Best Way to Make Perfect Holes in Sheet Metal

Posted: February 14, 2020 By: MattM

When you’re building a custom car or restoring a classic you may have to make or replaced entire panels that you will need to recreate original fastener holes in. Using a drill can tend to be slow and labor intensive if you have a lot of holes to put in a panel. For instance a panel with that is being plug welded in place should have a plug weld added every few inches at the least to attach it securely. This can translate into a LOT of drilling on a longer panel like a door sill or lower rocker! We have a few ways we like punching accurate and clean holes in metal that will give your drill index a break!

  1. Metal Hand Punch- A Metal hole punch works much like a paper hole punch. There is a male punch that is just a few thousandths smaller than the lower female dies. As you force the upper punch into the metal the lower female die supports the metal and lets the upper die “cut” the hole and force it through the die. A hand punch can be used on metals up to 14 gauge and can be clamped in a vise or handheld for larger panels. The Eastwood Metal Hand Punch has a 1.75″ throat depth and has interchangeable punches and dies that go from 3/32″ to 9/32″ in diameter. This will allow you to make quick holes in meal for clecos, plug welds, fasteners, and other applications where a drill will leave a rough edge and takes a lot longer. This punch is the best “all around” sheet metal punch we offer but it does still require some labor/effort to punch holes.
  2. Pneumatic Metal Hole Punch- If you need a quick way to make punches in metal close to the edge than a Pneumatic Punch-Flange tool is the quickest and easiest we offer. It allows you to punch perfectly clean .19″ holes in metal for spot/plug welding, fastener through holes, and more. It also produces a .063″ offset flange for a perfect lapped panel. Because this tool uses pneumatic clamping force it requires almost no labor and can be taken to the vehicle to punch holes. We suggest this tool for doing long runs of plug weld holes on the vehicle or large panels. The only downsides versus the hand punch is that the maximum thickness steel it can punch is 16 gauge (the hand punch is 14 gauge steel) and that it only punches one size hole. The good news is that 99% of the time on an auto restoration or metal fabrication job you’d be using 16 gauge or less to patch or repair a panel (most pre-made patch panels are 20 gauge steel).

If you’d like to see our entire line of Metal Fabrication tools visit our site HERE.

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