Finding the best benchtop drill press is tough because there are so many to choose from - and a lot of solid brands on the market. Add in everyone's opinions of the bench drill press and drill press reviews, and you have an array of well informed opinions and thoughts on drill presses and their recommended applications to pick from.
You're probably wondering if you should go with an 8" table top drill press, a 10" benchtop drill press or a larger free standing drill press. And, maybe you don't even know how to size a drill press or which one is best for your application?
If you don't know what you are searching for, you'll spend hours trying to find the best benchtop drill press or table top drill press from hundreds of options.
You'll want to make sure you read a lot of drill press reviews. Usually unbiased reviews like this one or woodworking forums are a great place to start.
The WEN 4214 is our #1 choice for best benchtop drill press. Read More
Cast iron benchpress drill vise to hold your work stable. Read More
The best benchtop drill press for you may be the worst drill press for your neighbor, as everyone has differing work spaces, budgets, applications and holes to drill. When you finally pull the trigger, you want to make sure you're getting the best benchtop drill press to suit your shop size and hole drilling demands.
This drill press guide will help you make the best decision on a new drill press & provide an in-depth analysis of 5 of the best drill presses available today.
*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.
Before we jump into our benchtop drill press reviews, there are some common aspects of drill presses to consider - as well as their intended applications and how they work. Besides, it is a lot easier to find the right drill press for your needs if you understand what different drill presses can do and how they tie into those needs.
These are some things to consider when picking out a benchtop drill press for your workshop.
What makes a benchtop drill press a necessary tool for your workshop? The best bench mount drill press is different from your typical hand held power drill in that it is attached to a press which allows you much greater precision when controlling the drill. You can set up the product to be drilled to be held with a vise. If you are drilling multiple parts that are the same, you can make the hole drilling consistent and the quality top notch.
The drill press allows you to measure the depth of your bore holes precisely and allows you to position the piece optimally you are working on (be it wood, metal or anything else which is drillable - like acrylic). This is ideal if you are crafting furniture, working on a home improvement project, or doing anything else which requires a much higher degree of precision than your typical hand drill.
Another aspect in which the drill press shines is in the drilling power provided. As a drill press' drill does not have to be mobile and light enough to fit in your hands, it can have a more powerful motor than would be practical for a hand drill. Some drill presses even make use of multiple motors when a higher RPM is required.
Drill presses are also highly versatile when compared to hand drills. Now, hand drills are useful as you know because they can be used in tight spots, or against walls and ceilings, but when doing precision woodworking and machining, a drill press will be your best friend, as it quite simply lacks the large margin of error present in hand drills.
Their versatility also lies in the large number of drill press types that are available for purchase. The best metal working drill press will very likely be a whole different creature from the best cheap drill press. As metalwork requires a much more powerful drilling action and lower RPMs than woodworking, metalworking drill presses are in reality quite different from more regular ones.
A metalworking drill press is also known as a gearhead drill press because it uses gears to function instead of running belts attached to the motor. This allows for a more reliable action that is easier to adjust in speed due to the usage of levers and gears as opposed to the belt and pulley operation which is more common.
Gear head presses are more robust than your typical drill press because they have to deal with metal, and that certainly has higher resistances and tolerances than wood or other softer materials which are recommended for use with the standard best benchtop drill press. Finding the best drill press for the money is just as much a job of finding the best rated drill press for your specific needs.
There are many possible applications for a drill press, but by far the most common ones are woodworking and metalworking depending on the type of drill press you use. While it is quite common to use a drill press for woodworking you'll find that every machine shop has a drill press - generally a standing drill press.
Home metalworking presses are becoming more popular but they are more expensive and difficult to handle. Affordable and powerful metalworking presses, also called Gearhead drill presses use internal gears instead of belts, are not as common as belt run drill presses. For the purpose of these reviews, we're sticking to reviewing traditional belt run drill presses.
If you are a woodworker and you are looking to add a certain measure of precision to your drilling and boring, a drill press is an ideal choice. They can retail anywhere from $100 to $700 for the most common models, and these price points provide an ideal balance between budget and build quality. It is important to consider how you would prefer to operate your drill press as well.
Most drill presses work the same way - line it up over the material and drill a precise hole. Bob Vila has a great little guide to using a drill press... they apply to almost any press you'll be using.
