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The drill press is a workshop tool that has been around for a long old time and will remain a part of most wood and metalworking shops for a long while yet. A drill press is a tool that will open up new avenues of accurate for you. In this article, we’re going to look for the best drill press that suits your needs. Everyone is different, so be that the best drill press for the money, the most accurate drill press, the best bench drill press for wood, or the best floor drill press for metal – we’ve got you covered.
There’s a big choice when it comes to the drill press and finding one that suits you best. We’re going to look at the features these machines have and try to talk you through what everything means and hopefully set you up with a better chance of finding the drill press that suits you. We’ll be looking at types, motors, numbers of speeds, and even weights and warranties. So, don’t worry if you’re here looking for the best drill press under 200 dollars, or even if you want the Rolls Royce of drills – we can help.
One thing to remember is that the best drill press out there is going to depend on you and your work. To help you make the right choice, read our detailed product reviews and buying guide. We’ve looked at a lot of drills and customer reviews to get this guide compiled, and we’ve done that to make finding the best drill press easier and quicker. Stick with us and we’ll have you set up in no time – let’s get started here!
Warranty: 1-year parts; lifetime technical support
Extra features: power down feed; includes work lamp
Ok, this beast is the Baileigh DP-1500G, and it’s a big, big drill press. This probably wouldn’t be the best woodworking drill press because it would be overkill for most woodworking projects and tasks. In fact, this thing is pretty much beyond the scope of a lot of metalworking tasks too – it’s huge!
The Baileigh DP-1500G will drill massive diameter holes in mild steel, easily. This drill press has a gargantuan five and a half inch column so it’s not easily going to flex – under most loads, conditions or speeds and circumstances. This machine will provide a large amount of precision working in metal.
The weight of the Baileigh DP-1500G is nearly 750-pounds, this really isn’t a drill for most home workshops, and it would be far more at home in a heavy duty setup.
You can tap threads or drill holes with this drill press. The table has a T-slot for hold downs, so your work piece won’t be going anywhere. If you’re doing extra heavy work regularly, then this might be the drill for you. Anything other than that, there are smaller drill presses that will do the job for you.
Great drill press. Think carefully about where you’re going to put it, though – because you wouldn’t want to move it more than once!
Warranty: 2 years parts, 5 years excl. motor and electronics
Extra features: advanced software functions including digital quill depth readout and digital speed readout; tilt and vibration sensor switches drill press off in case of falling
Next up on our list of the best six drill presses is the NOVA 58000 Voyager DVR Drill Press, and this is a drill press that fully deserves to sit in second place here. In fact, this will possibly be top dog for a heck of a lot of readers out there.
This drill can handle nearly all materials and even though it’s primarily designed for woodwork, this would be a great drill press to have if you were an industrial designer or someone that produced multi-material pieces on a regular basis. T has the ability to work in metals, wood, and plastics – which is a great thing to have in the workshop.
You get very nice controls on the NOVA 58000 Voyager DVR too, and the digital readout will save on a lot of time in measuring depths and adjustments. This is a drill that is made for ease of use, and consequently, it will perform a lot of tasks for you – accurately.
Safety features are great on the NOVA drill press. It has tilt sensors that will stop the drill if it’s about to go over. You get a lateral load sensor too – this will stop the motor immediately if your work piece becomes even very slightly loose. You even get password protection – which would make this a great option for a school and woodworking classes.
Extra features: includes a built-in work lamp, drill chuck and key
So, this JET drill press is a floor standing model and it’s in at number three on our list of drill presses today. This is a powerful and heavy drill press, weighing in at a hefty 325-pounds, so be aware that you’re going to need some help to get it in place and put together.
This drill has 12 different speed settings, and whilst that’s convenient, it seems that JET might not have designed ratios very well on this model, which is disappointing. Some users report that there are big gaps on this model of drill press, which means you’ll need to adjust the belt to compensate if you’re doing precision work with it.
You do get some handy features with this drill, though. The JET 354170/JDP-20MF has a built-in work light and the table is a rack and pinion style adjustment – which just makes things a little easier in the workshop.
