How to Use a Drill Press? – [11 Tips You Need to Learn]

A drill press is a machine that people use to either make holes or enlarge them. It consists of a head (which has a motor and variable speed mechanisms), a quill with a spindle, a table, and a base.

Designed to work with a variety of materials including metal, wood, and plastic, drill presses are found in most workshops these days because they offer greater speed, power, and accuracy than the average handheld drill. However, they are also present in homes.

Hobbyists have started using them to pursue DIY projects which is why questions about Drill Press Use have become so prevalent.

What Do You Use a Drill Press For?

Everyone knows that drill presses are used to drill holes. They do this quite efficiently. You can rely on them to cut at precise angles and measurements. Unlike a handheld drill that relies heavily on the unsteady hand of a human being, a drill press has a fixed head. This offers more precision.

However, the average drill press is not limited to this function. You can use it to perform other tasks, including:

  • Deburring – When you drill a hole, the bottom edge is rarely as clean as the top. In many cases, it has burrs which you can remove by adding a deburring tool to the drill press.
  • Reaming –If you have to drill a hole whose precision exceeds a diameter of 1/2000 inches, you must use a reamer. It has straight flutes that will prevent you from using it to perform conventional drilling. Once you have drilled a small hole, the reamer is slowly driven into it to produce the precise measurements you require.
  • Tapping – If you want to cut threads into a hole, you can use a tap. It is a drill with flutes. You can attach it to a drill press to achieve the desired results.
  • Mortises – You can use a hollow-chisel mortising attachment to cut mortises. This is normally done with a specialist machine but you can achieve similar results with a drill press
  • Sanding – You can use a barrel sander attachment to sand curved cuts from a band saw (or jigsaw). This is typically done with an oscillating spin sander but you can make do with a drill press
  • Dowling – A drill press has the means to create the holes you require to insert doweling rods

You shouldn’t limit the capabilities of a drill press to drilling. It is a versatile tool that can do so much, especially if you know how to use it.


How to Use a Drill Press?

A drill press is beneficial but only if you know how to use it. The process typically involves the following:

  • Safety

Start by unplugging the unit from the mains. Otherwise, you might incur unexpected injuries if the drill press fails to work as expected.

  • Speed

Your first step should be to adjust the speed. You cannot use the same speed for all your operations. Some materials require either faster or slower speeds than others. Drill presses come with manuals that will educate you on this matter.

But in most cases, hard materials require slower speeds. You can change the speed by shifting the drive belt to the relevant pulley. Smaller pulleys are associated with higher speeds.

  • Bit

Once you have set the speed, you can fit the bit that will do the drilling. Open the chuck and slide the bit into place. Snug the chuck around the shaft of the bit (use your hands).

Use the key to tighten the three jaws of the chuck. Do not forget to remove the chuck afterward. Otherwise, it will become a dangerous projectile when you activate the drill.

  • Table

The table is going to require adjustment. You must raise or lower it to the height that will enable you to operate efficiently. You should take the nature of the project and your physical requirements into account.

The manner in which the adjustments are made will depend on the table. Some units have a crank. Others use a clamping lever that allows you to move the table as you see fit once it is released.

  • Depth Gauge

If you want to create holes at fixed depths, you should adjust the depth gauge. Adjustments to the rod, which controls the distance the spindle travels, are not always essential to your operations.

There is no need to adjust the gauge if all you want is to drill a simple hole. You should only lower the bit to the relevant height if you want to achieve a particular depth.

  • Clamps

Drill presses are dangerous. There are so many ways to incur injuries. And even if you don’t suffer any harm, it is quite easy to ruin your workpiece if things go wrong. This is why you are encouraged to secure your workpiece.

Don’t start drilling into it until it has been properly clamped to the table. You cannot afford to have the workpiece swing or jerk from its position once the drill has started spinning.

  • Drill

Once your workpiece is secure, you can start drilling. Use the rotating lever to lower the bit into the workpiece. The drill should be spinning at full speed. Drill until you have the hole you desire after which you can release the lever.

That is it; this is all you need to do to use a drill press. If you still have questions, this video should clarify them:


Drill Press Tips and Tricks

While the steps above have shown you how to use a drill press, it takes quite a bit of practice to master the tool. If these machines are new to you, some of these drill press hacks and tips might answer the many questions you probably have:

  • Understanding

This sounds simple enough but it is worth emphasizing. Before you start using a press drill, make sure you understand the procedures that are required to use it. If you have a manual, read it as many times as you need to properly understand the workings of this machine.

  • Clothing

Your attire matters. It isn’t enough to wear glasses. You should also remove watches and jewelry. You could suffer an injury if they are snagged by the unit’s moving parts.

  • Preparation

You should take the time to figure out what you want to do before you activate the drill press. It is also imperative that you figure out where the off button is located. You don’t want to start looking for it during an emergency.

  • Maintenance

Shut the drill press off before you start cleaning it. Use a brush. It is not safe to rely on your hands, especially where the removal of wood ships is concerned.

  • Speed

Most people understand the importance of matching the speed of the drill to the material. But it rarely occurs to them to match the speed to the type of bit used. For instance, the smallest drill bits are the only ones that should run at full speed.

Large drill bits should run at the slowest speed. If you can see smoke or signs of burning, you are probably drilling too fast. Lower the speed.

  • Belt tension

Drill presses perform the sort of work that naturally produces vibrations. But those vibrations are notstrong enough to debilitate your work. If you notice that the vibrations of your drill press have grown to unacceptable levels, you should adjust the belt tension.

Some units have a tension adjuster lever that simplifies this process. But in most cases, you must loosen the motor lock before moving the motor forward or backward.

  • Breakout Fibers

There are times when you drill a hole and it causes fibers to appear at the exit point. One way of preventing this occurrence is to support the bottom of the hole with a backer board while you drill.

  • Dust

The work that drill presses do produces a lot of dust and debris. While some people prefer to configure dust collection devices, it might be more efficient to use compressed air to eliminate the dust and debris.

  • Bits

Where the drilling of wood is concerned, you are encouraged to use brad-point drill bits. A lot of people get by with twist drill bits but they are not appealing because they tend to enter the stock from the wrong angle.

You should only use twist drill bits when working with metal. If you want to drill into wood, a brad-point drill bit has more accuracy. It has spurs and a center point that can deliver clean holes.

  • Depth Setting

If you are struggling to set the depth, start by marking the depth you want to reach on the edge of the item you wish to drill. Lower the bit until it reaches that mark. This will give you the depth you need to set.

  • Pace

For the best results, you need to work slowly. Avoid drilling holes in a single continuous plunge. You are going to slow your progress as the flutes of the bit fill with dust. Make small increments. Pull the bit out every so often to blow out the dust.

Even though drill presses are straightforward devices, they require caution and tact to safely utilize. Fortunately, anyone that takes the time to practice can master this tool.


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