A heart for a heart!
This is a birthday gift for my wonderful wife. Inspired by a note she wrote me some time ago.
Let me first start out by saying there are much easier and far better ways to make something like this. However I’m using what I have and improvising a bunch.
With proper tools this would be a lot easier and take less time. I hope this shows other makers who don’t have professional equipment that they can still make something special.
My supply list is for how I made it this is a very MacGyver-e-way to get this done.
• Amount of silver for the size you want to make it + 20% to account for loss. I went to a local cash for gold store and got 1oz medallions for $2 over spot.
• Means to melt silver, double walled stainless cup (furnace) a stainless shot glass (Crucible),
• 2 propane torches.
• Mold (piece of 1x4 pine)
• Hand Tools: Dremel- sanding, smoothing, polishing, and buffing tips. Hand files (fine and small), Polishing compound, Vice with poly jaws, and various pliers for holding and poring.
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Step 1: Make a Plan!
Inspired by the note my wife wrote me I thought it would be nice to make a silver heart just like the one she made on paper.
I scanned the note and enlarged it 200%. Cut out the heart and traced it out on the pine board for the mold.
Using the shaping tip on the Dremel I carefully carved out my mold. Having a variable speed Dremel makes it a lot easier to go slow. I carved into the wood about 1/2” for depth knowing my final product would not be this thick. This was to account for the pitting you get from using wood molds.
Step 2: Heat and Pore the Metal
Because I do not have a furnace I drilled two holes in the side of the stainless insulated cup. I then placed to blow torches in a way that the fire circles around the shot glass. I wrapped a piece of wire around the shot glass and suspended it just below center of the fires path. After about 10 mins my small amount of silver was ready to be pored. I used a torch to sear/preheat the mold, then pored in the silver. Blow out the fire and take a break, letting the metal cool slow seems to help with harding. (Total opinion I don’t know if it’s true). Remove your rough shape and move over to the work bench.(hope you have a stool the next bit takes some time)
Step 3: Sand, Smooth, Polish, Buff. OOOO Shiny!
Before you start GO SLOW!! Take your time this is the most important part of the process. If you take out to much material or put deep grooves in the piece it’s going to suck.
In the vice: I lined up the face of the piece with the vices jaws as a guide and a flat hand file to ensure an even front and back.
Glove up, rubber gloves are fine as we are using very fine grits. With the piece in my hand I used files to get the shape close to what I wanted(light pressure silver is soft). Then I used the Dremel with a very fine sanding tip (high speed) to remove file marks and smooth the surface. Then I rounded the front edges of the heart with a diamond tip(medium speed). After I got the right shape, pits out, file marks, and edges done I switched to a polishing pad with compound(slow speed). For the finish shine use a buffing tip with no compound(high speed). Use a microfiber towel to clean the piece and buffing tip, the less contaminants the better. It should be a mirror finish after your done.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
My wife does not wear a lot of jewelry so I choose a keychain for my final product. But this would make a great neckless. So I drilled from both the top and back to get an angled hole for the ring to attach. Top to back ensures that it dangles at the orientation I wanted. You can do whatever though just keep this in mind if you go side to side it will hang sideways. I soldered the ring closed so it won’t open up and fall off over time. I covered the heart with tape so I didn’t mark up the finely polished surface.
And because presentation is everything I placed it in a empty pellet holder with a clear face for gifting.
Thank you for your time.
Hope this finds and helps someone. Remember never place limitations on yourself and what you can make with what you have!
Edit: It's hard to show how smooth and shiny with a picture but I added one to try.
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