How to Drill a Hole in Metal

If you’ve ever done a DIY project around your home, chances are you have encountered a situation where you need to drill a hole in metal.  

Drilling through metal is entirely different than drilling through any other surface. Duh, it’s metal. Therefore, you need to make sure you are following the appropriate steps to ensure your personal safety as well as the wellbeing of the tools you are using. 

First of all, there’s no need for any kind of upgraded drill bit in order to drill through metal. Any general purpose twist bit is going to help you do a good job. If you are a DIYer on a budget, even the least expensive twist bits are designed to drill through a variety of material from wood to metal.  

In order to safely drill a hole in metal, follow these directions:  

Step One: Protect Your Eyes 

Safety first, everyone! Even the tiniest of metal fragments can cause serious injury to your eye, so eye protection should be your first step. Make sure to use safety goggles that wrap around to the side of your face to ensure your eyes are protected from every angle. Plus you’ll just look cooler while you work.  

Step Two: Make a “Dimple” 

To prevent your drill bit from wandering along a sleek, metal surface, measure and mark where you want the hole to go. Using a hammer, create a small dimple to help give the drill bit a place to stay put as you begin to drill.

Step Three: Lubricate Your Bit 

First of all, get your mind out of the gutter. If you are drilling into steel, it’s best practice to lubricate your drill bit before drilling. This will reduce the friction and heat buildup not only making your drilling easier but helping your bits last longer. For lighter metals such as aluminum or brass, lubrication is usually not needed.  

Step Four: Start Small 

No matter how big you need your hole to be at the end, start small. You’ll get the best results if you start with a ¼” hold and drill successively larger holds from there.  

If you need an extra large hole, a hole saw is probably going to be the best tool to use. These can fit right into your drill and cut through thin sheet metals in a snap.  

Step Five: Drill at a Slow Speed 

Because of friction, the faster a bit spins into metal, the hotter it is going to get. The result will be bits that dull quickly. Drill metal using as slow a speed as you can. Hard metals require even slower speeds.  

Step Six: Deburr the Drilled Hole 

Once you’ve drilled your hole, it’s best practice to remove any sharp edges or burrs that might be left behind. You can purchase special deburring tools to get this done, or you can take a twist bit that’s slightly larger than the hole and gently hand twist it over the hole. This will file down the rough edges as well.  

No matter what kind of metal you’re drilling into and no matter what size you need, Northside Tool Rental has all the tools that you are going to need to get the job done. Contact a member of our team to discuss your project and what tools we can help you with to get your project completed in record time.