View Full Version : Riveted and Silver Core Bead Tutorial

09-09-2004, 09:38 AM
As presented at AGI 2004...

Riveted Bead Caps


Jeweler’s saw (or glass saw, for small diameter tubing)
Dapping Block and Punches
Steel Block
Torch, Charcoal Block and Heatproof Surface
Hand Punch or drill
Transfer Punches
Pre-cut metal disks from Rio Grande (24 or 26 gauge)
Leather Mallet or Hammer
Jeweler’s Files
Buffing wheel and polish (White Diamond and Red Rouge)

For an average bead, we use ½” disks. Use a transfer punch to mark the center of each disk. Use a hand punch or drill to make a hole in the center of each disk. The tubing should be a snug fit through the hole in the disk. Put the disk into the dapping block. Choose a punch that fits the hole in the dapping block and use a hammer to hit the punch a few times until the dome is a well-formed cap that fits nicely on your bead.

Place a cap on each end of the bead. Insert tubing through the bead and both caps. Mark and cut the tubing so that you end up with 2-3mm of the tubing sticking out of each cap. Don’t forget to allow for the length you’ll lose when you file the ends of the cut tubing! If you anneal and pickle your tubing before the riveting process, the ends will flare more easily.

Working on your steel block, begin with a dapping punch slightly larger than the inside dimensions of the tubing and use a hammer to gently start to flare the end of the tubing with a couple of taps. Turn the bead over and flare the opposite end. Return to the original end and repeat this sequence using increasingly larger punches.

After the rivet is flared to your liking, polish the caps. Take care not to heat the bead too much in this process; it can unanneal your bead and/or cause it to crack. Use Emery paper to remove any scratches, then polish.

Silver Core Beads


7/16” OD Stainless Steel Tubing coated with bead release
11 mm diamond core drill bit and Dremel®
Jeweler’s Saw
½” diameter sterling silver tubing
Torch, Charcoal Block and Heatproof Surface
Corrugated cardboard
Dapping Punches
Leather Mallet or Hammer
Steel Block
Jeweler’s files
Buffing and Polishing Supplies (White Diamond and Red Rouge)

Make a bead on the stainless tubing. Experiment with various widths and thicknesses, but we’ve found that beads less than 9mm wide and 6mm thick tend to break during this process. Anneal. Use the core drill in water to open up the bead until the sterling tubing just fits through the hole.

Cut the tubing so that 2mm extends on each side of the bead. File the ends until they are smooth. Anneal and pickle the tubing.

Make a hole in the cardboard that is slightly larger than the diameter of the tubing. Place the cardboard on top of your steel block and place the tubing into the hole.

Choose a dapping punch that is slightly bigger than the diameter of the tubing. Use the leather mallet to tap the punch into the tubing 3 or 4 times or until the silver starts to flare. Turn over and repeat. Choose a punch that is 3 or 4 sizes larger and repeat until the tubing is nicely flared.

Turn the large punch over and use the flat side against the silver to finish hammering the silver down flush with the bead.

Use Emery paper to remove any scratches, then polish.

We first learned of these techniques through the articles listed below. We are indebted to Bronwen and Susan, and very grateful for their generosity! It still took a lot of trial and error, and lots of practice to end up with something we liked. We finally developed methods for creating these beads that suited us. We have formulated this demo for folks who, like us, have little or no metalsmithing experience.

Lapidary Journal, Oct. 2002 – Capping Beads Step by Step by Bronwen Heilman

Lapidary Journal, June 2001 – Silver Core Beads by Susan Silvy

We purchase our silver and some jewelry supplies from:

Rio Grande Santa Fe Jewelers Supply
www.riogrande.com www.sfjssantafe.com
800.545.6566 800.659.3835

Metalliferous Metalliferous has a great
www.metalliferous.com selection of goodies, at
888.944.0909 pretty good prices

www.widgetsupply.com Dapping blocks/punches at low prices:
Brass Dapping Block - BKH38 - Price: $19.97
There are various punch sets available

We found the hand punch at Harbor Freight Tools. It comes with seven punch/dies ranging in size from 2mm to 7mm.
ITEM 44060-1VGA
It’s $16.99, but often goes on sale for $11.99

Tubing Reference List

For Riveted Caps --
Tubing for beads made on a 3/32” mandrel: 2 or 3mm OD
Tubing for beads made on a 1/8” mandrel: 3 or 4mm OD

For Silver Core Beads –
Some folks use sterling tubing that is the same size as their mandrel. I find that the bead release makes the bead hole a little sloppy for a good fit. Your mandrel should be slightly smaller than your tubing.

