Halstead Jewelry Minute – Ep. 8 – Metal Hole Punching Tools

Hi. There are a lot of options out there
for making holes in sheet metal, so today we’ll be doing a comparison of the many
tools available for hole punching in the studio. Okay so our first tool option is hole
punching pliers. These pliers run about 10 or 11 dollars a piece and generally
they make 1.5 or 1.8 millimeter holes. Those are perfect for attaching things
with jump rings but they’ll probably be a little too small for riveting. Okay so
to use these pliers you’re a little bit limited by the length of the neck on the
plier, so you’ll need to work kind of close to an edge. But you just squeeze
and you’ll hear it and feel it kind of punch through the metal. And the thing
that’s most tricky about this tool and the next tool we’ll show you is that
it’s a little hard to get your metal off of the pliers. Sometimes it sticks a
little bit and you may need to use a rag or a plier to kind of pull it off. Punch
pliers are effective up to 18 gauge thickness, though you’ll find it’s harder
and harder the thicker the metal. Okay your next option will be screw punches.
Screw punches run about 10 to 20 dollars a piece and they’re available in
a wide variety of sizes for different size holes. In general you can make
larger holes with screw punches, so they’re really used frequently by people
making rivets. Just like with the punch pliers you can find that the punches get
dull and need to be replaced after a while. So to use a screw punch you take
your piece of metal, you insert it in the punch and you’ll want to tighten it down
partway and then work on final placement. You kind of need to look from the side
to get the hole exactly where you want it. And one of the tricky things about
screw punches is that it’s kind of hard to grip your metal while you’re punching
so you may want to have a rag handy or use the corner of your work apron to
help you. So we’ll see as I crank down you’ll feel it start to resist you more
as you’re punching through the metal and then it’ll get a lot easier once you
reach through the other side. Okay so then to release your metal, you unscrew.
And again sometimes your metal can get stuck just a little bit so you may need
to wiggle it free or grab a pair of pliers to yank it the rest of the way.
Your third option is a flex shaft. And a flex shaft is a truly indispensable tool
in the studio. You can use it for a lot of things other than drilling holes, but
today we’re just going to cover drilling. So you need a few things in addition
to your flex shaft, which we’ll go over in just a moment. A basic flex shaft is
gonna cost you about $90. But if you’re in the studio a lot, you may want to
consider a more professional grade flex shaft such as a Fordham which can run
you between 300 to $500. But believe me it’s well worth the money in the savings
and the quality of the work that you’re gonna see with a tool like this.
Okay so flex shafts offer you ultimate flexibility in the placement of your
hole. You can set a divot anywhere in your sheet metal so you aren’t
constrained by your distance from the edge of the sheet. Okay so the first
thing we want to do is put on our safety glasses. You always want to wear
glasses with a rotary tool because bits of metal and dust will go flying. And
then you’re going to use your center punch – this tool just sets a divot in
your sheet metal so that when you start drilling your bit doesn’t kind of
skitter off to the side, it goes right where you want it to. Okay so I decide
where my hole is, I use my center punch to create a divot, I already have my
drill bit in my flex shaft. Then I’m gonna pick this up and put a little bit
of cut lube on the drill, just to make drilling a little bit easier. Now down
below, you can’t see in the shot but I’m going to compress the foot pedal down
here to make the drill bit start to spin. But I don’t want to do that until I have
it firmly in place on the metal. You never want to start drilling up here and
then try and bring it down. You set it firmly in place, drill, and just press
slightly to punch through. Alright and there you go. Okay our last option is the
jumbo hand punch. This tool runs about 36 dollars and it’s used for
making larger holes that range from about 2.2 millimeters all the
way up to a quarter inch. So you may use this for some larger rivets, or different
types of cold connections, or design elements in your sheet metal. Okay
this tool is in a case right here. It comes in this hard plastic case and it
comes with a variety of bits that you can switch out in the jaws of the plier.
It’s a little bit heavy, so you’ll need to kind of set it down as you’re
working. The bits go in place down here and then there’s this measurement guide
that allows you to adjust the neck length for working in from the
edge of your metal. So if you want to consistently place holes one inch from
the edge, for example, we can set that here and be able to use that as a guide
as we’re punching through the metal. Okay I have the smallest, 1/32 of an inch, bit
in place which is about 2.2 millimeters. So I’m going to get this set
up to make my hole. Because this tool is so heavy you’ll want to brace it against
a table to hold it still. My hands just aren’t strong enough to do it up in the
air. And then kind of like the screw punch, you need to work in from the side
and kind of look at exactly where your hole is going to end up. So you put a
little bit of pressure to make sure that metal isn’t going to scoot and then
you’ll want to push down and punch through. Okay…and again you need a little
bit of leverage to get that off of the bit. And there you go. Thanks for joining
us and be sure to check out halsteadbead.com for all of the tools you saw
featured in today’s video.

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