How to drill a hole in a metal plate

Written by c.l. rease
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How to drill a hole in a metal plate
Reducing friction with cutting fluid and a slow drilling speed will increase the life of your drill bits when drilling into a metal plate. (5 drill bit set image by Horticulture from Fotolia.com)

Drilling a hole in a metal plate differs from drilling a hole through wood or thinner sheet metal. When drilling through thinner metal and wood, the drill bit goes through the material quickly, reducing the amount of heat generated by the drilling process. On the other hand, drilling into a metal plate takes time and heat builds quickly, dulling the drill bit. To ease the drilling process and increase the life of your drill bits, you need to keep heat in check by reducing friction.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Metal plate
  • Worktable
  • Two pair of self-locking C-grips
  • Drill bit set
  • 1/2-inch variable speed drill motor
  • Safety glasses
  • Cutting fluid
  • Dry rag

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Lay the metal plate flat on the worktable. Make sure that the point where you are drilling the hole in the plate extends beyond the edge of the worktable.

  2. 2

    Secure the metal plate to the worktable by placing one pair of self-locking C-grips at each side of the metal plate that intersects the edge of the worktable.

  3. 3

    Select and secure a drill bit from the drill bit set that is 40 to 50 per cent smaller than the size of the finished hole for a pilot bit into the 1/2-inch variable speed drill motor. For example, for a 1/2-inch diameter finished hole, you would use either a 3/16- or 1/4-inch drill bit for the pilot hole.

  4. 4

    Put on your safety glasses, place the tip of the drill bit onto the surface of the metal plate and apply cutting fluid to the area where the tip of the drill bit meets the surface of the metal plate.

  5. 5

    Apply pressure on the drill motor and pump the trigger of the drill to run the drill bit into the metal plate. Pumping the trigger of the drill motor will keep the drill bit spinning slowly, keeping friction to a minimum. Pause drilling and apply cutting fluid to the drill bit often to keep the drill bit cool.

  6. 6

    Exchange the smaller pilot bit for the drill bit required to drill the final hole and coat the drill bit liberally with cutting fluid.

  7. 7

    Repeat Step 5 with the larger drill bit and wipe the excess cutting fluid from the surface of the metal plate with a dry rag to complete drilling a hole in the metal plate.

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