Ok now a brass question

Does brass act fairly the same as steel when it comes to putting it into a forge? Does it burn up quicker? can you still shape it with a hammer?
Thanks Tom
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Chas on r.k sez- [paraphrased] brass has to be cold hammered. So it's cast close-to-shape then finished by hammering which also hardens it. (only way I know -to- harden it)
Be interesting to see what blacksmiths say about it. :)
Alvin in AZ (don't know nuthin'bout it really;)
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It depends on what kind of metal you have. Brass and bronze are fairly ill defined; different alloys cross over the rules of thumb as to what each are. In general, brasses are copper alloyed with zinc; bronzes are copper alloyed with tin. They can also be alloyed with aluminum, silicon, etc. Different alloys will forge entirely differently (some not at all).
I've heard (but have no direct experience) that brass fractures instead of moving when hit hot. Hot for brass and bronze is no more than a dull red heat. Much hotter and it will melt all over the floor of your forge. I think it is very likely that the stuff you find in a scrap yard is brass. If not, let me know where your scrap yard is. :)
I've forged silicon bronze. This is what is used in brazing rod (available in pretty reasonable diameters for jewelery). It is also available from Atlas Metals in Colorado in a large variety of shapes: http://www.atlasmetal.com/about.htm This forges pretty nicely, unless you get it too hot or too cold. Too hot and it melts; too cold and it will rapidly fatigue and fracture. After you gain a little experience, you can tell when you should reheat by the feel of your hammer blows. The bronze will get noticeably harder, which tells you to stop hammering.
You can hammer either cold, but you will need to anneal. Annealing non-ferrous metals (except tin) is just the opposite of annealing steel. Heat the non-ferrous metal to a dull red, quench and it will be soft. With thin sheet air cooling is usually enough. Metal which hasn't been worked is often hard or half hard already, and needs annealing before any hammering.
Steve Smith
TomNBanderaTx wrote:

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Thanks for the input, I guess the only way to know for sure is to just do it.... I remember the blacksmith that taught the swordmaking class I went to saying something about bronze being very difficult to work, that if you get it too hot it shatters like glass....guess I'll just cut off a chuck and see for myself....thanks again guys. I'll let you know how it turns out. Tom

a
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Some of the earliest bronzes were natural alloys of copper and ARSENIC!
(and that's whay many of the old smith-gods - Vulcan, etc - were lame...a natural side effect of breathing arsenic vapors from the crucible)
JK
Steve Smith wrote:

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"John O. Kopf" wrote:

And all this time I thought it was because the Elder Gods hamstrung him to keep him from running away and selling his skills to the Enemy (insert enemy here). I have the Mark of Vulcan, on my left ankle. I've been hamstrung. It's no wonder that smithing comes so naturally. Of course, even with modern medical tech, I still don't run anywhere. I guess I'm lucky that it still holds me up, given the 'state of the art' in 1960. I can see where chronic exposure to metalic toxins can give a shuffling gait, like Parkinsons (now identified as the 'welder's disease') which would mimic the effects of hamstringing. but I digress...
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Terrific!!!! it can go with the nerve damage I got while in the navy as a printer. The fountain solution we used contained arsenic in it, found out after the migranes were to the point of taking a drill to the head....nerve damage already done. My shop is well ventilated so I'm not too worried about toxic fumes. Thanks for the input though. Tom

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I have played with brass a bit and as mentioned by another poster, it depends on the type of brass. There are a lot of them. If you get your brass from scrap then you'll have to do some experiments to see what it will let you get away with. I did just that and the results were anything but consistent. One piece, crumbled when I hit it with a hammer cold. I have a grease bearing that I have been cutting pieces off to make fittings that I believe has a high lead content. You heat it up and about the time you see some glow to it, it starts to look runny on the surface, after that if you hit it, it will crumble. But this same material works great cold. I cut it into an appropriate size and just hammer it and have had no problem. Now if you want brass that you can work like steel then brass brazing rod is the stuff for you. My reading tells me that it's what they call Muntz metal and it's really forgiving stuff. You can melt it and cast it or forge it hot. It will shatter if you stress it too much while cold but can be hammered a little bit before that happens. I have plans to use it for casting knife fittings. The best thing about brazing rod is that you can get it fairly cheap and it's readily available at any welding shop in a wide range of sizes. I have sword pommel that I made that has an inlayed design in brass. I suck at brazing but in this case I just melted a puddle of brass over the cut design in the steel and then sanded it down till the design came through. I'm sure most of the experienced metal workers around here would have laughed their asses off if they were watching but it worked out ok. I'd really like to do some inlay into blades but I'm still trying to figure out how to do this and still be able to heat tread the blade. The melting point of brass is too low to hold up through the heat treat. Might be able to pour brass into an already treated blade with proper care for the overall temperture of the work though.
GA
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Greyangel wrote:

