Saturday, September 29, 2012

How To Hollow Out Rocks

A lot of people have asked me how I hollow out river rocks to make my river rock necklaces, 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 even break your drill bit.

Materials Needed:
  • High speed rotary tool (I have a large, used drill press), but I've read that a dremel tool works well.
  • A small (2mm diameter) and large (10mm) hollow, diamond-tipped coring bit.
  • 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 and choose which rock you'd like to drill.
2. Attach the small coring bit to your rotary tool.


3. Using your wrench, firmly hold the rock inside your container, just beneath the water. You are about to drill into the side of the rock (not into the face). This takes some practice. My rocks kept popping out at first, but I've since learned how to hold them steady.


4. Turn on the rotary tool and hold it perpendicular to the edge of 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 cannot drill any further.

5. Rotate the rock and drill a small hole into the opposite side.


6. Remove the small coring bit and insert the large coring bit into your rotary tool.


7. Now, using your wrench, hold the rock beneath the water, and slowly drill into the face of the rock until the coring bit pops through the other side.



8. Put the wrench aside. With the rotary tool still turned on, hold the rock steady in your hands while you press the coring bit firmly against the sides of your hollowed out rock to sand off any rough edges.


9. Rinse your rock in water, and that's it!


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




 Cascading River Rock Necklace

65 comments:

  1. Very cool! Once again though, I'm glad you do it and I can just sit back and watch what you come up with. The last pic is beautiful!

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    1. Me too...in that it's fun to see what I come up with because I never know from one moment to the next!

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  2. nice tutorial, thanks for sharing!

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  3. Wonderful tutorial! The necklaces are magnificent!!!

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  4. Wow, these are amazing :) thanks so much for sharing

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  5. Love the feel & organic texture of ur work. Awesome tutorial. Now I need some beach rocks! No beaches in Colorado :(

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    1. Thank you!

      There are no rocky river beds where you are? Mine are from alongside a river, which can take a long time to search and collect, but I think it's well worth it.

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  6. (here via Craftgawker)

    Great idea, I love your work!

    @Suicidal Kitty: you don't need a real beach or river. Ask around if there's an ancient (paleo-), dry river channel; look for geological locality where one can find small rounded rocks/gravel. -- of course, check if rock-collecting is allowed.

    Ana M.

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  7. This is fantastic! Great job.

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  8. That's a stunning piece of jewelry, love how you showed us how it was made :) It turned out so great!

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    1. Thank you! I'm certainly having a great time making these necklaces. New ones on silver chains are on their way.

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  9. So weird .... I don't get how u put the little rocks in the big ��

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    1. I hollow out the big rocks, then drill holes into the little ones to make beads...and then string them together.

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  10. These look amazing, thankyou for sharing!

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  11. Lovely designs and great how-to, thank you for sharing!

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  12. finally a necklace that my boys will wear. We collect little rocks from our coastal travels, and just toss them in the garden, I think I will make them into wearable momentos. wish me luck!

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    1. Terrific! I bet they'll love them. Good luck!

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  13. Beautiful work, thanks for sharing your talent..

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  14. your necklaces are beautiful!
    I found your how-to via Pinterest and just wanted to add one tip: if you tape the rocks to a 2x4 or similar with duct tape you can drill them underwater in groups, kind of 'mass-production' but it might be helpful...

    Cynthia

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    1. No kidding!? I'll have to give that a try! Thank you for the tip!

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  15. Now I know what to do with all my beach rocks! Thankyou!

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  16. Thanks for the great tips, what fun "work"...just one thing, the tool under the water is pliers not a wrench, just in case anyone needs to buy or borrow then they know what to ask for :)

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  17. Thank you for your tutorial and also for the additional tips! We have plenty of river beds in Western Colorado and I look forward to rock hunting so, so as to do this project. We've collected heart shaped rocks for years, how fun to be able to drill holes in the middle of them!

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  18. Awesome i love to collect rocks :) I would love to make one or two ot three :)

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  19. Do you ever want to drill holes into rocks and then just leave them on beaches for people to find..?

    I'd love to do that.

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    1. That sounds fun, doesn't it? I'd love to do that...if only I had all of the time in the world!

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  20. I'll pin for others to view but will not be trying this. Might loose a finger. They seem awesome. Thanks for sharkng!

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing this. I want to try this so badly but it scares me to death. But I am going to try this. Thank you again.

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    1. Good luck! I really don't find it so difficult...just tedious!

