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Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY


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  1. #1
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Western Louisiana
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    Dave

    Default Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY

    Well I couldn't find my other dremel tool and diamond bits, so I grabbed a couple more sets of them (you can never have enough). So how can you drill a hole in glass without paying a glass shop anywhere from $20-30 per hole (most with no ganruntee on their work), or buying those expensive diamond holesaws that can run upwards of $100 each (and only cut one size hole) DIY - it! There are many ways and methods, here's what works for me.

    DISCLAIMER: This is merely a guide to the method of drilling glass that has worked well for me, several times in fact, however the author nor CaptiveReefing can be held responsible for any damage, injury, or other mishaps (you are using an electrical appliance adjacent to water).

    A favorite quote of mine; If you have a stupid head, the whole body may tend to sufffer.

    What you'll need;
    1) the tank or glass (duh) (NOTE: Tempered or Anealed glass will explode due to the surface tension created from the heating proceess)
    DO NOT attempt to drill anything but regular glass
    2) a sharpie or similar
    3)a dremel tool or similar (Variable speed preferred here)
    4) a set of Dremel 7150 bits ($5 at WallyWorld)
    2k0bc3332c13 - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY

    5)a place to work with access to running water, bathtub or kitchen sink works well for smaller projects, though the latter may not be your spouse's ideal location.
    6) Saftey equipment, eye protection, gloves, whatever else you deem neccessary.
    6) some time and patience

    Lets get started! This example is on 1/4" glass.
    1) Grab a Sharpie and mark out the hole where you want it, for bulkhead fittings I use the gasket as a guide.
    2kbeb0c077f2 - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY


    2) The above set of bits comes with one round end bit and a long tapered bit, get the round ended one chucked up in your dremel, (note the collet size)
    2k2cae18e88b - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY


    3) Get the water flowing, it's important to keep both the glass and the bit cool, and prevent glass dust or chips from flying every where. Just e trickle will do.
    4) On the slowest speed possible for your tool (mine runs 5K-30K RPM) VERY lighting begin tracing the outside edge of the circle you marked, remember your bulkhead fitting has to fit through the hole. Use no pressure, just the weight of the tool is all it takes, we are grinding a hole, not driling. Take your time as this will provide a guide for the rest of the cut.
    2k909b9d1817 - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY

    5) Once you have the initial area scored continue on low speed with the round bit and water, you'll make a LOT of passes round and round and round. eventually ending up with a deep channel similar to this. Keep going, you can turn up the speed a bit if you want to remove more material faster, but run the risk of cracking the glass from vibrations or a slip.
    2k8b0e8fef1f - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY


    6) Eventually you will 'grind through', STOP.
    2k576594519e - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY

    7) Time to switch bits over to the long tapered bit to finish up. Start from where you broke through, again keeping the bit vertical grind out the rest of the material (low speed is best), follow the channel all the way around until the center drops out. You may use the same bit to clean up any rough spots, gentle pressure, no sense hosing up your work now to start over.

    2k4a09c69c5c - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY



    Test fit your bulkhead, adjust your hole size if needed.
    2kbfd1f5ec5a - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY


    9) That's it install your bulkhead and you are good to go
    2k10dd03fa1e - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY



    10) Before you pat yourself on the back, if you used the kitchen sink quickly clean up the evidence before you get caught. But be sure to clean up any glass filings and such that were left behind.
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  2. #2
    graphixx - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Idaho
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    Greg

    Default

    Right on Dave I am glad to see that went smooth, you seemed a little concerned about drilling. glad it worked out well for you
    fulltankshot 1 - Drilling Holes in Glass - DIY

  3. #3

    Default

    Those look a lot like Farm & Fleet bulkheads.
    120G Reef and 40B reef at work, 120G tank dry and dirty in the garage.

  4. #4
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Western Louisiana
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    Default

    The first runs were made on some spare glass to get the method sorted out, then after popping two holes in the thin glass of 10g tank without breaking anything, well that just makes everything seem possible. Maybe a little 'out of round' but the price can't be beat

    Eric, yup that's where those super heavy duty bulkheads came from, F&F calls them something different from bulkheads, but they run a little cheaper than the light duty ones available through other places like MarineDepot and F&S. I like the really thick plastic and mongo gasket, just hard to remember they have left hand threads, found myself tightening the tar out of the nuts trying to take them apart.
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  5. #5
    Whoyah - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Grants Pass, OR
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    Default

    Nice DIY project. Do you have a link on the bulkheads you use?

  6. #6
    davejnz - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Daytona Bch,FL
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    Default

    thanks for sharing the procedure,I'll let you know how many tanks i crack when i try it,LOL

  7. #7
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Western Louisiana
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    Haven't cracked a single pane using this method.... diamond bit drills, diamond holesaws, and everything else I've managed to break just about every attempt.

    Whooyah, those bulkheads are not available onlie that I know of. They come from a chain of Co-Op type farm supply stores here around WI. But they are around near the stock tanks and stuff. Wish I could remember what the name was that they called them, 3/4" to like 2" is what they had when I found these.
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  8. #8
    davejnz - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Daytona Bch,FL
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    Default

    Dave,if you did it on a 10gal tank,your doing good.The LFS here drills my tanks for me,they say drilling 10gal tanks is the toughest becuase of the thin glass.

  9. #9
    dakar - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Dave

    Default

    Well I'll drill anyone's 10g for them... line forms at the door, first come first served

    Cheap too - since she's cycled and ready to go now, price is only 1 SPS frag per tank drilled :p
    Every electronic device is manufactured with smoke stored deep inside... only a true genius can find a way to set it free.

  10. #10
    segraves1 - Reefkeeper CR Member
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    Fountain Hills, AZ
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    Default

    too cool........
    ...............though I still think I'll have the LFS (where I will get my 150gal tank) cutmy holes for $15 each

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