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Drilling thousands of small holes in HDPE "poly pipe"


Mar 21, 2020
Figured it was worth a shot to see if you guys have ideas. We will be drilling around 3000 small holes in 1" poly pipe for drip irrigation purposes. This won't be a CNC operation, but looking for a way to make this go faster. But beyond speed right now, I am trying to select tooling that will do this and make a nice, clean hole. I am just not convinced a twist drill is the answer. The pipe is thin wall so drill pressure is an issue, but we are talking about a .125"-ish hole.

Basically a small barbed fitting goes in each hole and I am trying to minimize leaks, though I realize this won't be, or even need to be perfect. I ran testing on a sample, one hole drilled with a straight flute step bit, another was simply pierced. The drilled hole was leak free at 60psi, but the pierced hole had a small leak. Piercing was also problematic in that it deformed the pipe, even with support, just due to the force needed.

I also attempted to melt a hole in but I think that would take very precise heat control and did not make a nice hole regardless.

I know PE pipe will make some serious stringy chips, which is not really a problem, other than I would like to minimize burrs inside/outside the pipe.
Before you drill the pipe , check out "MR Landscape" web site. I have irrigated several different ways. PVC pipe in a green house and high tunnels. This worked okay. Soaker hose, did not hold up well. Lasted 3 seasons til the hose cracked. Drip irrigation tape. This was the worst of the lot.
Drip irrigation hose , this is the best . Mr Landscaper website has this hose in two diameters.
Been using it for 6 years and am very satisfied. You can make bends without 90° fittings though they carry them. They have starter kits to try out. I have 2 high tunnels with this irrigation.
No emitters to plug in, they are built into the hose.


Jul 11, 2004
Reddington, N.J., U.S.A.
The manufacturer has punches. Quit trying to roll your own. Don't drill the holes, the chips will plug the emitters. If you won't buy the really cheap factory punch, then melt them in.

As far as the line with molded drippers, I'm guessing the OP wants the push in drippers so he can put a line on the emitter discharge to go to a pot or similar.

Yes to the above.
What kind of drip or trickle irrigation system is running at 60psi?