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Topic: What has happened to all the brass?
Message: Posted by: tom_stamm (Jan 10, 2019 09:44PM)
Recently I was in the market for a chop cup. I noticed that many brass cups where ‘out-of-stock” and it seemed there was more choices in other metals:chrome, black chrome, steel, stainless steel... lots of copper. personally I like brass.

I am curious; Is the world running out of brass? Is it hard to work with? Too expensive? Are we boycotting someone who controls the brass market?
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jan 11, 2019 02:19AM)
Brass is used in shell casings. With folks stockpiling and packing, not much room in world for magic any more. ;)
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 11, 2019 03:22PM)
Here are some Paul Fox in brass/church bronze....

Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jan 11, 2019 08:15PM)
I believe brass is an alloy of copper and tin, or zinc, so unless there is a shortage of those elements the shortage of brass chop cups is likely a result of supply and demand. Maybe brass cups aren't as popular as of late, so there are fewer on the market?
Message: Posted by: tom_stamm (Jan 11, 2019 10:45PM)
Funsway: Lol that's kinda twisted
Message: Posted by: tom_stamm (Jan 11, 2019 10:48PM)
Wizard of Oz: I’m not sure that's correct. If brass wasn’t popular wouldn’t there be glut for sale? I thinking brass is popular but too expensize to re-stock. Maybe?
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 11, 2019 10:52PM)
Oz, you nailed it, but there is no shortage. Cups just don't seem to be as popular anymore. Right now in this particular order are costs of metals we use in our shop.

Copper Highest
Stainless Steel

The cost of aluminum is actually higher than Stainless steel right now. Not sure how that works with all the Pepsi cans I recycle each month.

In my opinion I think Brass has lost appeal because not all Brass develop a nice Patina, which a lot of people like on their cups and ones that like a bright brass
don't want to have to polish them constantly as Brass will develop an uneven patina almost on a semi weekly basis.
Message: Posted by: tom_stamm (Jan 11, 2019 11:20PM)
Thanks Mad Jake. I stand corrected.
Message: Posted by: Leo H (Jan 12, 2019 07:22AM)
Brass also has a tendency to crack. A number of brass cups that were spun back in the 1970s and 80s haven't fared well.

Today's aluminum soda cans are paper thin. Drop a sealed can on the sidewalk and it will not survive the hit.
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 12, 2019 09:45AM)
Brass needs to be annealed. Danny Dew had problems with his Candy Dishes he did in brass. Busby PF cups in brass have been known to crack as well. Dad used Bronze for about all his cups
very few were brass and if they were brass he annealed the heck out of them.
Message: Posted by: karnak (Jan 12, 2019 10:13AM)
It's interesting that, although copper seems to be the most popular choice overall, when Johnson Products was making their own cups they instead chose to make them out of brass.

(Has Johnson quit making them? They still list the matching chop cup on their website, but they haven't listed their full set of cups and balls for quite a long time now. Are they now discontinued?)
Message: Posted by: Leo H (Jan 12, 2019 11:30AM)
Johnson made a small run of copper versions of their cup, and never did it again. The last one I saw go up for sale in the used market was at least ten years ago. Contacting them should answer that question, but if they stopped listing their cups, then production must have ended.
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 12, 2019 08:35PM)
I have my father's two sets of cups, one brass and one copper from Johnson. There are different grades of machinable copper, a popular one for every day use is C110. C110 is the least expensive, a 4x4x12 if 135.00.
The problem is you can't make cups from them on a CNC, well you can but when milling C110 the shavings start to taffy like which gums up the end mill.

The biggest waste of CNC in regards to cups, is the waste. That's why they are so expensive, because you're paying for a solid block of metal, not a disc of say copper or brass. The manufacturing cost difference is

The next CNC method is CNC spinning. It's the same as hand spinning with the exception that a CAM program is used to CNC spin the metal down the block with just a few passes. There is a draw back to CNC spinning
when you hire out to a shop. The metal is not annealed like it should be that you find spinners that spin by hand. The first set of Stainless Steel Paul Fox cups I spun, I had to anneal every 1/4", I eventually got fed
up and just keep 2 torches on the piece as I was spinning. The CNC process will eventually start showing stress cracks in them over time.

