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Thread: Tools Advice - Pillar Drill

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015

    Default Tools Advice - Pillar Drill


    I wonder if anyone can offer any advice to me please!

    I'm going to invest in a pillar drill and wonder if anyone has any advice on which one to get? I've been looking on Amazon and machinemart and there does seem to be some more affordable ones but I'm wondering whether these affordable ones will still do the job? It's a piece of equipment which I very much need to get to help cut down on using suppliers etc to drill thick copper bar but i want to make sure I get the right one for the job.

    Also has anyone got any ideas for cutting 1.2mm thick copper sheet, without my handsaw? I'm sure there must be an easier way to cut these myself but my shears I have leave marks on the metal? I was just looking at a scroll saw?

    : )

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Central London


    Difficult to answer, but most jewellers drill small holes and rarely exceed 6.0mm, so the smaller Proxxon will work well and have the smallest footprint. Shop around for the best price and add the optional 3 jaw chuck, to avoid faffing with collets.

    You will also need a thick piece of wood to drill onto to minimise the risk of your piece spinning as you go through.

    If you habitually drill heavy pieces, then any of the DIY pillar drills will do, but they are very large and often rough in operation. Dennis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2017


    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
    If you habitually drill heavy pieces, then any of the DIY pillar drills will do, but they are very large and often rough in operation. Dennis.
    I think it's worth going for a slightly more expensive one if you're going down this route. I tried using my father in laws pillar drill to drill through some Inconel (silly idea I know) and the table flexed quite considerably which made the work hardening of the Inconel much worse than it would have been otherwise. You'd possibly get a similar problem with stainless as that can work harden quite a lot. That being said, for softer metals this shouldn't be a problem. You could always brace the table with a piece of wood or something to stop it deflecting.

    I ended up going for a floor standing pillar drill - mostly because I had the floor space but not the bench space and I must say that I'm very glad that I did - on a good few occasions now I've needed to lower the table to get some larger work pieces in, admittedly not for jewellery making though! I've found that the drill has come in handy a lot more than I thought it would have for random DIY tasks and for me that was worth the additional expense.

    As for the sawing, a scroll saw should be up to the job. I notice ALDI had one in a while ago and if your local branch still has them they're now reduced to either 50 or 60. I would have bought one if I had the available bench space!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2018


    I am using a budget pillar drill at the moment and find it perfectly adequate for the job. I am used to super accurate milling machines etc but have found a pillar drill more than up the the task if you secure it well and it has a decent RPM.

    In most cases of drilling its all down to securing the item properly (if needed), the drills,coolant/ avoiding high temps and your technique over the machine.

    My top tips would be

    1. Use coolant whenever possible to increase tool life and achieve a neater hole.
    2. Use good quality drills and centre/ pilot drill first when you can
    3. Research your material to see what speeds and feeds it likes.
    4. Ensure the piece is secured if needed.

    I have a glass pyrex dish mounted onto my drill bed with a suction cup vice inside it. I use a small submersible pump with a coolant pipe on it to create a sumped coolant system and this allows me to really let my diamond drill bits fly RPM wise. If the vice is not needed i completely submerse the item i am drilling in the dish instead.

    Of course you cant always do this but i have found in the jewellery world vs engineering that the materials used are alot more forgiving and need securing less. I use my hand alot of the time now over clamps etc and find drilling a breeze with the right feed and speed.

    As a toolmaker one thing i know for sure is coolant and good quality drills are the most important elements to accurate/ neat drilling. Work hardening always makes drilling alot harder so is best avoided from the start.

    I hope this helps
    Last edited by mick; 31-07-2018 at 09:01 PM.

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