How to Use a Drill Press for Woodworking 

FEBRUARY 26,2022

👋 Do you want to learn how to use a drill press, or perhaps you’re curious about the whole drill press set up? Whatever your reason, stick around!


Knowing how to use this machine will enable you to bore holes with immense precision. As a DIYer or professional, you need the right tools, and you need to know how to handle them properly. In this post, we will explain everything, and the steps to take to start drilling like a pro!


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  • "The drill press allows you to make holes in a workpiece in a controlled and precise manner."



"The drill press allows you to make holes in a workpiece in a controlled and precise manner."


1. WHAT IS A DRILL PRESS? 

A drill press (often referred to as a pillar drill, bench drill, or pedestal drill) is a power tool used for drilling holes in a similar way to a regular handheld drill. A drill press is a drill mounted on a column, the drill moves up and down while the work remains stationary. The big advantage is that the drill press aligns the bit perfectly perpendicular to the material. No more crooked holes! To the inexperienced, that might not seem like such a big deal, but when you start actually trying to build something, you soon realize how important it is.


If you try and make something nicer than a planter box, having your holes exactly perpendicular dramatically steps up the quality of your project. It makes parts fit together easier and more securely. Drill presses also allow repeatable holes at a constant depth. This is much more difficult when drilling by hand. 

2. HOW A DRILL PRESS WORKS 

A full-sized stationary drill press is heavy, relatively expensive and takes up valuable floor space in your work area. But what the drill press lacks in portability, it makes up for in power and precision. Unlike handheld drills which rely on arm strength and the steadiness of the operator to drill an accurate, clean hole, drill presses are precise by design.


All drill presses have the same basic parts. They consist of a head and motor mounted on a column. The column has a table that can be adjusted up and down. The material is placed on the table and either held in place by hand or clamped in place. You then raise the table up to the bit which is chucked into the drill chuck.


When ready to drill, turn it on and slowly pull one of the handles forward and down to feed the bit into the material. The amount of pressure you use depends on the material you are drilling. Steel needs more pressure than wood for example.

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3. HOW A DRILL PRESS WORKS 

Drill presses are well-suited to tackling a wide variety of different tasks. Here are some of the reasons why you’dpotentially opt for a drill press over the hand-held drill:  

#1 - More Accurate


Arc welding is the oldest of these welding processes. As the name suggests, arc welding uses an electric arc to melt materials before joining them together. A power supply is used to create an electric arc is between an electrode (which can be either consumable or non-consumable) and the base metal to melt the metals at the point of contact. Although there aren’t many materials needed and the tools are relatively simple, it’s important to note that this is still a practice that requires hard work to master.

#2 - Quicker & More Efficient 


In addition to accuracy, you may need to drill multiple holes in your workpiece. A drill press enables you to achieve this without wasting too much time. You can set the drill at your preferred length and then drill continuously without having to readjust after every drill. You get to save a lot of time and energy.

#3 - More Powerful


If you are working with tough materials like thick metal or hardwood then you can find it a struggle to get through with a standard power drill.


With a drill press, you can use the spindle to lower the drill bit at a healthy rate where you are letting the drill bit do the work, many times with a normal drill you will see users pushing their full weight onto the drill to try to force it to get through tough materials quicker but this doesn’t help and only damages the drill and makes the drill bit dull and ineffective. 

#4 - Much Safer


The fixed nature of a drill press, along with its sturdy frame, helps to provide much greater control versus a handheld drill. Any strain felt while drilling tougher materials will be taken up by the tool’s sturdy structure as opposed to the user’s wrist with a handheld drill, helping to reduce the risk of injury.

#5 - Give Comfort 


The stress on the body is reduced because it is set at a good height for the user to work at. This is a big advantage if you are constantly drilling or if you have any problems with your health that limit you. The most common injury is back problems and this will help reduce the stress on your body whilst working.


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4. HOW TO CHOOSE A DRILL PRESS?

#1 - Type 


You can find two types of drill presses in stores: benchtop and floor. From the names, you can tell where tools are located during operation. The first type is the most popular because it is relatively small and can be easily moved. Floor drill presses are much larger, more powerful, and can be used for heavy-duty tasks. As a rule, they are used by professionals since ordinary users do not need their power. So, for woodworking, you can safely choose a suitable tool among benchtop models. Moreover, there are a lot of variations now.

