beyond the Basics
(c) 2008 by Jerry Davis

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Projects Level 3



        1.      Notes on channel work and begin channel work

2.      Bolo Tie, bolo fastener and bolo tips
   A. Bolo Tie Slide construction
   B. Bolo cord Tip construction
        Tip style - ball, and ball tip

3.      Repoussé/Embossing/Chasing
Creating earrings by using embossing and chasing techniques.

4.      Mixed media project/ patination
  Using different metals together in design

5.      Channel Work/Inlay
This project technique is to be combined with the bolo in project 1.


Estimated time
5 Class Sessions
20 hours class time, 25 hours home 


Supply List Level 3
updated 5-26-08


A concise list of supplies needed for Channel Inlay projects


Design – A simple two or three-piece design will be sufficient for a first project.   In this example, the inlay project is to be worn as a bola tie.

 Paper pattern – several identical copies of the channel pattern. 

Rock slabs – about 1/8” thickness.  Agates, jades, jaspers and dinosaur bone all have hardness and colors suitable for beginning channel work. 

Firebrick – A firebrick used for this purpose must have a good level surface and be able to accept pin penetration. 

Pins – T-pins about 1 ½” long.    *Quilting pins about 1 ¾” . 

Channel wire – A strip of channel wire, 24 ga silver about 1/8” tall.  Usually this is fine silver.  Length needed depends on design.

Side cutters or metal snips – edges should be straight cutting and not serrated.

Pliers – assorted wire forming, non marking pliers.


Torch – air/acetylene  tips 2, 3

Solder – hard, medium, easy.  Needs to be sheet or flattened wire.

Sheet silver – 24-26 gauge for back of design

Solder pick (handmade)

Flux paste (Handi flux or Sta Silv found at Carroll’s Welding Supply in Abilene)  mixed with distilled water to blend smooth.

Flux solution – a ***saturated solution of pure Boric Acid and denatured alcohol (ethanol)   The Boric Acid must be a pure powder as is sold in the pharmacy dept.  Don’t buy the Mule Train Borax, it isn’t pure enough.

Pickle solution – Rio Pickle is the best available.

Files – assortment of fine tooth files also one Bastard file.  Chalk to rub files with to keep files from choking with metal.

Tweezers – fine point to pick up **pallions (snippets) of solder.

Contact paper – white contact paper with peal off back.

Contact cement

Clear drying epoxy

Epoxy coloring kit (optional)



Pickle pot (don’t bring to class, I have plenty in my classroom)

Liquid paper – very important addition to your toolbox (keeps solder from running)

Ice cream sticks – for mixing epoxy

Plastic lids off medicine bottles or small plastic cups – for mixing epoxy in

Dental floss (waxed) – This should always be part of your tools.  Place this thread under a cabochon before testing its fit into a bezel cup or channel.  If the cab sticks then If the cab or stone sticks in the channel you can pull it out with the floss and work on it some more.

Wooden clothes pens

Bead and solder snippet catcher – make it yourself.

Sharpie Fine Point marker

Bola tie cord

* Cut heads off pins and bend to form an inverted “V” on top less than 1/8” deep.
** Pallion (pal’yan) – a snippet or small piece of solder.
*** Saturated solution is one in which no more of the solid can be dissolved at the current temperature and some will remain in the bottom of the container.

You typically will need the same tools and supplies you used for Levels 1 and 2.   You can see them by going to the links in the preceding sentence.    I will just list here supplies that are in addition to the other levels.

Design on paper for Bolo tie piece.  Have the design size and divisions (channels) planned.

Design on paper for Embossing project.  Embossing metal sheet will normally be cut about 2"x2" for the first project.

Embossing - Flower Earrings with stamen Design

By Jerry Davis

Dec 2008


Level of Difficulty:  moderate to difficult


Variation of sweat soldering
Dapping on leather/wood
Pitch bowl techniques 


Sheet silver  - 30ga    2"x 2" square for each flower
Ear studs w/fastener
Pencil, carbon paper, paper
Old screwdriver with corners smoothed
Old screwdrivers of different sizes may be needed
Pitch pot (either yours or one from club house)
Light hammer or rawhide mallet
Brass wire (brazing rod) or copper can be used 8, 10 or 12ga wire or 14 ga.
(Wire size is judged by flower stamen size desired)
Flux (use boric acid and ethanol saturated solution)
Flux paste (use boric acid and distilled water)
Solder pick
Easy solder
Saw frame with 2/0 blade



Cut sheet of 30ga SS into about 2"x2" square. 

