Punch (tool)

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Engraving punch Grabatu tresnak puntzoia 1.jpg
Engraving punch

A punch is a hard metal rod with a narrow tip at one end and a broad flat "butt" at the other. When used, the narrower end is pointed against a target surface and the broad end is then struck with a hammer or mallet, causing the blunt force of the blow to be transmitted down the rod body and focused more sharply onto a small area. Typically, woodworkers use a ball-peen hammer to strike a punch.



Punches are used to drive fasteners such as nails and dowels, making a hole, or forming an indentation/impression of the tip on a workpiece. Decorative punches may also be used to create a pattern or even form an image.[ citation needed ]


Pin punch Punch (pin).jpg
Pin punch

Metal pins and similar connectors are driven in or out of holes using a pin punch.

For removal, first use a starter punch to loosen the pin, then use a pin punch to finish.


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Centre punch

A center punch is used to mark the center of a point. It is usually used to mark the center of a hole when drilling holes. A drill has the tendency to "wander" if it does not start in a recess. A center punch forms a large enough dimple to "guide" the tip of the drill. The tip of a center punch has an angle between 60 and 90 degrees. [1] When drilling larger holes, where the drill bit is wider than the indentation produced by a center punch, the drilling of a pilot hole is usually needed.

An automatic center punch operates without the need for a hammer.

Prick punch

Prick punch Prick punch.jpg
Prick punch

A prick punch is similar to a center punch but used for marking out. It has a sharper angled tip to produce a narrower and deeper indentation. The indentation can then be enlarged with a center punch for drilling. The tip of a prick punch is 40 degrees (the angle depends on what type of prick punch one is using). [1] It is also known as a dot punch.


Transfer punch Punch (transfer).jpg
Transfer punch

A transfer punch is a punch (usually in an index set) of a specific outer diameter that is non-tapered and extends the entire length of the punch (except for the tip). It is used to tightly fit the tolerances of an existing hole and, when struck, precisely transfer the center of that hole to another surface. It can be used, for example, to duplicate the hole patterns in a part, or precisely set locations for threaded holes (created by drilling and tapping) to bolt an object to a surface.


Drift punch Drift punch.jpg
Drift punch

A drift "punch" is misleadingly named; it is not used as a punch in the traditional sense of the term. A drift punch, or drift pin, or lineup punch, is used as an aid in aligning bolt or rivet holes prior to inserting a fastener. A drift punch is constructed as a tapered rod, with the hammer acting on the large end of the taper. The long end of a drift punch is placed into the semi-aligned bolt holes of two separate components, and then driven into the hole. As it is driven in, the taper forces the two components into alignment, allowing for easy insertion of the fastener. Unlike most punches, force is never (and should never be) applied to the tip, or end of a drift pin.

Spring or roll pins

Roll pin punches Roll Pin Punches.jpg
Roll pin punches

Spring punches, also called roll pin punches, are used to drive roll pins. Standard pin punches should never be used on a roll pin. Because of the hollow, thin wall construction of a roll pin, a standard pin punch will often collapse, mar or distort the end of the pin or be driven into, and jammed inside, the hollow core of the roll pin. When choosing a roll pin punch, select one that is no larger than the compressed diameter of the pin. If a punch is used that is larger than the pin, the surrounding metal in which the pin is seated can be damaged. Also, a roll pin punch should not be used which is smaller than the compressed diameter of the pin. If this occurs, it may be possible to drive the punch through the hollow center of the roll pin.

Roll pin punches are designed with a small projection in the center of the pin tip to support the circumference of the roll pin. The tips of roll pin punches are not flat and should never be used on regular solid pins. If a roll pin punch is used on a solid pin, it will mar or mark the pin.

If the end of a roll pin punch is damaged or deformed, it should be discarded. It is virtually impossible to regrind the tip of the roll pin punch and properly shape the center projection.

When using a roll pin punch, make sure the axis of the shank of the roll pin punch is in line with the axis of the roll pin. Do not cant the roll pin punch off to one side. When you strike the roll pin punch, hit it directly on the top of its head. If you strike the head of the roll pin punch at an angle you may bend the shank.


Punches with a decorative motif have been used to create patterns or images on metals and various other materials, notably leather. In goldsmithing, bookbinding and armor-making the technique is called pointillé. In printmaking punches were used to create most of the image in the plates for printing metalcuts.


Letter stamps LetterStamps.jpg
Letter stamps

Also known as letter stamps or number stamps, letter punches are used to emboss the impression of a letter or number into a workpiece. They are most common in the reverse image, this allows the end result to be immediately readable, however they may be made as a positive image. This is essential in the case of die or mold making and ensures that the finished product will be readable, as a die is a negative image.

Tablet press

These punches are a part of tablet press. Unlike most punches, tablet press punches have a concave ending in the shape of the desired tablet. There are the lower and the upper punches to compress the powder in between.

See also

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Drill Tool used to create holes

A drill or drilling machine is a tool primarily used for making round holes or driving fasteners. It is fitted with a bit, either a drill or driver, depending on application, secured by a chuck. Some powered drills also include a hammer function.

Taps and dies are tools used to create purpose screw threads, which is called threading. Many are cutting tools; others are forming tools. A tap is used to cut or form the female portion of the mating pair. A die is used to cut or form the male portion of the mating pair. The process of cutting or forming threads using a tap is called tapping, whereas the process using a die is called threading.

