Ever wanted to try if you can cut gemstones with a Dremel? It’s actually easier than you would think. Depending on the hardness of your gemstone it can take a while, but you don’t have to invest in expensive lapidary equipment. You probably won’t want to do this all the time, but when you have that one special stone this is definitely doable.
Equipment and Materials for Gemstone Cutting
What I Used
- Dremel (with Flex shaft attachment)
- Diamond blade (Dremel or other brand)
- Vise grip pliers (or something else you can securely hold the stone)
- Grinding stone (Dremel attachment)
- Sanding wheel (Dremel attachment)
- Sandpaper in various grits (e.g. 220-1000)
Please remember to wear a mask and goggles. There is a lot of “gemstone dust” that will fly in the air!
Cutting the Stone
Choose a stone that is workable hardness (7 or less). I used Labradorite which is about 6 to 6.5. You need to take into account the size of the diamond blade, meaning how deep a cut it can make. In the video you will see I used all it had to offer, my stone was pretty thick.
All you really need is a container of water to keep dipping your stone in and a secure way to hold on to your stone. (The flex shaft attachment is recommended because it has no electricity directly going to it, you don’t want to mix electricity and water.)
Pick a spot to start at the edge of your stone, then try to keep your cutting route straight. In my case I had to cut around all the sides of the stone because of the thickness, so you end up having to meet your cut on the other side. So, if you have a thicker stone, keep that in mind. Then, go to work! (check out the video below for cutting process)
Polishing the Stone
Decided to go ahead and polish your stone? You can use attachments on the Dremel or go with hand sanding. I do recommend using some type of a grinding wheel to get the worst uneven areas done. Your cut surface most likely is not perfect. Then get a variation of wetdry sandpapers in various grits and go to work. You need to keep the paper (and stone) wet. I started with 220 grit and advanced to 1000 (400, 800 in between). This is really just experimenting, if you are not happy where you are at 800 grit you can go back and start over with 220. Please keep in mind that the stone looks better wet than dry. You will find that there are more imperfections when your stone dries out that you may want to keep sanding. If you want to get more perfect polish you could use a gemstone polishing compound such as Cerium oxide as the last stage.
I left my stone in a rather rustic state. I ended up using this stone to make an electroformed copper pendant. I was really excited about it and ended up selling it at my next show. It went to a good home and I hope they love the piece!
So try it out. You don’t even have to use the authentic Dremel blades, most online tool suppliers sell diamond blades that fit a Dremel.