As seen in:
Delta
18-Inch Laser
WEN
8-Inch, 5-Speed
SKIL
120-Volt, 10-Inch
Shop Fox
3/4-HP Bench-Top
JET
3/4-HP, 15-Inch
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Good

It has all the features and does everything the other drills in our ratings can, but it is bigger, more rigid, more durable, and has greater capacities.

The base, table, and drill head are all made of cast iron, giving rigidity where it's needed most.

Features 2-beam laser alignment system, which can make drilling much more accurate - particularly if you do a lot of repetitive work.

Small enough to fit in any garage or workshop yet has the power and capacity to cope with just about anything.

At 150 pounds, it is extremely rigid and packs plenty of power, a smooth delivery, and very little run-out of the chuck.

Bad

On the higher end of the price range, but its durability may end up saving you money in the long run.

An entry-level tool and is thus not packed with features.

A few owners we surveyed struggled with its assembly.

Some owners had some issues with its finish, but this only affects the drill's appearance and not its actual performance.

Lacks some of the most advanced bells and whistles of the Delta.

Bottom Line

The top drill press available. "Wouldn't consider using another drill press again," is a typical comment among the customers we surveyed.

We recommend the SKIL instead.

The best value for your money. A unbeatable deal for an entry-level drill press.

A near-professional grade machine for less than half the cost.

Buy the JET at the outset, and you're done. It will even handle tough jobs like morticing, given the right attachment.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
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Models Considered
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Hours Spent
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Experts Interviewed
162
Consumers Consulted

Best Drill Presses

When it comes to finding a good drill press, needs vary from the occasional hobby user to the professional at the workshop. With that in mind, we've selected the best drill presses that are capable of fulfilling a wide range of requirements. Here are our top 5:

Products we Considered

Delta
18-Inch Laser
WEN
8-Inch, 5-Speed
SKIL
120-Volt, 10-Inch
Shop Fox
3/4-HP Bench-Top
JET
3/4-HP, 15-Inch

Considerations

Technical Specification

The technical aspects we're rated include motor power, drill speed, swing (working column height), and quill travel (drilling depth).

Build Quality

If a drill press vibrates too much, it will create inaccuracies. If it's unstable, it could actually be dangerous. We assess the important parts of the package from top to bottom.

Features

From simple things like depth gauges, to precision laser sighting, we examine what differentiates a top drill press from an also-ran.

Price

There's often a trade-off between quality and price, particularly with power tools. But that doesn't that mean you have to pay top dollar for the best drill press.

Considerations

Technical Specification

WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press

The WEN 4208 Drill Press may be compact, but it's still a much better bet than struggling with a hand-held drill. The 8 inch swing over bed will accommodate a wide variety of objects and its five speeds give you the flexibility to be able to match bit size to the material being drilled with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Spindle travel is 2 inches, and it's driven by a 1/3 horsepower induction motor so it's fairly quiet. The worktable is 6 1/2 inches square, and it tilts 45 degrees to the right or left.

SKIL 3320-01 120-Volt 10-Inch Drill Press

The motor on the SKIL 3320-01 Drill Press is rated at 3.2 amps rather than the usual horsepower rating, but given that it also has 5 speeds and 2 inch spindle travel, we assume its power to be very close to the WEN. Indeed there are many similarities in the specifications of these two bench drills, except the SKIL has a slightly larger swing, at 10 inches, and a larger bed, at 7 5/8 inches square (which also tilts 45 degrees in either direction).

Shop Fox W1668 3/4-HP Bench-Top Drill Press

With the Shop Fox W1668 Drill Press, we move from basic small bench-top drills to something with a more professional feel - yet still small enough to fit comfortably in any home shop. The swing on the Shop Fox is 13 inches, and the table - a round one - comes with a 12 3/8 inch diameter (with the 45 degree tilt either way that we've now come to expect). Motor power is up too, at 3/4 horsepower, which allows this machine to offer 12 speeds - from a barely crawling 250 rpm, right up to 3,050 rpm. Chuck size, at 5/8 inches, is larger than the bench-top machines, and the spindle travel is also longer at 3 1/4 inches.

JET 354165 JDP-15M 3/4-HP 15-Inch Bench Drill Press

Jet are well known for high-quality machinery, and although the manufacturer says it's ideal for home shop use, the JET 354165 JDP-15M Drill Press should definitely be considered a professional tool. Swing is 15 inches and table size is 13 by 10 inches. Motor power is the same as the Shop Fox, at 3/4 HP, although the JET offers more speeds (16) and a greater range (from 200 to 3630 rpm), thus allowing the really precise selection you need when dealing with different materials and drill bit sizes. Again like the Shop Fox, the chuck is 5/8 inches, but with the JET, quill travel is increased to 3 1/2 inches.

Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press

The Delta 18-900L Drill Press is a machine for the serious amateur or professional. In many ways, its specifications start out similar to the JET: 3/4 horsepower motor, 16 speeds (although a slightly different range, from 170 to 3,000 rpm), and a 5/8 inch chuck. However, the Delta's workpiece capacities are massive. The table size is 20 x 14 inches (and tilts to 90 degrees either way). Swing is an equally impressive 18 inches and, when you add a class-leading quill travel of six inches, it becomes clear why this needs to be a floor-sanding drill press rather than a bench-top model.