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  22. Does anyone know of a good solid glue to glue rocks together. I have tried almost everything I can think of on the market - gorilla glue, crazy glue, etc. but nothing seems to work well. I need the glue to bond almost instantly. I would appreciate getting any ideas. Someone I know uses a mixture of glue to glue her rocks together, but she won't share!

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    1. Hi there. Thank you for your comment.

      Are you trying to glue rocks together that have broken in half, or are you gluing whole-size rocks together? How big are they?

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    2. I like to make little rock sculptures - like small Inukshuk's so the rocks are piled on top of each other. The scuptures are small 0 about 8 - 10 inches in height.

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    3. From what I've read,you can make a 2-part glue: epoxy glue, construction adhesive and cyanoacrylate glue. That might be your best bet.

      Have you tried E6000? It would provide a strong hold.

      You could also attempt a polyurethane glue. The most popular brand is Gorilla Glue, but at least one version is yellow and it would swell while curing. You'd need to clamp together your rocks while the glue cures, and wipe away any excess that oozes out.

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    4. Thanks for your input. I'll try the glue mixture. I have heard of E6000 but haven't tried that one either.

      I have tried the Gorilla glue, but that didnt' work out well (due to the swelling).

      I love rocks too, and can't quite seem to get enough of them. I love working with them.

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    5. Have you tried a hot glue gun. I am curious as to what might work also. Thanks for letting me learn from your mistakes :)

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  23. Do you sell these? Im not talented enough tip make them. Lol me + drillbit = no comprendo. But I was wondering how much you would sell these for, there adorable!

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  24. Rock sculptures is very nice, I like it, When I am trying this,may i use super glue?

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  25. Hey!! Thanks so much for posting this!! :) I actually bought some supplies from Riogrande and just started drilling TONIGHT! I’m not artistic at all, but you’ve inspired me. I’m so excited! Quick question, does the 2mm drill bit make a big enough hole through the face of the small rocks for the rope to go through? Also, what type of rope do you use for the necklace? Thank you again!!

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    1. Excellent! I'm glad to hear it.

      I use waxed linen or cotton, and it fits best through a 2.5mm hole. If I string the rock bead with silver, a 2mm hole works great. I also use leather, in which case either size works.

      Good luck!

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  26. Merci Nicole! I'm having a wonderful time with your technique... I usually drill sea glass, and I hold the glass under water using rubber-coated "doodads", it works great! Merry Christmas! (woulld love to send you a picture of what I made!)
    Guillemette

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  27. You Rock Girl! So impressive, you make it look so easy. I have collected rocks from everywhere I go and this is such a COOL way to show them off. Your definitely 'Smarter than a box of rocks!"

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  28. Would I use the same equipment that you used (the links that you gave for the diamond drill bits and high speed rotary tools). I want to do this, but I'm worried that if i buy a high speed rotary tool then they diamond drill bits wont be compatible with the rotary tool.

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    1. I am not a drill-pro, but I think most drills/drill bits match. I've never had a problem with a drill bit fitting my drill, and I buy the bits from a variety of locations. I would encourage you to ask the vendor before your purchase, but I haven't had issues in my own experience.

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    2. Thanks very much. I love your works :)

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  29. Would you mind sharing where you purchasse your bits?

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  30. Do you sell these? I'm not sure I can do it. I would like to buy one.

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  31. great art stone...wanna see you post another variant of stone art

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  32. Hello there, love your work. I have been wanting to work with stone, I have a dremel but been put off doing it as heard you end up going through loads of drill bits to make very few holes!! Have you found this to be true or are they exaggerating? Appreciate any advice :) thank you!

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    1. Hi Roxane. I do go through quite a few bits so I factor that into the cost of sales. Generally speaking, each bit efficiently drills 15 holes (depending on how strong the rocks are). I can push bits up to 20 holes, but eventually the rocks start breaking off the back side. The other thing to take into account is that, through Rio Grande, the price per bit decreases if you buy in bulk.

      I hope this helps!

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  33. Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your process :)

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  34. oh I just find out youre blog :) it´s so creatve, just so cool, I just can not stop looking trough youre posts :)

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  35. This is amazing. Lucky you have the equipment. What a great style. I love your talented eye. Thank you for your willingness to share. The world is a better place.

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  36. beautiful necklaces!! But at home as you can crack them without breaking them ?
    :-)

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  37. These are amazing...Thank you for sharing

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