Metalworking Questions

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Postby ygmir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:15 pm

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


yeah, I was more referring to him heating the wires and quenching as he states.

I might also wonder, he must heat treat, after engraving, but before applying the inlay? seems the heat for treating the blade would liquefy the inlay metals.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:35 pm

In glass, anneal is a slow cool. So slowly that there's a kiln or lehr to do it. Quenching is a nice way to make tiny fragments with that material.
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Postby Token » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:13 pm

I would go chemical on that helmet.

Etch or mechanically carve the pattern, acid etch the metal, nickel strike it then copper plate.
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Postby ygmir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:12 pm

you could also sandblast it..........even sandblast a pattern.
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Postby Eric » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:04 pm

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


If you slow cool silver & gold it makes the metal harder to forge, not easier. The crystalline structure gets too tight & it's more likely to fracture (I've had it happen when I don't anneal a piece I'm working on enough)


Quenching for jewelry metals (without the temperatures) from Tim McCreights The Complete Metalsmith, one of the best simple bench books ever for jewelry:

Sterling, 14K Gold, 10K Gold: heat to a dull red, quench as soon as the redness disappears

Red golds, Copper, Bronze: heat to a medium red, quench when the redness disappears.
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Postby ygmir » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:16 pm

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


If you slow cool silver & gold it makes the metal harder to forge, not easier. The crystalline structure gets too tight & it's more likely to fracture (I've had it happen when I don't anneal a piece I'm working on enough)


Quenching for jewelry metals (without the temperatures) from Tim McCreights The Complete Metalsmith, one of the best simple bench books ever for jewelry:

Sterling, 14K Gold, 10K Gold: heat to a dull red, quench as soon as the redness disappears

Red golds, Copper, Bronze: heat to a medium red, quench when the redness disappears.


dang.......I made a silver ring once, braided AG wire, the hammered flat. It really got brittle and hard as I hammered, so, heated and let cool to soften.
Then, same for making it round. Looked neat, but, had I known how to make the silver really soft would have been much easier.
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Postby Eric » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:23 pm

Yeah- slow cooling can make the metal really hard. I've cracked a few rings & domed silver by trying to avoid the annealing (I was in the "zone", so that makes the rules of physics change, right?).

It can still work if not being annealed properly, but it will be much more likely to fracture.
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Postby fciron » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:53 pm

I did not know that about slow cooling silver and gold. Thanks, Eric.
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Postby Joe Buck » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:31 pm

Eric is entirely correct on all fronts, slow cooling gold, silver (and copper based metals to some extent) will result in the growth of large crystal structures that will behave more like work-hardened material and break easily. I follow this rule all the time with copper when rolling staples for bagpipe reeds. The opposite is true with steel alloys, in general slower cooling is better. As Eric pointed out, engraving is unbelievably difficult. I've tried a bit too and realize it will take a lot of dedication, if even that. Very little room to cover your mistakes. And the helmet would need to be annealed. I second Eric's endorsement; the book Tim McCreights "The Complete Metalsmith" is a great book for anyone interested in artistic metal work, not just jewelry making. Highly recommended. So there you go Eric was right on all accounts, listen to Eric he is wise!

Back to the question of inlaying the M-1 helmet. You could engrave on the hardened steel with a rotary tool or die grinder, not sure how clean the lines would be, certainly not as clean as engraving. I know that I would certainly screw up the design with said tools, but your mileage might vary! "The Complete Metalsmith" describes ways to etch steel, I have never tried it but I think that knife and sword makers have been using this technique for a long time.

Another approach might be to simply cut your patterns out of brass sheet (something a little more thick than leaf). You won't be able to get the intricate small patterns like with damascene, but you could add some shiny bling! Brass will polish up to look like just like gold, varnish will keep it shiny. I work with 1/32" thick (22 gauge) brass sheet for making ferrules for bagpipes a lot and it can be cut with a good pair of shears, and of course it can be sawed easily with a jeweler saw (or scroll saw if you have access to one). Once shaped to fit the helmet, it could be attached with adhesive or, preferably rivets once you are sure where you want it. The riveting process requires you drill holes in the helmet, but beyond that it is a forgiving process to learn and you can screw up a few times and try again to get it right. Done correctly, the rivets can be filed flush and will be invisible. I do this all the time for attaching springs to metal bagpipe keys, smooth as butter. If you used thinner sheet it would be easy to cut out and look almost like it was inlayed if you bevel the edges by filing and sanding.

Anyways, sounds like a great idea, and a lot of fun. Working metal is really fun, you'll be hooked!

I would not Manganese steels are ductile when annealed so it is possible to soften it and engrave.
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Postby Elorrum » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:54 pm

Thank you everyone! I didn't have a skilled work of art in mind as my first attempt. I just want to play with it, crazy it up some, see what happens. I do need to remove some of the steel just to lighten it up, and may experiment with circle designs... drills. I'll do some more research, check out that book (Thank you Eric) and see what happens. Engraving is something to learn at a later date I think. I don't think I'm prepared for that commitment now. I like the idea of applying precut designs by riveting.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:06 pm

Oh boy, Oh boy!! A new metalworking thread!

Like fciron, I, too, did not know about the slow cooling affecting gold and silver's hardness. I've noticed some similar characteristics in Silicon Bronze.

Elorrum, will you post pics as you work on stuff?

I'd love to see it.
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Postby Elorrum » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:28 pm

I'm not worthy, but I'll try, sir Cat.
here's a little fish for you.
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Postby Eric » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:01 pm

Elorum, it's adorable! It's art, there is no "worthy", there is only having fun.

Though I'd love some of LeChat's talent... (just sayin')
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Postby Eric » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:15 pm

Oh, since this thread has a slightly more jewelry metal bent than most of the others, here's a link to Ganoskin (also called the Orchid Archives), one of the oldest metal working sites on the web. Their search function isn't great, but we're used to that from here. They're a great general information site.

If you really want to get into silver or goldsmithing, you really need Oppi Untracht's Jewelry Concepts & Technology; this is basically the bible of jewelry metalworking: huge, dense, all-inclusive and rarely looked at. However, when you need to know how something is done, in detail, this is the book.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:43 pm

I love the fish! I could see a whole school of them swimming along a wall.

And Elorrum, Eric is right. There is no scale of worthy. You're creating and learning and having fun and that's where it's at. If it is't fun anymore, it's time to switch to something else.

Cool links, too, Eric.

ETA: And thanks for the compliments guys. Jeez... (kicks around at the dust)
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Postby gyre » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:33 pm

Nice fish.
You might try a catfish.

Consider hinging the tail.
Surprising what that little detail does, if it floats back and forth easily.

Tripley's Museum had fish made from plastic bottles with the bottom cut and heated together.
Painted with fluorescent trim, the top was the mouth.
They were suspended in streamers with black light.
The effect was actually pretty good as people walked through the aquarium.
Goofy technique, but the total effect was surreal.
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Postby robotland » Sun Feb 20, 2011 8:58 am

So much metal talent on one thread! I just had to weigh in for my fave material....ALUMINUM. So cheap! So malleable! And in the playa sun, a head-and-shoulder piece becomes a furnace! But it's great for bashing out keepsakes and masks. Also good for prototyping things to eventually be wrought from sterner stuff.
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