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metal spinning small bells

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David Snaith22/02/2019 15:46:30
8 forum posts

I would like to try spinning some small bells on my Mashtroy centre lathe. They would be approximately 17mm dia x 15mm high. I would like to experiment with both brass and nickel silver, around 22ga, to find something that has nice tone and resonance.

Does anyone know where I can buy a small roller that would fit in my toolpost? I realise the forum on which I am posting, so before the chorus of "make it yourself", let me just say that I don't have a mill yet (please don't judge me), so it would be easier for me to get this experiment running if I could just buy a roller.

Any other suggestions about how to do this, or about making small bells ring well would be greatly appreciated.


JasonB22/02/2019 17:35:01
18310 forum posts
2024 photos
1 articles

You don't really need a roller on such small work any polished hard surface will do, I have even use the round end of a Chrome Vandium spanner which was held in the toolpost for spinning steel.

Also make sure you get as of "spinning" brass which will be a lot easier to form, not sure what effect it may have on the tone though. At that size I think they may ring better if made from a hard brass and just turned from solid.

Edited By JasonB on 22/02/2019 17:37:04

David Snaith22/02/2019 17:38:19
8 forum posts

Thanks, Jason. When you used the spanner, did you lubricate the surface of the brass first? If so, what lubricant did you use? Thanks again.

JasonB22/02/2019 17:42:59
18310 forum posts
2024 photos
1 articles

I think I just used a heavy oil or maybe grease. Pork fat is supposed to be good

martin perman22/02/2019 18:08:07
1835 forum posts
78 photos


I metal spin ends for fuel tanks from emersion tank copper, I made my former from a piece 1/2 " mild steel by machining a half ball on the end and polishing the end to near mirror finish, If you dont get a good finish it will show on your work as marks,

I use the tool clamp bolts on my tool post to guide the former, I use tallow as my lubricant and can I ask what your lathe is as you need to have a strong tailstock to stop the work from leaving the machine. When I make my parts I have to heat treat the copper as it hardens very quickly, you may find brass will do the same.

There is a good booklet on the subject produced by the publishers of the Exhibition hall at Fosse Way, currently I cant remember it but will hunt it out if you need it.

Martin P

Edited By martin perman on 22/02/2019 18:10:23

David Snaith22/02/2019 18:16:10
8 forum posts

Thank you, Martin. I am using a Mashtroy (Warco) C220. The bell will have a hole at the apex, so I can position the hole in the workpiece over a matching pin in the mandrel to ensure the workpiece does not fly out and embed itself in my forehead.

I actually want the brass to work harden to increase the sustain of the bell. Just not so much that it cracks!

martin perman22/02/2019 21:38:17
1835 forum posts
78 photos

Do you mean something like this

The book I was thinking of can be bought from here

Martin P

David Snaith22/02/2019 21:44:45
8 forum posts

Yes! Like that, but 1/20 the size and complexity. Thank you for finding that.

Alan Charleston23/02/2019 05:24:07
87 forum posts
20 photos

Hi David,

You may have a problem trying to spin a bell. Whenever I've tried spinning brass I've found I need to keep annealing it to get it to flow evenly. I suspect annealed brass will be fairly dead as far as ringing goes so you are more likely to get something to ring by turning it from either a hard brass or bronze. Phosphor bronze may be a good candidate as it is hard and readily available in short lengths for bushings.

I actually have some brass which rings really well. It is 1" dia. and came from an old set of door chimes. Two different lengths were suspended from wooden plugs driven into the ends of them and a solenoid mounted between them hit first one then the other with a wooden striker giving a ding - dong noise. You might find some of this material in a junk shop.



David Snaith24/02/2019 14:03:47
8 forum posts

Thank you, Alan.

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