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lyuv

Brass brushing/coloring

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I know it's posssible to give iron work a brass finish by brushing it while hot. I bought a brush that has a brass color, but it didn"t do the trick.

1. What type of brush do I need? Is it brass or other metal?

2. Is there a certain technique to it? (like brush only above/under red hot, ect.)

Thanks,

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3 hours ago, lyuv said:

I know it's posssible to give iron work a brass finish by brushing it while hot. I bought a brush that has a brass color, but it didn"t do the trick.

1. What type of brush do I need? Is it brass or other metal?

2. Is there a certain technique to it? (like brush only above/under red hot, ect.)

Thanks,

1. You need a BRASS brush. Some brushes that look like brass are really brass-coated steel. No good. Take a magnet with you. If it jumps to the magnet, it's not brass.

2. The technique is simple. Lightly apply the brush when your piece is below red heat. Well below. No visible colour.  If it's too hot the brass just disappears and if it's too cool the brass won't take. Experiment and you'll find the right temp.

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Another option for a slightly different effect (also good if you can't find a brass brush) is to use a piece of solid brass. A brush will do almost the entire surface, while a solid piece will only give color to the highest points. It's a more subtle effect, but it really helps bring out the texture of a hammered piece. For example, here's a leaf that I did with brassed highlights:

3844A5AD-53F5-4691-80E7-96AAD7A49227.jpeg

Just as with the brush, the solid piece should be like Baby Bear's porridge: not to hot, not too cold; just right.

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Note too that "brass" is not a single alloy but rather applies to hundreds if not thousands of alloys.  Some work better than others.  When you find a source that does what you want it is advisable to stock up as the alloy can change at the manufacturer's whim. (If you have a handful of them squirreled away in the shop if pretty much guarantees you will have them to use right up until you are on a crash project that requires it and your last one will disappear just like the manufacturer has since your last purchase...) 

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I've had good luck with brass brasses out of Asia on ebay, cheap, half a dozen for under 10 bucks delivered, and nice low quality brushes where the brass is soft and tends to come off on to your steel nicely! Absolutely useless if your actually wanting to brush something off something, to soft.  One of the few times low quality is of an advantage :)

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Depending on how bright you want the finish, I've had a nice result by first wire wheeling the piece which semi polishes it up to a dull silver, then back into the forge for seconds to bring up the temp again, then brush hard with the brass.

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I had a similar problem finding genuine brass brushes, hunted high and low and everything I found was just brass coated steel.....then I realise I already had a couple! BBQ grille cleaning brushes are brass (at least here in the UK)....since made a few copper brushes to try out (not done so yet) from twisted electrical wire. As soon as I try them I'll let you know how the worked.

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Smoggy, I have tried the copper brushes. They work OK if you want a very dull patina, very much like an old penny. There may be brighter brushes available than the copper TOKO ski brush I have. Please let us know how your electrical wire brushes work.

Jackdaw, yes you can get some reasonable ones from Hong Kong through eBay but they are very soft and lose the bristles out of the wood easily if you get rough with them. I recently bought a bunch of the really small ones but they are brass-coated steel. I complained to the seller that it was falsely described and they apologised and refunded the purchase price. I use them to sweep scale off the anvil.

Viking: I agree. The wire wheel gives a really good base for the brass. The cleaner the metal the better. For thin pieces like rose leaves you can even get them hot enough on the wheel without reheating in the forge.

And JHCC, that technique with the solid brass is interesting. Thanks. I will try that tomorrow on a leaf-handled poker.

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Ausfire, I've also been informed that aluminium bristled wire brushes also work but not tried it, furthermore if you alloy brush first and then copper brush it provides a base that brings the copper out better, I'll hopefully get round to trying it by the month end as I'm due to be demoing with ID so time premitting if we don't get too busy I'll get the chance to try and report back.

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As to copper you may need the part to be hotter than brass as it has a higher melting temp, and also conducts heat extremely well.

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I have some bronze brushes (copper) and I’ve found that they actually transfer at a lower temp than my brass brushes.  Also the bronze has a much narrower temp range that works.  Generally it is much more work to get a nice bronze limning than to use brass... I like it well enough to pay the price sometimes though.

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