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Author Topic: How to harden copper?  (Read 17461 times)
jringling
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« on: September 05, 2010, 11:15:23 pm »

Awhile ago I was talking with afew experienced makers of jewelry. We were talking about annealing and work hardening copper. One of the guys remembered learning that you could harden copper by scrubbing it with a brass brush. I had never heard of this so I just did alittle research... and found quite afew different ways of hardening copper: bead blasting, wire wheel, sand blasting, even possible sonic/sound wave applications...

I am wondering if anyone here has any specific techniques they have used with good results. I am interested in finding a reliable technique to harden some of the odd shaped things I make without leaving hammer marks on the freshly etched surface...
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2010, 11:24:44 pm »

I've hardened copper before but only by the northener method: 'It it wit' 'ammer
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2010, 12:22:03 am »

Bead blasting is one of the main ways of hardening copper used in industry. It has been used on some shafts i turned at work and with good results. The bearing surfaces were masked off and then bead blasted to hardnen the top few microns of the copper.
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Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2010, 02:39:03 am »

If you are looking to harden the entire object, you need to create stress through the entire object, so a surface treatment may not do much. If the etched object will have some kind of nonplanar finished shape, gently deforming the sheet copper after etching, using rubber- or rawhide-faced tools might be worth trying. If it will be dished or domed, creating a wooden or other softer-surfaced die (urethane and lead are other possibilities that spring to mind), and keep the etched surface against the soft face while working the back with wood or other tools. A more involved version might be to etch the die in brass or steel, and hammer thin sheet copper into that, simultaneously creating the design and adding some hardening.
Also, you will want to plan your operations sequence such that you do not need to heat the copper after the hardening step, so things like silver-brazing need to be done first, and you may want to consider cold connectors like rivets, Chicago screws, or machine screws. Yeah, this is sort of obvious, but it's the kind of obvious most of us (including me, dammit) overlook every now and then.
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Captain Shipton Bellinger
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2010, 09:42:23 am »

I've had some success in hardening copper sheet by running it through the plain rollers of a pasta mill rather like this...



It's also useful for converting copper wire into flat banding.  Grin

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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2010, 11:30:48 am »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface, and put the surface in tension to stop and stress cracks starting. but unless its very thin (and the beads will deform it if it is) it wont harden it inside, for that you need as pointed out big'ammers...or rollers, which is hard to arrange if its not flat already. One could harden it before joining and use rivets or low temperature solder (under coppers red heat), not sure about sonic waves but its worth a try!
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jringling
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2010, 02:38:48 pm »

I've had some success in hardening copper sheet by running it through the plain rollers of a pasta mill rather like this...



It's also useful for converting copper wire into flat banding.  Grin



I have wondered if one of these would work... I am looking to harden the photos I etch, so 4"X6" up to 8"X10" flat sheets of 16oz roofing copper... Already flat and etched... no fasteners, so no worries there...
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2010, 04:15:18 pm »

I've had some success in hardening copper sheet by running it through the plain rollers of a pasta mill rather like this...



It's also useful for converting copper wire into flat banding.  Grin



Steampunk version: an old mangle!

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jringling
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 05:20:30 pm »

I've had some success in hardening copper sheet by running it through the plain rollers of a pasta mill rather like this...



It's also useful for converting copper wire into flat banding.  Grin



Steampunk version: an old mangle!





I don't think it works if the rollers are softer than the material being rolled...

 Grin
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Der Tinkermann
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2010, 07:45:09 pm »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface,

....shoot peeing  Huh
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jringling
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2010, 07:53:00 pm »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface,

....shoot peeing  Huh
Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

I think he meant shot peening...
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Narsil
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2010, 07:58:57 pm »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface,

....shoot peeing  Huh
Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

I think he meant shot peening...

Unless it's something to do with kidney stones Smiley
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2010, 08:54:00 pm »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface,

....shoot peeing  Huh
Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

I think he meant shot peening...

I did indeed, curse snap posting just before dashing out....
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2010, 08:57:10 pm »

I've had some success in hardening copper sheet by running it through the plain rollers of a pasta mill

I have wondered if one of these would work... I am looking to harden the photos I etch, so 4"X6" up to 8"X10" flat sheets of 16oz roofing copper... Already flat and etched... no fasteners, so no worries there...

One problem you might well have is the sheet expanding under the rollers and the etching getting distorted.
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Narsil
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2010, 09:20:30 pm »


It should be ok to roll it first, electrochemical etching should work just as well on hard copper as soft.

