TLDR; For woodworking and metalworking, the WEN 4208 8 in. 5-Speed Drill Press is the most powerful option reviewed. It’s heavy, but still somewhat portable.On the other hand, the Small Benchtop Drill Press | DRL-300.00 is a great option if you know that you’ll only work on small electronics projects and drilling thin materials.
A drill press is a must for project that requires a degree of precision. It’s hard to make a good, straight hole with a handheld drill or a rotary tool alone. A drill press will help you with this: at its most basic, it’s a drill mounted on a vertical column.
Drill presses use standard drill bits and are very similar to normal power drills. There are drill presses are more powerful and can take bigger bits, but many smaller drill presses that you can put on a table or workbench are not that big. They are still powerful enough to do woodworking and a bit of metalworking for your electronics and robotics projects.
Another alternative tool that can do this is a mill, which can handle cutting with the side of the tool instead of just a drill bit and can easily drill at various angles (see our reviews of mini mills). On the other hand, mills are more complex to use and expensive; you can already do a lot with a drill press.
Here are the bench presses that were considered:
- Small Benchtop Drill Press | DRL-300.00
- Dremel 220-01 Rotary Tool Work Station with MultiPro Keyless Chuck
- WEN 4208 8 in. 5-Speed Drill Press
- SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press
- Lukcase Drill Press Stand Table
Best small drill press: Small Benchtop Drill Press | DRL-300.00
It’s a pretty small drill press at only 13 pounds and a 100 watts (about 1/8 hp) motor, which is similar to the motor of a Dremel. It comes with a speed control, the handle to control the drill and that’s it.
Unlike bigger models, it does not have a separate work table and base. You may want to get a drill press vise at the same time to help you hold small parts since you won’t be able to clamp a standard vise on the base.
It’s a good compact and portable option if your space is limited and you need the precision of a drill press for small drilling jobs with soft metal, plastics, wood or circuit boards.
Budget option if you already have a Dremel: Dremel 220-01 Rotary Tool Work Station with MultiPro Keyless Chuck
The rotary tool work station is a good approximation of a drill press if you only have small jobs to do. It claims to handle drilling holes at angles, which makes it closer to a mill, but I would use it more for light sanding and polishing in that position.
If you use your Dremel a lot, it’s a bit complex to get it in and out the work station (or if you don’t do it often and forget in-between like me).
It’s not as sturdy as a real drill press, but it can do in a pinch for precision jobs. I do have one on my bench and it’s useful to drill holes in plastic cases and the like: there are even specialized plastic cutting disks you can use. It’s a lot more precise than holding the Dremel yourself, unless you’re really good with a Dremel.
Best overall bench top drill press: WEN 4208 8 in. 5-Speed Drill Press
This is a standard drill press with features such as locking the depth at which the drill can travel and control the speed, but no fancy features like a laser guide. The work table can tilt at 45° left and right if you need to drill holes at an angle. It’s also strong enough to work with all metals.
It’s on the small size as far as drill presses go: it weighs 30 pounds, so it’s still reasonable to carry it and store it, and comes with a 1/3 hp (250 watts) motor. It’s still pretty strong and sturdy.
It’s not machine shop perfect, but it’s precise enough for drilling holes in PCB and other small jobs. It may be a bit overkill for some makers, but it’s versatile and the extra power may come in handy someday.
Best bench top drill press for heavier work: SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press
I’m including this SKIL drill press for people looking for a machine that can also help for bigger projects with wood and metal. At 50 pounds, it’s pretty heavy to move regularly: you should make sure that your bench top can handle it. On the other hand, the 375 watts motor can handle the large diameter bits.
The work table can tilt at 45° left and right, and a laser guide and depth spot are available to help you drill precisely. Unfortunately, the laser runs on batteries (??) and not on the main power, and this part is a bit flimsy.
It’s a decent bench top drill press for this size. If you’re working to do heavier work, you may wish to look at a floor drill press instead unless you have a bench that can handle it since you won’t move it that often and you will need to be careful where you store it anyway at this weight.
Budget option if you already have a power drill: Lukcase Drill Press Stand Table
This is similar to the Dremel work station, but holds a power drill instead. It works for drills with a collar diameter from 1.48 inches to 1.7 inches, so not all drills will fit in it.
It’s a bit cheaper than purchasing a drill press with the same power, and takes up less space. It includes adjustments to limit the depth and drill height like a drill press. It’s also stable and sturdy once the drill is mounted in it, and the drill is clamped in so it’s reasonably easy to remove.
It may be a bit big to manage for electronics projects and won’t be useful for all makers. If you already have a good drill and occasionally need this level of precision, it may be worth it, but I’d rather use the Dremel one.
In my opinion, the Small Benchtop Drill Press | DRL-300.00 is the best option if you know that you’ll only work on small electronics projects, jewellery, and the like and want a small tool that you can store under your bench when it’s not in use.
For more serious work, the WEN 4208 8 in. 5-Speed Drill Press is a lot more powerful, but can still be moved. Beyond that, I believe that you should also take a look at floor drill presses which are probably more appropriate and does not take up space on your workbench.