When using a drill press you'll need to:
There are multiple types of drill presses when it comes to portability and even subcategories. For example, within the fixed category of drill presses, you may find standing drill presses which are on a pedestal and have the work area at standing height or radial arm drill presses that are usually beasts and more expensive. (See the CH Hanson Palmgren Machine 9680341 Radial Arm Drill Press for an example)
You can place your standing drill press anywhere within your workshop, and it will be in an ideal location to work standing up or from a stool. You'll probably never move it once it you put it into place, but it will be a trusted tool you'll use possibly for a lifetime.
The other type of fixed drill press that you can find is a bench top drill press - which is the focus of this review. These are attached, usually by bolts or other fixed mountings, to the top of your workbench, and do away with the need for a pedestal. When compared with standing drill presses, these are smaller, more lightweight, and depend upon your workbench for stability as opposed to themselves.
A bench mount drill press is ideal if you have a strong, durable workbench that you are sure is stable enough to mount your drill press. Be careful, because mounting a drill press on an unstable workbench is a surefire way to get yourself injured, possibly severely, so be sure that your drill press is compatible with your workbench.
Standing drill presses do not have this risk as they are built to be balanced. The downside to these is that they are usually more expensive, due to more raw materials needing to be used for the pedestal and the counterweight, as well as being more difficult to maneuver, possibly requiring the aid of a friend in being installed in your work room.
Magnetic portable drill presses are ideal if you need to pack it up and bring it out onto a job to work on a project. Magnetic drill presses attach to metal with a magnetic base, which allows it to grip either the object you are machining or a ferrous surface which the magnet will then be attached to. Make sure to use the rope/cord attachments to secure your drill press to what you are working on - especially if using the drill press overhead. A lot of guys have turned off the drill power thus disabling the magnetism and have lost their drills in rivers and lakes. Not a great way to end the day!
Magnetic portable drill presses are effective for cutting metal, like I-beams, because fixed benchtop or standing drill presses simply can't get to the job to cut I-beams and other metals that are already part of a structure. Manufacturing constraints may require you to buy a magnetic portable drill press instead of a bench top model.
You can get a reliable magnetic drill press like the Milwaukee 4270-2 which is fairly lightweight at 26lbs and is easy to use overhead if you have a lot of holes to cut.
As with any product, the budget is a big consideration. A drill press may not be the sexiest tool in your shed, but it will make a big difference in the quality of the product you put out. Table saws and other power tools get more action in the shop, but the benchtop drill press is extremely important.
Drill presses can be pricey and their shipping weight is not necessarily light, so you don't want to be playing the game of back-and-forth returns with your drill press, so it is important to make sure your first purchase counts.
Drill presses, depending on the application and the quality can range from the hundreds of dollars to the thousands, so you should know just how serious you are as a buyer. If you have been a lifelong woodworker, for example, you know just how much you care for the hobby/job so your budget may be higher than that of a beginner buying their first drill press.
In our WEN 4214 bench top drill press review, we found that this particular bench top drill press is ideal for both beginner and intermediate users due to its low cost yet sturdy and reliable construction. This drill press comes with a lot of options and accessories for a drill press in this price range. These include useful accessories like a table roller extension, which allows you to increase your table's length by up to 17 inches, allowing you to work on a larger piece.
The speed adjustment lever is also well designed, allowing you to choose any RPM setting between 580 and 3200, giving you good control over your drilling speed and letting you find a comfortable speed which works ideally for your needs. The included laser marker lets you know exactly where your bit will make contact with your piece. This is by no means a new innovation, but it is handy.
The worktable can be angled so you can more easily drill into your piece at an angle, instead of having to prop it up on the table, which is another good feature to increase your drilling precision. The ⅔ hp motor is more powerful than you would expect from a drill press at this price point and helps contribute greatly to the value of this machine.
The build quality is pretty solid, you cannot really expect more from a product at this price point, so while there may need to be a few kinks ironed out while you assemble it, the WEN 4214 drill press will run well as long as you don't use it too rigorously while machining metal or anything of the like.
Budget Option: If you are looking for budget, entry-level WEN drill press for your garage shop, the WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press is a good choice for the beginner who needs to drill just a few holes in his lifetime. See the WEN 4208 Price & Reviews Here
The SKIL 3320 drill press is an ideal table top drill press option for beginner users who do not want a drill press with too many extra amenities driving the cost up. The SKIL drill press may be low in price, but that does not mean it is manufactured cheaply. In fact, you can see that every dollar you spend on this machine goes towards something worthwhile. For example, the laser system is a nice touch and one of the few accessories that this drill press features, but the two lasers are reliable and accurate.
