Jewelry Making for Beginners: 32 Projects with Metals

Jewelry Making for Beginners: 32 Projects with Metals

by Greta Pack

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Simple diagrams, concise lists of tools, and easy explanations of fundamental techniques will help novice jewelry makers create dozens of beautiful baubles in no time! Using common metals such as silver, copper, iron, and tin, beginners will hone their skills, expand their creative horizons, and make such wonderful, wearable pieces as:
•Scarf Holders
...and more! Lavishly illustrated with over 400 detailed line drawings, this remarkable primer guides crafters of all ages step by simple step to jewelry making success--from sawing, piercing, and soldering to producing decorative wire work, polishing, and finishing. It also includes a gallery of gorgeous design motifs to inspire original jewelry designs!

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486168340
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 08/22/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 80
File size: 15 MB
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Jewelry Making for Beginners

32 Projects with Metals

By Greta Pack

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-16834-0



Several inexpensive metals, both in sheet and wire form, can be used to make interesting jewelry. For the beginner, copper and brass are recommended because of their low cost, but even advanced jewelers who work almost exclusively in sterling silver frequently use copper and brass for variety and color.

As far as construction is concerned, all the metals named can be used interchangeably for the jewelry included in this book. When the beginning craftsman becomes more skillful he may want to work more often in sterling silver which, although it costs a little more, is a fine adaptable metal.

The different metals vary in hardness. Annealing is a heating process which is given to the metal to make it soft and pliable. Most of the metals used for the following projects may be purchased annealed. If the metal has to be annealed, lay it on a screen and hot plate until the heat turns it a glowing red, then set it aside to cool or plunge it into water for quick cooling. Use only annealed sheet and wire for the following projects.

COPPER is used in its pure metallic state. Its reddish-brown color gives it a warm outdoor quality. Cold rolled and annealed sheet is smooth and easy to work. It can be polished and lacquered for a permanent finish.

BRASS is an alloy of copper and zinc, harder than copper. It is gold in color. It takes a high polish and is lacquered to preserve the luster.

STERLING SILVER is an alloy of pure silver and a small percentage of another metal, usually copper, to harden it. It is a more precious metal than copper or brass, it is easy to work and can be finished in several different ways; polished for a soft luster, given a high polish, oxidized for depth of color and then polished for highlights.

IRON is taken from iron ore and, when treated, is both tough and flexible and can be pulled into wire. The black iron binding wire referred to in this book is used not only to hold pieces together for soldering, but also for a chain of iron units held together with silver links. If lacquered, the iron will not rust and its dark color and dull texture contrast well with the other metals used.

TIN has the whiteness of silver and is used in many important alloys, among them being solder. We employ tin only for solder, in pure state or alloyed with lead.

Bench equipment

Bench vise, used to hold various tools during working operations.

Steel anvil block, a hammering surface on which to smooth or flatten metal.

Lead block, used for many cutting and doming processes.

Clamps, to hold the bench pin in place.

Metal gauge, for measuring the thickness of wire and flat metal.

Bench pin, a wedge shaped block of wood held to the bench to support work for sawing or filing.


Essential tools for the beginner include those here and those on the following four pages. A variety of articles can be made with a small set of good tools; in fact, some of the pieces are made with only two or three of the tools listed. All tools should be kept clean and protected from pressure that may bend or dull them and from moisture which will cause corrosion or rust. A good workman takes care of his tools.


Keep the working surface of the steel hammer and steel surface plate free of scratches and dents by using coarse and fine abrasives depending upon the depth of the dent or scratch.

The steel burnisher must be kept well polished and wrapped in chamois skin when not in use.

The file and handle come separately. Only the small files, such as the needle files, have a handle as part of the file. The teeth of the files will become dull if allowed to rub against each other, or against other steel tools. Clean the files with a file brush, and rub the smaller files with a coarse cloth. Files should be put away clean.

Gauges are tools to measure the thickness of the metal sheet and the diameter of the wire. Insert the metal sheet or wire in the slot nearest to the thickness of the metal or diameter of the wire and read the gauge number. The gauge numbers referred to in this book are measured by the Brown and Sharpe Gauge.

Ball pein hammer, for general use, the ball end used as a punch to raise the metal.

Wood mallet, used to flatten and shape metal without leaving marks.

