Hardware Store Jewelry: 10 Ways to Use Tubing and Pipe in Jewelry Making
Since Tracy Stanley’s metal tubing jewelry-making video, Kitchen Table Metalsmithing: Making Metal Jewelry With Tubing came out, I’ve been thinking a lot about metal tubing–copper tubing (or pipe) in particular, but sterling and brass tubing (and pipe) are just as handy.
Here are 10+ ways I can think of to use metal tubing in jewelry making. Do you know others?
1. Cut short lengths of really small tubing to use as tube rivets for cold-connections in jewelry.
2. Cut short lengths of small tubing to use as tube sets for gemstones or to solder lengthwise onto pendants to create slide bails.
3. Cut slices of tubing in just about any size to use as open-back (backless) bezels for resin, epoxy clay, and other mixed-media jewelry. You can modify their shapes on mandrels or with pliers.
4. Cut thin slices of tubing and use them as hoops for earrings or chain making. Bend, twist, hammer, reshape and texture them as desired.
5. Cut short lengths and solder them together into a honeycomb-like design that can be used as a focal piece, pendant, etc.
6. Cut thin rings from tubing to be used as sturdy closed jump rings and clasp components. Saw or snip them if you need open rings.
7. Cut (approximately) half-inch-wide to one-inch-wide slices of copper tubing into bands for solder-free finger rings. You can stamp on them, texture them, set stones on them, and more.
8. Cut large tubing into bangles, or cut open the bangles to make cuff bracelets. Then shape them on mandrels and stakes, saw designs in them, pierce and bead on them, and more.
9. Collapse lengths of tubing by hammering and then use the flattened pieces as you would use narrow sheet stock or wide flat wire. Those rounded edges will save you lots of finishing work.
10. Use flattened tubing for double-sided metal stamping.
For double-sided metal stamping, put strands of yarn or other collapsible fiber or cording through the tubing before flattening it. Once you’ve flattened it, the fibers inside will provide some cushion in between as you stamp, providing a bit of a buffer that can allow you to stamp on both sides of the tubing without the impressions from each side showing on the other. Then just trim away any cord or fibers that show on the ends–or leave long ends and use them as part of your design. This takes some testing with various tubes and cording, but it does work!
To learn to work with metal tubing for jewelry making and see project ideas–all of which is completely solderless–get Tracy Stanley’s Making Metal Jewelry With Tubing video. It’s such a refreshing look at some unconventional metalsmithing supplies, you’ll be in a big hurry to head out to the hardware store and see all of the kinds of copper and brass tubing available. So many sizes, so many possibilities! Plus you can get metal shears, plastic mallets, and optional tube cutters at the hardware store, too. It’s hardware-store jewelry making! Now we just need to get hardware stores to sell beads . . .
How would you use metal tubing for jewelry making? I’d love to hear in the comments below!