Drilling Holes in Raw Polymer Clay Vs Baked Clay

Drilling Holes in Raw Vs Baked Clay - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #617: If you want your beads to look professional, then it is usually best to drill holes after your polymer has been baked.

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • I’m going to show you the difference between drilling holes in polymer clay when the clay is raw versus when it is baked.
  • Often you will see on the internet where someone who is making a polymer clay pendant or flat charm, just take a skewer and make a hole in the clay when it is raw.
  • There are several problems that can happen when piercing holes in raw polymer clay.
  • First is that the piece will tend to distort… the clay gets pushed to the sides of the hole and can distort the piece out of shape.
  • The hole gets uneven and puckered up around the edges.
  • A hole made in clay by swirling a pointed tool generally looks very unprofessional.
  • A much cleaner and better looking hole can be made after the polymer clay has been baked, using a drill bit.
  • Drilling in baked polymer clay is super easy to do.
  • By holding off on adding holes to your polymer clay beads until after they are baked… gives you more options.
  • You may change your mind on where you want to drill the hole, how many holes you want to add or if you want to add a bail instead. If the hole is already there, you can’t do much about it.
  • All you need is some inexpensive drill bits made for wood, since polymer clay is soft and easy to drill through.
  • You can find drill bits in the hardware store or even the dollar store.
  • Purchases the sizes of drill bits that you will need.
  • Support your polymer clay piece from behind, using scrap wood or a plastic block.
  • I used to make a polymer clay handle for my drill bits but found that the bits they came loose if the bit was not bent on the end (which is very difficult to do).
  • So now I just use a pin vise to hold my drill bits.
  • You can find single and double ended pin vises, which screw apart for adding any size of drill bit that is required.
  • Most Exacto Blade handles will accommodate small drill bits as well.
  • Press a small dent in the clay where you want to drill the hole, so the bit doesn’t slide around on the surface.
  • Using light pressure, drill into the polymer clay with a piece of wood behind it as a back stop, and you should get a pretty clean hole.
  • Drill from the back as well as the front, to clear any burrs along the edges of the hole.
  • Resin coated polymer clay pendants can also be drilled after baking. You will notice that thhey need a little more pressure and time, but it is easily done by hand.
  • I also like to use a tapered drill bit or a tapered burr bit (made for Dremel Tools), for getting holes started or cleaning burrs around the edge of holes.
  • Drilling your polymer clay after it is baked will give you a nice clean professional looking hole… much better than the dorky, puckered up, uneven holes that you squish in when the clay was raw! :)

Do you have any suggestions for videos on tips, techniques or products you would like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below!

My goal is to help you to learn quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Peg Carter, 13 January, 2015

    I just opened my Etsy store the other day. I’m really not ready to sell but liked the n ame I chose and didn’t want anyone else to take it. And maybe nobody would want it. Anyway Etsy sent me some links and the first one was titled “Finishing Your Polymer Clay Like A Professional”. It costs $10.00. Not a terrible price, but I said to myself, “Self! Cindy has already taught you that. Go buy anothr back issue from Cindy.” So, that’s where I’m going. Thanks, Cindy & Doug.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 15 January, 2015

    Thanks Peg for coming in here to say that! I hope to see some listings in your Etsy shop real soon. Good luck and much success!

  3. Tracey Jones, 16 January, 2015

    I just wanted to know if you could drill through the Lisa Pavelka Magic gloss once it was cured like you can through resin?

    Many Thanks
    Tracey Jones

  4. Cindy Lietz, 19 January, 2015

    Hi Tracey, yes you can drill through the Pavelka Magic Glos in the same way I did the resin. There are very similar products and are a similar hardness, so the effort and the results will be the same.

