Sunday, July 8, 2012

Copper Tube Cutting Tutorial.....

MaryAnn Carroll
Lately, I have been spending my time cutting, sanding and enameling copper tubes. My husband Bill did me the favor of cutting LOTS of different sizes for me with a power saw. As you can see they still need to be sanded before I begin enameling. I am also finding that I love the long narrow tubes the most, so I'll need more of those. I can cut those myself since the copper is soft and easy to cut. If you stick around reading this post, I'll show you how to make your own little tubes.


Prior to me wanting large quantities of tubes, I purchased a small tube cutters for under or around $10 at Lowes. These come in various sizes. Today, I am going to show you how simple it is to make your own small tubes with this little tube cutter.


First, a few tips....  I've learned that copper tubing, for the most part, comes with two different wall thicknesses. The thicker (type L) is generally used for plumbing and the one that I have found works best (in my opinion) is type M which weighs less, is easier to cut and works great with enamel.

Here is the 1/4" copper tube that I have. It comes in rolls and you can get quite a few beads out of a roll. This can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot and online. Prices are very reasonable.


You will also need a ruler and a permanent marker. Please excuse the dirty ruler....  I didn't realize how bad it was until I got up close and personal with these photos!!


Now, you are all set. Just straighten out the portion of tubing that you want to use. This is very pliable and straightens by hand. Sometimes, I lightly tap it with a hammer and block. Simply mark off where you want to make your cuts.


Here is a view from the top. The pipe is about 1/4" in diameter. Insert the tube in the cutter and turn the knob so that it is snug against the tube. Rotate the cutter once around the tube. Once rotated once, tighten again and rotate. Continue that same pattern until the cut is finished. Make sure the blade it is snug against the tube after each rotation, but not too tight. You will get a feel for it with practice.


Here is a view from the side. You can see the blade touching the cutter. Continue to rotate and tighten (not too tight or it will smush!!!)


This is a view of the tube which has almost been cut through. A few more rotations and the tube will fall off.


And... here you have it! Two freshly cut tubes....


And, what can you now do with them? Well, if you are like me, you will enamel them. But, like anything copper, there are so many other options as well......

Have fun!



Note: When working with wire and enameled copper tubes, beads, etc., take great care as the wire/copper friction increases the chances of chipping 

As always, thank-you for supporting artists who create handmade with handmade,

MaryAnn

PS Don't forget to check out this month's Strut Your Stuff challenge as well as our double giveaway. Information can be found on the sides.

15 comments:

Kalaya Steede said...

Great tutorial MaryAnn! Merci Beaucoup!

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Awesome tutorial-thank you so much Mary! The enameled copper tubes are gorgeous!

Julie Holmes said...

looks like fun! I may have to try to cloisonne some of those!

Kelli said...

Love the way these turned out. I must go get a tube cutter!!!!!!

KayzKreationz said...

I love copper and love all the different sizes of tube beads your hubby cut for you. I too buy copper tubing from the hardware/home improvement stores for things. Haven't tried enameling any of them yet, though. Will have to add that to my to-do list.

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks for this - my tube cutter came with NO instructions, and all I could manage to do with it is smooshing. Now I need to try again

Cindy Pack said...

OMG, I love these tubes MaryAnn! Thanks for sharing! Those are just too cool! :)

Anne said...

This is great! Thank you for the info. I haven't tried enameling on tubing (just filigree beads and flat things) so feel free to post about how to do that next. :)

Stacie said...

Wonderful tut...and I have been using copper tubing too...love it!

Linda Y said...

Thanks for the tutorial Mary Ann. I had copper tubing on hand but had not done anything other than pound out a pice for a bangle. I made a trip to Lowes today and picked up a cutter. Thanks so much for the instructions. I have enameled a few beads but have done nothing else. Any information you could share about the enameling process would be greatly appreciated. I have only tried emersion and wasn't sure if these were done in a kiln or some other fashion.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Hi,

I've enameled these using the torch-fired enameling method that I learned through Barbara Lewis's online tutorials as well as LOTS of trial and error in terms of the effects I like to achieve. Because I use fire bricks and I have the pulling station by Barbara, I actually fire right until they slide off the mandrel and land upright in the station (without the gravel stuff -I can't think of what that is called-!! Most likely, you could use other bricks, but I would recommend that if you are going to release them from the mandrel like I do that you do have something that will prevent the wall or table from catching on fire.... Check out the tutorial section on our blog. There are a couple of tutorials about enameling. I hope that helps.
MaryAnn

Shaiha said...

What a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

Kathy said...

Great tips, I just love the tube earrings, now I can begin.
Thanks for sharing your talents. Kathy

Cinda Serafin said...

Beautiful!!! I haven't tried using enamel yet, but going to have to try it now. I do use a lot of copper tubing and wire for my jewelry and have found that I can often get it from a metal salvage MUCH cheaper. Plumbers and electricians often save their scraps which are too short for them to use, but perfect for me. They are new quality but have the advantage of being recycled/repurposed! I only pay $3.00 per pound.

Johnny Redding said...

How do you do the enameling on the copper tubes

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