How to Drill Aluminum Pipe

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Aluminum is lightweight, abundant and binds well with oxygen. Aluminum is so versatile that it is used in almost every field of human endeavor. Aluminum is found in medicines, packaging, home building, cars, trains and airplanes. Most of the spacecraft that have gone into outer space were only able to do so because of the lightweight rockets and strong outer material made of aluminum. Drilling through such a tensile but strong material is something you can do with some practice and a few easy-to-find tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Marker
  • Clamp vise
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit
  • Dish-washing liquid
  • Step drill bit
  • Mark the aluminum pipe very clearly where you want to drill through it. Use a marker that is visible on the aluminum.

  • Set the pipe into a clamp vise to hold it securely in place. Make sure the mark is easily accessible and not obscured by the vise.

  • Fit the power drill with a bit that is just smaller than the tip of the step bit you plan to use. This bit will allow you to make a starter hole for the step.

  • Rub dish-washing liquid into the mark on the pipe to lubricate it. Apply more liquid to the end of the bit as well.

  • Drill into the pipe at the mark you made until the bit exits the other side of the pipe. If you only need to drill through one wall of the pipe, stop drilling once you get through that wall.

  • Switch out the regular bit for the step bit you want to use and apply dish soap to the entire bit. Put more soap on the pipe around the edges of the drilled starter hole.

  • Place the tip of the step bit into the starter hole and drill through the hole until it is widened as much as you want. Use a low speed setting and be patient as the bit works through the aluminum.

Tips & Warnings

  • Measure the uppermost ring of a step bit to find the size hole it will drill.
  • Do not try to drill faster to get through the pipe or you will just overheat it and possibly damage it.

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