Ask a person who has done a bit of drilling and you will find out how hard it is to make an accurate hole with just a drill. To make work easier a simple tool is required; the best automatic center punch. The tool will mark the location of a drilling point with a small hole. The drilling pin will not swivel around and you will produce a perfect hole with your drill.
What Is a Center Punch?
While drilling with an electric drill, the fast spinning drilling pin I mean the drill bit has a tendency to slip from its original position. This is very dangerous and also very annoying. To prevent this, mechanics have been using a chisel like an instrument to make a very small hole at the point where drilling will be done. This hole acted as a guiding point for the drilling pin. The chisel like instrument had a pointy end and a blunt end. The pointy end made the hole when the blunt end was hammered lightly. The instrument was called a center punch.
To know details about different drill bits you can go through our another post how to figure out the best drill bits
What About an Automatic Center Punch
The automatic center punch looks like a fat pen. It has two operating springs, one firing pin and a small metal piece set before the stiffer spring, this works as the hammer. When one puts pressure with it on a surface, the hard spring gets loaded and after a certain point, it fires. The force gets transmitted through the firing pin and onto the surface. The pressure creates a little hole or dent on the surface. The center punch is so powerful that it can work on almost all kind of surfaces. From wood to metal, the it is capable of making a small hole or dent anywhere.
Why Buy an Automatic Version?
A question might arise that why is it necessary to buy an automatic version of a center punch when it costs more than a manual one. It is quite simple; the manual center punch can only work with a hammer and the pair is costlier than the automatic one. And there is the other reason; carrying a hammer with you all the time is not only inconvenient but also very impractical if you are not a mechanic.
Why You Need a Center Punch
We talked in detail already about the main uses of an automatic center punch. But the things is you can use this versatile tool for different purposes. I am talking about few of them are below.
Window and Door Fitting
In today’s world, wooden doors also have screws and not nails. The hinges have to be screwed tight with the door. This requires very precise drilling and to do that a special version of the center punch is used. This has a pipe like a shape in front of it which fits perfectly with the hole for the screws. The center punch accurately delivers a blow to create a hole at the very center of the hole of the hinge. This results in the better fitting of the door.
The center punch is also used by the firemen to break windows of a burning building. This makes the rescue operation much easier as many windows of modern apartments are made from tempered glass and blunt tools cannot break them.
The same can be done when a car crashes and rolls upside down. In that position, the only way out for a trapped driver or passenger is through the windows. A center punch can be used to easily break a window and get out. This is why; carrying an automatic center punch is always a good idea when you are going for a drive.
The primary goal of the tool is important not only in industrial level but also in your own garage works; to make drilling much easier and safer. They can be used to make small holes in thin metal sheets. The tool has so much strength that it can easily prick a hole on a thin metal surface.
Buying Guide for the Best Automatic Center Punch
Let’s move on to the buying guide for the perfect automatic center punch you can find on the market. For this, products from different manufacturers have been evaluated. Four of those products stood out the most and they are,
- TEKTON 6580
- Neiko 02638A 5″
- Starrett 18C
- Rennsteig Adjustable One
These center punches all use the same basic design but they are pretty much different from one another. Let’s go into details.
1. TEKTON 6580 Automatic Center Punch
This one is the most common automatic center punch and it is widely used by many professionals. They are very cheap, very affordable. The body is made of brass and the individual parts are made of chrome plated steel.
The mechanism is simple and there are not too many parts in it. That means there are fewer things to go wrong. The back portion can be twisted like a screw to adjust the depth and power of the punch. This makes it more manageable on wooden surfaces.
Though there are many bright sides to buying the TEKTON 6580, there are some negative points as well.
The tool is cheap and as a result, the built quality is not that high. Sometimes the metal piece that works like the hammer, has a ridge on it. This prevents the mechanism from working and this ridge has to be sanded or chiseled to make it work.
The firing pin is also not a quality product. If it is used repeatedly, as any professional would, the pin will wear off and it won’t make a prominent hole or dent the first time. It will take more than one punch to make a formidable hole to drill. This will decrease the accuracy of the tool. The whole point of using a center punch is to make drilling more accurate and precise.
There is another unusual trick in the machine; there is a left hand screw at the bottom end. This is not regular and if it is not known to the user he/she will have a hard time twisting the knob. The knob will only work the opposite direction and put too much pressure will cause the brass bodywork to bend and become useless.
Overall, the TEKTON 6580 will not be able to work with much precision for long. But considering the price, you can always get a new one anytime. That is the reason it is on our list of best automatic center punches.
