Introduction: Salamander Pendant

Picture of Salamander Pendant

I made this pendant using the "Dusky Salamander" as a model. It's made from a section of 3/16" steel dowel rod and a paper clip. I had a good time making it. The rod is available at any home improvement store.

Step 1: Turn the Dowel

Picture of Turn the Dowel

Chuck the section of dowel into a drill press. The one I’m using is an 8” press laid on it’s side.

Spin the dowel and shave down the desired profile with a file.

Make sure it cools off before you touch it.

Step 2: Hammer Out the Body

Picture of Hammer Out the Body

Use a torch to heat up the body. Hammer the head side flat. Since a salamander has a tail made for swimming turn the body 90 degrees before you hammer the tail section. See the pictures.

During this step use pliers to bend the body the way you want it, but first use a sanding attachement to rough out the shape.

Make sure not to touch hot metal until it cools down.

Step 3: Refine the Shape

Picture of Refine the Shape

Use rotary tools to shape the body.

To further refine it use a set of hobby files.

Step 4: Make the Arms and Legs

Picture of Make the Arms and Legs

Cut two sections of paper clip. Bend them into the desired shape for arms and legs. Use vise grips to flatten out the feet.

Step 5: Solder and Polish

Picture of Solder and Polish

Cut two grooves on the belly side of the body. Make sure they fit the paper clip limbs. Apply soldering flux to the grooves and limbs. Solder the limbs in place.

Use progressively finer sand paper to polish the salamander. I start with 400 grit, then move on to 1000, 2000, and finally polishing compound on a polishing wheel. The jump ring is also made from a paper clip.
Thanks for viewing.


Tait_Clements made it! (author)2016-01-08

I made one of these a while ago using a 16 Penny nail, but never got around to posting pictures. I finally made another, and remembered to share pictures this time. I also don't wear too many things around my neck, but love a good tie tack. This salamander works great as one with a strong magnet behind it. :)

Mrballeng (author)Tait_Clements2016-01-15

Good work!

ashervivi88 (author)2015-12-01


1307invert (author)2011-10-20

Say, how do you keep your pieces from rusting? it seems like, with such a high polish, that the wearer might have to oil it or such to keep it from growing a dusky red skin. am I missing something obvious?

Mrballeng (author)1307invert2011-10-21

I've noticed that the more a steel surface is polished the less likely it is to rust. Rust is not a problem though unless the piece is in constant contact with moisture. My sister has a few of my pieces and uses clear nail polish with sucess. I've heard there's a liquid called "cold blue" used for gun metal. I'll try it if I ever come across it.

ilpug (author)Mrballeng2013-10-24

check the gun section of a sporting goods store

abbycr (author)2012-10-29

Hi! I've been following your instructibles for months now, and they got me dreaming about metal work, etc.-- I now have a dremel and access to my brothers' tools, plus a torch. And I made the salamander for a birthday gift! :) It didn't turn out quite like I wanted and I had to improvise some--I used a common nail and turned it down in a drill (nearly perished in the attempt) and bent the body--that was hardest, with a combination of tools, bench vice etc. I was about sick of it till I was done but my brother loved it so it was all worth it! And I just had to show you my dragonfly because I did the body like the salamander--never would have thought it up. I'm thinking brass monkey and spider sometime down the road! And if I ever get my hands on bullet casings, survival whistle, here I come! Thanks for being such a resource and source of inspiration.

Mrballeng (author)abbycr2012-10-29

Man!!! Those look great. You've got to share the steps on your dragonfly. I know what you mean about getting burnt out. Figuring out how to work metal took me hours on end. Now I can make something in an afternoon from thought to finished piece. But I sure didn't start like that. Hopefully these instructables take out some of the guess work. Thanks for posting the pictures.

neilh (author)2012-09-26

Here's my first attempt. I am happy with the shape, but need to watch the tool marks a bit. I don't have a drill press but put a hand drill in a vise and used a C-clamp to gently pull the trigger.

I might re-sand this one to fix a couple spots and then re-polish it.

Mrballeng (author)neilh2012-09-26

Good work! Thanks for posting pictures.

Jeff-of-all-trades (author)2012-01-18

Made this as a Christmas gift for the wife and she loved it. Thanks for the Instructable!

I was looking back at this instructable and cannot believe I did not reply to your awesome work. You did a great job! Seeing posts like yours keep me going. Thanks!

black hole (author)2012-01-06

I made a Negishi Ryu shuriken using this method. I never would have tried if it weren't for this 'ible.

Mrballeng (author)black hole2012-01-07

Whoa! That turned out great. Good work!

black hole (author)Mrballeng2012-01-07


hechao (author)2011-08-27

hello, nice work! what kind steel is that, it's really difficult to shave it ... the press should be very strong?

