How to Punch Holes in Metal (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.

How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Here’s what you need to know to get great results when punching a hole in jewelry sheet metal.

Simple Hand Tools
for Punching Holes in Jewelry Metals

How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

You don’t need fancy or expensive tools for punching holes in the most common gauges of jewelry sheet metal.

Just make sure the punch is designed for the type and gauge of metal you’re using.

Here’s a list of simple punches that do the job:

  • Metal hole punch pliers
  • Spiral twist hand drill
  • Hand hole-punch kit
  • Two-hole twist punch

To decide which type of punching tool fits your needs and price point, I recommend doing some online research of these tools I listed above.

Find out what metals, gauges, and hole sizes they’re designed for, and read the users’ reviews of them.

I chose a hand hole-punch kit with a selection of punch bit sizes, because I do a fair amount of punching and I often need to make different sizes of holes.

Supplies:

Tools for How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

  • Metal hammer with a flat face.
  • Jeweler’s steel block (or other smooth, sturdy surface for hammering).
  • Metal centerpunch, scribe, sturdy carpentry nail, or other sharp pointed object that can make a small dent in your metal sheet.
  • Your metal piece to be punched.
  • Metal punch.

How to Punch a Hole in Metal

1. Measure and Mark Your Metal:

We’ll start by marking precisely where the punch hole will be in the metal.

Use a ruler and Sharpie marker to measure and mark where the hole will go.

If you want the punched item to hang perfectly straight, make sure to center the hole exactly from side-to-side at the top of your piece of metal.

Here’s how I measured and marked the pendant for my Metalwork Arrowhead Tutorial, so that the pendant would hang perfectly straight:

Measuring and marking where the hole will go in this arrowhead pendant - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And here’s how I marked the placement of two holes for a heart pendant:

Heart pendant marked for two holes - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

 
2. Make a Dimple (Dent) to Guide Your Punch or Drill:

Why Make this Little Dent?

With some punches, it’s difficult to see precisely where the punch is going to make the hole in your metal.

But if you make a little dent in your metal right where you want the hole to be, you can slide your piece of metal under the punch bit until you feel the bit catch on the dent you made.

Then you can simply squeeze the punch’s handles together – and get the hole exactly where you want it, every time – even if you can’t see inside the punch very well!

Also, if you choose to drill the hole instead of punching, this dimple technique makes it easier to drill straight through the metal without allowing the drill bit to slip or skid across the metal surface.

We’ll use a centerpunch or other sharp pointed object to make a small dent in the center of the punch-mark you just drew on your metal.

Place your piece of metal on your steel block, and position the point of your centerpunch in the middle of your Sharpie mark for the hole:

Making a dimple where the hole will be punched - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then tap the top end of the centerpunch with a hammer, so that its point makes a dent in the metal:

Making a dimple where the hole will be punched - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

For this heart pendant, I needed to make two dimples – one for each of the holes I wanted to punch.

Here are the dimples made by my centerpunch:

Making a dimple where each hole will be punched - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

 
3. Punch Your Metal:

Insert your marked, dented piece of metal into your punch.

Slide your piece of metal around until you feel the punch-bit sink into the dimple you made.

Then punch the hole.

Here I’m punching the second hole in the heart pendant:

Punching the marked holes - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And here I’m punching the hole at the top of my arrowhead pendant:

Punching the marked hole - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your punched metal should have holes similar to these:

Metal arrowhead pendant with punched hole - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Metal heart pendant with punched holes - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

 
4. (Optional) – Mark a Second Pendant in the Same Places for Punching:

Lay the punched metal piece over the top of the un-punched piece, and line up the pieces as evenly as possible.

Using the punched metal piece as a stencil, trace its holes onto the un-punched piece with your Sharpie marker:

Marking a second pendant for punching - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your second metal piece is marked for punching:

Marking a second pendant for punching - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Punch the second metal piece the same way you punched the first one.

Now your metal pieces should be punched alike:

Punched metal pendant pieces - How to Punch Holes in Metal - Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

And your metal punching is finished!

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Comments

  1. Nallery says:

    I have a question with these. How do you cut the metal sheets to actually make up the designs you want as shown above. What tools should be used and techniques?

  2. Hi Nallery, thanks for asking! If you pop over to my tutorial, Cold Connection – Easy Riveted Pendant Tutorial – you’ll see in the supplies list a photo of the red metal shears I use; and then in the step-by-step part of that tutorial you’ll see the shears cutting a piece of metal.

  3. Christabelle says:

    I would like to know how to make blank metal cobochones.
    Also where would I get metal sheets and what is the thickness I should look at.
    Thanks
    Christabelle

  4. Christabelle, do you mean how to make your own metal pendants, stamping blanks, etc.? Here are two of my free tutorials featuring that type of project:
    Metalwork Arrowhead Pendant Tutorial
    Cold Connection – Easy Riveted Pendant Tutorial
    Both of these tutorials discuss the metals and tools you’ll need. You can find the metal and tools at many jewelry suppliers, or from Etsy.com jewelry suppliers, or by doing an online search for the items you need.
    I’d love to see what you make with these techniques! 🙂

  5. M Frey says:

    I am so thankful to read this. I have ruined too many pieces by “mis-punching”
    and am frustrated. I am looking forward to trying this. Thanks.

  6. Thank you, M Frey! I hope to hear how well your next metal punching project goes!

  7. Hi, I wanted to know how if you think I would be able to make holes on metal Conchos, I’m not exactly sure of the components but it’s a heavy metal, are u familiar with them??, I only want to make it on the very edge which usually is thinner…. Is there any other tool u recommend for that job? I was referring to the hole puncher tool, the one w blue handles.

  8. Hi Queen, if a metal punch won’t work for the metal you’re using, you might try using a drill instead. Best of luck with your project. 🙂

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