Jewelry, mixed media art, and home decor are just a few things you can use glass beads for. The question is, how do you drill holes into the beads to add them to your work? You've come to the right place! We've done the leg work for you and found out.
To drill holes into glass beads, you'll need a rotary tool and a steady hand. By keeping the glass wet, use a diamond tip drill bit to slowly drill into the glass. We've outlined the steps below for you:
- Prep your workspace
- Choose your rotary tool
- Place bead into holding putty/mount
- Mark the spot you'd like to make the hole
- Place bead and mount into a shallow tray with water
- Make a small starting hole on the marked point
- Slowly apply pressure as you drill through
- Check your work
Always wear protective eye gear to prevent any shards from getting into your eyes. Save your best pieces of glass for last when you're just starting out. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to drill holes in your sleep! We've also looked into which drill bit to use and what to do if you need to enlarge the hole of the bead. Keeping reading to find out more!
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8 Steps For How To Drill Holes In Glass Beads
1. Prep your workspace
Let's begin! Prep your workspace by making sure you have an uncluttered space and all your tools close at hand. You'll need your rotary tool, beads, tray with water, eye protection, and a rag. Having your tools laid out in one spot will help you work more efficiently.
2. Choose your rotary tool
There are two types of rotary tools you can use to drill holes into glass beads. One is an electric rotary, and the other is a Dremel. A rotary can be cordless or battery-powered and very lightweight compared to other power tools. A Dremel is another type of rotary tool, however, it is a bit bigger and has less torque.
Click here to view this rotary tool kit on Amazon.
Rotary drills are much more versatile in that they can use their own bits and Dremel bits. This type of drill is often used for larger projects. A Dremel is best known for its capability to do detailed work. This tool works very well for smaller beads and smaller holes. While it does have less power overall, it is noted as a great DIY tool to have.
Click here to view this Dremel kit on Amazon.
3. Place bead into holding putty/mount
Put the side you'd like to drill face up, secure the bead into the putty or mount. The mount acts as a stronghold to prevent the bead from slipping and accidentally drilling your fingers! You can also add an extra protective layer underneath the mount, such as a sponge or thin piece of wood, so you don't drill through the water tray.
4. Mark the spot you'd like to make the hole
Take a thin permanent marker and mark the spot you'd like to drill. By marking the spot, you'll be able to find your center. It also gives you a preview of how the hole will look in a certain spot. Plus, in case you need to walk away in the middle of the project, you won't have to wonder where you meant to drill.
5. Place bead and mount into a shallow tray with water
Once your bead is secured, place it into a shallow tray of water. Water is necessary when drilling to reduce friction and therefore cracking. It will also help keep down the number of glass shards released from the drilling.
6. Make a small starting hole on the marked point
Take your time when making the first indentation. You'll want to make a small divot as your starting point. This will allow you to have a better footing for your drilling tool and let you gauge how much pressure will be needed.
7. Slowly apply pressure as you drill through
This step will require a little patience. Too much pressure at high speed will end up cracking or splitting your glass bead. Instead, do small intervals of a few seconds. This method also helps keep the heat of the drill bit down. Once you reach the other side of the glass, you'll feel a break in the pressure. Even though you feel it breakthrough, make sure the full width of the bit has made it through and not just the tip.
8. Check your work
Last but not least, take a look at your handy work! Is the size big enough for the wire or chain you were planning to use? Did you make it through all the way? In case the drill bit wasn't big enough, we also have the answer on how to enlarge previously made holes.
How Do You Enlarge A Hole In Glass?
To enlarge a hole in the glass, you'll need a tool called a bead reamer. A bead reamer can not only enlarge the hole but also smooth out the surrounding surface. It is essentially a handheld file that you'll work on until the hole is at the desired size. A great thing to note is that you can use a bead reamer on other objects such as shells and pearls.
Click here to view these bead reamers on Amazon.
Can You Use A Dremel To Drill A Hole In Glass Beads?
While it may not be the first choice, a Dremel can be used to drill into glass beads. Since a Dremel is most often used for very small detail work, there isn't much power to it. It can still be used to drill holes; you'll just need to put a little more arm strength into it. The other thing to note is that Dremels can only accept Dremel-sized shanks.
What Is The Best Drill Bit For Glass?
No matter the size of the bit, you'll need to use a diamond drill bit when working with glass. The diamond bits are the strongest and most compatible grinding against the glasses surface. There are two types of bits, a small diamond drill bit and a small diamond core bit.
The first, a small diamond drill bit, has solid ends. This bit is recommended for more thick and dense pieces but requires a longer work time. A positive is that they last much longer, saving you multiple trips to the store.
Click here to view these diamond drill bits on Amazon.
The second, a small diamond core bit, is hollow. The hollow aspect of this bit allows for a better water flow when you're drilling. Core bits, in this sense, drill quicker, but they can wear down much easier and will need to be replaced more often.
Click here to view these diamond core bits on Amazon.
To drill a hole into glass beads is pretty straightforward. Once your workstation is prepped, use your handheld drill to gentle work into the wet glass. You'll be able to make previously drilled holes larger with a bead reamer in case the wire you picked is too large. Now you can string and wrap your glass beads into your newest creation!
Wondering what else you can do with glass?
How To Glue Glass Beads To Glass [6 Steps]