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Knock 'Em Out: The Knockout Tool's Form And Function

by Harvie Simms

If you work in an industrial setting or in a construction related environment, you've probably needed to put a hole into a difficult and tough material such as sheet metal. The best way to do so easily and quickly is by using a special tool called a knockout punch or panel punch. This tool is surprisingly simple to use, and it consists of three main parts: the punch, the die, and the screw. They work in synergy to help create a clean hole in the sheet metal, allowing various items like pipe to run through.

Using the Knockout Tool

In order to get the tool to work, you must first drill a small pilot hole into the sheet metal. This hole should be slightly bigger than the screw that comes with the knockout punch tool and placed in the center of where the hole will be. Next, the die and punch should be attached to the screw and put into the drilled pilot hole. Continue screwing into the hole using a ratchet wrench until the punch of your desired size is pulled or pushed through the metal.

The manual version of a knockout tool works well with thinner and more flexible metal, but a more rigid and tough hydraulic system is needed for thicker metals. The hydraulic system is attached to a hose that forces the punch through the metal using highly pressurized air. While the hydraulic knockout version is much heavier to carry and more cumbersome to use, it makes putting a hole into very heavy gauge sheet metal quite easy.

Applications of the Knockout Tool

The punches for a knockout tool come in many different diameters and sizes. The most commonly used size is a 3/4" size that is used mainly for creating holes for conduit (or pipe) as well as wires for electrical panels. Larger sizes can be used for larger sized pipe or gaskets and other applications. These tools are often utilized by electricians, home builders, and those working in the telecommunications or fiber optic industry. Kits can be purchased that contain a wide variety of punches in many different sizes, making its use even more versatile.

Many major tool manufacturers make knockout punch and die sets, and they can be purchased at most major hardware stores or tool sellers like Bourget Bros Building Materials. The knockout tool can go through steel, brass, and aluminum with ease and can make any job much easier.