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Mason jars are a beloved material of the crafty DIYer, thanks to their sturdy construction, attractive appearance, and versatility. When intact, mason jars can be used for storage or as a drinking vessel, but that’s not all they are good for. A mason jar with a hole in it can be used as a succulent planter, the base for a lamp or lantern, or even a temporary home for caterpillars.
Drilling Holes in Mason Jars
Whatever application you have in mind, follow these steps for safe and easy drilling through your mason jar.
- Assemble the appropriate supplies. You will need a cordless or corded drill, a power source (GFCI-rated outlet or charged battery), an appropriate drill bit (see step three), painter’s or masking tape, and a 600 grit diamond file. Wear goggles to protect your eyes should the jar shatter. Keep gloves nearby to inspect the hole without risking your fingers.
- Use painter’s tape or masking tape to cover and protect the drill site. Two strips, applied in an X formation, will prevent the drill from slipping. It also provides support to the glass, minimizing the chances of chipping, cracking, or breakage. Mark your drill site using a marker. It is helpful to pinpoint the center of your intended hole. You may also want to trace or draw the outline of the hole, for a visual guide.
- Select an appropriate drill-bit. Glass-boring drill bits have a distinctive spear shape. Choose one with a carbide or diamond tip. Diamond is harder than glass, and carbide is only slightly softer than diamond, so either of these materials will be able to bore through your mason jar. Attach the drill bit to the drill by loosening the chuck, inserting the bit, and tightening the chuck again. Make sure the shank of the bit is compatible with your drill chuck. Straight shank drill bits are the most common. Drilling a starter hole with a drill bit that is three to four times smaller than your intended hole will reduce the risk of shattering the jar.
- Secure your workpiece. In this case, you’re working with a glass mason jar. Its curved edges present a challenge in terms of immobilization. If you have a vise, you can line it with a pillow or padding to gently hold the jar. We generally advise against drilling into something with only your hand to stabilize it, due to the potential for injury should the workpiece start spinning around the bit at high speeds. This is less of a concern when drilling a mason jar because you’ll be using low speeds. As long as you keep your hand and fingers well away from the drill site, it is acceptable to hold the mason jar securely while you drill into it.
- Adjust your drill settings. Flip the toggle switch to ‘forward’. If your drill has adjustable speed, choose the lowest setting. Most drills will adjust the amount of power they feed to the motor based on how tightly you squeeze the trigger. To drill into glass, it is important to use a low, steady speed. One common mistake people make is tightening their grip on the drill and accidentally depressing the trigger, so practice grasping the drill firmly without using your trigger finger.
- Line the point of the drill bit up with the mark you made in step two. Hold the drill at a 90 degree angle, grasping it like a hand gun. Activate the muscles in your shoulder and arm to support and brace the drill. Check again to make sure the mason jar is stabilized, and begin drilling as slowly as possible. You only need to provide enough pressure to keep the drill bit from slipping; the tape will help with that as well. You can remove the tape once you’re through the surface of the glass.
- While drilling, watch for signs of overheating and glass powder build-up around the perimeter of the hole. If you are using a cordless drill, you can dip the bit in a cup of water periodically, or run a stream of water over the mason jar as you drill. If you are using a corded drill, avoid water completely and resign yourself to taking frequent breaks.
- Drill all the way through the glass to create your starter hole. Choose the next largest drill bit and repeat step six to enlarge the hole. Continue this process with successively larger bits until you reach the desired size. Put on your gloves and inspect the hole for sharp edges. Remove them using the file. Rinse the jar to remove any debris or glass dust.
You can also use a tile saw to cut glass bottles and mason jars if needed.
Drilling Into Other Types of Glass
Now that you know how to drill into a mason jar, you may be eyeing other projects that involve drilling into glass. Check the list below for special considerations.
Make sure the mirror is well supported and won’t flex during drilling. A piece of thin, dense cardboard taped to the surface will help protect the glass.
Tempered glass is popular for applications where shattering glass could cause severe injuries. Shop doors, car windows, and even glass coffee tables are all made from tempered glass. To create this unique material that is four times stronger than regular glass, a chemical or thermal tempering process is used.
Any holes in the material must be created before the tempering process begins. If you attempt to drill into tempered glass, it will immediately shatter into small, granular pieces. Learn more about cutting tempered glass with our guide.
The only significant difference is the amount of time it will take you to complete the job. Wine bottles tend to be thicker than mason jars, especially at the base, so budget some extra time for this task.
Patience and a steady hand are required to drill a hole in a mason jar. You will also need proper protective equipment and the right tools, including a carbide or diamond drill bit. Use tape to protect the jar while starting the hole.
We recommend drilling a smaller starter hole first, and then gradually enlarging the hole. Make sure to remove any glass debris by thoroughly rinsing the jar before use.