Metalworking Questions

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Metalworking Questions

Postby Elorrum » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:11 pm

I know we have metal material manipulators out there. From jewelry to Vehicle fabricators.

Has anyone ever done damascene inlays?
The parent metal is prepared by carving channels or beds with engraving tools called gravers. Each area to be inlaid is undercut around the edges. The inlay metal must fit closely into these recesses, and it must be a little thicker than the beds are deep. Hammers and punches are then used to drive the inlay metal into the beds, forcing it to expand beneath the undercuts.
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Image


I bought a heavy steel helmet and want to remove some material to make it lighter, and then started thinking of really decorating it. Nothing this fancy certainly, but just some brass and copper swirls perhaps. I'm wondering how hard this process is.

any hints for resources on this?

Thanks.
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Postby motskyroonmatick » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:15 pm

Hmmmm. at a loss here.

Can we see the helmet?
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Postby fciron » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:02 pm

It's painstaking and pretty slow, but the end results are pretty cool. I have some chisels forged out of steel tool bits (of the type used in lathe tools) and they work pretty well.

It's kind of hard to give advice without knowing your metal working background. Can you make and heat treat the tools yourself or do you need to buy them?

How are you going to hold the helmet while you work on it?

I'm not on eplaya that often, but I'll try and rustle up some info.

Nice shovel!
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Postby ygmir » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:06 pm

cool idea.
I'm wondering, though, how to cut a groove of any depth, and undercut in thin steel?
I'd wonder about cutting the shapes from your metals, and, soldering them on carefully?
Or, get gilding metals.......I've done a fair amount of that and it works and looks good.
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Postby Elorrum » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:12 pm

Image
I figured if they could do it to a shovel, the steel in a helmet couldn't be a whole lot different.

I was wondering more about the process of damascene inlay. Regarding the helmet, I'm going to strip the paint. I think I'll peen it in spots, shine it up. If I cut some holes as well, it will lighten it up some. It's instant headache kind of heavy now. Adding the copper and brass highlights would be neat. It may be way above my skill level as well, and perhaps for this application a bit over reaching anyway. I can braze, weld, solder, etc. Just never have done any metal engraving. It's going to be a crazy quilt of stuff I think.

Thanks, for the comments. more thinking to be done. yep
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Postby Bob » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:41 pm

So you'd anneal the helmet?
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Postby TomServo » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:46 pm

a little pricey, but this might be a good helmet to inlay.
Image

either way, like the idea!
anything worth doing is worth overdoing..
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Postby ygmir » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:51 pm

that shovel is inlaid? not gilded?
wow, I still am having a hard time seeing a groove and back cut done in the thin metal. Not arguing, just not understanding how it would work in thin metal like that.
At least, a groove of any width.
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Postby Elorrum » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:53 pm

Bob wrote:So you'd anneal the helmet?

I don't have anyway of heating the whole thing overall. No forge here. Wouldn't that make it hard to keep the shape of the helmet?
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Postby The Bee » Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:31 pm

My wife, who is a goldsmith, agrees with ygmir and suspects that the shovel is gilded, not inlaid. Gilding is laying down extremely thin material and getting it to adhere mechanically or chemically. You might be able to gild the lily, er, I mean helmet.
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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:42 am

See artist's web site, process uses metal foil hammered onto crosshatched steel, not gilding w/ metal leaf using burnishing and/or some kind of glue:

http://www.karinjones.ca/inlay_process.html

Process seems similar to the "repose" method used in silver work, where you use a glob of semi-malleable crap eg roofing tar to back up the underside of the piece for hammering. Or maybe sack concrete or might be better, with some grease painted on the helmet.

Have you tried a sharp chisel on the thing?

Gilding would certainly be easier, though it would look much flatter.

