Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Last week, while making some parts for our September issue’s Jigs & Fixtures project, I needed to drill some holes through a stack of plywood. I was using a little benchtop drill press to do the job. While it chomped quietly through those holes, it reminded me of how handy a little benchtop drill press is.

Mine didn’t cost much more than $100—a bargain considering how much we pay for other power tools generally. Heck, I’ve shelled out almost that much for a saw blade before. And yet, despite its small price, I’ve used my benchtop drill press for boring some pretty big Forstner bit holes. It’s stepped up to the plate for mortising and drum sanding too. The machine is powerful enough, obviously versatile and doesn’t take up much space on my bench. All in all, it’s a real tool value in my shop.

Now and then, it’s a good thing for a guy who reviews tools to remember that bigger isn’t always better. In my own defense, I DO think about this issue as a matter of course when I’m asked to gather up tools for review. But confirmation comes when I’m in the shop actually doing projects. In this case, that little drill press was all the machine I needed.

Right next to the drill press is a benchtop spindle sander and a 12″ disc sander. If memory serves (it’s been quite a few years now), I think I spent about $150 for each of those tools too. Both get a lot of use and do their jobs without issues. Never needed to service either of them beyond changing the sandpaper.

I’m really glad to have these three tools around. They can be just as important when duty calls as that table saw, band saw or jointer costing a whole lot more. In fact, they may be some of the best bargains in my shop.

Hope you enjoy your benchtop machines as much as I do mine.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

Posted in: