The Best Drill Presses of 2022

For precision drilling, it’s tough to beat the accuracy of a drill press.

By Glenda Taylor | Updated May 13, 2022 3:15 PM

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Photo: depositphotos.com

A hand drill is controlled by the user’s hand and arm, so human error can create a hole that’s slightly off-center. A drill press produces perfectly aligned holes of equal size every time, depending on the model. There are many different kinds of drill presses, including magnetic, a floor model, and a mounter or workbench design.

When choosing the best drill press for you, factor in the thickness of the material—average drill depth is around 2 to 6 inches—and the type of material you’re working with: Dense wood and metal require more power to drill through than softwoods and plastic. The list of top picks below was assembled after a thorough review of the market and in-depth product vetting.

  1. BEST OVERALL: DEWALT Drill Press 2-Speed Magnetic 2-Inch
  2. RUNNER UP: JET JDP-15B 15-Inch Bench Drill Press
  3. BEST FOR CRAFTERS: Shop Fox 13-Inch Bench-Top Drill Press/Spindle Sander
  4. BEST FOR BEGINNERS: WEN 4212 10-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press
  5. BEST FOR DIYERS: WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press
  6. BEST FOR WOODWORKING PROS: Shop Fox W1848 Oscillating Floor Drill Press
The Best Drill Press Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drill Press

When shopping for the best drill press for your needs, consider whether you have sufficient space on a workbench to mount the power tool or if you’d prefer a freestanding floor model. All drill presses operate on the same basic principle, but differences can be found in power level and in optional features.

Type

  • A benchtop drill press is usually mounted to the workbench with bolts to keep it from moving during use. When mounted to the workbench, the top of a benchtop model reaches roughly 60 inches in height. Benchtop models are designed more for the home workshop than for professional use. Standard benchtop drill presses range from 1/3- to 3/4-horsepower models and a maximum cutting depth of 4 inches.
  • A floor model drill press can either be bolted to the floor or weighted down with something heavy, such as sandbags. A floor model is larger, topping out around 60 inches in height and are often found in commercial workshops for their precision. With a cutting depth of 13-20 inches and 300 to 3,000 rpms.
  • Magnetic drill presses, also known as “magnetic drills” or “mag drills”, are designed for drilling into metal. A strong magnetic base sits directly on the metal that you want to cut, ensuring stability and accuracy while drilling. Most magnetic drill presses have between 6 and 12 amps of power and a cut depth between 1 and 3 inches.

All of the above models are considered to be mostly stationary tools once a location is decided upon, but the benchtop and floor options—with some effort—can be moved to another location in the workshop.

Power and Speed

The power of the motor—horsepower—determines how long the drill press will run without undue stress on the motor. More powerful motors will withstand frequent use without overheating, but in most home workshops, a drill press with a 1/4 horsepower to 3/4 horsepower motor is usually sufficient. In commercial shops, it’s not uncommon to find drill presses that feature 1 horsepower or even more power in larger motors.

Most drill presses come with a variable speed adjustment that allows the user to increase the speed up to about 3,000 rotations per minute (rpm) or reduce it to around 250 rpm. Lower speeds are desirable when drilling through some types of material, such as steel, to keep the bit from heating up and breaking.

Chuck Size

The chuck is the assembly that holds the drill bit. The average benchtop drill press is likely to come with a 1/2-inch chuck. This means the chuck will accept any drill bit up to 1/2-inch in diameter, including a 1/4-inch bit, a 3/8-inch bit, and so on.

Some floor models also come with 1/2-inch chucks, but many floor model drill presses come with 3/4-inch and 1-inch chucks for accepting larger bits. The majority of drill bits are 1/2 inch or less in diameter, so unless you plan on using larger bits, a drill press with a 1/2-inch chuck will be sufficient.

Size and Weight

Drill presses are sized according to their “throat distance.” The throat distance is the space between the center of the chuck (the part that holds the drill bit) and the front of the tool’s supporting column. That distance is doubled to indicate the drill press’s “size.” So if the throat distance on a particular press is 6 inches, we say that machine is a size 12. The throat distance, sometimes called “swing,” indicates how far the user can drill a hole from the edge of the material.

For example, a 10-inch drill press will drill a hole up to 5 inches from the edge of the material, and a 12-inch drill press will drill a hole up to 6 inches from the edge of the material. Most drill presses are 10-inch or 12-inch, although larger ones are available for commercial use and much smaller ones can be found for crafting use.

Mini drill presses, which are used more by crafters than by mechanics or woodworkers, can weigh as little as 2.5 pounds, while benchtop models range from around 35 to 65 pounds and floor models can weigh 130 pounds or more.

Safety Features

Drill presses don’t have a lot of extra safety features, but some come with a plastic see-through safety guard that encircles the drill bit to help keep wood chips and metal shavings from flying in all directions. In many cases, the clear safety guards are sold separately and can be attached to most models.

Before operating any power tool, study the owner’s manual and follow the safety instructions. A drill press is one of the safer power tools, but never wear gloves, dangling jewelry, or loose clothing that could become caught in the spinning bit. If you have long hair, pull it back and secure it out of the way. It’s also important to wear safety goggles to keep wood chips or metal shards out of your eyes.

