wikiHow to Drill Steel

Three Methods:Prepare to drillDrill the steelClean up

Steel is a valued commodity. Valued, in part, for its appearance, it also has great strength, durability, and applicability. It can be purely functional or decorative. Steel is an alloy of iron ore and carbon. In the alloying process, the mixture and heating can produce hard steel, thin steel, and stainless steel. Many apparent applications are home appliances and decorative applications, but steel is also heavily used throughout many industries including transportation, chemical and petrochemical, and architecture. It can be shaped and fabricated for a large variety of uses, but it often requires that you know how to drill steel to achieve the use and effect you desire.

Method 1
Prepare to drill

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    Secure the proper equipment.
    • Quality tools, such as drill bits, will make a difference in this process because of the degree of difficulty and the expense of the steel itself.
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    Wear safety equipment to protect against slippage of drill bits and the metal shavings thrown into the air.
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    Secure the steel to a flat, well-lit work surface with C-clamps or plastic grips.
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    Measure carefully and mark the spot to drill.
    • Mark the spot to drill with a permanent marker.
    • Frame the drill target with duct tape to keep your focus and protect the adjacent area.
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    Use a center punch to mark the target.
    • Hold the center punch perpendicular to the spot and wrap it firmly, but sharply, with a hammer to dent the steel in order to spot the drill and to prevent the drill bit from easily wandering from the mark.

Method 2
Drill the steel

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    Drill a pilot hole by choosing a drill bit 1/2 of the desired diameter.
    • For example, if you want a hole with a diameter of 1 inch (2.54 cm) choose a .5 inch (1.27 cm) bit.
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    Use simple lubricating oil to mark the spot and to reduce friction and heat.
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    Hold drill perpendicular to target spot and drill hole.
    • Vary drill speed at start until drill bit gains purchase in metal.
    • Then, drill steadily and firmly through steel.
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    Use vertical drill press for more accuracy and thicker pieces of steel.
    • Drill press operation frees one hand to oil drill point as necessary.
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    Use knockout punch and/or hole saw for accuracy and efficiency in drilling larger diameters.

Method 3
Clean up

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    Wipe excess oil from the surface.
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    File rough edges.
    • Use fine hasp and steel wool if the edges of hole will be exposed to view.
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    Use fine to heavy hasp to file or deburr interior sides of hole.


  • You cannot afford to miscalculate measurements; be careful to measure inside the circumference or outside the circumference because hole saws, drill pits, and knockout punches can come in either size.
  • When drilling, if the metal starts to turn blue, the process is too hot and will only make the metal stronger and more resistant to drilling, so add lubricant.
  • If there is a need to slant the hole, it is best to use a vertical drill press where you can calibrate, set, and maintain the angle.


  • Steel shavings waste can be minute, so avoid hand-eye contact without through clean-up.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety equipment, including work gloves, goggles, dust mask, and hearing protection
  • Duct tape
  • Rags
  • Drill press
  • Metal files of several sizes and coarseness
  • Heavy-duty variable speed power drill
  • Steel wool
  • Clamps, such as C-clamps
  • Hammer and mallet
  • Lubricating oil
  • Drill bits in a variety of sizes
  • Knockout punch kit
  • Center punch
  • Accurate measure

Article Info

Categories: Home Improvements and Repairs