How to drill holes through glass

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I haven’t found it to be difficult to drill holes in glass. As the video points out, with a little experience you can do it with a common masonry bit and a steady hand. These cheap chinese diamond hole saws look pretty sweet for cutting down the time involved for larger holes, though!

(And what is difficult is getting a perfectly smooth edge to your cuts that isn’t dangerously sharp. Anything less than perfectly smooth is a significant weakness in the glass object - it’s like nicks in a fencing blade, the damage will run.)


I had looked into what it would take to cut glass and also drill holes into glass some years ago, i’ll watch the video in a sec but from what i recall it comes down to even pressure and proper lubrication (generally you’d want the glass item submerged in water or under running water. Also use gloves.


in before anyone says…

AKA: How to make a bong.


It’s less about lubrication, and more about sinking the heat away from the drilling surface in the glass: uneven temperatures within glass cause it to crack due to differential in expansion in areas of glass at different temperature. Running water over the drilling surface helps lessen the temperature gradient in the glass.

Secret glass artist…


That’s the job of lubrication :slight_smile: it helps manage heat and friction, with glass cutting it just happens to be simple enough to use water rather than require some type of oil. Though i do get your observation that managing heat is the most important part of the process.

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I picked up a set of carbide (WC) bits for glass drilling a few years back on a whim. I tried a few test drills using a drill press and some random bits of glass I had lying around. I was surprised at how easy it was to do and how good the results were. The bits I used are a sort of leaf shape and chip away the glass. I was sure the glass was going to shatter, but it never did. I couldn’t get it to fail. I did stall the drill once (it’s a cheap drill). All I did was keep the cut area wet with water from a small wash bottle.

I’ve used the diamond type of bits for cutting ceramic before, but never on glass. As @Medievalist mentioned those can be a lot faster in hole drilling as they cut the perimeter of the hole and the type I used cut the volume of the hole. So, for large holes, that ratio clearly goes in favor of the ‘diamond coated ring’ type of bit. They do have the limitation of depth, though, so that’s something to be aware of if you’re cutting a very large piece of glass.

Another advantage of the diamond bits is that you can make oblique holes in items as they’re grinding the glass instead of chipping it away like the traditional type of bit.

I do take issue with @Grey_Devil in that lubrication and cooling are completely different tasks. Oil in engines does both roles, but that’s not always the case. I used water for cooling my glass cuts as you don’t need or really want any lubrication. Lubrication is to decrease sliding friction–which isn’t really at issue here. What you need is something to keep the temperatures down and even. A secondary use is to carry away the fines from the drilling/grinding operation.




Bought a set of those drills to do some ceramic tiles. Used far less water - and dipped the drill to cool from time to time, too - but drilled much, MUCH more slowly, and gently. Worked perfectly.


Haven’t watched the vid so sorry if this is in there but I drill all kinds of materials including glass and mirrors and porcelain tiles like this with a similar bit set and the key is feed rate as with any machining operation. Cooling/lubrication is also very necessary of course.


Don’t use a laser cutter. Don’t ask how I know. (Etching is fine, tho.)



A conical diamond bit/burr ought to work for that, or wet/dry sanding cloth wrapped around a dowel - maybe even fire polishing the edge for holes in glass.


Another secret glass artist here (at least BITD). I used to do it the hard way - tapping away for about an hour with a broken file (so there’s a sharp point), then once there’s enough of a hole, proceeding to ruin a rat tail file by pressing it into the hole and turning (as if to unscrew it) for about another hour until it can take a grommet.

Good way to inhale a bunch of glass dust…

Hey, back then ebay wasn’t a thing.


Chris Notap’s hole-in-bottle trick for water-cooling (at 2:05) is pretty nifty. And I’m grateful for the pointer to those hole bits. (Sets of 10 are only ~$4 on AliExpress; search for {glass hole bits 10 pcs}).

Anyone else enjoying the fact that this lesson in making clean, smooth, holes comes from a man named “Notap”?


Grinding to microscopic smoothness (which is the only way to solve the weakness issue) takes an insanely long time even with power tools and diamond grits. I haven’t enough patience to do it again, although I had enough curiosity to do it once.

Flame polishing is definitely the way to go. But it requires expertise I currently do not have.

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Before anyone tries it and gets the horrible results, no, you can’t drill tempered glass with this method(or any other).


Or a kiln… e.g., packing the drilled holes with alumina hydrate before firing to a glazey level… of course, that assumes that firing to that level does not otherwise de-purpose your glass for you. :slight_smile:

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