Best Floor Drill Press — Buyers Guide, Top Pick, and Comparison
When your drilling projects require nothing less than the pinnacle of precision — it’s time to consider a floor drill press. Featuring a pillar-mounted chuck, they allow you to accurately lower the bit through the vertical plane onto your base material — leading to a perfectly perpendicular borehole. Suitable for use with wood, metals, and plastics, these tools offer greater stability, grunt, and features than their bench and magnetic counterparts. And, with the correct attachment, you can also use the press for honing, tapering, polishing, and tapping.
- Large high-mounted on/off switches.
- 45-degree tilting table.
- USA-based company.
- Wide speed range.
- 20-inch swing.
Standing Drill Press Comparison Table
Best Large Capacity
Best Large Capacity
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Best Laser Guided
Best Laser Guided
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Best Floor Drill Press Buying Guide
The floor format is the granddaddy of all the machines, used in-situ in workshops, factories, and garages — as opposed to the more transportable and compact magnetic and bench units.
Lever operation allows you to exert greater force than is possible with a handled machine, while its rack-and-pinion operation allows for accurate control.
Sometimes referred to as standing drill press machines, they are suitable for addressing metals, timber, and plastics — with the correct bit installed — and can be utilized to sand, drill, cut thread, edge, and taper.
When selecting the best floor drill press, consider:
- Swing distance.
- Travel of the spindle.
- Size of the motor.
- Manual or digital control.
- Table size and tilt angle.
- Laser guiding.
- Overall size.
What Is a Drill Press?
For a seriously detailed explanation of the working mechanism, uses, and features of this tool category — check out my in-depth guide to drill presses.
However, in brief, these machines — sometimes called pillar drills or pedestal presses — have a drill mounted upon a vertical column. Turning side-mounted rotary handles lowers and raises the drill bit perpendicular to your target material.
This permits impressively accurate 90-degree boring while allowing you to utilize the geared lever mechanism to exert significant drilling force. In addition to making holes in timbers, plastics, and metals — you can also use these units to create screw threads, sand, edge, and polish.
You can purchase these precision tools as floor-standing models — as explored in this article — portable bench models, and magnetic varieties that use an electromagnet to anchor to metal surfaces.
What Is a Floor Standing Drill Press?
In short, it’s the mother-of-all drill press machines.
Unlike bench and magnet units that require the use of a table or worktop, floor drill models are free-standing. This permits the machines to deliver greater power, more features, and a larger material capacity than their compact counterparts.
Typically standing at around five to six feet in height, a footprint of about 390 square inches, and weighing in on average at 150-200 pounds — they’re substantial beasts. Thus making them true workshop, garage, or factory machines — you’re not going to fit one in your living room.
The advantages of a floor standing drill press over their more modestly-sized counterparts include:
Larger horsepower motors — delivering greater speed and torque.
Ability to handle wider and longer materials.
More features — including digital velocity control and laser guiding.
Don’t take up valuable workbench space.
Higher leverage for denser materials.
Unsurprisingly, the downsides are cost and floor space. Harder on the wallet than bench models, they’re typically the domain of the trade contractor and serious DIYer. And, being sizable, you need a significant ground area in your garage or workshop to locate these behemoths.
Do You Need a Floor Mounted Drill Press?
First, ask yourself whether you need a drill press at all — irrespective of floor or bench models.
If you’re planning on general household DIY drilling or screwdriving — then no, you don’t. Instead, go for a drill/driver. Equally, if your projects include boring into concrete or chipping masonry, then you need a hammer or rotary drill. And, if you want to work in confined spaces, a press isn’t the tool for you — opt for a 90-degree unit instead.
However, if your jobs demand the ultimate in precision boring, finishing, and joint making — then yes, consider a floor pillar drill.
While not an exhaustive list, you can use the best floor standing drill press to:
- Bore accurate holes in wood, metal, and plastic.
- Finishing/enlarging holes with a reamer.
- Tap threads.
- Sharpen tools.
- Use as an overhead router.
- Form mortises.
- Create dowel recesses.
How to Choose the Best Floor Model Drill Press
While all examples will deliver the above-outlined functions of drilling and finishing, specific units will offer differing capabilities, more or less applicable to your wood or metal projects.
Hence when checking out any floor drill press for sale, consider the following:
Spindle Travel and Swing
The spindle travel refers to the vertical distance you can move the bit while you rotate the side lever — more travel permits you to drill deeper into your target material.
The swing is defined as the distance between the spindle (chuck) and the rear column — multiplied by two. This provides the maximum width of your base medium you can fit onto the press, in order to drill a centrally-placed hole.
In both circumstances, you need to assess the requirements of your projects, to choose a unit with suitable capacity.
When researching the best floor drill press for woodworking and metalworking — I recommend checking out the horsepower of the motor unit.
More grunt means an elevated capacity to drive into stubborn and dense materials, crucial if your projects include tackling aged hardwoods or steel sheeting. At the very least, I suggest opting for a unit with a minimum of 0.75 horsepower — the mighty JET 354170 knocks out an eye-watering 1.5 horsepower.
