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A rivet runs through it bracelet

Use cold connections to make your jewelry hot—this bracelet’s bold, geometric shapes appeal to both men and women

Cold connections are great alternatives to soldering, especially if you want to use fragile or flammable materials in your jewelry designs. Cold connections have many variations, and this project will give you a closer look at hinged tabs and two styles of rivets. In this bracelet, they become more than just a heat-free option — they are the focus of the design. Half of the bracelet’s brass panels are riveted flush to the copper links, while alternate brass panels are raised with spaced rivets. For added design interest, the brass panels are embossed using roll-printing. The hinged tabs connect the bracelet links and visually blend with the clasp for a seamless look.

SUPPLIES

  • Brass sheet stock: 20 gauge (0.8mm), 8 x 2 in.  (203 x 51mm)
  • Copper sheet stock: 18 gauge (1.0mm), 8 x 2 in. (203 x 51mm)
  • Copper wire: 18 gauge (1.0mm), 24 in. (61.0cm) 
  • Brass or copper tubing: 3⁄64-in. (1mm) inside diameter, 20 in. (50.8cm)
  • Soldering items: torch; soldering pads; variable torch tips; copper tongs; pickle pot with pickle solution 
  • Sandpaper, various grits
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Brass screen, at least 8 x 2 in. (203 x 51mm)
  • Rolling mill
  • Scribe 
  • Steel ruler 
  • Jeweler’s saw, 2/0 blades
  • Ring clamp
  • Jeweler’s files: hand, needle 
  • Bench pin with anvil, or steel bench block
  • Center punch
  • Rawhide mallet 
  • Flex shaft with drill bits, various sizes
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Fine nail
  • Pliers: chainnose, flatnose, roundnose 
  • Buffing wheels with tripoli and rouge polishing compounds
  • Spray lacquer (optional)
  • Flush cutters
  • Cross-peen or ball-peen hammer
  • Brass brush

INSTRUCTIONS

A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 1
Photo 1
Anneal the brass sheets. (PHOTO 1) Brass is not as malleable as copper or silver, so it is difficult to imprint. Before rolling the brass sheets through the mill, anneal them. Place two 4 x 2-in. (102 x 51mm) 20-gauge (0.8mm) pieces of brass sheet stock on a large soldering surface. Using a large torch tip, heat both brass sheets until the brass reaches a dull rose-colored glow — turn off the lights to help you see it. Quench the brass sheets in water. With other metals, you’d pickle after quenching, but pickle will dissolve more of the zinc than the copper in the brass alloy, leaving the brass looking very much like copper.
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 2
Photo 2
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 3
Photo 3

There are two ways to deal with this problem: Sand the copper residue entirely off both brass sheets before roll-printing; or, soak the brass sheets in a warm solution of half hydrogen peroxide and half pickle, which will remove oxides while preventing zinc depletion. Remove the brass sheets from this solution, rinse them with water, and dry them thoroughly. 

Roll-print the brass sheets. (PHOTO 2) Sandwich a brass screen between the annealed brass sheets to roll them through the rolling mill. Set the mill to the correct pressure for a good imprint by opening the mill just enough to barely squeeze the sandwich through. Remove the sandwich, and tighten the mill down one half turn. Roll the sandwich through. Each mill will vary, and it may be necessary to roll test strips to find the best setting.

Make eight copper links. Use a scribe and a steel ruler to mark a copper sheet into eight 1 1⁄8 x 3⁄4-in. (29 x 19mm) rectangles (PHOTO 3). Saw each rectangle out of the copper sheet. On one of the 3⁄4-in. (19mm) edges of each rectangle, use a scribe and steel ruler to mark 1⁄4 in. (6.5mm) in from each of the two corners and 5⁄16 in. (8mm) in from the edge. These marks will guide you in creating a tab. Cut out the marked corners (PHOTO 4) so that a tab extends, creating the basic shape of each link (PHOTO 5).

A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 4
Photo 4
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 5
Photo 5
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 6
Photo 6

Scribe and pierce the slots. On the 3⁄4-in. (19mm) edge opposite the tab, use the scribe to mark 1⁄4 in. (6.5mm) in from each corner and 1⁄16 in. (1.5mm) in from the edge. Using these measurements as a guide, scribe a slot, 3⁄64-in. (1.0mm) wide, parallel to the edge. Repeat for the remaining copper links. Secure each link in the ring clamp (PHOTO 6) to file and sand all the edges until they are straight and smooth. 

Rest one link at a time on a steel block. Use a center punch and rawhide mallet to make a dimple in the center of one end of the scribed slot (PHOTO 7). Move the copper link to the wooden part of your bench pin to drill a 3⁄64-in. (1.0mm) hole, using the dimple to guide the drill bit. Thread a 2/0 saw blade through the drilled hole, tighten the blade into the saw frame, and saw out the inside of the scribed slot. Use a flat needle file to smooth the inside edges of the slot (PHOTO 8). Repeat for the remaining copper links.

A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 7
Photo 7
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 8
Photo 8
Cut eight brass triangles. Mark four 3⁄4 x 3⁄4-in. (19 x 19mm) squares on a roll-printed brass sheet with a scribe and steel ruler. Saw out the squares. Scribe a straight line from corner to corner across each square (PHOTO 9), creating two triangles. Saw out the triangles (PHOTO 10). Secure the triangles in a ring clamp. File and sand the edges straight, slightly rounding any sharp corners.
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 9
Photo 9
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 10
Photo 10
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 11
Photo 11
A rivet runs through it bracelet Photo 12
Photo 12

Determine the placement of the brass triangles, the drill holes, and the rivets. Assemble the metal pieces into pairs of one brass triangle and one copper link (PHOTO 11). Remember that the brass triangles will alternate in their placement on the copper links. Determine the placement of the three rivet holes on each brass triangle and copper link by making small dots with a fine-tip permanent marker.

Rest the metal on a steel block. Use a center punch and rawhide mallet to make dimples in the brass triangle where the holes are to be drilled. Drill three 3⁄64 in. (1.0mm) holes in each of the brass triangles only (PHOTO 12). 

With the brass triangle as your guide, gently tap a fine nail with a hammer to make dimples in the copper links where you will drill your holes (PHOTO 13). Drill only one hole in the corner of each copper link. The other holes will be drilled after the first rivet has been set.

Check for fit. (PHOTO 14) Use roundnose pliers to curl up the tabs on the copper links. Curl each tab to create a tube, but do not close the curl. Hook the links together by fitting the curled tabs into the slots. Check to make sure they can move freely. You will be closing this curl during the final assembly.

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