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Broken drill bits

I have to remove a broken drill bit from a copper and brass
piece. I read that a “concentrated solution of alum” will
dissolve out the bit. Does any one know the recipe for sauch a
solution? Thanx

Just super saturate some hot H2O and soak until the steel falls
out or is completely dissolved.

Jeff Cleveland aka JevFro
505 E. 3rd
Ellensburg, Washington 98926

Pat, I had that happen to me once. I heated the alum/water
mixture on the stove top. (I do not know the percentage of alum
to water - I think I just dumped some in. I trully can’t
remember - it was many years ago.) However, make sure you heat
it in a glass or pyrex container. You will have an obvious mess
if you choose a stainless steal pot :slight_smile: Regards, Kirsten in PA

Hi Pat,

The easiest way to remove a broken drill bit? Put the jewelry
into your pickle pot and the pickle will dissolve the drill in a
relatively short time. I always advise throwing out that pickle
afterwards as you have now introduced steel into it (by
dissolving the bit) and it’s just a safety measure to chuck the
solution rather than possibly discolor the next pieces put in
there. It may not happen, but why take the chance.

Best Regards,

Elaine Corwin
Tel: 1-800-544-2043 ext. 287
Fax: 203-335-0300

You can buy alum at any drug store. It’s used in pickles so it
should be in the supermarket spice section as well. A saturated
solution in hot water is what I use. Not sure how this stuff
might work with copper and brass, so maybe you should test it
first. Alum is also used in many crystal growing sets. My kids
have alum crystals they’ve grown in their rooms.

Hello Pat,

I have used alum for years. It works well. It is called
aluminum alum. It is a powder you can buy at your local drug
store. I think it is used for canning or something. Put about
a cup of boiling water in a glass pot or beaker and add powdered
alum until it no longer dissolves. Soak the piece in this
solution at a temperature just below boiling. Ideally a stream
of bubbles will come from the hole where the bit is. Keep
checking it every couple of hours until it is all gone. Lately
I have been heating the piece enough to anneal the bit and then
drill it out. It takes much less time. It has worked for me in
platinum and gold many times.

Good Luck
Ray in sunny So. Oregon


This may have been suggested previously, but I’ve found that
it’s very easy and quick to simply resharpen my bits with a
seperating disk. Follow the same angle to which the bit was
origionally ground to and you should find it extends their life
quite a bit. I hope this settles the issue.


Help! I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the answer. Thank
goodness for Orchid…

While drilling out a hole for a channel set 3 pointer, the end of
the bit broke off. I thought I got it all out, but the diamond has
turned yellow, so obviously there’s a piece still in there. I know
there’s an acid bath of some kind, but can’t find the particulars.
The ring is in 14K yellow with platinum heads, and fortunately all
the stones are diamonds. (I have some fresh gold testing acid, can
that be used in some proportion?)

Thanks in advance!


Rather than using your costly testing acid, just use ordinary pickle
(like sparex, or other sodium bisulphate pickle). Or use grocery
store alum, in a saturated boiling solution. The trick is to use it
freshly mixed, meaning not previously used to pickle off oxides and
such. That way, the steel bit won’t be able to cause copper to plate
out on your piece, as there won’t yet be any copper in solution in
the pickle. Use it hot. Let is soak for an hour or so. Your drill
will be gone, so long as the solution has access to the bit through
the hole behind the stone… You only need to mix a small amount,
and when you’re done, you can add this back to your regular pickle
without ill effects (once the iron is in solution, it no longer
causes that “plate out” effect, and there’s too little there to be
significant in any case). Or save it seperatly for the next time…
This is, in any case, better than your test acid, which is much more
corrosive to the gold itself, and would probably discolor your gold,
etch the solders, and the like.

Hope that helps.

Peter Rowe

Cindy, you can either drop it in the pickle for a couple of days or
mix Alum and water at a low boil for a few hours. It’ll come right
out for you.

Mike Rogers
Precious Metal Arts

Cindy, Go to the grocery store and in the spice isle you will find
alum. Put a couple of teaspoons of alum in water in a glass beaker.
Boil the solution on medium heat until the drill bit disappears. Best, Doug

      While drilling out a hole for a channel set 3 pointer, the
end of the bit broke off. I thought I got it all out, but the
diamond has turned yellow, so obviously there's a piece still in

Hi Cindy, That’s exactly what happened to me a couple of years back
but the great people here at Orchid suggested I just use an extra
strong pickle (heated) and let it sit for a while. “Worked like a
charm!” I wasn’t using Platinum though, just gold.

Thanks again everyone! Tara from Beautiful British Columbia (Canada)

Dear Cindy, We have used alum dissolved in water to dissolve broken
off drill bits embedded in metal. I’m not sure why it works, but it
does. Unfortunately I’ve had to resort to this on more than one
occasion! Alum can be found in the grocery store with spices. I
remember my mom using it to make pickles. The mixture doesn’t have
to be specific. We just dump some alum in a container and add water
to dissolve it and make a thin mixture. If I’m in a hurry, I add
more alum, though I don’t know if it really works faster or if it is
all in my head! It will generally dissolve a drill bit in 24 to 48
hours. I have used it on 14k and 18k gold. Good luck.

david lee jeweler
Mason City, Iowa

Hi, This works best go to the grocery store get some “alum” used in
making pickles, fromm the spice counter. boi; the ring in a solution
of alum & water, no proportions just keep an eye on it and add water
to keep it from boiling dry. Keep checking it through out the day to
see when the drill bit has rusted away!

drill doctor from sears 98.00, drill bet sharpener fron harbor
fright tools 20.00 or mail order 129.00. They wokk very good

Speaking of broken drill bits. I have a model I originally had
photo etched in zinc and then drilled. Some of the drill bits remain
and I would love to remove them. If I remember correctly I was told
the pickle would also effect the zinc. Does anyone know if that is
also true of alum?