How to Make a Hole in Metal Without a Drill

How to Make a Hole in Metal Without a Drill

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So, you lost your drill, your drill is broken, or you just don’t have the proper drill bit, but whatever the case might be, you need to make a hole in metal now. And you just don’t have time to deal with getting a new drill or drill bit.

Luckily for you, there are various ways to get the job done and this is exactly what we are here to teach you today.

Can You Make a Hole in Metal Without a Drill?

Of course, when it comes to making a hole in metal, a power drill is going to be your number one option. With that being said, if your drill is broken, you don’t have one, or you are experiencing any other issues, then there aren’t many different ways to make a hole in metal. The bottom line is that it is more than possible to make a hole in metal without a drill, and this can be done in many ways.

When Should You Consider Not Using a Drill to Make a Hole in Metal?

OK, so technically speaking, this article is geared towards people who have lost their drill or whose drill has broken. Generally speaking, a drill is going to be your best option for making a hole in metal, and this is usually the case. With that being said, there are some instances where you might want to use a different tool.

This could be because the drill that you have does not have an adjustable speed. When drilling through metal, the speed of the drill bit should be quite slow, so if you can’t adjust your drill to move at a slower speed, then this might be a problem.

Moreover, you might also not have the proper type of drill bit, because remember that a drill bit designed to drill into wood is not going to work for metal. These are two different kinds of drill bits. Whatever the case might be, below, we’re going to teach you all of the different ways to make a hole in metal without using a drill.

7 Best Ways to Make a Hole in Metal Without a Drill

Let’s talk about all of the different methods at your disposal for making a hole in metal without a drill. There are quite a few ways, so let’s get to it.

1. Using Hole Punch Pliers

Hole Punch Pliers Hole punch pliers are a very special type of pliers that are designed specifically for cutting holes into sheet metal. In terms of the look of them, you can imagine them looking like a pair of pliers, complete with a hole punch at the front, just like you would use to make a hole in paper.

All you have to do to use this type of tool is to place the front exactly where you want to make the hole in the sheet metal and then squeeze the handles together. You can always use a hammer and a nail first to make a small indent so you know exactly where to place the hole punch pliers.

It’s a great way to make small holes in very thin pieces of sheet metal. This type of hole punch will create sharp edges and tiny burs that you will then need to sand off, but a simple file should take care of this with no problem.

2. Using a Metal Punch and Hammer

If you don’t have hole punch pliers on hand, then something else that you can try doing is using a hollow metal punch combined with a hammer. A hollow metal punch is like the older version of hole punch pliers. The idea here is exactly the same, but it’s just an older method that requires more manual effort. You can imagine a metal punch looking like a large metal straw that is hollow in the center and has a very sharp circumference.

All you have to do is to determine where you want to make your whole place your metal punch exactly where it needs to go, and then use a hammer to smash it through the hole. Make sure that you have something solid sitting underneath the sheet metal that you want to punch through because if you don’t you will most likely end up bending the metal.

With that being said, make sure that whatever is underneath is nothing valuable because it will get damaged. Once again, this method will produce burs, and the hole will be quite sharp, so you will most likely need some sandpaper and a file to smooth things out.

3. Using a Nail & Hammer

If all you need is a very small hole and you need it to be very precise, then one of the best and easiest methods to go with here is to use a nail and hammer. Now, remember that you do want to use masonry nails for this task, as they are much stronger than normal nails.

Depending on the type of metal you want to make a hole into, a normal nail will probably bend, so a masonry nail is definitely called for. All you have to do here is to figure out where you want to make your hole, place the sharp end of the nail onto that spot, and then pound it through the metal using a hammer.

Of course, this is going to create a sharp edge on the other end, so make sure to have a file or specific metal sandpaper on hand in order to smooth things out.

4. Using a Hacksaw

OK, so this method is a little out there because the distance from the edge of the metal sheet to the hole in it is going to be limited by the size of the saw frame. However, if you need to make shapes and larger holes, then this is a good method to consider.

You do need to make a small hole first, so use any of the above methods that we have talked about to make a small hole. Take the blade of the hacksaw and detach it from the frame. Feed the blade through the small hole that you just made. Reattach the blade to the frame of the hacksaw. Just make sure that the teeth are running in the right direction for cutting.

Start slowly so you can make a group in the metal and then start working quicker. All you have to do here is to use those biceps of yours to saw out a pattern or large hole. You will then of course need to detach the saw blade from the hacksaw frame in order to remove the saw. All you need to do now is to file things down to smooth them out the metal.

5. Using a Dremel or Rotary Tool

OK, so this might be cheating a little bit, but technically speaking, Dremels and rotary tools are not the same things as drills. If you have a Dremel or rotary tool on hand, then all you have to do is to attach a special drill bit designed to drill through metal.

Once you have attached the bit, you can then drill through metal just like you would with a normal drill. However, with that being said, you could also use a grinder attachment to make a hole through metal.

6. Using a Drill Press

Just like Dremels and rotary tools are different from drills, so are drill presses. Drills are small, handheld tools, whereas drill presses are very large stationary tools. If you need to make a hole in metal, in fact one of the best tools to use is a drill press.

As long as you have the right drill bit attached to the front of the drill press, you should have no problems with this task. Simply secure the metal to the table, and then use the lever on the drill press to punch through the metal.

7. Using a Glowing Metal Rod

If you are working with a type of metal that has a fairly low melting point, something that you can try doing is heating up an iron rod to the point where it is glowing hot and then using a hammer or even a sledgehammer to pound it through the metal. The combination of heat and shear force should be enough to get the job done.


As you can see, there are many different methods at your disposal for making holes in metal. Even without a drill, which method you choose really depends on what works best for you and what you already have at your disposal.