How To Drill Holes In Hardened Steel

By | July 30, 2022

It’southward All Well-nigh H2O

Some people will tell you that drilling crisp, accurate holes in the harder grades of stainless steel is pretty darn problematic if not impossible. They’ll tell y’all that you demand to have extra-sharp, extra-hard, extra-expensive drill bits. And even then, they’ll say there are no guarantees. Which is quite discouraging, truth to tell, particularly if you know what it’south like to crank up a weekend project on a squeamish Saturday morn merely to observe out that you’ve already broken a very pricey and necessary clamper of equipment, a development that means yet some other fourth dimension-consuming, wallet-hammering trip to the chandlery or hardware shop.

All of which is a pile of distortion, of class. Drilling holes even in exceptionally difficult stainless is fairly piece of cake, even if you accept comparatively simple, depression-tech tools. The primal is keeping the production of friction-generated heat to a minimum, either with cooling pastes and liquids or—believe it or not—apparently ol’ water.

Here’south how. Start by using a heart punch and a hammer or mallet to mark the spot where you need to cut the hole—let’s say, for argument’s sake, you are shooting for a 1/two-incher. Then utilize a bit that’due south considerably smaller than the hole you want to ultimately cutting—a ane/eight-inch or a 5/32-inch bit would institute a pretty good bet in this instance—and start cut with your drill at approximately half speed, with medium pressure. The bespeak hither is to apply enough revs and pressure to forbid binding but not so much that y’all produce temperatures that nix the chip’south atmosphere or hardness.

stainless drill LR

Here’due south the trick, withal. One time your bit’southward made an entry and a few cuttings accept been swept aside, dip the fleck in a cup of h2o to cool it off and go on doing so every ten to 15 seconds until you’ve finished the pigsty. Water’s the coolest coolant in this kind of situation considering it’southward easier to piece of work with and clean up than cutting oil or paste. Moreover, y’all’re most likely going to be using a middle-of-the-road, black-oxide-coated chip on a chore similar this, not a rarefied, high-speed tool that’s seriously pricey, so repeatedly dousing the thing in water is no big deal.

Once you lot’ve completed your pilot hole, simply switch to the 1/ii-inch bit and go on on keepin’ on, while dipping the bit periodically as earlier, until y’all’ve cut the hole you lot wanted to cutting in the first place.

For more tips like this, visit the Vetus-Maxwell DIY Workbench at

Capt. Bill Expressway is deputy editor of our sister publication Power & Motoryacht magazine.


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