Reply by William Shelley

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Posted on Can You drill any steel??

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William Shelley

609 posts in 2521 days

#1 posted 02-21-2017 08:41 PM

Depends on the quality of the drill bit, the type of drill bit and the hardness of the steel. Most twist drills are ground with tip angles appropriate for most materials, including mild steel. Cheap bits from Harbor Freight are not going to work or last, so buy good quality drill bits. Even then, they can be resharpened or may need to be if misused.

Yes, add some oil to the cutting process to keep the bit from overheating. As an example, I had to drill 3/8 in holes in some AR400 plate steel—hardened (abrasion resistant) steel. I got half way through the 3/8 in plate before the drill bit quit cutting. Sharpened it, and added oil. It went through that plate and 5 more without any hesitation. You can use pretty much any oil you have around, it doesn t need to be cutting oil.

- sawdustdad

I thought I should mention, I have this set of 3 stepped drill bits from harbor freight, and I’ve drilled over a hundred holes through 1/4” mild steel with the 6-step bit (the one pictured on the right), with oil and with my drill press. Probably 400-600 RPM. The bits are still holding up great.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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