Drill big holes in 1" thick steel - Fastest way? - Iron - Metal - Aluminum - Large Drill Press (2023)


Just a quick video showing multiple ways to drill big holes in thick steel. We were using 1" thick steel flat bar. Showing how use different types of drill bits to put large holes in big pieces of metal. We timed each process to detremine which way is faster?

First we used an annual cutter, next up 3 different size twist drills, and lastly a regular hole saw. You might be surprised with the results.

You could easily use this same fast process to drill big holes in aluminum, iron, arn, and metal.

These are basic processes and skills

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Hey, what's up guys.

Welcome back to the shop.

My name is Gary.

And on this video, we are going to be taking a look at how to drill large holes in thick steel.

We've got some 1 inch thick by 4 inches wide, flat stock that we've cut up into 2, small pieces and we're using that as as part of another project as you can see here.

And if you're watching this sometime in the future, I'll link, a video to the to the project that this actually is being built for.

But focus of this video is kind of walk you through three different methods to get a large hole punch through thick steel.

So we're going to take a look at an annular cutter, we're going to take a look at a one and a half inch or one and five-eighths inch, twist drill and then we're going to look take a look at using a regular hole saw and we're going to time each one of them and try to keep it as fair as possible and you'll see the length of time, the process used to that we're going to do this.

So let's, take a look and get started.


So first up here, we're going to use this annular cutter.

And this is the package that it came in I got this off eBay I've had it for a couple years.

It's been used a few times, I'd say, maybe half dozen times, but it's still really sharp and in good shape.

And these things last a long long time.

So I think it could be considered to be, you know, fresh tool or sharpen tool, whatever, but so we'll, go ahead and get this chucked up and start the timer and come back at the end and kind of give you a summary of what worked good, what doesn't work, good and go from there.

All right you saw.

We had no problem at all pushing that through in one pass just plunged it right through there.

The one thing you'll notice is I use plenty of lubrication.

You know, just keep dabbing the oil in there don't want to run anything dry.

But the one of the downside is is this nasty swarf.

It comes off of it.

And sometimes you have to stop and clean it out, you know, because it just gets all tangled around it.

A lot of times it'll it'll kind of self evacuate.

But and then it leaves this slug at the end here.

So you know, you're, not turning the whole end completely into chips you're producing this slug that yeah, you saw the timer there a minute and 52 seconds to get that through there, which is pretty good.

And you know, really I could have plunged it a little faster.

You know, I was trying to be gentle on the tool.

But also you know, be productive and get it through there.

So all right, we'll.

Take a look at the next tool all right? Well, you saw we had no problem using this method.

In fact, I for some reason I kind of like using this method, some people will say, well, you don't need to run that many different drills through it.

You might get away with just running the 3/4 or maybe start with a half inch.

You know, plunge a half inch hole through and then step up to the one and a half I, don't know, I just like I feel like it's easier on your tooling to step up more progressively.

You saw there that that took the longest amount of time at seven minute and one second, the chips that it produces are really easy to work with they they pop out of there.

You can vacuum them up easy with a shop vac, compared to the swarf that this thing leaves.

You know, it just is a lot easier to clean up.

So the downside is making all the changes.

You know between each of the tooling having to re-check everything up that's, what it's costing you the extra time here.

So all right we'll step to the next one all right? Well, as you saw, we were able to get that push through there and I think that you know, you definitely need to take lotta cuts with this.

Meaning, you can't, push as hard with that.

You could with the twisted ruler.

Annular cutter and I start with I was I was pushing a little bit too hard on it.

And you can see the slug that it produced there.

You can see that the timing SiC.

The six minutes roughly took to get it through a little bit faster than the twist drill method, but not near as fast as annular cutter.

And but the main issue with this is that there's, no chip evacuation.

And you can see this little fine chip that it produces.

And what it ends up doing is just sort of, you know, regrinding its own chips in there.

So you have to kind of pull out blow it out with the air, especially as you get down in there deeper, you see the annular cutter has the flutes on it.

And that allows, you know for that swarf to evacuate out of there and makes it much more effective.

And you can also see on the teeth just the thickness of it.

But it worked, you know, if you're doing this at home, I would I would say that the main issue that you run into trying to put thick metal, big holes through thick metal at home with a hole saw is just to be able to turn your drill slow enough.

You know, you need 200 rpm for something like that.

Most of your conventional drill presses that you buy Home, Depot Lowe's.

Those are made for woodworking and probably have a minimum of 800 rpm.

You know, and I think mr.

Pete had a video on doing a VFD conversion on a regular drill press.