  5. Mia L. D., 05 April, 2016

    Love yur work… And it’s an AMAZING volume of work…

    I had to mention, loving tools & instruments of ALL KINDS… ( I am also a Registered Dental Hygienist with 3 licenses ) that you may want to Try out a Cordless Dremel.
    Working in Jewelry & Pottery, I have one in my Truck, one in each Studio.
    Yes, I love hand pin vises and have one in all my tool bags, but let me tell Yu, Yu can build a HOUSE With the newer 12 Volt, 8200. Cordless is beautiful, but this is a mighty tool, I recommend highly using a hand piece if u use often.
    Possibly even a vice for desk work. Yes, ur almost to a flex shaft at this point then! You will love it if you do not have one or two already (no idea how old this vid is).

    I am quite impressed by yur talent range and ability to MAKE it All Happen.
    Well Done.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 09 August, 2016

    Thank you so much Mia for your kind comments! SO sorry to have missed saying anything about it until now, but I missedseeing it until now. A cordless Dremel would be a fabulous tool to have as ajewelry maker. I have a flexshaft for my JoolTool so I know how handy having power tools can be as well. Thank you for sharing your recommendations! There is a lot of stuff on the market and it is always nice to know what works for others!

  7. Kathay Iskrzycki, 07 August, 2016

    Knowing about the tools you use and the drilling of the holes was so helpful….thank you

  8. Cindy Lietz, 09 August, 2016

    So happy that this info is helpful for you Kathay! Thanks for commenting!

  9. Ziky H, 01 March, 2019

    hi can I know.. if we want make a sculpture by using the polymer clay. is it must to make a hole first to avoid it explode when it was baked?

  10. Cindy Lietz, 04 March, 2019

    Hi Ziky, polymer clay is not the same type of material that ceramic is, so sculptures will not explode if you don’t have an air vent hole. Sometimes a hollow piece can crack, if it is baked more than once and the hot air in the hollow pocket can’t escape, but that is usually not an issue with solid sculptures.

  11. Merilyn Dcruz, 28 March, 2020

    Hi Cindy, is drilling baked polymer bad for your lungs? Even though I use a mask, my husband is wary about letting me use Dremel to sand and drill holes in baked polymer because we also have a 2 year old at home. Do you have any information on this? I have tried to search the internet for this but havent found much.

    Thanks for your help!

  12. Cindy Lietz, 30 March, 2020

    Hi Merilyn, when it comes to drilling, there is no real risk of dust, since the process is slow and the particles aren’t getting thrown into the air. But in the case of sanding with a power tool, dust can be a concern and a dust mask and ventilation or vacuum system is recommended. For hand sanding using water, there is no risk or the particles getting into the air, so wet hand sanding is your safest option.

  13. Cathy Rezba, 21 July, 2020

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This was so helpful especially after spending so much time on a project that I want to look great when finished.

  14. Cindy Lietz, 21 July, 2020

    You are very welcome Cathy… glad to hear this was so helpful for you :)

  15. Kathay Iskrzycki, 24 July, 2020

    Is there a certain kind of plastic container that is safe to bake clay on? I have these great bottles they are thick and strong. A number 2 in the triangle on the bottom.
    I never can watch you on Wednesday but I do catch you every week. I am disabled and clay is my life.

    Stay safe and God bless you and yours

  16. Cindy Lietz, 24 July, 2020

    I think the best thing to do is to test bake your piece first without clay first (as long as you don’t mind ruining your piece if it melts). Even if the plastic is polymer clay safe (which #2 is), it might just melt when it bakes.

  17. Kathay Iskrzycki, 24 July, 2020

    How long do I have to bake the plain plastic bottle for a test to see if it melts. How long to I have to bake it and what temperature?
    Thank you kathay

  18. Sana S, 18 April, 2021

    My clay is cracking when I am drilling holes after it is baked. Is it under baked ? Or am I making holes too close to the corner?

  19. Cindy Lietz, 20 April, 2021

    Hi Sana, yes I would say your clay is underbaked. (Unless you’re using a brittle clay like SculpeyIII, Craftsmart or a no-name Amazon brand.) If you’re using a good brand like Premo, Souffle, Cosclay, Fimo, Kato or Cernit, then try baking your piece hotter and longer. Use an oven thermometer and make sure you are at the temp recommended for the brand (or slightly hotter, no more than 10 degrees) and then bake for an hour. I have tons of baking videos that will help. Good luck!

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