Floor drill presses give you the capacity and power you need to take on big projects, but it can sometimes be hard to shop for them online. The information that you’re shown is little better than advertisements, and it can be hard to tell if you’re scoring a good deal or spending your hard-earned money on a purchase you’ll later regret.
If you want to not only get a model that you’ll love using but also get good value for your purchase, you’ve found the right article. We’re going to break down everything you need to know about floor drill presses. Even novices can walk away confident that they know everything they need to know after reading our buyer’s guide, and our reviews are designed to cut through the information that doesn’t matter, straight to the stuff that really counts.
|Shop Fox W1848|
|Klutch 13in. 2705S058||124 lbs||4.75/5|
|JET 354170/JDP-20MF 20-Inch|
(Pricey, But Awesome)
|WEN 4227||214 lbs||4.25/5|
|Delta 18-900L 18-Inch||261 lbs||3.9/5|
The Shop Fox W1848 is a bargain, given how many different things you can do with this machine for the price. It comes with a great 3/4-horsepower motor, which provides enough power to make most projects easy. It also comes with a drill chuck that can accept bits between 1/64” and 5/8”, so you have a very wide range of options and you might be able to use bits you already own. The headlining feature on this model, however, is its oscillating sanding mode. By shifting the belts around, which doesn’t require tools, you can transform the machine into an oscillating sander, which allows you to get especially fine finishes on your pieces.
It comes with a highly adjustable table that can be raised or lowered many feet, so it can handle pieces of most sizes, and it can also turn both left and right up to 90 degrees, so you’ll be able to use this machine no matter how awkwardly shaped your piece is. Unfortunately, there are often shipping problems with this tool, which leads to broken parts and is a pain to deal with. Still, it remains the best floor drill press for the money on the market.
The Klutch 13in. 2705S058 is a good overall floor drill press, and one that could make a run for the top spot had our top model not existed. The top feature it has is a depth lock with a ball knob, which makes it easy to get the exact depth you’re looking for, without having to guess or eyeball it. It comes with a gooseneck LED light, leading to excellent lighting on your piece, no matter how well-lit your shop is. You can also choose one of 16 speeds at which to run this model, meaning that you have nearly unparalleled control over this machine.
It also comes with 3/4-horsepower, which is enough to make short work of most projects, so you’ll never feel like you lack power. This model does use a traditional keyed chuck, which some people will like because it’s what they’re used to, though others will dislike the hassle of keeping track of the key and having to use it to change bits out. Combine that with the fact that the table only tilts up to 45 degrees, and it’s clear that this model just isn’t as good as the first one on our list.
The JET 354170/JDP-20MF 20-Inch is very expensive, but it comes with all the bells and whistles you could dream of in your next floor drill press. It has a very powerful, 1.5-horsepower motor, which has double the power of either of the two models above this one on our list. It also has quick speed changes, done by adjusting which pulleys the belt rides on. There are 12 different speeds, so you’ll always be able to customize the speed to the task at hand. The table is very strong, as it can support up to 80 pounds, meaning you can work on just about anything.
It has a keyed chuck, which is a feature that people will either like or hate. It also comes with a light bulb socket, but the bulb itself isn’t included. This is a weird cost-saving measure, given the very high price at which this model is sold, and it contributes to this press only earning third place. Overall, this is still an excellent floor drill press, and if you have the money to spring for it, it would be a great addition to any shop.
The WEN 4227 is one of the more expensive models on our list, but it packs in a lot of features for the price. It has a large stroke capacity, allowing for nearly five inches of spindle movement. This is enough to allow you to drill through a 4×4 board, which is not something most drill presses can do. It also comes with coolant runoff grooves in its table, which helps keep your work area clear and usable while you work on metal pieces.
