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Choosing precision drill press

I’m looking for a precision drill press for my jewelry work. I was
wondering if anyone has experience with any particular brand that
they would recommend or conversely any brand that they would stay
away from purchasing. I don’t want to buy a foredom that accommodates
my flex shaft. I tried one style that was very poorly made with even
worse instructions. I had to send it back to foredoom for a refund.
Thanks in advance for any help yu can give.

Estelle Vernon



They make a variety of small tools for model making, architectural
modeling and general hobbyists. Many of their tools are used my

The Microlux drill press has stood the test and time of hundreds of
students at Metalwerx for over 6 years. Only once did we have to get
it repaired and it was not more than $35.

Good machine.

I’m sorry though to hear you had a bad experience with a Foredom
tool. I also use their drill press for my flexshaft and have found
that it works fine. It is however, easier with a manual dial so you
can set your motor to a consistent speed, but for repetitive
drilling, it wasn’t too hard to adapt. It was mostly an ergonomic
issue which I worked out. With the Foredom Drill Press, if you use
any other maker of a number 30 style handpiece which copies
Foredom’s, they can get easily jammed. Foredom’s #30 is precision
made and doesn’t vary in width like some of the others. I still have
this style at my bench and it works fine.

Good luck!

Karen Christians
Waltham, MA

Hi Estelle,

I have used a Dumore Drill Press for over 20 years and am pleased
with it - every time I use it. They are “pricey” but worth it.

Dianne deBeixedon

Hi Estelle:

Err…what do you mean by ‘precision drill press’???

There are two types of things that tend to go by that name: small
drill presses of various sorts, (frequently drill-press attachments
for Foredom/Dremel machines.) and real, serious precision drill
presses. The way you tell them apart is that the bottom end of the
price range for the serious machines is somewhere around $500 USD,
and they go way up from there. (They’re also reasonably large, and
tend to be heavy.)

I’ve used several examples of each type. I’ve got one of the Foredom
DP-95 ‘precision drill press’ attachments for the flex-shaft. I like
it, and I’ve rigged it up for milling wax, which it does brilliantly.
(I liked it enough that I got one for school, and then turned around
and bought one of my own, for me, with my own money.) The hole
accuracy is only as good as the bearings in your #30 handpiece,
however. (If you plan on getting one of these, budget an extra $50
for a dedicated #30 handpiece. It’s much easier to just leave a
handpiece clamped in place, and switch the drive cable from the flex
shaft into the unit when you need it.) For most things that your
average jeweler’s going to need to do, it’ll do fine. (Be sure not to
squish the bearings on your handpiece when you clamp it in place.
Just tight enough to hold it in place is all it needs.) That’s
another reason for just leaving one in place: less chance of

As far as ‘serious’ precision drill presses go, I scrounged up a
Sigourney for school, and it works very well. I have a Hamilton
vari- speed myself, and I like it, with two provisos: (A) it’s a
small tabletop drillpress…that weighs more than 100 pounds… and
(B) it’s just a weeeee bit complex. (which is part of why I kept it:
I picked up both of them at the same auction, and I knew the Hamilton
was not a school machine. Too much to break, or miss-adjust.) On
the other hand, it’ll shoot holes that I’ve never been able to detect
any runout on. At all. Ever. (even through 1/2 inch of stainless.)

If you’ve never used a precision press, be aware that they’re
designed for small bits: generally.125" and smaller, and they spin
very very fast. Think about it: surface speed of the cutter is a
function of diameter. At those teeny diameters, you have to get the
speeds way up there before the bit has any real speed. Of course,
this means you really want to be using sharp bits with lots of
coolant. A dull bit at those speeds can do incredibly ugly things,
very quickly.

I’ve used a couple of others over the years, but those are the two I
know best. The rest tend to be reasonably similar. I’ve also used a
couple of small drill presses like the Proxxon ‘precision drill
press’. Didn’t think much of them. The bearings were very sloppy, as
was the downfeed, and the motor was only one speed. (To be fair, I
haven’t used the Proxxon itself, just a bunch of other machines that
looked very much like it.) Actually, now that I look at the spec’s on
the Proxxon, it uses collets, and has multiple speeds, so it may be a
decent machine. Beware of similar looking machines though. (the two
that I’m thinking of specifically were solid blue, or solid black.
Names have faded away into the mists of time.)

