How to Drill Into Stainless Steel


I recently installed a Filtrete Water Filter System under the sink and it required me to drill through my stainless steel sink. I thought this was going to be a fairly easy task and it was but it required the right tools and know-how. After burning through a couple of cheap drill bits I did what everyone else does and searched the internet for tips on drilling into stainless steel.

There are quite a few opinions out there on the best way to do this including using a center punch and drill press, both options didn’t suit my needs as I wanted to achieve this with the tools I already have available.

Here’s what worked for me.

1. Tap a starter hole/dent
Using a hole punch and hammer. I used a nail and didn’t get any further than a small dent.


2. Coat surface with a lubricant
I had some Dupont chainsaw lubricant that was ideal for keeping things cool.


3. Start Drilling
Using a cordless drill (Bosch) and sharp carbide tipped bits, start with a small bit start drilling.

4. Check your speed
The optimal speed for me was about 1/3 back from wide open but depending on the RPM of your drill you should choose what’s best. Heat is your enemy so keep it slow.

5. Use pressure
You need to drill straight down and with force. Let the drill do the work.

6. Take breaks
You’ll need to take a few breaks for the bit and stainless steel to cool down. Be patient. Stainless Steel actually hardens as it heats up so go slow.

You should have a nice clean hole and use a file to smooth out the edges and wipe down all shavings each time you stop.

Do you have any tips for drilling into stainless steel?

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