How to Punch, Drill and, Notch Metals Using Different Methods

Last Updated on February 2021


Welding is one of the crafts that require myriads of techniques. And as a good welder, you must continue increasing your knowledge and skillset in this field. Punching holes, drilling and notching metal are essential activities that you will continue to encounter throughout your time as a welder.

Let’s focus on some of the most efficient, effective and safe methods of punching, drilling and notching metals today.

How to Punch Metal

For starters, punching holes in welding are used to create holes in metallic sheets and plates. This process uses hardened tools that have sharp edges. In general, you apply a force to mechanically push through the metal, thus creating a hole on the piece of metal.

This process leaves behind a hole that’s the same size and shape as the punch used. With that in mind, let’s look at how to punch through metals.

When you are working with metal blanks and need to make a hole to place a jump ring for decorative purposes, one tool you can trust is some hole punch pliers.

Hole punch pliers are easy to use. They feature a pin at the end of the plier’s jaws, and you can punch a clean hole through your sheet metal or diamond plate when force is applied to them.

Step-by-step guide to punching holes in sheet metal

Step 1: Mark the Spot

To get the most accurate hole punch, mark your sheet metal or badge blank using a black marker. This will allow you to accurately measure the gap between multiple holes if your design requires it.

Start by applying the center punch and hammer on the steel sheet to create a tiny but light dent on the marked spot in your metal. This will give you a guide on where to place your hole punch.

Step 2: Place the right side facing outwards

Remember, you’ll have to punch the hole in the side of the sheet metal or plate facing outwards. This will ensure that no sharp edges are visible.

Step 3: Use a metal punch to apply force on the sheet

Use an appropriate metal punch to indent the spot on the metal sheet. Ensure you use the right force to avoid damaging the metal punch or punching beyond your expected outcomes.

Step 4: Smoothen out any blurs

The metal hole punch is exact, so you should file any sharp edges before you buff and polish and your design. If you have trouble removing the small burrs on the drilled hole’s inner edge, don’t worry. It’s easy to smoothen them out. Get around the needle file, then use the forward and torque movement to file the hole’s inner edges.

How to Drill Metal

In this process, you use a drill bit to remove a circle from the metal to produce a hole through the metal, usually to serve as a bolt hole. Here is a step-by-step guide of a DIY method of drilling metal.

Step 1: Get ready

Ensure you have all the appropriate protective gear with you.  Remember, the bit spins fast, churning out hot metal shards all over the place. So, ensure you have the following:

Step 2: Choose the right bit

There are several types of bits for metal drilling. The kind of bit you pick will depend on the following two critical factors:

The material you are drilling

In many cases, a standard HSS (high-speed steel) will do the job. However, for harder metals like steel, you’ll have to use chewy bits, usually made of titanium, cobalt or carbide.

The measurement of the hole you want to drill

Bits come in a range of sizes and shapes so, as you choose the right bit to ensure it matches the measurements of the hole you intend to drill. Otherwise, you might waste your effort and the materials by drilling smaller or larger holes than intended.

Step 3: Execute the technique

Step 3: Execute the technique

To make an excellent hole, here are the requirements.

  1. Using a punch, preferably a center punch or a nail and hammer, make a tiny indentation to mark the exact spot where you want to drill the hole. This indentation will also help to stabilize the drill.
  2. Hold the drill steady with your two hands to ensure you retain the desired angle.
  3. Turn on the drill to start the process. If you are drilling harder metals, drill slowly. If the metal is thick, you can take breaks so that the heat disperses a little. For softer metals, dig fast to keep the shavings from building up inside, which might derail the whole project.

Importance of lubrication

Whether you are drilling harder or softer metals, it’s vital to add a little lubricant. Do this intermittently to help disperse the heat, slow down your bit’s dulling, and speed up the drilling machine process.

How to Notch Metal

Notching is the process of shearing or removing unwanted sections of metal from the metal sheet’s edges. In this procedure, you require hardened, sharpened tools to cut the edges of the sheet you are working on. The process is straightforward. Consider the following:

Step 1: Use Protection

Working with metals can be dangerous. So, always ensure you put on all your necessary protective gear. Remember, metal shavings can become airborne and can lead to severe injury.

Step 2: Get the design and measurements right

You are nothing the metal for a specific purpose. If the final product does not fit the design and intended measurements, it will be of no use. A good welder’s tape measure and the metal marker will do the trick. You can use any of the following to mark the edges you want to shear: a carbide scribe, scratch awl or a soapstone marker.

It will help to measure, not just once but at least twice, only to be sure. So, measure twice and cut once.  Marking the line to shear enhances accuracy and eliminates wastage.

Step 3: Power up the metal shear

Insert the equipment and turn it on. Check the sheet metal cutting bed and make sure there is no dirt or metal cutting material in it. If there is some debris in it, turn off the cutter and clean it first. You can start again as soon as you have cleaned it.

Step 4: Cut the metal

Place the sheet metal on the cutting bed or work station bench. Be careful because it is already running at this point, and take care not to come in contact with the blade. This also goes for sheet metal. Find the pin-size on the sheet metal cut and adjust it to cut a metal an inch more extensive than the target size.

Step 5: Check the output

Remove the sheet metal from the bed and inspect it, checking that it is the right size. If there are still irregularities in the measurements and shape, put it back on the bed and repeat step 4. Once the sheet metal is cut correctly, please remove it from the bed and set it aside.

Step 6: Clean and save

Now that it has finished its work, you need to shut down the machine and set it aside correctly. Turn off the main power switch of the devices. Clean the bed of any dirt and contaminants. Unscrew it from the socket, roll the cord and set it aside. Cover the sheet metal sheet with a waterproof material to prevent it from getting wet and rusting.


There we are. With these simple but effective methods, you can punch, drill and notch your standard metals in your welding projects.

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