What Is a Drill Press Used For?

By Kelvin O'Donahue
The fixed relationship between the head and table of a drill press allows greater precision than when using a hand drill.

Unlike the portable power drills in many home workshops, a drill press is a stationary tool. These machines are available as both benchtop and larger freestanding models. The chief difference between a drill press and a portable drill is the precise holes a press makes. The relative positions and orientation of cutting tool and workpiece can be fixed when using a drill press, allowing greater control over the position, orientation and depth of holes drilled with the tool.

Drill Press Cutting Tools

The drill press originally was designed to bore precise, repeatable holes. The tool's fixed head and adjustable table maintain a precise relationship between the rotating tool and material to be cut, allowing fine adjustment of hole location and preventing crooked or misshapen holes common with portable drills. Besides drilling holes, drill presses are used to deburr holes in metal and ream existing holes to highly precise diameters. Woodworkers also use drill presses to cut large-diameter holes with hole saws or small wooden plugs with a plug-cutter bit. A special mortising chisel bit allows woodworkers to cut a square hole, or mortise.

Operating a Drill Press

Adjust the table's position to the desired orientation and distance from the drill bit or other cutting tool. Position the workpiece so the target point is directly beneath the cutting tool, using a center finder or other targeting device, and clamp it in place. Adjust the depth stops if necessary. Power on the drill press and pull or turn the spindle feed lever to lower the cutting tool into the workpiece.

About the Author

Kelvin O'Donahue has been writing since 1979, with work published in the "Arizona Geological Society Digest" and "Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists," as well as online. O'Donahue holds a Master of Science in geology from the University of Arizona, and has worked in the oil industry since 1982.