Updated: June 8, 2015
Drill Press Reviews:Owning a drill press makes a nice addition to any workshop and the versatility will have you using it more often than almost any other tool. The main purpose of a drill press is to drill precisely spaced holes or to bore to exact depths. Add-on attachments allow a drill press to function as a mortise machine, a spindle sander, or a pocket hole machine. A drill press is a great low cost investment that will repay you many times back. There are 2 standard models to choose from: bench-top and floor model. A bench-top drill press mounts directly to a workbench or to a stand and their small size is ideal for tight work areas.
A floor-model drill press tends to be more powerful than the bench-top style, offer more attachments and accessories, and make sense for avid DIY or commercial shops. Drill presses come with motors offering 1/4 to 1 horsepower (the higher HP lets you bore larger holes through material). Quill travel is how you determine at what depth the press can bore holes - i.e. the greater quill travel means deeper holes. Most drill presses have tables that can be lowered or raised and many can swivel 360 degrees around the column so you can handle odd shaped pieces. High end presses provide bigger, tilting tables with fences.
Drill presses come standard with 5 to 12 speed settings - these variable speeds let you drill various diameter holes through the material which prevents damaging drill bits or the material. The most versatile drills offer more speed settings. Depth stops manage the depth the quill descends and are convenient for repetitive boring or dowel holes (see boring machines here). Center drilling capacity is the distance from column to the center of the chuck. If you want to drill a hole 8" from the edge of a straight board, you will need a 16" drill press. The top accessory/attachment items for a drill press are fences (help position stock for repetitive holes), mortising attachments, sanding drums (attach to the chuck - sand irregular shapes), planer heads (used for squaring the edges or cutting rabbets). Lastly, the drill bit will make or break your drill press and you need to match the drill bit to whatever material you will be drilling. Steel bits are used for drilling softwood and are fairly cheap (they will dull faster when drilling hardwood). Cobalt bits are very hard and work best when drilling stainless steel and other metals. Carbide tipped bits cost a lot, but remain sharper longer than titanium, steel or high speed steel bits.
Titanium coated bits are more durable than HSS or steel bits while high speed steel bits are better than just steel bits. Keep reading to find out the best drill presses and drill bits. We found some excellent reviews with Popular Mechanics - they tested 5 drill presses in head to head comparisons. Other sites like Sawmillcreek.com, Epinions, and Woodcentral.com all have excellent reviews rating the best drill presses on the market. Perhaps the best review we found was that done by Bernard Maas on the Taunton.com website - he tested 9 floor models which were 15 to 17 inches in full height. Bernard tested the drill presses on things like depth stops, tilt mechanisms, and changing speeds. Delta Drill Presses are the clear winner in almost all the surveys and expert ratings we could find. Other top brands include Grizzly, Hitachi, Jet, Powermatic, Ryobi, Black & Decker, and Wilton. You can read reviews of all the top selling drill presses online here.