Hammer Time! Build A Cuff Bracelet with Textures, Layers, and Cold Connections
Recently, I was reminded of the time my Dad taught us how to use hammers. He set the three of us (my brother, sister, and me) up with nails, wood, and a hammer. For him, it was a way to keep us busy. For my brother and me (and maybe my sister), we took the challenge seriously and spent a lot of time hammering. Who knew that all I learned then would serve me well now?
The basics: Keep your eyes open and on the nail. Hold the hammer far back on the handle, and swing like you mean it.
A set of Artisan’s Mark hammers by Wubbers came across my workbench the other day. I couldn’t get a piece of metal out fast enough! Here is the first sheet I impacted with great force (not really, but it sounds exciting!).
For something that seems like it would be so simple, there really is an art to hammering metal correctly. I’m still in the learning phase of this art process and still find great joy in the effort and net effect — even if not immediately identifiable as something worth using.
I continued to “test” each face of the hammers and took time to anneal the copper I was working on. Through the heating process, the metal yielded great colors. I was then distracted, trying to get the colors just right. Just right for what, I wasn’t sure, but I was rolling with whatever came next and wondered if it might actually lead somewhere. At this point, I had no plan and was just having fun.
The textured, heat patinated sheet seemed to be begging to be used in something, so I reached for a disc cutter.
To follow are the steps I took to get to the cuff design shown above into shape (pun intended! My Dad loved puns.).
1. Strike out several sizes of circles, working to get the colors in the sheet into the shape without losing too much metal in the process.
NOTE: After punching out the discs, I applied a clear spray protectant to help maintain the colors achieved from the heat patina.
2. Texture a strip of 26-gauge copper with just one texture.
Use shears to cut the sheet to a suitable length for a cuff bracelet base and round the corners. Use a sanding sponge or other suitable sanding supplies to smooth the edges.
Wash, rinse, and repeat with a piece of silver, but cut the silver thinner so the copper base shows as part of the design once all pieces are layered together.
3. Combine all the pieces into a rough layout. Once you’re pleased with the configuration, take a quick picture to reference once you start assembling.
TIP: Create a test piece with scraps to try out the riveting. I always test hole size and rivets before applying to my actual piece and so I’m sure the way I plan to layer the materials will actually work.
4. Punch holes in each disc. Place the first disc onto the base sheet, then use a marker to place a mark on the base sheet to indicate hole placement. Punch a hole in the base sheet then rivet the two pieces together. Repeat.
NOTE: I didn’t punch all the holes in the silver base at one time, but rather worked one at a time to allow for shifting during riveting.
5. Once all the discs are riveted in place, rivet one short side of the silver base sheet to the copper sheet.
Begin to form the partially assembled cuff on a bracelet mandrel. Establish where you need to rivet the second short side of the two sheets together, punch holes, and rivet.
NOTE: I riveted the silver to the copper fully and started to form the cuff on a bracelet mandrel. Then I remembered, I need to wait to rivet the second end until the shape is established due to the change the curve creates. So I cut the rivets off on one side, straightened everything out, and began to form the cuff on the bracelet mandrel. I reestablished hole placement for the second side, punched new holes, and finished the riveting. Alternatively, I could’ve created a new piece of textured copper so I didn’t have extra holes.
6. Finish forming the cuff on the mandrel, tapping everything into shape (including the discs) using a rawhide mallet.
I really enjoyed working with the Wubbers Artisan’s Mark hammers. Now I’ll plan a design that makes great use of them versus being led along by my experiments. Either way, if you reach the end of the process and like the end result, does it matter how you got there?
Be sure to check out the two hammer collections. The Artisan’s Mark Texture Hammer Basic Collection offers eight different hammer faces to work with. The Artisan’s Mark Texture Hammer Deluxe Collection offers 14 different faces plus a stand to keep them organized and within easy reach. Both collections come with projects to help get you started. I’d love to know your favorite texture of the bunch; please leave a comment below.
Group Editorial Director, Bead & Jewelry and Editor, Beadwork magazine
For more on hammering, please read Hammer It: Great Tips from Bill Fretz on Texturing Metal Jewelry.
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