Have you ever tried drilling a hole through a metal sheet without marking the starting point?
It’s exhausting because the drill keeps sliding off the drilling point and you end up making inaccurate holes. This is also dangerous as it can end up hurting you when the drill wanders off.
Most people struggle to make a starting dimple with nails and chisels which are not accurate or sturdy enough to make any entry in hardened metallic surfaces. This is where center punches come to your rescue.
High-grade center punches are made of high quality tempered materials and are capable of making dents on any metallic, wooden, or other working surfaces.
If you’re reading this article, your profession or do-it-yourself projects probably require drilling, and it’s in your best interest to add a versatile and durable center punch to your toolbox.
Keep reading this article because we are going to take you through some of the top rated center punches to help you acquire an excellent tool.
- Used for piercing, or marking for starting drills, in metal and other materials
11 Center Punch Reviews
#1. Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch
Starrett Company produces high-value precision tools, and the Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch is one of their most trusted tools by most professionals according to their reviews. This is not by coincidence but by the exceptional features of this center punch.
First, it’s an automatic center punch which means that it makes dents at the required spot via its own generated blow. It has an internal mechanism of two springs which create enough tension to make a dent in any material.
It’s composed of hardened and tempered steel parts which can withstand heavy-duty use. Tempered steel is durable and strong, which means that it can punch without wearing down. It’s also resistant to rust, which means that it can endure harsh working environments.
Starrett 18C measures 5-1/4” in length. This provides enough handle for a good grasp when using the punch. The handle is rugged to ensure that your hands do not slip when striking the intended surface.
It has a very accurate punch diameter of 11/16”. The tip is tempered and has an 80angle which expands the dent to provide a better surface area for the drill’s tip. The force of the blow can be regulated using the knurled cap at the top of the handle. The spring tension is constant as per the set force to ensure constant depth and size of dimples.
The only downside to the Starrett 18C is that it comes at a high price.
#2. Neiko 02638A 5″ Automatic Center Hole Punch
Comfort and strength is everything when it comes to making a precise dent to any material, and that is why the Neiko 02638A focuses on that. It has a rubber cap which ensures that you grasp the center punch in a relaxed position.
Its handle is knurled to make sure that you have a non-slip grip to deliver a more effortless and precise marking. It measures 5″ in length, meaning it’s easy to use.
It’s an automatic center punch with a powerful spring mechanism. This means all you have to do is apply pressure to the cap, and it will deliver a blow to the required spot. The force of the punch can be adjusted by simply rotating the head cap clockwise or counterclockwise. This helps in making a good dimple as per the material in use.
The Neiko 02638A is composed of S2 steel which maintains its sharpness and is more durable than regular steel. The whole body is then chrome plated to increase durability. Chrome plating also makes the center punch stronger and resistant to corrosion for application in heavy-duty projects.
It has one fault in that it’s not strong enough to mark stainless steel and other hard metals.
#3. Horusdy Spring Loaded 2-Piece Center Punch
Different materials require different strengths to make marks for your drill. Using a powerful center punch on some light working materials may end up destroying their integrity. That’s why Horusdy provides you with two automatic center punches.
The large center punch measures 6.1″. It’s a super strong automatic center punch used for harder materials such as mild steel. The smaller punch measures 5.12″, and it’s a general automatic center punch which works well with lighter materials such as wood.
A mechanical difference between the two is that the larger has a double spring action, and the smaller one has a single spring action. This is why the larger one is stronger and suitable for heavy-duty projects.
Both of them are constructed using hardened and tempered steel components. This makes them durable and resistant to corrosion. The shank body is chrome polished to increase impact resistance.
The tip is made from hardened chrome vanadium, making it sturdy and resistant to wear and tear. It’s also angled in such a way that it provides a big enough starting point for the drill. It can be removed and sharpened or replaced when required.
The handles of these center punches are knurled to give you extra grip. This makes sure that your hands don’t slip when making the dimples. A good grip also increases the impact of each punch.
The spring tension can be adjusted to produce the desired force for each punch. This is achieved by turning the knurled end of the handle to increase or decrease spring tension as per the material you’re using.
Even the toughest have their flaws, and for this one, the internal mechanism requires regular oiling to avoid binding up.
#4. Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX Center Punch
The Stanley Company has a good reputation in the construction industry for providing high-quality tools. The Stanley FATMAX manual center punch is no contrary to this reputation.
