A Little Noise

November 21, 2009

Drilling a hole in a stainless steel sink

Filed under: Habitat — snoyes @ 10:32 pm

I needed to drill a couple of 1″ holes in the stainless steel kitchen sink to install a pair of soap and lotion dispensers.

The most popular answer online was “use a bi-metal hole saw, low speed, lots of pressure, lots of lubricant.” I tried that, and the pilot bit wouldn’t even scratch it.

I happened to have a hammer drill and some 3/8″ bits, and those went through … eventually. So I tried to enlarge it with a 1″ hammer drill bit. I got a jagged hole and a burned out hammer drill motor, which I have to ship off for repair now, having used it only three times.

The next most popular answer seemed to be a conduit knockout punch, but that requires a pilot hole of 3/4″ (if I could make that, I wouldn’t need this punch, now would I?) and Lowe’s only carries them in a set of 4 for $150.

Fortunately, the manager appeared and talked me down to a $55 Greenlee step bit. Went home, popped it in my little “backup” drill, and had two nice clean holes in well under ten minutes.

Some tips:

– I bought a Greenlee step drill bit, $55 at Lowe’s. They also had an Irwin for $53, but the manager said the Greenlee is twice the quality of the Irwin.
– Measure the hole location every which way you can (remember, you only get one shot at this!), and then make a little starter divot with a hammer and nail or punch so the drill doesn’t wander over the surface.
– Don’t run the drill at full speed; you will work-harden the sink and dull the bit. If it’s smoking, you were going too fast.
– Don’t run the drill too slow. Apply firm downward pressure (we’re talking “both hands on the drill” firm, not “the combined body weight of you and your cousin Earl” firm.) If you run it too slow or don’t press firmly, when you finish one step and drop to the next step, it will gouge two chunks out of the side of the hole and lock the bit in place.
– Use plenty of lubricant. WD-40 is fine; any oil ought to suffice. Spray it on liberally before and during drilling.
– Don’t forget to mark on the drill bit where to stop – wrap a piece of masking tape around it at the right height, or you may get to repeat this procedure on a new sink.

October 8, 2007

The Fair

Filed under: Habitat,Kids — snoyes @ 2:14 pm

Culture is a way of living. Some ways of living have lasted unchanged for thousands of years, and some are products of very recent discoveries. The 8th Annual Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair in Fredericksburg, Texas, highlighted a number of these, from the ancient art of wattle and daub construction, to the modern photovoltaic panel and low-wattage LED lightbulb.

The fair covered a full city block. We went mostly because of a passing interest in making biodiesel, which appears to be pretty easy to do and costs less than a third of current gas prices. We also visited booths about wind and solar power, collecting drinkable water from rainfall and from dehumidifiers, and building supplies made from all sorts of surprising materials

Considerable industry was driven through simple non-electric means for thousands of years – and I’d call this more attractive than a landscape draped with power poles and electrical lines any day.


We found a method of transportation that uses no oil and has eco-friendly emissions (or at least the originals did, and they’d keep the lawn trimmed and fertilized for you too).


According to these folks, recycling is all fine and dandy, until you begin subjecting criminals to nasty chemicals, at which point it becomes cruel and unusual.


This is the kind of public transportation I’d like to see in my city.


Seating might be a little cramped for some of you 6’+ folks. Guess you shouldn’t have eaten your broccoli when your mother told you to.

Train car

Texas is an ideal place to take advantage of the power of the sun. The kids got to make solar ovens out of pizza boxes, plastic wrap and tin foil (in the photo you can just see a couple next to my right hand). It takes a little longer than a microwave to make s’mores with this method, but then again you don’t get to sit around on the grass while waiting on the microwave either.


Since Fredericksburg has a strong German heritage, it was necessary to sample some German beer. That’s a Spaten Oktoberfest, for those of you keeping score at home.


If, like me, you don’t really like beer, you can just purchase a pair of beer goggles instead.

Beer goggles

After you’ve spent all day dragging yourself around to all kinds of boring booths talking about renewable energy, it’s nice to have a little down time.

Going Down

We like to order the catch of the day.

Fun Slide

One (or two!) should always use the buddy system.

Sliding Pair

Keeping it up close and personal.

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