- Cutting Copper and Brass
- Cutting copper
and brass is easily done if the proper tools and techniques suited
to the gauge of metal being cut are employed. Care should be
taken in that cut edges of metal are sharp. Wearing gloves is
a good safeguard against getting cut on the metal's edge.
- Thin gauges of
sheet metal such as 30 and 36 gauge can be cut using a standard
household scissors. The edge of the blades will dull slightly
so don't use the pair that you would normally reserve for fabric.
It is possible to cut straight lines as well as circles and intricate
shapes by gently flexing the metal out of the way as the scissors
cuts, just as you would in cutting heavy paper. Intricate shapes
or interior cutting can be done with a utility or Exacto knife.
- Long straight
lines can be cut using a utility knife guided by a metal straight
edge or ruler. Use a lot of pressure to hold the straight edge
in place. A new, sharp blade in
the knife works best. Two or three light passes yield a better
result than a single heavy pass on thin (30 & 36 gauge) metal.
Heavier gauges (23 gauge) require three or four 'heavy' passes.
The metal will either separate on its own or will 'snap' at the
cut with some gentle flexing.
- Circles and curves are most easily cut in heavier 23 gauge sheet metal with OFFSET METAL SNIPS (also called an 'AVIATION or 'TIN' SNIPS'). Tin snips come in a couple of forms and colors. The
most useful snip (pictured at right) have cutting blades that
are rounded and tapered to cut in either a straight line or a
counter clockwise curve. The green colored version of the same
snips cuts straight or in a clockwise curve. The yellow version
is purported to cut in a straight line. Tin snips also come in
an elongated straight blade form that is useful in cutting strips
- Tin snips can be found at hardware and building supply stores. The best snips to start out with is the red offset cutting one pictured above with the tapered and rounded blades or the equivalent. The handles are offset to keep hands above the work. Red handled or 'left' snips do cut somewhat to the right. If an acute clockwise cut is required, the metal can be turned over. Sharp curves may require that the sheet metal being cut away be gently bent and guided up and over the jaw of the snips as you proceed with the cut.
- When cutting sheet
with a snips sharp and jagged edges may be presented that need
to be sanded. With a little practice you can cut without jagged
edges. NEVER CUT WIRE WITH THESE SNIPS AS IT WILL RUIN THE SMOOTH
- Our favorite is the Midwest tool offset aviation snips #MWT-6510L. We have used these for almost all our work for over 23 years. SEE
OUR TOOLS & SUPPLIES : METAL Tin/ Aviation SNIPS & SHEARS
an excellent snips is the Sears Craftsman Snips #9-42716 or Sears
item #00981985000 . The Wiss' M1R work very well and have longer
pointed blades. Wiss' M6R works OK, but the blades are short
and blunt, making it less effective for intricate cutting. Stanley
and Irwin are two other snip manufacturers.
- For thin sheet
metal scissors can be used to cut 30 and 36 gauge sheet. Some
paper cutters work as well. Holes can be punched in this thin
metal using a paper punch. Leather hole punches can be used on
23 gauge copper and brass. A sharp electric drill can also be
used. PRECAUTIONS must be taken as the drill can snag and spin
the sharp metal. The piece to be drilled should be clamped or
held firmly with a pliers or vice grips. Holes in very small
pieces should be drilled before the piece is cut from the larger
sheet. Large diameter holes should always be started with a smaller
'pilot' hole. Eye protection is essential.
- Irregular openings
or large holes can be made by enlarging the drilled or punched
hole with the tin snips. Very intricate designs in 23 gauge copper
can be cut out using a jeweler's saw with drilled starting holes.
- Cutting wire
can be done simply. A heavy wire cutter as shown above for thick
wire & a lighter wire cutter for fine wire. Wire can also
be cut with a saw. Either way sanding and rounding the ends will
produce a more finished look to any project. Aluminum wire cuts
easier than copper , nickel or brass of the same gauge due to
its lower density.
Use caution when using any tools. They are not for use by children.
- PLEASE USE
CAUTION when using raw metal especially around children. The
sharp edges can cut . (much as a paper cut) Wearing gloves will
- We do not
sanction the use of these metals with children. By nature these
metals could not be offered any other way.The metals are created
& packaged for adult crafts persons and not sold as "kids
safe". If you have doubts please use heavy household foil,
which although is several times thinner than our foil is inexpensive