What to Look for When Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal in 2017

We heavily rely on steel and metal for a lot of purposes. Be it starting a construction project or simply repairing a broken table, the uses of metal are endless.

If you’re someone who has his workshop at home, then finding the best drill press for metal is imperative.

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Most of the screws that go through metal pipes usually are pierced using this machine. Without a drill press, you’ll have unclean holes on your metal that can lead to a lack of durability in your project.

Advantages of a Drill Press for Metal Machine

Advantages of a Drill Press Machine

Drill press machines are extremely common in many places. Examples of these are school workshops, industrial factories, and even your neighbor's garage. The demand for these machines is high since it’s one of the best piercing tools for construction.

More stability

Unlike a hand drill, drill press machines are heavy duty equipment that offers top-notch stability. When you use a hand drill, often your wrist and hand will feel the recoil when drilling. This might cause uneven or inaccurate holes on your work.

For a drill press machine, it uses an up and down motion only. Using a lever as the handle, you simply lower the drilling bit towards your work. The head of the drill press is the one that receives the recoil.

On the other hand, your hands only control the handle which starts the drilling process.

This makes it easier and safer to control. To even add to the piercing prowess of this machine, drill press machines offer a table where you can set your workpiece in place by clamping it tightly.

Piercing Versatility

Piercing Versatility

The piercing versatility of a drill press rivals no other. The chuck works similar to a hand drill, but it allows you to drill perfect straight holes because it’s attached to a fixed head.

Another advantage that you get with this is you can modify the piercing speed (rpm) and the depth.

For example, if you’re planning to make candle holders using a bar of wood, you’d want it to have similar depths.

With the drill press machine, you can buy a particular accessory that drills candle holder molds. With regards to the depth, the handle has various specifications which give you more control.

An example would be the depth stopper. There’s a knob near the handle where you can set how deep your drill bit would go. Again, this is perfect if you’re looking for uniform depths when you’re doing a project.

Another advantage lies on the drill press’ head. When you open the casing, you’ll usually see three pulleys with belts. You can arrange the belt to configure the rpm of the machine’s drilling action.There will be a diagram to show you which combination of belts and pulleys would work the fastest and the slowest.

Faster RPMs are needed if you’re looking to pierce smaller holes. In this way, you’ll get a finer finish. On the other hand, a bigger hole would require a slower rpm to trim all the metal or wood on the surface carefully.

It’s not just for piercing

It’s not just for piercing

We’ve briefly explained the piercing benefits of a drill press. However, it should be noted that your drill press can be used for other purposes that benefit your work as well. One of my favorite add-ons is using it with a drum sander.

Typically, when you make workpieces out of wood or metal, you’re bound to get rough edges. If you’re using metal, a good idea would be to smooth the edges out of a grinder.

However, there are drill press accessories that you can buy which helps you file the rough edges of your work.

A drum sander works by attaching it in the drill press machine’s chuck. Once that is in place, there’s another configuration in your handle where you can stop the drill bit from going up. You'll be able to lock-in the drill bit in place without operating the handle.

Once it’s locked, the drum sander will only spin on your table. Now, you can simply get your workpiece and smooth it out using the sander which acts like a miniature version of a grinding machine.

Like a drum sander, there are other varieties of drill bits that you can attach to the chuck. Some good examples of these are countersinks, counterbores, and reamers.

These all function differently which helps you have more versatility with just one machine.

Here’s a brief description of what these other functions can do:

  • Countersinking - These are cone-shaped piercers that are perfect for giving recess to your surface. Counterbore is typically used to remove rough edges of your workpiece
  • Reamer - Pinpoint cutting tools that are used to reach a certain measurement, typically in diameter.
  • Counterbore - These are cylindrical cutting tools that look like a flute. These usually enlarge a pre-existing hole.

Things to Look For Before Buying A Drill Press

Things to Look For Before Buying A Drill Press

Buying a machine can cost you, so treat it always as a long-term investment. This is why it’s necessary to know the crucial areas of buying a drill press machine.

Operation

The number one factor that makes a drill press worthy of an investment is its operation.

We’ve discussed a few of its workings already from a while ago. Thus, take note of the belts and the settings for the handles. The drilling speed must be in sync with the pulley and belt configuration.

As for the handles, be sure that the lock-in setting is fool-proof. A faulty locking system can cause severe injuries to the worker. More importantly, make sure that the chuck and motor operate smoothly since this is where the piercing action begins and ends.

Durability and Stability

The key here is long-term. A good drill press machine must be built with heavy duty material. After all, if your drilling machine is lighter than the metal it will puncture, then you’ll have problems. A good starting material would be high quality cast iron.

Always remember that the base, column, and table should be all aligned with each other. A sturdy base would mean that your machine is stable.

Meanwhile, your table must not be poorly made too since it’s going to take a lot of beating both from your workpiece and the drill bit.

Accessories

Some drill press machines have limitations when it comes to accessory compatibility. When you’re buying a specific product, check if its brand manufactures a wide array of other accessories that you can plug in the chuck.

Having this advantage will help eliminate any guesswork or makeshift projects to expand your machine’s use. Again, a good example is a ready-made drum sander that you can buy for cheap and attach to your machine.