You also get a very useful tilting work table on the JET 354170/JDP-20MF and capacities are all pretty good so this could be a very useful tool for many of you – professionals and amateurs alike – to have in the workshop.
The JET 354170/JDP-20MF is what it is – this is not a precision or upmarket drill press but it will absolutely do a job as a good workhorse for most shops.
Extra features: 45°–tilting table; large quill; 360-degree head swivel
In at 4th place on this list of the best six drill presses is the JET J-2530. This is a bench-top drill press that weighs in extremely heavy – at 157 lbs, but it’s a great drill press and this unit will work on three phase power – but it can be rewired as per the manufacturer instructions to work on single phase power too – which is a great thing for a lot of hobbyist home based wood and metal workers.
The JET J-2530 has one main thing going for it. The manufacturer kept things simple and concentrated on making what they did do – reliable and sturdy. This thing will outlast a lot of more complicated setups because all of the energy has gone into making this thing strong and reliable. The head on the JET drill press is cast iron, it has a great column, and everything is solid and simple. This is more like an old school drill press – in a good way.
The JET 354170/JDP-20MF occupies a price point that is pretty close to perfect for the hobbyist or amateur that doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg but still wants something that is good enough quality and strong enough to last for a long time, whilst putting out quality work. This will even suit a professional shop.
Great drill – well-made and kept simple. Will suit a lot of people.
Extra features: 90° tilting table; includes chuck guard for safety
The next drill press on our list of the best six drill presses is the SHOP FOX W1680 and this is a drill press that is packed to the gills with a lot of features. This drill press doesn’t cost the earth and it’s definitely in that Goldilocks zone of drill presses that offer quality and a certain level of accuracy whilst being economical.
The SHOP FOX drill press has a tilting table, which makes angled drilling a really good experience. This also has a massive maximum clearance between table and drill chuck of over 31-inches, which makes it very versatile. The table is also removable.
The SHOP FOX W1680 is a drill press with a full one horsepower of power behind it. That’s a good find in this price range and it will not often leave you short of power. This drill is powerful enough to take a spot in many professional shop, but too big or silly to be out of place in a hobbyist’s garage workshop either. It’s a good all-rounder.
There have been some reported issues with regard to flimsy parts, and whilst that’s not ideal, none of them have related to the main parts of the drill and it seems that some of the handles are just a bit cheaply made. This drill press features a built-in work light and all in all, it’s a reasonably priced drill press with a lot going for it.
Extra features: cast iron 45° tilting table; work light and laser
So, the best budget drill press on our list of the six best drill presses available is the WEN 4210T Drill Press with Laser, and it’s actually pretty amazing how they manage to make something with so many features for so little cold hard cash when all is said and done. This is probably the best drill press under 200 dollars that you’re going to find anywhere, any time.
You get everything you are ever possibly going to need here. There’s a 1/2- inch chuck that is also tapered, which offers up more scope for using different bits. There’s a work light, there’s a laser and you get five speeds to control the power. This really has got some great features and you get a tilting table, with a rack and pinion adjuster for table height too.
So, where’s the catch? Well, the catch here is going to be that for this money, there will be problems with this drill press in terms of quality of materials and the quality of the build and engineering/accuracy – that’s just unavoidable. If you’re on a budget though, then it’s hard to look past the WEN. It will do a job for you – for how long, who knows? But it will do a job.
Buying a drill press is not only usually a very good decision, but it’s also important that you make the right choice for the type of work you’re going to be needing to do with it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choice available and to get hung up on some of the smaller features and gimmicks that manufacturers attach to drill presses in an effort to put one over on their competitors. The best approach is to try to identify what’s important for you and to try to stick to focusing on those features only. This will more often than not, get you exactly the drill press that you need. Let’s take a look.
Reasons to get a top-quality drill press
Using a drill press, rather than a hand-held drill, is all about accuracy. When looking for accuracy in any form, in any aspect of woodworking or metalworking, you sacrifice some of the precision you’re looking for if you look toward the lower end of the price range. It’s as simple as that with drill presses, and with tools in a wider sense. Accuracy in tools comes out of how well they are engineered. Something with a lot of slop in the mechanisms will result in less precision in your work. There’s really no way of getting around that. In any area of engineering or trade work, sacrificing on quality will mean that your workmanship suffers somewhere down the line.
