Introduction: Steel Butterfly Pendant

Picture of Steel Butterfly Pendant

This pendant is made by hand with out the use of measurements. Meaning, you start out by drawing what you want and take that directly to the metal. While researching this I realized butterfly wings have so many different shapes. After looking at a bunch, these wings are my interpretation of what they look like. I can make one for you.

If you have never soldered before please check this out.


A small square of 22 gage sheet metal. I bought a 22 gage sheet at the hardware store for about $8.00.

Wood nail

Paper clip

Step 1: Draw Out Your Butterfly

Picture of Draw Out Your Butterfly

Use a ball point pen to draw out your butterfly. This drawing is going to be the exact size for the finished product.

Once you have your design, retrace the perimeter of the wing with moderate pressure. This will cause your drawing to separate from the rest of the paper. Now you have a stencil for your butterfly wing.

Step 2: Cut and Shape

Picture of Cut and Shape

Use a permanent marker to trace the shape of the wings onto the metal. Cut the wings out with metal shears. Doing this will cause the metal to become distorted. Gently hammer them flat again.

Remove any coating from the metal with sand paper or a rotary tool bit.

Place the wings together and clamp them in locking pliers. Join the wings with solder. By doing this the wings will be a mirror image of each other after you separate them again.

Use what ever method you prefer to shape the wings. I used a combination of my scroll saw, a rotary burr, and needle files.

Once the wings have reached your desired shape, use a torch to separate them. Both wings will have excess solder on them. To remove the majority of the excess, I held each wing with pliers in the torch flame and scraped the molten solder off with a razor blade.

Step 3: Make the Body

Picture of Make the Body

Lay the wings down on a piece of paper. Draw out the body so it’s the shape you want. Make registration marks on the drawing.

Mount a wood nail into a drill press. Transfer the registration marks from the paper to the nail with a permanent marker. Spin the nail round and use a file to cut out the body.

Once you have the body cut, snip it off with pliers. Gently flatten the body by using a smooth faced hammer on a smooth surface.

Refine the body with needle files and sand paper. 

Step 4: Make the Antennae

Picture of Make the Antennae

Use a triangle file to score a line on the top of the bug head. This will serve as a guide for the scroll saw blade.

Mount the body in a wooden clamp and use a saw blade to cut a groove in the head.

Extend a paper clip and fold it in half. Gently hammer the apex of the paper clip until it slips into the cut groove. A bit of solder will secure the antennae in place.

Step 5: Emboss the Wings

Picture of Emboss the Wings

Take a needle and bend it around a circular shape. I used a ½” socket bit. Use a piece of tape to mount the curved needle onto a wing. Use another piece and tape the wings together so it looks as shown.

Gently and evenly hammer the wings from both sides. Both wing are now embossed.

Step 6: Convex the Wings

Picture of Convex the Wings

Find a carriage bolt and sand off any letters from the head.

Place the wings over a scrap piece of wood. Hammer the head of the bolt evenly over the entire wing. As you go along, the wings will take on a convex form.

Step 7: Solder

Picture of Solder

Take a nail and hammer it flat for a connecting piece between the wings. Cut it to size with diagonal cutting pliers.

Place the connecting piece between the wings and solder them together. This is the time to remove any excess solder which runs onto the wings.

Solder the antennae into the head and then place the body between the wings. There should be enough solder left between the wings so that all you need to do is apply heat.

Step 8: Polish

Picture of Polish

Use Progressively finer sand paper to buff out any tool marks. I start with 400 and move on to 1000 and then 2000 grit.

To get in-between the body and wings I dulled a razor blade on a file and then folded a piece of sand paper over it.

For polishing in the same place I used a string with polishing compound on it. Polish the rest of the butterfly with a small buffing wheel.


MaximilianoA6 made it! (author)2017-01-16

Very good tutorial, use currencies as a raw material, make some changes in the design since I prefer to make a ring

jcruz44 (author)2015-02-17

How much would you charge per butterfly? Very beautiful!

Jim5975 (author)2015-01-24

Hi i wanna ask, how thick is the guage 22 sheet metal? i check it on the internet and it seemed to around .75mm is that correct? because it seems to be thicker in the photos thanks :D

BLR_RAVI (author)2014-07-31

very creative idea..excellent to go through ..and glad to see so many responce

T_T_ (author)2013-11-08

here's mine

Mrballeng (author)T_T_2013-11-09

Looks great! Good job.

Mrballeng (author)T_T_2013-11-09

Looks great! Good job.

-Metal Master- (author)2013-08-08

What do you use to shape the nail? And how big is your nail?

venom52 (author)2013-04-11

I have noticed a few times that you use a drill press turned on its side as a lathe. Might I ask what size and brand is it?

