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Brian Myers

Ok, is my idea stupid??

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My sister used to make jewelry and gave me a ton of copper cutoffs. I plan on forging a few billets for bolsters. This of course led me to thinking about mokue gane. I dont have any nickel so I can't do it...but I was thinking, what would happen if i took copper wire, cleaned it, fluxed it and then covered it in silver solder. Then fold and twist this into a tight bundle and start forging. Would this work? I think the silver layer would be too thin to make a good pattern, but I know there are more knowledgeable people here.

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Worth a try, nothing to lose but time and some fuel.....and you might learn something.

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If you use actual jewelers silver solder it will give contrast.  If you use silver bearing lead-free plumbing solder you'll have a big mess.  Since she did jewelry she probably has the right stuff.

 

True silver solder, aka hard solder, flows anywhere between 1100 -1800 degrees F and contains silver (56% to 90%), copper, and traces of other stuff. Plumbing solder with silver flows at 450 F and is 96% tin, 3% antimony, and 1% silver.

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Hmmm...that's what I thought lol. Guess I'll wait till I find some nickel or brass before I try mokume gane.

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Decided to see if my forge could get up to heat for it...it can lol. Its was a quick and dirty billet so I didn't clean the surface super perfect or degrease. But it worked, I used about ten layers of 1mil copper and got a solid chunk out. You can see a couple of lines where there wasn't a good weld, but I wailed on the edges with a hammer and nothing came off. All and all, I'm happy. Plus, this is my very first copper billet lol.

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There is an OBT (old blacksmiths tale) that says that if you heat copper in your forge, you will never be able to weld steel in there again.  I don't know that it's true, but I guess we'll see.

 

Geoff

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Lol, dont need to Geoff. I dont do pattern welded steel. My forge is used for heat treating. 

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15 minutes ago, Brian Myers said:

Lol, dont need to Geoff. I dont do pattern welded steel. My forge is used for heat treating. 

 

Don't know what information you have about making mokume or if you have read the info on the forum,if not here it is...........

 

  • Thanks 1

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I've read that. I dont have any nickel or brass right now to play with...this was more to see whether or not my forge could get hot enough.

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i know melting copper in a forge is bad if you have a spill.

 

wire mokume is a thing, ive done it with copper cable and brass, it takes a while for the inner cables to get hot enough, ive had plenty of failures but its neat material. it would be cool pin stock

 

i would do it with copper wire and brass because it will take a lot of metal to fill the cable, braise rod would be too expensive.

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2 hours ago, Geoff Keyes said:

There is an OBT (old blacksmiths tale) that says that if you heat copper in your forge, you will never be able to weld steel in there again.  I don't know that it's true, but I guess we'll see.

I have done this and I still weld in my forge.

59 minutes ago, steven smith said:

i know melting copper in a forge is bad if you have a spill.

I have done that as well, it was a big mess and I cleaned it up as best I could when it cooled. Then I took a piece of cable, fluxed it at red heat, and rolled it around to soak up what was left.

I still weld in my forge.

 

On 5/16/2020 at 12:39 PM, Brian Myers said:

Then fold and twist this into a tight bundle and start forging. Would this work? I think the silver layer would be too thin to make a good pattern, but I know there are more knowledgeable people here.

Actually, check that Mokume link again. There has been some recent activity, including a very generous gift from @DanM. In Midgett's book, he talks about the soldered Mokume technique.

 

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1 hour ago, Joshua States said:

Actually, check that Mokume link again. There has been some recent activity, including a very generous gift from @DanM. In Midgett's book, he talks about the soldered Mokume technique. 

Sweet!!! Thanks Joshua!

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The thanks, rightly go to Dan.

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13 hours ago, Geoff Keyes said:

There is an OBT (old blacksmiths tale) that says that if you heat copper in your forge, you will never be able to weld steel in there again.  I don't know that it's true, but I guess we'll see.

 

Geoff

 

When I took a tomahawk class at Conner Prairie in 2000 the lead instructor asked if we'd heard that OBT.  We all had.  He then took a collection of pre-1981 pennies from us.  Got about 16, IIRC.  He then tossed them in the coal forge and proceeded to weld up two hawks and a belt axe without ever cleaning the fire.  The only time copper causes problems with welding is if it is in or on the steel itself.

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Years ago I would make a metal that was named "spam metal" by my coworkers.  I took bits of cleaned copper, brass and bronze wire and knotted them up into a ball or small puck.  I would flux them and apply as much silver solder (high temp braze material) until it would take no more.  Then I would roll the puck out with jewelers rolling mill, annealing the puck every few passes through the rolls.  Slicing the puck and rotating the slices 90 degrees and then soldering back together again would make for some interesting patterns as would just grinding into it.  The solder portion of it prevents it from forming or forging readily as it will crack if you do not anneal frequently.  I had tried adding silver wire to the mix but when put silver and brass together you have to be careful you don't melt the whole mess due to eutectic properties of the metals.  I still have some bits of it and will get some pictures posted.

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Ok...my second billet was much better than my first..but had a few hammer marks I didnt like. So I took the time to make a press plate arrangement like Joshua said. And I am happy lol! Took about 20 minutes or so to forge up, but this final billet came out nearly perfect in dimension. It's one and a quarter inches long, one wide and about 3/8 thick. Its solid copper, that's what I want for my current project, but I need to sort some brass sheet stock so I can do something a bit cooler lol. Thanks guys!!!

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Oooh shiny. Very nice. What are you planning to use it for?

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I'm making a sgian dubh. This will be the bolster, while a thinner billet will be the pommel. I'm thinking I'll round the edges a bit, then putting on a hammered finish, then pickel it.

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Sounds cool. It's hard to go wrong with copper, it looks nice no matter what you do with it. Looking forward to pictures.

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