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Joss

Favorite alloys for fittings?

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What kind of alloys do you like best for fittings?  Do you like brass for its warmth and historical significance, and despite its tarnishing?  Or Nickel Silver, for similar reasons?  Or bronze, and which of those?

 

Or do you go for the cold beauty of stainless steel?

 

Or for the delicate richness of silver or gold-based Japanese alloys?

 

What do you like and why?

 

Oh, and how do you use it?

 

JD

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Does anyone out there use aluminium (or aluminum) for fittings?  To my hobbyist's mind it's ideal; easy to work, corrosion resistant, and will take a scratched, satin, or highly polished finish (which I've done) and that's before you get to the possibilities of anodizing (must try this sometime), but I've not heard of it being used, except as scales on some production folders.

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I really love the looks of wrought iron, or steel.

I hope to use that and copper on my up and coming pieces,,lol

jm

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For me wrought iron is a lovely compromise of interesting pattern, interesting history, and convenience (as in - little corrosion).  I like the color of freshly polished brass, but it tarnishes too quickly.

 

Aluminum is an interesting material.  I suspect it is disreguarded by many because it gives that cheapo look and feel, but it might be a very good metal on fittings (of course, Ruana and others have used it).

 

About aluminium: a few years ago I crossed the US on my motorcycle, and I spent a few days in Austin, TX.  The state capitol is there, and it's the largest in the US (isn't everything in Texas?).  At the top was a big bronze statue, and every few decades they had to get it down to clean it up from corrosion and dirt; quite an ordeal.  One day, some smart practical guy decided to replace it by one in aluminium, much easier to move than bronze.  I thought that was quintessential American, like screw tops on premium wines: nothing against traditions, but no excuse for stupid ones...   :laugh:

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My favorite is copper just because it is so easy to work and very versatile. The color range is nice too.

 

I've used ...

stainless steel (mainly 416)

bronze

brass

red brass

nickle silver

titanium

wire cable damascus

stainless damascus

 

The one I dislike the most is 303 stainless steel :angry:

That stuff is unbearable to cut. Makes cutting titanium seem like hot butter in comparison.

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I spent a few days in Austin, TX.  The state capitol is there, and it's the largest in the US (isn't everything in Texas?).

Dunno, I heard that the Alaskans want to split their state in two, so that Texas is only the third biggest state :D

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Damascus:  because the look / pattern / color of the layered steel can be made to compliment blade and fittings... or to contrast with them.  Can be textured in addition to being patterned. Can be hot forged.

 

Wrought iron:  lovely patterns without any conscious manipulation.  History of the material itself.  Can be colored and textured.  Can be hot forged.

 

Bronze:  Color, durability, ease of working.  Some types can be hot forged.

 

Jimmy

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I like wrought iron also.I give it a deep etch in nitric to bring out the grain then burnish down and light ferric etch it looks like  old dry driftwood.

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Bronze:  Color, durability, ease of working.  Some types can be hot forged.

 

Jimmy

Generally speaking, what alloys of bronze are good for forging?  I've wanted to work with bronze for a long time but what types available would be best for fittings?  Something that could be cast and forged would be ideal...

 

I've used copper,

brass,

nickle silver,

iron, and

steel for fittings.  

 

Silver is a metal I'd really like to try in the near future, but feel I need to expand on my soldering skills first.

 

Happy New Year to you and your's.

 

  George

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I don't know about forging stock but aluminum bronze is a really nice material for fittings. To me it looks just like 10 carat gold in terms of color. It is light weight, fairly strong, and easy to work/form. I think it is highly overlooked for making fittings and stuff.

 

I'm a big lover of mild steel, copper, and wrought iron for fittings. I have not yet worked the WI but have seen it used by a lot of guys I respect (Patrick Hastings, Raymond Richard) and have a bar to make some guards out of.

 

Soon maybe.  :cool:

 

Brian

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Brian - I've heard good things about aluminum bronze, but also that it is hard to solder.  Any input reg. this?  Also, how does it patinate over time?

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Any aluminum or aluminum alloy is a little touchy to solder with standard solder and flux. I have used JW Harris Alsolder 500 and their aluminum flux with good results. The solder is a tin/zinc alloy and melts under 500f. If you have a good mechanical fit soft solders are great. Otherwise, you might have to braze it...and I have not brazed aluminum bronze. But I'm sure it can be done with a little research into the proper brazing rod and flux. When in doubt plain old borax is usually good enough.

 

I have some high tech stuff I swiped when I closed down my electronics business. I think it's indium..a dull grey solder that is really good. I have a special flux that came with that solder that will pretty much make anything stick to anything but I don't know what it is.  :angry:

 

As far as patination I have never tried. I love the gold color and wax it after polish. It does not seem to oxidize easily and I have bars in my basement that have been with me near 20 years and they still look like gold. A little dull but not really oxidized at all.

 

Brian

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Cool thanks!  I sit easy to work?

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Guest Rik Palm

I like anything textured,

 

I normally use 1018 because it takes a nice patina, I can forge it, and its strong.

 

next would be Copper,  patinas easliy, I love otzi's copper axe!

 

nickle silver, I use it but is too shiny if its a large area but takes a nice

texture

 

silcone bronze is nice but its too heavy for me.

 

I really like wrought iron too, etched beyond where it should be though.

 

if I could come up with a way to get the texture on old dug up axe heads I would be in heaven!  it is like pieces of steel that have been weather by the ocean. just sweet stuff.

 

I dont like brass, aluminum,

 

Rik

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Cool thanks!  I sit easy to work?

I find it a little "different" but I would not use the word difficult...it's *all* difficult for me.  :laugh:

 

I like the way copper works. It is easy and very simple to move, bend, solder and file/grind. The aluminum bronze I have (no idea what alloy, I inherited it) is a little different than copper. Not really stiffer...just more crisp. It does not move and form like copper. But then neither does brass or steel.

 

Buy enough to practice with if you try it. It is different than some stuff I have used but not difficult. Nickle silver is difficult for me as it is so gummy and sticky that it breaks carbide burrs.

 

Brian

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Guest Tai
That's easy,... silver and gold alloys!

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Guest Tai

I get asked fairly often if gold and silver alloys are hard and tough enough for guards and fittings. The answer is yes.

 

Here is some "general" information about alloys, whether of iron, copper, gold or silver. Of course there are exeptions to this, but at least 90 percent of the time this all holds true:

An alloy is a homogenous mixture of two or more metals. In the case of steel, iron/carbon. Alloying makes the base metal harder, more brittle, lowers the melting point and the hot forging temperature. It also tends to add a degree of hot hardness. Alloys tend to work harden much faster and better than the base metal. For guards and fittings, "red gold" (gold with copper) is the hardest, followed by yellow gold. For silver, coin silver (80 percent silver/20 percent copper) is the hardest followed by sterling silver (92.5 to 95 percent silver and the rest copper). The alloying coupled with work hardening makes for a hard and very tough material.

 

The more pure the base metal the more malleable it is.

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Silicon bronze can be forged at a dull red heat quite well. Do not try this with any sort of bearing bronze, as this stuff crumbles when worked.  Aluminum bronze is pretty much only workable hot, it's one of the few non-ferrous alloys I know that quench-hardens so if you take a piece to a dull red, quench it and then expect it to be annealed like regular copper alloy stuff you're in for a nasty surprise- my teeth almost rattled loose first hammer blow from the shock!

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