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Thread: Working with ivory

  1. #1
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    SpikeC's Avatar
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    Working with ivory

    I am just starting to drill into a piece of ivory and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on the best type of drill bit to use for this. I'm drilling a pair of 1/4 inch holes for the tang of a knife several inches deep. I normally start these with a 1/4 inch forstner bit, butt this seems to be reluctant to go and is generating a bit of heat.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  2. #2
    I can't speak from experience, but perhaps a 1/4" brad point bit?

  3. #3
    Senior Member lowercasebill's Avatar
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    you are drilling tooth not wood .. dental burrs are carbide or diamond and always used with water coolant.. there are dental type burrs for dremal tools

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    Pabloz's Avatar
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    Spike,
    I would go 1/8" round 1, 3/16" round 2 then finish w1/4" round 3.

    PZ

  5. #5
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    Thanks Pablo, what do you think of using carbide?
    The problem with dental tools is that they lack sufficient length to do the job.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by lowercasebill View Post
    you are drilling tooth not wood .. dental burrs are carbide or diamond and always used with water coolant.. there are dental type burrs for dremal tools
    I have plenty of old school dental drills, rose burrs etc. with an old dentist's machine, none of them are carbide or diamond....

  7. #7
    Pabloz's Avatar
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    Solid carbide is the best way to go IMHO. LIGHT Soapy water as coolant....spray bottle set to stream.

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    What RPM's are you guys using to drill horn, ivory etc...?

  9. #9
    Das HandleMeister apicius9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalaeb View Post
    What RPM's are you guys using to drill horn, ivory etc...?
    I have no idea what the recommendation by an ivory pro would be, but I have drilled with around 1000 rpms with no issues. I have also drilled interior mammoth ivory with a normal brad bit before and not had any issues. Just going slow and avoiding heat to build up. I always stuck to Mark's short tips here: http://markknappcustomknives.com/wersindwir.php , i.e. I also avoid water. I have one piece as a ferrule that has developed a network of little cracks on the front side, and that was an early one of which I know I heated it up way too high and dipped it in water to cool it down, so those two are definitely not recommended.

    Mammoth tooth is a different thing altogether, Mario may be our resident expert on that one. I drilled through thinner pieces with a masonry drill and that went o.k., but I always glue the pieces between something because the material is so brittle. I have avoided drilling ferrule pieces so far, but it is on the list...

    Stefan

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    I understand how water could cause problems with material that has been over heated, but what about using it as a prophylactic? That is, to prevent heat build up in the first place?
    BYW, this is hippo ivory.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

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