5 Best Radial Drill Presses – Reviews and Buying Guide
The radial drill press is an innovative drill press design that allows you to make angular drills in any direction very easily. If you are looking for a quality radial arm drill press for your workshop, you have come to the right place. We showcase some of the best radial drill presses available on the market as well as provide you with invaluable information about radial drill presses.
What is a Radial Drill Press?
A radial drill press looks very much like a benchtop drill press with the exception that it has an elongated geared head. This geared drilling head is pivotable and allows you to drill at odd angles.
This design allows you to cover a large surface area and is not limited by swing size, unlike the regular benchtop or floor drill press. There are different types of radial drill presses with varying capacities.
The most powerful radial drill press can perform angular drills with a diameter as large as 4-inch in material. Most commercially available drill presses will never reach that type of capacity as it is overkill, but this is just one of the many versatile drilling capabilities of a radial drill press.
Advantages of Using a Radial Drill Press
The radial drill press is a “specialized” drill machine that offers advantages that no other drill press type can. Here are a few of those advantages:
Swing Size: Unlike the regular drill press, a radial drill press is not limited by the swing size. It can cover a large surface and drill hole at any position as long as the radial arm shaft can extend to. A typical radial drill press can extend up to 34-inch or more.
Shaft Motion: In addition, the shaft can be moved forward and backward, onto itself between a 0-90 degree as well as laterally. This provides extreme versatility and ease of use especially if you have to drill a lot of random holes.
Angles: The radial drill press is mostly used because of its angle versatility. Most radial drill press models will allow you to bore holes in material from 0 - 90 degree to both the left and the right.
Versatility: In addition to the angle versatility, the radial arm drill press can also perform common drilling tasks that a regular benchtop or floor drill press can perform.
Stability: To properly operate a radial drill press, and prevent it from topping you will need to solidly bolt the unit to a workbench. This provides better stability thus boosting accuracy when drilling.
What to Look for When Buying a Radial Drill Press?
Before purchasing a radial drill press, there are some important factors to take into consideration. Here are a few pointers to keep an eye out on.
Angle: For the best versatility, the drilling head should be rotatable from 0 - 90 degrees. It should offer free motion, which means that it must not limit you with presets or angle increments when adjusting. This provides greater versatility, especially if you have to frequently bore holes at odd angles.
Shaft Distance (swing): The shaft distance is also an important factor. Basically, it is the distance that the spindle can move from the rest position to its maximum stretched position along the column. In general, good quality radial drill presses allow at least a 15-inch shaft distance. For those who are paying attention, the shaft distance is a replacement of the traditional “swing size” of the regular drill press.
Base Insert Mount: You will almost always need to solidly bolt your radial arm drill press to a workbench. It needs to have the proper insert mount holes to do so. If not, look elsewhere.
Variable Speed: The variable speed in a radial arm drill press is very important. It allows you to adapt the spindle torque to the density of the material you are drilling. In turn, you get a more professional finish as not all materials require the same drilling speed. For example, metal and other high-density material require a low RPM for effective drilling.
Height: The height of the radial drill press must not be too much that it makes the unit unreachable, especially for floor models. You will have difficulty working with a very tall unit. One way around it is either to have a shorter workbench or simply purchase a shorter radial arm drill press, depending on which one is better for you.
|RIKON 30-140 |
|Shop Fox W1670|
|Shop Fox W1669|
|RIKON 30-251 |
|JET J-720R Radial Drill Press|
5 Best Radial Drill Presses - Reviews
Without further ado, here is our radial arm drill presses review. Those models are carefully selected and are the best radial drill presses available in their price range.
#1. Rikon 30-140 Benchtop Radial Drill Press
Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)
The Rikon 30-140 is an affordable radial drill press that does not cost an arm and a leg. It has a fairly decent set of features that will prove to be handy on the job.
This model is equipped with a 1/3 HP motor, which is not the most powerful but adequate for general purpose drilling tasks. It can comfortably drill through both wood and metal of less than 1 inch fairly easily.
The variable speed of 620 RPM - 3,100 RPM allows you to adapt to your material for the most effective drilling finish. It has a lower setting of 620 RPM that is a little bit too high for our taste, especially when drilling through metal. But it gets the job done!
The swing size of 34-inch is very generous and allows you to cover a large surface area. Additionally, the headstock tilts 90 degrees to the left and 45 degrees to the right for even more drilling versatility.
Lastly, the solid cast-iron table of 7-3/4-inch by 7-3/4-inch provides a lot of stability and space for accommodating your stock. It is not the biggest, but it is still decently large for common materials.
- Rotatable head for greater angle versatility.
- Large swings size of 34-inch allows you to reach long drilling distances.
- Cast-iron table and base. General metal construction that is durable. Long-lasting unit.
- Insert mounts on base for bolting to a workbench.
- Low spindle travel of only 3/8 inch. Cannot drill deep holes.
- Head tilt angle limited to only 45 degrees on the right.
If you are looking for a dependable radial drill press that does not cost a lot, this model fits the bill. It is quite versatile and ideal for general purpose drilling tasks and performs very well even with angular drills.
#2. Shop Fox W1670 1/2 HP Floor Radial Drill Press
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
The Shop Fox W1670 is a taller floor radial drill press that measures 64-1/2 inches and come equipped with a 1/2 HP motor. It is a little bit more powerful than the Rikon 30-140 which provides more power on the job.
It has a 1/2 HP motor that sends more torque to the spindle allowing it to drill more effectively in high-density material like metal. This radial drill press has no problem working with any type of material very easily.
