Locating the Best Benchtop Drill Press

For serious wood- and metalworkers, a drill press is an invaluable tool to include in your workshop. These powerful pieces of equipment offer significant advantages over standard handheld drills and can enhance the quality of your final product while saving you serious time and effort.

What are the Advantages of a Drill Press?

  • Improved speed control: To increase the speed of a handheld drill, the user must apply pressure to the trigger while simultaneously maintaining the drill’s position at a specific angle, which can be extremely challenging and highly fatiguing. In contrast, a drill press uses a fixed handle, adjustable drive belt and even variable speed motors to increase its output, meaning the machine does the work so you don’t have to.
  • Increased hole size: Drill presses can be fitted with a variety of drill bits to create larger, more accurately-sized holes with less effort than a handheld drill.
  • Variable-depth drilling: If a job calls for a specific hole depth instead of a hole drilled completely through the work surface, a drill press can be fitted with a depth stop to restrict the hole depth to a predetermined point.
  • Angle adjustment settings: Many drill presses can be adjusted to create specifically-angled holes.

What Can I Do with a Drill Press?

In addition to basic drilling operations, a drill press can be used to complete a variety of additional tasks.

  • Mortising: If you don’t have the tools typically used for mortising (such as a chisel), a drill press can get the job done. Some drill presses include mortising attachments for creating precise squares and rectangles on a work surface.
  • Tapping: Cutting threads inside of an existing hole is called tapping, and accuracy is essential in this process since the slightest aberration could make it impossible to place the desired screw into the hole. Using a drill press helps ensure straight, true threads that are difficult to achieve with a handheld drill.
  • Sanding: Holes drilled in wood and other materials often have a rough finish that requires polishing or sanding. Using a sanding drum attachment with your drill press makes it easy to produce a smooth, rounded finish inside your newly-drilled hole.
  • Deburring: During the drilling process, the entry hole is typically smooth and uniform, but the exit hole is often rough and uneven. You can use a deburring attachment with your drill press to make both ends of your drilled hole look flawless.

What Type of Drill Press Do I Need?

Drill presses come in two primary forms: floor-based models and bench-based models.

Floor drill presses are free-standing units intended for complex, heavy-duty drilling jobs. They are equipped to drill deeper and larger holes than benchtop drill presses, but they also take up substantial space in a workshop and are heavy and difficult to move.

Benchtop drill presses are fixed to a bench and perform well at drilling smaller holes. While they can’t match the power of a floor drill press, they’re also much lighter and more portable and require far less storage space. Most amateur woodworkers and workshop weekend warriors will be sufficiently served by a quality benchtop drill press.

How Does a Drill Press Work?

A general understanding of how a benchtop drill press works can help you determine which type and model will best suit your needs.

Power Source

Most benchtop drill presses use electricity as a source of power. A few manufacturers have developed battery-powered prototypes, but they were largely discontinued due to the units’ inability to match the power levels of the electric models. If you stumble across a battery-powered unit, steer clear.


The motor is usually located on or near the top of the drill press. Some designs include an enclosure around the motor, while others leave the motor exposed. Exposed motors have the advantage of faster cooling, which is something to consider when comparing different models. Most motors are driven by a belt and pulley system, which can be manually adjusted to increase or decrease their speed. Novice woodworkers can typically get away with motors on the lower end of the power range (around three amps), but if your wallet allows, go for a drill press with a motor that delivers at least five to six amps of power.

What Should I Consider?

When deciding which model to purchase for your workshop, be sure to compare and contrast the following factors:

  • Power: Most benchtop drill presses are powered by electric motors; generally speaking, the higher the horsepower or amperage, the faster and easier your work will be. All other things being roughly equal, choose the model with greater power.
  • Speed: Evaluating the speed of a drill press requires more nuance than determining its power output. Not every hole requires the same speed and power, so your drill press should offer an easily adjustable spin rate (measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM) to fit the task at hand.
  • Size: Your drill press has to be wide enough to accommodate the wood or other material in which you’ll be drilling holes. This measurement is expressed as “throat depth,” which describes the distance between the drill bit when attached to the spindle and the drill press post that holds the head. The greater the throat depth, the larger the piece of wood or other work surface you’ll be able to drill.
  • Angle: Most drill presses can be adjusted to create holes at a specific angle or drill accurately into curved surfaces. A wide range of motion gives you maximum flexibility when drilling.
  • Design: Make sure your benchtop drill press includes solid construction with high-quality (primarily metal) parts, a perfectly flat base for accurate drilling and a chuck that can be properly tightened with the included key.
  • Price: With benchtop drill presses, price is often a reliable indicator of quality. Higher-priced models are often associated with well-known brands, which are more likely to offer responsive customer service and good warranty protection. Especially if this is your first drill press purchase, consider spending a little extra money to buy from a reputable brand.
  • Additional features: While not essential, some drill presses incorporate features that make your work easier and more convenient. For example, an integrated LED light illuminates your work and helps you drill more accurate holes. Onboard LCD screens show your current RPMs and can be very valuable to intermediate- and professional-level craftsmen.