Here's a thought -- just take a cutting torch to the thing, gild it, and rivet more crap onto it (dated 16th C, described as a "jester's masque helmet"):

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Postby graidawg » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:52 am

EEEEeeeEEEEEEeeee
oh i LOVE the pics on here now i am slightly aroused and want to go beat up some clankies (oh this is burning man eplaya isnt it not call to arms)
FREE THE SHERPAS
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Postby Lassen Forge » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:31 am

I could see doing it, but you have 2 issues - one, your inlay would be awfully thin, and 2, you'd have to be really careful with your graver work. I've seen receivers on firearms done, and the result is beautiful, however considering how soft your inlay metals are they can wear through eventually. You're not talking a lot of metal there.

But the results - well, you can do a lot. I know of a early 18th century shotgun that has some beautiful inlay work, even down to inset glass bead eyes peened into the face of one of the characters - really inspiring - so there's a lot you can do. But like any fine art it takes practice.

BIG consideration, tho, is that your 2 proposed metals WILL tarnish (part of the reason inlays use the materials they do)... Of course, doing this with non-tarnishable metals - Gold, Platinum, paladium, etc. - that are soft enough to inlay are expensive as hell.

Gilding (which I also do, tho mostly water-method on Russian Icons) has the advantage (esp. if you use 24k gold and platinum, or at least 10k white gold instead of silver) of not tarnishing, and being somewhat cheaper to pull off than inlaying. However, Gilding is also a learned art, and like anything to do with precious metals can be pricey. But the results are stellar... you can do patterns that are amazingly detaled...

Of course, then you have to protect the gilding... covered with a shellac, clear lacquer, etc... bit I'd do that with inlay as well.

Back to Inlay - I suggest getting something like a shovel, anneal it, and practice your graver work on it, before you move to the helmet. You can work out your design ideas that way as well... that way, if your graver slips while you're getting used to it, you didn't bork your main project.

Also read a book on metalworking to learn about annealing... and re-hardening. You may be able to spot-anneal, then rehardent he spot... IF you decide you NEED to anneal the work area. ;)
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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:44 am

Must be a mil-spec somewhere. One source says it's manganese steel, and the early pots were made by a radiator company. I'd imagine manganese steel is a lot tougher to tool than your average shovel.

http://www.olive-drab.com/od_soldiers_gear_m1_helmet.php
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Postby ygmir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:50 am

Bob wrote:Must be a mil-spec somewhere. One source says it's manganese steel, and the early pots were made by a radiator company. I'd imagine manganese steel is a lot tougher to tool than your average shovel.

http://www.olive-drab.com/od_soldiers_gear_m1_helmet.php


yeah, good point, those pots are hard steel.
if a person could find a reproduction, though, especially from India, the steel would be nice and soft.

gilding gold is not super expensive, even 24K. I use it for some of my stone work, also the other gilding metals.
and, you can cover it with either another layer of metal, or the sizing itself, as well as varnish, etc.
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Postby gyre » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:30 am

ygmir wrote:that shovel is inlaid? not gilded?
wow, I still am having a hard time seeing a groove and back cut done in the thin metal. Not arguing, just not understanding how it would work in thin metal like that.
At least, a groove of any width.

It takes really good tools, and sharp.

Elorrum, it is possible to learn a specific advanced skill, but this is a whole set.
I admire your crazy ambition, but I think you're taking on too much here.
Consider a course somewhere with the tooling to start with.
If you're willing to spend the time, you might manage this.

Reminds me of the little brother in Better Off Dead building a space shuttle in the garage...
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Postby Eric » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:27 pm

I've been making jewelry for over 10 years and I can barely engrave my name. It looks like the signature of a 3rd grader.

Engraving is a very specialized art, and you'll often find that the person who makes the piece does the designs but has a specialist do the engraving. People thinks its easier than it really is because of the mall kiosks with the engraving machine set ups, but those are pretty much only designed for flat surfaces and there's no way they could do the inset graving needed for inlay.

I vote for the gilding method. Do not try to learn with real gold!- go to an art store & get one of the "gilding" kits (thin brass, called "dutch gold") & learn to work with it. Good gilding does need some specialized tools, but for what you're doing you can probably get away without it.

