Tips For Cutting Holes In A Stainless Steel Sink

Most stainless steel kitchen sinks come with pre-drilled holes for the faucet and drain. However, a select few leaves that step up to you. While the freedom of choosing the best spot for the faucet and drain is great, it’s not so great when you have no clue what you’re doing. 

So, if you somehow ended up with a sink without pre-drilled holes and have no idea how to drill the holes (or just need a few pointers), you’re in the right place. Before you send it back and get a new sink, here are a few tips for cutting a hole in a stainless steel sink!

Can You Cut A Hole In A Stainless Steel Sink?

Absolutely, you can cut a hole in a stainless steel sink. They typically come with pre-drilled holes, which is a good indicator that it’s doable. However, the manufacturers have fancy industrial equipment designed to handle this sort of thing. 

Chances are, you don’t have the same equipment. Luckily, drilling a hole in stainless steel is doable without the massive, expensive equipment. Although stainless steel is an extremely tough material, you can drill through it with a few special tools. 

What Is The Best Way To Drill Holes In Stainless Steel?

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When drilling a hole in a stainless steel sink, it’s crucial to do it right the first time. While you can always make the hole bigger, adding material back to the sink isn’t exactly easy. 

So, make sure you have the right equipment and know-how to do it. In addition, plan out where you want to drill and double-check the location before committing. 

The drill bit you choose to use to tackle the job will make a significant difference in whether the project is successful. Generally, Cobalt drill bits are considered the best of the best for this type of project. Even with the high temperatures generated when drilling hard metals, they hold up well. 

A few other things to consider are the pressure and drill speed. You don’t want to go too fast or use too much pressure, as this will generate excessive heat. Stainless steel ‘work hardens’ when heated and becomes very hard to work with and you’ll have a difficult time drilling. 

So, it’s usually best to drill as slowly as the power drill will allow and use light pressure. Of course, going too slow or lightly won’t yield the results you need, so use enough speed and pressure to get the job done. 

How To Cut Holes In A Stainless Steel Sink

With the pointers on speed, drill bits, and pressure in mind, let’s look at the process. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Drill and appropriate bit
  • Lubricating oil
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Nail (or other sharp pointy object)
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape/stick
  • Marker
  • Safety glasses or goggles
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Measure The Sink

Before you start drilling the holes, you need to pick the perfect location for the drain or faucet holes. Not all drains/faucets go in the center of the sink. If you choose to place a drain in an off-center location, ensure the sink has adequate sloping to efficiently drain in the location you want to place it in.

Using the measuring stick or tape, measure the sink and mark where the drain should go. Once you determine the proper placement for the drain or faucet, mark the spot with masking tape. This gives the drill a bit more purchase when it’s time to drill.

Mark The Area With A Nail

Using the sharp point of a nail, make a divot where you want the hole. Make the divot precisely where you want the tip of the drill to go. This acts as a guide for when you initially start drilling. In tandem with the tape, the dip gives the drill plenty to grip, which helps eliminate skips or false starts. 

Lubricate The Drill Bit

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Lubricate the bit using a lubrication oil. You can’t overdo it when drilling stainless steel, so make sure the bit is thoroughly lubed. Use a rag or paper towel to apply the oil.

The lubricant helps create a barrier while drilling to make it go much smoother and reduce friction. Considering the heat and friction generated when drilling into stainless steel, sparks may fly, so lubrication is necessary to lower the chances of issues.

Drill The Hole

The next step is to drill the hole. Put on your safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from wayward shards of stainless steel. 

Place the head of the drill bit in the small divot made by the nail. Start drilling on the lowest setting, allowing you more control. Work outward in slow, circular motions. 

Many people find it easier to move the drill in the direction of their dominant hand. For instance, move the drill in a clockwise motion if you’re right-handed. 

Measure Frequently

As you drill the hole, make sure to stop and measure frequently. It’s easy enough to make the hole bigger, but you can’t make it smaller once it’s too big. So, stop every minute or two and measure the diameter of the hole. Match it to the drain or faucet assembly you want to install. 

Make sure to keep the hole symmetrical. You need a perfectly round hole for the faucet or drain assembly to fit and create a leak-proof seal, so avoid drilling an oval-shaped hole. 

Finishing Touches

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After drilling the hole, use sandpaper to smooth out rough spots. Stainless steel is incredibly tough, so sharp points and edges can cause all sorts of issues, especially when you install the drain or faucet. A neat, smooth hole is imperative. It may take a while to smooth out the metal hole, but it’s important for the next steps of installation. 

Once everything is smooth and finished, remove the masking tape and clean up the area. Gently brush or blow away steel shavings. Be careful not to roughly brush away the shavings, as they can scratch the sink’s surface.

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