How to make holes in objects to attach to a chain?
November 29, 2022 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I want to make necklaces out of the tons of little doo-dad jewelry I have, from flea markets, inherited, itself, sort of like these but some of these objects do not have a hole in the top to put a link in. Some are metal, there's a cameo, there's an old watch face, etc etc., some are metal, some are stone. What should I be thinking about here? A Dremel? And, if I get a Dremel, do I then practice with various drill bits? how would I begin this craft?
posted by DMelanogaster to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (sorry -- I screwed up the editing of this post!)
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:34 PM on November 29, 2022

Best answer: I am afraid to drill things myself, but I have used bails that can be glued on to add a loop to the top or back of your doo-dads. You just have to find the right adhesive for your material.
posted by buildmyworld at 5:36 PM on November 29, 2022 [5 favorites]

You would ideally use a drill press and you must secure the work with some sort of vice.

Whatever you do, do not try to hold the work manually while you drill it. When the drill bit starts exiting the back it will almost certainly catch and try to rotate the piece at drill speed. You will not be able to hold onto it and will likely hurt yourself if you try.

Don't know much about drilling stone, but I'd be doing practice holes before drilling something important. Larger scale masonry drilling is often with percussion or hammer drills, but I don't think that would be the right approach for small items.
posted by mewsic at 6:36 PM on November 29, 2022 [6 favorites]

In relation to mewsic's post, Dremel makes a 'drill press' stand for their tool
posted by TimHare at 7:28 PM on November 29, 2022 [4 favorites]

You can get a variety of things, wire for wrapping and making loops, (instead of drilling,) silver wire, solder and flux, fine drill bits break easily on hard matter. Also you can get all kinds of findings for making jewelry, silver circles, and etc. A drill press stand is not a bad idea, they might make a stand for the drill you own. You can get a surface to work on you don't mind drilling through to. So for a cameo they are carved from shell, not such a hard substance, you could make a little square the cameo is held tight in, then drill and it won't start spinning.
posted by Oyéah at 7:50 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

If your materials.aee soft enough I would use this kind of drill. No drill press needed. I've used it for wood. I'm sure it would work on gold or silver or soft stone.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:24 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You're getting some very mixed information here.

If I had to pick just one tool to make holes in many kinds of materials - plastic, metal, stone, etc- I would choose a dremel-style tool.

However I would not use a drill bit in the dremel. For your applications i would use a small diamond burr. There are inexpensive kits available. You want the shank of the burr to match the dremel (usually 1/8" or 3/32" depending on the model). You want a small burr to make small holes. I like the ones with a little ball shaped top.

With a small diamond burr, you're not really drilling, you're grinding. So you can handhold the work. Work slowly and don't let the diamond bit overheat. Keeping the diamond bit and work wet with water will keep the dust down and the tool cool.

You'll probably want to wear some eye protection but this is not crazy hazardous stuff.
posted by fake at 11:25 PM on November 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I make jewelry like that. Most of the things in your photos have glued on bails. That's probably the easiest. I use E6000 glue for this type of work.

You can use a dremel with a small drill bit or a burr to make holes, but keep in mind some older plastics may crack no matter how careful you are. You don't need a drill press or clamp, but I do tape things down to a block my workbench to hold them steady (and so I don't drill through the tabletop).

In addition to glue on bails, you can also find cabochon mounts with bails if you ned more surface area to attach it to your doodad. I get all my findings from, though I have bought a few bits and bobs from Etsy if I can't find it there. Lots of those shops sell cheap, poorly cast findings so do a test order before you go all out.

Have fun!
posted by ananci at 5:19 AM on November 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm another person who drills holes in random stuff to make jewelry. I love my Dremel drill press for this. Yes, some things will not take kindly to being drilled and will break. Also, I do not have a vise, but have held things down with pliers whilst drilling. Please also be aware that metal things will get very hot when being drilled and can burn you (or make you let go of the piece you were holding with your fingers, causing it to fly around the drill bit alarmingly.)
posted by sarajane at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2022

Seconding the dremel-style tool with a diamond bur bit. Many materials will split if drilled with a twist bit, no matter how small and very small bits are easy to break. I would tape the pieces firmly to a piece of wood to make them easier to hold firmly and safely.
posted by dg at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2022

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