Tools, Materials, and What You’ll Learn in a bead and Jewelry making Class

Beading & Jewelry Making

Table of Contents for the Class

What You’ll Learn, the Tools, and the Materials (you are here)

Beads

Wire

Sheet Metal Piercing

Soldering with a torch and going farther

Welcome to the beginner-level Instructables jewellery class, whether you’re new to bead and jewelry making or returning after a break. The subject of jewellery manufacturing is vast; this lesson is structured to introduce you to four domains, each with an example project. Even if you have prior knowledge of one or more of the topics covered, I am confident that you will learn something new from this course. The materials you’ll need are stated here and at the beginning of each project.

The workshop begins with a quick and easy bead and jewelry making bracelet that you can make practically anywhere, then progresses to wire-wrapped earrings using pliers and wire. After that, you’ll build a necklace or keychain by cutting out shapes from copper, silver, or brass. A simple soldered silver ring is the end product. You’ll be ready to tackle practically any DIY jewellery creation of your own design after completing the basic crafts in this lesson.

You are free to skip around, even though the classes are designed to be completed in order, increasing in complexity and cost. Please accept my apologies in advance to anyone who prefer the spelling “jewellery.” You’ll simply have to put up with us Americans (although metric measurements are included throughout).

A beaded wrap bracelet fashioned with Amazonite stones and leather cord will be your first creation. You might enjoy this endeavour, and all of your loved ones will soon have unique versions made particularly for them.

The second project instructs you on how to make a pair of wire wrap and beaded earrings by substituting soft, flexible leather for hard, yet still flexible wire. Remember to wear your safety glasses! You can use the same Amazonite bead and jewelry making as in the bracelet creation, or you might try something new. You’ll learn how to use pliers to shape wire and jump rings, as well as how to add surface texture with a hammer and bench block.

The third class project teaches you how to pierce or cut sheet metal into whatever shape you want. You’ll design and refine the shape with bead and jewelry making jeweler’s saw and needle files, then sand the surface smooth with various grits of sandpaper. With a flex shaft rotary tool and polishing compounds, you can speed things up and get a mirror finish.

Soldering can be scary, but it’s not as difficult as it appears! While a few specialised equipment are required, this easy silver ring craft leads you through the steps and explains each new item. The metal shaping and finishing abilities you learned in the wire and sheet metal projects are applied in this final class project.

Step 1: Jewelry Tools and Materials

This lesson includes a list of all the materials you’ll need to finish the session. Don’t feel obligated to buy everything right immediately because the essential tools will be developed during the course of the session. The required supplies will be listed at the beginning of each class, so feel free to look ahead! The classes do not have to be finished in order, though I recommend reading through the entire programme before getting started with your tools. The majority of the connections are to Rio Grande, my preferred solar-power source in the United States, and Amazon.

Everything you’ll need is listed below:

  • Leather cord with a round shape (1.8mm brown)
  • F size silk bead cord
  • needle for beading
  • Beading (round 6mm Amazonite, jade, etc.)
  • Secure the project with tape or a clipboard.
  • Scissors
  • pliers with a smooth jaw (set including flush cutters)
  • Safety glasses are required.
  • Wire with a silver coating (26ga and 18ga)
  • Ear wires, jump rings, chain, clasps, and key rings are examples of jewellery findings.
  • The ruler is small.
  • Calipers are a type of calliper that is (optional)
  • Mandrels with steps (optional)
  • Block of wood
  • Carpenter’s hammer for the home
  • Hammer is after you.
  • Mallet made of rawhide
  • Files for needles
  • A pin for a bench
  • Bur lubricant, saw frame, and blades
  • Sandpaper (handi-files, wet/dry sheet, and/or sanding pads, 200-1000 grit)
  • Mask to protect against dust
  • Non-ferrous sheet metal, 18 gauge (1.1mm) (Sterling silver, copper, brass, etc.)
  • A piece of paper and a glue stick
  • Towel, small
  • An apron is a garment that is (optional)
  • Brush for the bench
  • Punch in the middle.
  • Bit for drilling (2mm or smaller)
  • Soap and an old toothbrush
  • Wax for finishing
  • Fuel for a butane torch
  • A fire extinguisher is a device that is used to put out a
  • Round sterling silver (or nickel alloy) wire, 14 gauge (1.62mm).
  • gloves that are resistant to chemicals
  • Solder in silver (small bit of each hard, medium, and easy)
  • Fill the container with water (ceramic/Pyrex) to keep it cool.
  • Mandrel for rings
  • Dremel or Flex shaft with polishing accessories and compounds (optional, see below)
  • Clamping ring
  • Kits of silver soldering equipment are available:
  • Work surface that is fire-resistant (fire bricks)
  • Pickle jars and pickle pots
  • Flux and brush, as well as a dispenser
  • Pick a solder
  • Tweezers with a cross-locking mechanism
  • Tongs made of copper

