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How do you drill holes in glass bottles (safely)? Do you need special drill bits, or tools? High speed drill or extra slow? I tried once on my drill press and I shattered the bottle.

I've seen really cool things done with empty wine bottles that I wanted to try, but it's a mess to cleaning up the failures.

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This can be done, but the difference can have more to do with the type of glass than the method. From personal experience, tempered glass is inherently stressed and is almost impossible to work with. Areas towards the necks of bottles have similar issues.

I suggest fresh masonry bits for their cost effectivenss. Too slow can cause stress from the pressure of the bit, too fast can create too much heat. Keeping the work cool and lubricated is easy in this case (water).

I have even had some success using a HSS drill bit run in reverse (suggestion from my father). Although, this tended to produce a rougher hole.

To be intricate and fancy (aka small and detailed) I would opt to using something like a diamond burr in a handheld rotary tool, like a dremel.

Let us know how it turns out!

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Always wear safety glasses! (It's a good idea with any drilling, but especially when drilling through glass.)

There are specialty bits made for drilling through glass that can be found at most hardware stores. A standard drill will work fine. Don't use a hammer drill! Keep your drill speed low (if it is variable) especially if you wind up using a diamond bit.

Lubricate the hole. Otherwise, you will probably crack your work piece through thermal stress. There are specialty oils sold as a glass drilling lubricant, but WD-40 works just fine and is easy to apply (with the included straw applicator). I've never used water, but I'm told it can work, too. Whatever lubricant you use, make sure you don't get it on your drill. Don't overapply it, but replace what runs off/evaporates.

Putting a piece of tape over your starting point can help keep your bit from sliding out of place.

When you are done, let the piece thoroughly cool before cleaning it or it can crack. Even if it feels cool to the touch, it might still be enough of a rapid temperature change to cause a crack. (Cleaning will remove small bits of glass and whatever lubricant you used - so it's a good idea.)

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    If you can't find glass drills, tile drills are essentially the same. – Chris H Jun 21 '16 at 12:28
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I have seen people use a propane torch or even Mapp gas to put holes in glass. Just an fyi the Mapp gas burns much hotter and is a much quicker process, make sure you do this in a well ventilated area and do not allow the glass to cool to quickly because it will crack (so no water or fans). Remember practice makes perfect. Oh yeah make sure to buy a tip that is more centered that way you are only heating the glass where you need your hole to be.

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You need an appropriate bit for glass. Depending on the size of the hole, that would commonly be a tungsten carbide drill bit, diamond burr, or a diamond hole saw (I'm referring to this type, which you can buy in just the size you need or sets of sizes; they aren't expensive):

enter image description here Image courtesy Amazon

To prevent shattering, you need to dampen the vibrations. When you score a piece of glass and then tap the score with the back end of the scoring tool,you don't hit it hard enough that the force of the blow breaks the glass; a light tap creates vibrations, and the glass breaks itself. Similar action causes glass to shatter when you try to drill it.

I've done a cool demonstration for kids of cutting a glass microscope slide cleanly with scissors. The secret is doing it under water, like submerged in a basin. You can do the same thing with a bottle.

Get a basin or plastic tub big enough to hold the entire bottle submerged under water. Get the bottle under water and completely filled with water. Use a long flexible extension for a drill or Dremel tool like this:

enter image description here Image courtesy Amazon

Do the drilling under water, maintaining control of the bottle and tool, and using normal hand pressure to drill. You won't have the alignment afforded by a drill press, but if you start lightly to establish a mark, you will be able to keep the bit in the same location without it wandering.

Depending on the thickness of the glass, it may take a little time to drill all the way through. Just take your time and be patient. The water will lubricate and cool, as well as dampen vibrations. When you're done, blow any water out of the chuck with compressed air and dry the extension and bit well.

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