best automatic center punch

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If you are a carpenter, builder, machinist, or you’re into DIY, a center punch is a must-have, universal tool for you, and you might consider owning the best automatic center punch.

If you want to drill a hole in any surface or object, you’re working on, and you might need to start from a particular point. Make a dent first, from which you can start drilling holes. It can be dangerous not to have a starting point. The drill might slide off, and you could also end up with holes that are not accurate. To make that first hole, you will need a center punch and not just any center point, but an automatic one.

An automatic center punch will not just provide you with a starting point on the surface you’re working on, but will also help you make other accurate holes. It is challenging already drilling holes on a hard surface. An automatic center point will make it not just more comfortable but safer. In this article, we will be reviewing some of the best automatic center punches and provide you with adequate information to selecting the best and the right fit for you.

What is a Center punch?

These are small tools that are handheld and used to make dimples large enough for holes to be drilled in a material or surface. They are usually made of metal and have two ends; a narrow tip and a flat end. There are two types of center punches—the manual and automatic center punch.

Manual vs Automatic Center Punch

The manual center punch has one really broad end that’s where it is struck with a hammer so that the other pointed tip can make a dent or dimple on a material. An automatic center punch, on the other hand, has a mechanism that allows the hammer to be discarded. It uses the tension created in springs to strike a blow on the material and create a dimple. So you can also say it’s a spring tool center punch.

The best center punch is usually the one that is easy to operate and durable. It should also be one that can withstand the pressure of heavy-duty jobs without fracturing or breaking. There are a lot of automatic center punches, and it can be challenging to choose the right one that will be pocket friendly and yet offers the best features. We’ll help you sort through the options and select the right one for you. Here is our list of the 8 best automatic center punch.

8 Best Automatic Center Punch review

1.Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch

This center punch is a product of L.S. Starrett Company which is known for manufacturing high precision tools. Starrett offers a range of automatic center punches. They are the 18AA, 18A, and 18C.

Starrett 18A is an automatic pre-drilling tool that has a conical point that leaves an indentation on the material before you eventually drill a hole in that same place without any slip-ups that could potentially hurt you.  It is an all-steel automatic punch tool that requires no hammer, leaving your second hand free. This is also a spring-loaded center punch. It has an internal mechanism loaded with springs, and when downward pressure is applied, it would automatically punch or leave a mark on the surface or material.

It can be adjusted to regulate the level of impact by screwing its cap. Like other Starrett products, it has a tempered head that protects it from breaking.

Features:

  • An adjustable knurled cap that regulates force of the blow.
  • It is an all-steel automatic center punch.
  • Downward pressure by springs in its internal mechanism creates the dent in surfaces.
  • Knurled handle that enables a sturdy and steady hold on the center punch.
  • Made of tempered and hardened steel.

Pros:

  • Hammer is not required.
  • One hand is free to steady the work and prevent slip-ups and injuries.
  • The point can be removed easily for replacement or regrinding.
  • Gives uniform and accurate marks.

Cons:

  • It is quite pricey. Starrett products are usually expensive.

2. Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch.

This center punch is another product of L.S. Starrett Company. It is also similar to the Starrett 18Acenter punch, but it is a heavy duty automatic center punch. It can withstand heavy-duty use because it is made up of tempered and hardened steel parts. This makes it rust-resistant and durable.

Starrett 18C has a tempered tip that makes it less likely to break from any heavy-duty activity and can be easily removed for sharpening or to get it replaced. It can be held tightly without fear of slipping or losing your grip when working because it has a knurled handle.

It makes holes or dents on surfaces with the tension created by the two springs in the internal mechanism of the punch. You can adjust the force of impact depending on the surface you are working on by turning its cap which is also knurled.

Features:

  • Starrett 18C It is an automatic center punch with a conical point.
  • It measures 5inches in length with a shank diameter of 17mm for creating dents.
  • It has a knurled handle for better gripping.
  • Starrett 18C has an internal mechanism (two springs) that carry out the function of the hammer.
  • It has a knurled cap for adjusting the force of impact.

Pros:

  • Hammer isn’t required.
  • Made of tempered and hardened steel.
  • The tip is removable.
  • Strikes a more massive blow than most automatic center punches.
  • Makes uniform marks.

Cons:

  • Not advisable to be used on wood.
  • It is expensive.

3. General Tools 89 Automatic Center Punch

General tools 89 is an automatic center hole punch made using stainless steel that is resistant to high pressure, which allows it to be highly durable and perfect for heavy-duty tasks. It is just a little longer than 5 inches. It uses an internal spring mechanism to make light or heavy dents or markings. You just need to apply downward pressure on the center punch, and you will have made your marking.

It has a knurled handle that allows you to hold unto it well and makes it difficult for it to slip out of your grip and hurt anybody. By turning the knurled cap anti-clockwise or even clockwise, you can adjust the force of impact when working on different surfaces or materials.

