What’s Drill Press Swing?

The drill press swing is a term that you often encounter. It can appear intimidating, especially if you have never owned a drill press before and looking to buy one. To add to the confusion, drill press reviews, and even manufacturers often list this term as one of their main selling points - even including it in their specs sheet without further explaining what it is. For example, a 12” drill press. The 12-inch refers to the swing. But what is it really?

What Is It?

It is the simplest of thing. The swing size in a drill press is simply the distance from the center of the chuck to the nearest point of the bench column divided by 2. (The bench column is the supportive rod of the drill press). For example, a 12-inch drill press simply means that the drill press can drill a hole right at the center of a 12” circular material which will effectively produce a hole at 6” on it - the radius.

Drill press swing size

source: ozarktoolmanuals.com

Why It is Important

The swing size basically gives us an idea of the size of material that the drill press can accommodate. As an example, a drill press with a swing size of 12” (12” Drill Press) will allow a maximum of 6” on the table. More than this and it will collide with the bench column. So you cannot drill a hole at 7” from the edge of your material using a 12” drill press. You will need a 14” drill press for that.

How Much of Swing Size Do You Need?

It will depend on the size of material that you usually work with. If you work with very small material, a mini drill press with a 5” swing will suffice. Small materials that are no more than 2.5” wide will comfortably fit in a 5” drill press and allow you to drill freely on the drill press table.

However, for general purpose drilling in the workshop, we recommend that you buy one that is as big as possible. Most commercial drill presses have a swing size of 10” - 14”.

Larger is Better?

The larger the better with the swing size. A drill press with a large swing size is more versatile and allows you to drill material more freely. You can always adjust your material on the drill table, but you cannot move the drill bit sideways or back and forth as the quill only moves up and down.

Bear in mind that price is normally proportionate to the swing size and drill presses with a larger swing size are also generally more expensive. On the bright side, with a more expensive and larger swing size you also get a more powerful drill press with more features that pack more punch.


The drill press swing is a term that appears more intimidating than it is. Now that you know what it is all about, you will be better able to choose a drill press based on your need, taking into account the typical material size that you usually work with. Take the swing size into consideration when purchasing a drill press. It will save you a lot of woes on the job. Remember, the more the better when it comes to swing size.

Resource: ridgidforum.comwoodworkingtalk.comwoodworkinghistory.com

Last Updated on January 20, 2019 by Tom Bradly

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Tom Bradly

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I wanted to work with my hands, to build things. Now I mix my background with computers with my first-hand experience with woodworking to provide insights into the tools I like best. I love everything about woodworking and have been building stuff for over 20 years of my life. I hope to pass some knowledge and expertise. See more at TomBradly.com

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