Introduction: Copper and Brass Bamboo in Steel Frame Wall Hanging Sculpture
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I always like to pay attention to different tools and methods that others use to make anything so that I can learn and adapt the methods that work for myself. Keep an open mind as you read this, and find a way to get this done even if you don't have the exact tools or materials that I use.
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Step 1: Start to Finish in Under 5 Minutes!
Step 2: Before Your Begin: Materials (for Each Wall Hanging) and Safety
1 - 8' section of 1 1/4" steel square tube
3' of 1" copper pipe
7' of 3/4" copper pipe
7' of 1/2" copper pipe
2' of 1/4" copper tube
brass brazing rods 1/16" and flux (or fluxed brazing rods)
2 - 5/16" fender washers
This project involves torching, welding, grinding, and hammering.
Please be sure to use all appropriate personal protective equipment for this type of work.
Steel toed work boots, safety glasses, welding mask, welding gloves, respirator / face mask, flame retardant clothing
Be safe, have fun!
Step 3: Cut and Bevel the Copper Pipe
I used a band saw to cut each section of copper pipe to approximate lengths. Cuts can also be done with a pipe cutter or almost any other metal cutting saw.
1" pipe was cut every 10-12"
3/4" was about every 8"
1/2" was about every 6"
and 1/4" tubing was cut about every 3-4"
Remember, this is nature. Making each piece exactly the same will take away from the desired effect.
I made this crazy planishing stand a while back that used a pneumatic hammer and tool rest. It's really made for planishing sheet metal, and worked out fine for this application. I used a flat hammer bit on the pneumatic hammer and a dapping punch on the tool rest. This is a step up from what I used to do, which was to simply place a dapping die on a vise, put a piece of pipe over it, and hit it with a hammer.
The idea is this: put something round inside the pipe, hit the outside of the pipe with something flat, repeat this process while you spin around the pipe, get a bevel.
Step 4: Anneal and Cool
One of Copper's characteristics is that it gets work hardened. When you hit, hammer, or bend it, that area becomes harder to form than the surrounding area. Luckily, work hardening can be reversed by a process called annealing.
I used a MAPP gas torch, available in most home improvement centers (yellow bottle) to heat up the beveled ends of the copper tubing and pipe to a dull red glow (about 800°F). Either let it cool naturally or dunk the copper in water. Copper does not get tempered during cool down, so do whichever you like.
Step 5: Stop, Hammer Time!
Rest the copper pipe pieces on a solid surface. This time around, I am using my 1/4" steel table top, and in the past I've used thick steel scraps and planishing blocks.
Hammer the top with a flat faced hammer to create a bubble end. Flip the pipe over and repeat. The third picture shows what the pipe will look like after you've completed this step.
Step 6: Brazing
I used a piece of right angle steel to create a vee block so I could line up the copper pipe pieces one at a time.
Heat the joint with an oxyacetylene torch, and braze the joint with brass filler rod. Turn the pipe and continue on until the joint is brazed a full 360°. Once this joint is complete, slide it over and start again with a new piece. You want to do this until your sections are about 3 feet or longer.
Other methods to do this:
Silver solder / plumbing solder and propane
NO WELDER??? NO PROBLEM! :)
Sand the ends of each joint and use metal friendly epoxy adhesives.
Step 7: Finalize the Design
I like to line up all of the pieces on a flat surface so that I can move them around and get a feel for what the finished product will look like. Sometimes I even take a piece of chalk or tape and create the boundaries of the frame to get a really accurate view of the final piece.
Now is the time to make any last minute changes.
Step 8: Stop, Change, Start - the Frame
Put aside the copper bamboo for now and begin the frame.
This frame will be made of 1 1/4" steel square tube and measure 22" wide x 36" tall.
I set up my chop saw to a 45° cutting angle, measured out the square tube, and cut out my pieces. Using a chop saw will require a bit of finish filing and grinding to create a smooth cut.
Hand saw with a metal blade
Step 9: Layout and Weld
Lay out the square tube on a flat surface and square up the joints. I use right angle magnets to hold it all together, and double check my work with a speed square.
Tack weld all of the joints. Miter cuts on square tube distort easily during welds, so it's a good idea to put 2 tacks on each face of the joint.
Photo 3- Check your square. Even tack welds can cause distortion. The fastest way to check for squareness is to measure diagonally across. If both measurements are the same, you're good! If not, now is the time to hammer, pry, pull, strap, or do whatever you need to do to correct the joints.
Once you verify squareness, weld away!
Photo 6- I welded two 5/16" fender washers to the inside top of the frame so that I had something to hook onto the wall later on.
Photo 7- (optional) Grind away any excess filler metal (or not). I went with the clean look on this frame, and other times I like to show off the welding beads.
Step 10: Final Assembly
Put it all together!
Lay down the copper tubes on top of the frame and do a final layout.
Mark and cut the bamboo to size so it will fit inside of the frame.
While copper and brass do not need flux to be brazed together, copper and steel do. You'll want to use either a brazing flux and precoat the areas to be brazed, or use fluxed brazing rods. I find it easier to use flux coated brazing rods (less set up).
Focus the heat towards the steel frame, and it will take longer to bring up to temperature. When the joint is sufficiently heated, add filler metal. Do this for the top and bottom of each length of bamboo.
Step 11: Finishing
Now that the assembly is complete, the whole piece will probably be coated in fire scale.
I clean up the steel using a wire cup attached to my angle grinder.
The copper is cleaned using medium and fine abrasive pads on a die grinder and then given a final buffing using a buffing wheel and polishing paste.
After all of the buffing is complete, I clean up any remaining buffing compound with a rag and acetone, let dry, and apply automotive paste wax to protect the shine and finish of the work.
Go find a place to hang this piece up, and marvel at your work!