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Jewelry drilling tips

Jewelry drilling safety tips and techniques

Important jewelry drilling safety tips and techniques that every jewelry designer should know are explained by guest blogger Joe Smith from The Bead Traders.

Jewelry has long been a highlight of the culture and structure of ancient civilizations.

Jewelry-making dates back 3,000-4,000 years, and the resulting pieces have been used by historians to connect civilizations to their culture’s fashion style and period.

These pieces of art and history tell historians about the ways and lives of the people who wore them, almost as much as fossilized bones and other artifacts provide the same information.

The jewelry trends today are ever-changing, yet still they represent the same things as jewelry from other cultures of the past. Jewelry is still a form of art, a form of expression by the creator and the person who wears it.

A variety of beads for jewelry

Jewelry can tell a story, just like it did in the past, except the stories are current to the people and society of today. You can find innovative and exotic forms of jewelry with beads, gemstones and crystals for almost every pallet in many different stores and online shops. It’s literally everywhere!

Important safety tips and techniques for jewelry drilling

by Joe Smith

Many people give and receive jewelry as a gift, whether it’s for a holiday or for no specific reason at all. With jewelry being as prominent in today’s culture and business as it is, many people have taken to creating their own jewelry.

Jewelry drilling is commonly used in jewelry-making to add decoration by inserting small holes for decoration or to situate another part of the jewelry, such as wiring, into the piece.

Whether it’s for a small jewelry business or a jewelry-making hobby, there are 8 important safety tips and techniques that every jewelry maker should know and use.

Wear the right protection

As with any craft or trade, wearing the right protection is always the first step in ensuring a safe and successful job.

  • Goggles: Jewelry drilling is often done with a rotating drilling machine. Its fast rotations lead to flying bits of jewelry and debris, so it’s important to wear goggles for eye protection while drilling.
  • Gloves: Jewelry makers wear latex gloves or leather finger guards during the drilling process. Alternatively, you can use finger tape for a more flexible feel.
  • Proper Lighting: Make sure to drill in a well-lit area to allow for optimum vision and control on the piece and the drill.

Gather the right supplies

Usually, the drilling process for beads and jewelry pieces is the same and use these common items:

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  • Some kind of drill
  • Something to keep your piece stable
  • A shallow container of water, under which the actual drilling happens. Water keeps the drill tip from overheating, and also cleans off any stone debris while working on the piece.
  • A buffer between your piece and the bottom of the water container, so you don’t accidentally drill a hole into it.

Start with a dent

A good technique to use before jewelry drilling is to make a dent or mark in the area of the piece where the hole will be made. This dent serves as a guide for when you’re ready to make the actual hole. When you make the dent, use a much smaller bit to test out where the hole should go. Dents can be made with a variety of tools, including an automatic center punch or prick punch and an engraver.

The key to making a good dent or mark is to use a very small and precise tip. This is beneficial because you can easily move the position of the hole once it’s made, as long as it’s small. Moving the hole a few millimeters is all it takes to get it into a perfect position, if done correctly.

Jewelry Drilling Tools

Choose the right drill for the job

If you’re drilling a wooden bead, any drill will do to go straight through the piece. But drilling gemstone beads is more about grinding the stone away to make a hole, rather than just going straight through it. Make sure to use the appropriate drill to avoid scarring the piece. Afterward, a variety of different tools can be used to buff and polish the finished piece.

Keep your piece stable

Keeping your piece stable is important to making a clean-cut and accurate design. There are lots of different ways to keep your piece stable.

  • Use putty to hold it in place and reduce the chance of the stone breaking off or chipping in the back when the drill pushes through the end.
  • Use a block of wood slightly larger than your piece that’s lined with foam, this also serves the same purpose as the putty.
  • Invest in a drill that come with a stand and includes a piece that holds your stone in place during the process.

Use a small tip

It takes more than a steady hand to move your drill through your piece in an efficient and stable manner. But this is also another key to getting that perfect hole. The first thing to do is to use a smaller tip at the beginning of the drilling process. The small tip slowly opens up the hole and reduces the chance of the drill getting caught or scratching the material. Once the hole is made go back a second time with a bigger bit to enlarge the size.

Let the drill do the work

It may be tempting to push the drill into the stone and help along the process, but that does more harm than good. Working slowly and patiently allows the drill to gently shed away the stone, instead of leaving a jagged mess. You only need to guide the drill to let it do its job; no extra force is required.

Exotic Jewelry Necklaces

Increase your control

Maintaining control over your drill is the make-or-break point in every jewelry maker’s career. If you can’t control your drill, the jewelry will suffer. Improving your skills on practice objects is the best way to increase control and efficiency with your drill.

You can buy accessories for your drill to increase stability. Add-ons like a foot control lever help to keep the drilling process hands-free, as well as give you control over the speed and intensity of the drill.

Create what you love

All of the above jewelry drilling tips combine to bring you closer to creating the jewelry you love to make in an efficient and safe way.

Leave a comment with any other important tips!

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