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Working with iron and brass


#1

My young friend who commissioned the winged repousse’ piece last fall
has a new project in hand. He is designing his own chess set, and
wants to make one set of pieces out of brass, and one from iron. I’ve
done a bit of work in brass, but not a lot, and none in iron. Any
tips, suggested reading, etc. that anyone is willing to share would
be most welcome!

Thanks!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#2

Consider using a cnc lathe subcontractor taking your designs and
going from there.

Steve Good Luck


#3

Apart from the higher melting point, and greater toughness, working
in iron for small things is not totally different from working in
brass. The biggest problem with iron is that it rusts. Stainless
steel doesn’t rust, but is rather more difficult to machine than
either iron or brass. Personally, for a contrasting coloured metal
I’d use nickel silver. It’s pretty white, takes a nice polish, can
be worked fairly easily, and doesn’t rust. Like brass, it does
tarnish, but constant handling gives a nice patina.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#4
... wants to make one set of pieces out of brass, and one from
iron. I've done a bit of work in brass, but not a lot, and none in
iron. Any tips, suggested reading, etc. that anyone is willing to
share would be most welcome! 

Beth, I have nothing to offer on working in iron, but as far as brass
is concerned, try reading all possible “brass” entries in the Orchid
Archives. You’ll find a certain amount of dissing of brass, by people
who don’t appreciate its beauty, workability (similar to sterling),
and affordability. Ignore that. Occasionally one of the popular
jewelry magazines will have an article on brass, but I’ve never been
impressed with the depth of there. I’ve worked with brass
for 30 years and still love it – so do my students and customers.
I’ll be interested to read others’ responses to this thread.

Will your friend be constructing the chess pieces, or will he be
doing some casting? I’ve done some casting but not often enough to
offer any advice on it.

Judy Bjorkman


#5
He is designing his own chess set, and wants to make one set of
pieces out of brass, and one from iron. I've done a bit of work in
brass, but not a lot, and none in iron. 

If he has access to a small lathe, he could easily make chess pieces
out of iron (or brass). Iron cuts like butter with machine tools like
this. Alternately, green sand casting is a possibility if he wants a
rougher look. Or, do some machining on the cast part (just be aware
of porosity issues).

Lots of info on these methods available on the internet. Final
note… iron will rust if you look at it crooked. Unless this is
desired, he should plan to paint or otherwise finish the iron.

Jamie


#6
He is designing his own chess set, and wants to make one set of
pieces out of brass, and one from iron. I've done a bit of work in
brass, but not a lot, and none in iron. 

Good luck on finding iron these days. I hoarde wrought iron when I
can find it.

Brass will melt easily for casting, but you need to watch out for
zinc fumes, you’ll get heavy metal poisoning. The mildest form is
zinc flu, and lasts for 48 hours, the worst is death.

Steel (which I think your friend really wants) requires relatively
extreme temperatures to melt, so if you wanted to go down that
avenue I woudl suggest going to a foundry that does steel investment
casting.

If you just want to machine steel and brass… brass can be machined
using standard jewelry tools. Steel on the other hand requires
something a little more heavy duty.

If I were to machine a steel chess set, I would use stainless steel,
and get it cast professionally, or I’d do the rough work with an
angle grinder, then pretty up with a linnisher.

Regards Charles


#7

One can get smelter’s fever from melting brass and breathing the
fumes. I ran temperature 102-103 after casting my first wax carving
in brass.


#8
Good luck on finding iron these days. I hoarde wrought iron when I
can find it. 

Most “wrought iron” these days is actually mild steel. If you value
the wrought iron for its ductility, this could make a difference.

Jamie


#9

PLEASE where a mask when melting all metals especially low melt temp
ones the metal vapor will solidify as it cools you breath in vapor
fumes and it can kill you a good standard respirator mask like i wear
only cost 20 dollars at any of the fine sources here on ganoskin and
get proper gloves and the coreect safety eyewear because i learned
the hard way that spending the money on proper safety gear is a
minimal compared to early death or permanent injury! thanks again to
rio team for the gifted gloves they remind me every time i cast that
cutting corners on safety can cost flesh bone and life. No excuses
even on 700 a month i can afford 20 dollar respirator. I take the
teasing by friends with a smile because if i look like darth vader
then i must be working and that always makes me happy! found a
baseball cap that is for welders woot lol happy me

Teri