James Stanley

I made a brass box

Thu 6 November 2014

At the weekend I decided to use up the brass sheet I had lying around and construct a box.

I bought a brass door hinge to use for the hinge, and cut the box material out of my sheet of brass. I soldered the box together using a blowtorch.

The main problems I had centred around a difficulty with soldering together a part of the box without melting other parts of the box. This is the reason that the edges are so poorly aligned - I got the first join nice and square but subsequently melted it and resoldered it several times. I eventually developed a technique of placing large metal objects against the brass to act as heatsinks. I also managed to solder the lid shut right at the end, although this was easily fixed. I also ended up with lots of stray solder running down the inside of the box due to gravity - a little more thought in the orientation of the parts I was soldering could have prevented this.

After soldering it all, I cleaned up the surfaces with wet-and-dry paper to restore the surface, which had been discoloured and blackened by the blowtorch.

My box is pretty shit, but I'm quite pleased that I got it to work at all after seeing how much trouble I had keeping it together.

If I were to make another box I would use thicker brass so that it conducts heat more slowly, and I would bend rather than solder wherever possible so as to reduce the amount of soldering required. I would also have a greater awareness of heat transfer and of how the solder will flow.

Update 2014-11-17: At the weekend I made another box, this one out of copper but the principle is the same.

The body of this box is formed out of one continuous sheet of copper which is bent up at the ends and sides, and the rest is constructed as before. This is a far superior way to make the box. As you can see, the edges line up much more neatly. In fact, the lid fits so neatly I had to add a little tag to make it easier to open.

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