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Old 09-11-2009, 01:36 PM
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Default How to drill glass. DIY

I was messing around the other day and thought I would make a video on how to drill glass. Nothing fancy and it is really easy. I have drilled over 30 holes this way.




How do you know if your tank has tempered glass?
Every tank is different. Call the manufacturer to be sure the tank is NOT tempered. Back in the day, All Glass used to use whatever was lying around. Now days Aqueon uses tempered glass for all "kits" they sell at Walmart and Petco. Must be a liability thing.

All Glass/Aqueon contact info.
Aqueon About Us Contact Us

Marineland contact info. I beleive they made perfecto tanks.
Contact Us



Here is a little more in depth information regarding drilling glass.

For Drilling Glass, Stone, Marble and Porcelain

Diamond Plated Core Drill Bits will work the best when used with proper lubrication and a true running machine. Diamond drill life, cutting rate and finish do vary, depending on the equipment condition, speed (RPM), concentrically of the chuck, user feed rate, and type of glass being used.




Diamond Plated Core Drill Bits will fit into any regular manual drill or a drill press running at 500 to 2000 RPM. The higher the RPM, the more efficient the drill bit will be, and bit life may increase. Recommended Operating Speeds (to be used as a guideline):

1/8" to 1/2" Diameter 1,600 - 2,000 RPM

5/8" to 1" Diameter 1,400 - 1,600 RPM

1-1/8" to 2" Diameter 1,100 - 1,400 RPM

2-1/8" to 3" Diameter 900 - 1,100 RPM

3-1/4" to 4" Diameter 700 - 900 RPM

4-1/2" Diameter and Larger 500 - 700 RPM

Place a Suction Base Retaining Drilling Ring around area to be drilled. You can also use the lip of the aquarium itself, form playdough to make a dam or just use a constant stream of water.



NEVER run a diamond drill dry.



How to keep a straight hole.
Be sure the drill is running concentric and the machine's chuck has no wobble.

You can always use a guide, but then you cannot use the suction base ring, because it will not fit under the guide. I have also used a peice of plywood with a hole slightly larger than the bit as a guide. Remember to prop it up to allow water/coolant under the wood and in and around the bit.



Remove the springs if you use this. I find the weight of the drill and a little pressure is perfect to cut through glass.


How to reduce breakout.
It is important to know that, when using a diamond drill, there will always be a certain amount of breakout or flare on the back side of the hole. This is because when the glass becomes so thin that it can no longer support the weight or pressure of the drill, the slug and remaining thin piece of glass will chip out.

Using medium pressure, feed the drill into the glass for five seconds, then back up the bit to allow coolant to flow into the cut. Lower the drill with medium pressure again for five seconds. Keep repeating until you are within 3/32" of being through the glass, then lighten up on the pressure and ease the bit through the last 3/32" of the glass to reduce breakout. Note: a hard surface under the glass (hard board or wood) reduces breakout.

Always be sure, after each hole is drilled, that the glass plug is removed from the drill. Holes are provided in the side or on the top of the cylinder for easy removal. Multiple plugs will sometimes jam inside the drill, and while you are removing them, the drill might be damaged or bent out of round.

Hope that helps!
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Old 09-11-2009, 02:14 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Awesome Video, I think it should be a sticky, One thing I you could have mentioned in the vid was drilling pressure, When I drilling my first tank I did not know you where supposed to let the drill do all the work. I ended up breaking two pieces of glass because I used too much force.
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Old 09-11-2009, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

shoudl be a stiky for beginners, i do the same thing as well.
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Old 09-11-2009, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexRible View Post
Awesome Video, I think it should be a sticky, One thing I you could have mentioned in the vid was drilling pressure, When I drilling my first tank I did not know you where supposed to let the drill do all the work. I ended up breaking two pieces of glass because I used too much force.
He did in the beginning. He said to let the drill do the work for you and not use pressure. Anyway great video and I agree should be a sticky in the parts and building section.
J
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

