How To Use A Step Drill Bit On Metal: Tools And Techniques

Drilling projects can become tricky at times, especially when drilling holes of varying sizes. You must constantly remove drill bits of various sizes to match them with the holes required for your job. This consumes valuable work hours that could have been used to complete your job more quickly.  

What if I told you that it could all be done with just one drill bit? Drilling multiple-sized holes in sheet metal has become much easier with the step drill. A step drill, often called a stepped drill bit or step bit is a conical-shaped drill bit with gradually increasing diameters. A sharp groove on one side of the tool serves as a cutting edge and has several levels or steps with increasing diameters from tip to end.  


The Process : Drilling Into Metal Using A Step Drill 

The step drill can speed up the cutting process since it eliminates the need for a pilot hole and lessens the need to move between a variety of twist drill bits. Simply follow the methods outlined below when drilling a hole in metal. 


• Prepare Your Safety Equipment

    Safety is a primary concern when using power tools so it's important to follow safety protocols and wear proper safety equipment. Before drilling, you should have the following:
    1. Goggles or Safety Glasses 
    It's critical to safeguard your eyes by putting on goggles or safety glasses. During the drilling process, metal shavings and coolant liquid might hurt your eyes if they are not protected by safety goggles.
    2. Gloves
    When working with metals, you should use extreme caution when using power tools on rough surfaces. When Drilling, you have to make sure you use heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from metal shavings.
    3. Proper Work Clothes
    Be sure to remove all jewelry and loose clothing before starting the drilling to avoid getting caught up. Also, well-fitting short-sleeved clothing is a better option than clothing with long sleeves.

    • Drilling Using A Step Drill

      After ensuring you have all of the necessary safety gear, it's time to start drilling your hole using the step drill bit. Step bits can be used to create smooth-walled and straight hole sides in the workpiece by cutting into the material with a straight edge. To get started, simply follow the instructions outlined below.
      1. Clamp The Object
      Drilling holes in sheet metal often need the use of step drill bits. Ensure the sheet metal is safely secured before beginning the drilling process to avoid it slipping and spinning under the inward pressure of the step drill. To keep the metal sheet in place, use clamps.
      2. Make A Mark In The Center
      Use a center punch for precise results when drilling with a step drill bit. To avoid drilling in the wrong place, mark the exact location using a marker. Then center punch the desired hole by placing the punch's tip in the target position. Using the hammer, strike the center punch. This prevents the drill bit from swinging when drilling.
      3. Add Lubricating Oil
      When cutting metal, it's usually advisable to use lubricating oil to keep the drill bit from sticking. This is done to keep the step drill from overheating and causing excessive drilling friction with the material. You can use cutting fluid, lubricant, and coolant. Before drilling, lubricate the metal sheet where the bit will come into contact with the sheet.
      4. Drill The Hole 
      Before connecting your power tool to a power source or battery, ensure the step drill shank is securely fastened in the chuck. To begin drilling a large hole, use a small step drill bit to drill a pilot hole, and then switch to a larger step drill bit (optional). 
      Make sure the drill bit is centered on the center mark, and keep a steady grip on the tool. Drill vertically in the appropriate position at low drill speeds and with consistent pressure to get the desired outcome. Allow the step drill to cool down by supplying additional cutting fluid.  
      Reduce your drilling speed and pressure as you get closer to the desired hole. The hole should be chamfered by the next bevel edge when you have reached the desired size. This will ensure a smooth surface.
      5. Clean Up Your Work Area 
      Once you have finished drilling, remove the drill bit and thoroughly clean the drill bit to ensure that there are no shavings left. You can also polish the drill bits before putting them away to ensure that they last as long as possible. 
      After cleaning the step drill bit with a dry rag, return it to its storage case. Metal chips can be removed from the workplace using a magnetic chip collector. A broom and a vacuum can be used to clean the surrounding areas and the ground.


      How Do Step Drill Bits Work?

      Step drill bits are used to drill metal up to 1/4 of an inch thick. Step drill bits are designed to enlarge a hole as the bit drills through the sheet metal. Each step on the bit is larger in diameter than the step before. ​​Step drill bits utilize different parts of the bit to make a precise hole. Here are the other parts of a step drill and their function.

      • Point angle 
      The point of a drill bit is the most crucial portion. That individual is responsible for making a hole. The step drill's point angle is found at the drill's head. It is the angle formed by the two cutting edges. The head of a step drill is similar to a twist drill. The step drill needs a point angle to center itself in the material.

      • Profile of flute (groove profile) 
      The groove profile serves as a channel for chip collection and removal. Straight or spiral grooved step drills are available. Compared to the straight groove, the spiral groove significantly improves chip removal. It is vital to remove the chips quickly since this may result in significant heat buildup and cause the drill to burn out. By removing chips properly, the service life of your drill bit can be greatly increased.

      • Shank  
      It goes into the spindle and holds the drill bit into place. You should make sure it's adequately attached before drilling. The shank can be either of these two types: Straight or tapered.

      • Steps 
      The steps gradually increase in diameter; for example, a step drill size 1 has nine steps with diameters ranging from 6.0 to 20.0 mm. These sizes determine the diameters and there are usually 13 steps. 


      Common Types Of Step Drills 

      High-speed steel (HSS) - has excellent wear resistance and can be utilized in a wide range of general-purpose applications for both ferrous and nonferrous materials. 

        Titanium Nitride (TiN) - is a multipurpose coating that improves chip flow in softer materials by increasing chip flow. As a result of the heat and hardness resistance, the tool can operate at faster speeds than uncoated tools. 



          • RUnaTEC Coated - High wear resistance is enabled by extremely high nano-hardness, eliminating material welding and resulting in an extremely smooth finished surface. 



            RUKO Shop UK Step Drill Bits and Steps

            Please feel free to speak with one of our specialists about the best drill bits for your specific application. Then, check out our high-quality step drills to make your next construction project go more smoothly.
            Quality Tools UK provide an extensive assortment of step drills to choose from when it comes to metalworking.

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            • Hi Ferdinand,

              We stock HSS-TIN Step Drill Bits which are ideal for Stainless Steel.


              Many Thanks,

              RUKO UK on
            • Do you have step drillbit for the stainless?

              Ferdinand on

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