Drilling a hole in glass is a bit tricky. Not only is there a risk of breaking the glass, but there’s also a danger of personal injury. As a result, many DIY crafters avoid projects that involve drilling a hole in glass, as they are afraid to work with such a fragile material. But with the proper technique, correct drill bit, and a little practice, it’s pretty easy to master this skill.
You can drill a hole in the glass with diamond-tipped or carbide drill bits. Mark the spot where you want to drill a hole and drill at a low speed while maintaining light pressure. Remember to wear protective gear and to start with a smaller hole to protect your glass from damage.
So whether you want to make a custom light shade or hang a frameless mirror, it’s essential to know the proper techniques and tools before drilling a hole in the glass. Let’s look at the steps that will help you master this craft without breaking the glass and the equipment you’ll need to do your project safely.
How Do You Drill a Hole in Glass?
Before you can start drilling a hole in the glass, it’s vital to choose the correct drill bit and take some necessary safety precautions:
The Best Drill Bit for Your Project
Spear-shaped carbide or diamond-tipped bits are highly suitable for boring glass. Drill bits designed with a spear shape can drill glass safely without breaking it.
In addition, they are much sharper compared to masonry and other drill bits, which can damage the glass instead of drilling a precise hole.
Drill bits for glass come in various sizes and are readily available at your local hardware store. The best practice is investing in a small glass drill bit to make pilot holes and larger drill bits to match your desired hole size.
It’s vital to follow safety precautions when you’re drilling a hole in the glass. Be sure to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling dust and glass particles, and goggles to protect your eyes from glass shards. Wearing gloves is also crucial to protect your hands from cuts while working with glass.
When drilling, the best technique is to maintain moderate pressure and low speed. Before you start working on your project, it’s best to practice a few times on a spare piece of glass.
Operate your drill below 400 rpm because if you drill at high speed, the excessive heat generated can damage your drill bit.
The following step-by-step guide will help you drill a hole in the glass with ease:
Prepare the Glass
- Put a scrap of plywood on your work surface and line it with sheets of newspaper, a rubber pad, or some cushioning material.
- Now place the glass you want to drill on top of this plywood. Make sure that piece of plywood is slightly bigger than the piece of glass you want to drill.
- Measure your glass and, with a permanent marker, mark the spot where you want to drill a hole.
- Be sure to drill at least ¾-inch away from the glass edge to avoid causing any damage.
- Make a large X where you’ve marked the spot to drill with the help of masking tape. This will provide traction and prevent the drill bit from slipping on the smooth surface.
Choose the Starting Drill Bit
- Use an ⅛-inch or 3/32-inch carbide-tipped drill bit with your variable-speed power drill.
- Be sure to wear a dust mask, goggles, and cut-resistant gloves for your safety.
Drill a Pilot Hole
- First, drill a dimple or pilot hole at the marked point to prevent glass damage.
- Hold your drill at a 90-degree angle at the center of the marked spot on your glass.
- Lubricate the drill tip and the area around the marked point on the glass with a few drops of oil.
- Now drill a small hole while keeping your drill at a low speed and applying medium pressure.
Fit a Larger Drill Bit to Drill the Required Hole Size
- Remove the masking tape once you’ve started making the starter hole.
- Be sure to drill at low speed (400 rpm) at the marked spot.
- Stop the drill intermittently and clean the dust from the glass with compressed air. If needed, add more lubricating oil to keep the drill bit cool.
- Switch your drill bit for a larger size to create the hole with the diameter you need. Make sure you maintain light pressure on the drill.
- Typically, your glass will have a smooth entry hole and an uneven exit hole. That’s why, once you’re almost ¾ of the way through, stop drilling and turn the glass over.
- Now repeat the same drilling process on the reverse side. Again, begin with the smallest drill bit and move on to the larger size while maintaining low speed and slight pressure on the drill.
File the Edges
Once you’ve finished drilling, you’ll find the entry hole to be smooth and clean, whereas the edges of the exit hole may be jagged and sharp. Using a round file to smooth out the edges is quite convenient. Or you can take a strip of sandpaper and tape it around an awl as an alternative.
- With a 600-grit file, smooth out the jagged edges around and in the hole.
- Rinse the glass to remove residual dust.
What Tools Do You Need to Drill a Hole into Glass?
The following tools are essential for comfortably drilling a hole into glass:
- Variable speed drill
- Carbide drill bits
- Masking tape
- Dust mask
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves
- Permanent marker
- Lubricating oil
- 600-grit sandpaper or diamond file
How to Avoid Breaking the Glass
Glass is fragile, and you must be extra careful when working with mirrors or glass. Instead, choose diamond-tipped or carbide drill bits, as they are sharp and can safely drill a hole into the glass without chipping or breaking it.
Using a low rpm, applying consistent and moderate pressure, and beginning your project with a small pilot hole is the key to creating a clean, smooth hole without breaking the glass.
Can You Drill a Hole in Any Glass Type?
Drilling a hole through tempered glass isn’t recommended, as this type of glass shatters on impact. This can be quite dangerous, especially if you aren’t wearing the proper safety equipment.
It’s very easy to identify tempered glass from regular glass, as tempered glass is designed with smooth edges. However, you can also find slight imperfections on its surface. Also, tempered glass is typically stamped with an identifier.