How To Drill Into A Stainless Steel Sink

How To Drill Into A Stainless Steel Sink

Drilling into stainless steel can be tricky, but it’s your only option when installing a soap dispenser or a filtered water system. Here’s how to do it without scratching the stainless surface and ruining good drill bits.

Photos by Charles & Hudson

Step One: Start The Hole

If the sink hasn’t been installed you can use a centre punch and drill press, but if your sink is stationary you’ll need to start your hole using a hole punch and a hammer. You can also use a sharp galvanised nail. Keep your taps short and controlled. Once you get a good dent your drill bit will have an easier time finding a seat.

Step Two: Lubricate

You’ll be operating your drill at high speed, and metal on metal will generate a lot of heat which can cause warping and burn marks. Apply a teflon lubricant to the drill area before and keep it lubricated as you are drilling.

Step Three: Start Drilling

Attach a ¼” carbide tipped bit and start drilling. Don’t run your drill at full speed; instead, go half or a third the max speed. This will keep it from overheating.

Apply constant downward pressure to maintain solid contact but allow the drill to do the work.

It may seem like you are getting nowhere, so be patient and don’t rush. You may also need to take breaks to allow the drill bit to cool.

Once you break through, use a file to smooth out the edges, then wipe away the shavings and lubricate when you are finished. When you’re done, drop in your filtered water tap (or whatever else you’re installing) and enjoy.

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  • I work with stainless every day, set your drill speed very slow push hard and pulse the drill trigger, do not try and drill flat chat you will work harden the stainless steel, if there is no swarf coming from the drill, get a new drill

  • Glad to see lonix knows what swarf is and a few others I trust.
    Get a new drill bit of course if you do not know how to sharpen it.
    As you can see this was written for the USA with the lubricant but you do not really want a lubricant you want something that will help you keep the contact area cool and provide a cutting compound as you drill. A bit of kerosene or even water is better than nothing and as suggested keep the drill speed low.
    BTW the pilot drill ‘ 1/4″ ‘ that was suggested was not the final drill or hole saw used.

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