Very small hole-puncher (O.040")

I need to make very small holes in small silver plates, about 0.040"
diameter. I recall having had, ages ago, a Whitney Punch, but when I
looked them up I didn’t see anything that would punch a hole any
smaller than maybe twice that size, or larger.

Micro-Mark has a “Micro Punch Set” that lists the smallest size as
0.040", but I’m not sure it can handle going through 16g fine silver
(my objective).

If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be most grateful.


Loren, Roper Whitney makes a .063" punch for their #5 Junior Punch.
It is listed on their web site under custom punch and dies for #5
punch. Cost of the set is $11. Set Product Number: 200050063.



Roper Whitney will make custom die sets for their hand punches. If
you need to punch a lot of holes, the investment might well prove
worth it. I have the vague memory of having looked into this some
years back and a custom round die set was about $75.

That said, such a punch at 1mm diameter could be a delicate beast. I
couldn’t say for sure that it would reliably punch 16ga fine silver.
The Roper Whitney site says the maximum capacity of their #5 hand
punch is 1.2 tons but they only sell standard dies down to 1/16".
Someone (Jim B? Brian M?) with more metallurgical math at their
fingertips than I have might weigh in here as to the punching force
required vs the strength of the punch.

The technical support folks at Roper Whitney might also be able to
shed some light on this idea. And, if you are having a custom die set
made, you might be able to tailor it to your specific application.
For instance, if their standard punch length is more than you need to
do 16ga, you could have them make it just long enough to meet your
needs and you’d have a more robust punch.



Miland Suess makes a 1.1 mm (0.043 inch) punch. I have a larger
version that works great on a tough copper alloy. 

Hmm, three thousandths up is no big deal, I can use the 1.1mm.
Thanks! I’ll be getting one of those.


Hi Tom,

I made one of these from a press I bought second hand, like a little
arbor press, I think it was some kind of watchmakers tool (perhaps a
staking tool ?) You could mount 3/8" round tooling top and bottom, I
used a piece of broken 0.8mm hss drill in the top kept short, and
drilled a slightly larger hole 0.9mm in the bottom and reamed out
clearance so the bits of scrap could drop out. I was only punching
through thin silver, if I had wanted to use it a lot I would have
hardened the bottom die.

Making little tools like this is not hard or time consuming

regards tim Blades.

Hey Loren.

I use Unittool punch holders. You can order any size tooling for
these however you do need some sort of press to power the unit tool.
Die sets cost maybe $40 a set - 0.040 is definitely not a standard
set for them but any custom size should be possible. If you need to
do large amounts (i.e. you are planning a full shirt made out of
silver plates) give me a call and tell you what I know on the
subject. If the part is tag like and only has a few holes I might
make it for you - I’m just gearing up to get into mass production of
tags from anodized aluminum and have all the equipment.

Jon Daniels
The Ring Lord Chainmail

Is there a reason you can’t simply drill the holes perhaps using a
small drill press?


Is there a reason you can't simply drill the holes perhaps using a
small drill press? 

Well, I have done that, but since I’m trying to drill them in a pad
that’s about 0.09" wide, on the end of a piece of wire that’s only
0.030" in diameter, the main thing that happens is that the bit
binds and the wire wraps around it in a neat (or maybe not so neat)

The idea of making a punch and die out of a small drill bit,
mentioned earlier, is attractive, but I’ve ordered one of Miland’s
0.043" punches to see how that works out. A hand tool I can pull out
of my case and just pop the hole with will be more convenient than a
sophisticated arbor-press driven punch that has to sit on my bench
at home.

What I’ve been using, though, was slightly like that, but with a
drill press, not turning. I put a large, sharp needle in the chuck,
and a solid surface with a hole in it, and I just pierce the pads
with that. Distortion is a problem, and splitting, but I get a fairly
good yield.



used a piece of broken 0.8mm hss drill in the top kept short, and
drilled a slightly larger hole 0.9mm in the bottom and reamed out 

That’s brilliant, but I don’t have room for one of those on the road,
I think. I’ll get Miland’s punch for now and then think about making
a more “industrial strength” one at home using that method.


I’d suggest that you make a little holder for the wire with the pad
on the end of it, out of thermoplastic. Then you could drill the
holes without losing control and having the wire wrap around the
drill bit. Just heat up some thermoplastic, and press it down on
your wire-with-pad as it rests on a hard surface. You’ll get a little
cradle for the wire which should control it well, and it will be
reusable for all the others you need to drill.


While the hole is a little larger than you wanted, I noticed that
Contenti has a gadget called Tap-it Punch which will punch a hole
1.5mm dia in sheetup to 24 ga thickness. $10.95. Looks like a
reasonable tool for punching a lot of holes quickly.

What gauge metal will this punch? Would it punch 20 ga?

Sharon Perdasofpy

Hello, I seldom post but I have done this before. Take a 1mm dril
bit and break off then grind a flat on the end. Then heat to anneal.
Then I fix it in a vise and use a very small diamond bur (pointed to
start or setting bur)to make a depression in the center. Then use a
small round bur to deepen and shape the depression. Then harden and
temper. You can either braze it or set in a hole in a piece of soft
steel or brass rod. In this case you’ll have to do the hardening
thing after braze. Use aluminum or copper or even very hard dense
wood backup plate. Makes a good punch if done well. I will admit I
had to make a couple to get it right though. Use magnification. If
Miland has a plier for this MUCH better.

I just got Miland’s punch today, and have already used it a number
of times with considerable success, and satisfaction.

The thermoplastic idea occurred to me before, but since my skills
don’t extend to creating identical pads to punch, one size would not
fit all.

Thanks, to everyone, for the advice and encouragement.