This last Valentines Day I decided to make my beautiful fiancée a necklace as a gift. It turned out rather nicely and was a fun project so I figured I would share it with you guys. Let me know what you think.
Step 1: What You Are Going to Need
- 3/4 inch Copper Pipe
- Jewelers Saw :This is the one I use. It had more than enough blades to make this necklace
- Polishing kit for Dremel
- Sanding/ Polishing Wheels
- Grinding bit
- Enamel- only necessary if you want to paint your necklace
- Epoxy- only necessary if you are gluing multiple pieces together, like I did on this necklace.
Step 2: Prepping the Pipe
Start by cutting a length of pipe with the pipe cutter (if you don't have a pipe cutter you could use the jeweler's saw, but the pipe cutter is way easier to use). I cut off a piece that was about 3 inches, and that seemed to work well with the size of the jeweler's Saw. Secure that 3 inch length of pipe in your vise then cut it down one side with the jeweler's saw. I just marked a straight line on the pipe and followed that. I cut the length of pipe about halfway down and flipped it and cut the second half starting at the other end so it was easier.
Step 3: Flattening the Pipe
This step may look different for you depending on what tools you have available, but the goal is to flatten the copper. An anvil would come in handy for this step, but really as long as you have a tool with a flat metal surface as well as a wedge, that will work. I used a chisel, metal wedge of a breaking bar, and the flat side of a sledge hammer.
First, tape the chisel into the cut until the cut widens far enough to tap the wedge into the gap. Once the wedge is inside of the gap, then hammer the sides flat until the copper makes the horse shoe shape shown in the picture. Then, place the copper on whatever you are using as an anvil (I used a sledge hammer). Hammer the copper until it is fairly flat. The resulting rectangle is approximately 3 inches by 2.5 inches.
Step 4: Cut Out Your Design
I used the computer to print an outline of the state of Michigan, but you could draw out your own design too. Cut out your design and glue it onto the copper. Wood glue works pretty well for this but something like a movable spray adhesive would probably work also. Let the glue dry, then it is time to begin cutting. It is a lot easier to have the copper held in place in a clamp or vice when you are doing this step. Because the jeweler's saw has such a thin blade, it can become rather easy (after a bit of practice) to follow along your pattern even for intricate cuts.
Step 5: Cutting the Heart (or Any Cut in the Center of a Piece)
This part is straight forward but you want to be careful so you do not hurt yourself or cause damage to the piece of the necklace you are drilling through (if you scuff up the necklace more than likely you will be able to clean that up when you polish it). Start by marking out what you want to cut. Use a drill bit smaller than the area you want to cut out to drill through the copper. (I did not show it in the pictures, but I held the copper with the vise to prevent the piece from moving.) After drilling through the copper, simply loosen the blade from the saw and string the blade through the hole you drilled and tighten it back up, and you are ready to cut your design. This would also be the time to drill the hole for the jump ring for the necklace.(The jump ring is the small piece of wire that connects the pendant to the chain.)
Step 6: Clean Up Your Pieces
Once I had cut out both pieces of the necklace, I used the grinding bit in the Dremel to clean up any rough edges and to shape the pieces a little more. Once you take care of any burs and sharp edges, it time to use the sanding wheels. There are different sanding wheel grits. Start from the lowest grit and move up to higher grits, as you go. The copper will become more polished the more sanding you do (obviously). After you get the copper to the desired polish, use the polishing wheel and polishing compound to clean it up even more. I spent quite a bit of time on this step because the more polished the copper is the less you will have to worry about the copper turning green against the skin. I have read in different places that depending on the person's bio-chemistry that you may need to have a sealer on the copper, but it has been more than a month and my fiancée's still looks perfect. That being said, I wouldn't suggest wearing it in the shower or pool.
Step 7: Finishing Up
The Michigan design I used has a front piece and back piece that are glued together. I used a 5 minute epoxy and clamped the two piece and let it dry. Once epoxy was dry I painted Lake Michigan and the heart with an enamel. The enamel took a really long time to dry, and I had to redo it once because I put my thumb print in it. After I redid the paint, I let it dry for a week before messing with it just to make sure I would not make a mess of it again. There is probably a way to speed up the drying process, but I was not in a rush so I just let it sit. Other than that, just pick up a chain and a clasp and jump wire pack from you local craft shop and put it together.
Step 8: Enjoy
If you liked my Instructable please remember to vote for me in the necklace contest.