How to Drill Into Hardened Steel

Drilling into hardened steel is an extremely challenging task that requires precision, patience, and the right tools. If you’re working on a project that involves drilling into hardened steel, you may feel overwhelmed or frustrated by the process. 

How to Drill Into Hardened Steel

However, with the right knowledge and techniques, you can unlock the secrets of drilling into hardened steel like a pro. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with some useful tips and techniques on how to drill into hardened steel.

Can You Drill Into Hardened Steel?

Drilling into hardened steel can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It requires a bit of skill and the right tools to get the job done. Hardened steel is tough, durable, and resistant to wear and tear, making it a popular material for many industrial and manufacturing applications. 

However, it’s also notoriously difficult to work with due to its high density and strength. To successfully drill into hardened steel, you need to use a high-speed steel drill bit with a 135-degree split point design. Cooling the bit down with cutting oil or water is also essential to prevent overheating and premature wear. You can drill into hardened steel with patience and the right techniques and achieve your desired results.

Why Should You Drill Into Hardened Steel?

Hardened steel may seem intimidating and impossible to work with, but drilling into it can prove to be extremely beneficial. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional metalworker, drilling into hardened steel can open up endless possibilities for projects and designs. The strength and durability of hardened steel make it ideal for tools and machinery, but its difficulty in drilling can often discourage individuals. 

Drilling Into Hardened Steel

However, investing in high-quality drill bits and taking time to set up and align the drilling process properly can result in precise holes and clean cuts. By mastering the art of drilling into hardened steel, you can take on new challenges and create intricate designs that were once thought to be too difficult to achieve.

7 Tips to Follow on How to Drill Into Hardened Steel

1. Choose the Right Drill Bit

The most crucial factor in drilling hardened steel is picking the right drill bit. You’ll need a bit that is capable of withstanding extreme heat and pressure. Carbide-tipped drill bits are particularly suitable for drilling into hardened steel. High-speed steel (HSS) bits can also be used, but they wear out faster, and you’ll need to keep them cool while drilling.

2. Lubrication is Crucial

When drilling into hardened steel, it’s essential to keep the bit well lubricated. Using a cooling lubricant can help you to reduce heat buildup and lower the chances of damaging the bit. The lubricant also helps to remove metal shavings, which makes the drilling process smoother. You should use a lubricant designed for metalworking, such as cutting oil.

Keep the Bit Well Lubricated

3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Drilling into hardened steel requires patience. You need to work slowly and steadily, applying a small amount of pressure at first. Excessive pressure can cause the bit to overheat, leading to dulling or chipping. Keep the speed of the drill slow and steady to allow the bit to cool down between drilling periods.

4. Keep the Bit Sharp

Drilling into hardened steel can quickly blunt your drill bit. While drilling, you should periodically take breaks to sharpen the bit. A dull bit can cause excessive heat buildup, leading to damage and broken drill bits. Use a diamond sharpening stone to restore the bit’s sharpness and prolong its lifespan.

5. Safety Comes First

When working with hardened steel, safety should always be a top priority. Wear protective gear such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask to shield yourself from metal shavings and debris. Keep your work area clean and free of clutter to avoid accidents.

6. Use a Pilot Hole

Drilling into hardened steel can be difficult and time-consuming, so using a pilot hole is best. This will help you to create an opening for the drill bit, making the actual drilling process quicker and easier. You can use a small bit to create the pilot hole before switching to the larger one.

7. Take Breaks

Drilling into hardened steel can be hard work, and it’s important to take breaks every now and then. This helps to cool down the bit, prevent overheating, and give you time to sharpen the bit if necessary. Make sure to keep a close eye on the temperature of the drill bit and take regular breaks to avoid damaging it.

That’s it! You’ve now learned seven tips for drilling into hardened steel. With the right tools, knowledge, and practice, you’ll easily tackle any project.

5 Considerations Things When You Need to Drill Into Hardened Steel

1. The Type of Drill Bit You Use Is Important.

When drilling into hardened steel, it is important to use the right type of drill bit. Carbide-tipped drill bits are the best choice, specifically designed for drilling into hard materials. Drill bits made of other materials, such as high-speed steel, will quickly become dull when used on hardened steel.

Carbide-tipped Drill Bits Are the Best Choice

2. The Speed at Which You Drill Is Important.

Drilling too slowly will cause the drill bit to overheat and break, while drilling too quickly will cause it to skid across the surface of the metal. The best way to find the right speed is to experiment with different speeds until you find one that works best for your material.

3. Use a Coolant when Drilling.

Using a coolant when drilling will help to keep the drill bit from overheating. Water is the most common type of coolant, but specialty coolants can also be purchased for this purpose.

4. Start with A Smaller Drill Bit.

When drilling into hardened steel, it is best to start with a smaller drill bit and then work your way up to larger sizes. This will help prevent the drill bit from breaking and make it easier to control the drill.

Start With a Smaller Drill Bit

5. Use a Center Punch to Create a Starter Hole.

Before starting to drill, use a center punch to create a small starter hole in the center of the area you want to drill. This will help prevent the drill bit from slipping and make it easier to get started. It will also help to ensure that the hole is drilled precisely where you want it.

Benefits of Drill Into Hardened Steel

Drilling into hardened steel may seem like an impossible task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can yield many benefits. For one, it allows for precise and accurate holes to be drilled in tough materials that would otherwise be impossible to penetrate. This makes it essential for manufacturing processes requiring strong and durable materials. 

Additionally, drilling into hardened steel can improve a structure’s overall strength and durability by creating strong bonds between different components. This ensures the structure can withstand the toughest conditions and last many years. Overall, the benefits of drilling into hardened steel are vast and make it a critical process for many industries.

Some Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Drill Into Hardened Steel

Drilling into hardened steel can be a challenging task. While it may seem like a straightforward process, many people make common mistakes that can damage their tools or produce subpar results. One significant mistake people make is choosing the wrong type of bit. Hardened steel requires a specific type of bit that can handle the material’s strength.

Another mistake is drilling too quickly, which can cause the bit to overheat and dull prematurely. Lastly, failing to use enough lubrication can increase the chances of the bit breaking or wearing out too quickly. To avoid these and other common mistakes, taking the time to research, acquire the right tools, and follow proper drilling techniques can help ensure a successful outcome.

How Can I Prevent My Drill Bit from Becoming Dull While Drilling Into Hardened Steel?

Drilling into hardened steel can quickly dull your drill bit, but there are measures you can take to prevent this frustrating problem. Firstly, consider investing in high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits, which are designed to withstand high temperatures and maintain their sharpness even when drilling into tough materials. 

Another tip is to use lubricants or coolants, such as oil or water while drilling to reduce friction and heat buildup. Additionally, be sure to apply consistent pressure while drilling and avoid twisting the bit, as this can also cause dullness. By following these simple steps, you can keep your drill bit sharp and ensure efficient and successful drilling into hardened steel.

How Much Pressure Should Be Applied When Drilling Into Hardened Steel?

Drilling into hardened steel can be daunting, especially when you’re unsure how much pressure to apply. The right amount of pressure can make all the difference between success and failure. Applying too much pressure can cause the drill bit to break while applying too little pressure can result in an inefficient drilling experience. 

The key is to apply just enough pressure to maintain contact between the drill bit and the steel surface without overworking the drill bit. It may take some practice to get it right, but with patience and perseverance, you can master the art of drilling into hardened steel like a pro.


While drilling into hardened steel may seem difficult, it’s not impossible. With the right tools, techniques, and patience, you can master the art of drilling into hardened steel like a pro. 

The key is choosing the right drill bit, keeping it lubricated, working slowly and steadily, sharpening it regularly, and prioritizing safety. Following these tips and techniques will help you achieve your drilling project goals while keeping your equipment and yourself safe. Thanks for reading our post about how to drill into hardened steel.

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Enrique Howard

Hi, I am Enrique. I started my professional life as a handyman and did a lot of external and internal repair of home and office with a little bit of electric and plumbing support. I have extensive experience in tools testing such as drilling, turning, milling, and non-conventional machining like EDM. So let me help you on your journey towards becoming an enlightened DIYer with amazing tools that you can use on your project.

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