The five speed system is also reasonably effective for a beginner user. It is not hard to find a speed you are comfortable with after using this press for a while, and an unnecessary infinite adjustment system would have pushed the price up further for little practical gain in the hands of a casual user. This product is also very well assembled. And this is where the SKIL drill press truly shines.
For a product in this price range, you would expect the build quality to be the worst aspect of the machine, but as I stated earlier, you are paying for a well-built press, not one which is riddled with mechanical defects yet features unnecessary amenities. While the motor may not be as powerful as some other offerings which are available if you are looking for the best tabletop drill press for metal, it is more than powerful enough to deal with most wood.
The Delta 18-900L is one of the more advanced drill presses in this review, and the price point reflects that. It's not a benchtop model, it's a floor model so you may want to move onto the FOX Benchtop Drill Press if price and space is a consideration.
The Delta features a powerful motor with a large quill stroke, letting you get those deep bores that are harder or impossible to accomplish on smaller machines. The speed range also goes far lower than on the previous two machines we reviewed, so this is more suitable for working with metal, but the primary recommended material to use with this model is still wood.
The assembly process is really quite difficult, and if you are not exceptionally strong, you may require a second person to help you lift the head into place, but besides that, there are a few imperfections which may need to be filed down or dealt with, but our model came in rather pristine condition straight out of the box, as is to be expected with a product in this price range. We have not experienced any failures in the drill press' functioning, but it is always nice to have a 5 year factory warranty just in case.
The auto-tensioning belt is a nice feature that lets you speed up your RPM adjustments and cuts down on your workload, allowing you to work more efficiently if you find yourself changing your drill's RPM somewhat often throughout a job. Keep in mind that this is a big machine, and you will need a lot of room in your worshop to use it effectively, so you will want to try and make sure that it will fit before you order it.
Advanced Option: If you are looking for an advanced Delta floor model drill press, the DELTA 15-344 15-Inch Three Phase 200-Volt Variable Speed Drill Press is a beast and will give you years of solid drilling for your machine shop or advanced woodworking facility. See Price and Compare
The Shop Fox W1668 drill press is another affordable mid-range drill press offering in our line of benchtop drill press reviews. It features a tilting table with a dust port, which greatly increases the ease of maintaining the cleanliness of your work area. Many people cannot stand having wood dust in the way when they are doing delicate jobs, so it is a nice inclusion as a feature on a relatively low price drill press.
It is also relatively portable for a benchtop drill press, at about 50 lbs, now, while this may be heavier than some bench top drill presses, it is still a good weight for a press in this price range and makes it fairly easy to install onto your bench by yourself.
When compared to other workbench type drill presses, this is a very large model, and this is one of the main selling points that we found when compared to other affordable drill presses.
Of course, since this press is so large, you will want to make sure that you have enough vertical clearance in your workshop for it to fit on a workbench, otherwise you may have to use it as a makeshift floor press or place it on a lower work table.
The five speed settings feel adequate for a lower end drill press, and the motor is powerful enough to deal with most types of wood. Better yet, the build quality is good, and the product has not had any noticeable defects.
Finally, we will review a drill press table which can be added to any of the above drill presses if you wish to improve the surface area of your drilling surface, or would simply like a drilling surface that works more effectively at holding down your workpiece.
This table tends to hold most wooden pieces tight, thanks to the adjustable block and t-tracks. This would be a good purchase for certain lower priced models of drill press which come equipped with a table which is too small to work with larger objects.
Although some higher priced models do come with relatively small work tables which you may wish to replace with this one.
While this table may seem like a bit of a niche product for customers who are unsatisfied with the size of their work surface on their drill press, it truly does come in handy when it gets too hard to balance a piece of wood on a mere 7-inch square surface, so it gets the job done.
There are a lot of practical applications to consider when it comes to selecting the best benchtop drill press. Overall, we recommend considering your intended use, overall woodworking or metalworking goals and balancing that with your budget.
We hope that you learned about the different table top drill presses available and found a product that at least suits your needs. Drill presses are certainly not as complicated as they may seem to the uninitiated.