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Drill Press - Bench vs Floor

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  • Drill Press - Bench vs Floor

    I'm considering purchasing a drill press and am looking for comments on the merits of a floor model vs a bench top model. This will be my first drill press. It seems that most of the projects I build right now would benefit from a straight hole versus what I drill with a hand drill Plus, I find more and more uses for forstner bits which I do not have. FYI, since I mainly shop HD for my tools, I am considering the Delta 12" bench top vs the Ridgid DP1550. Around a $130 difference between the two.
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  • #2
    Some more obvious differences would be the size, the power of the motor, and the capacity. A floor model will have a stronger motor, more capacity, and will of course be larger. It also usually will allow a larger range of speeds to be used, and usually will allow a slower low-end speed than the benchtops. That can be useful for using large bits in woodworking projects.

    I have a small 8" benchtop with a 1/3HP motor, and when I replace it I am likely to either get a 12" benchtop or a floor model. I'll go with a floor model if the price isn't an issue at the time. Delta has some new benchtops out that will allow you to vary the speed by using a switch instead of having to change the belts, which could be handy.

    [ 12-20-2002, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: Stuart H ]


    • #3
      Capacity, throat. Capacity, stroke. Capacity, table to chuck.

      The first two are usually limited on a benchtop, but don't have to be. For example, Jet makes some benchtops that have the same heads and tables as floor models, just shorter columns (expensive, they are only a few bucks less than the floor models). The third is hard to avoid being limited on a benchtop. I just did a job where I needed to drill some pretty precise holes in the end of an 18" long 4x4. Would have been tricky with most benchtops, even the expensive ones.

      The lack of low speed that Stuart mentioned, that was a big problem for me when I had a benchtop. Ruined a couple Forstner bits by overheating, that wasn't cheap.

      Here's a funny paradox to think over. A floor model drillpress -saves- space.

      Justification? Don't know about you, but I have a lot more floor than bench in my shop. That floor drillpress can go about anywhere on the floor, and really takes up very little space. If you wanted to waste even less space, consider building a cabinet to fit around the base and column. ShopNotes (or maybe Woodsmith) did a nice one, maybe late '99 or early 2000.

      The most valuable real estate in my shop is benchtop space.



      • #4
        In addition to the cabinet for a floor model, which is a great idea, I saw a rolling cart that was sized for the benchtop models recently that would serve the same purpose. It might have been in one of the recent Wood issues. No matter which you choose, I would think about the speed issue, and then compare the various specs that Dave mentioned between whichever models you do narrow it down too. There are a few benchtops that go pretty slow, including one from Shop Fox if I'm not mistaken, but if you plan to use large bits you'll probably want a floor model.


        • #5
          Either model you're looking at will probably serve you well. Aside from the other differences listed, be sure to compare the features of each---look at adjustments on table height, table bevel, depth stop, etc. Some benchtops don't make adjustments easy, as they require separate tools, where as most floor models have hand adjustments.

          BTW---you can take just about any small cabinet or tool chest, place it on a piece of plywood, wide enough to straddle the floor stand. Mount the ply' on castors, tall enough to clear the stand----works great.


          • #6
            My benchtop DP sits on top of a three drawer file cabinet. Moble base on teh bottom of the cabinet. Space is at a premium in my 13X22 shop. I have a locking system that uses 2X4's to keep the DP solid when in use. All of my Mags, books etc are in the cabinet, so I've killed the space of two tools into one.

            With that said, I plan on getting the 1550 soon ..... Reason. Dave said it. Try drilling into the end of long stock on a benchtop. not enough room.
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            • #7
              dave hit it on the head 'capacity" but dont always think of the 10ft 4x4 think of the pen blank thats 3.5" long and the stroke on your drill press is only 3.25" pain in the --- thats why i got the 16.5" delta with a 4.25" quill travel


              • #8
                I still believe in selecting tools you have to really be honest with yourself about where you are going with your woodworking. If you are making little stuff, with no plans for furniture or aspirations for larger items, that may well lead you to the benchtop.

                Unfortunately my advice here comes from my own experience. I bought the benchtop because it was cheaper, but as my experience and ambition grew, it became clear I needed the floor model. That floor model cost me $100+ more because I bought the benchtop first. You may save the $130 today, but may take a write-off on the benchtop when you later realize you need the floor model.


                • #9
                  I agree with Jerry. I too bought a bench top 10" model and am sorry I did not forsee my needs. I wanted to start turning pens on my midi-lathe, but found out that the press doesn't even have enough capacity for a half a pen blank. I could just raise the table, but the time consumed making sure things stay straight outweigh the savings.

                  BTW, I think the Ridgid is the best for the money. I've been looking at replacing the bench top model and have found that the only place the Ridgid has been beat is the smaller motor (1/2 vs 3/4 hp on a jet)...But the ridgid is at least $100 cheaper.


                  • #10
                    Greets to all from a long time lurker.

                    I would opt for a benchtop radial arm DP if you're considering a "do everything" DP. The benchtop can be jig mounted horizontally for those end grain mortises and the like in longer piecework or whatever, and also can do compound\angled drilling/routing without constructing specialized jigs.