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Best tool to make 1/4" holes on aluminum

This topic contains 18 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Miamicuse 11 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #686645

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I need to install hurricane storm panels on 28 windows are doors.

    There will be a total of 1500″ of aluminum tracks to be mounted on concrete walls with 1/4″ tapcon screws.

    These are 0.05 aluminum tracks with I guess 1/8” or less thickness.

    Top and bottom tracks total 3000″. Code calls for one screw per 6″. So looking at setting 500 tapcon screws.

    Tracks are not pre-drilled for mounting and will be delivered to the property. So I need to find a way to make 500 1/4” holes on site on these tracks varying in lengths from 58″ to 117″.

    What is the best tool to make these holes quicker than a drill? I don’t think I can do it with a drill press with these long skinny tracks.

    #686679

    Doobie
    Pro

    Funny, a drill press stand with a side support set up is the first thing that comes to mind.

    Will the screw heads be visible and require even spacing either from the edge of the track or between each other?

    I imagine you may also have an issue with drill bits overheating and dulling quickly also that may require special consideration to keep things moving but not also ruining drill bits by the bucket load.

    #686700

    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Aluminum is very soft so the drill bits should be fine. Will these holes be visible or covered with a something?? Is this track heavy? Sould you stick it in place with 2 sided tape and drill it right with the tapcon hole? The tapcon bit will go right through it.

    Dirty

    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.

    #686908

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Funny, a drill press stand with a side support set up is the first thing that comes to mind.

    Will the screw heads be visible and require even spacing either from the edge of the track or between each other?

    I imagine you may also have an issue with drill bits overheating and dulling quickly also that may require special consideration to keep things moving but not also ruining drill bits by the bucket load.

    Screw heads will be visible. The tracks will be white, I will be using white colored “maxiset” tapcon screws with a built in flange. So it’s not that visible white on white.

    The 6″ spacing is a guideline. They do not have to be perfectly spaced. Most likely I would put one hole on each end about an inch from the edge, then eye ball the intermediate ones to more or less evenly space them.

    It’s too much trouble to transport to my shop just to do the holes on the drill press, so I am looking to do the holes on site which is outdoor and I am not sure a drill press there will work well without rigging up something to support on both sides.

    #686913

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Aluminum is very soft so the drill bits should be fine. Will these holes be visible or covered with a something?? Is this track heavy? Sould you stick it in place with 2 sided tape and drill it right with the tapcon hole? The tapcon bit will go right through it.

    The Tapcon bit is carbide tipped and for 1/4″ Tapcon is 3/16″ diameter. Will it go through the aluminum? Also once the 3/16″ is drilled, the 1/4″ screw threads are bigger then 3/16 so would that chew right through the aluminum or will be bind

    I would prefer to do the holes on the ground to minimize the time standard and leaning on a ladder for at least the upper tracks.

    I saw the big box store has hole puncher tools for sale. Never used them. Will those work well on these aluminum pieces?

    Also are standard Tapcon bits OK or are there better bits out there for drilling 500 concrete holes?

    #686920

    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    What about a punch tool? They make them for quickly knocking holes in all kinds of metal in quite a few sizes…the one I have is for suspended ceiling metal (pretty thin), but it works as advertised.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
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    #686978

    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    I would say a punch tool as well. Nice clean holes fast. No breakout on the back as with a drill bit.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #686994

    Sorpa
    Pro
    Pierrefonds, Qc

    I’d put it on the wall with a screw at each end, start making holes with a 1/4″ metal bit every 6″ or so. After that come with a 3/16″ carbide tipped bit for the wall. The head of the tapcon screw will cover the 1/4″ hole perfectly.

    #686995

    jzmtl
    Pro
    Montreal, QC

    Also are standard Tapcon bits OK or are there better bits out there for drilling 500 concrete holes?

    Not so much the bit, as long as you are using a rotary hammer it’ll be like going through butter.

    #687008

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I’d put it on the wall with a screw at each end, start making holes with a 1/4″ metal bit every 6″ or so. After that come with a 3/16″ carbide tipped bit for the wall. The head of the tapcon screw will cover the 1/4″ hole perfectly.

    Once it is on the wall, to make a 1/4″ hole all the way through, that metal bit will have to go through the metal and into the cement some. Wouldn’t that mess up the metal bit real quick?

    I am thinking I have three options.

    (1) Just mount the tracks in place on two ends. Drilled the intermediate 3/16″ holes with Tapcon bit as DirtyWhiteBoy suggested – through the metal, through the concrete block. Hope that the bigger concrete screw can go easily through the narrower 3/16″ metal hole, that it won’t bind or deform the tracks as it threads in.

    (2) Set up two drills. One normal drill with a metal 1/4″ bit, one hammer drill with a 3/16″ tapcon bit. Mount the tracks on two ends first, then use 3/16″ tapcon bit to drill all the way through metal and concrete like in one. But come back with the metal drill to enlarge the metal part to 1/4″.

    (3) Do it on the ground off the ladder with a hole puncher.

    #687009

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    If I go with a hole puncher…actually never used one.

    I know there are hole puncher electricians use to create custom knockout holes on panel boxes and metal studs.

    But for 1/4″ holes what kinds of hole punchers do I need? Do they cause hand cramps after an hour of non stop usage?

    #687010

    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Pro
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    We do a lot of this for the “z” clips we use on our wall pad installs. we use a small drill press and a standard 1/4″ bit. It goes pretty fast . Rubbing the back of the aluminum strip on the edge of the drill press after drilling usually removes any burs left from the bit punching through.

