How to Use Self-Drilling Metal Screws

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Self-drilling or self-tapping metal screws increase productivity by reducing the number of steps required to screw together pieces of metal. A self-drilling screw has a chisel tip similar to a drill bit. This allows you to skip pre-drilling a hole into thinner gauges of sheet metal. The metal thickness that you are drilling into needs to be thinner than the length of the drilling point of the screw. If the screw threads contact the surface of the metal before the hole is bored, the screw will snap, leaving a portion of the screw embedded in the metal.

How to Use Self-Drilling Metal Screws
(Deja Elder/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Drill motor or screw gun
  • 5/16-inch hex head adapter
  • #10 self-drilling sheet metal screws
  • Eye protection
Step 1

Insert the 5/16-inch hex head adapter into the drill motor. Center the adapter into the drill’s chuck to ensure that the adapter does not wander.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 2

Protect your eyes by putting on your safety glasses.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 3

Inspect the hex end of the adapter for cleanliness. If metal shavings are built up inside the tip, insert the drilling end of the screw into the cavity of the hex head while holding the trigger of the drill.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 4

Place a self-drilling screw into the hex head adapter.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 5

Depress the trigger of the drill slowly, while the drilling tip of the screw rests against the metal. Increase the speed of the drill when the screw finds its center.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 6

Stop drilling when the head of the self-drilling screw tightens against the surface of the metal. If the drill you are using does not have a clutch, pay close attention to the screw head, as too much pressure will either snap the screw or strip the threads formed in the metal by the screw.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
Step 7

Perform Step 3 before you install another self-drilling screw.

Deja Elder/Demand Media
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