Epoxy is a fantastic material. As it can be melted down easily and molded to make whatever you need, it is an incredibly versatile and hard material that you can use for anything. Often used by people who are into crafts for things like jewelry, it has many uses in DIY and in making professional-level installations.
The moldable nature of epoxy makes it perfect for creating brilliant and cheap furniture. It’s especially useful if you need to make something that will go underwater as the resin breaks down very, very slowly.
Drilling into the material can be difficult, though. Even though epoxy is hardy and can take a lot of punishment, it is very easy to cause irreparable damage to it with poor drilling technique. The most common problems are leaving white drill lines on the material and causing splints near the hole itself.
How To Drill Through Epoxy
Gathering the Correct Equipment
Epoxy doesn’t need a great deal of specialist equipment. It doesn’t crack easily and most of your care is based around hiding the drill hole when the job is done. Because of this, you can approach it in the same way you would wood or any other similar material.
If I wanted to drill into epoxy or any other hard resin, I would want to use a solid, steel-tipped drill bit. You don’t need to buy a new piece if you already have one of these, this will serve you well. To reduce the risk of cracking, you should start with a small drill bit and work your way up. This will create a gradually growing hole that will be clean and easy to work with.
As epoxy is a hardy material that is unlikely to crack, you don’t need much preparation that you wouldn’t make for wooden or any other normal material you would drill into. Similarly, as it is not particularly hard, it is unlikely to damage drill bits.
Still, gathering the correct equipment and understanding how to use it is best before starting a job with epoxy. Understand your tools and you can make the most of your time using them.
You will need:
- The piece of epoxy
- Drill bits of various sizes
- A suitable drill bit
- Drill template
- A stand for your epoxy
- A lubricate like water
- Appropriate safety equipment like goggles and a dust mask
Epoxy is plastic and can cause long-term damage to your lungs if breathed in. As that is bad news in the long run for your career, you need to wear the correct safety gear. As you will also be using a power drill, you will need to understand how to use it safely.
Your eyes are important tools in your trade, so you need to protect them at all costs. This means wearing appropriate eye protection. Even though it is unlikely that a piece of epoxy will jump up from the sheet you are using, you need to take proper care. One stray piece and you could have a serious injury on your hands.
Similarly, drills spit out great deals of dust. In the epoxy resin project that you will be working on, there is a lot of toxins that are fine in finished products but really bad for humans. If they float in the air, you can breathe them in. If you breathe them in, you can end up with small pieces of resin lining your respiratory system. In the long term, that’s really bad for your health.
Similarly, remember your basic drill safety. You should never put your hands near the bit while it is moving and ideally apply the lock when changing bits. If your drill does not have a lock, you may consider removing the battery or turning off the power supply (if you have a particularly old piece of equipment).
Preparing for the Hole
Epoxy is a wonderful material for its durability. You need to do very little preparation for the actual material when drilling through it. However, just to make sure that you get the best hole, you might want to follow these steps.
Using a drill template will mean that your drill has less room for movement when you are starting. This will save on causing irreversible damage to the actual material. Damage is wasted materials, money, and time. Take the proper time to get fully ready.
If you want to use a drill template, hold it in place onto the epoxy. As you will only be using this for a small drill into the surface of the resin, you should be able to apply suitable pressure using only your hand. If you really want, you can use a small clamp to stop the template from moving.
With your drill set up, you will want a small drill tip. This drill tip is used to make your initial hole. As epoxy is a resin, it can still split when under too much pressure. Making gradually larger holes in the material will cut down on the risk of chips and splits.
With your drill and resin ready, you can begin to drill the epoxy.
Starting to Drill
Taking your drill in hand, make sure that you have a clean workspace that is free from hazards. Hold the drill over the epoxy and press the tip of the drill bit to the material. You should not be applying pressure – let the drill bit do the work.
Start to slowly spin your drill. We want this initial contact to be slow and steady. This will stop the teeth of the drill from dragging against the material. Dragging leads to chips, splinters, and breaks. Slow at the beginning means you can make excellent starting points to drill through fastest deeper into the material.
If you are using a drill template, remove the drill and the template when about ¼ inch of the way through. You won’t need it after this point.
If your epoxy or your drill is getting hot, you will have to apply lubricant to the material. Keeping it cool is less important than with other materials like quartz, but extremely hot drills are dangerous, can cause the epoxy to melt, and potentially damage your drill and drill bit. Douse the heated areas with water and give them a break.