Draw design on paper or directly on silver with pencil. Awl can be used, but will leave permanent scratch marks.

Design can be drawn on paper, then transferred to metal with carbon paper.

Design can be done freehand unless you are duplicating an exact design. 

With design facing upward, using pliers, bend corners of metal downward about 1/4 inch. Warm surface of pitch and place metal on pitch. Warm metal with torch until the corners settle into the pitch.

Let pitch cool a few moments until it is firm and holding the metal in place.

Using an old screwdriver, gently punch outline and design marks into the metal, being very careful not to punch through the metal. The outline should be a smooth indentation into the metal when finished.

Use small screwdriver or tools to put other marks into the design.

Warm the metal while using pliers to pull the metal upward out of the pitch.

In a well-ventilated area, burn off the pitch while holding a corner of the metal with pliers.

Place metal on firebrick and anneal as the pitch burns off.

Bend corners of metal in opposite direction; then, flip the metal over onto surface of pitch.

Warm the metal until it sinks level with the pitch. Using an embossing punch, emboss the petals of the flower downward into the pitch (Careful not to punch through metal.). Do not emboss the central area of the flower.   Leave a level space large enough to put a stone in a bezel setting or to put in stamens.   Notice the metal will stiffen during this process and will need to be removed and annealed again. Continue this alternating of annealing and embossing until the depth of the petals is pleasing to the eye. 

The center of the flower must be punched with the flower in an upright position.  Use leather and or wood under the flower center as you emboss with a large round punch or flat end of punch suitable to make a seat for the pistils and stamens.    

After all design marks and embossing is complete, then pierce out the outline of the flower.

Use sanding boards and file or Dremel tools to smooth edges of piece.  Use small triangular file to get into the nooks and crannies between the petals.  Spend plenty of time to ensure very smooth edges.  Complete the process by using Bobbing and Tripoli abrasive to bring the edges to a good finish.  It is important to work out the scratches and sharp edges before proceeding to other steps.  Finish out the petal surfaces with Tripoli also.  Do not use an antiquing chemical until after all soldering is complete.

 It is time to prepare stamens for the flower.  Lock the brass or copper wire into a vice.  Use a file and sanding board to round and finish end of the wire to a spherical shape.  Finish the half spherical shape with Bobbing and then Tripoli.  After finishing carefully measure and cut the completed stamen off the end of the wire.  Prepare and cut as many as needed to complete the project.  Place the stamens in place and solder to center of flower.

 If this flower is to be part of an earring, then solder the earring stud to the back of the flower using a sweat solder technique with easy or extra easy solder.  The solder is first melted on the pad of the earring stud and then held to the back of the earring.


Supplies Needed for class on Chasing and Embossing

Please bring to class old screwdriver with rounded end, smoothed and polished.  Any old punches that can be smoothed on the end with different shapes.  We need round ends of two or three different sizes.   Long ends and curved ends too.

Bring a very simple, basic design (maybe more than one to choose from) that can be transferred to metal.  Overall 2"x2" or less.  This can be done in copper or silver.  Most start with copper and find the copper patina is so beautiful and copper is so inexpensive compared to other metals they decide to always use copper.   If you want ear rings then light weight metal such as 30 ga and smaller designs.  You need to order some studs and fasteners also.  Ear rings need to be sterling silver and the studs also.

(optional)  Tagua nuts for “ivory” Inlay

 Watch for Tagua nuts at rock and gem shows.  If you get an opportunity to buy a couple you might want to do so.  “The last source of  'ivory' is Tagua nut from Central America.  These nuts are actually 2” long palm seeds that grow in a fruit the size of a human head.  They are about 98 percent cellulose and are similar in workability and color to ivory.  Close examination by an expert will reveal the difference, and the size can be limiting for some projects, but it’s a nice substitute and readily available.  Many lapidary and jeweler suppliers have Tagua nuts in stock.” (1)

 Good solid deer antler and other bone can

Deer Antler "Ivory" with turquoise inlay and a touch of scrimshaw in the design.

 be used for inlay and scrimshaw projects as well and looks like ivory when polished with Zam. 

