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How to Use Automatic Center Punch: The Ultimate Guide

An automatic center punch is a tool that enables you to create dimples of a couple of surfaces. If you know how to use automatic center punch, you can develop dimples on many surfaces, including metals.

Along with metal, an automatic center punch has help mark wood, ceramics, stone, plastic, etc. With this simple, you can not only mark the surface, but also it is helpful in the guidance of the drill bit.

 Drilling without creating a mark first can be both dangerous and exhausting. When not marked, the drill slips continuously, creating unnecessary holes on the surface that lead to frustration.

Also if the drill slips, it can be harmful to the user as well as the people surrounding the tool.

Therefore, it is necessary to consider buying an automatic center punch if you have drill work. For your convenience, we have come with a guide to provide you essential information about center punch and how to use an automatic center punch.

What is a Center Punch

Center punch is a tool that allows you to mark the center of any particular spot or point in the form of a dimple.

With this mark or dimple, you can easily drill a hole without worrying about the slipping of its tip. The punch is a hard metal rod that has a flat side as well as a pointed one.

The sharp side is placed on the surface to mark a dimple while the flat surface is struck with the hammer.

Types of Punches

Various types of center punches are available in the market that is discussed below;

Center punch

Center punch is a tool that is used to mark the central point of any spot or mark.

Prick punch

Also referred to as ‘Dot Punch,’ the prick punch creates a mark on soft material surfaces, including wood, smooth metal, and plastic.

Usually used for fabrication and cutting workpieces, it helps to mark the surface while transferring patterns from a drawing.

Drive punch

Having a flat side instead of a pointed side, the drive punch is used to drive out or loosen bolts, pins, or rivets fixed in the hole.

Pin punch

While taking out bolts or pins, it is necessary to use a drive punch followed by a pin punch. After the bolts or rivets are loosened with the help of a drive punch, they can ultimately be taken out of the hole by a pin punch.

This tool consists of a straight shank for removal purposes.

Transfer punch

Transfer punch enables you to transfer the holes to a metal surface through a pattern or a template. This tool ideally moves the spots to another character with its pointy tip.

Also, it comes in various diameters.

Aligning punch

While inserting fasteners, an aligning punch is used to position two or more holes on a surface. With its gradually narrowing body, these tools gather the holes and align them while inserting a fastener.

Unlike other punches, aligning punches should not be hammered.

How to Use Automatic Center Punch

Now that you are aware of different punches and their working let’s get into the usage guide of an automatic center punch.

This handy tool is very convenient and safe, assisting in your drilling tasks and enabling you to create symbols and characters. Unlike a basic center punch, an automatic one doesn’t require any hammer.

An automatic center punch creates a hole or a mark large enough to fit the tip of the drill. Make sure that the end of your drill fits the pattern perfectly, or else it might slip.

Moreover, you can find various tools with various tip sizes, so choose according to the end of your drill to avoid any inconvenience.  

An automatic center punch has a spring inside it that is responsible for storing energy. When pressure is applied to the tool or compressed, the energy stored in the spring is released as an impulse.

This released energy creates a pivot or a dimple on the surface. A pivot created by an automatic center punch might not make a deep hole as a manual center punch might. But it is enough to create a good pivot for drilling or symbols.

Now, let’s discuss the use of automatic center punch step-by-step;

Mark the point

The first step to using an automatic center punch is to mark the point on the surface where you want to create a mark. You must choose the hole according to the surface so that you don’t have to meet any inconvenience.

An automatic center punch is usually ideal for softer materials and is inefficient on sturdy metal surfaces.

Place the pointed tip of the tool on the surface

Now, when you know where you want a pivot for the hole, place the sharp edge of your tool on that point. An automatic center punch is a pencil-like handy tool with a pointy edge responsible for marking the surface.

Although, the size of the sharp edge of this tool varies, and you can choose according to your requirements.

Add pressure on the tool

Put pressure on the tool after you have placed your automatic center punch on precisely the exact point where you want to drill a hole, mark a pivot, or carve symbols.

When you put some pressure on the tool, the energy stored in the spring will be triggered and released.

Remove the tool

Now, remove the tool from the point and see if the compressed energy, when released, creates the desirable pivot.

Although an automatic center punch doesn’t make a deep hole like the manual center punch, it does create a pivot that is perfectly enough to manage the drill. Especially drills with smaller tips can easily fit in the pivot created by an automatic center wrench.

Therefore, this pivot will help to keep the drill in place by preventing it from slipping.

Repeat the process if necessary

If the pivot created by your automatic center punch is not satisfactory and you want a more profound mark, consider repeating the process.

