If you build things, a useful tool to have on hand is a center punch—a tool that can make a mark on the surface of metal, wood, stone, or plastic. The resulting dimple helps guide drills when working on construction projects. Center punches are steady, quick, and precise to prevent accidental slipping that leads to injuries or mistakes. If you’re looking for a new center punch, here are some we recommend to make drilling easier.
Choosing a Center Punch
There are just a couple of factors you should consider when making a center punch purchase:
- Ease of use: Many center punches come with adjustability and precise control to make them easier to use. Some are automatic, meaning they come with a built-in spring to punch on their own, while others require the tap of a hammer on them to create the indentation. Clearly, automatic ones will be extra convenient, but they are usually a little more expensive than their nonautomatic counterparts.
- Construction: Consider what the tool is made from and how durable it will be. You’ll want something that will last and be effective on tough materials.
Best Overall: Super Strong Automatic Center Punch
These center punches have extreme strength and are made of well-machined brass bodies. The deeply knurled surface won’t slip and offers precise handling and control. The tension is adjustable, and they can be used with simple one-hand operation. They also make great emergency escape tools for cars.
Super Strong Automatic Center Punch - 6 inch Black Steel Spring Loaded Center Hole Punch with Adjustable Tension, Hand Tool for Metal or Wood with Zippered Hard Shell Carry Case - Pack of 2
A center punch set with precision handling and adjustable tension.
Best Set: SEDY 4-Piece Nail Setter Punch & Center Punch Set
This center punch set includes a variety of punch sizes. The punches are made from alloy steel and have gouge points, anti-slip roads, clear specifications, and tap points. These are not automatic, so you’ll just have to tap them with a hammer to form a sharp impression on the work surface. These work especially well for embedding nails into wood veneers.
4-Piece Nail Setter Punch & Center Punch Set, Precise Marking, Enhanced Grip, Versatile Usage, Professional Woodworking & Carpentry Tool Kit
A center punch set with a variety of punch sizes.
Best Adjustable: Neiko 02638A 5″ Automatic Center Hole Punch
This 5-inch long center punch is spring-loaded with an adjustable stroke. The punch can be used with various materials, including wood, plastic, metal, glass, and leather. The chrome-plated shank body withstands high impact force and resists corrosion, and the tip holds up to hard surfaces. The spring-driven action and hard steel awl tip make punching easier. It’s perfect for a variety of tasks in construction and auto mechanics.
NEIKO 02638A 5-Inch Automatic Center Punch for Metal, Adjustable Impact Spring Loaded Center Punch Tool, Spring Punch, Center Punch Spring Loaded, Auto Center Punch
A 5-inch long center punch with an adjustable stroke and a tip that holds up against hard surfaces.
Also Consider: Starrett 18A Automatic Center Punch
Perfect for pre-drilling, the 18A automatic center punch tool has a conical point for good indentation in an object. It is made from steel construction and has a knurled finger grip for easy handling and punching control. No hammer is needed as the punch can automatically strike a blow when pressure is applied. Users can adjust the force, and the point can be removed for regrinding and replacement.
Starrett Steel Automatic Center Punch with Adjustable Stroke - 5" (125mm) Length, 9/16" (14mm) Punch Diameter, Lightweight, Knurled Steel Handle - 18A
A center punch with a knurled finger grip, punching control, and an automatic mechanism for punching.