Whoops, I just realized, we have another little press at school that
I’d completely forgotten about. I can’t remember the name, but it’s
sort of half-way in between the DP-95, and the big boys. Runs on a
little sewing machine motor. Small enough that it gets tucked away in
a cabinet. It strikes me as a little wimpy in terms of power, but
seems reasonably accurate. It has a dial-indicator on the downfeed.
(DI’s on the downfeed are a useful thing, especially for wax milling.
That’s one of the things I like most about the DP-95) Looks sort of
like a DP-95 with a real (small) drillpress headstock on the top.

So, if you’re looking for a small drill press, the things to look at

(A) concentricity of the bit, and how it’s grasped. Smaller jacobs
chucks are more accurate than big ones, and it’s critical for small
holes that the drill be held accurately. Collets are the ultimate in
accurate, but a right pain to use. (not to mention expensive and hard
to find in those sizes.)

(B) bearings and bearing supports.

© motor and spindle speeds. You’ll need to be able to change the
speeds easily, and up into speed ranges that will horrify you at
first glance. (the Hamilton starts at 880 RPM, and goes up to 9350.)
(A flex-shaft can make those speeds easily.)

(D) working surface. You should have a surface that’s smooth and easy
to work on. Ideally, it should be clamped at an accurate right angle
to the axis of the drill. (if it tilts, make sure you can lock it
down securely once you’ve found an accurate right-angle to the drill.
) Whatever you do, do not trust the ‘90’ mark stamped on the bed.
Measure it yourself.)

(E) downfeed ‘feel’. The downfeed should be silky smooth. If it feels
gritty or harsh, you’ll have trouble feeling what the drill’s doing,
and are more likely to bust a bit. This is more a matter of
experience than anything else, but it’s something to be aware of. If
the downfeed’s gritty, chances are other things aren’t quite right

The other thing is to figure out what you’re going to be making
holes in, why, and how accurate you need to be. For just drilling
small holes in silver sheet, the DP-95 will be more than you’ll ever
need. For moving parts in stainless barstock, I needed the Hamilton.
Don’t overbuy. (Unless you’re at an auction and nobody else knows
what that funny looking thing is… )(heheheheh…knowledge is

Hope some of this helps.
Brian Meek.

Hi Estelle,

I have a Microlux variable speed drill press that I purchased from
Micro Mark ( and love it. I just checked the website
and what luck, it’s on sale right now! It runs nice and true and has
a digital depthfinder as well. I also purchased their X-Y table that
attaches right to the base of the base of the press, comes with
hold-down clamps & helps you drill accurately spaced holes. Also got
one of their vises that can attach to the X-Y table when you want to
drill something that isn’t flat.

Just one option & one that I’ve been very happy with. I’m sure you’ll
get a few others as well, Good luck in your quest, CaroL

Hi Estelle,

You might want to take a look at the Proxxon TBM 115. It’s listed on
page 287 of the 2008 Rio Grande catalog… I’ve been using one for
about 10 years & it’s a great little tool. It can be used with either
a chuck or collets to hold the tool being used at the time. The
addition of the X-Y table makes at great way for accurately locating
pieces when multiple holes need to be drilled in the same piece.

You might also look at the Proxxon Micro Mill (light duty) on page
454 of the same catalog.

You can also see them at Select MicroMot tools, then
select Bench Top Tools



I really like my Dumore (I think a model 16 at least 40 years old),
but you had better be at least sitting down when checking their new
prices. Mine came from a company closure sale and was still dear even
at 10 cents on the dollar.

Another though would be Proxxon. I haven’t used their drill press
but have been impressed by their dremel clone (on steroids) as a high
speed cnc milling spindle, accurate and not bothered by running 20
hours at a time.


I have the Micro-Mark version of the Proxxon drill press, and the
Proxxon XY table. It is adequate for most drilling needs that I have.
Certainly there are some floor models from various companies you could
look at, what you need most is an accurate spindle if you are using
very small drills. You will pay for high precision.

