Nathan Ford, Area Sales Manager for Fein Power Tools in the UK, discusses what you should look for when purchasing a mag drill, the applications some can now achieve, and he touches upon the kind of accessories available in the market. Not only that, but he will also briefly cover the new cordless/compact mag drills new into the UK market.
Magnetic core drills or “Magdrills” for short are an essential tool for anyone involved in the production and installation of structural steel. They can also be a handy addition to the tool kit of anybody looking to drill larger diameter holes, which would be labour intensive and time consuming with traditional drilling methods. Core drilling is an extremely efficient process which is faster, quieter and more accurate than twist drilling. Core drilling requires no predrilling or switching over of the tooling, and so drilling times can be reduced by over 50%, with minimal physical effort by the user.
Choosing your drill
The first decisions to be made when buying a Magdrill is the capacity of the machine and what size hole are you likely to be drilling? Next, consider what thickness material you will be drilling? An obvious question yet if you are buying a drill with a 30mm max capacity and on your next job you need to drill a 35mm hole it may have been worthwhile buying the model up from the original machine. The price difference will have justified itself when you don’t have to buy a second machine or hire one to complete the job. Fein currently offers a large range of Magdrills from 30-80mm capacity, the new cordless Magdrill starting at 35mm.
When it comes to depth of cut, most machines will be able to handle a cutter with a depth of 25mm. For most applications this will suffice but if you have an application which requires either the cutting of thicker material, or the drilling of box sections, or step drilling, it is worth looking for a drill with as large a stroke range as possible. Ranges can vary from 65mm to 315mm so it worth taking this into consideration.
What is the machine going to be used for? Again this may sound like an obvious question. You want to drill a hole into a piece of steel. You have chosen your drill based on the size of hole and material thickness, but there may be some other criteria’s to look at. Most Magdrills are fixed speed; they are designed to drill a hole into steel. This fundamentally keeps the cost of the machine low, and is how many Magdrill manufacturers make machines. Fein invests far more into its mag drills allowing the motor to deliver variable speed and is available in all Fein Magdrills (except the KBB range). This variable speed, and in addition reverse functions are important if you have varying diameter holes to drill or are looking for a Magdrill which can Tap, Ream or Countersink.
Nearly all Magdrills will accept cutters with a Weldon type fitting. These are usually fixed in place with 2 x grub screws located on the tool holder. The Weldon fitting has been used for many years and it has become an industry standard for both cutters and drills. It’s a great system, however, the difficulty can be when trying to change a cutter with the machine attached to the work piece. Locating the grub screws can be a problem and there is always the moment when you just can’t find your Allen key! Thankfully there are machines available with Weldon quick change chucks which eliminate any of these issues.
As mentioned earlier you may have an application which is not as straight forward as drilling a hole, like tapping. I would advise purchasing a drill with variable speed a reverse function and a good stroke range, also ensure that you can purchase the correct attachments. Auto Reverse Tapping Gearboxes are available on Weldon fittings which would allow your machine to tap without a reverse feature but these can be expensive so look for a drill with a tapping chuck in its accessory range like Fein and other premium manufacturers.
There are many standard providers of mag drill in the market. Fein itself offers Economical models matching the same basic functionality as you might expect, whilst others are premium, offering variable speeds and the programs discussed (universal), or automated drill feeds (automatic). Fein was proud to launch two new classes of mag drill in late 2017, ‘Cordless’ and ‘Compact’.
The brand new AKBU 35 (cordless) is supported with equally new high-power batteries and a new starter kit, helping end-users who lack mains power on-site or who need to work at heights. If working in confined spaces a specialist right angled Magdrill would be needed, with a minimum head clearance of 169mm. The new ‘compact’ KBC 35 would assist, small enough to help get into tight spots.
Find out more about Fein’s mag drill range including these new machines: https://fein.com/en_uk/drilling/metal-core-drilling/