When you need a tool, sometimes you have to make it.


The best part of being creative is that you make things from simple materials.

The annoying part of being creative is that every once in a while you think up things that need tools that you don’t have.  Well, maybe more often than every once in a while.

There are a ton of tools that could find a home in the ‘Werks – literally a ton because I’m thinking an anvil – but money is an object as well as the considerations of space.  At some point I’m going to have to make good on my promise that the two car garage will actually house our one car and the studio, but not today.

Some tools get bought because I know that I am going to use them at some point and they are obtainable at a great price, not that I really need them right now.  One such item was the dapping set that I bought from Harbor Freight.

There’s been a lot of articles about dapping over the last year and I do want to make more domed items, but really I use the dapping punches in a different way and I hadn’t used the block at all.  I figure that it was time to use the tools together and make something domed.

I had some etched Celtic Squares, so they became pillow beads and buttons.  The dapping went pretty well, but it was sort of predictable.  What I really wanted was a flat dome.

The dapping block only makes spherical domes, not flat topped domes.  There were a couple of ways to make a flat topped dome that I could think of, but I had already etched the metal and the shaping would harm the etching.

From an earlier project, I knew that I could carve a form out of basswood and sink the metal into the form with the dapping punches.

Wood carving is not a skill that you would think that a metal worker would need, but understanding how to use the carving tools and how wood needs to be shaped can dictate the success of making a form, so I have learned some rudimentary wood carving skills.

I’m not in any danger of making anything pretty out of wood, but I can at least put a divot in a piece of basswood.  And I can make wood shavings to start a fire.  Just in case.  You know…..zombies.

One skill that carries over from metal is sanding.  I sure do know how to sand!


Once the form is as done as I’m going to get it for now, I can sink the etched piece and move on to making the back and bail of the pendant.


The completed pendant is pretty much what I had envisioned although I will go back and reshaped the bottom of the form for a little better end result.  I had to work the face of the pendant a little which I should not have to do with a better form.

Etched Copper Flowers Pendant

Making or repurposing  tools to solve design challenges is part of being a skilled craftsman, part of the journey from hobbyist to apprentice and from apprentice to journeyman.

It is the hidden part of craft and art that observers rarely get to observe – the small creations that are needed to be made before the final project is even begun.

The next time you look at an artisan’s work, try to think about what challenges needed to be solved to make that item the very first time.

Better yet, ask the artist.  Having people appreciate the process and the work behind the piece is validating for many artists.

Then again, coffee is very validating for busy weasels.  Just a thought if you are visiting the new Weasel Werks location in Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles.