Annealing 101
by Judy Freyer Thompson
One good technique to have under your belt is to annealing. Copper lends itself to annealing perfectly. Since most of my jewelry projects use small pieces of copper sheet and wire, all I need is a reliable butane torch, a brick or heat resistant surface, cold water to quench and safe pickle to remove the fire scale. Annealing is all about recognizing the state of the metal you are applying the heat to.
Instructions
What happens to the metal during annealing? A short description is: Applying a flame from a torch is a heat treatment which alters the microstructure of the copper piece. The heat applied reduces the hardness of the copper and makes the metal soft so it may be manipulated; in the annealed state, the copper is easy to bend and form and it will not break down or crack during the creative process.
Make sure the copper you are annealing is clean and free of any oily substance. This means beeswax, cut lube, and even the oils on your fingers. Wash the piece of copper with a good degreasing soap, rinse, let the water shed off the piece while holding it by the edges. Once the piece is devoid of moisture, lay it on the brick or heat resistant surface. Side note: I have a brick from a friend that lived in New Haven CT; his house is brick and built in 1912. He had bricks that he had reclaimed during a renovation. The brick has the year convexly detailed as part of the structure of the brick. Laying the copper pieces I am annealing on the convex numbers is instrumental. A brick can be a heatsink and capture the heat from the flame, which could divert the heat to the brick and take the heat away from the copper. The raised numbers serve as standoffs so the copper pieces are receiving the full heat of the flame.
Judy Freyer Thompson's Annealing 101 - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, annealing 101
To anneal, make sure your butane torch is fully fueled. Nothing like running out of fuel mid-anneal!
Once lit, move the torch flame in a sweeping motion, heating the copper piece from side to side and top to bottom.
Keep a keen eye on the piece of copper...you will notice that it will start to turn gorgeous rainbow colors. If you are flame painting, stop here...but that is another technique.
Judy Freyer Thompson's Annealing 101 - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, annealing 101
This piece is turning purple before it turns red. You want to see the piece of copper turn red, a beautiful red glow is what you are looking for. Once you see the red glow, move the flame so the entire piece has had a red glow as your move the torch.
Now that the piece has been annealed, you may choose to pick it up with pliers and quench it in cool water, or you may let it cool and place it in your safe pickle.
From here, clean the piece with dish soap and water to remove the fire scale, and create!!!
Judy Freyer Thompson's Annealing 101 - , General Education, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, annealing 101

Materials

22 Gauge 0.025 Dead Soft Copper Sheet Metal - 6x12 Inch
MET-705.22M
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $10.77
  • Gold Club Price: $8.07
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24 Gauge 0.020 Dead Soft Copper Sheet Metal - 6x12 Inch
MET-705.24M
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $8.66
  • Gold Club Price: $6.50
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Tools

Blazer GT 8000 Big Shot Torch
TRCH-8000
  • TRCH-8000
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $89.95
  • Gold Club Price: $67.46
Out of Stock
NATURE'S TOUCH CITRIC PICKLE, 2LB PLASTIC JAR
CLN-163.00
  • CLN-163.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $12.95
  • Gold Club Price: $9.71
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Sparex Number 2 Pickling Compound
SOL-802.10
  • SOL-802.10
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $5.95
  • Gold Club Price: $4.46
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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques