15 Best Center Punch Tools Reviewed: Specialist Recommendations

Whatever your work may entail, you are sure to benefit from the use of a strong and versatile automatic center punch. This is because when drilling on a workpiece, a drill that is not properly directed will often slide off its drilling point and ruin all the work intended to be done.

By using a center punch, you are able to prevent this. The center of a typical center punch usually has an angle of 60 and 90 degrees. An automatic center punch operates without the need of a hammer while the manual center punch requires to be struck down by a hammer. A dot punch is a lighter and thinner version of the center punch.

It is used basically for the same job as a center punch. The dot punch, however, produces smaller dots. A ball pen hammer is used to strike the head of the punch and delivers enough downward pressure to the butt end of the punch tool placing a small indentation into the surface of a given material.

What Is A Centre Punch And How Does It Work?

A center punch is a special kind of punch tool used to create a shallow indented mark on a workpiece; for the purpose of drilling. Therefore, the center punch is typically used to mark a hole in the workpiece where the drill bit is set before drilling.  After marking your desired location for placing a hole, align the center punch carefully over the mark and tap it lightly with a hammer. Check to make sure the mark is exactly where you want it to be. If it is slightly off course, you can slightly angle the punch to correct the position before you strike. After you have secured the right target for the mark, you can now strike the punch hard enough to make a large enough hole for the drill bit to engage the mark and lock into position.

The drill bit is not exactly pointed but is rather a flat edge called a chisel edge. For this edge to fit inside the mark created by the center punch, you will need a 1/8 inch center punch, which can accommodate bits of up to 3/8 inches, depending on the mileage. Below are the types of punch tools in the market today.

Brief Overview of the Best Center Punch Tools

15 Best Center Punch Tools in the 2021 Market Reviewed

Super Strong Automatic Center Punch

Super Strong Automatic Center Punch - 5 inch Black Steel Spring Loaded...
  • Manufacturer: SANDOR
  • Item weight: 12 ounces
  • Package dimensions: 7.5 x 3 x 1.5 inches
  • Finish: Chrome
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Number of pieces: 2
  • Batteries included: None
  • Batteries required: None

This is a spring-loaded automatic center punch that is efficient in getting marks on various materials, including brass, wood, aluminum, steel, copper, and more. Made out of a well-mechanized brass body with a deeply knurled surface, the Super Strong Automatic Center Punch ensures no slips. This punch does not require hammering; this is because it is equipped with an adjustable tension screw, which you will be able to use with just one hand.

Pros
  1. It has an adjustable tension therefore easy to use
  2. Is more powerful, making drilling easier
  3. Last longer since it’s chrome plated tip makes it more durable than others.
Cons
  1. It’s good with aluminum, bronze, copper but not for steel.

NeConsiko 02638A 5″ Automatic Center Hole Punch

NEIKO 02638A 5-Inch Automatic Center Hole Punch | Adjustable Impact...
  • Manufacturer: Ridgerock Tools Inc.
  • Item weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Product dimensions: 7.7 x 2.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Material: Steel
  • Item package quantity: 1
  • Included components: Automatic center hole punch
  • Batteries included: None
  • Batteries required: None

This product is spring-loaded and is equipped with an adjustable stroke. The Neiko Center Punch is designed to accommodate various types of materials, including plastic, glass, metal, leather, wood, and more. With a chrome-plated shank body that withstands high impact force and is corrosion resistant. Its extremely strong S2 steel tip holds up to hard surfaces and is best equipped for arming, staking, scribing, and punching.

Pros
  1. Has chrome-plated shank body to withstand the high impact force
  2. Its spring-driven hard steel awl tip makes for easier punching
  3. Can be used as a glass window breaker for car safety
Cons
  1. Too small for some users

Starrett 50488 Centre Punch Set with Round Shank

Starrett S117PC Center Punch Set, Set of 5 - 1/16', 5/64', 3/32',...
  • Brand name: Starrett
  • Included components: 1 x S117PC Centre punch set of 5 pieces
  • Item weight: 181 grams
  • Material: Steel

This center punch comes knurled with a round shank for a better grip. It is hardened and tempered for strength and wear resistance. A set of five punch tools with centered tips designed for accuracy and precision. With both manual and automatic punch tools whereas manual center punch tools have a pointed metal shank and are commonly thumped with a ball-peen hammer to create marks whilst the automatic center punch tools have an internal spring mechanism that enables them to mark materials without the use of a hammer, which allows one hand to be free for smooth working.

