Don’t get stuck using a handheld drill in hard-to-reach locations when the cuts of a magnetic drill press are more accurate and easily repeatable.
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A magnetic drill press, also known as a magnetic drill or mag drill, is a tool designed for drilling into metal. A strong magnetic base sits directly on the metal that you want to cut, ensuring stability and accuracy while drilling. This magnetic feature makes the tool ideal for hard-to-access locations, like when you need to drill into an I-beam or the bed of a truck, and makes it easy to drill holes of identical depth and angle and adjust the cut as necessary.
Finding the best magnetic drill press for you will depend on how you want to use it. Professional use will be harder on a tool, so if you’re a pro you will need a heavy duty, powerful magnetic drill press. For intermittent use, or light-duty projects, such as working with thin sheet metal, you can choose a smaller, less powerful magnetic drill press. Either way, choosing a high-quality product is key to getting the best results.
This article will help you determine what kind of magnetic drill press is right for you and show you what to look for when you shop. The list below features the best magnetic drill presses on the market based on reputation, functionality, and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: Hougen Magnetic Drill Press
- RUNNER-UP: Jancy Slugger Magnetic Ddiorill Press
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Black Bluerock Magnetic Drill Press
- BEST LIGHT DUTY: Morphorn Magnetic Drill Press
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Milwaukee 13 Amp Magnetic Drill Press
- BEST CORDLESS: Milwaukee 18 Volt Cordless Magnetic Drill Press
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Magnetic Drill Press
Before choosing a magnetic drill press for your workshop, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the most important shopping considerations to keep in mind.
A magnetic drill press is designed for a specific function—drilling holes in metal—so it isn’t really a “just in case” type of tool to keep in your workshop. Also, the price of a magnetic drill press goes up significantly from DIY-grade to professional-grade. So before purchasing a magnetic drill press, it’s important to know what you will use it for and if you need a professional-grade model. If you get a magnetic drill press that is too weak—or too powerful—then you may have wasted money on a tool you won’t use.
Once you know what your project is and how you will be using the drill, then you can select a tool that fits your purposes. Choose a magnetic drill press with the correct cutting diameters, drilling depth, maximum rpm, and any special features that you think will help you complete your project.
The motor speed is measured in rotations per minute, or RPM, and it is a measurement of the maximum speed that the drill can rotate a drill bit. This factor is very important when determining the type of magnetic drill press you need, because as the RPMs increase so does the ability of the drill to cut through material.
On average, a magnetic drill press will have a motor speed between 450 RPM and 750 RPM, but there are a few outliers on either end of the spectrum. There are also magnetic drill presses that have variable speed settings, allowing you to determine the rpm output depending on the project and the material being cut.
The magnetic drill press’s power consumption is measured using Amperes, or amps. This rating determines how much power the drill can use, with most magnetic drill presses having between 6 and 12 amps. As with RPMs, the higher the ampere rating of a magnetic drill press, the more effective it will be at cutting through tough material.
If you are looking for a product to use to regularly cut through thick pieces of metal, you’ll need a heavy duty drill with 10 or more amps. A smaller drill would lack the power output to effectively cut through material, leaving the job half done and a worn out drill. Less taxing projects and materials would be fine with a 6- to 9-amp magnetic drill press.
Drill size is an important factor to keep in mind when choosing a new magnetic drill press for your workshop. Figure out what type of work you will be doing, including the maximum size of the cuts you want to make and the material you’re working with. This should provide a good foundation to decide on the overall size of the drill.
Despite the power of a large magnetic drill press, bigger is not always better, and some smaller models may be a better option for lightweight work. However, if you will be working with thick steel every day, then you will want a heavy, durable machine that’s capable of keeping up.
The maximum cut depth of a magnetic drill press is the depth to which the drill bit can be lowered into the material. This is an important factor to know before buying your drill press because you may purchase a tool that cannot drill as deep as you expected. This can leave you unable to finish the project, or with a finished result that doesn’t match up with the original plans. Most magnetic drill presses have a cut depth between 1 and 3 inches, though the most common cut depth is 2 inches. This gives you enough length to cut down and through a piece of metal if needed, but also provides the flexibility to cut a shallow hole that does not completely penetrate the material.
