Making Matching Components for your Jewelry Design
Hello and welcome to a new miniseries in Metalsmithing Jewelry.
I have several new project tutorials coming your way this month and I needed a few wire components to use for some wire wrapping designs.
I thought to myself, what a great time this would be to teach you all how simple it is to make your own perfectly matching components.
Today we are going to start by making these adorable Brass Ovals with Eye Loops.
Throughout the series, you can use my affiliate links for the tools and materials I use in the projects.
And I am going to walk you step by step through the processes and techniques I used and include all the photos and directions you need to be successful.
We are going to use some very basic metal and wire working skills to make our components in today’s project.
If you need a refresher on any of the terms, tools or techniques, I have severals posts available in Metalsmithing Jewelry that you may find useful.
Please remember to take the proper Safety precautions when setting up your Solder Station.
- Flush Cutting
- Creating Angles
- Basic Foming
- Making Duplicates
- Work Hardening
Tools and Materials
I have added my Amazon Affiliate links to these products for your convenience.
I can honestly tell you that I have purchased each one of these items myself from Amazon and can vouch for the quality and durability.
You can use any base or precious metal wire you prefer for your project. And you are free to use any thickness you want as well.
Using thinner gauges may present problems later when we begin the wire wrapping portion of our project.
I chose 16 gauge dead soft wire because it is easy to form and can be hardened afterwards creating a stable component for wire wrapping.
I recommend using Base metal for beginners as it is cheap and won’t break your heart if you make an irreversible mistake.
Gather your supplies and let’s get to it.
Flush Cutting the Wires
The first step is to measure and cut the wire properly.
Begin by flush cutting two lengths of your wire 3 and 1/2 inches long.
Using the flush side of your cutters towards the working wires make the next few steps easier.
Use your flat file to file both ends of each wire flat and smooth.
Use your fingers or nylon jaw pliers to straighten both wires.
This is the desired outcome, flat and smooth.
Using your Sharpie, mark the middle of both wires.
I started with 3.5 inch wires so I mark at 1.75 inches.
Forming the Components
Once we have the wires prepped and marked, we are ready for form our shapes.
I love this Mandrel set for forming unique shapes with wire.
Each of the four shapes is stepped for a super easy way to make identical shapes.
Today, I will be using the Oval mandrel but you can also use any round object that is at least an inch in circumference.
Because I want my oval to be slightly off center, I position my center mark to the far right of the mandrel.
As you can see, my wires are lined up evenly, and the right side of the wires are longer.
Slowly push the wires with even pressure around the mandrel to form an off center U shape.
If your ends are not perfect, use your flush cutters to even the ends up while you hold the shapes together on the mandrel.
I really prefer using my Multi-step looping pliers when making matching components.
I am holding the two components together and using the smallest barrel to form the eye loops on both components at the same time.
Notice I roll the loop to the outside edge of the component.
If you are using round nose pliers, mark the spot on the barrel with your sharpie first.
Then form each eye loop one at a time to get the same size on each component.
Once the loop is formed, I reinsert the pliers and “break the neck” which is tilting the loop backwards so that it centers above the length of the wire on this side of the component. In this instance slightly to the left.
Before I solder the component, I will fully close the loop with my pliers.
But first I need to work on the other end of the wire so that it will fit flush against the back side of the loop wire.
To do this I am going to file the wire to a 45 degree angle with my needle file.
Using a flat or half round needle file, begin filing the wire upwards on a 45 degree angle.
Work the file in the one direction only.
Check the wire after every few strokes for a flush fit against the wire end of the component.
Do not overdo it. If the angle becomes too thin, it will melt from the heat of the torch.
Now for the fun part.
Soldering the Shape
Position the wires flush against one another and use your clamp to hold the wires in place.
Now some may say I am crazy for using hemostats for this task and they might be right but. I find them to be very helpful and I don’t mind having to work out a few nicks in my wire during the finishing process.
Apply flux to the join area and the small solder pallion. Place the pallion on the join area.
I bring my solder flame in slowly and in a circular motion. Avoiding the exact area until the flux warms up and sets the pallion in place.
Then become more aggressive with the heat. Make slow circles all around the component until the metal warms fully and the solder flows.
Quench the component and using copper tongs, place in the pickle pot.
Repeat the steps for the second component.
Line up both components and do any slight tweaks on the mandrel if needed.
Next we will work harden the components.
Using a Rawhide or Nylon mallet and steel bench block, tap the component wire all the way around.
Flip the component and work the other side as well.
Reshape as needed using the mandrel.
Work until you are satisfied with the strength of your component.
The goal is a component that does not bend or warp out of shape when pressure is applied.
Finishing and Polishing
When it comes to finishing and polishing you have two options. You can either perform these tasks by hand or with power tools.
Use your files to remove any deep scratches or tool marks from your piece. Files come in various cuts or degrees of coarseness.
There are a variety of burs and stone accessories that can do the same task using a Dremel or Flex shaft.
These tools can also be used to remove any excess solder from your work.
Next, beginning with the coarsest and working through to the finest, you can use wet/dry sandpapers to refine the finish of the component.
There are also rubber accessories for your rotary tool with varying degrees of coarseness you can use to refine the finish of the component.
When using abrasives, make sure you follow established guidelines.
- Files usually only cut in one direction.
- Begin with the Coarsest and work to the Finest grit or cuts.
To polish by hand, cut a small piece of Pro-polish pad and gently polish and shine your component.
I hope you enjoy making your own components as much as I do.
I love adding that extra special touch to my work and being able to say with certainty what materials are used in my work and I can trust the durability of my pieces as well.
In the next post
Next time, I am going to show you a another way to create the same shape using Copper wire and a few different forming techniques.
I will be using the exact same tools list, only this time I am going to show you how to notch the wire using a three-sided triangular file.
Once again, I will be using 16 gauge wire only this time, copper instead of brass.
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