Drilling 500 holes in mild steel

I have to drill 500 holes with a #1 drill (0.2280 dia.) in mild steel in cramped quarters on a truck. I will have to drill these holes sitting and reaching out nearly arms length in front of me. It is very tiresome to put the proper pressure on the drill.

I would like suggestions:

  1. The best way to accurately position the drill (some kind of punch to dimple the steel?)

  1. A way to put the pressure on the drill without the stress of applying all the pressure myself.

Thanks for any suggestions

Reply to
Eric Anderson
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Oh, forgot to say that the holes will be 3/4 inch deep.

Reply to
Eric Anderson

If you have the space for it, rent a small magnetic drill.

Reply to
Ole-Hjalmar Kristensen

Can I ask why you are doing this?

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Whatever for?

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I recommend sharp drill bits, and a mag drill. Also if you have a (insert ethnic slang here) laying around, that would be a good place to use him. :)

Reply to
Dave Lyon

Not sure if you can, but using a simple lever to apply pressure works very well. We have to do this at work in cramped situations. I'd highly recommend a good drill with a good chuck as you can actually apply a *lot* of force. I'd recommend square metal tube or wood as it's light and won't slip off the drill like round will.

Good luck.



Reply to
Robin S.

You might look at one of the 90-degree attachments that are available. The one I have is a $10 HF variety, but gives you about 6 inches more reach (no comment) and also a nice flat surface opposite the chuck against which to apply Robin's lever.

Reply to
Rex B

According to Eric Anderson :

I would like to suggest something which will help with both of these questions, though it is not what you really asked.

First off -- how thick is the steel which you have to drill through? Unless it is unusually thick, I would suggest that you get a pack of screw-machine length cobalt steel drill bits with split points.

1) A split point tends to have a lot less tendency to walk than the normal chisel point. (And screw-machine length tends to be less flexible, so it is easier to control. 2) A split point does not require the force that a standard chisel point drill bit requires. so you will have a somewhat easier job of applying the needed force.

Yes -- a center punch can help to give a tactile point to help control the location if you are drilling by hand.

A magnetic base drill would probably help with both of your problems, if there is a good surface for the magnetic base to lock onto, but it will be expensive. Are you being paid to drill the holes, and are you likely to have to do more of the same job? If so, then it may still pay to get the mag base drill.

Good Luck, DoN.

Reply to
DoN. Nichols

"DoN. Nichols" wrote: (clip) First off -- how thick is the steel which you have to drill through? (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ In his second post the OP specifies that the holes are to be 3/4 inch deep.

Reply to
Leo Lichtman

In answer to what we are drilling: This is a snowplow belly blade. A grader blade under a 25,000 lb snowplow vehicle. We are attaching sensors that detect when the plow blade is down. It is being used in an AVL system. This stands for automatic vehicle location system. A fancy word for a way to track snowplow vehicles so dispatchers know what areas have been plowed and what areas have not.

The blade tip is carbide, but the main blade area that supports the tip is just mild steel. We welded the sensor bracket on last time, but that was time consuming, required removeal of vehicle power and used a valuable welding resource that was not always available. We can use the same installers that are installing the rest of the electronics if we use threaded fasteners. The blade thickness in the area we are working is about 1 inch thick. We want to drill a 3/4 inch deep hole with a #1 drill which is the size called for for the thread rolling fastener we are intending to use. The quarters are cramped and we intend to use ramps to lift the front of the vehicle.

I have talked to a company here in Michigan that sells mag drills (after you guys suggested it), but so far the chuck in the one I found takes a minimum drill size of 7/16, I believe. I was sort of surprised at this, but that was my 1st attempt.

Some of the other ideas you-all suggested, such as a lever, would be a good idea if there was a consistant area to hook one end of the lever.

Anyway, I hope that explains some things and maybe primes you to come up with even more ideas to consider.

Reply to
Eric Anderson

Hey Eric,

I can't say that I fully understand what it is that you are doing, but it soumds more and more like a stud-weld would do the job. A quick Google gets:


Reply to
Brian Lawson

Chucks are seperate items. Buy the drill, buy a chuck to suit.

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Can you find (or make) a threaded insert to compensate for the difference between 7/16 and the #1 drill you wanted to use?

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Thread rolling fasteners require a fairly precise hole size to develop full strength, so I think a hand-drilled hole in steel that deep would end up way oversize due to wandering around.

The mag drill, as others suggested, is an excellent idea. Milwaukee makes a nice line of them that are fairly small and easy to handle, I have used them numerous times. Here is am online vendor, but I am sure they would be available locally if you preferred: You are looking at around $1200 for a nice quality tool.

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Well besides the mag drill you can also make a dead man that you can clamp to the blade. Put a screw in it to feed the drill into the work. Another method would be to get one of those drill press stands for portable drills and clamp it to the blade. You might get some ideas from my web site. Here's a pic of me using my air drill with a dead man.

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In this case the jack screw is in the drill but it's possible to do it the other way around.

Reply to
Wayne Cook

Hi Eric... Here's my two cents. At work, we have to drill holes in frames all the time to install hitches. We use a regular floor jack that has a weird plate that cradles the drill and we use it to press it upwards into the truck. works awesome. good luck

- Loren.

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