Have you been thinking about ways to mix up your jewellery making style? If you’re in the process of re-designing your jewellery collections and putting a new spin on your precious metal designs, you may want to consider investing in a Durston doming block and punch set. With a doming set (also known as dapping tools) you can easily shape metal into a perfectly formed dome – an excellent way of creating a precious metal piece with a little more finesse than your usual metal blank pendant.
Watch our video below to learn more about the Durston doming set and read on for more advice on how to use a doming block and doming punch to create something unique in your latest collection.
What is doming?
Not familiar with metal doming techniques? Doming is simply the technique used when flat sheet metal or a flat metal blank is shaped into a concave formation, usually with the use of a doming block (or die) and punch set.
Doming (also known as dapping) is an excellent way to get creative with your jewellery pieces. It allows you to make perfectly formed domes that can either be used singularly or soldered together to create an entire dome, which can be added to a necklace or charm bracelet for your customers.
What is a doming punch?
Doming or dapping punches are metal forming tools with a ball shaped end. Used in conjunction with a doming block, they can help jewellers create perfectly shaped domes in a number of alloys.
What is a dapping block used for?
The doming block or dapping block features a series of concave indentations across each side. Each indentation is sized differently, and corresponds to a specifically sized dapping punch, ensuring the most accurate finish.
How to use a doming block and punch set
If you’ve just received a new Durston doming set or you want to learn how to use a doming block before you invest in one, here’s how to use a doming block and punch set accurately for a professional finish.
- Identify the right size indentation. Take your metal blank and place it in the well that most resembles its size. Remember that the entire piece of metal should fit inside the well. None of the metal should overlap – if it does, this means that the indentation is a little too small to be used with that piece of metal. The doming punch that corresponds to the indentation in the doming block should be slightly smaller than the indentation.
- Use the right hammer. You can use a number of hammers with your Durston doming set to strike the doming punches swiftly and accurately. A chasing hammer will ensure a weighted impact will be made. Equally a dead blow mallet will give you the weight you need to create the domed effect in your metal blanks. Avoid using a hammer that’s too light as this will mean that you must tap with a heavier hand, making your blows less accurate.
- Choose a metal. Softer metals such as brass, aluminium and silver are the ideal choice for use with a doming block and punch set. You may even want to try out some slightly harder metals too. Although you will have to apply more pressure for the desired effect. It’s worth noting that hard metals may need annealing as you work with them. If this is the case, make sure you anneal the metal blank just before you finish it in the final indentation you’re using. This will mean that the piece will have work-hardened again before you finish up.
- Strike your hammer at a slight angle. Once you’ve found the right sized well and its corresponding doming punch, you can then line up the punch on top of the metal blank and strike the hammer on top of the punch. Try not to hammer straight down onto the doming punch. If you hold the punch at a slight angle and tap your chosen hammer a few times, you will have much more control over the dome you’re creating. After those first few taps, turn the metal blank and check on its progress before you continue.
- How far do you want to take the doming process? It’s worth thinking about the effect you want to create before you use the doming block and punch set. Remember that once you’ve used the first indentation on your doming block, you can move to the next smallest indentation to deepen the dome on the piece of metal you’re working with.
- Experiment with stamped designs. If your intention is to create earrings or a pendant stamped with a personalised design, remember to apply the stamped design to the metal blank before you start doming the metal. Stamping designs after you’ve dapped the metal could ruin the domed effect you’ve created, and you’ll have to repeat the doming process.
- Finishing up. Once you’re happy with the domed effect you’ve created, you may find that the doming process has left the edges of the metal blank a little uneven. This is easily corrected by placing the domed blank on a steel block. You can then slowly rotate the domed blank to identify any gaps between the edge of the dome and the steel block surface. Once identified, you can very carefully hammer these spots to bring the edge flush with the flat surface, correcting any imperfections.
Now you know how to use a doming block and punches effectively, you can experiment with the technique. Create unique earrings, domed pendants or charms that reflect the light, and demonstrate your new-found expertise to customers, ensuring they keep coming back again and again.
Interested in our complete Durston range? Take a look at our collection of Durston jewellery tools such as the excellent rolling mills, ring stretchers, triblets, metal bending tools, and more.