What would you do with 57.5 lbs of brass?

It came out of some Carnegie Mellon Dept.Terrestrial Magnetism contraption 40+ years ago and is quietly taking up space in a workshop in central VA. The kiddo who brought this to my attention said he’s looking more for ideas, but I bet he could also be persuaded to part with it. I’ve asked him to send me some more pictures, I’ll post them when I get them.

I’d cast a few sculptures and maybe gears for the medieval clock I’m building.

Brass is a great metal to fabricate with. It machines very easily on a lathe or mill. it is easy to drill and tap, especially with a chip-free forming tap. It is an easy material to solder, or better yet, braze. It can be hand-engraved with graving tools.

I hope to use the new Laguna Router to engrave a nice filigree on brass and bronze sundials using an engraving bit.

As scrap to Queen City Steel it should be worth in the range of $1 to $1.50/lb.

-Bill Gottesman

This would be great for knife hilts and pommels. I’d love to have a piece of that.


Knife hilts, pommels, and even D guards are exactly what I was thinking as well. I just can’t turn off my bladesmith mind when seeing brass.

ooh, thank you. These are all great ideas. I will pass them on. He is somebody who appreciates a good knife so I’ll let you know if he sends the metal north.

I’d probably cut a slice off and make a hefty mallet. That T slot would make a good handle attachment point.

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I mean is it worth recreating the contraption? Does he recall the contraption?

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I have no idea, I’ll ask. My hunch is that it’s unlikely - contraptions were often repurposed into other contraptions over the years but what a great idea.

Stuff Historian, stopping by to say… for inspiration, you might consider looking at PE Guerin, the brass foundry that’s been in downtown Manhattan for 150 years. For example, they are using 150 year old pattern lathes, along with a LOT of other cool old stuff. This is where to buy the world’s fanciest faucets.


Very cool, I’ll let Sterling know.

Is it brass or bronze? Both are copper alloys with zinc being the principal alloying element in brass and tin the principal alloying element in bronze. Only a hand full of the brasses and bronzes are free-machining. What most people generically refer to as “brass” is really C36000 or 360 brass. This is “free-cutting” because the next principal alloying element after zinc is about 3% lead. On its own, copper is problematic to machine so the alloying elements greatly influence the machinability.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was some other alloy other than C36000 chosen for specific mechanical/electrical/magnetic properties. All I’m saying is caveat emptor when approaching unknown scrap materials, especially scrap materials that came from high tech equipment.

I’ve passed the question on.