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#67804 - 07/17/06 09:13 PM Drilling into Steel Studs?  
wis-sparky  Offline
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Can anyone give any advice on drilling into steel studs - what setup works best (besides avoiding the job altogether - lol) - anyone have info on the best bits and/or drill combo available?

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#67805 - 07/17/06 09:14 PM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
ctardi  Offline
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 15
Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
HSS drill bits, smaller bits get turned punch if you can. I don't think they are usually thick enough to warrent cooling.

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#67806 - 07/18/06 01:21 AM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
Are you talking about the normal tin can framing for walls? To pull cable or pipe through?

If so, and you plan to be doing a lot of it in your forseeable future, get a stud punch.

[Linked Image]

Otherwise holesaws and unibit will work, but much slower going. Just remember safety glasses and long sleeves for all that hot flying metal. $200+ for a punch will pay for itself fast, on even one job. 10X faster than drilling all the holes. (You will still have to drill a few.)

If you're talking about heavy gage, red or black iron, go for carbide hole saws.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

#67807 - 07/18/06 01:28 AM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
e57  Offline
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
If you're talking screws? Any 14v+ impact driver, and #7 or 8 piercing "framers" or "Streakers" screws, the black ones are the best.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason

#67808 - 07/18/06 07:40 PM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
wis-sparky  Offline
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 16
Thanks for the info - I'll clarify a little bit more - These homes are steel studs, joists, and sometimes trusses - drilling thru the top plate is a pain because there is a half inch of OSB on the top plates (to act as a dampener I guess) - anything bigger than a 2 by 4 is bad because the gauge of steel is a lot heavier - you really try to plan your layout well to minimize drilling overhead - so far the best bits seem to be Milwaukee's - a punch really wouldn't work thru the top plate (with the OSB and heavier gauge)- sometimes I'm tempted to think a 12 gauge slug would do the trick!

#67809 - 07/18/06 08:04 PM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
OK, here's the "straight dope:"

Mount boxes, etc with self drilling screws ("Teks" or "Silver bullets").
Drill small holes with (first choice) DeWalts' "Pilot point" bits, or (second choice) bits that have a 135 degree 'split point,' rather than the standard point. (Look at the bit from the end... if the point looks like the letter "S" it's standard; if it looks like the a bow tie, it's split).

Greenlee sells the most widely available set of "rotary broaches" for cutting larger holes. These sort of resemble shallow hole saws, but perform infinitely better. I believe Greenlee calles them "High speed cutters" or some such. Run them on SLOW speed!

Where there is a wood piece in the way, you'll have to cut the wood out first with a regular hole saw.

#67810 - 07/19/06 04:24 AM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
Carrying on from what reno is saying,
I come from an engineering (Blacksmith/welder) background, I've always favoured holesaws, not the cheap old rubbish at the DIY stores, but the Tungsten tipped ones, from 16mm upwards to 150mm diameter.
The key to using a holesaw properly is keeping it wet with cutting lubricant, just like any other tool when cutting steel or any other metal for that fact.
If that tool face gets too hot, you will ruin the temper of the tool, rendering it useless, as the teeth wear more after the temper is lost.

#67811 - 07/19/06 03:15 PM Re: Drilling into Steel Studs?  
Fred  Offline
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 449
Straughn, IN 47387
I have ran into the OSB on top of the seel top plate. I hole saw the steel with a 1-3/8" then drill the wood with a 3/4" auger bit. Just hole saw enough to remove the steel. We had a lot of this in an eye Dr. office where all the interior walls were steel studs. They ripped 2x4 stock to lay inside studs in every exam room where upper cabinets were to be mounted so they could lag them into wood instead of flimsy steel. Made it impossible to use steel stud bushings. The state inspector suggested I drill the steel with an over-sized hole saw then drill the wood with a smaller auger centered in the opening in the steel. He considered the cable protected by the wood "bushing".

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