DRILL PRESS REVIEWS: DELTA, JET & POWERMATIC

QUICK NOTE: To buy any product reviewed below, click on the Buy Now button to go directly to the appropriate page on another secure site to get more information on that product and/or make a purchase. The “Bob’s Pick” logo below indicates which of the products below has earned Bob Gillespies highest purchase recommendation. Below the reviews is a SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON CHART and, finally, an article by Bob Gillespie on important features to consider when shopping and why.

DELTA 17-959L 17-INCH LASER DRILL PRESS

DELTA 17-959L 17-INCH LASER DRILL PRESS

Of the many Delta drill presses available, this particular drill press seems best suited for the professional (and amateur) woodworker because it is designed specifically for woodworking. Its ¾-horsepower induction motor is adequate for all woodworking applications. The laser pod on this drill press is fully adjustable. The 17-9591 is a re-designed model featuring a larger floor base than its predecessor for improved machine stability. The drill press table features a removable and replaceable table insert under the drill point. You can remove it to use large sanding drums and replace it when it gets full of drill holes. What makes this model stand out is the fact that its table tilts left, right or forward for drilling angled holes. With the ordinary flat table, you would have to build a jig on top of the table to hold your work piece at a consistent angle. There are twin T-slots to help tie down your jigs and drill press accessories such as hold-down clamps.

The Delta 17-9591 drill press features a generous 4 7/8 quill stroke enabling you to drill deeper than most other drill presses. It has a cast iron head to dampen vibration so that it is not transmitted to the drill bit. It has an integrated, adjustable (goose neck) task light which takes a standard light bulb. Its quill diameter of this drill press is 1 ¾, its speed range is 215 2750 RPM and it weighs 238 lbs. This Delta drill press is priced at about $579.

JET JDP-17DX 17 (16 ½ SWING) DRILL PRESS

JET JDP-17DX 17 (16 ½ SWING) DRILL PRESS

This drill press has a ¾-horsepower TEFC single-phase motor which should be adequate for almost any woodworking task. Features include dual AC-powered lasers, a large 14 x 18 work table with twin T-slots and a specially designed lip for easy clamping around the edge of the table. The table has a removable insert. The spindle return spring is adjustable as to tension. The drill stop is clutch-type. You can mount the feed handles on either side of the press, which is a really nice feature for lefties. To change belt and pulley speeds, you flip up the hinged metal cover on top. For drilling into large finished projects, the maximum distance from the bottom of the chuck is 29 1/8 to the table and 49 to the floor. Speed range is 200 to 3620 RPM and there are 16 speeds to choose from.

The column diameter is 3 1/8, the base size is 11 1/8 x 19 5/8 and the machine weighs 209 lbs. Compared to many woodworking tools, this drill press stands out as being well-designed and reasonably priced for what it offers. This Jet drill press has a street price of around $510.

POWERMATIC 2800 PM 18 VS DRILL PRESS

POWERMATIC 2800 PM 18 VS DRILL PRESS

Like all Powermatic woodworking tools, the Powermatic 2800PM 18″ drill press has top quality, smooth operation and features to die for. It also has a somewhat hefty price tag compared to the others reviewed here which is typical for Powermatic woodworking tools. That said, lets take a look at what you get for your money so you can decide if its worth making the jump.

This drill press features twin LED lights, mounted in the head that do not cast shadows, head-mounted twin AC-powered lasers that pinpoint the drill point, a 16 x 14 table with twin T-slots that expands to 16 x 26, when needed, to support large workpieces. The table tilts left or right 90 degrees with a positive stop at zero degrees. A large handle makes raising or lowering the table easy. An additional, unique feature that is included in the price of this drill press is an adjustable split fence with a dust collection port. A fence is essential to drill press production work so plan on buying or making one if you dont buy this one.

Speeds are easily changed from 400 to 3000 RPM with the Powermatic drill press, using a handle on the upper left side of the head. This means that you do not need to concern yourself with belt and pulley access. And, you can tell how fast or slow the machine is running by looking at a digital speed indicator right on the front of the drill press head. Also in the front of the head is a lighted on/off switch with a key.

