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Drill Press FAQs

Answers to FAQs about drill presses, as well as basic troubleshooting steps for WEN drill presses. If you're still having problems after checking these steps, or if you can't find the question you need answered, please don't hesitate to contact us.

General Questions

How are drill presses measured? 

Drill presses have a few key measurements that will help you choose the press that is right for you. The list below is not exhaustive, but should be enough to help get you started.

  1. Swing - this is twice the distance between the spindle's centerline and the forward edge of the column. It tells you the maximum diameter of a workpiece whose center could be drilled. For example, a 10-inch drill press could drill to the center of a workpiece whose diameter is 10 inches. The distance between the spindle centerline and column is 5 inches.
  2. Quill (or spindle) travel - this is the distance that the spindle can be moved down from the quill. It roughly corresponds to the maximum depth of hole that can be drilled.
  3. Table distance - the maximum distance between the bottom of the chuck and the top of the table. This figure gives an estimate for the maximum height of workpiece that can be used, but does not include any estimates for the length of the drill bit.
  4. Speed range - the range of speeds that the press can handle. High speeds are good for quick material removal, but generally are best used with softer materials and small bits. Low speeds are good for harder materials and larger bits, since more torque is available.
  5. Amperage - the amount of current that the press' motor is rated for. A higher-amperage motor is more powerful, and can handle more-difficult drilling jobs.

What drill press is right for me?

It depends on a few different factors. Choose a drill press based on the following criteria: 

  • Measurements - see above. Make sure the drill press has enough swing, spindle travel, and table distance to handle your projects.
  • Size - do you want a benchtop model, or a floor-standing model? Benchtop models are generally less powerful, but take up less room and are less expensive. Floor-standing models are generally more powerful and can handle large workpieces, but are more expensive and take up more room in your shop. 
  • Speed mechanism - do you want a variable-speed or multiple-speed model? Variable-speed models let you adjust the spindle speed to an exact RPM within the speed range, while multiple-speed models let you choose from a set number of speeds.
  • Power - do you plan to do a lot of metalworking? Or if you're a woodworker, do you use large-diameter or Forstner bits often, or work with tough hardwoods? Consider a lower-speed, higher-amperage model. This gives more torque for heavy-duty drilling applications
  • Accessories - do you want an onboard light or lasers? They help provide better visibility to your projects, but add more cost. Also consider the table mechanism; some models' tables clamp directly to the column, while other models feature a locking rack-and-pinion mechanism that enables smoother, more-precise adjustment.

What is the difference between a variable-speed drill press and a multiple-speed drill press? 

Most drill presses (including all WEN drill presses) use a belt-and-pulley drive system between the motor and spindle. WEN variable-speed drill presses use a system of variable-diameter pulleys that are mechanically adjusted, a system similar to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) found in some cars. Multiple-speed drill presses have pulleys with a number of different diameters, which enables the spindle to turn at that number of discrete speeds.

Can I reverse the motor? 

No. WEN drill press motors are designed to operate in only one direction.


My drill press makes a clicking sound every time the motor powers down.

This is normal. There is a component inside the motor called a centrifugal switch. When the motor spins down, it opens, causing a clicking noise. You may also hear that click when the drill press is turned on.

Why does my drill press keep stalling? 

Usually, stalling is caused by one of a few factors: 

  • Improper speed or feed rate. Make sure the drill press' spindle RPM is set properly for the type of material being worked on. Consult your owner's manual for recommendations. Lower speed is best for harder materials, as well as large-diameter bits. Higher speed is best for softer materials and smaller bits. Also, do not force the drill press into the material too quickly. Let the bit do the work. 
  • Improper belt tension. If the belt is too loose, the spindle will stall. Adjust belt tension if needed.  If lightly pressed with a finger, the belt should deflect about 1/8" (3mm). It may take some trial and error to get your belt properly tensioned, and may need adjusting over time.
  • Using the wrong bit. Small drill presses' motors aren't always powerful enough to handle the most demanding applications (e.g. a large-diameter Forstner bit cutting into hardwood). If you have a small drill press, you may have to make a few passes with bits of increasing size.
  • Dull drill bit. Keep your bits sharp.
  • Not using cutting oil (metalworking only). If you're cutting a harder metal (steel, etc.), cutting oil is a necessity to prevent stalling.

My motor is getting hot. Why? What can I do?

Motors get hot during operation, especially if you're operating in a hot environment, or putting a lot of load on the motor. If possible, cool down the operating environment, or let a fan blow over the motor. Also, make sure your spindle RPM is properly adjusted, and take smaller passes with the press, if possible.

My drill press won't turn on. 

  • Make sure the drill press is plugged into a working outlet, and if using an extension cord, it is properly sized (consult your owner's manual).
  • Unplug the press and open the belt cover. Inspect the wiring for any damage or disconnections. 
  • If there's a humming sound coming from the motor, you likely have a bad start capacitor; it's also possible, but unlikely, that the centrifugal switch (if applicable) is mispositioned. If there's no sound at all, you may have a bad power switch or motor.