best choice for use with metal.
If you are going to be using your drill press for metal, then you should probably opt for a more powerful and heavier floor press. This type of press will be able to handle the hard work of drill through or cutting metal a lot better than a benchtop press.
When it comes to the motor for a drill press that is going to be used on metal, the bigger, the better. Motor power is usually represented in HP or horsepower. The higher the number, the higher the amount of torque that the motor will be able to create. This will make it that much easier to complete any drilling tasks you need to on whatever metal type and thickness you are working on.
The speed at which the drill rotates is going to be expressed in RPM. It makes a lot of sense to get a drill with a wide speed range, since that will allow you to work with a variety of metals and other materials.
The thicker and tougher the material, the slower you are going to want the drill to rotate since it will use all of its power to cut through the metal.
If you are drilling thin or weak materials, then you can use a higher speed to get the job done faster.
Number of Speeds
Even if a drill press has a wide speed range, you can only set the RPM to a certain number of speeds. To get the most out of your machine’s speed range, you should look for a press with a lot of preset speeds. That way, you will be better able to customize your press’ power and speed to whatever material and project you are working on.
What kind of metal (and other materials) can it cut?
The type of material that you can drill with a press all comes down to the speed at which the press operates. The slower the speed that you can use, the thicker and tougher the material can be. For instance, the NOVA 58000 Voyager has a low-end speed of 50 RPM. This makes it perfect for thick and tough metals. You can also use most drill presses for woodworking and plastics, as long as they have a high upper RPM limit, like the JET 354170/JDP-20MF.
The quill on a drill press is the hollow tube that surrounds the spindle. The spindle is the part of the press that rotates the drill bit. An internal mechanism control allows the quill to be lowered and raised when you are drilling. This is done by rotating the handle on the side. How far the quill travels with each turn will help to determine how thick of a material you can drill through.
The drilling capacity describes how large of a piece of metal you will be able to drill through on your press. If you want to drill larger pieces, you will need a tool that has a larger capacity, such as the Jet 354301 IDP-22 Industrial Drill Press.
The chuck on any drill is the three-jawed clamp that tightens to hold the bit. Most chucks are a standard size and can accept most drill bits. You might find, however, that some chucks can’t handle especially large or small bits. If you know which bits you intend to use, be sure that they will fit in the chuck of your new press before you buy.
The size of the drill press table is going to help determine how large of a piece of metal you can use. You might also want to look for a press that has grooves to help hold the materials in place. It is also a good idea to look for a table that can rotate to accommodate special angles.
LED work light
Though a built-in work like is not essential on a drill press, it will help to make your life a lot easier, since it will help you to see what you are doing.
Build and durability
Since you are going to be using this press for metal, you want to make sure that it is built to last. To do this, you want to make sure that you select a press that is made out of metal components itself instead of plastic ones. That will help to keep it from breaking down over time.
Weight and dimensions
The heavier the weight of the drill press, the sturdier it is going to be when you are drilling tough materials or at high speeds.
Of course, this will also mean that the press is going to be difficult to move and might not fit in your shop. Be sure you have a clear idea of where you are going to put the press before you buy, since you probably won’t be moving it any time soon.
As you would expect, drill presses have lots of different moving parts that could fail over time, even if you properly maintain them. To try to avoid having to pay for repairs, you should look for a good warranty. Just be certain to read the fine print carefully, as some companies have very specific parts that they will or will not replace.
Most of the time, you won’t need to do too much to keep your drill press clean. If you notice that there is starting to be a bit of a build-up on any of the parts, a clean cloth and some WD-40 should do the trick.
The assembly of your drill press will depend greatly on the model that you select. Thankfully, most companies assemble the main components, so that all you need to do is put them together based on the instructions from the user’s manual.
Yes, you can! You just need to use a drill bit to start the hole, and then you can use the press to insert the tap. Just be sure that you kill the power on your drill before you insert the tap, or you might overdo it.
Of all the different machines we looked at, the NOVA 58000 Voyager is by far the best drill press for metal on the market. Its combination of easy to use controls, powerful motor, huge speed range and simple stability make it a perfect choice if you are looking to drill metal or any material. We highly recommend that you check it out.
If you want to be able to drill a variety of materials, then you should out the JET 354170/JDP-20MF. Its powerful motor and larger than average table make it great for a wide range of different size materials.
If stability and accuracy are the name of the game for you in your shop, then the Jet 354301 IDP-22 Industrial Drill Press might be the right option. It is a heavy and durable press which will give you plenty of precision, even at higher speeds.