How to Make a Hole in Glass Without a Drill

Drilling holes in glass is no easy task. It requires precision, the right tool, and a whole lot of patience.

But have you ever tried creating an opening in a glass without the use of a drill? That’s right, it’s possible!

There are many ways to make glass holes that do not require a drill in today’s world. Whether you’re working with stained glass or your old window, these tips will help you get the job done!

This article will show how anyone can make holes in any glass material using simple tools and household items.

The Benefits of Making a Glass Hole Without a Drill

No doubt, the primary motivation for this project is that you don’t have a drill! But there are some other good reasons to use only manual tools.

The first benefit is cost. Many of these techniques will save money by allowing you to avoid buying a power tool, such as a Makita or Bosch Cordless Drill.

Some people don’t want to buy a power tool for one-time use only. Using your powers of invention instead of just plugging in an appliance can be fun too.

Of course, it also saves money on energy since you’re not using electricity. Learning drill-less options is also great if there’s a power failure or prolonged outage.

Another advantage to doing it yourself is customization. It will allow you to create holes in any shape and size with much greater freedom than a drill.

Conventional Drill-less Options In Making a Glass Hole Without Cracking It

Practical people often make glass holes using conventional methods and ingenuity. These methods are still viable today, whether for historical re-creation or purely for the challenge of learning how to do it without a drill.

Here are some of them:

Option 1: Using a Soldering Iron

A soldering iron is a must-have for every hobbyist and handyperson. You can use it to weld metal parts together to form either mechanical or electrical bonds.

Using this small handheld device isn’t limited to metal. Another great use of the soldering iron is putting holes into a glass!

Soldering Iron

Materials

  • Soldering Iron
  • Glass materials you want to put holes into (glass bottle, glass jar, glass pipe)
  • Marker
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety gear

Step-by-step Process

Video: Cut a Hole In a Glass Bottle (Using a Soldering Iron)

  1. Decide where you want to place the hole. Use the marker to draw a rough circle or any shape you want.
  2. Pre-heat the soldering iron at its hottest temperature. Be sure that you monitor how hot your iron gets so that you will know when it is just right for melting the glass.

Always wear your safety gear such as gloves and eye protection to avoid any injuries.

  1. When the soldering iron reaches the right temperature, touch it on the glass at the spot where you drew your guide. Make sure to hold the tip of your iron in one area for a few seconds and then move it.

Your goal is to create a crack or a split. A pro tip is to score the guide you made to have even and almost straight edges.

  1. Once a crack has formed, continue moving the soldering iron. The break will follow the heat. If it stops moving, try to heat the other side of the crack.
  2. When you complete the shape you wanted, the glass will simply come off. However, in some instances, the crack will not move when you’re near the point where you started. In this case, you can gently nudge the piece you want to remove, and voila, you’re done!
  3. Use a fine grade wet or dry sandpaper to even the edges.

I know what you’re thinking, I’ll just use the iron to burn off the edges. No, never do that. It will create more cracks, and your efforts will be lost.

Pros and Cons

This method is great if you’re already familiar with soldering irons.

If not, this would be a good time to learn about the tool. Familiarity can save you money on projects like this in the long run.

This method is straightforward to perform, but it may require more patience than other methods. The heat needed for this method can also crack certain types of glass due to its intense nature.

How to Make a Hole in a Glass Bottle with a Lighter and Duct Tape Technique

This method hails from MacGyver’s mind and you might remember doing this in 7th grade.

If you’re having trouble remembering how to do this science experiment, don’t worry! It’s remarkably easy.

Materials

  • Duct tape
  • Lighter
  • A bowl of cold water
  • Ballpen, small hammer, or a nail
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety gear

Process

  1. Cover the bottom part of the bottle with duct tape. If you’re working with flat glass, put the tape on both sides of the area you want to puncture a hole.
  2. Put cold water around the place you want to put the hole. The water protects other areas from getting heated.
  3. Heat the area for about a minute to soften the glass. Wear your safety gear such as gloves and eye protection while doing this part to avoid any injuries.
  4. Wearing gloves and keeping your head back, press your ballpen or nail onto the glass. Expect to have to apply some pressure when trying to penetrate through it.
  5. When you are successful in making the hole, clean up the edges with sandpaper.

