In a hurry? While I recommend reading the whole article to find the benchtop drill press that best suits your needs, I have to mention here that the Shop Fox W1668 is my favorite. The machine offers a great cost-performance sporting a 3/4-horsepower motor and offering a sizeable swing.
Regardless of whether you tend to work with metal or wood, a quality drill press is a must-have. Unless you are doing heavy-duty drilling, in most cases, you will be looking to get a benchtop drill press to attach to your existing workbench.
In this article, I’ll help you select the best one for you based on a variety of criteria. Before getting into reviews of the individual drill presses, though, here’s a selection of the top three:
- Top Pick: Shop Fox W1668
- Runner-Up: General International 12-Inch Drill Press
- Budget-Friendly Option: WEN 4208
Top Pick: Shop Fox W1668
Starting with my favorite, let’s take a look at the Shop Fox W1668, one of the most popular benchtop drill presses on the market. It has a powerful 3/4-horsepower motor and a swing of 13-1/4 inches.
The spindle travel is 3-1/4 inches, more than enough for most jobs you will encounter. The drill press is equipped with a 5/8-inch chuck and the W1668 can deliver variable speed between 250 and 3,050 RPM.
The head tilts 45 degrees to the left and the right, and the overall dimensions of the tool are 23 x 14 x 38 inches. It weighs 63 pounds. This is definitely on the bigger side when it comes to benchtop units, so you want to make sure you have ample space for it.
This ShopFox drill press offers a lot of power and flexibility at a decent price which is the reason I chose it as the top pick.
Runner-Up: General International 12″
Not far behind is General International’s benchtop drill press. It has a 12-inch swing and a 1/3-horsepower motor. It’s not as powerful as you’d expect, but it has useful features that make up for this.
This drill press has a built-in laser positioner that allows you to line up each job perfectly. It takes all of the guess-work and human error out of the equation. It also features an adjustable spindle tension return spring so you can fine-tune it to ensure the machinist’s comfort.
It has a variable speed from 500 to 3,00 RPM. The spindle speed is displayed digitally. The table measures in at 9-1/2 x 9-1/2-inches which should comfortably accommodate most of your projects.
The unit weighs 75 pounds. Fully assembled, the drill press measures 9.4 x 15 x 33 inches. The spindle can travel up to 3 inches, and the chuck is 5/8-inch.
While not important to get the actual job done, it’s worth mentioning that this machine has a cool green color which will make it stand out on your table. The shortcomings of this drill press are its power and swing size. That’s why the Shop Fox nudges it down to the runner-up position.
I reviewed this drill press in more detail here.
Budget-Friendly Option: WEN 4208
WEN is a brand you can trust when it comes to budget-friendly options. While I compared the various WEN drill presses here, in this article, I will focus on the most budget-friendly of them, the WEN 4208.
The 4208 has a 1/2-inch keyed chuck which means your bits are less likely to slip and will stay in the chuck. It has 5 preset speeds, 740, 1,100, 1,530, 2,100, and 3,140 RPM, which is a very generous offering at this price point.
Its spindle travels up to 2 inches which is not as much as some of the other machines in this list offer, but is still a decent amount. Additionally, the linear depth stops are really easy to read and will lock into position solidly.
This drill press has a 1/3-horsepower motor which is more than enough for most applications. The table size is 6.5 X 6.5 inches, and the head will swivel 45 degrees to the left and the right.
Additionally, this drill is very easy to assembly and get set up in your garage or shop.
Premium Option: NOVA 83700 Viking DVR
Going to the other end of the spectrum, taking the title of the best premium option is Nova 83700 Viking DVR. It has an enormous 1-horsepower motor and a swing of 16 inches. That is almost unheard of when it comes to benchtop drill presses.
The worktable is cast iron and measures 12-2/3 x 12-2/3 inches. It’s hard to imagine a project this drill press can’t do. The speed ranges from 150 to 3,000 RPM by default, but it can be programmed to go all the way up to 6,000 RPM if necessary.
The spindle travel stands at 4-1/2 inches. The table has 2 built-in LEDs that will flood your project with light to make sure you can see what you’re doing.
The depth stop is electronic, and it will accurately stop to the precise depth that you need. Once the desired depth is reached, the unit will automatically back out of the hole so you can deburr your material.
The final measurements of the assembled unit are 14 x 21 x 45 inches. It’s a very large benchtop unit, but it’s too small to be a floor unit. Additionally, it weighs in at 154 pounds, so you want to make sure you have a couple of guys to help set it up and move it as needed.
Overall, this benchtop unit has size, power, speed, work area, spindle travel, and a swing that just cannot be matched by others on this list. The major problem is the size and cost of the unit. It is a perfectly viable option – it just cannot take the top spot for these reasons.
The Alternatives: Benchtop Drill Presses Also Worth Considering
While I recommend getting one of the tools mentioned above, if you did not find one you like among those, you might also want to consider the three products below.
SE 3-Speed Mini Drill Press Bench
The SE Mini Drill Press is a fun little unit that offers more than you might expect.
With about 1 inch of spindle travel and a keyed chuck, this tabletop drill press would be a great piece to have in your shop if you are not a heavy-duty user. Three surprisingly high pre-set speeds are available – 5,000, 6,500, and 8,000 RPM.
The work area is 6-9/16 x 6-9/16 inches and the base is a pinch larger than that. The maximum drill height is 7-1/2 inches. The maximum drill capacity is 6 mm.
The big selling feature for this unit is just how compact it is while still being large enough to get many projects done. It’s especially a useful unit if you are just getting started with drill presses and want to figure out if it’s a tool you really even need.
