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  1. #1
    trythis is offline Cast Iron
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    I have some 7/8 or 1" ball bearings, I want to drill a 1/4 inch hole half way into them.
    What are my options?
    I havn't tried heating them up first to see if that will soften them, would that work?

    OR

    What is another source for a 7/8 1" steel sphere that I can drill into. They need to be smooth, but not chrome plated smooth.

    HSS steel bit doesnt cut it.

    I don't have a radius cutter for my lathe and I dont think I have time to build one.

    Thanks for your .02

  2. #2
    toolmakerjim is offline Titanium
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    GOOD LUCK!
    what you need to do is either get a ram type EDM and burn those holes in there or get onto McMaster~Carr's web site and order some soft spheres...jim

  3. #3
    rj newbould's Avatar
    rj newbould is online now Diamond
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    If you have a solid setup you could drill into it with a good carbide spade drill.

  4. #4
    Kurt Westfall is offline Stainless
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    How I have done some is to put the ball in a collet and use a carbide bit, I like the Hi-roc bits, not the twist type, for this kind of hard stuff. They will drill up to about 60C, could be that bearings ar too hard even for carbide.

  5. #5
    rke[pler's Avatar
    rke[pler is offline Diamond
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    McMaster lists 1" steel balls from AISI 1020 (soft stuff) as 96455K62. $15 bucks for 25 balls. They're case hardened but I would expect that the case could be ground off deep enough that you could drill it in no time. If not, these could be annealed pretty easily.

    You might anneal the existing bearing balls by heating them past critical, holding them at temp for about 15 minutes and slow cooling them. But a lot of bearing balls are made from 52100 and are not trivial to anneal, but that being said you would likely be able to soften them up enough to drill a hole.

  6. #6
    SLOEIT is offline Senior Member
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    Funny...I have the exact same problem...I am going to try tossing mine in our furnace at 1700F ish...and letting them furnace cool.

    The auction said "Nickel Plated Steel Balls" Not...UBER-Hard Stainless balls...

    Shoulda done a hardness check before i buggered up a center drill.

    NK

  7. #7
    Gordo is offline Hot Rolled
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    If you bring them up to a cherry red and hold that for abit and let them air cool you can drill them.

  8. #8
    surplusjohn is offline Diamond
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    The auction said "Nickel Plated Steel Balls" Not...UBER-Hard Stainless balls...

    that guy had some balls...

  9. #9
    JL Sargent is offline Titanium
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    If you have a solid setup you could drill into it with a good carbide spade drill.
    I have done this. But let that drill get the slightest bit of movement in the work and POW! It'll be gone.

  10. #10
    SLOEIT is offline Senior Member
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    Thank you Surplusjohn. That was pretty good.
    NK

  11. #11
    Mike W is offline Stainless
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    I have done this by putting them in the fireplace coals and taking them out the next day. I drilled and tapped them with no problems.

  12. #12
    ted crivea is offline Aluminum
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    Why do you want to drill hole in your balls ?????

  13. #13
    trythis is offline Cast Iron
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    Good, heating them is cheap, but I will look into Mcmaster cheap soft spheres.

  14. #14
    damonfg is offline Titanium
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    I recently had to do a job involving drilling into hard bearings/bushings. One had a series of holes 2mm diam x 30mm deep!

    Get a Hi-Roc drill, I think they are made my MA Ford. They are carbide, straight flute. I had no problem drilling Rc64 with them. Tool life was short (about 10" of drilling on 4mm drills), and they aren't cheap, but what a beautiful hole.
    It sounded like someone swinging a cat by his tail- but you cannot argue with the results. Flood coolant, and clamp your axes if you are in a b'pt or the like.

  15. #15
    WILLEO6709's Avatar
    WILLEO6709 is offline Diamond
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    I don't know how many you have to do, but I have some experience removing cutters after cnc crashes( sometimes a little oops happens and I have a 1/2 spot drill stuck 1-1/2 inches deep in a part... usually after a software update). a carbide endmill in a nice rigid setup will cut M2, M42, T15, most of you performance high speed steels. I have even done it on my radial drill, but my radial has a stiffer spindle than my HBM.

  16. #16
    mobile_bob is offline Stainless
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    just bring em up to a dull red and let em cool.
    then use a cobalt bit, and they will drill right thru, just keep em cool and steady pressure.

    i have done it many times for spinner knobs, and just to prove it can be done.

    bob g

  17. #17
    mobile_bob is offline Stainless
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    and i you wanna freak out the uninformed

    reheat to dull red, and drop in a bucket of water, then put on a mandrel and buff back to bright and shiney

    it will be hard as glass, and really freaks folks out that cant even get a file to touch it figuring out how you drilled a hole in it. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    bob g

  18. #18
    Timw is offline Stainless
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    If you go to McMaster-Carr and do a search for "Steel Ball Knobs" they have from 3/4" to 1 7/8" that are threaded. The 1" comes from 10-24 tpi to 3/8"-16 tpi. They list them as "polished steel knobs, turned from bar stock". Also have Brass, Alum and Stainless. tim

  19. #19
    MLK WERKS is offline Aluminum
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    make a box jig. square up two peices of steel, say 1"x1" by .5 thick. Ball end mill on center. go shallow w/ same radius as ball. Clamp together in vise and drill thru top of top jig and into ball. No drill walk and the drill/end mill is supported the whole way thru.

  20. #20
    darryl is offline Senior Member
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    I suppose you could hold them in a chuck directly for drilling from the tailstock, but you might mark up the surface. You could do as I once did, and that's to mount a stub of rod a little larger than the ball diameter, drill and bore to just under the od of the ball, then force the ball into the hole for turning. You would drill a cross hole in the stub before inserting the ball so you have a way of poking the ball out again. I used a piece of music wire for a poker. Ground a suitable spade shape on the end. Worked for me, and I did first heat the ball to red hot and let cool slowly. I drilled with hss and got away with it, even tapped the hole a short way. I might have used a collet if I had one, but no way would I have had one .405, or whatever that seemingly non-standard ball size was.

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