Clamping your metal down against wood and lining up the drill press for your hand held drill will work if you have the equipment and maybe a helper who is more experienced with power tools (or just reckless as the helper in my case).
First up is the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads steel hole punch for $15.62. The thinnest hole drill (1.5mm) broke almost immediately and I feel it is only good for punching 24 gauge metal and thinner. Which is a bit too thin to get a really good chunky metal piece out of so I just used the larger hole drill (2mm) for a lot of the thicker pendants I punch and hammer, which is usually 20 to 18 gauge. It became dull within a couple of months since I was using it on too thick of metal at 18 gauge and I started looking for something else to use. (But I still pull it out here and there when I have doubled over 2 sheets of 24 gauge and it seems to be holding up well under this mishandling.)
Which brought me to these hole punch pliers by EuroTool available through romazone.etsy.com for $12.00.
Which I loved and used quite a bit in 2010 until I broke them on 18 gauge sheet metal. I only had to replace the hole punch of 1.8mm once and this little pair of pliers helped me prepare hundreds of pieces of 22 gauge metal.
But I use a lot of 18 gauge metal and I even punch holes in hammered down 12 gauge copper sheet so I needed to invest in a new pair of hole punch pliers that states it can specifically handle this gauge. That was really hard to find until I located this pair through monsterslayer.com for $19.99.
While the manufacture claims it can work 18 gauge, and they do seem awfully durable, it is too large for my hands to work comfortably and quickly! So I am back to shopping for a new pair of hole punch pliers, anyone have any suggestions?
I've learned a bit since I started and I know now that I need to lubricate the metal before punching and keep the pliers and punches oiled so they twist through metal more easily. I also need to make sure I do not push it and stay within the manufacture recommended gauge. Keeping my tools out of the heat and humidity as that environment causes rust inside the makings of the steel pliers will also prolong the life of my hole punching pliers. All good money saving tips to know!
Much Love & Respect,