How to Drill Through Metal With a Hand Drill

Metal is being used for centuries and making a hole in it for different purposes is very usual.

Nowadays, the best way to drill through metal is to use an electric drill or drill press, but you can easily find yourself without these tools; luckily, there is a way to drill through metal with a hand drill.

So how to drill through metal with a hand drill? The fastest way is to use hand drills like a Bit Brace or Eggbeater Drills combined with hardened metal twist drill bits. These have been used for centuries before we had electric drills. You may use traditional methods used by blacksmiths, but they are unsafe to follow if you have no prior experience.

The process of drilling in metal with a hand drill is slow and tiring, will work with soft metals only, and need a lot of patience.

Ways to Drill Through Metal With a Hand Drill

First of all, this is a hack.

These hand drills are particularly designed to drill in wood or soft materials.

Let’s discuss all available options one by one.

1. Using a Hand-Cranked Drill Press to Drill Through Metal

Using a hand-cranked drill press is the best way to drill into metal due to the enormous amount of torque you can produce with it.

It’s more like an egg beater drill on steroids. The mechanism is simple, as seen in the photo. Place your workpiece under it, lower the press and start moving the crank after installing a high-speed metal twist drill bit.

Hand-Cranked Drill Press for Drilling into metal with hand


Since a single crank rotation will drive the drill bit very fast, it is extremely efficient. The output torque is a lot higher due to the large moment arm.

Most of the hand-cranked drill press has a flywheel, giving it a good amount of momentum to drilling more easily.

1. Using a Bit Brace to Drill Through Metal

Using a hand drill is a great way to drill through Metal if you don’t have an electric drill.

Bit & Brace hand drill is around for centuries and dates back to the 1400s when they first appeared in Europe.

This tool is basically used to drill in wood but can easily qualify for drilling in metal due to its great torque.

The traditional bit brace drills required bits with a specific head to fit in.

The new ones available on Amazon have the standard chuck and can easily fit all general-purpose drill bits.

To drill in metal, you will need a regular high-speed hardened metal twist bit.

I have already assumed that you will not drill in hard metals with this hand drill.

Obviously, that will be more like a suicide with the effort it will require.

So no need to get a specialized titanium twist bit, but it will help if you have one.

Make sure the drill bit is sharp.

How to Use a Bit & Brace Hand Drill?

Using a Brace & Bit Hand Drill is easy. Let’s discuss how to drill with it step by step.

#1 – Mark the drilling Spot: The first step is to mark the spot where you want to drill. Once marked, make a divot in the metal with a hammer and center punch.

#2 – Get hold of the correct Drill Bit: As discussed above, get hold of a high-speed metal twist bit to make the hole. Fix it inside the chuck to get started.

#3 – Get in the right position: Once you have the right drill bit inside the chuck, place the bit on the spot you need to drill. There are different methods you can use a Bit Brace Hand Drill. You can hold the hand handle with one hand and the circular head with the other. Rotate the drill clockwise to drill. If the space is tight and you cannot make a full rotation, you can use the drill’s bi-directional ratcheting feature.

Bit Brace Hand Drill for drilling into wood wood

Another method to use is pushing the head with your belly and rotating the handle with one hand. This a more traditional method and gives you a free hand.

Drilling speed is not a concern with this tool as it is tough to rotate your hand at higher speeds.

Benefits of Using a Bit & Brace:

  • Time Tested by Expert Artisans
  • It is a lot of fun to work with a bit & brace if you are doing it as a hobby.
  • You will have great depth control of the hole.
  • High Torque.

2. Using a Hand Egg-Beater Drill for Drilling into Wood.

Just like a Bit-Brace drill, Egg Beater drills are also being used for many centuries. These are perfect for drilling small holes in metal with hand, where precision is more important than speed and power.

To drill in metal with an egg beater drill, you will need high-speed twist drill bits.

Drilling larger holes won’t be possible with this hand tool. This tool will only work for drilling in soft metal products.

The thing which makes an egg-beater drill better than a bit-brace is the speed. For a smaller bit size, speed is more important than the torque, and you can not achieve more than 100-150 RPM with a bit brace, while for an egg-beater, you can go up to 300-600 RPM easily.

Let’s discuss the drilling method in detail.

Step 1 – Mark the drilling Spot: The first step is to mark the spot you want to drill. Once marked, make a divot in the metal with a hammer and center punch.

Step 2 – Get hold of the correct Drill Bit: For hand drilling through metal with an Egg Beater hand drill, you should use high seed metal twist bits. Please make sure they are sharp.

Step 3 – Get in position: Once you have the right drill bit inside the chuck, place the bit on the spot you need to drill. There are different methods you can use to Egg Beater Hand Drill.

You can hold the turning handle with one hand and put your other hand on the main handle. You can also put your forehead on top of the hand you are using to grab the main handle. This will help you balance the drill perpendicularly.

Just like a Bit-Brace drill, you can also use the Egg Beater hand drill by placing it against your belly. This way, you can use one handle to rotate the drill and the other one to grab the side handle.

Benefits of Using an Egg Beater Hand Drill:

  • Again, it is also time tested by expert artisans. However, the Bit-Brace torque output is higher due to a larger moment arm, making it easy to drill a larger hole.
  • Egg Beater Drills are recommended to be used with small bits, although you can find drills that support larger drill bits.
  • You will have a great depth control of the hole like you get in a Bit & Brace Drill.
  • Very fast than a bit & brace, but not good for larger hole sizes.
Egg Beater Hand Drill for drilling into wood wood
Egg Beater Hand Drill for drilling into wood wood
Fiskers Hand Drill for drilling into wood wood

3. Using a Simple Hand Drill to Drill Through Metal

Okay, so now let’s discuss drilling through metal with a hand drill. Using this tool is very tiring and will need a lot of patience, but it offers one big advantage over the other two drills I have mentioned above.

And that is, you can apply a lot of pressure inwards, which helps chip off the metal very efficiently, making the hole a lot faster.

Again, this method is only going to work with soft metals.

Simple Hand Drill with Chuck for drilling into wood wood

Consider this more like a screwdriver with a drilling bit at the tip. You will have to use it just like a screwdriver and make the hole by rotating the drill with your hand. This process is definitely going to take a lot of time.

This drill is mostly used for delicate work where speed or power is not a concern, like working with metal jewelry or electronics.

Related Questions

How to Drill in Plastic without a Drill?

You can use a hand drill like Bit-Brace or Egg Beater Drill to make holes in the plastic. You will need to use spur-point bits, also known as dowel bits, to make the holes. You can also use a simple hand drill by sticking in the compatible drill bit in the chuck and manually rotating it to drill in.

How to Drill holes in Ice Without a Drill?

The best way to drill holes in Ice without an electric drill is by using Bit & Brace with Ice Auger Drill Bits. You can also use a normal ice Axe, Spud Bar, Digging Iron, or Ice Saw to make holes in the ice for fishing over frozen lakes.