Stainless steel is a material that is often used for various household objects and furniture. It is highly durable, sturdy, rust-resistant, temperature-resistant, eco-friendly, and on top of all that, it looks terrific!
If you ever decide to make something from stainless steel, you should learn how to drill stainless steel. For example, if you have a stainless steel sink, you must know how to make a hole to attach something to it. The same goes for making other items or furniture from this great material.
But drilling stainless steel is more challenging than you might assume. It would help if you had specific tools, safety equipment, and a precise technique to drill the perfect hole without damaging the rest of the stainless steel. To learn more about drilling stainless steel, stick around for the rest of the article!
Before drilling stainless steel, you must ensure you have the proper equipment. It would be best to have a special drill and drill bit to drill stainless steel without damaging it. Then, you must ensure the drill can generate the correct RPM and pressure. Let's look into these categories more closely and see what you need to get for your first stainless steel drilling process:
Whether you are using an electric or battery drill, a cordless or a corded one, it does not make much difference. You only need to ensure that your drill comes with a torque limiter or a safety clutch you can use to limit torque.
You can use a hand drill, but it is better to use a drill with a bench or some workpiece to ensure the drill does not move or slip while drilling. Depending on your drill, you can choose a suitable drill bit.
There are various drill bits on the market, but I recommend two for drilling stainless steel. You can first look into HSS bits with a golden coating. You can find these bits under the name titanium aluminum nitrate.
The coated HSS is a great choice, but a second choice you should know about is the cobalt drill bits. They are much harder and suitable for drilling larger stainless steel pieces or thicker steel sheets.
Both these drill bits are quite expensive, but the investment is worth it, considering that they are durable and very effective at drilling into anything made from stainless steel.
RPM stands for "revolutions per minute," meaning how fast the drill bit will spin. A general recommendation is to keep the RPM to a minimum. The larger your desired hole is, the slower you will need the drill bit to be. That is because drilling at high speed will likely cause damage to the material, causing it to deteriorate and become unusable.
While the drill bit speed needs to be as low as possible, you must apply constant downward pressure. If you apply gentle pressure, you will have to spend much more time cutting while also risking potential damage to the material from not pushing down on it hard enough.
Finally, you must ensure that you have lots of coolant or lubricant around when drilling. Any cutting oil will do, but if you do not have much oil, you can always use some motor oil or WD-40.
You should apply the oil on the drill bit. Also, ensure there is enough Teflon lubricant or oil on the material at all times, as you do not want to drill without the oil. That could cause instant damage to the drill bit and cause it to wear out much quicker.
When drilling holes into stainless steel, you must have precise, perfect techniques to ensure your project succeeds. Before you ever start drilling, you must gather all the right tools and use them in the proper settings.
Then, it would help if you thought about the drill's speed, pressure, and position and how to remove it from the material once you make your desired hole. Here is more information on the best stainless steel drilling technique:
1) Drilling speed - Some people mistakenly think that stainless steel, one of the tough materials, requires high-speed drilling. But high-speed steel drilling will only cause damage to the material and raise the possibility of you injuring yourself, so you must keep that in mind.
2) Drilling pressure - Stainless steel drilling might require low speed but requires high pressure - the higher, the better! When setting yourself, you must ensure solid contact between the drill and the material.
That is the only way to ensure you generate the proper amount of pressure without allowing the drill to move around and damage the rest of the material. To further ensure the drill stays at the correct position, you must make a center or pilot hole.
3) Pilot hole - You should ensure you make a center hole using a center punch before you start the drilling process. The center punch is a tool that looks like a rod but is used to make indents. You can use it to make an indent where you want to drill and ensure the drill does not slip around. Mark your spot with a regular marker, set the hole punch, and, using a hammer, push the hole punch in the material enough to make the hole.
If you do not have a hole punch you can use, you can always replace it with a sharp galvanized nail or drill bit that you use to make the indent. Again, you will need a hammer to push the tool down, but you can get one from any hardware store in your neighborhood.
4) Proper position - Whenever you want to drill stainless steel, you need to position the drill straight at a 90-degree angle compared to the steel material. After making the indent, place the right drill bit on the drill, and use it to start drilling into the material. It should take a maximum of a few minutes to make the hole. If you need to fix the edges, you can use a file only after reaching the precise depth and width.
Another thing to remember is to lubricate the area before you start drilling. Otherwise, the friction will wear out all your drill bits and cause you to spend extra money on new ones.
5) Quick stop - Finally, you need to remove the drill bit from the hole the right way so as not to cause damage to the hole you just made. Whenever you need to stop drilling, do that at once and remove the bit quickly. Also, occasionally do quick stops to ensure the stainless steel sheet is not heating up too much. If it is, you must let it cool down and give your drill a break. After all, you do not want to risk work harden.
Drilling into anything is dangerous, and so is drilling into stainless steel. You must follow the safety protocol when you are getting ready to do some steel drilling. That means having goggles, gloves, and a breathing mask:
Goggles are necessary when operating a drill at full speed, no matter what kind of metal you use it on. So, when drilling into steel, you also need goggles to protect your eyes. Should the drill slip or cause sharp particles to fly around, at least you will know they have no way of going into your eyes.
Gloves are also a smart investment considering that you will operate a sharp cutter that can easily slip. If that happens, you do not want your hand to get caught on the bit and your skin to tear. You should wear gloves and keep your hands protected, just in case.
Wear a breathing mask or any other kind of covering for your mouth and nose because cutting into stainless steel can release cutting fluid fumes. They can be quite harmful, so you should avoid sniffing them.
It is quite common for stainless steel drilling to come with a few slips here and there. I do not want you to risk injuring yourself or causing damage to your objects, so I recommend that you always pay the utmost attention to the drill while working.
You should apply enough pressure but refrain from using high speed. Also, ensure that you always have a 90-degree tip angle so the bit can go into the surface without many difficulties.
Suppose you follow the drilling technique given above. In that case, I do not doubt you will successfully make as many holes as you want into stainless steel.
Thank you for reading this detailed guide on preparing, drilling, and staying safe while drilling stainless steel. I hope this guide answered all your topic questions, but ensure you re-read it whenever you need drilling, just to be safe.
If you have any other metal drilling tips or tricks, please share them with me in the comment section. I cannot wait to see what you put down there!