Sunday, January 24, 2010

One of a Kind Hand Stamped Washer Necklaces

Customized washer necklaces are all the craze these days in the crafting community. I made some of these for myself and for some family members and friends for the holiday season and I love them! It is nice to wear something that has your spouse and your name on it, or your kids and their birthdays. It helps me to remember them all the time throughout the day. These would be great wedding, anniversary, valentine's day, or birthday gifts! Is a new baby coming? Show up to the baby shower with one of these babies and you'll be sure to get "ooos" and "ahs." They are so versatile. You can wear one washer, or several at a time. With beads, with charms, or alone for a more simple look.These necklaces or pendants can range in quality and price to make due to the metals used, size of washers, designs, and font styles. However, if you just want to dip your toes in and try them out, you can do so very easily and for way cheap. Here's how:

1/2" (1" in diameter) washer

Tutorial & Tips 
Materials Needed:
-steel lettered stamps
-chain necklace
-black sharpie
-baby wipe
-drill (optional)
-jump rings (optional)
-beads or charms (optional)
-pin heads for beads (optional)
-polishing supplies (optional) 
1. Gather your supplies. 

Purchase the size of washer you wish to use at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. 

Important Tip: Note that the size on the package refers to the size of the hole in the center of the washer, not the diameter of the washer itself. You may find washers marked the same that are different sizes because the whole in the middle is the same, but the entire width varies. 

I have tried a variety of sizes and found that the best size for adults is a 1/2" washer which measures about 1" in diameter. This both looks the best and is the easiest for stamping on. You can purchase about 5 of them for a dollar, but plan on it being a learning process with a lot of messups until you get the hang of it, so you may consider 3 washers for every successful one you finish. 5/16" washers are a good size for necklaces with multiple washers, or for smaller sizes for kids, but they are harder to work with.
You'll need some steel lettered stamps to apply your message. Nice fonts usually run for about $165 big ones at jewelery stores, however if you are okay with the font shown in these pictures, you can purchase them at Harbor Freight for about $8.99 plus shipping when all is said and done. Make sure you select the 1/8th size of 40 stamps so you get all the punctuations you need. 

If you don't have a drill to drill holes into the washer, you can just wrap the chain around in a slip not as shown in the picture with the message "Be Still."

If you do have a drill you can use to drill holes in, than you will also want to purchase some jump rings (I use 6mm ones for the chain, and 4mm ones for adding beads and charms). These will run you about $1-$2 dollars a bag for about 60 jump rings.

Any accessories you want- beads, charms, a chain, etc. If you want to add beads, you will also need pinheads to attach them as well.  

If you are going all out with the drilled holes, jump rings, charms, and beads, you may want to pick up some pliers you can use to open the jump rings and twist the pinhead wires.

Finally, grab a hammer, a black sharpie, any polishing supplies you may have, and a baby wipe or two.

2. Stamp it Up!
Find a concrete surface such as your garage or basement floor. Do not attempt this on a table or tiled floors. Decide on the message you want to apply to the washer. Find all of the stamps you need to create the message so you can get a flow going without having to stop each time to look for the next letter or number.

Place your washer face up on the concrete floor and place your stamp on the washer. Hold the washer as tight as you can so that it won't slip. If using the Harbor Freight stamps, I have found that depending on the letter, you will want to hit the stamp several times very hard with the hammer.  If the letters are made of straight lines such as "L" "I" "T" for example, you will only need to hit the stamp 1-3 times. These letters tend to leave a deeper impression than rounded ones. Rounded letters like "O" "C" "R" need to be hit up to ten times. Also, instead of using their "W" use the "M" instead, just upside down. It's easier to work with. 

3. Oxidize Your Letters
After your message is complete, take a black sharpie and fill in the letters pressing down into the grooves very hard. Don't worry about getting marker on top of the washer. This is a cheap way to oxidize the washer, and it makes the letters stand out more.

4. Clean and polish
After the letters are filled in, wipe the excess ink off with the baby wipe. You may find depending on the washer you are using, that it is better to wipe it off right away (if using a 5/16 washer), or to wait a little while first to let it dry. If you have stubborn ink that won't come off, I have found polishing (with a dremel) the necklace helps take it off. You can use a dremel tool with a polishing kit like I do, but that can get pricey if you don't already have it. If power tools aren't your thing, the cheaper route is to use a wipe designed for polishing metals. 

If you aren't drilling a hole into the washer, than you put the chain on and you are done!

5. Drill Hole and Attach Jump Rings and Accessories (optional)

If you have a drill, go ahead and drill a hole in the top of your washer. Attach a jump ring (6mm) by pulling it apart and sliding it through the hole. Attach another jump ring (6mm) to the first one. This second jump ring will be used to slip the pendant onto the chain. 

If you have any beads or charms to attach, you will want to apply another jump ring (4mm) to the first one that is wrapped around the washer hole, and attach the accessory to that. 

Beads need to have a pinhead slid into the holes, and a loop formed at the top so it can be slid onto the jump ring. The picture to the left should give you an idea of how it should look.

Purchase Your Own Customized Necklace
Do you like the idea of customized washer necklaces but don't have the time or desire to make them?!? I have placed some in our Etsy shop where you can purchase a custom necklace just for you. The names in the pictures are only examples of what you can do. Just let me know the name(s), date(s), or message you want and I can make it for you!

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  1. You made this post quite a few months ago...but I have a quesiton about the drilling part! What kind of drill bit did you use, and did you have to secure the washer in any sort of vice while you drilled it?? I really want to try this because it's soooo cute but I'm afraid to drill unless I really know what I'm doing! Help!

    Katie (

  2. I love this tutorial! I'm in the process of making some right now, and wondering where you get your ball chain for the necklaces, as well as the little colored charms? If you wouldn't mind sharing, please email me at shannalillywhite at gmail dot com


    1. I got them at Hobby Lobby and you can find them in your local craft store

  3. Katie,

    To be honest I can't remember the drill bit I used and it has long been put away in a storage unit so I can't access it very easily. And a vice would have been nice to use but I actually just held it down with my fingers really tight. I drew blood only once :)


    The chains and charms were purchased in the bead section of my local craft store, Hobby Lobby. I am sure you can purchase similar items at any craft store.


  4. my black permanent marker ink keeps coming off the letters? any other ideas of what type of marker I can use on my stamped letters or something I can seal the washer with to avoid the black wearing off so quickly? Thanks for your help!

    1. I have only used a black sharpie. If it comes off right away then wait a little while to let it dry before wiping the excess off. If it is still not sticking then maybe try using a different washer? Hope that helps.

  5. I was wondering what material or kind or metal the washers are.

    1. Just your standard metal ones at your local hardware store. I don't get fancy.



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