Drilling crystal and glass

I need advise on what kind of drill I need and bits and the process…
so that I don’t keep breaking beautiful drops… I want to wire glass
into my jewelry. Please help me… working with a dremel and diamond
bits that keep breaking isn’t doing it… Thank-you friends… Donna

High RPM’s.

Water cooling, preferably by immersion in a shallow pan. Line the
bottom with sealing wax to hold the glass/crystal, plus some excess
depth to drill into.

Peck at it. Don’t bore in with constant pressure. Drill presses
especially handy here.

Dan Woodard, Indian Jewelers Supply Co.

Hello Donna, There are lots of ways to drill holes in rock and glass.
Most are expensive or time consuming. If you have batches you want
done your best bet is to send it to someone that has an ultrasonic
drilling set-up. Most of this work was done in Asia, but there has to
be someone closer to you. I would check the lapidary journal
classifieds or a bead group. Steve Ramsdell

Donna, you’re on the right track with the diamond drill bits, but
have you been doing the drilling in water? You need a puddle of water
to keep the bit cool and to flush out the residue. Don’t use very much
pressure, or the bits snap. Take a good look at your bits with a loupe
and see if you still have any diamond left too :slight_smile: I drilled
hundreds of pieces of glass using a flat-bottomed ash tray for the
water reservoir, my Dremel and round bits. Another type of bit you can
use is called a trefanning (sp?) bit–diamond-coated hollow tube. If
you have a stained glass place close to where you live, drop in, pay a
small studio fee, and they’ll show you how. Hope this helps you out of
your pickle. K.P. in WY

G’day Donna: I very frequently drill jade and agate which are afar
harder than glass, using a Dremel and diamond drills. I can honestly
say that I have never broken a diamond drill yet, and the drills I am
talking about are no bigger than one or two mm diameter. I part fill
a supermarket meat tray with water, have the drill rotating at a
medium speed - not the fastest with the Dremel- put a little bit of
plywood for my job to rest upon, and using a light pressure apply the
drill to the work. I lift the drill every few moments (oh, about 20
seconds or so) to let the water clear the swarf from the diamonds and
carry on. I drill a 6 mm piece of agate in about 5 minutes this way.
The important thing is to use very light pressures and plenty of water
and that lift is important too. I don’t really understand how you
break a diamond drill, for the shanks are of mild steel, and not a bit
hard like a twist drill. Just let the diamonds cut their way through.
No water or rushing things will only get you frustrated with a bit
of stiff wire now bare of any diamonds! too much Pressure will get
you ditto and the wire will be bent!. Cheers Nil Nisi
Carborundum (don’t let it grind you down!)

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ


When you are drilling with rather cheap diamond drills they are
always of the types who need to be cooled. These drills are made of
diamond particles who are fixated in bronze or some other low melting
alloy. I you are not cooling enough, the fixation material will melt
and you lose the diamond grinding particles. Make around the glass
piece in which you want to have a hole, some wall build up of modeling
clay and fill this up with some water . Then try drilling again. Use
maximum speed and a minimum of pressure. This is the best way for
diamond bits. If you want to shape ore make some groves in your
object. Take a dremel flexible shaft and do it under water in a bowl
or something.


Hi Donna,

Generally, the reasons drill bits, reamers, burrs & other rotary
tools break when using them, is movement between the tool & the work
piece. Most tools can stand all the twisting (torque) motion applied
by the power source. It’s the lateral bending motion they can’t

The same lateral motion can cause the work piece to break if it’s
weaker than the tool.

The secret to preventing (or at least reducing to a minimum) the
lateral motion is, not hand holding either the work or the tool. The
tool providing the power, Dremel, flexshaft or some other device
should be held as solidly as possible (in a device similar to a drill
press). The work piece should be held in a vise or clamp that prevents
it from moving laterally, relative to the cutting tool. Depending on
the size of the work piece, hole size & depth & the strength of your
fingers, hand holding may be adequate.

There are accessory drill press type tools that a Dremel or flexshaft
handpiece can be attached to. These usually have a table that allows
the positioning & clamping of a work piece. If you’ve got lots of
pieces to drill, it might be less expensive in the long run to get a
small drill press. The accessory tools for the Dremel & flexshaft
handpieces may not provide the necessary degree of rigidity required.


For what it’s worth… I used to do some work in a plant that made
windshields. They had stations set up where the holes were drilled
that had a constant stream of water running over the drill bits and
glass. I also wonder if there is a certain speed range and downward
pressure to the bit.

I don’t have alot of experience in drilling holes in glass drops, but
I have worked with glass, both cutting and fusing.

Glass is an insulator. When you drill, especially with high speed
you will heat up the local area and that portion of the glass will
expand. The rest of the glass will remain cool, and the heated
portion will crack, or as I have unfortunately seen, shatter.

When I cut glass I used a special diamond blade band saw. It had
plenty of lubricant that would dissipate the heat around the area I
was cutting, and the cutting process was very, very slow. If you
have the same type of dremmel I do it goes fast and really fast. I
have not seen anything commercially for glass that would drill holes.
I would suggest a variable speed drill, really slow, and a set up
for water with coolant to cool where you cut,be advised it will
be messy, the coolant flies everywhere. The coolant is available at
almost any stained glass store.

Hope this helps.

Are the bits breaking? Or the crystal and glass in question? If you are
not using a drill press, look into doing so. A slow, steady pecking
at the material, controlled for lateral motion, is what will save
more pieces. Work into a shallow pan with a good layer of sealing wax
on the bottom for workpiece clamping and a “slop” area to drill
"through" holes.

Good luck to you. Now persevere.
Dan Woodard, Indian Jewelers Supply co.