Drill Press Vs. Hand Drill

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A drill press is a tool that is fitted with a motor and helps us to drill holes into wood, metal, or plastic. Its functions are similar to those of a hand drill, and it comes along with different drill bits of varying diameter for making differently-sized holes.

The difference between a drill press and a hand drill is that a drill press is a benchtop machine. If you have light, one-off drilling work to be done, then a hand drill should serve the purpose. On the other hand, if you have some severe projects using various materials, you would probably be better off with a drill press.

Drill Press Vs. Hand Drill


A full-sized drill press is heavy, more expensive than a hand drill, and occupies much of your shop floor space. However, compared to a hand drill, a drill press is much more powerful and accurate. There is a rotating handle that enables the spinning mechanism called the spindle to move up and down.

The spindle holds a chuck that holds the drill bit, which is the drill press’s drilling component. A drill press usually has a built-in depth stop mechanism, which controls the drilled holes’ depth. There is a threaded structure that allows you to adjust the depth to which the drill will go, thereby controlling the depth of the holes. The entire assembly contributes to a more precision drilling process than with a hand drill.

How to Choose a Drill Press

Drill Press power tools at carpenter machine in the workshop

A drill press is an expensive piece of equipment but a worthwhile investment. But because you will be spending a considerable amount of money on your drill press, you need to know what to look for while choosing one. Here are some of the significant factors you should consider:


Metalwork tool - Side view Red new drill press

We get two main types of drill presses – benchtop and stationary or floor model. The floor models are bigger and heavier than the benchtop models. However, they are much more powerful and precise than the benchtop models.


A woman at work on a vertical milling machine. Machining of a metal part on a metal-cutting machine.

You need to look for two things regarding the size of drill presses – swing and spindle travel. The swing refers to the distance from the machine’s central column and the spindle multiplied by two. It fixes the maximum material width that can fit on the drill press if you are going to drill the center of a workpiece.

Spindle travel refers to the vertical travel of the drill press. You may get two to six inches that may vary between brands and models.


The power of a drill press is critical when you need extra force for drilling operations. You can see the power rating of the machine on the electrical nameplate. Ensure that the power mentioned is output power. Power is expressed in watts (W) or horsepower (HP). 1 HP is equal to 746 watts. The higher the wattage of a drill press, the more powerful the machine.


Speed variation is vital in a drill press—the more sophisticated the machine, the more significant the number of speeds. But typically, you can expect anything between five to sixteen speeds. The thicker the material, the slower the speed you need, and the slower the speed, the higher the machine’s torque.

Adjustments of a Drill Press

Man working on drilling machine

The workpiece sits on the platform of a drill press. The table normally can move up and down to accommodate the workpiece. Further, several models can be tilted from side to side. The table can be tilted by 45°, or in some high-end models. You can tilt it to as much as 360°. You can also get models that provide laser guides or LEDs that give you an indication of where the drill bit will touch.

Drill Press Vs. Hand Drill: Pros and Cons

Both these drilling devices have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the typical pros and cons of drill presses vs. hand drills:


Close up image of a drill press being used in a factory

Power is the plus point of a drill press. You can drill hard materials effortlessly and in an arrow-straight direction. It is very convenient when you have to drill holes of high thickness. If you have to drill metal, a drill press will be advantageous.

Repetitive Operations

Woman worker in metal workshop using pedestal drill

With a basic jig aid, you can drill repetitive holes by moving the base from side to side. This is not possible with a hand drill.

Additional Operations

You can use a drill press for multiple operations that you cannot do with a hand drill. If you have a mortising jig, you can perform mortising functions.

You can do sanding operations or polishing operations.

It is also possible to drill holes at an angle by tilting the worktable to the required angle. There is usually a degree readout on the drill press so that you can select the exact angle required.

Disadvantages of Drill Presses

Vertical drilling machine close-up. Drill press with a vise. Equ

  • A drill press is not portable – you need to bring your job to the location, unlike hand drills.
  • The dimensions allowed by the arbor limits the travel. You can only get between four to six inches.
  • The workpiece needs to fit between the baseplate and the top of the drill.


A male using an electric hand drill on a plank

As you have seen in this post, there is a place for a hand drill and a drill press. A hand drill is a versatile and portable power tool, but it has limitations. One of the main drawbacks of a hand drill is the power. The other major downside is the lack of accuracy.

A drill press comfortably makes up for the shortcomings of hand drills. However, each of these pieces of equipment is helpful in a particular scenario. The importance is to know the way we can use each one to the best advantage for the job at hand.

Here, we have provided exhaustive information about drill presses and hand drills. When you consider each one’s pros and cons, you will probably conclude that both are equally useful in a woodworking workshop. Now that you have a good idea about getting the best out of each of these tools, you can be sure to use them to help you create some impressive woodworking projects.

Happy Woodworking!