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Ants!


tsterling

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After reading Ford's tutorial on dragon scales (don't forget pics of the punches, Ford! hint, hint) I was playing around making some punches and came up with the idea of ants (the first ones are those shown in yellow, in intaglio style - I think that's the proper term?). Then, came up with the idea of using those first "positive' image punches to create a second set of punches with a "negative" image - hence the ants shown in red. I like the second (red) ants a lot better. I originally saw similar ants done by Saratani, in lacquer. I've used them pyrographed on wood knife handles before.

 

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This practice piece is the remains of a thick copper bar I forged a primitive axe head from (Otzi, the iceman). It's just under 4 inches long (98mm for you metric folks). The punches I made from 1080 carbon steel, hardened and tempered (see Don Fogg's toolmaking tutorial elsewhere on this forum). There are three punches, a teardrop shaped one for the abdomen, and two round ones, a small one for the center two dots, and a larger for the head. You can see the shapes of the punches in the copper. I used a tiny chisel for the legs, made similar to the punches. The chisel cuts copper pretty fast, so just use a couple light hammer taps. I used some gun blue I had on hand to darken the copper, then buffed off most from the surface (don't use this on copper for clients - the patina doesn't stick well). Must work on this patina thing (sigh!). There's always something new to learn about this metal stuff.

 

To make the "negative" punches, I heated the punch blank tip to bright orange and used the corresponding "positive" punch to punch down into the hot metal, leaving a dent like the yellow ant shapes. Then filed and ground to the edges of the dent, leaving a sharp edge. Heat, quench, temper (425 degrees F for one hour) and then use to make the red ants.

 

I suspect these punches will work fine for most non-ferrous metals, but I don't know if they are tough enough for steel. You would have to drive them into steel pretty hard to get enough depth - I'm not willing to risk my new toys to find out right now. Anybody have experience with something similar in iron or steel?

 

This is fun! You people are bad influences on me...my wife is threatening to not let me come out and play with you any more!

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Hi Tom,

 

I've been checking out some of your new steel working and these ants - very nice and I can see you really have caught the "metal" bug haven't you - makes me want to try some steel carving myself - I took a look at the wrought iron dragons that Phil posted in the metals section and am just itching to try some of this type of work.

Thanks for the reverse punch idea! :)

Magnus

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