6 Tips to Watch out for When Drilling Holes in Metal


Are you a construction enthusiast on how to drill holes into metals, or does your job always require drilling holes into metals? Are you looking for new ways to go about drilling holes into metal? Then this right here is what you need.

Occasionally, you might face some difficulties in drilling some metals. It could even be that your machine stops while drilling.

All you need are the right tips to go about the job. So, continue as we highlight six tips to help eliminate those problems.

These tips will make your drilling process easier, faster, safer, and more reliable than before.

Table of Contents

1. Materials For Drilling Holes In Metals

You must know about the right materials for drilling. Therefore before going into details about our tips, we’ll discuss the right materials for effective drilling.

Any basic standard drill bits are good enough to drill holes in metals. General-purpose drill bits are good for metals, wood, and plastic. They will do the job. Below are a few drill bits that would suit you to drill holes in metals as you like.

1. Twist Bits

Twist bits are another name for most standard drills. It is suitable for drilling holes in wood, plastic, and even metals. This is the best choice if you want the right drill bit for metals.

Twist bit

Fig.2. Twist bit

Although twist bits are good for metals, you still have to pay attention to the tip or point of the drill bit to get the right one.

For metals, your drill bits should have two relatively flat, not steeply angled- cutting points, not a protruding center point. Drill bits with center points are for wood (brad point bits). Thus, always choose the right point for metals.

2. Step Bits

this is a cone-shaped bit that is great for drilling metals, especially thin plate or sheet metal, and other metals. Mostly, they are the choice for electricians to drill holes in metal electrical boxes. Material is another important factor to consider about drilling tools for metals.

Step bits

Fig3. Step bits

Four significant types of standard drill bits; are high-speed steel (HSS), cobalt, black oxide, and titanium. If you have just a few holes to drill, you can go for HSS bits, but with lots of holes to drill, and if it involves heavy metal such as stainless steel, you should invest in a titanium bit. Titanium bits are the most durable of all types, and more resistant to heat and friction, while cobalt and black oxide are just a little more durable than HSS and more resistant but cost a whole lot more.

2. Tips For Drilling Through Metal

Several tips will help you get accurate, clean metal holes without excessively wearing out your drill bits. Like a pro, these tips will help you drill easier, safer, and faster. Some of these include;

●Use a Sacrificial Board

Using a sacrificial board means using a flat piece of wood when drilling. It implies placing a flat piece of scrap wood, known as the sacrificial board, beneath or over the metal piece. The aim is to ensure that the drill bit does not tear up the hole. So you clamp the metal over a piece of sacrificial board, and if you want the cleanest of holes, you can clamp another flat piece of wood over the metal to form a sacrificial sandwich.

What makes the wood “sacrificial” is that you drill through it when placed over metal.

●Wear Protective Goggles

It is easy to take this step with happiness, but if just a little stray metal gets into your eyes, you can be sure that you won’t be drilling anything anywhere for a while. It is best always to play it safe and never forget your safety goggles when you want to drill into metals. Simple safety glasses that wrap around your face would not hurt and would go a long way to ensure you are safe to drill that perfect and clean hole.

●Use Your Hammer For A Hole Before Drilling

This tip is a simple trick that helps make your drilling process less stressful. Most drill bits tend to move tangentially on the surface of the metal against the pressure applied. Thus, the next time you want to drill, mark out the point where you want the hole to be and use a hammer and center punch to make a little dent on the surface of the metal. With this, when you begin drilling with your drill bits, they will be able to penetrate the metal without skidding on the surface much more quickly.

Making a little dent with a hammer and center punch helps give a small space where you can focus your drilling.

●Lubricating Your Bits Is Good

This next hint is a simple step that saves your time, stress, and even money over time. Firstly, it is always advisable to use cutting fluid when dealing with thick metal, such as one more than 1/8th of an inch thick. It helps your drill bits cut in easier. While if you are dealing with softer surfaces such as aluminum or brass, you can skip the drilling fluid.

Also, to ensure that your drill bits last longer, you lubricate them regularly. With a little oil, your drill bits reduce friction and heat buildup, and as you already know by now, make the drilling process more comfortable.

3. Use Clamps To Fasten Metal

clamp for drilling hole in a metal

Fig.4 clamp for drilling hole in a metal

Using clamps while drilling metal is a lifesaver foremost before we even make mention of the efficiency it breeds. But maybe to save cost or time, many users decide against using a clamp and instead use one hand to steady the metal while they drill through. It is a dangerous thing to do as the metal can easily spin off and cut skin or even go through bone. So why spend money on health care instead of spending on fixtures now?
We recommend using two clamps to fasten the metal down on both sides before drilling through it. The firm holding the clamps will help ensure you get that firm hold.

●Always Start With A Small Hole

clamp for drilling hole in a metal

Fig.5. Drilling a small hole in a metal

The last tip is that instead of jumping immediately into drilling that large hole, starting with a small one is ideal. Go from drilling small holes to larger holes until you get your desired drill hole size.

Most drill bits will give you a 1-inch diameter, the advice for you is to start with a 1/4-inch drill bit, and in succession, you can move on to larger until you get the drill hole you want. The larger the bit, the harder it is to bite into the metal and crave while also slowing down the drilling process. For instance, if you want to drill a 1/2-inch hole, start with a 1/8-inch bit and gradually step up to larger bits.

Thus, if your bit is not cutting into the edge of the hole, then it is too big.

These are the few tips we have for you to help you drill that perfect, precision hole into that metal or any other surface. For finishing, always clean the hole with a bit larger than the diameter of the hole to shave off the rough metal edges.

This article can’t end without letting you know that, when drilling, apply less pressure, allowing the drill bit to do the work while drilling slowly. The faster you drill, the more heat you create, which means your bit wears out more quickly.

So apply moderate pressure, drill at half-speed, use the tips mentioned above, and watch as a clean and perfect hole emerges in that metal piece.

Video link: https://youtu.be/Fu6Mdrp8fy8


Drilling holes in metals is not as difficult as many people people think. The only problem is that most people don’t have the right information about this easy task. If you follow the tips in this guide, you’ll discover how easy and fast it is to drill holes in metals. Moreover, we are certain that your next experience will be blissful compared to the previous one. In case you need any help, do not hesitate to contact us.

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