January 18, 2021

Tips for drilling a Glass Bottle

We receive emails with questions regarding the glass drilling process, where to find diamond tipped bits, light strings, bottle fillers and various other questions on a regular basis.

Here is a great reader email I would like to share with you regarding drilling holes in a glass bottle. Thank you Rinna Fe for sending in your question.

“Hi Nick and Silke. Thanks for this, I am so engrossed in making at least 1 bottle lamp.
However, some 4 good wine bottles are now gathered in a bin for future applications–
like maybe a porch fence top (to avoid trespassers).

Sad to say, I am very unsuccessful in this new endeavor. Should I give up after breaking 4? Best regards, RINNA Fe”

How to drill a square bottle
Tips for drilling a glass bottle


Tips for drilling a glass bottle
A plastic grommet covers the drilled glass edge

Nick’s reply:

Rinna Fe, Wait! Don’t give up. Before you throw in the towel I have a couple of suggestions and points I’d like to share with you.

First off: Pressure. How much force are you using when you’re drilling? You don’t want to go to hard at it. One way that might help you with this is to drill for a small amount of time and walk away from it for a little bit. Take your time. Don’t rush it or feel you need to do it all in one setting.

Second: Using multiple drill bits really helps. Switch back and forth between your pilot hole drill bit (which is the smallest one you have), and the next size up. By switching back and forth you can displace the heat that can build up by using just one constantly. You can get this set of 4 drill bits for only $14.70 & FREE Shipping on Amazon.

bits for drilling glass bottles

Buy Here

Third: Investing in a wax ring might help you as well. Once you’ve made the mark on the bottle using the punch, you can place a wax ring around the area and put water in the ring. If you do this before drilling your hole. You will be able to keep the heat on your drill bit low and also monitor the amount of drilling you’re doing. The water should turn a milky color. If it isn’t and the water is rising in temperature then your drill bit isn’t even drilling and you may break the bottle.

I broke a few bottles myself and always felt I needed to go back and try it again.

So I know how you feel about wanting it work out for you. Keep a slow steady drill bit speed and minimal pressure and you should do just fine.

Good luck.

Are you still feeling apprehensive about drilling a coveted glass bottle?

Get more glass drilling tips and learn about Nick’s tools & techniques.

Do you have a question about drilling glass bottles, finding bottle project resources or do you simply want to say ‘hi’?

Click here to send us an email or leave a comment below.

108 thoughts on “Tips for drilling a Glass Bottle

  1. I find that if you fill the bottle with water and lay ithe bottle in a wash pan of water were the water is just over the bottle it keeps it cool while it is being drilled. If you want to keep the label just tap a piece of plastic bag over it temporarily till the hole is drilled.

    1. Jeri,

      This would work perfectly and I’m glad you shared your idea with us. For those who want to enhance their favorite bottle this would work perfectly.

    2. I did it in the kitchen sink with water just covering the bottle. Starting with a small drill bit and working up to the size I needed

  2. I saw a video using a drill press and wax ring to drill a hole in wine bottles…. Awesome!!!! The drilling process was FAST! The drill bit I purchased from Home Depot is a Ridgid 1/2 inch diamond drill bit .

    1. Ruth,

      I’m glad you found us! Let us know how it turned out for you. We have a DIY Show Off page on our site and we would post your project to it.

  3. I like this idea and love that you used a JD bottle, I had a question that I think I know the answer to but will ask anyways, can I use an 18 volt impact like these (which I already have) or should I consider some other type of drill because of the impact part (dangerous)? Any feedback is appreciated.

    1. Ryan,

      The cordless drill I had never had enough power to finish the job. The ones on the link will probably run much longer than mine ever could when it was fully charged. As far as the torque is concerned you will really have to allow yourself to gently squeeze your way into starting. I took off full throttle with my corded drill and ended up leaving a long scratch across the bottom. Just remember to ease your way into your drilling speed and everything else will fall into place.

      Good question!

  4. Is there an estimated time I should drill before giving it a break? I’m not sure what to expect. I want to make a few bottle lamps but I really don’t want to break the bottle I have. I don’t know if practicing on a bottle would help since mine is a specific thickness but I’ll give it a go. Thanks :)

    1. Stephanie,
      You can walk away from it and go back to drilling at yourown leisure. It would actually work in your favor to do this so the glass and your drill bit can cool down. Let us know how your project turns out.