You can lower the RPMs.

But my experience with VFDs on machines is that when you try to use it to get a really low rpm out of it, you lose all the torque with it.

And what you really need with this is the torque.

So also Chucky's through 2009, did a video that he got a Powermatic drill press from the texas gun guy and did a restoration on it.

And it had variable speed all the way down to super low rpms.

And you know, work extremely well.

So I think picking up something like that for a thousand bucks or something in that range, you know, was a good option over spending four or five thousand for a mill.

So yeah, so that's it.

You saw the three methods there just wanted to share this video with you guys.


What is the fastest way to drill holes in metal? ›

For large holes, a hole saw gets the job done cleanly and quickly. Like twist bits, hole saws chuck right into your drill and will cut through thin-gauge sheet metals like aluminum and steel. Use a scrap of plywood as a backer for the hole saw's pilot bit and to protect your work surface.

How do you drill through thick metal easily? ›

How do you drill a large hole in metal?
  1. Pillar Drills / Drill Press / Magnet Drills. + The first requires the use of heavy machinery such as pillar drills or magnetic drills. ...
  2. Twist Drill Bit. + ...
  3. Bi-metal Holesaws (Starrett type) +
May 16, 2022

What is the proper method for drilling large diameter holes in thick metal pieces? ›

If the project involves hard metals, large diameters, or deep holes, use special drilling or cutting oil to assist in the process. You can also use motor oil or WD-40 to cool and lubricate the bit. For extra safety, make sure you keep the speeds and pressure low. For most drills, you only need about half the speed.

What is the best tool for drilling holes in steel? ›

Clearly, the best drill bits for hardened metal or steel come with a cobalt blend. These cobalt drill bits use an alloy including 5%–8% cobalt. This cobalt makes up part of the steel blend, so the hardness of the bit doesn't wear off with a coating (like titanium bits). It runs throughout the entire bit.

What is the best drill bit for large holes in metal? ›

For holes ½” or larger, we recommend using carbide hole saws, RotaCut bits or a mag drill and annular cutter bits. These will be the most precise, efficient, and cost-effective options in any plate, and they are long-lasting options that won't wear-out easily over time.

What is the best drill bit for drilling hardened steel? ›

When drilling through hardened steel, you must ensure that your drill bit is made from tougher materials. Carbide bits are the strongest drill bits material and can cut through hardened steel. But if they are not available, titanium and cobalt drill bits can also be used.

How fast can you drill through steel? ›

Recommended Speeds for Carbide Tipped Holecutters
SizeSteelStainless Steel
11/16 to 13/16 in.700 - 1000 RPM300 - 700 RPM
7/8 to 1-3/16 in.500 - 800 RPM200 - 450 RPM
1-1/4 to 1-9/16 in.300 - 600 RPM175 - 315 RPM
1-5/8 to 2 in.200 - 500 RPM120 - 225 RPM
2 more rows

What type of drill is used to drill through thick metal? ›

What is the best drill bit for metal? Conventional drill bits cannot cut through metal so you need a heavy-duty, hard drill bit. Two types of drill bits are suitable for metalworking jobs: titanium and cobalt.

Can a drill press drill through metal? ›

If drilling metal is a way of life for you, you might want to consider getting a drill press. These powerful machines are very versatile and can make your life a lot easier.

Should I use oil when drilling metal? ›

Use A Lubricant When Drilling metal:

Use a lubricant or cutting paste when drilling metal to increase your efficiency and finish, and increase tool life.

Which type of drilling machine is most suitable to drill in a very large and heavy work pieces? ›

The radial drilling machine is intended for drilling medium to large and heavy workpieces. The machine consists of a heavy, round, vertical column mounted on a large base. The column supports a radial arm which can be raised and lowered to accommodate work pieces of different heights.

What do you use to drill a large hole? ›

Spade bits are the tool of choice for drilling holes up to about 1-1/4 in. in diameter for running electrical wiring and other uses. But when it comes to drilling really big holes for locksets or plumbing pipes, reach for a hole saw. A hole saw is a steel cylinder with saw teeth cut into the top edge.

How do you drill a hole in hardened steel? ›

When drilling through hardened steel, you must ensure that your drill bit is made from tougher materials. Carbide bits are the strongest drill bits material and can cut through hardened steel. But if they are not available, titanium and cobalt drill bits can also be used.

What kind of drill bit for thick metal? ›

Cobalt drill bits are used for drilling hard metal and steel. They dissipate heat quickly and are highly resistant to abrasions, making them better for drilling into hard metals than black oxide- or titanium-coated drill bits.

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