How to Harden Brass

Written by derek brown
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How to Harden Brass
Work-hardening metal is one of the oldest metalworking techniques still in use. ( Images)

In jewellery making, brass is a low-cost alternative to precious metals that can be used to create great-looking pieces. In some instances, you may want to harden brass before working on it to lend it extra strength. Unlike other metals, brass cannot be heat-hardened as this will only make it softer. Brass must be work-hardened by heating it and then hammering or rolling it together.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Torch, acetylene/oxygen or propane/oxygen
  • Brass sheet
  • Pliers
  • Steel block or anvil
  • Hammer
  • Rolling mill

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  1. 1

    Light the torch and adjust it to a medium intensity flame. A 1-inch cone of blue flame will emanate from the torch.

  2. 2

    Anneal the brass by passing the flame over the brass until it glows a dull red. You can see the colour easier by turning off the lights. Remove the flame and allow the metal to cool for one to two seconds before applying heat again to return it to a dull red colour. Do this three to five times. If the metal begins to melt, stop heating it.

  3. 3

    Grab the brass using the pliers and place it on the steel block or anvil. Fold the brass in half and hammer the two pieces together. Pick the brass up using the pliers.

  4. 4

    Turn the wheel on top of the rolling mill clockwise to open the rollers. Place the brass in the rollers and turn the wheel counterclockwise until the rollers touch both sides of the brass. Remove the brass and turn the wheel half a turn counterclockwise.

  5. 5

    Insert the brass and turn the handle until the rollers grab the brass and pull it through. This will squeeze the metal together. Turn the wheel another half turn counterclockwise and roll it two to three more times.

  6. 6

    Fold the brass again and repeat the rolling step two to three more times. The brass is now hardened.

Tips and warnings

  • If you continue to harden the brass it will become brittle and crack.
  • The metal will be very hot after annealing and during rolling. Use the pliers when handling the metal.

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