Discussion Forum

Video how does a variable speed drill press work

Drill presses are essential tools for both metalworking and woodworking enthusiasts, but finding the right one can be a bit challenging. In this discussion forum, we’ll explore the various options available in the market and help you choose the best drill press for your metalworking needs.

Discussion Forum

Variable Speed Lathes: True Control vs. Mechanical Pulley Setup

One key factor to consider when selecting a drill press is the speed control mechanism. There are two main categories: those with true electronic control of three-phase motors via on-board phase converters, and those with a mechanical pulley setup.

True variable speed drill presses, such as the Powermatic, provide precise control over the motor’s speed. This feature allows you to adjust the RPM (Rotations Per Minute) to match the requirements of different materials, ensuring optimal performance and accuracy.

On the other hand, drill presses with a mechanical pulley setup may not offer the same level of control. While they might claim to be variable speed, they often have limited options and may not provide the precise adjustments needed for specific metalworking tasks.

Powermatic Drill Press

Adjusting Speed for Different Materials and Bit Sizes

When working with metal, wood, or other materials, the drill press’s speed needs to be adjusted accordingly. For example, a 3/8″ twist drill in mild steel requires a different RPM setting than a 1-1/2″ forstner bit in walnut or a 3″ forstner bit in birch. Additionally, different materials like aluminum may have unique speed requirements.

Having a drill press with true variable speed capabilities can save you time and effort. Instead of manually changing belts and adjusting pulleys, you can simply dial in the RPM for the specific task at hand. This convenience allows for smoother and more efficient metalworking processes.

The Value of True Variable Speed

Some woodworkers use a ShopSmith, a versatile machine that combines multiple tools in one. The accuracy and convenience of the ShopSmith’s true variable speed drill press make it a valuable asset for many woodworking enthusiasts. While the cost of a new ShopSmith may be prohibitive, finding a used one could be a worthwhile investment for those seeking a drill press with true variable speed functionality.

ShopSmith Drill Press

The Need for Instantaneous Speed Adjustments

Even with the option to manually change belts, like on a Craftsman floor-mounted drill press, it can still be inconvenient to adjust the speed for different tasks. Having the ability to dial in the desired RPM rather than going through the process of raising the belt cover, loosening the belt tension, and moving the belt between different pulleys can save time and frustration.

In today’s age of advanced motor control technology, it seems odd that we still have to resort to such procedures. True variable speed drill presses offer a more instantaneous solution, allowing you to focus on your metalworking projects without unnecessary delays.

Exploring Options and Future Considerations

If you’re currently using a drill press that serves both metalworking and woodworking purposes, but you’re considering upgrading to a dedicated woodworking drill press in the future, it’s worth exploring true variable speed models. These drill presses are designed specifically for woodworking tasks and offer the precision and speed control needed for optimal performance.

While the cost might be a factor, researching different models and their capabilities will help you make an informed decision when the time comes to invest in a new drill press. In the meantime, take the opportunity to test out different options and gather valuable insights from fellow metalworking enthusiasts.


Q: What is the advantage of a drill press with true variable speed?

A: Drill presses with true variable speed capabilities allow for precise control over the motor’s RPM, making it easier to match the requirements of different materials and bit sizes. This feature ensures optimal performance and accuracy in metalworking tasks.

Q: Can I use a woodworking drill press for metalworking?

A: While it is possible to use a woodworking drill press for metalworking, it may not provide the same level of precision and performance as a dedicated metalworking drill press. Woodworking drill presses are designed with different features and specifications tailored to woodworking tasks.


Choosing the best drill press for metalworking involves considering factors like variable speed control, ease of use, and precision. A drill press with true variable speed capabilities can significantly enhance your metalworking experience, providing you with the control and convenience needed for different tasks.

As you explore the various options available, keep in mind the advantages of true variable speed models and the potential benefits they offer in terms of efficiency and accuracy. With the right drill press by your side, you can tackle metalworking projects with confidence and precision. For more information, visit Best Drill Press For Metal.

As the CEO of BestDrillPressforMetal.com, I take immense pride in our unwavering commitment to transformation and excellence in metalworking. I am driven and passionate about creating the best possible user experience for our customers and helping them achieve their goals with precision and innovation. With my guidance, we have established ourselves as a leader and trusted partner within the industry by leveraging cutting-edge technologies to push boundaries with incredible products that exceed expectations. We understand that metalworking is more than just a process; it is an art form made real through passion, dedication, and diligence—all of which embody our core values at BestDrillPressforMetal.com.