Introduction: How to Make Pierce Work Jewelry

This is how to make jewelry items out of sheet metal with decorative holes. I will show you how to make a pin with the piece I cut out. There is almost no limit to what you can make with enough thought behind this process.

Step 1: ​Gather Materials

I am using a .80mm thick plate of sterling silver to demonstrate. I will be cutting out a rose design. I will be making this into a pin so I will need the clasp, hinge, & pin parts as well. I am also going to add color epoxy to this later on, you don’t need to do that. I will talk about finishes & other options later. Last but in no way least you need a design to cut out. I went to Google & looked for line art flowers to get my design.

Step 2: Gather the Tools.

A good saw frame, with metal cutting blades. Flex shaft or other rotary tool. Drill bits. Polishing wheels. Glue. Saw blade wax/lube.

Step 3: ​Putting the Pattern on the Metal.

Make sure your metal is clean, then glue your pattern on to the sheet metal. Let this fully cure, depending on the glue's directions. I use Elmer’s for this. Not always the best hold but it usually works long enough for my needs.

Step 4: ​Holes for Saw Blade.

Drill a hole in each of the desired cut out spots. This needs to be large enough for the blade you are sawing with. Be careful not to get too close to the edge of the design.

Step 5: ​Cutting the Outer Shape.

I started by cutting the outside of the piece. Make sure you cut as close to the outside of the line as possible without going into it. You can always go back over it with a file to sure it up if needed. It is much harder to add material than to take away. Save all that you cut away, if not for reuse than scrap recycling. The largest piece that came off, I can use as the base of a bezel. I start with the outer shape so that I am removing the larger sections before the sheet gets too delicate.

Step 6: ​Putting the Saw Blade in the Holes.

In order to cut out the design you need to put the saw blade inside the holes drilled earlier. Tighten the blade as you would normally. Keep your blade lubed up, the more you can the blade lubed the less likely the blade will bind/brake. (forgot to take a pic of that. Found one online)

Step 7: Cutting the Inner Shapes.

I will cut the inside holes from one side of the piece to the other. Using the bench pin to support the sheet as you cut, saw each hole along the inside of the lines this time. Again saw as close as you can without cutting into the lines. As you cut away material the piece will become more delicate. Depending on the design, thickness of material, & how well the piece is supported will determine how delicate the piece is overall. When all done take the paper off. (I used some painters tape to show some contrast to show what was cut out.)

Step 8: ​All Cut Out, Now What?

Depending on your design, & how you cut it out, you can make a wide range of jewelry items with this. If you add a small strip to the design before cutting you can curl it around to make a bail for a pendant. Have 2 strips & curl the whole piece to make a ring. I decided I wanted to make a pin. I could have added the pin parts to the plate “as is” once it was cut out & had a very nice piece. I wanted to add some color, so I soldered what I cut out onto another piece of sheet. I had to re cut out the outside shape, & file to match.

Step 9: ​Solder on Your Components.

As stated before anything after the piece is cut out is optional. Flip the piece face down & place the hinge at one of the two furthest points. Once that is in place, you can put in the pin loosely so you can adjust where the clasp ends up. Solder that at the other furthest point. I like to do this with the pin in. This way I know for sure that it will stay lined up. Trim the pin down for length.

Step 10: Polishing.

I find that I like the polished look the best for a lot of things. You could put any texture on that you want. I find that the difference in the textures from the bottom of the “holes” lends well to having a polished top surface.

Step 11: ​Color Fill.

I used a two part Colores Gem-Tone Transparent Epoxy Resin to color the pin. I had to thin out the color a little bit, other wise it would be too dark. I used the ruby, & emerald colors. Be careful how you apply the epoxy, you don’t want to have to wipe it away which can cause streaking. Don’t over fill either, I will need to grind some of the green off the leaf.

Step 12: That Should Be It.

You can make so many things with this technique. A very impressive way of making jewelry that you could do without too many tools, & many different skill levels for everyone. (More pictures found online)

Comments

author
LaurettaB (author)2017-07-03

I love your detailed instructions but noticed there was no mention of filing. Filing the edges smooth makes a huge difference in the finished look of a piece. It also prevents snagging if a piece is going to be worn near fine material. If you're selling your work, you don't want to be responsible for replacing an expensive silk blouse because it snagged on your piece.

author
silvertinkerer (author)LaurettaB2017-07-04

You are correct. I did leave off the finishing of the item from the instructable. I was showing the basic technique, figuring that most people that would use it would have to finish the piece. Most of the time polishing after removes burs & smooths out the piece so it will not catch, like you pointed out. Thanks for the comment. Clarification like this helps everyone out in the long run.

author
cwunsch (author)2015-05-14

What tool are you using to cut make the initial holes in the metal?