Pros
  1. Provides centered tips for accuracy
  2. The punch tools are made from hardened and tempered steel for durability
Cons
  1. Very solid look but surprisingly weak for some users

Eclipse Professional Tools Centre Punch, Automatic 65-171R

Eclipse 65-171R Automatic Center Punch, Tool Steel, 4' Length Blade
  • Manufacturer: Eclipse
  • Product dimensions: 24 x 7.5 x 2 cm; 7.5 Kgs
  • Item package quantity: 1
  • Batteries required: None
  • Item weight: 7.5 kg

Just some mere hand pressure is enough for the Automatic 65-171R Eclipse Professional Tools Centre Punch to deliver a punch. It is equipped with high-quality carbon steel making the punch durable. The hardened and tempered points are made to withstand prolonged use. It’s one-handed operation design allows for more flexible working. It’s depth of impression is adjustable by a turning knurled head.

Pros
  1. It is a one-handed operation tool hence flexible.
  2. Is durable because it is hardened and tempered to withstand long-term use.
Cons
  1. Hard to press when trying to apply desired tension

Amtech H0900 Centre Punch Set, 3-Piece

Amtech H0900 Centre Punch Set, 3-Piece
  • Manufacturer: DK Tools LTD
  • Product dimensions: 17 x 7 x 1 cm; 120 g
  • Material: Plastic, Metal
  • Item package quantity: 1x 3Pc
  • Number of pieces: 1 x 3Pc
  • Measurement system: Metric
  • Batteries included: None
  • Batteries required: None
  • Item weight: 120 g

From among the fantastic range of tools from Amtech, comes the Amtech H0900 Centre Punch Set. This set is made out of special alloy steel knurled bodies and finished with square striking heads. It is able to punch a hole in 1mm stainless steel, which enables you to drill the hole out faster and easily making for a less stressful work session.

Pros
  1. Comes with a 3-year product warranty
  2. Durable as its made from selected alloy steel
Cons
  1. Although fair priced, it does not provide super precision.

ALLY Tools and Parts 3 PC SET of 6 Inch Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch

ALLY Tools 3 PC SET of 6 Inch Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch,...
  • Manufacturer: ALLY Tools and Parts Corp
  • Item weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Package dimensions: 7.5 x 2.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Material: Metal
  • Batteries required: None

These 3 set automatic center punches feature internal double-barrel springs that help make strong indents on various materials including, steel, wood, and aluminum. The spring tension on the punches can be regulated by caps on top of the center punch to achieve a uniform dimple size in every workpiece. The springs enable the center punches to place a mark on any type of material without the use of a hammer.

The 6 Inch Heavy Duty automatic center punches are bodied with a chrome-plated shank which allows the tools to withstand high impact force. And for a comfortable grip, you have the knurled non-slip surface with a precision centered tip that increases control for more accurate and accurate hole positions.

Pros
  1. Adjustable spring tension
  2. A strong body to withstand high impact force
  3. Centered tip for more precision
Cons
  1. It only for specific applications and is not universal

JelBo Automatic Center Punch, 5” Spring Loaded Center Punches

Automatic Spring Loaded Center Punch - JelBo 5' Auto Spring Loaded...
  • Manufacturer: JelBo Official Store
  • Item weight: 2.11 ounces
  • Product dimensions: 5 x 0.47 x 0.47 inches
  • Size: 5″ spring-loaded center punch
  • Style: Auto
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Kinetic
  • Item Package Quantity: 1
  • Number Of Pieces: 1
  • Batteries Included: None
  • Batteries Required: None

The JelBo automatic center punch is equipped with an easy spring that makes for sturdiness and an internal spring to generate impact for positioning, best for convenience and durability. It is able to withstand high impact force that can be used quickly to ensure time-saving work. It works best in the accurate positioning of holes in both furniture installation and machine maintenance. Has an adjustable size spring for regulating impact force which  you can adjust to get the depth you need. It is similar to a ballpoint pen hence very portable, it can be easily be carried around. It can also be used as a glass breaker. Convenient to use on steel, wood, iron, and other surfaces.

Pros
  1. It is slip-resistant
  2. Has an adjustable size spring for regulating impact force
Cons
  1. According to some users, it does not administer enough force to the punch

MulWark 5″ Spring-Loaded Automatic Steel Center Hole

MulWark 5' Spring-Loaded Automatic Steel Center Hole Punch Marker...
  • Manufacturer: MulWark
  • Item Weight: 3.52 ounces
  • Package Dimensions: 7 x 2.4 x 0.1 inches
  • Style: Auto punch set
  • Material: Metal
  • Batteries Included: None
  • Batteries Required: None

This automatic center punch features an inbuilt spring tension mechanism that automatically strikes a punch into any hard surface when pressure is applied to it. The MulWark 5” Automatic Center Punch is made of hardened tempered steel and is finished with an ergonomic design. It is easy to use yet also heavy-duty.  It May be used for precise drilling applications, on steel, iron, wood, and in case of emergency, to break a car window. Its replaceable bit endures for durability. It has an adjustable cap to give increased or decreased striking force, to enable you to gain uniform dimple sizes on every strike.