As you approach the other side of the epoxy, slow your spinning drill right down. Ideally, you want the drill bit to be spinning slowly for the same reason it was slow on entry. Getting a clean finish on the other side of the wood needs careful drilling.
Repeating the Process
Following our steps above, you will need to gradually need to increase the size of your drill bit. You do not need to increase in increments of a fraction of an inch each time, but you will need to make these changes relatively small.
Gradually building up the size of your drill will mean that you can make a clean bore into the material without fear of chipping or breaking. This happens because there is less material for the drill to “move out of the way”, so it is less resistant to the drill bit.
When you make your second (or subsequent) attempt at drilling, follow the process in the same way. Drill slowly initially, speed up, apply lubricant if and when you have to, and slow down for the exit.
If you keep making incremental increases in the size of your drill bits, there is next to no reason your resin should crack.
Cleaning Up the Material
If you follow our small then large drill bit technique, the finish should be absolutely fine and need very little work. If you are worried about loose chips or splinters of epoxy, however, you can use fine sandpaper to rub around the outside of the drilled hole. This should be a quick job as epoxy is resistant to breaking and your drilling should lead to a clean finish.
Don’t apply your sandpaper to the face of the material. This will lead to scuffed finishes and unprofessional finishes. Aside from melting it down or sanding the entire project, fixing large mistakes on the face can be extremely difficult to remove.
Drilling into epoxy is easy and even amateurs can do it. The resin stands up to a lot of punishment and is a generally hardy piece of material. If you follow our advice about starting small and working your way up, you shouldn’t have any real problems with your epoxy piece.
Use a variety of drill bits of varying sizes throughout your drilling process. You want to drill through the sheet with a very small bit, to begin with, and then make this hole larger and larger. If you start too big, you will cause the drill bit to drag against your epoxy. This can lead to great damage to your piece and leave you with wasted materials. A tradesman’s worst enemy.
Aside from our advice about drill bits, there is very little else to worry about. Take your time with the material and think about how to hole will look. If you have a clear piece of epoxy, you may want to find an angle that will hide the white drill mark. This can be done easier if you drill along the piece instead of straight through.
FAQ’s About Drilling Through Epoxy
1.Can I Drill Through Epoxy?
Of course, it’s a hardy and durable piece of material. It is wise to start with a small drill bit and build up in size, however. If you start too big, it can cause splintering, chipping, and cracks which will ruin your project. Take your time and you will not be frustrated by sloppy preparation in the long run.
2. Is Epoxy Safe?
Epoxy is safest when it is treated. You will want it to set completely and then treat the material to stop pieces of resin from blowing off. If you plan to drill into the resin, treating is a must.
Epoxy dust can get into your lungs and it contains toxins. When they are embedded in your lungs, you are in for a difficult time until you can get the correct treatment. Wearing the correct safety equipment is the best way to protect yourself from this happening.
3.Does Epoxy Ever Crack When You Are Drilling Through It?
As with most materials, being too rough and fast with a piece of epoxy will cause it to break. Using a small drill bit, make an initial hole through the material.
When this hole is made, you can take away the small drill bit and then use a larger one over the top of it. This process of gradually building up the size of the holes will ensure that you don’t crack or chip your epoxy and give you a professional finish.
4. Do I Need a Professional to Work on My Epoxy Sheet?
No, epoxy is a very amateur-friendly material. As long as you use the appropriate equipment, you can get excellent finishes with very little preparation or specialist know-how.
Using a thin drill bit, make an initial hole into the epoxy. When that is done, you can increase the drill bit size and make subsequent holes. Over time, you can get excellent epoxy finishes without worrying about causing lasting damage to your epoxy piece.
5. Do I Need to Use a Specialist Drill Bit With Epoxy?
No. Just use whatever you would use to drill into wood or any other common material. Epoxy is hardy and can take a lot of punishment. As long as you are sensible with the size of the hole you are boring, you are unlikely to cause serious damage to the material.
Instead of specialist bits, you may want to invest in a series of gradually larger bits. Using incrementally larger drill bits will mean that you can be sure you aren’t going to crack your material. The smaller holes mean it is easier for your drill to work through the material.
Now that you read the guide on how to drill through epoxy, do you have any questions? If yes, make sure to comment down below.