A tip for those buying Step Bits / UniBits / keggle drill bit

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Boerderij_Kabouter

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I thought I would share a tip I figured out... I just purchased a step bit on Ebay for $10.00 shipped. An Irwin #4, brand new in box. I could have even gotten it cheaper but didn't want to wait. When searching, instead of using the term "step bit", which will lead you to a million off brand Chinese bits, search for "Unibit". It will bring up a bunch of Irwin bits and others that are actually being auctioned. I saw one go last night for $0.99!

The one I got is this one and sells for $34.00 at home depot.



I hope this helps someone out! :mug:
 

The Pol

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I bought the TiN coated ones at Harbor Freight... the hardest part was finding one that is 1.375" dia for the heating element installs.
 

hammer one

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Wow 99ct thats a great price! How much was shipping? 29.99?
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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$3.75.... I'm not selling these. I just was afraid of the quality of the Harbor bits. I use a lot of Irwin bits and have been very happy with them. I assume this bit will be of the same high quality and durability.
 

hammer one

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Irwin makes great bits. Thats a steal at that price I'm going to have to check it out! THANKS
 

conpewter

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I screwed up my harbor freight bit. I lubricated it well but either I screwed up or it was a crappy one as the cutting edges just got torn up. I know that several others have been able to use the larger HF bit and make it work. The smaller (goes up to 7/8") bit I have from them is still working fine.

Though if you can get a unibit for ~5 I'd go for that!
 

jcdillin

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Oh sure post it here so everyone else bids em up :p

I've already drilled 15 holes in kegs with my irwin step bit and that damn thing is still going strong.
 

GearBeer

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My HF bit works but it's getting a little tired after drilling a few holes (through thick-ish SS). The quality is about where I expected it to be considering the source and price.
 

donshizzles

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I screwed up my harbor freight bit. I lubricated it well but either I screwed up or it was a crappy one as the cutting edges just got torn up. I know that several others have been able to use the larger HF bit and make it work. The smaller (goes up to 7/8") bit I have from them is still working fine.

Though if you can get a unibit for ~5 I'd go for that!
What did you lubricated it with?
 

bmarley5780

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Harbor Freight step bit has made me 5 UDS (Ugly Drum Smokers) so far for me. Still drilling fine over here?!

Wierd.
 

Evan!

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nice, thanks kabooty...this is a great tip. I was gonna try to drill my pot with a metal hole saw :D
 

flyangler18

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I was gonna try to drill my pot with a metal hole saw :D
That wasn't going to end nicely. :drunk:

Good find for sure, BK! I'm heading over to Firebrewer's tonight with my kettles, so he can drill 'em. Saves me having to buy the bit!
 

The Pol

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I have used three Harbor Freight bits for holes ranging from .875" to 1.375" and never had a failure.
 

thooper41

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the irwins are pretty good 1st one i had never seemed to dull down but it binded up really bad once near the tip and snapped part of the bit off. Honeslty its a great bit just a fluke accident. it was under the 30 days at lowes so they let me extange it for another one and that one is still running strong.

Oh and keep them well lubed, I didnt want to get cutting oil so 90wt gear oil worked just fine, that is if you can stand the smell.
 

Ewalk02

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I just bought a harbor freight bit, I'm planning on using it soon, I'll let everyone know how it went.
 
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Boerderij_Kabouter

Boerderij_Kabouter

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I just thought I would bump this thread. I just drilled a couple holes with my Irwin step bit... butter. That thing eats keggles for breakfast. A little vegi oil, low speed drill or my cordless and it was easy as cake.
 

PLOVE

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Old thread, but in cases someone arrives here with the same question . . . I know I did!

For SS Keggles:
I used a 7/8" step bit from harbor freight (2 for ~$15) and 18V Ryobi to drill out 8 holes for weldless SS fittings (bargainfittings.com). First measured for location and then hammered the point of a philips screwdriver to make a slight indent. Switched to a 3/8" standard bit to drill a pilot hole. Using the high-speed setting I easily cut through the SS, stopping every 5 seconds to spray WD40 for "cooling". Then I switched to the step bit. Using the same approach (drill, stop, cool), but at much lower speeds it took about 2 min/hole. You'll definitely need to be hold on tight as it binds a bit when it bites. I also noticed that as I got to the larger diameter steps I needed to reverse the drill. My drill just seemed to bite off more than it could chew on first cut. Reversing removed the burr, and then I continued cutting. The holes were surprisingly clean (no burrs) and looked great!

