Heavy Wire Annealing and Twisting Project
This was originally a scrap metal – copper wire-project where I simply wanted to make something one evening with what was on hand. I always have a good bit of reclaimed copper electrical wire – so that became the material at hand. I also felt like pounding – stress relief you know. So, I added a few twists to the material at hand and pounded. Liked the initial result and spent the next several weeks exploring the possibilities. As a club project – Twisted is as simple or as complicated as you the designer makes it! The simplest version is simply twisting an 18-16 ga wire with a cordless drill and flattening/forming and polishing the twisted results. A bit more complicated is the method of coaxing the heavy gauge wire 8-4 ga into a pleasing shape. This will require “Annealing” to get the heavy wire to twist beyond a minimal amount.
Annealing is a common heating process that is employed in many facets of metal working to soften the metal to a workable malleability/ductility. Initial hardness and annealing to modify hardness is an important process to understand if we desire to work metal in the Lapidary Arts. As we “work” a metal i.e. twist it, bend it, form it, press it, hammer it, draw it, the metal becomes very stiff, brittle and unworkable. This is called “work hardening”. The metal will continue to harden as we continue to work it until it eventually fails/breaks due to it brittleness. Most of us have used this property to “snap” off a bit of wire or metal when snips are not available. If that “snap” is inadvertent and you intend on using the entire piece of metal, it is a disaster! To work metal further after work hardening without the risk of breakage, we need to soften or anneal it. This is a simple process where we heat the metal to “cherry red” or an even glow (but prior to melting) and quickly quench it in cold water. Protect yourself from the steam/splash from the quenching. (Note: do NOT quench in Pickle. Instead of a cloud of steam, you will have a noxious cloud of acid in the shop!) When the piece is removed from the water bath, you will find that it is incredibly soft – “dead soft” is the technical term. You can now work the metal further. When it again becomes too hard to work – simply anneal it again. Annealing can also be performed in a kiln but that is a longer process. Care must be taken when annealing as small/thin/ pieces with varied thicknesses, the melting point can be reached easily.
What you will need:
Personal Safety goggles
We provide the wire, tools and torches/fuel.
Cost: Light gauge 18-16 ga. Copper wire to form a bracelet - $1.00 (wire and fuel)
Heavy gauge 6 ga. Copper wire to form a bracelet – $3:00 (wire and fuel)