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Tool Talk Thursday Tools for Making Holes

Tool Talk Thursday today is about some tools to use to make nice clean holes in your ceramic beads, buttons and pendants. 

I like to use wooden tools on wet clay.  So we will start with the wooden tools I use.  First choice is always a wooden skewer. 

 I always dip the skewer tip in water before I make the hole so it will slide easily without dragging any clay with it. For beads I use the sharp tip in the pic above.  For holes in pendants I use the bottom of the skewer.

bottom of a skewer for making a hole

I dip the end in water and then press it into the pendant while it is lying flat on my sheet rock drying board.  But this is not the end of making this hole.  Once the clay is leather hard, I work on the hole some more if it needs it.  I will sponge off the front and back and I will then use one of my Kemper tools to further shape it.

These kemper tools that I have come in three sizes.  The largest one called a glaze and bisque cutter, is perfect for making  holes the size of the bead rods I use for firing pendants on in my kiln. 
The other two drill sizes are good for beads or pendants that are smaller and don't need the larger hole since I fire them on high temp wire (17 gauge). 
The largest size drill of these Kemper tools is called a glaze and bisque cutter and has carbide chips on the blade.  It is great for enlarging holes in bisque too.  All of these Kemper hole tools , also called zig zag saws, are great for cleaning out glaze in holes before firing your work.

I use the wonderful and beautiful Chinese Clay Art  wooden hole tool for smoothing out any hole that looks lopsided or needs some minor enlarging.  It is good for these adjustments since it does not cause the clay to


I hope this little run down of hole making tools has been helpful. 


  1. Wow....thanks for all the options... May I ask why the pendants have larger holes? I always make them pretty much the same unless I'm designing them for heavier gauge wire.

  2. That is a good tip about dipping the wooden skewer in water. I usually use aluminum knitting needles (sock size), but sometimes I only have a skewer available and now I know how to make it work properly. Thanks!

  3. Good tip about the water Mary! Who'd a thunk it?

  4. Thank you all for writing in. Glad the tip about water is helpful. About different size holes MaryAnn, I like to make some of my beads with small holes so that I can use ball end head pins 20 gauge) to wire wrap them without using a spacer bead to keep the end of the head pin from slipping through. Larger holes are good for heavier gauge wire wrapping. Another reason for the larger hole for the pendants is that they are heavier than beads and do better in the kiln on a rod rather than on the wire.

  5. My favorite hole making tool is a coctail straw. I cut them in short legths and use a bamboo skewer to clean out staws so I can re-use them for a time. I like them because they cut the clay out of the hole rather than just compressing. It works better for my beads.


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