How To Drill Through Steel Without Any Effort
If you have tried to drill through steel before, you know that it can be hard work, but it shouldn't be hard and here's why.
For those DIY enthusiasts who have ever had to drill through steel, you know it can be hard work. But drilling through steel shouldn't be hard work if you are using the right tools and have the best drill bit. Just to show an example of how easy it should be to drill through mild steel, I sanded back and resealed my outdoor garden table and added some castor wheels. I decided on the castor wheels after having the new artificial lawn put down. The wheels will allow me to move the table around when cleaning the grass, to set up an outdoor space for my DIY Divas workshops, and also be able to arrange everything for when we entertain in the garden.
To mount the caster wheels to the steel frame underneath the table, we first needed to cut off the bottom of the legs, smooth out the rough edges and then drill to add nuts and bolts to hold the castor wheels in place. Cutting through steel with an angle grinder is a relatively easy although scary task. You do need to wear the proper safety gear as you can see how sparks fly when you are cutting.
GOOD TO KNOW: Wear safety goggles or glasses, proper gloves and a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
After cutting off the bottom of the legs, the angle grinder was used to remove any sharp or rough edges along the cut.
Drilling through steel
- Use the right tools
When you need to drill through stainless steel, not any drill will do. You need a drill that delivers solid power. I am using my Bosch 18V Impact Drill to drill 6mm holes through the steel bars. Funny enough, my son went and brought out the 550W corded drill to use for the project, but after the first attempt, he believed me when I said the cordless drill could do the job!
The secure the castor wheels onto the mild steel bar we used 6mm diameter galvanised bolts and nuts. I wanted to use stainless steel but, unfortunately, they didn't have in stock at Builders.
- Take proper precautions
Bessey Kliklamp clamps were used to hold the castor wheel plate onto the steel bar for drilling holes through. The mounting holes in plate on the castor wheels didn't fit nicely on the bar, so  additional holes needed to be drilled through the plate and steel bar.
GOOD TO KNOW: Don't waste your time with clamps that won't hold everything firmly in place, as you could end up hurting yourself when the castor wheel spins around. Having tried and tested Bessey Kliklamps repeatedly and showing these at various DIY Divas workshops, believe me when I say that they work like nothing else on the market at the moment.
- Use quality bits
Your average drill bits for drilling into metal or HSS drill bits. The HSS stands for High-Speed Steel. What this means is that these drill bits drill through steel faster than their previous counterparts. But times have changed since then and, while decent quality HSS bits will drill through mild steel, they will take longer and go blunt quickly.
I have been using Alpen Drill Bits for around 3 to 4 years and they have never let me down. I am always surprised at how easily the various Alpen bits drill through materials such as concrete, porcelain and steel, to name just a few materials.
The secret to drilling holes in or through steel is to keep friction-generated heat at a minimum. You can do this by drilling at a slower speed, using a cutting liquid, or even some cold water. After a few turns, dip the drill bit into cold water to cool it.
The Alpen Cobalt bit, 6mm, was used in this project and came through with flying colours - as expected. Even though we needed to drill through a steel plate and steel bar, only minimal effort was required to do the job. As a woman, this is what you want. You don't want to stand there for ages only to make a small dent in the steel.
The Alpen Cobalt bit makes it easy to drill through two layers of steel without too much effort.
After drilling the holes, the bolts and nuts were inserted and tightened using a socket set that fits into my drill. You can see from the picture below that we were able to extend the length of the socket by adding a couple of standard holders into the drill.
If you need a longer reach, use a standard holder to extend the length for screwing.