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Chicago Pneumatic offers drilling advice


With the right tool, drill bit and speed, virtually any material can be drilled. Whether you’re drilling through composite material or hardened steel for an oil and gas or metal-working application, the drill’s speed has the most impact on the quality and efficiency.

Chicago Pneumatic has offered some tips to help drill more effectively and safely.

Soft materials such as wood or composite are generally considered easy to drill, and little thought is given to the tool, especially if the drilled hole doesn’t need to be particularly high quality. However, if a hole needs to be drilled with precision, then the correct speed is vital. With the right speed and drill bit, the tool will be able to cut a clean, exact hole with ease.

Hard materials, including hardened steel, alloy steel or cast iron, are tougher to drill than soft materials. A tool with correct power, torque and speed is imperative for drilling hard materials. Lower speed and lubrication are success factors here.

See the effect drill speed has on an aluminum sheet here:

Chicago Pneumatic says that higher speed is not better, as to drill effectively you need to select the right speed for the material you want to drill. If the speed is too low, you risk tearing and ripping the hole. However, if the speed is too high you will not get bite in the material. This is especially true for hardened steel.

The drill bit must be sharp and in good condition. This will also reduce the necessary pressure you have to put on the tool.

Harald Odenman, Product Marketing Manager at Chicago Pneumatic adds: “When you use a low speed drill, less than 1000 rpm, the tool can twist your arm if the drill bit gets stuck. This causes many injuries. To protect yourself always use a side handle.”

Four key steps to define the right speed for your drill are:

  • Identify the material to be drilled.
  • Define the drill bit size.
  • Identify the recommended speed of the tool using a drilling speed chart.
  • Select your preferred tool based on factors other than the speed, for example: handle type, duty, reversible or non-reversible and chuck capacity / type / brand.

Here are a few general pieces of advice Chicago Pneumatic urges drill users to follow:

  • When drilling a large hole, start by drilling a smaller pilot hole that is half the targeted diameter. It’s not uncommon to use three or four different-sized drill bits to achieve a good finish.
  • Take a few seconds to make a good mark with a hammer and center punch. This makes drilling much easier and increases the quality of the hole.
  • Let the drill bit cool down between each use and lubricate it during operation. That way it will last longer and drill faster.
  • Patience is your best friend for this type of job.
  • Double check you are using the optimal drill speed with a drill table.
  • Always use a sharp drill bit in good condition.
  • Use the drill’s side handle when necessary to prevent the risk of injury.
  • Clamp the workpiece firmly, especially if it is small.
  • Use safety glasses to protect your eyes.