Drill press under $150

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Forum topic by TheLorax posted 12-18-2015 01:37 AM 13596 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TheLorax's profile


55 posts in 2041 days

12-18-2015 01:37 AM

I’m looking for a drill press for my shop. I know the general consensus is to buy the Porter Cable from Lowes or buy used. I don’t really have the budget for a porter cable and there is never anything worth buying on craigslist in my area. If there is the seller always wants $10 less than a new one. I could wait to buy but I have projects that need a drill press and I don’t really want to wait a couple years when I can buy something useful now.

I’m considering the following 10” presses:

Harbor freight 10 in 12 speed. $105 with holiday 25% coupon
This one is the only one in this range that goes as slow as 300rpms and I’m really leaning towards it for that reason.
2 and 3/8 spindle travel and 3.9 amps.

Ryobi 10 in $129
This one has my eye because it has a 6 amp motor. The minimum speed is 570 rpms similar to most presses in this price range. This is the only thing in this range that has a 6 amp motor and Home Depot is probably easier to deal with than harbor freight on returns. I really hate the new ryobi green though.

Wen 4212 continuously variable 10 in. $154 This is the most expensive out of the bunch. It has 2.5 inches of spindle travel and the second biggest motor at 4.8 amps. I am most drawn to this one. It is also the most expensive out of the bunch. I’m concerned on the variable speed technology being something to break. I’m also concerned about the minimum speed being 530rpms.

So my two biggest deciding factors are how important is amperage and how important are low speeds? Should I go with the Harbor Freight for using forstner bits and hole saws? Or will the 530-570 rpm ranges be fine for those tasks? The Ryobi and Harbor Freight can be picked up locally and the Wen will have to be ordered.

I looked at the Skil from Lowes and the Crafstman models from Sears as well and I didn’t include them because I liked these models better. I’ve also considered just getting the Harbor Freight 8” for around $50 but I really don’t like how the table is adjusted up and down on those.

Thanks for any and all suggestions

14 replies so far

View TarHeelz's profile


69 posts in 2885 days

#1 posted 12-18-2015 01:47 AM

I bought the Wen 4212 online for a steal after some searching and I have been very happy with it.

There was something off with the chuck when it arrived. I shot an email to the Wen customer rep address and they sent me a new one. No problems ever since.

The variable speed works very well. Not sure what it will be like if it breaks.

-- Tar Heelz, Durham, NC USA

View JAAune's profile


1881 posts in 3120 days

#2 posted 12-18-2015 01:57 AM

I wouldn’t recommend the Harbor Freight unless you confirm in person that they are functional. I bought a couple of their smaller model for use as stamping presses (branding iron) and they were just tight enough to perform that function. Drilling actual holes would have been a nightmare. If you must get a cheap drill press, be sure to try the model in person to make sure the quill movement is correct and slop is minimal.

-- See my work at and

View bandit571's profile


26141 posts in 3487 days

#3 posted 12-18-2015 02:04 AM

Actually….I do have that $70.00, 5 speed benchtop model…..and have been using it for several years now. Including drilling holes with the Forstner bits. The chuck was a bit troublesome to install…..once it was on, no other real problems with the chuck. One pulley was missing a set screw…...$.49…not a big deal….

Harbour Freight will have that $150 model set up in their store. What you’ll take out the door will be in a box. Unless it is the last one in the store. Then you MIGHT be able to buy the display model. Just plug it in to confirm it works.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Xavier's profile


7 posts in 1752 days

#4 posted 12-18-2015 02:18 AM

I have the WEN 10-inch model, and over the past few months I’ve had the chance to make a few projects using the 8, 10, and 12 inch WEN drill presses. My best woodworking buddy has the Porter Cable you mention, so I can compare the WEN to that gold standard, but I haven’t used the Ryobi or HF presses so I’m not much help there. I specifically used 3” hole saws and 1” forstner bits in my projects, so hopefully this info helps.

Truth is, it really depends on what you’ll be using the press for most. The 10-inch WEN does well with forstner bits, no problems. It’ll struggle a little with hole saws, but I’m not sure you’d get much better results from the HF or Ryobi. In my experience using these presses, the hole saws needed quite a bit of power AND a low rpm to keep from binding/skipping, and those features aren’t really available until you get into a higher price range (like the Porter Cable, which does hole saws easily).

Overall, I think the WEN is awesome for the money. It’s built like a tank and has done everything I’ve asked of it. It CAN do hole saw cuts, but it’s slow-going and you’ll need to make shallow plunges to avoid binding. The variable speed is controlled by a lever almost identical to the main press itself (quite robust), so I don’t think you need to be concerned about the variable speed controls breaking. If you plan on doing a lot of hole saw cuts, you might consider saving pennies for the Porter. Otherwise, I love the WEN.

