John in Oly, WA

My first, but not my last

16 posts in this topic

My first attempt at mokume gane. It's just a stack of U.S. quarters, but it's fun just to run my fingers over it and look at it. It started out as $3.00 worth of quarters. Two didn't stick to the stack, but they stuck to each other. So this is $2.50 worth. I made a small press out of 1/2" steel scrap and four bolts. Pressed the stack in that and put the whole thing in the new heat treat oven. I'll be doing a lot more of this stuff.

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Thanks. Now I need to heat it back up and shape it into something, add some interesting twists or swirls to the layers.

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That did come out nice! What kind of prep did you do before heating it?

I think the biggest mistake guys make early on is using too thin stock to make the clamp and the pressure exerted by the billet spreads the halves. 1/2" looks to about right. What were the bolt diameters?

Frosty The Lucky.

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The prep was just to give the surfaces a brisk rubbing with methyl ethyl ketone to clean them - I'm out of acetone at the moment. Then when I put it in my "press", I put a couple of layers of brown paper between the press and the coins to keep those surfaces from sticking. The bolts were 1/2".

Last night I heated it, reshaped it and put a twist in it. Got a few cold shuts? in it from the twisting, but this is just a learning experience. Seeing what it takes to make it and shape it. Although, my son wants me to shape it into a shark tooth for a pendant on a chain, so I'll see how that goes.

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MEK did it eh? Good bit of info. You have to work it darned hot or the nickle shears. You just twisted it at too low a temperature. I don't know what if anything you can do about the sheared spots (cold shuts sort of) Maybe Teenylittlemetalguy will speak up, I'll link him in. He has a new baby, a toddler, day job and doesn't get time to check IFI very often.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I thought I'd try a simple approach first and see what happened, so MEK was it. Also I was using my new heat treat oven and don't have anything yet to protect the soft firebrick floor, so didn't want to try any kind of flux, AND I forgot about my roll of stainless foil. Maybe could have made an envelope to put it in.

I was heating it to roughly 1930 F, which I thought was just below copper melting point (low eutectic point? Trying to learn the terminology, but might have that wrong). I'll just work around the sheared spots - grind them out on this one.

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This is a big stumbling block for people and an inherent issue to using coins since they are lumpy. IMHO Unless you take the time to flatten the coins you will almost always get what looks like cold shuts. They do not seem to go away with any amount of work. They only disappear when you overfire and melt metal so the oxides stuck in there can dissolve, which will blur your lines or completely combine all the metals into one color. 

You can remove the lumps by hammering the coins flat or sanding them down before welding. I would not recommend sanding Nickel alloys in your shop more than you need to as you can develop allergies. a rolling mill is nice to use if you are going to keep using coins.

I recommend using flat new sheet metal. Your time into Mokume is WAY more of an investment than the extra cost of the metals.  

I would also recommend using something other than paper in you Jig as it burns out and reduces the pressure you put on the stack. I hear liquid paper works. I usually just make sure I have a nice layer of scale on the steel and be sure to not melt the metal. jewelers have Yellow Ochre "anti flux" that works and the welding shop will have products to stop welds as well, I forget the name right now.

Here is a billet I did from copper and cartridge brass sheet. and the item I made from it. 

And finally. Don't get frustrated, this takes some practice to do right. Get a routine of what you know works and stick with it!

 

 

 

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don't bother with flux, it won't help. just keep the hot air off of any surface you want to weld. 

 

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WOW that was fast Tristan. I must've caught you just right. 

You can buy ocre at art stores in the paints. It's iron oxide clay and has been used as a solder, weld, etc. stop for thousands of years. 

Thanks. Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks for the tips MetalGuy. I wondered about that as I was stacking the quarters (they don't stack so well cuz of all those darned bumps they put on the surfaces) that I might trap air inside and wouldn't know it until I was shaping and grinding. Although, it seems to have fused together fairly well. The cracks happened when I twisted it - it looked like the corners were tearing.

I have flat sheets of various metals, but being new to this I thought I'd use quarters the first time or two to get the hang of it. No frustration yet. It's just exciting to see what happens, and the metal has such a nice look and feel to it.

That's a nice looking billet. How big was it at the start?

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Iron pounding gentlemen and ladies greetings,

Larger art stores carry pigments in powder form. Some artists, (including yours truly), use them to make their own dry pastels. (you can formulate them as oil paints too.) That assures that they can make the pastel stick to the hardness the artist prefers and the color hue that is desired. Ocher is a common mineral and is mined in many places. It is not rare. So the cost of the powder should be fairly cheap.

MEK short for methyl ethyl ketone (also known as butanone), is a great degreaser. But use it in a well ventilated area as it is mucho toxic. I have worked in all manner of research laboratories and have used many solvents, and I am inured to most chemicals. But MEK had me walking sideways with a very nasty head buzz. I used a good respirator any time I used it, after that.

So please be careful but you can use it. It does a dandy job on oils and fats.

Regards to all,

SLAG.

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Frosty, just happened to be taking a break when your email came in. 

John, Nickel alloys are difficult to move without cracking. you have to make sure you are hot and don't force it else it will crack. not forgiving like twisting mild steel.  Also those cracks can be really small and hard to see until you move it. Nickel is nice for the high contrast but it comes at a high labor price for you. Silver is much nicer to use.  

That billet was about 1.5"w 2.25"L and after welding about 5/8" thick if I remember right.  I rolled it all out flat before I made anything with it.

Slag has a good point about toxicity. I use 90% rubbing alcohol as it is strong enough to get the job done and less of an issue. I try not to have MEK or Acetone in my shop if I can avoid it. 

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Thank you for the pointers gentlemen. I will definitely keep them in mind.

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MEK is nasty stuff. I believe it is used in the manufacturing of Meth. I had to get a special permitto be able to buy it in larger quantities. Aircraft maintenance uses it all the time. There are much less toxic degreasers that will perform just as adequately for this situation.

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Yeah, MEK is awful indeed.  Back in the day we used to wash our hands free of grease with solutions of either MEK or Trichloroethane.  Worked great, but I shudder to think what it has done to my liver.  Fortunately it wasn't a regular habit.

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I have friends who refer to MEK as Methyl Ethyl Death

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