Metal cutting shears, for cutting light weight metal.

Jeweler's saw frame, to hold saw blades which come in various sizes in packages of one dozen.

Hand drill, to hold and turn the twist drills for drilling holes in metal.

Files, used to remove rough edges or irregular surfaces. Most useful are various types of needle files and four to six inch files, second or smooth cut.

Hand vise, to hold small work while filing, etc.

End and side cutting nippers, used to cut wire.

Round and square nose pliers, used to bend and form wire.

Ring making tools

Ring mandrel, a slightly tapered spindle used in forming rings.

Ring gauge, used in measuring ring sizes.

Ring sizes, a series of graduated rings marked with standard sizes to measure the fingers.

Ring clamp, to hold rings firmly for filing or stone setting.

Disk cutting and doming tools

Dapping die, a metal block with depressions into which metal can be dapped into rounded forms.

Dapping die cutters, tools with cutting ends, used to cut disks.

Dapping die punches, domed steel tools used to raise metal disks in the dapping die.

Soldering tools

Electric soldering iron, used to heat the metal and melt soft solder.

Soldering tweezers, to clamp pieces together for soldering.

Cotter pins, to hold small parts together for soldering.

Iron binding wire, to bind parts firmly while soldering.

Finishing and polishing tools

Hand buffs, felt and chamois on wood handles, to buff and polish metal. Steel burnisher, used to smooth and finish metal.

Tweezers, used to handle stones and small objects.

Scriber, used to mark an inscribed line on metal.

Center punch, used to make depressions in the metal.

Dividers, used to inscribe circles and divide lines.

The Basic Processes

Following are the basic processes for all jewelry making. Cleaning and filing keep the metal in condition for sawing and soldering which are construction processes, and for wire working which is a decorative process. Polishing and lacquering are finishing processes which bring out the technique of construction, and if well done, enhance the beauty of the article.


Sawing with a jeweler's saw blade set in a jeweler's saw frame is used for metals which are too heavy in gauge or too intricate in pattern to be cut with shears. This type of saw can be used for straight, curved or angular lines which often form the outline and shape of the design. The saw blade comes in several different sizes. The coarsest used in this book is # 1 and the finest # 0.

The thickness of the metal must be greater than the distance between the teeth of the blade to prevent the metal from becoming wedged between the teeth, and the saws from bending and breaking. For example, saw 18 gauge metal with a # 1 saw blade.

Transferring the pattern to the metal

Transfer the traced pattern with carbon paper and a hard pencil.

Scratch the traced design into the metal.

Wipe the metal with a damp cloth to remove the carbon lines.

Setting the blade in the frame

The worker should be directly in front of the V in the bench pin with the shoulder about 3 inches above the bench top.

With the frame in a horizontal position, place the upper arm of the frame in the V of the bench pin. Hold and press the handle against the body and clamp one end of the blade in the lower jaw. Press the frame, clamp the loose end in the upper jaw. Release the pressure. The blade must be taut.

Sawing the pattern

The right arm holding the saw frame vertically should be directly in front of the bench pin.

Use the full length of the blade when sawing straight or curved lines. For angles use the center of the blade with short strokes in one place to make a space in which to turn the blade.

Place the blade in the lower jaw, teeth pointing down toward the handle and away from the frame.

Press the arms of the frame toward each other while inserting the blade in the upper jaw.

Saw with a vertical stroke, the blade always perpendicular to the metal.


Piercing is the term used when the metal is sawed out leaving an openwork design, or when the background is sawed out leaving the design in the metal.

Transfer the pattern to the metal.

Make depressions with the center punch in the sections which are to be pierced.

Insert the twist drill in the chuck of the hand drill and drill holes marked by the punch. Care must be taken in selecting the drill so the size of the hole will not destroy the traced line of the design.

Set the saw blade in the lower jaw of the saw frame.

Thread the blade through the drilled hole nearest the center of the design.

Support the metal against the lower jaw of the frame while inserting the loose end of the blade in the upper jaw of the frame.

Saw out the section. Follow the directions under sawing.

Return the saw frame to the horizontal position.

Loosen the blade from the upper jaw, and remove from the pierced section.

Insert the end as before through another drilled hole.

Repeat as above until the design or the background has been pierced.

Transferring the pattern, p. 8. Sawing, p. 8.