Additional Features

Drill presses come with a few additional features that may be helpful.

  • LED light: The ability to direct a bright light right where you need to drill can be very helpful, especially in workshops where the lighting isn’t great.
  • Oscillation: Some drill presses are capable of oscillating in an orbital motion as well as drilling. This makes the tool capable of sanding and polishing, in addition to drilling holes, when the drill press is fitted with a sanding wheel or polishing hood.
  • Accessories: Some drill presses may come with optional accessories, including clamps for securing the material when drilling. These can also be purchased separately.

Our Top Picks

With those considerations in mind, explore the best drill press options for various needs and skill levels. The following models were selected based on brand reputation, build quality, power, and ease of operation.

Best Overall

The Best Drill Press Option: DEWALT Drill Press, 2-Speed, Magnetic, 2-Inch
Photo: amazon.com

In projects or trades that include metal fabrication, building steel stairs, or other major steel construction, the metal will likely be too large or heavy to haul to a workshop drill press. That’s where magnetic drill presses (commonly called mag drills) like the DEWALT 2-inch magnetic drill press come in.

When the powerful electromagnetic base is positioned on the metal to be drilled, such as a large I-beam, the magnet is activated, locking the drill press to the metal object for stability while drilling. The DEWALT mag drill has two speed settings, 300 rpm and 450 rpm, and comes with a safety overload switch that shuts down the drill if it overheats.

With a 10-amp motor and 2 speed settings, this model is versatile and comes with a quick, tool-free ¾ shank change, a quick release feed, a magnetic self-feed cooling tank, and a motor height adjustment.

Product Specs

  • Type: Magnetic
  • Power: 10-amp motor
  • Chuck Size: ½-inch

Pros

  • 10-amp motor
  • 2 speed settings
  • Safety overload switch
  • Quick shank-change and release feed

Cons

  • Heavyweight design

Get the DEWALT drill press on Amazon and at DEWALT.

Runner Up

The Best Drill Press Option: JET JDP-15B 15-Inch Bench Drill Press
Photo: homedepot.com

For home-based production workshops, the JDP-15B is a good investment. Whether you run a small muffler shop from your home, build custom motorcycles, or create custom furniture, the JDP-15B can handle any garage workshop project. This drill press has a 3/4-horsepower motor with speed adjustability between 210 and 3,500 rpm.

With that power and speed, and a spindle travel of 3 1/8-inches, it can handle everything from softwood to cast iron. The 15-inch throat is large enough for almost anything you can think of, and the 17-inch wide table has precision-ground t-grooves to clamp and hold projects firmly. It also features a laser guide for faster alignment.

Though this model is very heavy and not meant to be a portable drill press, users make speed changes with adjustments to the drive belt, which is fine, but it would be nice to have a digital readout that shows the spindle’s speed for precision work.

Product Specs

  • Type: Benchtop
  • Power: ¾-horsepower motor
  • Chuck Size: ⅝-inch

Pros

  • Suitable for home workshops
  • 210-3,500-rpm speeds
  • Can be used to drill metal and wood
  • 17-inch wide table

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavyweight

Get the JET drill press at The Home Depot.

Best for Crafters

The Best Drill Press Option: Shop Fox 13-Inch Bench-Top Drill Press
Photo: amazon.com

Shop Fox knows that most hobbyists need their workshops to be as versatile as possible. Their 13-inch Benchtop Drill Press/Spindle Sander is designed for both drilling and sanding, which is why this 3/4-horsepower drill press turns the spindle at speeds between 250 and 3,050 rpm. The 13 1/4-inch swing allows easy manipulation of large workpieces without issue, especially when sanding.

The table tilts to either side up to 90 degrees, making drilling end-grain on woodworking projects a snap. It includes the drum kit with 1-, 1 1/2-, and 2-inch drums and sandpaper. When used in sanding mode, the drum oscillates up and down. The unconventional round worktable features a circular cutout for the sanding drum—perfect for fine, detailed sanding jobs.

The only complaints we have is that there’s no mechanism for switching between drilling and spindle-sanding and it is not light enough to be a portable drill press. Users have to open the lid and remove or replace a belt to make the switch between the two modes.

Product Specs

  • Type: Benchtop
  • Power: ¾ horsepower
  • Chuck Size: ⅝-inch

Pros

  • 250-3,050 rpms
  • 13 ¼-inch swing
  • Adjustable table; tilts 90 degrees on both sides
  • Drum kit included

Cons

  • Heavyweight design
  • Assembly required; may be difficult for beginners

Get the Shop Fox drill press at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best for Beginners

The Best Drill Press Option: WEN 4212 10-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press
Photo: homedepot.com

With a large 8-inch worktable, the WEN 4212 10-inch Variable Speed drill press allows users to make precise holes up to 4 inches from the edge of their material. The laser guide is helpful for beginners just getting the hang of a drill press, but advanced workers are sure to find it handy as well.

The worktable tilts up to 45 degrees for drilling directional holes, and the WEN drill press will drill a hole up to 2 2/5-inches deep. Users can select and lock in the exact speed needed from 530 to 3,100 rpm. This bench-style drill press should be mounted to a countertop for stability.

