Introduction: How to Drill Through Acrylic Plexiglass the Right and Wrong Way

Here is a video on how to properly drill through acrylic plexiglass. First you need to drill a small diameter pilot hole to get started. The gradually go up in drill bit sizes until you reach your desired diameter. If you just drill a pilot hole then jump right to a big size bit you will likely crack the plastic.

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BlairQ made it! (author)2016-06-09

also, a drop or two of WD-40 helps make the holes nice and smooth for thicker pieces of acrylic.

RaymondJ19 made it! (author)2016-04-27

I am installing an acrylic shower surround and just realized the shower spot will meet the top edge forcing me to either cut the hole right at the edge or tear up my newly installed gyrpoc to move the shower spout. Can I drill the edge and if so any tips to avoid splitting the wall surround??

lbrewer42 made it! (author)2016-04-07

It also is a MAJOR help to put the plastic flat onto a sheet of wood. Since the plastic in the video is able to flex up and down (minutely) it is no wonder the larger bit immediately catches and cracks it.

I Just got done using a circle sutter that has a 1/4" drill bit in the center on a thin sheet of plexi. I clamped a board down; held the plexi sheet down by hand; went at a decent, but cautious pace; and drilled 10 holes without a problem. Remember that the 1/4 was only a pilot hole to guide the rest of the circle cutter - still no cracks.

Chitaracainz made it! (author)2015-07-12

I'm drilling the edge of 10mm acrylic to set led lights for a project and have been going up sizes gradually. Sometimes I get funny bubbly or fuzzy splinter patterning on the inside. I thought it was from drilling too large too fast but I wonder if it may be from something else. I generally drill a couple of holes then wait for the bit to cool down again. Anyone got any ideas?

Oziam made it! (author)2014-05-27

Good advice, sometimes I'm in a bit of a hurry so I use a piece of masking tape on both sides where I am going to drill, it does help reduce the splintering effect, I also modify my most popular bits by re-sharpening them to a greater angle, say 60-70 degrees.

CorreyS1 made it! (author)CorreyS12015-06-11

Oh, so that's how you would do drill through an acrylic plexiglass. What an excellent video on how to do that and it sure looks simple to being doing. Well, how small of a diamater pilot hole would you drill?

The Ideanator made it! (author)2010-01-30

Ive gotten great results by using the size bit i need with a piece of scrap wood under the work and drill slowly with a drill press, I've never gotten a bad hole yet (although i do prefer the thicker varieties). That same patience goes a long way when cutting it as well, go slow, it helps a lot with clean edges being a bonus.

sensoryhouse made it! (author)sensoryhouse2010-02-22

 Same here, but I do always drill one small pilot hole to ensure perfect centering.

thebetatesters made it! (author)thebetatesters2010-01-31

 I'm sure that works really great. This method works best with a portable drill.

The Ideanator made it! (author)The Ideanator2010-01-31

Ahh, in that case being slow and methodical would help.

The Ideanator made it! (author)The Ideanator2010-01-30

A decent grip also helps.

janw made it! (author)2010-01-31

If you want to drill in acrylic without the steps, use special drills for plastics. Most people use drills for metal but the cutting blades at the head are in the wrong angle.

thebetatesters made it! (author)thebetatesters2010-01-31

 Where do you get those?

janw made it! (author)janw2010-02-01

You have to buy them at specialist stores. But I am sure that you can find them at the internet too. look for HSS drills with a cutting angle for plexi.

They look like this. Note the sharp angle of the head and the long stretched spiral.

You have to use them at low speed.

thebetatesters made it! (author)thebetatesters2010-02-01

 Cool thanks for the info!

i0scan made it! (author)2010-01-31

 I use standard bits, but I put the drill in reverse and go slower. But this is interesting... I might have to give it a try.

klee27x made it! (author)2010-01-31

Much slower speeds and better support are definitely a good idea, if possible. Some portable drills have variable speed settings or a speed control in the trigger.

Failing that, you have 2 other options on sheet plexi, besides a step bit.

On any hole much larger than 1/8", you can drill a 1/8" pilot hole, then route the hole out with a Dremel tool. You can finish the hole, directly, if you have a routing table. Or get the hole pretty close, then finish with a drill bit.

Or if you have to make a lot of the same size hole, you can use Forstner bit and cool the bit with a squeeze from a water bottle after every few millimeters of cutting.

mr.incredible made it! (author)2010-01-29

 Use a step bit and fogetabout it...

thebetatesters made it! (author)thebetatesters2010-01-31

 That's a great idea for sure. I don't feel comfortable using one without a drill press because I need the size of the hole to be exact.

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