Travpena (author)2013-03-06

im going to attempt this using nickels as the wings instead of steel, i wonder if it will look different. ill post results when im finished

imajem (author)2011-04-24

Wouldn't polishing wings and body before attaching the body save alot of that work??? Then being very sparce with the solder!!!

Coffeinated (author)imajem2011-10-25

At least the heat of the flame will make the metal oxidize and you have to remove the flux afterwards, so it would be double work... I made a butterfly today but did not polish it yet and think it will be a hell of work. Especially because some solder went into that line embossed with a needle, hope I can get rid of it. In Germany we say something like "you have to suffer when you want to be beautiful" and this butterfly makes people (females) beautiful, think about it ;)

Nawaz (author)Coffeinated2011-10-26

you can use a drill bit to remove the excessive solder in the embossed line.(0.5 - 0.8mm diameter) depending on the thickness. Use it at an angle with very little pressure.

Coffeinated (author)Nawaz2011-10-26

Sounds like an idea... but the thinnest drill I have is 1 mm, and I think I've never seen a thinner one in the shop... I think I will just try to melt it and scratch it away with another needle... I will make a photo today ;) I'm still thinking how I can avoid my butterfly will rust...

Nawaz (author)Coffeinated2011-10-26

hmmm,,how thick is the embossement?needle thick? Don't worry, when u file it with sand paper, the ugly stuff will be removed.
With which metal you made it? If you fear it might rust, you can electroplate it. That's what I did when I made the 'double sided heart' (made mine out of an old paint can..turned out it start rusting 2days later). So i filed it with fine grit paper and electroplated it with aluminium(since i wanted to keep the grey finish) and till now no rust detected. Best of luck. Nice work by the way :)

Coffeinated (author)Nawaz2011-10-28

Thanks :) I used steel like in the instructible. And after polishing I used now nitrocellulose lacquer to keep it from rusting. i did never electroplate before but I considered to give it to a jewelry store to let them silver plate it... And I just let the embossement like it was, so its now black and the rest is polished (but isnt that shiny because of the lacquer)
photo, of course.

Nawaz (author)Coffeinated2011-10-28

looks great..Did you use the polishing compound yet?since its that stuff that will make it shiny(buff it with a small buffing wheel for better result). Electroplating is pretty simple actually. Google it then try on scrap metal.
Basically it follows the COMA rule:

C = Cathode(-ve terminal)
O = Object to be plate
M = Metal to be used for plating
A = Anode (+ve terminal)

So you connect the Object to be plated to the Cathode and the Metal for plating to the Anode. The you immerse the whole thing in a salt solution and turn on your supply(I use 12V at 1.2A)

The Dark Ninja (author)Nawaz2012-03-03

It's really that easy?

I was considering using a power supply from an old computer as the source of my voltage since it will supply the 12v (if I'm remembering right). ((My friend and I used the supply when we were making a wet-cell, worked great.))

Anyways,... will this work with any metal + metal combo? Like, can I plate one of my polished heart pendants I made from Mrballeng's ible, with say... copper from a copper pipe?

Nawaz (author)The Dark Ninja2012-03-03

Yes, It's easy and yes, you can use a computer PSU but am not sure of the current it'll supply. The current should high enough. Anything between 2-5 amps at 12 V should work great. You could use higher voltages up to 15V but just be careful of short circuits (computer PSU have short circuit protection and will cut off)

Yes, copper works great. I usually use the copper from electrical wires. Take a long piece and bend it in a 'snake' shape to increase surface area(makes the process more effective and faster). The only issue with copper is that it will oxidize with time and become mat (from bright 'gold-like' finish to a dull brownish yellow color)

For the salt solution, just mix kitchen salt in warm water(to make it dissolve better) and you are good to go.

Attach your pendant to the (-ve) wire, the copper metal to the (+ve wire) and immerse it in the salt solution, make sure there aren't touching and make sure the pendant is fully immersed. Switch on the power supply and you'll see bubbles.(proof that its working) If your supply is 12V 2A, leave it on for about an hour or until you are happy with the final result. The longer the better since a thicker layer of copper will be deposited. You might want to leave it longer if u plan to polish with sand paper. I'd recommend 2000 grit. Else, just buff the pendant with polishing compound and you are good to go.

The solution after a while will turn in something sluggish of greenish brown color or something like that.

Perform the electroplating in a well ventilated location.(gas evolved in the process, hydrogen i believe).

I know, long reply but hope it helps.

The Dark Ninja (author)Nawaz2012-03-04

That's actually very helpful.

Do all metals work this way? Like... is there a chart somewhere with a list of what metals will work like this?

I have, for example, an old silver ring, could I use this method to use the silver from the ring to plate, say... a brass section of pipe?

I dont know what that sort of chart would be called, but I'm sure it would be helpful if it existed...

Nawaz (author)The Dark Ninja2012-03-04

To my knowledge there's no such chart. But basically, it should work with any metal provided you have a high enough current. Just follow the COMA rule. After silver plating the brass pipe, you might need to polish and buff it for shiny finish.

