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Fold Form Copper Slide Necklace Project
Make this unique copper slide necklace in about one to two hours. A similar project in my archives is the fold form earrings. This is the same technique. This slide will be made from a piece of sheet copper. The technique, fold forming, involves forging, annealing, folding and unfolding the copper. Here are some basic pointers to understand before you begin fold forming.
1. Forging, or hammering, will stretch and curve the copper.
2. The longer you hammer and work with your piece the more it becomes “work hardened.”
3. Annealing is the process of heating the metal once it has work hardened. Heat changes the crystalline structure of the piece, and makes it easy to fold and manipulate.
4. After heating the metal it is immediately quenched to cool.
5. As you resume working with the metal and it hardens again, the annealing process is repeated.
First, gather your supplies together, organize and set up your work area. It is always a good idea to carefully read through, and review each step of the process thoroughly before beginning.
Tools and Materials
-One 24-gauge, 3 inch by 4 inch piece of copper.
-Jeweler's saw or metal shear's to cut out your shape.
-Nylon or rawhide flat face hammer to flatten your copper.
-Border or chasing hammer to forge your pieces.
-Torch to anneal the pieces.
-Firing brick on a non-flammable surface to support the metal.
-Container of water to quench the pieces.
-Bench block or an iron or steel surface for hammering the metal.
-Bail making pliers or a small steel mandrel to shape the slide.
-Flat needle file and fine grit sanding paper to remove any rough edges.
-Wax sealant to be used in the final step.
Always use proper safety precautions. An apron will protect your clothing. Of course, always wear your safety glasses! A fire extinguisher should always be within reach when working with an open flame. You will use firing bricks on a non-flammable surface to hold your work when using your torch.
*Fold Each Copper Piece
Using your fingers, fold your piece of copper in half lengthwise. Now you should have a piece of copper four inches long at the fold and one and a half inches wide. Place the piece of copper on your bench block. Now gently tap the copper with your nylon or rawhide hammer until your folded piece is flat.
*Emphasize the fold
Keep your piece on the bench block, positioned so you may hammer vertically along the fold. Using your border hammer, gently run your hammer up and down against the fold. Do this one time and turn the piece over and repeat to the reverse side.
*Anneal the Pieces
You have worked with the copper piece quite a bit now, and it has probably become work hardened. Your next step is to anneal the copper. Place your copper on the firing brick, turn your torch on high and begin running the flame up and down the copper. Remove the flame when the copper turns bright red. Let the pieces rest a minute. Then, pick up the pieces with your tweezers and place them in the water. (The container of water should be to the side of the annealing area so you do not reach over your torching area.) Retrieve your pieces from the water and pat dry.
TIP: When annealing with the torch, heat the piece as quickly as possible to minimize fire scale or staining. The hottest part of the flame is the blue tip and is in the middle of the flame. Run the blue tip of the flame quickly and evenly up and down the metal.
*Unfolding your Piece
Now, very carefully attempt to unfold your piece. You may use your fingers. If this is too difficult, a butter knife works well. Wedge the knife between the edges and carefully pry the piece open trying not to scratch the copper. Once it is open, use your fingers to pull the edges away from the fold.
*Flatten the Piece
Using your nylon or rawhide mallet to flatten your piece. Lay the copper on your bench block with the folded edge facing up. Now, gently hammer the piece flat. You will notice the fold will become a ridge in the middle of the piece. Anneal the piece one more time, following the annealing directions you completed after folding the metal.
Shaping the Bail
You will shape the top of the piece so it may hang from a neckwire or chain. Using your Bail pliers, grasp the top of the piece, with folded ridge on facing you, and curve until the top edge meets the back of the piece. If you are using a small mandrel, shape the piece to wrap around the mandrel using your nylon mallet.
Lightly file or sand all edges to remove any burrs or sharp areas. You can apply a finishing wax or buff out the copper with a polishing cloth. Slide onto your neckwire or chain and enjoy.
Let us know if you enjoyed this project. Any tips or comments that you can share with the readers can be posted on the Jewelry Making Site’s forum page.
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