The Delta's workpiece capacities are massive.
Considerations

Build Quality

WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press

At only 32 pounds, the WEN 4208 Drill Press is certainly no heavyweight. However, the base, table, and drill head are all made of cast iron, giving rigidity where it's needed most. The whole thing is less than two feet high and was designed to be an at-home drill press that could be moved to different locations if required. The owners we surveyed were very happy with the performance and found its accuracy and vibration level acceptable, especially given that it's a budget model.

The SKIL 3320-01 Drill Press also has cast iron components in all of the important places and is frequently praised by owners for its smooth and quiet operation. Like the WEN - and indeed most drill presses - some assembly is required. Generally this means mounting the pillar in the base, attaching the table and lifting mechanism, and then mounting the drill head, motor, and gearing (which is normally all in one unit). Taking extra care while doing this can make a major difference to drill performance, and having someone's help to lift parts of the unit and keep them straight is definitely recommended. A few owners we surveyed weren't entirely happy with the manufacturing quality of some parts of the SKIL and struggled with its assembly, but we didn't find this problem to be common among all users, so it may have been a batch issue.

Shop Fox W1668 3/4-HP Bench-Top Drill Press

You could look at the Shop Fox W1668 Drill Press as a kind of cross-over point between the WEN and SKIL - which are very much home and hobby drills - and the JET and Delta - which are bigger, heavier, semi-pro, or professional models. The base, table and head of the Shop Fox are all composed of the finest cast iron available, and in general the drill press is of a more robust build standard than the other machines. This is necessary to cope with the extra power from the motor and the extra torque generated by the large drill bits that a 5/8 inch chuck can handle. At over 120 pounds, the Shop Fox is definitely no lightweight, and the owners we talked to were extremely complimentary about its capabilities.

By now we're used to good drills having a cast iron base, table, and drill heads, so you would expect the same of the JET 354165 JDP-15M Drill Press - and you wouldn't be disappointed. At 150 pounds, it is also extremely rigid, and when put together correctly it packs plenty of power, a smooth delivery, and very little run-out of the chuck (helped by the high-quality ball bearings guiding the spindle). As with all bench-top drill presses, having it mounted on a level and stable surface is very important because any vibration will transfer and be exaggerated. More weight generally helps to dampen this out, which is why heavier-duty drills like the JET are more popular with professionals.

The Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Drill Press is one big, heavy machine! It weighs just over 260 pounds, so you'll certainly need help putting it together, and you won't want to move it very often. The benefit of all this is the stability you need in a professional tool. It's got cast iron where it should, and a quick glance at the diameter of the main column is testament to its structural rigidity. Comment's like "superior woodworker's drill press," and "solid and well designed," are evidence of the satisfaction felt by many owners. Some were a little unhappy about the cast-iron components' finish, but that is purely an aesthetic consideration and won't affect its operation.

A quick glance at the diameter of the main column of the Delta 18-900L is testament to its structural rigidity.
Scott
Expert Consultant
Scott
Do-It-Yourself Guru And Carpenter

Scott completed his first woodworking project in the 5th grade, and he’s been an avid woodworker ever since. For the past 46 years, Scott has enjoyed remodeling homes, building custom cabinets and mantels, installing hardwood floors/trim work, and many other unique projects.

Considerations

Features

WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press

It's fair to say that the WEN 4208 Drill Press is an entry-level tool and is thus not packed with features. What you do get is a useful angle scale at the rear of the table, another for the depth gauge, and a conveniently front-mounted on/off switch. A lot is said about keyless and keyed chucks, and in our opinion while the former is fast and convenient for hand-held drills, keyed chucks - which is what all of the pillar drills on our shortlist carry - are more secure. Another feature of all of our drills is slotted tables (which allow you to bolt on a vise or other clamping tools) and slotted bases (which allow you to fix them securely to your bench or to a separate stand).

SKIL 3320-01 120-Volt 10-Inch Drill Press

The SKIL 3320-01 Drill Press also has a front-mounted on/off switch, but this time it's the bump-type - for added safety. Once again, there are useful guides for table angle and drilling depth, although, as with any drill, it's always best to check these are correct before proceeding. The big feature of the SKIL is the 2-beam laser alignment system, which can make drilling much more accurate - particularly if you do a lot of repetitive work.

Shop Fox W1668 3/4-HP Bench-Top Drill Press

The Shop Fox W1668 Drill Press has a side-mounted, bump-type on/off switch that is common, albeit slightly less convenient. The table angle guide is the same as all of the drills we've rated, but the depth gauge is a more positively locating mechanism. What makes this bench-top drill press stand out is its 3-piece oscillating spindle sander set (complete with extraction port). It's a tool that's a tremendous boon to many woodworkers - and something a lot would buy as a stand-alone machine - so having it as part of the package is a valuable bonus.

