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Convertible friction-fit pendant

Fabricate a pendant that comes apart, then swap out your favorite beads

The common saying, “measure twice, cut once,” goes double when it comes to making this pendant. When finished, the pendant pulls apart, allowing you to change your look as often as you’d like. In order for the pendant to slide apart (and back together), the prongs on one side of the pendant must be precisely aligned with the tubes on the other. The natural friction of the prongs in the tubing holds the pendant together; while the fit shouldn’t require effort to slide apart, it should be tight — “wiggle room” is not what you’re going for. 

For a look at the instructions for making the bead holder component, read below. Click here for complete instructions in the free project PDF.

Materials

  • Sterling silver wire:
    - 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 5 mm flat, 7 in. (17.8 cm)
    - 16-gauge (1.3 mm), round, 4 in. (10.2 cm)
  • Sterling silver tubing:
    - 2 mm outside diameter, 1.3 mm inside diameter (ID) (to fit 16-gauge wire), 4 in. (10.2 cm)
    - 5 mm ID, 1 in. (25.5 mm)
  • Spacer beads: at least 2 mm ID

Tools & supplies

  • Jeweler’s saw, 2/0 blades
  • Bench block
  • Leather or plastic mallet
  • Hand and needle files
  • Dividers
  • Calipers
  • Permanent marker
  • Center punch
  • Flex shaft:
    - Drill bits: various sizes
  • Sandpaper: various grits
  • Masking tape
  • Scrap copper wire
  • Soldering station: torch, solder (hard, medium), firebrick or charcoal block, pickle pot with pickle, flux, cross-locking tweezers, copper tongs, soldering pick
  • Tube-cutting jig (optional)
  • Chainnose pliers
  • Bench vise, scrap leather
  • Finishing items (choose from):
    - Brass brush
    - Tripoli or bobbing compound; muslin buff; ZAM, rouge or white diamond compound
Instructions
Convertible friction fit pendant holder 1
Photo 1
Bead holder

Make the side with tubing

Cut the tubing. Use a jeweler’s saw to cut three 30 mm pieces of 2 mm tubing. If desired, use a tube-cutting jig.

Position the tubing. Insert the pieces of tubing through the 2 mm holes in the larger-hole bead-holder piece, positioning each tube so that it protrudes only slightly on one side of the bead-holder piece. Slide the tubing through the holes on both sides of the frame [1].

NOTE: Using the frame as an anchor this way will ensure that the tubing is properly aligned when you solder it.

Convertible friction fit pendant holder 2
Photo 2
Solder the tubing. Place a pallion of hard solder on the short end of each tube. During soldering, direct the torch’s heat to the bead-holder piece on the side opposite the solder, drawing the solder along the tubing and through the holes [2]. Don’t direct any heat toward the frame, or you may re-melt its solder joins. Quench, pickle, and rinse.
Convertible friction fit pendant holder 3
Photo 3

Refine the bead-holder piece. Use your jeweler’s saw to trim the excess material from the soldered end [3]. Insert the bead-holder piece fully into the frame, and mark the tubing where it extends from the opposite side of the frame. Use your jeweler’s saw to trim the tubing to that mark; the tubing should lie flush with the edge of the frame.

Make the side with prongs

Cut the prongs. Use your jeweler’s saw to cut three 30 mm pieces of 16-gauge (1.3 mm) round wire for the prongs.

Position the prongs. Insert the prongs through the drilled holes in the remaining bead-holder piece, positioning them so they protrude only slightly on one side of the bead-holder piece. With the first bead-holder piece inserted in the frame, insert the prongs into the tubing slightly so that they are supported and aligned.

Solder the prongs. Place a pallion of hard solder at the short end of each prong, and direct the heat at the bead-holder piece, drawing the solder down the wires and through the holes. Again, make sure to avoid heating the soldered frame. Quench, pickle, and rinse.

Trim the excess material, using a jeweler’s saw. Slide the new bead-holder piece into place in the frame. If it does not sit completely flush against the frame, remove it, trim the wires slightly, and try the fit again. Repeat until the fit is flush. 

For complete instructions, click here for the free project PDF.

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