Ode to the Dremel: Make a Pendant with Texture and Rivets, No Soldering Required
I am going to share a tool with you today that I’ll bet quite a few of you already have tucked away but just haven’t yet discovered its jewelry-making potential. It’s the jewelry Dremel! Go ahead; rummage around in the back of the closet or in your tool cabinet. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you have one stashed away. If not, they are fairly inexpensive and really come in handy when you are working on jewelry.
You can make a simple and sweet riveted and textured pendant (no soldering required, all cold connections!) using this terrific rotary tool, but first let me introduce you to my Dremel and my favorite accessories.
About the Jewelry Dremel, Bits and Accessories
Here it is, my cordless jewelry Dremel Model #7700! This guy is a hard worker and has the added bonus of being cordless. The battery charges in three hours and I’ve found that the charge lasts through any project I am working on and is perfect for taking to class. You can also find them with a power cord; I actually have one of those too. I use that one when I am working on all-day projects.
Let’s check out some of my favorite accessories for my Dremel.
Pictured from left to right:
- Collets: Comes in a set of four. Change them out to fit the different accessories that come with the Dremel.
- Grinding Tools: The blue (fine) and orange (coarse) tips are great for filing and smoothing out the edges of metal.
- Sanding Band: Also great for filing and refining edges as well as adding texture to the surface of metal. These come in a variety of grits and save you a lot of filing time!
- Silicone Polishing Wheels: These indispensable wheels come in a variety of grits and give your piece a beautiful surface shine. They are great for removing oxidation. I get my wheels from Rio Grande.
- Drill Bit Kit: This is a handy seven-bit kit that has just about every size I need.
Make a Textured, Riveted Pendant with a Dremel
Okay, now that you have met some of my favorites, let’s put everything to use and make the pendant.
- Dremel tool with bits
- metal blanks*
- 14-gauge wire
- center punch or dulled nail
- scrap wood block
- round needle file
- flush wire cutters
- bench block
- riveting hammer
- optional: liver of sulfur or other patina
Note: I used a 1″ sterling silver circle, a copper cog, a sunburst (from my stash), and a brass flower blank (available from Beaducation). You may have noticed that the circle blank had a poorly stamped initial design on it. No matter, since it was going to be covered by the other blanks. Reuse and recycle, I say!
Instructions on Making a Pendant with a Jewelry Dremel:
- Texture and file the edges of the blanks using the grinding bits. The orange one adds texture to the surface and the blue smooths the edges.
- Next use the sanding band to texture the sunburst just around the edges. Just a light touch on a slow speed is all it takes.
- To prepare the pieces for riveting and assembly, insert the 7/64″ drill bit into the Dremel and drill a hole in each blank. To prevent the drill from skidding over the surface of the blank when you start drilling, use a center punch (or dulled nail) to make a small indentation so the bit has a place to rest. I also use a block of wood underneath the blank so my bit has a surface to drill into.
- Finally it’s time to rivet the pieces together. Line up the blanks in order and poke a 14-gauge wire through the hole, leaving about 2mm jutting out from the top. (If the hole is too small, then just file it open a bit more with a round needle file.) Using a flush cutter, clip the wire, leaving the same 2mm on the underside.
- To rivet, set the piece with the wire in place on a bench block and use the narrow end of a riveting hammer to gently tap the top of the wire to spread the head of the rivet. Flip the piece over and repeat on the back of the rivet. Then flip it again and tap with the round head of the hammer to flatten the rivet just a bit more, and repeat on the other side to complete.
- To add some dimension to the piece, dip it in liver of sulfur.
- Use the polishing wheels to shine everything up. The wire brush attachment removes heavy oxidation like a dream (especially on copper). Follow up with the pink silicone polishing wheel.
I hope you enjoyed meeting one of my favorite tools and seeing how you can use it to texture, finish, and connect metal components. It’s versatile, easy to use, economical, and with all the bits available, you are sure to find one that will fit your jewelry-making needs!
Want to learn more from Kate? Check out all of Kate’s great instructional resources in the Interweave jewelry shop!
How do you use your Dremel? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!