Types of Drill Presses
Drill presses vary based on operation mode and speed/motor horsepower. Most basic models will get the job done if you're looking for the basic functionality because they share similar features with higher end models but if you need to cut metal and more powerful materials, you could use the more powerful drill presses. There are different models based on size and mounting such as mini drill presses, hand drills, benchtop drill presses and floor-mounted drill presses. The models differ based on speed and most of them offer multi-speed functionality while some have a single speed only. The multi-speed options are better for their adjustability, especially if you're making repetitive cuts. Hand drills are as fast as you can make them using hand motions. Most will let you test which speed is the ideal for the item you're drilling.
Benchtop Drill Presses
Benchtop models are the most widespread and their name originates from the word "bench" hence the benchtop connotation - you can mount them on your work bench or any other desk. These machines are easy to mount and they only take a couple of minutes to bolt them in place, unless they're the more heavy-duty variety. The difference between benchtop and other drills is that they're not the tallest and your cutting is restricted to the height of the machine. If you need a lot of height (important in drill presses because it's vertical cutting) the floor mounted are superior but they still offer similar motor power. They are just as powerful and suitable for most wood working projects. You can work around the bench limitations if you only mount the machine on a standalone bench but the height will vary and if you're purchasing one this is the main thing to keep in mind.
Most drill presses from the low end are benchtop. If you have a lot of tools laying on your desk this is the best option for you because they don't take up a lot of space and you'll have space for your other tools. This way you don't have to remove your tools when you're trying to make basic cuts. Benchtop machines are best for woodworkers with messy desks who want a straight-forward cutting they can use at a whim. If you're low on budget or want the best "starter" option for basic jobs, get a benchtop drill press. They are not the most affordable wood working tools (compared to hand drills), but more high-powered drill presses cost twice as much and they can offer serious savings while bringing extra value to your work shop for fast cutting.
Benchtop models are a bit more constrained and compact but the price factor and motor power makes them the best option for beginner wood workers. You won't take long to get used to the work flow and the assembly takes less than on other drill presses. You can purchase one and learn the basics before you upgrade to the most powerful machines. They will cover you on most of the basic jobs and give you the leverage you need to learn this type of drilling without paying an arm and a leg for it. Some even offer support for hard materials such as metal.
Floor Mounted Dill Presses
Floor-mounted drill presses are the most high-powered drill presses and they are used by professional wood workers for the most challenging/heavy-duty cutting. They are heavy-duty and called "floor mounted" because they’re mounted on the floor and you can drill from the top of the machine to the bottom of the floor. This gives you a lot more drilling height but they weigh a lot too. Precision levels are the same on benchtop and floor-mounted but the main difference is that you can't drill the same sized holes and you need floor mounted machines to drill holes that are more than 10-15 inches deep. The average floor mounted weighs 150-300 lbs.
You might do away with benchtop for basic cutting but if you need depth, you must get a floor mounted drill. They are deeper and they offer more horsepower; and they can penetrate the hardest materials. This is why they're not only useful for wood workers/hobbyists to cut wood but they're used in professional shops for commercial activity and they can cut through glass, plastic and metal the same. Floor mounted fall under the mid-range or high-end sections. These are the most powerful drill presses and if you don't want to be restricted in depth/power, they are your only option for commercial work. They have the highest levels of calibration, adjustability, technological bells and whistles and raw power. You’re going to need basic protective equipment before using a floor mounted drill press. Most of them are multi-speed and the speeds are adjustable based on the belt/pulley system and they're a perfect fit for heavy-duty metal cutting. They will cut through hardwood with ease and you can cut every other material with them. The faster speeds also make them better for cutting softwood. Most of them have adjustable hardware and you can upgrade them with all sorts of accessories.
Benchtop vs. Floor Mounted Drill Press
The main difference between floor mounted and benchtop drill presses is that one is better for commercial drilling while the other is better for hobbyists/beginners and people who need fast drilling with a small machine that can be mounted on top of their work bench. If you need a small machine to compliment your other tools you can do away with a simple benchtop because it offers the same functionality and vertical cutting power. If you'll be doing most of your work on the drill press and you need the most powerful drill that you can use to drill deep and drill hard materials, you'll benefit the most from a floor mounted drill press.
The requirements for running a floor mounted machine are not that high and you should be able to pick up the main operational skills in a few days. You're better off visiting a workshop and watching someone else operate theirs and learning by doing and taking your time until you get it. If you're only starting out, you can create a professional environment for wood working/drilling at home because all you need is the drill press and a few accessories. You're going to need the main work bench/table, machinist vise that is mounted on the table, some wood boards and the drill press.
The better benchtops can drill metal too. Every drill press is powerful and you have to be careful in handling it. Even the most lightweight, bare-bones benchtop model can cause damage which is why you should apply a degree of caution. Refer to our safety section for the best maintenance methods and protective equipment to learn about the possible dangers and how to avoid them. If you only maintain your drill press, wear basic protective equipment and drill gently you'll be safe even on the most powerful machine.
Which Is The Better Type?
There is no better type because floor-mounted are more powerful but they are not as easy to use and/or affordable. This is a tradeoff because the bare-bones benchtop options might be better suited for you if all you need is a drill for basic drill work and you don't need all the height/depth and horsepower of floor mounted solutions. Think about the way you work and what your typical jobs are. If you have a messy desk without a lot of space and you only need a compact drill for basic drilling jobs, you’re better off getting a benchtop. It would take up less space, interfere your work flow less and you can assemble it faster. If you have the space/operational skills necessary and you need a powerful tool for reliability and output, the floor mounted machines are a better choice for you. Drill presses use the same measurements and they use similar motors. The big distinction in motor power is marked in HP and motors can range from 1/4 HP to a 1.5 HP. The more HP the higher the drilling power. Less powerful models will still be enough for most wood cutting work, and this is something to keep in mind if you'll be doing basic jobs.
One of the most important features is speed adjustability and some drills come with a single speed. It's better to purchase multi-speed machines because you can select the exact speed you want and even if you don't know which is best you can experiment with different speeds until you find out which gives you the best performance. Most new drill presses have 3-6 speeds. For high-powered work there are important considerations such as the capacity for center drilling and table adjustment. The "quill travel" feature is the depth of the surface you can penetrate. If you have more quill the machine is able to drill to higher depths and this is usually the case with floor mounted drill presses. Benchtop models offer moderate quill that is suitable for most basic craft work.
What Accessories Do They Come With?
There are only a few accessories they share, most of which are confusing for beginners because they only want to do basic cutting work without being overwhelmed by accessories and unnecessary attachments. These are actually useful the more you use your drill press and even if you have no immediate use for your accessories, you might need a different way to do the edges or drill more holes and this is when you'll find them useful. The most common accessories for all models are vises and tables that are interchangeable.
The drill bits are but sometimes considered an accessory and the more you have the more drilling options you'll have for different materials. For instance, if you're doing a lot of softwood drilling you'll need the most powerful steel drill bits. The bits can be coated in different hard materials and some of them are faster than others. The more expensive the drill press, the higher quality the bits that come with it are by default. You can purchase them separately but the high-end drill presses automatically come with the best drill bits.