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I Hate Brass!

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jimmy b07/03/2020 07:32:53
791 forum posts
42 photos

I made my mate something out of brass last night.

Nice looking job, really quite pleased with it!

I have just spent twice as long cleaning up the mess! Everything within a few feet of the lathe was lightly coated in tiny bits of brass, the bedways totally clagged up with brass and slideway oil.


At work, in a CNC machine, brass is great, but I do hate it at home..............



Edited By jimmy b on 07/03/2020 07:33:32

Hopper07/03/2020 07:42:19
6706 forum posts
347 photos

The old dodge is to make a chip guard by tearing one side off a cardboard fag packet and jam it over the tool bit shank. I imagine a bit of shim stock or clear plastic from a piece of packaging etc would work too.

JasonB07/03/2020 07:55:23
23075 forum posts
2769 photos
1 articles

What were you cutting with I find **GT tip don't give the shower of fine chips that a flat topped HSS tool does. Even hard brass can come off in curls if the feed is right.

Nigel McBurney 107/03/2020 09:17:37
1004 forum posts
3 photos

Spent my training on centre lathe turning brass for days on end,I like machining it,chips can be deflected by inserting a bent piece of shim under the front toolholder screw. On a capstan lathe all our brass turning was carried out with full flow soluble oil,this lubricated and cooled the tooling plus stopped the swarf flying.

Mick B107/03/2020 09:33:59
2226 forum posts
125 photos

I cut brass dry, then vacuum up the swarf. I find it easier than most other metals as normal machining brass cuts a disconinuous chip and doesn't 'birdsnest'.

If I'm doing a deep cut, I'll hold the vacuum cleaner nozzle near the tool to draw the stuff off, until I get too close to the chuck jaws to do it safely.

jimmy b08/03/2020 08:58:03
791 forum posts
42 photos

Thank you for the advice.

I was using ground inserts (GT), at the start, but had to machine a counterbore and got lazy!

After cleaning up everything and re-oiling another mate appeared with a "quick job", made from brass.................


SillyOldDuffer08/03/2020 10:23:05
8905 forum posts
1999 photos

Funnily enough my favourite metal is Brass! Admittedly a bit messy, but cuts well, easy to get a good finish, fairly hard, and reasonably strong. Better in many ways than either Aluminium or Steel both of which have their own quirks! Brass, I think, is a good metal for beginners to try first. Unlikely to be very soft or very hard, or to be anti-social like that innocent looking work-hardening stainless steel.

But for real mess, cast-iron is surely the winner! Far worse than brass. Machines well, apart from when it comes with a glass hard skin, but cutting produces a fine black powder that goes absolutely everywhere, into slides, up your nose, and, floating in the air, all over the workshop. Last time I worked cast iron, I found black specs on the white goods in my kitchen, two closed doors away from the lathe. It's bad for precision machine surfaces too because it tends to stick to slides where it catches and holds grit to form an effective abrasive, multiplying wear. Takes a lot of cleaning too.


Vic08/03/2020 10:26:13
3092 forum posts
16 photos

I don’t use brass very often but I had several parts to make from it recently and then recalled how nice it was to machine.

Nigel Graham 217/03/2020 23:13:46
2288 forum posts
33 photos

Those brass "needles" can be a curse, and no mistake, finding their way around the house if you are not careful.

My worry with cast-iron is not so much the mess - unpleasant but something you tolerate for the finished result - but all that graphite (the black dust) near the motor. I am not sure I really want conductive dust floating about near the lathe motor's cooling intakes, just behind the headstock on a Myford. I use a sheet of insulation board as a shield but it doesn't keep all the muck away.

(My Harrison lathe's motor is in the open air too, but up on a frame above the headstock, some way from the chuck.)

Chris Gunn18/03/2020 11:27:11
430 forum posts
27 photos

Nigel G 2, if you are worried about swarf in the motor, as I would be, just imagine what a curly spiral could do, if it went through a cooling vent. Change them to Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled motors, TEFC, there are no cooling intakes. I suspect that such motors should/would have been fitted in the first place, but could have been replaced, when changing from 3ph to 1ph for example.

Chris Gunn

not done it yet18/03/2020 11:34:28
6889 forum posts
20 photos

At least brass is not magnetic, so if it could be blown in it might be blown out again! Machines, so poorly designed that swarf can easily enter the motor, need modifying, IMO.

Hopper18/03/2020 11:49:07
6706 forum posts
347 photos

My old Drummond had an open-ended motor on it when it came into my care. Motor was chock full of 20 or 30 years of swarf. (It was the "new" motor Dad put on in later years!) Still seemed to work ok but I don't know how. It's now remounted safely below the work bench with a very long belt up to the countershaft.

Howard Lewis18/03/2020 12:57:22
6315 forum posts
15 photos

There is a fortune awaiting the man who produces a magnet that attracts brass and copper alloys. But it ain't going to happen.

The danger with brass is that if you get a particle in the eye, it has to be removed physically, rather than with a magnet like ferrous particles. So even if the fact that it sprays swarf everywhere is not insuperable, do wear some form of eye protection!


Robert Butler18/03/2020 18:55:06
403 forum posts
6 photos

Speaking of magnets, many years ago one of the typists lost the diamond to her engagement ring. I suggested she visit the local jewellers and ask if she could borrow their diamond magnet - she was fuming on her return which added to the fun in those far off non PC days. Robert Butler.

old mart18/03/2020 19:24:17
3912 forum posts
268 photos

You could try to cover up the bed with tissue paper, of vacuum up the stuff as it sprays off the tool. Only cast iron dust is worse, I recon.

Hollowpoint19/03/2020 11:02:52
476 forum posts
59 photos

Brass is messy but it is easily contained. Cast is also horrable but I hate those long swirls of aluminium most! Especially when the get cought up in the chuck. 😖

I sometimes cover my machine with tin foil. You can squash and shape it to fit without interference. Then its just a simple matter of folding all the swarf into a ball to clear it away.

Bill Dawes20/03/2020 19:09:34
539 forum posts

When I was an apprentice back in '57, during my time in the machine shop I worked back to back to an old fella who turned a lot of brass bar. When parting off he normally kept the stream of chips under control with a steel rule acting as a deflector, except when he decided to share it with me, showering me with the stuff and walking home at night every other step was a kangaroo hop from the bits stuck in my socks.

Happy days! H&S very minimal then.

Bill D

Erik Werner Hansen29/03/2020 07:23:13
16 forum posts
1 photos

I have made the finest curls with a sharp HSS bit in my Diamond Tool Holder.

But I'm sure I'll now make some kind of guard next time anyway.

Why not make it easier on myself?



Jon29/03/2020 21:00:46
1001 forum posts
49 photos

Time to worry is when yo want the job done, travels 4 foot to a wall, bounces back 3 foot and embeds in your arms.
Horrible stuff.

Kiwi Bloke29/03/2020 23:32:54
705 forum posts
1 photos

Posted by Howard Lewis on 18/03/2020 12:57:22:


The danger with brass is that if you get a particle in the eye, it has to be removed physically, rather than with a magnet like ferrous particles. So even if the fact that it sprays swarf everywhere is not insuperable, do wear some form of eye protection!



It's probably been said here before (by me?), but it bears repetition. Copper and (many of?) its alloys in the eye is a disaster. Cu chemically destroys eyes quickly. Get those safety spectacles on! If you think there's any possibility that a bit has penetrated your eye, get to A&E without delay.

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