Here’s a project I’ve been working on in the jewelry making studio. It’s a great way to practice sawing metal, soldering sterling silver and brass sheet together and setting cubic zirconia loose stones in tube bezels.
Always take the proper safety precautions before soldering. If you’re new to soldering, read this handy starter guide.
Materials (for a 2×2″ pendant):
- 1.5″ square of 18-gauge Brass Sheet (Item#: RBWS18)
- 2″ square of 18-gauge Sterling Silver Sheet (Item#: SWS18)
- Eight 3mm CZ loose stones (Item#: CZ30)
- One 6mm CZ loose stone (Item#: CZ60)
- Eight 3mm Sterling Silver Tube Bezels (Item#: S5023)
- One 6mm Sterling Silver Tube Bezel (Item#: S5026)
- Optional: 4″ length of 18- or 20-gauge Brass or Sterling Silver Wire (for hanging the pendant)
- Graph Paper
- Rubber Cement (optional)
- Saw (Sawing Supplies)
- 1/0 Blades
- Sandpaper and Files (Files and Abrasives)
- Finishing Tools (Polishing Supplies)
- Liquid Paper (optional)
- Burnisher (Item# X212, X215 or X620)
- Bezel Roller (Item# X776)
- Round-nose pliers, flat-nose pliers, wire cutters
Note: This project will take approximately 2-3 hours (excluding the 24 hour drying time if you use rubber cement).
In the studio:
Step 1: Draw a 2″ snowflake shape and a 1.5″ sunburst on graph paper and use scissors to cut them out. Use your preferred method to transfer the snowflake to the sterling silver sheet and the sunburst to the brass sheet. You can either trace around the shapes using a fine tip Sharpie, or you can attach the paper itself to the metal using rubber cement. (If you’re using rubber cement to attach the paper shapes to the metal, let it dry for 24 hours.)
Step 2: Starting from the outer edge of the metal, use a saw to cut the sunburst design from the brass sheet.
Step 3: Use a saw to cut the snowflake from the sterling silver sheet. When you’re finished cutting it out, place the brass sunburst over the sterling silver snowflake and file to shape as needed.
Step 4: Lightly sand the surface of the sterling silver snowflake to clean and prepare for soldering. Do not touch this area with your hands afterwards as the oils can contaminate your pieces.
Step 5: Lightly sand the bottom of the 3mm bezels and then place one at the end of each snowflake tip.
Step 6: Flux your piece. Spray it on or use a paint brush to apply it. (Never dip the brush back into the container because you can contaminate the bottle of flux. Use a small jar to put a little flux into it then add more as needed. Do not pour unused flux back into the container, just discard it.)
Step 7: Use the torch flame to heat up the piece until the flux bubbles, then remove the flame.
Step 8: Drop one piece of hard solder into the center of each bezel.
Step 9: Heat up the entire sterling silver sheet from the bottom of the piece, then concentrate on each tip until all eight pieces of solder have melted (silver turns a light pink color and flux becomes clear when the solder flow point is reached.)
Step 10: Allow it to cool, then drop it into a pot of pickle using copper tongs. Once the oxidization is removed and the piece is clean, pull it out of the pot and dip the piece in a bowl of water to remove the pickle.
Step 11: Saw and file around the tube bezels or anywhere else that you want to touch up before moving to the next step.
Step 12: Lightly sand the bottom of the brass sheet sunburst and the top of the sterling silver snowflake where they will join.
Step 13: Flux both pieces thoroughly, heat the flux to the point of bubbling, then stop.
Step 14: Drop a few pieces of medium solder onto the center of the sterling silver snowflake, then place the brass sunburst on top.
Step 15: Heat up the entire bottom of the snowflake (use a soldering pick to keep the brass piece in place in case it moves around), then concentrate your flame in the center area after a few seconds. The brass will turn red when it’s hot enough for the solder to flow.
Step 16: Allow the piece to cool, then pickle and rinse (refer to Step 10 if needed).
Step 17: File and shape the piece now if you want to touch anything up.
Step 18: Lightly sand the top of the brass piece and the bottom of the 6mm tube bezel.
Step 19: Place the bezel on top and then flux the area. Heat the flux until it bubbles, then stop.
Step 20: (Optional) Apply Liquid Paper to the 3mm tube bezels to prevent the solder from re-flowing. (Please note that the Liquid Paper catches fire when you introduce a flame to it but you can easily put it out by blowing on it during the soldering process. Make sure your hair is tied back before you lean in, though!)
Step 21: Drop a couple of pieces of soft solder into the center of the 6mm bezel then heat the bottom of the piece moving to the top and concentrating on the brass piece after a few seconds. Watch for the solder to flow.
Step 22: Air cool then pickle and rinse (refer to Step 10 if needed). Finish up any filing, sanding or polishing before proceeding to the next step.
Step 23: Drop a 3mm CZ into one of the 3mm tube bezels. Make sure the bezel extends above the CZ. Using the bezel roller, carefully bend one edge of the bezel down onto the CZ, forming a “lip” to hold it in place. Move to the opposite side to create a lip there as well. Use the burnisher to smooth down the entire bezel edge to lock the CZ in. (If you have never set a stone before, I highly recommend going on YouTube and finding videos to watch.) Repeat this step to set a 3mm CZ in each outer bezel, then use the same technique for the center 6mm CZ bezel setting.
Step 24: For the (optional) hanger: Find the center of the wire and lay the two center sunburst tips of the pendant across it. Use flat-nose pliers to fold the wire ends upward and then twist them together. Fold the sunburst tips over the hanging wire. Then, use round-nose pliers to make a wrapped loop at the opposite end to hang from a necklace chain.
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