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Drilling, tapping, counterboring, and countersinking are the usual operations done in sheet metals.

Drilling: Drilling is done in sheet metal only when piercing cannot deliver the accuracy required. For example, on a formed part, when holes on different features need to be coaxial, the accuracy obtained by machining may be required.

Tapping: Tapping can be done using cut threads or formed threads. Formed threads (thread rolling) is preferable for the following reasons:

  • Thread rolling is faster than cutting.

  • Fewer burrs are generated, so no clean up is required or risk of future hazards such as shorting with electronic components.

  • Larger sized holes are required for thread rolling vs. tapping, resulting in improved tap life.

  • Rolled threads are stronger due to cold working. Typically, rolled threads are 20% stronger than cut threads.

  • For very thin stock, either threaded fasteners such as clinch nuts, or forming thread in extruded holes is recommended.


  • The material is upset in the sheet metal hole to form one thread pitch.

Counterboring: Counterboring is often done to provide clearance and a bearing surface for the fastener's head.

Countersinking: Countersinking allows for flush mounting of flat head fasteners. Countersinking cannot always be done for very thin stock or for very large fasteners.