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BossAquaria How to drill holes in your aquarium. 101


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There has been a lot of talk lately about how to drill holes in a tank for overflows/bulkheads so I thought I better

Put everyone’s mind at ease and show people how easy it really is.

The first thing I do is paint the back of my tank with a few thin coats of outdoor acrylic paint. This saves me trying to add some sort of cover or back ground later. I paint a final coat once all the holes are complete.

First thing to do is position where you want the hole.


If you are doing multiple tanks be sure to measure the position exactly the same on every tank so it all look nice and neat.


Then because I painted first I can then simply turn the hole saw bit on the paint and get a mark where the hole will go. If you are drilling the bottom of the tank or choose not to paint then you can simply get a piece of timber, cement sheet, particle board etc anything that’s strong enough to hold the drill bit in place, and pre drill a template hole and simply hold this in place when you drill each hole.


Now you have the hole marked (or template drilled) you need to fit the drill bit back to the cordless drill.


Where people mostly go wrong from here is they don’t set the correct drill setting.

Normal drill setting for drilling everything except glass


Turn the setting down to the lowest setting


The lowest setting allows you to hold the drill bit and stop it spinning with no effort at all.

We need to use this setting because as you get to the point where the drill bit goes through the glass, you don’t want it to grab and break the tank/glass. You want the clutch/tension of the drill to stop. This will save you everytime.


Hold the drill very steady and use 1 hand on the handle and the other to stabilize the movement (hand on the tank and drill leaning against you hand for support) start the drill at full speed before touching the glass with the drill bit.

Slowly lower the spinning drill bit holding it on a slight angle, onto the place the hole needs to be drilled.

Not much pressure is needed at all, just enough to hold it in place and let the weight of the drill do its thing.


As you start to drill into the glass you need to get about 2mm into the glass before you straighten up the drill


Once you are at about 2mm deep holding the drill on a slight angle, Very slowly start to straighten up the drill until you are completely vertical.


This needs to be done slow with little pressure pushing down; remember to let the drill do the work. And you should slowly start to get a complete ring on the surface of the glass.


Remember you can stop at any time and continue latter simply by starting the drilling again as you did from the start.

Once you have the ring in the glass that is about 2mm deep all the way around this is when you start to use just a little pressure and start to rotate the drill angle around the hole. Try to keep it even all the way around the hole and don’t just stay in one spot.


Keep doing this until you feel the drill first pass through the glass on one side of the hole.

This is where the drill can catch and break the glass if you don’t change the setting on the drill as explained in earlier steps. It will look like this


Once you have reached this stage start the drill again off the glass and hold it on the same angle as you did at the start. Slowly with no pressure other than the weight of the drill lower the drill into the hole where you have goon through the glass already and simply rock the drill gently from left to right only. Don’t go over the top of the remaining glass holding the glass in place. All you are trying to do is work away at the edges of where it already is through the glass.


Once you slowly work away at the edges of the hole only, you will eventually wear away the remaining glass holding the centre piece in place and be able to go right through.


Keep the drill spinning and slowly use the edge of the drill bit to clean the edge of the hole so it’s smooth and free from sharp edges. Keep the drill running until it is removed and free from the hole.


Get Your bulk head or fitting you will be using and make sure it’s a good fit and there are no glass edges left to stop the fitting going in properly.


Now clean away the glass dust. I use a wet rag as it picks up all the dust easily. Then you are ready to install the tank or put on the final coat of paint.


Now I also made a video to show how easy it is in real time ïŠ shouldn’t take longer than 3-4 minutes a hole

If you follow these easy steps. Enjoy!!!


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Very easy to understand, I always thought some water was required in the area of drilling though as every tutorial I have seen has water involved.

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depends how many holes you are drilling. if you did it for a living and needed to save drill bits then please use water.

But as most people only drill 1-5 holes it doesn't matter about water because you never use the drill bit again.

water just keeps the drill bit cool and makes it last longer :)

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True and also the water is to keep the glass cool as I could imagine the glass would get pretty hot with all that friction, also to keep the glass dust from flying up into the air, causing someone to inhale it.

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you might be right mate. I am not dead from breathing in the glass dust yet :)

LOL! I cant imagine it being very healthy...

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Yeah, I used to make a ring with silicone & have the hose dribble in making a small pool, then get a razor blade & scrape the ring off after :encouragement:

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Nice post dean will help push people into drilling there own tanks. Your tanks are painted black/ grey? They look very textured for painted glass, got me thinking are you using any old paint or the rubber types which also helps insulate the tank? We use a product at work which not only prevents rust/but also acts as a heat proofing n I've always wondered could it used on tanks. If its just normal paint don't mind me, my phone screen is glarey today haha

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cheers BB,

MickeyG, its much cheaper this way as most tank builders charge 10-12$ a hole and you can buy 2 drill bits and postage from china for $12.

the paint is just normal outdoor acrylic black, nothing special.

i just use a short nap roller for first 3 very thin coats, and then a long nap roller for the final coat.

but it all looks the same from inside the tank and the texture is not seen.

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Yeah took me a few years and thang to get me drilling my own tanks, was always worried I'd break it but once I'd seen it done I felt like a twit for not giving it a shot earlier.

I use water as a preventative step tho aswell, stops the chances of getting the glass dust getting onto your hands or clothes which could work its way onto your face or even in the eyes. A sharp piece of glass shard likes to stick to the eyeball where as beach sand is more rounded from being tossed in the ocean and can be easily cleaned off the eye without much scraping. Well that's what wbee emergency told me while I was in with a eye injury. Also if possible always dril down like you did in the pics that way any debris is typically flying horizontal instead of vertical if that makes sence. Just some simple safety tips for freebies

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Great stuff Dean. Always seen it done with water, particularly using clay as a 'dam' to hold water in the area to be drilled.


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LOL i don't think he would want to win something he is providing. Dean is providing the winners gift vouchers for his shop. Good Article though Dean!

Great training video dean .is this one going in the competion .you mite win $100 :-)
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I was told that its very danger to drill holes on glass and I should never try lol thanks for posting this up, will give it a try when I need to :)

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Excellent!!! But seriously considering how accident prone I am I hope I never have to use this guide :p well done dean!!!

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Excellent!!! But seriously considering how accident prone I am I hope I never have to use this guide :p well done dean!!!

If you saw me in a 'normal' day and saw how many things I ran into, I'm VERY accident prone :)

I have managed to drill over 20 holes in glass with only one breakage on a 3 mm glass divider when I pressed too hard because I was rushing.

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thats pretty cool :) I will give you a call in 3 years when i move back to civilization and set up some shrimp racks to let you drill my holes lol

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