This Tutorial is Especially Helpful for Those Who Don’t Like Using Power Tools:
Polymer clay is such a versatile medium! As you already know, it’s used extensively to make creative focal beads for handmade jewelry projects. But have you ever thought about using it to sculpt custom handles for polymer clay tools? Pretty molded drill bit handles for example.
Polymer clay, even after baking, is a relatively soft material. Because of this, you don’t really need a power tool to drill holes through your beads. Twisting a drill bit by hand works just fine. And it’s a safer way to go too… especially if you are not comfortable around power tools spinning at high speeds.
But in order to drill bead holes by hand, your bits will need a handle that’s easy to hold onto and maneuver.
So let’s get started. The first step is to get yourself a set of cheap drill bits from the dollar store. Since polymer clay is so soft, there’s no need to buy expensive ones that are designed for putting holes into metal or other hard materials.
You will want to put a small bend in the shaft of each of your drill bits. This is to keep them from spinning after they are embedded and baked into the polymer clay handles.
You can bend bits by clamping the shaft into a vise, and then tapping the end of the bit with a wooden or rubber mallet. Using a regular hammer will work too. But be sure to hold a piece of soft wood against the bit before tapping with the regular hammer. This will protect the cutting surface of the bit from getting dinged.
Wear safety goggles and go slowly with the bending, since too much pressure can break the bit.
Once you have bent your bits, you can now mold some conditioned clay around the shaft of each of them to create your custom handles. It’s best to form a flat paddle shape. This will make it easier to turn when you are drilling with the tool, than if the handle was round. Also make sure the drilling section of the bit comes out straight from the handle and not at a funny angle.
Once your polymer clay handle is firmly molded around the bit, it can be decorated with pretty cane slices if you like. And the last step is to bake both the handle and the bit together, in your oven.
You can make custom handles for all kinds of other polymer clay tools too… such as needles, small files and homemade texture tools. These homemade tools will become very useful assets in your polymer clay tool collection.
If you are the type of person that learns more effectively by watching tutorials on video instead of by reading, have a look at my Polymer Clay Bead Making for Beginners Course. It includes 39 tutorial videos, one of which demonstrates how to make custom polymer clay tools like I described in the article above.