How To Drill Through Plexiglass

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Despite a name suggesting it’s a type of glass, plexiglass is actually a type of plastic that’s durable, shatter resistant, and easily customizable. It’s commonly used in windows, skylights, hospital equipment, and for barriers. However, to make the most of plexiglass, it’s critical to know how to use it and how to alter it properly, such as when drilling through it.

When drilling through plexiglass, you should use a drill bit that’s made for plastic, such as a spiral upcut or spiral downcut bit. Make sure you clamp the plexiglass, go slowly, and use a lubricant such as oil or water. If you don’t follow these steps, you risk shattering the plexiglass.

Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about drilling through plexiglass, including what plexiglass is actually made of, what kind of drill bit to use, and other important tips to follow.

What Is Plexiglass Made Out Of?

Holes in acrylic glass

Plexiglass is a transparent thermoplastic material that is also known as acrylic glass or PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate). It’s a type of plastic that’s derived from natural gas or petroleum and is made by polymerizing methyl methacrylate (MMA) monomer molecules.

The process of making plexiglass involves heating and melting MMA, then adding a catalyst and a stabilizer to the mixture. The mixture is then poured into molds or formed into sheets, which are then cooled and cut to the desired size and shape.

Plexiglass is widely used in various applications, such as in construction, cars, furniture, and displays, thanks to its transparency, durability, and weather resistant properties. It’s a popular alternative to real glass. 

Is It Difficult to Drill Through Plexiglass?

Drilling through plexiglass can be challenging. It’s important to use the right drill bit tip as well as the right technique to make sure the process goes smoothly and the plexiglass doesn’t crack.

Which Drill Bit Type Is Best?

A drill bit designed for plastics, such as a spiral upcut (which you can buy on Amazon) or spiral downcut bit, should be used for drilling through plexiglass. These bits have a sharper point and flutes that help remove the material more efficiently and prevent cracking.

Don’t use a random drill bit without checking that it’s compatible with plastics or you could easily ruin the plexiglass.

Will Plexiglass Crack When Drilled?

If the improper drill bit is used or the process is rushed (or simply not done properly), then yes, plexiglass can crack when drilled. However, it’s certainly possible to do it without the plexiglass cracking! It might just take some practice.

Make sure to find the proper tools, but also follow the appropriate tips to minimize the risk of the material cracking or shattering under the pressure.

Tips for Drilling Through Plexiglass

Man working drill plexiglass in vise - workshop

Here are some additional tips to bear in mind when attempting to drill through plexiglass. If you follow them all, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Take It Slow

Plexiglass can melt or crack if the drill speed is too high. It’s therefore recommended to use a low speed setting and apply light pressure to avoid overheating or breaking the material.

Rushing will be your biggest enemy during this process; it’s better to take more time and avoid cracking than having to buy more plexiglass and redo the whole process.

Clamp the Plexiglass

To prevent the material from moving or vibrating during drilling, you should clamp the plexiglass securely to a workbench or table. Make sure not to do it too tightly, but firmly enough that it won’t move.

Lubricate the Plexiglass

Using a lubricant such as water or oil can help keep the drill bit cool and reduce friction, which can reduce the risk of cracking or melting. Make sure you don’t use something that will stain the plexiglass; stick to materials that can be easily wiped away.

Final Thoughts

Overall, plexiglass is very customizable, which makes it a great material to work with — and you can drill through it. But even though plexiglass is relatively shatter-resistant and durable, it can still crack and shatter under the right circumstances, including if you rush the drilling process.

As long as you take it slow, clamp the plexiglass, lubricate it, and use an appropriate drill bit, you should be successful at drilling through plexi.

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