Floor or Benchtop Drill press ????

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Forum topic by bemgolf posted 12-21-2008 03:58 AM 14697 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bemgolf's profile


5 posts in 3424 days

12-21-2008 03:58 AM

I am looking to get a drill press for my shop and I was looking at spending around $600 for it. My question is with so many sizes and different models what are the main things I should look for when purchasing one. I was originally looking at the veriable speed steel city, and Grizzly for my shop I will be using in the shop to do things for the house and also make furniture. What are the advantages of a floor model rather than a benchtop besides price. Would I be ok with a bench top rather than a floor model. I had my mind made up on a floor model but was thinking the money saved could buy more tools. What your thoughts on this and any other brand that I might have overlooked and should look at. Thanks for your help in my decision.

15 replies so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3724 days

#1 posted 12-21-2008 04:20 AM

One of the major differences is the distance between the end of the bit and the top of the table. A floor model will give you greater flexibility because of the longer distance. Other than that, the features are about the same. Of course the floor model is more expensive and tends to have some extra bells and whistles.

Grizzly products have a good reputation and great features for the price.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3733 days

#2 posted 12-21-2008 06:12 AM

Floor models also usually have a farther distance from the center of the chuck to the post, unless it’s a benchtop radial drill press. A 17” drill press means that it is 8 1/2” from the center of the chuck to the post, meaning it will drill the center of a 17” board. The Steel City 17” is probably the best selling 17” floor model drill press out there. It has a split head casting design, and 6” of quill travel.

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 3684 days

#3 posted 12-21-2008 06:24 AM

I have a benchtop at home and floor models in the school shop. Not much difference for the basic woodworking that I do at home and kids do at school. It is true about the distance between post and bit. Also about chuck to table, however most benchtops there is an allen screw that you can loosen and swivel the head sideways so you can drill into something like a post. The floor models do seem a little more heavily built, and generally come with a bigger table.

View Matt (Upper Cut)'s profile

Matt (Upper Cut)

264 posts in 3782 days

#4 posted 12-21-2008 07:39 AM

One thing I am learning is that bench top tools aren’t right for me. Well, kinda, let me explain.

I do my woodworking in my garage, so I need to have everything on wheels. If you get a benchtop model, build a stand, on wheels, with storage. So you need to consider your options as
1. Buy a floor model
2. Buy a benchtop model and build a stand

For both you’ll want to add a great table as an accessory. There are some awesome designs in the Lumberjocks project gallery.

After putting in the time on the stand, is it really cheaper?

-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks,

View BikerDad's profile


335 posts in 3570 days

#5 posted 12-21-2008 08:35 AM

If you have the space, which apparently you do, go with the floor model. As noted, check the reviews. I have the old (just superseded) Jet 17”, been happy with it, although I definitely do like the idea of the laser alignment doohickey that’s started cropping up. Another feature that theoretically would be very nice is the electronic speed control, rather than messing with moving belts around. As long as the speed control works well, its worth it! Finally, unless by some freakish circumstance you get a DP that has a decent table for woodworking, plan on either purchasing or making yourself a table for it. Doing so will greatly improve the working experience.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View RichardB's profile


70 posts in 3458 days

#6 posted 12-21-2008 05:06 PM

If I had the room and the money, I’d get a floor model. Longer spindle travel alone is worth it; I had a lot of holes to drill in 3 different sizes, but they had to be concentric to each other. (Pictures will be posted soon so you’ll understand) Rigging up a jig was easy; finding three drill bits close to the same length so I didn’t have to disturb the setup was another. I didn’t have enough travel to accomodate even an inch difference in length.

I also miss having foot feed like we had in the high school shop. That would make it real easy to use a drum sander as an oscillating spindle sander.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3713 days

#7 posted 12-21-2008 06:09 PM

It’s nice to have the ability to drill into longer pieces, when you need to. And the extra depth when you need it. I have a floor model radial drill press and a floor model regular press. I keep the regular one set up as a mortiser. I like the advantage of being able to drill mortises in any thickness of wood. I use the radial most of the time for general drilling. I’ve only used it a couple of times to drill into the end of long pieces, but it was nice to have when I needed it.

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3733 days

#8 posted 12-21-2008 06:31 PM

The Steel City has 16 speeds rangeing from 215 RPM to 2720 RPM, and as I mentioned earlier, the quill travel is 6”. It also has a table that is easy to mount a woodworking table too.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3495 days

#9 posted 12-21-2008 06:34 PM

Get both a floor and a bench model. Two floor models would be great but one of each will serve 95% of all your needs, but again, both.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3730 days

#10 posted 12-21-2008 08:01 PM

Interestingly enough, a used Shopsmith, which can drill vertically or horizontally, sells for around $600. The variable speed headstock slides on two way bars instead of one as in most drill presses, and has a speed range of 700 to 5200 rpm. Torque is multiplied as you decrease speed. A speed reducer accessory is available that further reduces the speed range to 100 -500 rpm – lotsa torque for those large diameter bits. The table tilts and you can use the fence for positioning your drill holes. A stop can be set to drill to exactly the same depth. You can also raise and lower the headstock and table so that you can do your drilling sitting or standing.

The Shopsmith in drill mode is a versatile drill press.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3734 days

#11 posted 12-22-2008 04:23 AM

If I were going to spend that much on a drill press, I’d research every little thing I could find and make that decision myself. The suggestions are helpful, but YOU need to decide. What’s good for someone else, may not suit your needs.

View Topapilot's profile


172 posts in 3809 days

#12 posted 12-22-2008 06:02 AM

How about one that looks like a benchtop:
Drill press, table, and cabinet

But actually has all the advantages of a floor model:

moveable cabinet showing back

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3722 days

#13 posted 12-23-2008 11:45 PM

I would get oe that has atleast a 1/2hp motor. Larger bits bog down with smaller motors. I have a 9” craftsman that is not very usefull and a shop smith that is setup in drill press mode.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3681 days

#14 posted 12-27-2008 05:21 PM

Topapilot, I think you’ve solved the question with the best of both worlds! I like the cabinet and will add this as a project for me, thanks! Any pointers would be gratefully acceptted.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View 303Woodwork's profile


25 posts in 2482 days

#15 posted 08-16-2011 12:37 PM

Taking a look at the photos above, it’s quite clear what the advantages of a floor drill press are.
Hadn’t previously taken that into account…
Thanks for the cool images.

-- Gotta love woodworking!

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