Drilling holes in large metal material

When tasked to drill holes in large metal objects, it can be tricky to get the right tool for the job. For the smaller and less frequent applications, one could use a standard drill and bit to get the job done. But if you are going to be doing this day in and day out, there is only one tool to get the job done. That is a Magnetic Drill. Sort of like a mini drill press, it has a magnetic base that attaches to the metal surface of what you are trying to drill. When the magnet is activated, the MagDrill is secured and ready to drill. Recently, Milwaukee made the jump from the corded MagDrill model to their M18 Fuel unit.

This drill is intended for the professional and industrial worker. Iron worker, metal fabricator, welder, etc. Anyone that is drilling holes in large metal parts multiple times a day is going to seriously benefit from bringing a Milwaukee M18 Fuel MagDrill into their workplace.

Check Price Now

Milwaukee M18 Fuel MagDrill

The M18 Fuel MagDrill features a permanent magnet instead of a powered magnet. This is a huge safety concern when using a battery operated MagDrill. The user doesn’t want to find himself/herself in the middle of a hole and the battery dies and the MagDrill falls off the metal surface. The permanent magnet can provide a solid hold to metal material that is as thin as 1/4″. If the unit lefts off or loses magnetic attraction, the drill will automatically shut off. This is known as Auto-Stop lift-off detection. This unit can utilize a 1 1/2″ annular drill or a 1/2″ that is either a standard twist drill bit. It is recommended to use coolant or lubricant with either bit style.

Specs and Features:

  • Powered by the M18 REDLITHIUM Batteries
  • 13 3/4″ long
  • 15 1 /2″ tall
  • 7 1/2″ wide
  • 29.5 pounds
  • On-board fuel gauge
  • Self-Powered Magnet Base – 2,000 pounds of holding force
  • 2 Speed Gear Box: (400/690 RPM)
  • Stroke length – 5 3/4″
  • Motor Head Adjustment 5 1/8″
  • Magnetic Coolant tank
  • LED light
  • Reversible quill handle

Self-Powered Magnet Base

As previously mentioned, this base is not powered by the m18 batteries. It is a permanent magnet that is either on or off. It provides 2,000 pounds of holding force for even the larger drilling tasks. It is rated to stay securely in place on a metal surface that is as thin as 1/4″. To activate the base, there is a large knob on the back of the unit. Turn clockwise to turn on the magnet and counterclockwise to turn off the magnet.

2-Speed Gear Box

With the ability to use both annular and standard twist drill bits, the unit needs the ability to change speeds for the specific bit it is using. The unit has a 2-speed gearbox that can change the speed from 400 RPMs for the annular bits up to 690 RPMs for the standard twist drill bits. The twist drill bits can benefit from the faster RPM speeds and will perform much better. The opposite goes fro the annular bits. They prefer a slower RPM.


Whether you are using annular bits or twist bits, the MagDrill is going to be able to make a lot of holes very quickly. A lubricant/coolant is essential to maintaining your bits and quality of cut. The lubricant/coolant will keep the bit cool and prevent heat from building up. This will extend the life of the HSS bits as well as Milwaukee’s new Carbide Annular bits. During our projects and tasks, we used a project called Slugger with our annular bits. It is a thicker paste that is placed inside the bit and will heat up and do its thing right on the cutting area.

While the coolant tank is gravity powered, you can attach it to your metal surface with the inlcuded magnetic surface on the tank to achieve the gravity height.

Annular Cutters

Annular cutters are somewhat like a hole saw for metal but with a bit more science behind it. With specific geometry and design, an annular cutter is specifically designed for metal material. Annular cutters are faster, easier, and more accurate than the conventional twist drills. In the past, most annular cutters have been high speed steel HHS but now Milwaukee just released their Carbide Teeth Annular Cutters. These are going to be extended life to your annular cutters and provide a harder cutting edge.

Check Price Now

MagDrill In the Woodshop?

In our professional woodworking shop, we are taking on more and more projects from clients that are a combination of wood and metal. Some of the metal work doesn’t warrant the industrial drilling capabilities of the MagDrill but when we come across the handful of projects that it does, we are extremely glad to have it. From installing a large I-beam section to drilling holes in a large sheet of metal material for decorations, having the MagDrill in the shop has already proven itself as a great decision.

Yes, we agree. The MagDrill is expensive and might be hard to justify. Chances are if you are someone in the Industrial/commercial field that needs to drill holes all day every day, you most likely already own one. But for the ones that tackle these types of projects a handful of times a year, we strongly encourage you to check them out. Yes it is expensive but it absolutely makes up that extra cost over the next few jobs with convince, quality of work, safety, efficiency. If you are going to dabble in metal, it would be wise to take on a specialized tool like the MagDrill.