Most people aren’t that fond of their in-laws and luckily, I am not one of those. I love my in-laws. Most of you know that my Father-in-Law is the one that built the majority of my studio . He is amazing when it comes to stuff like that. They flew in last week and already we have begun excavation in our garden area for our new fire pit, power washed the deck and are ready to stain it, painted part of the front porch, spread 5 cubic yards of mulch, put down fertilizer and over-seeded the lawn, tore apart one kiln to see if we can repair it or not and then installed a new power cord on another kiln. That was just the last day and a half. We will be painting our two-story foyer, the rest of the front porch, staining the deck and installing the fire pit and pavers in the garden….. and the list goes on and on. But I must say, that I am the most excited over the kilns! I will be selling the Paragon kiln, much to my dismay, due to it being a 220-volt and I don’t have an extra one that I can use in the house. The kiln hasn’t ever been used, though it is a few years old. Someone is going to have fun with that one. But be watching for some kiln maintenance and tool tips coming up in the near future as I continue to prep and get my enameling set up finished.
So I am one of the fortunate people to grace the pages of a new book called 30-minute earrings. A couple of weeks ago I got my advanced copy and I LOVE this book. It is full of some great ideas. Now, keep in mind, this book is NOT written for beginners. That is part of what made writing my project fun. It assumes you already know what you are doing when it comes to soldering, drilling, manipulating wire and can read instructions. I believe it will be available June 1st if it isn’t already.
Tool Time Tuesday – Full of Holes
Now, on to our real reason for this fabulous post. Today was hard to come up with a topic. I have several topics that I am writing on and it was just a matter of which one I wanted to post. This summer should be full of some good information and resources. But I particularly like today’s post because it is full of tools that I am using a LOT right now, particularly since I have been doing so much with cold connections lately. I have had a lot of requests on which tools to use for making holes in my metal. Of course you have your old stand by, the flexshaft or drill. While I do A LOT of drilling, sometimes I will bypass it if I can use one of my punches. It is much faster to just punch a hole than it is to work my way up through drill bits.
I decided to show my EuroPunch hole punches (4 shapes/sizes), 2-hole
punch (aka helicopter punch) and my scary punch. EuroTool just came
out with a tool that is very much like the “scary” punch. They are
great, though a little bit scary. HA! I will explain it all, just keep
Just place the tip where you want to punch and squeeze the handles together. Depending on the gauge, you might have to give it quite a bit of power. The punch tips can break, and it comes with a replacement tip…. just be sure to remember where you put it when you get the tool in case you do need to replace the tip.
As with any punch or cutters, it would probably be best to add a little bit of lubricant to your cutter.
They have two sizes of round punches; 1.25 mm (small) and 1.8mm (large) These are great for a number of uses, but I most often use them for decoration or when I need to place a bail hole or something like that. I only wish they had punches that corresponded to American Wire Gauges. That would make life nice!
Okay, so here are a couple of pictures from the front and back of the piece with just the four hand punches. Notice that on the front (first picture) it does leave a little bit of an indent on my piece. This is from when you finally get your piece to go through the metal it closes pretty fast and you have a little bit of clean up to do.
The back is quite a different story. The round punches don’t leave TOO much to clean up, but you can see here in the picture, there is a little. The square is AWFUL. It leaves a really sharp back. I usually just grab a file and knock it down to make it smooth. Still, it is worth it to have the ease of the holes and coolness of the shapes.
This little tool is perhaps my favorite tool for making holes. There are some great upsides to it and a couple of things that I wish I could change. This is a 2-hole punch and you can also see why some people call it a helicopter punch. There are two different sizes of holes that this tool makes. Here is how I remember which side is which. The Silver side is the small side. S stands for Silver and Small. This side will punch a 14 gauge hole (PERFECT for rivets!) The Black side is the Big side. B stands for Big and Black. It makes a 10 gauge hole (Perfect for my 3/32 tubing.)
When removing the metal it is very important NOT to pull it off. Keep un-drilling until your piece falls off. If you pull your metal off of the punch, then you risk breaking it. Fortunately, if you do happen to break it, then you can get replacement parts for it.
This actually called the Power Plier Punch, not the scary punch. The reason I call it the scary punch is because it takes quite a bit of force to get through the metal (in thicker gauges – 20 is EASY) and you can easily pinch your fingers with this one…. I have a few times.
The great thing about this tool is that it punches 7 different sizes; 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4 & 9/32. To remove your metal from this punch, just open the punch all the way up and your metal will pop off.
Here, I have left the bottom handle on the table to use as leverage. Notice the placement of my fingers on the top handle. KEEP THEM OUT OF THE MIDDLE! If you don’t, you will certainly feel some of the pain I felt the first couple of times using them.
I only did one size hole (1/8) of the Power plier punch, but you get the idea. Again, I am left with a clean hole. The hole that gets punched out of this can be used in other projects, but be aware, this one will have a little dimple in the center it because of the shape of the punch.
Okay, this last picture shows my results with 20 gauge copper. I didn’t anneal the copper piece, It isn’t dead soft, but it also isn’t full-hard. So it is probably more 1/2 hard than anything, or perhaps just a bit softer.
I tried again on 18 gauge and 16 gauge, below are my results and thoughts.
I was actually really surprised by the 18 gauge. I didn’t think my little EuroPunches would do well with it, but in the end, they did go through. The circle punches worked the best, with the oval second and the square last. Again, there is a bit of clean up to do. I did have to apply quite a bit of power to get the punches to go through and was prepared for a broken tip, but I didn’t break any.
The two hole punch and power plier punch did a great job as I knew it would.
16 gauge is really thick! I didn’t expect my 2-hole punch to go through it. I tried it first with the black side (10 gauge) and it did actually go through, but it was difficult to get it to do it. I then tried the silver side (14 gauge) and didn’t get very far before I decided to stop. I could tell that I wouldn’t get through it and would only end up with a broken tip. So I have a nice indent, but that is all.
The third hole/indent came from the 1.8mm EuroPunch pliers. I didn’t get very far with this one at all. The dent isn’t even all that deep. HA!
The PowerPunch did a great job though I had to put a LOT of pressure onto this tool to get it to go through. But I also ended up with the prettiest little round disc that I am sure will find its way into my pieces somewhere.
The EuroPunch pliers have said they will go through 18 gauge metal, and they certainly lived up to that claim. However, I don’t think I will go above 20 too often. I would just rather play it safe with them. But at least I know it can if I need it to. The tools run between $15 & $17.
The two hole punch is rated to go through 20 gauge. I use it to go through 18 all the time. But I do take it easy when I am working with 18 gauge. Don’t twist to quickly and it should be fine. This tool runs about $24 and worth EVERY PENNY!
I didn’t try the Power Punch on anything higher than 16, but it went through easily enough, I am almost sure that I could get through 14 gauge if I really wanted to. This tool is only about $40, so it is quite affordable.
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