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Textured copper cuff

Learn to create a variety of textures on thin-gauge copper, then rivet them to a simple copper cuff

By applying different textures, you can dramatically alter the look and feel of a finished piece of jewelry. All of these cuffs were created using the same materials and assembly techniques, but it’s the texture that forms the individual personality of each finished piece. Try these four techniques, and then begin experimenting to see how many different looks you can devise! 

SUPPLIES

Copper sheet (per cuff): 

  • 20-gauge (0.8 mm): 1 1⁄4 x 6 in. (3.2 x 15.2 cm)
  • 30-gauge (0.26 mm): 2 x 8 in. (5.1 x 20.3 cm)
  • Copper wire: 20-gauge (0.8 mm), round, 10 in. (25.4 cm) (for wire-wrapped texture only)
  • 4 copper rivets (per cuff), 1⁄2 in. (13 mm)
Toolboxes  Additional tools & supplies
  • Embossing machine (optional)
  • Embossing folder (optional)
  • Microfold brake or tube wringer (optional) 
  • Steel oval bracelet mandrel
  • Guillotine cutter (optional) 
  • Shears
  • Flex shaft or rotary tool with #54 (0.055-in./1.40 mm) drill bit, or 1.5 mm (1⁄16 in.) metal hole punch
  • Spray sealant (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Learn how to make a bracelet blank with our handy tutorial.

copper cuff sherman
Sherman fold
Technique #1: Sherman fold

Use roundnose pliers to grasp the edge of an annealed copper panel and twist. Repeat to grasp and twist another section of the metal adjacent to the first twist. Continue to work your way around the perimeter of the metal, and continue twisting sections [PHOTO 1]. 

Place the panel on a bench block and use a rubber mallet to flatten it and compress the folds [PHOTO 2]. Anneal, quench, and dry the metal. 

Repeat the process, twisting the metal from different angles. The more you repeat the process, the more dramatic the wrinkled effect will be. 

Keep in mind that the more wrinkles you make in the panel, the shorter it becomes. I repeated the process five times; the length of my panel reduced from 8 in. (20.3 cm) to 6 in. (15.2 cm). The width stayed approximately the same, but some curvature occurred.

copper cuff sherman 1b
Photo 1
copper cuff sherman 2
Photo 2
copper cuff embossing
Embossing
Technique #2: Embossing
Some of the current paper-craft embossing machines can also emboss thin gauges of metal, much like a rolling mill. 

NOTE: I use the Sizzix Big Shot, which can emboss 36–24 gauge (0.13–0.5 mm) metal. The thicker gauges show a softer impression and the thinner gauges show a crisper impression. A number of other embossing machines on the market will also work for metal. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine. For the Sizzix machine, sandwich an annealed 30-gauge (0.26 mm) copper panel in a plastic embossing folder [PHOTO 1]. Run the folder through the embosser twice: once forward, and once backward [PHOTO 2]. 
copper cuff embossing 1
Photo 1
copper cuff embossing 2
Photo 2

 

copper cuff corrugating
Corrugating
Technique #3: Corrugating

With its grooved rollers, a microfold brake can make metal mimic the wavy layer of corrugation found in cardboard boxes. Calibrate and test the microfold brake according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Line up the long edge of an annealed 30-gauge (0.26 mm) copper panel parallel to the rollers of the brake, and run the metal through [PHOTO 1]. Anneal, quench, pickle, and dry the panel. 

Widen the space between the rollers to compensate for the new height of the corrugated panel. Align the short edge of the panel parallel to the rollers, and run the panel through the brake a second time to create a checkerboard effect [PHOTO 2]. 

NOTE: You can use a tube wringer to create a corrugated pattern, but the tool is too narrow to corrugate the full 8-in. (20.3 cm) length on the second pass.

copper cuff corrugating 1
Photo 1
copper cuff corrugating 2
Photo 2

 

copper cuff wire wrapping
Wire wrapping
Technique #4: Wire wrapping

Wrap 20-gauge (0.8 mm) round copper wire around one end of an annealed 30-gauge (0.26 mm) copper panel. Continue to wrap around the panel, spacing out the wraps as you desire, until you reach the other end of the panel [PHOTO 1]. 

Set the wrapped panel on a bench block and use a rubber mallet to hammer it. Unwrap the wire. 

If you want to add more texture, anneal the panel and repeat the process until the desired texture is achieved [PHOTO 2]

copper cuff wire wrapping 1
Photo 1
copper cuff wire wrapping 2
Photo 2

 

Add ruffles to the base
After you’ve formed the cuff base on the bracelet mandrel, anneal it and lay it on a solid surface. Begin-ning at the midpoint of one long side, use chainnose pliers to bend the edge of the metal outward (sort of like making a pie crust). Protect the metal by wrapping the tips of your pliers with painter’s tape. Continue to make bends on both sides of the cuff; space the bends 1⁄2–3⁄4 in. (13–19 mm) apart. Anneal the cuff base again, and accentuate the bends by hammering the ruffles with the cross-peen end of a riveting hammer. After you’ve achieved the desired ruffled effect, place the cuff base back on the mandrel. Reshape it, and use a rubber mallet to work-harden the flat center of the base.
Alternative bracelet mandrels

Don’t have a bracelet mandrel? While forming can be accomplished by incorporating a wooden alternative, work hardening and riveting will need a more rigid metal surface. Some of these household items make good substitutes:

  • Wooden baseball bat
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Soup can
  • PVC or metal pipe from the hardware store
  • Chair leg or table leg
  • Wooden lamp base
  • Head of a sledge hammer (metal) or a tent-stake mallet (rubber)

To learn how to assemble the cuff and for complete project instructions, click here to download & print this PDF

To learn other variations on the copper cuff design, check out Eva Sherman's new book, Cool Copper Cuffs!

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