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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What better to do on a Nice Janurary Day than mix Cold, Water and Electricity? :proud:

I was Given the Paludarium by a Friend who found it next to a Dumpster. The way it is setup--I really couldn't use it for anything water based--without Drilling it First. So, that is what I set out to do...

I did my research and put some thought into everything and this is what I came up with:

This first part had me wondering:



I know that many aquariums have Tempered Glass Bottoms--But that isn't what it says. However, after looking it over--I think the Bottom is Tempered and maybe the sides. The Front and Back are about 1/4" thick--and apparently Not Tempered! :proud:

The Set Up:

After doing some research and thinking a bit this is the set up and jig that I came up with:



I purchased the Drill Guide at Sears on sale for $26 after tax. I mounted that to a 1/4" piece of lexan, drilled a 2" hole through it and added the wooden block to help lock everything in place.



I purchased the 3/4" Loc-Line fittings (~$10) and used a couple of adapters that I had on hand, so that I could stabilize the Garden Hose. Little bit of Duct tape--and we're good to Go! The Loc-Line made this really convenient by not having to continuously fiddle with the hose. The Diamond Bit ($28 Shipped) I purchased from a Hong Kong Based Company on Ebay--THK. Took 9 days to arrive. I purchased some "regular" 48mm bits (X3-Total: $29.40 Shipped) and this 45mm PRO Bit--The Pro bits are much better designed and well worth the extra cost.

So, with temps about 40F, water running (below) and a 110v Variable Speed Drill--I began Drilling away:



I did practice first on some Glass that I bought at HD with the lower end 48mm bits. I learned quite a bit and would Highly recommend some Practice first if You've never done this Before. My results were mixed--but I still learned a lot. 4 holes=First and last Great! + 2 Middle, Well--Not so Great....

Below is a Pic of the first Hole on this paludarium Breaking through (pun intended):



The Closer You get to Breaking Through--the more risky the situation becomes. I realized while drilling this first hole--that once the bit starts breaking through the Glass--water will start pouring into the inside. So, I kept my eyes open for the signal:



The water in the center of the pic above is coming through the opening of the hole as its breaking through. The water to the left of the pic is just run off on the outside.

A few more minutes and a further exercise in patience--Hole #1 is DONE! :proud:



Only took 84 Minutes! Sheesh........:biggrin:

Now for Hole #2:

I set the jig up for the 1 hole, but I got started late in the day and realized the value of the duct tape in all of this. So, I just offset the jig for hole #2 and started to work:

In order to offset the jig I just incorporated 2 slats of Lexan that I had cut for a different project many moons ago:



Put the jig in place and then duct taped everything down:



This time it only took 34 minutes to punch out this hole! :proud:

And after all was said and done--2 Holes completed:



These are for the intake/outtake of my canister filter.

I still have to Drill a 3rd Hole and make a Background, etc for this, but for now--2 Holes are DRILLED! :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Ok, So I ran out of light and had to postpone the Drilling of the 3rd and final hole. Its Placement was the Riskiest in my eyes, so it needed a little more Preparation. This Time I decided to use wood for support:



The idea is pretty straight forward. At the Bottom of the wood I used 3M Double-sided tape to help keep the wood from moving during the process. I cut the wood so that it would stay in place with Minimal Pressure on the Glass.

Next I setup the Jig and Water Hose and I was ready to start drilling again:



This time it took right at 30 mins, but I had no problems whatsoever:



The Maximum Depth Set Point of the Drill Guide really helped out. When I started getting to the Break-Through point--I could tell by the set point and the "Feel" of things. The Bit tried to Bind lightly a couple of times, so I stopped and checked: Yes, I was breaking through! I took the Variable Speed drill off of "Lock" so I could manipulate the speed of the bit and--More Importantly: So, I could just release the trigger without having to pull it first. <--I did that on all 3 holes. I was really concerned that the Diamond Bit would bind with the wood and either bind the bit up with the Glass or twisting the wood and binding it up with the glass. Either way--the result would not have been Good.

Cannot really see it, but the Inside chipping is not any better than the first 2 holes. I took more time, care and concentration this time, but the results are similar. The Biggest areas are just water in between the wood and the glass:



The glass inside the hole is Free and chipped off of the glass plug, but the chipping on the inside of the hole itself--is about the same as the others.



