Best Benchtop Drill Presses For The Money

Are you looking to turn that occasional woodworking hobby into a more serious project? You’re going to need a couple of tools to set up in the garage and a benchtop drill press is a place to begin. If you’ve only worked on a handful of woodworking projects, you might have used a handheld machine till now. As a result, you may have even found yourself frustrated with the inaccuracy of the holes and the long wire that needs an electrical output nearby.

But guess what? A benchtop drill press not only allows you to make precise holes with less effort, but it can also make that repetitive task of boring holes finish faster so you can make it to that date night in time.

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What is it used for?

benchtop drill press

Those pesky holes you couldn’t possibly get right with a handheld drill, a benchtop drill makes them easier thanks to its high power and stable position. Each project will have different criteria of holes needed, some big and some small. A benchtop model might cost you some extra bucks, but it’ll make up for it in the various attachments that can cater to all your needs.

Now you may be thinking, it may not be as portable as a handheld drill. That may be the case, but it is certainly not as cumbersome as the stationary floor models. Let’s not forget, their stationary position on the tabletop is what gives it the balance needed to drill quality holes with minimum human effort.

But here’s the biggest pro of a benchtop option; the variable speed.

If you’re still a novice in wood and metalworking, you may be wondering why the speed of the swindle is relevant. Well, a higher speed can drill small holes with ease, but for larger holes and larger  bits, less power and speed are required. Variable speed of benchtop drills then becomes a very useful quality to space both time and avoid wastage of materials.

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What should you look for when buying one?

When you’re making an investment this size, it’s best to do the research. Weigh your options with your needs keeping the following pointers in mind.

The Size

There are two terms to remember; Swing and spindle. The swing decides how much width of material can be drilled on the machine if you want to drill a hole in the center. In simple words, it is double the distance from the central column to the spindle.

The spindle decides the depth you can use. If you’re expecting to drill thick materials, this is an important factor to check. Benchtop models can usually drill between 2-3 inches downwards. Other floor models can usually drill up to 6 inches in thickness.

The Power

To work with bulky and tough materials, you’re going to need a good amount of power packed into the tool you use.

The best way to calculate this is to multiple the amps and volts listed on the electrical plates. The result will be wattage. The higher the wattage, the more power they can generate into breaking sturdy materials.

A benchtop model’s upper range capacity is usually 500W but this can vary according to the brand bought.

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The Speed

carpenter using wooden machinery

While handheld drills may only offer up to two speeds at most, benchtop ones will have as much as five to six different speeds. Since slower speeds are required for bigger holes and harder materials, the speed factor is essential for you to make the right decision about the machine you want to purchase.

Features

There are many high-end features offered these days. These include the table tilting feature ranging from 45 degrees to a full 360 degrees in top models. These allow for drilling at all angles and avoids any discomfort that comes from you crouching in several different positions to get the job done.

Other features include LED lights and lasers to display where your hole will land up.

A Magnetic One

A magnetic model is another feature to look out for if you want to drill holes in metal sheets conveniently.

These have an electromagnet attached to the cutting attachment and can perform several functions like Twist drilling, Countersinking, reaming, and thread cutting. A magnetic one can work through the metal surface unlike the core machines and is even said to be 3 times faster than the latter.

Mini

If you’re looking to save space but still benefit from the advantages of a benchtop drill press, a mini option is your best bet. This mean machine may look small but it’s ideal for hobbyists and advanced woodworkers. The swing capacity is comparatively less but the speeds are not compromised and usually, at least three speeds are offered in the model.

The Brands

Different companies offer different models and a variety of features. Here we’ll be going through the full list and weigh all the options in brief.

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WEN Delta Ryobi DeWalt Jet Dremel
Nova Ridgid Nova Viking Rockwell Central Machinery Rikon

Those are the brands we’ll be taking a closer look at.

WEN

This company has been around since 1951 and started by selling everyday tools like chainsaw, electric jigsaw and knife, and wet wheel sharpeners. Since then they have expanded to manufacturing a variety of tools like tool chests, nailers, generators, and even air compressors. By the year 2001, the company had sold 50 million consumer units.

Customer feedback is above average on its top models which reflects in its rating of 4.5 stars. Customers have often rated its machines as reliable and easy to operate for DIY enthusiasts. The range of swing is also varied from 10 inch, 12 inch, 15 inches to 17-inch options for larger options.

The assembly required before you can get started can be tough and time-consuming, but WEN models are simply installed and with no special equipment required.

Delta

If it is expertise you’re looking for, Delta Power Equipment has got 100 years of it. While it is on the pricier side, customers claim each cent is worth the functionality and design it offers in return. That’s not surprising considering Delta is a household name in the US.

Delta designs are innovative and usually include a huge list of features. Its most popular model has 16-speed settings, LED lights for better visibility, and an attractive Twin Laser feature. If you’re prepared for the higher price, Delta is worth investing in.

Ryobi

This is a brand associated with quality professional-make tools at affordable prices and has a selection of 27 drills to choose from which may be sufficient variety for newbies but professionals might require more options.

Customers are aware that the RPM is lower than other brands for some models but they make up for this with the higher torque control.

DeWalt

While Ryobi is associated with affordable household tools, DeWalt is the premium professional household power tool manufacturer by far. Their selection includes a whopping 77 options to choose from, which is great for advanced-level woodworking.

