Need tip help for drilling china cups, etc.

jitterbug4756(zone 8)July 22, 2009

OK, here's the deal. we've been gathering coffe cups, tea cups,etc. to make feeders & totems. Last night Maxey was in the shop & drilling a coffe cup. He says he was using a masonery bit ...I wouldn't know one if it hopped on my knee. He drilled into the cup through the bottom and says it was getting hot so he turned cup over to go through the bottom to finish out the hole. Well, as hes going through, a "chip" of something from the cup popped off and hit his forehead right above his eyebrow and burned him, or maybe it was the force of the eject, anyway he had a bright red spot and said it hurt. Also he was NOT wearing any eye protection..yeah, I know, I've already got him about that!

Anyway..he was using WD40 as lubricant.I told him no more drilling til I talk to you guys and find out what he's doing wrong. He's been a carpenter for 25 years, so he knows how to use tools. What'd he do wrong & how do we right it?????? Thanks in advance for your help...Judy

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Yup...that's exactly the reason we need to wear eye protection! Glad it was just a warning not a damaged eye!

I use a drill press with a ceramic bit and draw the drill down very slowly. The drill press is easier to control than a hand-held drill. I also put water on the cup bottom to cool the drill as it works. I add more water as I drill...just dribbling on a little at a time. The bit will be EXTREMELY hot when he's done, so remind him not to touch it until it's cooled...I've burned myself more than once attempting to put the drill bit away too soon.

I find that ceramic cups vs. bone china or glass don't break as easily. I have succeeded with china cups, but have had more breakage.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 6:19PM
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"Anyway..he was using WD40 as lubricant"
BTW, inventor of WD40 just passed away today.

Use a diamond bit and water, much better than masonry bit.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 6:56PM
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Marlene Kindred

Yes...I agree with dcarch! We use a diamond bit...the arrowhead shaped ones from Lowe's etc. Always use water when drilling...keeps the cup or plate cooler. The diamond bit drills easily through china and pottery...and usually doesn't splinter and throw chips. We also used a small drill press to help with making the pressure more even. Worked great!! Good luck with the next one!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 9:23PM
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lindasewandsew(So Cal 9)

Here's my 2 cents:

Disclaimer: I'm no expert at this and others may have better methods, but you'll know what the bits look like.

I always submerge the item being drilled in cool water. Watch out when the hole breaks through, as the drill bit can pop through quickly and the drill end may break the pot (probably not an issue with a drill press). The pot on the left was drilled with the diamond tip, the one on the right with the glass/tile bit.

Hey, where'd that stinking little slug come from, lol??

The bit on the left is for masonry drilling. You can tell by the little 'wings' on both sides. It takes a loooong time to drill through pots with this.

The two in the middle are glass/tile bits. They do a pretty good job. I start with smaller ones and work up to the larger ones, so the larger ones don't get dull from the initial drilling. They work pretty well.

The bit on the right is a diamond tip bit. It pulls water into it as it's spinning to keep it cool. It drills a 'plug' out of the pot. It seems to work the best and will be the only one I use from now on. Be sure to read the package about how to start a new hole by drilling at an angle. This may not be necessary with a drill press.

Here's the top end of the diamond bit.

I've never drilled glass, so can't speak to that. It's probably a good idea to keep your bits cleaner than mine, lol. Hope this helps. Linda

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 2:27AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Great photos Lindasewandsew!
I use a diamond bit for drilling too. I make a lot of items from glass and the bit works great! I rarely have chips break off. As Linda said, it cuts a little plug out of the material and is self cooling/lubricating. I drill under water, I use the kitchen sink quite often but also buckets or anything that will allow me to completely submerge what I'm drilling on. I've found that submerging the item helps with control glass shards or bits that might pop off.
Note: I use a cordless drill when drilling in water.
Don't get in a hurry when drilling glass or ceramic. Use a sharp bit and let it chew it's way through the material. This does take time but the results are worth it. And always wear eye protection!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:42AM
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jitterbug4756(zone 8)

Thanks so much guys for all your help and suggestions.And after all the sand I raised the other night I'm sure he'll be wearing eye protection at all times, atr least when I'm around !!! great photos Linda..I'll be sure and show them to him when I get home the way, i think your little slug is cute!! as long as he's at your house..LOL

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 1:36PM
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Here is how you can drill a very large hole in glass or ceramics, if you don't want to spend the money to buy an expensive diamond hole saw.

Get a regular hole saw for wood of a diameter that you need, and get some silcone carbide (Carborundum) powder and mix with water. Drill at a slow speed. It will take a while to cut thru, but it will do a very good job. I have made 4" holes in 1/2" thick glass.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 2:35PM
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I'm trying for the first time to drill glass plates and I've used an inexpensive diamond tip bit with no luck on my first 3 plates. I was successful in drilling through the bottom of a mason jar though, it took me about a 1/2 hour, ugh! I'm trying my hand at bird feeders. So now I'm going to follow all the tips I've read here and buy a more expensive diamond bit. If I want to drill a 1/4 hole should I use the arrow head type bit or the round one? When it's said it takes a long time does that usually mean as long as 30 minutes?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Many years ago someone gave me the idea of a teacup chandelier. Half the fun was collecting cups/saucers. I have minimal/mod experience with hand tools. Bought a tile/glass bit and used my black and decker. Stabilized items in coiled towel. Used veggie oil on site. Went very slow (did break a couple :( Found old fixture at thrift shop, painted white. Had a pro re-wire it for me. It hangs above my kitchen table and I love it. My boys just roll their eyes and don't understand what wrong with a 'normal' light. So go for it, if you don't try you'll never have it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Very, very nice! What fun to create it and be able to enjoy it everyday when you sit down to enjoy a meal. I'll try the coiled towel and that may make all the difference since I don't have a drill press. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 11:04PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Very nice.

I read the whole thread, and was surprised no one remarked that WD-40 is also flammable, so it's not compatible with smoking hot drill bits. :-\

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Beautiful chandelier! I am going to start looking for stuff to make one. Thanks for sharing your picture.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 5:45PM
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My daughter told me the saucers were upside down. But I explained that it was done on on purpose so that when sitting at table I saw the patterns not the white bottoms.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 1:10PM
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