#2 - Accuracy 


Accuracy is the main reason why woodworkers use drill presses. Of course, you can make holes in wood with standard hand-held drills, but you can’t make identical holes. A drill press allows you to set the precise depth, angle, and width of each hole. Easily make dozens of identical holes at any angle in a matter of seconds without worrying about the depth of the holes. Once you master the press, you’ll be able to create all kinds of pieces. 

#3 - Speed 


Variable speed of any drill press is also important. In lieu of selecting a drill press you should always bear in mind this feature. Because it may cause harm sometimes. For example, if you want to drill wood with the high speedy drill press, it may burn the wood. So, the speed of a drill press also demands to be discussed as a major factor in time of selecting any drill press. 

#4 - Power 


Horsepower defines how brutally a drill press performs. Before selecting any drill press you should check its horsepower. If you use it for the drilling holes not much horsepower is needed.  

#5 - Versatility 


Drilling holes is not the only thing you can do with these machines. Change the speed of the motor and even fit other tools, such as a rotary sanding disc, or a spindle sander on it. Use it to sand your wood pieces faster and easier. If you attach a mortiser, you will be able to make square and rectangle shaped holes. The sheer power of the motor allows you to make holes in metal too. All these small features give you more options and you can even incorporate metal into your wood pieces. 

#6 - Safety


Safety and security are crucial when working in a shop full of heavy tools. Since you can adjust the speed of the tip, you get full control of what’s going on, lowering the chances of the tip breaking. If you use clamps to secure the piece you’re working on the table top, you will lower the chances of something going wrong. 

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5. HOW TO USE A DRILL PRESS? 

With a drill press, you’ll be able to drill withextreme precision. Below we will take you through the steps.  

#1 - Set the Speed


The first step you should do before using your drill press is setting the speed. The speed is adjusted differently depending on the type of drill press you’re using. On some drill presses, the speed can be adjusted by moving the drive belt to a different sized pulley, on other drill presses it is as easy as flicking a button to a different setting. Generally, the slower speeds are ideal for metal, and faster speeds are more suited to wood, but it does differ from material to material, so the best option is to check online for whatever material (aluminum for example) you’re drilling.

#2 - Fit the Bit


Open the chuck, slide in the bit, snug the chuck by hand around the bit’s shaft, then tighten the chuck’s three jaws with the key. Make sure to remove the chuck. If you don’t, it’ll become a dangerous projectile when you turn on the drill. When drilling large holes, drill a smaller, pilot hole first. 

#3 - Adjust the Table


Some models have a crank that adjusts the table height, others move freely once the clamping lever has been released. Set the table to the desired height for the operation you are to perform.

#4 - Gauging the Depth


 This step isn’t necessary if it doesn’t particularly matter how deep you drill a hole in the workpiece. But, if you want to drill holes repeatedly at a set depth then you need to adjust the depth gauge appropriately. To adjust the depth gauge you should put the drill bit at the desired height and then set the nuts on the depth gauge at the appropriate stopping point.

#5 - Secure the Workpiece


This step is vital, as doing this wrong can put your safety at risk. If it is not fixed firmly in place the rotation of the drill bit can result in the workpiece spinning dangerously fast, or being flung across the room. The solution to this problem is clamping the workpiece in place using a drill press vise or some other method. 

#6 - Drilling


Once the drill press setup has been completed, put­ting it to work is easy. With the lever, gently lower the bit toward your target on the workpiece. Then, let the drill do the work. Stop the engine once the hole is drilled and unplug the device from the mains.

#7 - Post-Drilling Process


Next, remove the drilled workpiece, the bit, and clean the drill. If you have grease or residue on the bit, clean it with a solvent or degreaser.

There are countless projects and tasks where you will need to drill a hole into a piece of wood or metal. For many people, the thought of using a large pedestal-mounted drill can be a bit intimidating. They might look intimidating, but they are easy to used and will save you a lot of time. We hope these tips will help you to operate a drill press the right way and achieve optimal results in your next DIY woodworking project!


Josh J. Gur - CEO

CEO of Sanrico

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