Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: May 16, 2021
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Whether you are an expert craftsman or you like to do woodworking as a hobby, you probably know the importance of a high-quality drill press. These amazing machines make it quick and simple to drill through all sorts of wood with a level of precision and power that can’t be matched by a simple handheld drill. For the very best results, you will need to be certain to have the best drill press for woodworking in your workshop.
In searching for the best drill press, we had to take a lot of different factors into account. We looked for the models that had the best HP available, as well as the speed range and a number of speed settings. We also looked at the different types of drills available, such as benchtop or floor models. Finally, we took the weight of each model, and why their heft could be an advantage or disadvantage.
Once we had all of that figured out, we spent hundreds of hours reading through thousands of different user reviews. This allowed us to find and select seven of the best drill presses on the market today for our list below. We then took the time to do a comprehensive review of each of these models to find their strengths and weaknesses, so that you would be better able to find the one that is right for your needs. Of course, if you aren’t sure what to look for, don’t worry! We have that covered as well. Just take the time to read though our detailed buying guide. That way, you will be all set to pick the best drill press for woodworking for your needs.
If you are in the market for the best drill press for woodworking, then you need to check out this model from Jet. This company has a long history of making excellent drill presses, and this is no exception. It has one of the biggest spindle ranges of any drill press, which makes it easy to get the depth you need with a quick turn of the handle.
One of the biggest issues with drill presses is that the speed is difficult to adjust. You usually need a few tools and a bunch of time to get the job done. Thankfully, that is not the case with this drill. You only need one hand to quickly and easily switch to one of the 16 different speed settings. This drill also has a humongous upper limit, making it great for any project you have in mind.
Something else that makes drilling with this press a pleasure is the table. Not only is it big enough to accommodate large projects, but it is also grooved. These grooves make it quick and easy to line up your project and center your holes. The table can also be moved up and down the column, which will allow you to complete those larger of projects.
The only real downside of this otherwise excellent press is the chuck key. It is, unfortunately, a bit difficult to use, which makes changing bits a bit tricky, especially on smaller bits. However, as long as you are sure to tighten it up as much as you can every time, you should be good to go. The quill also tends to vibrate a bit on higher RPM, so keep that in mind, so your projects don’t get damaged in any way.
The great thing about drill presses is that they can be used for a variety of materials. Which is why it makes sense to look for a press that can handle wood, metal, or any other material that you might want to drill. If this sounds like you, then you’ve got to check out the NOVA 5800 Voyager. It has one of, if not the, most powerful motor on the market today. If you wire it for 220V, it can provide you with 2 HP of power. This can, obviously, produce some extremely high RPM. In fact, it can go all the way up to 5500 RPM, which is perfect for precision work on thin materials.
Thankfully, the manufacturers of this drill were not only thinking about powering through on every drilling project. If you do that, you are liable to mess up any project you are working on. This drill has a soft start feature that helps to keep your drill under control when you are first getting started. The operation is also ridiculously smooth, thanks in part to its direct drive system.
Another great feature for this drill press is it’s easy to read and operate the display. With the electronic package on this drill, you can easily and swiftly set the speed you want and get started drilling, with no tools necessary. This display will also give you a quick reference guide as to which speed to use on which materials.
As you would expect with such a high-quality piece of machinery, the NOVA is very heavy. This helps to provide a lot of stability when you are drilling, which help to reduce the amount of vibration you will experience. The only real downsides for this press is that there is no work light, and the table is somewhat hard to lock into position. Otherwise, it is a great piece of equipment, and one of the best floor drill presses that we’ve come accross.
Though it is true that benchtop drills are not all that great for working on metal, they are great tools for use on wood. If you are looking for the best benchtop drill for woodworking, then be sure to check out this model from WEN. Its 2/3 HP motor is not powerful enough for metal but will be perfect for wood. It has a highly adjustable speed setting, which will allow you to set the speed anywhere from 580-3200 RPM.
