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Drilling Stainless 14 Gauge

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  • Drilling Stainless 14 Gauge

    I have to drill Many Holes through Some stainless steel 14 gauge Material with a Electric hand drill. The pieces have been formed (BENT) like a piece of U Channel with three sides each four inches long. I have to drill straight through to match both sides evenly. Also this part is over Twenty Feet Long.Any tips on how to make this Job a bit more Pleasant? The holes are 3/8 inch Diameter. Thanx Audrey

  • #2
    Drilling stainless may never be pleasant but you can make it a bit less miserable if you use a multi-step drill.

    Every fastener shop, industial supply house, and home center in the world sells them. Here's a link to the Sears version. 0921000

    This is the 1/2 dia version "Craftsman 1/8 x 1/2 in. Step Drill Bit". While it has a 3/8" step about 1/8" long it's easy to blow past it. I don't think a stop collar will work very well because of stringy chips. I suggest you grind off the steps larger than 3/8. This partly sacrifices a $25 tool but if it saves you an hour and does a better job (nice round holes) such sacrifices should be made.

    Run your VS drill at lower RPM as the larger diameters bite. I'd drill at full RPM for the initial 1/8" penetration and as the successive steps cur reduce the RPM finishing at 3/8" at 300 RPM or so. Use plenty of oil. WD40 works good on stainless.


    • #3
      Audrey: It sounds like no matter how you drill the holes, you need to get alignment from one side to the other. I'd try and get some sort of fixture together to allow spotting the other side. A block of any hard material (metal, plastic, wood ) 3.xx" in width which fits in the channel and which has a hole either full size or smaller to allow spotting the other side either with a punch or long jobbers or electricians drill should help. If the block is dimensioned for a slide in fit, you could throw a clamp across the channel to prevent movement of the fixture while drilling or punching.


      • #4
        Audrey.. I learned how to get a lot of holes in stainless sheetmetal with one bit. Make sure your drill is very sharp. Center punch holes really deep. Put the vari speed hand drill in the center, push like heck and just bump the trigger on enough to barely spin, let off, bump again.. It will throw a curl like nobody's business. If you just put the drill on it and pull the trigger, it clogs the bit up, workhardens the sheet, then burns up the bit.
        If you had a drill press that would hardly turn.. really slow and put a lot of pressure on it it probably would do the same thing. Problem is.. heavy laden drill bits arc and walk off center.. With sheet you should not have this problem. I never did with sheet.
        I have built custom electrical cabinets since the 70's in stainless. I learned this trick from a old man. I laughed at him till I tried it. One drill bit can drill hundreds of holes, or two.. your choice he said.. I since then learned to listen.
        I used to make stainless tattoo machines for ebaying.. with thicker metal the holes were a pain, especially after I had welded on them.
        I got a large whitney punch, it works like a charm too, harder to line up thou.


        • #5
          135* split point drill & a constant feed rate to insure you are cutting .003" minimum. Even 304 cuts like butter this way - it would help if you can use coolant or cutting lube. Don't let up on the pressure though or you can work harden it really fast.

          The best way to insure the holes line up is to drill it in a drill press.

          [This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 05-06-2003).]


          • #6
            Audrey: Since you are going to use a hand held drill, think about this one (adapted from a drill press jig idea). Cut and drill two properly spaced full sized holes in a thick piece of iron, center the holes between the side edges, the iron width to fit between the channel sides. Put a long plug in one hole. The "plug" long enough to go through both channels backs. Clamp the channels back to back (or drill independently, one at a time).

            The iron will put your holes in center of the channel, spacing equal from hole to hole. Just move the iron after each hole and drill the next hole. Just insure that the drill fits the hole well, and try to not "ride" against the holes. The cumlative error over 20 feet (unless you are making "many" (say less then five inches spacing) should keep the holes so you can put channels anywhere and the holes match every where.