EURO TOOL DRL-300.00
The EURO TOOL DRL-300.00 is a tiny benchtop drill press. In spite of its sze, it will take care of a lot of drilling projects, not just the small ones. It has a variable speed of up to 8,500 RPM which is the highest on this list.
This sturdy little unit has no problem drilling through wood or thin metal without hesitation.
This press weighs just 11.5 pounds and takes up an area of just 8 x 10 x 12 inches. It offers a spindle travel of just about an inch. The table measures 6-3/4 x 6-3/4 inches which is surprisingly big.
The mostly metal construction of this drill press is sturdy and will survive a while on your bench.
The final benchtop drill press on this list is Genesis’ GDP805P. It measures 8.8 x 14.9 x 18 which means it shouldn’t be hard to find a place for it on your benchtop.
It weighs 30 pounds and has a 2.6-amp motor which will take care of any small projects you have. It has an 8-inch swing and the head can tilt 45 degrees in either direction. This drill also has an adjustable depth stop to make sure you don’t puncture the table underneath.
The unit has 5 preset speeds so you are sure to find one that will work for your job.
Unfortunately, the press doesn’t have the power or size that other drills in this space offer. On the other hand, that might also be a good reason to go with the unit if you’re just looking for a small unit for the shop.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Products Featured Above
With so many different models of drill presses available on the market, it can be difficult to filter through them all. If you decide to do so, however, below are some of the most important factors I recommend keeping in mind when doing your search.
Price: The general saying of “you get what you pay for” is relatively accurate in the world of power tools as well. However, that doesn’t mean that cheap tools are bad. Instead, it means that they are likely lighter-duty tools for amateurs and people that do not need to be using that tool on a daily basis. Similarly, the price likely correlates to the drill press’s power and functionality. Because of that, the only category in which I truly kept the “absolute” price tag in mind was the budget-friendly option where I selected the excellent WEN 4208.
Quality: The two main ways I assess a product’s quality are looking at the reputation of the brand that makes it, and going thoroughly through positive, negative, and neutral reviews. Overall, all of the drill presses I featured in the list are of decent enough quality in relation to their price and intended usage. However, if I had to choose one that wins on this front, it would definitely have to be the top pick, the Shop Fox W1668.
Power: When it comes to drill presses, there are two basic metrics to keep in mind. The first one is the speed of rotation, denominated in RPM, which indicates how many times per minute the bit is capable of spinning. The second one is the power of the motor that is powering the drill. That is denominated in HP (horsepower) and gives an indication of how strong a material the press can (with the right bits) drill through. With one full horsepower motor and an RPM of up to 6,000, the Nova 83700 Viking DVR is the clear winner on this front. Keep in mind, though that it might – at the same time – be an overkill for what you need to do.
Size: While you should definitely keep in mind the dimensions and weight of the machine itself when it comes to drill press size, the more important thing to watch out for is the swing distance. That is the distance between the column of the tool and the drill bit. The size of a drill press indicates double that. So, for example, a 10-inch drill press has a swing distance of 5 inches meaning it can cut at most five inches from your workpiece’s edge.
Additional functionality: Finally, you should also keep in mind any additional functions that your chosen drill press might offer. Among others, the most popular are LED lights that help you better see the workpiece while drilling, a variable speed function that lets you set the RPM at small increments, and a speed display that shows the RPM in an easy to see way.
The FAQs: Other Things You Need to Know
If you are unsure whether a benchtop drill press is what you actually need for your job – or if there is a question you have about the tool – chances are you will find your answer below.
Do I need a drill press?
That really depends on what you are planning to be working on. However, if you tend to do a lot of drilling into relatively small workpieces that can be moved around, then I certainly recommend getting one.
Doing so will help you make your holes more consistent and you will be able to do so faster. For a full look at whether or not you should be getting a drill press for your workshop, make sure to read this article I wrote some time ago. You should also read my guide about how to use the tool.
Should I get a benchtop or a floor drill press?
Whether you are an amateur woodworker or a professional craftsman, a benchtop drill press will be sufficient for your needs more often than not. However, if you lack the counter space to put the drill press on or need a heavier-duty machine, you should also consider a floor drill press.
I compared the two types of the tool in this article.
Do I need any accessories?
At the very least, you should get a drill press vise that will help you hold your workpieces in place. If you are not sure how to use one, I wrote on that topic here.
Separately from that, there are a number of other accessories that will either help you drill faster, more accurately, or that will make sure that your machine lasts longer. As such, once you choose your tool, make sure to also read my article about the twelve must-have drill press accessories.
Do I need a milling machine instead?
While drill press is designed to, well, drill holes, a milling machine can chip away more complex patters from your workpiece. As such, you might want to consider getting one if you need to do tasks that go beyond simple drilling. If you are unsure which of the two tools you need, check my comparison between drill presses and mills.
Having a drill press is a must for most handymen. While floor drill presses can be more powerful, a decent benchtop one will be more than sufficient for most use cases whether you work with wood or metal.
When buying one, you should – besides the usual price and quality – also keep in mind the power and speed that your benchtop drill press of choice can deliver, its swing distance, and any non-standard functionality it might offer.
If you are looking for something that will offer great cost-performance, I recommend going with the top pick, Shop Fox W1668. If you can splurge a bit, you might want to consider the Nova 83700 Viking DVR instead. It is more powerful and offers a larger swing. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that will deliver decent performance on a budget, definitely take a look at the WEN 4208 or one of its larger brothers.