Monday, August 11, 2014

How to drill sea glass and beach stones

Drilling Holes in sea Glass & Beach Stones

Beading and designing jewelry has become one of the most popular and profitable craft. Many artistic folks find designing jewelry on outlet for their creativity. It is an enjoyable craft and it is a money maker for many jewelry artists. The next time you visit a craft show notice the number of booths displaying handmade jewelry. All of them have a rather large group of women looking over their creations and paying good money for that special set of earrings or bracelet that they fell in love with. Many jewelry creations are made from sea glass , semi-precious stone, beach stone and pottery shards.They are unusual because sea glass and beach stones are found with a wide variety of shapes and colors  that offer the artist a wide range of design possibilities. You  may want to try your hand at designing jewelry made   from sea glass or beach stones.

I offer the following suggestions and tips that will help you be successful in drilling sea glass and other semi-precious stones. As you gain experience you will really get involved and enjoy designing your own jewelry.


Whenever you use electrical motors with high speed RPM you need to be extra careful. Wear eye protection for sure. You will be drilling with a little water around your work.Be careful with your electrical cords and drill motor.

For best results use good quality diamond drill bits . The mini diamond drill bits that I have available are popular and hold up very well.

I buy my sea glass from a collector who spend the winter in Florida. I am not sure if it is authentic and genuine. I do however, enjoy walking along the shore of Lake Huron looking for any unusual beach stones  .Beach stones  and pottery shards have become a very popular medium for jewelry artist.

I pre-sort my pieces of sea glass and beach stone. I look for the smaller pieces that lend themselves to a pair of earring or a bracelet. The longer pieces would make a nice pendant.



You have to use your imagination to create a piece of jewelry in your mind. You need to decide where to drill the hole. You may want to drill in the center on top  or at each end. Sea Glass is often so irregular that you will need to study each piece very carefully before you drill you holes. Many jewelry artist use diamond files or diamond burrs to touch up and reshape their sea glass.

You need a Dremel drill motor. Be sure you have a collet that will accommodate the shank size of your drill bit.

Your best bet is to use a Dremel chuck Model 4486. This is an adjustable chuck that will accommodate most mini size diamond bits. This chuck will accept a 3/32” bit. I usually use the middle setting for my drilling speed. The larger the drill bit the more you need to slow your drilling speed down a bit. Recommended speed is 5000-25000 rpm. Insert the shank of the drill bit far up into the collet. Leave just enough of the tip of the bit to drill through the thickness of the glass or stone. These are very fine bits that can heat up very quickly and wear out the diamond segmentation on the tip of your bit.  


Lubricants. All diamond drill bits require water to keep the tip of the drill bit and glass cool.

You will need a shallow pan about two or three inches deep. I use a piece of ¾ inch wood to place my sea glass or beach stone on. Add enough water to just cover the glass when you press it to the  bottom of your pan. If you use to much water it will splash all over the place and you will have trouble seeing your work. Change the water often as it will get cloudy from the fine glass dust. If your sea glass is not to thick you can usually drill straight through your piece of sea  glass or stone. Use a very light touch when you sense you are about to break through.  Sometimes I will put a small dot on both sides of the glass with a permanent maker. I will drill my hole from both sides in order to help prevent a chip out when the bit breaks through. Very often jewelry artist will drill the hole with a under size  bit and than re-drill with the final size. You can also use a round head diamond burr to touch up the hole.


You could hold your piece of glass or beach stone cause the glass to crack or chip. I usually set my bit at a 45 degree angle to the glass to get the hole started. Once the bit starts to bite you can bring it straight up and continue drilling. When you sense that you are about to break through you need to let up on the down ward pressure. Some sea glass is very hard and you need to be patience, take your time. Sand stone and pottery shard are much easier to drill. I hope that these tips and suggestions will help you get the feel for drilling sea glass or beach stones or pottery shards. I find this craft fascinating and I am sure you will enjoy it once you try it. You will soon develop your own technique as you gain some experience.

You may want to Google search lapidary products for additional accessories and information. Give it a try and let me know if I can be of more help. You can contact me at:

My esty store: jpdiamonddrillbits

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