Above is a pic of the Outside of the hole and the inside of the plug (the black mark is actually on the other side of the plug).

In the end I felt better using the wood for support for this 3rd hole. Its closest to the edge, close to another hole and in the most unsupported area of the back (the door opening). It didn't seem to help with the interior chipping, but that my be more the Operators fault than anything--I don't know.

My Chinese Water Snakes will be going in this setup. I plan to drill their current 20L once it becomes available. For that I am going to try Tacoshooter's Dremel method below. I'll report back on how that goes.



The Tools:

Variable Speed Drill
Drill Guide
Diamond Drill Bit
Lexan Mount
Duct Tape
LocLine

Variable Speed Drill:

I have several cordless drills, but the only Variable speed drill that I have is 110v. Safety First--so never forget that You are mixing Electricity and Water! If You have a Cordless Variable speed drill---Use It! I started out with the Cordless drill and trying to maintain the speed (RPMs) and everything else is just an unnecessary hassle. Yes, It can be done. I drilled 2 holes successfully (and 2 unsuccessfully) with cordless drills. But the RPM of the bit needs to be low and that varies with the size of the bit. Apparently, the smaller the bit--the faster You can go.....

This page has a Table showing Bit size v. RPM:

Lots Of Glass Drilling Info

In this case I needed to drill 1 3/4" holes for 1" bulkheads--So, that put me in the 250-500 RPM range, with reality being closer to the 250 rpm range. I shot for about 300 rpm or 5 rp-second.

The Variable Speed Drill is not a Cure-all and can be somewhat of a hassle in itself at the lower speeds, but with the jig set up--its much easier to manage.

Drill Guide:



I picked this up at Sears for $26. For that amount of investment--I don't think I will bother trying to Drill Glass Freehand. Many people do--But why? Incorporated into a jig--this drill guide gives a lot more control than doing it freehand. Its not perfect, but just makes things better in my mind.

I did modify the Drill Guide slightly. As you can see in the pic, there are 2 springs--1 on each vertical rod. Basically, they create too much back pressure making it hard to judge how much pressure you are actually putting on the glass. The only back pressure that I needed was just enough to keep the drill bit off of the glass when I was not touching the drill. So, I removed 1 spring. Still too much. I removed the 2nd spring and cut it--and it worked out just right. I can release the drill from the very top of the Drill Guide--and it won't slam into the Glass--That's all I needed.

As You can see in the pic--I wound up with about 1/3 of 1 spring.



The Drill Guide also has 2 set points: 1 to lock the drill in place and 1 as a maximum depth. The Lock-in-place comes in handy when you want the drill bit out of the way to check, say, progress. The Other is really handy: It can be set to stop the drill at the Break-Through point. This gives an instant visual indication of progress and an idea of when to start reducing pressure and RPMs. This is a slow process, so impatience and uncertainty are easy to come by. This little set point lets You know what's going on:




Diamond Tipped Drill Bits:

Like many other tools--not all Diamond drill bits are created equal. But do You really need to spend $70+ to accomplish Your task? I don't think so, but I wasn't sure. So, I started out on the very low end and purchased 3 48mm Bits (wrong size) for $29.40 Shipped (less than $10 each). Once I realized I had ordered a size that was going to be a bit too big--I ordered the 45mm PRO bit for $28 Shipped. Both orders were placed through THK on Ebay. I will definitely order from them again. These pix show the difference in design:



The 48mm bits on the left do not allow much opportunity for the cold water to actually get down and into the cutting area to keep the Bit Tip and Glass as cool as possible. The design of the Blue 45mm PRO of the Right does. The slots and grooves allow the water to get right down to the actual cutting area keeping everything cool and decreasing the risk of cracks and shattering and extending the life of the bit itself.

Lexan Mount:

I originally intended to use wood, but I just didn't have any on hand that was thin enough. So, while looking around I found some Lexan. Its thin, tough and even see-through. I simply placed the Drill Guide, marked the holes, drilled them out, mounted the Drill Guide and then used a Dremel to cut the extruding screw tips off. Used a 2" hole saw to cut the center hole, mounted the wood and it was done. Hindsight being 20/20 (sometimes anyway) I realize now that the piece of wood is really unnecessary. As long as everything is dry initially--the duct tape will secure everything where and as needed. For me, the Lexan mount is a necessary part of this setup. It secures the drill guide and the duct tape secures the Lexan. No, it doesn't need to be lexan, but its also waterproof, so it will last.

