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Chubby Chaser
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Discussion Starter #1
As desertoy and I have been on the sheetmetal phase of our X-Chassis builds we've been finding that we're using those step bits alot as they cut a nice round hole in thin stock.

The only hassle is that you have to find the size you want and count up through the steps as your drilling, which usuially entails stopping a couple times during the cut just to make sure of where the bit is at.

Something I started doing a couple weeks ago is to color in the step above the one I want to stop at with a Sharpie. For example if my bit is stepped at 1/16" incriments and I want a 1/4" hole I'll color in the 5/16" step.
 

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Chubby Chaser
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26,105 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
While the bit is spinning it's real easy to see where to stop. No more oversized holes cause you lost count of steps :)
 

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I've had good luck with stepped bits. Only on thin materials though. I dont thing they'd be very effetive on anything larger than say 16 gauge because the steps arent that long. As far as I know they aren't a new thing so I wouldnt really consider them a gimmick.
 

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Chubby Chaser
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Discussion Starter #5
They've been holding out really well, like afroman said they're best used on thinner stock.

I had a hard time laying down the cash for one cause they are expensive, but a regular bit doesn't cut nearly as nice of a hole in sheetmetal as one of these.
 

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I've had the best luck with the Unibit brand. Tough, sharp, and last through hundreds of holes and a fair bit of abuse.

Not only do they do nice round holes in sheetmetal, but each step has a small radius at the lead in that nicely deburrs the hole. Flip over the other direction and gently run it in and deburr that side also.

I use the bit that starts at 1/4 and finishes off at 3/4 to drill lot's of holes in 3/16's by just flipping the material over. I think the steps are about .200 apart.
 

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Yup unis rock. They plow through thicker stuff too, but ya gotta watch the steps. 1/4 is about it because of the steps, hit one side then the other.

You can get a set of 3 at Lowes and HD for around $40 I believe. :smokin:
 

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When I was in HVAC, the electricians LOVED the Unibits. They drill clean, nearly bur-free holes, to exact sizes. They would route heavy cable through steel studs with no bushings because of those bits. And, since they're shorter than normal bits, they fit in more places, especially with a right angle drive drill ;)
 

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Most brands have a lifetime warranty you know. Save your reciept. Also I think there are a couple brands that say Unibit, I think Irwin and maybe Lenox? Not totaly sure. I also have resharpened them with a surface grinder and spindex, and they work a lot better than new, but most people don't have those goodies. I used to do some stainless fab for the wine industry up here, and unibits are the only way to go for stainless sheet. Stainless you just wear them out fast though I have probably warrantied them 7 or 8 times.
 

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i think the lenox are called vari-bits. we sell them down at work, and i think they do have a lifetime warranty.
 

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I've been using mine for over 10 years, including holes in .250, (you have to flip over the piece). If you can avoid it don't use them start the holes and they will last forever. I easily have over a 100 holes between the two of them. I have the 1/2" and 7/8".
 

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The only limitations on thickness are hitting the other wall before you get your dia. You can drill 3/8" thick no problem if you don't mind the steps. But for a clearance hole it is fine to have the steps, in a pinch of course.
 

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I lie them because they cut so well, and are very good at starting without walking.

I have cut some thick metal with them, up 1/2".

I drill the hole with them as far as I can, then drill from the other side if possible, then follow up with a normal drill bit. Works real well when your normal bit is kinda dull....LOL.
 

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Good tip on marking the steps. Wish I had thought of it a while back.

I usually leave a step bit in a handy cordless or small drill press to start holes, then take the piece over to the big drill press for drilling with large bits. I have killed a few step bits trying to drill thicker materials, and find that large holes like link tabs are quicker when usinging a real drill bit.

If I have a uni-bit around, I usually do not bother to use a punch at all. They just do not walk when starting.

-Wayne
 

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Mustard Dog said:
While the bit is spinning it's real easy to see where to stop. No more oversized holes cause you lost count of steps :)
I remember my first sheetmetal job. :D
 
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