JET 354165 JDP-15M 3/4-HP 15-Inch Bench Drill Press

Once again, the JET 354165 JDP-15M Drill Press comes with the features you'd expect of a quality product. Gauges for table angle and drilling depth are of a good standard and the bump-type on/off switch is front mounted. The two areas where this drill scores highly are ones you might not consider until you use the drill regularly. First, the return spring on the spindle is adjustable for tension. Normally, if your hand slips while drilling, the spindle shoots upwards with a thump. It's not only annoying, but it can also upset accuracy. A little more tension can stop this and allow you to work more quickly. The second feature is for changing speeds. Normally you have to slacken at least one bolt and manually feed the belt or belts to a different gear set. The JET has a hinge and quick-set bolt which makes the whole process much faster - and it means you're much more likely to set the correct speed, rather than struggling with the wrong one because changing it is a nuisance. A useful work light is also included, but unfortunately no bulb is supplied.

Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press

The Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Drill Press has it all - and then some. The angle gauge for the table is fairly standard, but the depth stop and depth scale are micro-adjustable and independent, so you can set the drill closer to the work for more rapid repeat drilling. On/off is the bump type again, mounted on the front, and there's both a twin laser system for positional accuracy and an LED to light the table area. Quick change of drill speed is handled by a self-tensioning system that also helps deliver more of the actual power generated to the drill head. Unusually, that big table tilts forwards as well as to the left and right, offering the ability to drill the kind of complex compound angles found in specialist activities like chair-making.

The big table of the Delta tilts forwards as well as to the left and right, offering the ability to drill the kind of complex compound angles found in specialist activities like chair-making.
Considerations

Price

WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press

Currently available at just $72 (down from a list of $120), the WEN 4208 Drill Press is priced at a level that means you can have the proper machine to do the job, rather than trying to make a hand-held drill cope with things it wasn't designed for. Owners who are realistic about its capacities are delighted with what they get for their money.

SKIL 3320-01 120-Volt 10-Inch Drill Press

The SKIL 3320-01 Drill Press is on offer at $122, which is a considerable savings off of its list price. It will largely appeal to the same kind of user as the WEN drill which has slightly less swing but is otherwise extremely similar. The choice between the two will probably be decided by the laser, which is consistently rated highly by its owners. Whether it's worth the extra few dozen dollars is down to individual user preference.

Shop Fox W1668 3/4-HP Bench-Top Drill Press

At $408, the Shop Fox W1668 Drill Press is a big step up in expenditure - but then again it's also a big step up in class. We've spoken about it being between the two ranges, but in fairness it's much closer to the professional standards of the JET and Delta than the hobby level of the WEN and SKIL. The oscillating sander comes in for many positive comments, and while some owners weren't entirely happy with its detailed finish, most admitted that it only affected the drill's appearance and not its actual performance.

JET 354165 JDP-15M 3/4-HP 15-Inch Bench Drill Press

The JET 354165 JDP-15M Drill Press will cost you $849, which is a considerable investment for a home workshop tool. The important word there is "investment", because what you get for your money is a bench-top drill that will do everything you need. As good as the Shop Fox is, if you get serious about your work, you'll probably be tempted to move up to something else - like the JET - in the long term. Buy the JET at the outset, and you're done. It will even handle tough jobs like morticing, given the right attachment.

Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press

You can save more than $400 on the Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Drill Press right now, but that still leaves its sale price relatively high at $930. It's a lot of money, but it's a competitive price for machinery of this kind. It has all the features and does everything the other drills in our ratings can, but it is bigger, more rigid, more durable, and has greater capacities. Owner comments about this machine are also quite impressive given the professional standards of anyone that would buy a high-end drill: "wouldn't consider using another drill press again," and "surpassed all my expectations," were typical among the customers we surveyed.

The big feature of the SKIL is the 2-beam laser alignment system, which can make drilling much more accurate - particularly if you do a lot of repetitive work.

Best of the Best

When you've already narrowed the field down to the best five drill presses available, you might expect it to be difficult to chose an overall winner because those that remain are all so good.

Not this time. As good as the others are - and each will undoubtedly satisfy those who chose them - there is one machine that stands out well above the rest. As is often the case with workshop machinery, you get what you pay for, and our overall best drill press is the Delta 18-900L.

Put simply, this category is about selecting the best machine for drilling holes - and that, without a doubt, is the Delta. It not only has the rigidity you need for accurate drilling, but it also has the power to keep on doing it, the flexibility to make all kinds of holes at all kinds of angles in all kinds of materials, and the features that make it easy. Without question, it is the top drill press on the market.
Best of the Best
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This category is about selecting the best machine for drilling holes - and that, without a doubt, is the Delta.

Best Bang for your Buck

If selecting the overall winner was reasonably straight-forward, choosing the best value for money drill press is tough. The WEN is cheap, but it "packs a punch," according to one owner. The JET is a great tool, and people say much the same about the Shop Fox. The Delta is superb, and although it is a bit more expensive than the others, it is certainly not overpriced.
 

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The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jasmin
    Jasmin
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations