Drilling a hole into plexiglass is a quite challenging task, and a lack of knowledge and the appropriate process can ruin the project completely. Therefore, learning how to drill holes in plexiglass is must need to handle such brittle material conveniently and get the desired holes.
Following the guide, we have revealed an effective yet easier process of drilling into plexiglass successfully. Plus, we mentioned different types of drills and drill bits that are suitable for creating crack and damage-free holes through the plexiglass. So hack this essential information and make the plexiglass drilling task safe and successful.
Step by Step Guide to Drill Holes in Plexiglass
Plexiglass is a worthy alternative to glass that is also known as acrylic, thermoplastic, and Lucite. This shatter-resistant polymer is frequently used in construction projects that demand lightweight yet durable plastic. But the plexiglass is a brittle material that can scratch and creak easily, thus requiring adequate care. Following a safer process of drilling plexiglass:
- Safety goggles
- Drill bit
- Power drill
- Permanent marker
- Medium Density Fiberboard
- Some pieces of clamping
Wear protection gear
Drilling plexiglass can produce acrylic chips. These flying chips can damage the eye, so wear safety goggles to protect the eyes.
Buy the right tools
To drill through plexiglass without creaking it, you have to use the right tools and accessories compatible with plexiglass. Later in the guide, we have briefly discussed the type of drill bit and the drill compatible with plexiglass.
You can also use an especially designed plexiglass drill bit, as these have different geometric structures to dig into plexiglass efficiently without melting it. A drill press with 500 to 1000 RPM will be the most preferable tool to create precise holes through plexiglass.
Prepare the workpiece
Place the plexiglass where you want it to be on top of scrap plexiglass or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Doing so will lower the risk of chipping the rear of the board or scratching it during drilling through the plexiglass. Then secure the workpiece using the clamps as many times as required.
In general, larger plexiglass sheets require more clamps to secure them firmly. Use a marker to identify the spot where you want to create the hole.
Avoid drilling on the edge
Don’t drill close to the edge of the plexiglass, as it is more prone to cracking. Even plexiglass produces considerably more chips while drilling near the edges.
Turn on your drill
If you are using a drill press, plug it into a nearby power outlet or insert a battery if it is a cordless drill. Then press the power trigger.
Likewise drilling other materials, plexiglass requires a slower speed at the initial time. One interesting thing is, drilling a-holes in plexiglass doesn’t require a center punch.
Be steady and consistence
The target is to drill 3.5 inches per minute into the plexiglass in terms of accuracy and safety. Drilling through plexiglass creates ample plastic shavings, which can block the working zone and cause disturbances. So once the plastic shavings start surrounding the drill bit, stop drilling and clear the area to get a better view of the operation.
Let the bit cool down
If you are drilling thicker plexiglass, drilling consistently can melt it and ruin the project. So, periodically remove the bit and let it cool down for successful operation over the plexiglass. Repeat the tricks until you reach the desired depth or go completely through the plexiglass.
Types of Drill Bits for Plexiglass
Plastic Drill Bits: The plastic drill bit is mainly used to create a hole in the plastic. This drill bit is designed with ground flukes with a 0-degree rake and 90-degree points. It can also shave plexiglass away layer by layer. Plastic drill bits come in a range of diameters and are available in both local stores and online.
Diamond Dusted Drill Bits: This drill bit is designed with a diamond dust coating and is suitable for drilling through hard plastics. This coating retains the drill bit’s sharpness for a long time. Diamond dusted bits also have a 0-degree rake and 60-degree points and are able to drill through several layers of plexiglass. But this drill bit is hardly available at a local store and can be easily found online.
Modified Drill Bits: Typical high-speed drill bits can drill through plexiglass but require modification. It needs to grind the small flats on the cutting edge of the bit to prepare it for drilling plexiglass. Doing so lets the bit dig into the plexiglass conveniently. While drilling through plexiglass using this modified drill bit, you will find two constant spiral ribbons coming from the plexiglass hole.
Types of Drill for Drilling hole into Plexiglass
Likewise using the right drill bit, applying the appropriate drill machine is also vital for having a precise and successful drilling season over plexiglass. The following are the three types of drill machines that have proved most suitable for creating a hole in plexiglass:
Pillar Drilling Machine
It’s an expert’s recommended appliance for drilling through plexiglass. A pillar drilling machine is a type of free-standing machine that operates an electric motor to rotate the drill bit and drill into the working surface. This drill machine also has a handwheel that makes the drilling task efficient.
