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Update on Sink July 16, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in DIY, how to, Other.
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I put my DIY sink clips to the test this weekend as I learned some lessons about how to cut stainless steel.  Franke’s sinks are typically made from 18- or 16-gauge, 18% chromium/10% nickel stainless steel, which they call “type 304.”  So, naturally, I asked myself “what, exactly, would one use to cut that sort of thing?”

Well, a cutting tool, obviously.  There are all sorts of high-speed cutting tools on the market these days, and I bought a cheap one a while ago for a very different purpose.  I needed a bit, though, since all of the bits that came with the thing were designed for cutting stuff like drywall and wood, which are pretty soft, compared to type 304.  At a well-stocked home and garden supply retailer or hardware store you can find bits that have a picture of a stainless steel sink on the package.  The package says that it will cut stainless steel, and that it costs $17.  Sold.

So I got this thing home and drilled a hole in the sink with a very hard drill bit (because the lable on the titanium bit that I just purchased says quite clearly not to use it as a drill.)  It took a while, but I got through.  Now all I had to do was cut a 1 1/4-inch circle, using that hole as a starting point.  I traced a little pattern with a “C” type battery, which is almost exactly the right size.  I put the bit in the cutting tool and started cutting. 

In a conversation with my brother last weekend he warned me that it was going to be hard to control the direction of the cutting.  I figured that this stuff was so hard that I would have all sorts of time to correct the course if I was cutting the wrong direction.  I would have, too, were it not for the distraction of the cutting itself.  See, what they don’t tell you is that these cutting tools are not the appropriate device for spinning the little titanium bits.  If you use one of these cutting tools for that, you will find that titanium, or chromium, or nickel or iron, or the mixture of all of these things, subjected to the intense heat of the spinning, will cause the bit to turn instantly red-hot, and sparks and flames will shoot out of the hole you are attempting to cut.  I don’t know, maybe if you get anything hot enough it will burn and throw sparks.  I’ll have to ask my brother about that.  He’d know.

So the cutting got a little out of control, I guess.  I stopped and drew a different circle, which I hoped would incorporate the actual hole I had started, but would still be in roughly the right place for the spigot.  I tried again, with the results depicted below (click to enlarge).

steelsink.jpg

Lovely, I know, with the scorch marks.  It was probably for the best that the bit sheared into two pieces at that point, burning a little hole in the cabinet below the sink (but thankfully not hitting any bystanders). 

At that point I decided to look up on the intertubes how to do this sort of thing.  RTFM, I know.  It’s usually my second step.  Turns out that you should lubricate the bit while you are cutting, with some sort of oil.  Turns out that you need to push very hard, and that the bit should spin at less than 300 revolutions per minute.  Now, how fast does one of these cutting tools spin?  Turns out that they go about 30,000 rpm–only one hundred times as fast as needed.  Even at the lowest setting these things go forty times too fast.  I don’t remember which setting I used, but it doesn’t seem to matter. 

My old, decrepit, drill worked O.K., and the direction was much easier to control, so long as I pushed as hard as I could, sometimes in directions 90 degrees removed from the direction in which the bit wanted to go.  And, by the way, with all of the pushing, sparks and flames, the sink didn’t move at all.  And it had every incentive to run screaming from the kitchen, believe me.

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Comments»

1. strugglingwriter - July 16, 2007

Yikes. I’m not brave enough to try this, especially not before consulting the internet. I’m glad the sink didn’t run away. :)

2. Anonymous - July 17, 2007

Stainless steel is wonderful stuff. Like concrete, tile, and fiberglass it seems that its main function is to destroy tools. One thing that may work to make a nice clean hole is a knockout punch.
http://www.mytoolstore.com/gardnerb/hole01.html
As you can see they are outrageously expensive but I think they can be rented.
18-16 gauge? That’s one good quality sink, most new sinks use much lighter gauge stainless steel.
Be cautious about creating too much heat; stainless as it has a tendency of expanding and warping the surface. (Voice of experience)
Looks good.
-PF

3. caveblogem - July 17, 2007

PF, Yeah, the company’s low-end stuff is 18 gauge. They make some heavy gauge industrial sinks that go for $2k. Mom told me that some stainless sinks are noisy. This one sounds like porcelain when you knock on it. It’s unbelievable. When I took out the old one I bent the edges on one side, because the clips were still attached a little. No danger of that with this one. I can’t imagine it warping, either. If there’s ever a meteor shower I’ll be hiding under this thing.


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