Otherwise known as dapping, doming is a technique used to create a dome shaped piece of metal for a pendant. In most cases, jeweller’s dome a circular disc, but it can be used on oval designs too. Looking to take this technique a step further?
You can also solder two pieces of domed metal together to make a spherical jewellery design, but this does make the process slightly longer. So to get started, discover what tools you need for doming metal, how to dome metal from scratch (and a quicker alternative) and the steps involved in making your domes a sphere pendant.
What tools you need for doming metal
If you’re trying out doming metal for the first time, there are a few key pieces of kit you’ll need to pick up before you start.
- Sheet metal or blanks
- A flat file
- A hand torch
- A piercing saw or disc cutter
- Pickling powder
- Doming/dapping set
- Brass head mallet
- A steel block
How to make a dome out of sheet metal: step by step
- Cut the discs. If you’re making your blanks from scratch, the first step in doming metal is to make your disc (or blank). To do this quickly, you can use your disc cutter to cut your sheet metal to the size and shape you require. Alternatively, using a pair of dividers you can score the size of the circle you need – the most commonly used sizes are between 6 and 8mm for a pendant.
- Prepare them for shaping. Once your discs have been cut, they may need to be filed down on the edges to make sure they’re completely smooth. Then you’ll need to anneal the discs with your hand torch to make them more workable during the process. Once finished, pickle the disc and then rinse and dry them before moving onto the next step.
- Shape the discs. Now you’re ready to start shaping the metal. Place the disc in the sized depression you require – just make sure there’s extra room around the edge of the disc in the depression. Take a doming punch from your kit, position it over the centre of the disc and then use your mallet to strike the punch.
- Refine the shape. Once you’ve made the first indentation, you can work the punch in a circular motion. This helps to refine the shape further and you can manoeuvre the disc around the sides of the depression to help achieve a better shape. Next, place the dome in smaller sized depressions to make it deeper, until you have your desired shape.
- Finish the dome. The final step in metallic doming is to straighten out the hemisphere (if needed). To do this, place the dome concave side down on a steel block and rotate it to see where it may need amended. Then where you’ve identified any gaps, gently tap with a rubber mallet so that the metal now touches the block and the hemisphere is even.
Making your dome a sphere
Want to make your design more advanced? Try making your pendant into a sphere! Simply follow all the steps as above and then complete these instructions:
- File the domes. Repeat all the steps above until you have a second dome of the same size and shape. Once done, file both edges until they fit together snugly with no gaps.
- Prepare the domes for soldering. To do this, paint the edge of one of the domes with flux solution to make sure the surface is clean and free from any oxides. Next, cut approximately eight small squares of solder, then place them at equal intervals on the flux before soldering.
- Solder the domes. Once the solder runs down, you’re ready to pickle, rinse and then dry the domes. Then, gently file the solder until it lies flat with the edge. Now drill a small hole of about 1mm in the centre of both domes with a pendant drill. Next, paint flux around the edge once more before joining the two domes together.
- Soldering the sphere. Place the sphere on a soldering block and ensure the sides are all aligned so you’re ready to solder them together. Add a few pieces of hard solder to the join, then gently heat the sphere, slowly increasing the heat until the solder begins to run.
- Finish off the sphere. Once you’ve finished soldering, it’s time to pickle the sphere again. Next, wash it thoroughly under a tap before shaking it to dry. To finish, simply file away any excess solder then clean the join with flexifiles or dry papers – and you’re done!
Now you know how to dome metal and how to make a sphere, it’s time to give it a try yourself. Just make sure you have all the jewellery tools and equipment you need from Cooksongold. Already have the Durston Doming Set but not sure how to make the most of it? Read our blog on how to use the Durston Doming Set today.