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I would like to start working with metals, mostly copper & brass for now. My main focus is probably making textured/stamped earrings & bead caps. I also like the look of folding metal sheet and was wondering if I need a butane torch to soften the metal or can I use my oxy/propane torch? What gauges of sheet is ideal for my purpose?
I ordered a disc cutter, dapping block, stamps, hammers, liver of sulfur etc. Am I forgetting something? Does anybody have any links to good books, tuts and online video's to get me started? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Are you thinking about using your glass oxy/propane torch to anneal metal? It's doable but probably not that easy to do. I'm thinking it would be hard to keep moving the metal around so it gets evenly heated. You can definitely anneal smaller pieces of metal using your butane torch. What I did was hooked up a micro torch to my glass torch by using splitters. It's the best thing I've done in a long time. I have so much more control and it's not as dangerous. Plus, I can now solder things together as easily as making a bead.
A jeweler's saw comes in handy too. Then you'll need a bench pin and some saw blades. For earrings you might need to drill holes using a power tool. Some needle files are nice, along with some sand paper for finishing. Then there's a tumbler to make things come out nice and shiny. Oh, what about pickle and a crockpot? If you anneal, might need to clean the metal afterwards.
Really, it depends on what you are going to make and if you plan on texturing the bead caps. What you have already is enough to make bead caps and some earrings.
Files, I forgot about files. I'll add it to my order, thanks Susan. Can you tell me if annealing is even necessary when making simple things with 26 & 24 gauge dead soft copper sheet?
I will look at saws as well.
BTW, I like your jewelry, especially that absolutely fabulous sterling cuff bracelet.
I don't anneal when I make copper,brass or sterling silver bead caps. I usually use 26 gauge. I usually cut my disks out along with the middle hole before I texture so I don't harden the metal before cutting it. After I texture the disk, I use the dapping block to dome it but don't anneal in between. I have used stamps on the metal before cutting the disks and didn't anneal. Another helpful thing is to use burr lube with your disk cutter. It seems to help cut a cleaner edge.
you also might want some basic pliers; round and chain nose at least. as above, get some different grits of sandpaper to clean up the file marks. and, as i kept reminding myself today, you can always take more metal away, but you can't put it back! :)
Annealing is fun and totally doable with an oxy-propane torch.
I have used mine to anneal copper pipe a foot at a time.
If you want to buy a new torch for jewelry, I reccomend the National 3a. It has a large assortment of tip that can solder 32 gauge brass to casting 6oz of gold.
Be safe, have fun!
You can also anneal in your kiln.
But if you are starting with dead soft copper, and not beating the crap out of it for too long, you should be able to get away without annealing :-) You'll be able to tell when you need to do it - it will stop moving, and stop taking impressions.
If you're going to anneal, get some flux or Firescoff, will save in the cleaning - you'll also want some sort of mild abrasive (we use Barkeeper's Friend in enameling class) and some scrubbie brushes.
Possibly some sort of sealer for the copper if you want it to remain the color you leave it at (I usually heat treat mine if I'm not enameling it, then seal it to maintain the flame colors.)
A small anvil or metal block.
Tin snips for cutting out shapes. Not all shapes are complicated enough for a jeweler's saw and the snips are so much faster.
Center punch and very small drill bits.
Besides the small files, I use a very large one often. It's especially good on cleaning up flat edges fast. The small ones would get you buy at first though, so it might be something for down the road.
One tip: Save all your sterling scrap no matter how small the piece seems. A couple weeks ago I sent mine to a refinery. The bag wasn't very big and I received a check for $120! Woohoo!! I shudder to think that when I first started working with silver i tossed the really small wire ends, of course silver was about $5/oz then. Now I even save the silver dust from sawing.
I appreciate everybody's advice to help me get set up. Thank you.
Karin would the Midas® Clear Lacquer Sealant & Tarnish Inhibitor from Rio Grande work to seal the metal or do you have a better recommendation?
Any recommendation on a set of files? I am putting together an order with Rio Grande. Many of their files seem pricey, but I also don't want to pay for shipping twice ordering through a different company.
Kathy, I have been saving all my silver scraps. I have to weigh it later today. Maybe now is a good time to cash/trade it in, buying new tools is really starting to add up.
Harbor Freight has a few sets of small diamond files. They are pretty good in my opinion.
Their anvils, on the other hand are crap. You are better off going to your local metal supplier and buying a 2"x6" chunk of 1" plate.
Thanks. I ordered one of Rio Grande's cheap file set and I have a metal block that will do for now.
What's the temp & time for annealing metal in the kiln? And is it the same for copper or brass?
I started as a metal smith. I recommend Tim McCreight's for basic metal smith. A jewelers saw is a must......bee's wax to lubricate the blade.
A cheep crocket pot for "pickle" to clean after you anneal.
18 to 20 gage max for the dapping (20 to 22 is probably best)
One other important lesson..... NEVER EVER NEVER put metal tools in you pickle pot other than copper. It will contaminate and plate you piece and the solution in the pot.
Hope this helps Suza
Other important tools:
A good set of files!!!!!!!!!!! 0 or 2 cut
someday if you fall in love, a Foredom flex shaft
Jeweler's saw is a must because it won't be long before you want to pierce or cut something other than the discs. Tin snips won't do for cutting out shapes. Hacking piece off a sheet yes.
The oxy-propane will work for annealing and be much quicker than the kiln. You can anneal with a plumber's torch or hot head too. Just don't try to anneal a full sheet (12 x 12) 6 x 6 will probably max the straight propane out. I personally have very little luck with butane, but most my stuff is 1" x 1" or so.
The Rio Economy file sets small and needle. And one larger file like 6" long by 3/4" wide to work down edges of cut metal (this one I got at Lowes). Though I do use the small harbor freight ones too. The Rio sets are the ones that I use the most.
Hammers - frankly, I do have a "planishing hammer" big flat head ball point end and wish I hadn't wasted my money. It's a cheapy and the head is way loose I end up grabbing an old ball peen to hit the stamps. A goldsmith's hammer would have been a better investment due to it's size and texture possibilities.
Sharpies, sandpaper, really small drill bits for riveting (True value has them just ask), various and sundry pliers.
Harbor Freight Multi speed dremel tool it's like $25 or so. And one of their grand dremel bit assortments. If you gently clamp the tool in a vise it's like having a mini-buffing/grinding/sanding wheel. My current one is on it's 2nd year but I'm take it easy. Dh can destroy one in a few minutes. I also really dig my Harbor Freight drill press.
Tim McCreight's book is a great start it lists tools and uses, has a plan for making a jewelers bench, etc. From there you can get on line and search more on the techniques he's talking about.
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