Ideally, when you’re looking for the best floor drill press for the money, you want a machine that offers the greatest range — from steady low rotary action through to eleventy-stupid spinning motion.
Low speeds are critical for dense materials and when tapping threads, high speeds allow you to rapidly complete repetitive timber jobs. Personally, I’d opt for a machine with a minimum 200-3000 rpm range for the ultimate in base material versatility.
Manual Speed Control
Standard floor press units, especially the more budget examples, have predetermined rapidity modes. Typically, you switch from one velocity to another by removing the drive belt and relocating onto an alternative pulley.
The number of settings varies from model to model — you can purchase anything from a 12 or 16 speed floor drill press through to 20-speed machines. I’d suggest that going for a unit with more modes offers greater user tailorability — giving you greater scope to determine the velocity to suit your project. A good example of the 16 speed heavy duty floor drill press is the impressive JET J-2500.
However, there’s an alternative — the digitally-controlled drill press.
Digital Speed Control
Generally the domain of high-end machines and industrial floor drill press models — digital speed control offers the ultimate in velocity choice.
Displayed on an LCD screen, and adjusted via a dial or buttons, these units allow you to select the rotational rapidity to within one rpm — a feature typified by the Powermatic PM2800B.
Admittedly, these digital units are harder on the wallet than manual selection models — although they deliver elevated accuracy, crucial for the ardent DIYer or trade professional.
Table Size and Tilt
The larger the presses’ table, the more substantial materials you can safely use on the tool — an aspect that could be worthy of consideration if your projects include large timber or sheet metal.
Additionally, research into whether the table tilts. This adds a further element of versatility to the machine, allowing you to drill at angles away from the perpendicular. Models like the JET 354170 boast a work base that can be moved through 45 degrees.
If you want unsurpassed accuracy in the best industrial floor drill press for metal and timber — look for laser guiding.
This feature projects a crosshair or dot — model-dependent — onto your base material. It indicates the precise point at which the drill bit will penetrate. Sure, it adds a few extra dollars to the overall price of the machine — but for wood and metal workers who demand ultra-exactitude, it can be a worthwhile investment. Check out models such as the Delta 18-900L.
Furthermore, also assess how much working area you have around the press itself. If, for example, your projects involve addressing six-foot lumber — you need to ensure you have sufficient free area to accommodate the overhang.
Look out for the following:
- Interchangeable chuck sizes.
- Chuck key.
- Tool wrench.
- In-built lamp.
- Securing vice.
- Length of warranty.
- Dust port.
- Sanders, honers, and polishers.
- Telescoping spindle guard.
Beefy, substantial, and the masters of precision — floor drill presses are the go-to tool for skilled metal workers, woodworkers, and machinists.
Offering greater grunt and capacity than their compact bench counterparts, these units allow you to bore, hone, polish, and ream to a high degree of accuracy.
When selecting a suitable pillar drill for your projects, check that it has the capacity, grunt, and user-tailorability to do your jobs justice. At the very least, research the spindle travel, swing distance, maximum and minimum velocity, and whether it has manual or digital speed control.
Admittedly, floor-standing drill presses aren’t for everyone. For some amateur users, they may simply be too substantial for their garage or shed — meaning a bench unit would be more suitable. Furthermore, they’re pointless for any boring jobs that require horizontal address — such as penetrating walls.
However, if you’re an artisan who will accept nothing but the ultimate in precision — consider purchasing a floor drill press.
Pillar Floor Drill Press FAQs
Q: What Is Floor Type Drill Press?
Self-standing, a floor pillar drill press features a column-mounted chuck that you can raise and lower through the vertical plane via a side lever.
Q: What Should I Look For In a Floor Drill Press?
When selecting your drill press, the primary concern is the swing — that is, the maximum size of material the machine can accommodate. Additionally, check out the size of the motor, the speed range, and whether the unit features manual or digital adjustment control.
Q: What Is Meant By 10 Inch Drill Press?
This indicates the ‘swing’ — i.e. the maximum size of material that the drill can tackle. Hence, a 10-inch floor drill press can drill a hole in the center of a 10-inch timber or metal sheet.
Q: What Is a Good Size Floor Drill Press?
A ‘good’ size is anything that has the capacity to accommodate your most commonly used material sizes. Floor presses range from 12 through to 20-inch swings — typically, the larger the swing, the more pricey the unit.
Q: Is a 1/2 HP Floor Drill Press Good?
Most experts and trade professionals would consider a 0.5 horsepower floor press drill underpowered. To tackle dense hardwoods and sheet metals, consider a unit with a minimum of 0.75 horsepower.
Q: Do I Need a Variable Speed Floor Pillar Drill Press?
Yes. The more control you have over your drill, the more satisfying the results. Dense mediums require a slow and steady address, while softer timbers allow more rapid boring action.