Double Duty Jewelry Tools: Use Your Disc Cutter as a Washer Maker, Plus a Free Enameled Necklace Project

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I fell in love with tools, and metal, and wood, and everything else my Dad could cram into his workshop spaces. It all held promise (and dust!) and offered me time to dream. My Dad’s workshop was a slice of heaven. Oh!–The tools, the metal, and the smell of fresh cut wood (in the basement workshop) and grease (in the garage where he held court for all your auto mechanic needs!).

When I come across the familiar smell and sounds, I’m immediately transported back to my childhood, and I’m reminded how happy I was just standing by my Dad’s side (likely annoying him with a million questions!). If only my Dad could see me now and see how I’ve crammed my jewelry tools and supplies into the basement, the garage, my office, a spare bedroom, and beyond.

jewelry tools: Pepe disc cutter and positioning dies

If I could share all this with my Dad, today we’d be exploring the disc cutter and positioning dies found in the Deluxe Washer Maker Collection. As a tool and die maker himself, I’m sure he’d be excited to see all these jewelry tools can do. And I’d likely have to remind him these washers are for jewelry making and not his next auto repair. Haha. And he’d likely explain the physics of it all and make me do some sort of math problem!

So, about this washer making disc cutter! Oh, my! Have you seen it? Have you seen it in action? This disc cutter is one of the most amazing jewelry tools! And, the center positioning dies take this tool to the next level, multiplying what the tool can do and what you can make.

Once you have discs and washers made, jump into some of the projects that come with the collection. To follow are the jewelry tools, materials, and instructions for another jewelry project that makes great use of your new washers.

Double Duty Jewelry Tools: Make a Torch-Fired Enamel Washer Necklace

By Tammy Honaman

Materials:

Copper washers, 20 gauge, various sizes
Enamels–opaque and transparent colors, 80/20 mesh, lead free
Recycled paper
Copper cleaner (I prefer Penny Brite)
Chain
13 copper jump rings
27 twisted copper jump rings

Tools:

Heatproof work surface
Butane torch setup or other micro torch
Safety glasses suitable for working with a torch
Particulate mask
Fire extinguisher
Trivet for enameling
Tripod with steel mesh screen
Small or medium sifter for enameling
Fiber-grip cross-locking tweezers
Fire Brick or soldering board

Steps:

Counter enamel your washers:

1. Clean your metal washers with copper cleaner.  You will know the metal is clean when you see the water “sheet” off.

2. Working over recycled paper, sift opaque enamel onto clean, dry metal.

jewelry tools: sifting enamels

3. Set the metal onto a trivet. Transfer the trivet to the mesh screen set onto a tripod.

jewelry tools: enameling mesh and trivet

4. Clean up excess sifted enamel by lifting then folding the paper and transferring excess enamels back into their jar. Fold the paper into quarters then place into the trash.

jewelry tools and sifting enamels

5. Fire up your torch then begin to slowly heat the metal (if you go to the metal too quickly, you can disturb the enamels with the force of the flame). Observe changes in enamel and remove the heat once the enamel layer is set. Allow metal to cool.

jewelry tools: torch enameling on a tripod and mesh screen

A student in class torch-firing enamel onto metal washers.

Repeat for all the washers in your design.

Apply enamel colors:

6. Clean the washers using Penny Brite or you favorite copper cleaner, removing fire scale and any oils from your skin.

7. Repeat steps 2-5 to apply a layer of enamel color to the washers. Repeat to add additional layers.

Note: Many washers in the necklace shown above have a transparent layer of enamel over an opaque layer.

Assemble the finished design:

8. Use jump rings to assemble washers together and to attach washers to your chain.

jewelry tools and assembling an enameled necklace

Jewelry Tools and Enameling Safety

Safety needs to be addressed before, during, and after working with enamels. Enamel powder is powdered glass, after all!

  • Have good ventilation in the area where you will be enameling.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything while enameling.
  • Wear a dust mask when working with enamels.
  • Change your clothes after you have completed your enameling work for the day. Your clothes may still have enamel powders on them, so be careful when removing a shirt over your head.
  • Wear natural-fiber clothing when firing in your studio; pull back your hair; and roll up long sleeves.
  • Clean throughout the enameling process so you do not add particles of something to something else–e.g., introducing firescale to your enamel jars, or blue enamel into your white enamel, etc.
  • Clean up your worktable when you are finished enameling and before moving into a new design project.

Add the Deluxe Washer Maker Collection to the jewelry tools in your studio to get started making washers today! If you already have a disc cutter, the Washer Maker Collection is all you need. Once you have new washers on hand, enjoy using them in new jewelry designs!

–Tammy

Editorial Director, Bead & Jewelry Group

 

Make washers in your jewelry studio, then make new jewelry designs with them!

One Comment

  1. Linda H at 4:16 pm February 14, 2018

    Your Dad sounds SO much like my Dad! He was also a tool and die maker and his basement workshop was awesome! I miss the days I spent with him at the local hardware store! I no longer have my Dad but everytime I go into a hardware store I think of him! If my husband mentions going to the hardware store I am the first in the car! Love all the creative things you can find! I ask our friends for their used washers and any bits and pieces (they think I am crazy for sure) – but I see jewelry potential!!!!!

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