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I went to the DIY shop in town looking for a metal cutting drill bit. As I'll be using 8mm bolts, I got an 8.5mm bit.

Then I picked up a set of centre punches for €16, which seemed expensive given it's just a bit of metal.

I wandered over to the drills and, my god... €300 for a drill? Or, let's put it another way, €300 for variable speed motor that is supposed to turn from slow to pretty rapidly in order to rotate a little thingy stuck in the end that actually does the hard work?

I then saw a sort-of drill. Well, it was more a battery powered screwdriver with pretentions.
And a much more satisfying price tag - €34.

New drill and bit
New drill and bit.

The display model was the only one left. The box was hidden away so all the bits were present (a manual that's basically pictures, a charger, and an 18V battery pack). The device itself looked intact and in good order - no evidence of having been dropped.

So I put the centre punches back and paid twice that for an entire almost-drill. With 17 torque settings (1-16 plus a non-torqued "drill" setting), the ability to turn both ways, a dead-easy way of inserting bits, and an electronic variable speed (0-700rpm) plus a battery so it is autonomous, it seemed like a good choice for the money.

Then, thinking that the way I have set up the mower arrangement doesn't please me because it's putting the weight and energy of the blades onto a somewhat fragile frame rather than the big bolt that it should be using. So I am thinking of making a little metal cradle to straddle the bolts that I put in, to hold the thing in place more securely. It's hard to explain, you'll have to wait until I (attempt) to do it, then you can see pictures.

So I asked the man there, is there such a thing as a length of metal a bit like a ruler with holes in it at regular intervals? A bit like Meccano only stronger.
He wasn't getting it, so I made a rough diagram. Then he understood and led me to fixtures for garden gates. Too short, too solid, or a right angle. It's good to know that stuff is there, should I ever decide to strip down one of the old palettes to make a replacement gate (the idea is good, but I suck at woodwork).
With those being a loss, he apologised and said they just don't have what I was looking for.

I saw this on the way out, practically the other side of the wall from the gate bits.

Adult Meccano
Adult Meccano. ☺

The holes aren't quite right, but then I have a rather specific use case. Otherwise, it's exactly what I was looking for. I guess it's too much to think that an employee/adviser might know the stuff they sell. Or, given this is France, it's probably "not his department". He's the stuff-to-stick-in-the-toilet-pipe-to-stop-it-spraying-poop-all-over-the-wall-when-you-flush person, not the weirdo-Brit-wants-a-length-of-metal-with-holes-in-it person.

I ordered a centre punch from Amazon today, as it's a useful thing to have. Like feeler gauges, it's one of those things that will languish unused in the corner of the toolbox, but when it's needed, it's the only thing that can do what it does.
At a cost of €8 for the one, it's technically a worse price than the three for €16, but on the other hand three isn't much good when you only want one. The price is a little high because it is coming via Prime (supposed to be here on Tuesday). If I wanted more or less the same thing for a third of the price, I could have ordered that, but coming from China it would be here... god knows when.
If I decide to do anything this weekend, I'll hit a screw with a hammer to make a dimple. I don't imagine it'll work too well, but, won't know until I try.


I spoke to the R&D/development guy at work, and asked if he had any tips. He told me that slow is best - drill too fast and the tip will overheat and burn out. The bit packaging suggests 400rpm for an 8mm bit, that's within the capabilities of my drill.
He said also to dunk it in oil. Preferably special oil for drilling, but if I don't have that, then engine oil, sewing machine oil, bicycle oil, or 3-in-1 oil (in that order of preference). I have 4 stroke engine oil, I'll use that. He said if the bit starts to either heat up or dry, then dunk it in oil again.
A friend added, by email, to work up the bit sizes. Unfortunately my budget doesn't stretch to sizes...


One final thought - here's a picture of the battery contacts on both the battery and the drill. It seems to me that these are back to front. The drill should have the metal strips, and the battery should have the protected shroud.
Why? It's an 18V 3.5Ah Lithium-Ion battery with exposed terminals. Imagine accidently dropping a bolt or washer between those contacts... I'd hope the battery would be fused, but even if it is, you might have just killed it. And if it isn't? Well, we all know that Lithium batteries don't take abuse nicely.

Battery connections
Battery connections.



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David Pilling, 30th January 2021, 02:39
Under certain circumstances a drill bit will "bite", friction between drill bit and material increases greatly. It can increase to the point the drill rotates the material, which is dangerous. Good practice is to fasten down the material you are drilling in to. Clamps, a vice, whatever. 
Can't see it happening with that huge piece of metal and your drill, that's inertia holding things in place. 
Yeah set of drill bits, work up in size, not very expensive. Although you get what you pay for a 20 quid set of Bosch are more likely to run true and be sharp than a packet from Poundland (Euroland). 

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