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Hammer Your Own Copper Hardware Washington DC

Reshape one flat hammer face into a shallow dome (Fig. A, Planishing Hammer) using a disc or belt sander. The shape of the dome determines the size of the mark. I found a 5 frasl;16-in.-dia. mark the most attractive. Some areas that need texture are too small for the planishing hammer, so I domed the tip of a length of steel rod.

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Hammer Your Own Copper Hardware

Hammer Your Own Copper Hardware

By David Olson

It’s a fact. Hardware doesn’t have to come from a catalog. You can make your own. The raw materials are inexpensive—$80

for the whole project. You won’t have to buy lots of special metalsmithing tools, because most of the things you’ll need are

already in your shop. Learning the techniques for working copper can be rewarding and fun. Annealing and work hardening

were new to me, and may be to you, but cutting, hammering, and drilling are familiar to woodworkers. 

Working Copper is A BLAST!

I was pleased with the very first copper piece I made, and my results kept getting better the more I practiced. Once you’re familiar with the techniques, you’ll be able to make all the hardware for the  Stickley-style sideboard —or just about any Mission or Arts and Crafts style piece of furniture in a couple of weekends. If you decide to try making your own, I guarantee that you will enjoy the process and be thrilled by the results. 

Materials and Sources

For the sideboard you’ll need 2 sq. ft. of 48-oz. copper sheet stock (.064 gauge) for hinge straps and backplates, 3 ft. of 5⁄16-in. copper rod stock (AISI grade #110) for bails, 10 in. of 1⁄2-in. by 1⁄2-in. copper bar stock for posts, and 10 in. of 4-gauge copper grounding rod for post pins (Photo 19).  Sheet metal and architectural metal fabricators are often willing to sell the small amounts of sheet stock you’ll need. Rod and bar stock is harder to find. Try salvage yards or order through the mail (see Sources, below). Grounding rod is available anywhere electrical wiring supplies are sold. You’ll also need pickling flux and silver solder, and perhaps a patinizing solution (see “The Look of Aged Copper,” below). All of these things are also available through the mail (see Sources).

Tools

The only specialized tools you’ll need to work the copper are hammers and a punch, something to pound on, a heat source, and places to heat and cool the metal. 

You can buy real metalsmithing hammers (about $25 apiece, see Sources,), or use some elbow grease and make your own from inexpensive 16-oz. ball peen hammers ($6 each). Be sure to wear eye protection when you try this. 

Reshape one flat hammer face into a shallow dome (Fig. A, Planishing Hammer) using a disc or belt sander. The shape of the dome determines the size of the mark. I found a 5⁄16-in.-dia. mark the most attractive. Some areas that need texture are too small for the planishing hammer, so I domed the tip of a length of steel rod  (Fig. A, Mini-planisher). Shape the face of the second hammer into a shallow-domed rectangle that slopes toward the handle (Fig. A, Forming Hammer).

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