Best Benchtop Drill Press 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
A benchtop drill press is a big purchase. We’ve all had friends who spent a ton of money on a tool and realized too late that it was nowhere near as good as they hoped it would be.
If you don’t want that to happen to you, you’ve come to the right place. We know that it can be hard to shop online sometimes. Advertisers will push certain features that don’t matter that much, while disguising technical or quality control problems that will make you wish you had bought a different model.
Our reviews are designed to help you cut through the misleading information and get a benchtop drill press that you’ll love using. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, which is designed to teach you everything you need to know about these machines and help you get great value for your money.
Our Favorite Choices in 2020:
|Best Overall||DEWALT DEW1622K||
|Shop Fox W1667||
|Best Value||WEN 4208||
The Best Benchtop Drill Press:
1. DEWALT DEW1622K Bench Top Drill Press – Best Overall
The DEWALT DEW1622K is a great, portable bench drill press that allows you to bring the work to your drill press or the drill press to your work. This is a magnetic drill press, which means you can affix it to any ferrous metallic surface before you start drilling. This gives you a lot of portability and versatility, especially if you’re going to be working with metals. It comes with two speeds, which isn’t a ton, but most people don’t end up using that many speeds anyway, so it won’t be a problem for many.
It also comes with a quick-change chuck system that makes changing bits quick and easy. It has up to 4-3/8 inches of drill travel, which is quite impressive for a portable model. The only real issue this model has is that the chuck has some inconsistency. On some models, it’s rock-solid, while on a select few, it’s loose or comes off completely, which is a big deal. This is usually something that you discover before the warranty ends, but it’s still inconvenient. Still, this is the best benchtop drill press overall, and one sure to make most people very happy.
2. Shop Fox W1667 Bench-top Drill Press
The Shop Fox W1667 is a great choice for anyone who wants a more traditional benchtop drill press. It comes with a 3/4-horsepower motor, which will make short work of most projects. The spindle can move up to 3-1/4 inches, so it doesn’t have as much depth as the previous model, but it can still drill very deep into most projects. The table on this model is fantastic, and you can tilt it up to 90 degrees to both the left and right, giving you incredible options when it comes to drilling and sanding.
The real headlining feature is that this drill press comes with a conversion kit that makes it a great sander as well, giving you the ability to start and finish projects with just this one tool. Our only issue is that the shipping is substandard, and while the inner machine isn’t always damaged, it often gives people an unnecessary scare. Occasionally, though, it does lead to damage, and exchanging the tool is an unnecessary hassle. Overall, this is still a very good benchtop drill press and the best option for someone who wants a traditional model.
3. WEN 4208 Benchtop Drill Press – Best Value
The WEN 4208 is the best model on our list when it comes to value for the money. It has five speeds, putting it a step above the first two models on our list in that regard. It comes with onboard key storage, making it harder to misplace the key you need to change out bits. It also comes with a good table. While it’s not the largest one you’ll find on a benchtop drill press, it does bevel up to 45 degrees in either direction, and it allows you to use clamps, so it has all the functionality you’ll need. You can also get it for a great price, meaning that you’re getting a ton of value for not a lot of money.
However, this model comes with only two inches of spindle movement. That’s not a lot when it comes to drill presses, but there’s a chance that you won’t ever need any more than that. It also has a fairly weak 1/3-horsepower motor, which is far less than we’d like to see. Still, if you’re looking for a great, inexpensive benchtop drill press, you can’t go wrong with this model.
4. SKIL 3320-01 Bench Drill Press
The SKIL 3320-01 has some potential as a discount model, but unfortunately falls short in a couple of key areas, and thus falls to fourth on our list. The best thing about this model is that it comes with a bump-off switch, which is a great safety feature that more benchtop drill presses should provide. It has an accurate depth stop, which allows you to do the same hole multiple times without having to remeasure. It also comes with five speeds, putting it on par with the best model on our list in that area.
