Steel Butterfly Pendant





Introduction: Steel Butterfly Pendant

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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How much would you charge per butterfly? Very beautiful!

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

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

Looks great! Good job.

Looks great! Good job.

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

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?

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

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

10 replies

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 ;)

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.

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...

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 :)

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.


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)

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?

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.

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...

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 :)