Drilling Bonsai Pots


I have recently started drilling holes in a few bonsai pots for wire and also in a few pots without holes to create drainage holes.

With all the methods for wiring bonsai with a limited number of holes, the more important question is around creating holes in pots that do not have any.

What type of drill setup do you use? I have a handheld drill and multiple sizes of carbide-tipped masonry drill bits. This works well for stoneware pots, but takes a really long time for hard clay pots.

Any additional suggestions? Are diamond-tipped drills any more effective? Has anybody tried using a drill press instead? This of course would make it more likely you break your pot, but it would probably go faster in the beginning of drilling each new hole.

(Jonas Dupuich) #2

For small holes I use carbide tip drill bits, and for larger holes I use hole saws with diamond dust. Michael Hagedorn wrote about the latter recently:

I’ve found the same difficulty with harder pots. I press fairly hard, keep the RPMs down, and use water to prevent the bit from heating up. Once the bits get dull the process really slows down.

Haven’t tried a drill press. I’d expect it’d work great but like you said care would need to be taken to keep the pressure in check.

(Frank Corrigan) #3

I have been using diamond dust coated hole saw drill bits for many years to cut holes in glass and bonsai pots. I use them on the drill press with a cutting fluid. The trick is to use finger tip pressure and allow the bit to work without undue pressure. A simple method to retain fluid around the drill bit is to create a dam with plastercine or modelling clay. Placing masking tape on the underside helps prevent chipping. With a bit of practice the results are excellent. If you wish to be super careful then drill a small pilot hole to centre the hole saw bit from each side and begin the cut underneath and then finish from the top using tape to protect the beginning of each cut.
Water can be used for the cutting fluid, however oil will keep the bit sharper for a longer life.

(Frank Corrigan) #4

Here are some pictures to clarify my comments. First one is of sample drills that i use. Available from Hardware stores sold as diamond dust drill bits for glass and ceramics. Second one is of a mock set-up, using drill press and the fluid dam. ( cutpaste) Third one shows the portable professional hole drill. Uses only the weight of the motor to cut. The best quality of bits and the professional drill was purchased from the CR Laurance Co. based in California but with branches throughout North Ameriica.
I hope these photos help. I would be happy to answer any questions.from my experience the key is to use as little pressure as possible and let the drill do the work.