Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Whether you are installing an aquarium or running cables through a glass table: For some situations, it is unavoidable to drill holes in sensitive material. For such cases, so-called glass or tile drills are the right solution, as they can work precisely thanks to their high scoring hardness and precise tip.

We explain in our guide how to find the right tool for your drilling project. Our glass drill guide will help you find the right drill and make the right buying decision. We have compared glass drills and answered all relevant questions on this topic for you.




Summary

  • If you want to drill through fragile materials such as glass, porcelain or ceramics, classic drills cannot help. For this reason, there are special glass drills that prevent the material from cracking or breaking.
  • Basically, there are two different types of drill: Carbide drills and diamond drills. The former is suitable for standard glass, while the latter is better for hard material.
  • Don't just drill away, but prepare your work adequately by using coolant, fixative and a face shield.

The Best Glass Drill: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for glass drills

Before you make a purchase decision, first consider which drill you really need in order to narrow down your choice accordingly. In this section, we will introduce you to three criteria that you can use to evaluate and compare a glass drill:

If you base your purchase decision on these evaluation criteria, you should quickly find the right glass drill. In the next section we will explain everything in detail.

Material

There are basically two types of drill bits with which you can drill through conventional glass without any problems:

  • Carbide
  • Diamond

Carbide bits are often used for non-tempered glass, tiles, ceramics or porcelain. The durable tip is made of a spade-shaped material formed from solid tungsten carbide. For simple drilling jobs, such as drilling a window or mirror, there are tubular attachments with a leading edge coated in stone.

Diamond drills are especially suitable for extremely solid glass or fine stoneware. Due to their high scoring hardness, they are suitable for regular use against particularly stubborn material. A conventional carbide glass drill bit can quickly overheat and dull on such firm surfaces.

Size (diameter)

The diameter of the drill bit determines how large the hole will be. In most sets, the attachments range from a few millimetres to several centimetres. For very small holes, drills with a lance-like tip are often used, while large holes are drilled with a hollow circular shape.

Not only the diameter of the drill, but also the diameter of the material to be drilled is decisive. As a rule, the harder the workpiece, the slower the drilling should be. For this reason, you should make sure that you can regulate the speed of your drill manually.

Scope of delivery

You should find out in advance what accessories you will need for your drilling work. Which drill attachments are included in my set? Do I need safety glasses for my work? Do I have a stable work surface to work on? Is coolant or a fixing aid included in the scope of delivery?

If you know right from the start what is included in your set, you will save yourself the tedious work of buying individual parts later on.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about glass drills answered in detail

Before you buy the next best glass drill in the DIY store, you should pay attention to a few factors when making your choice. In the following section, we would like to give you a closer look at the most important questions and all relevant details on the topic of glass drills.

What is a glass drill and why do I need one?

What is the difference between a tile drill and a glass drill? The term can often be confusing, but it is quite simple. The term tile drill is often used as a synonym for glass drill.

As the name suggests, the drill is mainly used for working on glass and tiles. However, it can also be used to drill through other materials, such as porcelain, ceramics, acrylic (Plexiglas), granite or marble.

Glasbohrer-01

Special glass drills are available to prevent sensitive materials from breaking or shattering during drilling.
(Image source: Ivan Vranić / unsplash)

Glass drills are generally considered just a drill accessory for which you need a working machine. Nowadays, there are numerous versions, with the main difference between the devices being the material, diameter and size.

The glass drill is suitable for both professional use and for the home handyman. You can use it to work on a variety of easily breakable materials. However, there are exceptions such as tempered glass (touch screens, glass furniture) or safety glass. Both types of glass would easily shatter into pieces even with the finest glass drill.

What types of glass drills are there?

If you are looking for a glass drill, you can find two different types:

  • Carbide drill
  • Diamond drill

Carbide dr ills are offset with a welded-in metal tip. The tip provides a good grip when penetrating smooth surfaces. This standard drill is mainly used for tiles, traditional glass or porcelain.

The scratch hardness (or Mohs hardness) of a carbide drill is just above that of conventional glass. This is the reason why a carbide drill bit is quite sufficient for drilling simple glass. However, if you want to work on very fine or hard material other than bath tiles and glass table tops, you should use a diamond drill.

The diamond drill bit is perfect for delicate and hard materials. Unlike the carbide drill, it does not have a lance-like tip, but is shaped like a circle. The circular attachment is helpful when you want to drill holes with a larger diameter. In addition, it has a much higher scratch hardness value.

How much does a glass drill cost?

Dealers and manufacturers are a decisive factor when choosing a glass drill. The price is highly dependent on brand, texture and product type. Standard carbide drills used for small holes can be found for less than 10 euros. However, if you want to drill holes with a larger diameter, you have to expect a small price increase.

Type price range
Carbide drill 5 - 25 €
Diamond drill 8 - 40 €

The difference in cost between quality and cheap drills is usually only a few euros. If you save too much money, the result can be a loss of quality. If you want to avoid dulling drill tips too quickly, or if your set is missing the necessary parts, you should not choose the cheapest tool.

How do I use a glass drill?

The drilling process is very similar to grinding. To ensure that nothing can go wrong, we have provided you with a small step-by-step guide:

  1. Face protection: Put on protective goggles before drilling to avoid possible injury to the eyes. Besides the thicker glass splinters, glass dust is also a danger. This can be inhaled quickly and cause lung damage. It is best to cover not only the eyes, but also the mouth and nose.
  2. Fixation: To prevent breakage, you can place an additional plate under the workpiece. Slippage is prevented by using a fixation aid or by sprinkling a little oil between the workpiece and the support. If you want to work on particularly thick material, it is best to drill from both sides.
  3. Speed: Glass is an extremely fragile material and must be handled with care. If you are drilling for the first time, it is better to work at a low speed and apply only light pressure to the surface.
  4. Cooling: Especially when drilling hard material, you should make sure that cooling is available. Cooling is applied to the workpiece from the outside. You can use substances such as petroleum, turpentine or water.
  5. Drilling: Place the glass on a flat surface. Then set the drill at an angle and slowly bring it into a straight position. If you notice that you will soon break through with the drill, reduce the speed. This is to prevent the glass from breaking or jumping to pieces as it breaks out.

If you follow these steps, you should not make any major mistakes. If you feel unsure, do some test drilling on sample material to get a little more familiar with the process.

Can I sharpen my glass drill?

Carbide dr ills can only be sharpened on a silicon carbide grindstone or diamond grinding wheel because of its high hardness. Unfortunately, this procedure is somewhat difficult, as the grinding on the lance-shaped cutting edge must be somewhat oblique in order to give the drill the required relief grinding.

Sintered diamond dr ills can be drilled into a sharpening stone to develop chip spaces and create new cutting edges. However, this is not possible with electroplated diamond drills, which only have a single layer of diamond.

Conclusion

Before you buy a glass drill, think about its application and how often you will use it. If you only need it once or rarely for small DIY jobs, a carbide drill bit is perfectly adequate. If you need the tool professionally and want to drill more often, we advise you to buy a diamond drill bit because it has a longer life.

As in most product areas, the same applies to glass drills: Quality costs a price. Pay attention to the brand and don't just go for the cheapest model. This will guarantee you lasting drilling fun.

Image source: pexels / 47091

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