Setting the speed is made quick and easy thanks to the digital speed readout. With this simple to read display, you can be sure that you are drilling at the exact speed that you need to get the job done right. You will just want to be careful with the controls, however. They are, unfortunately, not the most durable, so you need to be sure that you use them as gently as possible.
The WEN 4214 has both a laser guide and an LED work light. Both of these illuminating tools make it much easier to get accurate cuts or holes. The laser is especially helpful since it speeds up the process and makes it that much easier to drill exactly where you want to every time.
Though benchtop models are smaller by nature, that doesn’t mean they can’t have a larger table. This drill press comes with a nice sized work table on its own, but what sets it apart from other presses is the extension. You can extend the side of the table to help accommodate larger pieces of wood, which is quite handy.
One of the biggest benefits that a benchtop drill press can offer you is portability. Since they are so lightweight, you can move them around your shop, put them away when they are not in use, or take them with you when you are working somewhere else. The HICO Bench Top Drill Press is nice and portable, which makes it great for a woodworker on the go, or someone with a smaller sized shop that needs to save their space.
This is also one of the safest drill presses you can buy, too. It comes with a safety switch that makes it impossible for the drill to power on by accident. Not only will this feature help to keep you safer while you work, but it will also make sure that your projects aren’t accidentally damaged either.
The motor drill press is small in size but big in power. It can provide plenty of speed for work on pretty much any type of wood, even hardwoods. It does not, unfortunately, have a large selection of speed settings to work with, however. The motor also has a nice stopping system. This belt style system makes it quick and easy to start and stop the drill.
The table on this press is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is highly adjustable for a benchtop drill, which makes it great for a variety of projects. On the other hand, it is also undersized, even for a smaller portable press. If you choose to use this model, you might want to do so where you have plenty of space to help support the material you are drilling – or consider getting a drill press table if you do need some extra space.
Most drill presses, even benchtop versions, are really expensive. It can make it difficult for someone operating on a budget to get a press for their workshop. If this sounds like you, then this might be a good press for you. It is super cheap, lightweight, and highly portable, which makes it perfect for use with wood.
It also has a pretty powerful motor for such a small drill. While it can only be set to three different speed settings, each one of these settings will provide you with the speed you need to get quick and accurate holes drilled in pretty much any type of wood.
Since this drill is so cheap, it is very straightforward and simple to use. This makes it a great option for someone who is just getting started in woodworking, or someone who doesn’t want to deal with a lot of complex settings.
As you would expect with a more budget friendly drill, however, there are some issues that you will need to deal with. First of all, it is very small. Not only does it have a small work surface, but it also has a small quill movement range. If you are hoping to drill holes on larger pieces of wood, this drill will not work for you.
The table cannot be adjusted either. Unlike most drill presses, where you can move the table up and down or even tilt it, this model’s table is completely stationary. This will limit the number and type of holes that you can drill.
Drill presses, on the whole, are highly adjustable pieces of equipment that make completing lots of different projects much easier and more precise than handheld drills. Such is the case with this model from Skil. It is perhaps the most adjustable benchtop drill out there, which makes it a great tool to have in a woodworking shop. The table is especially useful in this manner.
Not only can this table be moved up and down with the turn of a crank, but it can also be easily tilted up to and including 45 degrees. This maneuverability helps to provide the flexibility you need to complete more complex projects. If you are someone who likes to experiment with their projects or just has a complex workload, then this is a great drill to get.
It is very good that this drill has such an adjustable table since the quill does not have a large travel range. Since you can move the table up close, however, this isn’t too big of an issue. As you would expect from a smaller sized press, this model doesn’t have a huge RPM range or a bunch of speed settings. It is still, however, more than enough for most woodworking projects, unless you are trying to use very hard woods or larger pieces.
Another nice feature for this drill is the laser for precision drilling. While it is not quite as bright as some other lasers, it will still provide you with a quick reference template so that you can rest assured you are drilling exactly where you want to.
