10 Tips for Operating a Portable Drill Press

A portable drill press is a way to turn your cordless drill into a drill press. This is useful when you have to make perfectly perpendicular holes. It is great for use at a work site, or as a cheaper alternative to a floor or bench mounted drill press. Many can be purchased for as little as 25 to 50 dollars—a real bargain compared to their full-sized counterparts. To get the most out of your portable drill press, make sure you know how to use it properly.

Read the Owner's Manual Thoroughly

The owner's manual will teach you all of the applications of the tool, as well as its limitations and possible hazards.

Follow Basic Safety Precautions

  • Keep your work area clean
  • Don't force the tool
  • Wear eye protection
  • Don't wear excessively loose clothing or jewelry
  • Don't overreach or work off-balanced
  • Check your parts often to make sure they are not damaged and working properly

Secure the Drill

Before beginning any project, make sure the drill is firmly attached to the shaft. In addition, make sure the bit is securely fastened to the chuck. Also, make sure the base plate is firmly secured to a bench with clamps or a vice. If you are working in the field, make sure the drill press is on a flat surface. These steps are not only safety precautions, but will also ensure you drill straight holes.

Make a Practice Hole

When the drill is aligned for the kind of hole you want to drill, first make a practice hole on a piece of wood. That way, you don't ruin a piece of finish wood.

Set the Depth of Hole

This is especially useful when making repeated holes of the same depth. In order to do this, place the drill press at the edge of a workbench or similar surface. Then, press the drill down until it reaches the depth of the hole you want. Tighten the depth stop thumb screw.


When countersinking, make sure you use a countersink bit and then adjust the drilling depth to the required countersinking depth.

Angle Drilling

In order to do angle drilling, you need to rotate the guide bars and align the index mark the bar holders. Use the angle reference marks on the base plate to select your desired angle. Drill with the drill guide flush with the wood you are making a hole in.

Edge Drilling

To center the drill on the edge of a piece of material, first place it on the edge to be drilled. Rotate the bass plate until its sides are in contact with the work piece.

Drilling Round Stock

Use V-blocks to hold round stock in place when drilling it.

Edge Sanding

Many drill presses can be mounted on the underside of a bench for edge sanding.  They can also perform edge sanding while held in your hand.