View Full Version : drilling a hole through a glass bottle

01-04-2002, 09:00 PM
Anyone have experience with drilling through bottom of a glass bottle?

Dave Burnett
01-04-2002, 10:00 PM
Yes. What size hole and what is the reason for doing so ?

01-04-2002, 10:07 PM
Brass tubing and abrasive slurry works very well, if a tad slowly.

01-04-2002, 10:48 PM
Carbide glass drills are available. Get some clay and make a dam around where the hole is going to be. Put a kerosene/oil mix (50-50) inside the dam to make a little "swimming pool". This keeps the drill lubricated and cool. Drill slowly. I've used the brass tube and course valve grinding compound methed before. It takes forever, but it works.

01-05-2002, 01:49 AM
Diamond points for your Foredom/Dremel work best. The Brass tube and Diamond grit also works great. There are carbide glass drills but masonary bits do just as crappy a job as the glass drills (use the diamond).

I have also drilled holes in glass with a dull drill bit at high speed - it is ugly, it melts through, and can break on you. I do not approve of abusing your tools but it was a McGuyver kludge in an emergency.

You can get the diamond goodies at lapidary shops. The technical name for the tube type drills with Diamond grit is "Coring Bits". The coring bits do a beautiful job and can drill anything including carbide, granite, and gemstones - including Diamonds!

The ladipary stores also have a special compound (such as "Crystalube" - Crystalite Corp.) to enhance the cutting action of the diamond compunds. Water can be used, but harder materials cut better with the "Crystalube".

[This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 01-05-2002).]

01-05-2002, 09:56 AM
I swear this is true, I observed from across the shop.

My old boss used to drill holes in glass domes for a local gift shop, they put a hook in the top of them and sold them to display things like grandpa's pocket watch.

He would walk over to drill press, wrap a wrag around glass dome and use, I think a plain solid carbide drill bit. He was a bit crafty, probably had done a little special sharpening on bit. He did several, I never saw him break one.

Some people are lucky.

[This message has been edited by halfnut (edited 01-05-2002).]

01-06-2002, 01:12 AM
Bet it was a spade bit. He probably sharpened it to scrape more than cut, and ran pretty good speed.

I saw som of those core bits, diamond hole saws they were called where I saw them.

01-06-2002, 02:53 AM

Most "glass" drills are spade drills as you say.

The concrete industry as well and oil rigs have always called them coring bits. The roughnecks use the hollow bits for "core" samples of the strata they are drilling through. Concrete finishers use them for conduit passages for piping or electrical services.

Electricians & plumbers "saw" wood or metal not concrete, they have hole saws. A coring bit abrades its way through the material. You could call them a hole saw, but unless they have teeth to cut with, they are not "SAWS".

A screwdriver is not a crowbar or chisel, but it does not stop people from abusing it that way.

01-06-2002, 10:32 AM
I was thinking of the spade type carbide bits as opposed to the fluted ones. The "spear point" glass drills I have never had good results from.

Agree on the terminology. Where I saw the core bits was at "Horrible Fright", where I went to look at their hoists (and didn't like them).
Not surprising to see the wrong term used there, perhaps.

George Hodge
01-06-2002, 10:18 PM
Don't remember where I read about this,but you're supposed to be able to cut glass with hand shears,if the glass is submerged under water. Might work in drilling too? Sounds kinda farfetched,but I haven't tried it. I did drill a bunch of holes in a ceramic pot with a 1/4in. concrete drill. Diamonds make the prettiest holes!

01-07-2002, 03:18 AM
I keep telling you guys "Diamonds are a guy's best friend". Of course I prefer mine crushed to a fine dust or plated on tools (yeah!)...

George, that only works if you are GOD!

By the way, did you guys know glass is an extremely viscous fluid? They discovered this by examining stained glass windows on 500 year old churches (read in Scientific American). The glass bulges out at the bottom and the lead has air gaps at the top of the piece of glass where it is thinner.

01-07-2002, 07:27 PM
So if you want a hole, use a cookie cutter under a weight, then come back in 500 years ;-)

01-07-2002, 10:29 PM
That ain't actually so. Turns out glass does not flow, but the old glassworkers did put the thick end down as a general rule.

The way the glass was made into sheets caused one side to be thicker. It was blown into a bottle shape, then cut and flattened out. As it was blown, it did not maintain thickness evenly.

Oh, and the LEAD does flow and compress, so it may pull away at the top as it compresses at bottom.

