What is a Pillar Drill?

Pillar drills are free standing machine tools used by engineers that use high powered motors to rotate drill bits at varying speed. These bits are then used to accurately machine, drill or tap holes in a variety of materials such as metal and wood.

An industrial version of a traditional hand drill, the pillar drill removes any threat of human error, designed to ensure that the drill goes in at precisely the correct angle, time after time.

What’s more, those bits used in a standard hand drills often don’t have the strength to bore through machined parts, particularly those made from high strength metal.

So, if you’re looking for a tool to help you help you take your machined products to the next level of accuracy, you’ll need to find a tool shop with a pillar drill.

Wondering why?…

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Why Use A Pillar Drill?

In engineering, accuracy is king. There should be no half measures or statements of ‘it’s good enough’. That’s why the ability to accurately drill in precisely the right location, on the right plane is essential.

This is why a pillar drill is a crucial machine to use in your machine shop, helping you ensure the highest levels of finishing.

Almost every machined part will, in some form of other, have to include a drilled hole. Whether it’s to position a bolt for fixing, or a tapped hole for screws, accuracy is essential.

A pillar drill’s main function is drilling these holes. It’s designed to ensure that holes are drilled extremely efficient and with the utmost precision.

Depending on the pillar drill being used also opens up additional versatility, as larger drill bits or tapping heads can be attached allowing for increased capabilities.

If accuracy and efficiency is essential to your machining capabilities (which it should be) a pillar drill is the tool for you.


The Pillar Drill’s Main Features

A pillar drill is one of the more basic machines in a tool shop, but that doesn’t stop it being as important as things such as lathes or grinders. It can be broken down into 3 simple parts listed below.

·       Motor & Drive

The ‘engine room’ of the pillar drill, the motor and drive control the speed of the drill bit rotation as well as the positioning of the chuck.

·       Table

The part of the pillar drill where the machined component sits, the table is usually surface ground and can be raised or lowered depending on the size of the workpiece.  

·       Drill Bit

The drill bit is naturally the most important part of the entire pillar drill. Detachable from the chuck and capable of being changed out to suit, the drill bit is the part of the drill that actually bores into the machined component.

Pillar drills come in all different shapes and sizes, offering a range of different features, but when it comes down to the basics, all will feature the components mentioned above.

an engineer using a pillar drill

Pillar Drill Safety

Although a simple design pillar drills can be very dangerous tools in the machine shop. With lots of moving parts, sharp edges and potential debris, there are a number of features to consider.

·       Sharpen Drill Bits

Blunt tools are an engineer’s worst enemy. It’s easily forgotten that working with blunt tools can be just as dangerous as working with sharp ones.

Blunt drill bits have the capability of not only resulting in poor quality but have the potential to shatter and cause serious harm.

·       Drill Bit Security

Making sure the drill bit is secure within the chuck is critical. If there is any movement, or it is off-centre, a drill bit can cause significant damage not only to the machined component, but potentially to the user as well.

·       Wear Correct PPE

Personal protection such as goggles and gloves, should always been worn when using a pillar drill. Although guards are in-place to protect the user, you can never be too careful and should protect against swarf and other debris.

·       Clamp The Workpiece

To ensure a safe working environment, it is important that the workpiece is clamped in position securely. With the drill bit moving at incredible speeds, the workpiece, if not secure could become a missile causing significant damage.

A secure workpiece also helps maintain the accuracy of the finish part.

There are plenty of other safety factors to consider when using a pillar drill, like with all machine tools. If you want to find out more, you should get in touch with your machining experts.



Pillar drills are an essential machine tool when highly accurate holes need to be created.

While at first glance appearing to be quite simplistic, its features help the pillar drill maintain consistent machining results.

Although there a multiple safety factors to consider, like with all machine tools, a pillar drill will take you drilling to the next level.

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