How to Punch Holes in Metal (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
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
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.
- 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:
And here’s how I marked the placement of two holes for a heart pendant:
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:
Then tap the top end of the centerpunch with a hammer, so that its point makes a dent in the metal:
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:
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:
And here I’m punching the hole at the top of my arrowhead pendant:
Now your punched metal should have holes similar to these:
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:
Now your second metal piece is marked for punching:
Punch the second metal piece the same way you punched the first one.
Now your metal pieces should be punched alike:
And your metal punching is finished!