How To Make A Rock Lamp


Agate can make an attractive base for a functional rock lamp. “Agate Geode Section – Detail” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC By 2.0
Agate can make an attractive base for a functional rock lamp. “Agate Geode Section – Detail” by Mauro Cateb is licensed under CC By 2.0

Question

I recently saw a rock lamp and thought I’d try my hand at making one. It’s a rock with a 1.5″ diameter hole drilled into it about 1″ deep. A small glass oil lamp sits in it. There is also a circle cut around the hole about 1/8″ wide and 1″ deep where a glass sleeve or lantern goes.

What tools do I need to make a rock lamp like this?

Chuck

Use A Core Drill

Holes like the one cut into the rock lamp you saw are cut with a core drill. If you can’t find one, you can make one out of a piece of tubing. Weld a cross piece on top and a small rod that will fit into your drill press.

How To Drill Holes Into Rock

To drill the hole:

  • First, place the stone under water or create a dam around where you’ll be cutting and fill it with water.
  • Next, sprinkle some coarse silicon carbide under the bit. This is what actually does the cutting.
  • Go at it slow and easy.
  • When the cutting action slows, add more abrasive.

If you don’t want to cut the hole all the way through the rock, you can knock out the core. Put a screwdriver in the space created by the core drill and tap it towards the plug. It should come out without too much pressure. If you use this technique, make sure there is a lot of material under the plug. If the bottom is too thin, you may knock the plug out the bottom, rather than freeing it.

Also, be aware that you might chip the top, where the screwdriver rests when pushing it against the plug. Plan on sanding this area after drilling.

Choosing A Base For Your Rock Lamp

Your success will depend on the kind of rock you are drilling. You didn’t mention what type of material was used in the rock lamp that inspired you. However, I know agate and jasper (with a hardness of 6.5 to 7) can handle this kind of cutting well. I haven’t tried this with softer rocks or those with granular texture.

Good luck,

Donald Clark, CSM IMG