There are a small number of people that use a mag drill on a daily basis and you are well aware if you are one of them. These tools are becoming more popular for much more than just working on I-beams. If you are considering a mag drill or an upgrade there are several important things to consider.
Hougen and Milwaukee are probably the two best known and most reliable makers of mag drills. Magnetic drills vary greatly in their size, weight, height, depth of cut (d.o.c.), amp power, RPMs and several other features. Hougen makes the smallest mag drills available, HMD115 & HMD150, which have an extremely low profile. The small sizes makes these incredibly useful for working in tight spaces such as with automotive and trucking applications.
One of the most popular mag drills and a real work horse is the Hougen HMD 904. This model is light weight at 27.5 lbs, powerful with 450 RPM and d.o.c. of 2”. It has a height of 16” and easy to work with if not in a tight spot. This model is also available as the HMD904S which features a swivel base. The swivel base allows you to get the drill close to the hole and then do a more precise line up with the tool in position. This is an especially huge advantage when using a mag drill in the horizontal or overhead position.
For more heavy duty applications consider the Hougen HMD925 with Powerfeed or the HMD505 that has a d.o.c. of 3” and 2 RPM speed options. The Milwaukee mag drills on OhioPowerTool.com are larger machines ranging from 57-72 lbs. heavier than any of the Hougen drills available although they do have some good features. These Milwaukee units feature adjustable bases for lining up your hole exactly. Also the Milwaukee drills feature keyed chucks which can use regular drill bits, hole saws or the Milwaukee Steel Hawg Cutters up to 6”. Milwaukee does have a smaller Hougen style mag drill 4270-20 but there are many reasons why the Hougen outperforms it. Please comment if you disagree, this will probably be a future article.
When considering drilling into solid metal the drill bit itself is a large considerations. Hougen features several varieties of Rotabroach Annular Cutters engineered to be one of the best metal cutters on the market. The Rotabroach cutters will work with other mag drills but will not work with chuck type mag drills. The smaller Hougen drills use different cutters all together which are more compact the Rotaloc (HMD115) and Rotaloc Plus (HMD150). If you are looking for cutters that work with a 3/8" chuck, the Milwaukee Steel Hawg Cutters work with traditional chucks and range in size from 7/8” to 6”. For cutting thin metal, such as sheet metal, Hougen makes several kits (RotaCut & Holcutter) which work in a traditional chuck style hand drills.
Deciding which type of mag drill and cutters you will need is not an easy decision and not something you can determine easily by reading a quick blog post. I would recommend calling the professionals at Ohio Power Tool (800-242-4424) if you have any questions.