Dremel tools are undoubtedly the best type of rotary tools in the market and can be used to cut and shape a wide range of materials, from wood to glass, plastic, metal and even electronics. But did you know that some Dremel models can be used to cut hard minerals such as gemstones?
Matter of fact, Dremels are the most commonly used tools for cutting gemstones, not least due to their reliable output quality and low maintenance costs.
However, there are a few things you should know before diving into our main topic on How to cut gemstone with a Dremel
Here are the Tips on How to Cut Gemstones With a Dremel
Using a Dremel tool can be quite straightforward. Once you have all the equipment required ready, then you are good to go. To start the process, you need to ensure that safety is at its best. Arm yourself with;
- a pair of gloves
- protective air masks
After getting the right Dremel and drill tools, and of course, making sure your power is stable, follow the process below to cut your gems:
Step 1: Set Up the Dremel Tool
First things first, insert the drill bits - whether wheel points or just diamond points - into the Dremel tool. Before that, make sure the Dremel is not plugged in, and if it is, switch off the power.
To fix the drill bits, hold the Dremel up such that you can access the hole at the bottom. Thereafter, place the diamond bit in the hole and slightly, but firmly, slide it back. Ensure it doesn't shake, and secure it in place with a collet nut.
Step 2: Preform the Gemstones
Normally, the gemstone has to be molded or formed into a certain shape before it is cut. This ensures the end product is perfectly symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing. Basically, in the preforming stage, all inclusions such as cleavages and colored spots are noted and removed.
Use the 260 grit lapidary faceting lap to form the gems into a basic shape. Set the lap to rotate at the highest speed and hold your gems firmly against the rotating disc to get the shape you desire.
Notably, this will cause a lot of friction, which will, in turn, make your gems super hot. Cool them by adding some water on the faceting lap.
To make the cutting process smoother and more seamless, heat the dop stick and wax and attach the particular gem you're working with on the dop stick.
When the gemstone heats up, the bond between the 3 elements (wax, stick, and gem) will strengthen. However, don't let the gem dop for long, as it may crack or get damaged.
Ideally, remove the gem from the dop stick and wax as soon as they all complete bonding, and place it on the diamond faceting lap. A slower cutting pace is recommended, which can be achieved by changing from a 260 grit to a 600 grit lap.
Step 3: Actual Cutting
After getting your desired shape and outline, it's time for the actual cutting. Naturally, the first step here is to plug in and switch on the Dremel. Next, hold your gemstone in place using a vise or clamp as opposed to your hand, which could lead to injury.
Set the Dremel to a moderate speed, assume a 45-degree position and start cutting the gem using straight and firm cuts. It is advisable to start at a low speed, then increase it as you go, until you achieve a flat table.
After getting the flatbed, you may also need to remove the main crown facets. Adjust the Dremel's angle as you cut them to achieve a near-perfect cut.
Admittedly, you may find it hard to get the crown facets to meet perfectly, in which case you have the polishing stage to correct this.After the cutting is done, turn off the Dremel tool and detach the diamond bit as it won't be needed in the next stage.
First, simultaneously turn the collet nut as you press down the shaft lock button to loosen the bit for easy and safe removal.
Step 4: Polishing the Gems
After removing the diamond bit, attach the lowest grit you can onto the Dremel and turn it on. Use the grit tip to grind the entire surface of the gemstone, paying additional attention to the rough edges. For better results, keep the tool at a flat angle to the gem.
Grind the gem slowly but firmly, using the finer bits. With time, the crown facets will also get polished, as will the table. Use a cloth to get a better polish on the facets. After polishing the facets, it's now the girdle's turn, where we will use a paste of 8k diamond powder.
But first, cut the pavilion using the Dremel, exercising caution not to cut the facets. When the pavilion is cut well, all the facets will meet perfectly, which will, in turn, enable you to polish the entire gemstone and girdle.
An oxidized solution could also be an alternative to the 8k diamond solution. Still, whichever liquid you use, your gem will sparkle as long as you first cut the pavilion, and other imperfections that were left during the main cutting.
So Which is the Best Dremel Model for Cutting Gemstones?
There are so many Dremel models in the market, and getting the right one for your endeavor is key to getting satisfactory results. Some models are fixed, while some are cordless. Some are also sturdier and more powerful while others are lighter and more mobile.
Nonetheless, Dremel tools are either fixed speed or variable speed. The former is usually the cheaper option and is easier to use, while the latter is a bit costly, but can perform intricate cutting and grinding operations.
As far as the drill bits go, use Diamond wheel points or Diamond points for seamless cuts. If you can, get a Diamond lapidary faceting flat lap to help you grind your gemstones into basic shapes before cutting. You will also need a dop stick and some wax.
And that's the simple process of turning your rough, hard gemstones into shiny, sparkling gems that can be used as jewelry, or room adornments. But for you to accomplish the perfect cut, you have to be fully focused on the job at hand, and pay great attention to detail, not to leave any rough edges or imperfections.