SHARE IT
Pin this on Pinterest

Anodized & Distressed Aluminum Cuff

Use a rolling mill, a texture plate, and sandpaper to create a high-contrast cuff with a durable finish.

Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface of reactive metals (aluminum, niobium, and titanium) into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish. One of the advantages of working with anodized aluminum is that the color is harder to remove than a typical surface treatment (like liver of sulfur), making it more lasting. You can texture the metal with less scratching, then sand the raised design to show the natural aluminum color, creating a beautiful contrast.

If you wish to use a metal other than aluminum, feel free. However, the color may not be as durable as the color on aluminum, so sand more carefully, and use an appropriate sealant.

 
SUPPLIES

  • Anodized aluminum cuff blank: 14-gauge (1.6 mm), 1 1⁄2 x 53⁄4 in. (3.8 x 14.6 cm)
  • Sandpaper or sanding pads, various grits
  • Texture plate
  • Rolling mill
  • Polishing cloth
  • Cotton gloves (optional)
  • Bracelet Bender or bracelet mandrel and rawhide mallet

SUPPLIERS 

  • Anodized aluminum cuff blank and Bracelet Bender: Lizz Barnes, www.gottagettadeal.etsy.com
  • Texture plates and rolling mill: Rio Grande, www.riogrande.com, or Otto Frei, www.ottofrei.com
 
INSTRUCTIONS
Anodized Distressed Aluminum Cuff 1
Step 1
Process photos/Lizz Barnes

1. Select a 14-gauge (1.6 mm) anodized aluminum bracelet blank in the size and color of your choice. My blank is 1 1⁄2 x 5 3⁄4 in. (3.8 x 14.6 cm), but it will stretch during the rolling process to about 6 in. (15.2 cm) long. If you want a larger bracelet, select a longer blank.

Prepare the blank by lightly sanding the edges with 400-grit sandpaper or a sanding pad to remove any rough edges and to round the corners, if necessary.

Choose a texture plate that is larger than your bracelet blank. This will ensure that the entire blank will be textured.

Anodized Distressed Aluminum Cuff 2
Step 2

2. Center the cuff on the texture plate. Gently tighten the rollers of a rolling mill until it is an effort to insert the blank and texture plate.  

NOTE: Incorrectly set rollers will result in either an incomplete texture (too loose) or distorted metal (too tight). Practice a few times with some 14-gauge (1.6 mm) scrap metal to get the settings exactly where you want them.

Hold the blank and texture plate together firmly, and guide them into the rolling mill as you crank the handle. 

NOTE: As the blank comes through the other end of the mill, it will want to curve. Pinch the blank against the plate to minimize the curve and make it easier to manipulate.

Anodized Distressed Aluminum Cuff 3
Step 3

3. Use 100-grit sandpaper or a sanding pad to remove the anodized color from the raised portion of the textured design. Once the aluminum is showing, work your way through progressively finer grits until you achieve the finish you desire.

NOTE: Check the surface often, especially when using a coarse grit; you don’t want to remove the raised texture, just the anodized layer.

Anodized Distressed Aluminum Cuff 4
Step 4

4. Place the blank on a clean piece of paper on a flat work surface. Use a polishing cloth to buff the sanded area. Use firm downward pressure, and continually move to a clean section of the cloth to get the most polishing benefit.

NOTE: You can use a pair of cotton gloves to protect your hands and maintain the polished finish.

Anodized Distressed Aluminum Cuff 5
Step 5

5. Use a Bracelet Bender to bend the blank into a cuff shape. 

Alternatively, place your blank onto a bracelet mandrel and use a rawhide mallet to form the blank into a cuff.

Remove the formed cuff, and use a sealant to protect the finish and prevent oxidation.

Anodized Distressed Bronze Cuff
EDITOR’S NOTE: For this bracelet, instead of using a texture plate, I formed waves and spirals in a piece of 14-gauge (1.6 mm) steel wire, then sandwiched the wire against a 6 x 1 1⁄2 in. (152 x 38 mm) strip of copper sheet and rolled both through a rolling mill. I used metal shears to shape the edges of the strip, and used needle files and sanding sticks to smooth them. I form-ed the cuff on a bracelet mandrel with a rawhide mallet. To patinate the cuff, I used an antique green patina all over the piece and let it dry, then I loaded a pewter-black patina onto a toothbrush and sprayed it to get a random pattern. I removed the patina from the raised sections with a 400-grit sanding stick, and sealed the piece with renaissance wax.
No aluminum? No problem!
I love the way anodized aluminum looks, but the anodizing process for aluminum is both tricky and time consuming; much more so than for titanium or niobium. Not only do you need to prepare the metal more thoroughly, but you also need to use both an electrical treatment and a dye to get the color to work. It’s much quicker and easier to buy prepared blanks.

However, you don’t need to use aluminum for this project at all. In fact, any metal will work — your steps will just be in a different order, and you’ll have to prepare a blank beforehand.

Once you have prepared your blank, use a texture sheet and a rolling mill to texture your metal as in step 2. Form the metal into a cuff as in step 5.

NOTE: You will need to form the cuff before coloring the metal, because the forming process can mar the finish of the surface treatment you choose.

After you form your cuff, color the metal using your chosen surface treatment. There are many to choose from! You can use a patina like liver of sulfur on many metals, you can use acrylic paints, and you can even use gesso and colored pencils. Once you have colored your metal to your satisfaction, move on to steps 3 and 4 to remove the color from the raised sections and polish the metal. Finish with your chosen sealant for the metal and the surface treatment you used.
Tip!

Small strips of patterned aluminum make great quick rings or components for your projects. 

Don’t want a cuff? Try forming or doming small pieces to use for pendants or earrings.

FIND MORE: metal , bracelets

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of FacetJewelry.com are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
PRODUCTS YOU MIGHT LIKE
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Get awesome news, tips, & free stuff!