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Topics: Drilling Holes, Metal, Stone

Q.
I am wondering how to drill small holes in certain pieces to accommodate certain designs. How would I drill holes in sterling silver or brass components? Also, how would I drill an extra hole in a pendant made of howlite? HELP! :-)
- Amy
A.
A steel hole punch with two different size punches is an easy way to make holes in metal sheets of varying thicknesses. This tool will punch through metal up to 2-3mm thick, depending on the metal.

Also for metal drilling, you could use a drill press, flexible shaft or rotary hand tool fitted with spiral drill bits. Choose drill bits to accommodate the size hole you will need. Flat metal sheets would be the easiest to drill through but holes can still be made on components that are not flat. Use a center punch or nail head and hammer to dimple the metal in the very place you plan to drill so that the drill bit does not skip, but rather is directed right to the spot.

Note: Safety goggles are recommended when using motorized tools, it is also advisable to tie back long hair and secure any loose clothing.

Drill holes in stones are more complex to make. Some things you must consider:
  • The porosity of the stone for breakage
  • The drill bits will need to be diamond coated
  • The drilling process is generally done with water being applied
    • To keep the stone cool while drilling
    • To keep drill bit free from debris so it can do its job

A good measure of lapidary skill as well as the right equipment is necessary to drill holes in stone, regardless of their hardness and porosity. Safety measures include use of protective eyewear and breathing protection and good ventilation. Consult a lapidary source to do this properly.

- Sandra Lupo, Jewelry Designer and Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador

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