Can You Drill Holes in Plastic?


Plastics are an integral part of our daily lives. They are versatile and can be used in several ways, from serving meals in the kitchen to decorating our homes. If you have to use plastic for a DIY project, then you would want to know how to drill a hole in them. Meanwhile, the first question on your mind might be, “Is it possible to drill a hole in plastic?” You might also want to know what kind of drill you need to get a clean cut without cracking the plastic.

Drilling plastic might seem like a walk in the park, but remember that the activity requires a high level of attention to get the perfect circle. To get evenly cut and clean holes, you have to apply the proper technique to save you time.

Plastic is brittle and can crack or break if handled carelessly. If you use the wrong tool to drill through, it is likely to splinter. However, it is not impossible. So, if you need to work on a project that involves making a hole in a plastic bottle, bucket, or surface, you can if you pay attention to the tips in this article.

Not to worry, we have all the answers you need, and we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to drill the perfect hole for that project. When you learn everything about drilling plastics, how many more things you can create with plastic might amaze you.

What Kind of Drill Bit Can You Use for Plastic?

what kind of drill bit can you use for plastic
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Although you can use any power drill for plastic, it is only the correct bit size that will give you the perfect circle. Drill bits for plastic are available in various sizes. The bit size you use depends on the size of the hole you’re making. Consequently, the wrong size can crack the plastic and cause it to break, so it is best to consult with a professional to determine the right drill bit for your project.

You might be wondering if you can use a wood drill for plastic. The answer is yes, you can, but it is not ideal. The excellent choice is a spur-point bit or dowel bit. These are perfect because they are spiral-shaped, long, and have a sharp pointy end. The end of a spur-point bit or dowel bit is central and ideal for making smooth cuts. They will make your drilling easier and give the hole a clean finish.

Nonetheless, if you still want to use a wood drill, you need to be cautious. Wood drills can generate high amounts of heat that will melt the plastic, so you have to drill slowly. You should also adjust the tip angles to be set at 90 degrees at all times during the process.

When drilling plastic, secure the plastic with a clamp and support it with a piece of plywood for a clean drill. The plywood will help you avoid chipping the surface as the drill exits the plastic. However, no matter what type of drill you use, you have to regulate the speed depending on the size of the hole. If you are drilling a large hole, make sure to use a slower speed because a higher speed can cause the plastic to crack or melt.

How to Drill a Hole in Plastic

drilling a hole in a plastic
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Now that you have chosen the right drill bit for your project, it’s time to get to drilling. There are a few tools that you will need to have handy as you get to work. 

First, you will need the following:

  • Clamp 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Measuring tape
  • Electric drill, preferably a dowel drill
  • Pencil 

Next, follow these steps for a hassle-free drilling process:

Begin by measuring and marking the exact point where you will be drilling. This process requires close attention to ensure that you get the desired results. If you miss the mark, your project could take a different turn. So your measurement has to be accurate.

Next, choose the right sharp bit size for the hole you want to make. The bit size has to be the correct one for the size of the hole, and it has to be just right so that you don’t make the wrong hole size.

Thirdly, Use a clamp to secure the marked plastic to a hard, stable surface or a bench. The clamp will keep the plastic in place as you work, minimizing the chances of cracking the material and damaging your work. Additionally, we advise that you place a piece of plywood under the plastic to protect the bottom surface from cracking when the drill exits the plastic.

Now, set the drill to the slowest speed setting, and begin drilling slowly. If your drill does not have a speed-setting knob, be careful to set the bit at the right angle at the marked point. Further, when the drill exits the plastic, reduce the speed to a lower value to get the best results.

Finally, as you pull the drill bit out of the hole, reverse the speed setting and work slowly to get a clean cut.

How to Drill a Hole Without a Power Drill

hammer, screwdriver, soldering tool can be used to make a hole
Photo by Katie Rodriguez on Unsplash

So, you do not have a power drill, and you’re wondering if it is even possible to drill a hole without the right tool. Well, the answer is simple, yes you can. The process here is a bit unconventional, but we will guide you through it as best we can.

Now, you have to know that you can drill a hole in plastic with these tools, but it won’t be a pretty looking hole. You can use any of these; a screwdriver and hammer, soldering iron, or an electric knife.

Start by following the first three steps for drilling a hole with a power drill. Then, place your screwdriver at the marked point and hit it with a hammer. There you have a hole, next twist slowly to pull out the tool. Follow the same steps but without the hammer, if you use a soldering iron or electric knife. To give your hole a clean finish, you can sand the area to smoothen the surface.

Take note that plastic materials tend to expand and contract with temperature variations. Hence, make sure you drill a slightly bigger hole than the required size. Making a larger hole will allow the screw or metal rod to fit into the hole without putting pressure on the surrounding plastic.

In sum, it is recommended that you use a lubricant when drilling a deeper hole. Whatever tools you choose for drilling your plastic, using a lubricant will help remove debris. The grease can also help to dissipate heat to keep the plastic from melting. Lastly, remember that the drilling process is delicate, and you have to watch the process closely and stop if you notice shavings around the hole gumming up. Give it time to cool off before you continue.

Tips for Drilling Holes in a Plastic Material

drill bits
Image by tookapic on Pixabay

If you are unsure about the correct bit size for the hole you want, a pro-tip, use a smaller bit. It is easier to increase the hole size if it is too small. However, decreasing the size of an oversized hole is, well, impossible.

Additionally, if you are drilling a hole near the edge of the plastic, then you need to be more careful. The edge of the plastic is more likely to crack while you work compared to any other part. The process is more challenging, but you should be fine if you make the hole a few inches away from the edge.

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Even though drilling a hole in plastic seems impossible, it is possible with the right tool and technique. We hope that this article has helped you see how much you can do with plastic around the house. Whether it’s a DIY project or a school project for your kids, you can make it happen. You can use the steps in this article to work on any plastic material. All you have to do is remember that plastic is delicate. With that in mind, you have to be careful when handling it. Take the time to prepare and follow the proper techniques to get the perfect hole.

Note that using the wrong drill for your plastic can cause it to break in the future. We know that you do not want that, so it is essential to get the right tools. You should also follow the steps mentioned here to get an excellent finish. 

Finally, wear the proper safety gear when working with drills to avoid getting hurt by the drill or the heat of the plastic. Make sure that you have all the tools you need when drilling plastic, and if you can, get a dowel drill; it is your best bet.

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