Another thought is to invest in a milling machine instead of a drill
press. A sherline, the small proxxon, a taig, all will give you the
ability to drill accurately, plus the ability to mill using collet
held end mills. They all have fairly accurate spindles.Think of it as
a long term investment, and you will probably find more uses than
for just drilling, (jacobs chucks are really not designed for
milling); surface grinding, accurate hole spacing, decorative grooves
are among the things that I do using my Unimat 3. These machines are
in the same general price range as high precision drill presses.

The Sherline milling machines have many accessories that make them
very versatile, including a very reasonably priced CNC version. My 25
year old Unimat has paid for itself many times over, the other
machines are newer designs, and well proven. The owner of Sherline,
Joe Martin, has written a great book called Tabletop Machining on the
general use of small milling machines.

Rick Hamilton

estelle - i come to the conclusion after reading your post that you
have some experience with purchasing a tool that did not do the job
for you or in plain american ’ BAD LUCK ’ for some of us the words
precision and drill press together in a sentence equal oxymoron. in
industry school many years ago the view point was there is a sliding
scale balance comparison factor between two concepts quality and
compromise, the concept of compromise being more the focal point.
anyhow, it is difficult to answer your question without more
about your specific needs for this “precision drill
press” questionsin my mind are what is your budget? the foot print of
the machine? throat depth ? distance from chuck to table? spindle
diameter? motor size? what level of precision does the finnish work
require etc… etc… etc… ! best regards goo


If you are looking for a low cost drill press, try Micro-mark. If
you are looking for a “serious” drill press, google on “sensitive
drill press” to acquaint yourself with equipment that will drill
holes from ~.005" and up.


Thanks to all who have posted on this thread. In answer to some of
the responses, I purchased a foredoom unit that would utilize my #30
handpiece. At the time I felt that this was a way for me to drill
small holes without buying an expensive stand alone unit. The unit I
purchased was of very poor quality. In fact, my handpiece was
damaged because the hole that the handpiece went through was
improperly drilled. The company agreed with my assessment and took
the unit back for refund. I make it a point to buy good quality tools
since I only want to buy them once. I’m now looking for a small bench
top drill press that can drill small(.5mm or smaller) holes. I also
want to be able to drill clean holes through 4mm square stock that
will accommodate a neckwire for a line of pendants that I produce. I
may also use the drill press to drill a vertical hole in some of the
undrilled pearls that I use in my work. I’ve been told that Dumore
is the best drill press to buy however it is quite pricy. If I can
find a good press that will do what I want and is of good quality and
value I will buy that instead of a Dumore. I’d appreciate any first
hand comments on the Proxxon and micro mark units vs jumping in and
buying a Dumore. Thanks in advance to those who post.

Estelle Vernon

hi estelle,

I'd appreciate any first hand comments on the Proxxon and micro
mark units vs jumping in and buying a Dumore. 

i’ve had a proxxon 12volt mini drill for years (equivalent to the
micromot FBS 12/E i think) - they were sold years back in uk by black
& decker under a different name- i assume quality is still the same
as then. i was doing fine piercing work in precious metals &
hardwoods & use(d) it to drill 0.4 mm holes which it does no prob.
the bearings run true, speed control is excellent via the psu. i use
it on their cheapo drill stand - dont think they make em anymore- it
has two vertical bars to slide up n down on- took a lot of fiddling
to set up. i wouldnt recommend it but their current cheapo stand may
be better.

if/when i ever get my bigger-better workshop finished i’m thinking
very seriously of a lot of proxxon mahinery- certainly the TBM220
bench drill

-for the price i’ve always thought it was excellent quality.

obviously not “engineering” quality but perfectly accurate enough.


ps wish you hadn’t caused me to praise it so much - the damn
thing’ll break tomorrow now!

The Dumore is first quality no question. The Proxxon looks very
similar to the one I have from MicroMark and is probably made in the
same factory in China. It has served me well enough for 10 years. It
has its issues but I am not upset enough with them to go out and
spend the money that a Dumore unit costs to gain higher precision.

You will need to work out ways to securely hold your work while
drilling and learn to peck drill (gently advance the drill for just
a moment and remove it from the hole to clear the chips then repeat
till the hole is drilled) Use the highest speed for your 0.5mm holes
go slowly and keep the work rigidly fixed in place and you will love
the tool.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


I make it a point to buy good quality tools since I only want to
buy them once. 

