At AboutMechanics, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is a Magnetic Drill?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

A magnetic drill is a drill press-like machine that has a magnetic base. The magnetic base allows the magnetic drill to be locked onto a vertical steel beam while holes are being bored through it. This allows the operator to bore or drill consistently-spaced holes with no wavering due to drill movement. While mounted on a steel beam, the drill operates without movement, where a typical hand-held drill might have the propensity to move around. The electro-magnetic base is controlled by flipping a switch to engage or disengage the magnets.

The strong clamping power of the magnetic drill allows the operator to be as precise as a surgeon when drilling a hole. In situations such as lock repair on a safe, the most minute movement or fractional miscalculation on where to drill could potentially render the safe useless. By utilizing a magnetic drill, the drill is sure to stay locked onto the exact location the operator deems fit.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Often on construction sites, holes need to be drilled on location to fit certain steel beams together properly. In these cases, the magnetic drill allows the operator to lock the drill in place and begin the drilling process while he moves on to other tasks. The automatic boring feature of some models allows this set-it-and-forget-it mode of operation. Automatic lubrication dispensers and heavy-duty magnets make certain the drill stays on task without incident in most cases.

When working high on a metal building structure, it is likely that some pieces of iron will not fit the intended location such as the blueprint directs. In a situation such as this, the magnetic drill can be fitted with a milling bit and used to mill and shape the steel until it fits. The powerful clamping force of the magnets provides a steady base that the steel can be pushed against to make the needed cuts. The magnets can be easily released and the drill moved to other locations as needed to custom fit the steel beams throughout the structure.

The evolution of the magnet has allowed small portable devices such as the drill to lock onto a steel structure with a pseudo-permanent grip. Building a lightweight tool, manufacturers have made it easy for companies to be able to afford a magnetic tool for all of their crews. The drills have made cutting torches obsolete in many areas by boring clean, properly-sized holes in an exact location.

Discussion Comments


@MrMoody - Boring through steel is no easy task. The drills use a magnetic drill bit to get the job done, not just any old thick drill bit.

Actually, you can get specialized drill bits for your home improvement projects too, if you need to drill through any type of sturdy metal. You can buy these drill bits from any home improvement store, and they can fit your regular drill. You don’t need any type of magnetic drill to do the job.

As far as buying an actual magnetic drill, you can certainly do that if you’re a little flush with cash (which I am not), but even the most inexpensive portable magnetic drill will set you back around $1,000.


A magnetic base drill must have a very powerful magnet to be used in the manner that the article talks about. These drills have to bore through some very hard metal and so the drill needs to be rock steady.

In addition you need maximum torque as well. I think on some of the drills the magnets can be adjusted depending on the amount of force you need for the project that you’re working on.

Overall, I like the idea of a magnetic drill, and only wish that something like this could be adapted to working on wood. I am not always that precise in some of my woodworking projects.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Man with a drill
      Man with a drill