I’m sticking with the Father’s Day theme for this tutorial, seeing as it’s looming, it makes sense 🙂 If your dad or significant other is the musical type, then this necklace should suit them very well – my husband even informs me that the pendant doubles up as a very handy back up pick… But I wouldn’t advise watching him use it. I couldn’t stop grimacing, imagining every last scratch being added to my perfectly smooth piece of copper…
As with all stamped jewellery, there’s a few pricey pieces of equipment in the following list. You can do as I do, and look at it as an investment, or you can hunt about for a while on eBay – you can sometimes find these items at a greatly marked down price, if you have the patience 😉
A. Copper Sheet (I used 0.9mm thick) & a template for your pendant.
B. Jeweller’s Saw & Bench Pin (Don’t forget the saw blades!)
C. Metal Files & Abrasive Paper (In a few different grits) – Metal, when cut, is sharp. Without these tools your keychain may end up with nasty sharp pointy bits – not exactly the sort of item that you’d want to hold tightly in your hand and admire!
D. Screw Down Hole Punch
E. Three Square Needle File
F. Hammer & Steel Block – Many people tell you that you’ll need a 1lb Brass Hammer to stamp metal… I use a good old fashioned Masonry Hammer. It’s heavy, it’s slimline and it does the trick. You absolutely do have to use a metal block though – it provides the resistance that you’ll need to make an impression in the metal. Without it, your stamp will just bounce right off.
G. Metal Stamps in your choice of font – The more beautiful fonts are usually quite pricey to pick up (Around £80 for one set), but you can save yourself some money by picking up an economy stamp set at about £15.
H. Sharpie Marker
I. Black Suede – I used about 40 inches.
UPDATE: You can now find many of the tools and stamps you need to get started metal stamping in my online store!
Equipment cost: Based on the list above, you can expect to spend about £100 – £150 on these tools, if you’re buying all of them for the first time. The cost will vary depending on the quality of tools that you invest in, but you may be able to pick up an eBay bargain if you have the patience to hunt around!
Time to complete: You can make one of these necklaces in about an hour, to an hour and a half, depending on how proficient you are with the tools. If it’s your first time, I’d set aside a good chunk of the day, about two hours, so you don’t have to rush!
A little warning beforehand – there are a LOT of steps to this necklace. Lots of images and instructions follow, so you might want to take your time and read through with a cup of coffee first before you start, so you have an idea of where we’re heading!
Let’s get started!
1. To begin with, we need the shape for our pendant. Take your guitar pick (or whatever you chose as your template) and trace around it on the edge or a corner of your metal sheet. Placing the template close to the edge will allow you to cut with minimal waste, and it will make your job easier too!
2. Now we need to string your Jeweller’s Saw. This seems like a very complicated procedure until you take your time to understand it. The idea behind the saw is that it works to keep tension in the saw blade (which are sold separately in a variety of sizes. I used a grade 2/0 saw blade for this pendant). To do this, follow these steps:
A. Loosen the adjusting screws at the top and bottom of your saw. You don’t want to take them out completely, you just want to be able to slide your sawblade in without fussing.
B. Place your saw blade so that the teeth point downwards, and facing out of the saw, and slide it into the bottom of the saw.
C. Tighten the first adjusting screw as tightly as you can. All you need to try to do here is keep your saw blade mostly straight, and facing the right way.
D. Now for the tricky bit. Turn your blade and rest its top against your table or desk and rest the handle against your sternum. You want to lean against the saw so that you are squeezing the frame between your ribcage and the table.
E. Whilst leaning on the saw, take the top of the saw blade and slide it into the top of the saw, tightening the adjusting screw as much as you can.
F. To check if your saw blade is taught enough, take your finger and twang it like a guitar string. It should make a pleasant ‘twang’ noise, and not slip in the frame. All done!
3. Clamp your bench pin firmly onto your table or desk, and place your copper on top. Hold it steady with your weak hand, and start to cut. You want to keep your saw upright, and move it in an up-down motion. Don’t put too much pressure on the saw, or your blade will snap. You can help to prevent this by using a little oil on the blade as a lubricant. Remember the age-old adage: Let the saw do the work!
4. Taking your time, cut slowly around your template. At some point, you may reach a point where your saw will be stopped by the metal (as above). If this happens, take the saw back along the line you’ve cut (slowly moving it up and down as you back up).
