07/18/11
72 comments Make This: Drilled Natural Stone Jewelry Tutorial by   |   72 comments

Guest post tutorial by Jenny Hoople of Authentic Arts.

Want to learn how to drill holes in beach stones? Well, I’ve got good news for you: it’s pretty easy and I’d love to tell you how it’s done.

I’ve been making this natural stone jewelry for several months with pre-drilled pebbles that I purchased from fellow Etsy artisans. It took a little bit of internet research and guessing to figure out the best way to go about drilling my own, indigenous Wisconsin stones. Some sites said one thing, some said another. I took the best advice from several different sources and did some experimenting and found that drilling my own, small river rocks is not only possible, but pretty easy! I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people asking how to drill their own stones and I’d be more than happy to share with all of you.

Choosing the Right Stone for Drilling

Almost any stone that you find CAN be drilled, but I really recommend starting with softer sedimentary rocks (sandstone, mudstone, limestone, etc). If a pebble you find on the beach isn’t rounded like the other ones around it, that’s a good clue that it’s a harder igneous or metamorphic rock and would take a long long time to drill. Other ways to tell if a rock is too hard to drill is by checking whether you can see crystals in the stone or whether the stone is shiny or glossy like quartz (ah, those magical wishing stones of my childhood!) Sedimentary rocks will be much easier to drill, so start with those. But, don’t worry if you can’t tell what kind of rock it is. If it takes significantly longer to drill than the other pebbles, it’s probably igneous or metamorphic.

Equipment You Need to Drill Your Own Beach Stones

1. High speed rotary tool - (ie. a Dremel. I got the Dremel 4000, high performance, I figure that since drilling stone is heavy duty work, it’s a good idea to have a heavy duty tool!)

2. Hollow, diamond-tipped coring bits – These are much faster and effective for drilling holes in pebbles than a solid drill bit. There’s also less chance that you’ll break the stone when drilling and it’s much much faster! Not only do solid drill bits drill more slowly, you’d need to drill a small hole and then change to an ever larger bit until you widened the hole to the diameter that you wanted. Ridiculous! For drilling holes in small beach pebbles to use in jewelry, a 2.5mm diameter hollow coring bit works well. The bits they sell that are officially for Dremels are way too expensive, I highly recommend getting your bits from Rio Grande Jewelry Supply. They have nice packs of 5 for $14 as opposed to one official Dremel bit for more than $20! You’ll be using all 5 of those bits eventually as they do wear out relatively quickly.

3. Dremel Collet Nut - The Dremel rotary tool comes with a Collet Nut (that’s the thing that holds the drill bit in place) but the 2.5mm coring bit is a different size, so you’ll need a Collet Nut that’s the right diameter. I bought the set of Collet Nuts they had right there at the hardware store and used the one that the coring bit fit into! (The other ones in the set will come in handy for all the other projects I dream up to use this Dremel for. It can do so many things, my next experiment will be engraving poems on stones!!)

4. Small Plastic Container - This is to hold a little water so you can drill your beach stone under water. Drilling underwater cools off the bit and lubricates everything which will make the drilling go faster, keep your stone from heating up and keep those little diamond crumbs from getting ground off of the drill bit too quickly. I like to use the little plastic container that my lunch meat came in (cleaned out and sans lunch meat, of course!)

5. Little Piece of Wood - Like a shim or whatever, to have under your pebble so that you don’t drill through the bottom of your water container!

6. Goggles - Please always wear goggles when drilling! I always wear them even though I’ve got glasses. Real danger is minimal, it’s not like there are shards of rock shooting out all over the place, but it’d be a shame to lose your eyesight over some natural beach stone jewelry! Better safe than sorry!!

7. Rocks - Yes, don’t forget your beach stones, river rocks or what have you! Small (~1″) pebbles are ideal. It’s easier to make necklaces like my Rock Collection Necklaces when the stones are small and thin (~1/4″ thick). That way they lay next to each other better.

Lets Start Drilling!

1. Put on your goggles.

2. Firmly hold your beach stone on top of the piece of wood and just under the water.

3. Turn on the Rotary Tool with your other hand and hold it perpendicular to the pebble. – Please be careful when working with the Rotary Tool around water! Don’t get any part of the tool wet that’s not absolutely necessary and don’t grasp the tool with wet hands.

