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How to Drill Holes in Cabochons and More! PDF Print E-mail
 Weekly Beadditudes with Dara 
Make your own Pendants & Beads!THE LURE

Make your own Pendants and Beads!

Remember last summer when you were lounging at the ocean, gathering up little smooth stones, chunks of sea glass and lovely shells? Where is that stuff? Go get it. Its the middle of winter and this is a great way to bring a bit of summer back into our current cold, blustery days!

Creating Found Object Art

You just need a few simple tools to get started. First, you need a drill. I recommend a Dremel drill. You can find them at all hardware stores, and they are pretty inexpensive. Especially if you were smart enough to buy one around Fathers Day when they are on sale. :-) Anyway, a Dremel is a small hand held drill that has about 5 speeds on it. You can also buy an attachment that fits on the end of the drill that looks like a long tube with a pen Tuna!attached. You put your drill bit into the pen and and voila! You've got a comfy hand held drill thats easy to manipulate and less intimidating than holding a big drill. Another option is to use a drill press that you can insert your Dremmel into, and you'll have hands free drilling.

You'll need a drill bit that's meant for this type of drilling, also. I use a 1.4 mm diamond drill bit. You can choose the size you like to work with, based on the size of hole you want. Just make sure it's a diamond bit. You need a strong bit to go through glass.

Get Yourself Set Up

Your work area is simple to set up. You need a flat surface to work on, preferably away from a food area. Don't work in your kitchen, since bits of stuff can fly around. You don't want glass slivers in your banana bread, you know what I mean? So work in the garage or a cellar or in a back room. Better if there isn't any carpet near your work area. Safety first. Next you'll need a small can, such as the largest size of tuna fish can you can find. Use a piece of silly putty or earthquake putty (if you live on the west coast you know what this Silly Puttyis!) to stick in the center bottom of the can. You're going to use this to hold your glass or stone so it won't move while being drilled.

Select your First Victim
(I mean pendant-to-be)

Begin with something sort of ugly. You know, pick a stone that isn't the best, so you can practice on it. Go out in your driveway and get one if you must. Stick it down in the putty so that you have accessible the side that you want drilled. Now this is important: fill the can with water until the top of the stone is just covered, especially the drilling area. The water is going to act as a coolant and will prevent your stone from cracking. Ok, got your water? Great.

WaterLet's make a hole!

Now when you start to drill, you're going to do it like this: hold the drill in a straight up and down position so that the hole will be straight. Hold the drill firmly so that the bit won't go skidding across the surface of the stone. (Now you know why you need practice pieces.) You're going to touch the drill bit down semi-firmly, like you mean it, but then lift the drill bit out of the hole so water can pool inside it. Repeat. You can do it pretty quickly, too. Touch down, lift, touch down, lift, etc. When you're almost all the way though, Stop. Flip your stone over and begin to drill from the other side. This will prevent a blow out or chipping the stone or glass where the hole should be. It takes practice to do this, so don't be hard on yourself. Glass and stone will pretty much drill the same. Anything else may be unpredictable, so a practice piece is necessary.

River Stones make great pendants when drilledWhen I first got going with drilling, I went absolutely mental and nothing was safe. I drilled bottle caps that I had hammered flat, and made wind chimes out of them. I drilled guitar picks and made earrings and pendants. In a book store I found gorgeous pieces of flat, polished stones that were sitting in a basket, and they made fantastic pendants. River stones are earthy and have great contrast when you pair them with beads in necklaces. The stained glass stores sometimes will sell small pieces of different glass that have great patterns, textures and colors. Get yourself a glass cutter and make some links. There's only one thing you have to beware of.

Shells: Drill with Caution!

Seashell dust is toxic, and I don't mean a little bit toxic. You can really hurt yourself if you breath it in, or get it into your eyes, a cut or sore, or ingest it. Sometimes the particulates are so small you don't realize they're in the air around you. When you breathe this dust in, Protective Glovesit gets embedded in your lungs and it won't come out. It will literally be there forever, and it's toxic. If you want to drill shells, do your homework. Research so you know as much about it as possible so you know what you're getting yourself into. First you have to have an excellent mask to protect your lungs. Next, work outside. Clean your work area thoroughly and wear old clothes that you can change right out of. Gloves would be smart, too. Make protecting yourself and others your first priority. If you should ingest or breathe in this dust, seek medical attention. It's a serious thing.

Now, if I haven't scared the crap out of you, you should drill with wild abandon! Glass, ceramic, stone and metal should be drilled under water. Pods, seads, nuts and natural things that are soft can be drilled without water. This will open up a whole new world for you and you can make one of a kind centerpieces for your work. It's a great way to make a signature piece. Have fun, be safe and happy drilling!
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