Best Benchtop Drill Press: Our Top Five Picks

We assessed nearly two dozen popular benchtop drill presses to identify the following top five performers.

Genesis GDP805P Drill Press, $100

This popular model is one of the most affordable benchtop drill presses on the market. Its 2.6 amp induction motor delivers smooth, quiet performance and the versatility of five easy-to-adjust speeds. Despite its light weight and modest footprint, it can drill materials up to eight inches thick, and a half-inch chuck accommodates large bits for a wide range of projects. An adjustable table can be set for angles from zero to 45 degrees.


  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18 x 14.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Chuck size: 1/2 Inch
  • Motor: 2.6 amp
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Speed range: 760 to 3070 rpm
  • 360-degree swivel: No
  • Warranty: 2 years


  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Quiet


  • Only offers five speeds
  • Lacks 360-degree swivel capability

Shop Fox W1668 Bench-Top Oscillating Drill Press, $370

This versatile 12-speed drill press does double duty as an oscillating sander without requiring any tools. An innovative design includes a dust collection port to keep workshop mess to a minimum, while a 5/8-inch chuck can handle nearly any drilling job you throw at it. The table tilts 90 degrees to both the left and the right, and the table height is also adjustable for customized drilling and sanding angles and sizes.


  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Dimensions: 23 x 14 x 38 inches
  • Chuck size: 5/8 Inch
  • Motor: 3/4 HP
  • Voltage: 110 volts
  • Speed range: 250 to 3050 rpm
  • 360-degree swivel: Yes
  • Warranty: 2 years


  • Wide range of speeds and angles
  • Onboard dust port
  • Can be used as drill or oscillating sander


  • High price
  • Heavy

ShopSeries RK7033 6.2-Amp 10″ Drill Press, $163

The ShopSeries RK7033 benchtop drill press combines solid power and consistent performance in a highly affordable package. The drill offers five speeds and a half-inch chuck that can accommodate woodworking and metal drill bits with shanks up to half an inch.


  • Weight: 49 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 14 x 28 inches
  • Chuck size: 1/2 Inch
  • Motor: 6.2 amp
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Speed range: 620 to 3100 rpm
  • 360-degree swivel: Yes
  • Warranty: 2 years


  • Moderate weights
  • Powerful motor
  • Affordable price


  • Only offers five speed options
  • Limited availability

WEN 4208 8” 5-Speed Drill Press, $77

WEN’s compact five-speed drill press packs a surprising amount of power into a small footprint. Its 1/3 horsepower motor easily drills through metal, wood, plastics and more—even heavy-duty cast iron! Its smooth, quiet motor delivers consistent, smooth service at every speed, and high-quality ball-bearing construction guarantees a long, productive life. The half-inch chuck accepts a variety of bit sizes, and the worktable bevels 45 degrees in either direction for accurate angles every time.


  • Weight: 31 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 22.9 x 11 inches
  • Chuck size: 1/2 Inch
  • Motor: 1/3 HP
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Speed range: 620 to 3100 rpm
  • 360-degree swivel: Yes
  • Warranty: 1 year


  • Very affordable price
  • Lightweight
  • Onboard key storage
  • Locking depth adjustment feature


  • Limited speed options
  • Shorter warranty than most

SKIL 3320-01 10” Drill Press with Laser, $118

For weekend woodworkers in search of greater precision in a benchtop drill press, look no further than the SKIL 3320. The onboard X2 2-Beam Laser system delivers precise alignment with every hole, and depth adjustment features allow for greater customization. Make clean cuts through wood, metal and more with a reliable 3.2-amp motor and tilting work surface that moves 45 degrees right and left. The half-inch chuck accepts bits of various sizes for many woodworking and cutting jobs, while a generous three-year warranty provides peace of mind on all your projects.


  • Weight: 51 pounds
  • Dimensions: 21.8 x 9.8 x 15.2 inches
  • Chuck size: 1/2 Inch
  • Motor: 3.2 amps
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Speed range: 570 to 3050 rpm
  • 360-degree swivel: Yes
  • Warranty: 3 years


  • Two-beam laser delivers precise alignment
  • Longest warranty available
  • Emergency stop button for enhanced safety


  • Heavy
  • Insufficient power for professional jobs

Final Thoughts

While designed primarily for woodworking applications, benchtop drill presses can also tackle a variety of other materials, including metal and plastic. Their stability and power allow users to drill consistent, highly accurate holes regardless of the project type. Many of the models reviewed here are affordable enough for entry-level woodworkers, yet versatile enough to satisfy the demands of some heavy-duty tasks. Take the time to assess your typical project needs and prioritize key features, and one of the five drill presses described here is almost certain to be an excellent fit.

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