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Thread: Drilling pearls

  1. #31
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Pearly Shell's Avatar
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    You know it. You don't mess with me and my Foredom. ; )
    Donna
    Graduate Gemologist & Pearl Devotee

  2. #32
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert barbie biggs's Avatar
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    Dear Sheryl:
    Have been looking at Rio Grande today. If you read to the bottom of the list of things available on the left side of the page, waaay down at the bottom, you'll see "Wire Working". Click on wire working and then go to page 2. Basically, they are using a good quality commercial drill on a jig set up. Now, granted, in this picture they are talking about wire wrapping but it's a very short jump to taking your high quality drill and a good backer board, some wire clamps and good quality vibrations dampening material, (I'll look into this more if you want) and you've got the drill end of the jig. Now all we need is the clamp set up. I have 4 good drills, 2 cordless, and 3 routers. I could easily dedicate one to a pearl drilling station. Does your hubby have a drill you can use? A good non-commercial drill can run $150.00 to $200.00 USD. Being able to dampen vibration and control the pearl are the important parts.

    Oh, and the part about a footpedal for controlling speed, not an issue. Most good woodworking stores have those available. You can convert almost any tool to foot pedal efficiency the same way you'd plug in your lamp to an electric 'bar'. Yeah I know, it's one more thing to buy. Upside is you can use it on any tool you want to control the speed of, without moving your pearl drilling station. Just think of it as an extension cord plus. But don't use it on your lamp. Could brown out the bulbs.

    Oh, one last thing. This hasn't come up yet and I wonder what Jeremy does about it but, I use really tiny drill bits, based on the size of holes in pearls I've gotten from PP. When I break a bit I generally have to purchase a 'collection of 6 or 7 in a pack. It's a pain. (But what, $12.00 bucks?) The 1mm bits may be available individually.

    Jeremy: What do you do about drill bits? Does your machine use special ones?

    barbie

    Bottom line: If you build a decent jig this year and learn to drill, next year you will probably have saved up for the better drill and be the better able to take care of it. Plus, having done some drilling you will then be better able to know what questions to ask.

  3. #33

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    I see that this thread is old, but wanted to post for the sake of anyone looking for advice in the future... I would love to have an electric pearl drill myself, but I've found, for the number of pearls that I need to drill, I can do the job by hand with no problem. I make a few necklaces and bracelets each year. After a tremendous amount of time spent searching before I got started, I finally purchased Japanese pearl drill bits from Otto Frei, and use them in a small non-electric hand drill. I think the bits could be used in a variable speed Dremmel on the slowest setting, but I haven't tried it. Not sure if it would go slow enough.

    So far, I've only needed to enlarge the holes of pearls that were already drilled, but I don't think it would be a problem to start holes by hand as long as you start with the smallest drill bit and then enlarge as needed. When enlarging holes, it works best to start with a bit that's one size up from the existing hole. Drill part of the way in, then turn the pearl around and drill through from the other side. If you still need a larger hole, drill in stages, using the next bit size up until the desired hole size is reached. If you skip a size, it's more difficult. Pearls are pretty soft, so doing it this way is not difficult, (just time consuming). I tried using a jig in the beginning, but it wouldn't hold the 3-4 mm pearls I was working with. Since then, I've just held them in my fingers while drilling. There's no danger of injury, but the fingers do get sore from holding them if you're trying to drill enough for a whole project in one day. It's something you can do while watching TV or chatting, so, not a bad idea to do a few at a time, ahead of time!

    Here are links to the Otto Frei pages for the drill bits, and the little hand-held drills. If I can figure out how to attach pictures, will post ones of a bracelet and necklace I made for my granddaughter's first birthday. It took forever to find clasps that were small enough! If anyone has advice on where to find tiny ones, I'd appreciate the info!

    http://www.ottofrei.com/Store/Pearl-...-Japanese.html

    http://www.ottofrei.com/Store/Cobalt...sh-Drills.html

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  4. #34
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Have you considered using magnetic clasps for jewellery for young children. I would hate to think of a bracelet or necklace getting hooked on something and not break away. Could be very dangerous.

  5. #35
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member moneymeister's Avatar
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    <3 Love your bracelet and adorable little model!

  6. #36
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    I've got both a Dremel and the Chinese drill. I don't drill many pearls so decided that the Japanese machine wasn't cost effective. The Chinese drill is fine. Mikes makes an excellent point on the sharpness of the bit. I've drilled Edison's ( half drill) and Tahitians ( half drill) and no problem. I got mine here for around 250$AUD on sale. The Dremel I use to redrill or clean up a drill hole. It's fine, very handy. The Drill press for it is hopeless.

    Lots of online companies sell drill bit sets for Dremel ..from .5-1.0 Mostly you need. .7 .9 1.0

    You can buy the bits for the Chinese drill at Jac's and a few other places on ETSY.. or at a Jewellery Supply shop.

  7. #37
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    Keep in mind on the drill bits you use, you want a very hard drill bit for Tahitian pearls, and other pearls with a bead. For pearls that are all nacre, you can use the lesser quality drill bits and they will be fine. I have a Japanese drill and drill bits. For me it was worth the expense, and it does a beautiful job easily.
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  8. #38
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Yes for the Dremel and to clean out drill holes or expand..I've used just the bits from the hardware store. No issues and they are inexpensive . With the various chucks (?) you can buy and fit most any size bit. I also use the Dremel to polish metal.. I'd use it everyday.

  9. #39
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Best way is to buy in bulk and be prepared to throw them after just a few pearls - they go blunt almost immediately and unless you can sharpen them again (as the pearl factories do) then the cost of a bit is always less than the cost of the pearl which will be damaged by trying to drill it with a blunt overheated bit

  10. #40
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    I find the carbon drill bits outperform the regular steel bits...especially when drilling through a nucleated pearl. I wonder if any of the places that offer tool sharpening would do drill bits? Worth an ask.
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  11. #41
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    John Tu and Josh both sharpen their own bits; not sure how, but it certainly would save $$!
    Pattye


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  12. #42
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    They'll be different bits - tips like chisels, and you sharpen them the way your carpenter sharpened his chisel. Success similarly depends on getting the cutting angles exactly right

  13. #43
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Suzanne, Welcome!

    What a little darling and perfect pearl princess! I'm certain she's watched carefully when wearing jewelry on special occasions. Some girls can be introduced to jewelry at an early age; some don't want to be bothered with it at all!
    Pattye


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  14. #44
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Suzanne, Welcome!

    What a little darling and perfect pearl princess! I'm certain she's watched carefully when wearing jewelry on special occasions. Some girls can be introduced to jewelry at an early age; some don't want to be bothered with it at all!
    Pattye


    PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  15. #45
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearlescence View Post
    They'll be different bits - tips like chisels, and you sharpen them the way your carpenter sharpened his chisel. Success similarly depends on getting the cutting angles exactly right
    Yes, that is the exact type of bit; I have some and need to practice using them.
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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