09-09-2004, 10:02 AM

Great tutorial, thanks Tink!

5 STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beth Myers
09-09-2004, 10:20 AM
Expertly done Tink!
Thank you for the time and efforts involved!
I've given you all my votes for the day. :D
Please remember to rate this thread if you found it helpful.

09-09-2004, 10:29 AM
OOOH, I want to try this someday! I rated it excellent! How or who do we ask to make it a sticky so I can find it again easily?

09-09-2004, 10:47 AM
Yippee! :clap: I cannot wait to give this a try....Harbor Freight here I come!!

Thank you Tink!!!!!!!

09-09-2004, 10:50 AM
Wow Tink....You make it sound so easy here....thanks for one of the best tutorials!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

09-09-2004, 10:52 AM
I've always wondered about this! Thanks for such a great tutorial. Definitely on my list of things to try some day....

09-09-2004, 11:12 AM
Wow - thank you Tink. I appreciate the time you put into this :)

09-09-2004, 11:34 AM
I need to get some pics of the process, too, but just don't have the time right now. Hope the text is helpful, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labors!

09-09-2004, 11:43 AM
I am taking a class up at the bead factory in Tacoma in a couple of weeks...will be looking for supplies on the net...but this helps a lot! make the bead ON the steel tubing~~~~~~` yeah~

09-09-2004, 04:50 PM
Come on, Tink...show us yours!

09-09-2004, 05:49 PM
When I started searching for some images of completed riveted and core beads, I realized how few of them I've actually photographed. The ones I make these days typically go to established customers who don't need to see pics. (Oh how I love you guys! LOL!)

Here are two pics of my very first silver core bead (Teal Seeded Glass with enameled black trails) and one display pic of an etched riveted heart with some cool surface treatments.




09-11-2004, 10:20 PM
Here's the one I finished today. The caps have a brushed finish. Two views of the same bead:



09-12-2004, 03:48 AM

I have the Harbor Freight punch and had trouble with it ... I think because my sterling sheet was too light. What gauge are you having success with?

Thanks for this tutorial; I really appreciate your time & expertise!


09-12-2004, 09:04 AM

I have the Harbor Freight punch and had trouble with it ... I think because my sterling sheet was too light. What gauge are you having success with?

Thanks for this tutorial; I really appreciate your time & expertise!


Nolly, I'm using 24 gauge disks. I'd like to try something around 26 or 28 sometime to see how that works.

09-12-2004, 09:51 AM
Tink, with the 26, 28 and 30 gauge sheet, I got partial cuts and lots of bending instead of a nice, clean cut. I was cutting 3/8" disks for really small caps, which I really like especially for earrings.


09-12-2004, 10:00 AM
Tink, with the 26, 28 and 30 gauge sheet, I got partial cuts and lots of bending instead of a nice, clean cut. I was cutting 3/8" disks for really small caps, which I really like especially for earrings.


I think we must be talking about different tools, Nolly. The hand punch I use from Harbor Freight is just for making the center holes in the disks. I buy my disks pre-cut, as I've found it to be more efficient and cost-effective for me.

Donna has a thing for stamping out the disks, and she hasn't been to impressed with it. I think she got it at Rio, but I'm not certain.

Anyway, in my opinion, pre-cut disks are definitely the way to go.

09-12-2004, 12:23 PM
Gee I was at harbor freight yesterday...~! I couldn't find the dapping punches and block there...and I ended up ordering from Widget...I can't believe how much cheaper they are than anyone else...I went to the harborfreight site and they have the punch you mean...just put in the key words...hand punch...it was there...and gee if I would read the whole post I wouldn't have to ask dumb questions like ...with or without bead release...sorry...

like I said I am taking a class hummmm week after this...will come back with something to show but might get started before going ;-)

08-18-2005, 04:19 AM

Anne Londez
08-18-2005, 04:30 AM
What wall thickness is best for the silver tubing ?
That's an excellent tutorial !

08-18-2005, 05:12 AM
OK, now I appreciate these beads even more :) Thanks.

09-23-2005, 12:57 PM
Ok. It's been a year since this thread began. Let's see what you guys have been making :-)

09-24-2005, 07:33 PM
I so appreciate this informatione.......

Where do you all buy your ss tubing--the part you put inside the finished bead?



