Introduction: Drill Holes Using a Template

About: I've built some weird stuff over the years, but most of that stuff has remained unseen by the world outside of me and a few friends. But then one day, one of these friends, he says to me, "Hey Jack, you shoul…

Drilling holes is boring.

That's supposed to be a joke. Get it? Drilling is boring. The words "drill" and "bore" are synonyms. Uh... yeah.

Seriously folks, drilling holes can be tedious, especially for projects demanding a large number of holes; i.e a whole bunch of holes.

I think the worst part of this hole drilling business, besides the bad puns, is doing all the measurements that determine where the holes should go, plus marking these measurements on the work piece, etc.

But what if there were a way to do most of the measuring in one step? E.g. put the measurements on a piece of paper, and then transfer those measurements directly to the piece.

Well, that's essentially what this instructable is all about.

By the way, the example work-pieces in which I'm drilling holes are some pieces of aluminum channel that I think used to be part of a Venetian window shade, in their former life. These pieces are intended to serve as heat sinks for some hot little LEDs. Maybe you'll see them again in another instructable of mine.

However, the particular shape of these pieces of metal and the pattern of the holes is not important to this instructable.

This instructable is intended to illustrate the general principle of transferring marks on a piece of paper, onto marks on a piece of metal, upon which holes can be drilled.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

paperworking tools:
straight edge ruler
single-hole hole punch

hole driling tools:
spring loaded center punch
small drill press, drill bits, etc

masking tape

Step 2: Draw the Template.

Figure out where you want your holes to go, and mark these locations on a piece of paper using a pencil and a ruler

Note that this drawing is done to the same scale and orientation (not flipped, mirrored, etc.) as desired locations of the holes on the work piece.

The use of graph paper with 0.25-inch spacing was particularly helpful for the pattern of holes in this example,

Also on this drawing you want include at least two geometric points, "key" points, for the purpose of lining up the paper template with the work piece.

The phrase "key" points is not canonical, I don't think, because I just made it up right now. I don't know what the canonical lingo for this concept should be, so I'll continue to use the word "key" in quotes, since this language is not perfect.

In the picture, I have drawn little circles around hole center locations, and I have drawn little x's on my "key" points.

Step 3: Cut Out Template. Punch Holes in Paper "key" Points

Use the scissors to release your paper golem, and set it free from its notepad bondage!

Well, truthfully, this paper golem you have created is not "free", nor would you want it to be. You may decide to set it free later, but for now you want it to do your bidding, faithfully transferring hole locations, as many times as is required, or at least as long as its fragile paper form can endure.

Also use the hole punch to punch holes through your "key" points. Notice that each "key" point is defined by the intersection of two perpendicular lines. For this trick to work, these lines must extend beyond the radius of the hole punched out by the hole punch.

You'll see why this is important in the next few steps.

Step 4: Mark Key Points on the Work Piece.

Measure and mark the location of your "key" points on the work piece.

Again each key point is at the intersection of two perpendicular lines, and again these lines must extend further than the radius of the hole punch. You'll see why in the next step.

In the picture there are two of these work pieces. The reason for this is because I am hoping to use the template twice on two separate pieces.

Step 5: Line Up the "key" Points and Tape the Template in Place.

At the "key" points the perpendicular lines on paper neatly line up with the lines drawn below the paper on the work piece.

Once all the "key" points are aligned (two in the picture shown below), then tape the template to the work piece to keep it in place.

Step 6: Transfer Hole Locations to Work Piece.

Transfer the hole locations from the paper template to the work piece using the spring loaded center punch.

Step 7: Carefully Remove the Template... and Use It Again.

Carefully remove the template, and it can be used again (by repeating Steps 5 and 6) on the next piece.

The second picture shows both pieces, complete with little dimples punched where the holes are destined to go.

Step 8: Drill Some Holes.

This is what it's all about. All the planning. All the work done in the previous steps.

It's time to drill some holes.

The dimples produced in the previous Step are used for starting the holes.

Put a hole through each dimple.

Step 9: More Drilling.

Some of these holes are destined to be larger than others. I use larger bits to "drill out" some of the holes from the previous step to make them larger.

Step 10: Voilà, C'est Fini.

Holy perforated metal Batman!

It's metal, with holes drilled in it.

First pic in the stack below shows the finished pieces and their paper template side by side. Some of the other tools take their place upon the stage too, to take a final bow before the curtain closes.

Trailing pics in the stack document some of Jack's previous paper-template-to-metal-hole-drilling adventures!