How To Carve A Heart in Pebbles, stone, sea glass and beach pottery

Disclaimer. Using rotary tools near water has never been, to the best of our knowledge, endorsed by any of the rotary tool manufacturers. If you do choose to drill near water or with attachments under water connected to your drill then you do so at your own risk. Please be aware that mixing electricity and water can be very dangerous.

Once you have mastered the skill of drilling a hole through a pebble or sea glass you can begin to get creative and start to carve and engrave designs into them.

A popular theme at the moment is to create a heart. You've probably seen images of hearts cut into pebbles and sea glass across Pinterest, Etsy and Folksy and wondered how you too can do that. Well, let me show you how!

It's so easy and you need minimal amount of equipment, follow the below tutorial for creating a heart into a pebble and lets get busy!

What You Will Need:

  • Pebble, slate or sea glass
  • White Chinagraph pencil or a Sharpie marker pen
  • Dremel Drill or similar hobby rotary tool ( with flexible shaft, optional)
  • 1 x 3mm small diamond core drill
  • 1 x 2.5mm diamond point burr
  • Goggles and mask
  • Shallow tray such as a plastic food container, paint tray or sandwich box
  • Piece of wood or rubber to rest your material on whilst drilling
  • Water
  • Old tea towel or cloth to wipe away the debris

Tip: Choose a pebble that is solid in colour if possible. Pebbles that have the little white flecks in usually contain bits of quartz which are tougher to drill and carve through.Take a look at out tutorial 'How to Drill Pebbles' for more useful information on the type of stones to drill.

Step 1. Design & Setting Up

First things first, lets get prepared and set everything up.

  1. Draw your heart design onto the pebble with your pencil or marker pen.
  2. Put your piece of wood or rubber into the plastic tray.
  3. Rest your pebble onto the wood.
  4. Fill up the tray so that about 1cm of water covers your pebble.
  5. Put the 3mm diamond core drill into your drill.

How to carve hearts in pebbles, stone and sea glass. Step 1. Design & Setting up

Step 2. Drilling

We're going to drill three holes into the heart shape and a fourth one in the centre to break through the three holes. This will create a rough shape within the heart.

  1. Hold your pebble under the water or use a clamp or vice if you have one.
  2. Start your drill on the slowest speed setting. (10,000RPM or thereabouts)
  3. With your drill at an angle make an initial cut or groove into the pebble. (this stops the drill bit from sliding over the surface)
  4. Carry on drilling and slowly move your drill to a vertical position and continue drilling until the hole breaks through to the other side.
  5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 until all three holes have been made.

Tip: Use very little pressure and let the drill do the work. Keeping a slow speed with little pressure will mean your diamond core drill can be used again and again and again...

WARNING: Please be extra careful and vigilant when using water and electrical appliances together. I use my drill either with a Dremel Flexible Shaft or plugged into an extension lead that comes with a safety thermal cut-out to prevent overheating.
Keep your old cloth or tea towel to hand to ensure your drill, working area and hands stays dry at all times. No touching electrical appliances with wet hands!

How to carve hearts in pebbles, stone and sea glass. Step 2. Drilling

Step 3. Carving

Now comes the fun part, lets shape that pebble into a beautiful heart.

  1. Swap your diamond core drill for your diamond point burr, you'll notice the burr has a long working length of diamond grit that tapers into a point, really useful for fine shaping.
  2. Remove your pebble from the water so you can better see what you're doing.
  3. Start your drill on it's slowest speed setting.
  4. Begin to file away the pebble with the point burr from the inside out.
  5. Stop your drill every now and again to inspect your work and dip your pebble and the burr into the water to keep them both cool and remove any debris.
  6. As you get closer to the outline of your heart, work with the finer tapered end of the burr and really smooth away those edges and create some lovely curves for the top of your heart and a fine sharp point at the bottom.

How to carve hearts in pebbles, stone and sea glass. Step 3. Carving

Step 4. Finishing & Further Ideas

If you're looking to really polish off the inside of the heart or perhaps create a lipped edge then you might want to try using a 3mm white Arkansas stone burr. These are a nice, fine abrasive (approx. 300 grit) and you can really work away to smooth off the inside and make it look neat.

You may want to use your pebble to make a pendant or a key ring, in which case you will want to drill another hole in the top. Try using a 1.5mm or 2mm diamond core drill for this. Our step by step tutorial on How To Drill Pebbles  or How to Drill Sea Glass might be helpful for you as well.

If you want to cut the stone or sea glass in half you can use a Diamond Wire Hand saw blade.  Click here to read our article on how to do this.

Other ideas might be to inlay the middle with silver, or paint the stone and the inside of the heart. A small bowl of sea glass with hearts in would make a boring bathroom windowsill a bit more exciting. Or how about trying it out on a larger scale and creating a doorstop or paperweight. For this you will need to use larger sized core drills and larger burrs.

How about making a stone tea light candle holder? You could then personalise the stone by carving words or patterns into it.  

The below pendant is by Kirsteen Robertson. By following our tutorial Kirsteen carved a heart into some beach brick she had found and has made this lovely pendant with various beads, wire and leather. She say's now she has the hang of it she's looking forward to doing lots more!

Heart carved and drilled into beach brick by Kirsteen Robertson

Maira Ribena from Latvia uses a combination of tungsten carbide ball burrs (1mm) and diamond ball burrs (1mm & 2mm) to carve and engrave her pebbles (see image below). She then drills a hole using a diamond drill bit in the top to thread the cord through.You can see more of Maira's fabulous work on her website here:

Carved pebbles using tungsten carbide and diamond ball burrs

Did you follow this tutorial and carve a heart into a pebble or some glass? if so we would love to see pictures, please send them into us, we would be delighted to see them.

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