How to Properly Drill a Hole in Metal

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How to Drill Metal

In essence, drilling metal is no different than drilling wood. You set the drill bit in place, push the button and press the bit into the material you're drilling. But, there are two main differences. The material your drill bit is made of must be of stronger construction, and you need to take extra precautions to protect against sparks and flying debris. Slivers of metal are sharper and can cause more damage than sawdust and pieces of wood.


  1. Select the right bit for the job.High speed steel (HSS) bits will work for most kinds of metal, as will carbon steel bits coated with titanium nitride (TiN). For very hard metals, use a cobalt steel bit.
  2. Secure a loose piece of metal you're drilling by clamping it to your workstation or setting it in a vice.This step is not necessary if drilling into a large, heavy steel object like a wall or stud.
  3. Mark the position you need to drill with a pencil.Measure this area with precision, since it's harder to patch a mistake in metal than to patch one you've made in wood.
  4. Set the center in place on the pencil mark.Hit it lightly with the hammer to mark your drill point and create a starting divot.
  5. Place your fire extinguisher within arm's reach.The chances are small, but the sparks thrown by drilling metal can sometimes start small fires. A nearby fire extinguisher will help you keep a small fire from getting out of control.
  6. Put on your safety goggles to protect your eyes from thrown debris.You may also want to wear a long-sleeved shirt with a closed collar as well.
  7. Set the drill in place on the divot.Make certain it's set level to the drill angle you want. Newer drills will have integral leveling bubbles to help with this.
  8. Apply steady pressure to drill metal.For hard metals, drill slowly and steadily. Soft metals will require a faster speed because the metal shaving may melt if you go too slowly. Even with soft metals, don't us a speed higher than medium.
  9. Remove your bit immediately when you reach your desired depth.Keep the bit spinning until you've removed it entirely from the metal.
  10. Finished.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Do I drill first with a small drill bit, then with a larger one?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. The small hole is called a pilot hole. And before that, you should use a punch for marking.
Unanswered Questions
  • Why can't I use cloth gloves when using drill machines?
  • Which bit is best for drilling into hard metal?
  • Is this for hard metal or soft metal?
  • Can I use endmill for pilot to make hole?
  • Drill bit calculations?
Ask a Question
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  • There is a surprisingly wide variety of kinds and hardnesses of metal, even in standard construction and building materials. It's worth the time to look into the exact materials and specifications of whatever you're trying to drill. It can save effort and money by getting the right drill bit on the first try.


  • Metal splinters and sparks can be painful and hard to treat.

Video: How To Drill Through Metal (DIY)

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