Parts of a Drill Press


There are only a few integral parts that make up a drill press and you're going to find these on every drill press - no exception. You might be surprised to find out that even the most basic drill presses share the same parts as high-end drill presses that cost 10x as much, but the main distinctions are mostly in the power and adjustability of these individual components. This is fortunate for beginner wood workers because they can purchase the most inexpensive drill press, learn the ins and outs of assembly and upgrade to the more high-powered options down the line. These are the most important components that you'll assemble when you get your drill press. Most of them are replaceable and you can purchase them individually if one breaks or you want to upgrade some without replacing the main drill.


The base, as the name indicates, is the foundation of the drill press which you have to mount to either the desk or the floor depending on the type of drill you're using. The drill press base is one of the most integral components and it's hard to replace because it's a core component. Most drills have 3 handles that stick out from the center of the base and you can adjust them in a vertical manner. The handles can be moved by the spindle and they usually stretch out in parallel to the column. You'll have to bolt down the base and most drill presses include the bolts you need to mount the machine to the surface. This takes longer to mount on floor/heavy-duty drills but it's only a few minutes of work on the lightweight benchtop models. You can mount the base on your work table or the floor. We have a section dedicated to drill press tables that covers mounting and specific tables that offer fast bolting. Most have a separate space for custom tables but you can also replace the main table.


The "table" in drill press terminology is not the actual table you're working on or you've mounted the drill on - it's the part where you fasten the work piece and secure their position. These "tables" can usually be moved. They add weight on top of the drill press base/foundation and they balance out the spindle. You can also rotate the table to the ideal position for cutting and place different sized work pieces. The smaller benchtop models don't offer a lot of space between the base and the head, and the little space between them is where the table goes in. Most tables come in rectangular shapes but there are exceptions with some round tables. They are fully adjustable and you can adjust your table before you adjust your work piece for marking/drilling. You can also purchase accessories to further stabilize the table.


The column is the vertical piece that is considered the holding pillar which holds the drill press in place. The column is not that adjustable because it serves as the backbone for the drill press and stretches it out vertically. It's the reason why drill presses are sometimes referred to as pillar drills – those pillars hold everything in place.


The spindle is similar to the column in a way that it's an integral holding component but it's only responsible for connecting the chuck to the drill head.


The drill head is the brains of the drill press. The drill head is an important component that requires the most maintenance. It's the part that combines important pieces such as the motor and drill bit and holds the spindle/pulleys in one place. The drill head is the brain of the drill press. You'll be opening the drill head whenever you're trying to make technical adjustments/repairs.


If you've heard the terms "swing" or "throat distance" used in context of drill presses, these are the main measurements for the size between the spindle and the pillar edge. For example, if you have a 20 inch drill press you're going to have 8 inch throat distance.