How to Easily Drill a Hole in Ceramic Tile - Fine Homebuilding

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Theres a Better Way


How to Easily Drill a Hole in Ceramic Tile

comments (9) June 20th, 2014 in Blogs
Kevini Kevin Ireton, editor-at-large

Video Length: 1:13
Produced by: John Ross and Kevin Ireton


If you need to drill a hole in ceramic tile, you could chuck a masonry bit in your cordless drill and watch as the tip of the bit skates around on the glazed surface, ruining the tile, but there's a better way.

 

Kevin Ireton is editor-at-large and a good friend and former colleague of Chuck Miller's. Keep your eye out for more of his Better Way videos in the near future.

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posted in: Blogs, drills and drivers, tilework

Comments (9)

RoyTurning RoyTurning writes: Yep. A glass cutting bit is what I used for installing more than a dozen paper towel holders onto ceramic tiled walls. Does Chuck ever finish a real project?
Posted: 7:02 pm on June 24th

Kevin_I Kevin_I writes: One of the great things about this community is that one guy's idea can spawn a discussion like this one, which ferrets out even better ideas. I love the Frogtape idea, as well as the "dimple with a concrete nail" one. Both are worthy of filing away for future use.

As for the glass bits that renosteinke mentions, I actually have a set and agree that they work great. Given a choice, that's what I'd use. I shot this video anyway, after a discussion with Chuck Miller. He said, "Well, what if you don't have a set of those bits, and you're thirty miles from a hardware store, and you've got to get the job done?" I thought he made a good point.

I prefer always to have the right tool for the job, but given the limits of my finances, my memory and my truck's storage capacity, sometimes I have to make do with what I have on hand. In those cases, I'm happy for any knowledge passed along by others, like using a Dremel bit, a piece of tape or a concrete nail to keep a drill bit from skating around on ceramic tile.


Posted: 6:10 pm on June 23rd

marleyjune marleyjune writes: Agree with renosteinke and stepford!!

Posted: 6:02 pm on June 23rd

renosteinke renosteinke writes: Just in case anyone is in doubt, here is a link to a picture of the sort of bit I described:

http://ts2.mm.bing.net/th?id=HN.607995072396856349&pid=15.1

I've never had the least issue with these bits 'skating' around on even the slickest tile.
Posted: 11:12 am on June 23rd

vangard111 vangard111 writes:
Posted: 10:32 am on June 23rd

Stepford Stepford writes: I puzzled here! Just as renosteinke writes, just have glass/ceramic bits in your kit? Right tool for the project is a better way to work. There are too many of these hints that are making do with the wrong equipment or overkill jigs for people who don't have a sense of the craft. Put tips up that improve the level of craftsmanship not jerry-rigged hints.
Posted: 8:48 am on June 23rd

dancardenas dancardenas writes: Who needs a Dremel bit to pre-drill? I use a concrete nail, the king used to nail down 2x4 sill plate to a slab. I just tap the tile with it to create a dimple the finish the job with my carbide bit. And I've never broken a tile in the process.
Posted: 8:05 am on June 23rd

Fumbletrumpet Fumbletrumpet writes: Hmmm..... I know the bits you're talking about renosteinke. Maybe I'd just bought cheap-y ones, but they weren't the best for me - skated around just the same, then good for only a couple of holes, although I guess with a steady enough hand even a standard masonry bit can be kept under control.

What I do is use several layers of masking tape (it may not be called this in the US, but I think you have the 'Frogtape' brand and that's the sort of stuff I'm talking about), make a decent size patch of tape at least three or four layers deep and mark the tape, not the tile (hence the big patch 'cause you might not know exactly where you're going to drill at this stage)

Then start the masonry (or even a point-y tile bit if you have one) bit REALLY slowly and the 'give' of the tape layers usually stops the bit from skating around. Kevin (in the video above) runs the drill too fast for my liking - that seems to be a way to potentially crack a tile - cut small holes in tile at about the speed of an old hand-operated brace drill - it's a job of slowness !
Posted: 6:11 am on June 23rd

renosteinke renosteinke writes: This tip is a 'fail.' Instead, do this:

For the price of one or two Dremel bits, you can buy a 4-piece set of "glass bits." These are spade-shaped bits of carbide, mounted on a shaft. Their sharp point easily pierces the glaze on most tile, then bores through the base ceramic. Start small and work your way up, and you'll have precise holes in no time.

I've only once encountered a fired clay tile that gave these bits any trouble - and that tile also posed a challenge to diamond core drills.


Posted: 11:28 am on June 22nd

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