How to Begin Silversmithing

Written by kim blakesley Google
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How to Begin Silversmithing
Use a compass to draw the circle for a silver cutout medallion. (compass 5 image by dinostock from

Begin silversmithing by purchasing the proper tools and materials. Basic tools and materials include a jeweller's saw, saw blades, jeweller's files, silver solder (easy, medium and hard), flux, paintbrush, jeweller's pickle (which is an acid for cleaning), glass container with cover, wooden bench pin and bracket, copper tongs, tweezers, scissors, acetylene torch, striker, emery paper, sandpaper, safety glasses and silver metal sheeting. A good beginning silversmith project is making a two layer cutout necklace medallion. Use the techniques of cutting, filing, fluxing, soldering, cleaning and finishing to make a cutout coin.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Drawing Compass
  • Rubber cement
  • 18-gauge silver sheeting
  • Jeweller's saw
  • Drill
  • 1/16 drill bit
  • Wooden bench pin and bracket
  • Jeweller's files
  • Easy silver solder
  • Acetylene torch
  • Size 0 torch tip
  • Striker
  • Safety goggles
  • Flux
  • Paintbrush
  • Heat resistant surface
  • Tweezers
  • Jeweller's pickle
  • Glass container with lid
  • Copper tongs
  • Water
  • Emery paper
  • Soft cloth

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  1. 1

    Use a drawing compass to draw a 2-inch circle on a piece of paper. Draw a 1 1/2-inch quarter moon in the centre of the circle. The quarter moon is a good shape to experiment with cutting a design from the inside of an object. This process is essential for beginning silversmiths.

  2. 2

    Fold the paper over so there is a double layer under the circle. Cut through both layers to create two circles.

  3. 3

    Cover the back of each circle completely with rubber cement. Immediately stick the rubber cement to the 18-gauge sterling silver sheet.

  4. 4

    Secure the wooden bench pin with a "V" cut in the end and bench pin bracket to a table edge. Place the silver sheet on the surface of the bench pin. A bench pin bracket is like a small bench vice but with a piece of wood that sticks out the end. This allows room for holding the jeweller's saw perpendicular to the cutting surface and using the proper cutting motion.

  5. 5

    Use a jeweller's saw and cut both circles from the sterling silver. Make sure the saw blade is perpendicular to the silver sheeting for optimal cutting. The cut is made when the saw blade is drawn down. No cutting occurs on the upward motion of the jeweller's saw.

  6. 6

    Place the solid circle to the side. Pick up the circle with the quarter moon design.

  7. 7

    Drill a hole on the inside of the quarter moon design. This is the area to cut out from the circle.

  8. 8

    Unscrew the bolt that tightens the saw blade from the jeweller's saw. Place the saw blade through the drilled hole. Place the saw blade back in the saw blade slot and tighten the bolt. The jeweller's saw is similar to a hacksaw but with a finer blade.

  9. 9

    Place the silver circle on the wooden bench pin. Cut out the quarter moon design.

  10. 10

    Use a jeweller's file and sandpaper to smooth out the cut edges of the design. There should be no bumps or cut marks. A well cut and well sanded quarter moon shape will show two perfectly curved lines.

  11. 11

    Read the instruction on the jeweller's pickle container. Place the required amount of water and jeweller's pickle crystals in the water. Stir the mixture with a copper tongs. Follow the manufacturer's mixing instructions. Place a lid on the container after mixing. Make enough pickle so there is at least one inch of solution in the bottom of the glass container. Now it is time to solder.

  1. 1

    Place the solid circle on a fire resistant surface used for soldering. Use a paintbrush and brush flux over the entire surface.

  2. 2

    Cut 1/16-inch pieces of easy silver solder. Use a tweezers and place the easy silver solder on the surface of the solid circle beneath the solid areas of the circle with the quarter moon cut out. Do not worry if some pieces are within the cut out area. These are removed with a tweezers after the circle with the cut out quarter moon is placed on top.

  3. 3

    Use a paintbrush and brush flux over the back and front surface of the quarter moon cut out medallion. Carefully place the circle on top of the silver solder. Make sure to line up the outside edge of the circle. Pick up any flux that is in the cut out area with a tweezers.

  4. 4

    Put on the safety glasses. Light the acetylene torch. Place the flame over the top of the medallion so the tip of the flame is just above the surface. Move the flame in a circular motion. Watch the distance between the top and bottom circle. The top circle will drop to the bottom circle when the silver solder melts. Remove the flame when there is no longer a gap between the top and bottom. This will take between 30 to 45 seconds. Turn off the acetylene torch.

  1. 1

    Use a copper tongs and pick up the very hot silver medallion. Open the lid on the pickle. Very carefully place the coin in the pickle and replace the lid. Let the coin sit in the pickle for 3 to 5 minutes.

  2. 2

    Use the copper tongs and remove the medallion from the pickle. Place the coin under a stream of cool water to wash off any remaining pickle. Use a soft cloth and wipe the surface.

  3. 3

    Use a flat jeweller's file and file the edges of the medallion so one solid edge appears. This will take off any edges that were not cut correctly.

  4. 4

    Find the top centre of the medallion. Measure 1/16-inch from the top edge. Drill a hole through the two layers of silver to create a hole for a jump ring to connect the medallion to a chain.

  5. 5

    Sand the entire surface to remove any scratches. Wipe off the medallion when finished.

Tips and warnings

  • Place an enamel mixture in the cut out quarter moon opening to add colour.

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