Silver Fork Bracelet
This small-scale project is a great way to get started in metalwork, and a fun accent to any wardrobe.
Materials and Tools:
(2) silver-plated forks
rotary tool with metal cutting wheel, sanding wheel and wire brush
safety glasses and gloves
heat-resistant work surface
tongue-and-groove or slip-lock pliers
jump rings, swivels and lobster clasps
Safety Alert: Do not substitute gold-plated flatware for the silver-plated flatware. The gold plating can disintegrate and even explode when heated.
1. Determine where to cut off the handle of the fork. Most forks have a natural break on the handle – either a place where it tapers or even a decorative ring or design. If the fork has one of these, cut there. If not, cut off the handle about an inch below where it flares out for the tines.
2. Carefully secure the tine end of the fork in a vise. Wearing gloves and safety glasses, cut through the fork handle with a rotary tool fitted with a metal-cutting wheel; a hacksaw will work as well. Safety Alert: Always wear safety glasses and gloves when cutting metal. Also, don’t touch freshly cut metal – it's hot.
3. Use a pair of pliers to remove the fork from the vise and set it aside. Repeat the process to cut the other fork.
4. When both forks have been cut to length, place them, tines down, on a heat-resistant surface. This surface can be a piece of cement board, cement or metal.
5. Use a propane torch to heat the forks – heating the metal makes it much easier to bend. Keep the flame moving and hold it about 2" from the silver, heating until the forks are cherry red. Safety Alert: Wear eye protection and gloves when heating the forks, and don’t handle the hot forks or the hot end of the torch. Follow all fire-safety precautions, and keep children and pets away when heating the metal.
6. Let the forks cool down naturally to room temperature. Don’t rush the process by putting them in a ice bath or cold water. Don’t worry if the metal is slightly discolored; that will be fixed in a later step.
7. When the metal has cooled, place the fork in a vise, tines down, with the front of the fork facing you.
8. Cover the teeth of the slip-lock or tongue-and-groove pliers with tape to protect the silver. With the teeth covered, grasp the remaining handle part of he fork with the pliers and gently bend it toward you to create the bracelet shape. Make the bends gradually, easing the metal into the desired shape. Periodically remove the fork from the vise to check it for fit.
9. Bend the second fork in the same manner.
10. Once both forks are bent, put one fork back into the vise with the bend facing away from you. Leave only about 1" of the tines secured in the vise.
11. Use the tape-wrapped pliers to grasp the fork at the base of the tines and gently bend the piece toward you – about 90 degrees. Repeat for the other fork.
12. Use needle-nose pliers to bend the tines farther and create a curl or loop on the tip of each tine.
13. Use a rotary tool with a small wire wheel attachment to remove any discoloration caused by the heat.
14. Fit jump rings over the curled tines of the forks and use additional jump rings or swivels to connect the forks together at the tines. When the bracelet is finished, solder the jump rings shut so the weight of the bracelet doesn’t pull them apart.
15. Instead of using the jump rings, you also can "weave" the tines together. Slide the forks together until the curled tines line up. Then insert a single tine cut from another fork (or left over from another project). Once you’re sure about the fit, remove the single tine, heat it with the propane torch and let it cool naturally. Then, slide it back into the curled tines. Curl each end of the single tine to hold it in place and keep it from snagging on clothing.
16. To connect and finish the underside of the bracelet, drill one hole in the handle end of each of the forks. Add a jump ring and silver swivel to each hole, then fit with a lobster clasp. To keep it even simpler, make the large bends in the fork fit your wrist a little tighter and wear it as a cuff bracelet.