  5. Hi! I successfully drilled a hole in a bottle but now after two days a crack is spreading. Any way to stop it? The crack is smooth to touch just visible. It will be in the back of the lamp so not a big deal. It’s a xmas gift so I can’t take buying another bottle of Jack and trying to store the liquor around my house since I still have most of the other bottle liquor left. Hoping you can help!

    1. JS,

      The drilling process was hit so that sounds good. The crack that is appearing isn’t. It’s strange that it got worse after you were done drilling. If it isn’t too far away from the edge you might be able to conceal it with a rubber grommet (you can view these on our supplies page). If it goes out beyond that you might want to try adding a filler to your bottle.
      It shouldn’t get any worse and it may have started the crack because of the varying thickness of the glass.
      You could always visit your local bar and explain what it is your doing. I’m sure they could set aside an empty bottle for you. No need to become too far inebriated. ;)

    2. Get some epoxy,(clear if your bottle is clear glass), mix it, lay your bottle on it’s side. Use a wooden stick or plastic spoon to put the epoxy around the inside and out side of the crack. Let it harden. This is similar to how a star crack is repaired on a windshield.

      1. Will this work with the Bosch glass & tile bit? (GT500) is the serial number if that helps…and it’s 3/8″
        I wanted to ask before I take this out of the package.

          1. Thank You. I just wanted to make sure because I haven’t seen any videos using a glass tile drill bit so I wanted to double check before I ruin a bottle or destroy myself.. so any tips for this particular bit?

          2. Thank you! The video made me feel much better about giving this a try today! I can’t wait! thanks again!

  6. Can I use standard drill bits (wood/metal) to drill into a glass bottle? Obviously they would have to be kept cool, go slow, light pressure, etc., but I was just interested if I could use my current set of skil bits.

  7. Is there someplace one can take a glass project to have a hole drilled into. It? I’m 83 and do not have the necessary apparatus for my project.

    1. Where are you located? We would have to get together for me to drill your bottle(s).
      I trade off between El Cajon, CA and Surprise, AZ.
      Or, if you’ll pay for shipping, you can send it/them to me and I will drill them(no charge).

  8. Phyllis, I’m in Tacoma, Washington. You give me a hollar if your in my neck of the woods and I’ll take care of ya.

  9. Ok so I have a question? I want to make a jager lamp for my fiance who loves weird items. I have a cordless drill also and have absolutely no confidence e that I can drill this hole in this bottle. I don’t want to use the cork. I would like the hole drilled. With the thickness of the jager bottle can I drill the hoke in it the same way or a different way? Is there anyone in the atlanta, ga area that could help me out with this?? It’s our anniversary bottle from our first anniversary and I don’t want to break it!! Please help!! :(

    1. Tawney,
      I have a couple ideas. 1) You could try your run at a few practice bottles to help you get the feel for the drilling process. Once you know how much pressure and how fast you can drill it without over heating the glass, you will be able to drill any glass bottle.
      2) You could ask on the Bottle Crafts DIY FB page if anyone in your area would be willing to lend a hand.

  10. I built a few of these forty years ago when I was a boy. I remember drilling the bottom with a 1/2″ carbide bit in a Black and Decker drill. The secret was to not drill through all the way. You stop drilling when the hole got big enough to allow the 3/8″ rod to pass through it. I put them on wood bases I cut with a hole saw. Then I drilled the wood with a 3/8 bit, and halfway back with a one inch bit too accommodate the washer and nut. Then just drill a 1/4 hole from the edge to the centre to allow the cord to go through. I also remember that drilling the glass took a long time. I’m going to try making more but this time I’m trying diamond bits.

  11. Where can I find the wax rings to use when I cut the bottle? I live in a rural area with no craft stores close by.

    1. Cheryl,
      Here is a link for plumbers putty: http://amzn.to/1SOOi3n
      I rolled it into a donut and place it over the area that I’m going to drill. In between times when you’re not using it you can store it in a ziploc bag.
      You can also pick this up at any hardware store.

      1. Thank you! I found it at Home Depot. I kept looking for “wax” and couldn’t find anything on it. “Plumber’s Putty” did the trick.

