Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Metalwork in "Tin"

What we call "tin" is actually a form of steel.  Tin is another element.

I have come to really like this metal.  It's practically free, so not a sumptuary item, and working it is a form of upcycling or recycling what would be waste.  That's a good thing, right?

It is quite workable if you learn how to handle it.  I strip old finish off with my little butane torch (outdoors, the fumes are noxious), and then finish cleaning it with Scotchbrite pads for scouring metal, found in most hardware storers.  Anneal it if needed by heating to red-hot, and slowly backing off the torch, quickly covering it with a fire brick for slow cooling.  Harden it by heating and quenching in mineral oil.  It oxidizes well with gun blue paste or even liver of sulfur.

And it cuts with blades 7/0 and higher.  I am trying 8/0 now because newer tins have very thin metal, and remember, you have to have the most teeth per thickness of the metal you can get, about 3, minimum.  I support it on a bench pin.  Any flexing during cutting makes a nasty job, so the bench pin support is crucial for good work.  The dust from cutting is really messy, so I catch it in a cloth or paper bag, and I cover the bench pin with wax paper (this makes for easier cutting because the wax lubricates the saw blade and makes turning the workpiece smooth as silk.

Here's a work in progress shot, with little hands cut from tin, approximately one inch long.

And here's my work shop floor supervisor:

Abbie is a real lady.  Sometimes I break a blade, and if I cuss, she will leave the room.  So I have to watch my language.  She is contributing to my patience and serenity.  Isn't she lovely?

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