Designs for all of the above. (not the ring)

Silver strips (24ga)  for channel work, sheets, wire

Bolo tie cords for your project  (we plan to build the slide, and tips)  cord can be leather or cloth.

Slabs to cut designs from for your inlay/channel project

Small cabs for you embossed earrings.  Probably round cabs for flower designs.

Earring posts in sterling.

Design punches.

Some of the details:

(c) 2008 by Jerry Davis 

In level 3 you furnish your own silver, copper, solder, saw blades and other materials for the work you do.  The fee you pay is the club’s fee and is used by the club for buffing wheels, handouts, booklets and other consumables.  At this point we expect the participant to have his or her own metals, solders, tools and be serious about the study of metalsmithing.  You should have your own metal sheets and wires catalogued and into labeled files organized for a purpose and into an inventory book by now.  You are welcome to look at the way my metal sheets and wires are organized and stored and copy my system if you want to.  It’s not perfect but it is very useful. 

The projects I have selected for Level 3 and 4 are challenging and ambitious.  They all have areas of particular difficulty that will have definite teaching and learning benefits.   If you don’t have a place to work at home then Monday nights at the silversmithing room in the clubhouse is where you can work.  There is definitely as much work required at home as in the classroom from this point forward.  Working at the clubhouse attracts a lot of attention because what you are working on is very interesting.   We made a rule about not coming in and gossiping but anyone working on a project attracts people that want to see what you are doing.  Sometimes BS is a distraction and gets to be a little too much even from our friends.

 Bolo Tie:

Freeform cab or stone you want to mount in a bolo tie or pendant.

Bolo tie cord for your project (check the leather store in Abilene)

22 ga, 24-ga SS sheet silver 

Channel Work: 

Pencil design with color of your stones in place – several copies (color only one copy) 

T-Pins and other pins to hold work in place

24 ga SS strips of smooth silver to use for Inlay work and bezels.  Listed as silver strips in catalogue.  You will need several inches depending on the size of the inlay design. 

Silver sheet for backing of the Inlay.

Rock slabs of medium hardness and colors shown in your design.  Thickness should be about the same on all slabs. The height of the slabs should only be a fraction taller than the channel wire you plan to mount them in.  Choose silver 24ga strips that are either 1/8” or 3/16” tall.   

Materials for texturing metal with a roll mill (6”x6” to cut pieces from):

Tomato bag (net) (small spaces and large), Grapefruit bag (net) or similar, Textured paper towel, Textured cloth strips, Boot or belt hide with texture (such as old alligator pattern or ostrich/emu boot hide), Feathers different sizes in good shape (small ones are better), Any other textures you can think of you want to bring.

 Copper Sheets  (6x12) 22ga or 20 ga. even thinner is OK.   Rio Grande catalog, Gems and Findings also found at Hobby Lobby in different thicknesses. 

16 gauge SS wire or heavier to use for prongs in mixed media or some other project. 

Tough outdoor lacquer such as can of Instant Drying Lacquer from ACE  and/or Finish Seal Lacquer #335-123 from Rio Grande.   I have some of this.

A bold design in pencil or black ink for chasing and embossing into copper or silver.  Example would be flowers to use in earrings and pendant or necklace.

 Watch for these at rock shows:

 Instructional books on Inlay/channel projects, etc.  

Crushed stone, such as turquoise, red coral, black coral, etc. for inlay. 

Coloring ink or powder that mixes with the epoxy or I can show you how to make your own.

Red dino bone slab.

Embossing and Chasing projects.

Dress for the class:

A cap to shield your eyes from bright lights above.  Optivisor will also serve to shade eyes.

Old clothes that you don’t mind having holes burned in by acid or other means.  This will be a dusty and somewhat dirty hands environment.  The polishing operation is difficult on hands so if your hands are sensitive you may want thin leather gloves to give you some protection.  We will have leather finger guards for you to use during finishing of metal if you want to use them.  Even with finger guards your fingers will take a lot of punishment, from polishing compounds, chemicals, etc.  You may want some hand cream close by for the days you will be finishing metal.