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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

My husband is interested in drilling holes in gemstone beads or slabs that don’t have one yet. What’s the best way to go about it? What tools will we need?

Answer:

Each lapidary has their favorite tools and procedures for drilling holes in rock material; the following is how we drill holes in slabs in my studio.

We took a round cake pan and cut a piece of wood the same size. We put the wood in the bottom of the pan and filled it about 1/3 of the way with water. (It is imperative that rock be drilled in water to flush out the rock ‘mud’ as it grinds away and to keep both the material and drill bit cool.) This pan is then placed under a hand-operated drill press fitted with a diamond bit. (Choose a sintered bit that has diamond impregnated throughout the bit whereas a plated bit just has diamond around the outside edges and will wear out very quickly.) Using a constant up and down motion, the drill is continuously and evenly pressed against and into the rock, until a hole goes through it. Depending on both the hardness of the material being drilled and the desired depth of the hole, be prepared to go through several diamond bits before the hole is finished. (We have our dentist save his ‘used’ diamond drill bits for us as they usually have lots of use left when he is ready to discard them.)

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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