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 Before starting a project with precious metals it’s a good idea to make models with different variations.  Curving the metal into concave or convex shapes changes a bangle size depending on the starting stock.  Making your samples from pure copper is a good idea as it works like pure silver. It’s soft when annealed but does work harden from the hammer blows.  The domed metal has the advantage of being about one third the weight of solid half round wire.  Different starting stock widths will change bangle’s proportions and look.  Each stake and hammer chosen will be  major design factors in the finished design.  Keep the samples with a record of the starting blank and how you worked the metal.  It’s very hard to tell later as the hammering can change the staring shape dramatically.



 From the copper samples that were made it was decided to have the two domed shapes flanking a textured concave center.  By making all three blanks 8 1/4“ x 5/16” x 18 gauge (21 cm x 8 mm x 1)  the center concave bangle was noticeably thinner than the outer domed ones.  The contrast of the bangles’ widths, along with different textures, are the main design elements. The stock was sheared from 18 gauge pure silver sheet but could also have been bought as flat wire.



 First, cut or file the ends so they are perfectly true when they meet.

Bend the ends with flat pliers so the area to be soldered is flat. The bangle was held with cross locking tweezers on a hard charcoal block. Using white handy flux, with a 5 mm wire length of 20 gauge hard silver solder, the seam was closed.  Silver soldering requires that the whole piece be brought up to just below the melting point of the solder before concentrating the heat on the seam.  Heat travels through silver very quickly so this step helped with the soldering but also annealed the silver from its half hard condition.

Solder flows to the hottest spot, so heat the seam the most just before the solder flows. The flux is removed in hot pickle.  There is no concern for firescale as the pure metal does not contain any copper



 The three bangle blanks are rounded on a bracelet mandrel before the forming begins.

Truing up the forms on the mandrel at each raising or sinking operation helps keep the shapes true. The round shape also aids in cleaning up the solder.


 Leaving the least amount of solder is always the goal of good soldering.  The pure silver  will show a color difference if any solder traces are left behind. Use a #2 flat hand file for the first step on the outer side and then emery with 320 emery cloth or similar product. The inside can be done with emery but it is quicker to use finishing wheels such as Cratex wheels. The larger ¾ inch by ¼ inch wheels on at least a 1/8 mandrel in a flexible shaft hand piece will make quick work of finishing a concave shape such as the inside of a bracelet.  An alternative method is to wrap a one inch strip of emery cloth around a crossing file. Always wear a face mask and a dust mask when removing metal by abrasion.


 The two domed bangles were raised first on the M-113 Doming Stake (about 20 mm wide) held in H-1L Stake Holder with a nylon hammer (HMR-7 Insert hammer).  The pure silver is very soft at this stage and this doming makes the shape stiffer by the light hammering; but also the shape is structurally stronger than flat metal. With very curved shapes it is easier to use a transitional stake as a step to the final form. If you start with a very curved stake the flat metal can ripple as it is being compressed. It is then  hard to control the movement of the metal as you hammer.  The bangle should rest on the top of the stake and the over hang is then compressed down to the stake with the flat end of the nylon hammer.  If there is not an air gap between the metal and the stake you will only thin the metal and not raise it


 The interesting thing about working pure silver is you do not have to anneal between steps or courses as the metal is being formed.  The next stake is the M-114 (about 10 mm wide) and the same technique is used to continue to dome the metal.

The term raising comes from raising flat metal into a bowl shape and the metal is hammered or raised up the stake. Raising a ring on a curved surface is actually moving the metal down to the stake but when taken off the stake it shows the metal edge has been raised in.  The shape is similar to a donut and the hole should be getting smaller on the bangle as the metal is domed.


 After each course the shape can distort a little and truing up helps in future steps.

Lay the bangle on a flat steel block or piece of hardwood and tap the edges of the bangle from both sides so it lays flat.


 The M-114 was the thinnest bracelet stake available at the time of this writing and a thinner one was needed.  The solution is to modify another M-114 into the needed shape.  By modifying stakes you can make things that no one else can. So there is a choice. Design around the stakes you have, and that are available, or design around a concept and then modify the stake to make that design a reality. The first step in modifying a stake is to belt sand the stake to the roughly desired shape. The M-114 stake is then held in an E-101 Extender as it will get hot during this process.  A ring clamp will also work as a holding device.  Dipping the stake in water will keep it cool enough not to loose its temper.  


