Metalsmithing Specifics: 6 Tips for Sawing and Piercing Two Identical Metal Pieces
Pearls and jeans, burlap and silk, platinum and raw diamonds–I love a mix of “high” and “low” or rough and refined. It’s more fashionable, more interesting, more creative. So I’m extra happy to see Fort Collins, Colorado, artist Jennie Milner’s new series of jewelry-making video tutorials. Jennie’s videos are like two classes in one, covering both metalsmithing and using resin in your metal jewelry designs. I love that mix–metal and resin, hand-fabricated and handcrafted, colorless and colorful. Plus colored resin is a great way to add color to metal.
We often focus on metalsmithing basics–how to create texture, how to cut metal, how to dap and dome metal, and other techniques. But after you’ve mastered the basics, you need the specifics. I gathered these six handy and tips about piercing metal, sawing intricate interior shapes, and sawing two identical pieces of metal at the same time, such as for earrings or other multiples, just from watching Jennie work.
1. When you want to saw the same design out of or in two pieces of metal for earrings and such, use rubber cement to glue them together–and then saw both pieces at once. Jennie applies rubber cement to one side of both pieces of metal (and her template, if using one) and let it dry. Put them together when dry and apply your template on top.
2. When sawing an interior shape out of metal sheet, you have to drill a hole to thread your saw blade through before beginning. And before drilling into a piece of metal, it’s a good idea to create a starter divot, which will help keep the drill bit from sliding or bouncing off its mark. Normally you could hammer on a metal punch to create a divot just fine, but if you need to drill into these two pieces of sandwiched, glued-together metal, use a ball bur in a flex shaft instead to avoid the two pieces slipping out of alignment.
3. Saw out all of your interior or “pierced” designs before sawing the outer shape of your metal. Doing this ensures that you’ll have more surface area of the metal glued together, keeping your pieces in contact while you do the more intricate interior cuts.
4. When all of your sawing is complete, simply peel off the template, push the two pieces of metal against each other to separate them, and rub off all of the rubber cement. If you’re making earrings with a directional design like Jennie does in one of her videos, just flip one of the pieces over after you separate them and both will be right-side-up. Then file and finish as usual.
5. Jennie shares that if your rubber cement has been in place awhile, it can get pretty solid, but there is a handy thing called a rubber cement eraser that will remove it easily.
6. If you intend to pierce metal with a lot of detail, Jennie recommends letting the rubber cement set about a week for a better bond before you begin drilling and sawing it.
Wouldn’t you like to learn more with Jennie? Two of her videos are ready in the Jewelry Making Daily Shop. Instantly download Resin Flower Pendant with Jennie Milner (also available as a DVD) or Colorful Resin Earrings. You’ll learn lots of great metal fabrication “specifics” in each one, plus how to use resin in your metal jewelry designs. As a bonus, you’ll discover the joys of mixing techniques and materials to create more interesting jewelry!
About the artist: Jennie Milner is a metalsmith and mural artist in Fort Collins, Colorado, who works “magic with acrylic paint and colored resin with the use of repurposed building materials, sterling silver, copper, brass, and steel. J.C. Milner Metalworks promises one-of-a-kind because honestly, there’s no fun in making the same thing twice!” Learn more about Jennie on her website, J.C. Milner Metalworks, and Facebook page.