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Figure 1

Place your metal on a steel bench block or anvil. Set a center punch at the point on the metal where you want to drill your hole and tap it with a mallet to create a shallow dimple (Figure 1). The dimple will act as a guide for your drill bit — both marking the place where you want to drill, and keeping the bit from skipping across the surface of the metal. 


Select a drill bit, place it in the chuck of a flex shaft or rotary tool, and tighten the chuck with the chuck key. Check to see that the bit is straight in the chuck: Hold the tool so the bit points upright, and start the drill slowly. If the bit is in at an angle, it will seem to wobble and spin; if it remains upright, it’s in straight.

Figure 2
Figure 3

Lubricate your drill bit with lubricant or beeswax. Place the metal on a piece of scrap wood. Hold the piece firmly, align the bit with the dimple, then raise the bit slightly so it’s not in contact with the metal. Turn the drill on and then up to medium-high speed, and then bring the bit down to make contact with the dimple (Setting a stationary bit on top of the dimple and then turning the drill on is a good way to yank the metal out of your hands or break the bit). Drill the hole, using the dimple as a guide (Figure 2). Press down while drilling, but don’t push too hard, or you may break the bit. Keep the bit straight up and down as you drill. It will be obvious when the drill bit emerges from the other side of the metal; continue to let the bit spin, back it completely out of the hole, and then turn off the drill.

To clean up any burrs or sharp edges left by the drill bit, select a larger-size bit and twist it in the drilled hole (Figure 3).

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