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Punching Tools & It's Applicability

Punches

Punching tools are made in various weights and patterns and are designed to do any kind of piercing or penetrating work, varying from punching location marks for nails or calipers to making holes in sheet metal. Most punches are held in one hand (the shaft is usually knurled to prevent it slipping) and driven, but there are automatic punches and one that can be used by hand only. The anvil or striking part of the standard punch is shaped to be driven either with a mallet (for woodwork) or a hammer for (metalwork). Anvils that are damaged must be reground to their original shape for efficient usage. When using the heavier punches, back up the work with lead cake or blocks of end grain wood. Lever and revolving punches, which are mostly used for leatherwork, incorporate their own backup.

Nail Set

Size: Length- 100mm, , Point Diameter- 0.5mm to 4.5mm

Material: Steel

Use: To drive the heads of nails below the surface of wood

When a nail is driven flush with the surface of wood, the last few hammer blows often dent or bruise the wood around the nail itself. To avoid this, drive the nail to within 1mm of the surface and then "sink" it below the surface with a nail set. The nail set has knurled shaft to provide a better grip and along tapered point, the actual tip of which is ground square, or in some cases slightly concave, to help grip the head of the nail. The tip of the set should match the size of the nail head. A larger tip will leave an unnecessarily ugly hole. Hold the nail set between fingers and thumb, guiding the tip of the punch on to the head of the nail with the tip of third finger. Strike the set with a hammer, using short sharp blows, until the head of the nail is about 1mm below the surface of the wood. Fill holes with putty or wood filler before finishing.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Catapunch

Size: 103mm

Material: Steel

Use: To mark centers on metal or wood without the use of a hammer

The catapunch can be used to mark centers on metal or screw positions on wood. It consists of a pointed head mounted on a coiled spring shaft.

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Using the Catapunch

Hold the pointed end of the tool against the work with one hand. Extend and release the spring to mark the surface.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Prick Punch

Size: Length- 100mm to 125mm

Material: Steel

Use: To clarify marked out metal work, identify intersections, and mark hole centers prior to center punching.

The prick punch is similar to the nail set, but it has a sharp conical point with an included angle of 30. It is used for the final marking out of the cutting lines on metal work. It does this by accentuating the with a series of small punched indentations. It can also accurately mark out a hole center before the mark is enlarged with a center punch prior to drilling. Moreover, the punch mark made by a prick punch is ideal for setting the point of a pair of dividers.

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Using the Prick Punch

Hold the punch as you would a nail set and position the point on the mark. Lean the punch away from you to see the point clearly. When accurately centered stand the tool upright and strike the anvil end lightly with a hammer.

Correcting the Center Point with a Prick Punch

If your first attempt at making the mark does not exactly correspond with the intersection, angle the punch toward the center and strike again: this will move the punch mark to the exact center. Even up the punch mark by holding the tool perpendicular and striking it again.

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punching-tools-its-applicability

Centre Punch

Size: Length- 100mm to 175mm, , Point Diameter- 3mm to 6mm

Material: Steel

Use: To mark hole centers or enlarge the prick punch marks to guide the point of the drill

The center punch is exactly the same as a prick punch, except that it has a blunter point, ground to an included angle of between 60 to 90 degrees angle. It may have a round or square sectioned anvil. Use the center punch in the same way as the prick punch.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Automatic Centre Punch

Size: Length- 112mm to 150mm, , Pressure- 2.2kg to 22.6kg

Material: Various

Use: To mark centres on metal without using a hammer

The automatic centre punch does exactly the same job as the normal centre punch, but works in a different way. The point is positioned on the required intersection and the tool pushed down. This automatically releases a striking block which punches the point into the metal. On some models the force can be adjusted. The points are interchangeable.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Starting Punch

Size: Length- 150mm to 200mm, , Point Diameter- 4mm to 6mm

Material: Steel

Use: To start the removal of a pin from an assembly

The starting punch has a strong tapered point capable of resisting the force applied to it in order to free a pin from its housing. The end of the point should be just smaller than the diameter of the pin. Set the point on the pin and strike the "anvil" with the hammer. Drive the freed pin from it housing with a pin punch.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Sheet Metal Punch

Size: Length- 175mm, , Diameter- To suit fastening

Material: Steel

Use: To punch holes through sheet metal to take fastenings

These punches produce the appropriate holes required by various fastenings such as self tapping screws and screw nails. They are quicker to use than a drill. Some have a straight cylindrical point matched in size to the fastening and a shoulder, which stops against the metal. Other punches taper to a sharp point and must be struck to produce the hole

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Making Holes in the Sheet Metal

You can use a drill to make the holes, but a sheet metal punch produces a stronger fixing which gives the screw thread more purchase.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Pin Punch

Size: Length- 100mm to 150mm, , Point Diameter- 1.5mm to 9mm

Material: Steel

Use: To drive out a pin from an assembly

The pin punch has a straight cylindrical shaft with a square end. Match the punch as near as possible to the size of the pin to be removed. If the pin is tapered, check which is the smallest end and choose a pin punch to match it. To remove a pin, center the punch on it and tap the end with a hammer. Do not apply to much force until the pin has begun to move. If the pin has frozen in the housing do not attempt to free it with a pin punch, but go back to a starting punch.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Lining Up Bar

Size: Length- 300mm, , Point Diameter- 6mm

Material: Steel

Use: To line up holes to take a fastening

The lining up bar is not a punch in the normal sense. Its long tapered point is inserted in the holes which need to be lined up to take a pin or bolt.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Tinmen's Hollow Punch

Size: Hole Diameter- 4.5mm to 25mm

Material: Steel

Use: To punch holes through thin sheet metal

The hollow punch has a solid metal shank terminating in a sharpened hollow end. Back up the work, mark the center of the whole with a prick punch and use the dividers to scribe the diameter to be punched. Center the hollow punch on this mark and lightly tap the end with a heavy hammer. Adjust the position of the tool if necessary and strike it again with a heavier blow to cut through the metal. Correct any distortion with a hammer rather than a mallet.

