The easiest way to make interesting and unique jewelry is to use uncommon materials. One source of materials that often goes overlooked is a computer. Inside a computer you can find a wide array of objects that can make a compelling piece of jewelry. Since computers are constantly updating, it is usually easy to find old hardware to take apart. Also each computer that you disassemble will likely have different parts that you can use.
In this instructable, I am going to show you the basic steps of how to turn computer parts into jewelry.
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Step 1: Useful Tools
Jewelry making is much easier if you have the appropriate tools. Here are a few tools that are particularly useful when making jewelry from computer parts.
Screw Driver Set
The parts of a computer are useless if you can't get to them. When opening up a computer you will need a wide variety of screw drivers. Most fasteners on a computer will have a Phillips head. However, a hard drive will often have special security fasteners such as torx (star) heads. This may require a security bit set.
Occasionally you will need to remove a part or two. The easiest way to cleanly remove electrical parts from a circuit board is use a soldering iron to de-solder them. If you want, you can also use a solder sucker or solder wick to help remove any excess solder.
Needle Nose Pliers
Electrical parts can be very small and difficult to handle. So I recommend using needle nose pliers when working with them. The teeth of a pair of pliers can easily dent or scratch an object. So if you do not have toothless needle nose pliers, you should wrap the teeth with tape.
To cut wires from a component, you will want a pair of wire cutters. Wire cutters with a small tip are much easier to work with is the narrow spaces of a computer. In a pinch you can also use a small pair of scissors.
When making jewelry, you often need to drill holes for chains or jump rings. Unfortunately a power drill is extremely difficult to make precise holes with. So I recommend using a hand drill. With this tool you manually turn the bit to cut the hole. This process is slower but you have much more control. If you don't have a hand drill, you can wrap a drill bit in tape to make it easier to handle.
Anything that you will be wearing as jewelry needs to have a smooth edge. So it is always a good idea to round off any rough edges with a fine toothed file. Files also let you do precise shaping of a piece.
Jeweler's Saw (or Coping Saw)
Computer parts can be fragile. So if you need to cut them, you should use a fine toothed saw such as a jeweler's saw or a coping saw. This kind of saw leaves a much smoother edge that is easier to finish.
Step 2: Disassembling a Computer
The first thing that you need to do is disassemble the computer and look for interesting parts. There is nothing particularly complicated about disassembling a computer. Here is a simple checklist that you can follow at each stage.
1. Disconnect any wires or ribbon cables: There are a lot of wires and cables inside a computer. To separate the different units, you need to disconnect the wires that are holding them together.
2. Check for snaps holding things in place: If you see them, use a screwdriver or flat piece of metal to push them in and release the component. There often multiple snaps.
3. Check for screws: Remove any screws that you can see. Most of the parts inside a computer are held together with Phillips machine screws. However hard drives and a few other components sometimes use other fasteners such as torx head machine screws.
4. Check for glue: Some parts are glued in place. You can usually pry them off with a small screwdriver.
Repeat these steps at each level as you disassemble the computer. If a part is sticking and you don't know why, wiggle it around to see what it catchings. If all else fails you can cut a part loose. Always cut plastic parts first because it is easier and you will rarely want to keep a plastic part for jewelry.
Step 3: Interesting Parts to Look For
The parts of a computer that you use depends entirely on you personal taste and the kind of jewelry that you want to make. However, to give you some ideas, here are a few of my favorite components and where to find them.
DVD-ROM Readers: These parts are used to read the data from a DVD. They have a small lens surrounded by a plastic frame and coils of wire. They have an outer metal frame that can be removed or left in place. These are located in the center of a DVD-ROM drive.
Brushless DC Motors: These are used to spin DVDs, and hard drives. When the cover is removed, you see radial coils of wire that look sort of like an arc reactor from Iron Man. These are located in hard drives and CD/DVD-ROM drivers.
Hard Driver Readers: These are used to read and write data on a hard drive. They come in a variety of shapes. They are located inside a hard drive.
Circuit Boards: Circuit boards are everywhere inside a computer. They come in all different shapes, pattern and colors. Keep an eye out for any part of a circuit board that has a particularly interesting look. They can easily be removed and cut to any shape that you want.
Gears: These are great for making steampunk or industrial style jewelry. They can be found in any moving part of a computer. They are usually plastic. So you may want to paint them before using them.
Step 4: Cutting Pieces (If Necessary)
It is often necessary to cut some pieces in order to remove them or to just change their shape. The best way to cut any piece of jewelry is with a fine toothed hand saw such as a jeweler's saw or a coping saw. Before cutting, lightly mark your pattern with a pencil. To avoid scratching the piece, hold it with needle nose pliers that have been wrapped in tape. If you need to be very precise, then you will want to clamp the object in place so that you can hold the saw with both hands.
Step 5: Drill Attachment Holes (If Necessary)
If the piece that you are working with doesn't have any holes that would be appropriate for chains or jump rings, then you may need to make some. I prefer to use a hand drill when making holes for jewelry. A hand drill is slower but it gives you much more control. If you have trouble getting the hole started, you can use a knife or a nail to scratch or dent the surface. This will give the drill bit a notch to rest in and keep it stable in one place.
Step 6: Attach Jump Rings
Small jump rings are usually the easiest way to attach an object to the rest of piece of jewelry. A jump ring is just a small ring of wire. It can be made from any sturdy metal. You can purchase them pre-made at most craft stores. If you want to make your own jump rings from scratch, check out this instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Jump-Rings/.
To attach a jump ring, use a your needle nose pliers to twist it open. Loop it through a hole in the object. Then use the pliers to twist the ring closed again.
Step 7: Apply a Clear Sealer
Computer parts are not made from standard jewelry grade materials. So here are a few things to keep in mind.
The metals (and other chemicals) may react with your skin. Always clean an object before working with it. Never breathe in dust created while working. Before wearing any jewelry that is made from electrical components, it is a good idea to seal it so that it doesn't make direct contact with your skin. There are a number of commercial jewelry sealers that are available. You may also be able to use clear nail polish. If you don't want a glossy finish on the front side, you can just apply the sealer to the back side to protect your skin.
Step 8: Hang Your Pieces on a Chain
Now all you have to do is hang your computer parts on a chain and you have a unique necklace or bracelet.
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