Best Automatic Center Punch: Top 10 Rated in 2020

Are you using an electric drill to make holes on metal, wood, or any other hard surface and struggling to make accurate holes? If so, I bet that you know without a marker, it’s challenging to drill an accurate hole on hard frictionless surfaces because the drill keeps skidding off, which is terrible because it can damage the item you’re trying to drill on, or worse, it could hurt you. Nobody wants to get hurt by their own drill! Therefore, to ensure safety and at the same time perform accurate drilling work. You will think of having to put a marker/dimple to make drilling work more convenient and easier.

Yes, a lot of people think like you. So they created a special tool called a center punch. It sounds like trying to hit someone! True to its name, this tool helps you create a dent/dimples in the center, where you need to mark before drilling. To use center punch you will need a hammer and a bit of power. Fortunately, over time, it has been improved and came out with an automatic center punch tool. That’s right, automatic means you can forget about the hammer, this tool will create the dents/dimples for you with the least effort.

So, what is an automatic center punch tool?

It is like a normal center punch tool without a hammer, so that it is a powerful tool that can put a dent or small hole on any hard surface. The automatic hole punch looks like a cylindrical pen that has two springs, one firing pin, one striking nail and a small metal piece with a hole works as the hammer when the striking force is adjusted.

If you are planning to purchase an automatic center punch tool then you are at the right place. This article will walk you through the 10 best automatic center punch tools which you can consider to buy.

10. Starrett 18AA Small Dent Punch

Starrett 18AA automatic center punch is one of the best starrett center punches. It has an adjustable stroke with body length 4” and a 7/16” diameter which creates the perfect dent for the drill bit. It’s small size gives an advantage to produce tiny and precise dent.

Few facts about Starrett 18AA

  • It’s easy to handle because of the knurled grip.
  • The stroke can be adjusted by turning the knurled cap.
  • Tempered & hardened steel probe gives it a good strength.
  • The probe can be replaced if it becomes dull.
  • The probe can be sharpened.
  • Stroke can be regulated by the spring tension for producing uniform dimple size.

Starrett 18AA Automatic Center Punch With Adjustable Stroke

The 18AA generates a small dent which makes it a perfect use for jewelry stones and for light purpose work as compared to other Starrett automatic center punch like 18C which is used for heavy duty. It requires less muscle power to dent a surface so it is advisable to use this tool to create dents on thin surfaces.

As it is lightweight and compact in size so it will fit into any small tool box either for travel or car tool kit.

ProsCons
  • Great to use on thin surfaces and on jewelry stones for drilling.
  • Even kids can use this.
  • Uses for light purpose.
  • Not for heavy duty purpose.

9. General Tools 89 Stainless Steel Center Punch

The General Tools 89 is one of the best automatic center punch with adjustable stroke. It has a body length of 5.25” with a 9/16” diameter.

Few facts about General Tools 89

  • It’s more accurate than traditional center punch and a hammer pair for marking.
  • Hardened alloy steel probe which can hit hard metals like steel but it works well for soft metal and wood.
  • Stainless steel material body which prevents corrosion.
  • Knurled finger grip makes it easy to handle.
  • The adjustable spring tension manages the stroke for punching and marking.
  • Accurately put a dimple which helps the drill bit.

The drawback of this centre punch is that it can’t be sharpened when the probe gets dull and the probe can’t even replaceable.

ProsCons
  • It can be better used on wood or soft surfaces.
  • The probe bit can’t be sharpened or replaceable.

8. COMOWARE Step Drill Bit Punch Set

It comes with 6 pieces of drill bit with one automatic center punch. The center punch is used to mark or create the dent for the ease of use of the drill bit that comes with this set.