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Originally Posted by Jason DeSantis View Post
He did in the beginning. He said to let the drill do the work for you and not use pressure. Anyway great video and I agree should be a sticky in the parts and building section.
J
I guess I missed that! thanks
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Something that is worth noting, that I forgot in the original post, was that once the glass plug is drilled out, the edge of the hole can be extremely sharp. Be extra careful. The plug of glass you cut out is also extremely sharp due to the break out, be careful when handling this piece. There can also be shards of glass that occur when the breakout occurs. They will be small and can end up in bare feet. Yes, I know from experience.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Perhaps you should put a towel underneath the cutting area in-case the breakout plug drops and smashes possible glass underneath. I know in this case there was nothing underneath the hole, but if you're drilling a side, this could happen.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I have always reemed the hole out after it broke through. If you just drill up and down and wable the bit a little it tends to smooth the insides of the hole a little so that if you touched it it wouldnt cut you.
J
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Part: 2 - Drilling an Exo Terra.

Exo Terra tanks are a little different than drilling the bottom on an aquarium, because they have no lip to keep in water. The video explains how to do it. I forgot to mention in the video that the latch on exo's prohibits it to lay flat so you should lay the exo terra on some pieces of wood (I used 2x4's) just to prop it off the ground.

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Old 10-14-2010, 12:28 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I been looking for those bulkheads all over, where you buy them?
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:38 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Very nice tutorial.
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Old 11-22-2010, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

gees...you made that look so darn easy...not much room for mistakes though on an Exo...the glass shops charge a small fortune for holes...thanks for the video--it would be a real confidence booster watching the procedure actually done...thanks
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Coincidentally did this for the first time last night. Had to drill 3 holes. Took a lot longer than I expected but went pretty well. My biggest problem personally was with the first hole, getting a feel for keeping the cordless drill steady due to the vibrations and the urge of the drill bit to wander near the start - I made some scoring in the glass around the top of the first hole as a result. Virtually no flaking on the other side though - I supported the glass sheet with cardboard on a workmate. The scoring was fine because it was covered up by the mister bulkhead. By hole 3 I consider myself an expert due to the perfect hole. Start at 30-45 degrees and very gradually go vertical. I also think that people over play how far from the edge you need to be.
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Old 11-23-2010, 04:32 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Excellent video! I am glad to see the cordless drill with all that water. It may seem obvious but it is worth noting that a electric power drill plugged into an outlet around water could cause a revolting experience. Safety first!!!

Great job again.
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Old 11-23-2010, 03:39 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

You can get bulkheads through online pet shops. Try your local shop, some carry them or can order them. I have gotten a few at TSC or other farm supply store. Some landscaping or hardware stores carry them for garden pond applications. I have not done this a lot. Great DIY guide.
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Old 01-14-2011, 01:02 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Quote:
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I been looking for those bulkheads all over, where you buy them?
You can also get these from Boating stores, they use them for live well intakes and bilge pump discharges.
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Old 01-14-2011, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Thanks Jason for a great thread, learn something new everyday, today you were my teacher. Thanks again.
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A&MGecko View Post
I been looking for those bulkheads all over, where you buy them?
We use these all the time in reef tank builds. Most online saltwater stores have every size imaginable. Big Al's has great prices/service but there are plenty of reputable dealers.

Bulkheads & Fittings
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Old 01-24-2011, 07:39 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I used this technique last night to drill two holes in a pair of 20h's and it went surprisingly quick for me (each hole took under a minute). A lot easier than I expected. I also had to steady the drill to keep it from wandering, scratched the glass a little, but whatever it's not like the focus is on the top of the tank.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:07 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

