It has probably been about 7 years or more since I took a 6 week metal smithing class. I live about 40 minutes
from Columbus, Ohio and they have a wonderful place downtown that offers classes is a variety of subjects, The Columbus Cultural
Arts Center. I really enjoyed the class and I got to use cool tools like torches, saws, pickling pots and so on.
The torch thing is a little intimidating at first. But I became more comfortable with it. I think what this class
did more than anything else was allow me to think of the possibility of dabbling with metals. I learned how to use the
jeweler's saw (shown below) and make precise cuts from metal using metal sheeting. I mostly used brass and copper.
It really was quite an easy thing to do. You don't need a lot of tools to do some creative things with metal.
I try to play with metals without using heat and more involved processes. I like using spoons to play with. Here
is a picture below of what I did with a spoon, hammer, adhesive, charms from Articus Studio. I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades
and master of none. I love learning about all sorts of techniques and things but Articus demands more time than I can
devote to really perfecting and learning all there is about certain techniques. So if you think you would like to delve
into some metal- jump right in. If you find you really like it- you can devote more time and money investing in tools
to help you explore this wonderful medium.
This picture is 3d so the scanner tends to blur the things not closest to the glass. I have worn this
quite often on a necklace wire and received many compliments.
German Style Saw Frame~ This is a jewelers saw- looks intimidating, but it really is not. It can
open up a whole new world for you in metals. It is essential for cutting a precise shape of metal. There are many
books and information out there as to how to use one- I will try to add a little on this page for that. You also need
blades for it and they are sold below.
Herkules 2/0 White Label Sawblades~These are the kind of blades that fit into the jewelers saw above.
This particular size is a bit of a generic blade, this size being used more frequently than most others. It is recommended
14 gauge metal and books recommend it for 20 and 22 gauge metal too. The blade sizes are based primarily
on the number of teeth per inch. The more teeth per inch-the finer and cleaner cut you will be able to make. Coarser
blades will cut faster but it will be a less clean cut. Not to worry- we have the file sets to smooth any coarse areas.
To load this into your saw-
1. Hold the jewelry saw facing you- this is the part that has the knobbies you loosen/tighten facing you.
2. Insert the blade so that the teeth face the floor, angled away from the frame part- the silver part.
3. Insert the blade into the top by unscrewing the top wing or thumbscrew, insert the blade and tighten the screw.
The saw blades are fairly delicate and they should be taut in your frame when you are sawing. A loose blade will make
sawing more difficult and will probably break or buckle if it is loose. You will get the hang of this this pretty easy.
4. Insert the bottom part of the saw blade by unscrewing the thumbscrew at the bottom of the frame. Insert
the blade-remember it must be taut- maybe even play a little music on it. Tighten the screw.
These saw do not come with written instructions so you can refer back to this page or pick up a couple books on it that
I recommend at the bottom of the page.
Sold per package of 12 blades- 1 dozen.
10 Piece Needle File Set~The big bonus to this set is the little handles that come with it.
I think needle files are a must have whether you are working a little or alot in metal. Even using the brass charms,
if I remove a ring from the top of the charm, it is nice to have these on hand to file that smooth. You can also add
some texture to a flat piece of metal but running the files over it. These are all different shapes to fit all
kinds of shapes of metal- the set includes 2 round, 2 triangle, 1 knife shape, 1 half-round, 1 square, 1 oval, 2 flat (1 blunt
& 1 tapered). You can also use them to shape and detail polymer clay and PMC metals before and after firing.
Their size also makes them ideal for getting into confined spaces. The files are made of high-grade steel and set into
the 2 x 1/2" handles. The tool length is approx. 6". It is important to keep your files clean so they perform
at their best for you. If you notice bits of metal debris clogging the teeth, clean them by pulling a wire brush across
the surface of the file in the same direction as the "cuts". The file teeth on your file are formed by making many small
cross-hatch "cuts" in the steel creating small teeth between the intersectioin. A good file will last forever if you
take care of it. Think of your tools as an investment. One of the best things I ever bought was a red Craftsmen
tool storage unit from Sears. I know where my tools are-I can't find the other things to use the tools on- but I know
where the tools are.
Need a hammer to add texture to your metal- you can find it on this page link for jewelry making tools & hammers
Beadsmith Multi Mandrel Set~Cool looking huh. Think of it as a flashlight handle and you can put
4 different interchangeable tops on it. Very clever. This is a tool for the wire wrapper in you that just wants
to wrap everything in sight. Or you could hold it in your hand and make up a rapping song about wire wrapping..oh well,
just one of those days-it could be the faux microphone. Send me a pic.
