How to Drill Hardened Steel? A Step By Step Guide

If you’re up for a task related to drilling hardened steel then we’ve got some news for you! Believe us when we say the task isn’t going to be an easy one.

“Why?” You must be wondering. Well, unlike wood, porcelain tiles, or stone tiles, Hardened Steel is made up of a surface that is much harder to penetrate than you think.

Hardened Steel is basically known to be one of the hardest metals to drill through. That being said, unlike the characteristics of regular mild steel, Hardened Steel is known to be non-ductile, and hard.

A Hardened Steel can easily be cut through using an angle grinder with an abrasive disk. However, when it comes to drilling through hardened steel, things get much harder and trickier.

At first, it may come as an easy task. However, when it comes down to the real event, a single mistake may leave you with a hole at the wrong spot. Furthermore, if you are not careful enough, you just might end up with an injury, therefore, precautionary measures are necessary.

So, if you aren’t so sure about “How to drill a hole on a Hardened steel?” then we’re here to guide you.

How to Drill Through A Hardened Steel?

Step 1: Clear Up Your Workspace

Begin your task by tidying up your workspace because the last thing you’d want is to get interrupted by the unnecessary disturbance.

While you’re at it, make sure that you’ve got everything that you need at hand. This will not only minimize the interruptions but also will allow you to work efficiently.

Lastly, make sure that your drill machine is all set up and all the cables are working properly and in their places.

Step 2: See If You Have The Right Drill Bits To The Job

Drilling a hole through a piece of hardened steel is not an easy task. That said, using drill bits that aren’t meant to penetrate hard surfaces like that of hardened steel can end up causing more damage than good. Not only can it potentially damage to your equipment, but in the worst-case scenario, end up harming you.

In order to avoid such a thing, it is best that you possess the right drill bit to do the job. Hence, you need just the kind of drill bit that is made from much harder metal than the Hardened Steel.

The following are the two drill bits that are not perfect for drilling through hardened steel but also possess highly efficient and heavy-duty properties.
• Cobalt
• Carbide

Cobalt Drill Bit

The cobalt drill bit is known as high-speed steel (HSS), which is highly durable and strong enough to drill through a Hardened Steel with ease. The components of a cobalt drill bit are majorly based on 5% to 8% cobalt which helps get the job done. Cobalt bits can also be used for drilling through stainless steel.

Carbide Drill Bit

The carbide bits are known to be the most in-demand due to its heavy-duty properties. They are also go by the name “Carb”. That truly is an unusual name, however, do not let the name fool you as carbide bits are known to be the best when it comes to drilling the Hardened Steel.

The only downside to the carbide drill bit is that it is super brittle. That being said, it can easily break or snap so it’s better that you wear your protective gear while using it.

Step 3: Wear Your Protective Gear

Before you get started, it is of utmost importance that your protective gear is on point. In order to protect your eyes, you will not only need goggles but also additional goggles to provide adequate protection

Due to the loud noise throughout the process, your hearing can potentially be at risk. Therefore, be sure to always wear your ear defenders.

Wearing gloves, however, is not recommended.

Step 4: Measure And Mark

Once everything is up and ready, it’s time for you to measure and mark your piece of metal. You can use a pencil or a marker to mark the place where you want to drill a hole.

Once you’ve marked the spot, remeasure your measurements just to make sure you’ve got the right spot.

Step 5: Secure the Piece of Hardened Steel

Now before you get started with the drilling process, make sure that the Hardened Steel is tightly secured in its place. Clamp it down tightly and properly in order to avoid any mishap.

In case, if the drill penetrates the blindsides or if drill bits grab in between the operation, it can cause injuries, or potentially damage your piece of equipment.

Step 6: Use Cutting Fluid

Cutting fluid basically helps with reducing work hardening and helps clear away the swarf built up during the drilling process.

In case if you’re using the hand-held drill then be sure to use a generous amount of cutting lubricant. Pour it on the mark where you want to drill a hole.

If you are going to be working with a drill press coolant system then use the fluid according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 7: Drill Away

Finally, the step where the real action takes place.

Now the rule of the thumb is to set the speed at high. One of the key indicators is the swarf that tells you if the speed, feeds rate, and pressure is set correctly.

If the swarf smoothly exits the hole and comes out short and helical in shape, then you’re good to go. In case, if the swarf isn’t as described above, then hold up the drilling process. Check your equipment’s setting and, if need be, apply more cutting fluid.

Repeat the drilling process all over again once everything is adjusted properly.

Step 8: You’re All Done

If you’ve reached thus far then you’ve successfully managed to drill a hole on a Hardened Steel. However, since you’ve successfully drilled a hole, you must take care of a couple of things.

First, refrain yourself from touching the hole or the bit. The drilling process causes the drill bit and the hole to become extremely hot which can cause a burn.

Lastly, as you wipe off the coolant, make sure to be extremely careful as it can leave the surface with unwanted scratches.


Drilling through a Hardened Steel surface may seem like a task for a professional, however, with careful consideration, we’ve created this guide for you. That said, the above step by step guide will surely help you drill a hole on a Hardened Steel in no time.

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