Our Top 5 Picks​

#1 WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press

Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal

Via Amazon.com

The WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press is listed as an Amazon bestseller and with good reason. It has a maximum drill capacity of ½” in 1” thick cast iron. You can also mount it on your benchtop to prevent any movement or imbalance while working.

From the product name, it can operate at five different speeds ranging from 740 to 3140 RPM. Even at high speeds, it can perform smoothly due to its ⅓ HP induction motor.

The drilling table can also be adjusted by 45 degrees when you need to drill things from an angle.​


Pros:

  • High value for money
  • It is priced at around $60-70, cheaper than its competition yet it is on par quality-wise.
  • Is relatively lighter, weighing 37.5 lbs.
  • This makes it easier to move around wherever you need your drill press.
  • Quiet, you can work anytime without fear of bothering anyone.

Cons:

  • Has a one-year limited warranty
  • The warranty shortens to 90 days if the product is used for professional or commercial purposes.
  • It is relatively smaller compared to other drill presses.
  • This means that this is more suitable for smaller projects.
  • The motor is quite weak.
Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal

Via Amazon.com

The Craftsman 10 is a powerful drill press which has five operating speeds that range from 620-3100 RPM. It boasts a 3.2 amp ½ HP motor, ensuring a smooth performance coupled with its speed. It has a ½” chuck which lets you work with both wood and metal.

You can adjust its angle up to 45 degrees for when you need to drill holes in corners. Its table elevation uses rack and pinion so you can adjust easily and quickly. It also features a depth gauge.


Pros:

  • Comes with a laser light
  • This will help you drill holes more accurately.
  • It is very easy to set up.
  • You don’t have to worry about cumbersome set-ups. 
  • It has a stop block and steel fence.
  • This is especially good for repetitive drilling

Cons:

  • It is pretty hefty at 60 lbs. 
  • Suited for casual use, or hobbyists
  • It is not industrial-level so don’t expect it to perform as well.
  • The laser is quite flakey.
  • You might have a hard time getting the laser to work.
Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal

Via Amazon.com

The Powermatic PM2800B 1792800B Drill Press has adjustable speed, and angle adjustment up to 90 degrees. Bit changes are easier due to its keyless chuck. Like the Craftsman 10, it comes with a laser guide for improved accuracy.

It also has an adjustable material stop making repetitive drilling a breeze. The drill press has a digital RPM readout so you can quickly adjust your speed accordingly.Its handles are reversible and can be mounted on either side so you can use the machine with ease.


Pros:

  • Has a screen where you can conveniently view the speed of your drill
  • Operates at a variable speed range of 250 to 3,000 RPM
  • This is one of the widest ranges so far, making it suitable for a wide variety of uses.
  • Has two LED lights
  • These adjustable LED lights eliminate shadows, helping you see your work better.

Cons:

  • It is at a higher price point, ranging from $1350-1600.
  • The RPM display screen has no switch.
  • This means that it’s always switched on when the machine is plugged in.
  • The chuck has a tendency to get stuck.
Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal

Via Amazon.com

The SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press boasts a five variable speed range of 570-3,050 RPM.

Its square work surface can be tilted 45-degrees both left and right and can support significant materials. It also has a laser to help you align and drill more accurately.

It has a depth gauge to help you drill consistently every single time. Its ½” keyed chuck accepts bits with larger diameters for large-scale projects such as furniture. Aside from metal, you can also use this for wood.


Pros:

  • It has a 3-year limited warranty.
  • It is sturdy and balanced.
  • You can assemble it with ease.
  • The assembly manual is well-written and easy to understand.

Cons:

  • The laser might be slightly inaccurate.
  • However, it is easily adjustable.
  • The laser is battery-powered.
  • It doesn’t share the same power source as the drill itself, making it more susceptible to drain without you knowing.
  • However, it comes with two AA batteries upon buying the drill.
  • It is somewhat wobbly.
Buying the Best Drill Press for Metal

Via Amazon.com

The Jet JDP-17 ¾ hp Drill Press boasts a speed range of 210-3,500 RPM. It comes with a LED work light to provide adequate lighting, reducing shadows making drilling a breeze. You can easily clamp this onto something for easier support.

It has a one-handed belt tensioning so you can quickly change the drill speed with no hassle. Furthermore, repetitive drilling is not a problem with its integrated depth stop. The power switch also has a safety key.


Pros:

  • It has a 5-year warranty.
  • Handles can be mounted on either side.
  • This can make positioning the drill in your shop easier since you don’t have to worry about the handle.
  • The laser is easy to adjust.
  • It is also very accurate, helping you drill things on point every time.

Cons:

  • Its quill vibrates quite a bit which might be bothersome.
  • It is quite pricey.
  • It ranges from around $710-890.
  • The bar where the table is attached to is a bit flimsy.
  • Holding the table steady seems to fix this problem.

The Verdict

Out of the five of these choices, the JET JDP-17 ¾ hp Drill Press is the best option. It has the largest speed range, even bigger than the pricier Powermatic Drill Press. Also, it has the most accurate laser, which most drill presses had problems with.

It is also one of the few to feature an LED light that takes care of shadows while working.

Furthermore, it has the longest warranty out of all of the products, so you don’t need to worry. Though it is still quite costly, it’s a strong and powerful product, so the cost is justifiable.

With drill presses, you want something that is versatile, sturdy, and reliable. Whether you’re working on small-scale or big-time projects, make sure to get a drill press that will last.

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