Drilling A Hole In China To Make A 3 Tier Tid Bit Tray!

     Okay...many of you last time had some really good tips on how to safely and properly drill a hole in a china plate. For those of you that missed this first and second posting, this may be of some interest to those of you that are interested in knowing how this turned out.
     After checking prices at a local Home Depot yesterday for a Glass/Tile drill bit, I decided to wait because I was going to Wally World latter that night. The correct drill bit to drill the proper hole for a Tid Bit Tray is 3/16ths. Home Depot wanted $6.00 (by the time you added tax) and Wally World had a set of Black & Decker Glass/Tile Drill Bits, Part #16911 with (4) bits in the blister pack for $9.99 . You got one each, 1/8th, 3/16ths, 1/4", & 5/16ths. That was by far the better deal.
     Now for the 'How I done it' part.
Supplies needed
  • Electric Drill
  • 1/8th" & 3/16ths Drill Bits
  • tape measure
  • measuring caliper (Optional)
  • Drill Press (Optional)
  • 2x4 board, about 3 1/2" long
  • (1) roll of cheap-o masking tape
  • A marker. (I used a sharpie)
  • Paper Plates
  • Water
  • Towel
  • 1 dinner plate
  • 1 Salad Plate
  • 1 Bread Plate
  • 1 set 3 tier hardware kit
  • Click on the small photo for a larger view
    1. First you need a piece of a 2x4 board, about 3 1/2" long.
    2. (1) roll of cheap-o masking tape.
    3. A marker of some type. I used a sharpie.
    4. And a tape measure of some kind. I just used a regular ole tape measure like any carpenter would use. For those of you that have or are willing to buy a measuring caliper, it will help tremendously in assuring that you find the exact center of the plate you are working on. I bought a caliper to assist me in this task.
    5. The two smallest bits from the pack. Or purchased separately are, 1/8th" & 3/16ths" (I found out, the hard way, that with china as delicate as these plates are, that a pilot hole using the 1/8th" bit first was necessary before drilling the hole to the correct size with the 3/16ths" bit. I drilled these holes using a regular 18V DeWalt drill. But I must say, I'm a pretty big guy, and I did find it difficult to hold the drill 'STEADY' and 'STRAIGHT' for any length of time at all. Drilling these two holes is slow at best, and I had to stop several times in-between to rest my arm and hand. Having access to a drill press, it would have been a much easier task to perform using this method. But I know most of you reading this don't have access to a drill press, so I did it the old fashion way for your benefit.
    1. First, tear off (8) pieces of masking tape about 2" in length, and on the 'front' side of the plate, eye ball as close as possible where you think the center is. You don't have to be perfect, but be as close as possible. Or you can measure to be sure, either way. Then take one piece of the tape and place it on the plates center. Then cris cross another piece to make an X. Then cross it again, then cross it again with one more piece. You should have (4) pieces of masking tape cris crossed on top of one another. This will help keep the plate from chipping. Then do the same thing on the back-side of the plate, which is shown in this photo.
    2. You've got to correctly measure and find the center of the back of the plate. For me this was a crucial task, and not as easy as I thought it was going to be. It's got to be as close to center as possible for the Tid Bit Tray plates to line up and look right
         First, I measured across the back-side the plate's inside rim (as shown in the photo above) the one that the plate actually sits on, to find the exact measurement. Then I figured in my head, exactly half of that distance. Then I laid the tape measure on the table and set the caliper to the exactly half of what the total measurement was. As shown in the photo to the left. So when I placed the points edge of the caliper on the outer edge of the center circle, the opposite point of the caliper would reach dead center of the plate's bottom. See how I 'cut' an inch off of the end of the tape measure, so I could get an exact measurement, starting at the 1" mark. But don't forget that you've cut an inch! If your half-way measurement is 3 1/4", make sure you go to the 4 1/4" mark on your rule, or you'll be off exactly an inch. If you don't do it this way you'll not get an accurate measurement. And this has to be as accurate as possible at this stage. This did take a little time to accomplish correctly! No need to get in a hurry at this stage of the task at hand.
         I then set the caliper as shown in the photo to the right, and etched a mark in the masking tape from one point on the plates inner edge as shown in the photo. Raking the caliper back and forth marking an etched line in the masking tape. Repeat this step exactly in the same manner, at 5 or 6 different points around the inner edge to find the exact center.
         I've high-lighted the marks on the masking tape with a pen (Photo Left) that I marked with the calipers end, so you can clearly see how the caliper marked the masking tape.
         Now it's very easy to find the plates center after accomplishing this task. Then I just placed a dot right in the center of the hair lines where they crossed so I'd have an easy target to place my drill bits point.
         Now take your cut, folded-up, and taped together paper plates and place them on the center, on the FRONT SIDE of your plate. Then place the block of wood on top of the paper plates. (This will give enough cushioning that is definitely needed. Cut or tear (2) pieces of tape about a foot long. Put tape on block of wood, crossing North to South, and East to West, pulling it tight (without breaking it) over the edge and around on the back-side of the plate. This will hold the block of wood securely.
         This is another way you can tape the block of wood and paper plates to the plate, and it's my preferred method.
    Flip Plate Over!

