Some people pine for a drill press for years, but both floor-mounted and benchtop models are too big for their shops or garages. If you don’t have a lot of space, it can feel like you’re locked out of the drill press game, given how large some of the models can get.
However, recent developments have resulted in new, compact drill presses that can fit in any garage, and are small enough to be used on the smallest of workbenches or dining room tables. If you want to get a great deal on one of these small machines, you’ve come to the right place.
Our reviews of the top small drill presses of 2020 are designed to help you see the features that make each model a great buy, or detract from their overall value, as well as help you understand if they’re a good deal. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can get familiar with the field.
|EuroTool DRL-300.00||12 lbs||4.6/5|
|Gino Development 01-0822|
|SE 97511MDP 3-Speed||12 lbs||4.2/5|
|Proxxon 38128 TBM||8 lbs||3.8/5|
The WEN 4208 is the best overall model for people looking for a mini drill press. It comes with five speeds, which is incredible for a mini drill press and allows you to customize the machine to the task at hand to get the best results. It also comes with onboard key storage, which means you won’t lose it, or have to spend time looking for a misplaced key. The table on this model is excellent. It’s 6.5 by 6.5 inches in size, and it can bevel up to 45 degrees to the left or right, giving you the ability to work with angled or irregular pieces without breaking a sweat.
Also included is a great depth stop system, which makes it easy to do repeated holes to the same depth without having to remeasure. This saves you a lot of time, and helps ensure you won’t accidentally drill through your pieces. The only thing that could be better on this model is it gaining more spindle movement. Two inches is okay, but most people would benefit from having a bit more. Overall, this is the best mini drill press on the market, and one most people will love using.
If you’re looking for a small drill press to do simple projects, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable model than the EuroTool DRL-300.00. The best thing about this small model is that it comes with a large table. It measures 6-3/4 by 6-3/4 inches, making it one of the larger ones on this list, and giving you a good amount of space on which to work. It also comes with a variable-size chuck, which means you can use bits between 1/64” and 9/32”. You can use a variety of bits on this machine, including some that you may already own.
It’s also very compact, so you’ll never have to worry about having a place to store it. Since it’s about a foot tall, you’ll be able to store it under most countertops easily. However, the build quality isn’t that great. It lasts a long time for some people, but it’s generally not well-made enough that you should expect it to last for years. It also has some quality control issues, which often lead to users having to fix problems themselves from the get-go. If you’re looking for a low-priced model, this is a good choice.
The Gino Development 01-0822 is very similar to the previous model, but since you can get it for far less, it earns the title of “best value” on our list. It comes with a large, 6.75” by 6.75” table, which gives you plenty of space to work. It also comes with a variable chuck that can work with bits between .79 and 6 millimeters, giving you a wide range of options. It’s great for small pieces because it can run those small bits at a very high or very low speed, making it good for working with softer metals that make up many small parts.
Since you can get it for about half of what you’d pay for the previous model, it’s a great deal overall, and easily the best value on our list. The only significant complaint we have about this model is that it comes with average or below-average power. It’s not going to be enough to do complex or difficult projects. However, you wouldn’t do those projects on a drill press of this size, anyway. If it were stronger, we’d rank it higher, but as it is, it’s still the best model for the money.
The SE97511MDP 3-Speed may also look similar to the previous two models, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some major differences that greatly affect this model’s value. Like the previous two models, it comes with a spacious table for a smaller drill press. It measures 6-9/16” by 6-9/16”, which is a hair smaller, but still large enough to be very useful. It’s also extremely simple, so if you’re looking for a machine that does its job without you having to adjust a lot of settings or do lots of assembly, this one is a good choice for you.
However, this machine has several flaws that lower its usefulness. For one, it requires the use of a chuck key, which is something of a pain. It also has just one inch of spindle travel, which isn’t going to be enough for many medium-sized projects. The price of this model is also fairly high. Given its shortcomings, that means it doesn’t provide great value. Some people could be happy with this model, but you could spend slightly more, or far less, and get a small drill press with better value.
The Proxxon 38128 TBM has some potential, but it sits in a higher price bracket than the other models on our list, and it’s unclear that it does enough to justify that increase in price. It does come with six collets ranging in size from 1/32″ to 1/8″, so you can use multiple kinds of bits with this model without having to buy aftermarket parts. It also has good durability and seems to be mostly well-made, so you don’t have to worry about it falling to pieces anytime soon.
However, it has an oddly-shaped table that is very deep, but also narrow, so you won’t be able to fit very wide pieces evenly on the surface. There’s also a lot of play in the included chuck, and while some users have solved the problem with home remedies or by buying aftermarket parts, it’s something that the manufacturer should work out itself, instead of making the user fix the problem. Given these flaws, it’s hard to justify the price. While many people enjoy using this model, it’s only after they’ve taken time to fix it, which they shouldn’t have to do, given that it is very expensive.
