Drill Press

From Idea Shop Wiki

Drill press.

A drilling machine, or drill press, is used to cut holes into or through metal, wood, or other materials .

Using a stationary drill press has advantages over using a handheld drill:

  • Less effort is required to apply the drill to the workpiece, The movement of the chuck and spindle is via a lever working on a rack and pinion, giving the operator considerable mechanical advantage and allowing harder and more denser materials to be cut.
  • The table allows a vise or clamp to be used to position and restrain the work, making the operation much more secure and consistent.
  • The angle of the spindle is fixed relative to the table, allowing holes to be drilled accurately and consistently at specified angles.:*Because the drill press offers a consistent range of motion and more powerful motor over a handheld drill, this allows for a wider variety of bits to be used on the drill press for a variety of applications .

Machine Details

Drill Overview

When using the drill press, it is important to take into consideration workpiece size, shape, composition, and desired hole size and angle, and make adjustments to the machine accordingly.

  • Ensure bed is set at the correct height and desired angle.
  • Select the appropriate bit for your material
  • Adjust the belts to set RPMs appropriate for your bit and material
  • Lighter, smaller, or awkwardly shaped cut pieces may be secured with clamps or a vice grip to prevent movement during drilling.


Below are several types of common drill bits

  • Twist Bits - General Purpose: The tip of the bit cuts the material, while the flutes (spirals) remove the spent material from the hole and keep the bit straight. Most of the bits in the Idea Shop can be used across wood, metal, and acrylic -- be sure to adjust RPMs accordingly. When drilling into metal, be sure to use a lubricant.
  • Spade bits: For making through holes in wood and other soft materials.
  • Forstner bits: For making large (over 1/4", up to 2"), clean, flat bottomed holes in wood or other soft materials.
  • Coutersink bits: An attachment used in conjunction with a twist drill bit, to create holes for screws or other fasteners to sit flush or inset into the material.

Adjusting RPMs

It's important to set the drill press with the appropriate RPMs for your bit and material. For example, metal and acrylic require lower RPMs than wood. To do this, open the cover on top of the drill press. Disengage the belt tensioner and adjust the belts according to the chart located on the inside of the top cover. See a staff member for assistance if this is your first time or if you need a refresher.

Safety Instructions


Safety glasses or goggles is a must

  • Dress appropriately: Remove all watches, jewelry, and other accessories. Tie back loose hair, tuck away hoodie strings, and secure any other loose or free flowing articles of clothing.
  • Select the proper drill bit acording to material and desired hole size.
  • Insert bit into chuck. Tighten the chuck with the key, located on the upper right hand side of the press. *REMOVE THE KEY FROM THE CHUCK
  • Set appropriate stop heights. If necessary, adjust height of the press bed. If you are drilling through your material, be sure to use a spoil board.
  • Select a cutting fluid if necessary (e.g. when cutting soft metals, aluminum and mild steel)
  • Properly secure the workpiece and spoil board to the table with appropriate clamps or vises.
  • Select the correct RPM for the drill bit, taking into account the size of bit, material, and depth of hole to be drilled.
  • Always return the chuck key immediately after use. A key left in the chuck will be thrown from the press at a high velocity when the machine is turned on. Never let the chuck key leave your hand except to put it back into its holder.

Active Use

  • Use an interrupted feed, called peck drilling, to break up the chips being produced.
  • If there is any smoke generated from drilling stop immediately. Excess heat will damage the drill bit causing it to shatter.
  • Pilot holes should be used on holes larger than 3/8” dia. Holes are to be enlarged in no more than 1/4” increments.

Clean Up

  • Clean the drill press and surrounding area when finished.
  • Use a brush, not your hands, to remove chips from the machine. Do not clean up while the machine is running.
  • Never stop a drill press spindle with your hand after you have turned off the machine. Chips often build up around the chuck.
  • Remove burrs from drilled work piece as soon as possible.
  • Keep the floor area clean. Immediately wipe up any oil spills.

Safety Training

When doing a safety training with the lab manager, be prepared to show the following steps:

  • How to zero your work piece
  • How to raise and lower the press table
  • How to change the bit
  • How to change the speed
  • Basic safety knowledge