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What Is a Drill Press?

Last Updated: 25.01.21


A drill press is a popular tool that is used by metalworkers and woodworkers for precision work since its drill axis is fixed and won’t deviate as is the case with a handheld drill, and this helps it deliver more precise cuts. If you want to learn more about the advantages of a good drill press stand for hand drill, you can take a quick look below.


The basics

If you’ve ever owned a handheld power drill, you’ll instantly feel familiar with its bigger brother, the drill press. It is a stationary or benchtop power tool that is used to drill precise holes in wood, metal, or other materials.

A handheld tool has the advantage of mobility since it can go anywhere in the shop, and this has caused the drill press to be often underappreciated. It is a useful tool that can produce better results and cut into tougher materials than your average handheld power drill.

The most popular model is the floor type drill press, and it is used in both home and industrial workshops. The product is composed of four major components, the head, table, column, and the base. The head is where you will find the motor and the variable speed mechanism that is used to drive the spindle.

Having a variable rotation speed allows for more efficient drilling since the more speeds a model has, the more types of materials it will be able to work with. Entry-level models typically have 5 or 6 speeds, while more expensive models can have as many as 16. Rotation matters because the harder the material is, the slower your drill bit speed will need to be.

The spindle is found within the quill, and it can be moved up or down using a manual or automatic feed. The table is the part of the machine that will support your workpiece, and it can be raised or lowered on the column depending on the needs of the job at hand.

The column is the backbone that keeps all the other components of the machine in place. The head and the base are clamped to it. The column also serves as a guide for the adjustable table. The last component is the base, which is usually made of cast-iron, and it is the part of the tool that supports the entire structure.


The advantages of a drill press

Compared to a handheld drill, the main advantage of a drill press and the reason why so many woodworkers use it is that it delivers superior accuracy. With this machinery, you can set up the precise angle, depth, and width of each hole, and you can produce dozens of identical holes with minimal effort.

It is also very fast since, as mentioned above, the settings on the machine will let you configure the angle and depth of each hole. With a handheld drill, you need to be careful with how you push the drill, and this can make each task take longer. That’s not the case with a drill press since this machine does most of the work on its own.

Drill presses are also powered by much bigger motors, and this lets the bits rotate faster, which translates into quicker drilling. The bigger motors also allow the machine to fit very large drill bits that you can use to make holes that wouldn’t be possible with other machines.

Another advantage of this model is the impressive functionality that it offers, since not only does it let you drill holes at an angle, but it can also work with unbalanced wooden pieces, such as furniture legs. It is very easy to secure the piece of material that needs to be drilled on the worktable and get the job done quickly and effortlessly.

Despite its name, a drilling press isn’t just for drilling holes, especially if you get a unit with plenty of rotation speeds. The more speeds that the press has, the more versatile it becomes. You can change the speed to fit other tools such as a spindle sander or a rotary sanding disc.

You can also attach a mortise to make square- and rectangle-shaped holes. The incredible power of this machinery will also allow you to work with metal since it is powerful enough to cut through even the toughest materials.

Lastly, even with the extra power that this tool offers, it remains very safe to use, and that’s because you get total control of it. You can adjust the speed of the tip to meet each application, and you can use clamps to secure the material you plan to drill to the working table. All of these features make it less probable for something to go wrong.


How to use a drill press

Using a drill press isn’t difficult, but before you start, you should take the time to inspect the user’s manual so that you can get familiar with the way that your machine operates. Many types of wood and metal works can be done using this tool, but for the sake of simplicity, we will explore how to drill a basic hole safely.

First, you’ll need to locate the hole by drawing two crossing lines. Use a center punch to make a small indentation in the center of the hole since this will help the drill start the hole more accurately. Make sure to select the proper drill bit for the hole size that you need and the appropriate size center drill.

While taking into account the type of material that you’re drilling, the size of the bit, and the depth of the hole, make sure to select the right RPM for the drill bit. As a rule of thumb, slower speeds are better for drilling metal. For wood, faster speeds are recommended. With that in mind, you should still consult your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.

If you are looking to drill a hole of fixed depth, you will need to adjust the depth gauge that controls the distance the spindle travels. Before you operate the drill press, you’ll need to make sure that the workpiece is fixed properly in place. It should be either clamped to the table, supported against the supporting column, or secured in any other way.

Operating the tool without anchoring the workpiece firmly is not recommended since the rotation of the drill can spin the metal or wood workpiece. Lastly, once the drill press is all set up and ready to use, putting it to work is very easy.

Once the drill is spinning at full speed, simply lower the bit slowly using the rotating lever. When you are done drilling the hole, simply release pressure on the lever, and it will return to its original position. Repeat the process for every hole.


Types of drill presses

While drill presses come in many designs with different features, the two main types are the benchtop and stationary models. Benchtop models are smaller and lighter and are characterized by a footswitch that allows the user to turn the machine off conveniently.

As the name suggests, a benchtop drill press can be mounted on a workbench, and it is mostly used for light projects that require work with light workpieces. It is a good purchase for the everyday handyman.

Stationary models are also known as floor drill presses, and they’re perfect for large and demanding projects where one needs to work with heavy pieces of materials. They are fast, reliable, and versatile. The only thing that this type of drill press lacks is portability.


Stay safe

A drill press is a safe machine as long as the user is aware of the hazards that are involved. When cutting through any material, chips are produced in great quantities, and they should be handled safely. The rotating chuck and cutter can be dangerous as well.

This is why it is important to develop safe working habits when working with this machinery and use protective clothes and tools. Below we will explore some of the rules that need to be followed when working with a drill press.

You shouldn’t operate the drill press if you don’t understand how it works and the proper procedures that you need to use. As such, make sure to study the user’s manual diligently. You need to wear protective clothing, and safety eyewear is always a must.

Before you start drilling, you should plan the work thoroughly and make sure that you know the location of the off button so that you can stop the drill press quickly if something goes wrong. Always remove the chuck key after using it since if the key is left in the chuck, it will be thrown out when the machine is turned out. 

You should always use a brush to remove chips from the machine, not your hands, and remember not to clean the table while the machine is running.