4. Begin Drilling. – Let the weight of the tool do the drilling for you. Be sure to keep lifting the drill up and down. (This lets cooling water get into the hole and lets the sediment from the stone to flow out.) The water will get cloudy, that’s ok, just keep drilling.

5. You’ll feel when it breaks through to the other side. You’re done! – With these small beach stones, I’ve found that drilling one takes about 2-3 minutes. (I’m sure it’ll be faster when I’m not so new at it!)

The only way that I alter these unique stones other than drilling a hole in them is to rub them with my hands after I’ve just put on some unscented Eucerin lotion (after the stones are dry, of course!). That helps to condition the stones so that the natural oils from your skin won’t leave uneven dark spots and enriches the natural color of the stone so they aren’t all dusty looking. After the lotion gets a chance to be absorbed by the stone, any excess should be wiped off with a clean, dry towel so you don’t have to worry about whether it will mark your clothing with an oil spot!

Now get out there and start making some fabulous beach stone creations! All you need are a couple of basic jewelry supplies to complete the project once you have the stones drilled. Very easy.

About Jenny: Jenny Hoople makes natural stone jewelry and beaded gemstone jewelry that is as natural, colorful and authentic as the people it’s given to.  She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her little Mexican husband and memories of their wonderful bunny companion (who crossed over the rainbow bridge after 7 happy, bun-filled years).  She’s passionate about color combinations, the handmade movement and living closer to the “real business of life”. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Jennyhoople.

Thank you so much Jenny for sharing your project!

For more ideas for quick and easy projects, click here to visit the craft tutorials and diy page filled with more than 60 diy’s. If you like this project, please help us spread the word by using the twitter and facebook buttons below. Thank you so much.

72 comments to Make This: Drilled Natural Stone Jewelry Tutorial Click here to reply

This is such a cool idea. Thanks for sharing this Jenny.

Mati commented on July 18th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for sharing!! Something I’ve always wanted to know!!

lynnk commented on July 18th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Thanks so much for sharing my tutorial Brittni!

You’re all very welcome and I wish you much happy stone drilling!
Jenny Hoople recently posted..Unexpected Beauty – Collecting Snapshots of Eternity

Jenny Hoople commented on July 18th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for sharing this!
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karrie waters commented on July 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

creative ideas. thanks alots

Love crafts commented on July 20th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Hi,
Fabulous information! Thank you! I have just shared it on my facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/piggyimp

Many thanks!

Linz
Piggyimp Crafts

linz jackson-kay commented on July 21st, 2011 at 10:43 am

Great information! Thank you for the tutorial. I’ve wondered what would be the best way to do this.
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Shelley commented on July 21st, 2011 at 11:25 am

Hi,

Saw this nifty tutorial via Pulse. Wondering, is the bit a Dremel product? If so, might you know its product number? Can’t seem to find a match on the Dremel website.

Thanks for any details.

Daryl commented on July 21st, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Have you tried this with sea glass? Thanks, Terri

Terri commented on July 21st, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much Jenny for sharing this super tutorial on drilling stones. Made me regret my wimpy Dremel model! Okay to feature this in a future post so others can come visit? Pearl
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beadinggem commented on July 21st, 2011 at 1:23 pm

[...] really awesome tutorial on how to make rocks in to beautiful beads for necklaces and [...]

Cool Stuff on the Interwebs « bluemollusc.com commented on July 21st, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Great info! I’ve been wondering how to do exactly this.

One question: What speed do you run the Dremel?
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Roy Jacobsen commented on July 21st, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Great info, nicely presented. Thanks!

Beth commented on July 22nd, 2011 at 11:27 am

Hello again!