However, it comes with a weak motor. It might be enough for beginners, but experienced users will likely be dissatisfied with how little power it has. Some units also come with loose belts, which is a problem you can only solve by buying new belts, driving up the cost of operation. Finally, the laser is almost always so inaccurate on this model that most people don’t end up using it. If you’re looking for good value, this model will likely disappoint you. Most people will be better off if they spend a bit more and get a model that will be less frustrating.
5. Grizzly G7943 Benchtop Drill Press
The Grizzly G7943 is an overall expensive model that doesn’t provide a ton of value for the price. It does come with a good 3/4-horsepower motor, which is nice, and means you’ll have plenty of power. It also comes with a variable drill chuck, so you can use any bits that are between 1/64” and 5/8” in size. That’s a really great feature, especially if you already own differently-sized bits. However, this model has a big problem with runout. While operating, the chuck likes to wiggle, and that lowers your precision significantly.
You may not notice the difference while you’re working with wood, but it will be hard to get clean, precise holes if you’re planning to do anything with metal, which is something that you should expect out of a benchtop drill press at this price. It also includes a light mount, but you have to provide the bulb yourself, which isn’t great value for the price. Ultimately, this is a very expensive model, and you don’t get a lot of value for that price, especially compared to the other models on this list. Most people will be better served spending less and getting far more value.
Hopefully, our reviews have already led you to a model that will be right for you. If you’re not sure yet which one will serve you the best, check out this buyer’s guide. We’ve packed it full of useful information about benchtop drill presses, so you can learn all about what makes a good deal and what makes a bad one. It’s a great resource to consult if you’ve never owned one of these machines before, as we both teach you about the machines, but also cover what you need to do to get great value for your money.
Benchtop drill presses have four key areas, and one of the best ways to get a great deal is to understand those parts and know-how to identify well-made ones and ones that you’re better off skipping.
The first of these key areas is the base. The base, as the name implies, is the part on which everything else rests. While it’s not an exciting piece, it’s important to get a sturdy base. If you lack one, your drill press will not have good longevity, as the forces on the base will lead to warping or snapping, which ruins the machine. Luckily this isn’t a common problem.
You can also typically mount the base to a surface. With benchtop drill presses, that could mean mounting your drill press directly to your bench. That way, you’ll never have to worry about it moving around while you work, and you’ll likely cancel out some vibrations along the way. Drill presses tend to be very heavy, so it often takes a lot for them to move on their own, but if you want to make sure that they don’t, you’ll need to mount them.
If you don’t want to mount a press directly to your workbench, mount it to a piece of plywood. That way you’ll have a nice, wide base, but can still take it off the workbench when it’s not in use.
The next key area is the column. The column is simply a rod that rises out of the base, on which the other two major parts rest. In most cases, it’s going to be made from steel. That’s the best metal for the job since there will be a good amount of torque and force applied to it. If it’s made from a different material, you may want to avoid that model, since it’s a good sign that the manufacturer is cutting costs.
One side of the column will have grooves, which are used to move the table up and down.
The table is the third key area. It’s the part on which you will rest the piece you’re going to work on. Most of the time, it features a crank that you can use to move it up and down the grooves on the side of the column. This lets you get the piece close to the bit you’re using before you start.
Table size and strength vary from model to model, so if you’re planning on using especially heavy, or especially large pieces, invest in a model with a great table, or buy an aftermarket one and install it yourself. Some tables also rotate, allowing you to work on pieces with an angled or irregular shape. The best tables can turn up to 90 degrees in both directions, though most just turn 45 degrees.
The head is the key area on a benchtop drill press. It includes the chuck, or the piece that holds the bit you’ll use to drill, as well as the motor that powers the chuck, and the controls for it. If there are any lights, they will be mounted on the head, as well. The other parts are quite simple compared to the head, which has a lot of moving parts.
Whether you like your benchtop drill press is largely related to whether you feel the head is easy to use and works well. Watch out for complaints about the belts, which are included in the head, as well as problems with the chuck. If you see potential problems in this area, it’s often a good idea to avoid that model, since it’s going to be frustrating to use.
