Curious About Dapping?

Feb 17, 2013

When it comes to customizing metal components in my jewelry, I've dabbled in stamping, riveting, embossing, and coloring with alcohol inks, but I have always been intrigued by dapping. As you may know, dapping is defined as the method used to give a flat sheet of metal a curved form. So I recently purchased an inexpensive dapping block and punch set at my local craft store and set out to see what I could do with them.

Following the tips I learned by watching this short video from Beads, Baubles, and Jewels, I found it quite easy to do. In the video, Mark Nelson, a jewelry instructor and member of Rio Grande's Technical Support team, offers the following advice:

  • Use dead-soft metal (meaning it's completely malleable)
  • Select a punch that's slightly smaller than the hole in the dapping block
  • As you hammer, move the blank around the hole in the dapping block in order to hammer the edges, too, for a smooth dome shape

So here's the setup: my set came with two different sizes of dapping punches and a dapping block with corresponding hole sizes which I placed on a mouse pad. I used a nylon hammer that we had at the office and started out with a copper blank that is 1" in diameter (the same size as the largest hole in my dapping block).

 

You'll want to hold the dapping punch perpendicular to the block, like this:

 

Start by hammering the blank until it conforms to the shape and size of the hole in the block. This took fewer strikes than I anticipated! I then switched to the smaller hole and punch, and refined the curvature even more.

 

I decided not to polish the domes; I like the rustic appearance and plan to turn them into a pair of earrings.

 

Next, I decided to experiment with a few other shapes (before, on the left, and after, on the right). Notice that I was not able to shape the patterned pendant at all (it was not malleable-see Mark's tips above):

       

 

I had watched another video about using the same method on stamped pieces, but I was still curious as to whether the dapping process would harm the stamped words. I started with another 1" circular copper blank, stamped words and an image, colored the indentations with a Sharpie, then polished the whole thing with a Pro Polish pad.

 

Voilá! It worked just as smoothly as before!

             

 

Next, I'll turn these domed blanks into some finished jewelry and share the photos with you!

Happy dapping!


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on Mar 4, 2013 10:57 AM