Learn the basics behind the magic of transforming metal into jewelry.
The magic of metalsmithing is that it takes knowledge of just a few techniques to transform a piece of sheet metal. Once you learn the basics, you can start making jewelry. Most people who fall in love with metals then spend years exploring and perfecting their skills.
Set Up Your Bench
Besides making jewelry, one of the most exciting parts of getting started is setting up your jeweler’s bench with all your metalsmithing tools. A beginner’s list can be daunting. Start with the basics and add to your jeweler’s bench as you grow: bench pin, jeweler’s saw, pliers, wire cutters, files, soldering supplies, torch, hammers and a bench block.
Don’t forget your raw materials! Once you know what you want to make, you’ll likely need a variety of metals. We sell sterling silver sheet in the largest variety. We also sell fine silver sheet, brass sheet and copper sheet. Add pattern sheet for an easy, beautiful way to add dimension to your metalwork.
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Find our raw material selection of metal sheet, wire, solder and casting grain for making jewelry with traditional fabrication techniques.Shop Now
The tiny bits and pieces used to make jewelry are commonly known as "findings." Specific types of components have more precise names. In this section, you will see headpins, bails, settings, clasps and other sub-categories.Shop Now
Halstead is known for our huge selection of sterling silver and gold filled chain. Shop bulk spools of jewelry chain or finished lengths for making necklaces, bracelets and anklets.Shop Now
Shop our huge selection of earring findings including ear wires, leverbacks, posts, threaders, jackets and hoop earrings.Shop Now
Work-hardening and annealing are two of the most fundamental metalsmithing techniques. Work-hardening is anything you do to the metal that causes it to stiffen, like hammering or bending the metal back and forth a number of times. You’re pushing the metal’s molecules closer together and causing the metal to stiffen. Annealing is the process of softening the metal by heating it with a torch. Use a permanent marker to make a mark on your metal. Warm it with your torch and watch for the mark to disappear. Then, you’ll know your metal is annealed.
Fold forming metal is a fun way to practice your work hardening and annealing skills. To make a basic bracelet, you can cut a piece of copper sheet to bracelet cuff size or start out with a copper cuff blank. Anneal it, then make a sharp fold in the middle of the cuff. Hammer the fold, which typically work-hardens the metal. Anneal it again so you can open it and shape it around a bracelet mandrel.
Many people find the jeweler’s saw to be very meditative. You don’t need many jewelry sawing supplies to get started. You’ll want a saw frame, saw blades and some Cut Lube to make it easier. You can use a permanent marker to draw a pattern directly onto the sheet metal or you can cut one from paper and use rubber cement to stick it to the sheet metal. Then, take your time sawing around the pattern.
Learn Sawing From Julie Sanford
Learn more about Julie, check out her tips for using the jeweler's saw, and watch her demo video in this article.Read More
Hilary Halstead Scott
Basic Metalsmithing: Work Hardening and Annealing
This is an introduction to the concepts of work hardening and annealing. It is critical that beginning metalsmiths starting to hammer, solder and form metals understand these principles.Read More