01-24-2006, 09:14 PM
I've been thinking of trying this since I first read this thread many months ago. I've gathered a few more books and articles of metalsmithing so now I know what 'pickle' is and what 'annealing' means for metals. I am at the stage now of preparing to buy stuff. My question (for now) is this: Can I use my lampworking torch (a mini cc) to anneal the tubes? - Thanks, Jim

01-24-2006, 10:22 PM
I've been thinking of trying this since I first read this thread many months ago. I've gathered a few more books and articles of metalsmithing so now I know what 'pickle' is and what 'annealing' means for metals. I am at the stage now of preparing to buy stuff. My question (for now) is this: Can I use my lampworking torch (a mini cc) to anneal the tubes? - Thanks, Jim

Jim -

You might be able to but you'd need to be careful. Since you would need to bring the tube to the flame in this case ... you might try makeing a sort of 'reverse' tweezer that springs open and holds the tube from the inside so you can anneal in your mini cc. Should work fine, but dim your room lights so you can guage the color of the tube during the annealing process. You only want the tube to glow dimly red. Never 'cherry' red.

Hope that helps some -


01-24-2006, 11:42 PM
Thanks Evan! - I'll have to think about this some more. If I get more into sliverworking I'll need a handheld torch for sodering anyway. But since I already have a torch for lampworking, it is tempting to want to use it for everything.

BTW, I just finished watching your new photography tutorial. Great job! You are very ingenious! I learned a lot from that. - Jim

01-25-2006, 02:23 AM
I finally got myself moving and tried the silvercore tutorial a couple of weeks ago. It is great - the tutorial, that is, my bead is so-so...:D I impressed myself 'cause I didn't crack the glass, though the rims are a bit uneven. I gotta try this again!



01-25-2006, 01:41 PM
Ooohh!! Gorgeous beads TInk and Aimee!!
I just got my punching tools and dapping block for Christmas and I have yet to make anything with it yet. I need larger tubing I think.
Can't wait to play!!
Tink - thanks for the directions that I could copy and print off and have them by me when I'm working!
Tink - how did you get that Raku capped one to not show any rivet? Amazing :)

01-25-2006, 02:09 PM
Aimee, that bead looks better than so-so to me. One of my co-workers walked by, who isn't even into beads, and commented that it is beautiful.

Kristen, I bought tools with my Christmas money too.

01-25-2006, 08:27 PM
Thanks Anne! The reason I said it's so-so is because the rim is larger on one side than the other. The pic doesn't show that, of course. I'm sure it is a matter of experience to get them even.


01-25-2006, 10:01 PM
Really, how often are you going to see both sides of the bead at the same time? I'm sure you planned on giving it 2 distinct looks, one on each side.

look'n glass
02-03-2006, 12:37 PM
I am fairly new here but this is some thing I have been interested in trying thats you have been a great help.

You would not by any chance know other people who do glass work that have pet birds?? I recently got a bird and I am not sure if torching or fusing fumes will hurt him.. Got any thoughts, I did post the question but not a huge response.

02-03-2006, 01:11 PM
I have two Moluccan cockatoos. Here's one of them: Cosmo


Birds have delicate respiratory systems. No lungs. Airsacs. I wouldn't do any torching, fusing, fuming, soldering, electroforming, patination or anything similar around them at all. My studio is in my basement, and my birds are on the main floor. I even worry about fumes being carried up to them through the air intake on the furnace, so I cover the heat register in their room when I work.

I don't worry as much when I'm doing things in my second floor studio: That's where the electroforming, patination, soldering, etc. take place. There are no cold air returns in that room.

For anything seriously toxic (muriatic acid, etc.) I work outside.

02-11-2006, 02:09 PM
Tink - I have most of the supplies I need. except for the diamond core drill bit. At first I imagined this was going to be like a bead hole reamer, only wider. But the more I searched on the internet, I realize that the bead reamer type thing is called a 'burr' and they generally don't come in 11mm diameter sizes. The "core" things are open cylinders and both the metaliferious and the RIO Grande catalogues have them in 11 mm sizes.

Before I make a purchase, I want to be sure that you are referring to the 'open cylinder' type of drill bit.

Thanks, Jim

02-11-2006, 02:17 PM
Yes Jim, that's exactly right: What you're looking for is a cylinder. They're typically not inexpensive, but if you take good care of them, they will last a long time.

I used mine (the one I use for sterling core beads) to ream out the handle hole on my toilet: Kept it wet, etc. And it had no negative impact on it at all.

