help picking drill press

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Forum topic by John S posted 12-16-2017 09:22 PM 1640 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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John S

23 posts in 3361 days

12-16-2017 09:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question drill press

I am needing help picking a drill press. I would like everyone’s input on brand, size, number of speeds etc. I am thinking of spending around $200 possibly $300 on the tool. I am recently retired and have moved into a home where I have a great area for a 13×28 shop. Thanks in advance.

19 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


8350 posts in 3165 days

#1 posted 12-16-2017 10:48 PM

What are you going to be using it for? Wood? Metal? Do you want a floor standing or a bench top? How thick of stuff are you going to be drilling? Lots of variables, not a lot of info :)

Anyway, for your price range, you are probably looking at either a small benchtop thing, or a nice used machine, most likely floor standing. Here is one that looks pretty nice and has a bunch of extras in your price range and area that was just posted: Drill press - $250
There are quite a few others listed as well, but that one just kind of stood out to me.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View BurlyBob's profile


8231 posts in 3231 days

#2 posted 12-17-2017 12:37 AM

I bought that Porter Cable 660 floor drill press. It was around $325 as I recall. I’m quite satisfied with it.

View LesB's profile


2786 posts in 4409 days

#3 posted 12-17-2017 12:54 AM

A drill press is pretty basic so I would decide which you want, a bench top or freestanding. I have to acknowledge I have a floor model and in 40 years I can never remember needing the extra length it provides.
After deciding that I would start checking for used ones in your area (they are heavy and shipping would be prohibitive).....unless you are focused on a new one. Then any of the major brands would work.
Of course then you need the accessories, mortising jig, centering vice, fence, auxiliary table, etc etc.
I just ran a Craig’s list check in my area and came up with a number in your budget. One floor model was the Delta 20” I have and was $300.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Loren's profile


10916 posts in 4614 days

#4 posted 12-17-2017 01:04 AM

I have one with a reeves drive that’s similar
to a 12 inch model sold by WEN. It’s a
satisfactory machine for woodworking and
the WEN model isn’t very expensive and
parts support may even be available.

Reeves drives have a bad reputation for
failing and being hard to repair if parts
aren’t available. For heavy use I would
probably go for a model with belts you
have to switch around. Speed changes
are inconvenient but there’s nothing likely
to break in the transmission.

View runswithscissors's profile


3124 posts in 2991 days

#5 posted 12-17-2017 01:13 AM

I would not recommend a mortising attachment. Most who have tried one (myself included) found them not very satisfactory, mainly because you don’t get nearly enough downward force with the drill press quill.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3480 days

#6 posted 12-17-2017 01:21 AM

I have the Porter Cable 660 also.
+1 for satisfaction. Speed changes are easy, and if you can get the laser aligned, it is a real plus.
Love mine…
Lowes, I think now somewhere around $325. Bought mine on sale at $275 about two years ago, never looked back.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Woodmaster1's profile


1613 posts in 3553 days

#7 posted 12-17-2017 02:49 AM

Stay away from reeves speed change belts are better. The woodworking club just bought a powermatic with a reeves drive and it does not work that great. It slips and will not changes speeds that well. The powermatic I had when teaching school worked great but that was American made 40+ years ago.

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4541 posts in 2243 days

#8 posted 12-17-2017 03:06 AM

Get at least a 12 speed drill press, for otherwise you will burn up your forstner bits and hole saw bits. Stumpy nubs recommends the 13 In. 16 Speed Drill Press from Harbor freight for $279 with te 20% off coupon that’s $223.20 and with the %25 off coupon (available now) it’s only $209.25. I am strongly leaning towards getting one of these to replace my 3 speed drill press.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1469 days

#9 posted 12-17-2017 03:19 AM

One thing to consider with any drill press is what type of depth stop adjustment. The other thing is, as posted already, that you can slow it down enough. Beyond those two, there is not much else you can get too worked up about for the price range.
In regards to the depth stop, I like the ones that use a threaded bar and nut that you wind to where you need it to set the depth. This type, once set, will stay and is repeatable. You can also measure exactly from the stop surface to the nut how much travel you are allowing, a handy feature to help make sure it is right. The one to steer clear of is the round horizontal spring loaded “thing” that you spin to index marks that are never where they are supposed to be and otherwise confusing to set even when they are.
This is all just my opinion…well some of it is fact, but the bottom line, buy what you want, but in your price range realize that you are not going to get a whole lot of extra performance or accuracy. Personally, I’d wait and save up some more money and then get one a little better.