I have a drill bit and a dremel. However all my bits and accessories drill way too big of a hole

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silvertinkerer (author)cwunsch2015-05-14

I am using 1mm drill bits with a 3/32 shank that fits into the quick change handpiece for my Foredom flex shaft. I like using busch tungsten vanadium steel drill bits. I get them from here:
http://www.gesswein.com/default.aspx

author
nomorebots (author)2015-05-08

Thanks for the info. I will look into it.

I want to create a 1.5" circular plate with logo etched on or something like that for about 500 of them...

author
nomorebots (author)2015-04-30

I've heard that factory uses a etching or corrosive process to eat into a sheet metal to create the pattern they want. Have anyone tried that?

Would be sweet if I could use my printer to print complex patterns onto the sheet metal --> etch them out --> just have to cut the outer ring.

Great tutorial.

author

Yes, if a factory is going to make something like this they will use the etching. Quicker & you can make lots at a time using that. I find for one offs like what I made it is a lot less of a hassle to cut it out.

author

I see. If I want to make something sharp like a logo pin and I want yo make a couple hundred of them... To your opinion which guide is worth looking into?

Thanks!

author
Emsaid (author)nomorebots2015-05-08

Where I work we etch an acrylic prototype and the make a mold from that and cast with pewter. 100 pieces take less than half an hour to cast once the mold is made!

author

If you are looking to make that many you might want to look into having a company that is set up to handle that kind of volume. If you are determined to do it yourself, I would look for instructions on how to make a pcb & adapt it for a solid sheet of your metal of choice.

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SirCooksalot (author)nomorebots2015-05-07

There are loads of good Ibles for etching... You can etch out very complex stuff on metal using a power source and a liquid conductor. A typical setup seems to be a nail connected to DC power source, grounded metal to etch on, saltwater to conduct. You have to do more than just lay on a printed design though, you need to cover the areas that you DONT want etched...I've seen nail polish or adhesive plastic decals used. Results are cool and look good. A lot of people on here who make knives use this to etch a 'makers mark'

author

Thanks.

author
zherman (author)2015-05-07

Hi,

Excellent Instructable. Very inspiring.

I am a starter myself and I find your Instructable very helpful..

Among the examples that you added, I like the pendant with the forest. How was the texture made? was it made by sandblasting?

author
silvertinkerer (author)zherman2015-05-07

As stated in the description, & in some of the other comments, The last group of pictures were collected off of the web. They are other artists projects that used the same technique. The texture was not sandblasted in, the metal has been Reticulated. A process of heating the surface of a special alloy of silver, to achieve the texture. You can purchase this type of silver with the texture already there.

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SporeC (author)2015-05-01

The cross part of the smash ball is the part you don't color. btw I'm 13 and don't have access to sheet metal :(

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GrfxGawd (author)SporeC2015-05-02

All of the materials I've seen used here are available, delivered to your door from Amazon. The saw, blades, sheet metals of almost every alloy and thickness, epoxy and colors for tinting, even C clamps that can be used with a cut piece of scrap wood (make a V shaped notch at one end, use the C clamp to hold it to a bench on the squared end). Roto tools for polishing/drilling/cutting can be bought from Amazon, WalMart, Radio Shack, and at nearly any home supply stores, and all those sources also sell needle file sets. It may require the assistance of an adult to purchase some items because of your age, but if you have cash in hand very little of anything needed to do this work is not within your grasp. An alternative is simple model paint and poly-clay available at any craft store. I don't think any place will stop a thirteen year old from buying polymer clay, a few brushes, and some model paints. Sculpey Clay and their products is a very popular brand and rather affordable. Once baked properly it's also suprisingly durable.

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SporeC (author)GrfxGawd2015-05-04

I have parents it's just i can't get the equipment because they don't want to buy it for me

author
GrfxGawd (author)SporeC2015-05-04

Well now, a clearly stated and valid impediment. Thank you for helping to help by providing something specific to address! ;)

You go to school I assume? If so, you have art class? If those two things are true, show and or explain this to your art teacher, and ask if they might think it would be something the class could do. The worst they can say is no. I suspect they won't go for metal work and epoxy, but the sculpey clay and paints idea I bet would sell. Oh, you might mention that you were directed to ask them by a former educator who was interested in your plight and missing an opportunity for a rewarding educational experience in art. You could drop the line about them being a 20 year veteran designer for companies like Expedia and Hotels.com. (People in education either just want a steady check, or are actually pretty passionate about teaching and it's inherent value. When a student approaches you and discusses an issue that another educator has discussed with the student it almost always gives them a little nudge. Especially if that topic just happens to be about what they teach.)

