How Do I Drill a Hole Through a Metal (What Am I Doing Wrong?)

Hi, i am trying to drill a hole through this metal piece (leg of a divider to attach a caster to it).

I bought this and cutting fluid from bunnings to drill a hole through it.

This is what i achieved (with bit of help with engraving tool) in about 20 minuate. Half a hole….

As you can see from the mess i made on the photos, i am clearly new to this… and i need some guidence with this.

20 minuates for half a hole… and i need 3 more holes after this….

I would be appreciated if some of you could help me what i am doing wrong… and if i need to buy other drill bits, a link would be appreciated.

Also, if there is a cheap ways (under $50 total) to have 4 holes drilled to those, i dont mind leaving those to the professionals and just pay for them.

If you know anyone who provide such service in Brisbane, please help me!

The result

The result photo
First of all, thanks everyone who gave me wonderful advices.
I was gonna try it out myself again after getting the tool, but wonderful local carpenter sent me an offer through airtasker.
As i was afraid that i might make the same mistake, i took the easy path.
The carpenter showed me how to properly drill through the metal piece. Starting from small bits to 10mm in the end as you guys advised me.
He commented that the piece is a strong steel, so the drill bit i had was not good enough for the purpose.
He used those golden drill bits, which indeed cut through the metal like butter as one commented.
So, i think i may be able to get away with the excuse that i used the wrong tool ;D
On the bright side, the carpenter even cut the excess bolt, so its done properly and looks nice.
I can definentely get the right tools and try to follow you guys advice and what ive seen in the future.
Thank you all!

Comments

  • +11 votes

    I'd start with a smaller pilot hole and work upwards - 3, 6 then 10mm.

    (I can't see the imgur pics, just working off the drill bit size and your description.)

    • +1 vote

      as thevofa mentioned, start with smaller drill bit (force/area/pressure). Good drill bits help. Avoid Ryobi drill bits.

      •  

        Thanks for the comment. What do you recommand i use? I would be appreciated if you could recommand me a drill bit to use for the job… :D

        • +1 vote

          It looks to me like you already have a smaller hole that you're trying to make bigger. That's a pilot hole.

          What do you have underneath the item that you're drilling? Hopefully not the concrete that you took the photo on!

          •  

            @pjetson: I placed end of the metal on a stone in my garden. Just left a small gap below where i was drilling. its was just dirt below the gap.

    • +3 votes

      I’d also put it on a bit of timber so once through you don’t drill a hole in the concrete floor …

      Put body weight on it also like your foot , if it jams it will spin and do damage

      A vice would be preferable

      Goodluck

  • +4 votes

    you need a metal drill bit and a drill (set it to drill mode). Ask your neighbour if they can borrow it to you if you don't have them. Would have offered to do it for you but i am in Melb (land of Covid 19)

    •  

      HL2 Nice and kind being helpful..

  • +2 votes

    Use a slower speed.

    No, slower than that.

    Metal needs slow speed & steady pressure.

    •  

      I checked youtube and tried following it, but i did get anxious while i was drilling. I will try to be calm….

      •  

        You only want a few hundred RPM on the drill, but pressure is more important.

        It's hard getting the pressure with a hand drill, that's why we invented drill presses.

  •  

    Just need more time, this is steel and quite thick so need more time.

    •  

      Thanks. Is the drill bit right for the job? or do i need something else?

      • -1 vote

        Your drill bit will do, just need more time.

        • +10 votes

          If current bit has been working for 20min it is already cooked / blunt. Needs sharpening or replacement.

          •  

            @afoveht: Im getting the feeling that i might keep ruining drill bits trying to drill it myself and end up spending more than outsourcing it…
            I will try posting it on airtasker as worf suggested, and see how much it would cost me via airtasker.
            If no luck, i will get the tools recommended to try it again :D

            •  

              @Summoner: If it's only one hole then a cheap enough set of bits will probably get you out of trouble, and even if you trash a few bits you'll have some left over for other work. Just follow the advice on this post. Maybe practice on some scrap with the other bits to get the hang of it. It's a bit of experience that may prove useful one day; if you don't value that then sure, outsource.

              •  

                @afoveht: I need three more holes. But fair point. It would be handy to know how to do the job properly. I will try it further in the morning when my neighbours are awake.

  •  

    As others have mentioned, a metal drill bit (maybe HSS). Start with a small hole and work your way up. Make sure your drill bits are ‘sharp’ / newish… if the tip is pointy like a pencil it’s probably blunt and won’t cut through the steel.

    Easy job, just need a drill and appropriate drill bits… you could probably air task it for $10.

    •  

      The image posted shows he bought a HSS bit

  •  

    I agree with @thevofa, use smaller drill bits to establish pilot holes, then increase the drill size in small steps. As others have said, slow speed, steady pressure, scrap timber underneath, use a vice if available.
    As to drill bits, I've found Sutton are good, holding their edge better than cheaper bits.

