How to drill stainless steel

It is sometimes necessary to modify the Ritherdon range of products such as the external enclosures as well as the doors and frames to repair a gas or electric meter box.  The range which includes feeder pillars or cabinets on site, that for example require an extra hole putting into the back or side for cable access.  Stainless steel is work hardening which can make drilling it very difficult if it’s not done carefully.

Here’s the best way to approach it:

  1. Use a sharp drill.  A blunt drill bit has to work the stainless for longer to cut it, which makes the steel harden and your bit blunt faster.
  2. Run your drill as slowly as possible.  Use one with a variable speed trigger.  Again, high speed = a higher work rate = harder steel.
  3. Use plenty of oil to make cutting easier.
  4. If you need to make a big hole (e.g. for a 20 mm cable gland), start small (maybe 8 mm) and work up in a couple of steps.  The best bit for holes this size is a hole-cutting tool such as the Rotabroach, but this isn’t always practical.

There’s some more technical information on how stainless steels work harden on the BSSA website.

For one or two feeder pillars it is usually easier to follow the guidance above and drill on site.  However, for a batch of enclosures, it would be much easier to let us put the holes in for you.  With our own design and manufacture, Ritherdon can easily make minor modifications to the range of pillars and cabinets for you – be it putting in some extra holes or dimensional changes (often at little no extra cost).  So please get in touch if you need something slightly different.

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