How To Drill a Hole in Glass

By: Contributors  | 
A drill bit drilling through a piece of glass.
Drilling into glass safely and successfully requires both the right tools and the know-how. evkaz / Shutterstock

It's used to construct everything from practical home appliances to elegant art pieces. But glass isn't exactly known for customizability. Having said that, with the right tools and know-how, anyone can learn how to drill a hole in glass.

Successfully drilling holes in glass requires patience, understanding, and specifically crafted tools. With that in mind, it's time to take a look at the ins and outs of drilling glass.


Understanding The Properties of Glass

You can't drill a clean hole in what you don't understand. Which is why taking the time to learn more about this ubiquitous building material can be so important.

For starters, glass is incredibly brittle. Unlike metals or wood, glass can't bend or compress, which means it breaks under too much pressure. It's also inherently hard. This hardness necessitates the use of specialized drill bits, like carbide-tipped bits and diamond-tipped bits.


That's not all either. Glass is sensitive to sudden temperature changes, including the heat that's generated by the friction between the drill bit and the glass object. Without proper cooling, the heat can cause cracks and even cause the glass to break [source: Alexander].

Finally, glass comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and types. Understanding these types and adjusting your drilling process accordingly can be critical.


Choosing the Right Tools

Drilling glass safely and successfully requires investing in the right tools. The right tool selection not only makes the process a lot smoother, but also minimizes the risk of breaking the glass or sustaining an injury. Here's a breakdown of the essential tools required:

Drill Bits

As mentioned earlier, finding the right drill bit is essential. Fortunately, glass drill bits are widely available and relatively affordable. DIYers have three choices, including:


  • Diamond-tipped drill bits: Boasting unmatched durability and hardness, diamond tips are the gold standard for professionals who frequently drill glass [source: Hodgins].
  • Carbide-tipped glass and tile bits: A more affordable option, ideal for less frequent use.
  • Spear-headed glass drill bits: Outfitted with a spear-like shape, spear shaped bits are great for precision glass drilling.

Drilling Machine

Here, craftsmen are left with two options, a standard power drill and a drill press. A regular power drill can work fine if outfitted with the right drill bit, though you'll want to stick to lower speeds to prevent overheating and cracking the glass object.

A drill press is ideal. These reliable drilling machines are designed to ensure stability and precision. If you plan on doing a lot of drilling, or require larger holes, you should consider investing in a reliable drill press.

Additional Tools

Having a power drill that's outfitted with the right drill bit is only half the battle. In addition to those workshop staples, you'll likely need lubricating oil or water to prevent overheating and cracking. This can be accomplished by dousing the surface of the glass with a steady stream of liquid, or by dipping the drill bit in water periodically.

Fine-grit sandpaper or a diamond file will help with finishing and smoothing. And, as with all DIY projects, but especially when working with glass, safety gear is essential. Invest in a well-fitting pair of safety glasses, a dust mask, and a set of gloves.


Drilling Holes in Glass

So you have the tools and have taken the proper safety precautions and now it's time to drill holes in some glass. To do that, you'll want to adhere to the following step-by-step instructions:

Glass Preparation

  1. Clean the glass: Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface of the glass where you intend to drill the hole. You can use a mild detergent mixed with water or a glass cleaner [source: Wallender].
  2. Mark the drilling point: Use a non-permanent marker to mark the spot where you want to drill the hole.
  3. Secure the glass: place the glass on a flat, stable surface, and secure it with clamps or place it on a non-slip rubber pad.
  4. Apply tape for stability: Stick a piece of masking tape or painter's tape over the marked spot to prevent the drill bit from slipping, and reduce the chance of chipping the glass.

Drilling Technique

  1. Set up the drill: Attach the correct drill bit and set the drill at a low speed.
  2. Begin drilling: Position the drill bit over the marked spot and start drilling slowly with light pressure. Keep the drill steady and avoid applying excessive force.
  3. Keep the glass cool: periodically sprinkle water on the drilling area or use a water drip system to keep the glass and drill bit cool.

Finishing Touches

  1. Smooth the edges: Once the hole is drilled, use fine grit sandpaper to remove any rush edges.
  2. Clean the glass again: Remove the tape and clean the surface of the glass to get rid of any glass dust or debris.
  3. Inspect the hole: Check the finished hole for any irregularities or sharp edges, and perform additional smoothing if necessary.


Mastering the Art of Glass Drilling

Drilling a hole in glass may seem intimidating, but all it takes is the right tools and techniques. You can accomplish this task safely and successfully if you prepare properly, choose the right drill bit, maintain a steady hand, and keep the glass cool throughout the process.

By following the step by step instructions above, you can achieve clean, precise holes for your glass project, whether you're creating custom craft project, home decorations, or professional installations.


Again, safety should always be your top priority. Always wear protective eyewear and gloves to protect against any glass fragments or dust. By mastering the art of drilling glass, you empower yourself to undertake projects that can enhance your home, contribute to your hobbies, or even aid professional growth.