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;)
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
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:
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
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
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.
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
Steve Smith 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...
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
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.
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
"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
Steve's right tough that you need to do 'real' inlay instead of the
anneal the blade
cut the undercut channels for the inlay
normalize and anneal
anneal the inlay wire
hammer in the inlay
grind and polish
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
Bronze is reddish to 24K gold in color. Brass can be yellow or red or zillions
Cheating is for taking tests. In practice there are methods that work and
those that don't. Some are the hard way and some are a smarter way. I'm in
no position to say which is which. I see a lot of issues with getting any
kind of bond when pouring it in. I agree that the undercut is probably the
> anneal the blade
> cut the undercut channels for the inlay
> normalize and anneal
> anneal the inlay wire
> hammer in the inlay
> grind and polish
> If you try to 'reply' to me without fixing the dot, your reply
> will go into a 'special' mailbox reserved for spam. See below.
> Carl West email@example.com
Actually, I confused what I wrote. What I meant was:
pour in inlay
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.
Carl West wrote:
I wonder if it's "ammiralty metal" mentioned in "metallurgy theory
and practice" book?
.03% Arsenic(As) and the balance
"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
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
Metallurgy Theory and Practice by Dell K. Allen
From my studyies...
German-silver/nickel-silver is really just "nickel brass".
Alvin in AZ
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 appliqué.
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?
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