Clay pots are used for a variety of functions, most commonly to plant flowers and plants. The pot itself creates an ideal container for planted goods due to the porous surface and ability to hold the soil. Clay pots do, however, need to have holes in the bottom for drainage. Drilling a hole in a clay pot can be quite simple with the right tools.
Identify the material
Most clay pots are made of unglazed earthenware. This is low-fire red clay that is quite easily to drill through. Some pots are created from much harder stoneware clay. Identify which type of material you want to drill through in order to understand how much pressure and strength is needed to drill through the pot. If the pot has a shiny surface, it is glazed and will require a special drill bit.
Earthenware and stoneware clays can be drilled through using a masonry drill bit. If the pot is glazed, you will need a glass cutting drill bit. Using a new, sharp drill bit makes the job much easier and helps to ensure that you create a clean hole.
Drilling in fired clay
Place the pot upside down and mark the location for the hole. Place the drill bit where the center of the hole is marked. Begin drilling, using a low speed on the drill. Make sure the drill bit is working, creating an indentation in the pot. Remove the drill bit and blow the dust of the area for the hole, continuing this process until a hole has been created in the pot. A harder clay pot will take much longer to drill a hole. Use a regular drill rather than a hammer drill; a hammer drill will break the pot with the hammering action.
Drill in unfired clay
The easiest way to drill a hole in a clay pot is to do so before the clay is fired. This only works if you are creating the pot yourself. Drilling in an unfired clay pot is similar to the method for drilling in a hard, fired clay pot. However, drilling in unfired clay does not require a masonry bit. When the clay pot is at the leather hard stage in the drying process, flip the pot so the bottom is facing up. Using a drill bit the size of the required hole, drill through the pot.
Virgil Dudley is an artist, designer, and urban theorist who has written, researched and designed projects in the fields of art, architecture, fashion, and design since 2001. She has written for websites such as eHow. She holds a B.F.A. in ceramics and art history and a M.Sc. in architectural history and theory and is co-owner of an environmentally responsible clothing line.