Jan 252011

Drilling circuit board holes with a jeweller’s drill

I recently purchased a jeweller’s drill to try and make drilling circuit boards as efficient as possible. Originally I had planned to use an electric drill, but after thinking about it I came up with a few problems

  • I would be using a 1/32″ drill bit – it would be very easy to break off in a large drill.
  • Would the drill chuck even close enough to grip the tiny drill bit? (It didn’t.)

The remedy I had on hand was a rotary tool (known to many as a “Dremel”). The collet set-up of the Dremel allowed me to grip the 1/32″ bit with ease so I used it. But depending on the material, the bit would sometimes create too much heat and melt the area around the hole. The speed setting of the rotary tool was too high (I have 3 rotary tools and none went below 5000 rpm!)

Fast forward to a month ago – I was in a surplus store and spied this jeweller’s drill.

jewelers drill

It came with three different collet sizes and didn’t need to be plugged in! It was also compact and could easily fit in my electronics toolkit.

circuit board hole drilled

circuit board hole made by jewellers drill

I just got around to testing it out and drilled this hole in the nearest circuit board I could find (a bad RAM module). The board was fairly thick but the drill went through without a problem. It’s much slower than powered solutions, but gives more control and drills nice clean holes. I’ll most likely use it for delicate work.

Feel free to talk about your circuit board drilling techniques in the comments below.