How to Make the Illusionist Locket - Heart pedant
How to Make a Locket
It's possible to make a simple, round locket out of sterling silver sheet metal, but this project is best undertaken by those who are already comfortable with intermediate level jewelery-making techniques like cutting metal and soldering joins. The process requires a careful touch and attention to detail.
Creating the Shell
Cut out four discs.Cut two 1-inch (2.5-cm) diameter discs from 20-gauge (0.8 mm) sterling silver sheet. Cut two more 1-inch (2.5-cm) diameter discs from 26-gauge (0.4 mm) sterling silver sheet.
- Use a divider tool to mark the shape of all four discs into the sheet metal before cutting out the discs.
- If available, use a disc cutter to cut out all four circles. A jeweler's saw can be used when no disc cutter is available, however.
- Note that you do not need to trim or file the discs down right now.
Dome the two thicker discs.Working with one disc at a time, place each 20-gauge (0.8 mm) disc into the hollow of a wooden sapping block and punch the metal into a shallow dome.
- Place the disc in the center of one of the shallow hollows on the block.
- Position a wooden dapping punch with a low dome on the front end over the disc. Gently tap the back end of the punch with a mallet to bend the metal. Start around the edges of the disc, then gradually move inward toward the center, working in a spiral motion.
- Stop once both domes are 0.18 inch (4.5 mm) thick. Make sure that both domes match each other in height before continuing.
File down the edges.File the edges of both domes using a large, flat file. Make sure that both domes have a flat edge, and that both edges line up evenly with one another.
- Alternatively, you can use 220-grit sandpaper instead of a flat file.
- Sand or file the edges down while holding the domes on a flat surface. Work in figure-eight motions, applying even pressure the entire time, until the edges are flat and smooth.
Remove the centers from the remaining discs.Return to the two flat 26-gauge (0.4 mm) discs. Use a disc cutter or jeweler's saw to cut the center out of each one, creating two bearing plate rings.
- Before cutting, use your divider tool to mark out a border measuring 1/8 inch (3 mm) from the edge of each disc.
- Carefully cut along the marked border. The centers can be discarded, but the ring-shaped borders will become your bearing plates that hold the photograph in place.
File the edges.File down the outer and inner edges of both bearing plates. Use a large, flat file for the outer edge and an inside ring sanding cone for the inner edge.
- You'll need to wrap 220-grit sandpaper around the sanding cone before using it. You can also use flat 220-grit sandpaper to file down the outer edge.
- Make sure that both holes are identical, smooth, and evenly round when finished.
Solder together the dome and bearing plate.Center one dome over one bearing plate and solder the pieces together with a large, soft flame. Repeat with the other dome and bearing plate.
- Place the bearing plate solder-side up on a tripod soldering stand fitted with a mesh screen. Center the dome over the bearing plate solder-side (indented-side) down.
- Set a handheld soldering torch to a large, soft flame. Work the flame around all sides of the metal, making sure that both the top and bottom receive even heating.
- Check the solder once the metal cools. The bearing plate and dome should be thoroughly fixed together.
- The two soldered pieces will form the two sides of the locket shell.
Making the Hinge
Cut hinge knuckles.Cut three hinge knuckles from tubing with an interior diameter of 0.04 inch (1 mm). Each knuckle should be 1/8 inch (3 mm) long.
- Use a jeweler's tube cutting jig while cutting to prevent the tubing from warping. Place the tubing over the jig, then cut off 1/8 inch (3 mm) section using a jeweler's saw.
- Check the edges of all three hinges before continuing. All three pieces must lie flush against one another when lined up end-to-end, or else the hinge will not work correctly.
Prepare a place for the hinge.Tape the two halves together, then file down a flat groove for the hinge.
- Use masking tape to hold the locket case pieces together, bearing plates facing inward.
- Create a 5/16 to 23/64 inch (8 to 9 mm) long groove where the two cases pieces meet. Establish the groove using the edge of a square or triangular needle file.
- After you create the groove, you should even it out using a 0.06 inch (1.5 mm) round needle file or diamond core drill.
- Verify that the hinge groove is just barely wide enough and long enough for your three hinge knuckles, then remove the masking tape.
Protect the locket case.Lightly coat the locket case in correction fluid, then clamp the pieces together using binding wire.
- Only apply the correction fluid to areas you do not wish to solder. It will protect the silver from the flame and prevent the area beneath from melding together. Coat all sides of the locket that shouldn't be soldered, including the interior, and allow the correction fluid to dry.
- Tie the binding wire around the locket shell securely to prevent the pieces from shifting around as you solder the hinge on.
Position the hinge knuckles.Hold the locket shell over a solid soldering pad with the hinge groove facing up. Apply flux to the entire hinge structure, then carefully position the hinge knuckles on top of the hinge groove.
- You will probably need someone else's help during this step. Instruct your helper to hold the locket shell steady using soldering tongs.
