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Copper & Brass Raindrop Mokume Gane

Discussion in 'How I Made It: Tutorials' started by dancom, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Ok, so I've never done this before, but certainly did lots of reading and asked some questions on this forum (Thanks Tim). Here's my evening of making mokume gane with copper and brass sheet.

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    I started with one sheet of copper and one sheet of brass. Nice and clean.
    This was overpriced at the hobby store, but I figured it was saving me the the scrubbing.
    These sheets are 4 x 10" which should make five 2"x2" pieces per per sheet.
    The copper is a little thicker than the brass, but we'll live with it.

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    With a ruler or square and a permanent marker, layout the 2" squares.

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    Do this for both the brass and copper sheets.
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    You can probably cut this with some snips, but I choose the porta-bandsaw,
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    Same 2" square pieces for the brass.
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    Here I am holding a nice stack of alternating copper & brass plates.
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    I squeeze them into my handy compression plate thingy.
    It's really two pieces of 1/4" plate with four 5/16" bolts to squish the copper and brass.
    Clamps also work, but whatever you use has to fit into the forge for heating.
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    As per Tim's suggestion, I got some Borax. No, not that crazy comedian from Sloblazekhstan, but rather a trip to the Walmart in the laundry isle.

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    I mixed a small amount of Borax (3 teaspoons) with a smaller amount of water to make a paste.

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    With the brush I applied the paste Borax to the perimeter of the stack. All the way around. Covering everything in the cracks.
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    On one of the longer bolts I fitted some scrap steel and a nut for a handle and tossed her in the forge.
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    Once in the forge, watch. Turn like a hot dog. Even heat through the billet is the aim.
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    Now the whole thing is glowing yellow, pull the billet before the brass melts and leaks all over.
    (personal experience).


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    2 B Cont'd...
     
  2. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Ah yes... part II. Billet is cooling on the floor. Beer time.
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    I did a quick dunk in the quench tank thinking that it may be easier to take the nuts off.
    WRONG! Plan on cutting these off with a hacksaw.
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    So far all this hard work has produced this. A crude lamination.
    The fun resumes shortly.
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    Over to the drill press to pop a bunch of semi-random, PARTIAL holes. I am using a 5/16" bit for this.
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    Now that's a bunch of sort of random dents. Some are deeper, some are shallower.
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    Now back into the forge until you see it shimmering in the holes.
    That's when the billet is dull red.
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    Over to the post anvil for some flattening with a 3lb hammer.
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    I did the heat and flatten 3 times. Trying to squash and move the layers up the holes.\
    Holes down seems to produce the flattest, best results.
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    I started some finishing on the 4x36".
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    After a little grinding I can see the circular patterns appear.
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    I finished the rest on the 2"x72" with a coarse 60 grit belt.
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    Then I hand sanded with some water and 150 grit.
    Then 220 and 400 grit with a block.
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    To the buffer for some black compound.
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    The product turned out pretty good. I will need additional shaping and polishing in situ.
    The net result is about 3/16" thick by 2-1/4" x 2-1/4".

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    That is how I made mokume gane.

    The natural oxidization (patina) will tint the metals differently and cause a larger contrast in the pattern.

    You can certainly mix up the patterns, add nickel or silver-nickel or any other copper alloy. Basically, anything with similar melting points.

    Happy making!

    Dan
     
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  3. Grizz Axxemann

    Grizz Axxemann Active Member

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    Could a guy do a random pattern fold over with this using longer strips?
     
  4. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    Talk about timing I was wondering how this was made and if you could use leather punches to make patterns in the plates.
     
  5. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    I would think that one could do anything pattern wise. Imagine Damascus sort of patterns.

    This was my first time. My focus was on making sure all the layers stuck.

    :)

    Dan
     
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  6. Grizz Axxemann

    Grizz Axxemann Active Member

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    I just realized I have a pile of scrap brass, either from stuff too worn out to reload, or crap that got mixed in with the stuff I do load. I was going to recycle it at the scrap dealer, but I think melting it down to ingots might be more fun. Hack a piece off, hammer it out, and then get creative. :D
     
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  7. poppa bear

    poppa bear Member

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    Awesome walk thru
     
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  8. John Noon

    John Noon Well-Known Member

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    keep the bases of the brass and trip so they are nice and flat. place on stack, heat then press them together? thinking it would be interesting if you could maintain the bullet identification and shape of the brass.
     
  9. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    The brass gets near to melting point and is under a lot of pressure in order to weld to the copper. It may be tough to preserve the casing markings under those conditions.

    You could make some ingots and drill them and pound in copper and nickel silver pins into the holes. Heat, twist, flatten and fold. That could make for some interesting patterns.

    If you try something, let us know. I love making this stuff. Going for a one-of-a-kind belt buckle next. :)

    Dan
     
  10. jeff

    jeff New Member

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    When you pulled your billet of your forge did you press it or hit it with a hammer or was the steel plates on top and bottom bolted together enough compression to make it stick?
     
  11. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker Best Shop Tool

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    Initially the welding of the layers was from the heat and pressure from the plates. After I took it out of the press and drilled, heated it and used a hammer to flatten it out.

    Dan
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
  12. jeff

    jeff New Member

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    Thanks i figured it needed a love tap to help fuse it together. Guess not I'm gonna have to try that one of these days.
     
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  13. BigUglyMan

    BigUglyMan Active Member

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    That's the real challenge right there. The Old Man always used to talk about a 40% failure rate making mokume. I think that using the pricey craft-store metal might have been a smart call given what a PITA it can be to get material that thin clean enough to weld without inclusions.

    Now time to get some nickel-silver to add to the stack.
     
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