How to drill an agate

Written by lauren vork
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How to drill an agate
Boring holes in agates is exacting work. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Swirling with fascinating, beautiful layers of colour, agates are one of the most popular semi-precious stones for use in jewellery and craft projects. Many projects require a way to hang the stone, often via a hole drilled through the stone. Drilling the hard, brittle material of an agate requires proper handling and proper heavy-duty cutting tools for high-quality results.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Large tray, at least 3 inches deep
  • Small house fan
  • Dust mask
  • Supple leather scrap
  • Metal vice
  • Oscillating power tool
  • Diamond-burr drill or engraving bit

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Prepare safety measures for working with rock dust. Set up a large tray of water beneath the vice where you'll be drilling. Set up the miniature house fan above the vice so that it blows air downward; this will direct the rock dust safely into the water. Wear your dust mask for extra protection.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of leather small enough to wrap around the agate. This should cover the portions of the rock that will be gripped in the vice, but leave the areas you want to drill uncovered.

  3. 3

    Secure the agate in the metal vice, positioning it so that the leather wrapper is protecting the rock from the metal and the area you want to drill is uncovered. Test the firmness of the grip by trying to dislodge it with your finger; if you can wiggle it, tighten the vice until you can't.

  4. 4

    Fit the oscillating power tool with a diamond burr drill attachment of the size you want the hole to be. Turn it on and set it to a speed in the middle of the available speed settings.

  5. 5

    Drill the agate. Press the cutting tip slowly through the stone. Monitor the angle of the bit to keep it in line with the hole you want through the agate.

  6. 6

    If the agate is thick, the bit may not be long enough to cut from one side. If necessary, flip the agate over to complete the hole from the other side.

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