Filing is used to smooth rough edges, to level irregular surfaces and remove excess solder. The files most commonly used for jewelry work are needle files which come in a variety of shapes designed for various contours and angles. Large files from four to six inches in length come with a tang to be fitted into a wooden handle. These files are used for larger areas or when a greater amount of metal has to be filed away. They can also be used for finishing an edge as they come in both coarse and smooth cut. It is good to have an assortment. Only a few are shown on the tool pages.

Clean the metal with pumice powder.

Place the metal on a steel surface plate.

Tap with a mallet to straighten.

Rub the file lightly with chalk; this helps to keep the teeth from becoming filled with metal filings.

Hold the metal firmly.

Put the pressure on the forward stroke, remove the pressure on the back stroke to keep the cutting edge of the teeth from becoming dull.

Clean the file at intervals.

Remove the burr on the filed edge with a scraper or coarse emery cloth.

Cleaning the file, p. 3.

The work must always be held firm either in the hand or in a vise or ring clamp.


Soldering is a process used to hold metal pieces together by using another metal or combination of metals which melt and flow at a lower temperature than the metal to be joined.

For the following projects soft solder of tin and lead is used. Pure tin is used as solder only with sterling silver, as it is the color of silver and retains its brilliance. To help the flow of the solder and to keep the metal in condition when heated, a substance called flux is necessary. The flux referred to in this book is in paste form.

An electric soldering iron, or electric plate, will heat the metal enough so the solder will flow on the parts to be joined. Wire or small pieces of metal may be soldered with the iron. The electric plate is used for large areas of metal, or that of heavy gauge which cannot be heated enough with the iron. The metal to be joined must be held firmly until it cools.

Soldering irons can be obtained in several different types with replacement tips. The copper tip of the iron must have a thin coating of solder before it can be used. This process is called tinning.

Tinning the iron

Heat the iron. Turn off the electric current.

File the hot tip until it is a bright copper on all surfaces.

Reheat the iron. Rub the hot tip in the flux and solder until a thin coat of solder covers all surfaces of the tip.

Soldering wire joints and small pieces of metal

Hold the metal pieces firmly together.

Pick up the solder with the tip of the iron and place on the joint. Heat the metal until the solder flows.

Sweating a sawed design of metal to a metal background

Clean and flux one side of the metal sheet from which the design is to be sawed. Lay pieces of solder on the fluxed surface. Place on a screen and hot plate until the solder flows. Spread the solder with a hot iron to form a thin coat on the metal. Rinse in water and dry. Saw the design and file all edges smooth.

Clean and flux the background sheet. Clamp the design to the sheet and soldered surface down. Place on a screen and hot plate until the solder melts. This is shown when a thin light line appears between the two metals. Let cool before removing the clamps.

Filing, p. 12. Transferring the design, p. 8. Sawing, p. 8.

Cleaning, Polishing and Finishing

The processes of cleaning, polishing and finishing, as presented in this book, are done by hand without the use of acids or motor driven polishing buffs.

The condition of the metal to be cleaned determines which tool or abrasive should be used first to remove scratches or other defects. Start with the coarsest tool or abrasive necessary and use in succession others finer than the one just used. When smooth and clean, the metal is ready for polishing. The final steps in finishing a piece of jewelry are very important, for if they are done well they will add much to the beauty of the article.

Use tools and abrasives in the following sequence

Clean the metal with fine pumice powder and water, using a soft cloth for flat surfaces and a brush for recessed parts. This will remove discoloration and will show which of the tools or abrasives should be used first.

File in the direction of a deep scratch, using a long stroke with a coarse file, and continue with finer files.

Remove excess solder with a file, scraper or emery cloth.

Remove marks of the file and minor scratches with emery cloth, or scotch stone dipped in water, rubbing in a circular motion to avoid wearing a groove in the metal.

Rub the metal with fine pumice powder and water.

Rub a piece of felt, charged with tripoli cake, over the metal surface (the felt may be mounted on wood and used as a hand buff).

Wash in hot soap suds to remove the oil.

Polishing and finishing

Polish with prepared metal polish for luster.

Rub the curved side of the burnisher over the metal until a high polish has been obtained.

Finish copper and brass with a thin coat of lacquer.