Pros 
  1. Adjustable cap
  2. Has a replaceable bit that can also be sharpened
  3. Durable
  4. Can withstand high impact
Cons
  1. The point is not sharp enough

4 Piece Nail Setter & Center Punch Set

4 Piece Nail Setter & Center Punch Set
  • Manufacturer: Qualihome
  • Item weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Package dimensions: 6.7 x 3.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Batteries Included: None
  • Batteries Required: None

This set is best for working on wood pieces. Works best in recessing nails into wood. It has raised shafts to facilitate a firm grip on the tool while working. After placing a dimple on your wood intended for nailing, you can protect your wood from hammer marks by just pounding down a finish nail into the wood to about 1/8″ and then use a nail setter to pound the head just below the trim surface. You can then use wood putty or spackle to cover the nail head. This center punch features a hard metal body with a sharp tip. It is a manual center punch which means a hammer is required for hiring it’s blunt butt end in order to place a dimple.

Pros
  1. Is made from strong metal hence durable
  2. Can withstand the high impact force
Cons
  1. Does not have replaceable tips

Starrett 117C Center Punch With Round Shank, 4″

Starrett. 117C Center Punch with Round Shank, 4' Length, 1/8 Tapered...
  • Product brand: Starrett
  • Product dimensions: 4.29 x 1.5 x 0.98 inches
  • Item Weight: 0.06 ounces
  • Item model number: 117C

The Starrett 117C center punch with round shank is 4-inch long and has a tapered point with a diameter of a 1/8-inch. This product is made from hardened and tempered steel, which provides strength and wear resistance. The round shank is knurled for grip. The punch provides small dimple marks that efficiently guide a drill bit. Because it is an automatic center punch, it is designed with an internal spring that enables you to place marks on your workpiece without the use of a hammer. This leaves you with one free hand for steady work performance. It has a round shank for better grip.

Pros
  1. Made from hardened and tempered steel
  2. Has a round knurled shank for good grip
Cons
  1. Not durable according to some users

Sealey AK91320 Automatic Sheathed Centre Punch, 160mm Length

Sealey AK91320 Sheathed Automatic Centre Punch, Silver
  • Brand: Sealey
  • Product dimensions: 23.3 x 7.4 x 3.2 cm; 172 g
  • Item weight: 172 g

The Sealey AK91320  is a heavy-duty sheathed automatic center punch with an impact adjustment from 15 to 25kg. It is easy to use; you place a mark by merely pushing down to release the spring.

Pros
  1. Works great and delivers a hefty accurate punch mark
  2. Very durable
Cons
  1. Some users complain of the spring being too strong which makes it very hard to push down

General Tools 89 Stainless Steel Automatic Center Punch

General Tools 89 Stainless Steel Automatic Center Punch with...
  • Manufacturer: General Tools
  • Part number: 89
  • Item weight: 0.024 ounces
  • Product dimensions: 0.63 x 2.13 x 9 inches
  • Style: Stainless steel adjustable
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Item package quantity: 1
  • Batteries included: None
  • Batteries required: None

The General Tools 89 is one among many automatic center punch tools on the list that you have to consider. It’s most significant advantage is it’s hardened steel bit, which is best for hitting hard materials such as steel. It is bodied by a strong stainless steel material that offers it great protection from rusting. It is more accurate in administering punches as compared to the traditional method of using hammer and center punch to work. However, the first marks it produces on steels are not truly fitting, so you, therefore, have to use more force to enlarge the dimple created so as to establish a significantly larger diameter for drilling. It, however, works best with softer metal and wood.

Pros
  1. It is good to use for wood and soft metals.
  2. Has an adjustable punching power
Cons
  1. It’s bit is not replaceable.

Starrett 819 Self-Centering Automatic Center Punch

Starrett 819 Hinge-Locating Automatic Center Punch With Adjustable...
  • Brand name: Starrett
  • Item weight: 1.60 ounces
  • Model number: 819
  • Number of items: 1

Another powerful punch from the Starrett brand is the Starrett 819 automatic center punch. In such a case where you need to install a door hinge, you will require to mark where the hinge crews will be drilled in. Doing this work using a manual center punch, especially on metallic material, can prove to be tedious and may give inaccurately angled marks leading the screws and the hinge to be installed poorly. But by using this auto punch, this task is made easier thanks to it’s self-centering punching bit, which will accurately place the dimple right at the center, all while using just one hand. This will save you a lot of time, especially if you have several drilling installations to make.

