How to Make a Metal Box

October 28, 2013

Make A Metal Box

A small metal box was turned into a framed reliquary, containing an antiqued frozen Charlotte doll. Create your own metal box that can be transformed into memory jewelry, a tiny shrine or used for some other whimsical (or practical) purpose.

Free jewelry project from by designer Sondra Barrington features a verdigris frozen Charlotte nested inside an antique brass framed reliquary box.

To make a metal box, first decide on the type of metal, and the size of the box you want to create. I recommend using 20 gauge sheet metal for strength and durability. Copper or brass sheet metal are nice choices as they are inexpensive and they antique nicely.

Anneal the metal before cutting so that it can be manipulated more easily. Heat it with a torch until it is glowing red, let it cool naturally and clean thoroughly.

Anneal the metal for malleability.  Be sure to clean it thoroughly afterward!

Cut the metal to size. This box was 1-1/2″ long and 3/4″ wide. It is 3/8″ deep. Draw lines of box using a Sharpie pen.

Draw lines for the metal box using a Sharpie pen.

Cut one line of each corner to the point where it intersects with another line. Using wide flat nose pliers, bend the ends in, and the sides up, to create the box shape. Carefully fold each end of the box into place, making the corners square and secure. File if needed to remove any uneven edges.

Fold ends together, snugly into place to create each end of the box.

Antique and colorize all parts you intend to assemble.

Antique and patina the frozen charlotte doll, the ornate brass frame and the brass metal box to create the reliquary.

Fill back of frame with two-part epoxy. Center box over ornate brass frame and press into epoxy to place.

Fill back of ornate brass frame with two-part epoxy.  Attach frame to top of box when epoxy is nearly set.

Using a two-part epoxy, UV resin, jeweler’s grade resin or other strong, clear glue, embed your treasures into your framed metal reliquary. Small toys, souvenirs, images layered in resin and tiny mementos are all used in creating custom memory jewelry.

Once epoxy has cured, you are ready to embed your treasure into the framed metal box.

Use epoxy to attach a magnet, let it cure and you are done! (Note: You could also attach a pin back or changeable bail in the same manner for a DIY jewelry brooch or pendant).

Use epoxy to attach a magnet to the back side of your brass reliquary.


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  • Stuart November 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

    What a really great blog, As one who likes to dabble in the making department this is a really cool idea.

  • Yvonne Johnson April 27, 2016 at 6:49 am

    This is a great blog. I havent used it yet but it is so thorough when explaining the “how to”. Every piece is named and each action is explained, (w/pictures). Thank you so much: Im sure I will be visiting here a lot. I am so excited to get started.
    Yvonne J.

    • Polly April 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thanks, Yvonne!
      We upgraded the other part of our site (the shopping part) last year, so a bunch of our pre-June-2015 blog links don’t go to the right spot any more. But fortunately that doesn’t break the instructions themselves; it just makes the parts harder to find (unless you already have a stash at home). ~Polly