Re: Sources for machinist/watchmaker-quality small twist drills redux

Matt Goodman

Another thumbs-up for McMaster-Carr. They often don’t list brand names on their website, but the bits they’ve shipped to me have all been from Richards Micro Tool (a U.S. made product, if that’s important to you).

The bits I’ve received all have 1mm shanks, necking down to the drilling diameter. The cut depth is about 3mm (.11”), so they won’t be useful if you need more reach. Material is cobalt steel, and have withstood some rough handling (I did get cocky and broke one drilling hand-held nickel-silver rail with a pin vice).

They’re all metric dimensions, though McMaster-Carr provides decimal equivalents (no wire gauge listed). Expensive and probably overkill (they’re intended for tough metals), but they should stay sharp forever. Oh, and almost all tooling I’ve purchased from McMaster come in tough zip-lock bags - very reusable.

You also can’t go wrong with Pierre’s MSC suggestion.

Matt Goodman
Columbus, Ohio, US

On Jul 24, 2019, at 8:14 PM, Ralph W. Brown <rbrown51@...> wrote:

Hi Denny,
I’ve yet to read to other replies, but my “go to’ for things like that is McMaster-Carr (  I’m particularly fond of the uncoated cobalt steel wire gauge bits.  I recently purchased a new HHS 2-56 taps from them as well, and it is far superior to any others I’ve seen or used in that size.  Service has always been excellent as well.
Ralph Brown
Portland, Maine
PRRT&HS No. 3966
NMRA No. L2532

From: Denny Anspach
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 4:39 PM
Subject: [RealSTMFC] Sources for machinist/watchmaker-quality small twist drills redux
My most hateful modeling chore is locating and drilling for grabs and handrails, etc. I machine drill when i can with carbide drills, but practically,  most have to be done by hand; and I am totally frustrated by the sheer plethora of dull #78-80 twist drills that seem to be endlessly supplied to us by almost all usual hobby vendors. This morning, after a failure to adequately be able to hand drill through some tough plastic (#79), I tossed the errant drill in favor of a new one, also from a popular hobby supplier.  The new one could not cut butter either, and in the attempt to do so actually  bent over (did..not..break!) at a right angle like bending a wire!  Now, I do have a large supply of sharp (and brittle) carbide tip drills, but they are too risky to use with hand drilling- as you all already know.

So....where do you all find high quality reliably sharp tiny twist drills, most favorably from American, German, Swiss, or Japanese origins?


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