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Welcome to my Shadow Box Instructable! I am a self-taught metalsmith, working mom, and proud wife. I was inspired to share this with you all due to the fact there is a very little info on creating shadowboxes. I was saddened. No forums or groups online had shared anything about this type of jewelry. So, I went to the local hardware store and bought a dapping set and started shaping Silver. This is all traditional silversmithing, with common tools many of us have in the garage or even the kitchen,(some people still use mini-torches for baking goods). Some basic soldering/metal skills are needed for this project. My joy is to share, teach, and learn so if a shiny gift from the earth makes you happy then join me and create!
Remember to always keep safety in mind and make sure you do all fire related projects in a safe environment.
All photos in each step are in chronological order with the corresponding step
Now lets gather our tools and materials we will need and get to all the fun stuff!
Step 1: Tools and Things You Will Need
From Left to Right on the top (additional photos for a better view)
- Dapping Set
- Soldering board/block and or Soldering tripod and mesh screen
- Quenching bowl( water container to put hot metal in to cool after fire)
- Torch of any kind and proper gas and or oxygen if applied to torch( ill be using the mini smith torch today)
- Flux and brush for applying to the silver
- Three levels of Silver Solder( hard, medium and soft)
- Silver polish
Middle L to R
- Steel block and .925 & wolf stamp optional
- Jewelry saw and blade lube ( I use old bees wax)
- Bench pin
- Chasing tools ( deer antlers work the same)
- needle nose pliers
- metal polishing Flexsaft/ Dremel attachments
- Sterling Silver or Fine Silver bezel wire
- Ring wire( I am using double half round)
- 18 Gage Sterling Silver sheet ( about 4x3 inches needed for whole project)
- stone of choice( Mexican Fire Opal)
- Ellipse Template
- Metal files
- Sharpie pen
- Scribe ( anything sharp to mark on the silver)
- Also a ring mandrel
NOTE: I have a fire extinguisher always at my side, safety glasses and face mask. I work on the stee part of our work bench and keep all flammables away from the area while working with fire. also work in a well ventilated space and if pregnant I would recommend on holding off until you deliver due to the harmful vapors and chemicals used with metal smithing
Step 2: Shaping the Bezel to the Stone
Photos In chronological order....
- Get your bezel wire and make sure it is the right size for your stone.(height wise, not too tall)
- Carefully wrap the wire around the stone to make the "cup" that covers the sides. Overlap the wire and use a sharpie to make a mark a point where they will be soldered. Give yourself just a hair of breathing space between the silver and the stone. (If the bezel is too small the stone cannot be used or you will have to reshape it. Also, without proper lapidary equipment you risk damaging the stone)
- Once the bezel is marked, lift the bezel wire and cut it vertically. Make sure the sides are flush with your pliers. If you can see light through it then the solder will not properly attach to both sides of the silver. Be sure to keep the wire the shape of the stone while working the seem of the bezel.
- Once the seems are fitting snuggley, place the bezel back over the stone to make sure the shape and size are still correct.
Now we are ready for the fire.
Step 3: Prepping the Silver Sheets for Soldering and Dapping
- Get your saw ready with a blade and have your blade wax/lube handy
- Using a sharpie mark on the Silver so that your scribe line is visible
- Saw along the line and be sure to use your wax periodically during sawing to keep your blade working properly( this will keep your saw from jumping and allows you to keep sawing a straight line)
- Now that you have you Silver cut to size (about 2.5x3 inches) You can stamp the Silver if you want( most of the stamping will be covered up by the ring wire but its the thought that counts in marking.925 Sterling Silver)
Step 4: Soldering the Bezel to Back Plate
- Prep your area for soldering. be sure to move all flammables away and have your quenching bowl ready. Normal tap water is fine. You do not want to add ice to your water.
- Add water to your flux and make a milky paste of it.
- get you bezel and add flux to the inside and a small amount on the outside seem( the solder will go to the flux so if you add too much you risk it not fitting the stone and you waste you solder)
- Next add flux to the back plate where the bezel will attach
- Cut your solder (if in a sheet or wire) into 5 or 6 small pieces and place then on the inside of the bezel on the back plate and one on the outside seem of the bezel
- Set up the torch you will be using with the proper type of gas( The Mini Smith takes propane and oxygen works with most tips and the only one we will be using which is the largest hole for a median flame)
- Place your black plate and bezel on the soldering board or tripod( I find it easier to heat the back plate from underneath then a little flame up above where the bezel sits at the end)
- Open up the gas and oxygen all the way and start the propane and Light. Next slowly let out some oxygen on your torch and adjust the flame to a median flow.
