How are drill presses measured (Important Considerations)

When shopping for a drill press, you will see different sizes listed. But what do those numbers and letters mean, and how do they measure the size of a drill press? Let’s take a look.

Decimal drill press sizes

While there are several different types of drill presses, they will all be listed with their decimal size. The decimal drill press size is usually listed in the format of “inches”, followed by the number “1/2”, followed by “inches”. For example, a decimal drill press size of “3/4” would have a diameter of 3/4 inch.

If the decimal drill press size is not listed in “inches”, but instead in millimeters, then it will be listed in the format of “mm”, followed by the number “19”, followed by “mm”. For example, a decimal drill press size of “19 mm” would have a diameter of 19 millimeters. For metric drill press sizes, please see below.

Also Read: Top 7+ best floor drill press for metal (Tested)

Drill Press measurements

The total capacity of a drill press is often listed in the product description, next to the drill press size. This will tell you how many inches of material can be fed through the press at one time.

The depth of the drill press table is also listed, and this tells you how deep the table can be lowered to accommodate pieces with longer lengths.

The distance from the spindle to the table, or the swing, can also be listed on the drill press description. This will tell you how large pieces you can work with on the drill press table.

how are drill presses measured

Drill Press Capacity

When purchasing a drill press, the capacity of the press is an important consideration. Capacity is how much weight the drill press can hold before it will begin to tip or tip over. This is usually listed in pounds, and a smaller press will be able to handle much less weight than a larger drill press.

The larger the press, the larger the table and the heavier the machine will be. Something to keep in mind as you choose a drill press is how often you will use it.

If you are a hobbyist or if you are only going to use the drill press a few times a year, you can go with a smaller, lighter press. However, if you plan to use it in your business, or if you have a large project you want to complete, you will want to go with a heavy-duty press.

US Standard drill press sizes

The United States Standard for drill press sizes is based on diameter. The diameter is measured in inches, and the decimal equivalent will be listed as a fraction. For example, a 1/2 inch drill press has a diameter of 12.7 millimeters. A 3/4 inch drill press has a diameter of 19.05 millimeters.

A 7/8 inch drill press has a diameter of 22.23 millimeters. A 1 inch drill press has a diameter of 25.4 millimeters. A 1-1/8 inch drill press has a diameter of 31.75 millimeters. A 1-1/4 inch drill press has a diameter of 33.82 millimeters. A 1-3/8 inch drill press has a diameter of 40.64 millimeters.

Metric drill press sizes

The metric system of drill press sizes is based on the rotary distance between the center of the spindle and the center of the chuck.

For example, drilling a hole with a 1/2 inch diameter will pass through 1/2 inch of material. The table below shows how metric drill press sizes translate to decimal inches.

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Important considerations when choosing a drill press

There are a few important considerations when choosing a drill press. First, you will want to find a drill press that fits your needs. If you are a hobbyist, you may only want a smaller, lighter press.

However, if you operate a business, you will likely want a larger, heavier press that has a larger table and can handle heavier work. You will also want to think about how you plan to use the press.

If you want to use it for heavy duty work, you may need a larger press that can handle that type of job. You also need to think about the space you have available for a drill press.

The larger the press, the more space it will need. You may also want to consider the cost of the press. This will vary depending on the size, make, and model you choose.

If you are looking for a high-end press, you will likely pay more for it than a budget press. You will also want to make sure you choose a drill press that is the correct type for your application.

How to select a drill press

Now that you know what to look for when shopping for a drill press, let’s talk about how to go about selecting one. The first thing you will want to do is decide on a budget. You may find that you want to go over your budget, but it is important to make that decision first.

Next, you will want to start researching different types of drill presses. You can find reviews and comparisons online, or you can even go to your local hardware store and pick up some brochures and make notes while you are there.

When you have a few drill presses that interest you, you can start to compare them. Look at the different features each press has, and decide which press would best suit your needs.

Bits for special applications

It is also possible to use drill presses to do a variety of special operations besides drilling holes, such as cutting mortise holes, which receive tenons, forming strong woodworking joints. You can buy a special attachment for your drill press that allows you to drill the square holes.

These specialty bits are basically four-sided square chisels with a hole in the middle where a drill bit is inserted. As the drill bit penetrates the wood, the chisel forces the corners of the wood around the drill bit into the spinning bit, removing the material and pulling it out of the hole, resulting in a square hole.

By mortising with a drill press, the user is often able to cut a mortise on a thicker board than is possible with a dedicated mortising machine.

Drum sanding is another popular application of drill presses. With a sanding drum and matching sleeve, the drill press can be used to smooth the edges of boards and panels used to assemble furniture and cabinets.

The 25-piece sanding drum kit from Delta comes with five drums of varying sizes with matching sanding sleeves with 80- and 120-grit abrasive.

Also Read: How much does a drill press cost – Is worth it?

how are drill presses measured

In addition to drilling holes, what else can a drill press be used for?

In addition to drilling holes, a drill press has other uses, including drilling large holes or holes that don’t completely penetrate the wood. In addition to sanding or cleaning wood and metal, your drill press can also drill square holes, deburr wood and metal, and polish or buff wood or metal surfaces with the right bit or attachment. A drill press is versatile in that you can do more than just drill holes, according to Glenn Wiseman, RASDT, RHDT, and sales manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services. In addition to drilling holes, you can also use your drill press to cut wood, metal, plastic, and other materials.”

Can I use the same bits in my drill press and handheld power drill?

As a general rule, as long as the shank size of the bit does not exceed your drill press’s chuck—the average chuck size for a benchtop drill press is 12 inches—you can use the same bits with your drill press as you do with your corded or cordless power drill. One of the main advantages of drill presses is that they can handle larger diameter bits than power drills, which is why they are so powerful.

Can a regular drill replace a drill press?

If you only need the precision of a drill press for one particular project, you might not want to invest in an entire tool just for that purpose. The same results are possible, however, with a frame designed to hold a corded or cordless drill in place as you drill, as long as you don’t plan on drilling very large holes or into exceptionally hard materials. You can rotate these frames so you can position the drill exactly where you need it, and you can hold it far more still than you could with your hand alone.

Also Read: What drill press speed to use? – 8 Metal Drilling Tips


Now that you know how drill presses are measured and what to look for when shopping for one, you can make an informed decision when buying a drill press for your shop.

You can even go one step further and create a drill press workbench to house your drill press and make it easy to use.

This is a great way to maximize space in your shop and ensure that your drill press is always ready to use.


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