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Using the Hollow Punch

Strike the end with a heavy hammer. Thicker material may need more than one blow.

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Backing up the Work

Use a thick material such as lead cake or an end grain wood block to prevent distortion.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Solid Punch

Size: Length- 150mm to 168mm

Material: Steel

Use: To punch small holes in thin gauge sheet metal

A solid punch makes it easy to punch a hole in thin sheet metal up to 6mm diameter. You could use a drill, but this is more difficult: the end of the drill has to be ground to a shallow point to avoid heavy burring on the underside of the metal and to reduce the risk of snatching. The work must be backed up by material thick enough to prevent to much distortion of the metal sheet when cutting. A professional metal workshop might use a lead cake, but an amateur would be better advised to use the end grain of a block of timber.

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Using the Punch

Mark the center of the hole with a prick punch, place the solid punch over the mark and tap it lightly with a heavy hammer. Check that the resulting mark is centered over the prick punch mark, replace the punch and strike a heavy blow to cut through the metal. There will be a slight conical depression around the hole, which could be useful if a countersunk head screw is to be inserted. Otherwise, flatten the depression with a mallet.

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What if Their is Too Much Distortion?

Turn the sheet over and flatten the bulge with the mallet or a hammer, using a block of wood to protect the work.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Lever Punch

Size: Hole Diameter; for metal- 2mm to 6.5mm, , for leather- 2mm to 4.5mm

Material: Various

Use: To punch small round holes in sheet metal or leather

Lever punches incorporate an interchangeable punch and a matching die or "anvil". The die backs up the material, prevents distortion and leaves a clean hole. This type of punch can only be used near the edge of the material because of the depth of the throat. The tool is operated by squeezing the handles together.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Crew Punch

Size: Slot Length- 6mm to 28mm

Material: Steel

Use: To cut buckle slots in belts or straps

Crew punches are hollow punches which cuts slots with rounded ends instead of round holes. The slots are made to accommodate buckle pins on belts or straps.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Wad Punch

Size: Diameter- 6mm to 75mm

Material: Steel

Use: To punch large round holes in leather

The smaller wad punches can be used to cut holes in belts or straps, but the larger ones may be used to cut discs of leather from the hide as well as larger holes. The name may derive from the fact that they were used to cut the "wad" or soft washer which is packed into guns along with the charge to make a gas tight seal. Even today they are often included in the tool kit supplied for muzzle loading sporting guns.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Saddler's Hollow Punch

Size: Hole Diameter- Up to 25mm (numbers 0 to 22)

Material: Steel

Use: To punch round holes in leather

The saddlers punch is used to punch holes in belts or straps. The punches are designated by numbers which refer to the diameter of the hole produced. Number 6 for example will punch a hole of 4.5mm while number 22 will be 25mm.

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Using the Saddlers Hollow Punch

Position the punch on the work and strike the end with a mallet to cut the required hole.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Revolving Head Punch

Size: Length- 200mm and 225mm, , Hole Diameter- 2mm to 4.5mm

Material: Various

Use: To punch small round holes in leather or other soft material

The revolving head punch pliers incorporate the punches used in the standard lever punch. One of the six sizes can be selected by revolving the head to line up with a soft metal anvil on the lower jaw.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Wheel Pricker

Size: Measured in points per in.

Material: Wheel- Stainless steel, , Handle- Hardwood

Use: To mark out a row of stitching

An evenly spaced row of stitching, although not essential for strength, make leather work more attractive. Run the wheel pricker along a predetermined line to ensure this even spacing. Then use an awl to pierce the marked holes in the leather.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Pricking Iron

Size: Measured in teeth per in.

Material: Steel

Use: To mark out a row of stitching

The evenly spaced teeth of the of the pricking iron can mark out a row of stitch holes which are then pierced by a awl. Position the iron along the intended line of stitching and strike the end with a mallet. Continue the row by moving the iron and positioning the first two teeth in the last two marks to insure alignment and repeated even spacing. Keep striking and repositioning the iron until the row is complete. Thin leather can be pierced using the pricking iron alone.

punching-tools-its-applicability

Awls

Size: Blade Length- 37mm to 87mm

Material: Blade- Tempered Steel, , Handle- Beech, Boxwood or plastic

Use: To make starting holes for screws and nails in timber and to pierce holes in leather

Awls are made with blades of various section: round, square and diamond shaped. When pressure is applied all produce holes by pushing the fibers of the material apart. This works well with leather, but wood is apt to split along the grain unless a screwdriver type tip is used to make a starter hole. These tips are designed to overcome splitting by cutting the grain before the hole is made. When necessary repair awl tips with a smooth file and finish on an oilstone.

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Bayonet Awl Blades

These are used for leatherwork and are made without handles. They terminate in a tang which fits into a holder.

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Piercing Leather

Keep the awl handy to cut thread holes as necessary while working along the length of the leather.

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Piercing Wood

Position the cutting edge across the grain and apply pressure, turning the tool to the right and left with a twist action only.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Temoor Dar

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