A punch is a hard metal rod with a shaped tip at one end and a blunt butt end at the other, which is usually struck by a hammer. Most woodworkers prefer to use a ball-peen hammer for using punches. Punches are used to drive objects, such as nails, or to form an impression of the tip on a workpiece. Decorative punches may also be used to create a pattern or even form an image.
A pin punch is used to remove metal pins from a hole. First use a starter punch to loosen metal pin then use a pin punch to finish removing the pin from hole.
A centre punch is used to mark the center of a point. It is usually used to mark the centre of a hole when drilling holes. A drill has the tendency to "wander" if it does not start in a recess. A centre punch forms a large enough dimple to "guide" the tip of the drill. The tip of a centre punch has an angle between 60 and 90 degrees. When drilling larger holes, and the web of the drill is wider than the indentation produced by a centre punch, the drilling of a pilot hole is usually needed.
An automatic centre punch operates without the need for a hammer.
A prick punch is similar to a center punch but used for marking out. It has a sharper angled tip to produce a narrower and deeper point. It is also known as a dot punch. The mark can then be enlarged with a centre punch for drilling. The tip of a prick punch is 40 degrees (the angle depends on what type of prick punch you are using.)
A transfer punch is a punch (usually in an index set) of a specific outer diameter that is non-tapered and extends the entire length of the punch (except for the tip). It is used to tightly fit the tolerances of an existing hole and, when struck, precisely transfer the center of that hole to another surface. It can be used, for example, to duplicate the hole patterns in a part, or precisely set locations for threaded holes (created by drilling and tapping) to bolt an object to a surface.
A doming punch is used in conjunction with a doming block to make spheres or hemispheres out of sheets of metal. The punch is generally made of tool steel, but can be made of wood. They come in a number of different sizes, the punch size determining what size the finished product will be.
A drift "punch" is misleadingly named; it is not used as a punch in the traditional sense of the term. A drift punch, or drift pin, or lineup punch, is used as an aid in aligning bolt or rivet holes prior to inserting a fastener. A drift punch is constructed as a tapered rod, with the hammer acting on the large end of the taper. The tapered end of a drift punch is placed into the semi-aligned bolt holes of two separate components, and then driven into the hole. As it is driven in, the taper forces the two components into alignment, allowing for easy insertion of the fastener. Unlike most punches, force is never (and should never be) applied to the tip, or end of a drift pin.
Spring or roll pins
Spring punches, also called roll pin punches, are used to drive roll pins. Standard pin punches should never be used on a roll pin. Because of the hollow, thin wall construction of a roll pin, a standard pin punch will often collapse, mar or distort the end of the pin or be driven into, and jammed inside, the hollow core of the roll pin. When choosing a roll pin punch, select one that is no larger than the compressed diameter of the pin. If a punch is used that is larger than the pin,the surrounding metal in which the pin is seated can be damaged. Also, a roll pin punch should not be used which is smaller than the compressed diameter of the pin. If this occurs, it may be possible to drive the punch through the hollow center of the roll pin.
Roll pin punches are designed with a small projection in the center of the pin tip to support the circumference of the roll pin. The tips of roll pin punches are not flat and should never be used on regular solid pins. If a roll pin punch is used on a solid pin, it will mar or mark the pin.
If the end of a roll pin punch is damaged or deformed, it should be discarded. It is virtually impossible to regrind the tip of the roll pin punch and properly shape the center projection. When using a roll pin punch, make sure the axis of the shank of the roll pin punch is in line with the axis of the roll pin. Do not cant the roll pin punch off to one side. When you strike the roll pin punch, hit it directly on the top of its head. If you strike the head of the roll pin punch at an angle you may bend the shank.
Punches with a decorative motif have been used to create patterns or images on metals and various other materials, notably leather. In goldsmithing, bookbinding and armour-making the technique is called pointillé. In printmaking punches were used to create most of the image in the plates for printing metalcuts.
Also known as letter stamps or number stamps. These are used to emboss the impression of a letter or number into a workpiece. They are most common in the reverse image, this allows the end result to be immediately readable, however they may be made as a positive image. This is essential in the case of die or mold making and ensures that the finished product will be readable, as a die is a negative image.
These punches are a part of tablet press. Unlike most punches, tablet press punches have a concave ending in the shape of the desired tablet. There are the lower and the upper punches to compress the powder in between.
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