jmeineke

1/4" Brass beads

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I'm trying to find out how to go about making 1/4" to 5/16" beads from round bar stock. These would be rather small to work with a hammer, so I'm not sure exactly how to do it. I'd prefer not have to file or grind.

I'm not opposed to forging them out of mild steel for this project either (actually, I'd kind of prefer to), but brass sounds like it would be a lot easier to work at this size and I'm guessing it could be done cold.

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I would look into making a swaging die setup. Put the rod in, and whack it a few times to get the shape.

There was a thread awhile back where someone was making balls on the ends of bars, They had pictures of the dies they made, as well as sizing the bar correctly to fill the die up.

If you need brass bar stock, let me know. I can buy the bar ends from work, when we run brass from time to time. I may even have some here already.

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I'm trying to find out how to go about making 1/4" to 5/16" beads from round bar stock. These would be rather small to work with a hammer, so I'm not sure exactly how to do it. I'd prefer not have to file or grind.

I'm not opposed to forging them out of mild steel for this project either (actually, I'd kind of prefer to), but brass sounds like it would be a lot easier to work at this size and I'm guessing it could be done cold.


Another way would be to make a small spring/guillotine tool with the top and bottom 'blades' made to the profile of the radius required and put a relief 'hole' through the centre to prevent the bar being severed when forging, (make a small smooth radius on the edge of this hole to prevent the tendency for the spheres to crack off)

All you have to do then is use this tool at a regular interval to produce the bead effect,

If you use brass, I would think they would become brittle and prone to breakage particularly if done cold

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I would look into making a swaging die setup. Put the rod in, and whack it a few times to get the shape.

There was a thread awhile back where someone was making balls on the ends of bars, They had pictures of the dies they made, as well as sizing the bar correctly to fill the die up.

If you need brass bar stock, let me know. I can buy the bar ends from work, when we run brass from time to time. I may even have some here already.


I'll try to find that thread. I may be able to get brass rod local pretty cheap but will have to see. Thanks for the offer - I'll keep that in mind.


Another way would be to make a small spring/guillotine tool with the top and bottom 'blades' made to the profile of the radius required and put a relief 'hole' through the centre to prevent the bar being severed when forging, (make a small smooth radius on the edge of this hole to prevent the tendency for the spheres to crack off)

All you have to do then is use this tool at a regular interval to produce the bead effect,

If you use brass, I would think they would become brittle and prone to breakage particularly if done cold


Thanks - I'll look into that too. Speaking of guillotines, this one really caught my eye: http://www.iforgeiro...post__p__177607.

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With silver and gold you can cut a piece of sheet or wire, flux and heat till it jumps into a ball , should work with brass.
Use your O/A torch on a smooth fire brick.

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I have lots of copper bars too, and less expensive than retail B)

If you work it hot, or just anneal it, you should be able to get the job done with a set of dies. Rotate the bar in the dies as you hit them, and they should come out pretty round.

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I have lots of copper bars too, and less expensive than retail B)

Can you get 5/16" rod? I need enough to make a minimum of 60 balls, 60 * (5/16) = 18 3/4", so 2' should do the job. I should probably get 3' just in case. Wonder if I should use 3/8" and draw it out - that would give some extra character that I hope to impart to the finished piece.

I still have to figure out how to make the dies, though - haven't done anything like this before.

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Copper is a joy to work compared with brass! With proper annealing it should work great. BTW you might look up some articles on swaging of blackpowder balls as what you will be doing could be quite similar...

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I will see what I have available. I currently have some 7/8"listed, but haven't gotten to some of the other stock I recently picked up yet. More than likely what I will have are bar ends that run around 7" long. We run copper in diameters from 1/16" up to 7/8", so I should be able to come up with some 5/16"

A couple of ways to make the dies. First is having a machinist make them with a ball endmill. Two blocks with a plunge of the endmill, and a front relief.

Second method is carve them out with a Dremel.

Third method. Take a ball bearing the correct size, and smash it between two blocks that are red hot.

4th is form a ball on the end of a rod, and do as in the 3rd method.

It all depends on how perfect you want them to turn out.

