Mid Century Starburst Key Holder

mid century key holder

Mid Century Retro-style

If your decor needs a retro 1970’s style addition, then look no further than this mid century starburst key holder.  It was hand braze welded with an oxygen acetylene torch and is largely made up of masonry square cut nails.  The filler metal used was bare bronze brazing alloy.  A paste flux was used to prevent oxidation during heating.

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Brazed Masonry Nail Starburst

The second image captures a more closeup perspective of the functional art.  You will notice how the shiny bronze joints set themselves as quite a contrast to the gray steel near them.  Although this key holder may be considerably larger than my other key holders, I am quite pleased with this creation and I feel it is still quite comfortable to fit in any home or office.

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Brazed Metal

 

 

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Accented Braze Nail Sculpture

A lot of my work revolves around braze  welded     square cut nails.  This concept was originally developed during the mid century movement in the 1950’s,1960’s, and 1970’s.  It has seen somewhat of a comeback. Personally, I love the aesthetic quality the brass joints contribute to the steel nails.  I put my own personal twist to this concept by creating and using my own accents.  The piece pictured above, Eames Era Accented Brazed Sculpture, is a perfect example.  I took a scrap piece of round steel bar, cutoff pieces of pipe, a rectangle of expanded sheet, and assembled them into unit that dominates the sculpture.

As can be seen, I stuck with the natural steel finish.  It is wire brushed in places and not others to combine to give both a polished and rustic finish.  A gloss lacquer finish is applied to protect.

Brass Covered Nail Project Completed!!

 

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Major Project is done

The week before I took off for Orlando, Florida June 16th, I finally completed my brass covered nail project!  I showed my latest images to the customer and he approved!  Now came the nerve racking part.  It was time to build a wood  crate to ship this sculpture safely.

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Not only did I want to make sure that I had at least 2 inches of space between the sculpture and the crate on all sides,  I actually bolted the art down to the supports.  This kept it snug and it would not move or shift in shipment.  Afterward, the crate was filled in with packing material to absorb shock.  This was well worth the extra effort.  Three days after I sent the art by motor freight, the customer responded with glee and was very pleased. 

Bare Bronze vs. Flux Coated Brazing Rods

Utility of braze welding

Whether you are a HVAC technicial, a plumber, or a metal artist, braze welding is a very useful and versatile method for making metal joints. The utility of braze welding lies in the fact that different alloys and metals can be joined together. Whats more is that the heat required is significantly lower than that used for welding so heat distortion is minimized. The braze welding alloy is much more fluid that steel filler metal and actually flows into the braze welding joint by capillary action.
In order for a solid braze welded joint to form and the bronze filler rod to be able to flow, a flux is needed. Flux is a chemical mixture that actively dissolves oxidation naturally present on metal surfaces and also provides a shield against the oxygen of the air during heating so the filler metal can flow into the joint.

What is brazing exactly?

Brazing practiceBrazing is a process where two metals being joined are heated and a filler meta,l which usually melts at a lower temperature, is added to flow into between workpieces creating a bond. The most common brazing alloys used are bronze or brass. Sometimes it is necessary to use silver bearing brazing alloy. Most metals can be brazed except aluminum, magnesium, or titanium. Another benefit to brazing is that dissimular metals can be joined. For example, you can braze steel and copper together with bronze brazing rod.

Flux coated rod

Flux Coated RodsOne product line available to the braze welder is the flux coated brazing filler rod. These come in various compositions for joining different alloys. The main benefit is the flux is already on the rods and does not need to be pruchased separately.  The disadvantages outweigh the benefits and the convenience in my honest opinion. First, if you are working with new metal or at least relatively clean metal, you would need to scrape as much as 3/4 of the flux off the flux coated rod. The flux is tanacious and somewhat glassy due to the high level of borates. If you overheat the joint and use to much flux, it will form an incredibly hard black mineral glass that is next to impossibly to remove. Flux residue removal is essential if any painting or surface finish is going to be done. What happens if any flux is not removed, the flux will effloresce causing it to “bloom” into a crystaline crust. This will lift and rupture any paint or lacquer exposing the joint to further corrosion and moisture from the air.

Bare bronze brazing rods

Brazing FluxAn alternative to flux coated brazing rods is to use bare bronze rods with a paste flux. This involves less work because their is no flux to scrape off when brazing clean metal. With paste flux, you can use as little or as much is needed. This is important as different alloys need different amounts of flux. For instance, stainless steel needs a little more flux due to the tough oxide coating. The flux paste I use is used for all commonly brazed alloys. It has borates like on the flux coated rods but with a little fluoride. This facilitates easier removal of flux residues with a wire brush and hot water. The fluoride fumes are corrosive and toxic so you must be mindful of ventilation.

Starburst Sculpture created by braze welding

StarburstThis is a great examply of what I do with braze welding. I make home decor. Notice how the bronze joint not only is functional but decorative due to the contrast with the grey steel. For more photos and information please visit this link to the listing in my Etsy Shop.