    We have drilled several thousand holes in light aluminum strips this way.

    I would use a standard 3/16″ SDS bit instead of the bits that come with the TapCons, with the rotary hammer you can drill so much faster. I have a whole jar of TapCon bits that have never been used,

    #687069

    Sorpa
    Pro
    Pierrefonds, Qc

    I’d put it on the wall with a screw at each end, start making holes with a 1/4″ metal bit every 6″ or so. After that come with a 3/16″ carbide tipped bit for the wall. The head of the tapcon screw will cover the 1/4″ hole perfectly.

    Once it is on the wall, to make a 1/4″ hole all the way through, that metal bit will have to go through the metal and into the cement some. Wouldn’t that mess up the metal bit real quick?

    I am thinking I have three options.

    (1) Just mount the tracks in place on two ends. Drilled the intermediate 3/16″ holes with Tapcon bit as DirtyWhiteBoy suggested – –through the metal–, through the concrete block.

    Methinks you never tried to drill a hole in the metal with a carbide tipped bit made to cut into concrete and other similar stuff.
    To say it will be fun would be a very big understatement.
    Let us know how it works if you go that route.

    #687072

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I’d put it on the wall with a screw at each end, start making holes with a 1/4″ metal bit every 6″ or so. After that come with a 3/16″ carbide tipped bit for the wall. The head of the tapcon screw will cover the 1/4″ hole perfectly.

    Once it is on the wall, to make a 1/4″ hole all the way through, that metal bit will have to go through the metal and into the cement some. Wouldn’t that mess up the metal bit real quick?

    I am thinking I have three options.

    (1) Just mount the tracks in place on two ends. Drilled the intermediate 3/16″ holes with Tapcon bit as DirtyWhiteBoy suggested – –through the metal–, through the concrete block.

    Methinks you never tried to drill a hole in the metal with a carbide tipped bit made to cut into concrete and other similar stuff.
    To say it will be fun would be a very big understatement.
    Let us know how it works if you go that route.

    No, I usually use the bits designed for the targeted materials.

    However, they do make multi material bits that can go through concrete, metal, wood. Not sure how efficient that is though.

    Bosch 3/16 in. Multi-Purpose Tungsten Carbide Drill Bit for Drilling Tile, Masonry, Wood, Metal and Concrete

    #687105

    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Pro
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    I’d put it on the wall with a screw at each end, start making holes with a 1/4″ metal bit every 6″ or so. After that come with a 3/16″ carbide tipped bit for the wall. The head of the tapcon screw will cover the 1/4″ hole perfectly.

    Once it is on the wall, to make a 1/4″ hole all the way through, that metal bit will have to go through the metal and into the cement some. Wouldn’t that mess up the metal bit real quick?

    I am thinking I have three options.

    (1) Just mount the tracks in place on two ends. Drilled the intermediate 3/16″ holes with Tapcon bit as DirtyWhiteBoy suggested – –through the metal–, through the concrete block.

    Methinks you never tried to drill a hole in the metal with a carbide tipped bit made to cut into concrete and other similar stuff.
    To say it will be fun would be a very big understatement.
    Let us know how it works if you go that route.

    No, I usually use the bits designed for the targeted materials.

    However, they do make multi material bits that can go through concrete, metal, wood. Not sure how efficient that is though.

    Bosch 3/16 in. Multi-Purpose Tungsten Carbide Drill Bit for Drilling Tile, Masonry, Wood, Metal and Concrete

    Personally I would pre-drill everything, I think it would be a lot faster and easier to do the aluminum on a bench than on a wall around windows. It allows you to use a drill press instead of a hand drill and would be a lot easier on the body. Anything you can do with stationary tools is a plus over hand held.
    We learned that on the first pad job we did, now we do everything we can in the shop. It saves on the mess on site and also saves a lot of time onsite. It also saves transporting a lot of extra equipment to and from the site. I would get measured precut everything in the shop also.

    #687126

    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Personally I would pre-drill everything,

    Good idea Kurt doing everything in the shop would help.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #693212

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Finally finished this project last week. Had a few rain delays.

    First, hole puncher didn’t work. Too thick a gauge lol.

    End up predrilling in site with cordless drill. Two people drilled the 500 holes in half a day.

    #693233

    r-ice
    Pro
    Durham region, ON

    Finally finished this project last week. Had a few rain delays.

    First, hole puncher didn’t work. Too thick a gauge lol.

    End up predrilling in site with cordless drill. Two people drilled the 500 holes in half a day.

    how many bits did you guys run through? did you guys use some sort of lubricant to keep bits cool?

    #693245

    Miamicuse
    Pro
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    Finally finished this project last week. Had a few rain delays.

    First, hole puncher didn’t work. Too thick a gauge lol.

    End up predrilling in site with cordless drill. Two people drilled the 500 holes in half a day.

    how many bits did you guys run through? did you guys use some sort of lubricant to keep bits cool?

    We used two different size bits. One 5/32″ and one 1/4″ metal bits.

    Set up two drills one for each bit. Then a compact driver with a step bit.

    First drilled the 5/32 bit, then the 1/4, then used the step bit front and back to round off the blurs.

    With metal I still slow, and alum is soft, it goes pretty fast, didn’t need any lubricant at all to drill the holes on the tracks.

    Now the concrete was a different story. Went through quite a few 3/16” SDS+ concrete bits.

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