Pros and Cons

Convenient. It’s a fast and easy method that requires little to no prior experience. This method is also an excellent way to save money

The downside is that you may need more than one try if you don’t have much practice at this art.

Option 2: File and Kerosene or Alcohol Method

Another conventional way to bore a hole in a glass is to use a three-square file and kerosene or any low-density lubricant.

Materials

  • A three-sided file
  • Kerosene or other low-density lubricants like turpentine
  • Safety gear

Process

  1. Put some lubricant at the end of the file. You can put some more lubricant along the process if you feel the file is too dry.
  2. Place the end against the glass and start turning it. It’s best to score or mark the hole first to get the desired position.

Always wear your safety gear such as gloves and eye protection to avoid any injuries.

  1. Turn the file clockwise and counterclockwise with a sufficient amount of pressure.

Pros and Cons

Convenient. It’s fast and easy. The conventional at-home method requires no prior filing experience, just patience to make a hole in your glass effectively.

On the other hand, it’s a very laborious and time-consuming thing to do. If you don’t have time to spare, this method is not for you.

Option 3: Using a Glass Cutter

A glass cutter is a  very effective way to make holes in glass. You can find these tools in hardware stores. If you want the best quality for your money, turn to online retailers like eBay and Amazon.

A point about safety: with a glass cutter, you will need a lot of patience as you have to go over and over the same area multiple times.

Materials to be Used

  • Glass cutter
  • Duct Tape
  • Marker
  • Safety Gloves
  • Compass or a perfectly round bottle cap
  • Sandpaper

how to cut a hole in glass with a glass cutter

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Wear your safety gloves first before handling any of the materials used in this process.
  2. Draw a circle on the glass and then subtract half an inch or quarter of an inch from that circle’s diameter. You can adjust your measurements depending on what size you want for your glass hole.

Note: Do remember that larger holes will have less structural support!

  1. Mark this measurement with your permanent marker. Place duct tape over the area where you will be tracing the inside of the cut line. These will act as guidelines as you proceed with making a perfect glass hole using a cutter tool.

Note: the width of these lines should not exceed one or two millimeters.

  1. Now hold the cutter in your hand like a pencil and slowly scratch the glass with it.
  2. Once the circle is complete, remove the middle piece of glass using your thumb or a wooden hammer.
  3. Clean the edges with sandpaper.

Pros and Cons

It is a cost-effective alternative to a drill.  You just have to remember that it requires quite a bit of hand strength and patience to be successful.

This method is also very inefficient, as sanding down the edges reduces its durability over time. Moreover, you should consider doing this process in an area free from distractions and people around you.

Option 4: String and Kerosene Method

Using string and kerosene might seem unconventional, but this process is very effective in making a hole on glass. This method is more used when cutting bottles in half to make drinking glasses.

Still, you can use this process in flat glass, but it might take some time to master and properly execute it.

Materials to be Used

  • Kerosene
  • Safety gear
  • String (cotton or twine)
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Marker

Step-by-Step Process

  1. First, determine at what height you want to cut the bottle with a marker. For flat glass, establish where you want to put the holes.
  2.  
  3. Cut the string to your desired length. The size of the hole or your bottle determines the length of the string.

As a pro tip, cut an ample string length: not too short and not too long. The length of the string will affect the process.

  1. Soak the string and put it over the guide you made. Always wear a mask and safety gear when doing this method.
  2. Once in place, set the string on fire.
  3. After the string has burned for a few minutes, you can remove the hole by tapping on the glass. Clean off the edges by using sandpaper.

Pros and Cons

This option does not require much material. It gives you the most professional and cleanest look.

The string can burn out a little too fast before you get to where the hole is. Or worse, it can lead to an accident that might cause inflammation on your hands or arms.

Option 5: Oil and Carbide Masonry Bit

Using this method, you will have a clean hole with no cracks. Even though it will not look as “perfect” as using string or other methods that can create a shattered-glass effect, there is more room for error in the process.

