What is a Drill Press?



what is a drill press

A drill press is a stationary power tool used to drill precise holes in surfaces like metal, wood or plastic. These drills are usually huge and stationary with a rotating handle that you can use to control the spinning spindle that can only move up or down.

It is different from a mill press, which can also cut materials in addition to drilling holes.

A drill press is one of the most popular woodworking tools used by a lot of people, but perhaps you are not sure what it is and what it’s used for.

Don’t worry! In this article I will explain all you need to know about drill presses, from the types and uses to their advantages and disadvantages.

Types of Drill Presses

1. Benchtop Drill Press

benchtop drill press example

The benchtop drill press is probably the more ideal type for standard and everyday woodworking jobs. It can sit on any sturdy bench or tabletop, is significantly lighter and therefore more portable.

If you are planning to only drill up to medium-sized stock and light metals, a benchtop drill will work just fine.

The motor of this drill press type is usually smaller, at around 3-7 amps and 1/3 or 2/3 horsepower. It is definitely more budget-friendly while still offering pretty much the same features and drilling capacity.

2. Floor Drill Press

Floor drill press example

As its name suggests, a floor drill is taller and stands on the floor, making it more suitable for commercial and bigger projects where you need to drill into larger stocks.

It has more power as it’s designed to be used more frequently and on tougher material. It’s heavy duty and is usually even more stable too than the standard benchtop drill.

While a floor drill has more room to drill larger pieces, it requires more space to store too and might be too heavy to move around easily. This type of drill press is also typically more expensive due to its more solid build and versatile application.

What Is a Drill Press Used For?

Using a drill press

Just like a regular handheld drill, the drill press can be used for a variety of purposes. It has an expandable chuck so you can fit it with different types of bits for your specific need.

Meanwhile, the variable output speed allows you to fully control the speed to suit all sorts of drilling tasks. Drill presses also come with a depth stop, which will help you drill holes at a consistent length.

For example, it can be used to bore holes with larger diameters as it has more power and torque than a regular drill, so larger bits and accessories can fit easily. As they are stationary drills, they are also much more stable and will help you create a cleaner hole.

You can also drill holes at a specific angle because some drill presses have an adjustable head or table to enable angled drilling. The drill press can also be used to enlarge existing holes if you attach a larger drill bit.

Moreover, using a reamer bit can help you finish a hole and produce smooth edges. It is also useful for countersinking holes, counter boring and tapping holes, among many others.

Drill Press Advantages and Disadvantages

Drill presses and regular handheld drills may seem to have similar functions, but are actually different in a couple of aspects. Firstly, the drill press is more accurate due to the pivoting beveling tables and adjustable depth stops.

It is quicker and overall more efficient as it allows you to preset specific elements like the angle and drilling depth, which will in turn reduce mistakes in your work.

Drill presses also have more powerful motors and this is especially useful when you’re working on tough materials.

However, considering that drill presses are large and heavy, they are significantly less portable. Another disadvantage of using the drill press is the limited drilling capacity.

While you can use a handheld drill on practically any sized materials, fixed factors like swing distance, stroke distance and the distance between the table and the chuck of a drill press can limit the size of stocks you’re able to work on.


To conclude, a drill press is a useful and versatile power tool that you should probably have if you are into woodworking and construction jobs. While it is more precise, efficient and powerful than a regular handheld drill, it can be more expensive and less portable too.

Overall, it’s definitely a must-have and owning one can significantly improve your woodworking projects.