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or you could cut off a small length and use a top and bottom rivet snap of suitable dimension

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I finally got back around to this project. I built a small guillotine tool and made the dies like John B suggested. It seems to be working pretty well. I'm still getting the technique down, but I've made a half dozen beads.

I bought a 5/16" ball end mill and tack welded the dies together, drilled a small relief hole and then ball milled half a sphere into each side. I also had to drill out some swages to fuller the rod down to 5/16".

To do the final shaping, I use another die set with just two half spheres in the center (picture 4). After that, I file off the rough edges and then lightly hammer it in a 1/4 sphere (pic 6) to get the finish I'm looking for.

post-11274-042870300 1285993586_thumb.jp

post-11274-039386600 1285993591_thumb.jp

post-11274-023200400 1285993595_thumb.jp

post-11274-076414600 1285993598_thumb.jp

post-11274-071593000 1285993603_thumb.jp

post-11274-072405800 1285993613_thumb.jp

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I finally got back around to this project. I built a small guillotine tool and made the dies like John B suggested. It seems to be working pretty well. I'm still getting the technique down, but I've made a half dozen beads.

I bought a 5/16" ball end mill and tack welded the dies together, drilled a small relief hole and then ball milled half a sphere into each side. I also had to drill out some swages to fuller the rod down to 5/16".

To do the final shaping, I use another die set with just two half spheres in the center (picture 4). After that, I file off the rough edges and then lightly hammer it in a 1/4 sphere (pic 6) to get the finish I'm looking for.



Glad its working for you, not quite what I had in mind but similar, I would have deepened the spherical holes to reduce the centre spindle length to probably a 1/16", and then I would try rotating the workpiece as you forge, it should also save on material wastage.

I would not have expected to have to remove the flashing, you should have a spherical section leaving a small diameter at the centre which can just be nipped off and will dress in with the hammer or a light filing, it would not hurt if it actually fell off as you forged the next one, in fact you could probably incorporate a depth stop/shear to help locate the workpiece ready for forging the next one,

Nevertheless Well Done its all a learning curve.

Wouldn't telepathy be helpful in situations like this, or better still, I should make up what I mean and post a piccie.

I will see what I can do, I have a larger version of what I am talking about in the workshop or Westpoint I think, if I can lay my hands on it, basically it is very similar in principle and profile to yours, but a simple spring type, with a smaller length waist, it can be used to make balls, or round ended cylinders (catstails/ bull rushes?), or graduated ball tapers.

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Glad its working for you, not quite what I had in mind but similar, I would have deepened the spherical holes to reduce the centre spindle length to probably a 1/16", and then I would try rotating the workpiece as you forge, it should also save on material wastage.

I would not have expected to have to remove the flashing, you should have a spherical section leaving a small diameter at the centre which can just be nipped off and will dress in with the hammer or a light filing, it would not hurt if it actually fell off as you forged the next one.

Nevertheless Well Done its all a learning curve.

Wouldn't telepathy be helpful in situations like this, or better still, I should make up what I mean and post a piccie.

I will see what I can do, I have a larger version of what I am talking about in the workshop or Westpoint I think, if I can lay my hands on it, basically it is very similar in principle and profile to yours, but a simple spring type, with a smaller length waist, it can be used to make balls, or round ended cylinders (catstails/ bull rushes?), or graduated ball tapers.


I'd love to see what you're talking about. Yeah, I'm wasting quite a bit of copper. I'm making spheres, but not quite getting the concept of how to build the dies. The first set I made failed completely. Basically on that set I drilled a small relief hole and then put the two half spheres in the center (pic 1). It didn't work or I just wasn't working it - not sure. I ended up reusing the dies by just welding up what I drilled out and then ground it flat and started over.