Hopefully, our reviews have already given you some insight into the world of small drill presses. There’s a lot to consider when shopping in this product category. If you want to make sure you know everything you need to know before you buy, check out this buyer’s guide. We’ve filled it with all kinds of great general information about mini drill presses, so it’s a great place to start if you’re a beginner. It’s also a good resource for those of you who have used a larger drill press and want to learn what really separates these models from their larger brethren.
Every drill press comes with four major parts, and understanding how to find quality in each area is a great way to maximize the value you get out of your purchase.
The first major part of any drill press is the base. The base supports the entire device and needs to be strong and wide enough that you have good stability. On larger models, you could expect to see bases made out of cast iron, steel, or other strong materials. On mini models like these, you may see more plastic in the design, though you can still find metal bases.
To save space, most mini drill presses combine the base with the next part, the table. The table is the surface on which you work, and it should be sturdy and wear-resistant. On larger models, you’ll find tables that can move up and down and tilt left and right for when you’re working with angled or irregular objects. With mini models, the tables are largely fixed in place, which is due in large part to the fact that they’re doing double duty as a base.
The column is the part that connects the head to the base and holds the head up. The head is usually the heaviest part, so it’s important that the column is very strong. Most of the time, the column will be made from steel, which gives it good strength and rigidity. On larger models, the column will be grooved so that you can move the table, but most mini models don’t have this feature.
The final major part is the head. The head contains the motor, the belt that transfers the motor’s power to the spindle, and the spindle itself. It’s important to get a head that is well-made because it’s the part that will have the largest effect on how much you like to use your mini drill press. If you see problems with the belt or the chuck, it might be a good idea to invest in a different model, as those problems will be hard to ignore.
While you should expect a lot of power out of a benchtop or floor-mounted drill press, the fact of the matter is that you’re not going to get nearly as much power out of a mini drill press. That’s okay, because you’re not going to be doing large, difficult projects on a mini drill press, and you’re typically going to spend far less on one, so wouldn’t expect as much power, anyway.
Of course, more power is almost always better. More power means that you can get the same jobs done more quickly, and it also means that you can work with harder materials. Some mini drill presses get around this problem with a low-speed, high-torque mode. While the bit doesn’t spin very fast, it has three, or sometimes more, times as much torque as it would if it were running at a higher speed, which gives it a decent amount of power.
Consequently, it’s important to understand that while you can work some metal pieces with a small drill press, you’re going to need to go slowly, and there are limits to the thickness and hardness of the materials that you can work.
As we mentioned in the previous section, you can adjust the speed on a mini drill press. With larger models, you largely adjust speed by opening the head and adjusting the belt. By switching it between different sets of pulleys, you can make a big difference in the torque and speeds that are provided.
With mini drill presses, you’re usually limited to, at most, five speeds, and more commonly three, while the bigger models can have as many as fourteen. The relative lack of speeds isn’t a big deal for two reasons. The first is that you’re not going to be doing as many different projects on a mini drill press as you could on a larger model.
The second is that many mini drill presses come with a knob on the side that allows you to adjust the speed without having to open the head. Instead of changing belts, you can use the knob to change speed, which isn’t as efficient but is far easier. If you want quick speed changes, small drill presses will make you happy.
Of course, you want to get as much value as you can out of your purchase. If it feels like there’s too much to consider, there’s a simple process to narrow down your choices and make sure you get great value for your money.
The first step is to figure out what kinds of projects you’d like to do. Then, figure out what a mini drill press would need to be able to do to complete those projects, and consider the features that would make that process faster or easier. Next, create a shortlist of mini drill presses that meet those requirements.
From that list, it’s a good idea to choose the lowest-priced model. It has all the features you need to complete your projects, but it also comes at the best price, which means you’re getting the best value for your money. You could spring for a more expensive model, but there’s a real chance that you’re just making your buy more expensive without increasing the value, since it probably adds features that you won’t use.
The WEN 4208 is the best overall model, due to its five speeds, onboard key storage, and high-quality depth stop system. The EuroTool DRL-300.00 comes with a large table and variable chuck, and is very compact, but quality control problems keep it out of first place. The Gino Development 01-0822 comes with a large table and variable chuck, and is especially good for small pieces. Given its low price, it easily provides the value for the money. The SE97511MDP 3-Speed is easy to use and includes a large table, but requires the use of a chuck key and has a short spindle travel distance, making it poor value for the money. The Proxxon 38128 TBM is very expensive but suffers from an oddly shaped table and some quality control problems that earn it the last spot on our list.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you understand the world of small drill presses. You should be able to use that information to find a compact model that makes your next small project a breeze.
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!