Few facts to COMOWARE Step Drill Bit Set

  • The drill bits are coated with HSS titanium, which reduces the friction hence gives an outstanding durability and sharpness.
  • These step drill bits come with different dimensions which helps to drill different kinds of diameter holes on metal, wood and plastic.
  • The drilling bits are well designed. The 118 degree split point tip helps to increase the wear resistance.
  • It provides a smoother cutting and gives a cleaner drilling operation because the two flute design allows the particles to escape easily.

The drill bits comes with 5 different sizes as mentioned below

  • 1/4″ to 1-3/8″ 10 Steps
  • 3/16″ to 7/8″ 12 Steps
  • 1/4″ to 3/4” 9 Steps
  • 1/8″ to 1/2″ 13 Steps
  • 3/16″ to 1/2″ 6 Steps (3/16”, 1/4”, 5/16″, 3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2”)

COMOWARE Step Drill Bit With Center Punch Set

ProsCons
  • Easy organizing.
  • This step drill set is very suitable for general engineering and home DIY usages.
  • Not suitable for a very hard surface.
  • Production Quality.

7. Tekton 6580 Cheap Automatic Center Punch

The Tekton 6580 automatic center punch is one of the best cheap automatic center punch with adjustable stroke.

Few facts about Tekton 6580 

  • This automatic center punch is made of brass which can resist corrosion.
  • It’s quick and easy to use.
  • The striking force can be regulated by using the adjustable cap.
  • The brass body with a knurled surface gives a good grip.

This light weight brass automatic center punch can be put inside your travel bag or car tool box. It can even be used as an emergency escape tool.

Tekton 6580 Automatic Center Punch

ProsCons
  • Light weight.
  • Affordable.
  • Not suitable for metal surfaces.

6. General Tools 78 Heavy Duty Automatic Center Punch

Another General Tools automatic center punch got a place in our top 10 list. This automatic center punch is for heavy duty so ideally recommended for pros, machinist and automotive repair. It has a body length of 5.63” with a diameter of 5/8”.

Few facts about General Tools 78 Professional Center Punch

  • This is General Tools largest and most robust automatic center punch for professionals to use on toughest metals.
  • Striking force can be regulated while using on lighter materials.
  • If the steel point gets dull then it can be replaceable.
  • The shaft also can be replaceable.
  • It can be used as an emergency tool to break car side windows.

The knurled gives a good grip to use on a heavy surface and the black oxide body prevents rust.

General Tools 78 Heavy Duty Steel Automatic Center Punch

ProsCons
  • Best use for hard surfaces.
  • The pin is replaceable.
  • Many users complain about it’s longevity.

5. Lisle 30280 Lightweight Automatic Center Punch

It is a lightweight, built-in pocket clip with pencil-like designed automatic center punch.

Few facts about Lisle 30280 a pocket clip automatic center punch

  • It can be used on metal, plastic, wood and other light materials.
  • It is a light duty center punch.
  • The hardened steel tip is replaceable.
  • It can be used to get an accurate dimple mark.
  • On hard metals It marked tiny dimples. If you need a wider dial dimple then you might need to use a hammer.
  • The striking force can be adjusted by turning the knurled knob.

Few customers have reported that after every few uses it fails to reset which can be very annoying. If you want to disassemble and lubricate the internal parts then you have to be a bit careful because the spring loaded pieces will fly-out and need to put them back in the right order and orientation. Some customers even shared positive feedback on it’s accuracy up to 0.01 inches.

Lisle 30280 Automatic Center Punch

ProsCons
  • Lisle 30280 is good for light and accurate work.
  • Affordable
  • Longevity
  • It has a manufacturing downside of not resetting after a few uses, but it can be fixed by graphite lubricant.

4. Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch with Adjustable Stroke

Another Starrtett automatic center punch made it to our top 10 list. The Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch has a body length of 5.5” with a diameter of 1.1”. It often uses as carpentry automatic center punch or mechanic.