 If the shape needs to be modified, a few strokes with a file can correct the form. The final hand lapping is done with 220 emery cloth followed by 320 emery cloth.


 The 4 inch buff should be very firm or  hard.  The polishing compound is grey star and it works well on stainless steel. Redoing the stake should take about twenty to thirty minutes. The good news is an M-114A (5mm width) and a M-114B (3mm width) are now being made for thin bangles. New stakes are designed around a need.


Planishing the bangle on the new thinner stake both raises it in and leaves a hammer texture. The round side of the planishing hammer (HMR-1) is used. Start at the top of the dome and go around the bangle. Then planish the sides by moving the hammer down the side of the bangle. Reverse the bangle to get to the other side and true up on a round bracelet mandrel. The inner edges of convex bangles are filed with a #2 crossing file and then smoothed with 320 emery cloth.

The edges are first polished with bobbing compound on a felt wheel held by the flexible shaft’s hand piece. Follow this with white diamond compound on a small soft cotton buff.

For the outside use white diamond on a three inch soft cotton buff mounted on a polishing motor. It is important not to over buff the planishing marks.


 Making a bangle concave is quite different than convex. The stake used is a series of concave areas of the M-107 Stake. This stake is actually three stakes in one and the whole process can be done on this stake.  A nylon hammer (HMR-7) with the sharpest crosspein end is used to form the flat metal into the widest concave groove. Strike the middle of the band to keep it even.  Then repeat the process with overlapping blows using the middle groove of the stake.




 Reverse the stake, in the holder, to make the narrowest groove face outward. The final and thinnest groove requires the use of a very narrow flat crosspein hammer with a rounded face (HMR-3).  If there are sharp edges to your hammer, you must reshape the hammer.

Use the thinner end of the crosspein to hammer the middle of the bangle down to the bottom of the groove. As usual, use overlapping hammer blows.  Planish the bangle so the concave shape is even all around.



 The edges of the concave bangle may at this time flare slightly outward. To make the sides of the concave edges stand upright and parallel it may be necessary to compress the whole bangle.  Tapping the side of the bangle with a nylon hammer may make the bangle wavy. If this is desired just leave it. If the sides are to be even it is necessary to use a guide to keep the thickness even.  Roll a ¼ inch square brass rod rolled out to 4.2 mm as a guide. Compress the bangle down to the brass guide with nylon or rawhide mallet. Another method is to use a hydraulic press using two brass rods on either side of the bangle. This will keep the plates parallel and make the bangle only compress as much as the rod thickness.



 The edges of the concave shape can be thickened and textured in one step on a stake (M-117) that fits the inside curve of the bracelet.  Hammering both sides with a thin crosspein makes for a strong visual element to the edges. The edges are hammered lightly to 6mm or so, and then a strong blow is used to add a ribbon like effect.  After the hammering is complete a 1/8”x 1” felt wheel is used with bobbing to polish the groove.



 The stacked bangles make a strong statement when worn together or can be worn separately for a more casual look.  Transforming flat sheet into a dimensional design, that doesn’t weigh much, for a classic look is time well spent.


 The bangles in this project would look quite different if other hammers were used for the texturing. Differences in starting stock widths and the amount of curvature would totally change the design outcome.  Bangles are often worn in multiples, so the more variations the better.



To make a light bracelet from pure silver that looks heavy and will stand up to daily use.

 Time for each bangle: 30 minutes

 Fretz Tools used:

 HMR-1 Planishing Hammer

HMR-3 Narrow Crosspein Hammer

HMR-7 Nylon Insert Hammer

 H-1L Stake Holder

M-107 Extra Small Concave Stake

M-113 20 mm Convex Stake

M-114 10 mm Convex Stake

M-114A 5 mm Convex Stake

M-117 Flat Cuff Stake

 General Tools:

Work Table or Bench

Flexible Shaft and Mandrels with Buffs

Buffing Motor and
3 inch Buffs

Bobbing Compound

White Diamond Compound

4 inch Hard Buff and Grey Star Compound for Steel

220 and 320 Emery Cloth

Jewelers Torch

Hard Solder

Handy Flux

#2 Hand File

#2 Crossing File

Jewelers Saw Frame

Bench Pin



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