To Daryl regarding whether the bit is a dremel product: No it isn’t, though they do carry similar ones. You can get them cheaper at Rio Grande http://www.riogrande.com/MemberArea/ProductPage.aspx?assetname=349041&page=GRID&free_text=diamond+bit I use the 2.5mm bit :)

To Terri regarding whether I have tried this with sea glass, the answer is no, BUT a person did comment on my Facebook Fan Page that it was the same process to drill sea glass, so perhaps that is true :)

To Roy Jacobsen – Good question, thanks! I’ve been running it right about in the middle, but I think I can turn it up. Seemed safer to start kind of slow :)

Great questions and great comments! Thanks so much everyone!!
Jenny Hoople recently posted..Clearance Jewelry – Purple necklace – triple strand necklace – Faery Violets

Jenny Hoople commented on July 22nd, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Thanks for answering those questions we had in the comments Jenny. And thanks again for a wonderful tutorial!
-Brittni

papernstitch commented on July 22nd, 2011 at 7:16 pm

You’re very much more than welcome, Brittni :D

Thanks for the opportunity!
~Jenny
Jenny Hoople recently posted..Tips for Designing Men’s Jewelry

Jenny Hoople commented on July 22nd, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Hi,
Great idea!

Could a normal drill be used with the bit you mentioned? Don’t really want to go to the expense of a good Dremel at this time but would like to give this a try.

Many thanks,
Cathy

Cathy commented on July 22nd, 2011 at 11:07 pm

[...] Hoople of Authentic Arts shares some excellent tips and tricks for drilling natural stone for jewellery-making over on papernstitch. Her information is extensive and the post is a great [...]

Drill Natural Stone For Jewelry-Making | External Brain commented on July 24th, 2011 at 2:45 am

It’s a fantastic idea in this season :)))))

Caterina commented on July 28th, 2011 at 3:47 am

So nice, thank you for sharing! : )

Mijbil commented on July 28th, 2011 at 5:17 am

Thank you all again :)

Cathy – I don’t think a regular drill bit will work. A regular drill would be so slow and the bit wouldn’t be hard enough to drill the stone. Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend here.
Jenny Hoople recently posted..Tips for Designing Men’s Jewelry

Jenny Hoople commented on July 28th, 2011 at 11:24 am

[...] found this blog on how to make holes. They are showing a hollow “core bit”. That looks [...]

Drilling in small stones « Mambohead commented on July 28th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Hello, does this work for drilling holes in 12mm beads?

Nesha commented on August 6th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for sharing, always wanted to make my own.

Stuart jannetts commented on August 20th, 2011 at 7:27 am

Hi Jenny, Thanks so much for share this awesome info with us. I have always wanted to learn how to do this ever since I was little, my aunt use to make necklaces like your and I have always want to know how my aunt did it. Since she not here on earth. Thanks again for sharing. BLESS IT BE ””

Yasmin Mohamed, commented on August 30th, 2011 at 3:20 am

Thanks for the great tutorial! We got back from a great vacation in Maine with a whole bag of rocks that I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with them. After reading your tips on Friday, my son and I made about 10 pieces of jewelry this weekend and I can’t wait to make more and try some different things. Thanks again! Steve

Steve commented on September 12th, 2011 at 1:03 am

Wow, Steve :) 10 pieces of jewelry? That’s awesome! You guys rock ;)
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Jenny Hoople commented on September 12th, 2011 at 10:40 am

Do you think this would work on shells (like from the beach :) ?
great tutorial!
Lindsey

Lindsey commented on October 5th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thanks Lindsey! Yes, I think it would work really well on shells!
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Jenny Hoople commented on October 12th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for sharing this ! I found it very helpful and appreciate your time~ :)

Bridgette Mitchell commented on October 16th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hi Jenny! I have been scouring the web for about two hours now, looking for information on what size Dremel to buy to drill stones and beach glass and how to do it. You have, by far, had the best and most detailed information!
My question would be, do you think the Dremel 300 would work on the stone as well? It seems to have the same qualities as the 4000, but perhaps a bit smaller. I am worried that the 4000 will be too bulky or hard to use. Do you find that to be the case?
Thank you!

Michelle commented on November 12th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Great of you to …. SHARE, your also GOOD with explaining directions !!!

Gail commented on November 28th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Thanks. I’ll bookmark this and get myself a Dremel one day! I love beack stones and have a ton!

Doda commented on December 2nd, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Hi:
Great tutorial! I need to know what size drill bit and which model of dremmel you are using, if you don’t mind.
Thanks!

