Cutting Holes in Metal

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Cutting Holes in Metal

Post by MochetVelo » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:05 am

Here are some of my experiences in hole cutting. I made some 3/8"-thick washers from aluminum plate, 3-7/8" OD X 1-1/4" ID. I found the 1-1/4" ID fit in my lathe chuck, so I tried cutting this inner hole with a bi-metal hole saw from the hardware store. I clamped the aluminum to my drill press table atop a piece of scrap plywood. The hole saw worked quite well, never overheating or bogging down. The "slug" was easily removed from the cutter. Here is the result (after I turned the O.D. on my lathe):
Drill-press hole cutter
IMG_0759.JPG (95.16 KiB) Viewed 3403 times
For smaller holes, I have a set of carbide-tipped cutters:
Small Hole Cutter Set.
IMG_0760.JPG (143.31 KiB) Viewed 3403 times

You can also purchase larger carbide-tipped hole cutters that can be used on a drill press. A little coolant/lubricant can help preserve the tool, especially when cutting steel. You can use a hand sprayer to apply a soapy water to the cutter as it spins. Some add a little mineral oil.

For sheet metal, a step drill works nicely up to about about 2-inches:
Step Bit.jpg
Step drill bit.
Step Bit.jpg (38.26 KiB) Viewed 3403 times
For larger holes in thinner metals, a hole cutter tool like this works well. A drill press is best for this cutter:
Hole Cutter.jpg
Drill-Press hole cutter tool
Hole Cutter.jpg (56.9 KiB) Viewed 3403 times
Yet another sheet-metal hole-cutter I've used that works with a portable electric drill. This is good for a cut you can't fit under the drill press. I used it to cut a hole for a gas tank filler in my 1921 Peugeot cowl. It's fairly accurate:
Hole Cutter 2.jpg
Hand-drill hole cutter
Yet another for sheet metal; a hole punch. These are used by electricians to cut holes in electric panels, etc. They come in various sizes. You drill a hole in the metal to pass the threaded bolt through to the cutter. Tightening the bolt cuts a nice hole:
Hole Punch.JPG
Electrician's hole punch.
Hole Punch.JPG (27.28 KiB) Viewed 3403 times

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