1. Select the shape you want to use- round or circle, oval, square or triangle. Insert it into the handle.
2. Select the size you want. The triangle shape has 10 graduated levels to choose and the other shapes have
12 graduated levels. Then secure the wire at the desired level.
3. Just begin to wrap the wire, pulling it tightly as you wrap it around the mandrel. You can add beads,
ribbons, etc.- to incorporate these items, remove the wire, add the item then return it back to the mandrel and resume wrapping.
4. Continue wrapping the wire on the mandrel until you have what you want for your piece.
5. To finish, remove the shaped wire from the mandrel and secure the ends, looping them where appropriate.
As I said, the mandrels have different levels ranging in size as follows-
Round- 12 levels ranging from 6.5mm to 27.5 mm diameter
Square- 12 levels ranging from 6.6mm to 25x25 mm
Oval- 12 levels ranging from 11x5mm to 29x23mm
Triangle- 10 levels ranging from 5x5x5mm to 31x31x31 mm
You can now make all the shaped jump rings, toggles, pendants, earrings and other jewelry items as well as decorative
items for home accents and scrapbooking embellishments, altered art, etc.
Beadsmith Rubber 4"x4" Bench Block~This is a non-skid, non marring surface that is excellent for flattening
wire, chasing metal and securing parts for filing. You can also use under a steel bench block to reduce noise and vibration
from hammering. It is made of a firm vulcanized rubber. If you rubber stamp and have used the red rubber typically
attached to wood mounted stamps- then you have used vulcanized rubber. It measures 4"x4" and 1" thick. From the
Beadsmith-a supplier of professional tools and equipment.
Need a wire jig to create even more interesting shapes from wire? Find it on this page link
Leather Bench Block Pad~This is a pad to help hold bench blocks & anvils in
place while flattening wire, chasing metal and using punches. It reduces noise and vibration from hammering. It
is constructed of suede (grey) with double stitched and glued edges. It is filled with sand and measures 5.5" x 5.5".
The picture is a little fuzzy. When scanning- if it isn't perfectly flat it grabs what is closest to the glass and blurs
An assortment of different colored wires can be found on this page link
Center Punch Square Head Set of 5~This set comes in 5 different sizes, 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 9/64" and
5/32" The square heads make it easy to hit with your hammer. You would use these to start a hole in metal.
They don't make the hole, but when you want to drill a hole in metal, use these to make an indentation in the metal so your
drill won't slip around on the metal- gives it a good starting point to drill. Made of tool steel, hardened and tempered.
It has a knurled body for better grip and comes in a plastic pouch for storage.
Jewelry Tweezers~ These measure approx. 3 1/4" in length and have a flat surface for gripping items.
I think they would work great if your are soldering your slides and need something to hold them (they get pretty hot).
You may have a different use for them in mind. They are not spring loaded so you control the open and close function
~To saw from the inside or center of sheet metal-
1. Start by drilling a tiny hole into the metal. Get your Dremel or rotary tool or other drill out for this.
I love the flexible attachment you can add to the rotary or Dremel tool for drilling.
2. Insert the blade (this is where you use the jewelry saw- you have to unhook the bottom of the blade-then insert
it in the hole you drilled and tighten it back into the saw). Then you can begin to saw out your design. It helps
to draw out the design first with a Sharpie. When finished, loosen the bottom screw and release the saw blade.
4 Main Reasons Saw Blades will break~
1. Saw blade was not inserted tight or taut enough.
2. Saw blade is wrong size
3. Saw is being turned too quickly inside the sheet metal
4. The saw blade is being pushed through the metal rather than pulled up and down. Let the saw work for you.
When I took the metal smithing class, I found sawing the metal to be very relaxing. Don't hurry...just enjoy.
Lubricate your saw blade with beeswax or other lubricant.
~Best Kept Metal Cleaner Secret~
My brother was visiting
me, August 2014. He's my favorite brother (my only brother) and like big brothers usually are, very smart and knowledgeable.
We were in Menards, which is a big box hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. So the aisle we were in had all different
types of cleansing agents. He pointed out one to me called Bar Keepers Friend. I had told him earlier that day
of a problem I had with some brass. So he thought this would help. The can says it is a cleanser and a polisher.
