Drill Press Purchase Advise

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Forum topic by FatScratch posted 06-14-2010 04:08 PM 1496 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3297 days

06-14-2010 04:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press

I need some help from my knowledgeable LJ’s about purchasing my first drill press. I have never owned a drill press before, but think it will come in handy from time to time when using a hand drill becomes a bit of a challenge. I mostly do smaller scale projects and this is only a hobby for me, so I don’t need production quality equipment. I think a bench top model is more suited to my needs, simply because I don’t have the floor space for a floor standing unit, additionally a bench top is a lot easier for me to pick up and move if need be. I have looked everywhere and I am just a bit confused about what I really need. Is 1/3 hp enough for woodworking? Are 5 speeds (620 rpm – 3100 rpm) sufficient or do I need more (some I see are up to 16 speeds). Harbor Freight (I’m not a huge fan of their stuff, but quite a few of their drill presses have good reviews) has some relatively low cost models and there is a Craftsman (also not a fan of Craftsman, but this one has pretty good user reviews) ”": , which looks promising.

I need some guidance and suggestions would be helpful. I’m looking for that balance of cost and quality; keeping in mind that this is for hobby woodworking.

12 replies so far

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3195 days

#1 posted 06-14-2010 04:20 PM

Honestly, try Craigslist in your area. You can do much better than a Craftsman for a bench top drill.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3281 days

#2 posted 06-14-2010 04:26 PM

I’m not a big Craftsman fan, but for a drill press that sounds like a good buy. There is not that much to go wrong with a drill press so I would certainly consider it. I would not buy Habor Freight power tools personally, although they have their place for some things. Delta makes a pretty good bench top drill press too. Lowes might have it.

Jet has one of the better bench top models, but it runs about $300. It’s worth the extra, but it sounds like it out of your range. The light duty ones will probably work for what you are planning to do.


View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3155 days

#3 posted 06-14-2010 05:44 PM

I purchased a Delta DP350 last year and am very happy with it. A quick google shows it for about $225. I bought it specificallly for the VS. If you’ve ever used a CVS model, you’ll wonder why anyone would use anything else. I use the same in the floor model at work. You can find reports of problems with it in the earlier mfr. runs but I believe they’ve fixed those. You won’t be lugging this around though. For that, I bought a HF $79 model when it was on sale for $39. It has its limitations but I can pick it up with one hand and carry it. Its a $39 tool, and its a HF, but it has its uses.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3297 days

#4 posted 06-14-2010 05:48 PM

Thanks for the responses. UnionLabel, I have kept my eye on Craigslist for a few weeks and have not seen anything that I think is a reasonable deal or didn’t need quite a bit of elbow grease. Kent, I think you answered a big part of my purchase question, which is are these bench top models too light duty for hobby woodworking? I would like to stay below $200, because I just don’t see a DP being a real workhorse in my shop.

Thanks guys.

View pikaswoodshop's profile


3 posts in 2898 days

#5 posted 06-14-2010 06:19 PM

I have that exact one and its a good one except it doesn’t have the depth i need but over all its a good one especially for the price. i got mine on sale for $100

View knotscott's profile


8008 posts in 3370 days

#6 posted 06-14-2010 08:27 PM

I picked up a Central Machinery model 38142 13” DP a couple of years ago for $144. While I’m not in the frequent habit of recommending Harbor Freight tools, this one has been surprisingly good for my uses. It was an upgrade from an 8” Grizzly. It’s got a stout 3/4” hp motor, very low runout and vibration, and decent quill travel. I also looked at the comparable Grizzly, Craftsman, Delta, Hitachi, and Ryobi models before giving this one a shot…I’m glad I did. DP’s at this level are virtually all made in China and are pretty similar. If there’s an HF near you, check it out…there return policy is pretty generous if there’s a problem.

1/3hp might be sufficient for many tasks, but the big forstner bits will bog that down in a hurry.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3297 days

#7 posted 06-14-2010 09:14 PM

Knotscott – Your review on the HF DP is what prompted me to even consider their drill presses. The model you have looked a little big to me, not that having additional capacity is a bad thing, it is mostly the overall size and weight that becomes an issue. The model 38142 weighs in at about 106lbs, making it quite a chore for me to move. I would love to get it and mount it to a mobile cabinet, but I just don’t have the room. Space is a real premium for me and I think something a little smaller that I can easily put out of the way will be better. I am leaning towards the Craftsman I listed earlier, which seems to have good reviews (buying the machine, not the brand!) and its size and weight might fit the bill. Thanks for the input on the 1/3hp, 1/3 sounds a little weak to me.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3580 days

#8 posted 06-14-2010 10:24 PM

If you could squeeze in the floor model that would be better.don’t worry too much about speeds I never ever change the speed on my drill ever and don’t know anyone who has.A 1/3 motor, well you need to decide on that a half horse would be almost certainly ok but if you are doing smaller stuff a third will be fine take it easy and remember when all is said decided and done you need to enjoy just enjoy.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View wch's profile


45 posts in 2953 days

#9 posted 06-14-2010 10:46 PM

I bought one of the small 1/3 HP drill presses from Harbor Freight, for $50. Is it as good as a $200 drill press? Nope. But it gets the job done, and is far more accurate and less fatiguing than using a hand-held drill, and it’s easy to move around, which is important for me because my space is very limited.

Although it doesn’t have that much power, it’s been fine for my purposes. It can bog down when I use my dull forstner bits for cutting big (3/4” or bigger) holes in hard woods, but it’ll still get the job done, just more slowly. Otherwise I haven’t had any issues with power. I leave it on the lowest speed, highest-torque setting, 600 rpm, and have never felt a need to make it go faster.

One limitation is the 2” stroke. Occasionally I’d like to drill deeper holes, and this involves drilling, stopping, raising up the table with bit in the workpiece hole, and then more drilling. It’s a little annoying, but it’s not the end of the world, and I don’t do it very often.

One more thing: I initially got the keyless chuck model, but the problem is that the chuck is very long and the column is short, making it difficult or impossible to fit a piece of wood under longer bits, even with the table at the lowest setting. I returned it and got the regular keyed-chuck model, which has been fine. Sometimes I buy cheap tools and regret it, and end up spending more money replacing them, but I’ve been perfectly happy with my cheapo drill press, and it left me with money to spend on quality drill bits and other tools…

View Janski's profile


2 posts in 2300 days

#10 posted 02-03-2012 12:23 AM

I have a floor model 17” Craftsman drill press that came with a “keyless” chuck; The problem is when using the forstner bits it is impossible to open the chuck to remove the bit as it jams up; I am forced to use one of the annoying two rubber strap dodads which is somewhat a pain in the neck;
At the local tech school workshop where I originally took classes they had a “keyed” chuck and I found that much easier in opening and closing;
I have called the Sears Tech Center customer service and said they do not have a”keyed” chuck for my drill press; (they originally said they did and shipped me the same keyless chuck that is on the machine already – had to return that).

Anyone have information on how I can retrofit one??

-- Joan Tski, Perkasie PA

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2571 days

#11 posted 02-03-2012 03:11 AM

I would go for the HF 38142 mentioned above (it’s one of their gems), or for more power, quill travel and features, the “porter cable 15 press= is a great deal. Just go to a post office and grab a moving pack for a 10% off coupon, or if you can get your lowe’s to accept an HF 20% off coupon even better.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View JAAune's profile


1797 posts in 2311 days

#12 posted 02-03-2012 04:47 AM

Unless it is a really odd chuck, it should be a standard thread or taper. You could replace it with the appropriate size chuck from a place like Travers or some other tool supplier.

-- See my work at and

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