As you are probably aware AR500 steel is some tough stuff. Normally we laser cut everything but for this project I needed an extra hole for a prototype and I figured it would be a great time to test out something that I had heard… You can drill through AR500 steel with a drill press and a carbide tipped masonry bit.
My background is in Engineering and I’ve been involved in projects before where we needed to make a slight modification to a hardened piece of tooling. So hard in fact that it makes AR500 seem comparatively soft. What did we use? That’s right, carbide bits and/or end mills. Even with the right tooling and a full-size Bridgeport mill, it’s still a difficult process that’s prone to tooling breakage so I was a bit skeptical as to how well this would work. We’re talking a cheap, carbide tipped masonry bit instead of expensive carbide tooling and a cheap JET drill press instead of a tough as nails Bridgeport mill!
Fortunately, it went quite well! Some observations I made are…
In the end, the process worked reasonably well and was certainly worth the few bucks it cost me. If I ever need the odd hole or two in the future I wouldn’t hesitate to use this method again. Any more than that and it’s back on the laser for me! Check out the video I made to show you the process.