How to Use a Drill Machine


A drill press is a machine tool used to drill accurate and precise holes in wood or metal. The drill press consists of a sturdy base that supports an overhead arm containing a variable-speed motor and drill chuck above a very flat, height-adjustable table. While the drill is operating, the drill chuck can be lowered to specific depths by using a control wheel or lever. A drill press can be used to repeatedly drill precision holes to a specific depth.

Things You'll Need

  • C-clamps (if desired)
  • Turn the power off using the on/off switch usually located at the top of the machine. Clamp the appropriately sized drill bit into the chuck by turning the chuck key clockwise to tighten it. Be sure not to leave the key in the chuck, as it will fly off when the drill starts and could cause injury. The chuck should be as tight as possible to prevent the bit from slipping.

  • Adjust the table height to accommodate the workpiece. The height is usually adjusted by a hand crank that elevates or lowers the table as desired. Position the table so the workpiece is in range of the drill bit when the drill spindle is fully extended -- lowered to its maximum "down" position. If a hole must be drilled completely through the material, use a scrap of wood to space the workpiece off the table, which prevents the bit from damaging the table.

  • Adjust the depth stop ring so the drill bit will stop at precisely the depth of hole required. Most depth stop rings are located at the top of the chuck assembly. They are adjusted by sliding them to the appropriate location, then tightening them down with a wing nut or similar device. Clamp the workpiece down if desired, so that it will not move and the drill bit will come down in exactly the right location.

  • Turn on the machine using the on/off switch, then rotate the control handle to lower the drill bit into the workpiece. Slowly advance the spindle downward to drill the hole. If the hole is greater than four times the width of the drill bit, it is advisable to briefly pull the drill bit clear of the workpiece. This allows excess shavings and chips to escape before proceeding. Once the drill bit bottoms out at the depth stop ring -- or fully penetrates the object being drilled -- return the spindle to the starting position and turn the power off.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some drill presses have a hole in the center of the table so that a drill bit may fully penetrate the material without damaging the table.

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