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Help drilling 3/8 inch thick acrylic

post #1 of 11
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Hey Everyone,

I'm ready to drill two holes in the side of my danger den torture rack to mount a DD Rad Res high up on the right side. The Torture Rack is made out of 3/8 inch acrylic. I bought a decent drill and some drill bits which are made for cutting plastics. I read these are the best ones to use.

Anyways, I'm looking for advice on what is the best way to go about doing this. I don't want to burn, melt, or crack the side of my case. There is going to be 2, maybe 4, holes drilled depending on how sturdy the mount is.

I have never worked with acrylic before and just want to ask some of the fine case modders here before going to work

Thank you all!
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z0mi3ie
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post #2 of 11
Safest way is to clamp a piece of scrap wood on either side and drill through. If you need to put the hole in a precise location drill one of the scraps before clamping it to help you find that location.
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post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberDruid View Post
Safest way is to clamp a piece of scrap wood on either side and drill through. If you need to put the hole in a precise location drill one of the scraps before clamping it to help you find that location.

That an possibly some tape over where you are drilling so that it does not splinter...?
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Cool, alright that sounds good. And yeah it has to be precise.
z0mi3ie
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post #5 of 11
Buy a drill press for accuracy.

I wouldnt even attempt to drill a hole into my tourture rack without one. The bit HAS to stay straight and the feed rate/pressure has to be steady. I think you might also want to use a little lube if it starts getting too hot.
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post #6 of 11
I've drilled acrylic of various thicknesses on many occasions without a drill-press.

Depending on the size of hole there are different techniques I've used.
For smaller holes (e.g. less than 1/2") I start out with a very small bit and gradually step up to the larger sizes as the acrylic is much more likely to crack when making large jumps in drill sizes (or going straight to the size bit you need).
For larger holes, I like to start with small bits and work up to about a 1/4" bit then use a spade bit or hole saw to take out the meat of the hole.

One additional tip, I always keep the drill/cut area weted with water as this results in cleaner cuts and a smoother/clearer surface finish on the acrylic (this es especially nice for fine holes where you can't polish the inside). This is the same principle behind using cutting oils on metals, but on acrylic I don't want to use oil as I'm afraid it might affect the surface of the acrylic panel.
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post #7 of 11
use one of these


this is a glass/plexi bit by cobalt just went slow (used the torque setting on my drill so it would go slow) and it did the job perfectly. It is shaped to reduce cracking, heat etc and will pull the bit perfectly straight as well. The point on the tip will help with accuracy as well.
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post #8 of 11
Acrylic is basically very easy to drill,dont see what problem you might have other than not drilling straight.Use some lube.
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post #9 of 11
As a former finish carpenter (Ret.), the key to any drilling is the material itself and knowing what RPM (speed) setting is used when using a hand drill or drill press. General rule of thumb is softer (brittle) the material the slower the speed the harder the materail the faster the speed.

http://www.bertram31.com/proj/tips/plastdrill.gif

Suggested Drill Speeds for Acrtlic
Use the following speeds as a guideline on equipment that allows variation of the rotational speeds:

DRILL DIAMETER

SPEED (RPM)

1/8" (3 mm)

3,500

3/16" (4.5 mm)

2,500

1/4" (6.0 mm)

1,800

3/8" (9.5 mm)

1,200

1/2" (12.7 mm)

900

5/8" (16.0 mm)

700

1" (25.4 mm)

450
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post #10 of 11
An acrylic-specific bit may save you a lot of grief (cracking and chipping).

If you do not have one, or do not want to get one then a standard bit will do, but there are some precautions.

Once the bit is about to break through, stop applying pressure and slow the rpm's to a crawl. At this time start to "pull" the bit as it bites deeper, doing so will ease the pressure on the exit wound.

Another technique is to stop drilling once the tip starts to protrude from the opposite side, and flip the work then continue drilling from the other side.

As the Maestro (CyberDruid) stated, sandwiching the panel will also help immensely.

The type of acrylic that you are using will also dictate how tedious the drilling will be. Extruded acrylic will have the tendency to gum-up and get caught in the bit, cell-cast acrylic will from up into "worms" and fall away readily enough.

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