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How to Drill a Hole in Glass: Step-by-Step DIY Guide

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Credit: Manuel Trinidad Mesa, Shutterstock

If you like to take on various DIY projects, then you’ve probably been accumulating skills over time. But one skill that intimidates many is the ability to drill a hole in glass. You might drill in wood or metal without batting an eyelash, but glass is an entirely different story because it’s so fragile.

Many people worry about what might happen if the glass shatters, and rightly so! That’s an injury waiting to happen and a mess no one wants to clean. But if you follow the steps we’re going to outline, then you can safely drill through glass without all the worry and fear, allowing you to add another DIY skill to your toolbelt.divider 4

Before You Get Started

 

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Credit: evkaz, Shutterstock

Though drilling through glass isn’t a particularly complicated task, there are some things you’ll need to be aware of before you start putting bit to material. First, we’ll need to talk about the special tools you’ll need to safely and successfully drill through glass. Second, we’ll discuss the technique you’ll need to employ to make it work.

Tools for Drilling Glass

Obviously, if you want to drill a hole in glass, you’re going to need a drill. You can use any drill; it doesn’t have to be anything special. However, you will need a special bit that’s meant for drilling through glass.

Glass bits are shaped like a spear with diamond or carbide tips. You can find them in various sizes at just about any hardware or home improvement store. You’ll need one bit that’s the size of the hole you want to drill and at least one very small bit to get the hole started.

Additionally, you’re going to need some masking tape for drilling through glass. You’ll also want a marker to mark the spot where you’ll be placing your hole. A pen or pencil will work as well.

Once you’re finished drilling the hole, you’ll also want a file or some sandpaper to dull the sharp edge of the exit hole.

It also wouldn’t hurt to wear some safety equipment while working with glass. The last thing you want is a glass splinter in your eye, so safety glasses or goggles are a good idea.divider 6

The Technique

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Credit: Manuel Trinidad Mesa, Shutterstock

There are two main things to be aware of when drilling through glass; the amount of pressure you’re applying to the drill, and the speed at which the drill is spinning. You’ll want to keep the pressure pretty light or you could shatter the glass.

Just as importantly, you’ll want to drill at a low speed. If you let the bit spin too fast, it could cause the glass to overheat, which will increase the likelihood of it breaking. Plus, higher speeds increase the buildup of glass powder and will ruin the bit faster.

Final Note

One word of caution; be sure you’re not trying to drill into safety glass. This is a special type of glass that will shatter when you apply force to it. You can identify safety glass by the markings at the corner of the pane. Any other type of glass is fine to drill through, but you won’t be able to put a hole in safety glass.

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How to Drill a Hole in Glass

Now that you know what tools you need and have a basic grasp on the technique you must use to drill glass, let’s get into the specific steps you’ll be taking to create a smooth hole through a piece of glass.

  • Step 1: Mark Your Hole

To drill through glass, you’ll need a clear marking to indicate where the hole should go. But you don’t want to put this mark directly on the glass. If you try to drill with your bit touching the glass, it will simply slide all over the place, scratching your glass, but never starting a hole.

You’re going to need to give the bit something to grip, which is where our masking tape comes in handy. You’ll need to add a piece of masking tape on top of the area where your hole is going. Then, mark the exact point of your hole on the tape using a dot or an X.

  • Step 2: Secure the Glass

Once the location of your hole is clearly marked, you need to secure the glass so it won’t move while you’re attempting to drill through it. You have to be careful not to apply too much pressure to the glass though.

If you’re drilling through a smaller object like a jar or glass, you can wrap part of it in cloth and put it in a vice; gently, of course. Alternatively, you can wedge it between two cushions and hold it with one hand while drilling with the other. Glass panes can be laid on a pad or blanket on top of a flat surface.

  • Step 3: Starter Hole

You don’t want to jump right into drilling your full-sized hole. Instead, you’ll want to drill a small starter hole, which you will enlarge afterward. Your starter hole doesn’t even have to go all the way through the glass piece, though it can. A small dimple partway into the glass is all that’s truly necessary. Remember to don your safety gear before starting the hole.

  • Step 4: Bore it Out

With your starter hole complete, you can remove the tape from your glass and insert your full-sized bit into the drill. Still using light pressure and low speed, drill through the glass. If your project requires a very large hole, you might want to repeat this process several times with progressively larger bits.

  • Step 5: Smooth Your Edges

Once your hole is as large as you’d like and is all the way through your glass piece, you’ll want to sand down the edges of the exit hole. The entry hole is likely already smooth and clean, but you might find that the exit hole is quite sharp. A diamond file is a great option for sanding down the edge. 600-grit should do the trick.

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Conclusion

Drilling through glass can seem like a daunting task, but once you understand the process and the tools you need, it loses the intimidating feeling. Hopefully, after reading this article, you feel confident enough to take on that project and drill through glass yourself. Just make sure you use the right tools with the right technique. And don’t forget to wear your safety equipment!

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Featured image credit: Manuel Trinidad Mesa, Shutterstock

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