Pillar Drills

An indispensable workshop tool across a broad range of industries, the mighty pillar drill is essential for professionals, hobbyists, and artisans around the globe thanks to their exceptional accuracy and drill depth.

Cromwell stocks a wide range of pillar drills, from trusted brands such as Ajax®, SIP®, Excel®, and more.

What are pillar drills?

Often referred to as a 'drill press', pillar drills come in a range of shapes and sizes and are often specialised to suit the needs of a large number of industries.
The machine consists of a powerful drill bit that's fixed to a sliding column. This keeps the drill in place as it is lowered into the workpiece via a rotating handle on the side.
They can drill through most materials that are clamped to the working table below the drill.
Clamping the workpiece keeps it steady and prevents it from coming loose and spinning with the drill, which can cause damage and injury.

Why a pillar drill?

Pillar drills are trusted by professionals for their accuracy. With the correct operation, they guarantee to deliver perfect results - something that isn't the case with a standard handheld drill.
The working depth of the drill can be set to the nearest millimeter, and the RPM of the drill can be precisely controlled. This makes them suitable for reliable, effective drilling on almost any material.

When are pillar drills used?

Pillar drills are used across a range of industries on a range of materials. They are valued by workworkers and metalworkers alike, and perform very well in the following scenarios:

• Repetitive Drilling - Pillar drills are most useful when you have to drill multiple holes with the same depth and dimensions in quick succession.
• Neatness and Accuracy - By being able to control every aspect of the drilling process with unmatched precision, users are able to create holes at an industry standard.
• Drilling Hard Materials - Thanks to the nature of a pillar drill, users can exert far more drilling force than with a standard drill. This makes them excellent at creating perfect holes in hard materials such as steel or hardwood.
• Grinding / Polishing - Whilst other tools are more suited to heavy duty grinding and polishing, a pillar drill make do with the correct attachments. By utilising a round wire brush attachment, the pillar drill can even remove rust from metal workpieces.
If you're looking specialised advice about the right tool for your job, feel free to ask our experts for professional advice.

Types of pillar drill

Pillar drills are available in a number of configurations to suit any kind of drilling application. You can choose models that favour portability, power, or any mixture of both. The main configurations are:

• Benchtop Pillar Drill - The most common type of pillar drill, the benchtop pillar drill is easily fixed to any workbench. Whilst not quite as sturdy and heavy-duty as a floor standing pillar drill, benchtop pillar drills make an excellent choice for those with limited space. DIYers and amateur woodworkers typically choose this type of pillar drill.

• Radial Pillar Drill - Similar to the standard benchtop pillar drill, the radial pillar drill allows the user to have complete control over the throat depth (the distance between the column and the chuck). This makes them invaluable for drilling far away from the edge of a surface or workpiece.

• Floor Standing Pillar Drill - Floor standing pillar drills are typically used in more professional settings where heavy duty machinery is valued. They offer excellent drilling depth compared to benchtop models, but their bulk, size and power requirements make them hard to justify for home use. Floor drills are usually seen in workshops and factories.

• Mag Drill - If you're looking for a portable alternative to the traditional pillar drill, look no further than a mag drill. Similarly functional to a standard pillar drill, mag drills use powerful electromagnets to securely attach themselves to a metal surface. This allows the operator to create precise, accurate holes similar to a pillar drill, but with the portability of a handheld drill.

Considerations when choosing a pillar drill

• Drilling Depth - Drilling depth is arguably the most important consideration when choosing the right power drill. It is determined by the chuck-to-table distance, and also the length of the drill bit used.
• Chuck - Quite possibly the most important part of any pillar drill, the right pillar drill chuck can make your drill much more effective. Chuck capacity determines the acceptable diameter of drill bits and accessories you're able to use, while chuck type (keyed vs. keyless) determines how quickly you'll be able to change bits.
• Vice/Clamp - Picking the correct vice is important, as this is what keeps your workpiece in place for accurate drilling. You have two choices here - a clamp or a vice. A clamp is easier to handle and reposition, but not as strong. A vice provides a strong grip for large-scale drilling.

Pillar drill jargon buster

• Drill bit
The drill bit is what does the drilling. It's the metal piece that is put in the chuck, which is then lowered into the workpiece to make a hole. Multiple types of drill bit are available.

• Drilling table
The drilling table is a durable, cast-iron surface that a workpiece is placed on to be drilled. Most are height-adjustable, allowing for variable drilling depth. Some pillar drill tables can be tilted, so users can drill a workpiece at angles up to 90 degrees.

• Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
This 1998 standard states that all employers must provide fixed guards on pillar drills to prevent entanglement and injury whilst the drill is in use.


Can a pillar drill be used for milling?
Some DIYers have converted their pillar drills to a mill; however it will never be as sturdy as a regular mill as pillar drills are not designed to handle the forces involved in milling. We would strongly advise against using a pillar drill as a mill.

What are the risks of using a pillar drill?
One of the most common risks caused by negligent usage is the entanglement of hair, clothing, and accessories in the rotating drill. One way to prevent this is by using a fixed guard around the drill to prevent entanglement.

Why is my pillar drill chuck stuck?
The chucks used on a pillar drill can stick when the screw inside the chuck is has come loose, which prevents any movement of the teeth. Most pillar drill chucks allow you to insert a screwdriver into them to tighten the main screw.