Keyed vs. keyless chuck
Traditionally, drill presses came with a keyed chuck. The same used to be true for portable, handheld drills as well. If you wonder what changed, people realized that keyless chucks were far more convenient and could be just as safe. Having the option to use multiple different bit sizes on a drill without having to change out the chuck is a huge benefit, and the speed at which you can replace bits is often much higher with a keyless chuck than with a keyed one.
Of course, most people are thinking about safety when they buy their drill presses. It remains true that keyed chucks offer the best grip and the most confidence that you’re getting the best grip. However, keyed chucks are still a pain to use. You still have to keep track of the key, and keyed chucks are still limited to one-bit size, making them not versatile at all.
Keyless chucks are superior in all these areas, and advances in design and materials science mean that you get a comparable level of grip with a keyless chuck as you could expect from a keyed one. Since you can get keyless chucks on a drill press for about the same cost as a keyed chuck, there’s no price-related reason to avoid getting one. Overall, most people will likely be happier with a keyless chuck than a keyed one.
If you get a benchtop drill press that doesn’t have enough power, you’ll be disappointed in your purchase, and you’re probably not going to end up using it very much because it won’t work well. The minimum you should get power-wise is probably 3/4-horsepower. Any less than that, and you’re going to be having a hard time with wood. You’ll find that every project takes a long time and that you’re unable to drill through harder surfaces like metal and ceramics.
While this isn’t true for all tools, it’s almost always a good idea to get more power on a drill press. More power results in shorter work times on the same tasks, and it opens up a variety of harder materials. If you’re planning to work with metal, invest in a model with plenty of power. Otherwise, your projects will take a long time.
Of course, you still need to be smart about your purchase. Don’t buy the most powerful model you can find because it’s the most powerful model you can find. It’s likely to be expensive, and you may not get good value out of the extra power. Instead, focus on getting the best power for the price, and you’ll be far more likely to be satisfied with your purchase.
Counterintuitively, more power doesn’t always mean that the chuck will spin faster. It could be spinning slower, but there could be more power behind each rotation, meaning that you remove more material per spin, and thus get the project done in the same amount of time, or faster. A slower speed also means you’ll put less wear on your bits.
While it is true that more powerful machines often have higher maximum RPMs, most drill presses come with a variety of speeds that you can take advantage of to get the best results. The material you’re cutting into and the bit you’re using can greatly affect the optimal speed at which the drill press should be running.
In most cases, you change speeds by opening the head and adjusting the pulleys the belt is running on. Some models require tools for this process, so it can take a lot of time. The best models allow toolless speed changes, which make changing speed fast and easy, and tend to also increase how much you like working with the tool.
You may not need a ton of different speeds, but if you’re planning to work with different materials, do some research and get a machine that runs at the RPMs that are best for those materials.
Which benchtop drill press is right for you?
Getting a good deal means spending as little money as possible and getting great use out of your tools. With drill presses, the best way to get a great deal is to first figure out what your needs are. Determine what projects you’re likely to do shortly on your new drill press, and then figure out what kinds of power and speeds your drill press will need to complete those projects.
Once you’ve done that, create a list of all drill presses that meet those requirements. If you want to get the best value for the money, then buy the lowest-priced model on that list. It meets all your requirements but comes at the best price, and likely foregoes any features that would drive up the price, but that you wouldn’t use.
The DEWALT DEW1622K is our favorite benchtop drill press due to its two speeds, its quick-change chuck system, and the fact that it’s a magnetic drill press. The Shop Fox W1668 has good spindle travel, an oscillating sander mode, and a great table, though bad shipping means it can only take second place. The WEN 4208 comes with five speeds, onboard key storage, and a good table. Since you can get it for a great price, it is the best value for the money. The SKIL 3320-01 has five speeds, an accurate depth stop, and a bump-off switch, but a weak motor and loose belts drop it to fourth place. The Grizzly G7943 includes a good motor and a variable drill chuck, but its very high price and bad runout mean it doesn’t provide great value for the money.
We hope that you’ve learned everything you need to know about benchtop drill presses from our reviews and buyer’s guide. You should now be able to find the model that’s right for you.
Related drill press posts:
- Our Favorite Choices in 2020:
- The Best Benchtop Drill Press:
- Buyer’s Guide