Archive for the ‘Jewelry-Making Tips’ Category

Dapping Tips for Jewelry Makers

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Adding dapping tools to your jewelry skill set will enable you to create domed shapes, which can greatly enhance your designs.  We’ve put together some of our best tips to help you get started dapping your metal work.  You can find our wide range of dapping tools here.

1. Wood vs. Metal Dapping Sets

  • Metal gives a harder strike, and is good for working with thicker metal.
  • Metal sets tend to move the metal more and produce deeper indentations, allowing you to create higher domes such as what might be needed to create half of a round bead.
  • Wooden sets tend to preserve surface texture and details better.

2.  Larger cavities tend to have a shallow dome, smaller cavities tend to have a deeper dome.

  • Start in a larger, more shallow hole and work down so you don’t split, ruffle the edges, or crease your metal.
  • Use a punch that is slightly smaller than the cup.
  • Use a hole larger than your metal when you first start so it doesn’t get stuck in the cup and so the edges don’t ruffle.
  • It is often helpful to move the metal around in the cavity to form it into the desired shape and to keep it from getting stuck.
  • Once you have formed the metal to the bottom of the hole, move it to a smaller cup and repeat the process until you reach your desired shape.

3. When using the channel block, also called a swage, if the metal gets stuck in the wood, you can tap it gently from the side to slide it out.

4. Be aware that metal can stretch when dapping, which can be especially important to consider when the metal has a hole in it, such as a bead cap.  The hole can become bigger and/or distorted by dapping, so take care if it needs to be an exact size.  It can be difficult to use plier punches to punch a hole once a piece is domed, so drilling a hole after dapping might be the best approach to consider.

5. Do all texturing, stamping, and the cutting of your shape before dapping.  The domed shape makes it much harder to make these changes after dapping.

6.  It is best to work with dead soft metal.  If you texture the metal, it would help to soften or anneal it if the metal is 22-gauge or thicker or if a deeper dome is desired.  It is possible to lightly texture dead soft 24-gauge copper or silver, and then slightly dome without annealing it. However, the doming process is always easier with dead soft metal and hardened metal should not be used.

5.  Using the correct hammer to strike the punches is important. When using metal dapping punches, you can strike it with a brass hammer, ball peen hammer, or a chasing hammer reserved for striking tools. You would not want to use your polished chasing hammer that is used to form, flatten, or texture your metal because the steel punches will mar the face of your polished chasing hammer.

Have a tip that isn’t mentioned here?  Leave a comment below!




New Item: Dimple-Forming Pliers!

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

We just received a batch of the brand-new dimple-forming pliers, and we love these for adding texture to metal!  So simple to use–instead of getting out your hammer and punches, you can add perfectly round dimples with just a squeeze of the hand.

We spent some time using the pliers on our metal shapes, and here are our findings:

  • The dimples were rounder and more uniform than using a hammer and dapping tools
  • They work best on metal sheet 24-gauge or lighter
  • Working with dead-soft metal eliminates the need for annealing (all of the metal shapes we carry are dead-soft)
  • Should you work your metal so much that it becomes work-hardened, annealing the metal will soften it to make texturing easy again
  • No annealing was needed for the already-soft aluminum Lillypilly discs and sheet metal.

There are so many fun things you can do with these pliers!  They are not just for texture–you could use them to write a message in Braille, or a Zodiac constellation with dimple marks representing the stars would make a great personalized piece of jewelry.

Below are some pieces made with the dimple pliers.  We hope it sparks your imagination!



Copper Earrings made using:

  1. 24-gauge copper sheet
  2. Lindstrom Metal Shears
  3. 20-gauge copper wire
  4. Chasing hammer
  5. Large Wood Dapping Block
  6. 1 mm Hooked Jaw Dimple Pliers
  7. Euro Punch Pliers
  8. Liver of Sulphur Patina Gel
  9. Lortone Tumbler Kit

Copper Heart Bracelet made using:

  1. Copper heart shapes
  2. 1 mm Hooked Jaw Dimple Pliers
  3. 3 mm Hooked Jaw Dimple Pliers
  4. Chasing hammer
  5. Euro Punch Pliers
  6. Liver of Sulphur Patina Gel
  7. Lortone Tumbler Kit


Brass Earrings made using:

  1. 1″ Brass discs
  2. Chasing hammer
  3. Fretz Circle Texturing Hammer
  4. 3 mm Hooked Jaw Dimple Pliers
  5. Large Wood Dapping Block
  6. Euro Punch Pliers
  7. Liver of Sulphur Patina Gel
  8. Lortone Tumbler Kit

Wire Protectors – It’s the Little Things that Make a Big Difference

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This tiny sterling silver finding can make a huge difference in the durability and professional appearance of your work. At only 32 cents a piece, they are economical to use too.

