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  #1  
Old 06-14-2006, 08:40 AM
2600degrees 2600degrees is offline
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Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Okay...looking for some advice on tools, etc.

I'm new to metal work sculpture, but I figure I'll start with copper. Let's assume I'm looking to work on a relatively small scale, light gauge sheet copper and the like and would like to:
1. do some shaping (hammering, forming, etc)
2. do some joining and fabrication
3. annealing
4. whatever else I can dream up
5. In the beginning, probably pieces no larger than 1 Cubic foot(ish)

What would be a good starter set of tools? I have a small shop in my garage, vice, work table and a lot of ideas.

Suggestions on hammers (and sizes), punches, safety equipment/gear, other tools.

Thanks and have a great day!
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  #2  
Old 06-14-2006, 11:58 AM
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Ries Ries is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

The first tools I would get would be a few books.
One of the classics, even though it only covers copper as one of many subjects, is the great Oppi Untract- Metal Techniques for Craftsmen.
This talks about tools, techniques, metals, measuring, fabrication, soldering, and all kinds of small scale metalworking techniques.

Another good book is The Metal Fabricators Handbook, by Ron Fournier, Hp books- this is aimed at auto body customizers, but virtually every single page is of equal interest to artists.
In a very practical, down to earth way, he talks about different metals, how to measure, cut, shape, rivet, bend, and weld sheet metal into 3 dimensional forms.
For copper, you will need some sort of torch to anneal it- just like aluminum. And virtually every other technique for hand hammering forms is covered by RON- who is a maestro with a hammer and shotbag.
A wooden or plastic hammer, and a leather bag filled with steel shot is the main thing you need to do freeform curve shaping in copper- then, you need to buy (very expensive) or make various stakes- Ron tells you how to make your own cheap.
For more geometric stuff, you may want to use handheld or bench shears, as well as brakes, rolls, and metal forming machines- Ron covers all those.

There are also available a variety of older shop project books about working with copper from high school shop classes of the 20's thru 50's.
A couple I have are:
Decorative Metalworking- Charles Holtzman- McGraw Hill
Beaten Metal Work- A.C. Horth- Pitman
Holloware Techniques- Douglas Steakley- Watson Guptil

A good place to look for all of these are abebooks.com-
a website with thousands of used book dealers around the world.
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  #3  
Old 06-15-2006, 08:13 AM
2600degrees 2600degrees is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ries
The first tools I would get would be a few books.
One of the classics, even though it only covers copper as one of many subjects, is the great Oppi Untract- Metal Techniques for Craftsmen.
This talks about tools, techniques, metals, measuring, fabrication, soldering, and all kinds of small scale metalworking techniques.

Another good book is The Metal Fabricators Handbook, by Ron Fournier, Hp books- this is aimed at auto body customizers, but virtually every single page is of equal interest to artists.
In a very practical, down to earth way, he talks about different metals, how to measure, cut, shape, rivet, bend, and weld sheet metal into 3 dimensional forms.
For copper, you will need some sort of torch to anneal it- just like aluminum. And virtually every other technique for hand hammering forms is covered by RON- who is a maestro with a hammer and shotbag.
A wooden or plastic hammer, and a leather bag filled with steel shot is the main thing you need to do freeform curve shaping in copper- then, you need to buy (very expensive) or make various stakes- Ron tells you how to make your own cheap.
For more geometric stuff, you may want to use handheld or bench shears, as well as brakes, rolls, and metal forming machines- Ron covers all those.

There are also available a variety of older shop project books about working with copper from high school shop classes of the 20's thru 50's.
A couple I have are:
Decorative Metalworking- Charles Holtzman- McGraw Hill
Beaten Metal Work- A.C. Horth- Pitman
Holloware Techniques- Douglas Steakley- Watson Guptil

A good place to look for all of these are abebooks.com-
a website with thousands of used book dealers around the world.
Thank you Ries. Good advice all around. The abebooks.com link is one I hadn't heard of...and appears to have much better prices than (of course) buying from amazon, etc. (especially for "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen"). I'll be ordering that one shortly...and probably the Fournier book too. Give me a little time and I'll post pictures my first pieces.

-Jon
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  #4  
Old 08-26-2006, 05:15 PM
the pepper the pepper is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

I'd also like some advice on beginning work in copper - I am wanting to make some handles for some clay pieces I am working on - I am attracted by copper plumbing pipe> I want to hammer it flat but also bend it to shape. In addition, I am considering firing it in a kiln on the pot - in a raku kiln which involves rapidly reaching about 900-1000 degrees centigrade, and removing the pot at that temperature- so there is a rapid cooling taking place. I don't know how complex I need to go at this time with equipment,etc. I have some hammers with a rounded ball which are good at flattening the pipe, pipe cutters and a propane torch. Any advice for a "pre-beginner"? If this works for me I am sure I'll need to go deeper later - but right now I'd like to see if a fairly simple strategy will work. Thanks in advance . . .
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  #5  
Old 08-26-2006, 09:56 PM
Thatch Thatch is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

