How to Drill a Hole in Glass

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Categories Drills
100 percent the best way to drill a hole in glass. 

Some things strike fear into the hearts of every DIY enthusiast, and how to drill a hole in glass is one of them. Drilling a hole in glass requires patience, a gentle touch, and the right tools.

So, if you are embarking on a project and it involves drilling holes in glass, we have the answer on how to do it well.

Drilling a Hole In Glass Isn’t as Scary as You Think

Rest the glass on some cushioned plywood and mark with tape. Use a carbide spear tipped drill bit and start slowly as you make a pilot hole. Drill at 400 RPM. Drilling through glass is easy. The trick is to work slowly, methodically, and keep the glass wet.

Table of Contents

    What You Need

    You will need the right equipment, so let’s get down to specifics.

    • Safety goggles.
    • Face mask.
    • Masking tape.
    • Felt tip pen.
    • Scrap wood or plywood.
    • Some newspaper or old sheets.
    • Lubricant (water, grease, or oil).
    • Power drill.
    • Spear tipped carbide or diamond-tipped drill bit.
    • A diamond file (600 grit).
    • Can of compressed air.

    How To Drill a Hole in Glass

    1. Prepare the Glass

    Line the plywood with newspaper or an old sheet to give it some cushioning. Slide the glass over the wood. Then place two strips of masking tape in an X formation over the area where you want the hole.

    Using the pen, mark the exact spot where you want to drill.

    2. Prepare the Drill

    Secure the one-eighth inch carbide or diamond-tipped spear point drill bit in the power drill chuck. Start small because they are better for making starter holes. Put on the protective goggles and face mask.

    Avoid a Rookie Error

    Try not to drill within three-quarters of an inch from the edge of the glass. This increases the risk of the glass shattering.

    3. Drill a Starter Hole

    Set the speed to 400 RPM and slowly begin drilling on the marked spot. Place a few drops of lubricating oil to help the drill bit move without binding up.

    Apply gentle pressure as the bit carves out the starter hole. Remember to keep the glass wet.

    4. Increase Drill Bit Size

    Remove the masking tape and step up to a larger drill bit now that you’ve made the pilot hole. Keep the speed at 400 RPM and keep the pressure steady. Periodically, clear away glass dust with the can of compressed air.

    5. Ease the Pressure

    When you reach three-quarters of the way, ease the pressure and keep the speed at 400 RPM. If you apply too much, you will crack the glass. You will also risk heating the glass dust, which damages your drill bit.

    6. Clean the Hole

    Once you exit the hole on the other side of the glass, gently remove the drill. Using the diamond file, clean away any rough edges that may be present. Rinse in cold water to wash away any remaining debris.

    Quick Tip

    If you flip the glass over at the three-quarters point and drill from the other side, you get a neater finish, which results in less filing.

    How to Drill a Hole Through Tempered Glass

    Warning

    Tempered glass is heat-treated and dense, so the chance of it shattering increases dramatically. A high percentage of attempts fail, so only the brave should try this.

    1. Select the Right Drill Bit

    You will need a specialist diamond drill bit like a diamond-coated tile and glass drill bit. It has a hollow body and cuts through the glass, leaving a wide diameter hole.

    2. Set the Speed of the Drill

    Insert the drill bit in the drill and set the variable speed to 800 RPM if the bit is half an inch long, or 500 RPM if the bit is one-inch long. The speed should be 250 RPM for a 2-inch long bit, and if it is longer than that, set the rate at 160 RPM.

    The longer the drill bit, the slower the speed.

    3. Set the Glass in Position

    Using the plywood and newspaper, lay the glass down and using rubber clamps, hold it in position. Position a thin circle of clay an inch away from where the hole is going. Lift the drill and place the bit on the surface of the glass at a 45-degree angle.

    4. Start Drilling

    Keep the area wet. This keeps the glass from heating and cracking, and preserves your drill bit. Gradually straighten the angle of the drill to 90 degrees. Once through to the other side, tidy up any rough edges with a diamond file.

    Can you Drill Through Glass Without Breaking It?

    To drill a hole through glass without breaking it, you need the right tools. And specifically a carbide or diamond-coated drill bit. It needs to be the spear tipped variety, or a hollow diamond-coated tile and glass bit.

    These specialist bits scrape fine fragments off the glass rather than gouging out large pieces, and they create a smooth finish.

    The other key regarding how to drill holes in glass is to keep the surface wet, using a spray water bottle.

    What Type of Drill Bit Do You Use for Glass?

    Photo by: Bosch

    The best drill bit to use is a carbide-coated, spear tipped variety. Shaped like a spear (hence its name), it allows you to gradually build up the depth of the hole because the tip is tapered.

    It also will cut a hole in a different way than other drill bits, which means it’s gentler on the glass, creating fine dust as it cuts.

    Also, if you want to cut larger holes, try a diamond-coated hollow drill bit. Sometimes known as a tile and ceramics drill bit, it cuts a broader diameter. Again, it shaves the glass rather than gouging it out, so you get a smoother and neater finish.

    Can You Cut Glass with a Dremel Tool?

    Absolutely! The 360-degree diamond grit attachment cuts through glass with ease.

    If you have a Dremel, you don’t need a glass cutter. Follow the same procedure as using a spear tipped drill bit. Use bar soap and spread it over the site where the hole goes, and over the diamond-tipped Dremel bit.

    You still need cold water to keep the surface of the glass cool, but the soap coats the Dremel and eases the friction so that it can feed into the glass naturally without too much pressure.


    Now You Know the Drill

    Drilling through glass is straightforward as long as you work methodically and slowly. And if you get the right tools.

    If you follow this step-by-step guide, you should have that hole drilled in no time. So, what are you waiting for?

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    About the Author

    Mark Weir

    Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.
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