Introduction: Reuleaux Triangle Pendant
Fueled by boredom, i decided to start a new project.
The aim of this instructable is to demonstrate the making of a simple pendant and to inspire the readers to get creative with their scraps that were left over from previous projects. So, lets get on with it!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Gather the following tools and materials:
- paper and a pencil
- compass (optional)
- permanent marker
- needle files
- large metal files
- belt sander (optional)
- a vice or something to grip your pendant in
- a scrap piece of metal
- sanding paper (rough to about 360 grit)
Step 2: Design and Choose Your Metal
The first step is our game plan, without this, we risk wasting material or just wasting time.
Draw out a few basic shapes and determine if your tools and skill will allow you to shape the metal in your desired form. Filing out a flat side is hard and a perfectly round curve is not in my skill set, thus i went with a rounded triangle (it is called a reuleaux triangle apparently).
Now, with your design drawn, choose your piece of metal and size of your pendant. If you plan on filing out a pattern on the pendant (like the vine pattern i drew), i suggest that you don't go much smaller than the pendant i made.
Keep in mind that a bigger piece of metal is better in terms of gripping and mistake correction.
I decided to go with a piece of 3.5 mm stainless steel and my pendant is 26 mm long from one corner to the other.
The hole is 3-4 mm from the outer borders.
Step 3: Fighting Out the Hole
For me, this is the hardest part of the project. There are probably easier ways to do this step, but this is the only method i knew that would work for me:
- Cut out a scale drawing of your pendant, do not cut out the hole. Paste the drawing on your metal.
- Mark out a couple of potential places to drill holes. In my case, a 15 mm in the middle and a 3.5 mm in every corner would have been ideal. The idea is to not touch the material you want to keep, but remove as much as possible to minimize file work.
- Use a punch to mark your potential drill areas and then use the marker to mark the outline of your drawing, remove the paper.
- Now, drill your holes. Mine didn't go as planned, the drill press didn't have enough power to drill the big hole.
I settled for a smaller bit.
- Cut out another drawing, this time with the hole cut out. Carefully paste it around your drilled holes, inside the marked area.
- Grip your metal in a vice and start filing towards your pasted drawing. I used my needle files to make my drilled hole a bit bigger to accommodate the larger round file. Take care not to touch the paper with the file. I used my needle files to shape the hole as accurate as possible (it doesn't have to be perfect, the filed pattern will hide minor crudeness later).
- Remove the paper for a better view of the hole. Continue shaping if needed or go to step 4.
Step 4: Cut Out the Shape
The idea of this step is to get the outer rim of the pendant to match the hole.
Paste another drawing of the pendant around the hole, this isn't necessary if you marked the shape with a scribe/marker (why not both?) earlier . This is where i realized that cleaning the metal before marking your outlines is a good idea, I recommend doing this at the beginning of the project.
With your shape marked out again, grip your metal in a vice and cut out the shape as close to your marked area as possible. Doing this properly will save you a lot of time and effort.
Grip your shape in your vice and start filing the outer rim. Be as accurate as possible, try to match the inner curve and try to get the thickness of the 3 sides equal. If you have a belt grinder/sander, i recommend using it in this step (remember your breathing and eye protection and keep your pendant cool).
Step 5: Filing the Vine
This step is all about patience. So go get a cup of coffee and get comfortable with proper lighting.
I drew the process to file in a vine pattern:
- Using a half round file, file in notches at about a 45 degree angle. Spacing is very important, the pattern should be even.
- With a sharp edge of a needle file (I use the half round for this too, flat side facing the notch), file in the "thorn". Get as close as possible to the semi-circle and file in at an angle, slightly tilted towards the semi-circle. Hold the file at a 45 degree angle to the metal.
- Use a flat side of a needle file to smooth out the thornless side of the semi-circle as well as the opening of the thorn. Take this slowly, it isn't necessary to file this in deep. Try to make the file lines completely smooth. I try not to touch the metal just above a semi-circle, because the is where the bend in the "vine" is.
For the pendant the process is exactly the same. Here are a couple of pointers:
- It is wise to draw your shape and vine first, get the spacing perfect on paper, because measuring on the metal is hard. (i still managed to make a mistake on my drawing, one thorn is pointing in the wrong direction)
- Using the drawing as guide, mark the metal's semi-circle positions. File them in.
- When filing in the thorns, ensure that they are facing the right direction, i made a mistake on my drawing and filed it in in the wrong direction.
- Try to keep the thickness of the vine the same all around the shape.
- I winged the corners.
Step 6: Finishing
The last step is all about personal preference.
I decided that i want my vine to stand out, so i threw my pendant in a fire to blacken it.
Then i just sanded the vine, this leaves the rest of the pendant with a distressed finish.
This is a project that anyone can attempt and it costs almost nothing. Look up some other filing patterns and funky shapes and just do it! Have fun and good luck with all your other projects.