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Top 5 tips on using a drill press

Last Updated: 25.01.21


Being one of the most important and versatile tools in your workshop, your drill press can do so much more than just cut holes into any workpiece. Due to its versatile use, the drill press entails that you know a few tips or tricks that will ensure you can make the most of such a quality machine. Make tasks easy and get greater functionality from your drill press with these five tips.

1.Top 5 tips on using a drill press


Match the speed of the machine to the bit you employ as well as the material.

For going into wood, use larger drill bits and faster speeds. For drilling into metal, use slower speeds for a variety of drill bits. You might also want to put some oil in there. As a preventive measure, a few drops of cutting oil may be applied to the metal since drilling through metal can burn the drill bit out. Do this before drilling into metal.


A few simple ideas

Avoid those annoying breakout fibres at the exit

When using the drill press, the piece you drilled may have some really annoying fibres at the exit point. This is due to the pressure of the drill press causing the last layer to get pushed out roughly before it gets drilled through properly. One thing you can do is to use a backer board to provide support to the bottom of the hole you are drilling. Another effective preventive measure is to make sure that the thickness of the backer board is consistent so you can drill holes perpendicularly or at 90-degree angles. You can also clamp the backer board to the drill press when you need to drill several holes at a time.


Buy good quality suitable drill bits.

You can find twist drill bits in most stores, but these are geared for use with metal stock, despite the fact that they can also drill holes in wood. Twist drill bits have a rounded end, which does not work so well in wood as it does in metal. The biggest issue when using regular twist drill bits for wood is they tend to skate around and thus enter the stock the wrong way.

A brad-point drill bit, which has outside spurs and a center point, can do the job with greater accuracy. The circumference of the hole is cut prior to the entry of the actual cutting part of the bit, thanks to the spurs. This ensures a clean hole at the entry point. The center point lets you drill at an exact point, too. It can help to cut a small indent on the wood material using an awl at the point you want to drill, so you can feel the brad point come into contact with the mark.


Clamp the stock to the drill press table before switching the unit on.

Lining up the drill point to the mark on the workpiece and then turning the machine on will cause the stock to shift. The motor generates vibration that shifts the workpiece slightly. A better way is to secure the stock to the drill press table first before turning the drill press on, although it is a time-consuming maneuver if you have to drill a large number of holes. An even more effective way is to switch the machine on and then line up the drill bit with the mark you have made while pulling the lever down.

The momentum of the drill bit speed will render the tip invisible save for the brad point. Simply lower the bit to a point that it is almost touching the stock, then readjust it as needed before drilling. This ensures that your workpiece is properly aligned inspite of your eyes being unable to line up the mark back to front and side to side simultaneously since the bit is directly above the stock.

2.Top 5 tips on using a drill press


There are ways to avoid burning wood stock or damaging your drill bit.

Running the drill press extremely fast can cause burning of a wood workpiece. You can get a blackened hole that will not hold glue properly. In addition, heating the drill bit to the point of becoming blue won’t allow proper sharpening without first having to remove all the blue metal. It will be more cost efficient to just get a replacement drill bit. This is all attributed to rim speed, which refers to the outside of the drill bit travelling farther than its center, even when the machine is set to a specific speed. Therefore, with a larger diameter drill bit, you have the outside of that drill bit running faster still.


To combat the unwanted effects of this issue, run the drill press at a slower speed to match a larger drill bit diameter. The smallest drill bits are the only ones that should run at full speeds, typically at 3000 RPM. Large bits, such as 3-inch diameter Forstner bits,should run at the slowest speed, perhaps 250 RPM or lower. Adjust to a lower speed when you see smoke or burning of the stock to improve quality.