How to Drill Stainless Steel Plate- Surprising Guide for Your Task

This essay will examine how to drill stainless steel plate equipment for best practices. 

I despised having to drill holes in stainless steel for a long time. It takes a long time to drill, is complex, and requires pricey cobalt or carbide tools. To rephrase, there were plenty of valid reasons for me to feel this way. In retrospect, it seems that the foundations upon which they lay were entirely erroneous.

There was once the notion that stainless is a particularly tough material. Because I was under the impression that drilling into stainless was difficult, I often cranked up the drill’s speed. No one could have been more incorrect than me. However, the guidance of a master metalworker taught me how to successfully use regular High-Speed Steel (HSS) drill bits to bore through stainless.

In its purest form, stainless steel is somewhat malleable. However, because of the high temperatures produced by high-velocity drilling, stainless steel tends to “work harden” quite rapidly when heated. As a result, stainless steel work hardens into a nearly impossible material to drill. 

What is Stainless Steel 

Put another way, stainless steel is low-carbon steel that has been alloying elements with chromium at a weighted proportion of 10% or above. This chromium addition makes stainless steel resistant to rust and other forms of deterioration.

As a result of the steel’s chromium composition, an invisible, corrosive-preventing chromium oxide coating might develop on its surface and remain tenaciously attached. If even minute amounts of oxygen are present, this film may heal from harm by scratches, chemicals, or mechanical abrasion. Increasing the chromium concentration and adding other elements like molybdenum, nickel, and ammonia improve steel’s corrosion resistance and other desired qualities.

Stainless steel comes in more than 60 different varieties.But it’s still possible to place everyone in one of five groups. The micro structure of each is unique because of the specific alloying components that give them their names.

What kinds of drill bits for stainless steel should I choose?

Tools for Drilling with Coated High-Speed Steel Bits

Getting an HSS bit coated with Titanium Aluminum Nitrate may be worthwhile if you intend to drill several holes. There is a golden hue to the coating.

Don’t believe the hype about cheap painted drill bits that can handle drilling Stainless Steel found at your local hardware store. Titanium aluminium nitrate drill bits should be the material of choice instead, so please verify that this is the case.

Tools for Drilling Made of Cobalt

These drill bits are even more intricate than the HSS varieties, and they are ideal for use with tough materials such as stainless steel.

Professional-Grade Hole Saws


Even when the hole being trim is fairly big, professional hole saws have little trouble slicing through large materials. Both the close end and the open end include screw connection points compatible with a standard arbour.They are sturdy, thanks to their construction from thick steel.

As a result of its sawtooth-like shape along its cutting edge, a hole saw can bore a hole through a broad range of materials. They are able to put a hole saw with a diameter of between 20 millimetres and 80 millimetres into the hole they drilled.

Attached to the saw’s arbor, a pilot drill cuts ahead of the main saw to maintain accuracy and precision. A hole saw merely makes a rim of cutout rather than removing significant amounts of material. This kind of hole saw is able to cut perfect circles into thin sheets of Stainless Steel. But only if the procedures outlined in the guide “Techniques for Drilling Stainless Steel” are strictly adhered to.

Poorly Fitting Hole Saws

Hole saws of the “thin, bendy, springy” variety have cutters that aren’t perfectly round, making them unsuitable for use on stainless steel. You’ll be able to spot these multi-tools in the hardware store since they come with an arbor large enough to hold many cutters. The hole cutter is not suitable for use on stainless steel.

How to Drill Stainless Steel Plate

Many people are concerned about how to drill stainless steel since they have never attempted it before. However, if you take a few basic precautions and think about the questions below, you’ll be able to reduce the drilling surface temperature to a minimum in no time.

Use A Drill Bit

Use A  Drill Bit
Use A Drill Bit

To a large extent, the success of a drill job into stainless steel depends on the quality of the drill bit used. Most people think that cobalt drill bits are better because they can handle the high temperatures created when drilling harder metals. 

Acceleration

Despite popular belief, drilling time does not directly correlate to drill speed. This is a severe error, especially when working with stainless steel.

However, as Chip Lawson points out in his article “Know How: Drilling Stainless Steel,” stainless steel will “work harden” very quickly when heated, and one guaranteed method to create heat is to drill swiftly. Work hardening the stainless steel makes it nearly impossible to drill.

While there may be drill bit speed charts that list RPM, in practice, few people will be able to use or even understand these numbers. So keep the pace of the power drill as low as possible.

Apply Pressure

Apply Pressure to drill stainless steel
Apply Pressure to drill stainless steel

There’s also the fallacy that using the most force would yield the best outcomes. Applying too much pressure has the same effect as rapid drilling in that it generates excessive heat. To get good spiral cuts from the cutting face, it’s recommended to start with a bit of pressure and gradually increase it. Once the target pressure has been reached, it should not be increased.

Lubricant

using Lubricant on drill bit
using Lubricant on drill bit

Some people might think it’s apparent that lubrication is needed when two metal surfaces are rubbing against one another under stress. However, many people will drill metal without oil or another lubricant. Therefore, a suitable drilling lubricant is essential to lower friction and keep heat under control. Drilling lube comes in various forms, from oils to sprays and pastes. The alternative to using one is not using any. Therefore we recommend using one.

Take a Rest

Heat generation is unavoidable while drilling stainless, even when taking precautions such as low drill speed, lowering the pressure, and using a suitable lubricant. Therefore, it is crucial to take breaks from drilling to let the drill bit cool down.

Per our recommendation, you shouldn’t go more than 30 seconds between breaks while drilling. All fasteners recommend drilling the material in brief bursts, as described in their article “Drilling Stainless Steel the Right Way.” Because heat builds up more rapidly with increasing drill bit size, more significant drill bits should be used for shorter periods.

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Safety Tips 

Put in a safety clutch or torque limitation on your drill.

Stainless steel can be challenging to drill because the bit might get caught in the material. Use only a drill with a safety clutch or torque limitation to protect yourself.

Clamp down on your project.

Stainless steel should be fastened firmly to a bench or stable work surface. If your drill bit becomes caught when it enters stainless steel, the metal might try to twist and cause you to harm as you try to free it.

The best way to keep your stainless steel workpiece sliding about while you drill is to utilize a stationary bench drill.

Always make sure you’re protected with PPE.

Protective gear and eyewear For everyone’s safety, gloves are necessary when drilling.

Cutting Fluid Fumes

It may be required to utilize protective breathing equipment when working with some types of cutting fluid. In addition, you must follow the health and safety guidelines included with your cutting fluid.

Use Caution Around Heat Sources

You may expect your drill bit and work piece to grow quite hot during drilling and possibly keep that heat for a while after you’re done.

FAQs

What is the best drill bit for drilling stainless steel?

Adding Cobalt (HSCO), typically between 5% and 8%, makes this material superior to HSS. This is an excellent option for when you need to drill into something more solid, such stainless steel. Drill bit materials range from soft ceramic to stiff and brittle carbide (Carb).

What is the easiest way to drill stainless steel?

Always begin by using a freshly sharpened drill and working at the slowest speed possible. I lower the rate on my drill press to its minimum or operate my handheld power tool at the slowest speed possible. You should put as much force on the drill bit as possible.

Conclusion 

Steel drilling might be a simple, quick task or one you’ll spend hours cursing over because you didn’t do it correctly the first time. I hope the advice above will help you become one of the former. The secret, you see, is in the planning. You can get a lot done with only the appropriate drill, the correct drill bit, and some accessories if you set the speed to a good, low RPM.

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