Maybe if once every 10,000 years a swallow flies by with a ribbon in its beak and brushes against the cookie cutter so it turns slightly.............oops, that was for the zen class, sorry :-)

01-08-2002, 12:50 AM

Are you trying to tell me scientists were BS ing me? I find that hard to believe - especially if they are not getting paid to do it. You know, like all those MD's who would go on television and tell us smoking was better than oxygen and healthy for us? (and they STILL smoke...)

I had no reason to doubt article - print never lies you know - it came from a respectable source.

What impresses me is that those glass makers you talked about never burnt their lips blowing it, and if they really blew it, why did it still work? Would that be considered lewd behaviour? Zen - is that when those pregnant women breathe and scream at their husbands for "doing that to them"?

And yes, you could cut a hole in glass with a cookie cutter and diamond abrasive - but get something faster than a bird caressing it with a ribbon to turn it - that would take way too long.

01-09-2002, 10:54 PM
Use a punch ans a BIGhammer, use both hands on hammer, swing hard. You get a nice hole.

01-09-2002, 11:17 PM
Well, which scientists? The ones who said it flowed, or the ones who said it didn't?

I know how to get it to flow, though, and you do have to hold your mouth right ':-)

01-10-2002, 02:48 AM

I am going for the sell outs - Physicists need Vipers too!

A friend manipulates time and matter by wagging his tongue side to side while it is sticking out. I think it is a visual indicator of brain activity, or lack thereof...


No, no, that is how you fix WindowsXP!


01-11-2002, 10:07 AM
I have used the shear method under h20. you start at a edge and "nibble" in take Very light cuts. the h20 stops flying glass and lubs the edge a bit its very coarse and ok for ovals and slight curves but as far as i know can not drill a hole

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by George Hodge:
Don't remember where I read about this,but you're supposed to be able to cut glass with hand shears,if the glass is submerged under water. Might work in drilling too? Sounds kinda farfetched,but I haven't tried it. I did drill a bunch of holes in a ceramic pot with a 1/4in. concrete drill. Diamonds make the prettiest holes!</font>

01-12-2002, 07:32 AM
This has nothing to do with Li's original question, because I don't have any experience with drilling through glass. I do, however, want to bring some information in for Thrud's defense.

According to my Industrial and Engineering Materials book by Henry Clauser from 1975 (I don't believe that all of the information is outdated yet), glass is a "noncrystalline". To manufacture it, a mixture of silica (silicon dioxide) and other oxides (i.e. lead, boron, aluminum, sodium, potassium, to name a few) is melted and then cooled to a "rigid" condition. "Glass does not change from a liquid to a solid at a fixed temperature, but remains in a vitreous, noncrystalline state, and is considered a supercooled liquid." With the relative positions of its atoms being similar to those of a liquid, the structure has a "short-range order". However, since glass has a 3-dimensional structure, with covalent bonds present (as in many solids), the atoms tend to maintain an ordered structure because of the continuous network of these strong bonds.

What all that means is, given enough time (maybe a few thousand years) your windows will melt into a puddle of silica. KEEP YOUR EYES ON IT AND SEE.

Give 'em hell, Thrud!!!!!!!!!


01-12-2002, 10:27 AM
I want to chime in on the liquid glass comments. My father worked in the glass industry (the old Hazel Atlas works in Wheeling, WV) and I got the benefit of lots of fascinating discussions on glass at gatherings of his friends at the house. I can look at a humdrum glass salt shaker on a restaraunt counter and rightly claim to know the designer. Kinda like having a rich uncle - fun to talk about but doesn't put any change in my pocket. Anyway -- glass is a liquid at any temp that exists natually on this earth.


[This message has been edited by decoy91288 (edited 01-12-2002).]

01-12-2002, 10:23 PM
RP, Craig

Whew! Thanks for further explaining my brash statement. For a second I thought I lost my mind...again. (I hate that when that happens) I never had any doubt in Scientific American - they are not know to "BS" even in an April issue - I like that in a magazine.


01-13-2002, 01:07 AM
If glass flows, the folks using huge glass telescope mirrors that have to be accurate to the wavelength of light don't know about it yet.
The 200 inch Palomar mirror (glass) has been installed now for what, 50 plus years?
The cathedrals were built in about 1200 AD, so Palomar has not had its mirror flow by the wavelength of light in 50 years, but in only 16 times that long, the cathedral glass flowed enough to be visually noticed?
I see a problem here.
Seriously, the flow theory has been exploded.
The state of glass is "glassy" which is a bit different from exactly like a liquid. I had it explained to me by a physicist, but I don't think I could do it justice if I tried to pass it along.

