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A drill press is a drill mounted on a stand (called “the column”) bolted to the floor, or attached to a workbench. It offers better stability than a hand-held drill, since you clamp the project in place and lower the drill onto it. It's also more accurate, and more powerful than a hand-held drill. You can also utilize their power for other tasks, such as sanding and polishing. But there are different ways of sorting out the dimensions of drill presses, according to the size of your projects. Here is a guide to some of the best drill presses on the market.
First, let's introduce the various terms that are important in choosing a drill press:
Using these terms, now let's look at the different types of drill presses:
Floor Model vs. Bench-Top Model: The floor model has its base on the floor, whereas the bench-top is placed on a table top. This leads to a number of differences:
The floor model has a larger swing, and can accommodate larger projects: A floor-standing model has a swing of 15-17 inches; a bench-top model has a swing of 10-12 inches.
Floor models have a larger stroke: they can cut into thicker pieces than a bench-top model.
Radial Drill Press: These allow you to drill very big precision holes in large pieces of wood or metal. This is because they have a larger swing: 24 inches, whereas other presses have a swing of 12” or 15”. They can also be set to drill at an angle (not just vertically up and down, like typical drill presses).
Magnetic drill press: This uses a magnet to hold the object that you are drilling in place—this is very useful for drilling iron and steel. The strong magnet ensures that the drill will not move, even when drilling through a very thick piece of metal. You can even drill upwards through the piece.
Geared Head Drill Press: This type of drill press uses gears (like in a watch or clock) to move the parts. The teeth of the gears fit into each other as they rotate. This is used instead of rotating belts to move the drill parts. There is less maintenance involved with this type, since there is less friction. This type is preferred when metalworking, since you can use lower drill speeds than in woodworking.
Means of varying the speed of the drill press:
Step Pulley Drill Press: Most drill presses use this method to change speeds. You change speeds on this drill press by moving a belt to 4 or 5 different positions on different-size pulleys. But you have to stop the machine in order to change speeds.
Variable Speed Drill Press: Here you change speeds by moving a dial which changes the diameter of the pulley operating the press. That in turn changes the speed of the press. This model allows you to change speeds in the middle of drilling. This kind of drill press is more expensive, and typically you don't have to change speeds in the middle of drilling. But machinists that use a variety of bits and drill different materials may prefer this model.
Attachments for sanding: Some people want to use their drill press for more than drilling. Some models accommodate an attachment for sanding.
Coolant system—Drilling can generate a lot of heat, due to friction. Some drill presses allow you to inject lubricant or water to cool off the object that you are drilling.
Work-light and laser cross-hairs: These help you precisely aim the drill bit on the mark where you want to drill. This is helpful if you're drilling a dark piece of metal.
Tilt table 90 degrees to left and right—This is used in the radial drill press, for making holes at an angle.
Adjustable table height—The throat depth of the drill press is what limits the horizontal size of the project. But what about its height? A drill press where you can lower and raise the table can take care of that.
Eye guard: When drilling, little slivers of wood or metal can go flying in various directions. Some drill presses have an eye guard to protect you. (Otherwise you'll have to wear a pair of goggles.)
On-board chuck-key: The chuck key is what you use to open and close the chuck (what holds the drill bit), to change drill bits. You don't want to have to look for it all the time—so it's good to have a drill press which has a special location where you can store it.
Adjustable speeds: It's useful that a drill press has adjustable speeds, for drilling different materials or different size holes (smaller holes require faster speeds.) As we mentioned before, the step pulley drill press requires you to turn off the machine when changing speeds, while the variable speed drill press lets you change speeds in the middle of drilling.
SKIL Tools–is a company manufacturing power tools. They were founded in 1924, and have their headquarters in Mount Prospect, Illinois. They manufacture over 100 different tools: drills, saws, power screwdrivers, sanders, and specialty tools.
Powermatic— was started by Leonard F. Smith, Sr. In 1921. He was a seller of timber and lumber in McMinnville, Tennessee. He thought that he could sell a better product if he cut the wood himself, on his own machinery. He later devoted his efforts to making wood-cutting machines, which he marketed. They now make saws, drill passes, lathes, and the like.
Shop Fox-- Is a division of Woodstock International, Inc. They were founded in 2000, making tools and equipment for woodworking and metalworking. They are located in Bellingham, Washington.
JET Tools-- was created in 1958, by Leslie P. Sussman. He was a dealer of manual chain hoists and trolleys, located in Tacoma, Washington. He started manufacturing industrial tools and hand tools, until metalworking and wood working products became the main emphasis.