Tip for putting screws into plexiglass

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Forum topic by treeman posted 01-22-2010 01:25 PM 40101 views 4 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View treeman's profile


208 posts in 2874 days

01-22-2010 01:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip plexiglass

When I was building my router table I needed to attach the plexiglass door to the cabinet. I had a couple of brass hinges that would work but I needed to attach these hinges to the plexiglass door. I could have drilled through the plexiglass and used brass machine screws with a nut on the back but I didn’t have any in the shop and didn’t want to make a trip to the hardware store to get some.

I tried drilling a pilot hole into a piece of scrap and using the screws that came with the hinges. Every time I did this, I either chipped the plexiglass or stripped out the screw head. This stuff is too hard and brittle to readily accept a wood screw.

I solved the problem by placing the screw on the end of my magnetic screw driver and using a butane lighter to heat the screw for about 5 seconds. I then screwed it into the proper sized pilot hole and it went in smoothly and held strong. It stuck out on the back a little so I removed it from the door and screwed it through a piece of scrap plexiglass the same thickness. I then used a Dremel tool with a cut off disc to trim it flush with the plexiglass. When I reinstalled the screw into the hinge it was now perfectly flush with the back of the door.

12 replies so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2539 days

#1 posted 01-22-2010 02:39 PM

thank´s for the tip
my way of doing it is to drill the hole just a tyni smaller and make a tread were the machine
screw match works every time for me
but I think nomatter how you do it both solutions solve it and you have to take care when you
scew them in and not do it too tight


View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 2950 days

#2 posted 01-22-2010 03:03 PM

Great tip! Thanks.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View SKFrog16's profile


661 posts in 2624 days

#3 posted 01-22-2010 05:07 PM

Here is a set of instructions given out by the Aircraft Mechanics Guild. May help us with our projects.

Sawing flat sheet:

In sawing flat sheet as for windows etc., this sawing can be done very easily on an ordinary table or circular saw, only cross cut or finishing blades should be used. Saws should turn at least the speed as recommended for lumber. Smoothest cuts; will be obtained by keeping the blade adjusted to a low level and by not rushing the work through the Saw. This causes melting and allows the blade to stick to the Plexiglass.

Drilling holes in Plexiglass:
The drilling of holes in Plexiglass seems to be the big bugaboo among many aircraft mechanics. The principal difficulty lies in that drills as sharpened for steel are used, it is near impossible to drill a hole in Plexiglass without cracking using a drill that has been sharpened for drilling steel and especially so if the hole is much larger than 3/16 diameter. Drill sharpening for Plexiglass is relatively simple, in general take the drill as sharpened for steel and just grind off or dull the cutting edge. The object is to sharpen the drill so that it scrapes its way through the plastic. Lower the angle of the flutes, this is done by setting the angle of the drill sharpening jig to 12 degrees which gives the cutting edges a toal od 120 degrees from tip to shank edge. This is the proper angle.

A drill used in drilling steel will not work for drilling Plexiglass, due to the fact that it digs in, causing cracks.

A drill sharpened for Plexiglass does not dig, but scrapes it’s way through the Plexiglass.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 01-22-2010 05:27 PM

thanks for the pointers treeman and UnionLabel. might be using plexiglass in the next few weeks… probably as a floating panel which does not involve drilling – but does involve cutting it down.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3001 days

#5 posted 01-22-2010 05:35 PM

Good tip thanks

-- Custom furniture

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 2905 days

#6 posted 01-22-2010 05:50 PM

Good tip, I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it makes sence.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View PaulfromVictor's profile


224 posts in 2770 days

#7 posted 01-22-2010 06:34 PM

Do you think a small Forstner bit would make a clean hole ?

View cliffton's profile


117 posts in 2505 days

#8 posted 01-22-2010 08:03 PM

easiest way i found to drill holes in plexiglass is to cut the head off a nail of the size i need and use it to melt its way through. for anything larger than 3/8 inch ill drill small pilot hole and use a forstener bit to drill the bigger hole.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2592 days

#9 posted 01-23-2010 04:00 AM

I used to install car stereo for about ten years and I used Plexiglass a lot in high end installs. There are some help full hints like if you want to drill holes in plexi, I like to use a small bit then move up to the larger bit. Dennisgrosen mentioned using machine screws. To use them, you can tap the plexiglass just as you would metal. The plexi can over heat your cutting bit or blade so I learned to spray wd40 on the blade of the table saw every 6 inches while making the cut. Also put masking tape on the glass where your cutting or drilling. The tape helps keep the glass from chipping and you can place lay out marks on the tape with a ball point pen. I had to display electronic components behind these windows so I came up with ways to dress up the edge of the plexiglass. It comes with paper protecting it, I used to mark off borders and remove paper (with a razer blade) on the back of the panel. Next with a coordinating color, spray paint the unmasked section. When you remove all the paper you have a nicely finished border. The paint on the back side really looks nice. To add lettering, I applied vinyl stickers that are cut back words which are applied before the paint. One could put a logo like Porter Cable or Bosch on their router station. Here is some of that work. Hopefully it is helpful and can be applied to one of your woodworking projects.

install picture

install picture

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2592 days

#10 posted 01-23-2010 04:16 AM

Treeman, I never used heat for drilling plexi before. I have heard you can heat the edges of the glass with a torch to get it to look polished or smooth, but haven’t tried it. Thanks for the tip and That router station is really nice.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View jeletta's profile


1 post in 1604 days

#11 posted 06-06-2012 10:03 PM

I found this site when I was trying to attach a plexiglass top to a frame on desktop that I use for art pastels. When I couldn’t handle the hot screws, I tried heating the drill bit and it “worked”! The screws went in like a charm. I thank you for the heating tip…..

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3158 days

#12 posted 06-06-2012 10:38 PM

I use brad-point drill bits, and feed slowly into the work.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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