Student beginning kits comprising many of the items described here can be found for a reasonable price online or at your local jewellery supply store. If you live outside of the United States and have a favourite source of these items, send me an email and I’ll add it to this list of international suppliers: The Bead Shop (UK, Spain, France), Cooksongold (UK, Spain, France) (UK).

Step 2: Ensure your safety

Each class introduces new tools and techniques as you make jewellery, and some of the tools we’ll use are risky! The animation above demonstrates the increasing level of protection required to finish this class safely. At beginning, no protective gear is required (beading lesson). Cutting wire thus needs the use of safety glasses (wire lesson). Next, we’ll add sanding and filing to the mix (sheet metal lesson), so an apron and dust mask will come in handy. Finally, because the torch soldering instruction involves dangerous chemicals, you should wear gloves and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Step 3: Beads & Wire 

To get started crafting beaded and wire creations, you don’t need many specialised tools. These materials are easily available in craft stores and on the internet.

Leather cord and silk beading cord in a range of colours and sizes are available. Beading needles are particularly long and flexible, with big eyes to accommodate the beading cord.

Almost any substance can be used to make beads. This lesson uses round blue 6mm Amazonite stone beads, but you’re allowed to use any beads you like, whether they’re stone, crystal, or something completely different, like seed pods and coral (pictured above).

The silver-toned earrings made with two different thicknesses of silver-plated wire in this class’s wire wrapping project use the identical spherical beads (26ga and 18ga). Jewelry findings include little jump rings and ear wires, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you want to use a different wire colour, go ahead!

When working with wire, you’ll need a choice of clean, smooth-jawed pliers. Jewelry pliers have smooth surfaces (no teeth to leave marks on fragile jewellery) and are available in a variety of shapes. Yes, you do require this many! You’ll need two pairs of pliers to open and close jump rings. Purchase a dedicated set of bead and jewelry making pliers for yourself!

Jewelry is an extremely precise craft. To measure materials and draw straight lines, you’ll need a small ruler at the very least. Analog or digital callipers can be useful for determining the size of beads, wire, and sheet metal after they’ve accumulated in your supply box, but they’re not required to accomplish any of the projects in this class.

Step 4: At the Jewelry Bench

A bench block is a pounding surface made of smooth (typically stainless) steel. When pounding wire flat or imparting surface texture, use a smooth chasing hammer. When you need to straighten round wire or flatten smooth-finished sheet, use a rawhide (or nylon) mallet to shape metal without deforming the surface.

A full-size carpenter’s hammer is useful for hammering a sharp centre punch into sheet metal, which is the first step in drilling a hole. Use your polished chasing hammer with steel instruments to avoid scratching the surface, which will transfer to subsequent work!

There are many more specialty bead and jewelry making hammers available for various types of shaping and texturing, but these three will get you started and help you finish the projects in this class.

To cut complicated shapes from sheet metal, a jeweler’s frame saw is fitted with small blades. For this class, you can use any 18 gauge (1.1mm) non-ferrous metal (copper, brass, sterling silver, etc.) with a wide range of prices. To relieve stress on the sensitive blades, a bur lubrication is required.

A solid piece of wood with a V-cut (called a bench pin) is incredibly useful for working with little amounts of sheet metal and other in-progress metal jewellery. As you cut, file, sand, and polish, you’ll be able to brace your work and access every nook and cranny. With a clamp-on bench block/bench pin combo, you can turn any strong table into a jewellery bench. If you don’t have a hacksaw, double-check that the bench pin you purchase already has a notch.