      1. Jackie,
        Your absolutely correct. I’ve had my now for over five years. In between uses it is simply stored in a zip-loc bag. Every time I take it out it’s still pliable and acts like new. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I have a Wen Bench Drill Press, and am wondering how to keep water on the bit. Do I use a tub of some kid, and if so how do I secure it so it doesn’t slide or get knocked of the presses table? Would it be better to use some kind of oil lubercant?

    1. Chip,
      Here is a link for plumbers putty: http://amzn.to/1SOOi3n
      I rolled it into a donut and place it over the area that I’m going to drill. In between times when you’re not using it you can store it in a ziploc bag.
      You can also pick this up at any hardware store.
      Thanks for stopping by.

    2. Chip,

      I get a plastic container larger enough to hold bottle. I then put a big bag of rice in the container and cover with a towel. I then put blue painters tape on the bottle in a criss cross fashion so the drill bit won’t slide around as you drill. The nexr step ix to build a dam out of plumbers putty place on bottleand press down so it will hold water. Fill dam with water and drill. I would practice first to get the hang of it. You will then need to wash out bottle to get all the glass dust removed from bottle, then just put it in your dishwasher upside down to let air dry. Hope this helps.

  13. Need to drill drainage hole in Mason Jars. Will diamond tip drill bits from Walmart work? Hoping I don’t break the jars…

    1. Ramon,
      They should work just fine. You could also benefit from the plumbers putty. It will hold water around your drill area to keep the heat down.

  14. i’ve been slowly gathering the parts for making a jd lamp and im so nervous about breaking the bottle by using a cordless drill that i’m discouraged from even trying it. Is there anyone on the east coast in the MA area that can help me?

      1. Don’t be discouraged! The 2 that I cracked were because I forgot to take the caps off..lol Using plumbers putty with water makes a huge difference. I’m sure there is someone close who will help you out. If you don’t get any response I’d be happy to send you a bottle already drilled.
        Have a great day!

        1. I would love if you could send me an already drilled bottle. That would help so much! How do i go about doing that if you can still help?

          1. Hey Bree,
            Is there a certain bottle you wold like? If you could go like BottlesBeGlowing on Facebook we can private message info

  15. Oh, this is very interesting. Not even tried one but it’s quite incredible. I might try this one. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Thank-you ALL for your questions and replies. I have wanted make bottle lights and nite lights for a long time. I now know I won’t use my corded dremel. but my cordless drill and will get some plumber’s putty too. I am excited about getting started, however, because I m handicapped have to wait impatiently for transportation…lol. Thank you again. Linda

  17. HELP just started making some luminaries yesterday – the drilling went smoother (and much quicker – 30 seconds to 1 minute – using a drill press) than my husband thought it would BUT I am left with some milky residue that won’t wash out. There is no way to get a bottle brush in the bottle, I have tried letting it soak in hot soapy water but to no avail. I am going to try ammonia – then windex – ANY OTHER IDEAS

    1. Nancy,
      The glass powder from drilling can be tricky to get out of the bottle, but it is do-able. You can try a camera lens cleaner solution. Spray a decent amount of lens cleaner on the area and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth. The cloth could be used in conjunction with a pipe cleaner. Attach it to the end and snake it through the neck. It may seem an added expense but it would be something that you would use again if you drill more bottles.
      Hope this helps. Let us know what works!

      1. I find I have to rinse it asap. Even if I am drilling a couple at a time, I will rinse each one as soon as I have finished drilling it out. Sometimes I’ll soak it overnight in a vinegar and water solution, that usually removes most of it. Hope that helps!

      2. Would this problem be eliminated if the bottle were filled with water during the drilling process? Or, is that a no-no if it is a corded drill?

        1. That’s actually a really good idea. It wouldn’t even have to be full. A little water would make the clean up easier. The corded drill will be fine.

  18. Tip for getting any kind of residue or dust out of a bottle; put some room temperature/warm water, drop of dish soap, and a tiny bit of dry rice into the bottle. Cover holes, shake shake shake. The rice acts as a mild abrasive that will not scratch the glass. I live in Massachusetts and have a cordless drill that I have no hesitation to use to drill my holes if someone needs help. Up until recently I only had a hand cranked drill to use. Very tiring lol. I have made many bottle lamps of various shapes and sizes. I just went to a craft fair yesterday and sold 2 of my creations. Most of my work has just been given as gifts.

