Introduction: Free Copper Sheet From Pipe!*
*unless you include installation of a new boiler
I just had my boiler replaced with a fantastic new one. The first thing the plumber did was to put the old boiler outside our house on the curb. It was quickly taken by a scrap collector. This got me thinking about all the scrap copper pipe that was slowly filling up a bag in my kitchen. It's my copper, I should use the scrap!
I use copper for jewelry, printing, decoration, props, robots, and design projects. For some inspiration on what you can do with copper, just search for “steam punk” on this website! Sheet copper is relatively inexpensive, there are lots of suppliers on-line, but free copper sheet is... well... free! Also, if you only need small sheets (the 7/8inch pipe makes a sheet 2 ½ inches wide) why pay for the shipping? This project can be done in the time it takes a cup of tea (or coffee) to cool.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools:
For this instructable you will need:
Copper tube (larger diameters are easier to work)
Saw (hack saw or jewelers saws work well)
Something to pry open the tube (chopsticks, metal sheets, screwdriver)
Metal file or deburring tool
A chunk of metal to flatten the sheet with (often included with vise)
10 to 20 minutes
A nice cup of tea (or coffee)
First determine how long you want the sheet to be and mark the tube. Keep in mind the cutting area of your saw. A hack saw can cut a much longer piece of copper pipe than my short jewelers saw.
Start wrapping a piece of paper around the pipe at your mark. Line up the paper so it meets its beginning point. This should be a nice even line. Now, mark around the tube or tape the paper in place.
Cutting with a jewelry saw has taught me some very important universal lessens about saws. Jewelers saws have very delicate blades that will snap if twisted, or if you put too much pressure against the object you are cutting. First, relax- let the teeth do the work not your arm, use a sharp blade, use the full length of the blade whenever possible, pay more attention to where the cut is going rather than where it has been, and keep the cutting movement smooth and even.
Step 3: Marking and Cutting Along the Pipe:
The procedure for cutting along the tube is much the same. Use the end of a piece of paper. Wrap the paper around the tube and even-up the edge of the piece of paper. Next, carefully pull back the paper and mark across the edge of the paper.
Place the pipe in a vise and cut along the line.
Step 4: Spreading the Pipe:
You may have to be a bit creative with this step if you use longer lengths of pipe. There are many ways of doing this step. This method works well for short lengths and can be repeated along the length of the pipe for longer pieces.
First use a screwdriver or chopsticks to spread the split enough to insert two pieces of scrap metal. Next move the metal pieces to a point that will increase your leverage. Then spread the top of the pieces of metal apart. (This is a good example of second order levers.) Finally, you can use your fingers or some plyers to spread the copper far enough to start hammering.
Be careful with your fingers, the burrs along the pipe can be sharp!
Step 5: It's Hammer Time:
This is a step that will also take some creativity. The goal is to make a flat sheet out of a curved sheet. It is easy to get the copper reasonably flat with these simple tools, but there are specialist rollers that do a much better job.
Simply hit it till it's flat!
Drink your tea (or coffee).
Now the fun begins! Make Make Make!!!