It includes a precision guidance laser, though some people find it difficult to use, making it less valuable. It also has a weak adjustment spring on the handle that raises and lowers the table, which leads to many of them breaking prematurely. But most concerning is the fact that this model tends to wear down belts quickly. That means you’re going to spend a lot more on replacement costs overall, which greatly raises this machine’s cost of operation. While this floor drill press has a lot of things going for it, it loses enough value in each of these areas that most people will feel like they got poor value for the money.
The Delta 18-900L 18-Inch floor drill press is overall very disappointing and will leave a lot of people wishing they had bought a different model. It does come with an auto-tensioning belt drive, which makes speed changes faster and easier than they would be on a different model. It also has a six-inch quill stroke, which is more than enough to drill through most common lumber types and will allow you to make very deep holes in most objects.
However, it has poor quality control that leaves many users frustrated. Multiple parts are prone to breaking, but the laser and light that come with this model are common offenders. Likewise, this model comes with a crummy drill chuck. A common problem is that it’s not perfectly concentric, which leads to bad inaccuracy when using the machine. The belts that come with the machine have a habit of popping loose, a problem many users have solved by purchasing a belt that is an inch shorter than what is provided. Overall, this is a very frustrating machine to use, since it just doesn’t work all the time or even particularly well without the user spending extra money.
We hope that our reviews have already helped you gain some insight into floor drill presses and what makes for good and bad purchases in this product category. If you want to get a great deal and find a model that you won’t find frustrating, check out this buyer’s guide. We’ve included all the information we think you’ll need to be a well-informed buyer and find the model that’s right for you, so it’s a good place to start if you’re a beginner. It’s also a great resource if you’re returning to the market for the first time in a while and want to learn about new developments in the field.
Before we dig into the specifics on floor drill presses, we should cover some of the terminologies that’s used to refer to the different parts of the machine. Every floor drill press has the same four basic parts.
The first of these is the base, or the part of the drill press on which everything else rests. The base typically has holes in it for mounting the floor drill press to the floor, so that it won’t move while you operate it. Most users don’t end up mounting it to anything, though there are a few different things you can do to increase stability. The first is to mount the base onto a sheet of plywood, which still allows you to slide the base across the floor, but also makes the base wider and the entire structure more stable. Or, you could invest in a mobile base, but keep in mind that not all bases have a compatible mobile base. If that’s something you’re looking for, make sure your model has one before you buy.
The column rises vertically out of the base and supports the other parts of the machine. It’s usually made of steel, which is easily the best material for the job since the head of the machine can be very heavy. One side of the column has grooves, and those are used in conjunction with the mechanism that moves the table to allow it to move up and down in an orderly fashion.
The table is mounted on the column and is the surface on which you’ll rest your pieces while you drill them. The table’s size and strength vary from model to model, so if you’re looking to do large or heavy projects, invest in a model that comes with a very strong or very large table. The table can move up and down the column, and this is the easiest way to get the top of your project close to the drill.
Some tables can even rotate left and right to allow you to work on pieces with angled or irregular surfaces. Many models rotate left and right up to 45 degrees, though the best models can rotate up to 90 degrees, which is straight up and down.
The final part of a drill press is the head. It includes the chuck, which holds the drill bit in place, and the internal mechanism that allows the chuck to be repositioned, as well as the actual equipment that spins the chuck. The other parts of the drill press are mechanically simple relative to the head. When there are problems in quality control, they most often appear in parts found in the head. If you can find a model with a well-made head, the rest of the drill press is likely to be well-made, too.
Most historical advice on a drill press is that you should get a keyed chuck. Those of us with long memories can remember the days when you got a portable drill with a keyed chuck as well. Keyed chucks are something of a pain, though they do, in theory, provide the best grip on the inserted bit.
While that used to be the case for portable drills, it’s rare today that you find one with a keyed chuck. That’s because keyless chucks are far more convenient. They also allow you to use a range of bit sizes, which means you can do more with your drill without having to spring for a different size of a bit that you already own. If you’re like most people, you don’t give a second thought to the idea that your portable drill is going to hold your bit in place while you work, so it’s a bit weird that people still insist on getting a keyed chuck on their floor drill presses when they could save themselves time and money with a keyless chuck.
