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Old 10-13-2018, 09:54 PM   #1
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Drilling with water ?


I'm working on a modification to a snow blade & had to drill some 25/32" holes through mild steel with a cheapo HF drill press .

I'm an average welder but have always had problems dulling bits .

Went to Acme tools & plunked down $18.00 for a bit & asked the guy about drilling steel . He said :

1. Stable , flat surface support .

2. Steady , light to medium pressure (feed) .

3............& use WATER to cool the bit !


I went home thinking it over & decided to give it a try . I already had one of those old restaurant style ketchup squeeze bottles so I put some water in it & started drilling ........... It worked like a charm ! Drilled 5 holes in a jiffy !

Am I the only guy who didn't know this ?
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:50 PM   #2
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Re: Drilling with water ?


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Am I the only guy who didn't know this ?
Water is a new one to me, too. I usually use cutting oil and have found cobalt bits to be superior for drilling into even hardened steel. The angle ground on to the business end of the drill bit matters, too--wood and metal do not share optimal angles.
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:17 PM   #3
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Re: Drilling with water ?


Been using the water method for years works good for me. Make sure you keep the drill cleaned as some parts rust very quickly.
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:18 PM   #4
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Re: Drilling with water ?


Oil or water both provide cooling and heat is the enemy of all drill bits. As w0j0 said, the angle of the bit is important, although I never really mastered achieving it. A good friend worked in the machine shop my company had and tried to teach me how to drill different metals. He was good, I was no so.

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Old 10-13-2018, 11:33 PM   #5
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Re: Drilling with water ?


Never understood why they call them high speed when slow is the only way to go.
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Old 10-14-2018, 02:47 AM   #6
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Re: Drilling with water ?


Add a little soluble oil to the water to inhibit rust.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:58 AM   #7
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Re: Drilling with water ?


I guess part of the problem is it takes kind of a steady hand . I believe I would get started & then bear down (try to speed up the feed) . The guy said another thing that stuck in my head : "Let the bit do the work....."
Bingo !

I was also using 5-30 motor oil . Not as good at dissipating heat AND actually providing unwanted lubrication !

Last edited by dd57chevy; 10-14-2018 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:11 AM   #8
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Re: Drilling with water ?


interesting. I will have to try it.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:19 AM   #9
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Re: Drilling with water ?


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I was also using 5-30 motor oil . Not as good at dissipating heat AND actually providing unwanted lubrication !
You and many others tried that and I suspect that's why cutting oil was developed.
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Old 10-14-2018, 12:02 PM   #10
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Re: Drilling with water ?


The bigger the bit the slower the speed.
Run it to fast and the material your trying to drill becomes "work hardened", so it becomes even harder to drill.
On bigger drill bits like that I grind back some of the material on the back side of the cutting surface on the drill so there's less friction.
Like the X or XR shown in this picture.
https://www.google.com/search?q=dril...vQefW7_h_zUiM:
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:19 PM   #11
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Re: Drilling with water ?


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Add a little soluble oil to the water to inhibit rust.
Yep, in machine shops for large scale lathe, milling and drilling ops, some 'soluble oil' is mixed with water and used to cool the bits. Forms a milky white solution. It's generally collected in a pan and recycled to keep it off the floor. Haven't seen it for sale in home centers though.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:09 PM   #12
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Re: Drilling with water ?


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Yep, in machine shops for large scale lathe, milling and drilling ops, some 'soluble oil' is mixed with water and used to cool the bits. Forms a milky white solution. It's generally collected in a pan and recycled to keep it off the floor. Haven't seen it for sale in home centers though.
For a small amount that an occasional DIY'er might need, try a auto supply to purchase a pint of radiator rust inhibitor oil and mix with water. At one time Prestone was available and Gunk brand may be as well. I believe I read that a water to oil ratio of 10:1 or 15:1 would work real well.
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:58 AM   #13
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Re: Drilling with water ?


As the water boils away due to the heat created by drilling, the metal work and the bit will remain around 212 degrees F. Watch for the boiling to stop (the water is all gone) while you are still drilling, then add more water.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:35 AM   #14
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Re: Drilling with water ?


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As the water boils away due to the heat created by drilling, the metal work and the bit will remain around 212 degrees F. Watch for the boiling to stop (the water is all gone) while you are still drilling, then add more water.
I just placed my drill stand in a drip pan than I use a small tube that is connected to my water supply with a small control valve to control water flow this tube can be moved to the point of the drill bit.
The water than goes to the drip pan which has a drain line.
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:46 AM   #15
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Re: Drilling with water ?


CNC machine shop owner here. Questions?

Yes, water can work to remove heat. No, we don't use straight water in our operations.

Typically when I see people fighting with hand drilling, there are a variety of things going on.

1. harbor freight drills? Yeah right. maybe for a few holes in Al. No go in steal.... I don't care if you are injecting straight cutting oil at 1000psi, those drills are junk. Quality drills make quality holes. Quality drills are NOT that expensive!!! Yes, the fancy ones we use are, but you can't even use them in a hand drill anyway.

2. EVERY PART OF OUR BEING relies on FEEDS AND SPEEDS! I watched a guy burn up a hand full of drills in a flash trying to run his drill on warp speed in steel. I simply reached over and put his drill in first gear and told him to give that a go. He drilled 20 holes dry with the same drill..... The calculations are NOT complicated and they are not magic.

Just like endmills, drills are NOT all the same. There are different point geometries, different point angles, reliefs, rakes, etc, etc. Then there are different materials. Believe it or not, harder is not always better. Harder means brittle. If the flutes are chipping, you need to examine the operation parameters or the drill.

If a drill is burned, it is probably junk because it has knocked the heat treat out of the drill point. However, I commonly walk them over to the grinder in a pinch and touch them up and run them until they die. No, the point won't last as long, no they won't give you the precision of new. The way to properly keep drills going is the resharpen when dull, not burned up. Most small drills are not worth this effort but I assure you, though I just grind mine by hand, they make a sharpener and it will save your butt many times in a pinch!

NO, I would NEVER hand grind a drill to be used in a machine ever. That is a recipe for scrap parts. I am referring to hand drilling. If you don't precision sharpen a drill, the flutes will not be the same and the drill will pull in the hole likely causing the hole to be a bit off. If your operation requires a precise hole, precision sharpen or get a new one.
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Last edited by viper; 10-16-2018 at 04:51 AM.
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