It seems like you would be able to do it this way:
Harden blade by itself Hammer in inlay Temper blade -- I'd think you could find alloys that melt at higher temps than tempering
Hammering the inlay into a fully hard blade might be a little tricky. I'd think you would want a non-steel faced hammer to avoid shocking the blade, and a padded bench.
Steve
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Steve Smith wrote:

"A little tricky"? If the blade is glass-hard, _with_ incised lines in it, and you go tapping on it with anything harder than a banana... you're asking for breakage.
Steve's right tough that you need to do 'real' inlay instead of the molten 'cheat'.
anneal the blade cut the undercut channels for the inlay normalize and anneal harden temper anneal the inlay wire hammer in the inlay grind and polish
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http://carl.west.home.comcast.net

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What about fluxing the cut-out, pouring the brass in, then hammering etc? <shrug>
Alvin in AZ
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

I'm _really_ dubious about the idea of _pouring_ brass into incised lines in steel. You're trying to do casting in a shallow, open mold. The surface tension of the brass will give an outside radius of say 1/8" which is not going to lock into any incised lines less than 1/4" wide and something over 1/8" deep.
The cure to that problem is to flux and heat the mold (the steel) until the brass will wet it. Now you're brazing. So, skip the idea of melting and 'pouring' completely, get some brazing rod and an OA torch, heat up the steel and lay a bunch of braze into your design, sand/grind/polish off the excess and be done with it. Don't worry about undercuts, the brass is _stuck_ there but good.
Doesn't work for blades to be heat treated though. Cold inlay is the answer. Or riveted-on appliqu.
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Agreed on all points. The brazed in look is really cool but not practical for other than fitting when you're talking knives. Anybody done the hammered in/undercut thing? How smooth are the material transitions?
GA
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Actually, I confused what I wrote. What I meant was:
harden pour in inlay anneal
It might be better to remove the excess inlay before annealing, or maybe after. Seems like a possibility.
I think (i.e. haven't actually done this) the time consuming part of doing inlay is the undercut edges, which you probably need whether you pour or hammer in the inlay. Once you have them set up, you might as well hammer the inlay in.
Steve
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Ok, I cut off a chunk of the stuff I've got, now I'm not sure if its brass or bronze. I obtained this item when I was in the navy many moons ago, its got a bit of greenish corrosion on it and when cut shines brightly. I heated the piece to a dull cherry and started to hammer it, but it crumbled almost immediately. The inside was crumbly and looked almost like clay or dirt. When it cooled completely I hammered on a piece that had broken off, the inner dirt part smoothed out to an almost aluminium shine. Any ideas on if this is brass or bronze? Tom

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No idea really - It was a copper based item. Likely Brass. And when heated to the dull cherry, I suspect the brass was de-zincified - like the kitchen plumbing does with chlorine attacking the zinc and making the item weak and spongy.
Bronze is reddish to 24K gold in color. Brass can be yellow or red or zillions of others.
Martin
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Sounds like the leaded brass to me.
GA

a
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I wonder if it's "ammiralty metal" mentioned in "metallurgy theory and practice" book? 70% Copper(Cu) 1% Tin(Sn) .03% Arsenic(As) and the balance ~29% Zinc(Zn)
"This composition is used for tubing condensers, preheaters, evaporators, and heat exchangers in contact with freash and salt water, oil, steam and other liquids at temperatures below 500F."
I guess it was replaced by:
"Aluminum-brass (76%Cu, 22%Zn, 2%Al) has better corrosion resistance because of a tenacious, self-healing film which protects tubing against high velocity cooling water in marine and land power stations."
Heck, but what you have wasn't tubing huh? :/
"Forging brass (60%Cu 38%Zn 2%Pb) has the best hot working properties of any brass..."
Also mentioned is the practice of even "brass and bronze manufacturers" to use either term for either product! (whatever helps it sell?:)
So you can't go by the name of the stuff unless it has other terms to go with it. Like "Navel brass" or "Tobin bronze" which are the same thing BTW. ;)
"Navel brass/Tobin Bronze (60%Cu 39.25%Zn .05%Sn) has an increased resistance to salt water spray and is used for condenser plates, welding rod, propeller shafts, and marine hardware.
"Manganese bronze (58.5%Cu 39Zn 1.4Fe 1%Sn .1%Mn) is really a brass and is well known as an alloy for ship propellers. It has high strength and excellent wear resistance. Typical applications are clutch discs, extrusions, forgings, pump rods, valve stems, and welding rods."
Metallurgy Theory and Practice by Dell K. Allen ISBN: 0-8269-3500-1
;-)
From my studyies... German-silver/nickel-silver is really just "nickel brass".
Alvin in AZ
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I read that! (same book I suspect) I was disappointed. Considering the price of the material I'm not surprised though since anything that actually had silver in it should be a lot more expensive. I was really intrigued by the idea of doing Mokume. Forge/pattern welding of precious and semiprecious metals. It would make some really awsome fittings for blade work.
GA
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