  •  

    Your drill bit bit seems to be blunt, so you will need to buy a new one. Was the drill bit new when you started the hole?

    You seem to have the right kind of drill bit for the job. What kind of drill are you using? Does it have more than one speed? What speed were you using?

    •  

      Yes, Fresh drill bit Ryobi brand 10mm HSS drill bit. Just picked it up from bunnings about 3 hours ago.
      My drill is also Ryobi, and i started off with slow, but got impatient… So, i guess that was my first mistake.
      I have posted a link to the drill bit, as i am new to DIY, i am not sure what kind of drill bit it is…

      •  

        The correct speed for 10mm in steel is about 500rpm. Which model Ryobi drill do you have?

        •  

          This is the one i have: 18V ONE+ DRILL DRIVER

          •  

            @Summoner: The fastest that drill goes (under no load) on low gear is 500rpm. That's the speed you need to use.

            •  

              @pjetson: Just noticed the RPM on their website. i will keep this in mind when i try it again tomorrow. Thanks.

              •  

                @Summoner: maybe double check this. stainless steel needs a slower speed then regular. depends what you have there

                •  

                  @crentist:

                  stainless steel

                  It's not stainless, it's just ordinary galvanised mild steel.

              •  

                @Summoner: Do not fixate on RPM. Obviously don't run it fast but the RPM is a guide to not overheat the bit.

                If you are running at half the RPM but you do not see metal shavings, all you are doing is rubbing steel on steel. The bit is still heating up real fast.

                •  

                  @tshow: How often should i give it a rest? I did not know about the effect of the heat to the drill bit.
                  Just used the cutting fluid as it was suggested on one of the youtube video.
                  I touched the tip of the drill everytime i paused drilling, it did not feel hot or anything.
                  I guss i might have missed checking it…

                  •  

                    @Summoner: If it doesn't feel hot, you are fine.

                    It probably blunted some other way or overheated it shortly.

                    If you suspect you have overheated the bit, do not bother sharpening it. The whole thing has lost its temper.

                    You do not have to rest it if it doesn't get hot (both the drill bit and the drill).

        •  

          Why is the bit called "high speed steel" if you recommend going a really slow speed?

            •  

              @pjetson: From your link:
              HSS is a form of tool steel; HSS bits are hard and much more resistant to heat than high-carbon steel. They can be used to drill metal, hardwood, and most other materials at greater cutting speeds than carbon-steel bits, and have largely replaced carbon steels.

              So the answer for anyone else wondering (from a subsequent Google confirmation) is that HSS is a name used to refer to what the drill bit is made from, not how to use it.

  •  

    Craftright 3 Piece Step Drill Set

    Something like is definitely worth considering too for drilling through material that's only a few mm's thick.

    •  

      I was just googling for the drill bits to use for this DIY work. I am assuming i should have bought a drill bit with cobalt or titanium coat.
      Which is harder, so less likly go blunt while im drilling 4 holes on those metals? I just measured the piece, its about 4mm thick.
      Should i try this and maybe get smallar bits as others suggested?
      What you recommended seems to hav everything combined… That seems really nice too.

      •  

        You don't want a step drill, they're for sheet metal.

        The drill you had is fine, or was until you burnt the tip by going too fast (you can resharpen then, so don't bin it).

        Using smaller sizes (6mm then 8mm) will make things easier. Especially if the metal is the infamous Chinese mystery metal that is rather hard.

        Lubricant is a good idea too. Anything will do; WD40, motor oil, bike chain oil etc.

  • +7 votes
    •  

      This with a $20 donation = winning.

      They will likely have a powerful drill press which will drill through in a minute.

  • +3 votes

    Step drills can be a good way to go, but the best option is to start with a small hole and slowly go up, as others have suggested.
    Basically if you are only drilling out a small amount at a time, it is much easier.

    So if you started with say 3mm, you'd have a tiny hole in there with hardly any effort. Stepping up to 4mm will then become very easy, then 5 would be easy etc, all the way up to 10. The whole thing would be a breeze (relatively).

    You don't need that many steps though. 3/6/10 might be plenty, as suggested by thevofa. Wouldn't start with less than 3 though, as smaller bits break easier.

    •  

      Step drills can be a good way to go

      No. They're for sheet metal. His bracket is too thick.

      So if you started with say 3mm,

      It's already got a ~3mm hole in there. Look at the pictures.

  • +3 votes

    If you are not proficient, work from smaller hole to larger, however, it is a not the best way, it is just the most newbie friendly. More on that later.

