Making Matching Components for your Jewelry Design

Hello and welcome back to my miniseries in Metalsmithing Jewelry

In the last post, we reviewed the step by step tutorial for a Brass Oval With Eye Loop.

I showed you one technique for making near perfect matching components. 

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Today we are going to take a look at a second option for making the same basic shape but using copper wire. 

The main differences between the first version and today’s tutorial are the method used to form the oval (wrap and tap pliers instead of a Mandrel) and the filing technique used to form the join before soldering the shape (using a three sided file to notch the wire).

Techniques

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
  • Soldering 
  • Finishing 
  • Polishing
  • 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. 

Flush Cutting the Wires

The first step is to measure and cut the wire properly.

Begin by flush cutting two lengths of your wire  4 and 1/2 inches long.

Using the flush side of your cutters towards the working wires make the next few steps easier. 

Just like we did in the previous tutorial, use your flat file to make both ends of each wire smooth and flat.

Using your Sharpie, mark the center of each wire at 2.25 inches.

Forming the Components

Line up both wires evenly, place the center mark on the back side of your largest barrel of the wrap and tap pliers as shown.

If you are using a mandrel today, the center mark on the wires should line up in the center of the mandrel.

Bring the ends of the wires up and around the large barrel slowly and evenly. Push the wires across each other at the point where the cross forming and x-shape at the top. 

Use your clamps or hemostats to secure each component, making any adjustments needed to have them look exactly alike. 

Using the Sharpie again, mark the bottom wire on both sides of the upper wire. 

Now we are going to file a small notch between the marks so that the upper wire fits down into the groove before soldering. 

Start out using the three sided file to create a small notch. 

Checking for the fit often, you can smooth out the edges with your round needle file if needed. 

Try not to remove more than half the metal.

The upper wire should nestle into the groove as shown with no gaps. 

Reclamp the component once you are satisfied with the fit. 

Repeat the steps above for the second component.

Double check the alignment and size of your shapes to ensure they are as close to identical as you can make them. 

Now we are ready to solder. 

Soldering the Shape

Apply flux to the join and a pallion of hard solder. 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. 

Now for some final touches before we finish and polish. 

Trimming and Work Hardening

With the flush side of the cutters against the component, cut the end of the top wire off. 

File the edge smooth using the half-round file.

Do these steps for both components. 

Just like we did for the Brass components, work harden the components using a rawhide or nylon mallet and your steel bench block.

Check often that you are not mis-shaping the two pieces, and make any small adjustments using the large barrel of the wrap and tap pliers. 

Use your round nose or multi-step looping pliers to form the eye loop by rolling the loop back towards outer edge. 

From the photo above, I rolled my loop downwards to the right side of the components. 

Finishing and Polishing

If you are finishing and polishing by hand, remember to use the coarsest files and sand papers first and work to the finest grits. 

Begin by using your files to remove any deep scratches or tool marks.

Then smooth the surface and remove any additional firescale with the sandpapers. 

If you opt for using a rotary tool to do the work, start out with your burs or grinding stones and work through to your rubber abrasives to get a smooth finish. 

To polish by hand, cut a small piece of Pro-polish pad and gently polish and shine your component. 

In the next post of the series.....

In the final metalsmithing post of the series, I will demo how to make these gorgeous diamond shaped Bronze components.

Next, we are going to begin wire wrapping some gorgeous beads and stones into our components.

We will conclude the mini-series by making our own matching earring findings to finish our designs. 

I hope you are enjoying this series, and that you will use these techniques in your own way.

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See you next time....