A workshop press or a drill press is one of the most versatile tools you could ever own. If you need to drill holes into wood, plastic, or even thin sheets of metal, a workshop press can be your go-to tool for total accuracy and easy repeated drilling. Selecting the right workshop press can be a challenge, especially since the market is flooded with different types with different capacities made for different tasks.
If you’re looking for a simple drill press to help in your workshop, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to make an educated purchase decision to ensure you won’t suffer from buyer’s remorse. But before we jump into our buying guide, let’s see the top five most impressive workshop presses available today.
Top 5 Best Workshop Presses
If affordability and drilling performance are important to you, then you’ll definitely want to take a close look at what WEN has to offer. This China-based company makes dominates our list, but we’ll start with the WEN 4208.
This portable workshop press comes with a beefy 1/3-HP motor that delivers a ½-inch chuck as deep as two inches into the surface of your workpiece. the 6-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch table is adjustable to suit the depth work, and it can also tilt up to 45° to the left and right. The depth gauge found on the opposite side of the lever is easy to read and promises accurate repeated drills. The 4208 is a 5-speed machine that works between 740 and 3,140 RPM for quick, easy-to-control drilling with a pull of the lever.
Although SKIL is mainly known for their line of circular saws, we can’t skimp on the awesomeness of the 3.2-amp 3320-01 workshop press. This is also a 5-speed machine that works at speeds of between 570 and 3,050 RPM, so users can choose how delicate or how rough to treat their material.
The SKIL comes with a handy 2-beam laser that shoots an X-shaped laser on your workpiece that indicates precisely where the drill bit will penetrate. The laser is powered by 2 AA batteries (included in the box) so you always have the option to turn it on or leave it off (many users choose to keep the laser off altogether). The large 7-5/8 x 7-5/8-inch work table ensures proper balance of most of work, and it can tilt at up to 45° to the left or right for drilling at any angle.
Going back to WEN, their 4214 is a larger, more heavy-duty model compared to the previous two. With a swing distance of 1 foot and a spindle travel depth of up to 3-1/8 inches, the 4214 is better-suited for projects where you’d need to drill repeated holes across thicker and wider stock.
Like the previous models, the 4214 uses a variable-speed motor, but setting up the desired speed is a matter of tinkering with the drive belt rather than switching between gears. Luckily, this model come with a digital readout that alerts users of how quickly the bit is spinning so there’s very little guesswork involved. This offers more versatility and control, but it’s also more difficult to configure, at least for first-time users. The 4214 also uses a thicker chuck of 5/8 of an inch for stronger, deeper drilling. This workshop bench also comes with a laser that indicates where the bit will enter your work object.
From its model name, we can already tell that the 4210 is smaller and less powerful than the 4214, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “weak” drill press by any means. it uses a 3.2-amp motor – stronger than the 4208 – and has a swing distance of 10 inches. Its 5-speed motor delivers between 600 and 3,100 RPM for maximum controllability and drill quality on a wide range of different materials.
The worktable is the same exact size as the SKIL and can tilt up to 45° in both directions. The 4210’s spindle can travel as deep as 2-1/2 inches, and the awesome locking mechanism ensures accurate hole depths in every workpiece without further tweaking. This drill press also comes with a work laser located near the ½-inch chuck, but it’s not as accurate as the SKIL or 4214. We’d suggest turning the laser off to avoid confusion.
They say if it ain’t broken, then don’t fix it. WEN seems to take this idea to heart by releasing both the 4210 and the 4210T. At first glance, you might think that the two are identical in every way. After all, they both have the same exact 5-speed motor and maximum speeds on each gear, they use a ½-inch chuck for heavy-duty drilling, and they use the same-size table with the same tilting system and capacity.
The only difference that we can find between the two is accuracy of their respective work lasers. If you need to rely on an X-shaped laser to find the insert point of the drill bit, get the 4210T since its laser is a lot more accurate and won’t shift while the drill is on. However, if you find work lasers to be more troublesome than helpful, you could turn the laser off on either one.
