Which Benchtop Drill Press Does the Most for a Workshop?
Case in point: I have a huge floor-standing drill press with a 3/4" chuck and a 1-hp motor. This behemoth drills to the center of a 20" workpiece (drill presses are sized by the distance from the column to the center of the chuck, times two). It’s a tank of a tool.
Even so, my drilling needs for projects are pretty typical. Rarely do I bore a hole larger than 2" or deeper than the thickness of 8/4 stock. Ordinary mortising and plug-cutting just don’t require knuckle-dragging torque either. I’ve never chucked a bit shank larger than 5/8" in it — and even that size is unusual. Truthfully, aside from its nice big table, this drill press is just plain overkill.
While my machine is extreme, there’s still a need for larger machines sometimes. Big hole saws or rosette cutters would probably stop most visible-m-inlineop drill presses dead in their tracks. Deeper reach (called “swing”) could be useful for centering holes on wide panels. If you want to drill down into workpieces taller than about 14", you’ll need a floor model’s long column. But for most bread-and-butter shop tasks, I think a benchtop drill press is plenty. These tools can save you floor space and cash without sacrificing performance.
Test Tool Playing Field
Though they're shorter than their freestanding cousins, benchtop drill presses still pack plenty of punch and take up less space in your workshop.
When whittling down the list of possible test models, I asked for machines with at least 1/3-hp and 12" swing. Manufacturers made their choices. That helps explain our slew of sizing, pricing, horsepower and features. Still, every one of these drill presses endured a torturous battery of hole-drilling in hardwood with big bits (see sidebar at right). All eight tools delivered clean results without stalling. It impressed me, especially those with modest motor sizes. So, picking a “Best Bet” tool really came down to which model offers the best combination of helpful features and overall ease of use for the money. Here’s how each tallied up for me and which one deserves our “top dog” billing.
- General International 75-030 Drill Press
- Shop Fox W1668 Drill Press
- Ryobi DP121L Drill Press
- Craftsman 21914 Drill Press
- Grizzly G7943 Benchtop Drill Press
- Rikon 30-120 Drill Press
- JET JDP-12 Drill Press
- Delta DP350 Drill Press