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If the metal is hard enough, the drill bit or self-drilling screwdriver can easily slip from the intended point, and in such a situation, you cannot avoid a major scratch or even a broken drill bit.

To prevent this from happening, it is customary to make holes or core holes, and there is a special tool for that – the center punch!

Any locksmith operation is preceded by marking the part with lines and reference points deepened into the metal surface. The former are performed with scribes, and for drawing the latter there is a special marking tool – the center punch.

What is a center punch, and what is it for?

The center punch is a hand-held locksmith’s, percussion-cutting tool designed for marking center holes (cores) for initial drill placement and other visual markings.

The center punch can be referred to as a group of locksmith’s tools because drill holes are usually made on metal, tile, polished or any other smooth surface.

Using a center punch prevents the drill from slipping on the material and helps achieve greater accuracy in positioning the holes. The center punch bit is a round rod. In conventional center punches, the marking point (core) is applied by hitting it with a hammer, while mechanical automatic corers use a spring and a hammer for this purpose. Such a tool has a more complex design, but has high accuracy and gives the possibility to work with one hand. In addition to the spring ones, there are automatic electric and pneumatic coring devices. Specialized coring tool allows automatic alignment on the same type of parts or cylindrical surfaces.

Types of center punches

In addition to the manual version of this tool, there are other varieties.

The center punch-curler

in addition to the clear core-curling along the circumference from the set (and core-curved) center, allows making the core at a pre-set distance from the edge of the workpiece, which is convenient if there should be a lot of such cores. Besides, the foot can be exchanged for a simple extender device, and, again, the necessary distance from the edge can be set off, reducing the number of lines for marking.
The bell jig is designed primarily for jigging spherical surfaces. Mounted on a ball, it perfectly self-aligns on its top, which is why it is also called a centroid. The baseline can be a circle outlined on its skirt. It is also easy to core the centers of the ends of cylindrical shapes with the centroid, if the diameters fit, of course.

The mechanical spring-center punch

allows you to core with one hand, it is only important to set it strictly perpendicular and not to change this position by pressure. Among its advantages is also the same depth of the obtained cores. And the possibility to adjust the force makes it possible to work even with fragile or soft materials without fear of damaging them. Another important factor is the apparent increase in coring speed.

Electric center punch

In the electric center punch, an induction coil retracts the spring-loaded striker. Everything else is very similar to the mechanical version of the tool.

Center Punch - The Best Choice

Neiko Automatic Center Hole Punch

 4,9 Rating

Neiko 5" Automatic Center Hole Punch


  • Chrome-plated shank body.
  • Hard steel awl tip.
  • Knurled non-slip surface.
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The Neiko Center Punch is designed for punching, marking, scribing, and staking. The adjustable cap regulates striking force. Suitable for a variety of tasks, from construction to automotive; can be used as an awl for belts or glass window breaker for car safety.

Neiko 5″ Automatic Center Hole Punch – Video

Buyer’s guide for a center punch

This review and guide provide information on the best center punch for drainage you can find.

There are quite a few manufacturers of center punches on the market, and the prices vary greatly. From a pure price point of view, the type of center punch can be priced from $20 to $180.

Center punch for the money

best center punch

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All our reviews are based exclusively on expert judgments or practical experience with most of the center punch we have tested. We strive to make our guide as independent and as detailed as possible.

Center punches in comparison

Wheeler Hammer and Punch Set

  • 9.75″ L x 5.25″ W x 2″ D.
  • Chrome-plated steel hammer.
  • Features brass, steel, and nylon solid punches.

 4,8 Rating

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Handy kit

The Wheeler Hammer and Punch Set include a polymer/brass combination hammer, eight precision brass punches, four steel punches, and two plastic punches. It makes a great tool for driving pins, drifting sights, at the shooting range, or on your workbench. Includes a convenient carry case that securely holds all components.

Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch

Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch
  • Steel construction.
  • Adjustable force.
  • The point can be easily removed for regrinding.

 4,9 Rating

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No hammer needed

The Automatic Center Punch is a tool with a conical point, which is used to make an indentation in an object. This allows you to safely drill a hole at the same spot without slipping. This Center Punch is made of hardened steel and has a knurled finger grip for ease of handling and greater punching control Its tempered head makes it less likely to fracture from a hard, off-center blow.

Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch

Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch
  • Made of hardened steel.
  • Has a knurled finger grip.
  • Automatically strikes.

 4,8 Rating

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Pre-drilling tool

The C18 Automatic Heavy Duty Center Punch is a tool with a conical point, which is used to make an indentation in an object This allows you to safely drill a hole at the same spot without slipping. No hammer is required, making one hand always free to steady the work.

Basic rules when working with a center punch

In order to properly perform the procedure of working with any kind of puncher is required:

  1. The material on which the holes are to be made is marked.
  2. The impact part of the puncher is aligned with the intersection of the marking line.
  3. After that, the device is placed strictly perpendicular to the material.
  4. Depending on the type of device, the impact is applied (with a hammer, with a trigger or other available method).

If each step is strictly followed, the result of coring will be accurate and the hole will be correctly shaped, which will allow you to drill an even hole in the future.

Center Punch Price:

Under $50

  • Neiko Automatic Center Hole Punch
  • Wheeler Hammer and Punch Set with Brass
  • Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch

Under $100

  • Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch

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