Furthermore, it has a 5 variable speed control that easily allows you to match the type of material you are drilling. It is not the most versatile speed we have seen in a drill press, but it is sufficient to get the job done.
It comes equipped with the standard 5/8-inch chuck which means that this unit has no problem working with any type of drill bits of this shank size.
What we like the most about this unit, is the generous spindle travel of 3-1/4 inches. It allows this unit to bore deep holes in material, no problem.
This drill press is very versatile as it allows you to drill holes both vertically as well as work as a radial drill press where the head can rotate and make angular drills at any angle between 0 - 90 degrees to the right and 0 - 45 degrees to the left.
- Decent powered motor of 1/2 HP makes it easy to work with both wood and thin sheets of metal.
- Cast-iron table can be tilted for angular drilling.
- Rotatable head for angular drills can be locked in position.
- Decent spindle travel of 3-1/4 inchs allows you to drill deeper holes.
- Large 34 inches swing distance.
- 5 variable speed control to work with different materials.
- The height. This drill press is tall and can make it awkward to work with, especially for shorter individuals.
- Head tilts only at 45 degrees to the left.
This model has more power than the Rikon 30-140 but is much taller. It is meant to be used as a floor drill press and not workbench model which may be an advantage for some people. We recommend this model over the Rikon 30-140 if you don’t need a benchtop radial drill press.
#3. Shop Fox W1669 1/2 HP Benchtop Radial Drill Press
Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)
This Shop Fox radial drill press is very similar to the Shop Fox W1670 reviewed above, except that the W1669 is a true benchtop radial drill press and not a floor drill press like the W1670.
It has similar features like the W1670 and performs similarly. Its shorter height of 31-1/2 inches allows it to fit on a regular workbench and the cast-iron base has insert mounts for solidly affixing this drill press for more stability.
- Decent 1/2 HP motor.
- Tiltable headstock can be locked in position.
- Variable speed control.
- 34 inches swing size.
If the Shop Fox W1670 floor radial drill press does not suit your need and is too tall, this model might be a better fit on your workbench. It performs similarly with the same specs and offered at a similar price.
#4. Rikon 30-251 Floor Radial Drill Press
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
The Rikon 30-251 is another floor radial drill press that promises ease of use and accuracy. This model is the same unit as the benchtop model - Rikon 30-140. As already stated, it does not have the most powerful motor, rated at only 1/3 HP. This is on the low end but still decent when drilling wood and metal of less than 1/2 inch in thickness.
The 5 variable speed of 630 - 3,100 RPM can easily be adjusted making it versatile when working with material of different densities. The speed can quickly be changed without the need of manually adjusting the belt tensioning system. It is done automatically for you.
Furthermore, the rack and pinion system makes it easy to calibrate the height of both the spindle and the table with great accuracy. Of course, as any radial drill press, the headstock can be tilted to both the left (0 - 45 degrees) and right (0 - 90 degrees).
- Excellent build construction. Long lasting and durable.
- Tiltable headstock for angle versatility.
- Table and spindle can accurately be adjusted with the rack and pinion.
- 5 variable speed allows you to match the speed to your material type.
- Large 34 inches swing distance.
- The motor is on the weak side at only 1/3 HP.
- The price. It’s a little expensive for its specs.
If you work mostly with material less than 1 inch in thickness and require a versatile floor radial drill press, the Rikon 30-251 is a solid contender. We personally think the benchtop model Rikon 30-140 provide better value since it is cheaper. But if you do not own a workbench/or need a radial floor drill press, the 30-251 does the job just fine for a little extra.
#5. JET J-720R 3HP Radial Drill Press
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
The JET J-720R is one of the most premium radial drill press money can buy. Of course, it will cost you. Its powerful motor allows it to comfortably drill mild steel at 1-1/2 inches, cast iron at 2 inches and steel at 2-3/8 inches. There are few models that can rival this. In fact, there are none we know of.
It is a very heavy drill press weighing a solid 2970 lbs and very large at 32 x 64 x 83 inches. It is definitely meant for professional and commercial use in a big workshop. On the bright side, the quality construction in this unit is superb and JET used only the finest quality material in its construction. It is built like a tank that will probably last a lifetime.
Accuracy in this model is extreme and almost every micro-adjustments can be made, from the spindle to the shaft can be locked in position for repetitive drilling.
This spindle in this model moves laterally, from side to side instead of the regular forward and backward shaft movement in a regular radial drill press. There is zero flex or wobbling when this unit is operational, which is mostly an attribute of its very solid build construction. The end result is an extremely accurate, powerful and easy drill that cannot be rivaled by other models in this radial drill press review.
Most parts are replaceable and sold by JET. Bottom line, if you require the best of the best when it comes to radial drill presses, there is nothing that can beat this model.
- Superb quality build construction.
- Designed for heavy-duty drilling in any type of material - from hardened steel to wood.
- Very accurate drill machine with smooth adjustments.
- Everything you expect from a quality radial drill press and more.
- The price. It’s very expensive.
We can’t recommend this model to the average DIY enthusiast. It’s not meant for this crowd. This model is geared mostly for commercial workshops that require a very powerful, accurate and dependable radial drill press. If you are that person, this model will serve you for years to come. All the spare parts are sold by JET and easily replaceable in a matter of minutes.
This radial drill press guide and review comes to an end. We have come a long way and reviewed quite a few models. They are all dependable radial drill presses with their own highs and lows. One thing is for sure, depending on your need, they will add a lot of versatility and convenience when drilling through material, especially at random spots and at odd angles.