How to Use a Drill Press
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 — time and time again.

As a DIYer or professional, you need the right tools, and you need to know how to handle them properly. In this tutorial, I’ll explain everything, and the steps to take to start drilling like a pro!

What Is a Drill Press?

Many beginners in handy works, like you, always want to know how to use a drill press following an acquisition. But the first key to properly utilizing the tool is knowing what it is and what it’s used for.

So, what is a drill press used for? Well, the drill press is a machine for making cylindrical holes in woods, plastics, metals, stone, concrete, and other hard materials. When equipped with other accessories, some can also grind, polish, stir, or mill.

What Does a Drill Press Do?

Useful both in the home and at work, a drill press can be used to accomplish many DIY and professional tasks.

Unlike a hand drill, where you have to gauge the depth yourself and rely upon your ability to maintain the correct angle — a drill press is far more accurate. You set up the machine to your exact requirements. Hence, depth, angle, and diameter are fixed — allowing you to drill numerous holes with uniformity.

Other drill press uses include:

  • Screwing — by adding screwdriver tips, you can use it to drive screws into metal, wood, and plastic.
  • Sanding, brushing, or polishing — with discs.
Types of drill presses

Types of Drill Presses

  • Bench — compact and practical, the bench drill press is very easy to use. It’s ideal for craftsmen as well as DIY enthusiasts.
  • Stationary — the stationary drill press or floor pillar drill is, as the name suggests, is fixed to the floor. It’s a powerful machine and ideal for larger jobs.
  • Radial — a radial drill has the same operating mode as the bench version with one difference — its horizontal adjustment can modify the distance between the mandrel and column. This type of device is used for drilling away from the edge.
  • Magnetic — the magnetic drill is more flexible than other machines. It can be used on-site or on structure and it’s also perfect for metalwork.

Tips for Choosing a Drill Press

The selection criteria are centered on the tool’s drilling capacities and the size of the piece to be machined. Its ease of use is also important.

First, I have to say, the motor power determines the diameter of the hole you want to drill. Let’s say, for instance, you have a model equipped with a 650-watt motor. This can only drill up to 13 mm. However, if it possesses a 1-kilowatt motor, it’s capable of drilling up to 30 mm.

For added convenience, make sure the tool includes a vice. And, depending on your requirements, ensure that the table and drill head are movable.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

To use your drill press or to follow my tutorial, below are a list of things you’ll need:

  • A drill press.
  • Drill bits (according to required hole size).
  • Clamps.
  • Dust mask.
  • Protective goggles.
  • Rubber hand gloves (optional).
  • A workpiece (a piece of metal, wood, or plastic).

How To Use a Drill Press — Step by Step Instructions

With a drill press, you’ll be able to drill with extreme precision. Below I’ll talk you through the steps.

Step #1: Use Your PPE

Protect yourself from projections (splinters, chips, etc.) with personal protective equipment. These include putting a mask on, wearing protective goggles, and donning a pair of rubber hand gloves (optional).

Step #2: Insert the Bit

Insert the selected bit straight into the chuck and tighten. Ensure you remove the key (if yours has a chuck key) before turning on the drill.
To replace a bit, loosen the chuck by rotating it counterclockwise. Do not attempt this when the machine is operational.

Step #3: Securely Clamp the Workpiece and/or the Drill

Clamp the workpiece on the drill press table, using a vice. Here’s a short video showing you how.

YouTube video

Step #4: Adjust the Table Height

Adjust the table and orient it (if it’s movable) to the desired height that will be comfortable for you. When done, lock it in place.

Step #5: Set Your Speed

Adjust the speed of rotation according to the material and the diameter of the hole you will be drilling. Typically, drill press set up speed is altered via moving the drive belt.

Step #6: Plug the Device

After checking the device’s condition, plug in the power cord, then turn on the tool.

Step #7: Drill

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.

Would you like to see the drilling process in practice? Check out the video below:

YouTube video

Step #8: 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.

How to Use a Drill Press — Tips

  • Before commencing the main drilling, make a little test-run on a piece of material to prepare the machine.
  • If the hole required is of a large diameter, start by drilling a smaller hole. The next step is to change the bit to the appropriate size you’re after and bore the hole.
  • Set high speed for wood and lower speed for metals and plastic. Also, the larger the diameter, the lower the speed must be.
  • Ensure you read through your owner’s manual for guidance on the correct speed for each material type and size.
  • Additional lighting is sometimes necessary.
  • Wear suitable gloves and eye protection, and avoid removing waste chips on the drill bit while drilling.
  • Inspect your drill bit before you get started. A dull drill bit won’t perform as it should — it must be sharp. Remember to use a bit sharpener and drill at the right speed.
  • If you need to bore a hole in tile or glass, choose a compatible bit — diamond or carbide tipped — and drill with water!


I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and you can execute the instructions given. The procedure, tips, and tutorial are essential to ensure safety, proper usage of the machine, and fast transition as a beginner.

While trying to start drilling and honing your skills, make safety your priority. Keep the engine off during pre-drilling setups and bit removal process. Don’t forget to wear full PPE.

Finally, if you like the article, kindly share it. And if you have any questions, observations, or additional input on how to use a drill press, kindly use the comment section.

How to Use a Drill Press