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How to Drill a Hole in Plastic?

By: Daniel Smith

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Published:

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Does your DIY project require working with plastic? If so, we must address a key question: Is it feasible to actually drill through plastic? Or are these polymers incapable of being drilled without breaking them?

This might surprise you but plastics can, in fact, be drilled. However, while attempting to drill a hole through plastic materials, one must comply with a stringent set of rules to prevent cracking and unnecessary damage.

Drilling holes through plastic may appear to be a simple chore at first glance, but nothing could be farther from reality. Plastics cannot be drilled using conventional techniques because of their brittleness. Don’t worry though! Listed below is all you will need to know about drilling plastics.

Things you will need

These are the things you will need to drill into plastic:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • A drill bit of an appropriate size
  • A drill with varying speeds
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamp

A Guide to drilling into plastic pots or bins

This is a step-by-step guide on how to drill holes in plastic pots and bins

  1. Support the plastic on a level surface into which holes may be drilled

    A good surface would be wood. Wood is stable, yet soft enough so it will not damager your drill bit on impact.

  2. Using clamps, secure the plastic

    This will ensure that the plastic will not move during drilling. Some plastics can be hard and therefore dangerous to drill into freehand.

  3. Using masking tape and a pencil, indicate the hole’s center

    As drawing on plastic without a special pen is hard you can use masking tape and a pencil. This will make sure you are drilling in the right spot.

  4. Set the drill parallel to the plastic

    Take your time while doing this and prevent drilling at a wrong angle. If your drill is set parallel to the plastic you will greatly reduce the risk of breaking it.

  5. Adjust the drill’s speed to medium

    While drilling into plastic you want to use a medium speed setting on your drill. This will prevent the plastic from breaking. If you are drilling into hard plastic you might use a slightly higher speed.

  6. Allow the drill to penetrate the material without using excessive force

    Let the drill do the heavy work. Don’t apply pressure on the plastic as this will likely crack it. If you are not able to penetrate the plastic without excessive force you probably need to swap to a sharper drill bit.

  7. Be cautious when penetrating, and allow the drill to run into the support underneath

    If you are about to go through the plastic make sure you drill in the support. If done in the correct way there will be no cracking on the back of the plastic.

  8. Switch the drill to reverse and carefully remove the drill bit from the created hole

    Switching the drill in reverse will ensure that all the small pieces of access plastic will be removed. It will leave you with a smooth, and clean hole.

  9. Sand the area surrounding the hole while making sure not to scratch the plastic

    This is optional and purely aesthetic. But if you want the cleanest finish you can sand the edges of the hole you just drilled.

How to make a hole in plastic without a drill?

So, you do not own a drill. Or perhaps, midway through the project, the drill stops working. What can you do?

In all honesty, getting a drill is probably your best option. However, if that isn’t a possibility for some reason, here are a bunch of other methods for drilling a hole without a drill.

Using a Piece of String and a hot needle

  • Warm up the needle
  • Use the needle to pierce plastic with holes
  • Insert the thread into the hole
  • Hold the thread in your hands.
  • Pull the string in both directions repeatedly for some time

Using a Jigsaw

  • Lock the plastic with a C-clamp
  • Mark where you want a hole
  • Position the jigsaw and turn it on

Using a Hacksaw

  • Hold with C-clamps
  • Mark the cut points
  • Place the hacksaw on the container and begin working from the edge 

Using a Circular Saw

  • Change the blade to one that is more fitted to cut through the plastic
  • Secure the plastic in the C-clamp on the surface
  • Mark the areas you want to cut a hole in
  • Activate the saw’s motor and put it over the plastic

Pin or nail method

  • Get a pin or nail and heat it
  • Place the plastic on a surface and carefully press the nail into it, twisting the nail or pin so it sticks to the plastic
  • Insert the pin completely into the plastic and take it out from the other side and you will have a small hole
  • Repeat if necessary

What type of drill bits do you need for plastic?

While any power drill can be used to drill through plastic, it is essential to have the right drill bits to avoid chipping or cracking the plastic. Even weeks after the drilling process, uneven holes and edges may cause cracking. brad point bits, Twist HSS drill bits, and Step drill bits are some examples of the right drill bits to pierce the plastic.

However, Brad point bits, also known as spur-point bits, are the most efficient bits for drilling plastic. They are precisely oriented to produce clean material cutting.

A Brad point bit features a center point and spurs that keep the bit oriented, so preserving a clean, crisp hole. They are great drill bits for plastic since they make holes with smooth sides. They come in sizes from 3-5mm and don’t have any rough spots that might lead to cracks.

DEWALT brad point drill bit set

DEWALT Drill Bit Set (DW1720)

our score: 9.3
  • Precise cutting edges to prevent chips
  • Brad point drill bit to reduce walking
  • Great value for money

Final Remarks

You should now have a better understanding of how to drill into plastic. As you can see, it is doable, but it can be difficult if you don’t have the proper plastic drill bits and don’t know what you’re doing.

So, understand your plastic, choose the right equipment and start drilling!

The Author
Daniel Smith
My passion for power tools and work clothing started when I was a kid. My father and I used to build tree houses together, he taught me all the tricks of the trade! Meanwhile, I'm a 28-year-old with more than 7 years of experience on various job sites.
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