In-Depth Review: SE 97511MDP 3-Speed Mini Drill Press Bench

Summary

SE 97511MDP 3-Speed Mini Drill Press Bench
90 %
Review

I don't recommend using this time for fine or heavy-duty drilling, but it's perfectly serviceable for general use. This inexpensive drill press performs as much as you'd expect. If you want something a little stronger, buy something above the $100 mark, all the way to the heavyweight drill presses that cost between $300 and $1,000. When you use for what it's supposed to be used for (general drilling and jewelry drilling), it's an excellent investment for your money.

We Like

  • The SE 97511MDP uses three speed modes, which are 5,000 RPM, 6,500 RPM, and 8,500 RPM.
  • The package includes a 6-millimeter chuck key and three wrenches.
  • As advertised, it's perfect for use by hobbyists and jewelers in light of its specs.
  • It's fast enough to drill hole in jewelry but not too strong as to make them crumble to dust.
  • Amazingly affordable. One of the cheapest drill presses with built-in drills available.
  • It's a most excellent mini drill press for small hole drilling, which is the best for jewelers.

We Don't Like

  • Not recommended for fine drilling.
  • It's low-powered but high-speed.

Introduction

The drill press—which is also known by the names of pedestal drill, bench drill, and pillar drill—is a type of drill that allows you to press down the drill unto a work surface to ensure hole accuracy and even spacing between holes. Ordinary handheld power drills require you to hold onto the drill and estimate where to drill and how deep you've gone. A drill press enables you to drill efficiently without tiring your arms and legs after prolonged use.

It's the table saw equivalent of the drill power tool in that it has a column, base, and table for the work piece you want to work on. This is the tool you should get your hands on if you wish to do accurate and controlled drilling that's worthy of a factory assembly line. You're less likely to drill askew or misaligned holes with this drill because it uses laser guides, precise locations, depth stops, and controlled drilling action.

Human error is definitely reduced with the introduction of the drill press because all you really need to do is press the drill and pay attention to your measurements in order to facilitate repeatable and accurate drilling every time. This is in contrast to hand drills that require you to use a pencil to mark where you're supposed to drill and your arms and hands to keep the drill steady as you bore holes, which makes you more open to potential mistakes.

Who Is It For?

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press was specifically made for jewelers and hobbyists. Drill presses in general are made for mechanics, machinists, metal workers, and (most especially) woodworkers. Mini drill presses make smaller holes for smaller work pieces that are compact and dense, so they need a higher RPM or top speed to allow for penetration while still maintaining a lower torque and horsepower to avoid shattering the work piece or inducing loads of shakiness from a lighter design.

A drill can also be used to create or drill holes into miniature car parts for RC toy cars and helicopters. They can also be used by tool makers to create tools that require holes in them. However, in order to deal with metalworking for metalworkers and mechanics, you need drills that have a stronger torque and horsepower, a high enough speed, and a heavyset base and stand to withstand all that pressure and spin from the powerful motor.

Woodworkers are the most common users of drills because unlike with metal or plastic materials, most drills can bore clean holes on most wooden work pieces. The vast majority of drill presses can double as woodworking drills, especially those with variable drilling speeds or RPM. Just raise or lower the speed in accordance to the grade of the wood and you're good to go.

Buyer's Guide

What Benefits Should This Drill Press Have?

All drill presses worth their salt should have the following benefits.

  • Your Drill Press Should Be Accurate

Your drill press should live and die by its accuracy. A hand drill will suffice if all you want to do is make holes on wood. However, if you value the precision and even spacing of every hole, you need something as steady, balanced, and easy to use as a drill press. Accuracy can be further determined by the presence of lasers, gauges, and measurement tools.

  • Your Drill Press Should Be Fast

The speed of your drill press determines what sort of materials you can drill through. Speed is controlled by a lever or knob that allows you to shift gears (like in a car). Some drills, however, only have one speed. Lower speeds are for softer materials that crumble easily. Higher speeds are for harder materials that can't be penetrated by anything under 1,000 RPM and above.

  • Your Drill Press Should Be Powerful

The horsepower or torque of your drill also determines what sort of materials you can penetrate. The stronger your motor, the easier it is for your drill to penetrate through harder materials like dense hardwood or thick metals even if you don't necessarily have a high rotation per minute rate. The torque makes up for the lack of speed.

Things to Consider When Buying a Drill Press

Before buying a drill press, consider the following.

