Stainless steel is a durable metal often used for many home improvement projects. Not only is it resistant to rust, but it doesn’t break down with heavy use.

Stainless steel sinks can often last for decades. Since steel isn’t as hard as diamond, it is possible to cut holes in it.

However, to prevent damage with this do-it-yourself project, you’ll need to drill the right way with the right tools.

There are a few different situations in which you might need to drill holes in a stainless steel sink. Some sink models, for example, don’t have a pre-drilled drain hole.

You might also need holes for drain pipes or outdoor appliances, a new water faucet or water filter replacements, soap dispensers, countertop adjustments, and various other sink renovations.

It’s important to be precise before you start drilling. As long as you use the right tools and techniques, you can create holes that are the right size for your appliances.

When you begin drilling, it’s always best to estimate small and then widen the hole. This can be done with a pilot hole to ensure you don’t choose an incorrect step drill bit size.

You cannot make your hole smaller if you go too far, and fixing this type of mistake can be a DIY hassle.

The supplies you’ll need:

  • Lubricating oil
         
  • Masking tape
         
  • A measuring stick
         
  • A marker
         
  • A nail
         
  • Fine grain sandpaper
         
  • A drill
         
  • Eye protection (like safety goggles)

7 Steps For Drilling A Hole In A Stainless Steel Sink

Step 1. Mark the area for the drain.

Your drain should be placed in the part of the sink with the best slope. Basically, all the water in the sink should run down to that point.

This might not be the direct center of the sink.

Investigate the slope and decide where the drain should go. Mark this with your masking tape.

Use masking tape to cover the general area that you’ll drill. This makes it easier for the step drill bit to get traction.

Step 2. Use your nail to mark the starting point.

You need to know exactly where you’ll be placing your drill bit. By using your sharp nail (or another sharp tool), you can make a tiny divot in the starting area.

The starting area should be the direct center of the proposed hole, so the very middle of your drain.

This mark will be a guide as you drill. The combination of the masking tape and divot should give your drill enough traction that it won’t skip over the material.

Step 3. Use the lubricant on the drill bit.

Your lubrication oil should be used on the drill bit. Get as much oil onto the drill bit as possible before making any indentations.

Because stainless steel is so tough, there’s really no way to use too much lube.

You can use a paper towel or rag to place the oil on the bit. 

When you drill into the steel, it’s possible that the friction will cause sparks. Lubrication helps reduce this friction so that the drill works more smoothly.

It’s important that you use oil lubricant instead of water-based lubricant. Water lubricant is okay with natural materials like stone.

But when you’re using metal against metal, you need oil to help with the friction issues.

Step 4. Now it’s time to drill.

If you’re drilling through a stainless steel sink, you will need patience. It’s also important to be precise.

You’ll start in the divot you created with the nail. Place your drill bit inside the indentation.

Use the lowest setting to start out. The slower you go, the more control you’ll have over the shape and size of the hole.

Slowly widen the hole with circular motions.

You will likely find it easiest to move the drill in your dominant hand’s direction. Clockwise circles are easiest for right-handed people.

Counterclockwise circles are easiest for left-handed people.

Step 5. Take frequent measurements.

It’s better to have a hole that’s too small than one that’s too large. You can always make your hole bigger.

With each minute or two, you should stop and measure how wide the diameter of your hole is. You don’t want to make the hole bigger than the size of your ideal drain assembly.

The hole should remain circular and symmetrical. Move around the center point you marked with the divot.

It’s important that you don’t let the drill drift too far to the right or left.

Similarly, be on the lookout for oval shapes. Since ovals have extra space on the ends, they can cause leakage after you’ve put your drain in place.

Step 6. Smooth the rough edges of the hole.

Eventually, you’ll reach the correct size for the hole. Make sure it’s a uniform shape, but don’t make it too much bigger in pursuit of creating a perfect circle.

Once you’re done with drilling, you’ll need to use your sandpaper. You should have a fine grain that can be used to smooth the roughness.

Not only is smoothing the edges better for avoiding leaks, but it can also prevent safety hazards. Sharp edges might cut you as you install your drain.

In addition, if the edges are sharp enough, they can damage the pieces of your drain assembly. Since stainless steel is so durable, its edges can do significant damage.

Step 7. Clean up.

Now you’ve created a metal hole for your drain, so you can install your drain assembly and hook your sink up to your piping. But before you do that, you’ll want to clean up..

Take the masking tape off of the sink so the hole is fully exposed. If there are any metal shavings, blow them or brush them away.

Be sure to be gentle as you do this. 

One potential mistake people make is brushing the shavings roughly away. If you do this, the sharp edges might scratch up the stainless steel of the sink basin.

They could also cut your hands.

Use a soft brush to gently push away the shavings. Some people use air blowers to avoid brushes.

Just be sure that you keep your eye protection on if any metal shavings might fly into the air or within the clean hole.

Assuming your sink isn’t installed yet, you can also gently tip it over to make the shavings fall onto your floor. That’s a good idea if there are a lot of shavings to deal with.

The Right Drill Bit Makes It Easy to Cut Through Your Kitchen Sink

Just make sure that you have the right tools before you get started. Though stainless steel might seem like a daunting material to work with, especially for a DIY project, it’s not too difficult if you know what you’re doing.

Many of these DIY materials can be purchased at home improvement stores, like Home Depot and Ikea. 

Remember to always start small with your high-speed drill holes and then widen your drain as you go. It’s easier to widen a hole than to plug up large holes if they’re too big.