Straight and square are two fundamental aspects of any build. Our eyes can see very small errors in misalignment quite easily. Edges that aren’t straight and corners that aren’t square will greatly detract from otherwise fine work, as both situations impact the fit and finish everything that comes afterward. With brass, and metal work in general, a tight fit is important. Unlike other materials where you can compensate for a poor fit, metal is unforgiving. As with measuring and marking, this is where craftsmanship begins.
Ready to file. When I need to remove a lot of material or create a precise edge, the work piece is clamped in a vise and the vise is clamped to the bench for stability. This allows me to use both hands to guide the file.
A range of files for the job. These three files are my typical choice for the initial work. Depending on what I need to do and the size of the piece, needle files will also come into play.
Craftsmanship starts here. These three squares are also my first choice for evaluating the work. The six-inch combination square on top also makes a good straight edge.
Thickness matters. A key to getting a tight fit is to pay attention to the mating edges. The square shows this edge is ninety degrees to the face of the piece. Getting this edge right means minimal gaps in the joint.
Good outcomes are achievable. A good fit makes for a strong, clean joint where solder will flow easily.
As always, my reference is quarter-inch scale where fit and finish have a greater impact on the completed model. Like the measuring and marking skills from the previous post, this information may seem basic, and it is. Few people actively build from scratch in brass, so why bother with such anachronistic stuff?
While the prevailing attitude currently leans heavily toward digital printing technology, that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is it the panacea people want it to be. I enjoy the direct contact with the work that hand tools provide. I enjoy making the fullest use of the tools I have available now, rather than spend months trying to learn technology that doesn’t interest me all that much in the first place.
I’ve found an immense satisfaction from taking responsibility for my enjoyment of the craft. Learning a handful of basic skills opens doors that many people will never walk through. I want to make it clear that I’m no expert in this stuff. I’m simply finding my way (often with comic proportions) along a path, and sharing the experiences as I go.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you enjoy time with your loved ones.