But in spite of my affinity for all things metal-tool-related, I skipped over this tool more times than I can count. It doesn't look very sexy (at least when compared to a Fretz hammer, my current unrequited love), and I have a perfectly good set of Pepe disc cutters that I love (and use) a lot. "Pooh-pooh," I said. "Who needs a set of hole punching pliers?"
Turns out I did.
I love putting holes in metal. I have some good hole-punch pliers that I use a lot, including a pretty good parallel hole punch plier that is my go-to for wire-sized holes when I'm doing homemade rivets. But anything larger than that has always required using my disc cutters - and as much as I love them, they leave a burr on the side opposite the cut that requires cleanup and multiple blows with a hammer. They're wonderful for when I'm actually cutting discs, but not so great when what I'm after is the hole. Enter the Mighty Punch (or the Power Punch, as some models are called).
|Holes and dots made with my Mighty Punch and a plain center punch.|
Here's the summary: This tool punches perfect holes that require almost no cleanup, in seven sizes ranging from 3/32" to 9/32". It does not distort the metal at all, which is a big deal for me, though it does leave a dimple on the disc that is removed. And although it took me a little time to figure out, it's very easy to operate.
The tool comes in a plastic case to hold all the parts. It includes the plier itself; seven die sets; and a flat metal tool for unscrewing the screws and the die sets. It has two drawbacks. The first is that it is large and heavy, and a little unwieldy. It is definitely not possible to operate this with one hand.
The second is that swapping out the die sets is a little "fiddly" (to borrow a term from my UK friends!), at least initially. I include this as a drawback, because it might be off-putting to some of you, but honestly, once I figured it out and practiced a couple of times, it wasn't bad at all.
|Flat metal tool included to unscrew screws and dies.|
|Once loosened, the screw comes out easily with your fingers.|
|Pull the top handle back...|
|... then drop the lever arm (which you previously unscrewed) out and down.|
|Now the punch is loose in the shaft...|
|... and can be pulled out with your fingers.|
|The die screws in and out of the bottom of the pliers with your fingers too.|
|The punches and dies come in matching sets.|
|20 gauge copper sheet can be punched with just a little effort.|
|After making the hole, the opening action of the handles pulls the metal cleanly off the punch.|
|Clean, perfect, distortion-free hole with a very slightly beveled edge.|
|Works on thinner sheet too, without distortion.|
See? No distortion on thick or thin sheet. Clean holes with a tiny little bevel on the cut edge - cleans up with a few swipes of sandpaper. The tool also has a depth gauge if you're trying to do precise punches, but to be honest I've never used it. It's adjustable, so I just moved it back and out of the way. It's not a feature I've ever used.
So, in short, I am very happy to recommend this tool to anyone who works with metal a lot. It's terrific for cold connection projects, but I use it mostly for adding design elements. I've found it under two names: Beadsmith's Mighty Punch and Euro Power Punch. Prices range from $41 to $52, and in my opinion it's worth every penny. I have the Beadsmith version and I've been really happy with it. It gets a ton of use on my bench and has stood up to it well - the punches have stayed sharp, but if they were ever to fail, replacement punches are available.
This is one of my favorite recent tool additions to my bench - what's yours?
Until next time!
NOTE: I am not affiliated with Beadsmith or any other manufacturer and I have not been compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.