Choosing The Best Drill Press for Woodworking
When it comes to woodworking tools, drills, table saws and sanders are all common. As for the drill press, it is an acquired taste but a handy tool to have on hand nonetheless.
The best drill press for woodworking can come in many forms. If you work on projects where precision is key, it’s a tool to consider as you won’t have to worry about shaky hands. You won’t even break a sweat, as these machines do all the work, and you may be surprised by how little space they consume.
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Considerations before buying a drills press for woodworking
Benchtop vs. floor drill press
How much space do you have in your shop?
Even crowded garages or workspaces can generally accommodate a medium-sized floor drill press. These types of presses have larger work tables and usually have more horsepower as well. It’s not uncommon to see a floor model with a motor rated at 1.5HP – something you won’t find with a benchtop press.
Floor models tend to have more speeds although both can top out at 16. As for the mini drill press, they can perform just as well as their larger brethren, are lightweight, and take up considerably less space.
We’ve talked about throat depth before when we were giving you our picks for the best band saw, and it comes into play again with drill presses.
The throat depth lets you know how large of a piece of wood or metal your machine can handle. It’s the distance between the post and the spindle, so you will want a drill with plenty of depth if you need to work with larger stock.
All holes are not created equal or straight. While nobody wants to drill a crooked hole, sometimes you need to drill one at an angle.
This is where a tilting table can save the day. It allows you to handle difficult holes with ease and is a common feature on most drill presses. That said, the best drill press for woodworking may keep things simple. A table doesn’t have to have a dozen slots; it just needs to tilt and stay firmly in place when locked.
Best Drill Presses for Woodworking
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Top Option: Delta 18-900L
Delta makes some amazing tools, and we’re big fans of the 18-900L Drill Press. This is no ordinary model, however, and it has a high-tech feature that ensures accuracy. That would be a laser, but it’s far from the only cool feature this drill has to offer.
Changing speeds can be a real pain, especially if you’re a beginner just learning how to properly operate a drill press. The Delta 18-900L makes it easy with its auto-tensioning system. The aforementioned laser is a slick feature as well considering it gives you a crosshair to aim for.
It will be hard to miss your mark with this drill between the laser and the micro-adjustable depth stops. The 6-inch quick stroke gives you plenty of room to work while the 3/4 HP motor provides plenty of pop straight out of the box.
Other features to note for the Delta 18-900L include an LED work light and a tilting table. The table has 0 to 90-degree bevels and is cable of tilting forward 0 to 48-degrees as well. It’s top of the line with 16 speeds which allow you to hit metal at 170 or go full bore at 3,000 RPMs.
Delta put a lot of love into this piece of equipment, and there’s a lot to like including the large work area and the overall capacity. It’s also a model we feel is extremely user-friendly, and while it isn’t cheap, it’s affordable for its size.
The Delta 18-900L comes with a 5-year warranty and weighs 260 pounds. The only true negative we could find was the fact some users reported issues with a wobbly chuck. It does not appear to be widespread, but worth mentioned nonetheless.
Runner-up: Shop Fox W1668
The Shop Fox W1668 isn’t nearly as mighty as our top choice, but it’s half the price and size. That’s because it’s a benchtop model, but one with an interesting feature. This machine not only drills, but it’s also capable of sanding.
This 2-in-1 tool has a 3/4 HP motor which is impressive for its size. It is 13-inches with a swing of 13-1/4” and a spindle travel of 3-1/4”. While we wish the latter were larger, it is a benchtop press.
With 12 speeds in all, this little powerhouse can work with both metal and wood. That said, the included sander makes this machine ideal for wood and crafters that need an all-in-one solution for the shop. Despite its size, the table titles 90-degrees to the left or right or used in some interesting sanding applications.
This one comes with a 3-piece spindle sander drum kit. A mandrel is included along with 80 grit sandpaper for all three drums. The drum sizes are listed at 1-inch, 1-1/2-inches, and 2-inches. It won’t take up much space, but make sure your bench is sturdy as it still weighs 122 pounds.
We feel this drill is suitable for both shop use and crafters than need a machine that does a bit more than a Dremel. While those little tools are handy, they lack the power and finesse of a good drill press. This one can’t handle large stock, but everything else is top notch.
If you like what the Shop Fox W1668 brings to the table, but want something larger, you are in for a treat. There is another model available in the W1848 which is an oscillated floor drill press with a similar style and speed. Both models come with a 2-year warranty and the sanding drums.
Budget Pick: WEN 4210
WEN’s tools are a nice alternative when budget is a concern. They don’t cut corners where it counts which make the WEN 4210 a great budget-friendly choice for consumers serious about woodworking and DIY projects.
We’re going to start with the build quality on this one. While it’s small, it has a cast iron table measuring 7-5/8” x 7-5/8” square. It has a rack & pinion adjustment system and bevels to boot. Need to adjust the speed? You have five to choose from between 600 and 3100 RPMs.
The spindle travel distance on the Shop Fox W1668 is listed at 2-1/2” which is average for this class. It has a linear locking depth stop, and a laser just like pricier models, so we don’t think you’ll have an issue making accurate holes.
From the 3.2 amp induction motor to the cast iron frame, it’s hard for us to find a reason not to recommend the Shop Fox W1668. Aside from the small table, they’ve done a great job with this one, and it’s well worth a look if your budget is tight.
The one negative would be the warranty and weight. You only get 2-years with this drill press, and at 51 pounds, it’s not what we would consider “rock solid” when it comes to stability.
Whether you need to save space or want a full-fledged floor model with a powerful motor, there is a drill press out there for you.
While all of these models will work wonders in your woodshop, any press with a variable speed setting can work with other materials as well. If you need a good bit for your new press, give our guide to the best drill bits a look to see some of the top models around.