Tag Archives: drilling rocks

An old dog learns a new trick…

…from herself.

This is my usual method for enlarging the holes in pearls. The jeweler’s saw works well to help hold the pearls and to saw a larger hole in them. (And it’s an easy job to do while watching TV.) But, when I planned to include pearls on a knotted necklace, strung on a  waxed cotton cord, I wanted to find a faster way to make a larger hole.


I realized I already had the knowledge I needed. I could use the same technique I use to drill rocks. (D’oh! Why didn’t this occur to me sooner?)

Since the pearls are much softer than rocks, I am able to use a regular twist drill bit in my flexible shaft instead of a diamond drill bit. I use a layer of hot glue in the bottom of a glass dish to hold the pearls. Then I  fill the dish with water and drill through the water and pearl to enlarge the hole. I use a pecking motion, moving the drill out of the hole regularly so the water clears the chips from the bit. The water keeps the drill bit cool and contains the pearl dust rather than releasing it into the air.

I have to admit I’ve had a hard time, in the past, getting some of that glue out of the dish to release the stones or pearls after I have drilled them. I  figured out a new trick to make the glue layer easy to take out!  I spray a thin layer of water in the bottom of the dish as a release agent before I add the hot glue. (Again, d’oh! Why didn’t this occur to me sooner?)IMGP4695

I use a thin layer of hot glue for the pearls, and place them with the help of a straight pin to keep the hole oriented at 90° to the base of the glass dish.



I add water to cover the pearls, and then drill.


The glue layer comes out easily since I sprayed a mist of water, first, as a release agent.


I bend the glue to make it easier to take the pearls out.

IMGP4718 IMGP4704

Voila! I now have a selection of large-holed pearls in much less time than it would have taken me to use my saw to make holes this size. I’ll still use the saw  when I need to make the pearl holes only slightly larger, but this method is pretty quick when I need a batch of these to knot up with other large hole beads.



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When I don’t know what to do first…

…I start with drilling rocks. After a good two weeks away from my studio, there are so many things I want to do, I am paralyzed by indecision. The best thing I can do is drill holes in rocks. I can never have too many to choose from, and it calms my mind to make slow but steady progress on something. There is not much creativity in pressing the lever of a drill press, peck after peck after peck, to work my way through a beach rock. But with each and every pebble I think about how I will use it, or what colors I have to combine with it, or how happy I’ll be to have so many drilled and waxed rocks to choose from when I am sitting down to make new necklaces. By doing something uncreative, I am opening my mind to ideas.


Sometimes there is even a reward to just leaving drilled rocks hanging around on the counter overnight.



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