How to drill holes in plexiglass without cracking?
Plexiglass is more like transparent plastics, that is why it can be an alternative to glass. Unlike glass, plexiglass thermoplastics, have lighter weight and are also shatter resistant, so you can use them for construction projects that require durability.
Plexiglass is also called acrylic and could be useful for several purposes in your homes like window panes, safe enclosures, furnishings, gardens, or craft projects and most times when you have to use them; you may have to put a hole or two through it.
The down part is that their clear quality could be at risk since they scratch easily. Plexiglass can also be brittle and even crack if they are being forced, so it has to be handled with care.
Now, how do you put holes in a plexiglass without cracking it?
As fragile as plexiglasses can be you would need a drill to do this, but for this article, we would discuss how you can effectively use your drill to put holes in them without cracking it.
Select the right tool
Using the regular drill bits that you use for metal and wood would chip the edges and crack the plexiglass while you drill, but there are specific drills designed for plexiglasses, you should rather get one.
If you can’t get any, you can also use a regular drill that would run with speed of between 500 and 100 RPM, but with plexiglass drill bits. The plexiglass drill bits have geometric structures different from the traditional drill bits that allow them to puncture easily through the acrylic.
Apart from the power drill, you also need to have a piece of wood, permanent markers or grease oil, masking tape, and spray lubricant. With this tools, you can make a perfect drill through a plexiglass.
You should wear safety gloves while you are drilling, and you also need to have enough knowledge on the tools you are using before you attempt anything with them. The acrylic chips fly off while you are drilling, so wear safety goggles to protect you from health hazard. Also a face mask is a good choice.
Plan your drill
When you are drilling through wood or metal, it may be proper to just mark your spots and go ahead to the drilling process after you have sorted out your safety, but for plexiglasses, there are some preparations you have to make.
We have mentioned above that you would need a piece of wood, you should place the plexiglass on the wood. For this, use a scrap wood that you wouldn’t mind drilling into, but ensure that the wood is hard enough so your plexiglass wouldn’t crack, and also use spring clamps to hold down the plexiglass so that they don’t move while you work.
When you want to plan for your project, ensure you are not putting the hole at the edge of the plexiglass piece because they are acrylic, and their edges would chip if they are being drilled.
But before you begin your drill, you can use a marker or grease oil to mark the spots you want to put holes through and to prevent chipping; you can place masking tapes over these marked spots.
Make the drill
Now it is time to power up your tool! Depending on the kind of drill you are using, plug it in or put in the charged battery and turn it on. To drill a plexiglass, unlike how you bore a hole through metals or stones, you don’t have to puncture the plexiglass, begin to pierce the marked spots slowly. Don’t push too hard; you can aim at a speed of 3.5 inches per minute.
We recommend you begin by making a pilot hole of about half the diameter of the intended hole and gradually increase the hole by moving to the next size of bit drill until you get to the actual one. For example, to drill a 1/2 inch hole, you can make a pilot hole by beginning with a 1/4 bit drill and then moving to a 1/2 bit drill.
While you are drilling through the plexiglass sheet, the friction would produce intense heat and the bits would cause lots of plastic shavings around the hole, especially if the sheet is thick. So you can often take a break to clean the plastic shavings from the hole so you can have a more unobstructed view of the job.
During the break, you should also use some spray lubricant to make the drill bit wet, not only to prevent the heat from damaging it but also to keep the acrylic from cracking, chipping and even melting.
After you are done with your drill, allow it to cool and clean the surface of the plexiglass, and you would have a nice outcome.
In this article, we have described how you can make successfully drill holes through your plexiglass without cracking it, so if you have sorted all safety issues, you can go ahead with the project.
When you are working on a finished material like plexiglass it is better to apply some care, so you don’t damage the whole sheet, so if you have no experience drilling through plexiglass, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to practice your drill on smaller pieces before you move to the larger sheet you want to work on.