    The reason your bits are going blunt is either because
    - the steel you are drilling through is harder than your bits. This is only true if you are drilling something like a forged ingot or you have cheap bits.
    - you are drilling outside the nominal cutting angle, ie. Too far off perpendicular.
    - your bit has lost its temper (no, not referring to anger). All bits are heat treated and depending on the metal, after a certain temp, the steel goes soft because you have undone the heat treat.

    Starting with a small drill helps because there is less metal to shave off with every pass and the drill bit doesn't "walk" but small bits heat up quicker as there is less mass to absorb heat. Larger drill bits do not take longer, it just takes more torque to drive the bit as the cutting surface is larger.

    • +1 vote

      tshow knows the drill.

    •  

      Thanks for the advice. I will try again with cobalt or platinum coated bits. I will try to maintain the angle.

      • +2 votes

        Also, get a scrap piece of timber and clamp your work down against the timber and a table.

        You can't possibly expect to do a good job drilling against a concrete floor as you will be distracted from holding the work, damaging the bit if it hits the floor, your pistol grip drill not applying force directly downward and the vibration against the floor dissipating a whole lot of energy instead of cutting.

  •  

    Just checking … but have you got the drill drilling in the right direction (forward as opposed to reverse)?

    •  

      Yes. I know this for sure, because i tried running it reverse when it stopped shaving metal after a while(eyeroll)…

      • +1 vote

        I've done that a few times. I share your shame

  •  

    Apply some cutting fluid to the bit, place bracket on top of a block of timber, place foot on top of the metal bracket so it doesn't move, put your body weight onto the drill, make sure it's not set to hammer mode and drill at high speed. It should go through like butter.

  • +1 vote

    Please don’t take offence, but are you pushing strongly enough? You’ll have to apply quite a bit of pressure to drill through metal.

    •  

      Yes! Drilling metal takes a considerable amount of force. Use your shoulders to put a decent amount of pressure onto the bit. Don't go too fast, because that will heat up the drill bit and ruin it (if it has blue/purple marks at the tip it's already ruined). Reduce pressure for 2 seconds every 10 seconds to cool down the bit.

    •  

      None taken. It started shaving metal piece in the beginning, i repeatedly stopped in the process. After a while I felt the bit is just rubbing to the metal. So I guess I've somehow managed to dull the bit. I had my upper body pressing down on top of the drill. So I would like to think I have given it enough pressure. But I might be wrong.

  •  

    Smaller holes first.
    Sharp drill bits of good quality.
    Cordless drill will be fine.

    I’ve done this plenty of times. The cheap drill bit it I bought (to get all sizes for timber) the drill bits will do about 1/2 a hole before being blunt in steel. I then replace with quality bits. Ryobi isn’t quality for drill bits, it is cheap. The quality bits I’ve bought are still going strong having done multiple holes in steel.

  • +1 vote

    What is it that you are drilling out? If it’s stainless steel, good luck. If it’s mild steel, a new bit should have eaten through that size plate in about 30 seconds.

    If it is stainless, the drill bit is probably already blunt and why it only cut a shallow hole and then stopped.

    •  

      If it’s mild steel, a new bit should have eaten through that size plate in about 30 seconds.

      Not if you crank the speed to max & burn the tip like @OP. Fasterer is always betterer.

      Probably the same crap they used to make bed frames out of, that stuff is bloody hard. Cheap though.

    •  

      Thanks for the comment. Not sure what this is. If its stainless steel, what drill bit should i get?

      • +1 vote

        If its stainless steel,

        It's not.

      •  

        Not stainless. It looks galvanised or painted. Both meaning its not stainless.

        •  

          It's not galvansed, and spoiler alert, you can paint stainless.

          If it was mild steel, a HSS drill should have carved right through it (even more so with a large pilot hole). There is only 2 possible reasons this hole only got this far, either A: the drill bit was crap or has a fault, such as incorrectly or not sharpened, or B: the material they are cutting is either too hard (spring steel) or work hardens under heat (stainless).

          Since everyone jumped on the "A" I am offering an alternative suggestions, and that is, the material OP is trying to cut is too hard for the drill.

          @DC

          It's not.

          Oh good, I'm glad you tested it…

          •  

            @pegaxs: I know you can paint stainless but we are operating on presumption either way. One would presume paying extra for SS over painted mild would infer someone doesn't want to paint over SS.

            I think the probability of a first time metal driller stuffing up technique is far more likely than someone painting SS.

            I still think it looks too dull to be SS from the photo provided.

            (Also totally get where you are coming from - offering an alternative perapective.)

            • +1 vote

              @tshow:

              I still think it looks too dull to be SS from the photo provided.

              Not all stainless is chrome finished. We do a lot of stainless fabrication work for items that we make for coal mining jobs, and that stainless is very dull. Some of the stainless we machine at work is also magnetic, so that may not even be a good indicator.

