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I am about to make holes in a ceramic tile (in order to attach an Ikea piece of furniture in the bathroom). As this is the first time I am going to do this, I have done some research and bought some equipment - like diamond bits. However, I am wondering whether it is worthwhile investing in a new drill. The one that I have now is a very simple Black&Decker with two speed settings: 1250-2750/min. I am wondering whether this is too fast (I have seen different recommend numbers in the internet, some as low as 600-700 rotations per minute.)

Background:

  • the tiles are 120-by-60 cm, but some holes might be only about an inch or two from the edge. Not sure about the proper term for the material - in French these are referred to as carrelage (floor tiles, although can be used for wall), as opposed to faïence (typically smaller tiles, used mainly for walls in kitchens and bathrooms.)
  • I am planning to use diamond drill bits (see here), but the seller still recommended me to go slow and cool the bit with water
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  • Can you provide the type of ceramic (porcellain, stoneware?)
    – Martin
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 7:24
  • @Martin I added a comment on this. If this is not enough, I may try to look up the precise reference in the documents.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 7:42
  • Not needed anymore. Modern floor tiles ought to be the hardest type.
    – Martin
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 7:49

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It entirely depends on your drill bit:

The professional hollow core diamond drillbits for dry drilling contain wax coolant and can (and should) be used with the highest speed available. They often come with an M14 interface for use in angle grinders, which run with 11500rpm.

The carbide bits with arrow-like heads should be used with low rotations (under 500 rpm).

Given the cost and inconveniences of a broken tile, I'd:

  • Invest in the best drill bits available.
  • Make precautions that the drillbit won't slip. Perhaps make a wooden template and attach it temporarily on the wall, to prevent slipping.
  • Read the instructions carefully. Should there be no instructions then I'd question the quality of the equipment.
  • Try on some spare tile pieces first.

Edit, regarding the question of safe RPM:

The mentioned 11500RPM were for angle grinder drill bits. Others have lower safe RPM. In general the cut is better with high rpm, but there is always an upper limit for the safe cutting speed. The limit is specified by the instruction manual.

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    I doubt the quality of your drill bits. Given the pain of an broken tile, I'd ditch them and get good ones. Bosch professional or Milwaukee should be widely available
    – Martin
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 7:57
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    When using the old carbide bits to drill holes in porcelain tile I first dill a hole with a 1/8" bit, then move up to the needed size. Even with the 1/8" bit I hold the drill with both hands to start, then remove my left hand to use it to spray water on the bit and hole. You must keep the bit cool or it will quickly become dull. For the diamond coring bits I start with the final size and have used water to cool them. According to @Martin at least some diamond bits are impregnated with a wax coolant! My bits are from years back and I doubt they had that. Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 11:35
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    @RogerVadim Usually the up to RPM numbers are for safety. The bit or disk/blade might become unsafe to use above. It usually is not for best working RPM in material.
    – crip659
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 12:15
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    @RogerVadim added some details about the safe cutting speed
    – Martin
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 12:41
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    Re high-speed cutting: There are also carbide router bits made to cut tile. In fact the "roto-zip" tool marketed some years as a contractor's cut-out tool for tile was basically just a small router with appropriate bits, slightly redesigned to make it easier to hold.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 13:14

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