It is much like Comet cleanser only very fine. When I tried it on the brass, I fell in love with this...a where have
you been all my life! kind of moment. It is a wonderful metal cleaner. A few days later- and this is so
very weird- I was looking for a certain scrubby thing and I have those little compartments on the cabinets under sink that
fall out to keep them in and I found a ring. I thought it was long gone- we had a fire in 2004 and most of my jewelry
was destroyed. This was a favorite ring, sterling silver with 3 small stones in it. It was so black and caked
with soot that had been on there for 10 years. Guess what......it looks like new now. I used the Bar Keepers Friend,
toothbrush and some muscle and got every bit of soot and discoloration off the ring. Some spots I used one of
the fine grit sanding pads I carry, but I couldn't believe what a fantastic job it did. The bad part is....my fingers
are a little larger now and can't wear it. So check out your favorite hardware store- maybe Walmart carries it, but
it will be a treasured tool for your metal work.
Some other cool tools you may find useful:
Jewelers bench pin; ring clamp; metal shears or tin snips; hammers-so many neat ones; riveting hammer, rawhide or plastic
mallet, chain nose pliers, flush cut pliers, Dremel or rotary drill; center punch-any hardware store will have these- very
useful for metal work; dapping block; anvil.
If you desire any of these tools and can't find them, I can order them in for you. I may be adding some to this
page in future too.
Metal 101~ From Mark Lareau's book, I learned the most interesting thing. Understanding a little
of the science behind the metal can help in your metal working technique. When you work with metal, the more
you work it or bend it or hammer it the harder it becomes (Work Hardened Metal). The reason for this is that you are
smashing the atoms in the molecules-aren't you just so impressed- well you hit them and they flatten out- they are shifting
into a more tightly packed conglomeration so your metal becomes harder, stiffer and brittle. At some point, if you don;t
stop, they become so jam packed and there is no where else for them to go so the metal breaks. Think of bending a spoon
back and forth and how it finally breaks. You smooshed the molecules as far as they could go so it can't stay together
with the rest of the metal and it breaks. Sounds like a relationship huh!
So how do you avoid breaking up......a process called annealing- which is heating the metal to a certain temperature
for a certain a mount of time. This time and temp is different for each kind of metal. What happens is the molecules
will get back to their regular shape, realigning themselves. So then you can begin work hardening them again into the
shape you want. Now think of the ol' western movies where the town blacksmith is hard at work in his barn. He
holds that metal or horse shoe and whacks it and whacks it, then he puts it in the fire and heats it up again, takes it out,
quenches or cools it in some water and he begins hammering and shaping it again. It is all about those little molecule/atom
Most of the time, I am working with metal just a short period of time so I can have fun and play with the metal and not
have to worry about heating it (annealing) and major fuss. I am a low maintenance kind of gal and like things quick
and fairly easy. Also, ignorance is often bliss.
What metal?~You have a myriad of metal resources right in your home. How about some tin cans,
fancy tins-maybe you want to use the pretty graphic on the tin, candy tins, screws, gears, watch parts, old jewelry parts,
keys, wire mesh, pop cans, etc.
You can create your piece using these items or practice on these items before you invest in metal sheeting.
It is all there for the taking.
|Corrine Copper Insert in Patera Ring
I made this ring starting with the Patera Square Ring, then I took a piece of copper, used texture hammers
to give it some roughness, added a little teal paint to the indentations in the metal and cut it to fit the square Patera
ring using the Tim Holtz scissors- love them, they cut metal- and added some little bling beads and covered it with Ranger's
Glossy Accents resin. Just a simple technique with some cool tools.
FYI~ Are your Solder Tips getting dark & oxidized??
One of my customers shared her saga with her soldering iron and I thought I would pass it along to you.
Hopefully, it can prevent someone from going thru this.
She had 2 soldering irons, a Radio Shack one and an Inlad 100 watt one. The tips kept getting really
dark and oxidized- she was using tip cleaner/tinner regularly and following all the directions. She would solder a few
pieces and then it would quit taking solder on her- quite frustrating to say the least. She researched
everything she could on taking care of your tips and this is what she found out.
The lead free solder melts at a much higer temperature than the solder containing lead and they are bad
on tips. One site specifically mentioned not to use the INLAND 100 Watt Irons with the lead free as she also was having
customers complain about the same problem (tip dark and oxidized).
The recommendation is that if you are using lead free solder or silver gleam, the Weller 100 watt
iron is the best. It ranges in price from $63-$75 depending on where you buy it.
I hope this helps stave off a frustrating soldering problem for someone.