However, be very careful when polishing using sand paper even if its fine grit because if you there's too little deposition on the object, using sand paper will remove it. If you plan to use sand paper, let the electroplating process run for a longer period of time.

What I also like to do is, rub the 2000 grit paper on a hard and smooth surface(like a piece of scrap metal) just to remove the grainy surface so as to make it smoother(its like increasing the grit number). In this way, there won't be any light scratches. (note, only required if you are using a fresh piece of sand paper)

Hope this helps :)

Coffeinated (author)Nawaz2011-10-26

So, that is mine ;) Especially on the left wing you can see the ugly stuff the flux changed into.

Eventor29 (author)imajem2011-05-23

Solder Doesn't Usually Stick To Polished Metal Surfaces, Normally, Polished Copper Works But Even That Sticks Less Than Rough. Same With Epoxy And Steel.

Im Kinda An Expert Solderer Been At It For 6 Years.

xavec (author)Eventor292011-07-21

Jeweller's silver solder works great with polished surfaces :)

Eventor29 (author)xavec2011-07-21

Yeps Probably, But Would Better On Rough Right? Dont Have Much Exp In silver Solder LOL

xavec (author)Eventor292011-07-21

Not really... and thinking about it minute debris in surface roughness may actually act as an impediment, as it's a molecular bonding process and not a gluing one. Anyway, the key things to ensure a good solder joint in silver are;

1. clean, touching joint.
2. flux / borax which is applied in the joint and helps the silver solder to flow
3. heat throughout the entire piece, as this causes agitation in the molecules and allows the silver solder to flow "into" the sterling silver.

I have no idea how far this correlates with the kind of soldering done on circuit boards, but it's worth remembering that on many pieces of jewellery soldering and polishing is done in stages throughout, as construcion in very fine work can mean certain parts of the piece are just inaccessible for polishing once the whole thing is finished. So solder has to work perfectly - and does - on a super high polish.

Mrballeng (author)imajem2011-04-25

Yes. I'm still a novice solder and it doesn't always bond over the pieces as planned. So, I over do it and remove the excess. It's doesn't take much time.

phand124 (author)Mrballeng2011-07-08

what kind of solder do you use exactly.. just standard or a certain kind?

Mrballeng (author)phand1242011-07-08

Oatey lead free silver solder from the plumbing section at walmart.

phand124 (author)Mrballeng2011-07-08

ok thanks.. i figured it was lead free .. i was doing some electrical circuits in engineering class and that lead solder is some nasty stuff... and i would be at it for hours.... so i had the whole eyes burning and sinuses clogged from the fumes affect...

Coffeinated (author)2011-07-27

i have one big question. Did you solder it with a torch oder with a soldering iron? I am able to solder with an iron in circuits and so on but never did something with a torch... And I guess electronic solder isn't good in connecting steel? Thank you for that GREAT 'ible!

Nawaz (author)Coffeinated2011-10-25

Yes, you can actually use a soldering iron(tried it). But it depends on the solder you are using. Plumbing solder like the one used in this instructable usually have a high melting point and thus, you'll need a high power soldering iron (I would saw 60W and above while circuits would normally use 20-30W) and favourably a fine tip. Torch soldering is much easier in this type of soldering (to me atleast). Also, you can use electronic solder, but it contains lead(which you don't want). Hope this helps :)

Coffeinated (author)Nawaz2011-10-25

Thank you ;) Funny thing you answered today, bought a torch yesterday and made a butterfly myself today ;) I'm just having issues with my solder, they only had silver solder (40% silver, I guess that was quite right) with flux already around it, some blue stuff. It works but it gets really ugly after soldering and I'm still searching the right way how to get rid of this stuff... And thanks again to Mrballeng, your instructable is amazing, I never soldered before with a torch and now I have a nice butterfly that will be a christmas gift for a friend of mine :)

Nawaz (author)Coffeinated2011-10-25

hahahaha,,well, its always handy to have one. You never know when you'll be using it. Silver solder is great. After polishing it'll be really nice and shiny. Try getting some flux paste(not liquid) since this will greatly help you when soldering as it makes the solder flow smoothly in the joint(this inbuilt flux is not so great) and won't stack up in ugly 'ball like' shape(which i guess is what you meant by ugly after soldering). Do post some pictures of your butterfly if you can. Wish you all the best.

Mrballeng (author)Coffeinated2011-07-28

All my soldering is done with a plumbing torch and silver solder from the plumbing section at any home improvement store. I have read though that it can be done with an iron. Check out the comments in "polished granite pendant".