Few facts about Starrett 18A

  • It is a little bit longer than the 18AA that means if you deal from a higher position or want to use in a narrow area then this one is recommended to use.
  • Easy to handle because of the knurled grip.
  • The striking force can be adjusted with the knurl cap. For a heavy mark the cap can be turned downward and for lighter striking force the cap can be turned upward.
  • It comes with 4 different graduation which means you can make 4 different sizes of hole by using this one tool.
  • Another important feature is that the point can be removed for regrinding and replacement.

Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch with Adjustable Stroke

ProsCons
  • It comes with 4 different graduation.
  • Point can be removed for regarding.
  • Feedback from few customers that it Jams in 1 out of 10 uses.
  • The tip is made of soft metal so sometimes it fails to apply the exact required force.

3. Laurel + Holland Forge Industrial 2 Pack Automatic Center Punch

This 5”length and 0.5” diameter brass automatic center punch uses a spring loaded mechanism which helps the user put a dent without using a hammer.

Few facts Laurel+Holland Forge Industrial

  • It’s made from hardened brass which can withstand high impact.
  • It can be used to mark wood, steel, aluminium, brass and copper.
  • The deep knurled surface gives a good grip to use and prevents slip while putting a dent.
  • The tip is chrome plated which gives a good durability and resist corrosion.
  • You can have it in your car tool box as an emergency escape tool which can shatter glass car windows.
  • The striking force can be regulated by using the adjustable tension lever.

Automatic Center Punch - 5 inch Brass Spring Loaded Center Hole Punch with Adjustable Tension

ProsCons
  • Comes with 2 packs, so if one gets damaged then you can use the other.
  • You can use it as an emergency escape.
  • You can use it for light duty.
  • It doesn’t fire twice in a row, so after one strike you have to unscrew the barrel which is really annoying.

2. Neiko 02638A Center Hole Punch for various materials

This 5” automatic hole punch can be used to create dent on various materials such as wood, metal, plastic, leather and glass.

Few facts about Neiko 02638A

  • Chrome plated body resist corrosion and can withstand high impact force.
  • The tip is made from premium S2 steel which makes it more durable and keep the sharpness of the tip even after multiple uses.
  • The diamond knurled texture body provides a great grip as well as resist dirt.
  • You will have a comfortable hold on the center punch due to the plastic red ball at the end.
  • The striking force can be regulated by screwing and unscrewing the red ball.

Getting a bit made on premium S2 steel at this price is very affordable. The plastic red ball at the end gives a very comfortable grip that even after creating multiple dent the palm doesn’t hurt.

ProsCons
  • Good quality at a very affordable cost.
  • Very comfortable to use.
  • The spring mechanism isn’t strong enough.
  • If it breaks then you have to purchase a new one because the manufacturer doesn’t sell the parts.

1. Starrett 18C Heavy-Duty Center Punch With Adjustable Stroke

The Starrett 18C is made to the top in our top 10 automatic center punch list. This is one of the best automatic center punch we have come across. It has a body length of 5-¼” with a 11/16” diameter.

Few facts about Starrett 18C Hard Surface Heavy-Duty Center Punch

  • For heavy duty and to punch on a hard surface this is the most reliable and best automatic center punch.
  • It is built on hardened tempered steel.
  • The striking force of this automatic center punch is heavier than the other in the market.
  • The spring tension is constant for uniform dimple size and depth.
  • The striking force can be adjustable by the knurled end grip.

In comparison to other Starrett automatic punch it is the toughest which is designed for professionals to exclusively use on very hard metal. The bit size is like a finger. In case the bit gets broken or dull then you can purchase a new bit to replace it which saves your money without the need of buying a new one.

Starrett 18C Automatic Center Punch Heavy-Duty With Adjustable Stroke

Most of the buyers are praising its quality. The users become loyal to this automatic center punch. The longevity of this product is really really good that some buyers found it lasts for lifetime. Due to its durability it is the number one choice of engineers, metalworkers and other professionals.

