Drilling holes in aluminum boats? Whats the best way?

Discussion in 'Bubba's Outboards' started by Catfish_Commando, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Catfish_Commando

    Catfish_Commando TF Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,005
    State:
    Georgia
    What would be the best way to drill 2-5/8" holes in the side of an aluminum boat skirt and keep the hole clean?

    Is there some type of drill bit for a normal drill that would do this, and it would fit in the drill chuck?

    Drilling the holes to place in recessed LED lights.
     
  2. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    I would use a metal cutting hole saw. They generally leave a clean hole and what few burs that may occur can be removed with a rat tail file.
     

  3. Doyle

    Doyle New Member

    Messages:
    582
    State:
    Illinois
    I would go with what JW says, sometimes if you let it, it may walk a little. But just don't let it. your hole sometimes is a little bigger.. but fine for lights normally. Good luck. Get a good one the size you want not the cheap sets of all sizes. A good one will last a few years.
     
  4. RIP

    RIP New Member

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    1,298
    State:
    Somerville, Tennessee
    And a good one cuts a cleaner hole.
     
  5. RIP

    RIP New Member

    Messages:
    1,298
    State:
    Somerville, Tennessee
    If you know a electrician get a dragout set from them, it cuts a perfect hole.
     
  6. copycat

    copycat New Member

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    1,841
    State:
    New Jersey
    Absolutly a metal tooth hole saw will do the job.
     
  7. YeeHaw

    YeeHaw New Member

    Messages:
    446
    State:
    Quincy Illinois
    That should work i've heard good feedback about that.
     
  8. Dreadnaught

    Dreadnaught New Member

    Messages:
    5,444
    State:
    Henderson,Ky
    Most good hole saw sets have a piolot bit in the center to keep them from walking on ya.
     
  9. Bubbakat

    Bubbakat New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    McMinnvill
    When you find the center where you want to drill put you some duct tape on the spot you are going to drill it will keep the rough edge down to a minimum.

    I am assuming you will have rubber boots that will insert in the hole and the light goes into the insert. Put you a thin layer of 3M-5200 on the metal and insert the boot and that will seal it good.
     
  10. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

    Messages:
    2,553
    State:
    MO
    I've drilled about 6 or 8 different holes in my boat so far, and the hole saws that have been recommended are perfect.

    Check at Home Depot or Lowes or the local hardware store - the hole saw and mandrel (the center drill and holder) are sold separately; by one 1 mandrel and you can use it with many different sizes of hole saws. Not cheap but the do a good job.


    For really big holes (I needed an 8" hole between the rod locker and front storage area for longer fishing rods), I used a Roto-Zip tool with the hole cutting attachment and an aluminum cutting bit. Did a pretty good job but hard on the bit.
     
  11. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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  12. Bobpaul

    Bobpaul New Member

    Messages:
    3,039
    State:
    Supply NC
    Paul, so as not to get confused and go looking for a holesaw that'll cut aluminum, I'm pretty sure they all will cut aluminum.

    Make sure there's nothing on the other side, but open space.
     
  13. Brushy Bill Roberts

    Brushy Bill Roberts New Member

    Messages:
    128
    State:
    Spencer Indiana
    Any hole saw with a high speed steel edge will cut your alluminum.
    Spray liberal ammounts of WD-40 while it is cutting to keep the alluminum from sticking to the saw teeth. Go easy.
     
  14. Aftercats

    Aftercats New Member

    Messages:
    236
    State:
    Tennesse
    Like the gentlemen said before the center drill hole cutting saw works great and tape the area to keep the burs down. Just redid my boat decks, sheetmetal, and carpet. Good luck and hope to see you on the water.

    Daryl
     
  15. catfishcrazyjr

    catfishcrazyjr New Member

    Messages:
    301
    State:
    oklahoma
    go slow with steel bit and use trans. fluid!
     
  16. catfishingham

    catfishingham New Member

    Messages:
    32
    State:
    Ohio
    Paul, If you have room to operate you may want to use a jig saw,
    2 5/8" is kind of an odd size, if you had to use a 2 1/2", (can't find 2 5/8") hole saw you will end up haveing to grind it to 2 5/8" just go slow with a metal blade.

    Catfishingham
     
  17. Ecfool

    Ecfool New Member

    Messages:
    172
    State:
    California
    A good hole saw works fine and a little trick to keep aluminum from galding/ sticking to the saw is to rub bees wax on the hole saw teeth before cutting. This little trick works slick on a sawzal as well if cutting aluminum.
     
  18. brad kilpatrick

    brad kilpatrick New Member

    Messages:
    2,666
    State:
    Kansas City
    Actualy The old timers used to use kerosene when cutting aluminum in Machine shops. For a soft material like aluminum I'd use a high RPM on the holesaw while gently and slowly feeding it into the material. center punch a small indentation where You want the center drill to start This will help prevent it from walking. Even with the center drill the hole saw will still wander around, its inevitable with a hand held drill.
     
  19. Catfish_Commando

    Catfish_Commando TF Staff Member

    Messages:
    7,005
    State:
    Georgia
    Making some holes, good thread for info.
     
  20. Flamekeeper

    Flamekeeper New Member

    Messages:
    2,314
    State:
    Louisville, Ken
    I've drilled and cut 1000's of holes/welded miles of alum,from 1/8-3/4" sheet, plate, channel, angle and tubing material. On everything from the keel to the top deck of Boats / yacht's.

    All you need is a strong hand and a steady arm to hold the hole-saw in place. using a 1/2" double handled drill of some sort would be safer for you .. but it shouldn't crawl nowhere once you have the pilot hole drilled. spray with wd40 before and while cutting big holes through the thicker materials, being careful to keep the hole-saw cutting even/flat at all times, or it will bind up and about break your arm, and wrist.. It can be done with ease..

    Drill bits--take a nail or snap awe and punch a starter mark if needed, and just drill pilot hole with a smaller bit first and swap out for the larger bit and pop your larger hole through.

    You can also buy a bit that steps up in hole size from 1/8- 1" from home depot.. pricey though..
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010