What You Ought to Know About Drip Irrigation Punches
Most drip irrigation systems require you to punch holes into the solid mainline tubing. The exception is if you are using ¼” micro-tubing as your mainline tubing (read about limitations). The thinking is that you use your mainline tubing to carry the water close to where you need it, then you punch a hole in the mainline tubing and add a dripper or a reducing connector and run micro-tubing to the plant to be watered (watch a video on how to do it).
A lot of people don’t think about what type of punch they want. All punches are not alike! The punch tip can make a difference too. Many small 1/4" punches have a punch tip that does just that - punches a hole into the tubing. Some have a hollow punch tip that actually cuts a tiny hole in the tubing. Either work well for inserting small 1/4" barbed fittings or drippers. Remember these do not create a 1/4" sized puncture or hole, but since the flexible poly tubing stretches the barbs can be pushed in and the poly will make a tight, leakproof seal. Depending on your project, a punch can make a big difference in the overall enjoyment of the installation process. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Have 100's of Holes to Punch?
For anyone needing to punch hundreds of holes, we strongly recommend a spring-loaded punch like the pro punch, pocket punch, or 2 in 1 punch & cutter. All of these are easy on the hands and punch nice clean holes, punch after punch.
Loss Of Hand Strength?
Anyone that has lost some hand strength due to arthritis or aging would also benefit from any type of spring-loaded punch. Also, a larger punch handle, like the Senninger Punch, is a bit easier to hold on to while punching, which reduces hand fatigue. With little effort, clean holes can be punched over and over if needed. We've also experienced good results with the Orbit 1/4" Punch Gun and the Pro Punch.
Need to Punch Holes in Tubing Larger Than 1/2"?
Most of our punches do this (except the Orbit professional punch or the pocket punch—these can only punch holes in ½” tubing). The Pro Punch comes with a removable guard that allows ¾” tubing to fit into the punch. The green and red Senninger Punches work only off leverage and can also punch holes in tubing that's larger than 1/2". If you’re punching holes in 1” tubing, then we recommend a punch without a guide, like the Standard Punch, or Key Punch or Senninger Punch linked above.
Need a Punch and Tubing Cutter?
We have several all-in-one tools for cutting and punching: Punch-N-Cut, 2 in 1 Punch & Cutter and Deluxe Punch with Cutter. These will punch nice clean holes and come with super sharp cutting blades. The Deluxe Punch and 2 in 1 Punch & Cutter can also assist with other tasks, such as dripper insertion.
Want the Cheapest Hole Punch?
We sell key punches for $0.50! They punch a clean hole; however, after they’ve been used for a bit, the plastic tip begins to round and doesn’t punch clean holes. This can be a great inexpensive punch if you only need a few holes and are not going to expand in the future. If you might expand your system, we would recommend stepping up to our standard punch. It comes with a stainless steel tip that can punch hundreds of holes and is a bargain at just $1.64.
Using 3.6mm or 7mm Barbed Take-off Adapters?
Barbed take-off adapters are used in a drip tape application to easily connect the drip tape run to the poly tubing. The barbs are larger than those commonly used with micro-irrigation drippers and sprinklers so can make punch selection more difficult. We carry the 7mm Punch for 400 Barb for use with the larger 7mm barb take-offs. These require a mainline tubing of 3/4" or larger. The smaller 3.6mm barbs will use the 1/4" punches. Inserting the barb into the small hole can be difficult but it does work. A little-known but valuable tip is to punch the holes in your poly tubing when it is cool/cold. If possible, try to punch holes and insert fittings in your tubing in the morning before the sun warms it too much.
That’s a quick rundown on punches and some scenarios to keep in mind when selecting a punch so you can get the right one for your needs.