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Simple hammered cuff

Use four basic hammer exercises to combine sterling silver and brass wire with affordable hardware store copper tubing

These days, it’s hard to make the determination between style and expense. Many of the materials that are easily or inexpensively sourced are seen as being lower quality, especially when it comes to jewelry. But that isn’t always the case: The copper tubing in this tutorial is refrigerator tubing that you can get at any hardware store, but you’d never be able to tell. It’s just the right width and thickness to hold a great shape when it’s flattened, it accepts texture well, and it looks great as a cuff. For some extra style, I use textured silver as a contrast against the copper, but feel free to customize the outer piece this bracelet with other metals, textures, stamped designs or text, or even metal clay. 

SUPPLIES

  • Copper refrigerator tubing: 1⁄4-in. (6.5 mm) outside diameter, 6–8 in. (15.2–20.3 cm)
  • Fine- or sterling silver wire: 10-gauge (2.6 mm), 3 in. (76 mm)
  • Brass wire: 14-gauge (1.6 mm), approximately 1⁄2 in. (13 mm)
  • Soldering toolbox
  • Wirework toolbox
  • Tube cutter or jeweler’s saw with 3/0 blade 
  • Texturing hammer
  • Annealing pan
  • Quenching bowl
  • Center punch or nail set
  • Drill press (optional)
  • Drill bit: #53 (1.5 mm/1⁄16-in.) 
  • Flex shaft with sanding disks
  • Bracelet-forming pliers or bracelet mandrel
  • Liver of sulfur (or other patina)

INSTRUCTIONS

Simple Hammered Cuff 1
Photo 1
Simple Hammered Cuff 2
Photo 2
Simple Hammered Cuff 3
Photo 3
Simple Hammered Cuff 4
Photo 4
Simple Hammered Cuff 5
Photo 5
Simple Hammered Cuff 6
Photo 6
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Photo 7
Simple Hammered Cuff 8
Photo 8

Cut and texture the copper tubing. Wrap a tape measure snugly around your wrist. Use a tube cutter to cut this length of 1⁄4-in. (6.5 mm) outside-diameter copper tubing [PHOTO 1]. Anneal, quench, and pickle the tubing.

NOTE: If you do not have a tube cutter, you can use a jeweler’s saw with a 3/0 blade to cut the copper tubing. Secure the tubing, and cut slowly to avoid sawing crookedly or breaking saw blades.

Lay the tubing on a bench block, and use the flat side of a chasing hammer to flatten the entire length [PHOTO 2]. Anneal, quench, and pickle. Lay the flattened tubing on the bench block, and use a texturing hammer to add texture to one side [PHOTO 3]. Anneal, quench, and pickle.

NOTE: Feel free to use other hammers or tools to make interesting textures on your tubing, but note that heavy or irregular textures may make it harder to set and rivet your silver wire.

Prepare the silver wire. Cut a 3-in. (76 mm) piece of 10-gauge (2.6 mm) fine- or sterling silver wire. Lay the wire on the bench block, and use the flat side of the chasing hammer to flatten it. Flatten the two ends of the wire so that they are wide enough to accommodate a 14-gauge (1.6 mm) brass rivet. You can either flatten the center section of the wire completely, or leave it with some dimension. Anneal and quench the wire.

Use the ball end of the chasing hammer to texture the wire [PHOTO 4]. Anneal and quench the wire.

Drill holes. Use a permanent marker to mark where to drill holes in the wire, in the center of each flattened end. Use a center punch or nail set to create a divot at each mark [PHOTO 5]. Drill a hole at each divot with a #53 (1.5 mm/1⁄16 in.) drill bit.

Line up the silver wire on the copper where you want the silver to sit. Mark through one of the drilled holes in the silver where you want to drill the first hole in the copper tubing. Use the center punch or nail set to create a divot at the mark, and drill a hole at the divot [PHOTO 6].

NOTE: You will only drill one hole in the copper tubing at this time. This ensures that the second hole will line up properly after the first rivet is set.

Cut the first rivet wire. Use flush cutters to cut a short piece of 14-gauge (1.6 mm) brass wire. Line up the hole in the copper tubing with the hole at one end of the silver wire. Be sure that the textured side of each piece is facing outward. Insert the brass rivet wire through both holes. 

NOTE: The rivet must fit tightly in the holes. If it won’t fit, lightly sand the wire, or slowly file the holes with a round needle file until the wire fits snugly in the holes.

Use flush cutters to trim the rivet wire so that approximately 1 mm of brass wire extends on each side of the metal [PHOTO 7].

Set the first rivet. To set the first rivet, use the ball end of the chasing hammer to gently tap the end of the rivet wire from all angles. The rivet will begin to mushroom over [PHOTO 8]. Once it has mushroomed enough to stay in place, flip the assembly over and gently tap the other end of the rivet until it begins to mushroom over like the first side.

Simple Hammered Cuff 9
Photo 9
Simple Hammered Cuff 10
Photo 10

 

Simple Hammered Cuff 11
Photo 11
Simple Hammered Cuff 12
Photo 12
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Photo 13

Continue working back and forth between the two ends of the rivet until it is snug against the metal and its edges are smooth to the touch. 

NOTE: As your rivet begins to tighten, make sure that the silver wire is lined up exactly where you want it to be. Once the rivet is set, the wire will be unmovable.

Mark and set the second rivet. Place your center punch or nail set inside the open hole in the silver wire, and make a divot on the copper tubing. Drill a hole through the divot [PHOTO 9]. As before, cut a piece of brass rivet wire, and set the second rivet. 

Form loops at each end of the copper tubing. Use sandpaper or a rotary tool with sanding disks to smooth and round the ends of the copper tubing [PHOTO 10]. Use roundnose pliers to begin forming a loop at one end of the copper tubing. 

NOTE: Be sure to curl the end toward the textured side of the copper. 

Curl the tubing about three-quarters of the way to a full loop. Lay the tubing on the bench block, and use the ball end of the chasing hammer to gently tap the loop down the rest of the way [PHOTO 11]. This will also introduce a dimpled texture to the loop.

Repeat to make a loop on the other end of the copper tubing.

Form and finish the cuff. Use bracelet-forming pliers or a bracelet mandrel and a rawhide mallet to shape the cuff [PHOTO 12]. 

Place the cuff on its edge on the bench block. Using the ball end of the chasing hammer, tap all the edges of the bracelet to add texture to the edges and to work-harden the entire cuff [PHOTO 13]. Flip the cuff over and repeat.

Pickle the cuff, and patinate it with liver of sulfur or another patina. Polish it with a polishing pad, then tumble-polish it to a high shine.

 
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