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Ways of cutting flat stock brass


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#1 Rgpracer

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 04:26 PM

Good day to all. I am a new scratch builder and am having a blast building Retro Can-Am and Stock Cars.

I want to know from the masses how they cut sheet brass straight and curves. I have been cutting with a coping saw and a Dremel and doing a decent job but, there has to be other ways, like nibblers or something.

Thanks,

Msgt Ray Parker USAF (Ret)
Wichita, KS
Retro Can Am & Drag
MSGT Ray Parker USAF (ret)
Wichita, KS
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#2 Jay Guard

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 04:45 PM

For thin brass sheet up to 1/32" thick I'll just use my Dremel with a #409 cut-off wheel.  For thicker sheet I'll use a fine blade hacksaw to rough out the part.  Then to get the parts (thick or thin) right to the scribe line I will use a disk sander for outside cuts and the Dremel and/or a file for the inside cuts where the disk sander can't get.  I don't use tin snips as they tend to warp the material and of course a metal shear is perfect for this but generally overkill (and too expensive) for the limited number of parts you will probably be making.  I've never really tried using a nibbler but I think some do use them.


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#3 bbr

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 04:46 PM

I ask Bryan Warmack to cut anything I need.


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#4 Bill from NH

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 05:47 PM

If you make straight cuts with the Dremel cutoff disks, the untoothed edge of a bi-metal hacksaw blade makes a good cutting guide. I bought an Adel nibbling tool over 50 yrs. ago. It has seen little use except for interior holes. That one cuts better than the chromed two-handle nibbler formerly sold by Radio Shack, as well as others. A nibbler is a good tool for scratchbuilding, but not an essential tool.


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#5 Bill Seitz

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 06:10 PM

The problem I've found with the chromed, two-handle nibbling tool that's readily available from multiple sources is that it tends to distort the metal (though not as bad as snips) and is not the easiest for cutting a straight line. They're supposed to cut thin, mild steel, but I've only used them on brass or fiberglass board, and cutting metal they do seem to dull quickly which increases the metal distortion. I tend to only do rough cuts and then finish up with files. The problem with using Dremel abrasive disks with brass is that non-ferrous alloys load/clog the abrasive and reduce the cutting effectiveness. I tend to make any large cuts with a saw, and I've found a miter box helps keep things straight and square.



#6 MSwiss

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 06:20 PM

If you are dead set on getting close to perfectly straight cuts in brass, you'll do what I did when I started cutting steel perimeter chassis in late '82, early '83.

 

You'll mount your Dremel tool with your 409 cutting disc in a Dremel drill press stand,  and draw the piece, back and forth,  across the locked table.

 

It will be trickier cutting a more flexible, narrow piece of brass, than it was cutting a 3" wide piece of .035" or .042" blur spring steel.

 

Among other things, it will get hot.

 

I would do something like backing the brass with a flat steel bar, C clamped on both ends, to stiffen things up and soak up some heat.

 

PS-now seeing Bill Seitz's assessment of a nibbler, I agree.

 

I've tried almost everyone available.

 

They aren't of much value unless you want to remove large area's of material, heat free, and then file to a finished line.


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#7 snolde

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 08:15 PM

Hi Ray,

I use the Adel nibbler a lot on my scratch builds.

It will cut up to .062 thick brass no problem, it does take a strong grip to cut .062 though.

http://adelnibbler.com

A Scroll saw works well also but it does take some practice to get good results.

 

The Radio Shack nibbler is junk for .062, the nibbler will break in short order, been there, done that.

 

Also I use a Dremel for many things and they work well for cutting and cleaning.

 

And a combo belt, disk sander mostly to square up or angle the ends on brass sheet.

 

 

 


Scott Nolde

#8 team burrito

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Posted 11 July 2022 - 09:48 PM

i use a harbor freight 2" mini cut-saw for my cutting duty. it cuts up to 1/16" x 1" wide brass with the standard saw blade. oil helps keep the blade cool & the cuts nice & clean. i also like using a diamond block for deburring.


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#9 Rgpracer

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 12:04 AM

Thanks guys, all the responses are really appreciated.
Ray
MSGT Ray Parker USAF (ret)
Wichita, KS
Retro Can-Am & drag racer

#10 dc-65x

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 10:53 AM

A "hobby size" variable speed band saw is a wonderful tool. I've been using mine since 2009. It's not cheap but I don't know what I've done without it.

