Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tip - Broken Drill Bit Removal

Occasionally a drill bit (or the head of a bur bit) will break off inside the piece of precious metal. If the bit is protruding enough that you can grasp it with a pair if pliers, you can attempt to slowly twist it out. However, if it is lodged inside the piece and you can't get it out...never fear, ALUM is here!


Alum is a double sulfate chemical compound: a combination of an alkali metal, such as sodium, potassium, or ammonium and a trivalent metal, such as aluminum, iron, or chromium. It is commonly used in food processing (it makes pickles crispy) or as an astringent in medical applications. Alum is a non-acidic product that will not give off noxious fumes or burn holes in clothing, however if large amounts are ingested it can be fatal....so don't sprinkle it in your coffee and keep it away from children! It can be easily found in the canning or spice aisle of your grocery store.

Dissolve one tablespoon of alum in 1/4 cup of warm water in a glass jar. The alum solution attacks the ferrous metal, thus deteriorating the steel without harming the non-ferrous jewelry. Soak your piece in this solution and wait....it could take hours. The warmer the solution the faster you will see results....if you are impatient, you can simmer the solution on a hot plate using Pyrex (no metal pots) or suspend the glass jar in an ultrasonic cleaner. This solution is only meant for precious metals, and stones should never be put in the solution.

15 comments:

Elizabeth Scott said...

wow great tip danielle!

Evie's Tool Emporium said...

Very, very cool! I have never heard of this before! Thank you!

mdk jewelry designs said...

This is good to know. Thanks Danielle.

Seth said...

fantastic tip! Thank you!

JSurine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Go2Girl Designs by Kila said...

Great tip! Just last week I had to redrill a hole in a stone I broke a tip in! Thank you.

danielle embry said...

I have actually tried this before! It works like a charm, but you have to be patient. I simmered a piece of hollow formed sterling silver on a hot plate, and it took about an hour and a half for the drill bit to disintegrate enough to fall out. Nice tip!!

Sweet Sugar Spoon said...

I think I love you! I will use this tip!

Wendy said...

ooh, just fantastic. That happened to me, and the resulting damage I caused meant I had to completely redesign the piece and buy a new pair of cutters... Thanks!!!

Delpfine said...

This is great Danielle. Thanks! I'm going to get some Alum next trip to the store.

~ Lora Hart Jewels ~ said...

Alum is also a great pickle! I live in 500 sq feet and my studiolo is in my apartment. I don't like keeping chemicals here, so I dissolve some alum in a cup of hot water and let it simmer in my min crock pot. Bim, bam, boom - clean sterling in minutes. Okay a few more minutes than with sparex or pool stuff, but all natural and works grrreat.

Didn't think about using it on drill bit tips though! Thanks!

Kristin said...

I didn't know about this either, but I bet it will save me a lot of trouble in the future!

Kerry and Heather said...

I have had to clip off many twig ends that I have been drilling due to a broken bit. NO MORE! I am thrilled!

Linnea said...

I saw at the end you mention it can’t be used with stones. Is this true of all stones? Just last night I got a tiny bit of drill bit broken off in a hole I was hand drilling. It’s a customer’s repair, so this is a finished pendant, with two bezel set citrines (or they might be lemon quartz). So taking out the stones is not where I want to go. Is it possible to use alum with faceted non-porous stones?

Sabrina said...

The best tip ever!! I've searched online and found nothing worth while. Thanks so much.

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