The right way to Drill Glass Fish Tanks | Reef Builders
Glass drilling and aquarium slicing are invaluable abilities for reef keepers who need to construct their very own customized tanks and methods. Whereas drilling and slicing acrylic are easier processes, acrylic tanks are normally rather more costly. A fish-holding or coral tradition system with a number of glass tanks can be considerably extra economical and every might be made “reef prepared” if you happen to can DIY the overflows and different customized bits.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve used a drill or dremel to chop glass aquariums numerous instances (together with on tanks stuffed with water! Please don’t do that at residence,) with no downside. I at the moment have an Innovative Marine 25-gallon glass tank with a 20-gallon glass auto top-off reservoir with a complete of eight totally different holes and notches in each, which took me about an hour in whole to do.
For creating cuts of any form and dimension in glass I exploit a high-speed Dremel instrument able to rotating at 35,000 rpm. I’ve had the identical Dremel mannequin 275 for about 15 years now with out doing any upkeep on it in any respect. They’re invaluable instruments for all types of causes in addition to drilling glass. The 275 mannequin isn’t bought anymore, so ensure you get a Dremel that may do excessive rpm. You’ll want the excessive velocity for glass slicing. I’d avoid battery-powered fashions and go along with corded as a substitute. You’ll additionally want a single diamond bit for all of your glass slicing, merchandise #7144, which is a tapered 3/32” bit. Don’t overlook the collet for this bit if it doesn’t come included along with your Dremel instrument. The 7144 bit is especially helpful for creating sq. or rectangular-shaped overflows in glass, notches on the perimeters or tops of glass panels, or small holes which are too small for a conventional diamond gap noticed.
For creating round holes in glass, diamond gap saws with a high-speed drill are commonplace. There are numerous choices on the market however I just like the Milwaukee Diamond Max model gap saws, for no cause aside from they’re simple to search out at my native Residence Depot. For bigger holes above 1” in diameter, you’ll need a onerous carbide pilot bit along with your gap noticed. As soon as your diamond gap noticed has made contact with the glass and created a pleasant circle for the bit to sit down in, take away the carbide pilot bit.
Whether or not you’re utilizing a gap noticed to drill a round gap within the glass, or a Dremel instrument to chop glass, there are a couple of guidelines of thumb to remember. 1) Firstly, be secure and put on your PPE. Leather-based gloves and security glasses must be worn to guard your self from sharp edges and any potential flying shards. 2) Any time your bit or gap noticed is involved with the glass, it ought to keep up a correspondence with water to maintain it from overheating and lubricate the minimize. There are a couple of methods to do that. For drilling holes, some folks construct a dam of clay to carry a little bit of water. This works however will not be helpful if slicing the perimeters of the glass. I exploit a lab wash bottle and constantly squirt water on the bit as I’m slicing or drilling, or a trickle of water from a backyard hose. A buddy can come in useful right here to assist purpose water on the bit. 3) Use excessive speeds and low stress. When you’re near punching via with a gap noticed, you actually need to ease up on the stress. The load of the drill is sufficient by itself. 4) By no means minimize tempered glass. You’ll simply make a pleasant massive mess. The maker of your tank can inform you whether or not any panels are tempered.
When drilling with a gap noticed, at all times be certain that the opening can be correctly sized for the OUTSIDE diameter of your bulkhead becoming earlier than beginning. You should utilize a drill press or handheld drill however bear in mind to maintain it moist and at full velocity always. As talked about above, while you’re on the point of punch via the opposing facet, the lighter the contact the higher. Take your time! Diamond gap saws are perishable in a way, so that you’ll want to switch them as they put on all the way down to get an environment friendly minimize. People report they get a median of round 25 holes with their Milwaukee bits earlier than needing to get replaced. The perimeters of your circle could also be a bit tough, however you’ll be protecting it up with a bulkhead becoming instantly.
When slicing with a Dremel instrument, you may both begin from the sting or in the course of a glass pane. For the latter, you’ll use the diamond bit like a drill. The important thing right here is that you simply don’t need to simply push straight down, however as a substitute, transfer the bit in somewhat circle as you apply slight downward stress on the glass. Keep in mind to maintain flushing with water as you’re doing this! You’ll wind up with somewhat 1/8” gap within the glass. Now to broaden that single gap into an extended minimize, you’ll transfer the bit sideways to create the minimize in no matter form you want. This half takes a little bit of follow, however you need to use the bit like a noticed. The facet of the bit is what can be making contact with the glass, so that you’ll preserve the instrument perpendicular to the glass panel whereas plunging it up and down and making use of slight lateral stress to the glass within the route you want to minimize. Should you’re useful with a Dremel instrument you’ll know that you simply let the velocity and bit do the work, quite than your palms. You don’t have to push onerous. A pleasant characteristic of cuts made with the Dremel instrument is that they don’t have sharp edges. The instrument works by grinding or sanding away bits of glass, in a way, so all the perimeters must be secure to deal with.
These days Dremel makes a plunge router attachment that lets you transfer your instrument up and down whereas transferring it alongside a straight path. This may be helpful for making clear straight cuts, however I haven’t tried it myself. After I’ve performed DIY overflows prior to now I simply make a tough minimize within the glass after which silicone on a chunk of acrylic with the tooth properly minimize out by an area plastics store. Certainly one of my favourite tips with the Dremel is to make notches on the high of glass tanks for equipment cords to sit in and never intervene with a lid. Should you’re an OCD nut like me and want your tank to look clear, this technique is most popular. Positive, you may minimize out notches on the lid quite than the tank itself, however to me the looks of the cords popping out of the highest of the lid and the notches within the lid doesn’t look pretty much as good.
Should you’re nervous about drilling or slicing glass, I recommend working towards on some scrap items from a glass store and even a cheap 10-gallon glass tank to start out. At $20 per, it’s not the top of the world if you happen to screw up.