Drilling Stainless Steel

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Problem: you need to drill large tap holes in a serving fridge or a vessel such as a kettle.

Solution:

  • Use a "stepped bit", also known as a "christmas tree bit". These are available at Bunnings/Masters and are not too expensive and are only good for thin stainless steel.
  • The best solution is a hole saw like the Bi-Metal Starret brand you can buy from All Strut at Fyshwick. They are far more effective and accurate for all holes in stainless steel, i.e very thin metal such as a fridge door to thicker metal such as a second-hand keg.
  • For portable items like kettles it is best to use a drill press.
  • Keep the drill speed very slow and pressure only moderate to prevent deformation of the thin stainless steel. This is really important. If you drill too fast you will heat up the stainless steel which will harden the metal making your job much more difficult.
  • Use a lubricating oil like Trefolex Cutting Compound to help keep things cool. As an alternative, running water can also help.