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Copper finish before texturing with mill

I’m a newbie and planning to roll some copper pieces in my new rolling mill, then use LOS, sand lightly and apply Protecta+clear. How should I finish the copper after annealing and pickling prior to rolling it in the mill?

Let me add some clarification here. I’m trying to emboss copper as shown in Mark Nelson’s Rio video- He uses a paper cut out on top of the copper and runs it through the mill. I’ve gotten some good impressions doing this, and after embossing via the mill, I’ve dipped the copper in LOS, neutralized in baking soda solution, dried and then sanded away the top of the piece with green Rio polish paper.

I"d like to start using some copper blanks now instead of scraps and want to use the proper procedure. I’ve annealed the copper blank, pickled it and scrubbed with a 3m pad. This leaves the copper scratched- is that OK, or do I need to polish it before running through the mill? What could I use to do that? Ideally I’d like the embossed impression to be shinier, so that after I use LOS and sand it, I’ll have a nice contrast between the LOS patina and the shiny embossed design.

you might want to experiment with using a brass bristle brush and soapy water.

I always forget about this option and always love the burnished shine that it imparts…

(.003” wire)

(.003” wire)

oohh this one has finer bristles…

(.06 mm equals .00236” wire)


as another option to the 3m pad, you may want to experiment with pumice powder…i put some in a little dish and dab a wet toothbrush (soft bristle) in it, and scrub/ brush the piece clean…

i usually do this to clean pieces prior to soldering…water then sheets off nicely, indicating that there are no oils

observe proper safety as it is fine powder.


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LOS? Not a bunch of initials I have come across yet.

I think you are having fun doing this project. Experimentation done on copper often has great and surprising results. There probably isn’t a truly correct way to get the results you want. You could just call it “Technique”.

What I do is polish the copper. Do any filing of corners and edges, sand it if needed, anneal and pickle, wash it with a light scrub and soap and water, polish again, run it through the mill, polish and clean up. Sounds like a lot of steps but the end result makes it worth it to me.

One thing to remember is you can’t harden annealed copper any other way but working it. And copper is so soft that you want to be sure your last hammer or tool marks are the ones you want.

Don Meixner

Keep in mind that the texture of the pattern material will be impressed slightly into the copper. If you want the impression to remain bright you should use a coated paper for the pattern, paper with as smooth a surface as you can find.

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Hi Don,
Sorry for any confusion- I was referring to Liver of Sulphur (LOS), probably my bad shorthand.

Yes, I am having fun with it! When you say, “polish the copper” what are your preferred steps? One wonderful aspect of metal work seems to be the many ways people approach the process- technique, as you say!


Don…LOS = Liver of Sulphur…Rob

Don LOS is Liver of Sulpher used for colouring and blackening copper and silver.
Cheers Willie

Thanks Willie. We have altogether too many initials in our world. If I had used the half a brain I have left I would have tumbled to it eventually.


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