Good luck!
pete
 

dallasdb

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Maybe I was doing it wrong but I drilled one whole and it ate up 3 Harbor Freight step bits.

I tried low speed and high speed it just wouldn't go. I used heavy weight oil to lubricate as well. It seriously only cut to the next step of the bit when the keg got red hot.

I'm taking them back to HF to have them replaced. One hole and all 3 are FRIED!
 

Bobby_M

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Definitely a technique issue. Your drill doesn't have enough torque or you're not using enough pressure. I've used a Chinese import step bit to drill a 7/8" hole in 1/4" thick stainless plate and still got 9 keg holes out of the bit.
 

dallasdb

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Definitely a technique issue. Your drill doesn't have enough torque or you're not using enough pressure. I've used a Chinese import step bit to drill a 7/8" hole in 1/4" thick stainless plate and still got 9 keg holes out of the bit.
Definitely wasn't a pressure issue, I was pushing the bejeezus out of it.

Not sure about the torque. It is a corded Makita drill with a switch to make it a hammer drill and it is HIGH SPEED more than low speed.

What is the appropriate drill to use?

The issue I was having is the bit didn't seem to grab the steel in between the steps. For example, it would grab and rip through a layer then sit in between the two sizes (steps) and just spin freely. I found the best technique was to drill and get a bit to grab. Then switch to another step bit with a smaller increment, let that grab then switch back. It was almost as if the steps were to big because they wouldn't grab from step to step on the same bit.
 

dallasdb

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Slow is the key with stainless!

I didn't get that memo!

I definitely wasn't going slow. After the first few efforts came up short I tried blasting through the hole.

A few times I was going so fast the bit would slip in the chuck.
 

Bobby_M

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Going slow is important and that's why corded drills are usually the culprit. Most corded drills have very low torque at low speeds so when you're sitting at the proper speed, the drill stalls out. I don't even like seeing the bit turn one revolution without making a cut. Spinning it fast work hardens the stainless in 2 seconds and it doesn't matter how many more bits you buy or what brand they are at that point. Now it's time to get a conduit punch.
 

Golddiggie

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I use an 18v DeWalt cordless hammerdrill for mine. I also set it in the LOW speed range (of three) which goes no faster than 500rpm. Even then, I've sometimes had an issue IF I went too fast (rpm and trying to do too many steps at a time). I've found that things go quick up to about 1/2" or maybe a step (or two) above that. Then you REALLY need to go slow and make sure you keep everything cool. I might even use my floor drill press for the next keggle I drill (goes down to 300rpm). Or just use the cordless drill at <1/2 speed in the low range.

For a conduit punch, the ones that use the hydraulic driver are stupid easy to make holes with. You just make a 1/2" hole, insert the punch after setting the shaft up on the driver. Pump, pump, pump, PING!! You have a nice 7/8" (or whatever size you need to make) hole. :D

Which to get depends on how many holes you see yourself needing to make over the long term. If you'll only use the punch a few times, then never again, get the drill. You could, also, get the punch, use it as you need then sell it to someone else (who needs it and doesn't want to get a brand new one). The ones that use a wrench to punch are cheaper than the hydraulic driven ones. I got that one mostly so that I'd never have an issue going through stainless (up to 3mm thick :eek:).

BTW, IME/IMO, the HF Ti coated bits are crap. But you should have gotten at least one hole per bit. Actually, you should have gotten at least one keggle drilling per bit.
 
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Okay guys I am going to give up a little stainless secrete........Use vinegar for your carbide coolant when drilling stainless. It will keep it from burning the edge of the hole and keep the bit cooler... They will drill like butter.


Cheers
Jay
 

Bobby_M

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I'll have to try that Jay. The truth is, ANY liquid coolant is better than none and I would even contend that proper pressure/speed is even more important than any coolant at all. I can easily drill ten 7/8 holes in a keg with these "crap" bits.
 
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