Meg commented on December 2nd, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Great,
Just wondering how you held the stone in position to keep it from moving while drilling

Sirius commented on December 21st, 2011 at 11:45 am

Hi Jenny,

I just used your technique to put together some beautiful jewelry as a Christmas present for my lady friend. Thank you so much for the help!

I would like to comment that while the diamond coring bit is essential, I was able to use a regular utility drill as opposed to a dremmel and had great results! Thanks again!

Hubert Fitzwilliam commented on December 27th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Jenny you are Awesome!

I am very, very excited to find out all this wonderful information in a snap!

I was at 2 different craft stores today for a total of 1 1/2 hours: Joanns and Michaels to look for any direction on how to make jewelry out of the beach stones I picked up off the Cape May beaches last year and got nowhere……I was disappointed until now!

I asked for a rock tumbler for Christmas and got one!
The stones are beautiful!
~Now to create something from my heart to give to others as gifts.

Jenny, I just have two questions:

1) How do you start the hole with the “Coring bit” since it does not have a pointed tip?

2) How do you hold the stones in place to drill a hole in the stone and not you fingers?

Thank You kindly & God Bless!

Robin*Lee commented on January 13th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thank you! I have just discovered the incredible beauty in rock and stone. I appreciate your concise, easy directions! You have given me the confidence to go ahead and jump right in! Thank you again!

Karen commented on January 23rd, 2012 at 4:49 pm

This is so nice. when i was young i used to pick up stones during summer, Thank God summers just a few weeks to go, I can go to the beach, im going to collect all those lovely stones and make my own necklace.

By the way are those tools available in hardware’s in a set? thanks mucha!

Love lots & hoping for updates.

January Gemorie commented on January 25th, 2012 at 2:16 am

Great how-to. Want to remind everyone to get good quality masonry bits for your drill. The cuts go faster and the bits last longer.

Raymond commented on January 29th, 2012 at 4:46 pm

He great stuff. Keep it going. Looking forward to the next.

Drilling concrete commented on February 12th, 2012 at 11:23 am

You should really use a Drill Extension to reduce the very high and likely risk of getting electrocuted. Not only is there a high chance of water being sprayed back into the air vents on the Dremel, your hand is bound to get a bit wet. You Could get Electricuted simply because cheaper Dremels can often arc inside the motor, with wet/damp hands it can easily arc through the air vents to your hand. They’re very cheap and may save your life. Here’s a picture for when you go to the hardware shop, you’ll have idea what you’re trying to get.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_pFOm7tEWWu4/SKmvwSMcnpI/AAAAAAAAA40/5MAl8jsnlf8/s400/Dremel+tool+with+flexible+power+cable+01.JPG

Phil commented on February 15th, 2012 at 5:57 am

Thanks Jenny for the tutorial will this also work on say Jasper and other stones?
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Doris commented on March 3rd, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hello!
Thank you for your post.
I see a stone have a problem (cracking hole on other side).
I can do it without cracks on second side of beach stone, if you want to know how to do it contact me any time!
http://www.etsy.com/shop/Sisyen
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Sisyen commented on April 18th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Awesome! I can’t wait to try this with the stones I’ve collected over the years from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Beautiful ideas.

Debra commented on May 12th, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I just really wanted to thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge on this subject. I really know how long it takes sometimes to research these things properly yourself, it is SO lovely of you to take the hard work out of it for the rest of us!

Much appreciated,
Teja, a busy mum ;)

Teja commented on May 30th, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Very nice idea!!!

Protos Bisutería commented on July 18th, 2012 at 3:57 am

Thank you so much for this well-done instruction. Your link to Rio Grande leads to the diamond bit, but nowhere do I see a 2.5 mm bit. The larges they seem to carry is 2.25 mm? Am I doing something wrong? Would like to pursue!

whimsy commented on August 31st, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Very cool! I’ll have to give this a go! :)

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Katey commented on September 26th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Wow this is fantastic! I’ve worked with gemstones before, but never “stones” like this! Great tutorial!!
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Katie Rose commented on October 26th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Thanks for the advise on stones and tools. I want to drill into slightly thicker stones and insert an attachment for a pendent look. I assume this would follow the same technique except the diameter of the drill. Thanks again

john Smith commented on December 1st, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Janelle commented on December 18th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

would you be willing to drill a few holes if I sent you three to five rocks? and if so, what would you charge?

carol commented on December 25th, 2012 at 7:33 pm

awesome, but I would like to find about drilling mother of pearl.

