8 Ways To Use a Drill Press

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Out of all the woodworking shop equipment, a drill press is probably the handiest. But as helpful as it is, we could conclude that a drill press could be the most underutilized item on your shop floor.

There are so many amazing things you can do with a drill press, given the right accessories and a bit of creativity.

Your Drill Press is More Versatile Than You Think

Drill Press power tools at carpenter machine in the workshop

Make an effort to take time to understand what you can do with a drill press. You will find it all quite worthwhile. Professionals have been doing all sorts of things with drill presses for a long time.

There is no reason that you cannot do those things as well. In this post, we take a close look at some of the things you can do with a drill press.

Countersink Holes

A countersink cutter lying on a white background

A countersink is a conical edge you add to a regular hole. We add a countersink for two main reasons. Firstly, countersinking a hole cleans it and removes the burrs from the edges. More importantly, it creates the profile for a countersunk bolt or screw to fit into when it is screwed into the hole.

The result is that the bolt or screw head sits flush with the surface of the surrounding material. We usually use a countersink cutter or drill bit to make a countersink in a hole we have already drilled. Countersink bits come in different angles, enabling you to create countersunk holes of varying angles to match a screw or bolt.

High-Speed Boring

Close up cutting tool working with workpiece by high speed

Occasionally, you may come across holes that are made of material that is too hard for drilling with a regular drill bit. But you need to enlarge the holes and with a smooth finish. What do you do? In such a case, a drill press can come to your rescue. You can get the help of a dial gauge for setting the required size of the drill bit required.

You will have to use the boring attachment that comes along with your drill press. In case you did not receive one, you can get it off the internet or buy it from your local tool shop. If you are buying a boring attachment, ensure that it matches the drill press model you have.

Make Counterbores

female artisan works on a drilling machine with a countersink close-up

You need to drill a hole in multiple stages for precision drilling until you reach the final hole diameter. First, drill a pilot hole, then you use successively oversized drill bits to increase the hole size gradually and accurately.

You get two benefits from drilling counterbores. Firstly, the process reduces the force you need to apply to the drilling operation. Secondly, by gradually increasing the size of the hole starting from the pilot hole, you get more precision.

Tapping Operations

Tapping automotive part by cnc machining center

You can perform perfect tapping with a drill press. We use taps for cutting internal threads in a hole. Once you have drilled your hole, you need to attach the tap of the required threading onto the chuck of the drill press. For tapping, you need to set the machine to its lowest speed.

Taps usually come in sets of two pieces. You will use the “starting” tap for the initial cut, and you will add the finish to the thread with the “plug” tap. You will also have to use the reverse-forward function of the drill machine to perform “pecking.”

Pecking is when you drill back and forth. It prevents the tap from overheating and breaking and also helps to remove burrs from the newly-formed threads. Keep oil handy because you have to add a few drops of oil to the tap to make it cut smoothly.

Mortise Cutting

Close-up of boards with woodworking tenon inserted into a mortis

We call a mortise a square or rectangular hole. It joins a piece of wood that has a profile to match the shape of the hole. The part with the extension is called a tenon.

In combination, we call this type of joint a mortise and tenon joint. Traditionally, woodworkers would cut mortises with a chisel.

Today, we have a machine called a mortiser, which contains a square chisel and a drill bit. The device uses the chisel and drill bit to create a square or rectangular hole in the wood. In case you don’t have a mortiser, you can drill holes with a bench drill in the shape of a rectangular hole and then make the edges even with a chisel.


Sanding disc for drill machine

You can use a drill press in a project with several curved cuts when you need to sand them. Typically, you would use an oscillating spindle sander for this operation.  If you don’t have a spindle sander, then you can use a drill press for the job.

Fit the barrel sander attachment onto the drill press’s chuck, and you can hold your job over the sander. The advantage of using a drill press for sanding is that you can vary the speed as required during the job.


Wood Dowel (Wikimedia)

Doweling is another method of creating a solid joint between two sections of wood. A dowel is a type of long peg that we insert into corresponding holes of the wood sections that we want to join. It is a woodworking practice that has been in existence for centuries.

Since doweling involves precision drilling, a drill press is an ideal tool for this operation. You can get perfectly fitting dowel joints by using a drill press.

Drill with a drill in a wooden hole


Buffing is a process wherein we facilitate a high luster to a smooth surface. You can shine wood or metal through this process. A buffing wheel is typically made of cotton or similar soft material, and it rotates at high speed.

If you have some surfaces that need buffing, you can do a great job with a drill press. You can make your buffing medium from a paint roller. Cut the paint roller to the required length to fit on the sanding drum of your bench drill. Ensure that you use a high-quality paint roller that has a phenolic plastic core.

You may need to sand the roller’s internal diameter to make it press-fit onto the sanding drum. Use this setup to buff small metallic bits of jewelry, knobs, and handles. You can even rub furniture wax to varnished wood and buff it up to a high polish.

Final Thoughts 

These are just a few of the many things you can do with a drill press. Once you get going with these ideas, you can come up with some of your own. Having a drill press on your woodworking shop floor is a great asset.

Don’t underuse this versatile piece of equipment. Use your imagination and creativity to find different ways to use your drill press, like the ideas featured in this post.