First and foremost, the most impressive thing about this drill press is it laser. Unlike some other laser templates, this one is incredibly bright. This helps to ensure that every one of the holes you drill is right on the money. This excellent accuracy makes this a great choice for precision-minded woodworkers, especially those who work on smaller wood projects.
Even though this press uses such an advanced laser template, it is not difficult to use the machine. In fact, it is one of the easiest presses to set up and get started. This is thanks, in part, to the straightforward and easy to use controls located on the front of the press.
The only tricky part of this press that you will have to deal with is the cord, which has been put in an awkward location. Thankfully, you can easily tuck this back a little further so that it is out of your way when you are working.
The motor on this benchtop drill press doesn’t provide a ton of power and can’t be set at a bunch of speed levels. This will limit the size and types of wood that you can use it with. Of course, that is the case with most benchtop drill presses, since they are not large enough to accommodate larger and tougher materials.
In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the best drill press for woodworking for your workshop.
Advantages of having a top-quality drill press for woodworking
Drill presses for woodworking offer several different advantages over a handheld model that make them an essential tool for every hobby-shop or workshop. Firstly, they are much steadier than a handheld drill. Even if you are operating at their maximum RPM, you will be able to make precise holes every time, without having to worry about user error.
Drill presses are also much more powerful than a handheld drill. This gives them the ability to operate at higher rates of speed. They can also provide you with a lot more power, so even if you are trying to drill through thick and hard woods, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all.
Finally, the precision that they offer you is completely unmatched by any other kind of drill. Since the drill itself is completely stationary, it makes it much easier to get the job done quickly, with a much higher degree of precision.
Features to consider when looking for a woodworking drill press
There are a lot of different key features that you need to take into consideration when you are looking for a drill press for woodworking. In this section, we will cover everything that you need to know to find the drill press for your woodworking needs.
Type of drill press
There are two main types of drill presses that you can select from for your woodworking projects. You can either choose from a floor press or a benchtop press. Both of these presses will offer different advantages and disadvantages that you will want to take into account before you settle on your final selection.
Benchtop – Benchtop drill presses are great for smaller shops. They are also much better for smaller projects since they are don’t have the power or size to be utilized on large projects. They are very portable, however, since they are relatively lightweight. This also makes them less expensive than a floor model.
Floor – Floor model drill presses are extremely powerful, versatile, and steady. This makes them great for large projects with tough materials. Due to their large size, they are not very mobile. Floor presses are also much more expensive than the smaller benchtop models.
The amount of power that you require is largely dependent on the type of projects that you are going to be working on. Most drill presses for woodworking have from ½ HP of power all the way up to 2 HP.
It might not be a bad idea to go for a bigger motor than you think you need, since this will allow you to take on tougher jobs if necessary.
That way, you will be covered even if you choose to try different jobs. You can, however, choose to save a bit of money and opt for a less powerful motor.
Speed is usually expressed in RPM, or rotations per minute. The higher the RPM, the faster the drill will be able to rotate, which will increase the speed with which you can drill. Even the smallest benchtop presses have a pretty wide range of speeds, which is good because different woods/projects will require you to go at different rates. Tougher materials will need lower rates of speed, while thinner materials can be drilled at higher rates. If you are looking for a big speed range, then you should check out the NOVA 58000 Voyager, which goes from a super low 50 RPM, all the way up to 5500 RPM.
Number of speeds
Each drill has a set number of speeds within their range that you can select for different materials. The higher the number of speeds, the more options you will have. You need to make sure that the speed levels are easy to adjust. That way, you won’t have to spend a ton of time fiddling with the settings, and instead can concentrate on drilling.
What kind of woods and other materials can it cut?
All of the drills that we have listed can be used for soft woods. Woods like pine do not require a ton of power to cut through, so even the smallest benchtop model will work just fine. If, however, you are doing hardwoods, such as oak, or if you’re going to also be working with metal, then you will want to get a drill with a bit more power, like the NOVA 58000 Voyageror the Jet JDP-17. Check out our article on the best drill press tables for metal if this is a top priority for you.
