Need a decent chassis punch set

That Harbor Fright hydraulic punch set is neat, but I still have reservations. I bought their manual knockout punch kit. Technically, it works. The punches aren't very hard, so they seem to dull quickly. They aren't very sharp in the first place, so the holes they make are shaped more like a Pringle than a circle. None of the sizes included in the set are quite right for tube sockets - it was designed for conduits.

Considering the low cost, I'll get over these minor issues. I'll probably even use it again on another project. However, if I paid $100 for the hydraulic set and it worked no better than the manual set, I think I would find myself wishing I had just bought a real set of Greenlees.
 
0.89", 1.12", 1.36", and 1.70" actual hole sizes.

The 0.89" works perfect for a 9-pin chassis mount socket. The 1.12" will work perfectly for an octal socket - working on a project right now. The 1.36" worked perfectly where I needed some additional clearance for a PCB mounted octal where I wanted there to be enough clearance for the socket due to standoff length and height of the chassis.
 
I was considering the hydraulic punch set from Harbour Freight until I snagged a Greenlee "Slugbuster" punch set on E-pay. The lead screw for the punch set has a ball bearing feature that makes it easier to operate the punch, and the "Slugbuster" punches cut the excised metal torus into two pieces, making it very easy to clear out the die after you punch the hole. I have two other punch sets, and this beats the heck out of them. I've just finished punching tube socket holes in two 1/16" thick aluminum panels, and it was sort of a casual thing with the Greenlee punches. All you need to do is locate the holes accurately and provide sufficient clearance for the lead screw. My next project will involve punching some holes in a rough-and-tough Hammond steel chassis - that will be the real test for the Greenlee punches.
 
how often are you going to use them?

Unles you either use them regularly OR are just into having nice gear (guilty) the economically literate thing to do is mark out your chassis, then take it along to a tame engineering or sheetmetal place to do the punching for you...

Im planning on getting quite a bit of use out of them. After having a top plate done by a local shop, its worth it to me to get the punch set. My last top plate ran me ~$60...basically the cost of the Greenlees.
 
Just get a Greenlee punch set and be done with it - they will outlast you.

I still use my Grandfather's conduit punch set, and there is no telling me how many holes he knocked out with those before I got them. The older sets come with a really nice leather case to hold the punches.

Win W5JAG
 
The older sets come with a really nice leather case to hold the punches"
Paid 25 on Ebay for 4 of them................there IS two levels of quality in Greenlee punches......one can tell by the cutting edge being thicker on one type..........those are good for 10 gauge..............the radio chassis ones are only good for mild steel up to 16 gauge, I have both I regularly punch 16 gauge 316 stainless with no problem {scrap pieces from a friend} I made one chassis with a plasma torch whereby I cut 8 ga 316 high carbon stainless {again leftover scrap} for two mono blocs.................never again...........too much work...............I wore out a tap for the 6/32 screw holes.
 
Gotta say go with the Greenlees - in the long run they are worth a LOT of extra money.. I have some British made ones which are also ok, but not quite in the same league. I have some Japanese ones as well, and although they have received a lot of use they are absolutely crummy. I have friends who have purchased inexpensive Chinese punches and so far the consensus is they are rubbish.

Sheet metal shops around here will charge enough to justify the purchase of several Greenlees with just a single chassis plate.

Stepped bits are another option I find not so great unless used in a drill press.
 
Sheet metal shops around here will charge enough to justify the purchase of several Greenlees with just a single chassis plate.

For the cost of a nice set of punches + the raw aluminum, you could get several top panels made by FPE or CamExpert. Plus they'll look better. I'd only buy punches if I was planning to make a lot of amps.
 
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