Any time you are using a tool you should be paying attention to the cutting blades, grinding wheels, and other hazardous parts to ensure that you can complete your project safely and without a trip to the hospital. A magnetic drill press is no different, so manufacturers have included built-in safety features.
One example is the hidden power cord. Instead of having an exposed cord running from the magnetic base to the drill, some manufacturers have made the cord a part of the machine design. Some drills also come with a safety guard that sits around the drill bit to prevent pieces of metal from flying off. You may also have anti-slip rubber sleeves on the levers of the magnetic drill press to help with control while the drill is in use.
Ease of Use
A magnetic drill press isn’t a complicated tool to use, but it’s important to consider the differences between individual products when determining which one is best for you. Some models are designed for lightweight drilling through thin metal materials, like sheet metal. Due to this specific purpose, these drills are lighter and often smaller than more heavy duty options.
Heavier magnetic drills are harder to carry and move around at will, but they are able to tackle some of the more heavy-duty jobs that a lightweight drill cannot. Also, keep in mind the ergonomic grip and operation of the drill so you can find a product that is easy to hold, set up, and operate without worrying about it slipping out of your hands.
Our Top Picks
The list below features some of the best magnetic drill presses on the market, taking into account the above shopping considerations, product quality, and price.
The Hougen Magnetic Drill Press falls in the middle of the power spectrum with a 9-amp motor that is appropriate for working with steel structures, equipment manufacturing, and a moderate frequency of use. At 35 pounds, this magnetic drill press has an average weight and size, and it has an ergonomic housing that is easy to grip. The housing also hides the motor cord to keep it safely tucked away while the drill is in use.
The magnetic drill press can reach speeds of 450 RPM with a 2-inch maximum cut depth so that you can drill down to cut directly through 2-inch thick metal or set the depth to a shallower setting if you don’t want to pierce the material. The drill comes with an LED pilot light so that you can see where you are drilling with precision accuracy, and it has a lift detection safety system that shuts the drill down when it senses the drill is moving.
This magnetic drill press comes in a hard plastic carrying case that lets you take it with you to the job site and keeps the drill protected from impact damage. The 10-amp motor is powerful enough to handle tough, durable steel and it can cut 2 inches deep into your target material without issue. The feed handle can even be positioned on either side of the drill for left- or right-handed use.
The Jancy Slugger Magnetic Drill Press weighs 34 lbs and has a very high bit rotation speed, with a maximum of 680 RPM. The drill has a gravity-fed cooling lubrication system that lets you add the lubricant prior to drilling instead of applying it directly to the drill bits. For added safety, you can also put on the drill guard to prevent metal chips and shards from flying out while the drill is in use.
The anti-slip grips on the handles of this magnetic drill press help you to better grip the tool and control it while in use. It only weighs 28 lbs, so you can easily move it from location to location when the battery is not engaged. The 10-amp motor provides enough power for the drill bit to reach a top rotational speed of 570 RPM.
The Black Bluerock Magnetic Drill Press is an affordable mag drill that can cut to a depth of 2 inches and includes an adapter that allows you to use both regular drill bits or drill press bits. The magnetic drill comes with a black plastic case for transportation and an oil bottle for applying lubricant to the bit while the drill is in operation.
With 8 amps of power in this motor, the Mophorn Magnetic Drill Press is designed for light duty jobs with a moderate motor speed of 500 RPMs. Despite the light duty purpose, this drill weighs more than most magnetic drills in the same power class at a weight of 50.6 lbs. However, the magnetic base is engaged or disengaged with the on/off switch so you can release the magnetic hold to move the drill to a new location.
The drill has an ergonomic handle located at the back to lift and carry the tool, and it also comes with anti-slip rubber padding on the feed handles to help control the drill and increase cutting accuracy. It can cut to a depth of 2 inches, and is best suited to working with medium to thin steel, such as in automotive repairs, manufacturing, or shipbuilding.