Another positive is that it can also be used for emergencies to break the side window of any vehicle to either get out or get someone else out.

Feature:

  • Knurled handle that makes it easy to hold.
  • Knurled cap that can be rotated to adjust the force of impact on materials.
  • Tapered end for high precision punches.
  • A little longer than 5 inches.
  • Stainless steel shank body with a hardened alloy steel point.
  • 90 days warranty.

Pros:

  • Its knurled cap makes it easy to adjust the force of impact.
  • It is automatic and requires no hammer.
  • It is difficult for it to slip during use because of its knurled handle.
  • Made of rust-resistant materials.
  • It is not unduly expensive and gets the work done.

Cons:

  • For hardened steel, it might take a few punches for it to make a mark.
  • It may act up after a while.

4. Fowler 52-500-290 Automatic Center Punch

If you want a lightweight hardened steel center punch, then Fowler 52-500-290 might be your best bet. Fowler 52-500-290 Automatic Center Punch is 6 inches in length and 5/8 inches in diameter. It has tips that can be easily removed for sharpening. 

Fowler 52-500-290 Automatic Center Punch also has a knurled cap that can be screwed up or down to adjust the indentations or markings (lighter or heavier markings) according to the surface or material you’re working with. Helps to makes for a good wood center punch.

It is constructed of steel with a black finish and has four knurled bands that give a sturdy grip. Fowler 52-500-290 is also a heavy duty automatic center punch. Its hardened steel parts allow it to withstand high pressure longer than other center punches jobs without breaking.

Feature:

  • It comes in a pack of two.
  • Made of steel and has a black finish.
  • It is 6 inches in length and 5/8 inches or 0.625 inches in diameter.
  • Great features of the knurled cap for easy adjusting of markings.
  • It has four knurled bands for easy and reliable gripping of the tool.

Pros:

  • Easy to easy and make accurate and uniform holes.
  • One-year warranty.
  • The tip is easily removable and replaced or sharpened.
  • It works on steel, plastic, metal, and wood.
  • The handle is heavier and thicker, making it easy to hold and use.

Cons:

  • Its price is a bit on the high side.
  • Can’t be used for all kinds of steel.

5. HimaPro Center Punch set

This is a set of 3 packaged in a plastic case. Inside this case are two automatic center punches and a manual center punch. They are all made of high quality and durable alloy steel S2. This complete package of automatic and manual is a must-have for any DIY-ers or carpenters and builders.

There are springs in the two automatic center punches that create a dimple on the material you’re working with just by pressing hard on the surface with the tool. But, for the manual center punch, you will have to use a hammer to leave a dent on that material.

Features:

  • Made from alloy steel.
  • This set consists of three center punches, and two are automatic.
  • One of the automatic punches is 6 inches long with a pinhead that is 3/32 inches in diameter.
  • The second automatic center punch is 5 inches in length with a 1/16 inches’ diameter pin.
  • The manual center punch is 4 inches long with a pinhead that is 5/32 inches in diameter.
  • The automatic punches are also spring loaded with adjustable caps to regulate the force of impact.

Pros:

  • Perfect for people who like buying tools in a set.
  • Suitable for working on various materials.
  • Three in one pack for different drilling jobs.

Cons:

  • The manual center punch might seem useless to those who prefer the automatic ones.
  • Not recommended for anyone with little drilling projects.

6. Ally Tools and Parts Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch

This is an excellent set for heavy-duty jobs and to create deeper indentations. This set contains three pieces of 6 inches long chrome plated shank body that is corrosion resistant and can withstand high impact force mainly because of its strong CR-V steel tip.

You can adjust the tension in the springs by rotating the top knob clockwise or anti-clockwise. This is a general automatic center punch as it can be used for various materials like marble, metal, plastic, wood, and glass.

Features:

  • Adjustable force of impact.
  • Double spring loaded barrel.
  • The three center punches are all 6.1 inches in length.
  • The three center punches are automatic and are all 6 inches in length.
  • Strong CR-V steel hardened tip.
  • Comfortable handle for easy gripping that

Pros:

  • It is great to buy a set because you have a replacement for when or if one goes missing.
  • There is a 100% money-back guarantee on this product in case of any dissatisfaction.
  • It is money-wise to buy things in a set.

Cons:

  • They are big and bulky.

7. Mayhew Pro 22024 ½ Inch Line Up Punch

Just like other center punches, the Mayhem line-up punch is used to align and create holes through which bolts and pins will be inserted. It is also known as lineup taper punch.

It is made of steel and has a black oxide finish that protects it from rust. Body is however smooth and not knurled unlike the other punches. It is made to have very high tolerance and is perfect for heavy duty projects or jobs that would require its constant use.

It also comes with a lifetime warranty but this does not cover parts that wear out with use.

