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Old 08-26-2011, 07:22 AM
Aankh Aankh is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: London
Posts: 928
Drilling a hole in ceramic.

This is a very simple question compared to some of the stuff I see in the Barn House. No bats, leaking basements or pool draining here.

I have a beautiful ceramic/stoneware soap-dish that unfortunately has no drainhole for water. This negates the purpose of a soapdish which is to keep soap non-soggy.

I'd like to drill a hole or three through the bottom to allow water to seep out, but I'm not sure if doing this will crack the ceramic. Could you more experienced folks please advice me on the matter?

I have access to:
(1) a ceramic soapdish
(2) a Black and Decker electric drill
(3) a bunch of different sized drill bits

Should I be placing the soapdish on a hard surface to drill? A soft surface?
Old 08-29-2011, 11:01 AM
mozchron mozchron is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 923
You need a special drill bit to drill ceramic.

And yes, it could still crack. When we did our bathroom, after putting in our custom tile shower, our contractor was very leery when he had to drill the tile to install the curtain rod (he said he usually tries to drill the grout line, but in our case he had to go right in the middle of the tile).

On edit, it seems that you can remove the soap dish? If so, Just get a couple in case you crack one. I was thinking it was cemented into the shower.

Last edited by mozchron; 08-29-2011 at 11:02 AM.
Old 08-29-2011, 12:10 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Nevada
Posts: 2,169
I drill holes in ceramic pots for flowers all the time. Just flush it with a coolant such as running water and drill very, very slowly so as not to break it with pressure from the drill bit. You may need a diamond tipped drill bit.
Old 08-30-2011, 03:44 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 57,106
You'll need a special drill bit - probably labelled 'tile drill' or some such on the pack - these typically look like a little flat tungsten carbide spearhead mounted in a steel shaft.

You'll want to hold down the item to be drilled against something that will damp vibrations - if it has a perfectly flat bottom, this might just be a piece of softwood, but if it's contoured or curved, you'll want something that supports and hugs it a bit - maybe a big chunk of plasticene.

Spalling (pushing off flakes around the exit hole) is a big risk - but going through slowly and supporting the exit area with wood or clay (as above) should minimise the risk.

You will be piercing the glaze, which means water will be able to soak into the porous ceramic - and this could cause staining or could cause the glaze to flake or craze. Not sure there's any way around that, because it will be very hard to seal the inner surface of the hole and know for sure it's a perfect job.
Old 09-07-2011, 01:01 PM
Aankh Aankh is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: London
Posts: 928
Thank you all for your suggestions! Also apologies for such a late response; for some reason, I didn't get notifications that this thread had received replies.

I'll probably take the risk of not using a special drill bit and try my luck tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes. (Because OF COURSE you're waiting with bated breath to find out what happened! )
Old 09-15-2011, 10:35 AM
Aankh Aankh is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: London
Posts: 928
And you folks were exactly right! The normal drill bit only succeeded in cracking a chunk of the ceramic leaving a gaping hole at the bottom. HOWEVER, owing to the somewhat innovate construction on this dish, the gap is not normally visible. Mission, therefore, failed YET accomplished. I have my drainage hole!


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