How to Cut a Hole in a Stainless Steel Sink

Some sinks come without a pre-drilled drain, so knowing how to cut a hole in a stainless steel sink can come in handy. Though not too difficult, cutting holes in stainless steel does require a little skill and a few special tricks. The correct tools must be used.

Stainless steel is an extremely tough material. Because of the hard nature of this metal, drilling with precision can be difficult. However, knowing the right way to drill can give you successful results. You will want a hole that will accommodate your drain assembly without being too big or small.

Remember, you can always cut more, but you cannot add on material. It’s always best to start drilling conservatively and work out toward a bigger hole if it is necessary. With the following instructions, you should be able to safely drill the perfect hole for your stainless steel sink.

7 Steps to Cut a Hole in a Stainless Steel Sink:

Tools Required:

  • Drill
  • Lubricating oil
  • Fine grain sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Nail or other sharp pointed object
  • Marker
  • Measuring stick
  • Safety goggles or glasses

Step 1: Measure and Mark

Decide on where in the sink you wish to place the drain. Not all drains have to go in the center of the sink. However, if you want an off-center drain in any direction, be sure your sink has adequate sloping to efficiently drain to that location. Using your measuring stick or tape, mark where you want the drain to go.

After you do this, place a few strips of masking tape over the general area of where you will be drilling. Doing this will give your drill bit a little more purchase when it comes time for drilling.

Step 2: Mark with a Nail

Using a nail of any size, make a small divot in the exact spot you will want to place the tip of your drill. This indentation should be positioned directly in the middle of where the hole will go.

This mark will act as a guide for the drill when first drilling. Along with the masking tape, your drill should have plenty to hang onto, which will eliminate any skips or false starts.

Step 3: Lubricate Your Drill Bit

Using a lubrication oil, make sure your drill bit is lubed to the max. You cannot overdo it when it comes to stainless steel. Use a rag or paper towel to apply the oil to the drill bit.

Drilling into stainless steel creates heat and friction, which can sometimes cause sparks when using a metal drill bit. Lubricating the bit creates a barrier that will make the drilling go much more smoothly and reduce the friction.

Unlike with stone or other natural materials, metal-on-metal applications like this require an oil-based barrier instead of water to mitigate the heat.

Step 4: Drill Your Hole

Drilling holes in stainless steel sink bottoms requires patience and precision. Place the head of your drill bit to the small divot you made with the nail.

Starting at the lowest setting, begin drilling slowly and in quick bursts. Going slow and steady will allow you more control over the hole you are drilling. Work outward using slow, circular motions.

It’s often easier to move the drill in the direction of your dominant hand. For example, if you are right-handed, move the drill in a clockwise direction.

Step 5: Stop and Measure

You can always make the hole bigger or cut extra hole in stainless steel bowl, but it’s quite impossible to make it smaller. For this reason, stop every minute or so and measure the diameter of the hole you’ve drilled so far. Be sure it matches up with the drain assembly you want to install.

As you drill, be sure to keep the hole symmetrical, so if you have to stop drilling the hole is not lopsided or too far to the left or right. You will want to create a perfectly round hole. Avoid oval shaped holes, as this can leave excess room and lead to leaks later on.

Step 6: Sand and Smooth

Once the hole is the size you want it to be, take your fine grain sandpaper and smooth out the rough spots. Edges that are too rough or sharp can be a safety hazard when you go to install the drain.

Sharp edges can also damage or mar the drain assembly itself. Remember, stainless steel is intended to be extremely hard, so sharp edges can do a lot of damage.

Final Step

Remove the masking tape and clean up the area around where you were drilling. Take care to gently brush or blow away any shavings. Do not roughly brush away any shavings with your hand, as they may scratch the surface of your stainless steel sink.

You can either use an air blower, a soft brush or you can carefully tip over your sink to allow any stray bits to fall onto the floor.

How to Protect a Stainless Steel Sink from Scratching While Drilling

1. Use Lots of Lubricant

When drilling hole in stainless sink you want to keep your drill bit adequately oiled. Lubricating your drill bit sufficiently will keep the bit from heating up too much and damaging the stainless steel.

You also want to avoid any sparks or fire hazards when drilling. It’s always best to drill in small, short bursts to avoid this hazard.

2. Drill in Short Bursts

The drill can easily skip over the surface of your sink if you are not careful. This can cause deep divots or scratches in the surface of your sink.

To avoid this problem, always make sure you indent the area you are drilling first. This indentation will steady the point of your drill. Always apply firm pressure to your drill and drill in short bursts. Doing so will eliminate the possibility of the drill skipping or sliding when you begin to drill through the stainless steel.

3. Work on Non-Abrasive Surface

Not everyone has a garage or dedicated workbench when drilling a hole in a sink. However, it’s best to set your sink on a non-abrasive surface to avoid scratches.

That means avoid placing your stainless steel sink on a surface like rough concrete or uneven surface. For your safety, and to preserve the integrity of the sink, always be sure to place it on a smooth, nonporous surface.

4. Keep it Level

Another tip that may seem obvious but is often ignored is keeping the sink level. When working on your kitchen sink, making sure it’s level helps you to drill an exact hole with precision. It also reduces the likelihood of any slips your drill may make, which reduces any unintentional scratching or scuffing.


Preparing a stainless steel sink to receive a drain is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Sinks made from stainless steel can be pricey, but if you find one without a pre-drilled hole, you may be able to get a more reasonable price. Since this DIY project is fairly easy, you can save money without breaking a sweat.

Another advantage of this method is the freedom of choice. You can place your sink drain wherever you wish. That means you can customize your sink to your personal needs and wishes.

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