How to Make a Vintage Tin Charm Bracelet

Recycle antique tins into small charms to make a sterling silver bracelet.

Materials and Tools:




sterling silver wire
flush wire cutters
needle-nose pliers
round-nose pliers
flat-nose pliers
chain-nose pliers
liver of sulfur
small crock-pot
rock tumbler
dish soap and water
steel shot
ring mandrel


antique tins
tin snips
sanding block
drill press
wood block
steel anvil block
safety glasses
leather or suede work gloves



1. Form four coils by wrapping sterling wire around needle-nose pliers. Snip off the little coils from the main wire spool with flush wire cutters. Nine coils are needed per bracelet.

2. Using chain-nose pliers and flat-nose pliers make "hooks" on each end of the little coils. These hooks allow them to connect and form a chain.

3. Make 18 jump ring spacers for each end of the coils.

4. Form a basic "S" shaped clasp using sterling wire and round-nose pliers. Twist the wire into a small spiral (3 to 4 tight rotations) to form the bottom of the "S" clasp. Use a ring mandrel to form a large curve going in the opposite direction to make the top of the "S" clasp.

5. Hammer the entire clasp to create a slightly flattened piece. Wrap a small gauge wire around selected areas for decoration. Hammer a final time.

6. Assemble the chain by placing jump ring spacers between each coil. Add the clasp to one end using a jump ring.

7. Place the chain and clasp in a liver of sulfur solution in a crock-pot to "antique" the metal. This process will oxidize or blacken the silver.

8. Remove the chain, rinse in cold water and dry. Buff off the top black areas with fine sandpaper. The sanding removes the top black areas but allows the black in the grooves to create depth (shadow) to the piece. Rinse again.

9. Put the chain in a rock tumbler with water, soap and steel shot. Run the tumbler for one hour.

10. Remove the chain. The chain will be shiny, hardened and ready to use.

Tin Charms

1. Purchase antique tins from antique shops, flea markets, etc. Look for brightly colored metal that does not have a paper covering.

2. Wear leather gloves and cut the metal tins into small squares and rectangles with tin snips.

3. Hand-file the corners and sides of each piece so that they are smooth to the touch. Start with a large file and progress to a fine-grit sandpaper.

4. Drill holes in the top of the tin shapes using a drill press.

5. Insert a sterling jump ring through each hole and attach the tin "charms" to the chain. Attach the tin charms to the length of the chain in multiples until a pleasing, filled-in look is achieved.

Kathy Maurer, Madison, Wis.

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