Hand Filed Decorative Brass Gears for Steampunkers And????





Introduction: Hand Filed Decorative Brass Gears for Steampunkers And????

About: Custom car audio install, fabricator and collector of the unusual.

this instructable is for the steampunkers out there needing brass gears for projects, not acurate or functioning, purely decorative. My next gear project I will spend more time with the dremel tool instead of files and hopefully fab up a working gear set, using thiner brass stock.

Step 1: Find Suitable Image

google search gear images, found adding "silhouette" to my search found more stensil worthy images.

Step 2: Crop and Print

i use arcsoft photo studio5 for most of my images, or paint works too.  then place image in your photoshop or paint, crop and print to the size you want to make..

Step 3: Cut Brass Bar Stock to Size

i found some 2inch by quarter inch bar stock at home depot, and cut it at 2 inches for a square piece to work with.

Step 4: Time to Start Drilling a "few" Holes

moving toward "stock removal" i began drilling numerous holes along the inside edge of the stensil where i wanted to remove to create the gear spokes. i used a one sixteenth bit. smaller bit less filing, bigger bit more filing. i used a drill press on two of the triangle openings, and a cordless drill on the third opening, and a hand drill on the inside of each tooth. i used the 3 different drills to prove to my self that even one with limited tools can make these gears.

Step 5: Chisel Out the Opening to Create the Spokes

after drilling series of 1/16ths holes as closely as i could, i ground a standard screwdriver bit into a chisel. laying the brass stock on the flat anvil part of my bench vise i hammered the chisel along the drilled holes on both sides weakening it. placing the stock over the jaws of the vise opened just a little wider that what i was removing i used a punch and hammer and knocked out the triangle shaped cutouts.

Step 6: Drilling the Teeth

time to drill the teeeth of your gear, not the ones in your mouth. same drill bit as used b4  1/16th , with any drilling device you wanna use. previous pics show where i drilled. pictured is the 1st gear i started when my girlfriend asked me if i could do "the one that looks like the nuclear symbol one" CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!

Step 7: Hacksawing and Rough Filing

at this stage its time to cut away everything that is OUTSIDE of the gear stensil. clamped in the vise i cut the corners away with the hacksaw as close to the stensil as i could creating an octagon shape, then filing the rest away with a coarse-cut file making it round. the larger gear pictured i put a bolt through the center and spun it in my drill press. using my coarse-cut file and drill press as a lathe. the smaller spoked gear was done by hand filing to prove it can be done by people with limited tooling.

Step 8: Ugh....more Filing and Hack Sawing

clamping the round chunk O brass i have created in my vise, i hack saw slots frm the outside to the holes i previously drilled for the gear teeth. with an assortment of needle files or jewelers files its time to finish it into something that looks like a gear. half round files, small flat files and triangular files are the ones i used. take your time here, filing too fast can remove too much material, and/or clog your files because brass is soft. note that filing in the corners of the openings with a multi-sided file will file two sufaces at once, and change the shape if you are not carefull.

Step 9: Finishing

filing the tooth slots are done in stages, sawing slits opening up the 1/16th holes, then using a flat needle file to enlarge the slots, and finishing to a gear tooth shape with a triangular file. cleaning out the opening of the spoke was all done with the half-round needle file. i then debured it all and finished its face with 320 grit wet, but you can step up to finer grits if u want a more polished shiney gear. oh...i think i may have spent a total of 3-4 hours for both gears....thnx 4 reading ...hope u liked my instructable. anything that might be unclear, plz feel free to ask.



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    50 Discussions

    buck2217 proves that money can't buy class. Personally, I don't have the dough to buy a lathe and I REALLY appreciate the insight into working with hand tools to make something AWESOME (WHICH YOU DID!) Thanks for the lesson!

    Get a Life (sorry meant lathe) and do it LOL :-) Seriously it looks great but a lot of work per cog!

    What exactly did you use to give it that nice metallic colour? Can I use that pain on Brass too??

    1 reply

    Is there any particular reason why these gears Arent Functional? Im sure with enough time, and maybe a vertical mill, these could probably be made to work. Im sure they wont be as good as "real" gears that were cut and shaped precisely but they though probably be good enough for say...a wind generator.

    12 replies

    Think back. WAYyyyy back.
    That very first mill.
    Guess where the gears for it came from.

    Yep, you guessed it. Some blacksmith somewhere spent a bunch of time filing those gears to their finish.

    Even today, with high end computer controlled machines... if you want a PERFECT fit and finish, it's usually hand finished. That's one of the reasons race engines, and high end super cars are all hand fit and assembled. The machines just aren't precise enough :-)

    Check out "Wheel And Pinion Cutting In Horology" A historical and practical guide, by J Malcolm Wild
    if it's good enough to hand make pocket watch gears...

    I wanted to add this:


    its a gear template maker :)

    checked it out....better than the templates i used. an up and coming project for me is going to be a large mechanical iris porthole on my front door and i want to over complicate it opening by using a hand crank and a bunch of unnessessary gears.

    i saw the trailer on youtube...not sure the canadian version of netflix has it....it truely sux in comparison to the us version frm wut ive heard.

    Uploading a 2-part clip to youtube for you now.
    Should be live in about half an hour.


    Sorry to hear netflix is even worse for you up north.

    all good...thnx i`ll check it out. will have to see if the local vid store has it....i mean hell...wizards, magic....steampunk....i should OWN it lol

    I've seen this 'ible before but I am only now bothering to read the comments!

    I must say I REALLY need to watch that movie! Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors!  Reminds I do believe there was two (video) games based off of the Discworld...

    Anyways, back to the 'ible! I must say that I am very envious of your metal working skills! Though I am curious where you got your brass stock... I haven't any luck sourcing locally (Northeastern US).

    I thought originally the brass was bought frm home depot, but later found out it came frm a "steel supply" company here. i was 1st purchaced to make bus bars for a bank of batteries in a car audio install. i have found brass round stock in home depot but no bar stock. any metal supply place can probally order it for you.

    i remember way back when....ugh i`m getting old, i works as maintainance, at the local YMCA and i hand filed a piece of steel into a ninja sword, two days later they bought my department a bench grinder lol. it was then that i realized how ummmm "powerful" a quality file can be. i`ll check that out thnx.