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Drilling metal

Drilling metal can be daunting particularly for a novice. The choice of metal drill bits can seem endless. From hss drill bits to cobalt drill bits and everything in between. Where should you start?

We have put together 10 top tips which will at least guide you in the right direction when it comes to drilling metal and hopefully make the job less daunting. We will give a brief explanation to each point and then provide an image of just the points for convenience.

  1. Identify the metal being drilled. Metals come in all shapes and sizes and equally various levels of hardness. It is important to know what metal you are going to drill as its hardness rating will determine the type of metal drill bit you should use.
  2. Choose correct drill bit type. Once you know the metal you are drilling you can establish the ciorrect type of drill bit you will need. A cobalt drill bit will drill through most metals you will encounter. However to be sure it is worth consulting a resource such as THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DRILL BITS which will narrow down the selection.
  3. Use adjustable speed drill. An adjustable speed drill will allow you to start off at a slow speed rather than drilling at full speed which will overheat the drill bit very quickly.
  4. If possible secure /clamp metal being drilled. Safety should be a priority. Where possible always secure the metal you are going to drill. This will prevent it from spinning or moving once the drilling starts.
  5. Wear safety glasses. The displaced metal will be removed from the drilled hole in long pieces and also small pieces. Wearing safety glasses will protect your eyes from any pieces of metal which can be removed at speed.
  6. Choose correct drilling speed. As  you have identified the metal you are drilling you should consult a drill speed and feed chart which will tell you the correct speed to drill the metal type based on the drill bit size you are using. Dont worry if you dont know how to measure the speed of your drill as this is only really possible in a controlled situation. However you can use the guide to determine relative speed for the metal you are drilling compared to other metals. For example it may be obvious from the chart that you should be drilling very slowly.
  7. Use a centre punch to mark metal. By using a centre punch or even a nail if you dont have a center punch you can mark the metal where you want to drill. This will allow the drill bit to position itself seculely before you start drilling. Without this centre punch you drill bit could move or ‘skate’ once it starts spinning.
  8. Use a metal cutting paste/lubricant. You shuld always use a metal cutting paste or lubricant when drilling metal. A spinning metal drill bit under pressure against metal will produce friction and cause heat build up very quickly. By using a lubricant you will reduce the friction and heat build up. This will make the drilling process easier and will prolong the life of you drill bit.
  9. Only use required pressure. As mentioned before friction is going to cause heat build up. This needs to be kept to a minimum. By only using the required pressure you will control the amount of friction and allow the drill bit to do its job more efficiently.
  10. Avoid overheating by drilling in short bursts. Another tip to help prevent excessive friction and heat build up is to take breaks. By drilling in short bursts and stopping you allow the drill bit to cool down. This will also give you a chance to add more lubricant if needed.
Drilling metal Top 10 Tips scaled - Drilling Metal: 10 Top Tips

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