Maybe I'm dreaming, but are there drill bits for hardened steel?

I have a knife I purchased from Woodcraft.

WoodRiver - Fixed Blade Spear Point Knife for Hunting and Fishing - 8-1/2" - Unfinished Kit

I would like to enlarge the holes in the knife from 5mm to 8mm so I can use a different set of pins.
I’ve tried a number of bits I own, including a carbide, which is supposed to cut hardened steel, and cobalt bit, to no avail. The steel handle just won’t drill. I know I can heat it and ruin the heat treatment but I would think that somewhere there are bits that can make short work of drilling it. The description says it is stainless steel, but I don’t know the hardness from the description. (Maybe the bits are really carbide bits and I just need to get a higher quality bit)

Does DMS have such a set of bits?

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The steel they are using seems to be a mystery metal. Carbide should cut it, we do not have carbide drill bits.


A carbide drill bit is the correct answer that said carbide drill bits can be pretty challenging to use. They are extremely sensitive and will break with any kind of misuse. You want to make sure you have a very rigid setup if you’re going to use a carbide drill bit.

If you don’t care about the precision/accuracy of the hole you could just try wallowing out the hole using a carbide burr in a die grinder.

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Also I’ll add, if you are going to buy one. Get the shortest one possible to keep it as rigid as possible


Have you considered blaclsmith solutions?

Is heating the tang and hot-punching or drifting open it an option? You could lower the blade into water and use a torch on the tang w/out losing the temper on the blade. Using the induction forge and perhaps quenching the blade before it shows any color should also allow you to isolate heat. The move to the anvil to enlarge the hole.

A appropriately-sized bolster behind the punch would eliminate deformation.

Hot rasping the hole with a rat tail file after heating.might also work.

Another not yet mentioned option would be any of the abrasive techniques. A die grinder with an appropriate small diameter abrasive wheel or a waterjet.

If perfection of the hole isn’t a requirement I’d try a Dremel with a small diameter stone since this is a one off. It’ll take time and you’ll need to take care to frequently cool the work, but it will work.

I have done several of these. They are made out of some sort of alien space metal. I’ve never encountered anything so hard to drill through.

The only thing I found to enlarge those holes are the cone-shaped diamond bits from Harbor Freight. They worked reasonably well but it took basically one bit per knife (three holes) to do it. Use a drill press and for Xenu’s sake, secure the blade WELL before putting it under a drill.

The holes in the tang for this knife were about 1/8” and I drilled them out to a little bigger than 1/4” just for aesthetics. Chewed up half a dozen drill bits until I found the diamond things at HF.

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Might be easier to get/make 5 mm pins instead?


5 mm pins came with it and I didn’t like them. I’ve already drilled the scales.

You should be able to use a carbide drill however,

it is absolutely critical that you use a fixture and drill at the correct pressure and rpm with lubricant.

If you attempt to hand drill, use a non-rigid drill press, come in with too little pressure, use the wrong rpm, etc you are guaranteed to harden the exact spot you are trying to drill and damaging your drill bit.

The difference in doing it correctly with all the setup is a 3 second drill job vs 10minutes of hell or not at all. Also make sure you use drill bit from a reputable supplier not harbor freight or amazon.


They also make these and others like them. I’ve never used them so read reviews on quality. That middle shaft should fit through the holes you already have.

I took your advice. I clamped my work piece to my drill press. I ran it at 2100 RPM and I oiled the cutting surface with 3-in-1 oil. I then drilled the holes by applying pressure with time for the bit to rest periodically.

The cut for all three holes was about 15 minutes. The carbide bits were none the worse for wear either.

These are the bits I bought at Home Depot. They are primarily used with a hammer drill and for masonry, but they also list metal on the instructions on the back:

This is the intermediate drilling result.

This is the final test fit of the pin material. I’m going to cut it off at the appropriate length and then sand everything to the final finish.

Thanks everyone for your advice.

BTW: The wood is long leaf pine from the deck of the Battleship Texas. The knife will be auctioned off along with a ton of other items in the Spring, to fund the restoration of the Battleship.


I’ve seen these before, too. I’ve never used them but they seem to solve a number of problems, including having to drill the holes larger in the knife handle. Thanks for the suggestion.