Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Sad Day

I knew this day was coming, friends. The day when I would be inspecting my pendants after they have already been fired and tumbled, and notice to my horror that I did not drill that all important hole for the jump ring.

It happened today. On all 12 pendants I fired last night. 12!

But I fixed it, and I thought I would attempt to share the wisdom I learned today with the next lost soul googling "forgot to drill hole in PMC before firing"

Though not as soft as the clay, silver is quite soft. It does not require much to drill a hole. In fact, the more speed or effort you put into it, the worse off you'll be. I had to purchase a 1.35 mm drill bit (I actually bought two in case one broke). I got it at my neighborhood jewelry supply store, but if you are not blessed with a store like Freshmans I bet you could just buy the smallest bit available at Home Depot. The bit did not fit in my flex shaft, so I also needed a collet pin. If you don't have a flex shaft, a regular drill should work if you can control the speed easily.
First make sure that you make a dent in the silver where you want the hole to be. I just used a regular hammer and nail. The dent will keep the drill bit from sliding all over your piece. When you're all set with the bit in place, start it spinning and run it through a chunk of beeswax to lubricate it. Then stop the motor. It doesn't take much wax, but it will help with the heat problem to be explained further down. Rest the tip in the dent and just barely start the motor. If you go too fast, the silver will get really hot, and de-anodize the steel. Then it won't be able to cut a thing. SLOWLY increase your speed until you see little curls of silver coming out of the hole. Keep it at this speed and hold the hand piece really straight, or you might break the bit. The slower you go, the faster it will drill the hole (and you won't wreck the bit by over-heating the silver). There you have it-- a hole!