Needle files come in a variety of shapes and sizes to help you improve the shape of your metal and prepare it for sanding. Get a multi-metal kit to use exclusively for soft jewellery metals.

Sandpaper of coarse to fine grit, which refers to the abrasive particle size, will be used to refine the surface of your metal. You can make a little sanding board by taping sandpaper to a flat surface, or you can buy sanding boards that act like nail files. If you don’t want to use a rotary tool to polish your crafts, you can still get a good shiny finish by sanding with superfine sanding pads.

Steel mandrels will be used to create flawless circles, loops, and other rounded shapes. The small step mandrels on the left are for minor wire crafts, while the giant ring mandrel on the right is for shaping soldered silver rings.

Step 5: Using the Rotary Tool

A rotary tool, which is used in this class for drilling holes and polishing metal, is quite handy for little jewellery tasks (and can shorten sanding time quite considerably). You can get by with a Dremel or a full-size power drill held in a vice, though I like my Foredom flex shaft, which has a hanging motor, lightweight handpiece, and foot pedal for speed control.

These tools spin at a high rate, and there’s a chance that a stray piece of material or a damaged tool will fly into your eyes or into the eyes of someone nearby. When using rotary tools, always wear safety glasses and a dust mask, and tie long hair back.

Depending on what accessory is loaded in the chuck, the rotary tool’s function changes (a dedicated wrench is often required). The interior cuts in the sheet metal project are pierced with tiny drill bits, and the surface of the soldered ring project is polished with polishing buffs. Polishing compounds are extremely fine abrasive materials that are used in conjunction with soft buffs to refine surfaces to a highly polished mirror quality, if desired.

Brushes, bristle discs, silicone with integrated abrasive, and other rotary tool accessories are available for sanding and polishing, and you may develop a preference for various types and forms based on what you like to make (e.g. flat broad shapes vs. more intricate designs with hard-to-reach places).

Step 6: Obtaining Soldering Materials

Silver soldering is the final skill you’ll learn. This involves heating a metal over the melting point of a low-melting alloy called solder, which then flows between the metals to form a link. Although the temperature range of silver soldering is technically known as brazing, the term is rarely used in the context of jewellery creation.

Small butane torches are available at kitchen supply stores and online for a reasonable price. These common household torches are ideal for the class’s little silver wire craft. Keep the torch and fuel in a secure location away from severe temperatures, and have a fire extinguisher handy.

You’ll solder on fireproof bricks to cover your work area, which come in a variety of materials such as vermiculite, charcoal, and ceramic.

Cross-locking tweezers (as a third-hand instrument or by themselves) are ideal for gripping hot jewellery. They work in the opposite way to ordinary tweezers, clamping down by default and releasing their grip only when the handle is squeezed.

The alloy silver solder has a low melting point. Hard (745-788°C), medium (720-765°C), easy (705-723°C), and extra-easy (667-709°C) melting values are available. Hard solder is used to make the first solder joint(s), then medium solder is used to avoid melting the previous joint(s), and so on with easy and extra-easy solder. Flux is a liquid or paste that aids in the flow of solder. For moving solder pieces around, tweezers and a solder pick come in in.

A consequence of oxidation known as firescale will have formed on your metal after soldering, which is best cleaned with a pickle solution. Because this acid works best when it’s heated, you’ll use it in conjunction with a pickle pot, a little slow cooker (never again to be used for food). If you don’t have access to a pickle pot, a mason jar would suffice, however the process will take much longer at lower temperatures. With your pickle, read the chemical safety information and instructions: Some are quite dangerous, while others are rather harmless (safety glasses, gloves, and a well-ventilated area are recommended regardless of pickle type). Many pickle solutions react with steel tools, contaminating the batch by copper-plating anything that comes into contact with it afterwards. To deposit into and retrieve jewellery pieces from the pickle pot, copper tongs (or wood, or plastic) are employed.

Let’s put all of our new equipment to good use and make some jewellery!

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