If the word silversmithing intimidates you, get ready to get excited!
I recently had a discussion with Jewelry Making Daily's Facebook friends about what we wish someone had told us when we first started making silver jewelry. What do I wish I had known years ago? Silversmithing is not that hard. It's not an extremely difficult process for only the most advanced jewelers, using scary jewelry-making tools. Thanks to a great teacher, I learned to do it quickly, and soon you'll see that you can do it, too.
5 Steps of Silver Jewelry Making
There are basically only five steps from the design in your mind to the ring on your finger—or whatever piece of jewelry you want to make. Many silver jewelry-making projects won't even require all five steps. By breaking silversmithing down into manageable steps and learning them one by one, I realized that creating custom silver jewelry is an achievable (and extremely fun) process.
1. Sawing: A good silversmithing teacher will tell you that the keys to successful metal sawing are to have a good saw with the best blades you can afford and to master an effective sawing technique. Start with a 2/0 saw blade for best all-around use, and move on to a 4/0 once you get the hang of it. Later, a 6/0 saw blade is best for intricate silversmithing work. Lube your saw blade with Burlife, beeswax, or Gemlube and strive for a steady rhythm with a fluid sawing motion.
2. Filing: The better you get at sawing, the less filing you'll have to do. The hardest part about filing for me was remembering which direction to move the file. Hint: It's not like filing your nails! Don't go back and forth—file only in one direction: away from you.
Files are generally flat or half-round, and they are sized by number; the higher the number of the file, the finer the cut it will make. Therefore, #0 and #1 files are large-tooth files that will rapidly remove the most metal in the least amount of time. If your sawed piece has a very irregular or flawed edge, these are the files you'll want to start with to fix it. If you can only buy one file, buy a #2 file; it's a good, almost-all-purpose, medium-tooth file. For finer work, move up to smaller-tooth #4 and #6 files. Clean metal bits from files after use with a file card.