How to drill through metal. When drilling through metal such as pipes, it is important to consider that, unlike wood, metal consists of a layer of oxidized outside with an inner core of pure metal.
To get through metal you must first break down the oxide layer and then penetrate the inner metalcore.
The biggest difference from drilling through wood is that metal usually requires using a different drill bit depending on depth and material.
Also, the holes will not be the same size as if they are being made in wood, but instead, they can be bigger due to the different properties and structure of the metal.
How to drill through metal
To drill into any metal such as steel, aluminum, and most other metals with minimal effort – using a twist drill bit is your best bet.
Therefore, you might want to invest in an impact driver, which can make the process not only easier but faster, depending on the speed settings you have it at.
Most drill bits that are designed specifically for drilling holes into metal start out between 1/16 inch through 3/16 inches relatively quickly and maintain their original size going forward.
It also depends on what material you’re trying to drill (steel may be more durable than aluminum, for example).
In this guide we’re going to walk you through the different types of metals you’ll encounter, how deep to drill, and the best possible speeds for drilling.
Identify the Metal you are working with
Metals can often be found by doing some light research or examining how the metal looks, but sometimes you won’t know the specific metal by sight.
In this case, you may need to put a sample of your metal in a centrifuge so you can determine the density of your drill bit.
Different metals require different drill bits and knowing whether it’s steel, bronze, or aluminum will help ensure that you are using an appropriate drill type for best results.
Often time junk is simply called scrap and in rare cases, there are identifiable attributes that would be helpful such as brand/grade/age, etc.
but more typically when looking at scrap metal we must rely on testing samples (which is cost-effective) to determine if they are within a desirable balance of hardness vs. workability and final product functionality.
Choose the Right Drill Bit
If your work requires drilling into metal, you will need to select drill bits specifically labeled as ‘’for metal.” They have a harder coating that protects against heat.
If you are drilling into softer metals like iron or aluminum, you can use standard drill bits as long as they are designed for this type of material.
When working with harder metals like steel or brass, always use drill bits that are specifically labeled for these types of materials too.
The other thing to keep in mind is the size of the bit and where it is going in relation to the rest of your project.
Drill holes that are drilled deeper and larger may require more pressure than the average bit can handle well and therefore leave the hole improperly drilled.
Select a Suitable Drill
Next, look for drills that are used extensively on residential projects, especially entrance gates and fences. These tools are commonly used because they’re simple to operate and easy to set up, even by beginners.
You can make any adjustments before you start if need be while working with these models. Adjustable speed is the single important feature you really need.
When it comes time to drill through metal, you don’t want too big of a drill or one that is too powerful. This will create a lot of friction as the piece being drilled moves out of place easily.
Also, this kind of extra torque might not be ideal in your situation since it could end up moving where you don’t want it to go or just cause a huge mess altogether (plus it may melt in some cases).
For this reason, you want a model that can shift down to really low speeds instead so things go better for you.
Using a Metal Lubricant
When drilling through metal it’s important to have the right lubricants handy. Lubrication reduces friction and heat.
Which are problematic when it comes to drilling bits and drilling, making your work simpler. There is an extensive range of lubricants for various metals for you to choose from.
Apply for Appropriate Protection
While drilling through metal, it is essential to use the appropriate safety equipment. You should wear goggles to protect your eyes from small metal shards that could get in otherwise.
Breathing protection is also recommended, as tiny metal shavings can fly all around during this process. Plan ahead by covering ears because drilling noises can be quite loud and last for extended periods of time.
Preparation of the Metal
Drilling a hole or two in a piece of metal can be tricky without the proper safety precautions. Whether you’re making holes to mount something on top of or underneath a metal surface, you’ll want to create some scaffolding for your drill.
Anything that will prevent your bit from penetrating completely through the wood or metal will do.
This could mean inserted bits of scrap wood, cardboard, and even rubber bands to cushion the force in case the drill slips slightly while you’re working.
The last thing you need is to injure yourself by drilling a hole clean through your hand. It may seem like common sense but there are many instances known where people didn’t use a scrap surface and suffered painful injuries as a result.
It never hurts to watch out for yourself every once in a while so yes, just say NO to abscess-induced agony.
Let’s Get Drilling
Finally, you are ready to start drilling! Remember to always go carefully and use plenty of lubrication.
You will want to avoid creating too much heat where the drill is touching the material. If you’re unsure if it’s working well enough, try slowing down your speed.
As long as it keeps spinning well with plenty of lubrication and no smoke or blunt force causing damage, as a rule of thumb it should be fine to keep going at that pace until you notice a problem with how the drill comes out.
If the hole quality seems too rough or jagged overall, try using a petroleum-based solvent or cleaner to clean away all of the shavings left behind by drills past so be sure to wear gloves when doing this
particular step while also keeping everything else covered in case anything splashes up onto uncovered areas (that goes for both your hands and any other parts that may get smeared during this step).
How to drill through metal