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Best care for copper

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I just came into some copper wire. I was wondering if anyone knew if it would make good jewelry. I have googled it and I have done some research and I have my own opinion. I want to know what you all think about it.

I read that furniture polish works wonders, and if done right, clear nail polish. So please tell me what you all think about it.

Thanks,

DBM

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This website lists a bunch of ways to clean copper using what you have around the house. http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Copper. All of these methods use the acidic nature of the substances to polish. I prefer the vinegar and salt method.

My mother always used Brasso on the copper in our house when I was growing up, but i have a bird and don't like to use harsh chemicals. I recently cleaned a very dirty oven with just baking soda and water and no elbow grease at all.

Edited to add: Clear nail polish will flake off starting where rings rub against each other. Furniture polish will leave residue on the wearer's skin or clothes and can cause some nasty allergic reactions.

The gauge and hardness of the wire will determine whether it is suitable for use in jewelry. (Others will have to comment on this subject because it's outside my knowledge base.)

Edited by Brimley's Mom

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Ah, a bird fan, eh? I used to have birds, but that isn't the point of this reply. I will be honest with you all. It is coaxial cable wire that I am trying to reuse from a farm house that my family is redoing (they have knocked it over and are starting from scratch). I was lucky enough to grab the coaxial, It is still in great shape (since the cable was laid in the early nineties when we got cable up that way for the first time) and still in the plastic coating. We don't have cable so it is useless for us to save it for anything besides trying to make a few extra pennies off of it for jewelry.

I think I can also grab about four pounds of electrical wire that can be reused as well.

Over 90% of my aluminium and glass has been reused from scrap welding wire that has been cleaned, and I was thinking of expanding that.

Also, I have next to no idea how to tell gauge and hardness using the codes used in Chainmail (There is a site I use that has the stats for when I am finally ready to buy some from The Ring Lord).

Thanks

DBM

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Copper is my favourite metal (and the only one i wear actually) so I cannot say it is not good for jewelry. Why I like it so much ? I think it is the warm color it has. Some people will tell you it is not good because skin may turn green with it but that does not occur in all case (mine never did).

To clean copper, for me the best is lemon juice. Easy to find, cheap and ecologic. Works pretty well.

I do not know if you can reuse electrical cable copper (I do not make my own rings, buy them at TRL) but it is true than copper fine are much more shiny than thick ones.

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I've always used lemon juice and salt to clean copper, but make sure you thoroughly wash them with soap and water afterwards, or they can get pitted from the acids. I've also heard that washing them right away helps them stay un-tarnished longer, but I don't know how true that is.

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I've also heard that washing them right away helps them stay un-tarnished longer, but I don't know how true that is.

May be true. I wash mine with lemon approximately each three or four months, rest of the time they just take shower with me and they do not tarnish a lot. It may also depend on the type of skin and what else the ring are in contact with. Anyway washed every morning and evening copper stay nice quite a long time.

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Copper wire can definitely make good jewelry...though the smaller gauged wire can be too flimsy for rings or bracelets (these take alot of abuse), the links can pull apart if you don't solder them closed, and that can be a pain in the ass if you've got a bunch to do. The small stuff can work great in earrings though. I know a guy who gets all his for free--(he's an electrician--gets to save the scraps for himself, as well as all the tear-out from old jobsites) and have heard of others doing that sort of thing as well. I imagine the biggest problem you might wind up with is the temper(hardness) of the metal. I don't know if copper wire is dead soft, full hard, or somewhere in between. You'll need a wiser man than I to tell you...

The best polish/cleaner I've found for copper is actually my own skin/sweat(YUCK!), but I can take a tarnished bracelet (copper or bronze, anyway...I don't know about silver) and just wear it for a few days, and it'll clean up like new. Doesn't do anybody else any good but me, though...and I can't clean up earrings that way either, not enough skin contact, I imagine.

Another good eco friendly way to clean it, though it sounds a little weird, is with ketchup...just squeeze some on to the piece, work it into the tight spaces and let to soak for a while, then rinse with water. Works about as well or better than lemon juice..I imagine between the vinegar (acetic acid) and the tomatoes (citric and malic acid), it may even be more effective than just lemon juice (just citric acid), and it sticks in the little nooks and crannies while it works because its a paste. I like just lemon juice though, too...

