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How To Drill Hard Steel Video

Drilling steel or metal is harder than drilling wood. If you don't know how to drill steel, you can dull your drill bits quickly. Be sure to use a drill bit designed for steel, such as a cobalt bit. Wood drill bits have a special point that were not work with metal.

Use a little oil on the steel to lubricate and cool the drill bit. Heat will dull the drill bit rapidly. Drilling in steel requires a slower drill speed. Too fast and more heat is generated.

Place a block of wood under the steel workpiece. This will allow the drill bit to go into the wood, instead of dulling the bit on a piece of concrete.

As long as you have the proper sharp bit, a little oil and a variable speed drill, you can drill through steel or sheet metal without damaging the drill bit.

Author's Note:

I received the following tip from John Gibbs of Ontario, Canada. Based on his years of experience as a tool and die maker, John provides this excellent tip.

"Hi, I am a retired 71 year old tool and die maker ... worked at my trade for 53 years.

I recently saw the video on how to drill through steel. It was very good. But if you needed to enlarge that hole, then the larger drill bit will often vibrate and produce a chatter which gives a terrible 5 or 6 sided edge instead of a smooth accurate edge to the hole.

The solution is to simply use a piece of emery cloth. Fold about a 1 X 2 inch piece of emery cloth in half, with the smooth side on the OUTSIDE, to avoid scratching the work piece. Place it over the hole to be enlarged, place the drill bit on the emery cloth over the hole and begin drilling. It will automatically center itself. The emery cloth will let the drill bit through smooth and easy, and produces a beautiful smooth edge without a trace of chatter.

Works every time. This is a tip I learned as an apprentice in England. I hope that you find this interesting. It's one of the best tips I was ever taught. Would make a nice little 2 minute video probably."






14 Responses to How To Drill Hard Steel Video

  1. Cobalt is more expensive then a good H.S.S bit. For drilling steel like you did it will do a fine job. If you were going into something like stainless you could opt for cobalt although H.S.S. Bit would also work with the right feed and speed. Always remember not to force the drill bit. Let it do the work while applying light pressure. If you are drilling a large hole you should start out with a smaller bit and then use John Gibbs method to finish up.

  2. Sounds like good advice Tim.....I wonder how many really know this ! Passing his on to my son-in-law and his friend who does a lot of building, etc......will let you know if either of them knew this....
    Well since I know totally nothing about drilling.......I really can't comment except to say, should this come up, I will know it and can express it :)
    But I do want to say that is a GREAT tool bag.....would make a great Christmas present or Birthday present to someone......will pass this info around too......have a great day.....

  3. Hey Tim,
    The tip from Mr Gibbs is one of the best I have seen in a long time. Thanks much for sharing it. I have struggled with this problem many times, and the solution is so simple.

  4. I forget that drilling steel, even lighter duty tin duct work requires a different bit than wood. Keeping a set of cobalt bits just for steel would be a great solution. Thanks for the great tip.

  5. In addition to starting with oil, I have a block of bees wax near my drills, when the bit begins to heat, I dab the warm bit on the wax and some melts to the bit, then I continue drilling. It also lubes/cools the bit.

  6. In the past I haven't had a need to 'enlarge' a hole but will keep the emery cloth tip in mind if the situation arises. Good video!

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