Drilling holes in glass

I would like to make some jewellery from pieces of glass found on
the beach - lovely sand worn surface, together with other interesting
beach cast items, such as small rocks, pieces of worn man-made
materials (bricks), shells, etc. I am trying to work out how to
connect them together. Can small holes be drilled in the glass, and
if so what kind of bit is best? I will probably have to use a
combination of glue and holes. Are there any other jewellers doing
similar things?

Elizabeth Gordon-Mills

Hi Elizabeth- You can drill holes in glass with a diamond drill bit.
I use the sintered (or is it sinstered, I can never remember) bits
not the plated ones. They cost a bit more but they do last longer
and you will burn through bits when drilling glass. I drill alot of
Borosilicate (Pyrex) glass and I go through bits like there’s no
tomorrow and the sintered ones are a joy compared to the plated

Just make sure that you use a lubricant when you use a diamond bit.
I generally drill under water and yes I use my flex shaft but am
very careful as i only submerge the bit as little as possible.

You can use rivets to connect your pieces or epoxy. I’m sure the
good Orchid people here have many other ideas for cold connections
for you.

I have tube set gems and slid the tube through the hole in the
stone. They flared the tube in the back to finish it off. (actually
I do the flare part first, set the stone then slide it in place).
Needless to say there was some epoxy in there to keep the tube from
going anywhere.

If you want to drill bigger holes you can sometimes get away with
masonry bits but it takes longer. But there are diamond core drills
out there as well.

Hope this helps-

There are glass drillbits available that are used by optometrists,
Elizabeth. That’s what I used to use years ago, don’t have the
set-up now. Cheers from OZ Maggie

Hi Elizabeth, We drill holes in our dichroic glass cabochons
sometimes. When we do, we use a 1mm sintered diamond burr bit to
make a 1mm hole for a jump ring to go through. Don’t bother with any
other kind of bit because either the bit will break or the glass
will. Only a diamond coated bit will work with drilling glass. The
glass also has to be drilled under water to keep it from getting too
hot. If the glass is drilled without water and heats up, it can
crack or even break completely. I haven’t drilled beach glass but I
assume it would be the same in process and results. Good luck!

Nancy Stinnett, Owner
Geosoul Arts
(702) 436-7685

Elizabeth, I can ultrasonically drill holes from 0.016" to
0.125"diameter in glass and gems. For more see my
article in this month’s Lapidary Journal on ultrasonic drilling. You
can contact me at telephone # 303.933.7670 MST

Steve Green - Rough and Ready Gems www.briolettes.com
briolettes and ultrasonic drilling

Hi Elizabeth,

Are there any other jewellers doing similar things? 

There are many. Do a Google search on [ “beach glass” +jewelry ]
and you’ll find plenty.


Rio Grande/Albuquerque sells diamond drill bits in packages of 5. I
recommend the 2mm size. It is order# 349-013 $9.50 Recommended speed
is 5000-30,000 rpm. Use a high speed precision drill press or Fordom
flexshaft. Place glass in a pan with a sheet of rubber or green
florist’s wax. Cover the piece to be drilled with water. Apply drill
with a light touch lifting it regularly to clear the swarf and cool the diamond.

Diamond bits are the way to go with hole drilling. High RPM’s and
some flushing coolant (water) help things go all the quicker. Couple
that with a pecking approach. Diamond bits are available from about
0.75mm to 2mm in solid wires, and larger as core drills.

Don’t rule out wire-wrapping, a purely solderless form of
construction that gives very attractive mounting ( and linking )

Dan Woodard, IJS