I've seen washers appear in the most recent publications of popular beading magazines. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to cut a washer using your disc cutter and turn the washers into a fun, quick bracelet. I created the finished bracelet, from a piece of sheet metal to bracelet, in a few short hours. So grab your sheet metal and your disc cutter and let's create!
How to make a washer bracelet
Materials you'll need:
- 22 gauge metal sheet (I'm using copper sheet previously annealed)
- 5 or 6 mm jump rings - 16 gauge
- Toggle clasp
Tools you'll need:
- Disc cutter
- Hole punching pliers (1.5mm)
- Jewelry making pliers
Note: In this tutorial, the focus will be on using the disc cutter to create washers. You can find more information on the basics of using a disc cutter in a previous post on how to use a disc cutter.
Use the punch from the disc cutter set or a circle template to mark the metal sheet with circles to be cut.
Use a smaller punch to mark an inner circle, within the diameter of the first circle. Now you can see the washer taking shape.
Continue marking the sheet metal for the number of washers you'll need for your bracelet.
In this example I'm using a 3/4" outer diameter circle and varying the inside diameter circle for the washers with three different sizes. Eight 3/4" washers created a bracelet measuring 8" in length. I incorporated one of the eight washers as a toggle clasp to finish the piece. It's easy to make size adjustments simply by adding or subtracting washers.
When cutting washers it's important to punch out the inner circle of the washer first.
I went ahead and punched out all the inner circles on this sheet and then punched out the 3/4" discs. For the purpose of this bracelet design, we are not worried about keeping our inner circles centered. In fact, varied and slightly off-center circles are the look I prefer.
Above you can see all the washers I created with their corresponding centers punched out.
Save all those center bits. They can be used in any number of ways for future jewelry projects.
I used a variety of tools from my workbench to add textures to the washers.
Use a permanent marker and a straight edge to mark the holes to be punched into the washers.
It's important to center these holes on the washer and keep them in a straight line. These holes will be used for adding jump rings and attaching the washers together. If you intend to use a washer as a toggle clasp, only punch a hole on ONE side of that washer.
Use the round hole punching pliers to add the holes to the washers.
Sometimes the pliers can leave a ragged cut on the reverse side. If this is the case you can reverse punch the hole by using the hole punching pliers on the opposite side of the washer. Insert the pliers into the hole and squeeze gently. If there are still sharp, ragged edges you can clean them up by using a drill bit. Insert a drill bit slightly larger than the hole into the hole and turn it until the sharp edges have softened. At this point I throw all my pieces in a rotary tumbler with stainless steel shot to clean up any lingering sharp edges and work harden the metal.
Use liver of sulfer to add a beautiful patina and bring out the depth of design. Sand the pieces gently with a 1200 grit sand paper to reveal the impressions.
Connect each washer to another washer using jump rings.
Finish by adding your favorite clasp or create your own toggle clasp.
How to create your own toggle clasp
Grasp a 2 1/2" length of 18 gauge wire with round-nose pliers. Hold approximately 3/4" from one end of the wire.
Fold each end of wire over the top of the pliers.
Grasp the long end of the wire and make u-turn, back toward the short end.
Continue circling the long end of the wire back toward where you started.
Continue holding the wire in the round-nose pliers and straighten out each end of the wires so they are positioned opposite each other. If one end of the wire is longer than the other, trim the wires so they are equal lengths.
Use a steel bench block and bench hammer to flatten both ends of the wire.
Use a file to smooth down any sharp edges.
Add jump rings to the toggle to complete the toggle clasp.
I recommend a hole size on the washer of 3/8 or 1/2 inch in diameter in order to accommodate the toggle.
This piece has a beautiful, delicate flow on the wrist. Wear it alone or stack it up.
Learn more metalsmithing skills in the Craftsy class Metalsmithing at Home with Kate Richbourg. You'll learn how to create 5 artisan accessories you'll love to wear and gift!
Have you used washers in your jewelry designs?