 

band saw.jpg

 

 


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#11 blue&orange

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 04:22 PM

I second the Harbor Freight 2" mini-saw.  Just bought mine for $39.99 and it cut .3/4" x 032 and .1/4" x 064 brass nice and straight.  With the current trend in retro chasses of square brass pieces and wire, it made my first totally scratch F1 chassis relatively easy.


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#12 Bill from NH

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Posted 12 July 2022 - 08:56 PM

Micro Mark sells 2" dia. carbide discs for chop saws they sell. They might also fit the Harbor Freight saws too.


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#13 Mark Onofri

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 09:55 AM

I must have gotten a dud from harbor freight. It,on a good day, will cut balsa wood. Bass wood is a stretch. Brass? Not on it's best day. So, I drilled a 3/32 hole in the motor shaft/drive wheel, epoxied it in and,run it off the PTO on my bench grinder. The vise is a POS, it's not level with the base. Haven't gotten to that yet.

#14 Bill from NH

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 10:19 AM

Sounds like you got a dull blade Mark, basswood is not a very dense hardwood. Others may have had problems with the HF cutoff saw too, but I haven't heard of any. My cutoff saw came from Micro Mark on sale 20-25 yrs. ago. It works okay as long as you keep it out of .063 brass.


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#15 old & gray

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 10:28 AM

I had a HF mini-saw in the box under my work bench (where alll those tool you "need" go to die) 

 

Pulled it out the beginning of August to cut two dozen cedar shafts to length (5/16" dia). Cuts were square fast and clean. Took about a quarter of the time a miter box and hand saw used to. 


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#16 MSwiss

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 11:57 AM

When Retro racing became a thing, 15 years ago, my friend Manta Ray Price bought a HF mini chop saw.

After trying it, I kidded it should come in a Fisher Price box.

A few top builders have used them, so the key must be to have the correct blade.

If you are going to cross cut a bunch of brass, spend $150 for a Ryobi bandsaw from Home Depot, and get a metal cutting blade for it with a lot of TPI.

Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
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#17 Jim Lange

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Posted 25 August 2022 - 03:33 PM

I use my 14" chinese copy of a Delta bandsaw with a fine tooth blade. I can completely cut out one of Can Am center sections in about 3 minutes. You can check them out on FB. Hi Tech Racing Products. One more side note.... anyone coming for the IRRA/SCCRA race that wants a chassis, don't wait until the last second. I am already receiving orders. Thanks, Jim 


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#18 n.elmholt

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Posted 26 August 2022 - 01:24 AM

I have a similar Bandsaw in green with Dremel sticker on it - great tool :-)

Niels, DK


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#19 dc-65x

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Posted 26 August 2022 - 10:14 AM

Just used my bandsaw (pictured earlier) to cut a 1/16" brass sheet drop arm. With its fine tooth blade and adjustable miter gauge it made nice straight cuts like the proverbial hot knife through butter. 

 

The bandsaw is a wonderful tool but it must be respected. Be aware of where your fingers are at all times and keep the lower blade guide adjusted down as close to the workpiece as possible.


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#20 gotboostedvr6

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Posted 27 August 2022 - 04:31 PM

Band saw
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#21 team burrito

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 05:38 PM

The bandsaw is a wonderful tool but it must be respected. Be aware of where your fingers are at all times and keep the lower blade guide adjusted down as close to the workpiece as possible.

i heard running wax on the blade helps clean & lube while cutting.
 


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#22 Richie

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Posted 03 September 2022 - 08:25 PM

As a follow up, just tried the cheaper HF mini chop saw, it is weak, but using tap magic cutting fluid makes a huge difference.

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#23 Martin

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Posted 02 October 2022 - 07:55 AM

You are correct Russ there is a wax stick that helps with softer materials e.g. aluminum. I hardly ever use it, depends a lot on your blade tooth count.
 
Another note, when cutting material on a band saw that you do not want to get scratched. Use masking tape on the bottom of your part. It will save you a lot of finish time.
 
I use the HF mini chop saw for cutting brass tubing for wheel spacers etc., I set up an adjustable stop so I can cut multiple piece's a repeatable size.
Go easy and let the blade cut. It will fire the cut part out randomly, so I hold onto it with soft jaw needle nose pliers. This save me looking on the floor for the part I just cut.
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