Johnson has said they will be doing cups again soon. They are probraly in the middle of outside contracts.

Johnson also runs batches. Say they are running coin stacks, they mill thousands of sets of them and then move on to the next project, ie coin shells. This then frees them up to take outside contracts where the real money

Just some backroom information I would share with you.
Message: Posted by: tom_stamm (Jan 14, 2019 06:43PM)
Thanks Jake. I find your message very educational.
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Jan 22, 2019 03:57PM)
[quote]On Jan 11, 2019, tom_stamm wrote:
Funsway: Lol that's kinda twisted [/quote]

There is a evidence that the industry that supply the Military around the world is cutting of supply to certain products. Be interesting to find out what Fusway points to is really the case.
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 23, 2019 03:25AM)
There is no shortage of metals, as a matter of fact there is too much. Too much so that mining companies are shutting down because prices are too low. Foundries are not hurting in the supply and demand regions. Our ore reserves are at their highest in 20 years. Precious metals are low right now, but are still commanding high premiums. Try to figure this one out, machinable Aluminum costs more by 8% of that of 303 machinable stainless steel. Machinable C110 Copper is still at 110.00 for 4x4x12 linear foot, the same price it was 20 years ago. Machinable Brass just cost me 1279.00 for a 4"x4"x12' round bar. When using a CNC, 85% of machinable metals are waste, scrap value is very low, especially shavings.

When you break down the price of hand spinning discs vs. solid machinable stock, it's actually more costly. Pre-cut sheets or disks actually would cost you 17x more than solid machine stock due to pre-machining process. On top of all this, prices are all over the place when you start changing the grades of metals. The Government isn't limiting anything, all metals are abundant and have no restrictions. The main function of our machine shop is for commercial shipping vessels and I use tons of brass per year.

Yellow, interesting to see that your are in New Zealand, where about are you at? The reason I ask is I'm in Napier right now, I have one of my commercial fishing boats coming into the port. I recently won a bid and contract for commercial fishing in New Zealand.
I haven't been here long, but wouldn't mind applying for a citizenship visa here.

Jake Jr.
Message: Posted by: Cris Cringle (Jan 23, 2019 09:42AM)
Gday Mad Jake

Welcome to our side of the world mate!!

Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Jan 23, 2019 07:42PM)
Jake Jr., did your love of being at sea come before your love of magic, or the other way around? Just curious as your shop seems to dabble in both (although I'm betting one if far more profitable than the other).
Message: Posted by: Mad Jake (Jan 25, 2019 11:55AM)
My love for magic came from my father, then my love for the water and being at sea..

CC thank you for the welcome, this is God's country here, it's absolutely beautiful and the local people here are so friendly.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Mar 14, 2019 01:34PM)
I think brass is out of fashion in magic because it's seen by magicians as being indicative of cheap Chinese or Indian import trash.

Which is a shame, because brass can be some beautiful stuff. I've got a couple of cup sets in brass, and they polish up to a rich, beautiful luster (of course, as mentioned above, they do requite frequent touching up.)
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 5, 2019 02:29PM)
Re: Johnson Products cups -- Over 95% of their cups are brass. The others are copper (actually red bronze). Their machining is a CNC process, which does not require annealing. However, for Johnson Products, magic props are a very tiny part of their business. So they don't manufacture cups all the time. This said, I don't think there is a shortage of Johnson Products cups at this time. In any case, the individual generally cannot purchase directly from them. You need to find a dealer.

Regarding popularity of cups and balls -- it goes through cycles.

I'm not going to run out of cups anytime soon.
Message: Posted by: gaddy (Apr 14, 2019 06:07PM)
Hello, Bill.

Does one need a password to view the Cups & Balls museum?


Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 18, 2019 11:15PM)
The museum is temporarily down. It has been for nearly 2 years. However, these past few days, one of the other members of the Café and I made some progress. I just have to get things on line.

There will be announcements.

Message: Posted by: gaddy (Apr 22, 2019 01:36PM)
Thank you, sir!

I look forward to the Grand re-opening!
Message: Posted by: lemon ice (May 31, 2019 09:36AM)
Excited to hear that The Museum is coming back, Bill! I’ve got lots more exploring to do there.