Crafts Jewellery Tutorials

How to form cuffs from sheet metal

Some time ago, I decided to make textured brass cuffs. This post explains the process.

I began with a rather thick brass sheet. This one was 2 mm thick and the final thickness I wanted was 0,7 mm. As brass is quite a hard alloy, the sheet can be fairly thin without fear of deforming the cuff easily.

To reduce the thickness of the metal I had to use a rolling mill. As the metal passes through the tight rollers it also stretches in length. To reduce stress on the rolling mill I began by sawing the metal into smaller bits. The calculation I made was that a 7 cm long section would stretch to about 16 to 18 cm by the time it was down to the thickness I wanted, which is the length of a cuff. Basically it stretches to about twice the size per cm of thickness reduced. There’s a little room for error because it also stretches to the sides, but it’s fairly accurate.
For some variation in the height of the bracelets I cut strips of 3 and 4 cm. It can be done in any size.
The metal needs to be annealed very often and turn only a little bit at a time, especially if you use a mini roller like mine. I overdid it and ended up breaking a roller on mine.

Here you can see the difference in length between the initial 2mm thick section and the final 0,7 mm thick section.

Once I had all my strips in the desired size I annealed them once more and began to add texture. I used several different fabric strips for that, that I passed through the rolling mill along with the metal.

This photo shows some of the textures I made. I used things like cloth diapers, towels, lace, brocade, tulle…

I made a sampler so I know what textures I can produce with the fabrics I have. I cut a piece of each cloth and a square of copper sheet and keep them together so I know right aways what fabric produces each effect. It’s not always obvious when you look at the fabric.

I filed the edges, rounded the corners and formed the cuffs on a mandrel. If I wanted a straight bracelet I could stop here, but I wanted to try out the Durnston bracelet kit to give them a concave shape.

By alternating annealing and hammering over the concave die, the cuff slowly gains its shape. At first the middle looks very lumpy, but as you keep hammering, the lumps disappear and the flare develops evenly. It just requires a little patience.

In this picture the cuff is looking less lumpy and more flared at the ends.

Finally, after polishing, the cuff is ready to be worn.

You can see and buy some of these cuffs in my online shop.

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