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making cuff bracelets

proportions, sizes

We make a lot of cuff bracelets. What is your question? …Rob

I need to figure out how much sheet metal to use to end up with a specific size bracelet … Sm., Med., Lg., Ex. Lg., etc. Thanks for any suggestions. mg

While not exactly a cuff bracelet, I remember Mary Ann Scherr demonstrating how to make a pattern for a large neck piece, and you could try something similar.

She laid small pieces of masking tape on the modal, overlapping each piece, building up until she had the neck and collar bone areas completely covered, except for just a small gap on the back of the neck.

She then drew her pattern on that tape worksheet, directly on her modal.

When the tape pattern was peeled slowly off, it gave her the pattern she could transfer to metal, to create the design she had created directly on the body of the modal.

Simple, but effective.

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My brother Don and I, and our father until he died, have made thousands of cuff bracelets. Fitting them is kind of like fitting shoes. Our bracelets range in size from 4 to 8. As an example: 53 means that the bracelet material was 5.75" long before it was bent into a cuff shape. A more typical range would be 50 - 63 (5" - 6.75"). A woman’s average size, at least for my customers, is 53. You measure the circumference of the wrist where is meets the hand and subtract about .5" (more for larger sizes) to get the right length for that wrist. Keep in mind that two bracelets the same length, with one thicker than the other, will not be the same size. This is basic high school geometry. Add to that the fact that some people like a tight fit and others a loose one and you can see why fitting them is like shoes. One final caution, we have customers who wear as many as ten bracelets on the same wrist. Our arms are tapered, so as you go up the wrist, you will need a larger size. Wider bracelets also need to be bigger. We stamp the size in a bracelet along with the usual information. I also stamp a serial number to almost all of the bracelets that I make if there is room to stamp them. This information goes into books that I have kept since 1973. This way I can answer the question, “Do you remember that bracelet you sold me in 1985? Well I would like another one just like it”. I hope this helps. Go to my website www.robmeixner.com and you find more information on bracelet sizes…Rob

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I hope this won’t come of as being snotty. It certainly isn’t meant to be.

I remember very well planning to and placing my first order of sterling with my Dad. The bulk of the bracelets we were making at the time were made either of 10 gauge round or 2.5 x 2.5mm square wire. I said, “I think I would like a 10 feet of each wire please. How many bracelets can I make with that much?” That’s more or less a direct quote. His reply was, “I can tell you or you can figure it out. Why don’t you figure it out.” Another more or less direct quote, where by we drank coffee and Dad more or less showed me anyway.

Dad had long ago made a series of 1/2" CPVC tubes that were cut and capped on one end. One for each size bracelet. A piece of wire stuffed in the tube and cut to length would equal the metal used to make a bracelet of a specific size once it was soldered, twisted, and hammer forged to the desired shape. He had similar methods for everything he had made in quantity. His bench was covered with marks that showed where to cut pieces of material. Since Dad didn’t raise no lintheads I used up a lot of copper wire and cardboard(cheap at the time) figuring what I wanted to make and what I should use and how much I should buy.

While Rob and I learned the basics the same way and use the same method for figuring sizes and material needed for a bracelet, two shops, two mechanics, and we will have slightly different results. It is the nature of hand made.

And as much as we jewelry crafters like to live in the mystery, much of the basics of silversmithing, blacksmithing, and other metal work isn’t a secret that is hard to find. I suggest you cut up a lot of copper wire and cereal boxes and take copious notes. My Dad was right about a lot of things I have learned as I got older. One of them is nothing teaches like hands on and keeping your eyes open.

Don Meixner

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Thank you folks for your thoughts and insight. I’ll work on