drill a hole in aluminum

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by bug13, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. bug13

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 13, 2012
    1,208
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    Hi guys

    I want to drill a hole in nice piece of aluminum that I want to use as a heat sink, the aluminum is about 7.9mm think, the hold I want is about 3.8mm in diameter (a regular TO-220 package)

    So what is the best way to do so? better that I can use some tool around my house.

    Thanks
     
  2. absf

    Senior Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    1,490
    371
    Do you have one of these drills? It's the best for a job like yours...

    Allen
     
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  3. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    700
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    I'm sure you have something like this around the house?:


    https://www.google.com/search?q=typ...KN4bQygGCqYDACQ&ved=0CCwQsAQ&biw=1429&bih=921
     
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  4. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
    12,405
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    [​IMG]

    If you cannot afford a power drill, you can look for one of these.

    This was my first drill.
     
  5. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
    10,135
    1,786
    The answer is in the title to your post. To drill a hole you use a drill with a drill bit of the correct diameter. Drill bits are made of hardened steel and will cut through aluminum like a hot knife through soft butter. If you don't have one around the house, my next suggestion is to use a hardened nail of the correct diameter. Get a really big Engineer's hammer and pound that nail right through that piece of aluminum. You will have to practice this technique to achieve results of consistent quality.
     
  6. mongause

    New Member

    Jun 9, 2013
    5
    1
    A drill press or just a hand drill will work fine. Or if you've a table saw, you could cut a slot and incrementally widen it until it's the right size. The nut and bolt you secure the device to be cooled with should keep it from sliding off. Wear glasses tho. Those aluminum shavings are much hotter than sawdust.
     
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  7. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    2,375
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    If you seriously don't have a drill or can't borrow one, you can make a pretty good slot with a metal file. Once you tighten the nut to the screw, your component should hold firmly.
     
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  8. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
    4,000
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    While a "twist" (most common type) drill bit works best for the thickness your working with, if you ever need to drill a nice round hole in sheet(thin) metal, your better off with a "step" drill. In thin metal a twist drill doesn't make a very round hole, it usually makes more of a rounded triangular shape.
     
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  9. Andreas

    Active Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    68
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    A nail eh, hmm... That's thinking outside the box. Nice1 (TIC).
     
  10. bug13

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 13, 2012
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    Thanks guys, I think I will just take it to school and use the bench drill at school.
     
  11. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Pound a nail right through 5/16" aluminum and get a decent hole?????
     
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  12. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    That will probably be best. If you can, use a bit of cutting fluid (and motor oil works just fine). You can usually get by without using cutting fluid on aluminum as long as your bit is sharp and you don't try to go too fast.
     
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  13. bug13

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 13, 2012
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    Oh, I think all the bits at my school is a bit old and a little rusty, at least for the drill in our electrotech anyway.

    Will it still do the job?
     
  14. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Take a file and sharpen the bit. If you've never sharpened a twist drill bit before, it's not at all hard, but it's best if you get someone that knows how to show you. Otherwise, just try to follow the existing shape as close as you can.
     
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  15. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
    10,135
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    I never said it would make a decent hole. It does use material that most are likely to have on hand as the OP asked.
     
  16. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Maybe you can use a drill bit in an electric egg beater. Or you can pick up a good used drill at a yard sale or swap meet for about 15 bucks.
     
  17. dthx

    Member

    May 2, 2013
    194
    14
    Mr. Chips....
    Isnt that the drill that Tesla gave you when you help him design that motor....?
    BTW....your Blog is awesome....congrats.!
    D.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  18. bug13

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 13, 2012
    1,208
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    We never have a electric egg beater, we use chop sticks :D
     
  19. tubeguy

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 3, 2012
    1,157
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    In a pinch, you can use a sharp nail as a drill if you chuck it in a hand drill or drill press. It works well for woodworking, but I'm not sure about aluminum. :)
     
  20. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    2,375
    998
    I've used a nail to make holes many times. It does a good enough job, but you need something soft under your work. However, I've never tried a nail in material that thick. Don't know how that would work out.

    sorry, I forget how resource-limited students are.
     
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