Guide written by:
Didier, Technical manager, Cardiff
Once considered a purely professional tool, the pillar drill is now an essential workshop addition for anyone looking to drill wood or metal with precision. Useful for artisans and DIYers alike, pillar drills come in various different types including benchtop or floor-standing machines and magnetic or radial models.
These models are compact and can be easily fixed in place on a table or bench. They are easy to use and don't take up a lot of space. This type of machine is therefore suitable for woodworkers and DIYers working in relatively small spaces.
Also known simply as 'floor drills', these models are best suited to professionals or skilled at-home workers who have a workshop big enough to accommodate a larger machine. These powerful tools offer a great drilling depth and are fixed in position on the ground.
The design of the radial drill is fairly close to that of a benchtop model. The main difference is that these models allow you to adjust the distance between the chuck and the column (known as the 'throat depth'). Radial drills are also suitable for drilling far from the edge of a workpiece.
These portable models are great for moving around a job site and are designed to be used on top of metal structures. Also known as Mag drills, these drills are equipped with a magnet base used to secure them to flat metal surfaces. They can be used for both drilling and milling. A drillstand can be a cost-effective solution if you already have a high-quality drill. However, you will not get the same level of accuracy as you would with a pillar drill. As such, this option is only really viable for occasional use or if you cannot achieve the required level of precision with a handheld drill alone.
Now let's dig a little deeper into the main features of a pillar drill. The key characteristics to pay attention to are as follows:
Your drill vice must be suited to the kind of workpiece you want to secure:
No matter which model you go for, pay close attention to the length and throat depth of the jaws which determine how wide the vice can open.
The chuck is the system that secures your drill bits and is the part you will handle most often. A keyed chuck is more problematic to use as it is trickier to tighten. This system is gradually being replaced by quick-action keyless chucks which are easy to use and more efficient at securing drill bits.
Keyless chucks come in two varieties:
For starters, you will need high-quality drill bits which must be kept sharp; consider using a drill bit sharpener and be sure to always drill using the right speed settings. You'll also have to sharpen up in terms of safety precautions:
Bear in mind that a pillar drill can be a great choice for any DIYer, but if you are planning on using your drill on a regular basis, do make sure to invest in a high-quality, heavy-duty machine.
Guide written by:
Didier, Technical manager, Cardiff, 8 guides
I spent ten years working in maintenance services, first as a Technician and then as a Head Technician. For eight years, I have perfected the methods and management of subcontracting. Today, I continue my career while I work on technically versatile projects. DIY: I love it. I like having the right tools. Precise work fascinates me, I like working with wood and metal and I do not hesitate to make something myself if it doesn’t exist. In my daughter's room, for example, has a bed built into her desk. My family and neighbors don’t hesitate to ask me for advice or troubleshooting. My experience in home renovation combined with my knowledge of the various building trades allow me to advise on tool choice with pleasure.