The average drill usually comes with two batteries which is a bonus since most brands only offer one. The company offers higher-priced tools but makes up for it with its 90-day money-back guarantee and a year of free service.

JET

This company’s products are also known for simple design and heavy frames for sturdiness. But the presses are easy enough to use. There are three types offered: Radial, geared head, and step pulley and variable speed ones. There are as many as 24 options alone in the variable speed options which leave customers spoilt for choice.

Although they are not on the top 5 list of power tool brands, their products have been known to have fewer issues during use.

Dremel

Calling themselves a pioneer for the right reasons, Dremel has been around since 1932 after producing the Moto-tool which was the ancestor of the modern rotary tool. Claiming themselves to be user-centric in focus, the brand provides a variety of options for customer feedback and support.

Customer reviews support the view that products are affordably priced at a range where other brands would usually offer fewer features. The most popular workstation comes with tools like cord clips and a compartment for tools. If you’re looking for extension cords for the setup, get started with these two resources on low range amp wires and high range amp wire size charts to only buy the size that suits your needs best.

Nova

This brand has recently launched the world’s first smart drill press, so you know they’re interested in good engineering and convenient design. The manufacturer is Teknatool International which is a business run by a family in New Zealand but operates from the US and China as well since it was established in 1980.

The smart model option has an average rating of 4.5 on Amazon and customers are happy with the features of high RPM and easy-to-use buttons in place of manual belt changes.

Ridgid

These products are known to be the first press of many woodworking hobbyists. This was simply because of the simple and durable design of the products. The features and selection are certainly fewer than its competitors but Ridgid’s brand loyalty and consistent delivery of reliable products has kept the brand going strong. Ridgid does not release too many products when compared with other popular brands but is considered a budget-friendly option for the professional woodworker.

The Ridgid power tools can be bought at Home Depot and are less advertised but are worth checking out.

Nova Viking

The Viking Drill products are smart tools division under the Teknatool manufacturer and bring DVR technology to the otherwise basic benchtop options. Naturally, a smart design means intelligent features like a smart digital motor and consistent torque. The elimination of the belt and pulley system means saving 20% of the motor power.

While the LED light and built-in lasers were an attractive feature, as of February 2021, they have been removed as they were proving to be inaccurate. However, the large smart display with a choice of imperial or metric units is an added plus.

Rockwell

Another undiscovered gem for novices starting small is the Rockwell products. Rockwell is manufactured by Positec, which is an established industry leader when it comes to power tool manufacturing.

Many customers stumbled on this and bought it for a cheap price but ended up sticking to it for the great quality. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense machine that does the job well and stays around for a couple of years, Rockwell is a safe bet. The lack of smart features of the more expensive Nova Viking might mean more sweat, but why not invest that extra money in an air-conditioning unit instead.

You can find Rockwell products at many retailers like Costco, Lowe’s, and Home Depot too.

Central Machinery

Central machinery tools are sold by Harbor Freight whose slogan is ‘Quality tools, lowest prices. This is certainly true based on customer reviews but it may be a step down for professional workers. Instead, this is a better fit for your home but not a professional workshop.

Some customers have reported errors like a weak work light and sometimes the platform tilt is difficult to adjust. But overall if you’re looking to save money and go for a basic option, Central Machinery can do the job.

Rikon

Another underdog on the list, the Rikon’s basic 12” product provides much more utility than a basic benchtop and reaches the high range of 2800 RPM. The brand has an average rating of 4 stars out of 5 and customers highly agree with the value-for-money aspect.

The company claims the benchtop model provides the capacity of a full floor model unit and you can use all that space to park your RV and the extra money you save for a high-end cassette toilet.

Now that the options are clear, you can make the right choice based on your skill level and project aspirations and place your order.

What is the protective equipment required to work a benchtop press drill?

holes being drilled in wood

It is important to protect your eyes from the wood that is dashed in the air during the process, hence safety glasses or goggles that are break-proof can prove to be highly useful. The noise from the machine can be loud and damaging in the long run, so earplugs or headphones are also ideal. Wearing gloves will ensure your hands are safe from any cuts and tears.

What is the ideal working area?

Your workshop should be set up away from the house and young children and pets. In addition to this, a cool, dry area that you can illuminate with high-quality lighting will make your long work hours more endurable. As well as this, making sure any pests are kept at bay that won’t interfere with your work is a must. Here you can check out how to keep the dreaded fruit flies, gnats, and drain flies out of your work area for good!

What are the other safety rules to follow when using one?

  • Always use the correct RPM according to the material and size of the drill bit.
  • Use a brush to remove the chips, never your bare hands.
  • It’s important to keep the machine clean, but never while it’s in motion!
  • The parts to remember cleaning are mainly the shank and the spindle hole before you start mounting materials.
  • When you turn the power off, the spindle will spin for some time before coming to a rest. Wait while this happens and never try to stop the spindle with your hand.
  • Some materials can be difficult to work on, consult a professional for advice.
  • It can be tempting to mess with the chuck while the power is on, but never give in! This can prove very dangerous.
  • Slow down on the pressure as the drill hits the bottom of the material.
  • Hold down the work with a clamp to the table to assure sturdiness.
  • Make sure to inspect the tool before starting your project, it can prove hazardous to work with a dull or broken piece of machinery.

That’s all folks! We hope you’ll keep all these rules in mind for your next wood or metal working for a safer and productive session! Additionally, a good benchtop drill press will assure safety and minimal effort along with optimum accuracy.

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