How to Drill a hole in Plastic Without Cracking It

How to Drill a hole in Plastic Without Cracking It?

Plastic is the modern-day universal amenity. From credit cards to kitchen cabinets, we have plastics everywhere. In addition, plastic is a material that provides various utilities. And if you want to use plastic for your next DIY project, you should know how to drill in such material.

You might be wondering whether you can use your wood drill bit on your plastic? Maybe you want a special drill bit to drill a plastic hole?

In this post, we will help you deal with this problem once and for all.

Let's get started.

How Do You Drill Through Plastic Without Cracking It?

Do you usually work with wood, metal, or brick? Then working with plastic or acrylic can be pretty different and new territory. It might seem a bit daunting too. These plastics are non-ferrous materials as they don't contain any iron.

So if you are not careful with your drilling process, you might end up breaking them. Here are a few steps that you need to follow to drill through plastic without cracking it successfully.

Step 1 - Providing support to the plastic material

These plastic sheets can flexibly bend if you don't provide proper support. Without any proper support, the surface will get more tension and stress. In addition, it will cause the surface to crack as soon as you want to drill a hole into your plastic.

So, you need to support the plastic using a stiff board or plywood underneath the plastic. It will reduce any amount of flex the sheet might experience due to the drilling process.

This stiff board should be used as a sacrificial piece that you can use to drill into. It reduces the chipping or breaking out as you drill through to the other side.

Step 2 - Use clamps to hold down the plastic material

Apart from providing support to the plastic material or sheet, you clamp it down to your workpiece. It will stop the material from moving around as you start drilling holes into it.

Ensure that you spread your clamping force over the surface of the workpiece. It will help reduce the surface's stress as much as possible. But avoid camping the sheet too much or too firmly, or it can also result in cracking.

You can use a piece of wooden batten right on top of your plastic sheet and several clamps to hold it in place. It means that you won't have to force the clamps excessively as it could crack the sheet.

Another good idea is to protect your plastic sheet. You can do so by using something else to avoid dents or scratches. For example, use any old rubber strips and place them right between the plastic sheet and the batten.

You can also use thin cardboard or something else but don't put too much pressure on one spot. Also, check for any surface dirt before putting the clamps in. You can wipe the solid surface with a cloth to avoid any scratches caused by dirt.

Step 3 - Use masking tape & pen to mark the hole's center

Most plastic materials have a protective film to prevent scratches or marks during storage or delivery. You can mark on this protective film, but avoid doing that. It can deviate your precision as you won't be able to see the surface. It can also rub off the film from the rest of the surface.

You can use masking tape and a pen to mark the center of the hole before you get to the drilling process. Avoid scribing or punching holes, or it will crack the plastic material surface even before you begin drilling. Masking tape will help prevent chipping once you start drilling the hole.

Step 4 - Choosing the correct drill & drill bit for drilling the hole

For drilling into plastic or acrylic, you can use a regular high-speed steel drill; its angle should be 118 degrees. This drill should be used at least once before. It will remove any burrs from drill bit sharpening. Plus, it will assist the drill from not biting into the plastic sheet.

You have to choose a sharp drill bit, but don't go for the brand new one. You will notice that new drill bits tend to bite into the surface. They can also cause chipping right around the hole.

You can run a new drill bit through a wooden block once or twice to take the edges off. This way, the drill will remain sharp but prevent chipping or tearing.

When you drill into plastic, it will create heat. Plus, it can melt through the plastic material, especially during deeper holes. As a result, you won't have a cleanly drilled hole. But if you use a good quality drill, you can eradicate this issue.

Most cordless drills tend to work between 0 RPM to 1900 RPM. Setting the right power drill RPM will require some simple finger adjustment.

You can use a medium trigger position for starting and releasing the trigger at a slower drill speed until you get to the right speed. You will have to adjust to this setting during the drilling process.

Step 5 - Holding your drill perpendicular to the surface

As you drill your hole through the plastic sheet, you must keep the trill perpendicular to 90 degrees. Make sure not to move the drill around too much.

If you hold your drill steady, you will be able to drill the hole clean into the material, and it will be in the correct size too. Let your drill do all the work. Suppose you have a quality drill and use a sharp drill bit in the right setting. In that case, you will be able to drill through cleanly and precisely without any irregular holes.

You can adjust the speed if you have trouble drilling your holes. Just ensure you don't go to a high setting too fast, or it will raise the temperature, and the plastic material will start melting.

As your drill comes near the hole's bottom, reduce the pressure and avoid chipping on the other side when the drill bit exits.

You can also allow the drill to cut into the support surface that is present right under the plastic sheet. Then, when you have cut through the plastic sheet, you can keep the drill running and gently start withdrawing it from the hole.

As soon as you see wood shavings instead of plastic shavings, you can start pulling out the drill without turning it off.

What Type of Drill Bit Is Best for Plastic?

What Type of Drill Bit Is Best for Plastic

The best option you can go for when drilling holes into plastic is a spur point bit. These are also called dowel drill bits. They feature a center point and a couple of elevated spurs that keep the bit straight during the drilling process. The angle and point in front of these drill bits ensure smooth cutting. It also reduces stress upfront.

Usually, drilling in plastic or wood is not that difficult because these are non-ferrous materials. So you can go for any central pointed tip drill bits. But you can use metal drill bits for plastic.

Make sure you don't go for a fast setting, or it will raise the temperature. For bigger holes, you can pre-drill using a thin 4mm drill.

Wood or Metal Drill Bit for Plastic Material, Which One is Better?

Their geometry is the primary difference between a metal and a wood drill bit. A wood bit features a spur right in the center. It will penetrate the wood surface while keeping the bit stable during the drilling process. A metal bit is twisted and has a conical cutting followed by spiral flutes.

Wood drill bits will work fine on plastic as it is designed to drill through softer and non-ferrous surfaces. But you can also go for metal drill bits. However, you have to be more careful with them. Don't use your drill setting too high, or it will melt the plastic material.

But this can also happen if you use a wood drill bit. So the better option you can consider here is to go for a spur-point drill bit, also known as a dowel bit.

How Do You Drill a Hole in Plastic Without a Drill?

But what if you don't have a drill with you and still want to drill a hole into your plastic sheet? Well, it might seem a challenging endeavor, but you can do it. Here are some things that you will need,

  • A screwdriver
  • An electric knife
  • A soldering iron
  • A hammer

Some people believe that making a hole in plastic without using a drill has to be done by melting the plastic. But following this route also raises serious health concerns. It is because breathing in melted plastic has health risks.

Puncture a hole in a plastic sheet by holding down a screwdriver where you want to make the hole. Then, hit the top of the driver with a hammer. Of course, you can also use an electric knife or a soldering iron.

Just ensure you don't go overboard by raising the temperature too much. Otherwise, it will melt the surrounding plastic too fast and make the hole much more significant.


Drilling a hole in plastic without cracking is a pretty simple task. You can use any drill bit for this purpose, but the ideal one is the spur-point drill bit, also called a dowel bit.

If you are using other drill bits, make sure that you gradually speed up the RPM of your drill. Otherwise, it will melt the sheet. Of course, you can make a plastic hole without a drill, but that process is a bit more time-consuming.

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