When selecting a drill press, great attention should be paid to the quality of craftsmanship that went into the design and the build of the unit. You’ll be able to produce far better and more accurate pieces of work with a good quality drill press than with an inferior quality drill press.
Features to consider when looking for a drill press
Depending on how you require to or intend to use your drill press, you’ll need to consider a pretty wide array of different features, as we’re going to look more closely at below. Things like speeds, power, bench or floor standing models will all come into your decisions, but a lot of these things will have various degrees of importance to different people. So, have a good idea of what you need to do with the press before you choose one.
Type of drill press
The two basic types of drill press will be floor standing or benchtop models. After that, you’ll be looking at various features rather than specifically different types of press.
Do you need a drill press for metal or woodworking?
Depending on what projects you do, or even plan to do with your new drill press, you may well need one. And that goes for both woodwork and metalwork. You can’t always drill holes with the precision of orientation that you need for a lot of projects with just a hand drill. The drill press has been around for a heck of a lot of years for a reason, and it isn’t going away any time soon. In so far as joinery and workshop carpentry goes, even the die-hard old school hand tool joiners, the ones who scoff at the very idea of most electric tools, will often have maybe just a drill press and a good quality bandsaw in their workshop.
These guys can probably do 90% of their work without those two electric tools, but they’ll often opt to include the bandsaw and the drill press because they make sense and can knock days of preparation and hard work off a lot of projects. The fact is that although some tools in the workshop are a luxury, and viewed as lazy by some, often just making jobs easier and quicker rather than offering a unique ability, the drill press and the bandsaw can be viewed as more of a staple necessity in the workshop, and you’ll get much use and benefit from having them around.
Motor power is always good to have. If you’re a woodworker, then hardwoods can be like concrete if you go at them with a drill that has inferior power. If you’re a metalworker, then harder metals like steel require good levels of power and speed and a sharp drill bit. You definitely won’t go wrong with our Editor’s Choice, the Baileigh DP-1500G with its 3.5HP, or even the NOVA 58000 Voyager with an impressive 2HP. You’re nearly always better off having more power than you need when it comes to electric tools, and that’s an almost universal rule. Which brings us to the next point….
Speed range and number of speeds
This is more important than a lot of people think it is. You need power, we’ve already discussed that. Once you’ve bought a drill press – or any machine – with more power than you’ll mostly need, then the next logical and necessary step is having a good means to control and adjust that power.
For woodworkers, power and speed are vitally important because different wood types need different speeds of attack when you’re cutting them – otherwise, you can mark, chip and burn them and it’s not always possible when drilling precision woodwork pieces to get rid of burns and chips in the finish.
Good speed control is absolutely essential for all woodworkers. Once you have control, sharp tools and accuracy in your marking out and approach to your work – you have it all.
For metalworkers, when drilling, the same sort of principles apply to speed and control. You’ll damage your work and even jam up if you work at the wrong speeds and you risk breaking bits, which is not ideal when they’re moving at thousands of RPM. For safety, accuracy and for a great finished product, speed control and power are a must in any workshop, on any tool.
This will be related to the size of the chuck, the power and the speed of the drill press. You’ll also be restricted by the space available between the tip of your drill bit and the table. Work out which tasks and which materials you’ll be using your new drill press for, and always make sure that what you’re buying has a capacity that is in excess of what you’re going to need it to do.
Different sized chucks will hold different sized drill bits. If you mainly work with smaller bits and you don’t need to drill massive holes, then this isn’t going to be such a big factor for you. If you do bigger jobs that require the use of big drill bits to drill larger holes, then you need to make sure that the drill press you buy has enough capacity built in to hold drill bits of the appropriate diameter to do the job. Check the specs carefully before committing to buy.