ProsCons
  • Recommended to use on hard surfaces and heavy duty.
  • It creates a deeper dimple as compared to other automatic center punches.
  • Bit replacement is available.
  • Durability
  • Many customers say that even though they try to regulate the striking force by using the knurled end grip the force remains the same.
  • The force might be too high for soft surfaces so avoid using it for light duty.

Few tips to check while buying an automatic center punch

best automatic center punch

When you plan to buy an automatic center punch either for your work or DIY at home, you might get confused with so many brands and different types of punching tools. To help you to choose the right tools for you we have prepared this buying guide.

# Striking Force

The striking force is the most considered factor while buying this tool. If you deal with a soft material then you can’t use a heavy duty tool which might damage the material and if you deal with a hard surface then you can’t use a low striking force punch which will damage. So simply buying the tool based on the newton force mentioned on the cover doesn’t make sense. I would recommend reading customer feedback before making a decision.

# Spring Tension

The spring tension helps the hammer material to produce the striking force. After a couple of hits you might need to adjust the tension by screwing the knob. It’s really important that by using this knob you could reset the spring tension.The best way to find about it by visiting the customer review section.

# The Bit

Make sure the bit is made of a very hardened material which gives it better durability. Look for that the bit should be chrome coated which resist it from corrosion to extreme weather conditions. After a longer period of use the bit will get dull so make sure it is replaceable and the manufacturer is selling the spare parts of the tool otherwise you have to waste your money to purchase a new one.

# The Grip

The tool should have a knurled body which gives a good grip, on top of it some models have a good back knob which comforts your palm. If the tool has a good grip then you can create more marks at ease.

How does an automatic center punch work?

A lot of people are wondering how to use this tool? They often look for questions like Automatic center punch how does it work? or how does an automatic center punch work? The mechanism of an automatic center punch is extremely simple.

This tool gets popular because it helps to put a dent without the use of a hammer. It have a spring mechanism with a metal piece that works as a hammer. The spring stores the energy and when you push the punch, the mechanism happens and the spring releases the energy to the pin which creates the dent on the surface.

Before making the spring mechanism of an automatic center punch. One must use a hammer to apply a similar force to the center punch – the original rudimentary tool of an automatic center punch.

During our research, we came across this YouTube video will give you an idea of how an automatic center punch work and even it has a DIY course to make your own automatic center punch.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is better; manual or automatic?

With the manual center punch you need a hammer and have to use your both hands. On the contrary the automatic center punch which works on a spring mechanism doesn’t need a hammer and is used by one hand like a pencil.

2. Can I replace or sharpen the bit?

Yes you can. You can sharpen or replace the bit if it gets dull or broken respectively. Make sure that you purchase a tool which has the option to replace the bit or else you to purchase a new one every time.

3. What is the best?

To help you on your purchasing decision we have prepared this detailed article on top 10 best. Now it all depends on your exact requirement and the budget you have to purchase this tool.

Final Thought

Automatic Center Punch is not simply a tool to support you as a DIY-ers or professional to make drill holes on any material surface. Moreover a tool small as a fountain pen can break the window, helping you get out of the car in emergencies. Have this tool in your toolbox is always recommended.

If we do a quick recap and narrow down the selection then three brands were recommended: Starrett, Neiko and Lisle. If you consider quality, comfort grip and affordability then Neiko 02638A is highly recommended. In case you handle very heavy duty work and looking for a life long partner in your tool box then it is recommended to go for Starrett 18C.

We believe that our reviews on different brands and models of automatic center punches might have given you some knowledge which will help you to make a good buying decision as per your requirement. To summarize, I could say that you have to make a final decision which automatic center punch you want to buy.

In addition

If you want to put a hole in the exact position, you will belong to the optical center punch. This optical center punch from Flexbar will fit to you – https://amzn.to/35cdTCz. Through the optical magnifier, you can see exactly where to create the dent and the optical center punch will fix that position for you. The next step is just putting the center punch in and getting the job done.

optical center punch
Flexbar optical center punch

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