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Author Topic: working with brass  (Read 7256 times)
stardust
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« on: August 05, 2009, 07:59:37 am »

i have never done any metal work in my life (apart from fixing buses and cars with gaffa tape) and would love to start using brass decoratively in some of my projects.

can anyone give me any tips on the best ways of working with fairly thin sheets of brass? and i have heard of a process called etching but haven't a clue what it means. does anyone have any fairly simple explanations and is there any equipment that i need?

is there any sort of working with brass for dummies guide that you could point me in the direction of? i am completely starting from scratch here and would really appreciate some pointers. thank you.
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Titus Wells
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2009, 09:44:54 am »

I haven't done much brasswork either and am really just replying to keep an eye on this thread. I believe etching (in electronics terms anyway) can involve acid baths, but not sure of the actual process (especially as opposed to engraving).
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2009, 09:52:15 am »

Etching is masking some areas off to leave others exposed to being "bitten" by acid or electrolytic action.

Brass sheet maybe had in differing thickness from paper thin to great lumps. Thinest is a brass leaf often called Dutch leaf and its so thin it can float on air, can be aplied over glue to make things look gold leafed, through "shim" brass which maybe cut with scissors and embossed with a pencil to, thicker sheets that require a hammer and punches to emboss.
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stardust
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2009, 10:04:12 am »

how do you cut sheets of brass into intricate patterns when it is too thick to be cut with scissors?
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von Adler
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2009, 10:26:50 am »

how do you cut sheets of brass into intricate patterns when it is too thick to be cut with scissors?

Fine-toothed jigsaw, drill and file.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2009, 10:51:30 am »

how do you cut sheets of brass into intricate patterns when it is too thick to be cut with scissors?

You can etch it right through, saw it, use tin snips...or use sharp punches to pierce it.
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stockton_joans
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2009, 12:17:57 pm »

http://steampunkworkshop.com/electroetch.shtml & http://www.steampunkmagazine.com/pdfs/SPM1-web.pdf (pg 21)

thats where i learned to etch brass, press and peel blue (which you can buy here http://www.techniks.com/) is by far the easyest way to block off the sections you dont want etched.
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2009, 12:29:34 pm »

For fine work cutting brass, I would recommend a jeweler's saw. You can drill a small starting hole anywhere in the sheet, thread the blade through, and cut anywhere you want to go. They run about $15. A jeweler's table vise and files would also be good. Neither are expensive.

It sounds difficult, but brass is soft and cuts easy.

I also recommend you get a good book about jewelry fabrication. It will cover brass, copper, silver, and nickel silver fabrication techniques including: cutting, polishing, patinas, and soldering. These techniques are not hard, and most tools are reasonable to purchase.
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Kittybriton
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 01:09:52 pm »

For fine work cutting brass, I would recommend a jeweler's saw.

Also known as a piercing saw. Jewellers often use a thing called a pin - more or less a two-pin wooden fork that can be fixed to the bench to support projects like sawing.

The other thing I learned as a student when trying to remove a padlock to which the key was not available; machining brass is quite tricky as it very quickly forms a smooth surface and resists the tool. I think (this was a long time ago) the method requires a slow speed but hopefully the more experienced brass smiths here can advise definitively.
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