Copper and silver forging and welding involves a combination of both jewelry making and blacksmith techniques. There is a lot of knowledge and skill involved in forging and welding precious metals. Investment in tools and equipment for metal work, as well as time, is extensive. Learning how to forge and weld precious metals can be time and money well spent, however, if you are persistent.
Select a work space in which to set up a metal forging and welding shop. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Forging involves hammering and making noise, ensure you are able to work in an area where pounding won’t disturb others or violate noise ordinances.
Purchase basic silver and copper forging and welding equipment and tools. Review jewelers’ tool and supply catalogs and set a budget for tools and equipment before you start shopping. Basic tools and equipment include a good oxy-acetyline torch, hydraulic press, files, hammers, tongs and tweezers to start with.
Purchase precious metals and stones for the silver and copper forging process. Sheet silver and copper are available for jewelry supply stores. Gemstones can be purchased through jewelry supply stores or online.
Set up your tools and equipment in your work space.
Design jewelry or accoutrements that you want to create. It is best not to begin cutting into precious metals without an idea in advance about what end result you are trying to create.
Cut design components out of the copper and silver sheet metal. For forging or forcing the metal shapes into a particular form, you may want to use a rolling mill or different types of hammers to first impress patterns or images into the sheet metals.
After impressing or hammering patterns in the sheet metals you have cut out, use the hydraulic press to bend and shape the sheet metals into the desired forms.
Weld the different parts of the formed and patterned sheet metals together using solder and the torch. Copper has a higher annealing temperature than silver, so heat up the copper elements first. If you are annealing the silver to the copper, use the same kind of solder along the joints, and heat the copper part first. The solder at the silver joints will flow when the copper is heated to the appropriate temperature.
Practice frequently. Add tools and equipment as you learn. Purchase a variety of thicknesses and gauges of silver and copper sheet metals to practice with.
Ask the jewelry supplier which kinds are used most frequently for various kinds of projects. Purchase different torch tips, and even different sizes of torches.
Be prepared to spend a lot of money on tools, equipment, and supplies when forging copper and silver.