Safety tips when working with a drill press

One of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can ever own, the drill press is available in mini, benchtop and freestanding models. The motor-powered head comes with a chuck that accepts bits, and in some models, this component is engineered with enough versatility to accept a variety of drill bit sizes. This is pretty awesome if you intend to do more than just drill holes with the machine. You can attach a sanding drum as well as mortising attachments to use the drill press for various tasks. Like any other power tool, the drill press must be used while observing a number of safety tips.

Begin with meticulous risk assessment to ensure a hazard-free work area.

Observe a two-foot perimeter space around the machine. This means there should be a two-foot clearance all around the sides of the device kept clear of people, sawdust and debris that can interfere with good traction or solid footing, thus preventing accidental slips and falls.


During operations, the user should wear safety glasses outfitted with a face shield or side shields. Hearing protection is also needed. Wear snug clothes and avoid loose fitting ones, and remove jewelry as well. Long hair should be tied back too.


Remember to approach the drill press task with a safe attitude. All drill press adjustments, from the spindle speed to the tightening of the drill bit, should be done prior to switching the power button on.


Use a drill bit size that is equal to or less than the chuck capacity. Insert the drill bit into the chuck and use the supplied chuck key to tighten it up. Do not leave the chuck key in after tightening.


Operate the drill press with safety being constantly in mind.

The stock should be securely fastened to the worktable using a vise or clamp. Never attempt to hold the stock by hand during drilling operations. The underside of the workpiece has to be supported with a backer board secured to the worktable as well. Use a V-block when drilling into cylindrical material. Drill a long workpiece with the excess to your left so when it rotates, the post will be hit and not you.


Make sure the drill press work table is cleared of everything save for the workpiece (If you are searching for a worktable, I recommend reading reviews on this site). Avoid wearing gloves or anything that could potentially make the fingers, hands or clothing get wrapped around the rotating drill bit. Your fingers should be at least 3 inches away from the rotating drill bit. Devote undivided attention to the task. Make sure all covers and guards that are supposed to be on the machine are kept on while it is running.

For deep hole drilling, raise the drill bit periodically to remove cuttings and also cool the bit. As the drill bit starts to break through the underside of your workpiece, ease up on the pressure to avoid tearing on that side.


Should the drill bit get stuck in the workpiece, turn the machine off then turn the chuck manually by hand to free the bit off the stock. Never ever attempt to stop the machine by grabbing the chuck or reaching under or around the revolving bit. Ignoring this can result in hand injury or worse.

Do not leave the machine unattended during drilling operations. Turn it off even if you just intend to grab something from your workbench, or before looking up. Do not attempt to touch the drill bit and collected shavings immediately after drilling, as they could still be hot due to the friction generated between surfaces. When the drilling task is done, always clean the worktable of the machine as well as the work area. Use a bench brush or a shop vac instead of your hands to sweep up the shavings.