Brass is an alloy of primarily copper and zinc. It’s desirable because it has a gold-like luster and color, a low enough melting point to be easily cast, and low friction. There are many kinds of brass alloys, each with different properties that make it suitable for different uses. Some alloys are very hard. Some are different colors, such as silver. Some resist corrosion. And some even kill bacteria. Our favorite brass is 360 brass, also called free-machining brass because it’s hard enough to hold its shape but soft enough to machine easily.
Brass is used in an enormous number of ways: decorative trim, clockwork pieces, antibacterial bed rails, doorknobs, pipe fittings, sculptures and statues, ammunition casings, and spark-safe work areas. It’s also very safe to mill, so long as you don’t breathe in the debris.
We sell precut pieces of 360 brass in our store! They’re the perfect size for many projects, and they fit nicely on the Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine T-slot bed. You can also find brass from many online metal suppliers.
Use the biggest tool you possibly can, to allow for the fastest material removal and least chance of tool breakage. The easiest tools to use are ¼”, 1/8", and 1/16" flat or ball end mills.
Brass is one of the less forgiving materials, and it’s easy to break small tools with too high of a feed rate, inadequate fixturing, or simply having uneven material. The ¼”, 1/8", and 1/16" end mills are very strong, and they can cut away a lot of material at once. That being said, any tool can be used to mill brass as long as the settings are correct and your material is flat.