Duct Tape:

As we all know: Duct Tape holds the Universe together! In this case the duct tape allows the jig to be mounted anywhere and helps prevent movement and "wobble". However, it also allows some wobble which is good to help prevent the "Chirping" that occurs during the drilling process. What would life be like without Duct Tape?

LocLine:

This stuff has so many uses that its used in Factories all over the world. In this case, it allows me to secure the Garden Hose and still be able to adjust the water placement with ease. My practice drilling was done with just the garden hose. The Locline parts cost about $10--money well spent. I can move the water right where I want it--including out-of the-way when checking progress. The Locline makes the whole water process trouble-free.

The Process:

If You've ever used a Hole saw with a Hand Drill then this Process is really pretty straight forward. Basically, its just a matter of using the diamonds on the bit to literaly Grind away the glass.

Sounds:
These Diamond Tipped bits really don't cut any more evenly than a regular hole saw, so some "wobble" is inevitable. Because of the unevenness of the actual cutting area a "Chirping" sound is created. I tried to avoid that sound as much as possible and Manually "Wobble" the Drill to reduce it and try to achieve the "Grinding" sound. The "wobbling" is slight. Try to cut as evenly as possible. The "Chirping" can get quite loud and its not hard to tell that its just adding stress to the situation. If You don't quite understand what I am saying: You'll figure it out soon enough once you get started....

Cooling:

This is pretty straight forward too: Get as much cooling (water) down to the cutting area as possible. I used the partial dam created but the lexan and drill guide base combined with the "Pumping" mentioned in the "Lots of Info" link above. Basically, every minute or so--remove the bit slightly away from the cutting surface to allow cool water to cool the Bit and the Glass. Not a big deal and is easy to sort of with a little bit of practice. The PRO bit design and the LocLine setup really go a long way to reducing the need for "Pumping".

Breaking-Through:

This seems like the toughest part to me. I am not sure what I need to do at this point to reduce the chipping with this setup. Putting the Bulkhead seal on the outside is definitely an option. Reducing both speed and pressure is the first course of action--its a necessity. But didn't seem to matter much for the interior chipping. Switching to a "New" bit might help, but some how I don't really think so. Just be aware that using Tape and/or Wood may cause the bit to bind--either way, I think it will increase the risk of shattering/cracking at the last second. Think about it. With all due care--these things shouldn't be a problem. Just be aware of what the situation is.....:thumbsup:
 

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Very interesting! Does the glass tend to crack and break away as the bit starts to come thru? Don't you have to really take it slow at that point?
 

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I wonder, when I'm drilling or sawing quite often wood I'll either use tape or back it up with scrap wood to minimize chipout. Would putting good quality tape on the breakout side of glass cut down on the chipping any you think? Meanwhile knowing that glass ain't wood ;), and can't be expected to act the same way. Anyone ever try?

Lookin' good Naja!
 

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Cindy,

I've always backed my cuts with tape, but more so I could see marks (that I drew on the tape) than anything else.

Going S-L-O-W!!!!!!! (I'm talking like several minutes at least for even the thinnest glass) reduces chipping. Also putting on a fresh bit just before breaking through if the one you're using is dull. Some people stop the cut part way in and finish from the other side to help reduce chipping, too.

At any rate, you can put a bulkhead on in either direction, so if you do get bad chipping on one side or the other, you can put the bulkhead the other direction.
 

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Well I'm thrilled to see this documented like this. Thanks Naja002! This is long overdue here - thanks for taking the time to share this. :thumbsup:

I'm curious about the chipping though. How bad is it? I know we all want to do things the "right" way. But if it is minimal, it might be completely obscured by the bulkhead fitting so that it did not matter cosmetically. And if the rubber ring of the bulkhead fitting was on the inside, and the chiping was on the outside, it shouldn't matter functionally.

What do you folks think?
 