There is another problem with this tool. A professional worker would drill more than a hundred holes a day and that means he will have to use this tool more often. The grip, though, is not very user friendly. The brass sleek body has to be held like a stabbing knife and that makes it hard to use.
The repetition of use of this tool will take a toll on the user’s palm. This might even lead to burn on the skin. Overall, the TEKTON 6580 is a very good and useful tool for those people who work occasionally in their own home or garages; certainly not for a professional.
2. Neiko 02638A 5″ Automatic Center Punch
This product looks a lot better than the previous one. The tool has a broad end made of plastic that works as a knob that allows the user to put pressure on it with the palm. This gives it more stability. Any mechanic will be able to use it repeatedly without any soreness in his/her hand.
The Pin is made of S22 steel which is shock resistant. This means the pin will last longer. The spring in it is also stiffer than the previous one; this allows more force to be stored before releasing it on the surface. As a result, the dent made by the Neiko 02638A is much more prominent than the TEKTON 6850. The knob at the end can be twisted to adjust the depth and power of the punch.
There two downsides to this tool and the first one are the price. The Neiko 02638A will cost a few dollars more than the previous one.
This is a little bit more expensive than the previous one but surely, it does a better job.
The second problem is the size. It is not sleek but rather fat that means it will be hard carry around in pockets. This is often used in rescue situations. This will not be the ideal tool for that purpose because of its shape.
As a center punch which is made for the workers, it works just fine. The depth of the hole is deeper, the knob allows better grip and stability as well as comfort while using and the pin is harder which will not wear off very easily also the accuracy of this tool is up to the mark. Considering all these and the price, this tool really is a bargain.
3. Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch
This is the most expensive of all the center punches in our list. Most users will agree that the price is not only too much, it is almost absurd! The tool is of industrial grade and frequently used by professionals but for the common population, the case is not the same.
The body is made of steel and also all the parts in it are made of steel. The built quality is good and it does its job quite well.
There are more negative points than positive ones. Though the price is very high, compared to the other products, the tool does not offer much. The design is simple; it does not have a large knob at the end to push down upon a surface while some cheaper versions do. The knob allows better grip and ease of operating. This, however, does not have it. The tool must be held from the side and putting pressure on it is toilsome in that way.
The spring behind the hammer piece is very stiff and takes a lot of energy to load it properly, that does not help either. There are other models as well, they are basically the same, and they only differ from each other in the pin shape and spring strength.
The tool is reliable. The all steel body can take a lot of strain and industrial use demands that kind of durability. The shape of the holes or dents it creates are also uniform as the spring used in the tool loads the same amount of energy every time it operates.
The problem is that it offers very little for a lot of money. No wonder that it still has not become a popular and most certainly not the ideal center punch in the market.
4. Rennsteig Adjustable Automatic Center Punch
This is the German version of an automatic center punch. The built quality is very impressive. As we all know about the German quality control, this product is the symbol of excellence. And this is reflected in the cost as well. Politely speaking, it is not cheap means a little bit higher than average price range.
The punch is heavier than the others. The metal that is used in the product is of very high quality and the pin can be replaced when worn off. The tool has a well-shaped plastic handle and a knob at the back. The package says it will deliver a force of 60 N-130 N. It shows when it is used on a metal surface. The dent is very accurate and prominent. This is certainly a higher grade tool. Being an industrial quality tool, it will last longer than the others.
The only thing that prevents people from buying it more often is the price. The tool is, without question, the best fitting automatic center punch available on the market but the question is, ‘would one buy one?’
Considering all the options, the TEKTON 6850 is too cheap and the poor build quality makes it very hard to find it convenient. The Rennstieg model is excellent regarding the quality but the price is way too much. Four TEKTON 6850 and three Neiko 02628A can be bought with the same amount of money needed to buy one Rennstieg around. Though the built quality is higher than the others, the price sets it back. The Starrett 18C model is absurdly costly and it does not offer much. The lack of a broad knob sets it back too and for these reasons, it is certainly not a candidate for the position of the best automatic center punch
On the other hand, The Neiko 02628A is well built, comfortable enough for industrial use and costs just a little more than the TEKTON 6850. This tool is not as good as the Rennsteig but it will last longer than TEKTON 6850. It is more accurate and precise than the TEKTON 6850. For only a few dollars extra, you will get a much superior model.
To know how it works hope this video will help you.
There is little need to explain that the Neiko 02628A is the one you should buy if you ever want a center punch. It will not be the best automatic center punch as far as quality is concerned but when you put the price into account. If you want a better experience or you do not want to go to the store very often, you might choose the Rennsteig model. The rest of the products are not so very useful to be modest.
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