Copper for using pancake die in hydraulic press

I was looking to try out using a pancake die in my hydraulic press & have read a number of places that hard or half hard copper is recommended.
I’m certainly finding that half hard copper is not readily available , except at a premium price.

So my question is -
Is using the standard sold copper ( most suppliers call it “soft”) in 20 or 22 gauge workable, as long as you DON’T anneal it ?
Does it actually have to be the premium " half hard or hard temper" ??


I use roofing copper 21/22Gage as is. The die does leave a bur that must be sanded.
I know if you anneal it it is worse. Also some dies / shapes work better than others. I have used 19/20 gage with better success but dont have a good source other than the rip off places on Amazon and other online places. I have sourced some scrap at the local recycler and ran it through the rolling mill to thin it an then just leave it work hardened that works pretty good but you will always get a bur just less of one.

Thanks for the input -
I was worried that I had to buy some pricey copper to try those dies - but it sounds like my normal copper , just not annealed should work - good to hear .
Thank you again,

Still got to try but I herd you can heat to cherry then drop directly into water and it will harden it. Going to try soon.

Quenching the copper after heating does not harden the metal. Quite the opposite, it leaves the copper soft.

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I believe it’s steel that hardens that way ( heating & quenching) - for copper I think it would have to be work hardened - maybe put through the rolling mill.

Lots of experimenting to do-

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Better dies for thin material. I have used these dies on 26 ga silver with great results.

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I thought so too but I had recently been told that it would harden it by an industrial plumber. I am skeptical as well but thought I would try. I usually air cool as that can remove a lot of the oxides formed when annealing leaving a cool patina.

I use pancake dies from Potter USA. They suggest 20 or 22 gauge copper. I forget if they suggest a hardness. I get my copper from scrap many times and after annealing it, cleaning and pickling, I will run it through my rolling mill to knock it down to about 24 gauge. At this point, it has enough hardness from rolling to “snap” and not bend and smear into the spaces in the pancake die and leave lots of flashing and just plain not cut.
26 gauge is getting too thin for the dies I use. it works, but I need the metal much harder and I still gets a lot of flashing that needs cleaned up.
Soft copper works, just know you will have a bit more cleanup to do.

Gerald A. Livings
Livingston Jewelers

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Thank you Gerald, that’s just the kind of first hand knowledge I was hoping to hear about.


I also use Potter USA pancake dies. I use 20, 22 and 24 guage copper. I don’t annel beforehand. I’ve not had any problems. I do usually have to file off the burrs, but not a biggie. I then take 0000 steel wool to smooth out. Comes out great. I use my pancake dies for making quite a few copper Christmas tree ornaments. They are usually 22gauge.

Thanks Vicki.
It’s sounding like my concern on the copper was unnecessary, which is great news !
Thanks for sharing your experiences, using the dies.
I’m looking forward to trying it all out first hand !

A lot depends on the die. I make them the way they were/are intended to be made by the person who developed the process- Roger Taylor (RT Blanking System, sold by Rio Grande in the 80’s and 90’s). That is, with a very tight tolerance between the cutting edges. Like a tight pair of scissors vs. one with a loose joint. Stuff cuts sloppy or gets stuck in the loose ones. You could cut 30 ga. dead soft or 14 ga. hard if you needed to. Mine are more expensive and you have to wait (I don’t stock dies) but I’ve heard they’re worth it (^8.


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