Powermatic gives you a full horsepower of motor power which insures that this paragon of woodworking tools can handle everything that is presented to it. This is more than the other woodworking tools reviewed here.The drill press motor is single phase and can be run on either 115 or 230 volts AC. It is pre-wired for 115 volts.

The 5/8 chuck is keyless, the depth stop is quick-setting and the feed handles can be mounted on the left or the right for ease of operation no matter which handle you prefer to use. Spindle travel is 4 3/8 for deep drilling capacity. For drilling into assembled projects, the maximum chuck to table distance is 30 and the maximum chuck to floor distance is 46. The column diameter is 3 1/8, the base measures 11 7/8 x 19 5/8. The drill press weighs in at 287 lbs, and ships at 302 lbs. This Powermatic drill press has a price tag around $1000.

SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON CHART:  DRILL PRESSES

DELTA JET POWERMATIC
Street Price (approx.) $579 $510 $1000
Motor HP ¾ ¾ 1
Motor Specs Induction 115V AC TEFC 115V AC TEFC 115/230V
Throat Depth 17” 16 ½” 18”
Table Size 18” x 14” 18” x 14” 16” x 14” / 16” x 26”
T-slots 2 2 2
Rem. Table Insert Yes Yes Yes
Table Tilt L, R, FWD None L, R 0-90 degrees
Quill Stroke 4 7/8” 4 3/8” 4 3/8”
Lighting Goose Neck None 2 LEDs in Head
Lasers 2 2 2
Speed Range 215 – 2750 RPM 200-3620 RPM 400-3000 RPM
No. of Speeds Not Stated 16 Continuously Variable
Speed Change Belt & Pulley Belt & Pulley External Lever
Speed Indicator None None Digital on Head Front
Rev. Feed Handles No Yes Yes
Floor Base Size Not Stated 11 1/8” x 19 5/8” 11 7/8” x 19 5/8”
Fence None None Split w/ Dust Coll.
Quill Diameter 1 ¾” Not Stated Not Stated
Column Diameter 3.15” 3 1/8” 3 1/8”
On/Off Switch Front Front Front w/key, lighted
Chuck 5/8” w/ key 5/8” w/ key 5/8” keyless
Max Distance to Table 24 ½” 28 1/8” 30”
Max Distance to Floor 44 ½” 49” 46”
Weight 238 lbs. 209 lbs. 287 lbs

As background for the reviews above, Id like to point out that the purpose of a drill press is to drill consistent, straight holes accurately into wood, metal or plastic. The purpose of a drill press with a fence is to drill repetitive holes in a workpiece at a consistent distance from the edge of that workpiece. The purpose of a drill press with a fence and one (or two) adjustable stops is to drill holes at a consistent distance from one or both ends of multiple workpieces. The purpose of a drill press with a tilting table is to drill accurate and repeatable holes at an exact angle into the work piece. The purpose of an electric drill is to drill holes where using a drill press would be impossible or impractical.

There are many things to consider when shopping for a drill press such as motor size, table size and features, quill stroke, task lighting, laser availability, rotation speeds, ease of speed change, number of speeds, reversible feed handle (for lefties) and even the size of the base (for machine stability).

Each drill press above is designed specifically for woodworking, meaning that consideration has been given to table size and functionality and throat depth because, in general, woodworking projects tend to be larger in size than metalworking projects. Woodworking applications generally use higher speeds than metalworking projects. This is not to say that you cannot do metal work on your new woodworking drill press. You can. All of these machines have 5/8 capacity chucks. Two use chuck keys and one is keyless. 5/8 is probably large enough for any woodworking bit you might use.

With regard to motor size, experience tells me that ¾ horsepower is about the smallest size motor Id like to see on a drill press. Some drill press models that are not reviewed here sometimes try to get away with a ½-horsepower motor. There are times, especially at higher belt speed ratios, that a half horsepower motor will prove to be inadequate. A one horsepower motor (included with the Powermatic machine) would be nice but its probably not necessary.

All of these woodworking machines feature twin lasers that create cross hairs on the work piece to help you quickly locate the drill point on your workpiece. If you look at another drill press, not reviewed here, you may want to check and see if the lasers are AC-powered or battery powered because its a pain to lose your lasers right in the middle of a project and then have to go to the store for more batteries. The Delta, Jet and Powermatic woodworking machines reviewed here all offer 110v AC-powered lasers.