Product Specs

  • Type: Benchtop
  • Power: 5-amp motor
  • Chuck Size: ½-inch

Pros

  • 530-3,100 rpms
  • Laser guide for cutting
  • Tiltable worktable
  • 2 ⅖-inch max cutting depth

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Assembly required

Get the WEN 4212 drill press at Amazon, Walmart, and Lowe’s.

Best for DIYers

The Best Drill Press Option: WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press
Photo: homedepot.com

The benchtop-style WEN 4214 12-inch Variable Speed drill press offers ample power for drilling through wood, plastic, and metal with ease, making it a good choice for the DIY workshop. This drill press provides a number of features found on industrial models, including a digital readout that lets you select a full range of speeds between 580 rpm and 3,200 rpm and cross-hair laser beams that pinpoint the exact spot to drill.

The 12-inch worktable, which tilts up to 45 degrees in both directions, allows users to drill holes up to 3 1/8 inches deep and up to 6 inches from the edge of the material. The cast-iron base comes with holes for bolting it to the work surface.

Product Specs

  • Type: Benchtop
  • Power: 120 volts
  • Chuck Size: ⅝-inch

Pros

  • Works on wood, plastic, and metal
  • Cast-iron base
  • 580-3,200 rpms
  • Cross-hair laser beams

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Assembly required
  • Some users reported manufacturing defects

Get the WEN 4214 drill press at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

Best for Woodworking Pros

Best Drill Presses Options: Shop Fox W1848 Oscillating Floor Drill Press
Photo: amazon.com

For the woodworking pro who needs both a drill press and a sander, the Shop Fox drill press doesn’t disappoint, as the drill bit can be easily removed and replaced with a sanding pad. The oscillating movement (orbital movement combined with a spinning motion) of the sanding feature produces a smooth surface without leaving scratches or cross-grain marks like non-oscillating sanders can.

The drill press is fitted with a 2-inch dust port that connects to a standard shop vacuum for wood-dust control. The worktable tilts up to 90 degrees in both directions, and the user can select from 12 different speeds, ranging from 250 to 3,050 rpm.

The maximum hole depth is 3 1/4 inches, and holes can be drilled up to 6 1/2 inches from the edge of the material. The round worktable measures 12 3/8-inches in diameter, and the floor base can be bolted down to a concrete floor or anchored with heavy sandbags or gym weights.

Product Specs

  • Type: Floor model
  • Power: 110 volts
  • Chuck Size: 1/64 inches to ⅝ inches

Pros

  • Oscillating movement and standing feature
  • Built-in 2-inch dust port
  • Tiltable worktable; tilts 90 degrees on either side
  • 12 speed settings

Cons

  • Very heavyweight
  • May be difficult to assemble

Get the Shop Fox drill press at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Our Verdict

With so many available options for drilling in your home workshop or the job site, it can be difficult to know which one is going to meet your needs. One of the best drill presses overall is the magnetic DEWALT drill press with its 10-amp motor and 2 included speed settings for metal and softwoods alike.

How We Chose the Best Drill Presses

The right drill press can make cutting your wood or metal quick and safe. The above drill presses come in various types, power outputs, chuck sizes, rpms, and additional special features and safety features for your big or small projects.

We researched the most sought-after drill presses in their respective categories and discovered that benchtop options are favored for their ease of use, potential portability, and effective cutting power. Magnetic and floor drill presses are also listed above. While the magnetic is suitable for metal and softwood, the floor models offer more precision.

Though different in performance, each of the above presses has powerful rpms ranging from 210 to 3,200. Power is also not a problem with these models as many come with ample volts, amps, or horsepower while in use. ½-inch and ⅝-inch chucks are among the most common sizes in the best drill presses, while some models also come with adjustable/tiltable worktables, dust ports, variable speed control, and multiple speed settings included.

FAQs

While shopping for your first drill press, you likely have some questions about its range of use.

Q: Can you mill with a drill press?

Trying it is not recommended. The bit on a milling machine is designed to spin at speeds of up to 15,000 rpm or faster, which is required for shaping aluminum and other metals, while a drill press, even at top speeds, spins around 3,000 rpm.

On a milling machine the material is clamped to a movable table, which allows the user to move the material safely. On a drill press, the table is stationary, and the machine is not equipped to mill in a way that is considered safe.

Q: Can you use a mortising bit in a drill press?

Yes, mortise bits are available for use with drill presses. Mortise bits can save time when you need to cut a mortise (a hole with square sides). A mortise bit features a drill bit with a flat end and a side chisel for creating holes with straight edges.

Q: How do you change the speed on a drill press?

Drill presses come with speed adjustments that allow you to drill as fast as 3,000 rpm or as slow as around 250 rpm.

Q: Should you wear gloves when using a magnetic drill press?

You should avoid wearing gloves when using a magnetic drill press because the fabric can get caught and be pulled into the machine. However, when the magnetic drill press is not in operation and you are removing chips from the cutter and magnet, you should wear gloves to prevent cuts.

Q: How long does a drill press last?

A quality drill press should last for years, if not decades.