Pros
  1. It has a self-centering punching bit
  2. Installation is faster and more accurate
Cons
  1. It only for specific applications and is not universal

Lisle 30280 Pocket Clip Automatic Center Punch

Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch
  • Manufacturer: Lisle
  • Item weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Product dimensions: 7.9 x 3.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Exterior: Smooth

The Lisle 30280 is a slim automatic center punch whose design resembles a pencil. It is a lightweight, pocket clip built-in center punch with a sharp punching bit best for making accurately positioned dimple marks. Similarly, it’s made from hardened steel, which enables it to be used for numerous applications. However, this auto punch is a light-duty center punch in that it works well with placing marks in hard materials but only manages to place a small dimple. You will have to hammer it down in order to get a significantly wider dimple.

The product quality is however a challenge. According to user reviews, the internal parts seem not to have been adequately made.

Pros
  1. Durable thanks to it’s replaceable bit.
  2. Affordable
  3. Lightweight slim and not tedious to use
Cons
  1. According to some users, the reset does not run as smoothly as expected

Starrett 18C Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch 

Starrett 819 Hinge-Locating Automatic Center Punch With Adjustable...
  • Manufacturer: Starrett
  • Part number: 18C
  • Included components: 1

Saving the best for last, this is Starrett 18C Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch. Best for working on hard surfaces. The Starrett 18C has an overall length of  5-1/4 inch with a body thickness of 11/16 inch. Its punching bit is made from hardened, tempered steel with the bit size being equivalent to a finger. Compared to the rest of the center punch tools, Starrett 18C is considered the toughest center punch and is best suitable for hard metal. It is also versatile and can be used on other materials such as aluminum and wood. It has an adjustable impact force that makes it flexible to use on anything.

Pros
  1. Is precise and accurate
  2. Can last for years, hence durable
  3. It creates a bigger and deeper dimple than a typical center punch
  4. Replaceable bit
Cons
  1. Creates a too-larger dimple for a small drill bit

Factors You Need To Consider Before Buying A Center Punch

Whether doing professional work or just personal handiwork, you will undoubtedly prefer your workpiece to come out without flaws. Using a strong and versatile automatic center punch ensures you practice precision when drilling and lets you evade sloppy work. A great center punch should be able to make significant dents on a number of materials, including metal, wood, steel, and other working surfaces. Below are factors that you need to pay attention to when buying a center punch:

Material

A center punch must be made out of hard material to last for an extended time duration. The quality of a center punch is, however, determined by its price. The higher the price, the better quality of material you will get. Therefore, you have to choose to invest in a good center punch that is going to save you money in the long run.

Sharp Bit

The bit of a center punch has to be narrow in order for it to point accurately. The pointy bit may start to become dull after an extended period of use, which may cause it to move when the punch is pressed. This will require you to sharpen or replace it.

Replaceable Bit

You should be able to replace or at least sharpen the tip of a dull center punch. Rather than buying a whole new center punch, it would be more cost-efficient if you can replace just the bit. This way, you can save significantly in the long run.

Adjustability

Some types of center punch tools have an adjustable knob that can be used to adjust the spring tension. This adjustment helps you alter the force you apply according to your requirements.

Comfortable Knob

There are some models in the market with knobs designed for comfort and convenience. This knob allows you to work with ease, providing you with a comfortable grip while making marks on your workpiece. Therefore your hand will not suffer from fatigue in the case where you have a lot of marks to be made. There are plenty of options in the market to choose from.

When working with metallic materials, you have to ensure you have the best automatic center punch by your side. You have to put into consideration the size of the dimple it creates. The central punch tool should also be able to withstand multiple punches in a row. Thanks to the improvement from manual center punch to automatic center punch, you no longer need two hands to use the hammer. New innovative techniques applied in the center punch now enable you to operate it with one hand which Makes work easier, quicker, and more accurate.

Some of the best models of the automatic center punch feature an adjustable striking force that lets the user match the level of impact to the surface hardness.

How Does An Automatic Center Punch Work?

Before the automatic auto punch was invented, work was done using a manual center punch, which needed a hammer to punch it in, in order to make the indentations on any working materials.

An automatic center punch typically consists of 1 mini hammer, 2 springs, and 1 punching bit. Out of these three parts, the spring and punching bit are the most featured. The spring determines the strength of the striking force while the punching bit determines it’s ability to punch into the material it is being stuck into.

You can extend the life of your center punch, too, by using a tool organizer. This helps keep all your tools arranged and organized all in one place.

Verdict

With so many choices to choose from, you will have a better chance of getting your desired center punch tool by narrowing down your options according to the trusted brands classified above. You also have to consider the economic aspect of it, from how it works within your to how much it may cost you in the long run.  It’s up to you to pick the tool that best works for you in terms of comfort and the quality of work you wish to do.

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