Top 10 Tips When Operating Your Magnetic Drill Press

Featured Image Credit: Milwaukee Tools

In situations where you need to drill a hole but there’s no way of taking the work to machine; a portable magnetic drill press will often save the day.

Using one of these handy tools you can enjoy the versatility of a drill that can access those hard to reach places.

And while we have created an in depth buyer’s guide on some of the best magnetic drill presses currently on the market; for those that have already bought one, you may need some guidance on how to get the most out of your new tool.

So if you are ready? Let’s get to it…

Top 10 Tips when using a Magnetic Drill Press

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1. Use the right cutter for the application

To get the best results and save wear and tear on your drill press you should ensure that you are using the correct cutter for the job in hand.

The fact is, annular cutters are material-specific. Pay attention to the tool manufacturer’s recommended guidance on what types to use with specific material. (When in doubt you should consult with the cutting tool manufacturer directly).

For jobs such as deep-hole drilling a custom tool, such as an extended-reach cutter may be required.

2. Keep the work surface clear

After you have drilled a hole, be sure to wipe away any excess material such as chips and coolant from the work surface.

Also check coolant levels and the condition of the cutter. You should also ensure that the slug has been fully ejected from the material.

3. Precautions when cutting stainless steel

When cutting stainless steel, you should carry out the following:

  • Clamp a vacuum pad or an offcut of ferrous metal to the surface so that the magnet is able to grip.
  • Following tip 1 above, choose the correct cutter for the thickness of the steel.
  • When drilling, you may need to employ a faster feed rate. Stainless steel work-hardens extremely quickly if you are not able to stay ahead of the edge with your cutting action.

4. Pay attention to your feed rate

On the subject of feed rate, a common issue that occurs if the feed rate is too slow is broken or dull annular cutters.

For best results you should always aim for a confident, steady feed pressure throughout the length of your cut.

This results in a cleaner hole and increased longevity for your cutters. However, make sure you use sufficient coolant and that the sound of the drill motor doesn’t sound strained as you work.

5. Drilling stacked plates

If you need to drill two or more stacked plates (or alternatively a bridge structure that has double-layered steel) the cutter you use needs to have stack cut tooth geometry.

Stack cut cutters cut inside/out, rather than outside/in. The result for this type of application means that the slug doesn’t get stuck inside.

Furthermore, drilling the same hole in several plates using stack cut cutters will speed up your work flow.

6. Opt for tool life rather than fast tool changes

While we all like to work faster and more efficiently, a better way to extend the life of your tool (while admittedly sacrificing speed of tool change), is to use two set screws to secure the cutter firmly.

This helps prevent excess wear and tear from a loosening cutter and will actually provide cleaner cuts.

7. Always make sure the slug is fully ejected after the cut

Fortunately, drills with a positive slug ejection take care of this for you. However, if you own a spring ejection systems, you will need to keep half an eye out to make sure the mechanism has worked as it should.

This is because as the hole gets cut, friction can cause the slug to heat up and expand; thus getting caught in the tool.

If you do have to remove the slug manually, remember that the edge can very sharp as well as hot.

8. Use a pilot pin as much as possible

A pilot pin will help you line up the cutter to the hole’s centerpoint.

Also, a pilot will help direct the coolant flow to the cutting teeth. Another bonus is that the process will help facilitate the ejection of the slug.

That’s three good reasons to use a pilot. Need we say more.

9. Listen to the motor

Applying too much pressure as you drill will make the motor sound strained and laboured. You do not want that.

By increasing the pressure on the machine you actually lose RPMs. Metal removal rates decline the slower the cutter turns.

Listen to the motor, and let the machine and cutting tool do the work without any undue force from you.

10. Know when to use your carbide cutters

Carbide cutters are great for extending tool life when you are drilling hard materials; they can handle the strain.

However, remember that a carbide cutter needs to be run at high RPMs than standard cutters, (sometimes as much as 3 times faster).

This can mean older, or less powerful model magnetic drill presses do not have the sufficient rpms to properly accommodate carbide.

Check the specifications of your machine before you use them.

Image Credits: Milwaukee Tool,

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