Gesswein Tool Tips

Drill Bits: A Fabrication Necessity for Many Tasks

Up until recently, nearly every piece of jewelry I made featured a rivet somewhere. Drilling holes in metal, glass, stone and other jewelry materials is a way of life for me, so I consider myself a bit of an authority when it comes to drilling holes when making jewelry. After years of teaching hundreds of students the jewelry making basics, I am certain of one drilling fact: the number one mistake most people make is trying to drill a hole at way, way too high a speed for the drill bit to work. This not only results in dull cutting edges on the drill bit, it leads to tremendous frustration because a student will typically keep on pressing down on the pedal and pushing harder on the drill bit to try and force the issue by going faster. This results in a rough, funnel shaped depression with a large burr on the edge instead of a cleanly drilled hole, hot metal from the friction, and a deader-than-dead dull drill bit. Sigh.

There is a better way. When drilling holes in metal, you’ll first need to create a starting point for just the very tip of the drill bit to rest in – either by center punching gently using a very sharp tip or scribing a dot or line with a very sharp steel point to break the metal’s surface – or that bit will just skitter aimlessly instead. I like Gesswein’s Blue Ribbon™ High Speed Twist Drills (1552010) in the set of 12 (sizes 55, 57, 60, 62, 64, 65, 66, 68, 70, 72, 73, and 75) because the American-made steel is very hard, the edges are sharp, and they come in a travel-ready tube of often-used sizes.

The second thing you need for accurate drilling (and burring, sawing, punching or shearing) is a good lubricant for the tool’s cutting edges. I have just started using Kool Lube Paste (8162462) for my drill bits because it’s neater than wax sticks and easy to apply to a running bur or drill. The handy jar also makes it toolbox-friendly for workshops.

The final thing you need for accurate drilling is patience. Go slow. Aim for a clean spiral swarf of metal coming out of the hole as you drill, keep your metal cool, the drill bit vertical, and you’ll always get a nice, clean hole.

Follow Gesswein on Instagram or Facebook for my top tool tips and stay posted for more tool blogs!

Helen Driggs
Helen Driggs

Metalsmith, Teaching Artist, Author

Read more about Helen's inspiration and experience here.

0 %