Introduction: Flower Ring Made From Copper

About: I am actually an alien from the planet xbq79. I fell off of the spaceship and landed on earth when I was still in child form. I have been looking for my parents since. I really liked what I saw when I first di…

This tutorial walks through the process of creating your very own flower ring. This instructable is a great project to undertake if you want to master jewelry soldering in a single project.

I'll break the instructable into multiple steps:

  1. Planning (thought process, autocad pdf file, stone size)
  2. Jump ring creation
    1. jump ring soldering
    2. Correction: position jump ring openings inwards for soldering
  3. Polishing and attaching all three layers
    1. Correction: using mandrel to round shape again after error in jump ring creation step
  4. Stone bezel creation
    1. Flattening, mandrel, soldering, polishing
  5. Ring base creation
    1. Sizing, sawing, filing, mandrel
    2. Sawing and filing out circular back to hold ring base to flower design
    3. Soldering Base and circular back to each other
    4. Polishing
    5. Attaching completed ring base to the back of design
  6. Polishing full piece
  7. Adding stone to piece

Step 1: Planning

Materials needed for this step:

  • Calipers
  • Cabochon (I used approx 15mm)

I sketched out an idea onto paper. The original idea and the final product are considerably different. I had anticipated creating arcs out of the copper wire for the petals, and angling each tier instead of resting the tiers on top of each other and leaving the final product flat. The plan had changed to sawing out an arc shape out of circles, but it didn't seem like it would hold up well during or after sawing. The size of the ring is based on a piece of stone found in a jewelry store. I measured the size of the stone with a circle template.

Using that stone's measurement and the original sketch idea, I produced an AutoCAD file for reference because the design is dimension-sensitive. See the PDF attachment. All units on the PDF are in inches.

Step 2: Creating Jump Rings Part 1 - Spirals

Materials needed for this step:

  • Copper or brass wire. I used 18 gauge copper wire.
  • Hand drill
  • Something cylindrical to stick in the hand drill that will give the proper circle sizes.
    • Ex: Doming/Dapping punch, old TV antennas, pencil, etc.
  • Calipers (not pictured)
  • Wire cutter
  • Pliers
  • Vise

In order to get a circle shape, you need a hand drill and a spool of wire to create a tight notebook-like spiral. Based on the PDF file, the lines that represent the circle represents the outer side, not the inner.

I used the calipers to measure the thickness of the 18 gauge wire, which came out to be approximately 1mm. Using this and some math, I subtracted the wire gauge thickness from the total diameter to get the ideal diameter for the cylindrical object that the copper wire will be wrapped around. Doming punches are ideal for this as they come in various sizes. If you don't have doming punches, there are other things that could be used, just make sure you confirm sizes using calipers.

Once an ideal size is found, place and tighten it into the hand drill. Next, cut a long piece of copper wire. In order to get neat circles, you must straighten the piece of wire. To do this, clamp one end into a vise, and hold down the other end with pliers. Stand back and yank the wire away from the vise. The final product should be a relatively straight piece of wire.

Slide the wire into the hand drill gap, and use your hands to create an initial loop. Squeeze tightly while turning the hand drill. This will ensure that the circles are closer in size. There should be no gaps in the spiral. Slide the final product off to prepare it for sawing.

Step 3: Creating Jump Rings Part 2 - Sawing Out Circles

Materials needed for this step:

  • Jeweler's saw and saw blade
  • C clamp
  • Wooden block for sawing
  • Pliers

Now that you have a tight notebook-like spiral as seen in the last step, you have to use a jeweler's saw to cut out as many circles as possible. In order to saw successfully, you have to place the spiral on the lower corner of the wood block. Take your time sawing in this stage, this part will require some patience. Saw in a straight line (z axis-wise). When you do this, one-by-one each piece of circular wire will fall out and loop around the jeweler's saw blade. Remove from the saw blade and keep sawing until you have enough circles for each tier. Each tier uses 8 circles, so cut out extras just in case.

When you cut out a bunch of these circles, they will be a little crooked by where it was just cut. Use pliers to align the cut out location.

The first-most and last-most circles are not completely round enough to be used, so discard them.

Step 4: Creating Jump Rings Part 3 - Soldering

Materials needed for this step:

  • Blowtorch and fire starter

  • Flux
    • Something to apply the flux onto the copper, they usually carry these
    • ex: Handy Flux
  • Silver solder

  • Soldering pad (unused spots on soldering pad)

  • Tweezers (to pick up solder pieces)

  • Wire cutters (to cut solder pieces)

  • Pencil

  • Circle template

  • Pickling acid and water

Correction: Solder the rings facing each other instead of what I did (see drawing).

This is where you will get a lot of jewelry soldering practice. Using the circle template and the pdf file, find the diameter needed to successfully solder 8 rings in each tier. When the diameter is found, draw the circle onto the soldering pad with a pencil.

Orient your first two rings with the openings facing each other. Cut out several small pieces of silver solder. Apply flux to the spot where it will be soldered. Heat the flux until the flux froths white and then turns glossy. Once the flux is boiled off, add a piece of silver solder to the spot and heat the location with the blow torch until solder melts.

The two rings will be oxidized at this point, so dip it into the pickling acid, then water before adding on another ring. Repeat the pickling + water process for each ring soldered until tier is complete.

So, in summary, rinse and repeat these steps until tiers are completed:
Set rings with openings facing each other, add flux, heat flux, add solder, heat solder, pickle rings.

