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Drilling holes in beads

I am doing a project that requires 2mm holes in the beads…I see in
some catalogs that there is a special drill machine used to make the
holes…do I have to invest in that machine or is there a way cheaper
way? what type of drill bit…how to hold the bead…these are some of
my questions…thanks in advance…


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I enlarge the holes in already-drilled beads & pearls by using my
dremel with varying drill bits. I hold the bead in my left hand
submerged in a bowl of water and then drill it with my right hand. I
do it outside because it can be messy and I wear my visor so I can
see the hole and my respirator so I don’t breathe the dust.

For pearls I use carbide drill bits; for stone beads I used
diamond-coated drill bits. Sometimes I have to make several passes
using different size bits because I don’t like to force it. Also,
pre-position a band-aid on your left middle finger for when you miss
the hole in the bead. Sometimes I also use a pearl vise I got from
Rio several years ago for $80 that will hold the bead for you, but
you can do it without. Drill wet.


How can you inheal the dust when you submerge whatever in a bowl of
water ???

Regards Pedro

It depends on how many - I regularly ream out bead holes with used
dental diamond burrs in the foredom, hand holding the bead over a can
of water and dipping occasionally. If they are agate beads I wouldn’t
want to do more than a dozen at once. The volume way to go is an
ultrasonic drill - like a hot knife through butter and if I ever get
mine fixed (20 year old Imahashi unit) O will be one happy lapidary! If
usinf diamond burrs just remember to go gently and use momentary
contact only and keep it all wet. Andy Andy Parker, Agate House
Lapidary Ulverston, Cumbria, England @Andy_Parker Tel: 01229 584023

Hanya: Swest Inc. (800-527-5057) stocks an inexpensive ($25.) pearl
drill jig called “Centerline Pearl Driller”. The device holds the
pearl - or any drill able bead - and guides a 1 mm (.040" #60) drill
through dead center as deeply as you want to go. I suggest that you use
a spade (flat) drill. Submerge the jig in a dish of water with the
guide bushing just below the surface facing up. Run your flex shaft
at medium speed. Drill about 1/2 mm deep and retract the drill
slightly to allow the water to cool it and the pearl and to remove the
debris. Repeat this process until you’ve drilled as deeply as you want
to go.

Hope this helps you.
Ray Grossman

I have been getting my infromation from Herbert Maryon’s “Metalwork
and Enameling.” Yes, I know it was first published in 1912, but Dover
has an edition of it out now. It is a good source for "low tech"
techniques, and it is like being an apprentice to my grandpa.

On holding small items: “This (clamp) is made from a strip of stout
brass folded in half. A series of holes, varying in size is drilled
through the two halves. The inner edge of these holes is rounded off
to give a safer grip on the object to be drilled.” Use a thin strip
of brass to circle around the clamp. Think of a wide pair of
tweezers with holes in it, and a ring that can slide up and down the

Slip your bead into a pair of holes, and slide the ring up until the
bead is held firmly.

If you need more protection for a fragile surface, you could line the
clamp with cork or felt or thin leather.

Hope this helps.

D. Marie Williams

    How can you inheal the dust when you submerge whatever in a
bowl of water ??? 

Better safe than sorry. Just remember, anything from the sea, you
die. Ground up shells contain poisonous hazardous substances like
arsenic. Do what you want, but I’m wearing a respirator that protects
against dust and mist. You should also wear long-sleeves as these
substances can be absorbed through your skin. I have heard this from
just about every rock person out at Quartzsite, especially recently.

I know a guy that ruined his lungs by working with abalone without a
respirator. Another friend of mine has no feelings in her feet because
she didn’t wear a mask when working with malachite & lapis 20 yrs ago
(her doctor said she had the symptoms of being gassed). You wear a
respirator when working with stones because you are breathing sharp
microscopic pieces of rocks that puncture your lungs, even if the dust
from the stones itself may not be poisonous. Go to www. and look it up.

I do all my work outside and I wouldn’t even consider not wearing a
respirator, even on a windy day. I don’t care if I’m the only person
in the world who wears a respsirator, I’m still gonna wear it. I also
wear a lawn and leaf bag with a hole cut out for my head and arms that
I can throw away before I go inside the house so I don’t contaminate
my home, and then I take a shower as an added precaution afterward.
People who polish abalone all day long also say to wear long sleeves
to protect against skin absorption.

I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just telling you what I do!