- Give the top of the bezel some of the tip of your flame to get the flux warm and settled
- next give all your flame to the back plate from underneath ( or heat the soldering board around your back plate for heat and work from the outside in to evenly heat you back plate without melting your bezel)
- You can start to see the silver get a yellowish tint and it is just about time to bring the fire up to the bezel
- Working evenly bring fire to the top in a circular motion for the outside in to the bezel
- You will see the solder start to melt and fill the seems where the bezel sides meet and where the bezel meets the back plate STOP THE FIRE NOW or you will burn and melt the bezel
- Take your pliers and grab the back plate and put it completely under water in your quenching cup. this hardens and cures the solder to your silver.
- Take your silver out of the water and dry it out
Congratulations! You are half way done with soldering your Shadow Box Ring!
Step 5: Sawing Your Shadow Box and Prepping for Dapping
- Measure the bezel size so that you can saw out the hollow part that shows your stone in the shadow box
- Once you know the size mark up your silver with the sharpie
- Use your scribe to mark your silver then measure you a bigger circular area where the back plate will meet the shadow box
- Next use a nail setter to punch a small hole for your file to go through for sawing(A normal wood nail will puncture the metal also)
- Put the saw blade through the hole and into your saw
- Using the bench pin to help you stabilize you cuts( Don't forget your blade wax )
- Once you have your inner circle cut take one end of your blade out of the silver hole and back into your saw
- Do your outside circle and use files to smooth out and little imperfections from sawing( This also help protect your dapping tools from and hard edges)
You are pretty much making a really fancy washer
Step 6: Dapping the Silver Shadow Box and Prepping for Solder
The size of the tool that you will be using in this kit will very with the size of you shadow box and stone size. I took photos from above to show the sizes that I am using
- Using the largest slot in your dapping block and largest dapping pins to start hammering the outside rims and working your way around and towards the inside ti the hollow part of your silver
- Check the progress as you go along
- Use the next size down on the dapping block and on the dapping pins and as above work your way around the whole piece
- This may take you a bit of time and it should to make sure that it is all evenly done on all sides
- Once your silver is to the doming that you like you can take a raw hide mallet and lightly tap the top to make sure that the outside edges meet the flat surface
- Once this is done then take it to 220 sand paper to even out the edges
- This will leave you with a flat edge on the inside of your shadowbox. make sure that you have enough surface ares for the solder to hold to the back plate
- Place your shadow box on top of the bezel and back plate to make sure everything fits good!
Starting to look pretty neat huh!?!?!
Step 7: Soldering the Back Plate to the Shadow Box and Sizing the Ring for Final Soldering
This is the final soldering that we will be doing before finishing the final details( remember all photos are in chronological order of step taken)
- Set up soldering station
- Flux your back plate and shadow box
- Place median Solder ( again in small little cuts) on the inside of where the shadow box will be placed
- Place shadow box on the back plate and place median solder on the outside edge where it meets the back plate
- Solder together using the same techniques as we did before- heating all from the outside in and on a median flame
- Once done and quenched, saw the extra silver off
- File down the edges and make smooth( be carefully to not file too much or you will end up with open gaps in your shadow box) using the same 220 sand paper do the inside edge to have a more polished look( optional)
- Next size the finger that you want to wear your ring on
- Cut your ring wire( I wrap it around the ring mandrel to measure) to size and start shaping it to the size on your ring mandrel( I am using double half round ring wire so I cut it down the middle to add a detail effect while wearing but the soldering and filling done are all done in the same way)
- Once you have you ring shaped out make sure that the edges meet flush the same as the bezel to ensure the solder will fuse to close the ring
- Put flux on your ring edges and easy or soft solder( you may want to change out your water in the quenching bowl by now as it is warmer from quenching)
- Solder the ring closed and prep to place ring on the shadow box
- Put solder on you ring and place on the back of the show box, lift and put more flux where the ring left some
- Put a few more pieces of easy solder on the shadow box
- Solder the ring to the shadow box and quench it
Now we are ready to polish this baby up!!!
Step 8: Polishing and Setting Your Stone
- I like to use these thick brushes first. Brush any little shavings off from filing to avoid your other attachments getting cut and not lasting as long.
- The fourth photo has a set of polishing wheels that Rio Grande sells. Start by using the wheel on the top left first. Go through each wheel one by one to get a good shine.
- Next I use silver polish and a felt wheel to go over the whole ring
- Once the ring is polished I start to glue the stone with E6000 9. Some stones won't be damage by the chemicals and you can set them before polishing. In this case, the Fire Opal would be discolored by the polish so I set it afterwards.
- Start on the bezel with the chasing tools. Begin at the bottom and work your way around the bezel pushing onto the stone.
- Move to the top of the bezel and push the lip in over the stone.
- Using a half-bent chasing tool, rub down on the lip to create a smooth setting.
Now you are ready to wear and show off your Hand Made Sterling Silver Shadow Box Ring!!!