Tag: Review

Axminster Radial Pillar Drill

Axminster Radial Pillar Drill

Pillar Drill Box

For Christmas this year my incredibly understanding wife bought me a pillar drill for the workshop. I looked at lots of options and read many reviews before deciding what to go for, these ranged from the small units sold by many retailers under  a number of brands but look very similar to the Engineering Series at Axminster and as nice as it was slightly out of budget doesn’t come close (£2500) so eventually I decided on the Axminster Hobby AH16FRD.

This is a floor mounted radial type pillar drill, its biggest feature is its adjustable throat allowing adjustment up to 440mm compared to 178mm on the non adjustable version. It also allow adjustment of the drilling angle up to 90º left and right so plenty of flexibility for the future.

Drill Parts

Building the drill was relatively simple as the main components (drill head, motor etc) were already assembled but does need at least 2 people. The base, pillar, table were all simple to put together with basic tools and it even included a couple of Allen keys to help. The only complication was fitting the drill head assembly to the pillar, this doesn’t seem difficult on the surface but the throat adjustment is locked with a Bristol clamping handle, this screws against a small metal spacer block that fits into a recess in the drill head. It took 3 attempts to place the drill head onto the column without this falling out, considering the head must weigh a significant proportion of the 62kg total this wasn’t the easiest of tasks with just 2 people.

Axminster AH16FRD Radial Pillar Drill

Once assembled I was pretty happy with the results a few test drills proved effective and the flexibility of the design looked impressive. A couple of issues did show the main one was that the chuck didn’t retract after drilling, this isn’t the end of the world as it can easily be wound back with the handle but it is annoying. The other is more concerning, the spindle has a definite wobble when retracted that goes away as the drill is extended, I know counter intuitive but that’s what’s happening.

Quill not retracting



I contacted Axminster and quickly got a reply that the return spring may be faulty and they dispatched a replacement that was delivered the following day. This seems like excellent service and I was initially very impressed, however this evaporated as I disassembled my new toy. After taking the spring out of its holder I realised the replacement they had sent was significantly smaller than the original, but I persevered and tried fitting it, winding the tension enough to just hold the quill up let alone retract it after drilling caused the new spring to snap. I can confirm that certain expletives were offered at this point. To add insult to (coming) injury it quickly became obvious that the original spring had been tightly wound to fit into the holder, to get it back together took a frustratingly long time and an even more annoying amount of spilt blood from my fingers as the spring quickly unwound each time I slipped. The final solution was a jig with 2 bits of wood with holes in, a pair of needle nose pliers held in the vice and a screw to retain the spring.

Return Spring Comparison

During these struggles I ended up disassembling the quill and feed arm, this exposed the very poor quality of manufacturing on these lower end units. The main casting is very rough and the edges around the quill I suspect contributed to the issue of it not retracting. The second thing I noticed is the machining on the quill itself was very rough and the channel that a locking screw slides through to prevent the quill rotating was rough to the point that when taken out of the drill and put together the locking screw noticeably catches at numerous points. I was able to file this groove smooth and consistent width so that the locking screw now moves smoothly, with a little TLC on the casing itself and a liberal application of grease to the mechanism I’ve been able to get the retraction smooth and consistent.


The vibration continues and I will investigate this further before contacting Axminster again about getting it resolved.

Update 2:
This evening I disassembled the drill again and applied a liberal coating of grease to all parts, this made it run significantly smoother with virtually no vibration so hopefully that has resolved the problem.

Overall I am happy with the drill as it does work well and over the month since getting it I have taken full advantage of its flexibility in throat length to drill large and small objects and now wouldn’t be without it.