          Now...you've got your block of wood taped down on the front side of the plate, and you've got your drilling mark dotted on the center of the back-side of your plate. Most plates have a little ridge (or dam) on the back side where you can poor enough water to completely fill the back-side of the plates surface. This will help keep the drill bit from getting hot, and the plate from getting hot, which could cause it to crack or chip beyond being able to use the plate. Notice the towel under the plate. I even wet the towel so it would keep it from sliding around on the table, and it also assisted in keeping the block of wood from sliding.

         Make sure you have the drill bit at least 1" up into the drill. If you don't, it will wobble on you if you aren't careful.
          Now, if your drill happens to have a built-in level, then that's great. But if it doesn't, you're going to have to really watch the angle in which you are drilling to make sure you keep the drill straight. Just steady pressure, not too hard, but not too light either, will work just fine. The tape you've placed will help in assisting to keep the drill bit from walking on the surface with you so you can start the bit nice and straight. Start the drill out slowly, until you know you've penetrated the plates surface. You'll know if you're making progress or not. You'll see the color of the water start to turn a creamy or milky white color around the hole you are drilling. Just take your time and let the bit do the cutting. It took me about 5 minutes total actual drilling time, to drill through this particular China plate. About 3 minutes with the first bit. And about 2 minutes with the second bit. Having to rest my arm and hand in the process several times, which also allowed the drill to cool off also. So the actual process of drilling both holes and resting in-between, took me close to 15 minutes.

         Once the bit goes through the plate, you'll feel it. It will start to sound like something's going wrong, because the bit's point has finally broken through the other side of the plate. Be really careful at this point to keep the drill running, but at a slower speed, and let up on the pressure at this point also. The tone of the bit cutting the china will change and start to sound like it's chattering a bit. Just keep on going. If you're not sure you are all the way though or not, you'll know it when you do finally get though all the way. At this point just stop the drill, and very slowly work the bit back through the hole. You may have to turn the drill on for just a spurt to get it out of the paper plates, and the wooden block, if you happened to go that deep. But hold on to the plate if you've gone into the wooden block. If you don't you're going to spin the plate, and probably break it, or chip the hole you just drilled. Then very slowly, ease the bit back through the hole you've drilled. If you aren't very careful at this point, you may chip it. Take your time.

          Once you've accomplished this, you can take the block of wood off, and all of the remaining tape. You should have a very clean cut and smooth hole if you've done it right. My first try went perfect! No chips, slivers, or anything. But I practiced on a Thrift store China plate I bought for $.25 cents. Even if you do happen to have a small sliver or chip around the hole don't panic. The hardware and washers to put the Tid Bit Tray together with should cover it nicely.
         Here's the finished product. I used one Dinner Plate, and two Bread & Butter Plates for the 2nd & 3rd tiers
         And another shot.
         I know what some of you are thinking right about now. Why didn't he use the Salad Plate for the 2nd tier. Well, because I didn't have any at the time I did this. I thought my Mother had some of the Salad Plates, so I snuck over to her house today while she was getting her hair done, and looked through ALL of her china. Not one blooming Salad Plate? So guess what? Now I've got to buy some Salad Plates!

         Documenting this task was almost as hard as the actual task, lol. Just like with anything, the first time is a learning experience. Practice on another old chipped piece of china before you try this on the good stuff.

         I bought the hardware kits for this 3 tier, and also one for a 2 tier Tid Bit Tray, from Replacements Limited, which is only about a 15 minute ride from where I live. It was $7.99 for the 2 tier, and 9.99 for the 3 tier, plus tax.

         I hope this helps some of you that would like to try this on your own.

         If you have any questions, or can't figure something out by my instructions, please feel free to contact me, I really don't mind at all. PondermaN

    PondermaN's Dinner Plate Wall Clock Instructions

    Copyright 2004 PondermaN