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Model Building With Brass

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Kurt Van Dahm

Kurt Van Dahm
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This book by MSW member Ken Foran has been worth every penny spent on it and I highly recommend it if you work with brass at all.  This review was originally published in the NRG's Journal but with some recent discussion on Ken's build log I thought I would post it here.



Model Building with Brass


Kennneth C. Foran


Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

4880 Lower Valley Road

Atglen, PA 19310

ISBN : 978-0-7643-8


8.5 x 11 inch format – 160 pages

$34.99 List Price



The subject of building models with brass is very well covered in this book with the emphasis on how to make parts from brass without being a machinist.  The tools the author uses are probably already in the workshops of most intermediate to advanced modelers.  The only power tool routinely referred to in the book is a drill press but modelers with fully equipped shops will certainly figure out how to use their power tools instead of the hand tools used in the book.


Mr. Foran shows how the non-machinist modeler can make even very complex parts and assemblies from brass, using mostly hand tools, by thinking about the building process in a different manner than usually presented by model machinists.  The process described in depth in this book is best described as building up a part rather than machining away material to make a part.  Over 300 clear and sharp color photographs are used to illustrate the various techniques and operations explained in the book.


The author explains how to use various brass shapes, tubes, bars, flat sheet and wire to make up parts by the additive process.  The need to anneal brass before working with it is fully explained as are the problems encountered by not annealing the pieces. 


Soldering is extensively covered as would be expected.  Also covered is how to prevent pieces being used for alignment during soldering operations to not be soldered to the parts being joined.  I found this technique to be very helpful and one that I had not seen explained previously in my reading of various metal working articles and manuals.


Cutting of pieces from flat stock as well as from bars, tubes and shapes with hand tools is thoroughly covered with many tips on using the jeweler’s saw and picking the proper blade for the job at hand.  I had less than satisfactory results using a jeweler’s saw with brass before reading this book and broke many blades.  I recently had occasion to need to cut several pieces of brass for an oval port hole assembly on a 1/12 scale model.  Following the tips from this book my results were very good and I will be using my jeweler’s saw more often now.


Cleaning brass before and after soldering and prior to plating or other finishing is covered thoroughly.  Chemical blackening of parts and plating parts is thoroughly explained.


This is a book that belongs in the library of every modeler who works with brass pieces regardless of the type of model being built.


I originally wrote this review in late 2013.  Since then this book has found a spot in my shop so it is easy to grab when I need to check out a detail on a point that I remember from my previous reading of the book.  I can only reinforce my original recommendation that this book belongs in your shop if you ever work with brass.

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Kurt Van Dahm

Director - Chairman



Nautical Research & Model Ship Society of Chicago
Midwest Model Shipwrights
North Shore Deadeyes

Butch O'Hare - IPMS



    Engine Stoker 3rd Class

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Kurt, I'll second that. I've only had the book a few days and I'm hooked.

  • mtaylor, Jack12477 and donrobinson like this



Started: MS Bounty Longboat,

On Hold:  Heinkel USS Choctaw paper

Down the road: Shipyard HMC Alert 1/96 paper, Mamoli Constitution Cross, MS USN Picket Boat #1

Scratchbuild: Echo Cross Section


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