How to punch a square hole in metal

Written by c.l. rease
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Some automotive parts require a square pass-through hole in either a sheet metal panel or other metal component. Generally, punching a square hole in sheet metal requires a mechanical punch and a square punch and die set. This is an expensive tool, especially if you only need to punch one or two holes. An alternative tool is slower than a mechanical punch but is cheaper in cost and creates a clean square hole in a piece of sheet metal.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Masking tape
  • Fine-tipped permanent marker
  • Safety glasses
  • Manual square punch
  • Drill bit set
  • Variable-speed drill motor
  • Socket set
  • 3/8-inch ratchet
  • Adjustable wrench

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place a piece of masking tape on the surface of the sheet metal, over the spot that you will be punching the square hole. Mark the centre of the square hole with the fine-tipped permanent marker.

  2. 2

    Put on your safety glasses. Read the operating instructions enclosed with the manual square punch to determine the size of the pilot hole needed for the square punch.

  3. 3

    Secure the appropriate-sized drill bit into the chuck of the drill motor and place the tip of the drill bit onto the mark you made on top of the masking tape in step two. Depress the trigger of the drill motor to drill the pilot hole through the sheet metal.

  4. 4

    Take apart the square punch as described in the operating manual of the punch. Slide the mandrel of the square punch through the pilot hole you drilled through the sheet metal and reassemble the manual square punch.

  5. 5

    Match a socket from the socket set with the hex nut located on the top of the square punch, attach the socket to the 3/8-inch ratchet and slide the socket onto the hex nut.

  6. 6

    Place the adjustable wrench onto the bolt head of the manual square punch and turn the ratchet clockwise to tighten the mandrel of the punch. Continue tightening the mandrel until the square punch pops through the sheet metal and creates a square hole in the sheet metal.

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