To oxidize sterling silver

Dip the polished silver in a solution of liver of sulphur (a lump about 1/2 inch in diameter dissolved in a quart of warm water). When the silver becomes dark rinse in cold water. Dry the metal and rub with a soft cloth dipped in whiting or fine pumice powder. Do not lacquer.

Filing, p. 12.

Wire Work

Wire may form the foundation of a piece of jewelry, or it may be applied as a decoration. It is often twisted to add lightness to a design, and can easily be formed into coils or line units of decoration for flat or curved surfaces. Twists and coils of wire can be made of round, half round, or square wire.

Keep the 14 gauge or heavier wire in coils. Wire of a lighter gauge may be wound on spools. If kinks occur in the lighter gauge wire they can be removed by holding the wire ends firmly and the length taut while drawing it over the edge of a wooden bench, or block of wood.


Many of the wire units, coils, and twists shown in this book were made on jigs. The word "jig" is a mechanics' term given to a device which is used to guide a tool or a material. A jig makes the forming of an article easier during construction and makes the finished pieces mechanically more perfect. When a design requires duplication of parts, a jig is often used. The one shown here was made on a block of wood with nails spaced and hammered into the wood, the nail heads sawed off, and the ends made smooth so the wire units may be formed and removed easily.

Wire unit made on a jig and some of the ways it can be used

Ends turned under to make slides for belts

Drops for necklaces

Wire twisting

Often a design calls for a twist of given length, sometimes a tight or loose twist. To determine the length to cut the wire is important. The gauge of the wire as well as the number of twists the wire is given will determine the length of the finished piece. When round wire is used, two or more lengths are necessary for the twist. A rope-like effect may be obtained by twisting a single length of flat or square wire. All wire should be annealed.

Twisting wire 18 gauge or lighter

Measure the amount needed for the twist.

Loop the wire length in the center, and insert the two loose ends through the hole in the spool. Hold the ends in the jaws of a table vise.

Insert a small steel rod through the loop of wire, and pull the wire taut. Hold the spool firmly against the rod. Turn the rod to twist the wire.

Twisting wire 16 gauge or heavier

Hold the looped end of the wire in the jaws of the hand vise. Clamp the loose end in the jaws of the table vise. Turn the hand vise to twist the wire.

To determine the length

In cutting the wire for a definite length of finished twist, the following examples have been given of two round wires of different gauges and lengths.


Excerpted from Jewelry Making for Beginners by Greta Pack. Copyright © 2007 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Cleaning, Polishing, and Finishing
Wire Work
Wire Twisting
Making a Round Coil
Making a Flat Wire Coil
Making Disks and Domes
Cutting Disks
Punching Domes
Barrette with Flat Coils of Wire
Bowknot Barrette of Metal
Bracelet of Twisted Wire and Flat Coils
Bracelet Band with Dangles of Flat Coils and Beads
Bracelet of Twisted Wire and Domes
Bracelet Chain of Round Rings and Shaped Units with Stone Charms
Butterfly Brooch of Copper and Brass with Tapered Coil
Butterfly Brooch of Silver with Crimped Edge and Tapered Coil
Buckle and Buttons of Domes
Chain of Round Rings
Chain of Shaped Units and Round Rings
Chain of Metal Strips and Round Rings
Chain of Onyx Beads and Coiled Units
Chain of Oval Links with Center Twist
Chain of Tubes, Wire Units and Round Rings
Chain of Onyx Beads Linked with Round Rings
Charm with Identification Initial
Charms Mounted with Stones
Charm for Good Luck
Necklace of Flat Coiled Units Linked with Oval Ring with Center Twist
Necklace of Disks and Domes Linked with Oval Ring with Center Twist
Pendant Cross of Tubing, Dome and Units, with Chain of Metal Strips and Round Rings
Pendant of Onyx with Chain of Shaped Units and Onyx Beads
Pendant with Metal Cup and Stone held by Cord and Beads
Pendant Foliated Cross of Tubing, Dome and Wire Units, with Chain of Tubing, Wire Units and Round Rings
Ring of Flat Coils
Ring with Flat Coil, Dome and Bead
Ring with Oblong Flat Stone
Ring with Stone Irregular in Shape
Scarf Holder of Twisted Wire and Flat Coils
Scarf Holder of Raised Metal, Domes and Wire
Slide for Sport Tie of Metal with Stone, and Tapered Coils

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