Step 5: Polishing the Tiers

Materials needed for this step:

  • Polishing paste
  • Bench block
  • Buffing attachment
  • Flexible shaft or buffing machine or dremel
  • Mandrel, if needed

Now that all tiers are soldered and pickled, it's time to polish each one to restore its shine. You have to polish the tiers in three places: Front, back, and outer edges. Turn on the buffing machine and apply polishing paste to the buffing attachment. Place petal tier onto the bench block. Start off polishing the front/back sides by holding firmly onto the tier with two hands. Once the two sides are polished, the outer edges need to be polished too.

If you followed my corrections in the next step, this step most likely would not be needed. If you made the same mistake as me you will learn that the jump rings will warp in shape during polishing. To fix this, you could use a mandrel to make the jump rings circular again.

Step 6: Soldering Tiers Together

Materials needed in this step:

  • Soldering iron (30 watt option preferred)
  • Lead (soft) solder
  • Flux Paste
    • Something to pick up flux
  • Soldering pad
  • Blow torch

Now that they're shiny, this is a great time to solder all three pieces together. You will only need to add lead solder for the two smallest tiers (the third tier does not need the lead solder). Use soft solder (lead solder) for this part to prevent the pieces from falling apart. Set your soldering iron to 30W, add flux to previously soldered areas, and then carefully dip (a small amount of) the spool of lead solder onto the fluxed area. Repeat this process until all previously soldered corners now have melted lead solder on it.

Once the two smallest tiers have lead solder in those previously soldered areas, stack all three tiers together. Use the blow torch to heat the piece together, move torch in a circular fashion to evenly distribute the heat. You will know when you're done when you see the two smaller tiers 'sink.'

Step 7: Cabochon Bezel Creation

Materials needed for this step:

  • Rolling Mill, or bezel wire if you don't have a rolling mill to flatten out the wire
  • Copper or brass wire (I used 18 gauge)
  • Vise or something to hold the wire still like tweezers
  • Calipers
  • Cabochon
  • Jeweler's saw and saw blade w/wooden piece
  • C clamp
  • Mandrel and mandrel hammer
  • Flux (ex: Handy Flux), silver solder, wire cutter, pliers, vise, blow torch, fire starter,
  • Pickling solution and water
  • Hand file
  • Wire hand brush

If you don't have a rolling mill (or don't want to use one): You can buy bezel wire. Measure the cabochon with calipers, and line it up to its exact location on the mandrel.

Rolling mill method: Clip a piece of copper or brass wire with wire cutters. Clamp the wire on a vise (facing upwards, z axis) and apply blowtorch heat onto the wire until wire turns red, then yank the other side of the wire with pliers to get a straight wire, then place the wire into the pickling solution. Take out the wire from the pickling solution, transfer it to water then roll it under a rolling mill to make a bezel wire.

Mandrel time: Use your fingers to wrap the wire around the mandrel. Use the jeweler's saw to remove the excess wire. Wrap it around the mandrel again and hit the wire with the mandrel hammer. Repeat the mandrel step until the bezel is snug around the cabochon.

Silver solder time: Once the bezel is snug solder it with silver solder. The same soldering process applies as it does with the others: Add flux, heat flux with blow torch until it goes from frothy to glossy, add and heat silver solder with blow torch until melted. Pickle the bezel. Once soldering is done, use hand file to file away the top, base, and soldered area.

Lead solder time: Solder using soft solder to the three tiers. Use the soldering iron set at 30W for this. Apply some flux onto the bottom of the bezel then apply solder to the tip of the soldering iron to smooth around the bottom of the bezel. Place the bezel on top of the flower design and use the blow torch to solder the bezel and the flower design together.

Use a wire hand brush to clean the inner cervices if needed.

Polish the entire design at this point.

Step 8: Ring Creation

Materials needed for this step:

  • Vise
  • Hand file
  • 18 gauge copper sheet
  • Sawing tools (mentioned in previous steps): Jeweler's saw, saw blade, clamp, wooden block
  • Calipers
  • Pencil and circle template
  • Soldering tools (mentioned in previous steps)

Sawing ring based on finger width: Use the calipers to measure the width of your finger (assuming you're making it for yourself). Since my second joints are bigger than the width of my finger, I used my second joint as a reference. Take the measurement of your finger and use the circumference formula to get an estimate of the size needed for the ring and mark it with a pencil on the sheet of copper. Saw out a rectangle with the saw blade and file the piece of metal in a back and forth fashion until all sides are even.

Once the piece of metal is nice and even, heat, pickle, and wrap it around the mandrel.

Circle plate to mount on the flower design: Find the inner diameter of the largest tier and mark it on the piece of metal using a pencil or a scribe. Saw out the circle and file until the piece can securely rest in that location. My design came out a little crooked, so you may need to focus on one area for it to fit correctly.

Solder the circle plate onto the ring with silver solder, then polish.

Now, use flux and lead solder to apply solder on the top of the ring half.Use the soldering iron to smear the lead solder around the top of the circle plate. Secure the ring half onto the design and use a blow torch to heat the lead solder on the circle plate until it sinks. Polish the final design.

Step 9: Polishing and Adding Cabochon

Materials needed for this step:

  • Polishing paste
  • Buffing attachment
  • Flexible shaft or buffing machine or dremel
  • Epoxy resin and hardener
  • Piece of paper
  • Something to swirl the two together, like a clothes pin

Polishing final piece: Polish the final piece as thoroughly as possible, making sure to get the inside of the ring.

Adding Cabochon: Dab a pinky-sized amount of one part resin and one part hardener onto a paper and swirl the two together. Smear the epoxy onto the base of the design (where the cabochon will rest upon), then place the cabochon in that spot. Wait for 20 minutes and the stone should be secured to the design.

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