Tips & Tricks

To Develop a Heat Patina on Copper
This process usually takes about 20 – 30 minutes.
1. Finish, clean, and dry the copper.
2. Put the piece in an oven preheated to at least 350 degrees.
3. Check it after 10 minutes- it will turn from nutty brown to crimson to

    bright blue. Keep checking as the color progresses and remove when

    the desired affect is achieved.
4. Allow to air cool.
5. The surface coloration is not robust, so make sure to protect it from scratching.

-Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight


If the rivet hole is too large, planish the area around it to move the metal inward. The wire to be riveted should stick above the hole by a length equal to half its diameter.

-Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight


Nickels have a higher melting point than silver, so they can be used to prop up or weigh down pieces while soldering.

-Leda Rogers, in Jewelry Artist

Clean off compound when it gets caked on the metal or you will get drag marks! You may need to clean the piece off repeatedly as you buff it. (I’ve heard from several sources that diaper wipes work well to clean off buffing compound

- Priscilla Frake

Copper-Plate a Silver Solder Joint
Take a small strip of extra fine (0000) steel wool from the hardware store and wind it around a small dowel, so it looks like a cotton swab. Remove a small amount of pickle solution which is well saturated with copper (blue) from the pickle pot. Dip the swab into this solution and run it along the joint. Keep dipping and rubbing until the join is evenly plated.

-Tom and Kay Benham in Jewelry Artist

To Clean Metal
Rub it with baking soda, then clean it with vinegar. Use a hair dryer to dry it.

-Trish McAleer


To Cut Metal
Aviation snips with green or yellow handles make good shears.

-Charles Lewton-Brain

Polish the metal before roller-printing to create variations in texture.

-Val Link

Micro finishing
Micro finishing film from Rio Grande works well to finish metal or a variety of alternative materials. 9 micron (337311) or the assortment pack (337308) are good choices.

-Diane Falkenhagen


If Using Denatured Alcohol for Cleaning Metal
Buy denatured alcohol from painting supply places. The bottles sold in drugstores have oil in them.

-Val Link

Bench Tools

1. Make a plier stand. Buy a safety hasp or door hinge from the hardware store.     

This is basically a metal bar mounted on a short hinge with a plate on the other

side to screw it into the wall. You can screw into your bench, either on the side,

or mounted beneath your cutout area. You can extend it or change its profile by

screwing another metal plate onto it. It can hold a lot of pliers or other tools and

fold away when you aren’t using it.

2. Screw eyes can be used to hold round mandrels. They can be screwed into

the sides or legs of your bench or other wooden tables.

3. Cut lengths of PVC pipe make a great housing for your files, saw blades, or

other items you want to organize. They can be glued together and fit on a shelf

beneath your bench.
4. Small magnets can be glued to the side or front of your bench to hold small tools, burs, drill bits, etc.
5. A measuring tape or ruler can be attached to the edge of your sweeps drawer for handy reference.

-Marcella McLean

Marking Metal
Sharpie now makes a line of waxy pencils that are designed to mark on china, glass, plastic, or metal, and are available in white, red, and black. They make a nice dark line that seems to hold up well, but can be rubbed off using elbow grease or scraped off with a fingernail. I just found these today!

-Priscilla Frake

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