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Hello, I too was a complete newbie at drilling glass when I tried it several months ago. Like you I also took photos, and posted what I had learned. I just thought I'd add a link to my post in hopes that it mightl compliment yours to help others considering doing the same.

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/diy/32367-custom-filter-automated-display-tank.html#post282154

I had not even considered trying to back the glass with tape to reduce the chipping on the edge where the bit broke through the other side. I did get some minor chipping, but it did not cause any problems for me.

I also like the idea of using the hose and fixing it in place with an adjustable output. I had to keep pouring water into my setup every few minutes to keep it cool and lubricated.

If I ever drill another tank I will definately have some new ideas to try and of coarse post my results. :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey Everybody,

Apologies for the Delay.....Been busy over here.....

Yes, DC, it is pretty easy, but being a Newbie and this being my first aquarium drill--still a bit stressful! Not too bad all-n-all though....:thumbsup:

Hoppy, RoseHawk, Scolley,

Here's a Pic of the glass plugs which give an idea of the chipping involved at break-through:



Worse than I had realized, but not really as bad as it looks. At worst, I can just silicone the bulkheads in and it will be done. But as rough as it looks, there is only one spot that might reach past the bulkhead seal.

Using Duct tape on the inside was something that I had considered, but didn't follow through on. Same with the set up in this link:

Wood Supported

Hoppy,

I think it all really comes down to pressure and RPM of the Bit (speed), but I think that some chipping is inevitable. So, my guess at this point is just putting effort into minimizing it. But ,Yes, Slowing the RPMs some and reducing pressure is necessary to help reduce the chipping as the bit is finishing the hole.

RoseHawk,

I've read about using tape and initially intended to use duct tape--I think it would be plenty strong enough. I don't know at this point how much it would help with chipping though--there's other variables involved (like pressure, speed and cooling) that I think matter more. But, Yes, I think duct tape would help once the other variables were under control.

Steve,

I agree--that's why I got out the camera and snapped some pix. Seems like plenty of people are curious about doing this, but just unsure how to proceed. I hope this helps. The pic above gives an idea of the chipping in this case. Its worse than I realized but not quite as bad as it looks in the pic. I think there is one spot that will require silicone. This is for a paludarium (has the built in door on the side-so no other choice), so it will have a styrofoam background, etc. So, in this case the "cosmetics" really isn't an issue, but Your point is very valid since most people will drill aquarium setups where the bulkheads will be very visible. Personally, I think that the worst chipping will always be on the inside. Its the breaking through that causes the glass to push out and chip. At the end of the day, I think that chipping is a Given and that minimizing it is the real task. In my case, I'm OK with the chipping here. Provided the 3rd hole is completed--I will probably keep this setup for quite a while, so if I have to silicone the bulheads in--I'm OK with that. Should be very unnoticeable when I'm done. BUT, that said, I will probably incorporate the tape and the wood into this 3rd hole--since its positioning will be the riskiest.

Vidiots,

NP here. I am hoping that with this post and a little bit of Googling the average person will feel secure enough to give it a whirl.


I've decided to just go ahead and drill the 3rd hole with the 1 3/4" bit. I may need to put something through there bigger than a coralife temp probe, so I think it will be my safest, yet riskiest bet.

The position of the 3rd hole (right now) will be closer to the edge and in the most unsupported area (the side door)-the red line is the maximum water level:



For this 3rd hole I think that I will need both the tape and wood support.
 

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I've drilled quite a few holes in tanks for myself and others, and the best way I've found is to use a dremel and a tile cutting bit. Goes through the glass like butter. We drilled five holes in my buddy's reef tank in less than 20 minutes total.

The trick is to mark the glass well and have a helper with a syringe constantly spray water over the area where you're making a cut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Tacoshooter,

Your way sounds like it would work very well and may even be superior to what I've done. I have a Dremel and may give it a try.

Can You tell me: How much Vibration is involved? And Can a Non-variable speed Dremel be used? And which/what-style Bit(s) that You use?

Thanx!
 

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Hi Tacoshooter,

Your way sounds like it would work very well and may even be superior to what I've done. I have a Dremel and may give it a try.

Can You tell me: How much Vibration is involved? And Can a Non-variable speed Dremel be used? And which/what-style Bit(s) that You use?

