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A focal link for a bracelet or necklace

Break in your dapping set and fire up your butane torch!
Stamp Dap and Solder
Stamp dap and solder pendant 1
A personalized, stamped focal component adds pep to a toggle clasp. 

Sometimes all it takes is a new tool to swing your work in a different direction. That’s exactly what happened when I bought a steel dapping block and punches. I had no idea what I was going to use them for until I remembered my stash of sterling silver disks. With the help of my new block and punches, I turned the disks into smooth domes.

Then I had an idea: What if I stamped the disks with designs before doming them? And how about adding jump rings to a flat disk and soldering a dome to it? Before I knew it, I had a focal link for a bracelet or necklace. This quick, fun project is easy to customize using your favorite stamps. You can also mix it up by using copper or brass disks. 

SUPPLIES

  • Sterling silver disks, 24-gauge (0.5 mm): 
    • 7⁄8 in. (22 mm), 1
    • 3⁄4 in. (19 mm), 1
  • 2 sterling silver jump rings: 16-gauge (1.3 mm), 6.5 mm inside diameter
  • Jeweler’s saw, blades; or disk cutter (optional)
  • Brass mallet
  • Steel stamps
  • Dapping block and punches
  • Painter’s tape (optional)
  • Planishing hammer
  • Metal hole punch; or flex shaft and drill bit (optional)

toolboxes

INSTRUCTIONS
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

I used two sterling silver disks to make my focal link. You can buy precut sterling silver and copper disks in various diameters and gauges. Or you can cut your own disks, using either a jeweler’s saw and blades or a disk cutter.

NOTE: Disks that are 24–20-gauge (0.5–0.8 mm) work well for this project. Metal that’s thinner than 24 gauge (0.5 mm) doesn’t hold up well to vigorous stamping and dapping.

Stamp dap and solder step 1
STEP 1
Stamp dap and solder step 2
STEP 2
LINK COMPONENTS

Stamp a large disk. Place a 24-gauge (0.5 mm) sterling silver 7⁄8-in. (22 mm) disk on a bench block. This disk will be the backplate of your link.

TIP: Place a wood block under your bench block to absorb the impact of striking the stamps with a brass mallet.

Using a brass mallet and a stamp, strike a pattern around the perimeter of the disk [STEP 1]. I used the letter “I” from an alphabet stamp to create a radiating line pattern. 

Stamp a small disk. Place a 24-gauge (0.5 mm) sterling silver 3⁄4-in. (19 mm) disk on your block. Avoiding the disk’s edges, stamp a design on the disk. 

Dome the small disk. Locate the depression in your dapping block that’s slightly larger than your small disk. Place the small disk stamped-side down in this depression, and select a punch that fits inside this depression. 

Using a heavy chasing hammer or brass mallet, strike the punch to begin shaping the metal [STEP 2]. Don’t hammer too hard, or you may flatten the stamped design. Rotate the disk between hammer blows to dome the disk symmetrically.

NOTE: The dapping process will slightly stretch your stamped design. 

Stamp dap and solder step 3
STEP 3
Stamp dap and solder step 4
STEP 4

Sand the dome’s edges. Secure a 4-in. (10.2 cm) square of 400-grit sandpaper on a flat, hard surface. Place the dome, edge down, on the sandpaper. 

TIP: Make a loop of painter’s tape, sticky-side out, and use it as a “handle” to grip the top of the dome to protect your fingers while sanding.

Using even pressure, move the dome in a figure-8 on the sandpaper to create an even, smooth edge [STEP 3]. 

Flatten the backplate. Using a rawhide mallet and your bench block, flatten the front and back of the backplate [STEP 4]. 

Check the fit of the dome and backplate. Center the dome on the backplate. If there are any gaps between the edge of the dome and the backplate, repeat the previous two steps until you eliminate the gaps. If you added a tape handle to the dome, remove it. 

Stamp dap and solder step 5
STEP 5
Hammer two jump rings. Using a planishing hammer, flatten two 16-gauge (1.3 mm) unsoldered jump rings [STEP 5]. Flattening the rings will create a gap between the cut ends — that’s okay. If you prefer, use soldered jump rings instead. 

Clean the components. All the metal components must be free of dirt and oils before you solder them. Use a Scotch-Brite pad and water to clean the dome, the backplate, and the flattened jump rings. Dry the components with a soft cloth. Avoid touching the metal with your bare fingers.
Stamp dap and solder step 6
STEP 6
ASSEMBLY

Solder the jump rings to the backplate. Place the backplate stamped-side down on a soldering brick. Using tweezers, positionthe jump rings on the backplate directly across from each other. 

Apply flux to the jump rings and the backplate. Use tweezers to place pallions of medium solder along the inside curve of the jump rings. 

Fill a butane torch with fuel. Use the torch flame to heat the backplate and jump rings [STEP 6]. Then direct the flame along the outside curve of the jump rings until the solder flows. Immediately remove the flame. 

Stamp dap and solder step 7
STEP 7
Stamp dap and solder step 8
STEP 8

Sweat solder the dome to the backplate. Place the dome stamped-side down on the soldering brick. Coat the edge of the dome with flux, and place pallions of easy solder on the dome’s edge [STEP 7]. Heat the dome with your butane torch just until the solder flows, and then immediately remove the flame. Pickle and rinse the dome. Allow the dome to dry completely.

Set the backplate stamped-side up on the soldering brick. Apply flux to the edge of the dome, and center the dome on the backplate. Heat the backplate until the solder on the dome flows, joining it to the backplate [STEP 8]. Immediately remove the flame. Don’t overheat the assembly, or you could remelt the solder joins at the jump rings. Pickle and rinse the link.

Polish the link. Use fine steel wool to give the link a satin finish. Then shine it with a polishing cloth. Or, polish the link in a tumbler with steel shot and burnish-ing compound for a few hours. 

Patinate the link. Clean the link with degreasing soap. Apply a liver of sulfur patina to the link to accentuate the recesses of your stamped design. Buff the link with a polishing cloth to remove excess patina from the high spots.

BACKPLATES
Make backplates in any size or shape you like. Or, skip the soldered jump rings and make a pendant instead of a focal link.  
Stamp dap and solder component 2
Stamp dap and solder component 3
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