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Drilling a glass tank

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forsaken541

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Apr 9, 2004
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Spokane, WA
have a 90 gal glass with nothing but LR, LS and a small but efficient clean up crew inside and am trying to descide if this is possible. I would like to install a long overflow in one corner and install a sump. Is it possible to do this without draining the tank and how does one go about drilling the glass? Heres a pic of what I want to do.
 

bc_slc

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Feb 1, 2004
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Seattle
drilling a glass tank is possible (if the glass is not tempered). However it eliminates the warantee on every tank (unless the factory did it) and it can be quite difficult. Doing it yourself is tough. It involves a drill press (not a handheld drill), so the tank must be empty, and the vibration from the drilling can often shake the seal loose on the other seams of the tank.

That being said, people do it all the time - but it would need to be empty...
 

Katchupoy

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Jul 9, 2003
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Kent 98031
Yes, drilling the tank is hard like BC said. I've drilled my 10 gallon tank with a dremel and it worked but really hard and took me almost an hour to drill a 3/4" diameter hole.
 

bc_slc

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Feb 1, 2004
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yes, good point katchupoy. Dremels are often used for smaller tanks....for a 90 gal tank, you would want a drill press.
 

Ed Hahn

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Jan 27, 2004
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Kennewick, Wa
I am planning having my 90 AGA drilled. I will let you know how it turns out. I want to drill four 1 1/2 inch holes in it.
 

Scooterman

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Thefishcouple

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Oct 17, 2003
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Palm City, Florida
Here's what you need to do. Drain the tank don't try it with water inside you are going to want the glass piece that you drill facing up, besides you don't want the extra pressure from the water in the tank. Pick up the drill bit I don't think they are that expensive. Give Jonus at Blue Sierra a call he did some drilling on some tanks at his store. He can tell you where to pick up a drill bit if you can't locate one locally. I don't think the tank body would be tempered most manufacturers only use tempered glass for the bottom. If you know who manufactured your tank a quick call to them would confirm that. I drilled about 60 glasss tanks for a store I had in Fl. all with a hand drill and we did not break one. This is how we did it. Unlike hole saws for wood or metal glass bits don't have a pilot bit. You will need to make a jig. Get yourself a piece of plywood that is about 12 x 12. Place it on the tank where you want to drill the hole and mark it where the hole will be. Drill a hole in the plywood the same size as the hole you are going to drill in the tank, you will use this as a guide for your diamond bit. Get some one to hold the plywood in place while you drill your hole. Use soap and water in a spray bottle to keep the bit lubricated and cool. Wet the area when you start and spray it on the drill bit every few seconds while drilling. Keep the RPM's low on the drill and let the bit do the work. Don't apply pressure other than maybe the weight of the drill. It might tank a few minutes to get drill the hole but when you do you'll be out looking for some more glass to drill. Good luck!
John
 

Ed Hahn

Life is A Highway...
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Jan 27, 2004
Messages
3,955
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Kennewick, Wa
Hey John,
Thanks, I appreciate the heads up. You built my confidence up just listening to you. My friend has drilled quite a few tanks. He has a diamond bit and has has explained how he did it with a drill bit for 1 inch bulk heads. He is going to use a brass bit this time with a compound. Its a drill bit for 1 1/2 bulk heads. He does a bracket to hold drill bit solid and did explain about supporting the back with wood also. I may take pix of this.
 

Yellotang

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Joined
May 4, 2004
Messages
72
Location
Pasco,Wa
Drilling tanks are sooooo easy. I have never heard anyone actually complain before in how hard it is. I have drilled literally hundreds of holes. Tooo easy. and no you do not need a drill press. And yes you can drill a tank that is up and running. All you have to do is drop the level of the water and then drill. I have done it before, too easy.

You do NOT want to use a dremmel. That is way to slow and just a serious PITA.

Use a diamond bit and use a drill guide. Use a spray bottle to keep the bit wet and if you are drilling from the inside out, clamp a piece of wood on the out side and use a small powerhead or a spray bottle top to suck out the tank water and spray the bit for lubrication and moisture. The glass pieces is nothing more then silica sand that causes no problems for the tank.

Drilling does void the warrenty, but if you don't approach it with seldgehammer mentality, then it will work out just fine.

Final note, do not drill glass tank bottoms, they are tempered.

P.S. If I lived in your area, I'd charge you $15 a hole and have it done in less then 5 minutes. And you wouldn't have to drain it, as long as it wasn't up against the wall like Ed Hahn's tank is.
 
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