How to Use a Drill for Jewelry Making: 3 Ideas

From Furniture to Jewelry

About 20 years ago, I realized I had an unusual fear of power tools. So I decided to stare that monster in the eye and learn how to make furniture. I took a bunch of classes where I conquered wood planers and table saws and all kinds of other beefy machines. I threw down that fear, put my foot on its chest, raised my arms then walked away with a few nice pieces of furniture.

The exercise was good for the psyche, but I can’t say I fell in love with the idea of busting out end tables and chests of drawers all day. What I did fall in love with was the fine handwork required to finish the job. The experience definitely pointed me toward jewelry-making and knowing the ins and outs of power tools has been a godsend in that regard.

3 Ideas on How to Use a Drill for Making Jewelry

The favorite power tool from my furniture-making days that I now regularly use in my jewelry studio? A good old drill. For years I used a rechargeable shop drill, which worked fine for big, simple jewelry projects, but now I have a high-speed craft drill that allows for finer work. It was a fairly low investment for how much I use it. Here are some of my most-common uses:

DIY Findings

Customizing or making my own findings is one of my favorite ways to use a drill for jewelry making. I often drill a hole at the edge of a ring link to create another option for connecting to it. Another idea is to create 3-hole connectors by drilling holes into the sides of a small metal square. 

Rivet Holes

If you plan on creating rivets for metal jewelry, a drill is the most accurate way to get the rivet hole in the place you need it to be. Mark Nelson shows just how to do this with his fun Tape Measure Bracelet how-to on Beads, Baubles, and Jewels series 900 video. He handily uses his drill to make rivet holes for a simple, but very chic cuff bracelet.  

One-of-a-Kind Beads

You can turn just about anything into a bead using a high-speed drill. Be sure to use the proper bit for the material you’re drilling. To drill things like glass and shell, don your safety glasses and drill your item so it’s submerged in water. This keeps the item nice and cool (and potentially dangerous dust soggy) while the drill does its work. I set a hockey puck in the bottom of a metal pan, set the item on top of the puck, fill the pan with water so it slightly covers the item, and drill away. 
(Please note how the tip of the drill bit is submerged in the water—not the drill! You won’t get much of anything done ever again if you submerge an electric drill . . . )

What do you use your drill for in your jewelry studio? Got any drilling tips to share? Please let us all know on the website.

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