Pic 2 is what I've got right now, but I'm not rotating the stock at all - just pounding the crud out of it. So you're saying I should just drill the spheres deeper and leave 1/16" in the center?

post-11274-073464700 1286055306_thumb.jp

post-11274-032950700 1286055366_thumb.jp

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Looking at your picture 2, I would suggest deepening the rear(exit side)to give the 1/16" dimension,

I would also chamfer all around the edges to allow forging as you rotate the piece, if not you will be left with a lot of splines around the sphere

When you feed the stock in to be forged, if you are making a 1/4" diameter ball, you don't feed it in 1/4", try 3/16" to 9/32" because as you forge the next shoulder, it will seem to push the work forward as the material is compressed, you could make a swinging back stop for repeatability when this measurement is established. (first one will be scrap as it has the square unforged end but you may be able to finish it in your other tooling)

It may take a couple of tries to get this spot on, You can then, if you have to, finish them in your other tooling as you do now, but it should remove a fair bit of the work you are currently having to do on them.

Try First hit, rotate 90 degrees, second hit rotate another 90 degrees, third hit, rotate again (reverse direction won't hurt and easier to do), by which time you should be best part formed, then continue rotating (this size should roll between your fingers) and hitting until dies bottom out, ball should then be complete, and it can be knocked off or it will fall off. Feed forward and repeat, Feed forward and repeat, Feed forward and repeat, Feed forward and repeat, for what will seem like forever, but will actually go quite quickly.

Good luck, and I'll try to get those pics.

Probably takes longer to read this than it will take to actually do it,

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Looking at your picture 2, I would suggest deepening the rear(exit side)to give the 1/16" dimension,

I would also chamfer all around the edges to allow forging as you rotate the piece, if not you will be left with a lot of splines around the sphere
...


Ok - I'll increase the depth of the exit / chamfer the edges a bit more and try the rotation technique. Looking forward to seeing those pics. Thanks for info!

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Ok - I'll increase the depth of the exit / chamfer the edges a bit more and try the rotation technique. Looking forward to seeing those pics. Thanks for info!


This pic shows the type of application (larger than yours, but similar principle) that the spring tool was made for, had to drag them out of my scrap pile, so not in pristine condition but you will get the idea.

post-816-020668500 1286208172_thumb.jpg and close up post-816-008266600 1286208145_thumb.jpg

The tool used was similar to this one but fitted in the hardie hole on the anvil, by varying the pitch between grooves you can get a graduated series of ball profiles, cleaned up with a file to finish.

post-816-014958200 1286208364_thumb.jpg post-816-000718500 1286208393_thumb.jpg post-816-084139200 1286208417_thumb.jpg

Hope this helps and look forward to hearing on your progress with your project.

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Very nice work there.

I increased the depth like you suggested and am getting much better results with a lot less waste and less effort (no pics yet, but will post some as soon as I am able).

Looking at your dies, would you recommend that I mill the entire length (or maybe just a wider section in the middle, twice the length of the ball?). What about a relief hole - would you still recommend one?

Based on what you're using to make yours, here's what I'm thinking (minus the relief hole - haven't mastered making cutting curves into curved surfaces in sketchup).

post-11274-098943000 1286213014_thumb.jp

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Very nice work there.

I increased the depth like you suggested and am getting much better results with a lot less waste and less effort (no pics yet, but will post some as soon as I am able).

Looking at your dies, would you recommend that I mill the entire length (or maybe just a wider section in the middle, twice the length of the ball?). What about a relief hole - would you still recommend one?

Based on what you're using to make yours, here's what I'm thinking (minus the relief hole - haven't mastered making cutting curves into curved surfaces in sketchup).




I would suggest just a wider section in the middle, and a small relief area (not necessarily a hole, but a void) crescent shaped to avoid cutting the blank off before you have formed it round. That crescent shape also helps to guide the bar as you rotate and forge deeper.

You can then still use the other two swage areas to forge down the parent stock to the size you require, (keeps it all on one set of tooling, always a useful bonus)

The reason the dies shown are like they are is because how they were made, I just forged the bar down in between two round bars about the size I wanted at each end of a bar, flattened the centre and formed the shape to make a spring tool, I use it with a hand or treadle hammer, and it would benefit by putting in a crescent relief area to leave a solid centre, I can still cut off the bar by moving along to where the jaws meet at the end (or in your case at either side of this widened area)

I think a major problem is the small size of what you are trying to produce, but the technique works on larger items and should work for your smaller sized work.

Hope this makes sense and helps.

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Yes that looks about right, just break the sharp corners at the centre and other sharp edges

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