Professional Jewelry Making: Silver Locket: Part 2

The procedures in this article are standard practices for bench jewelers at this time. If not executed properly, however, they can cause harm. Neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for injuries, losses, or damage that may result from the use or misuse of this information.

Safety Alert: Burs and other setting tools are extremely sharp and, if used improperly, can cause serious injury. Be sure that your hands are firmly secured and safely protected at all times.

16. At this point the two bezels should fit inside the two locket halves. To adjust the height of the bezels, flip them over and insert them with the flat face first and the open bezel sticking out. Use a flat file to trim the excess flush with the frames. File slowly so that you do not catch and distort the thin metal edge. Repeat for the other side.

16. Trimming bezel heights

17. The final step in completing the bezels is to sand the interior surfaces, bezels, and frames flat. With the bezels inserted properly, sand the assemblies flat in preparation for polishing. Rub each half over a flat sheet of 400- and 600-grit paper in turn. Remove the bezels, mark which parts go together, then set them aside.

17. Sanding the interiors

18. In preparation for filing the cradle, use epoxy to glue the halves together. When the glue sets, file the outer shape to be perfectly round and trim the contour as desired. The edge view of the locket can range from rounded to almost a sharp point. What matters most is that the shape and contour are uniform all over. With the assembly filed to perfection, use a large flat file to establish a flat spot on the seam, where the hinge will go. Continue to file, noting the shape of the flat area as it changes and becomes more elliptical with each stroke. Keep the file flat, level, and centered as the hinge area stretches out to 12 mm long. It is important that the final surface be one flat plane: level and centered.

18. With halves held together, file a flat spot for the hinge.

19. Select tubing with a 2.5 mm outside diameter and a wall thickness of 0.5 mm. The two halves each need a bearing (also called a cradle) to match the shape of the hinge. This means that you need a matching 2.5 mm round file, the same size and shape as the tubing. Most round files are tapered and will not work well for this because the size of the groove will not be uniform and the knuckles will not fit tightly.

Special files called cylinder files are available from suppliers in small incremental sizes. Best mounted in a handle or pin vise for gripping, these files do the job just right, matching the shape and allowing you to cut to any depth. Another type of file, also intended for this purpose, is a round-edge joint file, available from suppliers in a range of sizes.

Use a cylinder file to cut a groove down the center of the long, elliptical flat spot where the halves meet. The groove must be centered, straight, and of even depth about 12 mm long. File until a third to half of the tubing is buried in the cradle. The tubing should sit evenly in the cradle, making contact everywhere. If the seat is not flat, the knuckles will be out of alignment. With the groove filed to perfection, soak the halves in hot water to loosen the glue and separate them with a knife.

19. Filing a cradle for the hinge

20. Prepare a section of tubing to be soldered to one side of the locket. Each of the three knuckles will be 4 mm long, so the total tube section will be 12 mm. Use the bridge method for creating the knuckles, cutting out a 4 mm section, halfway deep, centered in the 12 mm section of tubing. Use binding wire to position and hold the tube section in place. If the tubing has a seam, place it downward, facing the cradle. Do not tighten the wire or the bridge will be crushed. Firecoat the locket and hold in a third-hand to solder. Flux and place two small snippets of medium solder in contact with both tube and cradle.

20. Set up for soldering the outer knuckles.

21. Use a large neutral flame to heat the entire assembly. When everything is hot, pay a little extra attention to the hinge area until the solder flows onto the first side of the tubing. After cooling, pickling, rinsing, and drying, use a saw to remove the bridge. Saw from the inside out, right against the flat ends, leaving the two outer knuckles in perfect alignment. Trimming with a file is limited.

Now cut a new piece of tubing to fit the opening left by the bridge. This middle knuckle should fit perfectly with both ends filed flat. It should slide into place with a little pressure. Since the hinge will loosen through use, make it tight now. Ideally, the middle knuckle should fit so tightly that it can be pushed into place but not shaken free.

21. Soldering first side

22. Firecoat the other locket half and hold in a third-hand with very light pressure. Position the center knuckle in the groove. Rotate the tube so the seam (if there is one) is down. Flux and place small snippets of medium solder along the seam and solder the tubing in place. After soldering, cooling, pickling, rinsing, cleaning, and drying, check the alignment and make sure the knuckles fit together. Trim the end knuckles and use a reaming broach to line up the interiors. Pull a piece of wire for the hinge pin, leaving it as large as possible so that a little force is required to insert it all the way.

22. Soldering the center knuckle into second side

23. A simple catch for this locket is placed opposite the hinge. Use a marking pen with a straight edge to lay out a cross on each side of the locket to determine the correct locations of the catch and the bail jump ring. With the two halves held together, use the tip of a round needle file to file a small notch on the edge, opposite the center knuckle of the hinge. File a neat groove about 1 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm deep. File across the seam between the two halves, leaving identical aligned notches in each.

23. Filing a groove for the catch

24. Draw a section of 1 mm round wire for the catch and prepare a jump ring for the bail by winding it around a 3 mm rod. File the jump ring flat on the seam and prepare to solder it at the top of the locket. Coat the locket halves with firecoat to protect the surfaces. Place both halves on a charcoal block. Stick the catch wire into the charcoal and position the front locket half with the single knuckle facing up to meet it. Place the jump ring on the charcoal and push it partially into the surface so that it rests at the desired height and place the other locket half in position next to it. Flux the seams, then use medium solder to join the catch and jump ring to the two different halves. Quench, pickle, rinse, and dry.

 24. Setup to solder the catch and jump ring

25. Cut a rectangle 6 mm wide and 22 mm long from 0.6 mm sheet for the bail. Shear both ends to a taper from the middle of the rectangle, leaving a lozenge shape. Use round-nose pliers to form metal into a teardrop shape. Hold the pliers against a wooden surface for leverage. The ends should meet with an interior opening of 6 mm at the top.

25. Forming the bail

26. Feed one side of the bail through the jump ring, flux the seam, and solder the ends closed. Quench, pickle, rinse, and dry.

26. Soldering the bail in place

27. On the front, trim the catch to a small nub and remove any sharp corners. Trim the end facing the back to about 2 mm. Use a section of 1.5 mm round wire for the hinge pin, adjusting as needed. Insert the pin, holding the halves together, and use a pair of chain-nose pliers to adjust the catch to allow the two halves to snap together. Fine-tuning the catch includes filing the edge that meets the back, adjusting the angle of the catch, and polishing all moving parts. When the catch is adjusted properly, the two halves snap together with an audible “click.”

27. Adjusting the catch

28. Add an inscribed radial line texture to the front. Place some double-sided tape on a flat surface and mount the front half securely in place. Use a sharp scribe held against a flexible ruler to inscribe lines onto the metal. Select a point above the equator of the locket and to the left of center as the focal point of a radiating pattern. Pivot the ruler against this point as you inscribe lines deeply into the silver. ­Producing an effective texture means making so many small marks that they are seen as a group and not individually.

28. Adding a radial texture

29. Insert the hinge pin and cut it off, leaving about 0.5 mm sticking out from each end. With one end on an anvil or steel block, use a small riveting hammer to upset (flare) the ends, alternating working on both ends. Use a flat needle file to shape the ends of the upset rivet into equal hemispheres.

29. Upsetting the rivet

30. The front half needs a small notch for your fingernail. Use a half-round needle file held at 45 degrees to carve a shallow curve about 10 mm wide into the top near the catch. Test the notch to ensure it provides a purchase to insert a fingernail for leverage.

30. Filing the finger notch

31. Polish the locket carefully using small and large buffs and wheels. Buff with tripoli and polish with rouge. Cut two small circles of clear plastic for the lenses to fit in the bezels. Cut two photos to fit in the bezels behind the lenses.

31. Open locket with separate bezels, lenses, and photos

32. After inserting the bezels, lenses, and photos, the locket functions as a private two-page photo album. The lovers in the photos forever gaze into each other’s eyes.

32. Open locket

33. The finished locket complete with hidden memories is ready to wear.

33. Finished locket, closed

Excerpted from Professional Jewelry Making by Alan Revere, published by Brynmorgen Press, copyright 2011. Used by permission. Part 1 appeared in the September 2012 issue of JCK.