Drill Press Reviews
To read our general overview and buyers guide, scroll down.
If you already know which table you would like, I have found the best prices are consistently at Amazon and in almost all cases, include free shipping.
Jet jdp 12
Shop Fox W1668 3/4 HP
JET 354165 JDP-15M 3/4-HP
Northern Industrial Mini Drill Press – 5-Speed, 1/3 HP
Drill Press Reviews
By Mark Adams Senior Editor, Wood Tools Magazine
Bench top for floor model?
Probably the most important question and one woodworkers have been asking since the beginning of drill presses. Let me try and give you a few things to consider so you can make the choice that’s best for you.
How will you use your drill press 95% of the time? Not that one use every 3 years, but day in and day out. If you’re like most woodworkers, you will cut boards less than 2 feet long or wide, less than 1 inch deep and with the board flat.
Well you’re thinking, but I might need it for that once every three year project. I believe you can figure something else out or another way to drill for that occasional project.
For a drill press or any tool I buy, I would like it to be the right tool 95% of the time, not the 5%. But that’s my thought process, yours may be different and that’s OK. Just by thinking it through will help you pick the better style for you.
In reality most bench top and floor models from the same company have the same or very similar bodys, motors and depth of cut
Obviously there is a space savings with the bench top. However you could always add a mobile base the floor model.
Since most manufactures use very similar or the exact same motor and body on both their bench top and floor models, the quality of cut shouldnt be any different.
Should you consider a radial drill press?
On a radial drill press the head tilts instead of the table to cut angled holes. There are people who swear by drilling this way. Again, how often will you cut angled holes? If often, this might be what’s best for you.
Realize that radial presses are deeper and whether you choose a bench top or floor radial drill press you will need more space behind the press to allow the head to move vs a traditional drill press.
Will you use the variable speeds?
You mean drill presses actually have different speeds??? OK, all of us are guilty of not changing the speeds when we should. This is actually more important to slow the bit down when cutting large metal holes, but in woodworking unless using a large forstner bit, not so much.
On most drill press you will have to manually slip the belt to other pulleys to change speed. The more expensive models will have a dial to automatically change the speed. Really nice feature, but not the sole reason I would pick one drill press over another.
Will you need to modify the table?
For this I like melamine as a surface with a replaceable backer piece. Also you will use the fence and stops quite often. You could build your own. If you’re interested in building projects instead of jigs, here are some ready made commercial models.
How much horsepower will you need?
The typical low end under $100 drill press (that’s really just a toy) is usually 1/3 HP or less. Yes the motor spins the chuck and bit, but unless you’re drilling ¼ inch plywood, run like the wind when you’re tempted to buy a press like this, simply because of the cost. Even as a hobbyist or occasional woodworker, you’ll be disappointed with this HP.
The basic starting point is around ½ HP. ½ HP drill Presses will cut many things and if budget is a concern, you’ll be OK here. Just don’t expect to cut through dense hardwood on a regular basis and have a good experience doing it. If you do metal work, you would probably be OK here.
OK, at 3/4 horsepower, things get pretty interesting. Probably more than enough to cut almost all wood projects with ease. Metal working would be a snap, here.
At 1 HP and above you are probably OK for frequent commercial use
Have you considered assembly?
Realize even bench top drill presses are heavy. Yea, back in our 20’s none us gave a second thought to “manning up” to lift something like this. But thankfully age and experience has reduced the need for most of us to prove our physical strength. My suggestion is to recruit a friend to help you when the truck arrives.
Remember your first drill bit set? About 4000 bits for $5.99…Worked about as well as what you would expect, didn’t they? Guys, the drill press is obviously important, but the drill bits are just as important.
If you’re investing in a new press, spend a little more and get some decent carbide bits. Combined with your new press, you will see holes that actually cut quickly, smoothly and without tear out and without that wonderful burning smell.
I personally use a forstner bit set quite a bit and could not do without. Check out some examples here.
Which model is best for you?
I hope these reviews have been helpful. I have tried to cover some basics on this post. However, to see more model and brand specific information, click the specific product links below.
I find that the best prices and selection are at Amazon. The drill presses mentioned here will in some cases also include free shipping and in most cases, no sales tax.
Good luck and enjoy your new dril Press!
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