Thanx!
Here's some more detail on the process, which I picked up off of Reefcentral. If you ever get into the reef thing seriously, you're going to be drilling a lot of holes so those guys know what they're doing.

There is not a lot of vibration, and I use a single speed Dremel. Basically what I do is this:

  1. Lay the aquarium so that the side you'll be drilling is face-up.
  2. Use the outside of an appropriately diametered PVC pipe to mark a hole and get a good line on there with a permanent marker.
  3. Make a ring out of plumber's putty to hold water around the area you're going to drill, and get a large water container and a syringe nearby. Recruit a friend.
  4. Start slightly inside the line with the Dremel and punch through slowly while your buddy squirts water on the bit.
  5. Slowly trace the outline you've made. If you have a new bit, you'll be amazed how fast it cuts through the glass.

That's pretty much it. No need to muscle it, let the bit do the work.

This is the bit I use, widely available at Lowe's (Dremel model 562). If you're going to be drilling a few holes it's a good idea to pick up a couple because after two or three holes you can notice the progress starting to slow as the bit dulls.

I've drilled probably 20 holes using this technique and have never had a problem, although as with anything your mileage may vary. I wouldn't attempt it on a 10 gallon but anything non-tempered bigger than that should be fine.

Make sure you wear safety glasses and keep the water flowing.

Hope this helps.
 

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Thanks for sharing Taco, this sound much easier... Why not on a 10gal? Glass too thin, so it will shatter?
I have read (probably on Reefcentral, although I don't have a specific cite) that the glass on many 10 gallon aquariums is too thin for this method. Don't know from experience, but maybe a quality AGA tank would be OK.

Probably wouldn't try it on something from Wal-Mart though. I've got a couple of those for quick setup use and they're definitely thin glass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank You for the Info, Tacoshooter. I may very well use your method on this 3rd hole. It will be closest to the edge and in the most unsupported area--and Your method may make this easier......:thumbsup:

I checked the installation of the Bulkheads last night and they will cover the chipping--so its not as bad as it looks. Putting the rubber seal on the outside is definitely not a problem either. The outside chipping is absolutely minimal and I would say a Given.
 

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wow wish i would have know sears carried that drill guide. would have made life allot easier when i drilled mine.

looks like a great way to drill glass. just wish you would have posted this 4 months ago!:proud:
 

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I see that the biggest problem is during break through. I have lots of spare glass that I can drill, so I'm not too worried about messing up a few times.

There has to be an absolute way to prevent chipping during break through. Hmmm, I think I'll go get the drill and see what I can come up with in the next few days.
 

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The reason for the break thru problem is that eventually all of the thrust of the drill is carried by a very thin section of glass (or wood, if it is wood you are drilling.) So, the fix is a piece of something else held tightly against the back of the piece being drilled, so the thin final shreds of glass never have to carry the drill thrust. I suspect you could use double sided tape to attach another piece of glass as a back up, and it would work just fine. The problem would be removing that piece after you got done.
 

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I think Hoppy's idea sounds good, drill straight through to a backup piece of glass/material to sort of cancel out the break through process.

I know absolutely nothing about drilling glass, but from all my experience with diamond bits in tile and concrete, I woulda thought that high rpms with the least pressure would be the best method, considering issues I've had where slower speeds tended to make the bit catch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The reason for the break thru problem is that eventually all of the thrust of the drill is carried by a very thin section of glass (or wood, if it is wood you are drilling.) So, the fix is a piece of something else held tightly against the back of the piece being drilled, so the thin final shreds of glass never have to carry the drill thrust. I suspect you could use double sided tape to attach another piece of glass as a back up, and it would work just fine. The problem would be removing that piece after you got done.
I agree, but the problem I see is the gap--the thickness of the double-sided tape--between the 2 pieces of glass. Would seem to kind of nullify the effort. I would guess that a piece of glass supported by wood would do the trick by holding piece 2 snuggly up against piece 1 that's being drilled. Similar to the setup in this link:

Wood Supported

But, I would also guess, that just the piece of wood in the link above would do the trick. Maybe glass would be better.....But I would have to guess that if there is much gap at all between the glass panes--it would not serve much purpose.
 
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