Do I Need a Drill Press for Woodworking?

There are thousands of different tools available for every possible need you can come up with when it comes to woodworking.

Some tools are absolute must-haves, but there are also tools that can be a tad unnecessary.

Concerning a drill press, do you really need one? 

If you’re needing to bore a precise hole or holes that are large in diameter, a drill press is a wise investment. This tool is much more accurate and consistent than other hand-operated power drills or cordless drills and will take the guesswork out of drilling holes in your woodworking endeavors.

Finding the right tools can be difficult, but if one tool is going to afford you more accuracy than another and accomplishes the same function, it is worth the purchase.

Especially since varying options in a drill press are stationary or semi-stationary, this is a great tool if you perform this task regularly.

Continue reading to see how a drill press works, the different types out there, and how to decide which one to buy. 

How Does a Drill Press Work? 

Before we go into the reasons that you might need a drill press for your woodworking jobs, it is important to understand how this machine works in the first place.

Finding your way around a new tool can be daunting at times.

Each has a different function when it comes to woodworking and many are capable of multiple functions that muck up your understanding even more. 

A drill press is a machine that drills accurate, clean, and precise holes one after the next without messing up the design of your project due to human error. There is a rotating handle that controls the spindle as it descends onto your workpiece which only goes up and down with a depth stop. 

You then have a perfectly controlled angle when boring holes and will have a more precise outcome once completed.

This is incredibly optimal when attempting to perform a woodworking task that requires highly precise drill holes.

For example, if you are making a cribbage board that requires the drill holes to be evenly spaced and precisely deep, a drill press is perfect for this type of woodworking job.

Even with the unfamiliarity of a new tool shying you away a bit, this does not mean it does not have a place in your shop.

This is especially true when such a tool is able to perform a task much better than the tool or process you are currently using. This is the beauty of a drill press.  

Why Do You Need a Drill Press for Woodworking?

You may be sitting there, even after reading the functions of a drill press, wondering why you would need a machine that is going to accomplish exactly what your hand drill is currently executing just fine, but there are some very apparent advantages to a drill press that any hand-held devices simply cannot achieve at the same level in the woodworking world.

Although you may not want to fix a process that is not broken, it is always best to ensure your work is of the highest quality.

There are several reasons you need a drill press for woodworking including precision, accuracy, and stationary or semi-stationary options. Let’s take a closer look at how these affect your end-result and woodworking efficiency.


The biggest draw to a drill press is its ability to be precise.

This machine does not rely on a person to execute its work but is designed to bore holes without any aid from humans who tend to mess things up from time to time.

A drill press is able to bore a perfect hole each and every time no matter how small, wide, deep, or shallow that hole may be. 

You are able to rely on its precision in a way you simply cannot with other hand-held drills.

For a woodworker, this is highly sought after considering the various types of wood, variations in natural wood grain, and other factors that can cause hand drills to go awry in terms of precision. 


Along with being extremely precise, a drill press is also unmatched when it comes to accuracy.

Gone are the days of having to worry about your own capabilities when you are working with woods that are very soft or very hard.

A drill press is going to accurately bore holes no matter the difference in material and will do so in a way that comes out flawlessly every single time. 

Again, for a woodworker, this will help you to drill the exact holes that you are intending without mishap on your part.

This will be helpful with perfecting your trade and achieving high-quality woodworking pieces for your clients.

You will never have to blame yourself again for any accidental mistakes.

Stationary or Semi-Stationary 

A drill press is going to be either completely stationary or will be a bench-top model that can be more easily moved if you have the need.

Either way, when these tools are in the middle of a task, they will be unwavering. 

This is a gigantic plus for drill presses (especially for woodworkers) because when you are using a hand-held drill, you risk movement from your own hand due to the way they are powered.

With a drill press, movement is not an issue which is why they are so accurate. 

Types of Drill Presses for Woodworkers 

Now, once you realize why you might need a drill press for woodworking (especially due to the high levels of precision and accuracy they provide and the ability to choose a stationary or semi-stationary model), it is time to take a closer look at which type of drill press will work best for your woodworking project.

Portable Drilling Machine 

If you are short on space but still need something that is more accurate than a hand-held drill, a portable drilling machine may be a great investment for you.

It is much lighter weight than those that are stationary, is smaller in size, but is still capable of drilling a wide array of diameters and drill sizes. 

Sensitive Drilling Machine 

A sensitive drilling machine is one that is manually operated, but do not let that fool you at first glance.

It is still mounted but is simply implemented through your own up and down motion.

This press is used for lighter work and uses drills that range from 1.5-15.4 mm. 

Radial Drilling Machines 

The radial drilling machine is used for moderate to large workpieces.

The feed with this machine can either be manual or automatic and also has a reversal mechanism.

These machines are capable of moving in three different directions: vertical, horizontal, and circular, which makes them very versatile. 

Automatic Drilling Machine 

If you are needing something for high manufacturing works, this is the drill press for you.

They are the workhorse of drill presses and are capable of giving you extremely consistent results on substances that are closely related and save time in the process.

They work independently, which means there is less interaction needed from you saving you time, but also giving you the most flawless results. 

Deep Hole Drilling Machine 

The name is a bit of a dead giveaway here, but beyond their capabilities of being able to bore deep holes, they are known for their accuracy.

When it comes to deep holes, accuracy is a huge concern as the deeper the hole, the more room there is for inconsistency.

This machine, however, is able to function flawlessly in either a vertical or horizontal design. 

Gang Drilling Machine 

This is the type of machine that is going to be used for mass production.

It is likely not one you would have in your personal shop, but one that would be used for large-scale designs and consistent products that are made in masses.

The gang drilling machine has multiple functions and can be used in different positions, also making it quite versatile. 

Multiple Spindle Drilling Machine 

This vertical drill is one that can do a few things at once.

It isn’t so one-track-minded as the other drills press’ out there, as it is able to drill multiple holes at once.

This means that you drill multiple holes at the same time which saves you the trouble of having to drill them individually and gives you more consistent results.  

How to Choose a Drill Press for Woodworking

To choose a drill press for woodworking, you can review the various types of drill presses (as listed above), but you also need to consider a few steps including the following:

Determine the Power You Need 

To do this, you need to calculate the watts of the drill press.

This is very simple, so don’t start to sweat. You will need to find the amp and volt figures that are located on the electrical nameplate.

Multiply these two numbers together and you will know the wattage of the machine.

The higher the wattage goes, the greater the power you will have. 

Decide on Size 

You need to decide on the swing of your press as well as its spindle.

The swing is what determines how thick of a material you can fit onto the press and the spindle determines how deep you can move downward in a vertical movement.

Depending on your work, this plays a huge factor in the materials you are capable of working with and the items you are able to create. 

Determine Speed 

Speed is an important factor in selecting your drill press because if you are dealing with a hard material, you need a slow speed.

On the flip side, if you are working with a soft material, your speed should be fast.

Depending on the quality of the model, each is going to offer a different set of speeds.

Determine what you are going to be using most often and how much an array of speeds will benefit you. 

You may also like: Why are Woodworking Planes so Expensive?