Saturday, May 5, 2012

How To Drill Holes Through Rocks


Quite a few people have asked me how I drill my rocks, so I took photos of today's process to share with you.

I recommend drilling softer sedimentary rocks (sandstone, limestone, etc). When scouring the beach for rocks, these tend to be well rounded. Those that are not rounded are probably harder igneous or metamorphic rock and are likely to break apart while drilling or break your drill bit.

The Methow River


Materials Needed:
High speed rotary tool (I have a large, used drill press), but I've read a dremel tool works well.
Pointed masonry drill bit or a hollow, diamond-tipped coring bit. For drilling holes in smaller stones used in jewelry, a 2.5mm diameter bit is a good size.
Plastic container to hold water so you can drill your stone under water (I use an old dog bowl). Drilling underwater cools off the bit and which will speed up your drilling and keep your stone from over heating.
Adjustable wrench to hold your rock in place while drilling.
Goggles
Small sedimentary rocks

Directions:
1. Put on your goggles.

2. Using your wrench, firmly hold a rock inside your container, just beneath the water. This takes some practice. My rocks kept popping out at first, but I've since learned how to hold them steady.


3. Turn on the rotary tool and hold it perpendicular to the rock. Press firmly but gently. Do NOT rotate the hand holding the rock or else the rock will crack. The water will become cloudy, but that's fine. Continue to push firmly until the bit pokes through the other side.



That's it! You may choose to throw your rocks into a tumbler, but I prefer the raw, rough look.



25 comments:

  1. awesome! thanks!

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  2. Really interesting! I didn't realize that you needed to drill rock under water. Guess it's similar to cutting tile. :)

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  3. Very interesting, I may give this ago at some point! Thank you for sharing!!

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  4. Where is a good source of diamond drill bits for this?

    Great instructions, I was using oil but this discolors many of the rocks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi there. Thank you for your nice comment. Here is a source that I have found reliable: http://www.wire-sculpture.com/rotary-tools-and-rotary-tool-accessories-1.html

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  5. Really very interesting, thank you very much!

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  6. Thanks for the info and for saying that at first it wasn't so easy, some of the other crafts I started I fumbled so badly when the YouTube instruction guys acted like any idiot could do it, but I must be a special idiot cause it takes me longer to get it right! (hugs for you being so nice)

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  7. This was wonderful. Thanks for sharing :)
    I am a lady that must keep my hands busy as well, and sent my husband and myself off on a tangent of drilling rocks just yesterday. Your technique looks much easier.

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    Replies
    1. I love to meet others who like to stay busy! I'd be interested in hearing about your technique for drilling rocks, if you'd like to share. Thank you for your comment!

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  8. I tried to drill some beach rocks and got nowhere. I'll try again using your technique, thanks!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your tricks! I never would have thought about drilling underwater to cut the friction. Great post!

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    Replies
    1. Drilling underwater speeds up the drilling process as well, and definitely results in fewer broken rocks.

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  10. This is great. I've collected so many rocks!

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  11. Hi Nicole:I was so happy to find your generous instructions re: drilling holes in rocks! Just this month I collected 100's of stones
    around the shores of the Atlantic near my home - bought a dremel 3000
    drill, 2.4mm diamond drill bits and 3.2mm carbide cutters My stones look similar to yours in shape & color and it took well over 1/2 hour to drill each hole with either the diamond bit or carbide cutter. If
    your method w/the drill press is MUCH faster than mine, I will seriously begin looking for a used drill press!! Thanks for your help.
    Penny at prillyc@verizon.net

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    1. Whoa - 1/2 hour is a long time! I don't think I could hang in there that long for one little rock. Bravo on your patience!

      Mine take about a minute to drill through. Don't push super quickly because the rocks may crack. Push firmly but gently and it'll guide itself through the rock until you've got your hole.

      I've been using diamond coring bits recently. You can buy sets through RioGrande: http://www.riogrande.com/Search/diamond-coring-bits.

      If you're wanting to stick with rock drilling for more than just a few, I definitely recommend a drill press...but they aren't cheap!

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  12. c'est trop mignon , et ravissant aussi !
    bonne journée
    bisous frifricreations.

    www.frifricreations.canalblog.com

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  13. Great simple tutorial. I've had great success drilling river rock with a 2.5 diamond core bit BUT I am having trouble with the rock settling into the open core of the bit. It this to be expected? Is there any way to clean it out and keep the core bit open?
    How many rocks should I expect to get through before the bit is no longer usable? Lot of questions but I am hoping you'll know the answers!
    Thanks

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    1. Yes, I have trouble with the rock settling into the core bit as well, particularly with the smaller bits (2.5, for instance). I take a small nail and punch it through the little holes on the sides of the bit and wiggle the rock out (with some success). Otherwise, I leave it in there and the bit seems to work ok for 10-20 rocks, depending on how thick they are.

      What are you using to hold your rocks in place while drilling? And are you drilling under water? I find that the rock gets stuck less often when I use warmer water.

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  14. Hi,
    I stumbled on to your article while trying to research what I need to core a hole in my river rock to hold a hurricane ( 3 inch ) lamp shade also to drill a 1 inch hole to place a candle in. Have you ever done this and can you help? HELP!!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Evans and Laura at lauramaryon@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laura,
      What is the size of your rock for the lamp shade?

      For the candle - are you wanting to drill all the way through the rock or just partially so that the candle can sit inside the rock?

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  15. Nice Tutorial.a little bit or inner tube rubber glued to some pliers would help holding the rocks a lot easier.

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