The Crossroads of the Aether
Hi! I have obtained a large amount of aluminum samples that I’d love to up-cyle into various steampunk trinkets and doo-dads. The office was just going to throw them out. These samples are 3x5, painted on one side with an architectural quality finish. I am completely ignorant about metalworking in general and have no experience. I have tried doing internet research but the terminology is sometimes beyond me and I can’t quite afford classes- yet. My first thought was to make tiny chests/boxes and decorate them. I would like some advice as to where to start teaching myself to work with simple metals using the most basic techniques. But mainly at the moment I’m curious to know if soldering works well with aluminum as I have a solder tool and what types of adhesives work best with metal (specifically aluminum), and how do I cut it (if possible)? Also I would love some more ideas as to what to do with all this metal!
Thanks in advance to any replies!
One of the best places to start is with the works of Tim McCreight. His "Complete Metalsmith" has been a standard for years, and pretty much anything he writes is very good. Secondhand copies of "Complete Metalsmith" seem to be starting at about $5 now. It covers the whole range of techniques (don't let that overwhelm you), but for each he starts at zero and explains it with good illustrations. He's done more specialized books as well (e.g. for jewelry specifically, etc.)
As far as cutting, a Bench Pin (google on "bench pin") and a Jeweler's Saw (ditto on google) are amazingly useful. There's a lot that can be done with two-part epoxy and mechanical fasteners (e.g. rivets - even cheap "pop rivets") before getting into the issues involved with soldering. Work safely and have fun!
David M. MacMillan
You will probably need to invest in some basic tools like aviation snips:
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/index.php?sid=7d4bc287aaacf4... is not a bad place for techniques, ideas, and questions (with only a few trolls). Don't be afraid to mess up or waste the aluminum plates; there is always more scrap metal to be had.
Solder does not work worth a damn. Aluminum melts at 1100°F and you'll end up either too hot or too cold. TIG welding is your best option but way beyond you at this point. A jeweler's saw would work well to cut it provided it's very thin. If it's thicker, a band saw with a fine toothed glad would work well. Glues pretty much suck on all metals, it's just not easy to bond to them and if you do it'll just pop off. If you can afford, the military and NASA all use some pretty awesome glues on metals. But the price point is outrageous. If it's a large quantity. Find a local salvage yard and see what they're paying per pound/kg for extruded aluminum and then see how much you'd like to sell to pay for your gear to work on the rest. If you've got a lot you could also sell some as accent tiles. Aluminum tiles are kind of a thing right now.
I am a big fan of tap and die. Drill a hole, thread it and screw it together. I once cast a get well card in aluminum and screwed on the hinge. Epic win.
Remember, Philips head screws are mid 20th Century.
I’m so thrilled to have all this advice! I will check out the book by Tim McCreight. I’ll begin a list of basic tools that you gentlemen have so kindly started on and check out the flea markets this weekend! Captain, images are always great, I am a bit of a visual learner, and thank you for the link, I will pour over it later. If the leaf is your work, hats off! Thanks for the warning about soldering retech, I know it does not work well with certain metals. S.D. Helfrich- all of that is great advice and some really amazing ideas, I’ve been meaning to pick up a dremel tool for some time now. Zebulon (love the name btw) the card is ingenious! I definitely have a lot of inspiration now, and I feel as though I have a clue now where to start. Thanks again everyone!