A drill press is a must-have tool for wood- and metalworkers. Even though common tools like saws, hammers, and power drills can be used to complete the same tasks, drill presses make work much quicker and easier to do. These tools deliver precise depth and precision, but different models have varying results. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and with features that can be confusing to filter through.
There are numerous manufacturers out there from all over the world that produce a wide selection of tools to choose from. In this article, we’re going to focus on two medium-weight contenders in the industry: SKIL and WEN. SKIL has been in business since 1942, whereas WEN has been serving construction workers since 1951. Both have a large size of die hard fans, but for different reasons – SKIL for their quality and WEN for their affordability. Here, we’re going to compare SKIL’s 3320-01 and WEN’s 4208 tabletop drill presses.
The 3320-01 model features a respectable 3.2 Amp motor. The motor delivers sufficient power for a number of drilling applications. This tool also delivers a great amount of torque – so great that some customers have complained about their stocks or sheet metal moving around when the drill bit enters. Just clamp them down or have a steady hand and you’ll be all right.
Of the two models here, this is the more budget-friendly option, though the SKIL provides ample power considering its price tag. This WEN model comes with a moderate 2.3 Amp motor which works rather well on both wood and metal, though it’ll struggle to drill through any sheets of metal thicker than ½ an inch.
The SKIL is the clear winner here. With a 3.2 Amp motor, it will provide enough torque to drill through sheets of metal a little bit thicker than an inch.
Operators can control the speed of the drilling bit using the model’s 5-speed motor. With five speeds, you get greater control over how hard and quick to drive holes into various boards and metal sheets. From slowest to fastest, each gear can reach a maximum speed of 570 RPM, 900 RPM, 1,390 RPM, 2,050 RPM, and 3,050 RPM. WEN 4208
Theoretically speaking, a weaker motor should cause a bit to rotate much slower than a higher-amp motor if the goal is to provide optimal torque. However, that’s not the case in the WEN 4208. This unit also comes with a 5-speed transmission where each gear delivers a maximum speed of 740 RPM, 1,100 RPM, 1,530 RPM, 2,100 RPM, and 3,140 RPM. The tradeoff for super-quick speed is the lack of drilling power, making it just a little bit underwhelming in drilling tasks.
We like the quicker drill speed of the WEN 4208, but it just doesn’t deliver enough power. Even the difference in speed between both models is rather insignificant. For this reason, we prefer the speed settings of the SKIL.
½-inch Chuck Size
Both of these units come with a keyed ½-inch chuck. This ½-inch diameter of the chuck allows for practically every size bit you’d need for personal and even professional settings, though this is nowhere close to industry-sized drill press chucks can handle. Swapping bits is a breeze with the included key you get with this kit.WEN 4208
This unit also features a ½-inch chuck with a key to release and swap bits. There are no problems with the overall grasping power of the chuck, and hardly any customers have complained about loose drill bits or unintended release. However, we’ve said it repeatedly again, WEN-made bits and attachments aren’t that durable or long-lasting. We suggest purchasing more reliable bits to install in this unit (not an attack on the drill press itself).
There’s hardly any difference between the chucks. They’re the exact same size, they have similar grasping power on drill bits up to ½-inch in diameter, and you need a key (included in the box) to loosen and tighten the chucks around your desired drill bit. It’s a stalemate in this regard.
This 10-inch drill press has a drilling capacity of up to 2-3/8 inches deep into both wood and metal. This should be deep enough for a number of projects, especially considering the somewhat limited power you get from the 3.2 Amp motor. This unit also comes with a depth stop for delivering consistent depths for repeated drilling.WEN 4208
This 8-inch drill press has a maximum spindle journey of 2 inches. That’s not too impressive, but it should get most of your light- to medium-duty tasks done in a hurry. In addition, the depth measurement is straightforward and easy to use. Some users complain about the depth stops being too unreliable but we found they did a great job.
The SKIL is the clear winner here, despite only offering an additional 3/8 inches of maximum drilling depth. The depth stops are also more trustworthy than the WEN’s setup according to a large number of customers.
Lightweight and Compact
Both of these drill presses are lightweight and compact, making them both viable options for woodworkers on the go. The SKIL 3320-01 weighs in at 52.2 pounds and takes up 7.5 x 22.9 x 11 inches of space. If you plan on transporting it from place to place, the height might be a drawback since, upright, it’s a little bit unstable on the bed of your truck. WEN 4208
This drill press weighs only 32 pounds and takes up 9.8 x 21.8 x 15.2 inches of space. It’s a little bit taller, which isn’t an issue even when placed on top of your work table. The same transportation problem of the SKIL 3320-01 applies for this model as well. We suggest laying them flat on their side with sufficient padding to protect their sensitive components.
Their sizes are practically similar, but the 20.2-pound difference can mean a lot to people who need a portable drill press. Gun to our head, we prefer the SKIL model since the additional poundage also helps to keep the unit stable, especially when using the highest speed setting.
Adjustable Work Table
The 3320-01’s table measures in at 7-5/8 x 7-5/8 inches. The table can be tilted up to 45° to the left and right, offering greater use for a number of angles. If there’s one thing to complain about the table on this unit, it’s that it’s rather small, so our work is limited to small-sized stocks and metal sheets. This isn’t too much of an issue, though, considering that it’s a compact/emergency drill press. WEN 4208
Similar to the SKIL, the WEN is also adjustable to bevel up to 45° to the left and right. The table’s size, however, is considerably smaller – only 6-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches, further limiting what we can drill with this unit. The same complaint about the SKIL also applies to the WEN.
The bevel action on both drill presses is identical. Both units bevel between 0° and 45° without preconfigured stops so it’s up to the user to measure and lock the table’s angle. The size of the tables is a whole other issue, but we prefer the SKIL to the WEN because it table offers an additional 15.9-square-inches of work area to play with.
Laser Guide for Precision Cuts
Between these two models, only the SKIL features a laser guide which gives users an accurate estimate of where the drill bit will enter the stock of wood or sheet metal. This unit uses the company’s LaserX2 dual-beam laser system which shoots a crosshair onto the material you’re drilling. Some users complain about the laser’s being inaccurate when pulling the unit out of the box, but it’s easily fixable with only minor adjustments.WEN 4208
This unit doesn’t feature a laser guide, so everything you do is based on how you estimate the bit to enter the wood or metal piece. This isn’t too bad since you can’t solely rely on laser guides to give you accurate readings. However, laser guides serve to take some of the guesswork, so you’ll need to gauge the drill bit’s trajectory carefully.
Hands down, the SKIL 3320-01 wins this battle since the WEN doesn’t come with a laser guide. However, precision is determined mainly by how the operators work the unit, so you can be just as precise with the laser-less WEN as you would be with the SKIL.
We’ve noticed some similarities between the SKIL 3320-01 and the WEN 4208 where it’s impossible to determine which one is better than those regards. However, in every other aspect we mentioned here, the SKIL sweeps the WEN away over and over again. The power, weight, patented crosshair laser guide, and larger table size make this unit much more versatile and, overall, a better purchase.
We haven’t discussed price in this article so it’s up to you to decide whether the superior performance of the SKIL offers more value than the discounted price you get with the WEN. As for us, we’d still shell out the extra cash to get the SKIL over the WEN, but we wouldn’t consider it a “steal” or a “bargain” considering the almost-similar specs and performance.
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