Bench-top drill press vs. floor-mount

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Sark posted 07-22-2019 03:14 AM 908 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Sark's profile


297 posts in 1159 days

07-22-2019 03:14 AM

It’s time to get a new drill press and I’m thinking bench top. In 30 years, I don’t think I ever used more than 8-10” of space between between quill and table. The travel length of the bit is more important than the height of the stand. I’m not a furniture maker. Just cabinets. And the height of the pieces being bored is rarely more than a few inches. Anyone using just a bench top model?

26 replies so far

View MPython's profile


270 posts in 611 days

#1 posted 07-22-2019 01:47 PM

I had a Delta floor standing drill press for many years. I always wanted a Walker Turner bench top and I finally found one on Craigslist. I reconditioned it and have been using it exclusively for over then years (I got rid of the Delta a long time ago). I have never wished for the floor model back. I built a nice stand with storage drawers for drill buts and other drilling paraphernalia and enjoy the storage space. I think this is probably a personal preference thing. I have nothing against floor standing machines, but my bench top one suits me just fine.

View jmartel's profile


8978 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 07-22-2019 02:45 PM

Typically floor models will have a larger swing (distance from center of drill bit to the post). Bigger is always better.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View PaulDoug's profile


2391 posts in 2503 days

#3 posted 07-22-2019 02:56 PM

I have a floor model, and have been thinking of building a cabinet to attach to the bottom of it for storage (small shop). I would fasten the cabinet using the slots in the base, being discussed on another thread, or better yet, build the cabinet to fit over the base and have it on wheels. Like you I have never needed to drill something long. If the need did arise I could remove the cabinet…

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View teejk02's profile


504 posts in 1924 days

#4 posted 07-22-2019 03:29 PM

I have both (Delta’s). The floor model is certainly “beefier” compared to its little sister but either will do the job on most things. Guess it comes down to bench space vs. floor space.

View Knockonit's profile


682 posts in 1001 days

#5 posted 07-22-2019 03:32 PM

I think both have their place, pending usage, i have both, and both are used regularly for some projects, i sometimes use the bench top unit as a small press, while i do have an arbor press, the distance needed to press is sometime greater and the drill press works, can’t use if for heavy stuff, but minor little things its a jewel, one can’t go wrong with too many drills, hand or otherwise
rj in az

-- Living the dream

View Delete's profile


439 posts in 1171 days

#6 posted 07-22-2019 03:34 PM

I don’t agree that one should designate one as better or preferable over another. Either one works depending on what you ask it to do. I have both bench models and floor models as well as a Walker Turner radial with huge T-slot table. I use the Walker-Turner for drilling in my little machine shop because of the T-slot table that helps with precise location of material for drilling.

I use my bench top drills for, sanding drums, mounted grinding stones, small wire brushes, and small more sensative drilling. As mentioned by Jmartel, my floor model drill presses have a larger swing, larger motors, are more heavily built, and will handle drilling jobs that the bench drill can’t handle.

I guess it comes down to what your budget will allow. Or what you can get a deal on, and rebuild to suit your needs.

View therealSteveN's profile


5901 posts in 1373 days

#7 posted 07-22-2019 03:48 PM

Not being snarky here, but for me, that is a guy choosing between buying a car, or a truck, for serving his needs, while trying to be as efficient as possible.

If he only goes to the lumber mill once every 8 months to get a light load, then buy a car, especially if he has a neighbor with a truck, he can bribe with a 6 pack to drive you over, and help you load the wood.

I have a floor mounted, but I do some weird stuff with a drill press, and mine is a radial DP, so I can tilt the head, or the table, or both for some weird combinations of angles. If I was just drilling holes in normal sized pieces, I would sell it for a table top drill, but I would get one with a lot of power, and adjustability, with a BIG max stroke.

But all of us, can only answer what we would like, based on our likes, dislikes, and the work we do. It’s your choice, so it would be better if you listed every conceivable thing you ever hoped to do. Maybe we could match what we think would work for you.

