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Author Topic: Copper headpins?  (Read 2725 times)
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Dee Dee
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« on: June 26, 2010, 12:04:21 AM »

OK, so as well as playing with silver, I have been having a go at making copper ball end headpins!

I used my glassy torch as I discovered that my little PMC torch wasn't hot enough!

Managed to create a ball on the end, then dipped it in pickle. 

The ball seems very brittle and breaks off very easily - what am I doing wrong?

Thanks all!  Grin
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mizgeorge
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 03:52:50 AM »

It sounds like the copper might have got too hot, which can make it brittle. Balling up copper is not as easy as silver, and does take a lot longer. I find it better to air cool rather than quenching.
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Dee Dee
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2010, 04:16:47 AM »

Thanks George, so now I have tried to make them higher up in the flame - hoping that means cooler and I air cooled them first before putting them in the pickle. 

I still lost a couple of the bobbles, but the rest are now in my tumbler, so fingers crossed they'll be OK.  I used 20g wire, and it seems quite soft, does copper harden in the tumbler or with hammering?

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Dee Dee
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 04:55:53 AM »

Mmmnn.....update on last lot......all but one lost their bobbles in the tumbler  Sad

Will try again! Sad
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 09:26:22 AM by Dee Dee » Logged

Krysia@No98
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2010, 08:04:49 AM »

Please do, I am following your experiments with interest!  Wink
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mizgeorge
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2010, 08:21:29 AM »

What gauge wire are you trying Steph? I've never had much joy with anything thinner than about 0.8mm in copper. It might just be that they're thinning too much just about the ball, which would explain the breakages.

For thinner gauges, it's easier to coil or paddle the ends for headpins.
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Dee Dee
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2010, 08:50:35 AM »

It's 20g, George, I think that is 0.8, but not sure.

Got some more in the tumbler ......
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Dee Dee
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2010, 09:18:49 AM »

OK, just got latest batch out of tumbler - some success.  All kept their bobbles - yay!  The thing I did different this time, was to get my Hot Head out and make them with that - thinking that it's cooler than my big girls torch.

They are however, quite pitted - is there a way to get them "smoother" looking?

It was interesting, in my all day search on the internet, that there were lots of comments about them being red coloured after quenching, but mine were totally black??

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Krysia@No98
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2010, 09:59:35 AM »


Where did you get the copper wire from?  Maybe it's not pure and this is why you are getting the colour distortion!?!
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mizgeorge
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2010, 10:13:51 AM »

Copper will colour to quite red as you heat it, but once you get hot enough for it to ball up, you're more likely to get the black oxide layer. This generally comes off when you quench with water, and will go completely when you pickle.

The balls will be slightly pitted - you can minimise this by taking them out of the flame more slowly (the same applies to balling up sterling silver). I quite like the more organic look for copper though.
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Dee Dee
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2010, 10:21:58 AM »

I'm not sure where I got the copper from Krysia, I've had this reel for several years!  But I have some new copper coming next week from one of our Aussie metal suppliers, along with some sterling silver to make some bead caps!

Thanks for you help George, I probably would have given up at the start otherwise!  I shall have a further go tomorrow, and hopefully make some ones that I can use!
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Krysia@No98
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2010, 10:33:12 AM »


I was just wondering if it was a shop that didn't understand the importance of supplying what had been asked for!

I was ordering sterling and getting fine.  Yes big surprise, even more so for the company when I phoned them up to discuss it.  Turns out the pickers had been relabelling thinking that people were unlikely to complain if they got the purer stuff.  Normally I'd agree but as a relative newbie to silver smithing having something with a melting point so close to the solder was making my chain creations some what frustrating!  Roll Eyes  Still it's all sorted now  Grin
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mizgeorge
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2010, 11:01:09 AM »

That's atrocious Krysia - please tell me this wasn't a bullion supplier Shocked
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Krysia@No98
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2010, 11:17:36 AM »


No, but it is one of the recommends on here.  To be fair he was utterly unimpressed when he found out and he has made sure that it's never going to happen again.  He was very pleased that I'd told him not only because it's not good for business but with him handing out fine instead of sterling it was loosing money to.  It turned out that it had been going on for months!

I will be going back.  He told me that he only puts his prices up when he orders new stock and not when the bullion price changes.  It meant that the silver I ordered was a very good price and worked out even better for fine.  Grin  I have used it to make A LOT of head pins.
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