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Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece

Hone your cold-connection skills with this easy copper necklace

As a jewelry-making material, copper is inexpensive, attractive, and easy to work with. Many people attest to the health benefits of wearing copper jewelry; some even believe it lessens the pain of arthritis. While these claims have not been proven, there’s no denying that this colorful, fashionable metal is a great alternative to silver or gold, especially for beginning jewelry artists. 

Designed to sharpen beginners’ skills, this project offers techniques such as sawing, filing, and riveting. Because the project uses cold connections only, no soldering is required. It calls for a rolling mill to impart texture from wire mesh, but if you don’t have access to a rolling mill, you can texture your metal using other techniques, such as hammering or stamping.

SUPPLIES

  • Copper sheet: 20 gauge, half-hard, 2 3⁄4 x 15 3⁄4 in. (60.3 x 40.0cm)
  • 4 in. (10.2cm) sterling silver tubing with 2.75mm outside diameter, 2.10mm inside diameter
  • 2 in. (51mm) sterling silver wire, 18 gauge  
  • Ruler
  • Scribe
  • Bench pin
  • Jeweler’s saw, 2/0 blades
  • Beeswax (optional)
  • Bastard file
  • Aluminum wire mesh, slightly larger than copper sheet (optional)
  • Rolling mill (optional)
  • Flex shaft, 2.75mm drill bit
  • Blackening agent of your choice
  • Sandpaper, 400 grit
  • Steel wool, coarse grit
  • Steel block
  • Nail, small dapping tool, or flaring tool of your choice
  • Chasing hammer
  • Roundnose pliers

INSTRUCTIONS

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 1
Step 1
Measure and mark 20 rectangles on copper sheet. Using a ruler and scribe, measure and mark 19 vertical lines that are 3⁄4 in. (19mm) apart and 19 horizontal lines that are 1 in. (25.5mm) apart. 
 
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 2
Step 2
Cut out the rectangles. Place the copper on a bench pin, and cut out the rectangles with a jeweler’s saw and 2/0 saw blades.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 3
Step 3

Smooth the rectangles’ edges. File the edges and round the corners of each rectangle with a bastard file.

If you don’t have a rolling mill, or if you choose to texture your rectangles in another way, skip to step 7.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 4
Step 4
Cut out aluminum wire mesh. Use scissors to cut out ten rectangles from wire mesh, each slightly larger than the 1 x 3⁄4-in (25.5 x 19mm) copper rectangles you cut in step 2. Sandwich the wire mesh between two copper rectangles.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 5
Step 5

Adjust the rolling mill. Adjust the rolling mill so the “sandwich” fits nicely between the rollers. Remove the sandwich from the rollers, and tighten them one and a half turns.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 6
Step 6
Impress the pattern. Roll the sandwich through the rolling mill to impress the wire-mesh pattern on both pieces of copper. Repeat this process for all 20 rectangles.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 7
Step 7

Drill the holes. Mark a spot at the top left and top right corners of each imprinted rectangle, 3⁄16 in. (5mm) from each edge. Using a flex shaft with a 2.75mm drill bit, drill holes through each marked spot. 

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 8
Step 8
Apply blackening agent. If desired, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply a blackening agent, such as liver of sulfur, to each rectangle.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 9
Step 9

Refine the finish. Sand each rectangle with 400-grit sandpaper.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 10
Step 10
Give each piece a final finish by rubbing it with coarse-grit steel wool.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 11
Step 11

Saw the tubing into rivets. Saw the sterling-silver tubing into 20 pieces, each 3⁄16 in. (5mm) long. Sand the ends of each piece of tubing with 400-grit sandpaper.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 12
Step 12
Connect the rectangles with rivets. Place the rectangles, textured side up, on top of a steel block. Insert one piece of tubing into the right hole in one rectangle and the left hole in another rectangle.
Tip!
  • To ensure that your blade is not upside down when inserting it into the saw frame, hold it so that the teeth are pointing “down and out;” down toward the handle and out away from the frame.
  • Make sure your work is at chest height and you are sitting up straight before you begin sawing.
  • Keep the saw frame vertical and slowly move it up and down, only cutting into the metal on the down stroke.
  • Apply beeswax to the blade to keep it from sticking.
  • Don’t worry if you break a blade or two. With practice, you’ll become more adept.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 13
Step 13

Hold a nail, small dapping tool, or flaring tool of your choice on top of the tubing and gently tap it with a chasing hammer to flare one side of the tubing. Turn the rectangles over, and repeat the process on the other end of the tubing. Once both sides of the tubing have been flared, use the ball side of your chasing hammer to continue to flare the tubing until it lies flat against the sheet metal and makes a secure rivet. 

Place the left edge of a new rectangle underneath the right edge of the last rectangle and rivet it in place. Repeat these steps until all the rectangles are riveted together. Leave one drilled hole on each end of the necklace free of rivets.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 14
Step 14

Form the clasp. Using roundnose pliers, make a loop in a 2-in. (51mm) segment of sterling-silver wire about 3⁄4 in. (19mm) from the end.

Tip!
When riveting, it’s very important to continually make gentle hammer blows and flip the metal being joined from one side to the other. If your hammer blows are too hard or you try to make the rivet flare too much at one time, the rivet can split apart. A small dapping punch that is slightly larger than your tubing makes a great flaring tool.
Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 15
Step 15

Thread this loop through the open hole on one side of the necklace. Wrap the short tail of the wire around the long tail to complete the wrapped loop, attaching the clasp to the necklace.

Absolutely riveting copper neckpiece 16
Step 16

Make a bend in the middle of the long wire tail with roundnose pliers. Bend the foot of the wire tail slightly outward to resemble an ear wire. File the foot smooth. Insert this hook through the hole in the other side of the necklace to clasp it.

Adjust the fit. Use your fingers to bend the necklace into a slight curve so it drapes nicely around your neck. This adjustment will loosen some of the rivets, which is okay. Keep bending until the necklace is comfortable.

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