author
SporeC (author)GrfxGawd2015-05-03

I'm 13. I don't have access to hose things. I ain't got a credit card >:(

author
GrfxGawd (author)SporeC2015-05-03

Well, if you have neither parents nor cash, I would say the ability to complete the project could be limited. Cash can be exchanged at most businesses for what's known as a pre-paid card that works the same as a credit card, places such as your local convenience store, much less larger retailers and grocery stores. Frankly, if you're serious about wanting this you can cut aluminum from soda cans and end up with similar results. Even cardboard, elmers glue, and any paint will do. Sharp scissors will cut both, a small nail can be used to punch holes through the material instead of drilling. The only thing standing between you and what you say you want, is to make use of what you do have available to you. Think about what you want to do, what you DO have available, make a plan how to accomplish it, then DO IT. Or admit you don't want to work that hard to get it and move on. When I was thirteen I was making my own boomerangs from plywood scraps, building speaker cabinets with things I found people throwing away - I did all sorts of stuff, with junk, trash, the things people didn't want or need. I made a "PA System" for my eighth grade science project from a broken FM radio and one half of a broken set of headphones for the microphone. More trash I'd found. I set it up in the gym at school with all of the cool kids projects and let them speak into it and hear their voice louder through one of those speaker cabinets I'd built and they thought it was cool. I made a poster explaining the basics of how a microphone and and amplifier work and won second place. Because even though I didn't realize it then, we were frickin' poor and there wasn't any money left over from my mother working three full time jobs to buy all the neat shiney stuff most other kids had.She kept me in a clean house that was in good shape, I ate good but cheap meals, and I had clothing in good condition. I knew kids that didn't have any of those things so I never complained. All I had for tools was some assorted screwdrivers, a claw hammer, a standard wood saw, and some pliers. Oh, and we did have a drill with a small box of common sized bits. It was old and used, another item someone discarded because it worked like crap. But it worked. I made do with what I had because I had to, or go without. And if you're curious, yes, I was a boy scout and I earned almost every single badge available at the time. There's at least 32 of them on my sash. It's your world out there. MAKE SOMETHING, and make something of it.

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silvertinkerer (author)GrfxGawd2015-05-04

Same here. I never got an allowance, I got a paper rout. You need to make due with what you have & be creative.

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silvertinkerer (author)GrfxGawd2015-05-02

Well said. Thanks for the help.

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GrfxGawd (author)silvertinkerer2015-05-02

If it helped, I'm happy. ^~^"
Barely got through high school, but I've spent time in state approved educational programs for children, and taught both adult continuing education and for credit college (no degrees myself, I am not and educated educator).
I'll share what knowledge I have with nearly anyone. I'll hand them an overflowing bucket full of everything they need, plus more. When the inevitable roadblocks are encountered I'll show ways to bypass, engineer past, or destroy them. But I will not do the learners work. If they refuse to experience, I have nothing to give. Those people are called Consumers, not Students. They want trinkets in ornate boxes, instant gratification, not empowerment to shape lives. I've made and sold many trinkets, and designed many boxes - but that's not what the maker movement is about. ;)

author
silvertinkerer (author)SporeC2015-05-02

If you are 13 & can't get sheet metal how do you think you can get someone to make it for you? Most to all people would charge to make something.

author
SporeC (author)2015-05-01

And I want a Thin metal border around it. As well as the smash brothers logo. But I want the smash logo green.

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silvertinkerer (author)SporeC2015-05-01

Like this? The question still stands, Why do you not want to do it yourself?

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SporeC (author)silvertinkerer2015-05-01

I also don't have that type of saw

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silvertinkerer (author)SporeC2015-05-02

Really not that hard to get. you can find them at some hardware stores, & some craft shops. I have seen them for as little as $5.00

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SporeC (author)2015-04-30

I want someone to make an animal crossing leaf and smash ball for me. anyone?

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silvertinkerer (author)SporeC2015-04-30

Do you have a picture?

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SporeC (author)silvertinkerer2015-05-01

yah

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silvertinkerer (author)SporeC2015-05-01

That is an easy enough design. A great one to start with. Why do you want someone else to make it for you? This site is for helping you do this type of thing for yourself.

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SporeC (author)2015-05-01

I can't get the smash logo picture to show. Just search it up

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Quizicat (author)2015-05-01

Excellent work! Good explanations. I also would like to see polishing/grinding and hear about soldering technique. Thanks!

