Saturday, March 23, 2013

What kind of Metal can I texture?

by Staci Smith

This was the first question I asked when buying my metal supplies.  I remember how shocking it was that you could use 24 gauge metal and it wasn't paper thin.  I was thinking in wire terms, and thought it would be frail and thin.  Now, the number gauges run in the same way wire does, smaller number, thicker gauge, but they certainly feel very different.
So I thought I'd give you a little information on metal sheet.
The most popular metals are sterling silver, copper and brass.  I highly recommend starting with copper.
Copper is softer then brass, and cheaper then sterling silver.  So it works easy, and if you make a mistake, it's not a devastating financial loss like it would be with sterling silver.

When you go to buy sheet metal, some places sell set cuts- like 3x6" or 6x12".  Others (like let you choose your own cut size.  This is handy to know depending on what you plan to do.
For example, at Thunderbird, you can order 10 pieces cut at 2x7.5" if you are planning to make cuffs (not sure what cuff standards is, I just picked that measurement at random)- they are pre-cut to the size you want.  They also have the option of set sizes.
Another thing to consider when ordering or buying sheet, is how you plan to cut it, and what you want to use it for.  26 gauge is very thin, very lightweight and easy to manipulate.  This is great for fold forming items that may be used in earrings.  I also use 24 gauge often for earring designs so they aren't too heavy. 
If you need something to be sturdy and unbendable under stress, you want to use a thicker gauge, 22-18 gauge.  Keep in mind how you plan to cut these sheets.  You can only use metal shears up to 22 gauge (usually).  So if you need thicker metal sheet, you will need to saw it.
I have ordered the standard large sheets of metal 6x12" and I found them too bulky to work with.  I don't have a quick way to cut them down, so it's been awkward to work with them, which I why I like to customize my sheet size.
I hope that helps with some questions you may have on buying sheet metal.  For a beginner, especially for our Metal texture Boot Camp, I highly recommend copper.  It cuts and stamps like butter!
We can't wait to see what you guys are working on.  Remember- the blog hop is April 8th.  On that day, you will be able to link up to our site.  Happy hammering.


Patricia Wood said...

Great post, thanks for sharing:)

freshbakeddesigns said...

Thanks, Staci, for this post about a confusing subject for us newbies to metal working. I would also recommend searching out industrial metal supply stores or scrap metal recycling centers in your area. There's one near me that sells copper sheet scraps (average 5X7 inch) for less than $5 a pound. You can purchase any amount. I'm estimating that it's mostly 24 gauge. A real steal!
Another metal that easily textures that you might consider is aluminum. Search out the same resources.


Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks, Staci! You can also check around with roofing companies in your area. I got a bunch of free copper sheets that were extras! It takes some calling around and be prepared for them to think you are a little kooky!

supere67 said...

Thanks Staci! I didn't realize the guages of sheet metal felt thicker than the wire. So, I'm wondering if the sheets are like the wire with different stiffness: dead soft, half hard, etc? Also, can you texture without annealing first?

supere67 said...

Thanks Staci! I didn't realize the guages of sheet metal felt thicker than the wire. So, I'm wondering if the sheets are like the wire with different stiffness: dead soft, half hard, etc? Also, can you texture without annealing first?

supere67 said...

Thanks for this info, Staci. I had no idea that 24ga metal wouldn't be thin and pliable like the wire. I'm wondering if the sheet metal has different stiffness like the wire: dead soft, half hard, etc? Also, can you texture the metal without annealing it first?

Rising Designs said...

Awesome post Staci,thanks!
I have a bunch of 40 gauge copper sheet- just wondering if there are any suggestions for its use.
Nancy @Rising Designs

freshbakeddesigns said...

P.S. if you have small pieces of thicker metal sheet that you want to 'thin out'...if you have access to a rolling mill, just run it through a few times.

Luthien Thye said...

what perfect timing! i was just contemplating purchasing some brass sheets to work on but didn't know exactly which gauge to buy! thanks for sharing this info :) xo

stacilouise said...

You don't have to anneal your sheet first, but it will soften it. Perhaps for brass its a good idea, since it is a tougher metal, and doesn't texture as easily. I am not sure about the sheet having different hardness's. I know Rio lists it as dead soft, but I don't think I've seen it otherwise. dead soft is not soft though, and after texturing, it will be harder since you are condensing the particles tighter.

supere67 said...

Thanks for all the info, Staci!

Shaiha said...

What a great post! I am just now exploring stamping and playing with textures.

Ann said...

Thanks for the great info! I am looking to start metal working with aluminium to make earrings and brooches. I want to curve them slightly but have no malleability when they are finished. What gauge would you suggest?

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