[Woodworkers] Copper metal working

Jason Beam beamer at beamerweb.com
Tue Mar 30 21:21:32 PST 2021

This sounds like a fun challenge!

Reducing the diameter of the sphere might be doable with care but it's 
possible to end up with a lopsided thing pretty easy if you're doing it 
completely by hand. It can be done if you're persnickety and "sneak up" 
on the shape with fine files. Then you'll need to restore the polish 
after that.

As for drilling - copper is really grabby material so you'd want to be 
sure you have the sphere clamped very securely to the drill press table. 
Also, because it's so grabby, especially with drilling, you'll want to 
take a lot of care when presenting the drill to the work. Being prepared 
for it to dive into the work can help but if you have a quill lock on 
your DP, cinch that down just enough to give you a fair bit of added 
friction. This will help your reaction time if it does grab. I'd spin 
the drill slowly, too.

As for cutting - You can cut many nonferous metals with woodworking 
cutters. Since copper is so grabby, I'd be a little more cautious on the 
bandsaw. I'd want to clamp the thing into some kind of captured 
arrangement (like two pieces of sacrificial wood with a divot in them to 
really clamp down on the part. Think tongs made of wood with a screw 
that pulls the jaws together to really clamp down on it. Alternatively, 
it's soft so cutting with a hacksaw would be a lot lower impact and less 

Jason Beam
*Beamer's Brands <https://beamerweb.com>*
On 3/30/2021 2:01 PM, chuck.steger--- via Woodworkers wrote:
> Hope everyone is safe and healthy!
> I need some advice on working solid copper. I’ll give you some context 
> on what I’m doing.
>  I designing and building a Heritage Box for someone. Everything that 
> goes into the design and construction will have some elements from 
> their cultural background. Their mother and grandparents lived and 
> worked in a copper mining town in Chile and copper was a big part of 
> their lives. To bring copper into the design, I will attach the legs 
> to the box using copper rods. Since the legs taper, I will use 1/8”, 
> 3/16”, and ¼” rods and leave a ¼” gap between the legs and box. But 
> this is subtle and I wanted to add something else. So I want to add a 
> copper sphere at the top of the box. I drew up the design full scale 
> and the sphere looks good at ¾”. So, I started researching copper 
> spheres and what I found are jewelry spheres ½” and less or solid 
> spheres 1” and greater. I ordered the 1” spheres which are actually 
> used for plating copper.
> So here are some of my issues/questions/concerns:
>   * Is there any way possible to reduce the diameter? I thought about
>     some kind of holding contraption on a lathe and then using files
>     but that just sounds like a bad idea.
>   * The sphere weights in at 3 oz. Now that may seem light but it’s a
>     little heftier that I wanted because I don’t want it to tip the
>     box over when hinged open. The box footprint will be 8”x12” so it
>     may be OK. I will build a prototype as I always do so I’ll find
>     out. Also with a prototype it will be easy to see if 1” is too
>     big. A ¾” hollow sphere would be perfect but I can’t find that.
>   * Will solid copper drill OK? I would like to drill a hole for a rod
>     to anchor the sphere to the box. I will epoxy the sphere to a
>     cradle but a rod would be so much more secure IMO. And, given the
>     weight, I would feel better.
>   * Here’s another take …. Is there a way to cut the sphere in ½” I
>     only have WW bandsaws so even with a metal blade, WW bandsaws run
>     too fast, don’t they? The thought process here is maybe I take the
>     two half spheres and attach them to the side of the box as an
>     adornment. The design will be mostly Asian so spheres might look
>     good.
>    So you can see the design is in total flux. I’ve started building 
> the prototype out of pine.
> Chuck
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