Workshop Press Buying Guide
Workshop presses, despite being a simple tool, are actually a challenge to buy. Finding the right model without excessive overkill can be difficult, especially when considering the numerous features and specs thrown into the mix. Instead of spending countless hours researching workshop benches, just take a look at our quick buying guide. This guide will inform you of the most vital features and specs to pay attention to when shopping for a workshop drill press.
Benchtop vs. Freestanding
The first thing you’ll need to determine is whether your workshop has enough space to house a freestanding drill press or not. If you work out of a garage and need to save as much space as possible, then a benchtop workshop press is for you. They may be smaller and weaker than their freestanding counterparts, but for the most part – even when working with long, thick stock – they’ll get the job done. Most hobbyists and DIYers can get by with a benchtop workshop press.
The size of the chuck indicates the maximum size of the drill bit. A larger chuck requires a beefier motor to turn, but it can also drill deeper and wider holes. The largest chuck from our picks of the best workshop presses is the 5/8-incher belonging to the WEN 4214. Whether you need this large of a chuck is entirely up to you. Let’s just say that going bigger may be better since it allows room for users to grow as they become more comfortable with the press, and smaller bits can also fit into the chuck without falling out.
Spindle Travel Distance
Spindle travel distance refers to how deep the drill can drill. The height adjustability of the table is mainly used to accommodate thicker stock and will not do much to increase drill depth. Once again, only you can decide how deep you need to drill. You can also flip your workpiece over to complete the drill, but there’s a ton of room for error.
A drill press’ swing measures the distance from the exact center of the spindle and support pole or “neck” of the drill press. So for instance, if you have a 10 x 10-inch board that needs to be drilled at the exact center, then the minimum swing should be at least 5 inches. Any smaller and the workshop press’ support pole will get in the way. All of the models listed on our favorite workshop benches have swings of at least 8 inches, meaning that you can drill at the center of boards as long or wise as 16 inches.
Adjusting the worktable on a drill press is crucial for meeting the exact specifications of the desired hole. The table can be adjusted by sliding it up and down the support pole to accommodate thicker and thinner stock, and it can tilt to the left or right at a certain angle. Every model we’ve listed comes with large work tables that tilt up to 45° to the left and right.
X-speed vs. Variable Speed
Finally, you should see whether the drill press uses an X-speed motor or variable speed. Having different gears is great for amateur users who may not be comfortable with adjusting a drive belt to achieve a certain speed, but there’s always the risk of the drill bit spinning too slowly for wood or too quickly for metal on a specific gear setting. Variable speed workshop presses come with accessible drive belts and pulleys that let users fine-tune their press to work at a very specific speed. We’d recommend going with an X-speed workshop for its user-friendliness.
1. Should I get a freestanding workshop press?
Deciding on whether to get a benchtop press (like the five products on our list) or a freestanding model depends on how far you need to drill and how much space you can dedicate to the tool. Freestanding models require a lot more clearance on every side of the tool to accommodate larger stock on its larger worktable. Benchtop models, on the other hand, are space-efficient and can do most of what a freestanding model can do. Ultimately, the decision is in your hands alone.
2. Is it possible to remove the worktable?
Why, yes, it is. The reason why you would ever need to remove the table is beyond us (perhaps you want to replace it for a larger one or a project calls for table-less drilling), but you can remove the table without affecting the performance of the tool. Alternatively, while assembling your workshop bench, you can forego installing the worktable altogether.
3. Can I drill square holes with a workshop press?
You can drill square holes as long as you have the right drill bit. The important thing to consider is drill bit can fit snugly into the chuck. Generally speaking, a larger chuck is ideal since you can always use smaller bits when necessary, whereas a smaller chuck can never use bits that are wider than the spindle.
Although power drills are able to do what workshop presses can, they’re not nearly as precise at drilling at a certain depth regardless of whatever jig you have in place. Workshop presses make drilling repeated holes across hundreds of workpieces a breeze with their depth stops, and their beefy motors – even in benchtop models – are able to drill through all sorts of materials. So, whether you need an immobile drill for wood, plastic, or metal for car maintenance, a drill press is an invaluable tool to have.
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5 WEN 4208 8 in. 5-Speed Drill Press
4 SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press
3 WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press
2 WEN 4210 Drill Press with Laser, 10-Inch
1 WEN 4210T 10 In. Drill Press with Laser