James Stanley

I made a plymetal heart decoration

Sun 26 April 2015

This evening I had an idea for making an effect like plywood, but out of metals (hence "plymetal"). I tried it out to make a little heart decoration and it worked great, although I did a poor job.

The effect is of having several alternating layers of different metals (I used copper and brass), achieved by soldering them together.

Regretfully I did not take photos while I was working (I wasn't initially planning to blog about it, but I liked how it turned out). Here are the steps to making the plymetal:

1.) Cut sheets to roughly similar size (do this well otherwise your sheets might not be big enough and gaps will be visible in the finished product - like with mine).

2.) For each little square you have (except leave one alone): apply flux to one side, then heat it up with a blow torch and cover the side in solder as best you can (try to do a good job else gaps might be visible in the finished product - like with mine). Now you have N sheets, N-1 of which are tinned on one side.

3.) Stack the sheets up so that there is a tinned side between every adjacent pair (this is why you only tinned N-1: for N stacked sheets there are N-1 gap layers), with a layer of flux between each sheet - the flux will help the solder flow and also kinda sticks the sheets together.

4.) Clamp the sheets together strongly (do it stronger than I did else it is harder to get the solder to flow and can cause gaps - like with mine) but also try to have as little surface area touching the clamps as possible (the clamp acts as a heat sink making it difficult to solder).

5.) Now hold the piece level (i.e. so that the solder planes are parallel to the ground - I messed this up and a lot of solder dripped out the bottom) and heat the whole thing up with a blow torch until you're pretty sure the solder has become molten everywhere.

6.) Wait for it to cool down (light spraying of water to speed the process is fine, but probably best not to do too much).

7.) You now have a block made of different metals stuck together! Draw a heart (or any shape), cut it out, file the edges, sand, polish, drill hole, tie a knot in some string, take photo. About 3 hours' work.

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