In this guide we’ll look at the best pillar drills.
We’ve compared power, performance, build quality and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Are The Best Pillar Drills?
More Detailed Pillar Drills Reviews
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Evolution Power Tools EVOMAG28 Industrial Steel Magnetic Drill Review
We regard the Evolution Power Tools EVOMAG28 Industrial Steel Magnetic Drill as one of the best pillar drills on the UK market.
This is a heavy duty pillar drill built with a 1,200 Watt motor giving it enough power to drill through strong metals with ease.
This pillar drill affixes directly to surfaces via a powerful magnetic base, using an extremely strong electro-magnetic adhesion force of 1,300 kg. This feature allows you to position the pillar drill straight onto larger work pieces or workbenches with minimal effort.
The drill’s magnetic base has a smaller surface area than that of a traditional bench drill and its compact profile makes it very portable and ideal for use on site or in confined spaces.
The pillar drill can cut holes between 12 and 28 mm wide and up to 50 mm deep.
An integrated cooling system means it can perform longer running, more demanding tasks with ease.
The drill comes with a safety guard and strap, chuck and chuck key, 4 hex keys and a carry case.
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Sealey GDM120B 16-Speed Bench Pillar Drill, 550 W Review
The Sealey GDM120B Pillar Drill is one of the best bench pillar drills on the UK market.
This is a solidly-built bench pillar drill weighing in at 52 kg, and ideal for permanent placement in a workshop.
The Morse taper chuck accepts taper shank drill bits with a max 16 mm diameter.
Work pieces can easily be clamped to the strong metal table, which is also slotted to accept vices. The table can be raised or lowered by a rack and pinion system. This bench pillar drill is nearly one metre tall (960 mm) so there is plenty of capacity to manoeuvre the table up and down for larger jobs. There are also pre-set depth controls for repetitive tasks. The table can be rotated, tilted or moved to one side so larger work pieces can be clamped to the base of the drill.
For added safety there is a no-volt release switch so if the power is cut not only will the drill cut out it will not automatically restart when the power is restored. Drive belts are also fully enclosed within the metal structure.
As far as our best pillar drill reviews go this is definitely one of the best bench pillar drills on the market.
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Wolf Bench Mounted Pillar Drill Press 9 Speed 16 mm Chuck Review
The Wolf Bench Pillar Drill is a handy bench pillar drill for the home DIYer or hobbyist. The drill can generate from 400 to 3,500 rpm in 9 increments. This makes it quite powerful relative to its size, so it is perfect for small and medium sized tasks.
The 15 kg bench drill features a sturdy cast iron base and steel table that can tilt 45 degrees to either side, a 16 mm keyed chuck that can drill to 50 mm, a transparent guard and an adjustable depth gauge that ensures an accurate finish. There is also an electrical cut out switch on the belt guard and a no-volt release switch to ensure no power is restored to the machine in the event of a power cut.
For the specification, features and price this is one of the best budget pillar drills on the market.
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Clarke CDP5RB 5 Speed Bench Mounted Pillar Drill Review
The Clarke CDP5RB 5 Speed Bench Mounted Pillar Drill is a good option for best budget pillar drill.
There are 5 speeds that range from 620 to 2,620 rpm. This is good as you can work on a wider range of materials by tailoring the speed to suit the material you are using.
Having a tilting table is very handy and not often found on bench mounted pillar drills. This feature allows you to either cut angled holes in square work pieces or cut straight holes in angular work pieces.
This pillar drill has a good electrical cut-out if anything goes wrong making it nice and safe. The ‘on’ button is also shrouded to prevent it from accidentally being turned on.
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Katsu 100080 Mini Bench Drill Press 180 W, 7,000 RPM Review
The KATSU 100080 Mini Bench Drill is the next step up from a handheld drill and is a relatively cheap way of performing repetitive small or medium sized drilling tasks and attaining accurate results.
This is a small, compact mini bench drill, with the chuck accepting a maximum drill bit size of 6.5 mm. At 5.3 kg this bench drill is also lightweight so it can be tucked away in a corner or cupboard when not in use.
This a sturdy little drill press and a great budget option for a small cheap pillar drill.
Pillar Drill Buyer’s guide
The motor is one of the key components of a pillar drill. It powers the drive belt and controls the speed of the chuck. You should aim for as much power as you can afford since although you will not always want to use maximum power you will always have it available.
For example if you are cutting a very hard wood such as walnut you will need high power and the drive belts set up to create high chuck speed. But the same setting used on pine would be too fast and cause the wood to split.