Of course, the keyed chuck will have a better grip, but the difference is marginal today thanks to advances in design and material science. If you’re looking for convenience, and already own appropriate bits of multiple sizes, you might be better off getting a drill press with a keyless chuck. If you want the most secure grip you can get, go with a keyed chuck.
Most people recommend that you don’t get a floor press drill with less than 3/4-horsepower. The same goes for a regular press drill. If you dip under that amount of power, you’re going to severely limit yourself. You may find that drilling through wood takes a long time and that drilling through other, harder materials is impossible.
Of course, getting more power is almost always a good idea. More power means you can drill harder materials, but it also means you can get softer materials done much more quickly. You’ll also put less wear on the machine, since the extra power will plow through easy projects without putting a lot of strain on any of its components.
The only reason you shouldn’t get more power is if you can’t get it affordably. Sometimes companies charge more than their competitors for an increase in power, in which case you should avoid their models, or you’ll get a bad deal.
If you’re new to drill presses, you might think that more power means the chuck will spin faster, and you’d be half right. More powerful machines typically have a higher maximum RPM. However, different materials require different RPMs, and in many cases using a speed that’s too high can burn or otherwise damage a softer material. It’s all about using the right speed for the task at hand. That depends on the material and the bit you’re using.
Most drill presses allow for speed changes, but you have to do them manually, by opening up the head and moving the included belt onto a different track. If you can get a model that allows you to do this without tools, you’ll save a lot of time.
You might be wondering how many speeds you need. The answer is: as many as you need. The only way to know what speeds you’ll need is first to figure out what projects you’d like to do, and then research the appropriate speeds for such a task.
It can be hard to tell if you’re getting a good deal quality-wise when you’re shopping online. Manufacturers never tell you if there’s a common problem with their products, so you might feel like you’re up a creek without a paddle.
One of the best things you can do to increase the odds of getting a well-made drill press is to find one that uses as few plastic pieces as possible. Plastic pieces aren’t always a death sentence for a tool, but when it comes to drill presses, which are heavy-duty pieces of equipment, plastic just doesn’t last very long under pressure.
The other thing you can do is read online reviews. If you find complaints about the model’s durability, you’ll probably want to select a different one. Likewise, common problems with a belt, the chuck, or the electrical components are a huge red flag. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time repairing a machine right out of the box, it’s also a good idea to buy a model that is packed in a wooden crate before shipping.
Every artisan has different needs in the shop, and since every drill press differs from every other, there’s no one model that’s going to be the right thing for all people. The best way to find the model that will work best for you is to start with your needs and fit the models to those, instead of the other way around.
First, figure out what projects you’d like to do. Then, make a list of everything you will need out of a drill press to get that project done. Once you have that list of needs, create a shortlist of drill presses that will get the job done.
From that list, pick the model that costs the least. That model will do everything you need to get done, but it will also provide the best value.
The Shop Fox W1848 is our top model, coming with good power, a variable-size chuck, and an oscillating sander mode, through its low price makes it a true bargain as well. The Klutch 13in. 2705S058 comes with good power, 16 speeds, and a great light, but its keyed chuck keeps it out of first place. The JET 354170/JDP-20MF 20-Inch carries a high price tag, but it’s awesome, with a very powerful motor, built-in light, and fast speed changes. However, it doesn’t provide enough value for the price to rise to the top of our list. The WEN 4227 has a large stroke capacity and convenient coolant grooves, but its weak adjustment springs and the speed at which it wears down belts drop it to fourth on our list. The Delta 18-900L 18-Inch floor drill press includes an auto-tensioning belt drive and a six-inch quill stoke, but it has very poor quality control that earns it last place on our list.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have given you some clarity when it comes to the world of floor drill presses. Armed with that information, you should be able to find a model that you’ll love using.
Different drill press guides
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!