Called a wire protector, it not only protects the wire, but adds a very professional look to your jewelry. Wire protectors give movement and flexibility around the clasp, making it easier to clasp your jewelry for wearing.

We here at WUB especially love to use them for multi-strand creations, letting the strands move freely and making them less likely to twist together. The picture below shows a two-strand creation in progress. The wire protectors also give an added sense of security when attaching them to an open jump ring – no more worrying that the strand might pull through a small gap!

Wire protectors have a little channel or sort of a “tube” in them so that you can thread your flexible stranded wire (such as 49-strand Soft Flex) through them. This is how you use it:

1. Thread a crimp tube onto your wire
2. Thread the wire through the wire protector
3. Thread the wire back through the crimp tube.
4. Pull the wire so that you can slide the crimp up snug to the last bead
5. Secure the crimp

We hope you find these wire protectors as fabulous as we do! Know of other ways to use wire protectors? Leave us a comment, we would love to hear!

Wire Protector Detail

A Silver Lining…

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

This week we finally received our full stock of silver filled wire, and we are so excited about it! Thought to be of a higher quality than plated or craft wire, we were itching to try this economical innovation.  To give you an idea of what “silver-filled” means, here is a visual:


(Silver-filled on the left, silver-plated on the right)

You can find out more about silver-filled wire by clicking this link:

Silver Filled Wire.

None of us had ever experimented with silver filled wire before, so we weren’t sure what to expect from it. We were thrilled to learn that it reacts exactly like Sterling Silver in most situations. We soldered, textured, twisted and tumbled it and it responded beautifully. You can see the resulting pieces in the collage below:

So, get out there and create pieces of your own! You can see our full selection of silver filled wire by clicking here: Silver Filled.

Soldering Block Basics

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Here at WUB we are big metalwork enthusiasts, and we offer a broad variety of classes on the topic in the hopes of inspiring both those new to jewelry-making and those who are wizened veterans of the trade. As a result, we often get questions from our customers who need help setting up a jewelry-making workspace at home. We love to share our trade secrets with them, letting them know about unconventional short-cuts and tips that can help them advance their skills and enjoy the creative process.

So, in an effort to share this kind of inside knowledge with all of our customers we are starting a new series in our blog that will offer all the information you will need to help you choose the right tools for your studio! This week we are featuring soldering blocks that are best for beginners.

The Magnesia Block



  • Lightweight, smaller in size than other block surfaces, convenient to use.
  • Non-Asbestos, clean, long-lasting surface with very little dust.
  • Can withstand temperatures up to 2000 degrees.
  • Has a smooth surface for fine work such as filigree.
  • Inexpensive to purchase and replace.
  • Non-asbestos, fireproof fibrous material that is soft enough to be pinned into.

The Fire Brick: Economical, and Good All-Around Block

Typically $5-$8

  • Good all-purpose soldering surface that is economical to use.
  • Long lasting and will withstand temperatures over 2000 degrees.
  • Easy to control your heat and not as “reflective” as some surfaces.
  • Soft enough to be pinned into.
  • Full size block offers a larger work area.

(A note on this block: though we carry it in store we are not able to sell it online because we can’t guarantee any certain size or shape)

Heetrix :Hard Solderite Surface


  • Durable and Asbestos-free.
  • Smooth, clean surface with very little dust.
  • Fairly hard so as not to flake or crumble, and will not accept pins.
  • Highly reflective surface–your work heats more quickly, saving fuel.  For beginners, heat control may take a little practice in order to avoid overheating/melting your piece.
  • Clean, long-lasting surface with very little dust.
  • Can withstand temperatures up to 1700 degrees.

If you have questions of your own or any tools you are curious about, let us know and we will feature it in a future blog!