5 Metalsmithing Tips Plus a Year’s Worth of Expert Advice and Jewelry-Making Tutorials & Inspiration

It’s impossible to look through an issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine without learning something, being inspired by something, and falling in love with something–and usually more than once! My issues of LJJA are dog-eared, sticky-note ruffled resources that never disappoint when I’m looking for a challenge or just something fun and interesting to make–but my favorite parts are all the priceless metalsmithing tips that I learn as I flip through each issue.

I keep a file of metalsmithing tips and jewelry-making pointers to share them with you from time to time, because I believe there’s just no end to how helpful the right tip can be. So here’s a peek inside my metalsmithing tips file; I hope you find these as useful and fabulous as I did!

design a jewelry collection by repeating one shape in different sizes and metals

Helen Driggs creates a jewelry collection by repeating one shape in different metals and different sizes.

For sanding and finishing metal: “Do you sand in a single direction? Do you sand the next finer grit in another direction? If you don’t, you should! You will easily be able to see the scratch marks from the previous sanding stages this way and will make for a faster clean up. You won’t have to go back a stage or two to remove those pesky gouges once you get to your final grit! What is my final grit? 600. I use 220, 320, 400, then 600.” –John F. Heusler, G.G.

tape down metal blanks for stampingFor metal stamping: “Tape the metal to the block to prevent movement, so you can focus on positioning the stamps for your design instead of holding the metal still.” –Helen Driggs

For best soldering results: This extra step never occurred to me, but it makes perfect sense and could prevent lots of heartache later. “Silver tends to shift during annealing, so anneal before soldering the bezel closed or to the backplate. Otherwise, you will find that it has deformed just a tiny bit, which is enough to cause problems.” –Beatriz Fortes

metalsmithing tips use tweezers to touch bezels to prevent distortionFor making bezels that always fit: This one has been bugging me lately. The solution is so simple! “A lot of beginners get to the end of their project and their stone no longer fits in the bezel. One of the reasons is the way they handle the bezel. Never pick up the bezel by squeezing it between your fingers as this will deform it. I find the easiest way is to use a pair of tweezers so that you don’t deform your bezel. This way, when you solder your bezel down to your back plate, you know the stone will still fit.” –Jeff Fulkerson

use wires for alignment when drilling holes for rivetsFor riveting two pieces of metal together: “The key to making the rivets work well is to have the right sized holes perfectly aligned. Drill all the holes in the top piece first. Then align the top piece of metal with the bottom piece, and drill out one of the holes, top and bottom. Place a piece of wire in the holes before drilling the next set of holes to keep them aligned.” –Kirsten Denbow


That’s all for today–a girl’s gotta have some secrets! But you can get more handy metalsmithing tips along with a whole year’s worth of expert advice and instruction, inspiring projects, gemstone profiles, lapidary patterns, and informative tutorials in the same place I do. Get the Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist 2015 Digital Collection and you’ll receive all nine 2015 issues of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist in a convenient digital format–no shipping costs, no waiting!

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