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A good deal of projects I see have their inputs and outputs neatly aligned in to plastic enclosures. I wish to do the same, however, I do not own a drill or anything similar.

What is a cheap but effective way to drill neat holes in my cases?

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A hand-held tapered reamer (http://www.google.com/images?q=tapered+reamer) is a good tool to have for this. A "step drill" bit is even better.

For starting holes, a small hand drill (non electric, http://www.google.com/images?q=egg+beater+drill) gives much better control than an expensive electric drill anyway; try a flea market or junk store. You can also melt a starting hole for your reamer hole with a hot nail or a worn out soldering iron tip in a pinch. A small hex shank drill bit can also be used by hand mounted in a bit-driver.

For rectangular holes, a hand nibbler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibbler) is great, starting from a hole made by your reamer or step drill.

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You need a drill, if only to make a pilot hole. I use a hand-held tapered reamer to enlarge the hole to the desired size. It leaves a very neat edge, which is difficult to achieve with a large drill bit. The technique works with aluminium as well as plastic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you get a tapered hole? \$\endgroup\$ – BG100 Mar 24 '11 at 23:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ A slight taper, but it doesn't matter. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Mar 24 '11 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Great, finally I know what a tapered reamer can be used for. \$\endgroup\$ – sharptooth Mar 28 '11 at 6:21
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An old, cheap soldering iron can be used to melt the plastic. Always start to melt from the internal side, so that the displaced plastic stays there. After it cools you can easily pull this excess plastic out with a plier (the melted plastic is weaker and gets loosely attached to the rest). The problem with this, and other cheap solutions, is that you must have a very steady hand. I'd prefer to use a Dremel rotary tool with work station. It's not that expensive these days (about 60 + 40 dollars) and will guarantee much better results; not to mention that such tool has MANY more uses.

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On some softer cases, I've used scissors to make holes. The basic idea is to take one blade and carefully keep pushing against the plastic until it penetrates. After that, start rotating until you get desired hole size.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Or a pocketknife \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Mar 25 '11 at 1:26
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I purchased a toner refill kit once, it came with a cheap soldering iron and a copper fitting cap attached instead of the normal tip, to make the hole in the toner cartridge, to add the toner. copper fitting end cap(It would require drilling a small hole through the center end of the cap, and finding a screw that fits in place of the soldering tip.) I have used it many times to make holes in plastic. Some plastics make fumes when melted, use in a well ventilated area.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, the fumes are a work benefit. Don't miss out. \$\endgroup\$ – tyblu Mar 26 '11 at 20:24
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The simple answer is to buy a really cheap drill on eBay.

You could make your own hand drill by purchasing drill bits and a tap handle to turn them. It would work, but seeing that there are electric drills on eBay Buy It Now for less than $10, it's really not worth it. The local used goods place (e.g., Goodwill in the US) often has used power tools even cheaper than this.

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Get the right size drill bit(or one size smaller), and a wire nut. Screw the wire nut to the end of said drill bit. for more holding power, use epoxy JB weld. Then you have a hand(finger)held bit that will last as long as you don't lose it. Or use pliers to twist it and break loose the epoxy. In which case it would no longer be a finger bit, but a pliers bit.

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