Nawaz (author)2011-10-03 speechless..just wow :P
Now you're really getting me addicted this stuff..Especially since it requires minimal/easy to find tools..This one is for sure on my to do list(maybe this weekend..who knows :D)Thank you very much for sharing with us all :)

Mrballeng (author)Nawaz2011-10-03

thanks for the comment. Love your wallet by the way.

Nawaz (author)Mrballeng2011-10-23

Finally had time to do it. Thanks again.

alancasey (author)2011-10-20

This is fan mail.

Mr. B. You Rock!

haewood (author)2011-07-14

Your method of finding inexpensive materials and tools (the drill press in particular is a fantastic, I've always lamented my lack of specialized tools for tasks you're accomplishing with ease using it) has caused me to reignite my passion for metalworking; last night I replicated the penny pendant and plan to try the locket this weekend.

While your skills and creativity eclipse my own, I would offer one suggestion that may make your work a little easier to finish. In the photos that include your tool faces, I've noted they're pretty roughly surfaced. If you're using them for less delicate tasks of course, this would be a waste of time, but it's very easy using your drill press, files, and sandpaper followed by polish to bring your hammer and anvil (another hammer) to a mirror finish.

I like leaving a few tool marks on my work just because it gives it the handcrafted appearance folks appreciate, but you'll eliminate a lot of filing and sanding time on your pieces by starting with polished tools.

For those attempting these amazingly approachable projects, another tip is to remember that hammering any metal will harden it, making it progressively more difficult to get the result you want. You can anneal (heat and quickly cool) metal as often as you like to keep it softer. You can do this on a natural gas or propane stove, by using a plumber's torch, or with a hobby butane mini-torch, available at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and Wal-Mart to name a few. The key is to get the metal glowing red as evenly as possible and then to drop it in cool water immediately. Use your head and don't burn yourself or your possesions when working with open flames and hot materials.

One more tip for budding jewelers: If you like a little less uniform polished look on your metals, you can also burnish them rather than using polishing compound with a buffer. Take a common spoon and simply make firm strokes across the surface of the piece (this basically closes the "pores" of the metal, imparting a nice luster). You can vary the pressure and length of the strokes to get mottled or irregular finishes.

Last tip: Experiment! With materials like the ones in these tutorials, mistakes cost you a few cents at most, and there's no better teacher than a failed attempt. Have fun everyone, and thanks very my Mrballeng for your efforts here. I'm so impressed with the accessability of these tutorials.

urbanwoodswalker (author)haewood2011-09-01

I thought that to soften (anneal) letting the metal cool down in as slow a way as possible keeps it soft. To drop the hot annealed metal into cold water is to harden it...or.."temper" the metal.

Haewood said,
" You can anneal (heat and quickly cool) metal as often as you like to keep it softer."

haewood (author)urbanwoodswalker2011-09-01

Hi Urban --

In cases of ferrous metals like iron, the material has to be held at the recrystallization temp for a prescribed length of time, and the metal cannot be quenched as it will pull water or other quenching liquids into the heat-swollen pores of the crystal structure, creating voids that cause structural weakness and weird properties.

However, with silver, brass, nickel, silver, copper, and gold (excluding white gold, an entirely other animal that does require air cooling) quenching 'freezes' the metal in it's organized crystalline state, increasing it's ductility.

Mrballeng (author)haewood2011-07-14

Thanks for you comment and also any experience/advice you can throw our way.

wocket (author)2011-06-11

This would make a nice project in copper/brass with silver solder. A jewelers saw would make your life much easier with this fine work.

xavec (author)wocket2011-07-21

Really? Because the blades I use in my jeweller's saw for silver and copper are steel (vallorblades), and I've always assumed they wouldn't make a dent on on other steel. Am I wrong? Or do you buy a particular kind that can deal with it? I would love to be able to work in stainless steel (Mr Baleng you're an inspiration in your design and material sourcing, I'm a HUGE fan) and if you can help I'd be really grateful. Thanks!

Mrballeng (author)wocket2011-06-11

I'm going to have to invest in one of those, Thanks.

phand124 (author)2011-07-08

i have looked through all of your jewelry instructables and find them VERY informative and inspiring for a graduation gift im trying to make for my best friend. we have known each other since kindergarten and i wanted to do something really special. i keep trying to make a bird pendant based on your butterfly but it doesnt come out quite right. can you give it a try and load an instructable for me please?

Mrballeng (author)phand1242011-07-08

Sure, I just need a sketch of what you want it to look like. Post a picture of your sketch and I'll try my hand at it.

phand124 (author)Mrballeng2011-07-08

if i cant get a picture of it... i will draw up some more sketches and find a way to get them to you.. my camera is currently out of comission, but there are ways :)

phand124 (author)Mrballeng2011-07-08

she had a hena tatto of a sparrow that she really liked.. i was just looking at the leaf pendant and your butterfly bracelet and thinking about trying to emboss it too... idk.. ill see if i can message a pic of her tattoo though

About This Instructable



Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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