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View Full Version : Maybe should have put this in metalworking but...



Mark Bolton
12-01-2014, 4:47 PM
I have been doing a lot of research trying to come up with what it likely the impossible. Im looking to come up with some simple, yet not crude, shop made pulls, handles, finger pulls, and the like. We often make items that require a simple handle/pull and Im tired of paying 4$ and up. I have been kicking around ways of cold forging either SS or copper (either new stock or scrap) into simple yet attractive pulls. They would of course all be face screwed as opposed to post mounted from the back with machine screws (no option for brazing/welding/tapping if the aim is to reduce cost).

Im just wondering if anyone out here has come up with, or seen, reasonable options. I keep thinking of using SS flat bar (thin) and cold forging on an anvil into a shape that would work, punching two holes on the DP, and then either some polishing or tossing a batch in a tumbler for a day or so for a matte finish. The same would go for copper. Perhaps some sort of organic/twisted heavy gauge wire with torch welded ends, hammered flat, two holes punched for a couple of screws?

I havent tried it but is it reasonable to cold forge fairly thin SS with a hammer and anvil? I have torch welded copper a lot and would love to come up with some flat bar but its more costly than commercial pulls.

Would love to hear any thoughts or ideas.

Richard Gonzalez
12-01-2014, 5:08 PM
Can't help you with the metalworking aspects, but I have this book and have gotten good ideas from Making Wood Handles, Hinges & Knobs: The Perfect Touch for Cabinetmaking by Alan Bridgewater http://amzn.com/0806913355

Richard

Mark Bolton
12-01-2014, 5:18 PM
Can't help you with the metalworking aspects, but I have this book and have gotten good ideas from Making Wood Handles, Hinges & Knobs: The Perfect Touch for Cabinetmaking by Alan Bridgewater http://amzn.com/0806913355

Richard



Thanks for the link Richard. We have always done a fair amount of wood handles and pulls. Branches, sculpted/sawn finger pulls, and so on. For whatever reason I like the contrast of wood and metal so I guess its what I was hoping to find. I would love to entertain any other material (other than perhaps something like Femo clay) that contrasts the soft textured nature of wood, with a hard, smooth, sharp, material.

Its tough because at any reasonable quantity (even bulk) anything other than steel is closing in on the cost of a commercial pull for the raw stock (per 5" length say). With steel you wind up with that black-smithy look which is fine for some things. But for a bit more refined look I was thinking of the forged/tumbled stainless but thought Id see if anyone else had any first hand experience.

Peter Quinn
12-01-2014, 6:04 PM
I'd love to hear what you come up with. Last two places I've worked for all contracts are very specific regarding hardware: DBO. Not included. Specifically excluded. Customer pics it and pays for it. Its just all over the map cost wise. It would be cool if you could offer your clients a selection of simple elegant value oriented hardware, even if it were break even it might be a selling point? The way I work metal at a basic shop rate a $5 finger pull would wind up costing the customer $175! Or costing me that much. I wonder if you could get blanks stamped out and do the finishing in house? punch holes, tumble edges, etc. Guess it depends on what processes are involved, what machines are needed, what these cost, what you can handle in house. How about plastic pulls made on a 3D printer?

Bill George
12-01-2014, 6:08 PM
Stainless is hard to work with, gets scratches and whatever easy and then it has to be shined up with 600 grit and then polished with a buffing wheel to get all bright again. Hard to drill, needs slow and sharp bits. With so many factory made pulls and the like on the market I don't think you could compete doing ones and twos.

Carbon steel a different thing all together. It can be hot forged and has lots of options. Is it economically feasible? Something you need to decide.

Mark Bolton
12-01-2014, 6:20 PM
I'd love to hear what you come up with. Last two places I've worked for all contracts are very specific regarding hardware: DBO. Not included. Specifically excluded. Customer pics it and pays for it. Its just all over the map cost wise. It would be cool if you could offer your clients a selection of simple elegant value oriented hardware, even if it were break even it might be a selling point? The way I work metal at a basic shop rate a $5 finger pull would wind up costing the customer $175! Or costing me that much. I wonder if you could get blanks stamped out and do the finishing in house? punch holes, tumble edges, etc. Guess it depends on what processes are involved, what machines are needed, what these cost, what you can handle in house. How about plastic pulls made on a 3D printer?

At this point this would be just pertaining to resale and wholesale items for sale. So there really wouldnt be any customer specs but who knows. I just look at things like simple serving trays (which we make a lot of) and your looking at 6-10 bucks for two finger pulls on them. I make them with wood finger pulls as well but still. Im feeling like its unrealistic but just thinking.. If I could make 15-30 pulls an hour (once a process is established) and then throw them in a tumbler overnight? Thats some serious coin. That would of course be a flat bar pull... just forging and drilling.

I agree with Bill, SS is had to work but I drill it regularly. The tumbling was an effort to kill the polishing ;-)

Keith Outten
12-01-2014, 6:33 PM
Mild steel flat bar is pretty cheap and with a parts bender from Harbor Freight you can ben a truck load of pulls in an hour. Use a step drill for the holes.
.