01-13-2002, 08:19 AM
Mt. Palomar actually regrinds the mirror every few years. (Pyrex - not glass) The old 200" is showing its age. Newer telescopes are being built using a large array of smaller "bendable/tunable mirrors" which they use a argon laser to fine tune the scope to the atmosheric conditions. When these new telescopes come on line resolution close to the HST's will be available on Earth. This has only been possible with advances in the last two years. The ESA has produced stunning composite photos of the Ghost Head Nebula.

This is just a stop gap until the new Space Telescope (forget its actual name) is built & launched in 10-20 years

01-13-2002, 10:30 AM
Betcha mean re-silvering.

Re-grinding is a huge task, and they wouldn't have the cash for that.

Silvering is regularly done whenever enough defects show up.
Kitt peak has a commercial operation doing re-silvering, they do their own on a schedule, but take in other work as well.
It is associated with their large telescope.
Interesting place to visit.
Don't think they would ship the 200 inch that far, though.
I'll see if I can find the reference on debunking glass flow.

01-13-2002, 12:14 PM
thurd I only got windows 98 bough a computer used, ain't I smart??? Thinking about drilling som holes in top to squirt in some WD 40 onw and then, might work better yhan hammer and punch. Next one will be from star ship Enterprise,I talk to it and it makes the parts.......I should live so long.

01-14-2002, 12:54 AM
Big Hammer
Does not matter if you buy them new or used - a computer is out of date before you pay for it.

They repolish it, a full re-grind is out of the question as you say. Despite its age it still is a beauty - amazing that they could even make it back then.


Dave the Nave
01-16-2002, 12:18 AM
I'm A firm believer of glass being a fluid.It reminds me of a time back in the 70's when my parents and I camped out in the Mojave desert.I came across an old bottle in the sand half way exposed to the surface.The side exposed appeared to be warped toward the center.My guess is that, not only did gravity have a contributing factor on the liqueousness of the glass,but the intense heat and radiation from the sun may have accellerated the sagging process.
And, as far as the drilling of the hole goes,(going back to my high school shop days)I can remember this freakish little machine that used ultra high frequency to buzz holes through glass.If my memory serves me right,the pin (being .250 dia. in this case)oscillated up and down at 120 kilohertz,with a stroke length of about 50 millionths of an inch.It sure was a sight to see a pin pass through a piece of .375 thick tempered plate glass.It took about 5 minutes.My shop instructor even made a 5-pointed star on the end of a 1/2 dia.pin and buzzed it through the same piece of glass (came out perfect) "Imagine that", an EDM for glass....AAaaahhhaaa ha ha ha ha ah ha ha ha ha ha....
And to the guy who posted a thread earlier on this topic about using a sledge hammer on his piece of glass,,"Well ,my hats off to ya buddy ,because you've got the same patience I do..Laters

01-16-2002, 01:42 AM
That would be an ultrasonic transducer. Never seen one used for holes, but I have seen them spot weld plastics together - like teflon.


01-17-2002, 06:14 PM
Thrud, when was the last time you visited Cal Tech? The Palomar main mirror was ground and figured in a dedicated temperature controlled, cork-lined room. That room was more recently used -- I was there -- to finish the multi-panelled reflector for the IR telescope being built to go on Mauna Kea. All of the original equipment used to prepare the Palomar glass is gone. The carrier to move the mirror is gone. Preparing and finishing the IR reflector took 4 years. I think you are referring to re-aluminizing the Palomar mirror which is done on-site, in an adjacent room, about every 2 years. I did my dissertation research using glass (not at Palomar). It doesn't flow.

01-17-2002, 06:23 PM

If I was going to put a hole in a glass bottle, I would use masking tape as a stencil, and sand blast the hole. I would put a rag inside to protect the glass from becoming frosted.


01-18-2002, 03:05 AM
Thanks for correcting me - I have not been there since I was wee lad. I was not sure if they are using Aluminum or Silver - I could not recall.

I was also emailed by someone named Jerdal who took the time to check the glass comment with a PhD. relative. I appreciate the correction. I do have a text "Quasicrystals: a primer" by C. Janot that goes into some detail on the matter. I did not bother to double check that either. As I said, I had no reason to doubt Scientific American and never noticed a retraction on the matter. I only thought it might be of interest in passing. Like they say, "always check your references".