The quill on a drill press is the hollow tube that surrounds the thimble. The spindle is the rotating shaft that the chuck is mounted on. A mechanism allows the quill to be lowered and raised when you turn the travel. The larger the amount that the spindle turns with each rotation, the easier it will be to get your work done on larger projects.
The drilling capacity of any drill press is determined by how large a piece of wood can be and still fit. This is usually determined by both size of the table on the press and how far away it can be moved on the support column from the drill. If you are working on small scale projects, then you won’t need a large capacity. The inverse is true if you want to do larger scale projects.
The chuck on any drill is the three-jawed clamp that you use to tighten the bit securely into the drill. The size of the chuck will determine how large of bits you can use. Obviously, larger bits need larger chucks, and smaller bits need smaller chucks. The very best chucks, like on the WEN 4214, can accommodate a wide range of bit sizes, which will help you to be able to complete more projects.
Work table dimensions
The size of the work table on your new drill press will determine the size of the materials that you can work with. If you have a small table, then you will only be able to use it with smaller materials, and vice versa. You can, however, look for drills that have extendable tables, since this will help to save how much space the drill takes up, but still provide you with the capacity to use it with larger pieces. An example of this can be found on the WEN 4214.
LED work light
A built-in work light is an essential feature on any drill. These handy lights make it that much easier to see what you are working on, which helps to increase the precision with which you can drill.
Build and durability
If you are looking to make sure that your press is as durable as possible, then you should opt for a floor model.
These presses are big, heavy, and made from the toughest materials. Even if you select a benchtop model, you will want to be careful with getting anything with plastic components, as these just don’t hold up over time.
Weight and dimensions
The weight and dimensions of your new drill are going to be determined by both your needs and your space. Obviously, if you have a large shop, and you want to complete large projects, you should opt for a bigger floor model. If, on the other hand, you have a limited amount of space and only want to complete smaller projects, you can save some space and money and go for a benchtop model.
Like all power tools, drill presses have lots of moving parts that will fail over time, even if you take good care of them. To try to avoid expensive repairs, you need to be sure to look for a good warranty. That way, you will be covered if anything should fail prematurely.
Even if you opt for a smaller benchtop model, you won’t be limited to just using your new drill press with wood. Instead, you can drill through any number of other materials, from plastics to metals. Of course, if you intend to drill heavy or thick metal, you need to be sure to get a drill that is powerful enough to handle this type of work.
Thankfully, yes! Most drill presses come with each of their different main parts fully assembled. It will be up to you to take these main components and fit them together to complete your press. This is not terribly difficult, and shouldn’t take you too long to complete.
Some drill presses are loud on their own, especially if you are operating it at a high rate of speed. Wood drilling won’t add that much noise, but if you drill metal you will definitely hear it! However, as long as you are sure to wear hearing protection at all times, you won’t have any issue with the noise level.
The biggest advantage of using a DVR motor-powered drill press is that it doesn’t require any pulleys or belts to make the machine go. This makes switching speeds much easier and faster. It also makes operating the drill a lot quieter, since there are not pulleys and belts rumbling within the motor.
Of all the different drill presses out there, the Jet JDP-17 is by far the best drill press for woodworking. It is simple to use, has plenty of power, and can be operated at a large variety of speeds. This, in addition to its large capacity, makes it perfect for use with any type of wood. Whether you are a professional carpenter or a newbie, this is a great drill press, and we highly recommend it.
If you are looking for a do-it-all kind of a drill press, then you need to try out the NOVA 58000 Voyager DVR Drill Press. This amazing machine has a ton of power, and its 2 HP motor will allow you to use a wide variety of speeds for pretty much any material. It also is really big, heavy, and durable, making it great for any heavy-duty projects you have in mind.
Benchtop drills are great for use in a small shop or for smaller projects. The WEN 4214 makes woodworking in a smaller setting a breeze, since it is highly precise and pretty powerful for a smaller size drill press.