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silvertinkerer (author)Quizicat2015-05-01

See above for soldering, as for polishing there really are different ways to do it. You could use a coin/rock tumbler, takes some time but all you have to do is put it in & pull it out later, supper easy. Then there is hand polishing with buffing wheels for your rotary tool. I don't always like this as you can more easily have streaks then it you have a buffing wheel on a grinder motor. The last way is the muslin polishing wheel mounted on a motor. At speeds of 30,000 rpm you really need to be careful. Each method has its uses. In a shop like mine the rotary tool is for small, tight spaced items that the big buffer can't get. Otherwise it is the big buffer, with the tumbler for a few other projects.

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jeffcole (author)2015-05-01

Excellent! What did you use to solder the Silver plates?

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silvertinkerer (author)jeffcole2015-05-01

Hard sterling silver sheet solder. I pre soldered the bottom of the cut piece first then layed the back plate over that. With a soft but powerful flame I brought the whole piece up to temp. Solder wants to flow to where the heat is, so it took the cut plate to bottom plate. (A soft flame with a torch is when you have just a little bit of yellow at the end, instead of a hard flame which is all blue & distinct cone shape. First picture is not what I would call full soft but softer than the second which is a hard flame.)

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iamuser1 (author)2015-04-30

What a great tutorial! It seems very thorough and not as scary as I thought that it would be.

Please if you have a moment, could you give a bit of advice on where to get the sterling silver sheet metal? Is it sold at Joann's or Michael's, or perhaps a hardware store? As opposed to finding it online, I'd really prefer to get it locally, so I can feel it's thickness etc..

Thanks again, this is such an inspirational Instructable!

author
silvertinkerer (author)iamuser12015-04-30

Most places like that will not have sterling silver on hand. I would go to the shops near you & see what metals they have. Brass & copper are good to practice on. In this case they work very close to silver. You can get good practice that way at low cost. All sheet metal will have a gauge/thickness that you can feel that silver will be measured in as well. I used .80mm or 20 gauge. You can get 20 gauge brass from most hardware stores.

It really depends on what shops are by you, I live about 1.5 to 2 hours away from a shop that has silver like this on hand to sell out right. I normally order mine. www.riogrande.com is where I get my silver from.

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iamuser1 (author)silvertinkerer2015-04-30

Once again, thank you for being so kind and sharing your knowledge! I am going to take your advice and head to a hardware store to get some of the 80mm or 20 gauge brass--I will probably need a lot of practice! I can't wait to get started on some brass and order some silver from www.riogrande.com that both you and ibuser so kindly recommended. It may take a while until I'm comfortable enough to use the more expensive metal but it will give me something to shoot for!

Thank you so very much once again, I really can't tell you how much you've inspired me with this fantastic Instructable! Best wishes to you and yours! (Sorry for all of the "!" but maybe that kind of shows my excitement level! Darn it, there I go again. :-)

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silvertinkerer (author)iamuser12015-04-30

Sounds good. Let me know if you need any more help. I just hope the person I made this for likes it as much as you. It is a b-day gift, just mailed it out today.

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lbuser (author)iamuser12015-04-30

You can order silver sheet at www.riogrande.com. They also have a large number of youtube videos to show you how to do whatever you are wanting to do as far as jewelry making goes.

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silvertinkerer (author)lbuser2015-04-30

They are a great resource. It is where I get my silver from.

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iamuser1 (author)silvertinkerer2015-04-30

Thank you very much for silvertinkerer! No doubt that is the place that I will have to go to since you and ibuser too both recommend, that's very nice and reassuring to know!

Thank you again and again and... :-)

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iamuser1 (author)lbuser2015-04-30

Thank you kindly ibuser, I will certainly have a look there!

BTW I like your user id! :-)

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cutshopguy (author)2015-04-30

Thankyou. Some great tips and a nice clear exposition. Just one question - can you give some details on your polishing technique?

author

I have cloth polishing wheels & I use 2 compounds. Tripoli, & red rouge. The tripoli is the faster cutting, like a 120 grit sandpaper, while the red rouge it more like a 800 sandpaper. The motor on the polisher dose most of the work.

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mopsiok (author)2015-04-30

Wow, that is pure art! Great ible, thank you!

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silvertinkerer (author)mopsiok2015-04-30

Thanks for saying so.

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The Green Gentleman (author)2015-04-30

I really like this. I've just started doing some metal work - very much learning-stage. The epoxy is less my thing, I guess. I really love that piercing work you show at the end! Especially the tree and leaf pendants. Rad.

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Bio: I am a Goldsmith, Blacksmith, Leather worker, Anime freek, Rennie, Cosplayer, average guy.
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