Magnetic Drills

Magnetic drills (or 'mag drills' for short) are designed to combine the performance of a stationary drill press with the portability and convenience of a handheld drill. They do this by utilising a powerful electromagnetic base, allowing them to attach to any metallic surface. Types of magnetic drill include lightweight magnetic drills, magnetic drills with tapping machines, swivel base machines, compact horizontal machines, and automatic drill machines.

Cromwell stocks a broad range of magnetic drills, from trusted brands such as Rotabroach® and Kobe®.

What are magnetic drills?

Magnetic drills look like an amalgamation of a stationary drill and a regular handheld drill. They have a powerful magnet on their base, and drill machine style feed handles for precise drilling. The drill itself works much like a handheld drill and can utilise a wide range of drill bit sizes, including annular cutters.

Why a magnetic drill?

Tradespeople save on time, money, and effort by bringing a magnetic drill to the worksite. They boast a strong electromagnetic base that is virtually impossible to move or detach from a metal surface once turned on. This makes magnetic drills extremely accurate, and combined with their portability, it makes them a must-have for any transportable, precise drilling work.

When are magnetic drills used?

Magnetic drills bring quick, convenient, and accurate drilling performance to any surface on site. If you can't bring the workpiece to a stationary drill, you can always bring a mag drill to the workpiece!

Using the aforementioned electromagnetic base, magnetic drills can be adhered to any surface - even vertically, upside down or on awkward angles. This has made the mag drill a staple power tool in any professional toolbox. You'll see them used often in steel fabrication, the automotive industry, on construction sites, and any other working environment where precise drilling is required.

magnetic drill types

In recent years, the prominence of magnetic drills has sparked the need for multiple variations, each based on the same concept but specialised for different applications. It's important to pick the one that's most suitable for your needs. If you're not sure, click here to ask our experts.

• Lightweight Magnetic Drills   -   Ideal for use at altitude or wherever a lightweight machine is required. Not quite as powerful as a standard magnetic drill, but considerably more portable and easier to manoeuvre.

• Automatic Magnetic Drills   -   Automatic drills have become increasingly favoured by hobbyists and tradespeople alike for their ease of use and effectiveness. By taking the feed automatically, it bypasses an intricate part of the drilling process that can be prone to user error. This leads to extended tool durability as the feed is always perfectly optimised.

• Magnetic Drills with Tapping Machine   -   Many professionals value mag drills with a built-in tapping machine. This allows for easy marking and alignment whilst nullifying the need to bring a separate tapping machine.

• Swivel Base Magnetic Drills   -   Typically valued in the automotive or aerospace industry, swivel base magnetic drills allow the user to create a perfect line of drill holes without having to remove and reattach the electromagnetic base. Depending on usage, this can save users a lot of time.

• Compact Horizontal Magnetic Drills   -   Ideal for navigating confined spaces, compact magnetic drills boast a small, easily portable design. In addition to their small stature, compact mag drills are often fitted with powerful LED lights for effective use in less-than-ideal conditions.

Considerations when choosing a magnetic drill

Power- Possibly the most important consideration when choosing the right magnetic drill. Mag drills are available with three main power configurations:

Electric magnetic drills- The most versatile of the bunch, electric magnetic drills are by far the most popular. They are lightweight, powerful, and usually come with reversable motors for exceptional flexibility. The main limitation is that they aren't suitable for wet environments.

Hydraulic magnetic drills - By using a hydraulic power system on a closed loop, hydraulic magnetic drills are suitable for use underwater. Valued by shipwrights and miners, they are highly durable and dependable - yet are significantly more expensive than their electric counterparts.

Pneumatic magnetic drills- Ideal for use in wet environments by operating on compressed air instead of electricity. These heavy-duty magnetic drills are usually specialised for working in dangerous or combustive environments - however much like hydraulic mag drills, pneumatic magnetic drills can be expensive to maintain.

Choosing the correct drill bits- Picking the right mag drill for you is half the battle; yet it's the drill bit itself that will be doing all the actual work. Nowadays there's a drill bit available for every situation imaginable - so ensure you choose the right ones for your applications.

Ensure your environment is appropriate- Sounds obvious, but a magnetic drill will only be effective on magnetic surfaces. You must also ensure any surface you work on is flat, clean and free of rust or paint, as this will greatly affect the usability of your mag drill.

Magnetic drill jargon buster

What is the 'Annular Cutter'?

The annular cutter is a multi-edge cutting tool, available in various configurations and fairly similar to a hole drill for wood. Together with the arbour, this is the basis of mag drill cutting.

What is a 'Pilot'?
A pilot is a large, nail-like object that helps locate the centre of any hole you drill. They go through the centre of the cutter and retract into the mag drill as the hole is made. They have the added benefit of allowing coolant to easily flow into the cutting teeth.


Do magnetic drills need a coolant unit?

As with many other power tools, if you plan on using your magnetic drill for extended periods of time then a coolant unit will greatly prolong the life of your mag drill.

Will I need an extension arbour?

Extension arbours are invaluable for deep drilling. To use, simply replace your standard arbour with an extension arbour for clean and effective depth drilling.

Can I use any size of drill bit?

Magnetic drills are highly versatile and will accept almost any length of drill bit. Your mag drill will have a lever on the side to adjust the starting point up and down, allowing you to easily find the right fit for your bit.