Introduction: Solder Inlay Jewelry Container
I realize this is not jewelry, but it uses many of the same techniques used for making jewelry, and this holds jewelry if you want, so there's that.
Skill Level- Intermediate.
The things you need to make this:
Jeweler's Saw and saw blades
Workspace with a bench pin
Compter/Printer or Paper and Pen
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I did.
Step 1: Step 1-Pick Metal for Container:
There are a lot of different metals you can choose for this project. The metal I prefer for this project is copper, brass, bronze, nickel and silver.
Step 2: Step 2-Cut Metal and File:
Cut out a rectangle for the base of your container. When it is cut out, file edges to make them even so they will connect as close as possible when we solder them.
Step 3: Step 3-Form Metal and Get Edges to Touch:
Bend metal with hands or hammers to get edges to touch. You may have to anneal metal if it becomes work hardened to avoid cracking. To anneal the piece you just have to heat the piece until it glows red. The edges need to touch in order for the solder to connect the pieces. Building tension might help them stay together better.
Step 4: Step 4-Solder:
Solder first seam by placing liquid flux on the seam and heating the whole piece. The flux will bubble and when it goes clear start placing hard solder on seam. Heat the piece until the solder melts. You can let your piece air dry or quench it in a bucket of water. Be careful of the steam that comes up when quenching your piece. After quenching or letting your piece completely cool down place it in the pickle for a few minutes to clean the metal. You may have to solder your piece a few times before it is completely soldered.
Step 5: Step 5-File Seam:
File away excess solder until seam is cleaned up. After your seam is cleaned, use an anvil and hammer to shape your container to your desired form.
Step 6: Step 6-Solder on Bottom of Container :
File bottom edge of your container wall. If it is not touching the bottom plate, it won’t connect with the solder. Make sure the bottom piece is flat. If it isn’t hammer it flat. Flux the area you are soldering together. Heat until flux bubbles over and goes clear. Place medium solder along the seam. Heat all pieces of metal until the solder flows. Quench and pickle the piece. Repeat this step until it is completely soldered.
Step 7: Step 7- Cut the Excess Metal Off of Bottom of Container:
Use jewelers saw to cut around the piece as close as possible. Be careful to not cut too close to the solder seam or you might cut into it. File the edge flat.
Step 8: Step 8-Make Template for Lid of Container:
Trace bottom of container to get the size of container. Then add about a ⅛ of an inch around the circle so the lid can fit over the container. Think about the design you want to pierce into the top of the lid.
Step 9: Step 9- Cut Out Strip for Lid:
Decide how tall you want to make your lid. Mark that on the metal. Measure around the container with measuring tape, or a piece of paper to know how long you need to make the strip and cut it out.
Step 10: Step 10- Put Edges of Strip Together and Solder:
Follow the steps above to make the edges come together. You may need to put the piece into 3rd arm to keep it from moving. Solder with hard solder, quench and pickle
Step 11: Step 11- Form Lid:
Form around mandrel to match the shape of container. Put it around container to see if it’s going to fit.
Step 12: Step 12- Solder Lid Together:
Follow the steps above to solder together. Use medium solder. Flux, heat piece, place solder, quench and pickle.
Step 13: Step 13- Cut Excess Metal Around Lid:
Cut excess metal off of lid then file edges flat.
Step 14: Step 14- Measure Inside of Lid and Make Image to Pierce:
Measure inside the lid so you know how much room you have for your image. Make sure it is a line drawing that doesn’t connect with another line so it doesn’t fall apart. If you want to pierce a whole piece out then solder it back together you can, but that is not what I am doing for this tutorial. Print out or draw out design. I did mine on Adobe Illustrator but you can just draw it out and trace it with Sharpie if you want. Glue your paper template inside the lid with rubber cement.
Step 15: Step 15-Punch and Drill Holes:
Use center punch and brass hammer to place drill holes. Use a drill press and drill holes. Use tiny drill bits like 65 and 70. These holes will be where you insert your saw blade to cut out your design.
Step 16: Step 16-Pierce Out Designs:
Cut along lines of your design. Be careful with your lines. Don’t completely cut out the piece or it will fall out.
Step 17: Step 17- Solder Line Work and File:
- Flux and place easy solder on top of the lid along the lines of the design you just cut out. When it is completely soldered file to clean up excess solder and allow your design to show clearly.
Sorry that I forgot to photograph the placing of the soldering but it is the same way as the other steps.
Step 18: Step 18- Copper Plate (optional):
Copper plate the container if you want. There are Instructables around the site that can guide you.
Step 19: Step 19-Sand Piece and Finish:
Sand with sandpaper from 220 grit to at least 600, but you can use higher grits if you want a different finish. You can polish your piece with polishing paper, polishing wheels, or placing in the tumbler. You can use a patina to give contrast to solder seams. I used liver of sulfur for the lid by filling a container with hot water and putting the liver of sulfur chunks in until they dissolved. I put my piece in for 20 seconds and took a soapy brass brush and gently scrubbed it to stabilize the patina. I repeated it until it is the color I want. Be careful scrubbing, it is easy to remove too much patina during this step.
Sorry,I have no photos for this.
Step 20: Step 20- You're Done!
Put wax on the piece to seal the finish onto the piece and you’re done. Renaissance wax is one of the best choices. Another popular wax is Butcher’s bowling alley wax.