Work table and work light
Some drill presses will have a handy work light that is built into them. This is a great thing to have, because sometimes no matter how well your workshop is lit, you’ll be bending over a drill press and the nature of how they’re built sometimes blocks out the light and makes it difficult to see what you’re working on. This is not an ideal situation from a safety point of view, or in terms of getting the most accurate results possible. You can buy aftermarket magnetic and clip-on work lights for tools like the drill press, but it’s great and means finding fewer power outlets if you can get a drill press with a light built in.
The table on a drill press will either be fixed flat and just be adjustable up and down the column, or it may be a tilting table. Tilting tables are a very good feature to have because they open up more uses for the drill press. You may be wanting to do tasks that need angled holes drilled in work pieces. If that’s the case for you, then a drill press with a tilting table is going to be very handy.
Build and durability
This applies to drill presses and tools in general, more than it does to most things. For precision, you need a good build. Every error in manufacturing knocks on, and it’s hard to eliminate an error once it’s in your work. You’ll also be operating machinery that spins at a lot of RPMs, and the last thing you want when you’re close to any such machine is for anything at all to break. That’s because if something does give, metal parts will be flying through the air at speeds which are extremely dangerous and unpleasant for any human in the vicinity.
Dimensions and weight
You’ll need to take dimensions into account for the same reason you would with any machine for your workshop. You need to have enough space to site the machine and have enough room around it to comfortably and safely work with it. If you’re a hobbyist with a tiny garage shop, although that massive industrial drill press looks great, does lots of stuff and sounds fantastic when you fire it up, there’s not much point in having it if you need to move your bench outside to fit it in. If you’re short on shop space, look for the best small drill press you can find, such as a bench-top drill press like the JET J-2530.
If you’re in a really small shop, then you may opt for portability and either a nice floor standing drill press that you can wheel about when you need it, or a bench-top drill press that is lightweight enough to move on and off the bench, or even a multi-use, multi-tool stand when you require it.
It’s going to come down to your circumstances and what you need to do with your drill press. Weigh everything up before you buy and choose accordingly.
A warranty is always desirable, and when you get one, a lengthy and comprehensive one is the best one to get. Especially with tools, they take a lot of hard use and do a hard job, so the warranty is important where an investment is relatively large. It’s also important to maintain and use your tool completely within the recommended scopes of the manufacturer, because if you don’t, and let’s say you break it using it for something that it’s not designed to do – then you can say goodbye to your warranty cover. So, be smart.
As long as you buy well, and have enough power and chuck capacity, then this comes down purely to how much floor space you have available. Floor mounted is great, because it doesn’t take up precious bench space – and let’s face it, none of us ever have enough bench space. A good quality bench mounted press will work just as well as a floor standing drill press on metal. The best drill press for metal is a well-made one. The same goes with the best drill press for woodworking. The best benchtop drill press and the best floor drill press are essentially equal to each other.
The laser will help you to identify where you’re drilling – before you actually do any damage to your work piece. Lasers can be handy, but good setting out and setting up is just as handy. Lasers aren’t always that easy to see in brightly lit places. To answer the question, in short, you don’t absolutely need one.
Most drill presses will require some assembly. Especially to columns and tables and peripheral parts. Instructions are nearly always great, and squaring stuff up can be the biggest challenge with tools, so have a few squares of various types and sizes handy.
So, that’s that. We’ve taken a really in-depth look at six great drill presses in this article, and we’ve had a detailed look at what drill presses are for, and some of the important and most significant features of these versatile and very handy machines.
In first place on our list here was the Baileigh DP-1500G, which is a very nice drill press indeed and had a lot of impressive features that make it a great drill press for a heck of a lot of workshops and people.
In second place on our list of the six best drill presses was the NOVA 58000 Voyager DVR Drill Press. This drill press was a very close runner up here and has some very nice aspects to it. This wasn’t the easiest list to get on and this unit is right in place here.
Third but not least was the JET 354170/JDP-20MF, which was a great drill press that will do a lot of handy stuff for you.
Getting a drill press will improve your capabilities and open up new doors in your metal or woodworking, so choose well and then enjoy!