Drill hole in glass for a sump - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-25-2020, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Drill hole in glass for a sump

Iím about to build a new tank (450l or 100 gallons) from glass I have available. The glass is 8mm thick (1/3 inch).

I want to add a sump in one corner using a tank connector:

Iíve drilled glass in the past with very poor results, but those were thinner sheets (4-5mm). I have two kinds of bits. Excuse my non-technical names but I call them the spade shaped and the bucket shaped bits.

Iíve drilled slowly and Iíve used oil and/or water as contact coolants. Iíve tried to work slowly with minimal pressure.

Any other tips?




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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-25-2020, 05:06 PM
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Use the 2nd bit pictured, the diamond hole saw or as you called it the bucket shaped bit. That's the one I've used to drill tanks before but I do use a drill press rather than holding the drill in my hand.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-25-2020, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! It makes a lot of sense that the drill press would be superior.

I can make a plan to have access to one.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-25-2020, 08:01 PM
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Sounds good! Just be sure to buy the correct diamond hole saw for the outer diameter size of the bulk head fitting you will be using. Usually there is a recommended hole size on the bag the BH fitting comes in.

You may also need to adjust the drill press speed to match the brand of hole saw you are using AND be sure to properly support the tank with scrap wood so you don't end up cracking the tank. You may also want to add a scrap towel or something to catch the piece of glass so it doesn't fall into the tank and break the tank.

We used water as the lubricant when drilling and made a dam using plumbers putty or a similar form to contain the water.

Check for some videos online also for additional tips on drilling tanks.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-26-2020, 03:19 AM
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If you're building the tank yourself, probably best to drill the holes before assembling the glass sheets. Definitely need to have a drill press in order to keep the drill in position and perfectly level; it will wander everywhere to start with if hand holding. As you say, take it very slow and steady. Build a dam around the hole site with plasticine, putty, etc and fill will appropriate cutting fluid / lubricant. maybe just water with a bit of washing up liquid.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-08-2020, 10:24 PM
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I have a couple drill presses but hoisting a 55g tank up on a drill press or stacking up some other kind of table to drill with a drill press is too much work for me. What I do is drill a hole in a piece of plywood the same diameter hole that I am drilling the glass tank. Then I clamp the wood onto the side of the tank and use it as a guide when I drill. I have drilled dozens of holes in tanks this way and never had a problem.

I just so happen to be drilling a 55g tank to be used as a sump right now:
Click image for larger version

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I will run a trickle of water in the hole as I am drilling to keep the glass from getting hot, expanding and cracking... something else that I don't find easy to do on my drill press.

I would recommend against drilling a tank free hand without using a guide, the hole saw wants to jump all over.

P.S. I should add that I find is best to remove the plywood guide after the hole saw has established a good deep cut grove but before it penetrates all the way through the glass. Clamping the guide does impart some stress on the glass that is best to remove before the hole saw goes all the way through the glass.
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Last edited by Oughtsix; 09-10-2020 at 04:34 PM. Reason: addendum
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