02-11-2006, 02:30 PM
Wow! fast reply! Thanks Tink. I'm picking up the phone to make my order right now...

02-11-2006, 04:23 PM
Well, Rio is not open till Monday and my computer crashed in the meantime - else I would have just edited the previous post to ask an additional question.

Regarding torches for annealing: I am looking at a Smith 'Little Torch' Propane and Oxygen set for Disposable tanks costing $189.95 Versus a Benzo-O-Matic Pencil torch designed to run off a 14.1 oz disposable LP canister costing $71.45 with the tank included.

I am probably going to try (mis)using my glass blowing torch at first - but assuming that is not a good long range plan, which torch system do you recommend, Tink? or anyone else with an opinion?

Thanks, Jim

02-12-2006, 04:14 PM
I have a Little Torch, and hook it up to the same oxy concentrator and propane tank that I use for my glass torch. Just put a quick-connect on the ends of the hoses, and it's easy to switch from one to the other.

The Little Torch has a very small focused flame. With the larger tips that come with the torch kit, you'll be able to anneal small pieces. If you want to anneal anything larger, you can buy a special tip for annealing that gives you a broader flame.

If all you wanted to do was anneal, you'd probably want something with a wider bushier flame than the Little Torch. Once you get started playing with metal, though, you'll probably want the versatility of something like the Little Torch.

02-12-2006, 11:03 PM
Thanks Emily! I have a quick disconnect in line with my propane tube. Is it easy to find a quick disconnect fitting to attach the 'Little Torch'? Who sells them? welding supply stores?

- Jim

02-12-2006, 11:40 PM
I have ALWAYS wanted a Little Torch. Maybe someone will get me one for Valentine's Day............. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....

02-19-2006, 11:17 AM
Tink - I need advice about what size dapping punches I will need to finish the flare. I purchased a set of punches that look like this:


The largest one I have is 12 mm diameter. On re-reading your instructions, it seems I will need to buy a larger diameter punch. I found a web site http://shorinternational.com/Dapping.htm that sells individual punches. (edit: I have found a cheaper source: http://www.contenti.com/products/dapping/190-128-02.html) The sizes greater than 12mm are: 9/16"; 11/16"; 3/4", 13/16", 7/8", 29/32", 31/32" and 1".

I can purchase a range of sizes if necessary, but I'd like to get away with just buying one more punch if possible. I plan on using the 12mm to start the flare. What sizes should I have to finish it? edit: I guess the real question is - What is the largest size I will need? I can fill in the gaps as necessary.

Edit: are hardwood punches usable for this project? Also, is a plumbing bob much better for starting the flare than a 12 mm dapping punch?

Thanks, Jim

02-19-2006, 11:30 AM
Jim, are you doing the silver core or the riveted technique? I'm guessing the core. What size tubing are you using?

Have you considered getting a set? Here's a nice one (http://cgi.ebay.com/rle-LARGE-DAPPING-PUNCHES-SET-OF-36-new_W0QQitemZ6556888207QQcategoryZ4843QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem). And another (http://cgi.ebay.com/Dapping-Punches-w-Wood-Stand-24-Piece-Steel_W0QQitemZ8904559398QQcategoryZ10323QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)... And yet another (http://cgi.ebay.com/Dapping-Punch-Set-36pc-Dap-Wood-Tool-Stand_W0QQitemZ8904575648QQcategoryZ10323QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)!

I'm in the market for a new set, preferably one with a stand of some sort. I'll probably get one of the ones I've listed here. With shipping charges and such, buying the individually can be pretty pricey.

02-19-2006, 12:04 PM
Thanks Tink - You replied so fast that I added to my questions in the meantime without knowing it!

Silver core technique. It looks like a range of sizes of up to 1 inch diameter is what I need.

I didn't think to look on ebay - those prices are very good. Thanks alot Tink!

02-20-2006, 12:07 PM
Tink - On another 'silver core' thread you said that when you were first gathering materials to do this you purchased a butane torch. Was it one of those hand held canister 'Bernzomatic' type things for under $50? Will propane work just as well?

Sorry for all the questions - I am starting from scratch. There are so many items to buy in order to get started and I could easily head down the wrong path.

- Jim

02-20-2006, 02:11 PM
Jim, I use my fabu cheapo torch from Harbor Freight:

It's one of the best purchases I've ever made. I can't believe how often I use it.

02-20-2006, 04:46 PM
Thanks Tink. I just got my diamond core bit today, so all I need now is that torch!