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Metalsmithing 101

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Additional metalsmithing tools and techniques include heating the metal, soldering pieces together, and decorating it with engraved, stamped or embossed patterns and textures. You can also inlay it with precious gems or finish it with colorful lacquer or a rich patina.

One of the easiest ways to begin learning the craft of metalsmithing is by making jewelry.

Basic jewelry-making tools and accessories include: 

  • Safety glasses
  • Metal file to remove sharp edges and round corners
  • Small jewelers’ files to reach inside cutouts for smoothing
  • Jewelry hand saw and blades to cut metal blanks
  • Wooden or leather covered hammer to form metal without marking it
  • Ball-peen hammer to add texture to the surface
  • Bench pin (protruding from the edge of the workbench to allow easy maneuvering around the workpiece)
  • Mandrels for shaping rings and bracelets
  • Sandpaper to smooth edges
  • Torch for soldering and softening metal (annealing)
  • Solder and flux to join pieces together
  • Vise or clamps
  • Pliers

The first decision when designing a piece of jewelry is choosing the type of metal. Different options include:

  • Gold – Mixed with other metals to achieve different looks, such as rose gold (mixed with copper). Higher carats mean a higher percentage of gold.
  • Sterling silver – Contains a small percentage of copper. It’s durable and long-lasting, though susceptible to corrosion.
  • Silver-filled – A layer of silver overlaying a less expensive metal wire.
  • Copper, iron, brass – These base metals cost less and make unique, attractive pieces, though they must be protected from oxidation.
  • Platinum – Expensive and luxurious, durable and will not tarnish.
  • Titanium – Lightweight, strong, hypoallergenic, and scratch-resistant, but can’t be soldered or resized.
Industrial Metal Supply has six convenient locations in California and Arizona, supplying a wide range of metal hobbyist resources. We carry jewelry-making metals, such as brass, aluminum, stainless steel, music wire, copper sheet and copper tube. Contact us for your metalsmithing needs today.
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