View Full Version : Brass tags

Joe Hillmann
10-29-2011, 4:11 PM
I have, on occasion, requests to engrave on brass tags. So far I have turned them down because they needed them that day and I didn't have any in stock. I don't really want to keep them in stock because I have so little call for them and they are always wanted in different sizes. I am thinking of just buying a 2 foot x 2 foot sheet of thin brass and cutting the tags out by hand with a tin snips (if I got a large order I would order the tags already cut to size) Has anyone done this? Is it possible to cut the tags by hand and have them turn out nice? I am open to any suggestions that would allow me to do the tags but not have to stock multiple sizes.

Martin Boekers
10-29-2011, 5:11 PM
Are the straight cuts? If so a blade metal sheer will be fine. They run about $400, but most only cut up to 12"
There are a variety of hole punches and corner rounders out there to if you want to punch holes or round corners
in it. You probably have a metal shear already, check with the manufacturer on how thick of brass it will cut

Richard Rumancik
11-01-2011, 9:40 AM
Joe, you won't have good success with hand tools in making tags. What you will need is a good-quality guillotine shear like the Accucutter. The ones made like a paper cutter (with a knife blade) will not give good results. You need a flat bed, preferably with a guide edge and a backstop. This will keep all the cuts square and parallel. Die clearance (gap between blades) is important. If the clearance is too large it will try to bend the sheet before it cuts it making a rounded curled edge. The die clearance must be adjusted for the material you are using.

Brass can be tough to cut. I would not recommend a 24"+ shear. You would be better to buy a 12 or 13" shear and get your brass in narrow strips. Shearing 24" of brass with a hand shear may prove difficult.

The shear will have a rating for the maximum thickness of brass. The brass capability maybe less than the CR steel rating.

Unfortunately a good shear will be quite expensive new. The other option is to buy a cheap one and spending a week rebuilding it trying to make it cut properly.

The tags that you buy are generally cut with a die in one hit, so you will get consistent size with no curling of the edges.

If you can get a good-quality shear used maybe the plan might work, but it will take a lot of tags to pay for it and it may be more work to make them than you planned for.

Joe Hillmann
11-01-2011, 10:22 AM
I tried making aluminum tags by cutting them with a combination of the laser and tin snips. If I make them with square corners the end up nice and flat without curled edges. But when I try to make them with round corners I end up with bent up ugly tags. I think for now I am going to give up on the brass tags. It just isn't worth it if a customer comes in and only wants one of a certain size.

Ross Moshinsky
11-01-2011, 3:08 PM
I'd suggest getting a sheer. If you don't do this work often, the $400 versions will work fine. We use our sheer the most out of any other piece of equipment in our shop. I think you'll find it useful tool, especially with the tools at your disposal.

Joe Hillmann
11-01-2011, 3:34 PM
A sheer is out of the question, I don't have nearly enough people interested in brass plates to make it worth while. I was hopping there was a way that I could just buy a sheet of brass and cut plates out of it as needed with tools I already have.

Mike Null
11-01-2011, 5:42 PM
Order your plates from mcMaster Carr or ID Plates.

Dee Gallo
11-01-2011, 6:07 PM
For a fraction of $400, you can buy a variety of different sizes and shapes to have on hand for the occasional customer... I think you'd be crazy to try cutting them out by hand. Not only is it hard to do (fast fatigue factor HIGH), but it is extremely hard to get them identical. Then you'd have to worry about finishing the edges which will invariably be rough, curled or pinched. I've tried every kind of hand tool and none of them works for me... maybe a good tinsmith can do it but I can't! I have a good shear and even that does not make a nice edge in my opinion.

that's my two cents, dee

Bill Cunningham
11-01-2011, 10:17 PM
A shear can also be used for black brass coated steel, Alumamark, Coloured aluminum, anodized aluminum, etc.. I really don't know how you would get along without one!

Ross Moshinsky
11-02-2011, 10:24 AM
A shear can also be used for black brass coated steel, Alumamark, Coloured aluminum, anodized aluminum, etc.. I really don't know how you would get along without one!

My point exactly. Even if you aren't in the awards industry, they are just a very useful machine. Not to count your money, but you have a lot of money invested in those lasers. I'd say a $400 investment to compliment them would be wise. I really believe it would pay for itself in a year.