    1. A friend and I have been wanting to try this and we tried the glass drill bits like this one

      on a cordless drill to no avail. The bit skips all around the bottle and didn’t make much of an indent in the bottle. Would it be worthwhile to invest in a drill press or what other tools would make this endeavor easier for two gals?

      1. Karen,
        This particular bit works best with a drill press. If you want to forgo the expense of a purchasing one you will want to buy the glass drill bits that look like spades (as seen above).

        1. This worked amazing for me. I used it with the plumbers putty, placed the bottle flat in a basin with 2 wet towels holding it in place. With my cordless drill I started off at a *45* degree angle and slowly but degrees making sure my reservoir stayed full of water. As the hole is made (you can actually feel the glass giving a little., the water will flow into the bottle. At th point you need a water source that can keep flowing for a few more minutes as you keep drilling slow & steady.

          1. Nick, I used a diamond core drill bit as was pictured by Karen W. I bought a set from Amazon since everyone from Lowes & HD told me different drill bits to purchase. I took pictures of the different sizes of the drill bits, the process of drilling the bottle, and even the putty all in my review of the drill bits on Amazon. For the price, even if they don’t last very long at least I’ll have experienced performing this technique. So far I’ve drilled wine bottles

          2. Nick* Part 2* issues submitting the first response.
            I’ve done wine bottles and through the bottom of a Black Eagle bourbon whiskey bottle (our go-to around here) with the 10mm bit. I’m sure it will work more smoothly with a drill press but the spade & the crazy Bosch drill bit Lowes recommended seemed just as scary. Onward & upward. Y house will be FULL of lamps….or I’ll just look like an alcoholic because I’ve been saving my awesome liquor bottles.
            I’d be more than happy to put up the pictures I mentioned if I can figure it out 😉

        1. Thank you, Nick and Bob. I see the Wen 8″ drill press is on sale on Amazon for $60. I have been watching it as it was around $72. It has dropped in price so I decided to buy it and try it. I will let you know how it works out for us. I appreciate your replies.

          1. That makes me feel better. Is yours the 8″ as well? I was concerned it may not be the right size for the bottles once the bit is in place. I can’t wait to get started as my wine bottle collection is starting to take over the house. LOL

    1. Awesome video! Thank you. Mine is enroute as I type and I cannot wait! I am going to check out your follow-up video showing how you cradle the bottle while drilling.

      Thank you so much for sharing your information.

    2. Nick, if I drill 1/2″ holes, what size grommet would I want to purchase? Also, do you have a video or perhaps a pic with measurements of how you have your cradle set up for the bottles on the drill press? I am a visual person.

      Thank you!

      1. Karen,
        This is really going to sound un-scientific. I had two paint sticks and some duct tape. After laying the sticks out about a 1/4″ apart I simply duct taped them down. The tape acted like a buffer for the glass bottles from the metal table. Just keeping it simple made it easy.

        1. Okay, I see what you did. I guess I was envisioning two boards with enough space between them to ‘cradle’ the bottle sort of like a loose vise, if you will. I will give this a try. Thank you so much.

          1. When we started making wine, I made a jig to hold the bottles while we labeled them, it worked good to hold one in the drill press too. Just a piece of scrap plywood with 1X2’s screwed on about 2 inches apart. Can’t figure out how to attach a picture tho. lol

    1. Thank you, Bob and Nick, that is what I envisioned. I just pulled my box with my WEN off the front porch. So excited. So we just screw this jig onto the plate on the drill press?

      One more question, if we are drilling 1/2″ holes, what size grommet would we need for the hole?

      Thanks again. This forum is so informative!

      1. I didn’t screw the jig down. You would have to get it perfectly centered. I hold the bottle with my left hand, the jig just keeps it from rolling.

        1. Bob,
          I didn’t screw the drill press down either. The whole table can be loosened and moved to the side for some of the bigger bottles that I have drilled. One thing to note; Hold the bottle firmly. Once the drill bit comes into contact with the glass, it will want to move it.

      2. Karen,
        I’m sorry that I didn’t answer this one earlier. You should be able to pair your hole size with the grommet size. The only variation will come with the thickness of the glass. I like to keep an assortment of sizes on hand. Hope this helps. Good luck with your drilling and be sure to wear safety glasses. When your sitting at eye level with this you are working with a very powerful tool there is just too much to chance.
        Let us know how your projects turn out. I see a DIY Show Off post in your future!

