Wednesday, January 27

Resin Tutorial - Drilling and Finishing

This installment will show you how to finish a resin piece by describing how to:

(1) Drill a hole for inserting a jump ring.

(2) Or, add a glue-on bail.

(3) Restore sanded edges to their shiny resin luster.

For drilling, you will need the following materials:

(1) Small hand-drill, such as a Dremmel, (I'm using a Craftsman Rotary tool.)

(2) Drill bits of your desired size.

I almost always use a 1/16" bit, which is perfect for inserting jump rings. If you are going to string your finished piece on thick cord or chain, you will need a larger bit. Be sure to purchase the regular bits used for wood (not the type for glass - tried it accidentally - does not work!)

(3) A particle mask or dust mask.

Resin behaves much like wood when drilling and even makes the same sort of huge mess. However, unlike sawdust which is natural, cured resin is a synthetic and can be harmful if inhaled. Please be sure to wear a mask to avoid breathing in any particles.

A particle mask is best (such as a painters mask) but a regular dust mask will work just fine. But please use something - even a bandanna if you don't have a mask (think wild-west-bandit style).

(4) A table vice or clamp to hold your resin piece securely.

(5) Leather pieces to protect your piece from being scratched while in the vice.

Most craft stores carry small pieces of leather; I used an old belt, cut it into pieces, then secured the pieces onto the inside sides of the vice:

Place your resin piece in the vice and close to hold tightly. You'll have to experiment a bit to find how tightly you need to grip the piece; too loose and the drill will shift it and make a crooked hole, too tight and you may crush and even slightly dis form your resin piece - I mostly find this happens on round pieces; shapes with flat edges are harder to squish.

Now you are ready to drill the hole where you like it.

I always drill back-to-front, and on a slight angle. This is to accommodate a jump ring. You could also drill straight through - side to side, or back to front - and string it instead of using a jump ring.

Again, you're going to have to experiment to get the right feel for how to hold the drill, at what angle, and much pressure to apply. If possible, use some pieces that aren't your favorites, to practice on.

Here are some more photos with a white resin piece that may be easier to see:

You can see what a mess this makes!

Here are some finished drilled pieces. A little rough looking - (like this out-of-focus picture, sorry!)

The holes will be filled with particles of the drilled out resin, and will need to be cleaned.

Wash the pieces in plain water. To clean out the holes, you can try holding them under a running faucet, but that is not usually enough pressure (at least at my house).

I ended up using our Water Pick. Yes, normally it's for cleaning teeth, but it turns out to be multi-purpose. It does a remarkable job in cleaning those holes out.

You could also use a bead reamer, or even a toothpick to poke the little bits out.

Here are some drilled pieces that have been cleaned:

You can see that the drilling has left the holes looking dull. These may be just fine for what you are trying to do, or depending on the color of the resin.

If your resin pieces are clear, you will notice obvious white spots where you drilled:

If you don't like this, you will need to re-coat the drilled hole in resin to repair the surface and restore the shine.

You will need to mix up a small batch of resin:

For this, I used 7.5 ml each of resin and hardener:

Mix thoroughly.

Even with this small amount, you will have plenty left over. So you might as well set out a mold so you can pour the left-resin and start making some new designs.

Once your resin is thoroughly mixed, grab a toothpick - I found this is the perfect diameter instrument for my 1/16" holes.
Dip the pick into your mixture and scrape the excess on the side of the cup:

You want just a light coating of resin on your toothpick, not globs. Just a very thin coat of resin is all that is needed to restore the shine to your drilled holes - if you use to much it may plug the hole and you will have to re-drill.
See? It looks like I nearly scraped it clean:

Run the toothpick through the hole and swirl it around. You will be able to see the hole turning from white to clear again.

Set the piece down on a non-stick surface (such as waxed paper) and allow to dry thoroughly before handling.
Here are some pieces with re-dipped holes:

You can still see the holes, but it is a vast improvement.
Now, you can repeat the process for those dull, sanded edges.

For this dome shaped piece, I used some of my son's playdoh to form a nice little nest to hold it securely. (I've tried just holding them in my hand, but inevitably make a mess - especially with the domed ones.)

This time, run the toothpick gently along the sanded edge.
You could also use a small paint-brush if you prefer. I like the toothpick because it has a small contact surface and does not hold a lot of resin, as a brush might.

Allow to dry before handling.

You will now be ready to add your jump ring, chain, cord, or whatever you wish to string your finished piece:

And you will have a beautiful, ready to wear pendant!

If you do not have the equipment for drilling, you can easily attach a glue-on bail.
The most commonly used types are called "Aanraku", which are marketed for fused glass pendants and cabochons. But they work a treat for resin as well.
Affix the bail using a waterproof glue, such as E6000, or a quick-cure epoxy adhesive like Devcon 5-Minute Epoxy. Both kinds can usually be found at your local craft or hardware store.
Glue-on bails are an quick and easy alternative, and they result in a lovely finished necklace!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it easy to understand and informative. I have complied all my tutorials, refined them, added new information and pictures, and added 2 complete step-by-step project instructions in this 32-page digital booklet, "Getting Started With Resin Jewelry". For more information, click here.


Linda said...

Thank you very much for this informative tutorial! I just started resin casting this past weekend, and your tutorial tells me everything I need to know!

jacquie said...

Thank you for the inspiration in adding to my jewelry.I have just set a dozen rose resin pendants,and made them out of chocolate moulds!!!!! Looking forward to seeing how they turned out.
am I able to attach a picture of the finished items?
Kind regards

Erin said...

Brilliant, tips I've not come across before! I'm trying to make a double-sided pendant using the standard heart moulds, but of course when sticking them together there's a lot of clean-up to do on the rough edges and the sanding spoils the finish. Do you think painting round these areas with more resin would help? I'll have to come up with some clever way to support the piece...

skinner studio said...

Erin - I've never tried it for that application, so I don't know for sure how it work. But it's certainly worth a try. I would use a small paintbrush to just put a very thin layer of resin over the sanded portion. I'm not sure how seemlessly it would blend into the rest of the piece, but it's bound to look better than the dull sanded part. I'd love to hear (or see) how it turns out. Sounds like a really cool idea!

Caz Fawcett said...

I think you are amazing for putting these tutorials on here. I have a hard time trying to find tutorials for the things I want to make. Thanks a million.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much ...
Great job.

GraciesMom said...

Awesome tutorial! Thanks so much! I was wondering what to do with those uneven edges...

kim said...

Thanks for the information, just started using resin for jewelry, very helpful.

Anonymous said...

VeryMuch thanks to U,

I was looking for this tuorial finishing after sanding for a couple mount.

agains i said thank's

Anonymous said...

I am planning to start making resin jewelry and your blog is priceless in giving a crafter the tips they need for creating quality pieces. Bravo! And thanks.


he is legend....ary said...

thank you so much! I just started making resin jewelry and this cleared up a lot

Zoe W said...

Hi and thanks for your amazing tutorials, so helpful & informative. I have one question regarding the glued bails though. The back of my pendant is concave (like the black round one shown in this post) and i can't glue the bail on straight. In this instance would it be best to file off the extra resin at the sides or fill the empty space with more resin? Thanks again.

Precision engineers said...

When you are done drilling wood you will have a round plug inside the drill bit that you have to take out before you can drill another hole. These bits are only good for 2 inches thick or less.