Learning, Drilling,

How to Make a Hole in an Acrylic Sheet without a Drill? (8 Steps)

Below, ill go through my step-by-step guide to making a hole in an acrylic sheet without a drill. 

Drilling a hole in an acrylic sheet is not easy, even if you use the best power drill. You can imagine the trouble one has to go through if they don’t have a power drill. Luckily, I don’t have to imagine, I know. And I’ve overcome this type of issue while working as a handyman. I hope to share that knowledge with you today. No cracks, and no power drills; the only tool you need is a soldering iron.

In general, to drill holes in acrylic sheets:

  • Gather the necessary materials.
  • Wear safety gear.
  • Heat the soldering iron to at least 350°F.
  • Check the heat of the soldering iron (optional).
  • Push the soldering iron tip into the acrylic sheet gently.
  • Rotate the soldering iron in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

Follow the below eight steps below for a more detailed explanation.

8-Step Guide

Step 1 – Gather the Necessary Things

soldering iron

First and foremost, gather the following things.

  • Piece of acrylic sheet
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • A clean cloth

Step 2 – Wear the Necessary Safety Gear

wearing gloves in zoom

You are dealing with a high heat source and glass. It would be best if you were careful all the time. Follow the below safety steps without ignoring them.

  1. Wear safety glasses to avoid glass shards that may jump up.
  2. Wear safety gloves to avoid cuts.
  3. Wear safety shoes to avoid any shock or electrocution.

Step 3 – Heat the Soldering Iron

Plug in the soldering iron and let it heat up to 350°F.

Why 350°F? We cover more info about the melting point of acrylic and the temperature range of the soldering iron below.

Quick Tip: Plexiglass sheet is another popular name used for acrylic. Even though we use the term glass to describe acrylic, the acrylic material is thermoplastic and is an excellent alternative to ordinary glass.

Melting Point of the Acrylic

In higher temperatures, the acrylic will start to soften; however, it will melt at 320°F. So, you’ll need a considerable amount of heat to melt acrylic.

Temperature Range of the Soldering Iron

Soldering irons are often designed to reach a temperature of 392 to 896°F. Hence, you’ll be able to reach the required 320°F in no time.

Quick Tip: The maximum temperature of the soldering iron will be shown in the packaging. So, remember to check that before choosing a soldering iron for this task.

After choosing a suitable soldering iron, heat it for 2 or 3 minutes. But don’t overheat the soldering iron. It might break the acrylic glass.

Step 4 – Check the Heat (Optional)

This step is optional. However, I would recommend you go through it anyway. Take the solder and touch it to the tip of the soldering iron. If the soldering iron is adequately heated, the solder will melt. This is a small test for checking the heat of the soldering iron.

two glass with water and a multimeter

Important: If you want to be more accurate, use a thermocouple or contact pyrometer to measure the temperature of the soldering iron tip.

Melting Point of the Solder

Most soft solders will melt at 190 to 840°F, and this type of solder is used for electronics, metal work, and plumbing work. When it comes to alloy, it will melt at 360 to 370°F.

Step 5 – Place the Soldering Iron on the Acrylic Sheet

Next, take the properly heated soldering iron and place its tip on the acrylic sheet. Remember to place it where you need to make a hole.

Step 6 – Push the Soldering Iron Into The Acrylic Sheet

Then, push the soldering iron into the acrylic sheet gently. Remember, this is the first push. Hence, you shouldn’t push harder, and the temperature should be proper. Otherwise, you might end up cracking the acrylic sheet.

Step 7 – Rotate the Soldering Iron

While pushing, you should rotate the soldering iron. But don’t rotate it in one direction. Instead, rotate the soldering iron in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.

For example, rotate the soldering iron 180 degrees in a clockwise direction. Then stop there and rotate it 180 degrees in a counter-clockwise direction. This process will help the soldering iron tip to go through the glass much faster.

Step 8 – Complete the Hole

Follow the process described in step 6 until you reach the bottom of the acrylic sheet. Following the above steps correctly should have a soldering iron tip-sized hole on the glass. (1)

However, if you want to make the hole larger, you can do that too. in most soldering irons, the protective tube also gets heated up with the soldering iron tip. So, you can drive the protective tube inside the small hole to make it larger.

Finally, clean up the acrylic sheet using a clean cloth.

Can I Use an Ice Pick Instead of Soldering Iron?

You can use an ice pick to make a hole in a plexiglass sheet. Also, you’ll need a torch to heat the ice pick. After properly heating the ice pick, you can use it to make a hole in the acrylic sheet. But compared to using a soldering iron, this is a little more complicated process. If you are wondering why that is, here are some facts.

Fact 1. When you use the soldering iron, you heat it to 350°F – the same goes for the ice pick. However, heating the ice pick to the above temperature won’t be easy and might take some time.

Fact 2. Apart from that, the soldering iron is designed to withstand high temperatures. But the ice picks not so much. So, you might damage the ice pick beyond repair while executing this process.

Fact 3. When using an ice pick, you’ll have to put some extra effort into this process, which will take more time.

A soldering iron is the best solution for making a hole in acrylic sheets without a drill. (2)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) glass – https://www.britannica.com/technology/glass
(2) acrylic – https://www.britannica.com/science/acrylic

Video References


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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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