Metal is one of the most durable and attractive materials with which to make jewellery. While metal jewellery is readily available for sale at virtually all jewellery retailers, it is both possible and fun to make your own. In fact, with the right tools and equipment, you can convert scrap metal into jewellery. Search your home and even your jewellery case for bits and pieces of old metal you no longer want or use; you can transform them into new adornments.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Scrap silver or gold
- Butane torch
- Stirring rod
- Metal tongs
- Ingot mould or other mould
- Rolling mill
- Jeweller's saw
- Optional: ring mandrel, bracelet mandrel, rawhide mallet
Verify that your scrap metal consists of a solid precious metal, such as gold or silver. These metals will result in much better-looking and higher-quality jewellery.
Prepare the crucible--a small, highly refractory, dome-shaped vessel in which metal is melted--by adding a pinch of flux to it. Note that flux is a substance made of borax that prevents the oxidation of heated metal and helps it to flow better when it is poured.
Place the scrap metal in the crucible.
Turn on your butane torch. Aim the flame at the scrap metal. Adjust the flame so it is neither too low or too high, but somewhere in the middle. Move the flame around slightly but keep it in constant contact with the scrap metal.
Stir the scrap metal with a graphite stirring rod while you heat it with the torch to encourage it to melt more quickly. Continue to heat and stir the scrap metal until it is molten.
Turn off the butane torch and pick up the crucible with metal tongs. Move quickly but carefully. Do not allow the molten scrap metal to cool and solidify, but be careful not to spill it.
Pour the molten scrap metal into an ingot mould--a vessel in which to pour molten metal that you plan to reserve for later use.
Remove the thoroughly cooled and solidified scrap metal from the ingot mould. Transform the moulded scrap metal into a flat sheet of metal using a jewellery rolling mill--a crank-operated machine through which metal is squeezed to become progressively flatter. Place the moulded scrap metal into the rolling mill and crank it through the mill as many times as required to achieve a sheet of metal of the desired thickness.
Draw a design on the sheet metal using a pencil. Consider drawing a pendant in the shape of a circle or heart, or a rectangular strip that you can form into a ring or bracelet.
Cut the shape out of the sheet metal using a jeweller's saw. Move the saw straight up and down against the sheet metal as you cut; do not hold it at an angle.
Smooth the sharp or jagged edges of the cut-out piece of metal with sandpaper.
Add holes to the piece with a hammer and nail if you desire; holes will be useful if you are making a pendant. Make a ring or bracelet by hammering a cut-out strip of metal against a ring or bracelet mandrel--a conical mould used for shaping metal into round forms--with a rawhide mallet.
Tips and warnings
- Smelt different types of precious metals separately from each other, and pour them into separate ingot moulds.
- Note that gold melts at a higher temperature, about 148 degrees C higher than the melting point of silver. This means it will take slightly longer to melt scrap gold than scrap silver.
- Keep your ingot mould close to the place where you melt the scrap metal. This way, you won't have to travel too far when you pick up the crucible and pour the molten metal into the mould.
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