If you are talking about stone beads - Covington (909)793-6636
still makes a bead mill. Basically it is a grooved plate that you
put preforms in, apply grit and lower a spring loaded top plate.
The grooved plate revolves, the preform tumbles around and is
worn down. Tumble to polish. These machines are pricey and single
use $600 Cnd last one I saw plus you still have to get a hole in
the bead (a whole (pardon the pun) 'nuther story). You might be
able to rig up your own if you are handy - reply offline and I
will email you a diagram of how it works.
If you only want a limited number of beads you can use a couple
of methods. The first is to use a conical shaped hole in the end
of a piece of hardwood or metal - the preform should fit into it
about 1/2 way or a bit deeper. Press against a silicon carbide
wheel (they bounce it around better - usually a disadvantage) and
the stone will eventually wind up round. Tumble to polish or by
hand if you don’t want fingernails.
The second method works well for hard materials, you get a piece
of copper pipe - flare it using an automotive flaring tool (pays
to have a Dad with a well equiped shop). Dop the preform so half
is exposed. Charge the copper with diamond grit and put it in a
electric drill. Turn the drill on and apply the stone, turning it
all around. When you have one half done re-dop the other way
round and do the other side.
If you want more info let me know and I will track down the
names of the books with these techniques in them. For hand made
stone beads (or glass) check out Lapidary Journal, they had a
couple articles as well in the past year or so - check out the
online search at their web site (http://www.lapidaryjournal.com).
Island Gem and Rock