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How to Drill a Hole in Glass

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

Few DIY tasks are more intimidating than drilling a hole in a sheet of glass. It requires preparation, patience, and the proper tools.

Despite this being one of the more delicate tasks you might need to complete as part of a DIY project, it is probably less complicated than you think. Still, if you have never done it before, it is well worth taking the time to learn how to do it safely and properly.

In this guide, we will explain how to prepare your glass, how to drill a hole in it, and which tools are suitable for the task. This should help you drill holes in glass panels without encountering any issues.

How to Drill a Hole in Glass Safely

Rest the glass on some cushioned plywood and mark it 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 safe as long as you work slowly and methodically, and ensure the glass is wet to keep it from overheating.


What You Need

As with any DIY task, it is important to have the necessary equipment. Drilling glass is a delicate job, so make sure you have the following items before you start:

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

How To Drill a Hole in Glass

1. Prepare the Glass

Line a piece of plywood with newspaper or an old sheet to add some cushioning. Place the glass onto the wood. Then, place two strips of masking tape in an X shape over the spot on the glass where you want the hole.

Use a felt-tip pen to mark the exact spot where you want to drill.

2. Prepare the Drill

Fit a one-eighth-inch carbide or diamond-tipped spear point drill bit into your power drill’s chuck. You are going to start with a small starter hole and then make it larger. Put on your protective goggles and face mask.

Avoid The Edges

Try to avoid drilling within three-quarters of an inch from the edge of the glass. Drilling near an edge will significantly increase the risk of glass shattering.

3. Drill a Starter Hole

Set the speed to 400 RPM and slowly start drilling on the marked spot. You should place a few drops of lubricating fluid to reduce the amount of friction and reduce the risk of overheating.

Apply light pressure as the drill cuts the starter hole. Remember to keep the glass wet throughout.

4. Increase Drill Bit Size

Remove the masking tape and switch to a larger drill bit now that you have a pilot hole. Drill into the hole, keeping the speed at 400 RPM and the pressure steady. You can clear away any glass dust with your can of compressed air.

5. Ease the Pressure

When you are three-quarters of the way through the glass, ease the pressure and keep the speed at 400 RPM. If you push too hard, you will crack the glass. You also risk heating the glass dust, which could damage your drill bit.

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6. Clean the Hole

Once you have made it through to the other side of the glass, carefully remove the drill. Use a diamond file to tidy up any rough edges that are present. You can rinse it with cold water to wash away any remaining debris.

Quick Tip

If you turn the glass over after drilling three-quarters of the way through and drill from the other side, you will get a neater hole and won’t have to work as hard for a smooth finish.

How to Drill a Hole Through Tempered Glass

Warning

Tempered glass is heat-treated and very dense, so it has a much higher risk of shattering. You should think carefully before attempting to drill a hole through it.

1. Select the Right Drill Bit

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

2. Set the Speed of the Drill

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

3. Position the Glass

Cushion the plywood with newspaper or an old cloth. Then, set the glass down on it and use rubber clamps to hold it in place. Put a thin circle of clay about an inch from where you will be drilling. Hold the drill and place the bit on the surface of the glass at a 45-degree angle.

4. Start Drilling

Keep the area wet as this will prevent the glass from overheating and cracking, and also preserves your drill bit. Gradually move the drill to a 90-degree angle. Once you are 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. Specifically, that means a carbide or diamond-coated drill bit. It needs to be spear-tipped or a hollow diamond-coated tile and glass bit.

These specialist bits scrape fine fragments off the glass rather than gouging out large pieces, which reduces the stress on the material. This will also help you achieve a smooth finish.

Another important part of drilling into glass is keeping the surface lubricated to reduce friction when you drill it. This can be done using lubrication fluid or it can be as simple as spraying water from a bottle.

What Type of Drill Bit Do You Use for Glass?

Drill bit set
Photo by: Bosch

The best drill bit for making holes in glass is a carbide-coated, spear-tipped bit. With a spear shape, as their name suggests, their tapering means they gradually build up the width of the hole as you drill.

It cuts differently than other drill bits, removing tiny pieces with each turn, which makes it gentler on the glass and reduces the chance of cracks.

If you want to make larger holes, try a diamond-coated hollow drill bit. Sometimes known as a tile and ceramics drill bit, these cut a broader diameter. Again, they shave the glass rather than gouging it, so you will achieve a smoother, neater finish.

Can You Cut Glass with a Dremel Tool?

Dremel Tool

Dremel tools are ideal for cutting glass, as long as you are careful. The 360-degree diamond grit attachment will cut through glass with ease.

If you have a Dremel, you don’t need a dedicated glass cutter. Follow the same process as using a spear-tipped drill bit. Take a bar of soap and rub it over the site where the hole will go and the diamond-tipped Dremel bit, for lubrication.

You still need cold water to keep the surface of the glass cool, but the soap will greatly reduce the friction so the Dremel can cut into the glass naturally without applying much pressure.


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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.