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I want to drill a hole or 8 in my computer case. I don't want to short out my motherboard or anything. There are a host of problems with this -- mainly throwing slivers of metal in several directions. Is there any great way to avoid throwing shards of metal everywhere or contain them?

Edit: The holes aren't actually near any components, I just don't want to accidentally throw metal shavings into the electronics 3-6 inches away

  • There might be a typo in your question: "I don't want to out my motherboard...". Do you mean "short out" instead of just "out"? – BrettFromLA Jul 31 '17 at 19:39
  • @BrettFromLA maybe Sidney mean he do not want to unplug the motherboard. – Jamal Senjaya Aug 1 '17 at 5:52
  • 2
    Remove the case before you drill the holes – paparazzo Aug 2 '17 at 12:48
  • Your idea of not disassembling the PC before doing this, is a non-starter. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 26 '17 at 23:57
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Here's a quick hack to ensure no metal bits escape your work piece.

•Use a drill for sheet metal. (Small holes use a twist drill.)
•Use a punch to slightly dent the metal where you want to drill to keep the bit from wandering.
•Place a piece of wood behind the sheet metal so as to not dent the case.
Push the drill bit through a wad of modelling clay. (This is the hack.)
•Drill the hole using a slow speed. Let the drill bit cut the casing. (The metal will often unwind like a small spring as you drill.)
•Discard the wad of clay with the metal pieces inside. (hazardous waste)
•Repeat as necessary.

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Two ways I know of.

One: run a high-volume, high-speed vacuum with the hose inlet right against the drilling point.

Two: fill the drill flutes with axle grease (shortening from the kitchen should also work) to capture the shavings. Wipe off and replace the grease before each new hole.

I'd recommend testing either method before starting, but neither one is a substitute for unmounting the motherboard before doing work on the case. A little too much pressure, and you could drill a hole in the MB or even in the CPU package...

  • Use a slow drill rotation speed. A sharp drill bit cuts the stock, not the speed of the bit. – Stan Aug 3 '17 at 18:17
  • Given the soft metal of most computer cases, drill speed matters little, though a slow speed will have less tendency to throw cuttings. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 3 '17 at 18:27
  • grease or oil should always be used when drilling steel anyway to protect the drill bit by providing lubrication. – Flint Aug 5 '17 at 10:52
  • @Stan more to the point, there is one correct combination of "feeds and speeds" for any drill/work combo. When you get it right, you can cut like butter through monstrous pieces, get chips so long you have to back off to get them to break, and use that same bit for dozens of holes because it's not dulling, it's not even getting warm. On the other hand, one botched approach and you work-harden the material and struggle all the way. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 26 '17 at 23:53
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How about a sheet of plastic immediately inside --- then vacuum the chips off the plastic. Edit: While this won't totally avoid the problem, it may help to collect the chips that otherwise may fall into unwanted crevices.

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Don't use a drill. Use a punch.

Talk to your local "maker spaces" and see who has a Rotex. Or, just get a manual punch and a nice lead hammer, and a hunk of hardwood to drive through. BAP.

You'll get better holes, too.

If you need larger holes, you can drill a small hole as a pilot, then get punch pieces that assemble through the hole and around a screw you then tighten to drive the punch.

  • I use a set of Greenlee chasis punches. You're right. If you have the right punch, it's easy. If you don't it's Dremel time. – Stan Aug 27 '17 at 2:04
  • Welcome to lifehacks.stackexchange. – Stan Aug 27 '17 at 2:04
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I don't want to short out my motherboard or anything.

I don't understand why drilling a hole in your computer case short your motherboard. Of course, I'm assuming so because I expect you would remove the electronics from the case before attempting such a thing. So shorting anything is out of question.

There are a host of problems with this -- mainly throwing slivers of metal in several directions. Is there any great way to avoid throwing shards of metal everywhere or contain them?

I'd suggest you poke a plastic cup (you decide the right size) and place it on your drill machine. Drill using this arrangement and the metal springs won't fly everywhere. You can easily sweep these off once you are done.

Note: Holes might or not be close to the electronics but DO NOT drill your computer case unless the electronics has been removed entirely.

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