Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Drill A Hole In Your Stained Glass Suncatchers

One of the best ways to learn how to drill a hole in your stained glass suncatchers is by using a drill press with a Diamond Drill Bit.

Although this can get quite expensive, a drill press is the easiest and best way to keep your drill bit perpendicular to the stained glass work piece.

The trick to drilling any type of glass with a Diamond Tech Core Drill Bit Set, is to use the slowest speed possible with a lot of lubrication; water, mineral oil or oil to keep the heat down.

Remember, when using a drill press it's important that you drill VERY SLOWLY .

People often get in too much of a hurry to drill through the piece, apply too much pressure on the drill press handle and wind up breaking the piece or burning up their diamond bit.

To prevent any chipping around the exit hole on the reverse side of your piece, some people stop drilling the hole when they are about half way through the thickness of the glass and finish the hole from the opposite side of the piece.

Not all glass chips when drilled and not all glass can be drilled.

Safety glass and tempered glass is almost impossible to drill after it has been tempered.

Before you start drilling a bunch of holes through your stained glass suncatcher projects; it's a good idea to drill a practice hole all the way through the type of glass you'll be using to see if it actually does chip.

Since it's easier to drill straight through the glass whenever possible, a "dry hole run" can save you a great deal of time.

Some people I know use a Dremel tool with a diamond drill bit to drill through their stained glass suncatchers.

The problem with a Dremel tool is the high speed at which the motor runs.

You need to go as slowly as possible when drilling glass in order to save your bit and not crack your glass.

In any event, this is how to do it.
  • Put your piece of stained glass on a piece of Styrofoam in a shallow pan and pour just enough water in the pan to just cover the glass.
  • If your piece of glass is too large to fit in a pan, use clay or some similar waterproof material to build a "dam" around the area you will be drilling.

  • Fill the dam with water, mineral oil, olive oil, or any other commercial lubricant.
The drill bit must be cooled by water at all times, otherwise the heat generated by the friction will either crack your glass piece, burn up your diamond drill bit, or both.
  • Set your speed as low as possible and start drilling your hole at a slight angle to create a slight indentation in your glass. Your bit will want to skip on the glass as you start out so keep a firm grip.
  • Once you start your indentation, straighten up the Dremel and push slowly but steadily into the glass until it pushes completely through.
It takes some practice but after two or three holes you should be able to drill your holes without much of a problem

A Dremel drill press makes the job of drilling glass much easier.

You can set the depth of your drill to go just through the glass without punching a hole in your pan and you don't have to worry about keeping the bit perpendicular to the work surface.

You can use a regular drill to bore holes through stained glass if you don't already own a Dremel.

The main problems with using a regular drill, is again the speed of the drill and it's unwieldy nature.

You can also drill a hole in your stained glass suncatchers using your glass grinder and a 1/8 Glastar Bit head.

The only problem using this method is keeping the glass and the bit wet as you drill.

Hold your stained glass at an angle to get the hole started and then gradually bring it upright.

You have to hold the piece steady all the while you are pushing it into the grinder head until it punches through.

I use this method as a last resort for three reasons.
  • It generally causes the glass to chip around the hole.
  • The glass tends to skip too much when starting your hole.
  • The glass tends to break much more frequently.
If you plan on drilling only one or two holes in your stained glass suncatchers, this method is probably better than buying any additional, more expensive equipment.

However, if you plan on drilling a hole in your stained glass suncatchers for hangings or wind chimes on a regular basis; you should probably invest in a Dremel or a small drill press that can be used for other kinds of work.

There are many places online where you can purchase diamond bits at reasonable prices.

You can even ask your dentist for his "old" diamond bits. He probably won't give them to you because of government regulations, but he may give you a couple of new ones or tell you where you can purchase them.

Now that you've learned how to drill a hole in your stained glass suncatchers, go for it!

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