What Is Drill Press Swing (A Clear, Detailed Answer)

I have to admit, the first time I heard of the swing on a drill press I wasn’t quite sure what this meant, and since you clicked on this article, it probably will be the case for you too.

You may be wondering, what is drill press swing and why is it so important? Fortunately, the answer is less complex than you might think.

Drill press swing is simply the distance between the drill press column and the center of the spindle, multiplied by two. This size allows you to determine the maximum size of the material that you can drill.

In fact, it is a very good thing to know what swing on a drill press is and it is an important factor in deciding which drill press to use or buy.

This article takes a closer look at the short answer you were able to read above and allows you to fully understand what drill press swing is and how you can use this in your workshop.

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Drill Press Construction

Before we dive into this blog and find the answer to the question of what is drill press swing, it is important to know a little more about drill press construction.

Picture yourself a pillar drill. Then you will see that these all start with a base, which can rest either on the floor or on a workbench.

This base supports a column, which in turn supports a tilting, adjustable drill press table.

If you continue up the column, you will notice that the drill press’s head is floating above the table of the drill press. The spindle protrudes from this head and can be moved up and down by means of the lever.

Place the material on the table, right under the spindle, to drill a hole with a drill press. Turning on the motor allows the drill’s rotating spindle to be lowered into the material, leaving a hole.

Why am I going into such detail, you may wonder? That’s because you’d understand that when positioning material on the table, the distance between the drill and the center column limits how far you can place the drill into the material to make holes. This is what you will learn in greater depth in this article. So lets dive deeper into this en see what is meant by drill press swing.

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How Is Drill Press Swing Calculated?

So, what is swing distance on a drill press and how you calculate it.
Well, now you know more about the construction and parts of a drill press, you will better understand how to calculate swing on a drill press.

Drill press swing can be calculated by measuring the distance from the inner side of the drill press column to the center of the spindle and then multiplying that distance by two.

So, for example, If the distance between the column and the spindle is 23 cm (9 inches), that drill press has a swing of 46 cm (18 inches).

What Is Drill Press Swing - how is drill press swing calculated
What Is Drill Press SwingHow is drill press swing calculated

Why is a drill press swing Important?

The drill press swing actually gives us an idea of the maximal size of the material that can be placed on the drill press table.

As an example, a drill press with a swing size of 46 cm or 18 inches (46cm/18″ drill press) will allow a maximum of 23 cm or 9 inches on the table.
If you try to drill a hole further than 23 cm or 9 inches it will collide with the drill press column.
So you cannot drill a hole 25 cm or 10 inch from the edge of your material with a 46 cm/18” drill press. You will need a larger drill such as a 50 cm or 20 inch drill for that.

So the next time you look for a drill press, and you see a size in cm or inches in the description of this tool, that size is not talking about the height of the drill press, but about the drill press swing.

Drill Press Swing Size

As you could already understand from the above information, the size of the swing on a drill press is correlated with the size of the drill press.

To give you a clear overview, I will briefly go over the types of drill presses and their swings.

what is drill press swing size for Mini Drill Press

Mini drills are the smallest type of drill presses and have a swing between 3 inches (ca. 8 cm) and 5 inches (ca. 13 cm). Although these are the cheapest devices, it is not recommended to buy them because of the low swing distance. Unless this is the maximum swing on a drill press you need for the projects in your workshop, of course.

what is drill press swing size for Benchtop Drill Press

Bench drills are the most commonly used type of drill press by DIYers and professionals alike, with a swing between 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) and 12 inches (ca. 30 cm).

In most cases, this swing on a drill press will suffice and this type of drill is relatively inexpensive to purchase. That is why this type of drill is so popular. I use this type myself, as you can see in many of my YouTube videos.

what is drill press swing size for Stationary Drill Press

These are the largest type of drill press. A stationary drill press is mounted on the floor and weighs hundreds of kilos. This type of drill has the largest swings starting from 12 inches (ca. 30 cm) and going up to swings of 17 inches (ca. 43 cm), 18 inches (ca. 46 cm) or more.

How Much of Swing Size Do You Need?

Now you know what is meant by drill press swing, you will wonder how much of swing size you will need. Well, how much swing on a drill press you need depends on the size of the material you usually work with. It is therefore good to think about your projects and decide on that basis which type of drill press you choose.

If you work with very small material, a mini drill is sufficient. Small materials that are no more than 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) wide will fit comfortably in a 5 inches (ca. 13 cm) drill press and in addition, purchasing this type is a lot cheaper.

For larger parts, it is difficult to choose between a table model and a stationary model because of the large price difference. Another thing to keep in mind is that a stationary model takes up much more space, for small workshops, fitting such a large unit may be impossible.

Is a Larger drill press swing Better?

The bigger the swing, the better. A drill with a large swing dimension is more versatile and provides greater freedom when drilling in the material.

The drill table can always be adjusted, but the drill cannot be moved sideways or back and forth because the shank only moves up and down and stays in place thanks to the column.

Keep in mind that the price is usually proportional to the swing size, with larger swing sizes being more expensive. On the plus side, a larger swing size and a higher price tag get you a more powerful drill press with more features and a bigger punch.

So it is worth taking your time and thinking really good about this before you buy a new drill press.

Drill Press Swing vs. Spindle Travel

Spindle travel is a different measurement than the swing of the drill. Many people confuse these two terms. That’s why I explain the difference here.

In short, spindle travel applies to the thickness of the material to be drilled, and the drill press swing to the width of the material to be drilled.

Spindle travel is the distance how deep you can drill on a given drill press, it basically returns the distance the spindle travels when moving from its zero position to its maximum depth.

A drill press with a spindle that moves 5 cm can reach a maximum depth of 5 cm in your workpiece.

Drill press swing indicates the maximum width of materials, as you could discover in detail above.

So they are clearly two completely different sizes, but it is important to know what is drill press swing vs spindle travel so you will know what your drill press can handle, or as an important feature to look for when buying a new device.

More information about the drill press you need to know

A drill press is a must-have machine for the workshop, and there is a lot to say about them. Therefore, it is important to have as much information as possible to get the most out of your drill press.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is swing size on a drill press?

The swing size on a drill press refers to the distance from the center of the spindle (where the bit is attached) to the nearest vertical support column. It indicates the maximum diameter of the workpiece that can be drilled without obstruction.

What speed should I set my drill press?

The speed to set on a drill press depends on the material being drilled and the size of the drill bit. Generally, larger bits and harder materials require lower speeds, while smaller bits and softer materials can be drilled at higher speeds. It’s recommended to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or refer to a speed chart specific to your drill press.

How is swing measured?

The swing on a drill press is measured by taking the distance from the center of the spindle to the closest vertical support column, and then doubling that measurement. For example, if the distance from the spindle center to the column is 6 inches, the swing size would be 12 inches.

How big should a swing be?

The size of the swing on a drill press depends on the largest workpiece you anticipate drilling. Consider the diameter of the workpieces you typically work with and choose a drill press with a swing size that accommodates those dimensions. It’s best to have some extra clearance beyond the largest diameter you expect to encounter.

Why is a drill press better than a drill?

A drill press offers several advantages over a handheld drill. It provides greater accuracy and precision due to its fixed position, adjustable depth stops, and built-in guides. A drill press also offers better control and stability, making it easier to drill straight holes. Additionally, drill presses often have more power and can handle larger drill bits and tougher materials.

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