How to drill a hole in your steel sink

There are some tasks around the house that seem so easy and yet are actually a little bit tricky. I had a friend recently who is not the best at DIY but was trying to show his wife that he didn’t need any outside help. She wanted to install a permanent soap dispenser in the kitchen sink and he said he could do it. As you can expect, two hours later he had not completed the task in question and instead had permanently warped the stainless steel sink. While he thought he could simply drill a hole in the sink and get to work, it was not so simple. Today I want to tell you in detail how to drill into a stainless steel sink so that in the future if you are ever trying to impress someone with your DIY skills you can avoid making some rookie mistakes.

The first and arguably most important step is to start the hole. Too many people simply drill into the sink without starting a hole first and they make a huge mess. Assuming your sink is already installed in your kitchen unit you will need a hole punch and a hammer. If you don’t have a hole punch you could also use a galvanized nail. Control the nail with short taps of the hammer until a good dent emerges. This will allow your drill bit to easily lock in place instead of moving around the steel sink.

Metal on metal can be a recipe for disaster. If you are operating that drill at high speed (which you will be) then you are going to generate heat. This could cause the steel of the sink to warp or burn and this is exactly what happened with my friend. To avoid this you need to apply a Teflon non-stick lubricant to the area before drilling and ensure to apply it again during the process if required. 

If you hadn’t read this article you likely would have thought that drilling was step one but we are only coming to that step now. Use a ¼ inch carbide-tipped bit for this drilling purpose. It is important that you only run your drill at half or even a third of the max speed. This will stop it from overheating which is your main concern at this stage. While the lubricant you have applied will also help, it is a good idea to be extra cautious.

Ensure that you keep constant and consistent downward pressure on the drill to ensure there is solid contact but let the drill do the work. Don’t push too hard or your risk damaging your sink. If you have used the drill on softer surfaces before you will likely expect this to be a quick job but metal is tough so don’t be surprised if it seems like it is taking ages. Be patient and allow the drill to slowly do its job. If the drill is working for too long and is heating up – take a break and let it cool down.

Soon you will breakthrough and create a hole. Success! Now is the difference between an amateur and a pro. Take a file and smooth out the edges. Wipe away any excess shavings and lubricate the area once again. Once you are finished you can simply put in your soap dispenser or whatever else you are trying to install. Now call over your husband or wife and show them the job you have done all on your own. Who needs outside help, right?

We should all be open to doing more DIY work around the home. It is a great challenge and a good feeling when you do a good job. Always Google the task first to ensure there is not something tricky that you are missing.