Introduction: Copper Steampunk Watchamacallit
I had the urge to build something random and quirky, so this is what I came up with. It's a steampunk..... something, a watchamacallit that's it :3) It's fun to just hold in your hand and flip open and close. Put it on a chain or piece of string and wear it as a necklace. Or put a little clock inside to make a neat steampunk pocket watch, the possibilities are endless with this...... thing. In this tutorial I will show you how to build your very own one, so let's get started!
Step 1: Warning: Use of a Propane Torch
Just a quick warning before we begin. This tutorial involves the use of a handheld propane torch, which can be very dangerous if not used properly. If you are a younger creator/builder please refer this tutorial to an adult for supervision. Or consider using glue instead of soldering, which will work just a well. And please read the propane torch instructions carefully for safe operation, and wear proper clothing and safety glasses. Just want everyone to get through this tutorial safely and happily.
Step 2: What You Will Need
For this project you will need the following
(Most of these items can be found at your local hardware store):
- Propane Torch and Propane Canister
- Fire Brick (Or a work surface that will not burn from contact with the propane torch)
- Soldering Wire (Any kind of soldering wire will work. You can use the wire for sweating (soldering) copper pipes)
- Copper Pipe Flux (This is a paste that is used to clean the surface of the copper pipe before soldering. Without cleaning the pipe, you can create a bad solder joint that could fail)
- Metal File (For cleaning up the copper ring edges after cutting)
- Cooper Pipe Cutter (I bought one that can cut a range of pipe diameters)
- Copper Pipe of Various Diameters
- Wire cutters
- An assortment of pliers including short nose and long nose
Now we are ready to have some fun!
Step 3: The Cutting of the Rings!
We begin this adventure by cutting all of the rings for the project. There are no exact thicknesses on this tutorial, because what would be the fun in that. I enjoy creating things at random :3) Use a file to remove any burs and dull the sharp edges. The second to last picture shows all of the rings required for the project, but you can add some or leave some out depending on what design you like. Just make sure to cut at least one kinda thin (see last pic) to be used as the hinge. Some of these rings can be tricky to cut, because of how thin they are. If you have trouble, it makes it easier to move away from the edge of the pipe. Then make several shallow cuts to create a guide, and then go back through and cut the rings out (see second picture). For the main body piece, I made a shallow cut in the middle as a nifty design (5th photo). This too can be added before cutting from the pipe to make it easier. I like this design feature, because it darkens and becomes more prominent with age.
Step 4: The Soldering of the Ring Doors Part One
To build the doors, employed the use of a batch soldering technique I tried out on the last project (Copper Ring Bird Ornament). I call it batch soldering, as it involves soldering several joints at the same time. It does require some setting up beforehand, but the whole operation runs much smoother. This technique is useful when you need to create several joints that are in close proximity. As soldering individually can cause reflow of the other joints. Start off by using pliers to flatten out an inch or two of solder and cut the approximate size show. Next apply flux to both the inside and outside of each ring used in the door. You only need enough to match the length of the solder. Keep in mind that the flux helps to clean the copper and reflow the solder. So excess flux can cause more reflow in areas where you don't need or want solder. One at a time, add the rings and the solder and sandwich together with needle nose pliers.
Step 5: The Soldering of the Ring Doors Part Two
In the first photo above, you will see an outer semi-transparent blue cone and a smaller light blue cone. When soldering you want the tip of the inner light blue cone to touch the solder joints. This is the hottest point of the flame. Slowly move the torch back and forth over all of the joints. After a couple of seconds, you will see the solder reflow, and the rings will begin to pull closer to each other. As soon as all of the joints are reflowed, turn the torch off and leave the piece undisturbed until the solder has time to cool and solidify. You can drip water on the joints to speed this up. Once cool, use a file to clean off any debris and excess solder. Repeat steps four and five to build the other door.
Step 6: Solder One Door to the Body
Cut three pieces of the flattened solder, space out equally on one of the doors, and sit the body on top. Make sure to apply flux where copper touches the solder. Use the torch to reflow each piece of solder and join the two pieces. Your piece is beginning to take shape now :3)
Step 7: Making the Hinge
The hinge is made up of two parts, a copper pin, with 90 degree bends on the ends, and a copper coil. Both can be made from that thin ring you cut earlier. Cut the ring on one side and use pliers to flatten it out. It doesn't need to be perfect, those little imperfections are what make pieces like this special. The coil can be made by twisting one side around a nail, holding in place with pliers, and twisting the other side around the nail. Clip the ends off of the coil and save the unused piece for the other part of the hinge.
Step 8: Soldering the Coil
Now if you thought the doors were difficult to set up and solder, than this could be a challenge. The coil and body will have to be fluxed, placed together with two pieces of solder, and held in place relatively snug while the solder is reflowed and cooled. I ended up using an old clamp I found laying around, which worked perfectly. It was only good for one time, but it did the trick. You can also try laying the body on its side against the coil. There may be better ways of doing this. So if you find a good way to do it, please leave a comment and pics for others to follow. I would appreciate it :3) Despite your best efforts, some solder may have reflowed into the coil, making it difficult to insert the pin. Use a drill with a bit, about the size of the coil hole, to clean the opening back out.
Step 9: Soldering the Hinge Pin
Now the hard parts of this project are over, just one more solder joint to go! Take the remaining straight piece of copper and bend one side 90 degrees. Press this end side against a piece of copper pipe to add a curve to match the other door piece. Flux, sandwich a piece of solder in between,and solder this end piece to the door.
Step 10: Assembling of the Watchamacallit
Now all that's left is inserting the pin/door piece into the coil. Bend the leftover end of the pin in either direction to hold the door in place. Congratulations! You now have a nifty little copper trinket! You can put it on a chain or string and wear it as jewelry, or do what I do and have it close by on your computer table, just something to play with while you wait for that download. If you have any questions about this project, please leave a comment and I will follow up with you. If you like my projects so far, please follow me on here for future projects I will be unrolling. And if you have some free time, check out my Facebook and Etsy pages Moose Art Design (links are on my profile page). Thanks for tuning in and see you again soon!
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