For a manual punch, you have to use a hammer to tap the knob to make markings on your working materials. This may be a little time consuming, but when using this punch, accuracy and strength are assured.
This punch’s one-piece construction design makes it strong. It is hardened, quenched, and tempered for durability. This also ensures that it can withstand working with hard materials such as steel without worrying about it breaking.
It measures 5” in overall length. This makes the handle long enough to provide a good grip as you hammer it. Its edges are rounded to make sure it doesn’t hurt your hands.
Its tip width measures 3/8″. This creates a precise dimple to place your drilling tip. The material used in making tip is tempered, ensuring that it works well and resists wearing out.
However, the Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX doesn’t work well in small spaces, and its yellow color on the handle tends to chip off.
#5. Mayhew 62213 Knurled Center Punch Kit (4-Piece)
The Mayhew Punch set provides versatility and adaptability to various projects and materials. They combine their top manual center punches to give professionals and DIY enthusiasts one set of their most essential tools.
The set contains 242001/4” (REG), 24300 5/16”, 24301 3/8”, and 24302 1/2″ center punches. The varying punch sizes give you different sized dimples which come in handy when drilling different sized holes.
They have a one-piece construction design using tempered material. This makes them durable and corrosion resistant to work with different materials, including hard metals. They have a black oxide finish which makes them resistant to rust, enabling you to use them in any construction site.
The handles are knurled to stop slippage when hammering them to make dents. This makes it easier and comfortable to work with them.
However, the pack’s power punch comes at a high price.
#6. Rennsteig 5-5/8” Automatic Center Punch
Good grip with a good punch- This is what the Rennsteig Automatic center punch is all about.
This punch is composed of German steel, which is durable and sturdy. It’s then given a nickel finish to increase its durability and make it more resistant to corrosion. This makes it perfect for heavy-duty industrial use.
The punch is automatic, which is easier to use than a manual one because you only need to apply downward pressure to activate the self-striking spring mechanism.
It has a hardened tip, designed for precision. This enables it to make dents even in industrial grade steel and other hard materials.
Its handle is forged to provide you with the best possible grip. First, there’s a round knob at the top for a more comfortable grip. Then, there’s a shock absorbent plastic pad covering the handle that acts as a hand guard to protect you during impact. This makes it easy and safe to make dimples.
The force of impact is adjustable by changing the springs’ tension. This is achieved by turning the knurl clockwise or anticlockwise to attain the necessary force. This helps when working with different materials which require different forces to make dents.
This tool has no flaws, which makes it a perfect choice for professional and industrial use.
#7. ABN Spring Loaded Center Punch
ABN automatic center punch is made for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts. It works on all range of materials, including light metal sheets, cardboard, wood, leather, and glass.
As an automatic punch, it has a double spring activated punching mechanism, which makes your work easier. You don’t have to carry extra tools such as a hammer when you have this center punch.
Its shank body is constructed using chrome-plated steel, which is strong and durable. It also resists corrosion, and it can withstand high impact force. Its tip contains S2 steel, which is more durable and robust for punching metallic surfaces. The construction features of the ABN center punch makes it useful in any construction site as it can withstand harsh conditions.
The overall size of the center punch is 5″. The handle is about 4″, which is enough for a solid grip. The handle is also knurled to make sure that your hand doesn’t slip. This maintains the impact force leading to an accurate dimple.
The force of the impact can be changed depending on the material you’re working on using the adjustable cap. This ensures a good and visible dimple is made for your drill.
Despite its sturdy construction, the ABN center punch tip is not strong enough to work on hard metallic surfaces.
#8. Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch
The portability of any tool is an essential aspect in the construction environment. Lisle 30280 is an easy to carry puncher because it has a clip to keep it safe in your tool belt or pocket. Apart from portability, Lisle 30280 is a high-quality automatic center punch.
It’s constructed from hardened steel which makes it durable and suitable for heavy-duty use. Its tip is tempered and hardened to reduce wear and tear and increase versatility. The hardened steel is rust resistant, which makes it ideal for use even in harsh working environments.
The knurled cap is used to adjust the springs’ tension, which in turn determines the force of impact on your material. This is important for professionals because they use different materials, which require different strengths to make dimples.
The handle is knurled to give a non-slippery grip for a more precise punch.
The only flaw with the Lisle 30280 is that it doesn’t always trigger the puncher, i.e., it may jam from time to time.
#9. Spring Tools 32R00-1 Hammerless Double Ended Prick Punch & Center Punch
Spring Tools double ended punch is constructed on the concept of simplicity to produce maximum force. This tool comes as a double-ended prick and center punch. Our focus, though, is the center punch end.
These two ends are made of high-grade carbon steel with a high tensile spring permanently connecting them. Carbon steel is durable and resistant to corrosion, which makes this tool an ideal choice for harsh construction sites.
On the center punch end, the tip is tempered to withstand impact with hard surfaces such as industrial steel. It makes accurate and deep dents for more effortless drilling on a wide variety of materials.
Dents are made by pulling the prick punch end and then releasing it to direct the force to the center punch end. The power transferred to the center punch end depends on how hard you pull the prick punch end. This also determines the size of the dent you make.
The only flaw associated with this tool is that the spring can pinch you if you’re not careful.
#10. Forge Industry Automatic Center Punch
The Forge Industry Automatic Center Punch uses a spring-loaded mechanism to make high impact dimples on your working material. As stated earlier in the article, automatic center punches are simpler to use as they eliminate the need for using a hammer.
Its body is constructed from hardened brass which can withstand high impact punches. The spring mechanism and the tip are made using steel, which makes it strong and durable. The tip is chrome plated, which increases its durability and makes it resistant to corrosion.
The handle is deeply knurled to provide an excellent non-slippery grip to make more accurate dimples. It’s also long, around 5″ in overall length, which makes it easier to grasp.
Different materials, such as wood and aluminum, require varying forces to make solid dimples. This is why the Forge Industry automatic center punch has an adjustable tension cap to increase or decrease spring tension.
However, this center punch is only suitable for light-duty jobs. It also tends to jam from time to time.
#11. General Tools 89 Automatic Center Punch
Tools that are used regularly to perform heavy-duty jobs are required to be able to withstand the pressure that comes with the job. For this reason, the General Tools 89 Automatic Center Punch is build using durable and high-pressure resistant materials.
Being an automatic punch, it requires activation by downward pressure to make markings. This eliminates the need for a hammer, making it easier to make dimples.
This center punch has a stainless steel construction which makes it sturdy, durable, and able to resist oxidation. The tip is constructed using hardened steel, which makes it sturdy and able to withstand corrosion. The tip can easily create a mark on hard metals, including steel and copper, for smoother drilling.
General tools 89 center punch has a knurled body for a tighter grip, which concurrently increases the impact force and accuracy.
The impact force can be adjusted accordingly to make light or heavy strokes using the knurled cap. This makes it easier to mark different materials.
However, there are a few flaws that come with this tool; it takes a few punches to make a mark on hardened steel, and it may bind up after a few months of use.
What is the use of a center punch?
A center punch has several uses, but as the name suggests, it’s mostly used to make dimples at the center of the spot that you want to drill. It’s also used to break tempered glass in rescue situations.
What is the difference between an automatic and a manual center punch?
A manual center punch requires the use of a hammer to tap the knob to make a mark on the target material. On the contrary, an automatic center punch uses spring tension to produce the force required to make a mark without the need of a hammer.
Can I sharpen the tip of my center punch?
Yes. A center punch can be sharpened if it becomes blunt after use. It should be sharpened without compromising center punch accuracy.
How do I maintain my center punch?
Maintaining your center punch determines how well it performs on every project. Here are a few tips:
- Oil the internal mechanics of your automatic center punch regularly
- Always clean your puncher after every use
- Sharpen your tip when it starts getting blunt
- Replace the tip when necessary
- Store it in a dry environment
Accuracy is always required to make any project a success. Center punches help you as a professional or a DIYer to make accurate drills when working with any material.
For this reason, every toolbox should contain either a manual or an automatic center punch because you never know when you’ll need it.
We hope that this review has helped you gain knowledge on the top center punches for you to make a well-informed decision when buying one.
- 11 Center Punch Reviews
- #1. Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch
- #2. Neiko 02638A 5″ Automatic Center Hole Punch
- #3. Horusdy Spring Loaded 2-Piece Center Punch
- #4. Stanley FMHT16446 FATMAX Center Punch
- #5. Mayhew 62213 Knurled Center Punch Kit (4-Piece)
- #6. Rennsteig 5-5/8” Automatic Center Punch
- #7. ABN Spring Loaded Center Punch
- #8. Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch
- #9. Spring Tools 32R00-1 Hammerless Double Ended Prick Punch & Center Punch
- #10. Forge Industry Automatic Center Punch
- #11. General Tools 89 Automatic Center Punch