Drilling glass: How thin is too thin?

Discussion in 'DIY' started by RandyC, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    So just purchased a Red Sea Reefer 250 and was planning on repurposing the ATO tank to for a fuge or algae scrubber, but the 2.1 gallon ATO glass is real thin. I didn't measure exactly yet, but it's definitely thinner than a standard 10G glass aquarium.

    Is my instinct correct in thinking, trying to drill this thing is not a smart move? I'm thinking one of three things will happen

    1) I'll break the glass during drilling
    2) I'll manage to get bulkhead installed with pvc pipes, then I'll find a way to knock the pipes around a little and break the glass that way
    3) I'll actually manage to get it running, but it'll eventually break on it's own under the weight and flow of water

  2. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    1) Probably not, when drilling glass you're doing a grinding motion on the surface and not so much a digging (and hence torque) like in wood
    2) That is very much a possibility, you have a lever (pipe) and it can allow for large mechanical advantages (i.e. force). I broke 1/2" thick glass in a similar fashion. You could use flex tube instead and try to minimize that.
    3) Well if you suspend it in a way that it originally wasn't intended for (i.e. HOB fuge) then yeah, if it's on a surface and in the same way it would as an ATO then no, you're not going to put a wave maker in there, so the amount of fluid movement for a fuge is going to be minimal.

    If it were me though, I would build something out of acrylic (get scrap pieces at Tap Plastics) or just use a 10g tank when Petco has their $1/gallon sales (multiple times a year), or find a garage sale that's selling a tiny tank that out lived it's usefulness :D
    RandyC likes this.
  3. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Glass breakage is a possibility if you put too much pressure on it. Ideally there should be next to no pressure on the bit and just let the grinding does its thing. I have seen that ato cracked and siliconed back up (RC red sea reefer thread).

    As for pipe, you don't need to put in a rigid pipe, an elbow barb and silicone tubing to guide overflow water back down will do. For the input, just run the pipe over top of the tank.
  4. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    I dunno, but everytime I've tried to drill or cut glass, I end up swearing and tossing the glass into the garbage. I sold a cracked 40 breeder for like $10 to a guy who kept lizards and didn't care about the crack.

  5. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    That doesn't sound too far from what my experience will probably be like.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

    I've drilled small tank/s in the past; drilling might not be the biggest concern; as you mentioned, an installed bulkhead, little pressure and crack...
    But there are some small tanks that have been drilled and they hold up pretty good !!
  7. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    I know my glass fabricator won't drill a hole that is as close to the edge as the diameter of the hole. So if I need a 1" hole there needs to be at least 1" of glass between the hole and the edge of the glass.
    RandyC likes this.
  8. Calde0920

    Calde0920 Guest

    You need to make sure you have enough space on the edge of glass also make sure you are using a diamond bit and go slow and keep the spot wet. Best way is to get plumbers putty and build a donut around the hole and constantly keep spraying with water. I work at a glass shop
    RandyC likes this.
  9. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Thanks. Already drilled the holes. I actually used a solo cup and cut the off the bottom and used that as a donut to keep water in there.

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