You can place the pointed side of your handy tool onto the exact point where the pivot is already created and add pressure on the device once again. Energy from the spring will be released, causing the pivot to deepen.

Use the tool carefully

Even though an automatic center punch is a convenient tool, it is still necessary to use it carefully to avoid any inconvenience or damage.

Moreover, make sure that you have adequately determined where you want your hole to be. Or else, you will create unnecessary pivots on the surface that might affect the overall loom of your product.

How does an Automatic Center Punch Work?

An automatic center punch doesn’t require a hammer to mark a pivot, and the component that works as a hammer is spring-loaded. The functioning of this tool is effortless and convenient.

The function of the spring-loaded

 A large spring at the end of an automatic center punch is responsible for holding in the energy until triggered. Compressed energy stored in the spring can be adjusted through the cap present on the can of the hole.

To increase the force, you will have to tighten the lid to decrease consider loosening the cap.

Pin for automation

The front center of the spring is marked with a hole facing the pin. The hole in the center of the hammer spring acts as the force receiver for the pin and punch action.

This pin handles the automation functions of the tool. Through a pin rod, the hammer mass is counteracted to the stopped hole on the hammer that results in the resetting of the punch.

A particular bent end on the pin spring or an out-of-flat face is used on the bottom of the pin, or the top of the punch is used for this purpose.

Release of stored energy

Energy in the hammer spring is stored as the pressure reaches the hammer mass from the pin. The stored energy is released gradually, and the hammer is expanded when released results in a dent on the surface, as the hammer is expanded.


How do you use a center punch on wood?

The principle and working of an automatic center punch are straightforward and don’t change with the surface. An automatic center punch is excellent for softer surfaces like wood and plastic.

Even the manual center punch can create very effective markings and holes that can efficiently assist the woodworkers.

  • In case of an automatic center punch, lay down the pointed edge on the surface mark where you want a pivot. Now, apply a little pressure on the tool, and you will have the perfect marking on your wood surface.
  • But if you have a manual center punch, you will need a hammer to strike the back of your tool to build the pressure required for creating a mark on the surface.

What is a center punch used for?

Center punch is a handy tool that enables you to mark the center of any spot or point. Such marking is usually done while drilling holes to avoid any slipping or inconvenience.

Along with hard surfaces like metals, a center punch is excellent for softer surfaces such as plastic, ceramics, stone, wood, etc. Also, you can carve symbols and alphabets on the surface with the help of a center punch.

How long is a center punch typically?

Usually, the center punch tool is around 6″ long. Being handy and in a convenient size, a center punch tool can help in various tasks efficiently.

How do you center punch accurately?

Although a center punch is straightforward to use, specific techniques can still help you punch a hole more accurately. The below-mentioned instructions can help you hit a perfect and desired spot with a center punch;

  • Mark the point where you want to punch a pivot or a hole.
  • Tilt your handy tool and adjust it onto the mark where you want the pivot.
  • Once your tool is at the perfect point, straighten up your center punch.
  • Use a hammer and strike the tool to get the perfect and most accurate pivot mark.

What is the difference between a punch and adrift?

Punch is a tool with a narrow profile and a flat business end that enables you to create a hole in the surface. At the same time, drift is a tool to widen the gap you have already punched.

This tool is comparatively softer and has a blunt end.

How do you build an automatic center punch?

To build an automatic center punch, you will need a spring that gradually narrows down at one end. In addition to the spring, you will also need a nail possessing a flat edge.

Now, you can use an old spark lighter or anything that will cover this spring. You might need to follow specific instructions and watch tutorials before you dig into building an automatic center punch for yourself.

It is not as simple or convenient to make as one might think.

Can you use a screwdriver as a center punch?

A screwdriver is also a stiff metal rod with a pointed edge, and you can use it to mark a pivot on a surface. But it might not be as safe and secure as a center punch, but if you are professional and know how to manage it, you can go for it.

What is a flat punch?

A flat punch is used for thin materials to prevent deformation of the surface. Also known as a flat face, it is used to punch narrow surfaces or in case of detainment of the slug.


An automatic center punch is very beneficial for those who work with the drills regularly or even occasionally.

A center punch takes care of it all from the accuracy of creating holes with a drill to ensure your safety. Now that you know the importance of the tool and are guided on how to use automatic center punch, you can go ahead and purchase this convenient tool.

Unlike a manual center punch, an automatic one helps you save time in your drilling tasks and is also convenient to use.

You have to create pivots to drill the holes or carve any symbols or alphabets on the surface; you can use an automatic center punch. This tool is not just convenient but also cost-effective. If you do such tasks regularly, an automatic center punch might prove a very worthy purchase.

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