How to Drill a Hole in Glass

You’ve often thought about drilling a hole in a mason jar to create a lamp or drilling a hole in a glass pane so that you can thread a cord through it.

But the idea of learning how to drill a hole in glass makes you a little nervous. Isn’t it likely that the glass will shatter or break the minute you touch the drill bit to it?

While there’s always the risk that the glass will break, there are ways to know how to drill a hole in glass so that it doesn’t shatter. Take a look.

Use the Right Drill Bit

We can’t stress enough how important it is to use the right drill bit when drilling through glass. Glass is a hard material, you’re going to a need a very sharp, hard bit to drill into it without shattering it.

You don’t have to use too much brain space when figuring out which drill bit is the right one to use on glass. Just look for drill bits labeled as for use with glass or tile when you’re at the store.

Safety Measures to Take

Done correctly, it’s easy to drill a hole in glass without breaking it. But that doesn’t mean you want to take your chances and skip out on certain safety measures.

As with any DIY project involving power tools, it’s essential that you wear safety glasses when drilling through glass. You don’t want to risk having a piece of glass flying into your eye.

It’s also a good idea to cover up the rest of your body. Wear long sleeves and long pants and a thick pair of work gloves.

How to Drill Through Glass

How to Drill Through Glass

Now that you’ve got an idea of the right type of drill bit to use and the safety precautions to take, here’s how to drill a hole in glass.

What you need

  • Painter’s tape
  • Cardboard
  • Marker
  • Glass drill bit
  • Corded or cordless drill
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Table or another flat surface
  • Lubricant or oil

What to do:

  • Use the painter’s tape to attach the cardboard over the area where you’ll drill. Glass is a slippery material, starting out by drilling into cardboard will help your drill bit get a better grip.
  • Mark on the cardboard where you’ll make the hole, with the marker.
  • Attach the drill bit for glass to your drill. It’s a good idea to start with a small drill bit (1/8 or 1/4 inch), even if you’re making a larger hole. Once you’ve got the hole started, you can switch to a bigger drill bit.
  • Put on your glasses and gloves.
  • Set the glass on a secure, flat surface, such as a table. You might want to layer a piece of cardboard under the glass for cushioning. It’s also a good idea to tape the glass down with the painter’s tape.
  • Begin drilling. Go slowly and don’t put too much pressure on the glass.
  • Remove the cardboard. Once you’ve broken through the cardboard and into the glass below, pause. Take the cardboard away and continue to drill through the glass.
  • Apply oil, if needed. You can put a few drops of lubricating oil on the glass as you drill to keep it from overheating and to reduce the risk of breaking even more.
  • Stop drilling before you break through the other side. There’s a risk that the glass will crack if you drill all the way through. Once you’ve nearly reached the other side, stop.
  • Turn the glass over. Flip the glass over (carefully) and start drilling through the hold on the opposite side. Doing so will create a clean hole and minimize the risk of breakage.

How to Drill a Hole in Glass Bottles

How to Drill a Hole in Glass Bottles

Let’s say you want to turn a glass bottle into a lamp or want to create a decorative object out of a wine bottle. While the rules of drilling into glass bottles are similar to the rules for drilling into a flat pane of glass, there are some differences.

One difference is in the type of drill you use. It might be easiest to drill through a glass bottle using a drill press, rather than a handheld drill.

While a glass pane is flat and even, a glass bottle is likely to have some irregularities when it comes to its shape. That’s true whether you’re drilling through a basic wine bottle or a specially cut and designed bottle (such as one in the shape of a skull or rose).

Using a drill press allows you to have more hands free. You can use one hand to lower the drill bit into the glass and the other to securely hold the bottle in place as you work

Tips for Drilling a Hole in Glass Without Breaking It!

Drilling a Hole in Glass Without Breaking

Still nervous about breaking glass when trying to drill through it? These tips will help to put your mind at ease.

  • Always start with a fresh drill bit. Glass drill bits get dull, just like any other type of bit. To reduce the risk of breaking the glass, always use a new, sharp drill bit (and make sure it’s designed for glass).
  • Support the glass. Place the glass on a sturdy surface. Even better, have some sort of cushion beneath the glass as you drill.
  • Go slowly. It’s not a race and in fact, the slower you go, the better your results will be. The packaging of the drill bits might give you an idea of the appropriate speed, but Family Handyman recommends about 400 rpm.
  • Start small. No matter the size of the finished hole, you need to start by making a very small one. Increase the width of the drill bit as you go, until you’ve reached the final diameter.
  • Keep the glass cool. Just like any other material, glass can heat up as you try to drill through it. Help it stay cool by spraying it with water or by applying a small amount of lubricant or oil as you work.
  • Keep away from the edges. The closer you drill to the edge of a piece of glass, the less support there is and the more likely the glass will be to crack or break. Do It Yourself recommends drilling at least 3/4 inch away from the sides and edges of the glass.
  • File the hole when finished drilling. You might want to file the hole to smooth the edges down after you’ve drilled into glass. It’s especially a good idea to file the hole if you plan on threading an electrical cable through it — you don’t want to risk the glass slicing the cable.

Can You Drill a Hole in Tempered Glass?

Before we wrap up, let’s take a few minutes and talk about tempered glass. Tempered glass has been specially treated so that when it breaks, it shatters into small pieces that won’t slice you open.

You’ll find tempered glass in the windows of cars and occasionally on the sides of aquariums. Here’s the thing about tempered glass: the way it’s made and the fact that it’s designed to shatter into pieces means that it’s impossible to drill through it at home.

You can try, but you’re just going to end up with a pile of tiny glass pieces. So, our advice is this: double check to make sure whatever you’re trying to drill isn’t tempered glass before you start to drill.

Final Thoughts

As long as you’re working with a regular old piece of glass or a regular old glass bottle, drilling a hole in glass isn’t too intimidating. It’s just important to remember a few things before you start. One is always to use a drill bit especially made for glass.

Two, make sure you have the right safety gear. Three, go slowly to avoid overheating the glass and cracking it. Finally, it’s important to use the right tools. A corded or cordless drill might be appropriate for a flat pane of glass, but a drill press will make easy work of drilling through a glass bottle.

Now that you know how to drill a hole in glass, an entire world of DIY projects has opened up to you. What will you make next?

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