Features:

  • Blade width is ½ inch.
  • Overall length is 18 inches, it is very long.
  • Body shape is hex.
  • It is made of steel.
  • It is smooth not knurled.

Pros:

  • It is really tough.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • It is long and can be used to reach tough places.

Cons:

  • Cannot be used for driving pins, boltsor rivets as it’s too soft for that.

8. Neiko Adjustable Automatic Center Punch

Neiko center punch is very useful for any drilling activity. It can be used to make a dent in the material before the drilling takes place. Neiko Adjustable Automatic Center Punch is straightforward and comfortable to use. It has a rubber cap on one end and a knurled handle that allows you to hold the center punch conveniently and prevent slipping.

Neiko Adjustable Automatic Center Punch can be used on various types of surfaces and the force at which it strikes a material can be adjusted. You can choose a lighter mark or a heavier dent. It is made of s2 steel and plated with chrome which makes it more durable, corrosion-resistant, and strong enough for some heavy-duty jobs.

It is 5 inches’ long and makes for a good wood center punch.

Features:

  • Rubber cap for comfortable grasping of the center punch.
  • It is 5 inches in length.
  • Made of S2 steel and plated with chrome.
  • It has a rubber cap that is safe and comfortable for the hands.

Pros:

  • The chrome plating makes it resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Strong enough to be used to break vehicle windows when there is an emergency.
  • It is cheap.
  • Perfect for wood.

Cons:

  • Cannot be used hard metals like stainless steel
  • Before you would be able to make a dent on steel, you would need many strikes.
  • The bits or pin cannot be replaced or sharpened.

How to use an Automatic Center Punch:

  • Choose the spot you want to drill on your material.
  • Place the tip of your automatic center punch to that spot.
  • Press downward on your center punch on that spot. Ensure the punch is standing perpendicularly to the spot.
  • It would have left a mark on that spot now, place your drill bits now on that spot and start drilling your hole.

Things to consider before buying an Automatic Center Punch:

Before buying an automatic center punch, there are many things you need to consider.You need to understand their features and what they can offer, while also putting the prices at the back of your mind.  So what are those factors that you should consider before buying an automatic center punch?

Adjustability:

This is an important feature that the best center punch should have. You should be able toeasily adjust the force of impact to suit the surface you are working on. It is usually done by rotating or screwing the cap in a clockwise or anti-clockwise manner.

Size:

The size of the automatic center punch matters. You need to know the size of the center punch so you can know beforehand the size of the dent it would make. You wouldn’t want to make a dent that isn’t suitable for the surface or material you’re working on.

Material:

This is an important feature to take into consideration. There are a lot of materials used to make a center punch; alloy steel, high carbon steel, hardened and tempered steel, etc. And the type you should buy is dependent on the surfaces you would be working on, whether glass, wood, plastic, ceramic, or metal.

Purpose:

The kind of job you need to do should determine the type of center punch you buy. You can’t use one that is not for high-pressure jobs to do heavy-duty work.

Price:

It is necessary to consider your budget before picking a center punch. The costliest one doesn’t always mean it’s the best. There are a lot of good ones on the cheap side. But also, the costliest ones usually are of higher quality.

Handle:

The best automatic center punch usually has a knurled handle that makes gripping it so easy and convenient and less liable to slip when in use.

Tip:

Any center punch that has a pointed tip that is also removable is great. A good center punch should make it easy for you to replace a broken tip or sharpen it when it gets blunt.

Spring:

There are some products with one spring and some with two springs. Springs in an automatic center punch are what makes it able to make a dent or dimple in any material. So, it’s crucial to select the right tool that can produce enough tension and reset after striking.

FAQ:

Q:  Is it okay to sharpen the tip of my automatic center punch?

A: Yes, you can. Over time, the tip will become less sharp or blunt. The tip is removable. So, you should be able to remove it and sharpen it on a bench grinder or replace it. The tip must be sharp for high precision and accuracy.

Q: Why do I need an automatic center punch?

A: This tool is handheld and easy to use. It also leaves one hand free to hold the tool steady when using it, thereby reducing the risk of injury or slip-ups. Automatic center punch saves you both energy and time. It makes uniform and accurate cents on the surface you’re working on.

Q: Is there a way to maintain an automatic center punch?

A: Yes. Nothing lasts forever, but if you want this tool to last for a very long time, you need to be mindful of how and where you store it and how you clean it. You should oil the internal components regularly and keep it in a cool, dry place.

Q: What else can you use a center punch for?

A: The tip is so strong that it can be used in life-threatening situations or emergencies involving a vehicle window or glass.

Conclusion:

For you to complete any task smoothly and safely, you need to have the right and appropriate tools and apply safety measures. We hope that all the information here would guide you in making an informed decision when you want to get the best automatic center punch.

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