One of the most useful tools in a DIYers tool kit is the handheld Dremel rotary tool. Whether you want to reshape mirrors and windowpanes, etch designs into bottles, or cut bottles for craft projects, a Dremel will certainly come in handy. But how exactly do you use a Dremel to cut glass?
In order to use a Dremel to cut glass, select the appropriate drill bit, place masking tape where you want to cut, draw an outline with a marker, and then cut with the Dremel while keeping the glass under running water. Use a steady hand and be sure use safety gear like goggles, a mask, and gloves.
A Dremel is a versatile tool that comes with a wide range of bits suitable for engraving, drilling, and cutting glass. Let’s look at the proper way to set up a Dremel, how to select the correct Dremel bit, and how you can use your Dremel to cut glass.
What Is a Dremel?
Dremel is a popular multinational brand of power tools. They are particularly well-known for a rotary tool used to cut glass and other materials like metal, plastic, and wood. However, the wide range of Dremel tools also includes powered screwdrivers, scroll saws, and hot glue guns.
A Dremel rotary tool (on Amazon) not only cuts through normal glass but can even cut plexiglass and fiberglass. These time-efficient and powerful tools are capable of working at very high speeds of between 10,000 and 35,000 RPMs.
How to Set Up a Dremel to Cut Glass
The most important thing to keep in mind while setting up your Dremel is to insert the correct drill bit. There are bits that are designed to cut through different materials; you’ll want to use bits specifically designed for cutting glass. They’re very easy to handle and will help you achieve the best results.
It’s very easy to insert the bit into a Dremel. You just need to put the glass cutting bit in the Dremel and tighten the collet to make sure the bit stays in place. The correct bit for your project will vary according to your specific glass-cutting job.
Determining the Right Dremel Bit
Choosing the right Dremel bit depends on the type of glass cut you’re aiming for. The bits are available in various sizes such as ¼-inch or ⅛-inch, allowing you to choose a size according to the hole size you want to drill.
The 545 Diamond Wheel bit, for example, is perfect for cutting a straight line. It’s 0.023 inches thick and has a diameter of 22.2 mm.
Completely covered in diamond dust, this bit cuts through glass perfectly. The Diamond Wheel bit can be used for cutting glass into unique, exquisite shapes, like creating DIY mosaics or reforming mirrors for bathroom installation.
Another bit that’s suitable for drilling holes in all types of glasses is the 663DR ¼-inch glass drilling bit (on Amazon).
For engraving purposes, the Dremel fiber bit is the best option. You can easily find this bit at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes. The engraving surface of this bit is coated with diamond particles, which makes it perfect for engraving hard surfaces.
How to Cut Glass With a Dremel
The method you’ll need to follow to cut glass with a Dremel also depends on the type of cut you’re looking for.
The method of using the wheel-style Dremel bit is just like cutting PVC pipes. You have to guide the wheel along the marked line while the wheel spins at high RPMs. It’s also vital to keep your hand extremely steady while cutting the glass.
If you’re using the hole cutter bit, then the procedure is similar to operating a standard drill bit. Be sure to observe the necessary precautions regarding safety and heat management when drilling holes in glass.
If you need to cut glass with a Dremel here’s what you need to do:
1. Tape the Glass
Use masking tape to mark the line along which you wish to cut. Whether you’re reshaping a mirror or cutting a bottle in half, be sure to place the tape such that it offers you a favorable line guide. Masking tape is ideal for this job, as it sticks perfectly to the glass and doesn’t leave a sticky residue when removed.
2. Draw the Lines
With the help of a marker, draw a line on the tape. This will indicate where you need to make the cut. Make sure you use a waterproof marker so that it doesn’t wash off when you use water in the next step. It’s also better to let the ink dry out completely.
Using a permanent marker is recommended for this purpose, as it doesn’t wash off and dries relatively quickly.
3. Place the Glass Under Running Water
Before making the cut on the glass, place it under running water. This will allow you to maintain suitable temperatures while cutting.
You’ll also be able to cut the glass much faster and smoother. When using a corded Dremel, be sure to place your tool at such an angle that water doesn’t drip onto the cord. Once you start the Dremel, let it reach its full speed before cutting glass.
Keep a firm grip on the Dremel and position yourself in a way that allows you to resist kickback forces.
4. File Away
Once you’ve cut the glass, you’ll find that it has rough edges that are quite sharp in some places. Smooth these freshly cut edges with the help of an 80-grit sandpaper bit, an 80-grit piece of sandpaper, or a diamond file.
Cutting a Wine Bottle
A wine bottle has thicker glass, so you’ll need to use a combination of heat and cold shocks to cut it:
1. Mark the Bottle With Masking Tape
Wrap masking tape along the height of the bottle to mark the place where you plan to cut it. Use a marker to draw a line on the masking tape. This will help guide your Dremel blade.
2. Score the Bottle
Run your Dremel along the marked line to score the bottle. Before moving on to the next step, fill a bucket with ice water. The bucket should be big enough to hold your bottle. Light a candle and rotate the bottle’s scored seam over its flame. Make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves for your safety.
3. Dip the Bottle in the Bucket
Quickly submerge your heated bottle into the bucket of cold water. Wait until you hear a cracking sound. This indicates that your bottle has broken into two. Repeat the process, if necessary.
4. Smooth the Edges
It’s most likely that the edges of your bottle will be jagged. Sand down the edges using an 80-grit abrasive grinding bit. Lastly, smooth the edges with 200-grit fine sandpaper.
Be sure to hold the glass gently when you’re sanding or filing, as pressing too hard can cause your glass to crack or even break.
Whether you’re cutting or filing the glass, it’s important that you don’t apply any force. Your glass can also be affected by the Dremel’s vibrations, that’s why putting masking tape around the area where you want to make the cut is a good idea.
Also, keeping the glass at a favorable temperature reduces the risk of breaking. Remember never to use a Dremel on cold glass, as it’s highly fragile.
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
Take steps to ensure your safety when you’re cutting glass, especially when working with a high-powered, handheld rotary tool. A Dremel spins very fast, which can cause glass dust and shards to shoot off at high speed from the cutting site.
Make sure that you follow the safety tips below when using the Dremel:
- Wear protective gear like goggles, face shield, dust mask, and gloves.
- Take note of the spinning direction of the glass-cutting bit.
- Secure the glass before cutting.
- Keep your workplace uncluttered and free from debris.
- Ensure that the Dremel bit is fully inserted into the collet.
- Carefully inspect the accessories for cracks or wear and tear. Avoid using damaged accessories.
- Stand facing away from the rotating bit’s plane to protect yourself from any expelled particles.
- Avoid holding the workpiece in your hand while you’re running the Dremel. Clamp it down so that both your hands are free to control the Dremel.
- Don’t lay down the Dremel while it’s still running.
- Avoid operating the Dremel near flammable materials as the sparks could start a fire.
- Keep other people out of your work area to avoid any accidents due to broken bits or flying materials.
- Whether you’re a novice or have been using the Dremel for a long time, always read the instructions and recommendations provided by the manufacturer before operating the tool.
- Bits are designed for specific purposes. Make sure that you know the correct bit to use when cutting glass.