5. Then start from the other side. You should have plenty of space to get around your template now.
6. Once your pick is cut, set aside the rest of the copper. You’ll notice in the image above that the shape is not perfectly smooth, it’s a little messy. This is partly due to my cutting skills (shaky at best while I’m trying to take pictures with one hand!) but all cutouts will need at least a little bit of smoothing in order to be safe to wear and pleasant to touch.
7. Taking your metal files (coarsest one first) file your shape until you are happy with its shape and smoothness. You always want to file downwards from the tip of the file to the handle. This way the finish will be smoother and without ridges. Take your time and practice.
8. Here’s the reason why I take so long over this step – it really does make a difference. Once you’ve filed with the first metal file, the shape will improve, but there’s still work to be done. Move on to your fine metal file, and do it again. Then get some abrasive paper, and sand it smooth. Look at the difference in the picture above from the left to the right – which one would you rather wear?
9. We’re getting closer, but there’s still more cutting to do! Grab your sharpie and draw a star on the top corner of your pick.
10. Now take your screw-down punch and pierce the star. It doesn’t really matter where, but I prefer to keep the hole somewhere in the middle so that I don’t spoil the points of the finished cutout.
11. Undo the top adjusting screw of your saw, and slip the blade through the hole. You’ll want the star facing up on the bench, so slide the sawblade up through the hole from the other side. Now fix your sawblade again, as you did above, but this time you’ll have a wonderfully charming piece of copper spinning around the blade. FUN! 😉
12. Take your time, and cut out the star that you just drew. When you reach each corner, the easiest way to turn your blade without snapping it is to keep making the sawing motion (up, down, up, down) whilst slowly turning your pick. You won’t want to move forward until you’re facing the right way again. It will come with practice!
13. Once again, it’s good, but could be better. Take your three square needle file (it’s a fancy name for a triangular file) and smooth that star! The huge advantage we have here is that the file is exactly the shape we want for each point of our star – aren’t you happy? Be careful using this thing as the point can really hurt you if your use too much force and slip. As always with filing, take it slow.
14. Tah-dah! We finally have our finished metal blank! Now it’s on to the finishing touches 🙂
15. I wanted to stamp this necklace with “Rock — Dad”, so I wanted to make sure the placement of the words made sense. To make sure the word “rock” wasn’t too far from the “star”, I stamped the word backwards – K-C-O-R. This is a really handy way to work when you’re working with odd placements of words. Hold the stamps upright at all times to make sure you get an even impression, and hit the dickens out of it, ONCE. more than once and you might end up with a ‘ghost impression’, where the letter looks blurred. Not a good look!
16. I wasn’t too worried about whether my letters were in a perfectly straight line or not, as I kind of wanted that rugged look. If you want to keep everything perfectly straight, it might be an idea to pop a bit of tape along the line you want to follow. Some people find this helps to keep the metal still on the block too.
17. Again, a strange placement. I wanted the word “dad” to be centred on the blank, so I stamped the A first, and then worked out from that.
18. The letters were done, but it was still too… clean. I took a Ball Peen hammer and hammered the edges of the pick and the star, though this is totally optional, and yet another investment of course.
19. Using your Sharpie, ink in the letters on your pick, and anything else you’d like to appear darkened. Let the ink dry.
20. Take your finest abrasive paper and clean the pick up, smoothing it and removing the excess ink at the same time. You’ll want to give it a wash with some soapy water after this to remove any residue, and you could wax or polish it to protect it.
21. Almost there! Take 40 inches of your suede, and:
A. Fold it in half, and pinch the halfway point together.
B. Poke the loop through your star cutout from the back towards the front.
C. Reach around and grab the two tails of suede, and pull them through.
D. Tighten and arrange the suede until you’re happy.
I left the cord as-is, so that the necklace would be tied on. You could finish it with an adjustable knot or crimp on a lobster clasp, but I kept it simple (for this step at least!)
Sing and shout! You’ve finished your necklace!
I really hope this tutorial has been helpful, and given you a few ideas to make your own Father’s Day Gift! If it all just seems like too much work for you, or you don’t want to spend the money on the equipment, you can buy this necklace from my online shop.
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