Of course if you know you will only use the drill on softwoods then you can purchase a smaller pillar drill with less power.
No load speed
No-load speed is measured in rpm and is an indication of how fast the chuck can spin when literally under no load. When you are drilling into material the rpm will be obviously be less for harder woods than softer ones if you are applying the same power.
The drive belts of the of the pillar drill spin the chuck. The chuck capacity is a measure of how wide a drill bit the chuck can accommodate.
The chuck guard covers the chuck and the upper portion of the drill bit. It is normally transparent so you have full visibility of the drilling operation. It is also spring-loaded so it can be raised (against the spring) for easy access to the chuck and drill bit. The natural position of the guard is down to protect you from flying debris when you are drilling.
Base and table material and size
You need to be 100% safe when performing any drilling operation (not least with a pillar drill) so minimising or preferably eliminating any movement or vibration is one of the first things you should be looking to do. You will go a long way to achieving that if your pillar drill has a solid heavy base made of cast iron or steel.
The table supports the material for drilling so it too needs to be of solid construction. Heavy grade steel is good choice.
The overall size of the machine obviously effects its sturdiness and with added size you get added weight. Of course larger tables mean you can support larger and heavier work pieces. Larger sizes mean you can usually drill deeper holes too.
Sometimes you will want to drill holes that are not perpendicular to a work piece surface and tables that can tilt allow you to easily perform this kind of operation.
A depth gauge allows you to set a maximum drilling depth before the drill will stop. This is perfect if you want to secure screws or fixings since you can calculate their length before drilling and set the depth gauge accordingly. The depth gauge is also handy for repeating same depth holes in multiple pieces.
No Volt Release switch
A No Volt Release (NVR) or electrical cut out switch is an essential pillar drill safety feature. If the power supply is cut not only will the drill cut out, the drill will not automatically restart when the power is restored. You will also often find the NVR switch linked to an override button that can be activated to stop the drill in case of an emergency.
What is a pillar drill?
Pillar drills are bench mounted or freestanding machines that sit on a work surface and are used to drill holes. They can cut holes in a variety of woods, metals and plastics. They are powerful tools that are very effective at drilling multiple holes that have the same dimension. They also offer a safe and secure way of drilling holes as everything is held secure and steady as you drill. This makes it easy to achieve precise and consistent holes in a way that would not be possible with a hand held drill.
What is a pillar drill used for?
A pillar drill is used to safely and securely drill holes in a range of material such as wood, plastic and metal. Its integral depth gauge allows you to maintain consistency in how deep you drill holes.
What safety precautions should I take when using a pillar drill?
Appropriate safety wear is paramount. Eye protection, gloves, ear defenders and even a mask should all be worn.
Always ensure you know where the stop button is before you start using the drill.
Read the manual! Know exactly how to use the drill and the correct procedure for changing settings, components and attaching bits.
Ensure you are using the correct drill speed for the job. Too fast a speed can cause wood to split, splinter or spin if if is not secured. Conversely too slow a speed can have you applying too much force and losing control of the operation.
Remember to remove the chuck key before you start using the machine. This step is often overlooked but can be very dangerous as the key can fly out once drilling starts.
It is a good idea to demarcate an area around your pillar drill that no one, apart from the operator, can enter when the machine is in use, in order to avoid distractions and accidents.
How do I use a pillar drill?
There a few simple steps to using a pillar drill. Decide what size hole you need to drill and choose the appropriate drill bit. Loosen the chuck with the chuck key, insert the drill bit, tighten the chuck and remove the chuck key.
You then need to adjust the speed and most machines have dials or switches to do this. For soft and medium density woods you will want to choose one of the lower speed settings. On some machines you will also need to manually adjust the drive belt.
Then you need to position and secure the work piece on the drill table, and of course it should be properly supported and stable.
Next set the depth gauge to ensure the correct depth of hole.
Now everything is ready for drilling and you can switch the machine on.
Once the machine is running slowly turn the handle to lower the drill, working slowly and letting the drill do the work. Once you reach the required drill depth slowly raise the handle to remove the bit from the work piece. Only then turn the machine off.
It’s always a good idea to practice on a scrap piece of wood to get the hang of the drill.
How does a pillar drill work?
Pillar drills work thanks to a few key components.
The motor creates power and the size of the motor affects the amount of power the drill can achieve. The motor powers one or more drive belts that turn the chuck at speed, and the speed is controlled with dials or switch settings. By default inserting a drill bit in a chuck that spins will spin the bit so you can drill holes into many materials. Using the depth gauge ensures the depth of the hole being drilled is accurate and constant if you are drilling multiple holes.