Antique Jewelry Box and Pendant




About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
I once came across an antique desk, all busted up, waiting for the garbage truck. It was sad to see it there because I could tell it was once very nice. By searching desks that looked just like it I figured it was made in the late 1800's or early 1900's. I reclaimed a couple of the drawers and made this jewelry box. The box itself is no longer an antique but at least the materials are.

To go inside it I made this pendant. The bezel is made from nickel while the stone is black granite. The granite came from the construction site of a Las Vegas casino.

This is what I love about handmade gifts. It’s more than investing your time, effort, and creativity into an object. It’s creating a story to accompany your gift. Both these items are headed to Germany. It's part of a gift exchange with one of my instructables friends.

Step 1: Make a Box

The design of this box is fairly simple. Six sides, one of which hinges with the help of coat hanger wire. I used GridWorks (actually regular old graph paper and pencil) to draw up an exploded view. Because the wood I used had hardware already in it I had to make sure my cutting kept it centered.

Step 2: Polish the Hardware

This part was pretty nerve racking. I carefully removed the the screws and tapped out the locks and key holes with a screw driver. The whole time I was worried about ruining it all. It came out without any issue though. I couldn't polish the hardware installed because the polishing compound would black up the wood. After some time on the buffing wheel all the brass was shining bright.

Step 3: Sand

I have no clue what kind of wood this is so I took care not to breath in the dust. Of course you shouldn't breath wood dust to begin with but some species will make you feel like your breathing sand paper; if not kill you (coco bola).

Step 4: Apply the Finish

This was the fun part. With a clean cloth I applied a couple coats of oil following the directions on the can. When that was dry I took a common white candle and rubbed it all over the box. I followed that up with a heat gun. This causes the wax to melt into the wood. After doing this a few times I took another clean cloth and buffed the wax until the cloth would glide freely over the surface.

Step 5: Reassemble

A refitting is a reversal of the removal. Which basically means I put everything back on the way I took it off. I installed a couple additions to the box to include a catch for the lid and felt for the floor and feet. To match it correctly I did a mock up with card stock.

The catch was made from brass rod. In order to avoid using screws which are "out of period" for the box I installed the anchor points by perforating the wood with a tack and then flaring the eye hooks so they pressure fit.

Step 6: Make the Bezel Maker

This is the easiest way, I know, to make a bezel and much less effort then the clamp and socket method. I'm using two 5/8" washers taped together with electrical tape. It's that simple.

Also needed is a malleable metal cylinder. For this I melted some silver solder and poured it into a 1/2" spacer.

Step 7: Press Form the Bezel

It's important to soften (anneal) the metal to make it easier to work. I did this with a pair of pliers and a stove flame. After the nickel had an even glow I quenched it in water.

Center the nickel over the hole of the washer. Place the silver solder blank centered over the nickel. Give it a few blows; centering everything again each time. Eventually you'll end up with a small bowl looking thing.

Now you can start filing this into your pendant or you can give it more of a cup shape by moving on to a vise. To square the edge I placed the bezel over a 9mm 1/2" socket and clamped it in. I hammered the edge of the bezel until it was flush with the socket; rotating it as I went along.

Step 8: Shape and Polish

Don't be fooled by the fancy looking lathe. This can be done by hand. I've done it before but you can sure save a lot of time by having something that spins.

I soldered the bezel to a bolt and spun it round. Using a file I made it the shape I wanted.

While the bezel was still mounted in the lathe I began polishing with 800 grit sand paper. The rest of the polishing was done on a buffing wheel with polishing compound.

Step 9: Jump Ring

The jump ring is also made from nickel. I cut a strip out, hammered it flat, and bent the strip over the handle of a file to make it round. Don't forget to anneal that too.

Step 10: The Stone

So far I've worked with raw opal, a granite rock I found on a mountain side, this black granite, amethyst, and rose quartz. I listed them in the order of difficulty to work with (my opinion) to give you an idea.

I cut a piece out using a small diamond disc. From there it was a back and forth effort between grinding, sanding, and more cutting. Eventually I got to the shape I wanted and buffed it on a buffing wheel. For the final polish I used candle wax just like on the box.

Before l glued in the stone I took it outside and found the best position to place the stone.

Thanks for reading.

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Grand Prize in the
Holiday Gifts Contest



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    32 Discussions

    Being a antique geek I have to say i love the antique 'look' you have created on the jewelry box, a lot of care and time taken and you should be proud of the end result.


    5 years ago on Step 10

    This is beautiful work, thanks for sharing it.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Love the box,nice to see someone go outside the norm. when building something,its really nice when it comes together the way yours did.Nice job.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I know the feeling! I freaked out when I won the chainsaw! :-D
    anything for Valentines???


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, congrats on winning! You deserve it, the pendant is awesome and I'm wearing it with pride!

    1 reply