View Knockonit's profile


743 posts in 1168 days

#10 posted 12-17-2017 12:50 PM

whoa, a whole lotta info, and opinions, so allow me to offer one.

I”m a fan of less is more, i’ve had a hf floor model for about 15 years, pretty simple, the biggest item on it i use and wish was better is the depth gauge stop, as for speeds, not sure how many it has, as i can probably count on two fingers how many times i’ve changed it. Moderation can be done with hand eye coordination , again my opinion. And i do get that occassionaly if drilling something out of the norm speed is a factor, so the ability to change it would be a plus.
So there you have it, i’ve seen them with so many bells and whistles, one just doesn’t know how to remember all of them, let alone use them regularly. But thats just me, i’m a simple guy, wanting to do simple things,
don’t get me started on chisels, ugh, i’ve a collection of those that a vendor would envy, just can’t seem to find the right set.
good luck with selection, one never knows if its the right one till you use it a fair amount, then keep a list of the things one would want, and upgrade when opportunity rises it fortunate head.

-- Living the dream

View Planeman40's profile


1532 posts in 3727 days

#11 posted 12-17-2017 02:31 PM

Here are my recommendations after 60 years of using one.

1. Good depth stop

2. Good quill lock (needed for locking drill, etc. at various depths for routing, etc.)

3. Good table lift. That table gets mighty heavy to wrestle to a new height.

4. Ability to set to low speed for using large diameter tooling like for large hole drilling.

Personally, I have found I rarely change speeds. I generally leave on one intermediate speed for all things except large hole drilling. And one more thing. I HIGHLY recommend buying THIS drill press clamp that fits onto the drill press column and swings out of the way when not using. BEST clamp I ever used!!! Not cheap, but worth every penny!

Travers Tool has the clamp, $77.32 each, part no. 61-171-001 ( Hooks to the column, swings out of the way when not needed, and has a quick acting cam action. Most of the trouble in using a drill press is getting your workpiece properly clamped down. The Cam Lock Clamp does it in one quick and easy motion.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Sparks500's profile


280 posts in 1296 days

#12 posted 12-17-2017 02:41 PM

I bought a chinese made floor model many years ago and had mixed results. It had a little wobble on the chuck and I was planning on getting rid of it and finding a better quality one.
Then, at a woodworking show in the Chicago suburbs, I met a guy named Mark Duginski who had written books about machinery setup and fine tuning. Long story short, the quills are almost always straight and true, but they put really low cost chucks in them. Ordered a heavy duty Jacobs chuck and its been a great machine ever since.

So, IMO, pick a machine that has the features you want at the price you want, you can always fine tune it.

-- A good day is any day that you're alive....

View John S's profile

John S

23 posts in 3361 days

#13 posted 12-17-2017 09:46 PM

Thanks for the great input. I am going to be using the drill press the vast majority of the time for wooden projects. I guess my main concern was number of speeds, whether an 8-10 inch swing was enough or should I get something more like 12-16 inches of swing.

Table top is fine. I would rather put my money into more swing, hp or something rather that paying more for a floor model.

I have always not thought a lot about Harbor Freight tools, anything electric especially. However if the guys on here are having good success with them who am I to question the brands.

View Knockonit's profile


743 posts in 1168 days

#14 posted 12-17-2017 10:17 PM

Yes, i did put a new chuck in it a few years back, and one of those link belts, only because the other one dried out and i was unable to find an exact match.
I’d say the HF unit is about 15 years old, had a lotta metal and wood holes go thru it, my old craftsman, which was really old and really big, ended up with so much play, gave it to a old boy down the street so long ago i forget.

I also picked up years ago the HF mortiser, while i haven’t used it much in years, i do remember it doing ok, as only reason i picked it up was the one i bought for drill press gave me anxiety attacks, lol,

I have no use for a tool that does not function as intended, it learns to fly fast and far.

Sure is a lotta units out there to choose from, again good luck with it, what works for one member may not work for another, kinda the luck of the draw.

-- Living the dream

View David Smith's profile

David Smith

43 posts in 1477 days

#15 posted 12-17-2017 10:43 PM

Congratulations on your retirement! I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous—I have a few years left.

I’ve had good luck with the Porter Cable from Lowe’s. I made two modifications that make it good for an old guy doing woodworking (I’m referring to me, not you): (1) I made a table using t-track and Woodpeckers knobs for the fence; (2) I made an extension for the chuck key.

I also bolted 2×4s to the base to give it more stability.

I agree with Planeman40. I keep mine moderately slow and rarely change the speed, unless I’m doing something that takes some setting up. Usually it’s chuck up a bit, drill a hole, go on to the next thing.

-- David

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