So where is everyone buying their hole saws from? I am using the ones from home depot and it takes easily 20 minutes per hole!! you guys must have better ones. I need 1/2" and 5/8" size and the Glass-Holes.com dope aquarium stuff website doesnt have something that small.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:13 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I went to Lowes and got a 5/8" diamond coated hole bit. The company that makes it is called Lenox. After tax it was about $27 bucks but considering what people charge per hole it pays for itself and then some.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Geez...well maybe i'm not pushing hard enough?? I will try the Lenox brand. The one I got was Rigid.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Quote:
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Geez...well maybe i'm not pushing hard enough?? I will try the Lenox brand. The one I got was Rigid.
LENOX 12111 5/8" DIAMOND HOLE SAW ***NEW*** - eBay (item 150500882666 end time Jan-28-11 17:21:44 PST)

Best price I could find. I didn't push at all, I let the weight of the drill do the work and I had water running constantly.
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Old 01-24-2011, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I found this little gem of advice on another website... Look about half way down the page for a picture of the template.


Starting a Core Drill Bit by Using a Template

Core drill bits above 1/2" work best when used in a drill press rather than in a hand drill. Starting a core drill bit when using a drill press is simple, since the drill press keeps the drill bit from moving about. To reduce drill bit slippage or "walking" when using a hand drill, a template can be made to help start the drill bit if necessary.

A template is made by drilling a pilot hole in a piece of soft wood or plastic, using the diamond core drill bit or by cutting a "V" in the edge of a piece of wood or plastic or drilling a hole in it the size of the core drill. The hole template works best, however, the "V" template is easier to make and can be used with many sizes of core drill bits.

Templates are often made of 1/8" plexiglass, 1/8" pressed wood or even cardboard. For repetitive drilling, a plastic or plexiglass template works best since water lubrication can be used immediately. The template is placed on the surface of the material being drilled, with the pilot hole or "V" above the target hole area. The template will hold the core drill bit in place as it starts. After just a few revolutions of the drill bit, a groove is created and the template can be removed.

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Old 01-24-2011, 11:44 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Right on Kaity, good looking out.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:32 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

FYI, I have still yet to crack a tank. I now drill aquariums at a local fish shop. I love to mess with the customers, saying...."I hope this works." or "Last one I cracked" or "This is my 1st time, is this right?"

Take your time. It is very easy.
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Old 09-15-2012, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Regarding the RPM's. I found another website that explicitly states the opposite. They say that RPM's should be much lower.

This website is brimming with information on drilling glass and other surfaces. They say the bigger the bit the slower the RPM's should be. Check it out.

AmeriGlas Stained Glass - Home Page
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:50 PM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by deathspeed View Post
Regarding the RPM's. I found another website that explicitly states the opposite. They say that RPM's should be much lower.

This website is brimming with information on drilling glass and other surfaces. They say the bigger the bit the slower the RPM's should be. Check it out.

AmeriGlas Stained Glass - Home Page
20+ years in the business says you are right. CR Laurence makes some the best tools and supplies in the glass business. Their charts on drill speed agree with this, also. The bigger the bit, the more you slow it down. Slowing the bit down some will give you much longer bit life. Of course it also takes longer. I have to say though, that time is money. I usually run it a little faster than recommended.
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:31 PM
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I agree Doug. When you're 15 minutes into drilling a tank and you have several more to do, its not hard to make the decision to shorten the life of the bit

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Old 09-16-2012, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

Really, for us the speed is not that crucial. Most of us don't need to get 50 or 100 holes out of a bit.
If you drill slowly, you can get a good hole. If you drill faster, you can still get a good hole.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumilo View Post
Really, for us the speed is not that crucial. Most of us don't need to get 50 or 100 holes out of a bit.
If you drill slowly, you can get a good hole. If you drill faster, you can still get a good hole.
Very true. (And I feel like there's a off color-joke there somewhere...must...resist...family forum....)

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Old 09-20-2012, 04:15 AM
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Default Re: How to drill glass. DIY

I have two videos on Youtube on cutting glass.
Here's my newest. This one, I cut it outside on my deck with a garden hose.
I use double strength glass, BUT YES, I have broken glass before whenever I rush or press too hard, or cut too close to the edge.
Luckily double strength glass is cheap 12x12 = $5 and 24x18 = $12 local prices.


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