A drill press (also known as a pedestal drill, pillar drill, or bench drill) is a fixed style of drill that may be mounted on a stand or bolted to the floor or workbench. Portable models with a magnetic base grip the steel workpieces they drill. A drill press consists of a base, column (or pillar), table, spindle (or quill), and drill head, usually driven by an induction motor. The head has a set of handles (usually 3) radiating from a central hub that, when turned, move the spindle and chuck vertically, parallel to the axis of the column. The drill press is typically measured in terms of swing. Swing is defined as twice the throat distance, which is the distance from the center of the spindle to the closest edge of the pillar. For example, a 16-inch (410 mm) drill press has an 8-inch (200 mm) throat distance.
A drill press has a number of advantages over a hand-held drill:
Less effort is required to apply the drill to the workpiece. The movement of the chuck and spindle is by a lever working on a rack and pinion, which gives the operator considerable mechanical advantage
The table allows a vise or clamp to be used to position and restrain the work, making the operation much more secure
The angle of the spindle is fixed relative to the table, allowing holes to be drilled accurately and consistently
Drill presses are almost always equipped with more powerful motors compared to hand-held drills. This enables larger drill bits to be used and also speeds up drilling with smaller bits.
For most drill presses—especially those meant for woodworking or home use—speed change is achieved by manually moving a belt across a stepped pulley arrangement. Some drill presses add a third stepped pulley to increase the number of available speeds. Modern drill presses can, however, use a variable-speed motor in conjunction with the stepped-pulley system. Medium-duty drill presses such as those used in machine shop (tool room) applications are equipped with a continuously variable transmission. This mechanism is based on variable-diameter pulleys driving a wide, heavy-duty belt. This gives a wide speed range as well as the ability to change speed while the machine is running. Heavy-duty drill presses used for metalworking are usually of the gear-head type described below.
Drill presses are often used for miscellaneous workshop tasks other than drilling holes. This includes sanding, honing, and polishing. These tasks can be performed by mounting sanding drums, honing wheels and various other rotating accessories in the chuck. This can be unsafe in some cases, as the chuck arbor, which may be retained in the spindle solely by the friction of a taper fit, may dislodge during operation if the side loads are too high.