View TheLorax's profile


55 posts in 2041 days

#5 posted 12-18-2015 02:58 AM

Wow thanks for all the prompt replies everyone. I think I really am leaning towards the Wen. Hole saws and large forstners aren’t what I will be doing mostly I just wanted the ability if necessary.

View bandit571's profile


26141 posts in 3487 days

#6 posted 12-19-2015 01:22 AM

Spammer is back, and duly flagged as such.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View moke's profile


1574 posts in 3580 days

#7 posted 12-21-2015 06:46 PM

I have a very nice Craftsman standing drill press but it is in a location such that it is sometimes difficult to access , so I bought a 10 HF to put on my main work bench. I have reworked it and it is now semi-usable…..I put several hours in it and a new a result I would not recommend it….I have looked at the Wen in HD and thought it was much better and will someday replace that HF. I wanted something small because that bench is kind of high, but I didn’t want a bigger DP…I should have done more research.

I have always had a policy to never buy anything at HF that had a cord…I should have taken my own advice!!!
Just my .02

-- Mike

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3100 days

#8 posted 12-21-2015 07:09 PM

Based on the reviews on HD you should run from the Ryobi. I’ve never seen a WEN branded product there (I know it’s an old off brand name) but it gets close to a 5 star review on HD, but not quite such high praise on Amazon. You just know that after you buy a new DP you’ll see a vintage Delta Homecraft for twenty bucks somewhere.

Just looked at the PC reviews on Lowes. JUST GO BUY THAT ONE. No one ever regreted that they bought the tool they really wanted. Yes, it costs as much as two cheap units but it looks like it will do a lot more work for you.

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 2380 days

#9 posted 12-21-2015 08:00 PM

I have the 12 speed hf drill press, works pretty well as long as you don’t use a bit of 1.5”, it’s def paid for itself but I paid $40 for mine used.

View TheLorax's profile


55 posts in 2041 days

#10 posted 06-29-2016 04:09 PM

I just thought I would update this. I ended up getting the Wen 4210. The 10” non variable speed. I was worried about the durability of the reeves drive and I waited too long anyways and they were sold out at the sale price. I think I paid $114 for the 10” and I’ve been very pleased with it so far. The only small gripe I have is the light is kind of far back but it’s really not a big deal to me.
For the price I think it’s a great DP. So far I’m not sorry I didn’t hold out for the porter-cable. While it is probably a far more capable machine it’s also 3 times the price of the 10” wen.

View vskgaming's profile


83 posts in 2419 days

#11 posted 06-29-2016 04:36 PM

Thank you for the update Lorax, definitely helped me taking my decision.


View Charles Holland's profile

Charles Holland

88 posts in 1500 days

#12 posted 06-30-2016 03:28 AM

I guess I’m way way late here. I just purchased a Rikon 8 inch model because I was on a budget. it was either the Ryobi, rikon, or harbor freight. I chose rikon because I figured I could trust that brand more than others. also the Ryobi had mixed reviews. the rikon is just plain Jane drill press. I don’t regre the purchase. my only gripe is they could have put a little more oomph into the motor.

View kathy50's profile


15 posts in 888 days

#13 posted 03-18-2018 10:28 AM

I guess I m way way late here. I just purchased a Rikon 8 inch model because I was on a budget. it was either the Ryobi, rikon, or harbor freight. I chose rikon because I figured I could trust that brand more than others. also the Ryobi had mixed reviews. the rikon is just plain Jane drill press. I don t regre the purchase. my only gripe is they could have put a little more oomph into the motor.

- Charles Holland

I added a 120v gooseneck LED work light and wired the power cord into the switch box on the drill press so I wouldn’t have to horse around with two power cords (the light has its own power switch). I also bolted the base of the drill press to an oak board so I could put rubber feet under the board to protect any work surface I put the drill press on. This also helps make the drill press more stable.


View PeteStaehling's profile


135 posts in 1923 days

#14 posted 03-18-2018 01:08 PM

I have the Harbor Freight the smaller harbor freight model. It was in need some of tweaking the adjustments, but once I went over them it worked fine. The quill was loose and the bits wandered all over the place, but there is an adjustment that takes out that play. The travel stop never stayed put until I applied some non hardening loctite, but is fine now.

I have used this drill press daily for a few years now and it is still working just fine.

I do find the distance of the chuck from the pillar to be a bit limiting in reach from the edge of the work piece. The ones you are looking at are probably better in this regard.

I also wish the table adjustment had a rack and pinion, it is a pain to get the height right without one. All of the other models you are considering are better in this regard.

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