How To Drill A Hole In Glass - Without Breaking It!

Last Updated On January 6, 2021 By Elliot

Everything You Need To Know To Drill A Hole In Glass

Have you always wanted to create a lamp from a mason jar, or perhaps drill a hole through glass?

The thought of taking a drill to glass can be a little nervewracking, to say the least. Won’t it just break when you take a drill to it?

Can you drill a hole into glass with a normal drill bit? This is totally doable. It does require a degree of patience and practise though! 

I’m not going to lie, there is always the risk that the glass will break. However, you can take several steps to minimise your risk - let’s dive straight in!

Drilling Through Glass - Which Drill Bit to Use

carbide drill bits

The drill bit is what is making contact with the glass so it is imperative that you use the correct bit. 

You will need a very sharp drill bit. Glass is a hard material and a sharp drill bit will help you get through it without damaging or shattering it. 

It is common to find glass drill bits to be made out of carbide and some have diamond tips. They are different from normal drill bits, the tips will be very pointy and shaped very much like a spear. 

When looking for a glass drill bit in a shop, it will be labelled clearly so there shouldn’t be much doubt!

Staying Safe When Drilling Through Glass

I’m not going to brush over this step and nor, should you! 

While it is simple enough (when you know how) to drill through glass and it not break, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore safety steps. 

Safety goggles are a must. This goes for pretty much every job involving power tools be especially jobs involving glass. 

Glass in the eye is just a no-no and should be avoided. 

While you’re at it, it’s best that you cover up the rest of your body. Make sure to cover up your arms and legs. Use gloves for your hands too.

Step By Step Guide: How To Drill Through Glass

Now that you’re all kitted up and have the correct drill bit, you’re going to need a few more bits:

  • Drill - can be corded or cordless
  • Painter’s tape
  • Marker
  • Drill bit
  • Safety goggles
  • Flat surface
  • Cardboard
  • Oil or lubricant

Step One: Attach the cardboard to the glass where you want your hole to be

Using the painter’s tape cover the area of the glass of where you will be drilling. The reason we do this is that glass tends to be slippery, without the cardboard you may find that the drill slides. This way the drill can get a better grip. 

Step Two: Mark Up

Take the marker pen and make a mark on the cardboard of where you want your hole to be.

Step Three: Put your drill bit in your drill

Your best bit is to start with a smaller sized drill bit than you need. You can then use the size you need later.

Step Four: Secure the glass

A good little tip is to place some cardboard beneath the glass, this helps to provide a bit of cushioning and keep the glass secure. If need be, you can secure the cardboard in place using the tape.

Step Five: Drill!

The most exciting step or nervewracking step?

Line up your drill and go slowly. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to the glass as this can cause it to shatter. 

Step Six: Take away the cardboard

Drilling didn’t last too long, did it? 

Once you’ve drilled through the cardboard and got through to the glass it is best to stop. 

Remove the cardboard and then you can get back to drilling!

Tip: Things can get hot so to prevent overheating you can apply some oil or lubrication to help minimise the risk of the glass getting damaged.

Step Seven: Don’t break through to the other side

If you drill straight through to the other side of the glass, there is a risk all your hard work will be for nothing and it will crack.

Instead of that, flip the glass over as you get close to the other side and start drilling from there.

Now that should have worked perfectly and you just drilled beautifully through the glass!

How To Drill Through Glass - Top Tips

safety tips reminder

If you’re still not totally comfortable about the idea of drilling through the glass, I get it! It can be pretty daunting. 

However! Below are some handy tips to help alleviate some of those concerns.

Treat yourself to a fresh drill bit - Drill bits can become dull (though they can be sharpened!). When they become dull, they are more likely to cause the glass to break. For the best chance of success make sure your drill bit is sharp - and designed for glass.

The glass should be supported - Your glass should be on a flat surface, this takes away some of the pressure. It’s even better if you add a bit of cushioning to beneath.

Take it slowly - “It is better to get there slowly, than not get there at all”. 

In the case of glass, the slower you go, the better result you will get. When you purchase the drill bit, have a look at the packaging for an indication of the best speed to keep your drill at. 

Go big or go home - Not in this case! Always start by making a small hole. Then slowly take the size of the drill bits up until you have got to your desired size hole. 

Chill out - As with many other materials, you will find that glass can heat up when you’re drilling it. It’s best to keep some water to hand and cool it down as you’re working through it. 

Try to avoid the edge - The closer to the edge of the glass you are, the more likely it is to crack as there is less support. Ideally, you don’t want to drill within ¾ inches from the edge for the glass. 

File the hole - To make the hole nice and smooth, you can take a file to it. This will smooth the edges down nicely. 

This is particularly good (and pretty much essential) if you are planning on putting electrical cables through the hole. If you don’t this can result in glass cutting the cables.

Can You Drill Through Tempered Glass?

The short answer is: No.

The reason for this is tempered glass is specially designed to shatter into tiny pieces when it breaks. 

Tempered glass is often found on car windows so you can understand why tempered glass works the way it does. It’s used in places that benefit from having easy to shatter glass. 

Basically, you won’t be able to drill into tempered glass without it breaking into pieces. Always make sure the glass you’re drilling into isn’t tempered glass otherwise you’re in for a lot of clearing up!

Final Thoughts

For your first attempt at drilling through glass, it’s better to try an old piece that doesn’t matter if it goes wrong. This will show you that you can do it and it isn’t too difficult!

The key thing is to remember a few things:

  1. There are different drill bits for different jobs. Always use a glass one when working with glass. “Have the right tools for the job”.
  2. Safety is important. Look after yourself first of all. Cover yourself up and wear goggles and a mask. But also take precautions with the glass. Ensure it’s on a flat surface before you start cutting it. Keep the glass cool while you’re working with it. 
  3. Use the right tools for the job. I know you probably hear this time and time again. It’s as true now as it was then. 

Set yourself up for success, after all, once you can drill through glass, your project potentials are endless! 

What is your next project?

Elliot

I'm Elliot Higgins the Founder of multiple hardware stores around the UK. I love wood and wood working. Watching a fine piece of pine or cedar turn into a work of art is extremely satisfying. The one thing I love more than woodworking is the toys that we use! On HandyToolsHome.com; we bring you information and reviews on all kinds of tools.

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