If you want a heavy duty drill to make multiple cuts in thick, hardened metal, then the Milwaukee 13 Amp Magnetic Drill Press has the power you need. This drill has two speed settings, with a maximum motor speed of 475 RPM when the drill is set on low or a top motor speed of 730 RPM when the drill is on high. Drive the bit down into the material with ease using the massive 13 amp motor that provides more than enough power to get the job done.
This magnetic drill press weighs 35 lbs and comes with a red plastic case for travel and storage. The drill can cut to a depth of 2 inches and has an electrically charged magnetic base you can engage or disengage with the push of a button. To help keep you safe while you work, the drill also comes with a built-in lift detection feature that will automatically shut down the drill when the sensor detects the tool being moved.
With the Milwaukee Cordless Magnetic Drill Press, you can easily move and place the drill without worrying about a cord tripping you up. This magnetic drill press has a lower power rating than the corded models on this list, with an 18-volt battery that provides about 6 amps to the motor for a motor speed max output of 400 RPM.
The 29.5-lb cordless magnetic drill press has an average 2-inch max depth of cut and comes with a charger and two lithium-ion batteries that can take turns on the charger so you never run out of power while you are working. The drill also comes with a protective case for transportation and storage and it has a lift-detection feature to stop the drill when it is lifted or moved.
Tips for Buying and Using a Magnetic Drill Press
Once you buy a magnetic drill press, you not only need to know how to operate it but also how to maintain it and keep it in tip-top shape. One important step to extending the life of your drill bits and your drill is using lubrication. Adequate lubrication should either be applied directly to the drill bit or to the coolant tank if the drill has one. This will help keep the bit cool while in operation so that it does not get damaged by extended use at high temperatures.
You will also want to be certain to get a magnetic drill press that has an adequate power rating for your purposes. A small 6-amp magnetic drill press may be okay for thin sheet metal, but you likely would be unable to drill to a depth of even 1 inch in hard steel.
When it comes to operating your drill press, never start drilling without proper eye protection. Some products have drill guards and shields, but the only way to properly protect yourself from stray metal shards is by wearing eye protection.
- Always apply adequate lubrication to the magnetic drill press.
- Choose a product that has the correct power rating.
- Never begin drilling without proper eye protection.
FAQs About Your New Magnetic Drill Press
Take a look below to find out the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about your new magnetic drill press.
Q. How does a magnetic drill press work?
A magnetic drill press has a powerful magnetic base that sits on a metal surface (normally the material to be cut) and holds the tool in place during use. This prevents the mag drill from moving or shifting during use. The magnetic drill press uses a lever to lower the rotating drill bit down into the metal. This bit can either cut completely through the material or it can be used to cut a hole to a specified depth.
Q. How do you use a magnetic drill press?
The following list includes the basic steps to using a magnetic drill press. However, always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for product use for your specific model.
- Insert the magnetic drill press bit into the machine arbor.
- Place the magnetic drill press in position over the area you want to drill.
- Once in position, turn on the magnet switch. This will activate the magnet and keep the drill in place.
- Fill the coolant tank with lubricant if the drill has a coolant tank.
- Set the RPM level you want.
- Turn on the coolant tank if the drill has one. If it doesn’t, apply the lubricant to the drill bit to help keep it cool during cutting.
- Turn on the motor.
- Start the drill and lower the rotating bit to the material.
- Cut through the material with an even level of force, allowing the bit to cut through the material rather than quickly forcing it through.
- Once the hole is cut, stop the drill, turn off the motor, turn off the coolant tank, and when you are ready, turn off the magnet and move the drill press to a different location or put it away.
Q. Should you wear gloves when using a magnetic drill press?
You should avoid wearing gloves when using a magnetic drill press because the fabric can get caught and be pulled into the machine. However, when the magnetic drill press is not in operation and you are removing chips from the cutter and magnet, you should wear gloves to prevent cuts.