  19. Yes, I don’t want to mount the drill press to anything as I want the portability. I will definitely share some pics when we come up with our creations. LOL Thanx, again!

  20. I have been drilling glass for 6 years, single and double pain widow glass for vintage electronics. Sold more than 1000 peices of glass with multible holes drilled in each piece. Have not tried bottles or vace’s. Tried the water and other lubricants that failed. Took a 10 minute job to almost 30 minutes. Forget the lube, drill at a slow speed of 500 rpm’s and increase the speed till the glass you wish to drill starts to smoke. Hold that rpm till you have reached your objective. Do not stop drilling until you are finished. Glass hardens (tempers) when it cools. If the glass cools and you start to drill again most times it will break.
    When you wish to start drilling on your glass, use a large 3 sided (1/4″ to 5/8″ glass ceramic drill bit to get your hole started), two sided bits tend to slide and make scratches. 3 sided glass and ceramic drill bits are available at any hardware store.
    I use a cordless drill, nothing fancy but I would love a adjustable pressure automatic drill press. They sell for many thousands of dollars. Some people want a sports car, RV, big boat. Working on building my dream drill press.
    Good luck, rick

    1. Rick Walling,

      Thank you so much for sharing your expertise in glass drilling. I’ve mentioned in a few of my videos that ‘slow and steady wins the race’. My cordless drill couldn’t stand up to the job (i.e. the battery life wasn’t long enough). I’ve never heard of your ‘dream drill press’ before and I’ll have to look into it.
      The bottle lamp community always shines when people share their experiences and knowledge with others.

  21. Great…. Actually, I’m a part time driller and use drill machine for home work. My old drill machine didn’t work perfectly. So, need a drill machine. I have visited ToolsIdea blog and I have chosen DeWalt drill machine. It will be if any expert recommends me to choose drill machine.

  22. Hi Nick Jager, I never try bottle lamp but I will try to do it. I loves DIY works and also loves DIY blog. I Will subscribe your blog because you are a unique DIY lover. Thanks

  23. You make a great point about displacing the heat with multiple drill bits. I can see how having one drill bit would be a problem for both the boring into the glass as well as the functionality of the drill itself. I’ll have to remember to use multiple drill bits so I can keep the heat balanced.

  24. Sol,
    I’m sorry that the conversation (see above) had to be carried on down here but we ran out of room. It’s funny that you mentioned your glass bottle collection. Just the other day I had left a comment to someone who had shared a picture of all their bottles that they had collected for their bottle craft projects. If it will make you feel any better, your not alone.
    It would be great when you share your pictures with us. We will, in turn, share them here on the site. Thank you for letting us know how things are progressing for you and we look forward to hearing from you again in the ‘not too distant’ future.

  25. Can I drill a hole in a bottle without first removing the liquid contents? I have two bottles of Greatful Dead unwine that I would like to put lights in however I do not want to remove the packaging around the neck of the bottle. Is this feasible?

    1. Leslie,
      You want to leave the original packaging on the bottle intact, drill the hole, drain the bottle and then insert the lights? Yes. It will take a little longer to drain the bottle but this can still be achieved. By using a wax putty ring you will be able to contain the glass dust and the liquids within.
      I had a similar Pink Floyd wine bottle so I know what you mean about not wanting to ruin the packaging.
      Good luck and happy crafting!

  26. Do you need to dispose of water in any particular way? I’m thinking it is full of glass dust and that sounds dangerous. TIA

  27. We have a lot of glass bottles at home because my mom hoards most of it. It was discussed here how glass bottles can be used again by drilling holes in it. Furthermore, it’s recommended to come to garbage removal experts for glass bottle recycling.

  28. I am very impressed with your site.I have a suggestion.problem was “how do I deal with water leaking through a pilot hole when drilling through a bottle?” Assuming one has made a dam out of plumbers putty or some such material,instead of using water to cool the glass and bit,I used ice chips. They keep things from getting too hot so you can run the drill a little faster (not increasing pressure,just the speed).Its easy to see when the ice needs to be replenished and much less messy. Hope this helps. Jim

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