Mark Bolton
12-01-2014, 6:48 PM
Mild steel flat bar is pretty cheap and with a parts bender from Harbor Freight you can ben a truck load of pulls in an hour. Use a step drill for the holes.
.

Thanks Keith,
I have played around with mild steel but its a little short especially on the finish end. If I were to leave something the raw material or just a clear coat it couldnt be steel unless the blacksmithy look was what I was after. As I mentioned I may be hoping for the impossible.. ;-)

Jim Finn
12-01-2014, 7:22 PM
When I was a sheet metal worker we made stainless steel handles quite often. It is hard to work with though so I would use 1/4" x 3/4" aluminum to make simple handles. Much easier to bend and drill.

Mark Bolton
12-01-2014, 7:33 PM
When I was a sheet metal worker we made stainless steel handles quite often. It is hard to work with though so I would use 1/4" x 3/4" aluminum to make simple handles. Much easier to bend and drill.

Jim,
Can you hammer stainless cold? I am thinking about ordering some thin (perhaps 1/8) x 1 stainless bars.. and thinking of just hammering them on the anvil into a simple flared loop with a tab at each end. Drill a hole in each tab, and then toss them in a tumbler for how many ever hours it takes to even the texture.

Ryan Baker
12-01-2014, 8:59 PM
Cold forging stainless is not going to work. You'll kill yourself trying to make the first one. Copper you could cold forge to a point, but you would frequently need to anneal it to prevent cracking. Either stainless or copper (or anything like it) is going to cost you more for materials than the commercial products, and that's not counting anything for your time and effort. You may choose to do it for the look, but that look normally comes with a very high price tag for a reason. If you can find free materials somewhere (extremely hard these days due to the active scrapper marketplace), you may be able to make some small volume, but your labor will never compete with a dedicated machine spitting parts out. Sounds like you aren't putting enough value on your own time and labor. The only reasonable way to get the price down is to buy in large volumes from someone who can manufacture them for you.

Jim Finn
12-01-2014, 10:57 PM
I bet you will be able to just bend 1/8" stainless. I have never hammered stainless to shape. We always bent it in a brake, roller or tubing bender. We usually used 3/16" or thicker stainless. When drilling Stainless remember to use slow speed , lots of pressure and cutting oil. Stainless work hardens otherwise. We always used non polished stainless and after forming it we put a brushed finish on it using a flap sander. We were , after all, doing industrial sheet metal work. Still, it looked nice when finished.

Keith Outten
12-02-2014, 9:48 AM
If you use a bender stainless steel isn't difficult to shape and bend up to 1/8" thick. A hammer finish on stainless is a challenge compared to mild steel without a means to heat the metal. I own a several benders that I use to make my own sign hangers and ofter custom shelf brackets and other special projects. I work with flat bar, square and round stock frequently with my parts bender, roller , twister and scroll benders. Although I use mild steel most of the time I have used plenty of stainless, every now an then aluminum.

Grizzly sells a set of bending tools that are one of their best values, they are hard to find on the web site but worth the effort and the price.

Mark Bolton
12-02-2014, 1:31 PM
Cold forging stainless is not going to work. You'll kill yourself trying to make the first one. Copper you could cold forge to a point, but you would frequently need to anneal it to prevent cracking. Either stainless or copper (or anything like it) is going to cost you more for materials than the commercial products, and that's not counting anything for your time and effort. You may choose to do it for the look, but that look normally comes with a very high price tag for a reason. If you can find free materials somewhere (extremely hard these days due to the active scrapper marketplace), you may be able to make some small volume, but your labor will never compete with a dedicated machine spitting parts out. Sounds like you aren't putting enough value on your own time and labor. The only reasonable way to get the price down is to buy in large volumes from someone who can manufacture them for you.

Definitely not one to discount my time.. That said, I can order flat bar in modest quantity (copper or ss) shipped to my shop for reasonable money. For instance a simple finger pull (if a design/shape could be workable) that would require 4-5" of flat bar (in copper) would be about $1.30 for 4-5". Material is of course in long lengths. If it were SS it would be about $0.75 for the same 4-5" piece (using 304 as a rough gauge). Those are small quantity orders (not the best column pricing) but Im not talking about making thousands either.

Of course a lot in the design/shape is going to majorly impact how reasonable it would be. Im not thinking of intricate rolls, or machining. No tapping, and only drilling two holes. My thoughts are something pretty simple but what I had in mind would require some hammering to flare the pull a bit. Initially I was just thinking about a simple strap/loop with a bit of a flare to it. The hammered surface could be left, and matte/tumbled finish would be fine even with some hammer marks remaining.

I have a bunch of aluminum here for a test and can likely pickup a piece of high dollar stainless somewhere to give it a shot. A bit of heat wouldnt be an issue for annealing or conventional forging but it'd be nice to avoid it.

As i said initially, this is likely a pie in the sky but was just kicking it around.