- Lightly apply liquid solder flux to all metal pieces, including the entire locket shell and all three hinge knuckles.
- Line up the hinge knuckles along the hinge groove, keeping them straight and level.
- Thread all three knuckles with a piece of iron binding wire to keep them straight. The wire will also block some of the heat, preventing the inside of the hinge from melding together during the soldering process.
Solder the hinge in place.Carefully solder the top and bottom knuckles to the back locket case, then solder the middle knuckle to the front locket case.
- Brush the entire assembly with a soft flame until the flux dries, creating a white crust.
- Position medium solder pillions in between the locket case and knuckles. The pallions beneath the top and bottom knuckles should also touch the back case, but the pillion beneath the middle knuckle should touch the front case.
- Heat the entire structure again using another large, soft flame from a soldering torch. When the flux dries to a clear state, focus the heat of the flame directly over the top and bottom knuckles from the back of the locket, holding it there until the pieces solder together.
- Immediately redirect the flame to the front of the locket and the middle knuckle, holding it there until they solder together, as well.
Quench the locket.Submerge the locket in water and hold it there for several seconds. This should rapidly cool the metal and stop it from melding together any further.
- As soon as you quench the locket, you should also remove the binding wire holding it together.
Test the hinge.Test the strength and alignment of your hinge knuckles to make sure that they are secure.
- Pry the locket open and use your fingernail to test the hinge along each joined knuckle. If any of the knuckles are not completely and steadily soldered, you will need to try again.
- After determining that the hinge is steady enough, run a wire through it to check the alignment.
Placing the Final Pieces
Solder a bail loop to the back piece.Place a 1/8 inch (3 mm) jump ring over the top center of the back shell, then solder it in place.
- Separate the locket and set aside the front piece. Work only with the back piece right now.
- Mark the top center and file a small groove into it.
- Place the back piece flat-side down over a solid soldering pad and position the jump ring directly into the groove you just created.
- Use a low flame from your soldering torch to meld the jump ring in place, then quench the locket by submerging it in water.
Drill a hole for the friction-clasp pin.Turn the back piece of the locket over to look at the inner bearing plate. Mark and drill a hole on the bearing plate directly opposite the hinge.
- The hole should be in the middle of the bearing plate.
- Use a hand drill to carefully make a hole with a diameter of 0.04 inch (1 mm) through the bearing plate only.
Create and insert the friction-clasp pin.Cut a short length of 18-gauge (1-mm) sterling silver wire and fit it into the friction-clasp hole. Solder the bottom of the wire to the back locket case.
- Carefully trim the wire down to a length of 3/16 inch (5 mm) before inserting it into the hole with flatnose pliers. The bottom of the wire must touch the inside of the dome.
- Keep the pin straight as you carefully solder it in place with a soft flame.
- Quench the piece in water and check the strength of the join with your fingernail.
Slide a hinge pin through the knuckles.Hold both sides of the locket together and slide a hinge pin through all three knuckles.
- Choose wire made from brass, nickel, or 14k white gold. These metals are more durable than silver.
- Hammer one end of the wire so that it flares out slightly, then insert the straight end into the knuckles.
- The wire should fit into the knuckles snugly to keep the hinge tight and durable. If necessary, pull the wire through the knuckles using pliers.
Set the hinge pin.Cut off any excess wire and flare the straight end by gently tapping it with a cross-peen hammer.
- You can use wire cutters to cut away any excess hinge pin wire.
- Hold the currently flared end of the pin against a bench anvil, then carefully tape the other end to match the flare.
Drill a hole for the friction clasp pin.Mark the point where the friction clasp pin meets on the front bearing plate, then carefully drill a hole into the bearing plate for the pin to fit into.
- Close the locket and mark the point at which the friction clasp pin hits the front bearing plate.
- Use a 0.04 inch (1 mm) ball bur to indent the marked point. Test the positioning by closing the locket and verifying that the pin fits into the indentation.
- Carefully use a hand drill to drill a 0.035 inch (0.9 mm) hole into the front bearing plate. Only drill through the bearing plate and not through the dome.
Finish the pin.Trim the friction-clasp pin and file the tip so that it locks into the newly created pin hole.
- Use wire cutters or a file to trim the pin as needed, the use a needle file to round off the top.
- As you round the top of the pin, file a notch to one side. This notch will allow the pin to fit into the hole with a snap.
Polish the locket.Buff the surface of the locket using Tripoli buffing compound, then polish the surface with polishing rouge.
- You can also add the bail at this point or do so later. Simply fit a 12-gauge (2.1 mm) jump ring into the bail loop.
Use as desired.The locket is now ready to use. Insert any picture you'd like, hang it from a necklace chain, and wear as desired.
- Work carefully when cutting metal, handling sharp tools, and soldering the materials. Wear protective gloves, safety goggles, and safety masks as needed to keep yourself safe during this project.
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