How to Hand Drill Sea Glass

Written by melissa chichester
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How to Hand Drill Sea Glass
Sea glass is an elegant resource for jewellery making. (sea glass image by Patrick Moyer from

Collecting sea glass is a common hobby for beachcombers. Sea glass is created when pieces of glass are smoothed by the waves of lakes, oceans, and rivers. Collectors have taken to making jewellery out of sea glass, either by wrapping the pieces in wire, or by drilling through the glass to attach a wire link.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sea glass
  • Hand-held drill (for example, a Dremel tool)
  • Diamond drill bit, 1mm
  • Small plastic tub
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Choose your sea glass carefully. Practice first on lower-quality pieces before you attempt to drill your favourite pieces.

  2. 2

    Observe the thickness of the glass and look for cracks. Do not drill on or near cracks, which will cause the glass to break into pieces. Ideal drilling surfaces have even thicknesses and no inclusions. Make sure glass is clean and free of debris.

  3. 3

    Attach the diamond drill bit to the hand-held drill. Choose a small drill bit, near the 1mm range.

  4. 4

    Fill the plastic tub with an inch or two of water. Water cools and lubricates the drill bit. It is easiest to work with a clear tub, which makes it easier to see the work. It is also more affordable to use a cheap tub, because the drill may hit the bottom and cause scuff marks and permanent grooves.

  5. 5

    Put the glass piece in the water. The water should cover the sea glass, but barely cover the top. If there is too much water, empty the tub slowly to adjust accordingly. Hold the piece of glass with one finger, and press to hold it in place.

  6. 6

    Drill with slight but steady pressure and a high speed, letting the drill do the work. It is not a fast cut, and will take some time to get through the glass, depending on the thickness. As the glass is cut, the dust will make the water cloudy. If this interferes with drilling, replace the water as needed.

  7. 7

    When you are halfway through the glass, flip it over and drill through the other side. You can mark the glass before drilling to make sure both sides are even, or you can look through the glass, depending on its transparency. Drilling through one side instead of flipping it over often results in breaking the glass.

Tips and warnings

  • This process takes practice. Expect to break a few pieces before you have perfected this skill.
  • Several models of small hand-held drills are available, but most seaglass jewellers use the Dremel brand. The Dremel 400/XPR is a lightweight model with various speeds that allow for precision and control.
  • Always use caution and concentration when working with a Dremel or similar tool. Wear protective eyewear.

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