Maker Update

Maker Update: Spring-loaded Self-Striking Center Punch

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The best maker projects and tools this week

This week on Maker Update, punch-activated flame throwers, interactive laser curtains, Massimo takes back Arduino, some time with a deluxe center punch, 3-color OLED screens, MagPi 60, and the Gemma M0.

This week for my Cool Tools review I’m going to show you a fancy automatic center hole punch, great for marking and starting drill holes in metal and wood. I’ve got an Amazon link for this in the show notes, and if you pick one up you help to support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Here’s your typical brass handle center punch you can pick up for around $5. You push it into the material you want to drill and it makes a little divet for your drill to start in so it doesn’t wander around.

The trouble with these is that they get dull quick, and even out of the box they don’t leave much of a mark. I’ve also found that the round design just loves to roll off your workbench.

It got me wondering what a nice center punch would be like, so I did a little research and found this $30 option from Rennsteig. This is an all German-made tool. It has this nice, ergonomic handle that allows you to push down directly from the top. It also doesn’t roll all over the place, which I like.

The replaceable striking pin here is made from hardened tool steel with a Rockwell hardness rating of 58. The punch itself has a striking force of 60-130 Newtons. You can adjust the force by twisting the handle.

What this means, practically, is bigger, deeper marks in your material, and hopefully a substantially longer lasting pin — though you can order pin replacements for around $10 online.

Here’s the mark from a new $5 punch on the left, and the mark from the Rennsteig on the right. It’s a noticeable difference. Is it worth an extra $25? That really depends on how much you use it or how much these generic punches bother you.

Personally, I find it really satisfying to use and I’m glad I spent the extra for it. If you’re interested in picking one up too, using the Amazon link in the description helps me out, and the Cool Tools blog. And remember, you can find thousands of reader-recommended tools just like this at Cool-Tools.org.

-- Donald Bell 08/2/17