Tabitha Glasman commented on January 15th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I would like to drill about a 2 mm hole in agate. What company and contact do you have for the drills if this is plausible? Also have you just tried grinding a small flat spot on the stone and using JB weld to hold a clasp on? Have you been able to sell many of earths most beautiful stones in various creative arrangements? If you could, would you Email me some way to talk on the phone to each other without the world knowing our phone numbers. Thanks for your kindness of putting this information together just to help others. We don’t find to much of that these days.

Frank commented on March 2nd, 2013 at 4:22 pm

THANK you SO much for the tutorial! I’ve wanted to try this forever. How generous of you.

Aurora commented on March 6th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Thank you for the wonderful instructions. The link to the drill bits doesn’t work. Is this a pack of multi-size drill bits? I can’t seem to find just the 2.5 size bit by itself.

Amy commented on March 27th, 2013 at 7:31 pm

This is genius! I have some gorgeous pebbles I collected from a beach in Italy that I’ve been wanting to use in some way. Can’t wait to make this!

Marlene @ Jade and Fern commented on June 18th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Hi, do you know of a less expensive alternative to the Dremel?

Arielle commented on July 2nd, 2013 at 11:51 am

I would check Amazon, Arielle. That’s where I bought mine and there are some pretty affordable options.

papernstitch commented on July 2nd, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Jenny,
With your beach stones do you polish or tumble them or use them as you find them on the beach? I found a good collection while out kayaking and have been searching online about polishing without a tumbler and how to drill the stones for jewelry (that’s how i came across your how-to!) I live in Iowa so i’m sure that i have some similar stones to what you’re working with. I appreciate any advice!

Nicole commented on July 2nd, 2013 at 2:31 pm

thanks!!

Arielle commented on July 2nd, 2013 at 3:57 pm

bits from rio grande are not working..thinking we have the wrong rock…how do we find the correct sedimentary stones to work with?
what is your source?

zoe commented on July 4th, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hi, do you know what size collets you have? I have drill bits size 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 mm and I’m having trouble finding collets to fit.

Arielle commented on July 8th, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Thank you . After several ruined and wrong bits. After several cracked rocks. I finally thought to seek advice online and stumbled upon your VERY helpful site. Love it and keep up the great work.

Erica Norton commented on July 13th, 2013 at 12:44 am

I just successfully drilled a hole on my first natural stone my husband picked up on our backyard ,what I did I applied clear nail polish all over,Im just so excited because it became a bit glossy not much.just the way I like it.I made a bail for it and hung in 22″chain,which I’m ready to wear it tomorrow ;) thanks you gave me an inspiration,it just a start believe me.,,,,

Elaine commented on July 22nd, 2013 at 1:59 am

[…] Drilled Natural Stone Jewelry from Paper & Stitch […]

10 Ways to Make Your Own Beads | Vicki O'Dell... The Creative GoddessVicki O'Dell... The Creative Goddess commented on August 16th, 2013 at 7:21 am

Wow! What a technique! I just used this successfully on the stones I found recently in Carpinteria. This has really opened my eyes to the world of making my own jewelry. Thank you!!!

Jenn commented on September 25th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Can someone tell me if drilling thru beach glass would be much more complicated than stone? Or would they tend to break faster or easier than stones? I just love the idea of making homemade jewelry, great gift idea! Thanks! :-)

Jojo commented on November 25th, 2013 at 9:31 am

You are FABULOUS! Thank you so much for this advice,however, I need to find out how to drill into large crystal quartz stones to make several crystal pendants, earrings etc. I do have a Dremel I got for my birthday in Dec. I do not want to shatter it. PLEASE ADVISE ASAP. Thanks!

Julie commented on April 16th, 2014 at 8:21 am

Gorgeous pieces! Can’t wait to try my hand at it. Thanks for the relative information.

Amber commented on May 19th, 2014 at 12:28 am

This is great! I didn’t know you can use the dremel in what way!

Avianti commented on November 15th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

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