Drill bit

Drill bits are cutting tools used to remove material to create holes, almost always of circular cross-section. Drill bits come in many sizes and shapes and can create different kinds of holes in many different materials. In order to create holes drill bits are usually attached to a drill, which powers them to cut through the workpiece, typically by rotation. The drill will grasp the upper end of a bit called the shank in the chuck.

Rivet Permanent mechanical fastener

A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed, a rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The end opposite to the head is called the tail. On installation, the rivet is placed in a punched or drilled hole, and the tail is upset, or bucked, so that it expands to about 1.5 times the original shaft diameter, holding the rivet in place. In other words, the pounding or pulling creates a new "head" on the tail end by smashing the "tail" material flatter, resulting in a rivet that is roughly a dumbbell shape. To distinguish between the two ends of the rivet, the original head is called the factory head and the deformed end is called the shop head or buck-tail.

A reamer is a type of rotary cutting tool used in metalworking. Precision reamers are designed to enlarge the size of a previously formed hole by a small amount but with a high degree of accuracy to leave smooth sides. There are also non-precision reamers which are used for more basic enlargement of holes or for removing burrs. The process of enlarging the hole is called reaming. There are many different types of reamer and they may be designed for use as a hand tool or in a machine tool, such as a milling machine or drill press.

Treenail Wooden fastener

A treenail, also trenail, trennel, or trunnel, is a wooden peg, pin, or dowel used to fasten pieces of wood together, especially in timber frames, covered bridges, wooden shipbuilding and boat building. It is driven into a hole bored through two pieces of structural wood.

Swaging Metalworking process

Swaging is a forging process in which the dimensions of an item are altered using dies into which the item is forced. Swaging is usually a cold working process, but also may be hot worked.

Chuck (engineering) Clamp used to hold an object with radial symmetry, especially a cylinder

A chuck is a specialized type of clamp used to hold an object with radial symmetry, especially a cylinder. In a drill or a mill, a chuck holds the rotating tool; in a lathe, it holds the rotating workpiece.

Machine taper

A machine taper is a system for securing cutting tools or toolholders in the spindle of a machine tool or power tool. A male member of conical form fits into the female socket, which has a matching taper of equal angle.


Turning is a machining process in which a cutting tool, typically a non-rotary tool bit, describes a helix toolpath by moving more or less linearly while the workpiece rotates.

Marking out or layout means the process of transferring a design or pattern to a workpiece, as the first step in the manufacturing process. It is performed in many industries or hobbies although in the repetition industries the machine's initial setup is designed to remove the need to mark out every individual piece.

The shank is the end of a drill bit grasped by the chuck of a drill. The cutting edges of the drill bit contact the workpiece, and are connected via the shaft with the shank, which fits into the chuck. In many cases a general-purpose arrangement is used, such as a bit with cylindrical shaft and shank in a three-jaw chuck which grips a cylindrical shank tightly. Different shank and chuck combination can deliver improved performance, such as allowing higher torque, greater centering accuracy, or moving the bit independently of the chuck, with a hammer action.

Lathe center

A lathe center, often shortened to center, is a tool that has been ground to a point to accurately position a workpiece on an axis. They usually have an included angle of 60°, but in heavy machining situations an angle of 75° is used.

Drift pin

In metalworking, a drift pin, drift pin punch, simply drift, is the name for a tool used for localizing a hammer blow. A drift is smaller in diameter than the hammer face, thus concentrating the force into a smaller area. A drift is also used where the surrounding surfaces need to be protected from the hammer blow.


A dowel is a cylindrical rod, usually made from wood, plastic, or metal. In its original manufactured form, a dowel is called a dowel rod. Dowel rods are often cut into short lengths called dowel pins. Dowels are commonly used as structural reinforcements in cabinet making and in numerous other applications, including:

Automatic center punch

An automatic center punch is a hand tool used to produce a dimple in a workpiece. It performs the same function as an ordinary center punch but without the need for a hammer. When pressed against the workpiece, it stores energy in a spring, eventually releasing it as an impulse that drives the punch, producing the dimple. The impulse provided to the point of the punch is quite repeatable, allowing for uniform impressions to be made.

In mechanical engineering, a key is a machine element used to connect a rotating machine element to a shaft. The key prevents relative rotation between the two parts and may enable torque transmission. For a key to function, the shaft and rotating machine element must have a keyway and a keyseat, which is a slot and pocket in which the key fits. The whole system is called a keyed joint. A keyed joint may allow relative axial movement between the parts.

Screw Type of fastener characterized by a thread wrapped around a cylinder core

A screw and a bolt are similar types of fastener typically made of metal, and characterized by a helical ridge, known as a male thread. Screws and bolts are used to fasten materials by the engagement of the screw thread with a similar female thread in the matching part.

Screw extractor

A screw extractor is a tool for removing broken or seized screws. There are two types: one has a spiral flute structure, commonly called an easy out after the trademarked name EZ-Out; the other has a straight flute structure. Screw extractors are intentionally made of hard, brittle steel, and, if too much torque is applied, can break off inside the screw that is being removed. Since the extractor is an extremely hard material, and a typical home shop drill bit will not be able to drill into it, a larger element of difficulty is added to the original screw extraction project. One way to avoid this added difficulty is to drill a hole completely through the screw. Thus, if the fastener breaks, a punch can be used to drive out the easy out from the screw, via the back, or end, of the fastener.


  1. 1 2 Fournier, Ron; Fournier, Sue (1989), Sheet metal handbook, HPBooks, pp. 21–22, ISBN   978-0-89586-757-5