How to Make a Concave Bracelet with Bill Fretz

How to Make a Concave Bracelet with Bill Fretz

hi I’m bill fretts and I can introduce you to our new tools the new tools are a larger version of our earlier pieces this is the holder for the original and this is the holder for the new what makes them interesting though is the new tools also fit in the old holder what the new tools do is extend the capability of our original set of tools by allowing you to make larger pieces the first group of tools this was pretty much the limit of what you could make the new tools let you make larger pieces because the curves are larger they’re concave convex tapered they let you make small pieces of hollow air and we’re going to demonstrate some of the techniques to make them really interesting first project we’re going to make is a concave bracelet and it was formed in a closed manner and then cut open the extreme raising was possible because the curves of the stakes allowed the curve to form plus the overhang on the stake allowed the shape not to interfere with either your stump or your workbench we’re going to form this bracelet from this size stock this is a brass tube it is made from cartridge brass it is 70 percent copper 30 percent zinc it is very malleable and an excellent choice for jewelry making we’re going to keep it in the solid shape until the last step because the forming is much easier we’re only going to use one stake for the whole process this concave stake will allow us both to form the piece and also to plan it we’re going to put pen lines on the piece as a reference line so you have an accurate spot to hammer by just putting a few lines on it makes it easier to keep the piece symmetrical as you’re hammering if you raise the pen ever so slightly you get it still a quite accurate line it really doesn’t matter at what height these lines are as long as they’re symmetrical you have a choice of hammers for synching a project now this raising is sinking because you’re moving the metal down to the state and we’re going to do it in different steps each step is called a course so after we’ve hammered the surface completely once it’s called a course and this will probably take three courses to raise the metal down to the full concave shape we could use a steel hammer and if we do that we are have the potential of stretching the metal it is much safer to be using nylon hammer this hammer has a lot of different inserts the seven different inserts have different curves so by matching the curve of the insert to the curve of the stake it makes it more accurate in forming the piece and it keeps the piece from becoming wavy as your formula will place the piece on the stake now you’ll notice we’re using this end because it allows the piece to flow freely as we work on it we’re going to start on the edge and we’re going to hammer the two edges and then move to the middle we are not going to move the metal down in one course because the metal will become too stressed and you don’t want to raise too much where the piece will become too wavy and there’s a tendency for it to crimp and if that happens it’s really a disaster because then you won’t be able to correct it we’re going to start by rotating the piece as we hammer it now you’ll notice the metal is moving down but if there are no marks and that’s because the nylon barely dents the metal at all now we’re going around the reason we’re rotating around is we’re keeping the piece round if we danced around it would get really wobbly and you wouldn’t be able to control the forming now we’re going to reverse it now as you hammer the metal becomes work-hardened and as it becomes work-hardened it gets harder and harder to hammer and that’s why we’re going to have to anneal it after we’ve hammered the middle down now I’m actually not hammering very hard it doesn’t take very much force to move the metal now I’m moving toward the middle and I’m using the lines as a reference so I keep the piece symmetrical all right works on the other side and then we go to the middle and you’ll notice I’m using the steak in such a way there’s a line running through it my hammer and my arm are in the continuous line and that way I’m not coming in from an angle okay that’s about as far as I can go in the first course and after it’s been annealed we’ll continue the process we’ve now annealed the piece and we replaced the marker lines on the piece the marker lines actually are useful in that they act as a heat indicator when you’re annealing when the lines burn off you’re usually very close to the correct temperature for annealing now we’re going to start again from the edges and we’re going to move the piece down each step will drive the metal closer to the stake and on this raising we should be able to complete the raising now we’re going to reverse the piece and come in from the other side and we’re going to leave the lump in the middle for the last compression the final row that we’re going to hammer is the middle and as it lumps forms a lump we’re going to compress that metal down and form the full shape now this middle metal is actually compressing and thickening because it has nowhere to go so it actually gets a little bit thicker it’s not very noticeable on small pieces but on a big piece you would notice that you could actually really feel the difference as you’re compressing it it would take more force now after we’ve moved the metal down there are lumps and we’re going to go back and work those down so the pieces as smooth as we can make it with this hammer you’ll notice the pieces stayed round and that’s because there are two curves to the stake one this curve right here if you continue it would be a little bit smaller than a two inch circle and that’s why it fits this curve is the one that’s giving it the dynamic concave shape we’re now going to switch to a steel hammer after we’ve nailed it we’re now going to switch to a steel hammer that is a cross peen hammer and it would allow us to plan us the piece smooth I’ve replaced the lines and this time we’re going to start in the middle and what we’re doing is we’re smoothing the metal out and moving it to the edges as it’s getting smoother and smoother it’s very important that the hammer blows overlap and continue in one area until we’ve completed a complete circumnavigation of the piece and I’m holding the hammer very lightly this is not a strong blow it’s very light and I’m letting the hammer bounce off the stake it is not a strong blow it is a relaxed [Music] now I’ve reached the beginning I’m going to move to the next area and I’m going to continue the blows and as I’m doing this the curve is actually being refined in other words it’s not rippling it will just have hammer blows but not it will lose any lumpiness that it had it may look like I’m rotating I would urge you to try to form a habit of coming straight down that would probably be a better technique if you try to hit it and Stroke it nothing’s going to happen it is a straight down blow that you’re trying to achieve now I find as the piece and get closer to the edge I rotate it up and it makes it easier for me to strike the metal this steak is designed so this curve is a radius so it’s exactly the same no matter where you’re striking so you can rotate it and still get the same curve very important to try to hit with a uniform blow so each blow has the same amount of force if you whatever you start with stay with that amount of pressure because that way the blows will be similar I’m now going to thicken the edge by hammering the the edge of the metal and coining it or upsetting it I’m also using a urethane pad because it keeps the metal from being hurt after I flip it over and do the other side I don’t want this side to be able iterated and if you do it on steel it will be and if you do it on wood there’s a tendency your workbench will slowly just disintegrate so urethane is a very good choice it has no memory you can hit it many times it will last a long time I’m coming in directly on the edge with a steel hammer and I’m hitting at right angles to the edge since the edge is turning out I’m coming in at an angle but I’m trying to hit it so it hits it square this does two things it textures to the edge and also thickens it a little bit a thick edge is really quite interesting now I’m going to go all the way around and then repeat it on the other side if you use different hammers you’re going to get different textures and that’s part of the appeal you have a wide choice of finishes so the combination of the hammer selection and the steak selection determines what the piece will look like flip it over and repeat it so that completes the forming process now and we’re going to cut it open polish it roll the edges and you have a finished piece now this circle of two inches will give a bracelet of the average size if you don’t have to be you could take a straight piece of sheet metal wrap it around and solder it the interesting thing about a concave bracelet is the starting inside diameter more or less remains the same there’s a major difference though if you do a convex shape if you do a convex shape as the metal curves the donut hole in the middle gets smaller and smaller so you’re gonna need a larger piece of metal we used a different stake on this piece it was a domed piece and basically we have an acting ring from this size this is a group of tools that is going to expand and it’s interchangeable and it is the tool group that I have actually always wanted and I think you’re gonna find it really interesting too and it just lets you expand and make more pieces with more variables than previously possible and thank you for watching


  1. You make this looks so easy, even for one who's never done anything like this type of work. TFS!

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  3. Which nylon tip is he using with the first and second course? I can't quite tell from the set I have…maybe it's the lighting.

  4. I think that it's vital to have GOOD, adequate lighting, while doing this kind of work, and, to utilize the reflective surface, (created where the hammer face contacts the work piece), to show you where each hammer blow is striking the surface, and to develop a VERY consistent working method, so that the "evenness" of the hammer-worked" markings on the surface, will appear to be well controlled, and not a crazy, frenetic, or haphazard series of dings. This IS a GREAT Demo video!!!! THANKS!!!!

  5. That takes the mystery of something I thought might be quite difficult. Given the right equipment certainly one can do anything. Love how easy and relaxed Bill Fretz is and takes the mystery out of how to do things successfully.

  6. question…want to purchase the M series formers which stake holder can I use…what is the most affordable option..hard to understand with all the information presented.

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