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How to drill a large hole in steel without a mill

EPAIII

Diamond
Joined
Nov 23, 2003
Location
Beaumont, TX, USA
One time job and 14 holes in 1/4" steel.

I am thinking a bit outside of the box. I like the step or multi-size bits that are great for sheet and thin metal. It may be a bit of a stretch, but you might want to try one of these step drills.

Black Oxide Step Drill Bit Set, 2 Pc.

Now, I know it will not do the whole 1/4" thickness, but if you have access to the back side you can go 1/8" from each side and have a real nice hole. And the 1 3/8" final step will do a great job of de-burring the edges if you just kiss the edge with it. Just set the depth stop on your drill press on the first hole and you are good to go.

As far as the 540 RPM speed, it will be a great match for the smaller steps and on the last two or three the step bit will not be removing that much so the going will be easy. Do use some cutting oil - well almost any oil will do. And a block of wood under the steel on your drill press table will allow the smaller steps to not hit that table.

PS: I have several of these bits from HF and they are every bit as good as the US, name brand ones that I also have. You do not have to pay McMaster prices or even those at your local hardware store.



I need to drill 14, 1-1/4" holes in 1/4" steel. I do primarily wood working and only have access to wood working tools.

I do have a good drill press. The minimum speed is 540 rpm (according to the tag). This seems to fast for a hole saw on steel. I'm thinking I would overheat whatever I was using.

Is there a bit or hole saw I can buy that would do the job. I doubt I will ever do this again so I don't want to break the bank doing this either!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

Strostkovy

Stainless
Joined
Oct 29, 2017
Many welding shops rent out plasma cutters. We rented some during repairs of our equipment. Just make a small template washer and go pshhht.
 

GregSY

Diamond
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
Houston
The big questions is...what kind of drill press only goes down to 540RPM???

Also, for what it's worth, a knee mill, aka, Bridgeport, is not the ideal tool for this job either.
 

David_M

Hot Rolled
Joined
Sep 30, 2014
Location
Midway, GA, USA
If it has to be your drill press, you might consider an inline planetary gear reducer:

172103595.jpg


I have this for a job. It is used by ice fishermen to slow down their battery drills to use with large ice augers. Your 540 rpms would be reduced to 150 and the torque increased by 3.6 times.

Someone would need to modify the output shaft to take an annular cutter, hole saw or whatever. It would need a simple torque arm too. I would modify it in a way to make it as short as possible. You may still need a guide bushing clamped to the part being drilled to steady things.

Look for Clam power drive. You can get them for about 70 bucks.
 

Strostkovy

Stainless
Joined
Oct 29, 2017
I've gotten too phreaking lazy- I'd just drag it down to the local waterjet place and they'd pop it out zip zip for very little $$. Probably the same with plasma or laser.

It used to be common for use to do "embiggening" jobs, where a part had an undersized hole that needed to be larger. It was so cheap and easy for us because I had a program for every common hole size and the plasma cutter had a taper and floating head. Just crash the plasma roughly into the hole, wiggle the plate until it dropped in, zero and start the cut.
 

metalmagpie

Titanium
Joined
May 22, 2006
Location
Seattle
Go to your local welding supply and rent a mag drill. You may have to buy the correct rotabroach bit but it will work enormously better than a hole saw. 1-1/4" is right in a mag drill's sweet spot. Here's a closeup of my little Steelmax (Poland) cutting a 2-1/16" hole right through a weld seam:

cleanoutHoleCut.jpg


That is a curved surface, so I have a little "table" I tack onto the tank so the mag drill can attach to a flat surface.

metalmagpie
 

dstig

Aluminum
Joined
Aug 22, 2014
Location
W WI
Just to throw another option out there... If this is on new stock, perhaps consider sending it out to either a local shop with a laser or plasma table or one of the newer prototype places like oshcut.com or sendcutsend.com on the web. It might be cheaper and easier to do that as your drill press seems a bit high on rpms to run a hole saw like you need. I have rented a mag drill on occasion too, but you need to supply the bits for the most part. Might be cheaper to send it out to be cut.
 

dian

Titanium
Joined
Feb 22, 2010
Location
ch
see, thats the point, the trailing cutter doesnt catch. carbide bits available also.
 








 
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