If you’re familiar with a drill press machine, then you already know how great a tool like that can be. A drill press can be used to drill deep holes into all sorts of materials. With a few adjustments, you can produce holes of identical widths and depths on numerous pieces effortlessly. The convenience of a drill press truly cannot be understated.
But what happens when your workpiece is far too large to place on the drill press work tableOr worse, what if the piece has already been fixed into the ground and is standing verticallyYour client can’t expect you to tear the whole thing down just to punch a hole into the piece, nor can you manage to drill a hole into it using a regular power drill. So what do you do?
You get a magnetic drill press machine. From drilling holes into standing I-beams and even metal beams hanging 20 feet off the ground, a mag drill can do it all.
What is a Magnetic Drill Press Machine?
If you haven’t heard of a magnetic drill press (mag drill for short) or just haven’t found a use for it, then you most likely won’t need it in the near future. A mag drill is a specialty tool used by the most hardcore metalworkers to drill large holes into metal pieces without disassembling the structure altogether. The four most prominent components of a mag drill are the drill stand, the motor, the chuck or arbor, and the magnetic base.
The magnetic base of the mag drill is what sets it apart from traditional drill presses. A drill press requires you to bring the workpiece to the tool, whereas a mag drill adheres to the metal piece using electromagnets to drill accurate holes in metal objects regardless of the tool’s orientation. Heck, you can even hang the tool upside-down, and the magnetic base will keep the tool from falling.
Why would you need a Magnetic Drill Press Machine?
Good question. If you’re a simple DIY hobbyist who’s just beginning to get into welding or hardly works with metal pieces, then you absolutely will not need to invest in a mag drill. For most home and garage workshops, a drill press with an annular cutter will suffice.
As for professional construction workers working on a large-scale project who simply cannot lug around large 1,000-pound metal beams, a magnetic drill press is the right tool to have. The convenience of taking the tool to the workpiece and not vice versa is something that anyone who has ever used a handheld circular saw knows about.
Types of Magnetic Drill Press Machines
Mag drills fall into three different categories – electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic.
Electric Magnetic Drill Press Machines
Electric mag drills can be further divided into corded-electric and cordless models. We can go into the whole “corded v. cordless” debate and end up nowhere, so to sum up: corded models have an uninterrupted source of power since they draw electricity from a power outlet, whereas cordless models provide maximum portability but limited runtime since they run off rechargeable batteries.
Whether you prefer corded or cordless, electric mag drill presses function the same and are to be used in the same circumstances. They are ideally used in dry environments since a droplet of water can cause the machine to go haywire.
Pneumatic Magnetic Drill Press Machines
Since pneumatic tools don’t have any electrical components, they are safe to use in wet environments such as unfinished buildings or leaky underground rooms. You must have an air compressor to provide this tool with enough compressed air to function. Pneumatic mag drills vary in specs and PSI requirements, so if you were to purchase one of these machines, make sure that your air compressor is up to the task or invest in one that is.
Hydraulic Magnetic Drill Press Machines
We mentioned earlier in this article that mag drills are specialty tools that not everybody will need, but hydraulic mag drills take it to another level. This type of mag drill is mainly used to do underwater drilling jobs since they have a leak-proof system that prevents water from damaging its sensitive components. If you need to metal beams several hundred feet under the surface of the ocean, then feel free to shell out a few thousand bucks for one of these machines. Or… you know… get another type of mag drill.
Safety basics of using a Magnetic Drill Press Machine
Mag drills are pretty straightforward tools. All models will require assembly straight from the box, so take some time to study the instructions manual and not just follow internet tutorials.
The first thing you need to realize is that the magnetic base of a mag drill’s electromagnetic base only clings onto ferrous metals like steel and iron. Even though the drill press can be used to cut through non-ferrous metals like copper, aluminum, and zinc, the magnetic base won’t stick to them. You also need to ensure that both the surface ferrous metal surface and the magnetic underside are spotless. This will increase the chances of the magnetic base adhering to the object and not suddenly falling off.
Something that you should consider is getting a set of chains for you mag drill. When there’s a power outage or the battery’s run out of juice midway, the magnetic base will lose its adhering power, causing the unit to release its grip and fall to the ground. By using chains, you can prevent this from happening. The worst that’ll come out of it is a few scrapes on the tool’s casing, but at least the arbor or chuck won’t become dented in any way.
So what have we learned todayA magnetic drill press machine is an extremely versatile tool that’s used more for specialty tasks rather than in everyday life. A mag drill is meant to be used on stationary metal objects. With its electromagnetic base, it can hang vertically, horizontally, and even upside-down on ferrous metals, though we recommend purchasing a set of reliable chains to keep the unit from falling in case of power failure. Once again, it’s not a tool that the average DIY-er will utilize every day, but for large-scale construction jobs, a mag drill will pay for itself in convenience alone.