I'm trying to hang a towel hanger, but with my own anchors. I'm struggling to drill a hole in the steel hardware that gets bolted to the wall:

picture of the fasteners, one with a party drilled hole

I'm using a hand drill, running at about 450rpm. I've tried a HSS stepper bit, 1/8" HSS bit, and a 1/4" HSS bit. I've been using soapy water for cooling and lubrication.

My bits were fairly cheap, so I'm going to get a better quality set, but I'm surprised to be making such poor progress.

  • Cheap/dull drill bits will do that to you. Sometimes a really small hole before the full-size hole will help a lot. Jun 13, 2021 at 16:00
  • I would like to see the anchors you intend to use. I conclude there is something about the anchor that precludes use of one of the existing holes.
    – Willk
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:47
  • water just evaporates ... use oil for lubrication
    – jsotola
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:15
  • @jsotola when water evaporates, it takes the heat with it. As long as there's a good pool of water, the temperature can never rise over 100C.
    – flaviut
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:12
  • @Willk Yup, that's exactly it. The anchors I have require drilling a 1/2" hole (toggle bolts), and I don't want that to be visible on the side of the mounted items. Drilling a hole in the middle means it's well hidden, and once I really cranked down on it, the friction between the toggle bolt, hardware, and wall prevented it from rotating.
    – flaviut
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:14

2 Answers 2


I always start with a pilot hole - usually less than 1/8th.

Sharp quality drills make the job so much easier.

Fixing or mounting the object securely also helps the process then if you are using a hand drill it can be held with two hands which also makes it easier and safer.

  • 1
    Use successively larger bits. Hold it with pliers, screw it down or put it in a vise, so that when it catches and spins you don't hurt yourself. If you don't push hard enough it will work harden and then you're SoL. They also really need two per; not sure what you're going to do with one hole in the middle.
    – Mazura
    Jun 13, 2021 at 18:19

I was running into two problems: the steel was work hardening from all the cutting that wasn't getting done, and my speeds were too low since that's what all the online forums were advising.

I changed my drill to 1400RPM (speed 2), which turns out to be the right speed for this work, and I took frequent breaks to splash the part with soapy water to cool and lubricate the work.

A better drill bit set was very helpful, since I was able to get through more than one part without having to replace the bit.

The clamping force formed by the drill against the soft trim molding wood was plenty to stop the work from spinning.

  • Throw away your bits, they are finished . cold rolled steel is no problem for a sharp bit , pressure and oil. Slower RPM id better. If these things are correct yo should get a steel chip with every turn. Jun 18, 2021 at 21:48
  • I might be able to get a chip with every turn, but I don't own a drill press. Best I can do is 100lbs of pressure, and even that is tenuous. sometimes you have to work with what you've got, even if it's the wrong way to do things
    – flaviut
    Jun 20, 2021 at 16:44
  • A force of 100 pounds is much more than needed for a small bit like 1/8 ". Jun 21, 2021 at 15:06

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