Day 32 Shaping a Band

There are always quick ways to go about most jewelry techniques, with all the Foredom tools available, sanders, grinders, shapers, etc. but truthfully, I find “therapy” in working a piece of silver or copper by hand into shape. In fact, I think before you grab a sanding disc or a mechanized grinder, you should master working the metal by hand, or at least get a good understanding of it. Today we will take a look at shaping a piece of shank into a beautiful dome ring.

Shaping a Band Header

After the soldering illustration we did yesterday, we were left with a square shanked band. I use a #4 Crossing Needle File to take off the extra solder on the inside of the shank. When I soldered it together, I made it about 1/8th of a size shy of a size 10 to give me room to round and file the inside so it would come out at a size 10. After rounding it on a Steel Mandrel, I sand the inside of the ring with 400 Grit Sandpaper, then 800 Grit Sandpaper.

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The next thing I do is to flatten the ring by placing the ring between a Steel Bench Block and a Chasing Hammer and flattening it by hitting the chasing hammer with a Rawhide Mallet.

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Notice how I have shaped my bench pin, on one side, there is a notch on top to place pieces against it to help support while I file. I flatten the side of the shank with a #2 Flat Hand File, then a #4 Flat Hand File. I finish the sides with using my Aluminum Sanding Sticks (400 grit and 600 grit) that I demonstrated in the Day 24 Blog post.

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Also the other side of my bench pin is a notch to hold rings to help support when filing the outside. Here I I again used a #4 Flat Hand File, and my Aluminum Sanding Sticks.

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Now we have a beautifully crafted clean, square shank….. but we will not leave it here.

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Now I will try my best to describe how to use a bench light and the reflection from it to shape this square shank into a domed shank. Using the reflection from my bench light is something I do automatically and is kind of hard to explain, but I will try to do my best. As I am grinding, filing, sanding a piece of jewelry, I am constantly holding it at my bench pin and rotating it and watching the reflection from my bench light. This is the best way I can see the true shape and form I am working with. It is hard to explain, but you have to keep working the metal and checking the shape of it in the light. Sorry for the bad explanation but look at some of the images in this lesson close, if there are blemishes, the light won’t lie.

On the Square shank, I use a #4 Hand File to take the edge off the corner, trying to keep the same angle. After I have done this on both sides, I take the next edge off of both sides of the new surface created, (so I have 3 new surfaces) then repeat again. (so I have 5 new surfaces) The only way I know to do this effectively is to use the light and see where the file is working the metal. Sometimes I cover the piece in a black sharpie so I can see the new edges better. Again I am sorry for the bad explanation of using light reflection to shape your metal.

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After I have the new surfaces filed, usually 5 – 7 new angles on each side, I take the ring and a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and blend the edges. I place the ring on the bench pin, hanging over the side, and roll the sandpaper over the surfaces, blending the “facets” until they flow together. I do this on both sides. Then I take the sandpaper and blend the scratches the opposite way, sanding with the shank. After I am satisfied with the blending, I repeat the same thing with 600 Grit Sandpaper, sometimes using water on my sandpaper as a last step. Polish if you like and it will be amazing, or leave as is.

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There you have it, the best Therapy I can give you. Again there are quicker, more efficient ways to get the same effect, but I believe until you work the metal by hand and understand what you are looking for, getting the feel, using your eye and the reflection of the light, all the tools in the world will never give you the results you can get by working with your hands.

Now, go work that metal!


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8 Responses to Day 32 Shaping a Band

  1. Lisa Anderson September 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    I just discovered you while searching for info. What luck to have found your blog!

    I’ll be using this technique on my next ring……

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It’s an inspiration and means so much to a novice like me.

    • JewelryMonk September 13, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Thank you for the kind words of encouragement Lisa. I am glad you stumbled onto the site. Welcome!

  2. Nicole October 17, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    I love your blog and visit frequently for your tips and tricks. I have a question about this post- at what angle are you filing to dome the ring? Are you filing up and over the edge? I’m trying to use your photos as a reference but I ca tell if I’m ge the same facets that you are. Thank you for helping me improve my fabrication skills with this blog!

    • JewelryMonk October 17, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Nicole for hanging out and following along. On this project, I followed the edge of the ring at about a 45 degree angle on the first pass with the file. Then I filed the 2 edges I just created at about half the angle, so I now have 3 created flat “facets”. Then I sanded across them ti blend then in. Hope that makes sense.
      Take care and keep it up!

  3. Nicole October 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Thank you Doug for the clarification. I thought that was what you might be doing and now I can tackle my practice piece again with better aim 😉


  4. Lisa W. November 10, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Hi Doug, this is better clarification of a process I have been using than I have seen anywhere! What do you do with the corners on the inside of the ring, against the finger? That is where I’m usually sanding the most, concerned with wearing comfort. Thanks for all you are doing!!

    • JewelryMonk November 11, 2014 at 9:27 am #

      I usually use a crossing file followed by sand paper on a rotary mandrel. Then polish.