Mark Bolton
12-02-2014, 1:35 PM
If you use a bender stainless steel isn't difficult to shape and bend up to 1/8" thick. A hammer finish on stainless is a challenge compared to mild steel without a means to heat the metal. I own a several benders that I use to make my own sign hangers and ofter custom shelf brackets and other special projects. I work with flat bar, square and round stock frequently with my parts bender, roller , twister and scroll benders. Although I use mild steel most of the time I have used plenty of stainless, every now an then aluminum.

Grizzly sells a set of bending tools that are one of their best values, they are hard to find on the web site but worth the effort and the price.

I have some similar benders that I have bought/made to your scroller and metal former. I wasnt really figuring Id be bending/scrolling much but more forming/forging a bit of a cup shape so to speak. I think the idea would only really be workable if the material was somewhat hammered/smith'd simply because if its going to remain crisp/sharp then it would require sanding/buffing/polishing which would be a lot of labor. Im more thinking of speed. Again, the impossible LOL.

Im going to peck around with a couple samples and see what happens just for the fun of it.

Ryan Baker
12-02-2014, 11:19 PM
Hey, if you can get the material cheap enough, you might as well give it a shot with a few and see how it goes. It sounds like you have a plan that is less complicated than I had in mind. By any chance, do you have access to a power hammer?

Mark Bolton
12-04-2014, 6:05 PM
Hey, if you can get the material cheap enough, you might as well give it a shot with a few and see how it goes. It sounds like you have a plan that is less complicated than I had in mind. By any chance, do you have access to a power hammer?

Wouldn't that be nice! I've thought the same thing but Ill be relegated to a hammer and anvil.

Ill give a few samples a go and see what I come up with.

Jim Jakosh
12-25-2014, 3:06 AM
I think you will find that it is a lot cheaper to buy pulls than making them and having them look real good like plated ones. Your time would be way more than $4 each. I find them at garage sales and flea markets and the Habitat Restore by us has a good selection for about $2 each.
If you were to buy brass or SS, your part cost might be $2-4 each! I just bought some 5/8 round brass tube and it was$1.25 per inch!

Jim

Mark Bolton
12-25-2014, 6:29 AM
I think you will find that it is a lot cheaper to buy pulls than making them and having them look real good like plated ones. Your time would be way more than $4 each. I find them at garage sales and flea markets and the Habitat Restore by us has a good selection for about $2 each.
If you were to buy brass or SS, your part cost might be $2-4 each! I just bought some 5/8 round brass tube and it was$1.25 per inch!

Jim

Jim, For sure buying material right is a key and the design has to be simple. I think I posted some numbers earlier in the thread but for instance I just did some simple bail/straps where my material costs were less than $0.30 each for a 7" length in aluminium. Stainless would be reasonably cheap. Even at a place like online metals you can get very good numbers even with modest quantities.

No idea on the details of your tubing but for instance, 5/8 od brass seamless tubing there, in a middle of the road wall thickness, is about $0.36/inch. Of course something odd/thick wall, and so on no idea. But for simple profiles, and buying in quantity, the material cost becomes trivial (which is often true in manufacturing anything). The labor is where it falls apart.

I'm still playing around with some brushed/polished aluminum and stainless options and seeing what I come up with . The material cost is not even on the radar but working out making them very fast is.

Thanks.

Bill Adamsen
05-05-2015, 11:09 AM
Mild Steel drilled with carefully countersunk screws (stainless or bronze) looks very craftsman style (Greene & Greene). The image is just illustrative, but shows how nicely several material types can combine. I would think thicker flat stock (tumbled) with drilled bronze standoffs could be functional, attractive and unique.

Sam Murdoch
05-05-2015, 8:19 PM
Maybe consider bar stock. Bar stock is available in all kinds of metals (and composites) and require no more than a few holes through the face and some copper or wood or other tubing for screw standoffs.

Heres is one source - http://www.mcmaster.com/#bar-stock/=x1ykv0 This is there ALUMINUM selection with many profiles. They have other metals. McMaster-Carr is a good company to deal with too - very fast delivery and competitive pricing with a huge selection of product.

John Keeton
05-17-2015, 9:48 AM
Mild Steel drilled with carefully countersunk screws (stainless or bronze) looks very craftsman style (Greene & Greene). The image is just illustrative, but shows how nicely several material types can combine. I would think thicker flat stock (tumbled) with drilled bronze standoffs could be functional, attractive and unique.Depending on exposure, should one be concerned about galvanic corrosion since steel and bronze are distant on the galvanic table? Brass is a bit closer and copper even closer, but soft. Just curious.

Terry Beadle
05-17-2015, 12:24 PM
Buy some 1 in copper tubing from HD. Then cut one side of the tubing and open wide. Take a small ball pein hammer and make small dents in the material. Then take a hack saw or tin snips and shape a handle as you like it. Spray wit lacquer to save sheen after buffing to suit. Curve the tips of the handle down towards the mounting surface and drill a small hole. Use brass screws for contrast to the copper. Be creative. Cheap, easy to work and will last forever. Just an idea from high school metal shop.