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What should you look for in a drill press for beginners

Last Updated: 26.10.21


When you’ve just discovered the immense enjoyment of doing things yourself in your own workshop, a drill press will make a great investment as a machine to start with. Providing you with the accuracy and power that no hand drill can deliver, the drill press enables you to do precise and even repeatable drilling so you can get on with different projects that showcase your creativity.

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Machine Configuration

You can choose between a benchtop or a free standing drill press. A benchtop model is outfitted with a less powerful motor along with chucks of lower capacity, as well as fewer speeds compared to a freestanding unit. However, if you’re just into stationary tools for use in a hobby, this kind of machine will work just fine, especially when your shop is still quite small. The benchtop power tool enables easy storage into a corner when not in use and won’t be eating up plenty of garage or workshop space. Be prepared for the larger footprint if you do go for a floor model. With a more powerful motor plus more speed settings, a floor unit will also provide a larger work surface plus rack-and-pinion settings for the table height adjustment.


Variable Speeds

Drill presses technically all work in the same manner, with a motor mounted at the back that powers the pulley, which is connected to a spindle that turns the drill bit. You can do speed changes using the stepped pulleys. This is essential when working with different types of material and different bit diameters, where you use slow speeds for large ones and high speeds for small ones. With more speeds on the machine, you are able to make more precise adjustments. When fitted with special bits, the drill press can make elaborate workpiece finishes such as square mortises and decorative rosettes.


Useful Features

The quill stroke varies as well. This refers to the distance traveled by the chuck on a vertical axis and determines the maximum hole depth the drill press can give you. Check out models with a quill lock, which will enable you to lower the bit directly over the stock and hold it there temporarily while you make the needed adjustments to the hole depth. Different manufacturers use different systems for this so check out what you feel you can work on comfortably. In addition, get a drill press with table dimensions and a distance between the support post and the chuck that you feel you will use heavily with the stock you plan to work on.

The quality of the chuck is also not the same from one machine to another. Make sure to get a drill press that features a smooth working chuck across the whole range of its available adjustments. You also want less runout or wobbling as the bit turns to ensure accurate and repeatable drilling results.

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Fits your Budget

Drill presses are available in a wide variety of prices, so it won’t be a bad idea to do some research on the most popular models available that will suit your needs as a novice wood worker and set your budget accordingly. Keep in mind that there will be significantly less difference between a premium quality drill press and a cheap one compared to having no drill press and using a cheap drill press, so if you must invest for the long term, go for a quality machine.