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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Woodworking tools: the Drill Press | Mere Mini

Do you need a drill press?

Woodworkers don't spend a lot of time discussing drill presses. When setting up a shop it may seem like a luxury: you already have a hand drill, so why bother taking up bench space (or floor space) with another stationary tool?

How it differs from a hand-held drill

I don't believe a drill press is an essential tool, but it makes woodworking easier in certain situations. It has a few major features that separate it form a hand-held drill. The biggest one is that it has a table which is perpendicular to the drill bit. Drilling straight holes is a surprisingly common woodworking task and one that is much more difficult with a hand drill.

Secondly, a drill press allows you to lock in the depth of cut so you can bore repeated holes all at the same depth. This saves a lot of effort and is much more precise than wrapping a blue tape stop indicator on your cordless drill bits.

In this Mere Mini, I'll give a very brief overview of my drill press. This video is aimed at beginning woodworkers or anyone who has wondered if he or she should consider buying one.


  1. Great video Steve. A couple items worth considering if your viewers are shopping for a drill press are size and the number of axis of adjustment. I had a really good full sized General DP that I spent a lot of money on, but it was so big it was hard to move around the shop, and I never needed the full 6 ft drilling capacity on it, so I bought a used benchtop model for $50 and sold the big one. My little press can rotate the table on 2 axis, offers handcrank control on the height of the table, and offers all the controls in your video. I love the ability to drill at angles for tricky parts Its like a huge pocket hole jig if I set it up just right.

    As far as accessories go, I got flycutters, fortsner bits and countersinks included in the $50 benchtop press. Not a bad deal at all! Sometimes a small used tool is way better than a big new one!

  2. I some time need to make holes at an angle, with a jig you do a lot in a short time. Keep the videos coming.
    jim skaggs

  3. I am building a Lutyens style bench and am using floating tenons for all my joints. Do you have any tips for cutting mortises on the end grain of long pieces of stock? I have been using my drill press but I have 4 pieces that are over 6 feet long and I would have to put the drill press on stilts. Any ideas?

  4. Steve -

    Based exclusively on your enthusiastic endorsement, I just subscribed to Wood Magazine. Can't wait to see the first issue.

    Pat Corbin

  5. Because I have always had a difficult time drilling straight, perpendicular, designated depth holes one of the first machines I bought was bench top drill press and have never regretted or had buyers remorse. Saves a lot of time and money with fewer mistakes in drilling.

  6. Thanks for the lesson, as always.

  7. I am enjoying these very informative Mere Mini's. A drill press is on the list for future purchase. i work in a metal fab shop and we use drill presses to death, sometimes literally. Keep up the good show.

  8. I'd love an insight on getting/buying/using a bandsaw. I am considering buying one, yet the 800 usd pricetag holds me back for now.

  9. An simple alternative is a drill stand where you can mount a drill. I use mine a lot. But a drill press gives more power, flexibility and precession to name a few advantages.