I am drilling multiple small holes in steel (approx. 12 gauge) and
find that the drill bits that I am using only last for 3 or 4 holes.
You didn’t say how small, it’s all relative. I recently had to drill
some #55 holes (.052") in 1/4" hot rolled steel. I used high speed
steel bits purchase from an industrial supply. I was able to get 12
holes from each bit. However, in the interest of not generating lots
of scrap due to broken drill bits stuck in the work, I limited the
drilling to 10 holes each.
The trick to not breaking small drill bits is holding the workpiece
solid & having a very good drill press. There should be no lateral
movement between the workpiece & drill bit while the drill is
running. The other things to consider are drill speed (I used about
2500 rpm), bit lubrication (I used Tapmatic Cutting fluid) &
pressure on the bit. That’s hard to quantify for a manual
operation. Don’t press so hard the bit bows & breaks, but hard
enough to keep the point cutting. This usually takes a little
experience (broken bits) to develope.
If I were you, I’d practice on some scrap until I felt comfortable,
then move over to the workpiece.