  • How Multipurpose Is Your Drill Press?

A drill is responsible for one thing, which is to create clean holes unto work pieces and other materials. A drill press, on the other hand, is responsible for mainly drilling holes that are repeatable, evenly spaced, evenly distributed, evenly deep, and accurate. A product like this can turn multipurpose by having features like variable speed and beveling work tables so that you can work with wood, metal, and plastic.

  • How Specialized Is Your Drill Press?

Drill specialization, on the other hand, allows you to get the best possible drill press for a given job rather than having a jack-of-all-trades kind of drill that is a master of none. Some drill presses work best with woodworking alone. Other drills that are heavier or faster with their speed can penetrate through copper, aluminum, and mild steel, allowing you to do metalworking jobs.

  • How Safe Is Your Drill Press?

Drill press safety is manifested through how well-made the product is (so that it won't fail or tear itself apart, leading you to injury) and how well-designed it is (so that your hand or fingers will never get anywhere near the drill itself, minimizing your potential risks). Some drill presses come complete with hand guards, tool-less replacement of drill bits, and simplified user-friendly functionality.

Product Details

SE 97511MDP 3-Speed Mini Drill Press Bench

Description

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press meets all the standards of a general purpose woodworking drill press as well as a specialty miniature jeweler drill press. For a mini jeweler drill press, it has an ample work area dimension of 6 by 6 inches and base dimensions of 6⅝ by 6⅝ inches. It's perfect for boring tiny holes into jewelry as well as drilling adequately sized holes in wooden work pieces. It even has three variable speeds of 5,000 RPM, 6,500 RPM, and 8,500 RPM as well as a 6-millimeter chuck key and three wrenches for easy assembly and drill bit changing.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.1 x 17.1 inches
  • Item Weight: 12 pounds
  • Top Speed: 8,500 RPM
  • Horsepower: ¼ HP
  • Voltage: 110 volts

Features & Benefits

  • Motor Strength and Speed

Because it's made for jewelry drilling, you need a good combination of torque and speed. Too much torque can shatter even diamonds (since diamonds are hard but brittle) but too little torque means you can penetrate through anything. A ¼ HP motor for speeds of 5,000, 6,500, and 8,500 is enough to drill through most wood stock and jewelry (but apparently not copper).

  • Dead-On Accuracy Insurance

Aside from the laser guide crosshairs and depth stops, you can expect extra position care of the chuck, quill, and spindle. This is because the spindle is quite smooth and there's no noticeable quill play as well. You're always within a hairline of a target or less than thousandth of an inch if you were to miss with barely any deflection on your dial indicator.

  • Mobility and Cost-Effectiveness

For something so small yet so fast in terms of RPM, you're really getting more bang out of your buck for this less than $100 investment because its smallness won't result in vibration problems because of the balancing act between horsepower and speed. It's faster than the top speed of heavier drill press machinery plus it's as mobile as a microscope.

Pros

  • The motor provides a quarter of an HP of power and can go from 5,000 RPM to 6,500 RPM to 8,500 RPM.
  • It has necessary instead of superfluous accessories like the 6-millimeter chuck key or the three wrenches.
  • For a mini drill, you have an adequate 6 -by-6 -inch work area to work with. The base dimensions are also stable at a size of 6⅝ by 6⅝ inches.
  • You can go as deep as 6 millimeters or nearly ¼ of an inch. The drill height can go as high as 7½ inches.
  • The spindle can travel for about an inch.

Cons

  • Not powerful enough to drill through copper and it's a bit too small for something that can go up to 8,500 RPM.
  • Head adjustment is difficult, the quill is a bit jerky, and the spindle gear lowering mechanism is rough.

Alternative Choices

Here are some alternatives to the SE 97511MDP Drill Press.

1) SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press is a little bigger than the SKIL 3320-01 even though it advertises itself as a mini drill press while the SKIL claims to be a normal sized one. However, there's definitely a discrepancy in terms of weight. The SE unit only weighs 12 pounds while the SKIL unit weighs at least four times than that at 52.2 pounds.

However, despite of this, the SKIL 3320-01 still has a slower top speed of 3,050 RPM versus the whopping 8,500 RPM of the SE 97511MDP. So they're the same size, the SKIL is heavier, and the SE is faster. They even share motor strength. If you want more stability behind your drill press, SKIL is the way to go. However, SE provides better specs for a more lightweight unit (although it takes a hit at the ratings).

2) WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press is smaller than the WEN 4214 by a couple of inches but outweighed by even more than the SKIL 3320-01 at 89 pounds. However, even at its slowest, the three-speed SE 97511MDP is always faster than the WEN 4214 Drill Press, which can only go up to 3,200 RPM. The SE is also cheaper than the WEN, costing less than $100 versus costing almost $200.

The WEN 4214 is however the second fastest drill press of them all and it delivers more torque per rotation at ⅔ HP (versus the ¼ HP of both the SKIL and WEN units), so even at 3,200 RPM it could probably drill through copper. It even comes with an LED light, laser guide, and LED digital readout to boot, so it has earned its 4.4-star rating in every way possible.

3) Grizzly G7943 12 Speed Heavy-Duty Bench-Top Drill Press

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press is several inches smaller than the Grizzly G7943 but it's not like it's half the size of the drill press. The thing that makes the G7943 feel like it's built like the grizzly bear version of a drill press isn't so much its size but its weight of 250 pounds. To give you perspective on how heavy that is, this unit weighs more than Mike Tyson during his prime fighting form. It's built like an anvil with a drill on it but it's just fast enough at 3,050 RPM (but still slower than the SE unit).

Meanwhile, the SE 97511MDP is more like a low-powered but high-speed version of a drill press that you can store, move, and pack with you for usage in woodworking detailing and jewelry creation. The SE has a high 8,500 RPM you'd expect the heavier Grizzly unit would have, but the Grizzly can go 12 speed modes, which ensures greater versatility compared to the SE's 3 speed modes. With that said, the $80 97511MDP outdoes the $350 G7943 in terms of price for sure.

4) Craftsman 10 in Bench Drill Press w/ Laser Trac

Yet again, like the rest of the drill presses on this list, the SE 97511MDP Drill Press has a faster top speed of 8,500 RPM versus the 3,100 RPM of the Craftsman 10 in Bench Drill Press. At the same time, the Craftsman unit weighs 61 pounds versus the 12 pounds of the more lightweight SE unit. However, curiously enough, the heavier Craftsman Bench Drill Press is smaller than the SE Mini Drill Press and it has a laser sight guide to boot.

Technically, in terms of size, the Craftsman Drill Press is the true miniature drill press compared to its SE counterpart if only it weighed far less. It has a weight that's closer to the 52.2-pound SKIL 3320-01, to be honest. Also, it has a better rating than the SE drill press at 4.2 stars. Then again, the $80 SE 97511MDP has half of the cost of the $160 Craftsman 10 in Bench Drill Press, so choose which one has the better quality versus the price.

5) Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press

In terms of pricing, you can buy ten or more $80 SE 97511MDP Drill Presses for one $1,000 Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press. The Delta unit is the heaviest drill press on this list, with it outweighing the 250-pound Grizzly G7943 by about 11 pounds. However, the Delta also has the slowest top speed at 3,000 RPM, so again it's unusual to see the significantly lighter and smaller SE 97511MDP have the higher drill speed of 8,500 RPM.

However, considering the raw power and stability of this monstrosity of a drill press that probably requires help to be moved around, maybe possessing 8,500 RPM of speed is overkill for it. At any rate, the SE 97511MDP edges out the Delta 18-900L in terms of ratings by about a 0.1-star difference at the time of this writing, but this is subject to change in short notice. The SE has less power than the Delta, but the Delta might be too expensive for you to even consider.

Alternative Choices Comparison Table

Alternative Choices

Price

SKIL 3320-01 3.2 Amp 10-Inch Drill Press

WEN 4214 12-Inch Variable Speed Drill Press

Grizzly G7943 12 Speed Heavy-Duty Bench-Top Drill Press

Craftsman 10 in Bench Drill Press w/ Laser Trac

Delta 18-900L 18-Inch Laser Drill Press

The Final Cut

The SE 97511MDP Drill Press is one of the cheapest (but not necessarily low-grade) drill presses you can get your hands on with a speed rate that's unheard of in exclusively woodworking or even metalworking presses. Its 8,500 RPM top speed is tempered by its ¼-HP motor so that even when it spins its fastest the petit 12-pound drill press won't end up shaking uncontrollably. It's compact and lightweight but has a high RPM for the sake of making smaller holes on smaller gems. It caters specifically to a niche of specialty users since many other drills out-power its motor.

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