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Best drill press

Which drill press is best?

A drill press is a specialized tool that makes precise holes in a variety of materials. While some light-duty drill presses are better suited for the home DIY enthusiast, others are made of sturdy materials and pack lots of power for punching through wood, ceramic, metal and concrete.

If you're interested in moving from occasional home use to something more substantial, the DeWalt 2-Speed Magnetic Drill Press is a good step up. It has the power you need to make fast cuts in different materials.

What to know before you buy a drill press

Quill stroke

Quill stroke, also referred to as the quill travel, is how far the chuck — the clamp that secures the bit — moves up and down. How far the chuck moves determines both the maximum thickness of material you can drill through and how deep a hole you can make. Light-duty drill presses have a quill travel of 2 inches, but professional tools have a 6-inch stroke (or more).

Chuck size

Another chuck measurement that is important is its size. Most presses let you choose between a half- and five-eighths-inch chuck. This restricts only the maximum drill shank size, not the maximum hole size. For example, you can drill a 3-inch hole with just a half-inch shank. 

If you are just starting out, a half-inch shank is a good size. If you want to use more professional woodworking tools such as a mortising chisel, you’ll need to step up to five-eighths.

Table size and angle

Drill press tables are fairly compact. Most measure 6-8 inches square. This is the perfect size for smaller jobs, but a table this small cannot accommodate long pieces of wood or metal. 

You can solve this problem at home by building another table and fastening the original to it. Some drill presses offer tables of different sizes —  a good option for woodworkers who routinely work with sheet goods or long pieces of lumber. 

In addition to deciding which size works best for you, you might want to select a drill press that can be angled up to 45 degrees in each direction. Some even tilt forward. This lets you produce angled holes.

What to look for in a quality drill press

Brushless motor

A brushless motor is not common in a drill press, but it's worth seeking out. These are quieter and use power more efficiently for better longevity of your drill. 

Depth stop

Once you set your quill depth, you'll need a feature that reinforces that. A depth stop ensures that all holes you drill are the same.

Inch and metric markings for depth

At the very least, if the drill press does not have a depth stop, look for inch and metric markings on the side of the press. You need to check to make sure they are set properly if you don't have a depth stop, and this makes it easier. 

Laser guidance

Laser guidance is another tool for the beginning wood and metal worker. Two lasers form a target where the drill can be placed. 

How much you can expect to spend on a drill press

The price of a drill press varies depending on the capacity of the press and where it’s operated. Expect to spend $50 to $800 on a drill press ranging from a lightweight bench model to a heavy-duty floor-standing press.

Drill press FAQ

How big should your drill press be?

A. Its size depends on what you're planning on doing. Look for the manufacturer's measurement to determine its capacity. For example, if the drill press is 8 inches, that means you can drill a hole in the center of a piece of wood that measures 8 inches square.

Most tabletop presses are 8 or 10 inches. Floor presses are larger, but few measure more than 24 inches.

How do you safely operate a drill press?

A. Your drill press needs to be in good working order to function properly.

  • Oil its column to fight rust.
  • Turn it off to make any adjustments to speed or depth.
  • Be mindful of moving parts when operating it.
  • Let the drill come to a complete stop before moving to the next piece or making any adjustments.

What’s the best drill press to buy?

Top drill press

DeWalt 2-Speed Magnetic Drill Press

What you need to know: It has a variety of features that make it easy to use and perfect for professional jobs. 

What you’ll love: The strong magnet means bigger projects are completed with ease. It’s made from heavy steel and has a 10-amp motor for power when you need it. The teeth are precision ground for fast, clean cuts. It can drill holes from different angles. The included bit can make a hole of up to 2 inches.

What you should consider: The quick-change bit sometimes results in a looser fit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top drill press for the money

Dremel Mini Portable Drill Press

What you need to know: This light-duty drill press is suitable for small projects and the occasional DIY.

What you’ll love: It adjusts telescopically from 16 to 29 inches. You can store drill bits, wrenches and other Dremel accessories on the tool itself. It also has cord management for safe storage and inch and metric markings on the base for more accurate drilling. It drills to a depth of 2 inches, and the base attaches to a work table securely with four clamps.

What you should consider: There are many parts to it that can be difficult to put together.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Shop Fox Oscillating Floor Drill Press

What you need to know: This press is set up directly on the floor but adjusts for slightly finer work, too. 

What you’ll love: The spindle oscillates for more efficient work. The stand is heavy and sturdy, and the tilt of the table can be adjusted, as can the height. You can also use it for sanding without adding any extra tools. It comes with a two-year warranty.

What you should consider: There is not that much range in the height adjustments. Some users also report defective machinery or damage in shipping.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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