Some people want to avoid having others working on their homes - they would much rather turn repairs and renovations into DIY projects they do by themselves. If this describes you, you might have to work on aluminum sooner or later.
Aluminum is a widely used material. It is used in construction, engineering, and even the automotive industry. While it is not a difficult material to work with, the problem is that aluminum drilling must be very meticulous and done with the right equipment to avoid damaging the material. Thus, you must know a few steps before drilling into this soft metal.
If you want to learn how to drill aluminum, stick around for this guide. I will tell you how to choose the best drill bit, what speed, pressure, and position are best for drilling aluminum, and how to protect yourself from possible injuries. With that being said, let's get right into the guide!
Top Tips For Drilling Aluminum
Refrain from being alarmed by what I said in the previous section - drilling aluminum is not that difficult. Still, you must know how to drill aluminum correctly to avoid problems.
There are seven tips that I want to share with you today that will help you start drilling aluminum without much difficulty. Let's look into these top 7 tips and see what the best way to drill aluminum is:
Tip 1 - Suitable Drill and Drill Bit
The first and most important thing is to gather all the necessary equipment and gear so that you can start getting ready for the actual drilling. There are two essential things for drilling aluminum - the drill and the drill bit.
You can use any hand-help drill for aluminum drilling. It can be a corded or cordless drill or an electric or battery-powered one. But it needs to have adjustable speed, and you need to be able to pair it with a suitable drill bit. While choosing the drill is relatively easy, selecting a drill bit is more problematic.
Most people would use the standard HSS drill bit when drilling such materials. Still, I do not recommend the standard HSS drill bit for aluminum drilling. Instead, I recommend that you get a cobalt drill bit. The cobalt drill bit is sturdier and sharper and will ultimately assist you in drilling by reducing heat build-up.
The diameter of the drill bit will depend on the size hole you want to make. If you are going for a small hole, get a 1/8-inch diameter drill bit. This is the ideal size drill bit for drilling aluminum, but you can also go with a larger drill bit if you want to make a larger hole.
Next, remember that your drill bits must be sharp, as worn-out bits can also cause wear and tear in the aluminum. After each use, clean your drill bits with water and a wire scrub while going over them with a polishing cloth. Keep all the drill bits close so that you can switch between them if one starts heating up.
Tip 2 - Suitable Drill Speed
The ideal drilling speed for drilling aluminum is between 200 and 300 RPM, which means slow drilling speed. Drilling at high speed can also contribute to heat build-up, melting the aluminum pipe or sheet. So, ensure you use your power tools at a low speed when drilling aluminum.
Tip 3 - Suitable Drill Pressure
Drill pressure is also something to keep in mind when drilling aluminum. You should apply reduced but steady pressure while drilling into aluminum. This will help dissipate heat quicker, so you will not fear damaging the material. Whenever you need to stop drilling, quickly remove the drill bit so as not to cause wear and tear to the material.
Tip 4 - Mark the Spot
Aluminum is a material with a low melting point. You will likely damage the material without the right drill bit, pressure, and speed if you work on it for too long.
To prevent long drilling times and keep the material from damaging, I recommend that you lie the material on a flat surface and choose the drill spot. Using a marker, you can mark the spot. You can even set a drill bit holder to avoid missing the spot. This creates space for you to make the hole and stop the drilling quickly.
Tip 5 - Rotate the Drill Bit
Another thing you can try doing while drilling is to rotate the drill bit. You should do this slowly and gently to avoid damaging the aluminum. This is an optional step, but I recommend it because it can prevent the drill bit from getting stuck in the aluminum sheet or pipe.
Tip 6 - Use Lubrication
Lubrication can help by reducing heat build and friction. You can use proper lubricant, but if you do not have any, you can also use light oil or dishwashing liquid. Use a bit of it on the material and the drill bit to dissipate heat quicker.
Tip 7 - Safety Precautions
Finally, I want you to stay safe when drilling into aluminum, metal, or other material. So, I recommend always wearing safety goggles, a dust mask, and hand protection gloves when drilling. Also, remember never to put your hair, arms, or hands close to a spinning drill bit, or you will injure yourself.
Thank you for reading this detailed guide on drilling into aluminum. I encourage you to remember the tips shared in this guide the next time you need to drill aluminum. Drilling into this soft metal requires a suitable drilling bit, slow drilling speed, and controller pressure. Most drill bits will work well for drilling into aluminum, but I recommend the cobalt drill bit.
If you have any other tips or tricks for aluminum drilling that you would like to share with the other readers and me, please do so in the comments below. I cannot wait to hear about your experience with drilling aluminum!