The other option is an enamel paint. Won't look as fancy, but will be a hell of a lot easier and won't have the steep learning curve.
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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:27 pm

Simpler way might be to cut scrollwork out of steel or brass, hammer it to the curve of the shell, wrap in gilt, or polish and add tempering or oxidizing color, then lacquer the pieces and rivet them around the shell. I'm imagining lacquer would make it easier to shake off the playa dust.

I believe most helmets are coated with a textured paint, where they add sawdust or some kind of fine grit, so keep in mind that stripping the paint is going to change the sheen and surface texture.
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Postby Eric » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:42 pm

Bob wrote:Simpler way might be to cut scrollwork out of steel or brass, hammer it to the curve of the shell


You can probably use the helmet itself as the mandrel for this- the steel is pretty solid (I use metal pipes as bracelet mandrels). I would recommend a very thin gauge metal, just a couple steps up from foil. If you haven't formed metal before I'd do smaller sections, the large ones warp really easy unless you know what you're doing.

You can rivet them down (looks better, longer lasting) or even use a strong epoxy designed for metals.
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Postby Major Krash » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:58 pm

The Bee wrote:My wife, who is a goldsmith, agrees with ygmir and suspects that the shovel is gilded, not inlaid. Gilding is laying down extremely thin material and getting it to adhere mechanically or chemically. You might be able to gild the lily, er, I mean helmet.


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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:03 pm

Eric wrote:
Bob wrote:Simpler way might be to cut scrollwork out of steel or brass, hammer it to the curve of the shell


You can probably use the helmet itself as the mandrel for this- the steel is pretty solid (I use metal pipes as bracelet mandrels). I would recommend a very thin gauge metal, just a couple steps up from foil. If you haven't formed metal before I'd do smaller sections, the large ones warp really easy unless you know what you're doing.

You can rivet them down (looks better, longer lasting) or even use a strong epoxy designed for metals.


Depends whether he wants to keep the texture of the helmet as-is. Epoxy might not adhere well to the paint.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:11 pm

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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:18 pm

Or just Vajazzle it.
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Postby fciron » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:12 pm

I've done the cross-hatching and foil inlay as well. You still need small, sharp chisels and the foil should be a little thicker than gold-leaf. It sounds like you're going to go for an approach that lets you get it done in time for BM 2011, so I am not gonna dig out my notes. It is not really like repousee, both use pitch to hold and support the work, but inlay is basically a surface decoration, while repousee is a technique for shaping the metal. Inlay can be done on an inch think hunk of steel held in a vice, repousee is a sheet metal technique that requires a flexible backing.

I think a gilding or gold leaf approach would be the way to go here. It is, in essence, a costume and gold leaf could last for years on something that only gets occasional use. Especially since it may be a funky alloy steel.
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Postby lucky.bastard » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:13 pm

damn you bob..., i just clicked on your vajazzle link at work..., my fault i should have sounded it out prior to clicking on it.
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Postby Sporkadelic » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:55 pm

I ran across this tutorial for inlay in knife blades a while back, sounds similar to what you're talking about doing with the helmet - probably a similar metal thickness as well.
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Postby Eric » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:48 pm

Sporkadelic wrote:I ran across this tutorial for inlay in knife blades a while back, sounds similar to what you're talking about doing with the helmet - probably a similar metal thickness as well.


That's a really good tutorial on how to do this. Just be forewarned- gravers are sharp as hell, and difficult to use. If you're going to do this method start practicing now.

No reason it can't be done, but it will take practice.
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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:12 pm

If the helmet is manganese steel, you might need unobtainiumite graving tools.
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Postby ygmir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:24 pm

Sporkadelic wrote:I ran across this tutorial for inlay in knife blades a while back, sounds similar to what you're talking about doing with the helmet - probably a similar metal thickness as well.

why did I think annealing was heating to red and letting it cool slowly?
And tempering was hot then quench.

I guess I need to google this one.

ETA: googled. I guess non-ferrous metals can be quenched.
I'd still feel more comfortable letting them cool in air, though for max. ductility.
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Postby Bob » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:48 pm

Um, elsewhere on that web site he says he lets the blades air-cool for intermediate working, then he heat-treats.
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