The most difficult bit would be making sure it stays flat.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2010, 09:36:28 pm »

Well it has to be work hardened. true shoot peeing will work harden the surface,

....shoot peeing  Huh

Oh, well.  You can always train your dog to harden your copper; assembly-line fashion Cheesy
Somehow, I'd think that'd work better for etching  Tongue  Cheesy  ROFL!

I'd think etching , trimming the piece after hardening is the only way to go.  I'd never thought about the pasta machine before! That is brilliant!
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2010, 09:44:11 pm »


It should be ok to roll it first, electrochemical etching should work just as well on hard copper as soft.

The most difficult bit would be making sure it stays flat.


yes a pasta machine may curl it though a second pass would de-curl  too...i've found  an etching press to be good (though i use it as i have one already, it is undoubtedly more expensive to buy than a real metal roller.) In fact a real jewellery rolling mill looks rather like a pasta roller. (http://www.cooksongold.com/category_select.jsp?query=rolling+mill&submit.x=8&submit.y=5&submit=submit) the way real etching plates are kept flat through the rollers is they are fed through with a stiffer plate underneath and usually a sheet of wool blanket between ...
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Danbury Shakes
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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2010, 01:50:04 am »

The methods you've mentioned are all about subjecting the sheet to lots of little shocks which cause stresses through out the structure of the metal and therefore hardening it. 

You could try tumbling it in one of those cheap national geographic rock tumblers with steel shot. 

Or as a cheap alternative lay a speaker on it's back, fix a bowl on top with the steel shot (or marbles, bits and bobs, etc) and copper in it, put Metallica "Kill Em All" on at full blast repeat all then leave the house for several hours (or days).  That should put the copper under enough stress to harden it.  Smiley
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jringling
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« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2010, 01:57:17 am »

The methods you've mentioned are all about subjecting the sheet to lots of little shocks which cause stresses through out the structure of the metal and therefore hardening it. 

You could try tumbling it in one of those cheap national geographic rock tumblers with steel shot. 

Or as a cheap alternative lay a speaker on it's back, fix a bowl on top with the steel shot (or marbles, bits and bobs, etc) and copper in it, put Metallica "Kill Em All" on at full blast repeat all then leave the house for several hours (or days).  That should put the copper under enough stress to harden it.  Smiley

...oh the puns are killing me... heavy metal.... metallica... kill them all.... aaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh.......
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Captain Shipton Bellinger
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« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2010, 06:33:14 am »

The most difficult bit would be making sure it stays flat.

yes a pasta machine may curl it though a second pass would de-curl  too...i've found  an etching press to be good (though i use it as i have one already, it is undoubtedly more expensive to buy than a real metal roller.) In fact a real jewellery rolling mill looks rather like a pasta roller. (http://www.cooksongold.com/category_select.jsp?query=rolling+mill&submit.x=8&submit.y=5&submit=submit)


The most difficult part (well, for me anyway) is actually maintaining a constant speed on the rollers so as to avoid 'ripples' in the surface. And yes, a second pass through with the sheet flipped straightens the sheet again - mostly.

I'd love to be able to justify the cost of a rolling mill, but good ones are just too expensive for something that would see only occasional use. I picked up the pasta mill at a car boot sale for something like £1.50 and it has done sterling service so far.

I have wondered if one of these would work... I am looking to harden the photos I etch, so 4"X6" up to 8"X10" flat sheets of 16oz roofing copper... Already flat and etched... no fasteners, so no worries there...


Hmmm... those sizes would need at rather large pasta mill although, strangely enough, I saw one that would probably handle up to about 7" width at a car boot sale on Saturday, so they are available. It would require some modification to give the sheet a straight exit from the rollers, but a slot cut in the base would probably handle that.

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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2010, 01:50:06 pm »

 
You could try tumbling it in one of those cheap national geographic rock tumblers with steel shot. 
Or as a cheap alternative lay a speaker on it's back, fix a bowl on top with the steel shot (or marbles, bits and bobs, etc) and copper in it, put Metallica "Kill Em All" on at full blast

I have just that thing, to polish "small copper things" using stainless steel shot. The machine isnt really up to it and i expect it to burn out pretty soon. But it does work (use a bit of a bar of soap, detergent does-not for some reason work at all).. as for Metalica... errgg.. Ramstien surely!
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