No handheld power drill can ever come close to the capability and versatility of a drill press. Enabling you to work with incredible precision on the tiniest of details, the best mini drill presses will advance your jewelry-making skills significantly without even taking much space on your workbench.
With so many different options in this category, trying to find the best model for your unique needs and preferences can get a bit overwhelming. But that’s what this guide is for!
We scoured the market to handpick the best small drill presses in three different categories. All of our top recommendations offer great quality and performance but do vary in price, dimensions, and versatility, so you can find your perfect match.
Make sure to also read our buying guide, where we share some essential shopping advice on how to choose the right mini drill press for your jewelry studio.
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The Best Small Drill Presses Of 2020
If you’re on a budget, the Ryobi DP103L is a great choice. It offers decent performance and precision and is versatile enough to be suitable for a variety of jewelry endeavors. Even though it’s really small and compact, the model can easily handle long working hours. It’s a great choice for amateurs, hobbyists, and beginners.
Unlike many models within the same price range, the Ryobi DP103L small drill press comes with five different speed selections. With more speed selections, you’ll get a lot of control and the precision needed to drill in smaller and more delicate jewelry pieces.
“Unlike many models within the same price range, the Ryobi DP103L small drill press comes with five different speed selections.”
On top of that, Ryobi DP103L allows superior versatility for handling jewelry with ease. You can drill holes in large and thick to very small pieces. Plus, you can adjust the angle for more complex designs. The tool comes with a rack-and-pinion height adjustable table, a 360-degree swivel, and it accepts mortising attachments.
The Ryobi also has an integrated LED work light that offers more visibility when working with smaller pieces and tiny details.
Although the base is cast iron, the composite pulleys it comes with are not as strong as some pricier models. This might compromise the level of precision needed by professionals working on more delicate pieces.
Additionally, weighing only 23 pounds, it can feel a little light and unstable.
Another drawback is the less powerful motor. It’s good for the price, but it can’t compete with the Shop Fox’s and Jet J’s 3/4 HP beasts. It’s enough to get started but you’ll really want that extra horsepower if you want to produce a larger diameter for larger pieces. Again, pros will want to spend more.
Our top pick for most people is the Shop Fox W1668, as it offers the best value for the price. This model is solidly built, with a tilting table for а variety of applications. It’s an extremely powerful but affordable tool that doubles as an oscillating sander. The Shop Fox W1668 can be a great fit for smaller workshops as well as professional jewelry studios.
One of the great features of the Shop Fox W1668 Oscillating Drill Press is its out-of-the-box sanding capability. With just a few tool-free steps, the drill press can be converted from drilling operations to sanding operations in a matter of seconds. Because it oscillates, it reduces heat build-up and leaves a very smooth surface when sanding jewelry pieces.
“Because it oscillates, it reduces heat build-up and leaves a very smooth surface when sanding jewelry pieces.”
The Shop Fox W1668 feels heavy and is seriously powerful, as it has a hefty motor that enables it to drill through a variety of jewelry materials. The 3/4 horsepower motor produces enough drilling power to cut through any material with high speed. Even top-end models like the Jet below aren’t any more powerful than this one.
And while we’re on the subject of speed, the Shop Fox W1668 comes with 12-speeds ranging from 250 to 3,050 RPM giving you great control over a variety of different applications. That’s enough for most folks, and certainly a big step up from budget tools like the Ryobi above.
It can take some time to get the Shop Fox set up, though it’s not exactly difficult.
Another thing is that once assembled, the Shop Fox W1668 is quite heavy, so it isn’t easily portable. You’ll want to have a dedicated spot for it on your workbench. Having said that, if you’re thinking about spending this kind of money, you probably already have room in your shop.
If you want the ultimate in accuracy, stability, and versatility, we recommend the JET J-2530. It features a more powerful motor and a greater range in spindle speeds than other machines in its class, not to mention superb build quality. The JET J-2530 mini drill press is the right choice for professionals with many years of experience who need a superior model.
The JET J-2530 is constructed to provide a heavy and solid base for drilling. It weighs 157 pounds which is 7 times more than our budget pick and 2.5 times more than our best value pick. The head is made from cast iron, and it features a large ground steel column for maximum head and table support. Plus, the enclosed spindle assembly is supported by four permanently lubricated ball bearings, which is absolutely necessary for reducing friction.
This kind of build quality not only provides you with a secure and precise drilling station, but it ensures you’ll be able to keep working with your Jet for years to come. It’s a true standout in the construction department.
“The JET J-2530 is constructed to provide a solid base for drilling.”
With the JET J-2530, you’ll have unsurpassed control and versatility for any jewelry task possible. Unlike our other two recommendations, which offer 5 and 12 speeds respectively, the JET J-2530 offers 16 a whopping spindle speeds ranging from 200 to 3,630 RPM. That’s more precision than any other model in its class.
Other than being heavy and unsuited for small jewelry studios that are in need of a portable bench tool, the only real downside of the Jet is the cost. It’s quite pricey, but well worth it to a professional craftsperson.
Our top budget-friendly pick is the Ryobi DP103L 10 in. Drill Press, as you’ll get more than your money’s worth. You’re getting decent speed control and a very adjustable design that’s going to have you covered for a variety of jewelry projects. The model is small and light, which makes it a great choice for beginners, amateurs, or hobbyists. Besides, the features you get aren’t that easily found in models within the same price range.
“However, the ultimate value for money pick is the Shop Fox W1668 ¾-HP 13-Inch Bench-Top Drill Press that also doubles as a spindle sander.”
However, the ultimate value-for-money pick is the Shop Fox W1668 ¾-HP 13-Inch Bench-Top Drill Press that also doubles as a spindle sander, combining two tools into one super powerful tool. It comes with a powerful motor and a great number of spindle speeds, which makes it an excellent machine for both newbies and professionals.
“We chose the JET J-2530 in the best quality category, as it stands for supreme accuracy, stability, and versatility.”
We chose the JET J-2530 in the best quality category, as it stands out with its unmatched accuracy, stability, and versatility. It has standout construction quality and a thoughtful design made for heavy-duty work. The JET J-2530 offers stability, support, and more speed control than almost any small drill press available on the market today. It’s the ultimate choice for professionals and large jewelry studios.
How To Choose The Best Small Drill Press
Probably the first thing you have to decide is how much you’re willing or able to spend on a small drill press. The prices of our recommendations range from $180 to above $900. Of course, as the price increases, the design and functionality of the models improve, so you also need to think about what you really need and what you can let slide.
“As the price increases, the design and functionality of the models improve, so you also need to think about what you really need and what you can let slide.”
For example, the Ryobi DP103L is the cheapest pick, as it costs less than $200. It comes with five spindle speeds and a 1/4 HP motor, while the priciest model, the JET J-2530, comes with 16 spindle speeds and a 3/4 HP motor.
If you’re a beginner and this is your first small drill press, the Ryobi DP103L will get the job done nicely. On the other hand, considering that more power and speed levels will offer more control and precision, professionals will want to buy a pricier model to be able to make more complex and delicate jewelry pieces with greater detail.
Dimensions and Design
Mini drill presses are meant to fit on a cluttered workbench without interrupting your work. In most cases, you should look for small and portable drill presses that can be easily moved and stored when not in use. However, if you’re a full-time craftsperson, you won’t need to worry about that. Choose something heavy-duty that will be a workhorse in its dedicated space.
“Mini drill presses are meant to fit on a cluttered workbench and not interpose while working.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the small dimensions of a drill press have to equal low stability. To make sure that it has a stable build, you should look for a drill press with a base, frame, and head that is made of cast iron, which ensures that the press won’t be easy to tip over. The small drill press should come with a tight swing and accurate depth stops that will allow you to use the tool for fine detail work.
Versatility is crucial for jewelers, as you’ll be working with different types of materials, sizes, and techniques. But how to gauge if a drill press is versatile enough or not?
The features that contribute to a drill press’ versatility the most are the spindle speeds, and whether the drill has an articulating worktable with a rack-and-pinion height adjustment system. An adjustable chuck is also a handy feature, as it means that the drill press will be able to fit a variety of drill bit sizes.
“The features that contribute to a drill press’ versatility the most are the spinal speeds, and whether the drill has an articulating worktable with a rack-and-pinion height adjustment system.”
The number of speeds is important because that controls how many rotations per minute your drill press will make – the slower the speed, the more precise and accurate the holes, which is beneficial for extremely delicate pieces. However, when you need to drill a hole in a relatively larger piece, you’ll want a high speed for quick results and to keep the motor from bogging down.
Depending on how much you’ll use the drill press and what for, you can decide which of these additional features are crucial for you and which would simply improve your ease of use but are not necessary for what you have in mind.
We hope that our detailed reviews and practical buying guide helped you get a clearer idea of what would be a great small drill press for your needs and preferences. However, if you still have questions and want to find out more about each of the recommended products individually, follow the title links to learn their price, in-depth specifications, and customer reviews.
In the meantime, don’t miss our latest guides, where our team of experts shares their knowledge to help you learn more on how to equip your studio with the best tools available on the market today.