Honestly, after looking at your work and seeing how precise you are
with the execution. I would say that you will be better off spending
a bit more and buy yourself a decent, well built desk top mill/drill
machine. The reason for my recomendation, with a mill drill
(specifically G0463 from you make up for the lack of
high RPMs with work holding, machine stability. and accuracy. In
addition, it will add a whole new level to your fabrication

I dont have any personal experience with this machine, but Ive heard
good things about it.


I fell in love with a Dumore drill press I used at Haystack and was
able to find one on eBay for around $75.

Tracy Munn

I love my Dumore Drill Press. Bought it on ebay. It’s an older one,
of course, and better for that. Heavy and sturdy and perfect. I step
down the speed by connecting it to a Lucas rheostat foot pedal. Go
with a Dumore, it’s my favorite friend in the studio.

Linda Kaye-Moses

The reason for my recomendation, with a mill drill (specifically
G0463 from you make up for the lack of high RPMs with
work holding, machine stability. and accuracy. In addition, it will
add a whole new level to your fabrication techniques. 

The G0463 and G0619 are not bad machines for the price. I know
someone who has the G0619 and I went to his shop to look at it under
operating conditions. It is something I have seriously considered
buying but I would not want to drill.5mm holes with it. The problem
is the tactile feedback is just not good enough to feel the way the
drill is cutting, It will be taking too great a chip load due to the
slow speed and no feel combined with too great a chip load is a good
way to break these tiny bits. There is a device that can be used to
give greater tactile feedback it is called a micro drill adaptor. It
is held in the chuck or collet of the larger machine tool (drill
press, mill, lathe) and it has a tiny (Jacobs 0) chuck on it. The
chuck is on an arbor that slides in and out of the sleeve gripped by
the larger tool and allows for finger tip feed of the drill bit. It
will greatly reduce the number of broken bits when drilling these
tiny holes using large slow speed machines. To see one of these
adaptors go to

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


There is a device that can be used to give greater tactile feedback
it is called a micro drill adaptor. It is held in the chuck or
collet of the larger machine tool (drill press, mill, lathe) and it
has a tiny (Jacobs 0) chuck on it. 

Yep, the micro drill adapters are awesome to have, I got to utilize
one in a previous profession many, many years ago…someday ill get
one :wink:

I will add to this, that the micro drill adapter is only as good as
the machine its put in. If your drill press/mill/lathe has any sort
of runout on the spindle, it will transfer to this tool as well. As
an example, I would use this tool on my vertical mill anyday, its
rock solid with no runout, but not chuck it into my 15 year old $100
Roybi benchtop drill press that wobbles all over the place, by eny

The nice thing about the Grizzly machines mentioned, is they have a
standard R-8 Collets, so you can chuck the micro drill adapter into
the machine directly.


Dumore is a good unit I have seen these but have to experience in
using them.

Proxxon and Micromark the Drill Pressed Motors are made by the same
outfit in Japan. The difference is Micromark comes with a Chuck and
key and Proxxon comes with Collets.

Collets run smoother and in any case Proxxon offers a nice Drill
chuck with key made in Germany.

TBM is the model number the numbers 220 and 115 is for the Voltage.
(115 for US models).

If you are looking for the Hand held Dremel type motors and a Drill
press stnad for these. You should go for the 110V IBE for US (much
more powerful than the FBS or the 50E). Keep in mind the Drill press
stand is not as sturdy as the TBM unit.

Regards Kenneth
Karat 46. New York.

I bought a low price bench top drill press at a surplus tool supply
store here in Denver. About $60 and I have been able to do what I
need to with no problem. I have used it for about 5 or 6 years with
no problems. I only use it occasionally, but I have done real small
pieces, and some heavy duty large holes in steel and thick aluminum
without problems. Tool King has some on their on-line store, on page
3 there were some smaller drill presses that look like they would be
fine for most (all) jewelry work. I think if you have a question as
to quality, Tool King probably has sales people who might be able to
tell you what would be best for your use from my experience visiting
one of their locations in Denver. Grainger has some also. Harbor
Freight does have competition. Also MSC Industrial Supply, although
their site seems to be down right now. There is a phone number
listed on the site that comes up as their home page.

Richard Hart