The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

All the World’s a Bead: Use a Drill Press to Create Your Own Jewelry Components

Jul 25, 2014
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Heather Apodaca
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colorstonesAll the world's your jewelry-making oyster when you have a drill press in your studio. It can transform the materials you are able to incorporate into your work, allowing you to turn any stone, shell, or piece of beach glass that catches your eye into a potential element in your next design.

And the best part? You don’t need much equipment to get started. With a basic press and a few drills you have almost everything you need.

Our bestselling Variable-Speed Mini Drill Press has a small footprint, offers excellent control, and can drill through just about anything, though larger and harder stones will take significantly longer.

Mark Nelson, of Rio's Tech Team, loves the drill because it's cost-effective and gets the job done!

You will want to use a diamond twist drill or a diamond core drill for stone, glass and shell. Twist drills will make it easy to start off but are more difficult to use toward the end of the job. Core drills are harder to start off with but make it easier to finish.

Switch to a steel twist drill for metal and other materials, such as plastics.

If you’re drilling metal, be sure to use a lubricant, such as Bur-Life. It will make the drilling easier and prolong the life of your bit.

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Natural slate cairn necklace by Jenny Hoople of Authentic Arts

Jenny Hoople, of Authentic Arts, uses river rocks, which give her work beautifully smooth and organic shapes.  She made this natural slate cairn necklace with water-weathered stones she found on a beach in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.

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Natural stone necklace for women who rock, by Jenny Hoople of Authentic Arts

Jenny recommends starting out with softer sedimentary rocks, such as limestone and sandstone before trying to drill harder igneous or metamorphic rock, such as granite or quartz. And she has a trick for easily telling the difference.

"If a pebble you find on the beach isn’t rounded like the other ones around it, that’s a good clue that it’s a harder igneous or metamorphic rock that would take a loooong long time to drill," she writes in a tutorial she put together for beginners who want get started making stone jewelry.

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Stone beads drilled and embellished using a mini drill press.

In addition to drilling simple holes through stones, you can easily add embellishments and other design elements to stones with the drill press.

Ready to get started? Great! Mark Nelson walks you through how to drill stones and shells in this video:

Do you want more drilling tips and resources? We have some great drilling posts in The Studio archives, including Eddie's Tips: Drill Deep Holes Incredibly Straight by Rio's VP of manufacturing, Eddie Bell, and The Drill Press: Mark Nelson's Tips for Success by Rio tech genius (and superstar) Mark Nelson.

Do you drill your own stones and beads? Leave us a comment and show us what you’re working on!

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Rolling Mill Know-How Part Two: Tips on Use, Care, and Maintenance

Jul 14, 2014
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ronda

Today, on The Studio, Ashli Brooke Taylor shares her follow up to “Rolling Mill Know-How, Part One”. This post provides some great rolling mill tips; from unpacking your mill to regular care that will keep your rolling mill performing its best for years to come to diving in and using it for a million different jewelry-making tasks! Plus, watch a great video from Ronda Coryell about a clever way to give your rolling mill a regular polish!

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Tool Maintenance: Touch Up Your Swanstrom Super-Flush Cutters and Sharpen Your Cutter Punches

Jul 10, 2014
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Bernadette Bennett
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The best way to keep your tools in excellent working condition is to perform periodic maintenance. Although this is common sense, it is often the most neglected task. Today, on The Studio, Tim Sheriff of Swanstrom Tools shares great tips for maintaining cutting edges on both your Swanstrom Disc Cutter and your Swanstrom Super-Flush Cutters. This is a must see for maintenance of some of your favorite tools!

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Seamless Summer Rings with the Bonny Doon Split-Die Ring-Forming Kit!

Jul 3, 2014
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Molly Therese Bell
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It’s hot outside!! In these temperatures, chunky necklaces and bracelets are shed in favor of simpler choices—like lightweight, easy-to-wear rings! Use the Bonny Doon Split-Die Ring-Forming Kit to create perfect, summertime rings, every time. Today, on The Studio, Phil Poirier demonstrates this ingenious tool—watch and then dream up your own line of summertime rings!

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Hammers Demystified: A Tour of Jewelry-Making Hammers and Their Many Uses

Jun 30, 2014
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Yvonne M. Padilla
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Forming, riveting, raising, chasing, goldsmith’s, texturing—so many hammers for jewelers to use (the list goes on and on)! Here at Rio, we L-O-V-E hammers. We love them so much that we stock well over 100 hammers and hammer kits. With such a wide range of choices, how do you know which hammer or mallet to use? Today’s post on The Studio will take some of the mystery out of hammers and show you the exciting array of hammer resources available on Rio Grande’s website!

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Rolling Mill Know-How Part One: Choose the Right One for You!

Jun 25, 2014
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featured

The rolling mill will prove to be a “must-have” tool in any shop…and choosing the right mill for your needs is essential. In today’s post on The Studio, Rio Grande tech team member and creator of wicked-cool jewelry designs Ashli Brooke Taylor shares some great information about how to go about choosing the mill that’s right for you!

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Master Your Stone-Setting Techniques with TrendSetter Wheels

Jun 4, 2014
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Bernadette Bennett
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Stone setting is hard work. To master the necessary skills you’ll need precision, patience, and plenty of practice. Blaine Lewis, widely recognized as the premier diamond-setting instructor in the U.S. today, understands this and invented TrendSetter Wheels which allow students to repeatedly set stones without setting up an individual mounting for each stone. Learn more about Blaine’s genius Trendsetter Wheels today on The Studio.

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Education at Rio Grande: Registration is Open for 2014 Summer Workshop Series!

May 7, 2014
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Viqui Sanchez
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Immerse yourself in Rio Grande’s invigorating educational environment during the 2014 Summer Workshop Series, then return to your studio or shop fired up and ready to get back to the bench and create—find out more in today’s post on The Studio!

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Learn with Rio Grande: Basic Tools and Supplies to Begin Cloisonné

Apr 21, 2014
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Heather Apodaca
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Silver, gold, bronze. These are the typical colors in the jeweler’s palette. But what if you could incorporate eye-popping color into your pieces with just a few simple steps? Cloisonné enameling gives you the power to play with color in any piece you make. And it’s easy to get started. Check out The Studio today for a helpful list of cloisonné tools and supplies!

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Ashli’s Tumbler Series: Top-of-the-Line Jewelry Tumble-Finishing with Avalon

Feb 24, 2014
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Avalon1

In this fourth installment of Ashli’s Tumbler Series, she introduces us to Avalon Centrifugal tumblers. Avalon tumblers are easy to operate and provide a remarkably quick and consistent jewelry finish. They also eliminate media impingement (surface deformation or dimpling) that can be caused by certain media in other finishers. Check out this and ALL of Ashli’s tumbler posts to find the right tumbler for your needs!

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