If you have a DIY project at home that requires you to drill into glass and you’re not sure how to do it, read on to get an overview on the right procedures to follow from start to finish. It may seem like drilling into glass is only going to crack the material but by using the right drill bit and preparing the surface area correctly it is something almost anyone can do.
Our guide to how to drill into glass is easy to follow and ensures you can avoid making costly mistakes that could lead to you cracking the glass or even damaging the drill. You don’t have to be a DIY whizz to do it successfully, but by simply reading through each step you will have the drilled hole you need to carry on with the rest of the project.
Know your glass
Like any type of material – be it metal, masonry, wood or glass – there are many variants of glass that will require a different approach when it comes to drilling. For example, glass used for windows, bottles and mirrors are all manufactured in their own unique way and as such need to be handled differently.
It is advised that safety glass or tempered glass should never be drilled into. This toughened form of glass is used in applications such as car windshields, skylights and home appliances. If you aren’t sure if the glass is tempered simply check the four corners where the manufacturer has etched or sandblasted a tiny stamp.
Find the right equipment
The good news about drilling into glass is you do not have to purchase a special drill to complete the job. If you own a regular power drill, whether cordless or not, this will be more than sufficient.
What you should have at the ready is the correct drill bit. As with drilling through tile (*) or brick (*), using the right equipment will ensure both the surface and the drill itself are not damaged during the process.
Carbide-tipped drill bits are often used to drill into glass. The spade shaped point is manufactured in such a way that enables them to withstand the friction generated when drilling into glass. They are also easy enough to find at a local DIY store or online. One disadvantage of carbide drill bits is they can wear away quite quickly, which is why the price is usually quite low.
Diamond drill bits are another alternative which can be purchased with either a core bit or rounded end, depending on the type of hole you need to create. In general, diamond drill bits are more expensive to buy but they are more resilient and do not wear away quickly.
Preparing the surface
Given the fragility of glass ideally you will only want to drill as few times as possible. Depending on how many holes you require, use a measuring tape to mark the spot(s) on the surface with a marker pen. Glass does not provide natural grip so place masking tape over the area to prevent the bit from slipping.
Depending on where the glass is positioned you will need to put some form of protection in place to collect the drilled glass and to protect the surface sitting behind. For example, if you are drilling into a bottle you should place it into a smaller container lined with newspaper, rather than potentially boring through into a table or worktop.
If the glass is already in a fixed vertical position, for example a mirror on the wall, then place a container underneath to collect the tiny glass pieces. Avoid trying to hold a piece of glass with one hand while trying to drill with the other as this is far more likely to lead to an accident. The material must always be supported due to the pressure being applied while you are drilling.
Drilling into the glass
If possible, use a smaller bit to create a clear entry point for the hole you want to create. This pilot hole will enable you to drill into the surface a lot easier and with far more accuracy.
Once the pilot hole has been made you can remove the masking tape and start to drill directly into the glass. If it is quite a large hole you can work your way up from smaller sized bits to gradually create a wider indent in the glass before finally switching to the correct size.
Controlling the speed plays an essential role in successfully drilling into glass. As with similar hard materials the approach is to be slow and steady by remaining patient as the hole can take a little time to materialise. The speed can be increased to a medium level but avoid going in too fast as this will place strain on the motor and could also crack the glass.
Avoid applying to much physical pressure through the drill into the glass and let the tool do the legwork. Pressing too hard with invariably lead to the glass being cracked.
Cooling down the drill
Due to the amount of energy being produced by the drill pushing into the glass, the bits will start to get very hot. Using water to cool both the drill bit and the glass down is a good idea to prevent the drill from overheating or from burn marks appearing around the edge of the hole.
You can either use a cool, damp cloth to wipe down the bit, or spray a mist of water around the drill and glass so it remains lubricated at a lower temperature. Always take care not to get the water into the motor section of the drill.
Also remember not to remove the hot drill bit with your bare hands straight away. Either cool it down with water or wait for the temperature to naturally drop if you do not own a pair of safety gloves.
The finished job
From the outset it may seem that drilling into glass could prove to be extremely difficult. By taking the time to use the right level of care and correct equipment you can create the holes you need to make the changes to your home. A good idea is try to out some trial runs on spare pieces of glass if possible so you can get the approach right and reduce the risk of damaging the area you want to bore into.