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Drilling tiny holes.

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Alastair Macpherson04/03/2017 13:41:34
15 forum posts
1 photos

I am faced with drilling some 1mm dia open-ended holes in mild steel and have never drilled such a small diameter before. My drill speed calc chart tells me that I need a rotational speed of 8000 rpm, but my drilling machine max speed is only a little over 4000. How critical is this drilling speed? Any hints or tips on drilling small holes would be valued.

Speedy Builder504/03/2017 13:59:34
2592 forum posts
207 photos

Sharp drill, little bit of cutting oil or lard, maximum speed. Take a cut with light pressure, and back if off every 2 or 3 mm to clear away the swarf. Make sure you have a good quality drill bit and I find the TI coated bits(Gold colour) superior to ordinary HSS bits

Andrew Johnston04/03/2017 14:00:20
6574 forum posts
701 photos

Speed isn't critical, but you'll have to reduce feedrate accordingly. There are three main issues. One, how to hold a small drill. I use an Eclipse pin chuck in the main drill chuck. Second is how to start the drill. At these small sizes a centre drill, or even a spot drill, may leave too large a spot, without a clean centre. I usually just let the drill gently touch the work and it'll find it's own centre, especially if it's 4 facet. Third, the main killer is chips getting jammed, so peck very frequently and use a thin liquid to provide some lubrication and to wash the chips away. I use WD40, mainly because it's handy in a spray bottle. The smallest holes I've drilled were 0.7mm and 10mm deep, albeit in brass. But the drilling was done on a Bridgeport, which doesn't make it easy.


jason udall04/03/2017 14:07:36
2031 forum posts
41 photos
I would worry less about rpm. than runout ( wobble)..
If the drill chuck doesn't hold the drill straight and concentric. ..the drill tip will be moving in a circle. ..and obviously the drill will until stabilised by the work flail about in a circle
A good center mark helps but if the run out is too bid then the drill tends to drill a less than perpendicular hole through the part.

Imagine hole on top surface in one place but hole at bottom surface a fraction on mm "off".
Rpm is not the most critical bit...but fastest in this case would be best.

.but remember. ..peck the?hole. ..if you drill more than the diameter of the drill withdraw the drill and repeat...pecking away until through ..l
colin hawes04/03/2017 14:08:40
557 forum posts
18 photos

If a very small drill does not cut easily then sharpen or replace it or it will break. Colin

Neil Wyatt04/03/2017 14:31:32
18990 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

As Tubal Cain observed, if small drills aren't razor sharp and fed quite firmly, they tend to 'spin' at high speeds and blunt rapidly, so as Andrew observes, lower speed and take it gently should work fine.


John Flack04/03/2017 15:01:00
171 forum posts

Drill Services have supplied me with c/drills in sizes 0,1/0, 2/0 3/0, 4/0 ,the. 4/0 has a tip size of 10 thou, that's small enough to centre a drill to tap 16 BA! If your chuck has problems gripping 1mm , a 3/32 std shank drill may be an alternative, I have obtained these from Expo Tools in sizes down to o.5 MM. They are claimed to be to aDIN spec

My experience suggests that a hole and half with a fair wind💨💨💨💨

Hopper05/03/2017 01:20:37
6195 forum posts
321 photos

For centre drilling for small holes liek that, I often use my regular centre drill but just use the very tip of the small extension - just enough to make a tiny dot on the job. It seems to be enough to get the main drill started on centre and does away with the risk of snapping the extension off the nose of those tiny sized centre drills -- all too easy to do if your chuck has the usual few thou of runout and the drill press spindle the usuall few thou of slop.

Raymond Anderson05/03/2017 07:56:08
785 forum posts
152 photos

Albrecht sensitive drill feed with the matching chuck would do the job superbly, as that is what they are designed for. Just Google Albrecht sensitive drill feed. Also use good drill bits, and as Andrew mentioned 4 facet ones would be best .

Raymond Anderson05/03/2017 07:57:17
785 forum posts
152 photos

I think also that there are plans about for a similar set up to the Albrecht.

Ian S C05/03/2017 09:25:23
7468 forum posts
230 photos

To hold small drills (below 1/16" / 1.5 mm), I have a zero to 1/4" size Jacobs chuck with a short shaft on it(I can't get it off), that I fit in the Jacobs type chuck in the Rexon vertical mill. This set up runs true, I can't measure the run out. The mill doesn't like running much above 1200rpm, but it drills ok if I take a peck every .5 mm to 1 mm. I have not tried any thing below .4 mm.

Ian S C

JohnF05/03/2017 09:37:36
1146 forum posts
189 photos

,See here from Arc a sensitive drilling attachment, I have a spring loaded one made close to 50 years ago used on a jig borer drilling (a lot) 0.015" holes PM me if you want a photo etc


PS I think the max speed was 2500 rpm so don't worry about theoretical speed too much

Edited By JohnF on 05/03/2017 09:39:33

Leo F Byrne05/03/2017 10:22:37
5 forum posts

I do this often when making violin/cello bows and agree with the above. The tip of a centre drill and sharp drill bit in Eclipse pin chuck, withdrawing frequently. I do this in a Fobco at medium speed - I have electronic speed control. I keep a supply of new TiN bits in the smaller sizes and when they're no longer sharp I don't mess about - I throw them away

Alastair Macpherson05/03/2017 15:27:35
15 forum posts
1 photos

Thank you all for those useful pointers. All I need now is the nerve to tackle the job.

David George 105/03/2017 16:29:15
1808 forum posts
503 photos

I used to drill thousands of .25 mm dia holes in mould tools to vent air, and used an air drill mounted in a stationary drill chuck, although they were in aluminium blocks. I would try a few test pieces before going live on a job, just to get the feel on how you need to back off and when to lubricate etc.


MalcB05/03/2017 17:17:24
257 forum posts
31 photos

When spotting for tiny holes I use a very pointed D bit I made quite a few years ago, relieved on the back of the taper.

Drill Speeds already covered by others



Andy Ash05/03/2017 19:32:43
136 forum posts
33 photos

If it is 1mm would recommend PCB drills. (For drilling circuit boards).

They're solid carbide, they're sharp and they're very cheap. They don't wear so they don't get blunt and break, but if you do break one at about 40p ea you don't really mind.

They normally have a large shank typically 1/8".

Just run them as fast as you can and it will be fine.

JimmieS08/03/2017 14:04:11
290 forum posts
1 photos

Now for very tiny holes

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