Because of their strength and durability, carbide masonry bits are among the best tools.

Carbide Masonry Bit

Materials to be Used

  • Tape (for flat glass) / Water (for glass bottle)
  • Carbide bit
  • Oil
  • Safety gear
  • Sandpaper

Process

  1. For flat glass, put tape around the area you want to bore a hole. For glass bottles, fill them with water to lessen the vibrations during the process.
  2. Like the file and kerosene method, oil the drill bit’s tip and gently push it against the glass. Don’t push too hard, or you break the glass.
  3. Once you have made a hole, clean the edges with sandpaper.

Pros and Cons

This option comes with cheaper materials but is also likely to get messy because it uses oil as a lubricant. Carbide masonry bits do not work well on heat-absorbing glass types, like double pane glass.

It might also cause burns on your hands. Use this method with caution!

Unconventional or Recent Drill-less Options In Making a Glass Hole

Other than conventional methods, there are also unconventional ones. These methods are expensive and are usually limited to commercial use.

However, if you have a large budget, you might want to look at these options:

Option 1: Water Jetting

A water jet machine is a special type of drilling that uses water and high pressure. In this method, water is propelled out of a hose-like tool at 80 to 150 mph, making tiny holes in the glass as it erodes it.

Materials to be Used

All you need to have is a water jet machine and some glass.

Most people opt to avail the services of a shop that has the machine. However, the water jet components are readily available for purchase.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. The process is like that of normal drilling. You can either place the glass on a table, stick it on a platform or lay it flat on the floor.
  2. Protect the surrounding areas by placing protective sheets or other materials around to prevent them from getting wet.
  3. Clean the area using soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
  4. Apply two layers of tape along the edges of where you intend to drill your hole. Make sure that one side of each layer tapes over another, thereby connecting both sides.
  5. Make holes in these spots using a suitable tool, such as an awl, before setting up your jet machine for drilling.
  6. To assure safety, use eye protection when operating this kind of equipment.

Pros and Cons

Right off the bat, this equipment is that it produces no harmful fumes or wastes. It also doesn’t create noise compared to other methods you can use for the task.

The only downside to this one is that it produces thermal stress within your material. It happens whenever you pour hot water, which causes cracking of the glass.

Option 2: Laser Cutting

Some people might think that lasers are only used to cut through thick pieces of metal. However, you can also utilize them for cutting glass.

A laser cutter is a type of machine which uses different gases with high energy wavelength emissions to cut easily into the material being worked on. It’s no exception when it comes down to working on thin sheets or objects made from glass!

Laser Cutting

Materials to be Used

You need a laser cutting machine and a worktable.

As the water jet machine, you can choose to use the services of a shop that has the laser. Still, the laser cutter’s components are readily available online and in physical stores.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. First, you must have a pattern for cutting the glass. There are several templates on the internet that can be downloaded and used for this purpose.
  2. The template’s design should include separating the materials into two layers. The machine will use the first layer for support, and the laser cutter machine will cut the other.
  3. Once everything has been done, power up the unit by flipping its switch or pulling.
  4. The machine will automatically stop once it’s finished.

Pros and Cons

Also, laser cutters allow for high-precision cuts that are precise, especially when compared to those made using drills or even diamond-tipped tools.

There is no damage to your material. However, there is still thermal stress in the glass.

Frequently Asked Question

How do you make a hole in a glass bottle without tools?

There are many ways you can put a hole in a glass bottle. You can either use a glass cutter or a soldering iron to have a perfect hole.

How do you make a hole in glass at home?

If you don’t have the right tools to make holes in glass, we highly suggest using the string and kerosene method. It only uses items usually found at home, so it’s very easy to do.

What is the best drill bit for glass?

There are cobalt, titanium, and other types of drill bits. But the perfect drill bits for glass are the diamond and carbide ones.

Final Thoughts

There are several methods in making a hole in the glass without using drills. The method you use will entirely come down to the type of glass you’re working with, your skill level, and how much time you have.