List of Silversmithing Project Ideas for Beginners 2021 [Updated]
Silversmithing and jewelry making can be intimidating for beginners. Luckily, there are hundreds of beginner-friendly tutorials and projects available online that teach all the basics of the craft and offer some simple project ideas.
We’ve compiled the best tutorials from YouTube to help you complete your first beginner silversmithing project at home using basic tools and techniques.
These projects are customizable to fit your design preferences and unique skillset. Feel free to adjust the types of materials and tools you use to better fit your needs. An overview of the project steps is also provided for each video so you can determine whether the project is appropriate for you.
What Tools are Needed for Silversmithing Projects?
To complete the following beginner silversmithing projects, you will need silver sheets and wire in a few different sizes. Most tutorials use 18-24 gauge wire, but further details are provided in each video. Many of the projects can be completed using scrap materials and can be adjusted according to the materials you already have on hand.
You can also acquire most of the core tools from kits which are designed for soldering jewellery pieces, such as the one below:
- Ideal for all soldering purposes
- Includes 9 different tools and accessories for soldering
- Micro Flame Torch, Silver Solder, flux, magnesia block, copper tongs and pickle pot
The individual main tools used in these projects are below:
- Soldering surface & solder
- Measuring tools
- Pickle pot and pickling solution
- Quenching bowl
- Copper tweezers
- Pliers (several variations)
- Jewelers Saw
- Solder pick
- Sander or sandpaper
- Set of Files
- Emery sticks
- Mandrels (bangle and ring)
- Clasps for jewelry
- Bench peg and anvil
- Hammers (rawhide, ballpeen)
Other tools and equipment may be necessary to complete a few of the projects listed and specifics are discussed below for each project.
Due to the beginner-friendly nature of these tutorials, any tools you do not have can be substituted for the basics you likely own already. Feel free to get creative and make use of what you already have in your workspace.
Beginner Silversmithing Project Ideas
The following are a few beginner-friendly silversmithing projects that will help you get comfortable with basic cutting, shaping, soldering, and assembling techniques. Each of these projects can be modified to fit your skill level and design preferences.
1) Disc Choker Necklace
This necklace is the perfect dainty piece for beginners who want to challenge themselves with lots of soldering and assembly.
Begin by cutting small discs with a disc cutter and mallet as shown in the video. Sand the surface of each disc.
Measure wire to desired length for the jump rings that will attach the discs to the chain. Mark out where to cut at equal intervals along the wire.
Cut the wire pieces at the marks you just made. Then flatten one end of each of the wire pieces for joining to the discs. This will create a flat, neat join.
Solder the discs and wire together with paste or traditional solder. Pickle and quench the pieces and polish in a tumbler, or a homemade tumbler filled with steel shot, water, and dish soap.
Sand the backs of each piece as needed. Then attach the discs to your chain, making sure that the first one is placed at the center of the chain. Bend the wire to over 90 degrees and then trim the excess to create a little loop.
Repeat these steps with each disc, placing them along the chain about 12 chain links apart.
For an even easier necklace, this project can be completed without soldering. Further instructions are given in the second half of the video tutorial.
2) Silver Flower Earrings
Flower earrings are a great gift and can be easily customized.
Cut out a flower pattern as shown in the video. This can be easily hand sketched and you can choose whatever flower design you desire.
Attach the pattern to a sterling silver sheet using rubber cement. Cut out the pattern using a saw. Follow the pattern as closely as possible and cut into each petal as shown to allow for bending in future steps.
Remove the pattern from the metal pieces. Trim down the flower petals to a more natural and delicate shape. The petals can be as rounded or pointed as you want. File off any burrs from the edges of the flower.
Heat up each flower with your torch, then pickle and quench. This will give each flower an interesting texture so they do not look so flat.
Mark the center of each flower and punch a dent, then drill a hole as shown. Refine the shape of the flowers as needed and file down any sharp edges.
Next, cut three different lengths of wire for each flower. These will create the centers and stems of the flower earrings. Ball an end on each piece of wire by heating them. Thread all three wires into the center hole of each flower.
Solder the flower and the wires together. Then, trim the excess shorter pieces of wire so they are hidden underneath the flower.
Bend and shape the flower petals for a rounded, natural look. Sand the entire piece and polish as needed. The final step is to bend the stem of the flower into a ‘U’ shape to make the earring wearable.
3) Sterling Silver Bangle
To begin this easy bangle project, measure the widest part of your hand with paper to get your bangle size. You want to make sure that the bangle will fit around your hand at the widest point since there will not be any clasp.
Mark the size on your metal wire and cut at the mark with a pair of wire cutters. Use a ring clamp to keep the wire secure as you file down one end of the wire. Turn the piece around and repeat on the other side. This process ensures that each end of the wire is complete flat and straight for soldering.
File down the ends to remove any burrs, but do this lightly to avoid altering the flat shape you just created. Bend the wire back and forth until the ends touch completely.
Sand the wire ends to clean off oils and dirt. Then begin soldering the ends of the wire together, following the instructions provided in the video.
Let the piece cool down, then transfer it to your pickle solution with copper tongs. Once the bangle is pickled and quenched, shape the bangle on a bangle mandrel using a hammer to gradually shape it into a near-perfect circle.
Texture the piece using a ball peen hammer or other textured tool if desired.
4) Quick and Easy Rings
These stacking rings are the perfect beginner project. They require only a few standard silversmithing tools and techniques and can be completed quickly.
Cut a 14 gauge length of wire down to your desired ring size. You can use regular wire or beaded wire depending on your preferences. Then file down the ends of the wire with a file.
Shape the wire with a ring mandrel, using a rawhide mallet to avoid leaving hammer marks on the rings. Hammer the ends together until they touch.
Solder the ends together using a soldering method of your choice and place the rings a pickle pot. Shape the rings on your mandrel again to achieve the final shape and sand the rings smooth. Polish in a tumbler.
5) Beginner Stacking Rings
These stacking rings are a more advanced beginner version of the option described above. They require a few more tools and finishing techniques and would make a great gift for family, friends, or yourself!
Begin by using a ring sizer to find your desired ring size. Measure out the size and transfer it to your silver wire. Saw the pieces at the marks you just made.
File down the ends of the wires so they are flat. Bend the wires into ring shapes with pliers to the ends match up. These do not need to be perfect circles yet, but do ensure that the ends are flat and touch completely.
Apply flux and solder the pieces together, being careful not to overheat the rings. Then place the rings in a pickling solution and quench.
File the rings again to remove access flux. Shape the ring on a ring mandrel using a hammer. Add texture to one ring if desired using a ball peen hammer. Sand and polish and your rings are complete.
6) Leaf Pendant
Pendants are functional pieces that have a variety of uses. This leaf pendant is modern and simple to make.
Start by cutting out your design and applying double sided tape to attach the design to a sheet of sterling silver. Cut out the design using your jewelers saw.
Remove the double sided tape and clean up the edges with several different files. Begin with coarse files and work your way up to fine files to smooth out the piece effectively.
Sand the entire piece and hammer to create texture on the entire pendant.
Create a small jump ring to hang the pendant. Solder the ring onto the top of the pendant piece as shown. Pickle, quench, and clean the piece a final time. Sand once more and your pendant is finished!
7) Mixed Metal Pendant
For a more advanced pendant option, consider making this funky mixed metal piece.
Cut strips as shown in the video. Copper and silver are used and recommended but you could try using other types of metal if you have them on hand. Flatten the pieces out with a hammer.
File the corners of the strips down as desired using long strokes on a file.
Make two jump rings. Align the ends of one ring together. Then file down the seam to prepare for soldering later on.
Round and shape the smaller piece of metal around a dowel to fit the larger piece. This small piece will hug around the larger piece when the pendant is assembled. This process is explained in detail in the video. A small appliqué piece of metal will also need to be cut and filed down.
Once all of the pieces are prepped, heat them up with your torch to clean them. Pickle and quench.
Heat the appliqué piece and solder it onto the main metal strip. Pickle again.
Heat up the jump ring that has not been aligned and filed until it melts into a small ball, then quench it.
Solder the little ball you just made onto the appliqué piece as shown in the video. Solder the top piece on as well, making sure that it hugs tightly around the sides of the pendant.
Finally, attach your prepped jump ring to allow the pendant to hang. Clean up the entire piece and polish as needed.
8) Decorative Feather
Practice your detail work by completing this decorative feather. This realistic piece can be used for jewelry or any other creative project.
Use dividers to find the desired width of your feather. Cut with a wire cutter. Then flatten the piece out with a rawhide mallet.
Make the quill of the feather with 14 gauge half round wire. Measure the wire to the desired length and curve it into a loop. Cut the excess wire off. You now have a quill that will encircle the feather, making it double-sided.
Pinch the loop closed with some pliers. Make a coil by winding wire around a pair of round nosed pliers at the same point. Solder the coil to the looped feather quill as shown in the tutorial.
Sand the end of the quill to taper it down. Then clean the quill to prepare for soldering the feather. Solder the feather in place.
Mark feather details along the sides of the piece using cutters. Do not cut through. Use a saw to cut a few lines into the feather as desired and then use the cutters again to further enhance the lines you already made.
Curve the leftover length of wire onto the feather as shown for further decoration and solder the wire down onto the feather. Pickle and quench the piece, then sand.
Add more details if you want, or move onto polishing.
9) Small Leaves
Make as many of these tiny leaves as you want to practice heating and filing techniques!
Heat the end of a piece of wire to form a ball. Hammer the ball flat and file the edges down into the pointed shape of a leaf. File the entire surface smooth.
Press veins into the leaf and shown in the video. File down the stem into an organic shape and cut off excess wire as needed.
10) Handmade Chain
Learning to create your own chain can come in handy for future projects. This handmade chain tutorial can be used for jewelry pieces or any other project you have in mind.
Begin by wrapping wire around a punch of your desired size, or around two punches if you want oval-shaped chain links. Clamp the punches and the end of the wire in a vice and twist the wire around the punch to make as many links as you want.
Pull the coils off of your punches and wrap the coils with painter’s tape to secure them for cutting. Saw through the taped coils and then remove the tape.
Close up each chain link and solder, either with traditional flux and hard solder, or soldering paste. Soldering paste is the preferred method for this project, as it is a lot easier and faster.
Pickle and quench the chain links. Then tap each ring around a mandrel to create perfect round (or oval) shapes. Lay down the links in a necklace or bracelet pattern of your choosing if making a specific jewelry piece.
Cut open the links as shown and attach links together. Close and solder the opened rings again. Repeat these steps until all of the links are attached and re-soldered. Solder a clasp onto the end of your chain, sand, and polish.