Tool Time Tuesday – Full of Holes

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.

NEW BOOK!

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.

1903
1904
I am project 26 on page 60. My earrings are also on the spine of the book and on the Introduction page.  YAY!

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.

2_Tools
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
on reading.

1_metals
All of these tools work great in gauges 20 and below. But I wanted to see how they would work in gauges 20, 18 and 16. Sorry, I didn’t clean the metal, just pulled it out of my scrap and metal box.

3_square
The first punch is a newer tool, they just came out in February. It is a square punch. It measures 1.5mm x 1.5mm. It is great for decorative holes and I use it for that purpose all the time.

4_square_Punch
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.

5_square_hole
Here is my pretty little square hole. Fun huh?

6_oval
They also have an oval punch. 1mm x 1.7mm. Used just the same way as the square punch.

1911

1912
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!

1913

1914
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.

1915
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.)

1916
I like to start by marking where I want my hole, place the punch on the table while I get everything aligned and then twist just until I have my piece in place.

1918
Then I pick my piece up and begin to drill through the metal. You can’t really tell by this picture, but my index finger keeps the piece from twisting around as I drill through.

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.

1917
I should have gotten in a little closer, but the last two holes are made with the two hole punch and they are much cleaner than the hole made with the plier punches.

1919
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.

1920
To start of, I place it on the table, get things lined up and ready to go.

1929
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.

1921
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.

1924

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.

1922
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.

Notes:

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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18 thoughts on “Tool Time Tuesday – Full of Holes

  1. Angie

    I cannot WAIT to see this book! It isn’t very often that we get a book with advanced designs – so exciting!
    I adore my little “helicopter” punch, and have found the easiest way to use it is to put it into my vice, which is mounted on my table. Just thought I’d share!

    Reply
  2. Maz Simpson

    This is such a great article! I’ve been thinking about buying a hole punch so this has come in really handy for me, I’ve got a much better idea now which to go for, thanks! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Reta Smith

    Melissa, as a relative newbie to metalsmithing, articles like this are just what I need as I build my tool collection. Thank you, and congrats on the publication.

    Reply
  4. nancy

    First, congratulations on the book, you go girl! Second, STOP SPENDING MY MONEY!! Now I have to have more punches, sigh…. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Sandy Yavorcik

    as a snowbird, you really learn what tools you miss,(that you didn’t pack) I miss my hole punch. you just can’t believe how many steps it saves you in prep time.

    Reply
  6. Melissa Muir

    Angie,

    I think you might like this one. I love it. The designs are simple enough that most of the time you can tell by looking at the picture what they have done, but then you can read the directions and become even further enlightened on how they actually did it.

    That is a really good tip about putting it in a vise too. Thanks for sharing.

    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  7. Melissa Muir

    Thanks Maz!

    I am glad I could help you out. let me know if you have any further questions on them and I would be happy to answer them. Which one are you thinking of getting?

    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  8. Melissa Muir

    Reta,

    That is part of why I do this. There were so many people that shared with me, and still do, when I got started. Even though I am still a relative newbie to all of this jewelry stuff, I am happy to share what I know. If you find something that you want to know more about let me know and I will see what I can do to answer your questions.
    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  9. Melissa Muir

    Oh Nancy, if you you knew. *sigh* I think I may be forever poor. There are just too many tools to still buy. I can save you a bit of money with some of the tools. Give me a call or shoot me an email.

    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  10. Melissa Muir

    Sandy,

    I am not a snowbird, but I know exactly what you are talking about. When I am teaching classes, I am always finding how handy my studio full of tools really is. There is always something you “forgot” or “wish you had.” with you. Hopefully you will be reunited with your punch soon.

    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  11. Liz

    Hole punches are fun, the tool time tutorials and reviews are very helpful, the book really looks great, but the photos of your studio made me feel a bit faint. I can say that I have lust in my heart for your work space. I think I might have drooled a little. I want! Thank you for all the work you put into your blog!

    Reply
  12. Melissa Muir

    Liz,

    I am putting my house on the market early next spring. Sooooooo…… you should move to Ohio and buy my house and then the studio can be all yours. HA~ That space really is fantastic. I told my husband every time he makes me move, the studio must get better and better each time. I will seriously miss my studio. I am honestly the luckiest girl in the world. Not only do I have that fabulous studio, but it is in my house. How much luckier can a person get?

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog posts. I appreciate it and am glad to hear that they are helpful. Let me know if you ever have any requests.

    ~Melissa~

    Reply
  13. Sandy Yavorcik

    Rio no longer sells the 2 hole punch, so I did find it at Metalliferous in NY. It was the one pictured in your article.

    Reply
  14. Melissa Muir

    I am really surprised that Rio quit selling it. It is one of my tools I cannot live without. I use it all the time. I carry them and the replacement bits if you ever need them.

    ~Melissa~

    Reply

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