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Metal Artist Kevin Caron Shows How to Use a Magnetic Drill

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: I'm here in the studio playing with one of my new tools.

This is a magnetic drill press. There's a big electromagnet right here in the base. You can just push the button and it will suck itself right through a piece of steel. You can't pick that thing up for anything.

This is a piece of inch-and-a-quarter-thick steel. I've got to drill six holes through it for a sculpture I'm working on, and if I sat out here with my poor little cordless, I'd be here for about a week trying to drill all these holes. If I were to sit here and try to push on this and get it to go straight down through the steel I end up with a big wobble, or going off at an angle and snapping the drill off inside the hole. That's really bad.

This is so much easier. With a great big motor, with a magnetic base, it's just like a big drill press, but you can take it wherever you need it.

Come here. I'll show you something closer here. This was my first bit.

When you're drilling in really thick steel, or you're going to make a big hole, you always start with a small bit; make a pilot hole. Then you come back with a next larger bit (you can jump a few steps) and then your next bigger bit and finally your finish bit.

It's nice; a good progression from one size to the next. You can cut a hole quickly, but you're not taking this one-inch diameter bit and trying to shove it through an inch and a quarter of steel. You'd just burn up the end of the bit; burn up the drill. So that's why you make steps as you go.

I've already cut two holes. Now I go to my next size bit. You can tell this one has been broken off a few times and then re-sharpened. They were the same length, at one point.

The great thing with this magnetic base is now it stays perfectly aligned over the hole, allowing me to change bits and clean up my mess as I'm going. I'm not sitting here kneeling in metal shavings, but I know I'll come right back to the same awl again.

And here we go again. (drilling)

This is just a little cutting oil. (drilling)

Notice the nice curls coming off as the metal gets cut by the drill bit. It's just about the right speed. It only takes a couple of pounds' worth of pressure on the crank to make it go down. You don't want to sit here and jump up and down on it. (drilling)

Those edges are about as sharp as razor blades.

The Voice: Where are your safety glasses, Kevin?

Kevin Caron: My safety glasses are over there being safe, of course. Because I'm up above it, all of the chips are coming out to the sides. If I was sitting on the ground with this thing right in front of my face, yes, I'd be wearing a face shield; I'd be wearing gloves. You know, I should be; you're right.

Now we just put the next bit in, make our last hole, clean up the mess and move on to the next one. (changing bit; drilling) It beats the heck out of doing it by hand; using the little hand-held drill.

I had been doing it with this big hand-held drill. It's heavy-duty, with lots of torque, lots of power to it. But as the bit would start to get down into the metal and if it bit in, and the bit stopped turning, this handle comes around and whacks you in your shin or tries to break your wrist.

Normally, you would have two handles on the hand-held drill, one on either side. A lot of times you?d have two guys hanging onto it from either side, with another guy just pushing, trying to keep the bit buried down into the steel. If you let them just sit there and spin in the hole, they get hot, they lose their temper and they take off. Then you've got to start all over.

Well, I've got a little more to go. See you next time.

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