I would advise you to buy one of those little anvils that are sold in good hardware stores, a torch for anealing, buffing wheel and if you want to play with tubing get some sand to put in it before you start banging on it. Pipe benders might be very handy too.
I bought one of those little anvils and went to work on it with a grinder and sand paper. I have used it many times over the years even if it was not for sculpture.
And hey, if you are working small copper has basically the same properties as silver and the ways to work them are the same. After you learn on the copper think of going to sterling.
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2006, 08:59 AM
the pepper the pepper is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Hey, Thatch - THANKS_ I am pretty excited about the possibilities and it was so great to get such a quick reply. Would I be able to use the little propane torch I use to sweat pipes or would I need something bigger? I can also throw the copper into the kiln with the pots (kind of attractive to me just because it is all done at once)- although it may get too hot - I have put copper wire into/onto pots and they have survived intact, but parts of the kiln may get over 1000 centigrade. The idea of silver - wow - it is a GREAT idea. Thanks!
The Pepper
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2006, 11:01 AM
the pepper the pepper is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Oh, I also have a venturi burner for my raku kiln that is very very powerful, I could set it up to anneal - I also can use my raku tongs, I hope, and (yes, I know but I bought them long ago) asbestos gloves.
The pepper
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2006, 11:34 AM
Thatch Thatch is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

As long as what you are working on isn't larger than the pipe you were sweating then your torch should be fine. The kiln would should work great too. One thing I did think of is that if you apply a copper handle to a pot it could break the pot because of shrinkage.

I don't remember the melting point of copper, so you need to check that out.

Also the reason for anealing is so that you can work the copper with hammers. When you beat the copper it packs the structure and if you go to far it cracks. In anealing the heat excites the molecular structure of the metal and when you plunge the copper into the pickle (a bath with some acid) it freezes the molecules away from each other allowing you to pack them together again as you work it.

If that explanation is incorrect I am sorry but it is how I understood it from getting it explained to me. The more you work with hammers the more you need to aneal.

As far as the hammers and stakes go I agree with the part about auto body. I typically forged large diameter wire into bracelets and torques and the hammer I used most was a cross peen. A ball peen is for raising and a planisher for finishing. I bought auto body tools and used grinders and sanders to adapt them. A word of caution on this is that any surface that you use must be mirror smooth for any blemish will be repeated in your work. Adapting tools can save you a lot of money but it takes lots of labor to do it.

If you are really interested in learning to create interesting shapes with tubing my advise would be to find a master mechanic and talk them into teaching you. Those guys can take a length of steel tubiing and from scratch make a perfect hydrolic line for a car. In fact that is where I picked up on filling a tube with sand before getting after it with a mallet. Speaking of which, get a large and small rawhide mallet. You will find more use for them than you can imagine, especially working tubes.

I am really curious about how a hollow copper handle fit into a pot would work out. It could be that the metal would be soft enough from the firing, if it doesn't melt(steel tubing won't), that giving enough play it won't destroy the pot from the shrinkage of the clay. Let me know how that works out.

My apologies if this thread was hijacked but it did stay on topic.
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  #9  
Old 08-27-2006, 01:39 PM
the pepper the pepper is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Sorry, i guess I went kind off topic -still a beginner working in copper though. Thanks for all your input - as re:shrinkage, in raku i bisque first, and the raku firing isn't higher, so overall shrinkage has already transpired,
but there are fluctuations during firing - both expanding and contracting during heating and cooling - in the silica structure of the clay - wire doesn't pose a problem, but something as heavy as the pipe might - I was thinking about just heating it in the kiln - but I think the melting point of copper is between 1000-1100 degree centigrade and with the burner, it may get that hot in places.
Well I am hoping to get to this this week if I can find or borrow a small anvil - fortunately I live in horse country - and the wife of a farrier the other day . .. .I will probably get back to you all. Thanks again-
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2008, 07:11 AM
annexit annexit is offline
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Re: Beginner Copper working tools, etc.

Hey, Thatch, it's the pepper posting under a new name (cancelled the old account). Anyway it took a while for things to all come together and for me to find you all again. The copper handles worked wonderfully - I attached them with 12 gauge copper wire to the pots after they were glazed (a little tricky) - and fired them. The handles took on a rainbow hue, and some outer layers peeled off - adding to the quality of the surface and fitting in with the idea of the pieces. In the end, I bent the tubing, flattened and curved the ends,drilled a hole and used that, with two holes in the clay piece to wire the handles to the pot. I still have some exploration to do and skill building, but the pieces I put in a show last March looked pretty interesting. I like to recycle whatever I have lying around and am now looking at some aluminium wire from some electrical cable. I don't have alot of equipment, but remember casting aluminium in college - hmmmm, wondering if I can make my own crucible - must look here on another thread. Anyway thanks for your support. A note - wire much lighter than 12 gauge does run the risk of melting in the kiln ESP if in contact with any glaze - had some interesting accidents.
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