Make This: Drilled Natural Stone Jewelry Tutorial

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 diys. If you like this project, please help us spread the word by using the twitter and facebook buttons below. Thank you so much.

82 comments | Click here to reply

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

papernstitch

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

Arielle

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

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

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

Aurora

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

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

Tabitha Glasman

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

Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Janelle

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

Wow this is fantastic! I’ve worked with gemstones before, but never “stones” like this! Great tutorial!!

Katie Rose

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

Katey, Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

Katey

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

Very nice idea!!!

Protos Bisutería

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

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

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

Sisyen

Thanks Jenny for the tutorial will this also work on say Jasper and other stones?

Doris

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

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

Drilling concrete
Leave a reply