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Eletrical copper is fairly pure and works well with lower AR weaves. Coaxial can vary depending on location, inside the home its usualy soft copper.

The larger Cable lines from the pole to your home are often copper clad aluminum that snape when you try coiling I have a freind that works in the busness.

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I use copper quite a bit. I buy stranded ground wire at Lowes and untwist to get 6 or 7 strands of wire. After cutting the rings I tumble with steel shot to get rid of the varnish covering and make them shine. My copper tarnishes but most of my customers like the idea of a metal that changes with the seasons. Winter no tarnish and summer tarnish. I try to stay with weaves that involve more than one or two rings taking the strain but have also made E4in1 out of 17 ga 5/16 ID and it has held up.

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I own an electronics recycling centre (www.tter.ca) and just tried out a 5" piece of coax to answer this question.

Coax is often thicker and stiffer than some electrical wire but you may find your rings bend out of shape if the aspect ratio is too high. Be very careful removing the insulation so you do not nick or damage the wire itself. Coax has two layers of insulation; the first is fairly simple to remove, the second is tougher. Wear cut resistant gloves or you will have an accident.

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If you use the lemon juice or vinegar method to clean your copper swish it around in a thin paste of baking soda and water then rinse well, this will neutralize the acid and help stop the pitting.

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If you use the lemon juice or vinegar method to clean your copper swish it around in a thin paste of baking soda and water then rinse well, this will neutralize the acid and help stop the pitting.

= a good bit of advice...

Be very careful removing the insulation so you do not nick or damage the wire itself. Coax has two layers of insulation; the first is fairly simple to remove, the second is tougher. Wear cut resistant gloves or you will have an accident.

There is a tool made specifically for stripping/splitting wire/coax/romex called, I think, a 'cable slitter'...typically allows for adjustment of the cut depth...makes for much safer and faster wire stripping than just a razor knife, for instance. It may or may not be worth the investment depending on how much you are likely to use it.

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Wear cut resistant gloves or you will have an accident.

...but then again, it gives you a good excuse to craft a chainmaille glove... :biggrin:

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Ok, so maybe stripping it is not such a good idea as of yet. Thank you all again for the advice, I am putting it to heart.

...but then again, it gives you a good excuse to craft a chainmaille glove... :biggrin:

lol that was my first idea, making a chainmail glove!

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There is a tool made specifically for stripping/splitting wire/coax/romex called, I think, a 'cable slitter'...typically allows for adjustment of the cut depth...makes for much safer and faster wire stripping than just a razor knife, for instance. It may or may not be worth the investment depending on how much you are likely to use it.

I have such a tool and it is very difficult to get the cutting depth exactly right and the blade dull very quickly. We don't use that tool any more because our processor handles the wire with the insulation still on it.

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I don't use copper much, but I have a bronze bracelet (fairly similar, though I believe slightly more corrosion resistant) that I wear every day. My skin seems to wreak havoc on copper-based metals: I cannot work with brass or bronze without the rings tarnishing, even just in the little contact it takes to attach them to the piece/hold the piece while working on it. What I like to do (for the bracelet that I wear nearly 24/7 at least) is wash it while I'm in the shower. As already established, acid is good for cleaning copper, and I have a salicylic acid-based face wash that I just rub a little into my bracelet when I wash. Doesn't take any extra time, and since it's back to a dark, dull orange-brown by the next day it's more efficient than taking time to clean it in vinegar or lemon juice.

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One thing I still do not understand is why the thickest the wire is the quickest the rings tarnish ?

My theory is that there is more exposed surface so you see it sooner.

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Ok ... for the copper cleaning, I thing we collected all good tricks.

Now still about copper(stuck with it), I have exactly the opposite problem.

I bought some copper rings to finish a piece I started with other rings but unfortunately the new one are much lighter in color than the first one (nearly the color of bronze). I know copper change with aging but it is the firsttime I have a so big difference and that is a problem for me as I have a customer awaiting for his necklace. I can not finish it with these rings, it really does not look like it is the same metal. I could make a new one if the customer did not already have a bracelet made with the old rings.

So after cleaning questions quite another subject : is there a way to make young copper rings become old more quickly than usual ?

All suggestions welcome, tested or not ...

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