-- Think safe, be safe

View SMP's profile


2233 posts in 705 days

#8 posted 07-22-2019 03:56 PM

I have a benchtop model, and it works for 90-95% of my needs. I mainly deal with 4/4 to 8/4 stock so its perfect for that. I also use it for metal work and mainly metal up to 1/4”, so again, usually fine. Half the time it doesn’t meet my needs, no drill press would. So I also have an “angle drill guide” that I use with a corded drill for those wonky pieces/angles that wouldn’t work in any drill press. The other times I find a workaround of some sort. Of course that’s for my day to day needs, YMMV.

View bondogaposis's profile


5802 posts in 3150 days

#9 posted 07-22-2019 04:04 PM

I’m like you, I never lower the table more than a few inches. So I’ve got a bench top and I’ve never wished for a floor model. One thing that is nice if you build a nice cabinet for it to set on, you will have a place to store drill bits and other accessories.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Eric's profile


212 posts in 1037 days

#10 posted 07-22-2019 04:37 PM

I had a 14” bench top for three decades. Had to abandon it and when I bought a replacement it was a 17” floor model with a rack and pinon lift. Bigger is better and it’s nice to have extra bench space.

-- Eric

View TEK73's profile


289 posts in 506 days

#11 posted 07-22-2019 05:26 PM

I fornsure agree that bigger is better, but not so much that floor-standing is bigger – as in «beefer».

At least here in Norway you can get the same model as a floor standing or as a bench model, at almost the same cost.

So when you claim «floor standing is beefer» I suspect you are just comparing bigger models to smaller…

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

View Delete's profile


439 posts in 1171 days

#12 posted 07-22-2019 05:53 PM

The last few years beefy 20” swing drill presses with big, square, T-slot tables have become available at import prices, I know an importer like Princess Auto here sells lots of them. They don’t make that size drill in a bench model. For the non- industrial consumer 14” to 16” swing is about as big as you can go for a bench model unless you go for a radial design, and what is available in a radial design is relatively light, unless you can get your hands on a old model like the Walker-Turner.

I am aware things are different in Europe, tools are often built to industrial requirements and also pushed for home shop consumption. Nothing wrong with that, if you can afford it.

View clin's profile


1114 posts in 1795 days

#13 posted 07-23-2019 12:28 AM

I had a floor model for years, because I got it very cheap. Even though it was a floor model, it still had surprising little vertical clearance. Maybe 18” max. for the lowest position of the table. Sounds weird to even write that. But it had to do with the way the table worked and just how far down it effectively would go. Of course I could rotate the table out of the way, and have clearance all the way to the base of the drill press.

What I have now, is a bench top but it has a deep swing (apparently that’s the term). But I can rotate the arm or table such that I could position work on the floor if need. Or more useful, it rotates sideways, so it drills sideways. So in that way, it’s essentially unlimited how long a piece it can drill into. Like how long a table leg could be if I wanted to drill into the end of it. I’ve never used it that way, but the option is there.

The flexibility of it also means the whole thing can move backward and forward, like a radial arm saw. So the “swing” can be changed. I imagine all this flexibility comes at a cost of precision, but I’ve not had any issues.

Bottom line is a floor model “wastes” a lot of potential storage space. If you need something only a floor model can provide, then get it. But it sounds like your need is pretty typical and a bench-top model will work just fine 99.9% of the time. And I agree the travel of the press is more important than the vertical clearance for me as well. And I agree the “swing” is definitely more is better. Though I’m sure precision drops the longer that is.

-- Clin

View Delete's profile


439 posts in 1171 days

#14 posted 07-23-2019 12:59 AM

Clin, That is what is normally called a radial drill, different ones have different motions, but usually side to side, rotate and in and out. For a long time now, what is available has been relatively light, unless you go to industrial machines. A Walker-Turner will perform all of those motions, and mine comes in at around 400 lbs., but they are no longer available.

View SMP's profile


2233 posts in 705 days

#15 posted 07-23-2019 01:14 AM

I fornsure agree that bigger is better, but not so much that floor-standing is bigger – as in «beefer».

At least here in Norway you can get the same model as a floor standing or as a bench model, at almost the same cost.

So when you claim «floor standing is beefer» I suspect you are just comparing bigger models to smaller…

- TEK73

Well here in US it depends on brand. I guess generally speaking with “big box store” brands like delta and craftsman it was kind of the case, but if you to a woodworker store and get Rikon etc then you can get similar models in bench or floor.

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics