This week on the CRAFT Video learn some basics of fine metalworking. With a few simple tools, you can create neat shapes from copper (or silver or brass) sheet and add some fun texture. I made this copper and silver “triple bypass” get-well card for MAKE Senior Editor Gareth Branwyn, who’s recovering from surgery.

Subscribe to the CRAFT Podcast in iTunes, or download the m4v video.

Materials and tools:

  • jeweler’s saw frame with extra blades
  • copper sheet
  • jeweler’s files
  • wet-dry sandpaper, 400 grit (hardware store)
  • design on standard printer paper
  • rubber cement
  • copper etchant (ferric chloride or sodium persulfate)
  • various sized permanent markers
  • acetone or denatured alcohol (hardware store)
  • conti crayon and/or colored pencils
  • silver wire
  • Dremel or other handheld rotary tool
  • drill bit
  • ball-peen hammer
  • scrap wood
  • steel surface for hammering
  • pliers and wire cutters

Most of these jewelry supplies can be ordered from Rio Grande. Check online to find a local jewelry supply shop, since they’re usually really knowledgeable and helpful. If you live around Phoenix, AZ, try Lonnie’s.

For more cool metalwork, check out our metalwork archive.


Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern ( is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).

  • TheCluelessCrafter

    I have never cut through copper around a curvy template like this heart. It seems as though I would have to apply a lot of force and that would be very hard to move around the curves? Thanks for the demo — well done.

  • Becky Stern

    The trick is not too push too hard in the direction you’re cutting. Just keep it moving up and down and gently guide it along the lines. For sharp turns, just move the saw up and down while slowly rotating the frame, not even moving it forward at all. Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous

    I saw that you started rubbing conte crayon on the etched copper but you never explained why?

  • Becky Stern

    It’s to fill in the crevices to give it some color, so it highlights the texture!

  • Surya

    Hey Becky, I just wanted to ask what type of Butane torch you were using, sorry it doesn’t have to do with this video, but for your second metalworking video, I would love to know, because yours looks awesome, and it ignites automaticly! Thanks! Hope to read your reply soon!

  • Becky Stern

    If you look at the metalsmithing 2 video post, I link to the product page on Amazon:

  • hppyfngy

    Hey Becky,
    I liked your etching process and tried a few things in brass recently. Couldn’t find any sodium persulfate locally, so I tried a ferric oxide etchant, (pcb etchant from Radio Shack,) and a home made Copper Chloride in Aqueous Hydrochloric Acid Solution, (I got that from Instructables.)
    Anyway, my first few tries went well but then I had to switch to another sheet brass I had ordered online. It didn’t work as well. It etched, but didn’t give the metal any texture to speak of, just smoothly ate away the brass.
    Have you tried this in brass? Do you know of a jewelers forum or somewhere I could research this etching and what type of brass would work best?

  • Quidoqueenie

    I’m sure the best for you for gift , just clicks away