How to Use a Drill Press

Next in the line of the power tools is the drill press, commonly known as the drilling machine. You may be wondering what it is used for. If you want to cut holes into or through materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, etc., you can use a drill press.

This machine does the work of drilling holes with the help of a drilling tool having a cutting-edge point. A chuck or Morse taper holds the cutting tool and rotates it at variable speeds. The best drill press is the one which drills holes into the material with least waste and power consumption and a high efficiency.

In addition to drilling holes, a drill press can also do

  • Reaming
  • Boring
  • Spot facing
  • Countersinking
  • Counterboring
  • Tapping

The size of the drill machine varies depending upon the enormity of task; some are small hand-held, while others are bench or floor mounted. Following factors determine the size of the drill press

  • Vertical distance between the worktable and spindle
  • Largest piece of stock that can be center-drilled
  • Distance between the spindle and column
  • Largest hole that can be drilled

I have written this blog on how to use a drill press to enable you to make use of a drill press efficiently.


Before you start working on a machine, it is always advisable to consult the user guide. This way, you can avoid any hazard during work.

The image below shows the powerful motor (usually of rating ½ - 2 hp) of the drill press.

A set of gears, located on top of the drill press, controls the speed of the machine.

As mentioned earlier, the chuck holds the cutting-edge tool of the drill; it can accept various sized bits.

Above the chuck is the arm. You can manually move it to lower or raise the chuck and, in turn, the bit.

The image below shows the table of the press. You can move it in whichever the way you like. If the work piece is larger, you can simply move it out of the way.


You can adjust the speed of your machine by changing the position of the drive belt. The drive belt is on a pulley; simply take it off and wound it on the other pulley. This, however, is the case with only a few machines. In others, a smaller pulley on chuck axis makes it spin faster.

You should view the manufacturer manual for reference on the speed of a certain press. Otherwise, use slow speeds for drilling metals and faster ones for wood pieces.


When you have adjusted the speed, next step is to fix the bit inside the chuck. For this, you have to open the chuck and then slide in the bit. Tighten the chuck around the shaft of the bit using your hand. Then, do it with a three-hole key. Make sure that the bit and spindle (chuck) is clean of all dirt.

Remove the chuck before starting work, otherwise, when you start drilling, it will act like a projectile and can cause damage to user and equipment.


As I have shown in one of the images in STEP 1, some drill presses come with an adjustable table. You can use a crank to adjust the height of the table above the ground or the mounting surface. There is also a clamping lever technology in some.

If you are dealing with a comparatively smaller piece, you can adjust the table midway or there where it is easy for you to work. For larger workpieces, you can also tilt the table to an angle or simply slide it out of the way.


Now, a thought may arise in your mind that how to determine the depth or distance up to which you can easily drill without breaking the workpiece. Another scenario is you have to drill many holes of equal depth. In both these cases, you can make use of a depth stop or a depth gauge. It is the threaded rod for controlling the distance traversed by the chuck. Some depth stops measure the traveling distance of the drill; others make use of a micrometer dial for very precise measurements. By adjusting the height of the bit and pair of knurled nuts, you can make the depth gauge control the spindle movement. However, you have to ensure that the chuck holds the drill bit tightly so that it does not slip or break.


In order to precede the project without any damage and delay, secure the workpiece in a fixed position. Now, when the rotating edge of the bit encounters the workpiece (metal or wood), it may try to rotate it as well. Thus, to avoid this rotation and damage of the project, you have to clamp it to the worktable.

This worktable is at the rear of the drill press or else you can secure it in a fixed position.

Thus, it is always advisable to fix the workpiece before making any progress in work.


Once you have setup the drill press, clamped the workpiece to the worktable and taken the necessary precautionary measures, you are good to switch on the press. Make the drill touch the work surface, spinning at a full speed. You then have to swing the rotating lever so that the bit goes lower, driving its way into the workpiece. Keep on drilling up to the required depth. Once you have completed the work, slowly release the lever. This way the spring-loaded mechanism of the machine will return to its initial position. Your project is ready.


I hope you found this blog full of useful information and guidance. I recommend you other blogs on how to use the power tools on this site. Share the knowledge with everyone and leave your comments too.

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