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I Forge Iron

Copper Counter

Gayle Brooks

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We had a 10' x 4' copper counter to build. In previous years we had used a contact cement that is no longer available. Up researching the other products I had found the TC-20 and ordered some.

In preparation we got some pieces of 18" x 18" plywood and prep the surface with a sander to clean and ruff it a little. The copper had a very slight dimple texture. This was flatten and annealed. We cleaned the copper with a Brillo pad and acetone to clear any residue/scale and wiped it clean.

Our process of placing the copper onto the wood was a piece of plate with a 150lb anvil on it to insure the copper was laying flat on the plywood making as much contact to the surface area as possible. We also did other test runs with different adhesives on different boards. In all we had the tc-20, silicone, pl-400, and a contact cement. We each test piece sit for 24 hours.

Our results found that the contact cement failed due to it was water based and caused the copper to corrode. The Tc-20 did try to stick in some places but in all did not adhere. The pl-400 did work but had a "squishing" result and could be felt when we pressed the copper. We were also afraid of it hardening and not accomplishing the flatness needed for a counter. The silicone performed the best and was what we were looking for.

Because of time we had to get the project done with what we found to work for our application. This is a very large counter and a challenge being so large. We ended up using one of our working table tops (a 1" thick plate that is 5' x 10') and stacking anvils, for weight, over the copper counter.

Has anyone else attempted this, and what did you use? I have some pics of all the anvils on the counter lol, Ill post it when I can find it. The attached picture was the trial run where the tc-20 failed.

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My first thought was will the silicone release when it`s heated as you know someone will put a hot pot or pan down on the "metal" counter top.If you go with silicone then maybe one with a high heat application may be safer.

That being said,when laminating wood to metal in boatyards we used West System epoxy if a no heat application(epoxy will release with heat) or a marine sealer called 5200 if we needed some give and to allow for flex.5200 was used on thru hull fittings near engines so we also felt more comfortable using this under mild heat.
What ever you use I would also recommend bagging the assembly and using a vac press to ensure a complete and total bond.Much more positive and less trouble than wrestling anvils. :)

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Nice. I was reading around and found:


They don't recommend the high temperature applications (over 190F) but it sounds that the pure aggressiveness of it is great! Im keeping this stuff noted for later.

This particular one was a counter for a bar. We did not have access to a vacum press for a single sheet that was 10'x 4' If we ever end up doing a slug of small ones, chances are we will build that tool.

There is a sign off on these counters that the client knows the copper reacts to heat and how easily it scratches as well. I personally think they look neat, but wouldn't not recommend one for normal use.

The places we bought our copper sell it at what the market rate was going. The 10' x 4' sheet was around $280 at the time to give you an idea. In colorado I went to a company called Olympic Metals.

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Just so you know,5200 comes in clear and a variety of colors.

As far as the bagging system goes,you can use the table you`re using now as a base and just seal a one sided bag to that.
Once you have a vac pump you`ll find all kinds of uses for it.Clamping is especially handy with a rig like this.
A high quality HVAC unit running on 110 volts can be found for less than $200 on either Ebay or CL around most urban areas.

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5200 is opaque, and comes in white, black, and 2 shades of brown (tan and mahogany) Excellent product, but requires moisture to cure, and has a small expansion in volume as it cures (not well documented expansion) that may show through thin sheet as wrinkles. Thicker sheet metal would be no problem though.

West System starts to weaken at a slightly higher temperature, I want to say about 350F (I can't find my reference). I had to help people remove bedded bolts like engine mounts. Heating a steel rod then holding against the bolt head for about a minute. Everything would come apart nicely then. "if you see smoke its too hot" kinda situation.

You would need to apply a primer to the copper to use epoxy. Probably a "self etching" product that was compatible with the epoxy.


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I made a brass countertop in my house. The first try was with West System epoxy. Clean virgin AC plywood substrate, sanded and cleaned the brass with acetone. Put the epoxy on with a toothed spreader. Laid it all up with moderate clamping pressure, warm room temperature. The bond was an total and complete failure.

Next try , ground both surfaces back to clean and smooth with a good tooth. Applied Welbond water based "more than great glue" with a notched spreader.Clamped it down with moderate even pressure and let it cure for a couple of days. Any squeeze out cleaned up with water. This made a perfect solid bond that's held tight for years.

The glue is white , but cures clear . Out of the bottle it is about the consistency of thick Elmers glue. It is water based and non toxic. The bond is waterproof and does not seem to be effected by heat

I've had some other dramatic failures with epoxy.

Although my experience was with brass , I bet this would work with your copper sheet

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Just for future reference I'll mention that several laminates (Formica-type) are available that have a copper look or REAL copper and simplify this process if you can find the "look" that you desire among them. Some can even be patinated if you want/need that. I have worked with some of them on past projects.

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I'll add another vote for 5200, good stuff. It's a 3M product, not sure if anyone's mentioned that yet, something like $25/tube thru McMaster. If I recall the various colors relate to cure time. As for finding a vac bag set up, any good cabinetry shop should have one for gluing veneer panels, they should also have scrapers and rollers to help you get an even coat, and most cab shops might be glad of a little extra work right now.

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