If you require the most precise hole over the plexiglass, consider a drill press. It is one of the most commonly used drilling tools and has plenty of features to successfully create holes in plexiglass. This drill press comes with a built-in work surface, a drive motor, and a chuck.
Combine with a plexiglass drill bit, this power tool can ensure continuous 90-degree drilling for the most accurate hole every time you apply. The power tool also features an adjustable spindle speed for safer drilling.
Handheld Electric Drill
You can use a handheld drill like a corded drill or cordless drill to create a hole in the plexiglass. Both the drills come with some exceptional features to offer successful drilling into plexiglass without damaging its surface. The limitation is that both types of handheld drills only accept drill bits that are 1/4′′ or 3/8′′ in diameter.
Why drilling plexiglass is challenging?
Plexiglass is used as a substitute for glass, especially where requires weather-resistant and lightweight material. By applying heat, you can also reshape this material pretty effortlessly. But plexiglass is a brittle material and isn’t scratch-resistant, so it is prone to creaking easily. While drilling into it, plexiglass gets hot and fractures quickly.
So applying extreme pressure along with consistent drilling increases the friction between the drill bit and the surface of the plexiglass and it ends up with cracking. So drilling plexiglass requires a patient and slower process to prevent melting and offer successful drilling.
What if the plexiglass cracks?
Still, you shouldn’t be worried if the plexiglass is already cracked. The good news is that you can fix this problem quite easily using solvent cement. This cement is a type of solvent bonding agent that softens the acrylic to weld it. If the plexiglass cracks, apply solvent cement on the crack line and wait for hours. Leaving the concentration for an extended period of time is important because the longer time required to build strength. Adhesive tape is also a handy solution to fix this problem.
A few essential tips to drill holes in plexiglass
The following are some important tricks to remember while dealing with plexiglass to get creak and damage-free holes:
- Control the drill speed while creating a hole in the plexiglass, as faster speeds make the surface hotter quickly.
- A hot drill bit melts the plexiglass easily, so pull out the bit from the hole regularly to cool it down.
- Apply lubricant or water to keep the temperature lower and get a creak-free hole.
- If you need to insert a screw into the hole, create a slightly larger hole so the screw can get room to expand.
- Check the clamp and refasten if required to prevent vibration while drilling into the plexiglass.
- To create a smooth hole in thicker plexiglass, drill from both sides of the plexiglass. If the opposite side starts puncturing, turn on the glass and start drilling.
- Don’t drill a hole close to the edge of the plexiglass as it increases the risk of cracking.
FAQs on How to Drill Holes in Plexiglass
How to cut a slot in the edge of plexiglass?
Using a rotary tool’s cutting disk, you can easily create slots on the edges of plexiglass. But you have to pay more attention while cutting the slot in the edge as the cutting disk can kick back and bind up during the operation.
What Is the Best Drill Bit for Drilling Plexiglass?
Following the experience of professional enthusiasts, Craftics 1/4,” Drill Bit is the best drill bit for drilling Plexiglass as well as Lexan, ABS, and PVC. This high-speed steel drill bit has a diamond dust coating to offer chip-free, clean holes through plexiglass. Plus, the drill bit has a 90-degree point to ensure enhanced cutting without melting and cracking.
How to treat the plexiglass surface properly?
After drilling plexiglass, it may leave a less attractive surface that requires treatment. So you either apply a painting or cleaning method to the surface to make it neat. For painting, you can use normal paints or decorative pencils like chinagraph pencils. But don’t use solvent-based color pens. Conversely, you can simply remove the dust or particles from the surface using dishwashing liquid, water, and a soft cloth. Even you can use petroleum ether and benzene to remove thick stains from the surface of the plexiglass.
Hopefully, you have learned how to drill holes in plexiglass successfully, avoiding creaking. Apart from these, using the right equipment on the plexiglass surface shouldn’t be a big issue. But after collecting all the required tools, don’t try to create a hole in the plexiglass immediately. It’s best if you practice drilling on a useless scrap of plexiglass to make the hand reliable before starting the real project.