How to Anneal Copper

How to Anneal Copper

Copper is one of those materials we find used for a wide range of projects.  As workable metals go, it is available in a wide variety of ready to use forms from wire and rod to sheet and plate.  It can be worked with with basic tools to manipulated to a variety of shapes and articles.  That said, if you plan to put a lot of structure into your copper projects, there is a good chance you could be stress hardening your material.  While that may be fine and even add strength to a point, excessive working can stress the metal, making it brittle and apt to fracture.  To relieve this stress, you will need an adequate heat source to anneal your material.  The annealing process is relatively straight forward and  for smaller pieces generally involves bringing the metal to a dark red heat  by use of a torch or other heat source and allowing it to air cool.  Some metal artists will then clean the oxide with a pickling solution, generally a diluted acid mixture.  In the case of our presenter, artist George Goehl ( in the following video, a simple wire brushing will often suffice, sometimes followed by buffing with a rouge compound for a nice polish.

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{ 1 comment }

Philippe Achener April 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

Thanks so much for a very clear and concise explanation of annealing. I need to anneal a piece of small copper tubing (pipe) to be able to bend it without folding it and pinching it at the elbow.

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