How To Drill Glass - 3 Easy Steps

How To Drill Glass | How To Drill Glass Bottle

"How to Drill Glass and Tile"

You'll use these tips and techniques to drill glass, sea glass, wine bottles, glass block, tile, and stone.

  • Use diamond drill bits to drill your glass, tile and stone.
  • Round end bits will drill faster and last longer.
  • Use diamond core bits to drill holes 1/8" and larger.
  • Use plenty of lubrication/coolant to keep your drill tip cool and the hole clean.
  • Use light pressure! Let your drill bit drill at it's own pace.
  • Start diamond core bits at 600-900 RPM, diamond drill bits at 1500-3500 RPM.


Your FREE copy of the helpful hints tip sheet "The ABC's of Drilling" is shipped with every new customer order. We've helped 4,487 customers learn to drill glass.

The FAQs below should answer most questions you might have.

How fast should I drill?

Start out very slowly and gradually increase the speed. As a beginning point: start diamond core bits at about 700-800 RPM. Start round end bits at 1500-3500 RPM. The larger your bit is, the slower you should start. The more lubrication you use, the faster you can drill.

Drilling faster increases heat from friction, burns up the bit and causes the colorful drill tips. If your drill bit develops yellow, brown, blue or black “burn marks” around the tip, slow down.

How hard should I press?

With diamond drill bits it is very important to use light pressure and to let the bit "drill at its own speed".

Increasing the drill pressure will only increase the friction and heat. Heat burns up the bit and will fracture or crack the glass or tile you're drilling. If your drill bit develops yellow, brown, blue or black “burn marks” around the tip slow down and lighten up.

If you are dilling a hole completely through, it is important to "lighten up" the pressure even more when the drill bit is about to break through. This reduces chipping on the backside of the glass.

Better yet drill half way through, flip the glass or tile over, start a new hole on the backside and let them meet in the middle. (Yes, easier said than done.)

Should I use a lubricant/coolant?

Lets start out with the legal stuff first. Please be careful using any electrically powered tool near water. Water or another lubricant should be used to cool and lubricate the tip of diamond bits. Water is usually used, because it is cheap, easy to clean up and readily available.

Increase the amount of lubrication used with harder materials. If you are drilling fiberglass, a diamond bit can be used dry or with a very small amount of water. When drilling in glass, ceramics, or stone use enough water so that the “dust” from the hole is a very wet paste or wetter. The tip of the drill bit should always be wet.

A Few Tips: Use a small hose or tube to run water onto the glass or tile near the drill tip and bore hole. Some people place a plastic jug (milk jug) with a small hole near the bottom of it, next to the drill hole. As the water leaks out of the bottle, it provides continuous lubrication as you drill.

A better trick is to build a "dam" around the drill hole using modeling clay. Fill it with your coolant.

Or best yet, place the glass/tile being drilled into a shallow pan or tray then fill the pan with enough water to just cover the glass/tile. If you are drilling on a vertical surface use a hose or tube to run water to the drill tip. If that's not possible, have someone "mist" water onto the drill tip using a squirt bottle. (More legal stuff) Please be careful and use common sense around water if your tool is electrically powered.

How do I balance speed, pressure and lubrication?

Learning to balance drill speed, drill pressure, coolant and your time is a learned skill. Learned from trial and error. Start out with a very slow drill speed, very light pressure and lots of lubrication. Gradually increase all three until you reach the point where time spent drilling balances against the cost of more drill bits. Starting slow reduces risks and extends bit life. Always use more coolant than you think you'll need.

Which bits will fit my Dremel® tool?

Every diamond bit on this websitewith a 1/16", 3/32" or 1/8" shank will fit Dremel® rotary tools. You will need to make sure that your Dremel® tool has an adjustable chuck or that you have the right size collet to fit your drill bit.

If you have an adjustable chuck simply tighten or loosen the chuck until the shank of the bit slides into the chuck. Then tighten the chuck until it holds the bit securely in place.

If you don’t have an adjustable chuck, then your Dremel tool uses collets. The collet is the metal tube that holds the bit in your Dremel® tool. These are interchangeable. Even Dremel® brand bits come in different 2 different shank sizes, 1/8" and 3/32". Just change the collet to fit the bit you are using.

How do I start a hole?

The best way to prevent the bit from skipping or walking when you're starting a hole is to use a drill press. This holds the bit firmly in place.

If you can't use a drill press, keep the bit from walking or skipping by making a pilot hole in a piece of wood or plastic. 1/8" thick wood, 1/8" Plexiglas or even cardboard will work. Place this "template board" on the material being drilled, with the pilot hole above your target spot. This will keep the diamond bit centered in place while you start the hole with your portable drill or rotary tool.

How long will they last?

This is the question our customers ask most often and is the hardest to answer.

The hardness and abrasiveness of the material being drilled, the drill speed, the pressure used and the amount and type of coolant affect the life span of all diamond bits. Even materials that appear similar have varying degrees of hardness and abrasiveness. It is impossible to estimate the life of a diamond bit. On some thin, soft materials a diamond bit may last for 50-100 holes or more, while on some thick, very hard or very abrasive materials the life many be only 1-3 holes or less.

That said, most people can expect to drill 25-35 holes in a piece of sea glass, a wine bottle or a glass block.

Don't do this!

There are two things that you should never do with your diamond bits.

Never:
  • Use diamond bits with impact type "hammer drills". The impact will bend the tips.
  • Diamond bits are not recommended for steel or other ferrous metals. You will get much better results using carbide bits on iron, steel and other ferrous alloys.
Let's start drilling.

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