              What made me think it was not mild steel (apart from it not cutting like hot knife v's warm butter) is the shit welds. These look typical of cheap, nasty stainless steel type welds. Where stainless is welded, it can rust, so they often just spray it with this cheap silver frost paint.

              a first time metal driller stuffing up technique

              Pretty hard for anyone to stuff up drilling a 10mm hole in mild steel with a 3~4mm pilot hole. It isn't rocket surgery. The drill speed for mild steel at 10mm is about 1,000 RPM. Most hand/battery drills only do up to 1,800 ~ 2,000. With force on it, it would slow down to pretty close to the right speed. So, unless OP had it going at 4,000 RPM and had 6 tonnes of down force on it, it's pretty hard for even the most inept idiot to mess up drilling a hole in mild steel with a pilot hole already there…

              And as a side note. Here is a photo I took ages ago of a man sized drill bit we have at work :D

              •  

                @pegaxs: Whoa. I hope that thing bought you dinner first…

              • +1 vote

                @pegaxs:

                inept idiot

                No name calling in the public!!! ;)
                Thanks for the insight. I am glad there i some excuses i can use for my failure :P

                • +1 vote

                  @Summoner: Trust me, we have apprentices at work who are beyond inept… If they can bungle their way through some 3mm plate with a 10mm drill, anyone can :D

  •  

    You've cooked it. Meaning you've heated the steel you're trying to drill so much that its effectively heat treated it and made it harder.

    •  

      Ok…I'm new to this… So… What does it mean if its cooked? Can i still drill through it if i get proper bit?

      •  

        Ok…I'm new to this…

        You really need a drill press. As said up thread, give the local men's shed $20 and they'll doing it for you. Or your local mechanic, etc.

        Otherwise, as also said, get the 6/8/10mm drill and use them in sequence. Drilling a bunch of smaller holes is easier than doing it in one go.

        If you were in Sydney I'd say come round and I'd do it on the mill in a few minutes.

        •  

          Thanks. I did not understand that link. What is Men's Shed? If its not a business offering works to be done… I am afraid i may upset someone by offering money for the work out of the blue, as i do not know anyone there…

          • +1 vote

            @Summoner: It is a club/society. Very informal.

            It is primarily targetted at providing a place for men to do man things like cut shit, drill shit and talk shit.

            Awesome place.

  •  

    Its only gal by the looks of it go to your local bolt supply store and get either some alpha drill bits or sutton. Thick cutting fluid is good not the watery crap they sell at bunnings. As said above id use a even smaller hole than 6mm maybe a 4 then 6 then 10. Also put the drill on a slow setting and apply a lot of pressure

  •  

    It is only a hole… if you can't even dill a hole, you have no need to be around such tools.
    For safety reasons, do not attempt the following. Get someone who is competent in turning a drill on.
    Get them to:
    1: Start by using a "punch mark" precisely on the spot you wish to drill.
    2: Place metal "firmly" in a vice.
    3: Obtain a drill bit specifically for metal.
    4: Place dill bit in drill chuck… tighten firmly.
    5: Adjust drill to "drill" only (not hammer).
    6: Place drill bit on punch mark.
    7: Press drill switch ON and apply pressure as you drill.

    This is thick metal. It will take probably 1-2min to drill.

    (Alternative… take to Bunnings and seek advice)

    •  

      Thanks for the advice. I guess there is first time for everything. I've been using it with timber, but never on the steel. I am happy I'm learning more on this. And appreciate all productive comment.

  • +1 vote

    Looking at the photos you drilled the hole using too much rotational speed. This has caused the metal to heat up and harden and also made the drill bit blunt.
    You need to buy a new drill bit and get some oil (any oil will do engine, machine). Now place a few drops of oil on where you need to drill and drill using a really slow speed like 100-200 rpm. What the oil does lubricate the surface and dissipate the heat. If you feel the drill bit heating up stop to let it cool and go slower. You do need to apply some force but not excessive, let the drill bit do the work. Apply more oil as needed.

    •  

      Thanks for the advice :D

  •  

    I'm emotionally invested in your steel drilling escapades.

    How goes the holes?

    •  

      Thanks for your interest in my post! I will update original post for the result!

  •  

    Trough

    Through?!? Did anyone else notice this?

    •  

      Shhh… No one has to know… Just you and me… ;D

  •  

    Cobalt drill bit with lots of pressure

    If your drill ain't strong it won't make the hole no matter how much pressure you apply. It will just dance around, create lots of localised heat thus tempering the surface of the steel, which makes it so tougher to cut.

    Please dont buy the gold coated drill bits they are HSS TiN coated. Cobalt is a lot more costly which means they will be manufactured at higher standard. It is tougher and it will last longer between sharpening.