Bruce helps me with my learning curve

Today was the day to work out the bugs in my sea glass drilling technique. I knew I would have to go more slowly than on my first attempts. Unlike most of the rocks I drill, which are pretty hardy, glass does not like to be shocked. Even though I drilled slowly and lightly, one of the first pieces cracked this morning. I realized I was working in a cold basement, with glass submerged under cold water (to keep the drill bit cool) and I started to think it might be a good idea to try warmer water for my sea glass pieces. The warm water seemed to help a little. No more cracking, but progress was slow.

Bruce stopped in after his morning of painting buoys in his own shop. We talked about drilling, shocking glass, etc. He asked if I ever used oil as a coolant for the drill. He thought it would be a better lubricant than water. (He is always trying to help me find ways to be more productive, which I almost always appreciate.)

I tried drilling a batch of glass submerged in canola oil. I noticed several differences between the water and the oil. Water becomes cloudy right away while drilling, and I dump it out and refresh it with each rock I drill. The oil did not become as cloudy, and I was able to drill 4 or 5 pieces before having to dump it out and add fresh. In drilling glass, the drill bits lasted much longer with the oil than they did with the water.

I drill rocks and glass about 2/3 of the way through and then start drilling from the other side to meet up with the original hole. I’ve gotten pretty good at it with rocks, though it still is a kind of “blind” drilling. I never know if I’m quite lined up right, and sometimes I’m off. I had some unexpected help in this area when using oil and sea glass. As I poured oil on the pieces I had lined up, the glass became more transparent, yet the hole coming up from the bottom remained frosty.  I could see the exact point I wanted to meet to complete the hole through the center of the piece of glass.

I had been worried about the glass cracking as the drill pushed through to the first hole, but I was able to see clearly just when I needed to slow down and “finesse” my way through.




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12 responses to “Bruce helps me with my learning curve

  1. Beautiful! I’m so glad you found a technique that worked!


  2. Sally

    Pertty! I want the dark blue one, and the 2-colored one on the left side.


  3. holly

    awesome….thank goodness for people who have a different set of skills!


  4. Susan White

    That Bruce and you are quite a pair!!!oxS


  5. Wow! Who knew? That is a great idea. I took a lapidary class once and we used water but the oil sounds great too!


    • Barb Fernald

      I will probably still use water with the beach rocks, especially since it is so cost effective! But the oil is great for the glass.


  6. LeAnn

    What a great idea! It makes sense when I think about it. My dad was a lapidarist (is that a word) and all of his grinding equipment used some sort of machine oil to keep things cool.


    • Barb Fernald

      Cool that your dad was a lapidarist! (I think that’s a word…) Do you still have his equipment? Have you ever done any of that stone cutting work?


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