Mrballeng (author)hechao2011-08-28

There is nothing special about this steel. It's just a plain metal rod from the hardware store. I think I paid about $2 for it. It was very easy to shave down. It took me about 5 minutes. The press is just a normal drill press laid on it's side.

tmack0 (author)Mrballeng2012-01-04

Excellent 'ible, Im finishing up one now as a gift for a caving friend of mine. I ended up using 3 nails, one large one for the body and two small ones for the legs. I turned it on a hand held power drill using a bastard file and used a cheapo propane plumbing torch to heat it for bending. Looks good so far, thanks for the idea and guide (will add a pic when Im finished)!

tmack0 (author)tmack02012-01-05

as promised, my version made from nails
thanks again for the instructable!

Mrballeng (author)tmack02012-01-07

You really did a great job! My hat off to you. I know your friend will love it. Thanks for posting a photo.

hechao (author)Mrballeng2011-08-28

I had a drill press, the speed of motor is 1420 RPM, but I can switch the belt on the gears, so the speed can go to 3100, and the power of it is 250W (the motor is 1/3HP), does it good to do this? I bought a stainless steel rod type 303, is it a good one? Thanks again!

I took a look of all your work, nice! impressive!

Mrballeng (author)hechao2011-08-29

Sounds like my drill press. It should work fine. About the stainless steel, I've never had any luck soldering with it though it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.

Lildevil963 (author)2011-08-22

very nice also ty for the instructable on polishing it saved many unpolished things from being make fun of :P

Mrballeng (author)Lildevil9632011-08-23

"Haha your tarnished." =)

p.ingenhoff (author)2011-08-23

super arbeit!!!

42lwood (author)2011-08-23

This is very neat and pretty, and extremely cheap compared to most jewelry stores, but I think the Ible could have been worded better.

triumphman (author)2011-08-19

What type of solder did you use, silver solder, 50/50, 50/60, like the plumbers use for copper pipe ? Flux type ? Nice job, I can't believe those paper clips made such nice legs! Awesome ! Got to try this ASAP! Thanks for sharing your expertise!

astrong0 (author)triumphman2011-08-19

Yes, i completely agree with you i must also know for i have want to make a salamander from steel dowling!! ah the skills learned from drama class.

seanthesheep101 (author)astrong02011-08-19

Drama? 0_0

astrong0 (author)seanthesheep1012011-08-19

ya i was doing the lights for a play at my school and that was one of the lines in it......except for the salamander part. So no i was never in drama. do you not care for drama?

seanthesheep101 (author)astrong02011-08-20

No I do care I just didn't think u learn that stuff in drama

astrong0 (author)seanthesheep1012011-08-20

it was more of "by chance" that i heard it.

Mrballeng (author)triumphman2011-08-20

I picked up the solder in the plumbing section at walmart. I'm not sure what the ratio is though a picture of the solder and flux is on my philips head earrings instructable. Don't forget to post your pictures.

astrong0 (author)2011-08-19

how long was the straight piece on the press?

Mrballeng (author)astrong02011-08-20

I used the scientific length of my index finger for the over all length. The salamander it self was measured from the tip of my idex finger to the second joint.

astrong0 (author)Mrballeng2011-08-20

such high precision instruments you have!!

abvnatter (author)2011-08-19

That's beautiful. Thanks for posting. My gf really liked that you staged it on the polished rocks.

Mrballeng (author)abvnatter2011-08-20

Cool! I'm glad you two liked it.

chaitanyak (author)2011-08-18

this is one of my favourites in the metal work diys!

Mrballeng (author)chaitanyak2011-08-20

Thanks a million.

janemermaid (author)2011-08-19

This is a really gorgeous thing, thanks for posting it! Are you making any more? would you ship me one?

Mrballeng (author)janemermaid2011-08-20

I hadn't planned on making more. This was a specific gift for someone. Give me an idea, what's specific to you?

astrong0 (author)2011-08-19

Also, very well done instructable, clear and easy to understand.

cwix09 (author)2011-08-18

What kind of torch did you use? I dont have one and I was wondering what cheap alternatives i might be able to use...

Mrballeng (author)cwix092011-08-19

This particular torch came from the plumbing section at wal-mart. $15.00

saraed (author)2011-08-18


pbecker83 (author)2011-08-18

Very cool! And you make it look so simple. Great job!

bajablue (author)2011-08-18

wow... that is so beautiful!

Greasetattoo (author)2011-08-18

Your a Master, my friend!

GREAT work!

ShadowJesus (author)2011-08-18

This looks amazing!

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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