Confused: Brass vs copper vs bronze handles.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by mwhich50, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. mwhich50

    mwhich50 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2011

    The Artisan Cutlery Proponent is now being offered in bronze, copper, and brass. What are the differences in hardness (snail trail resistance), rust resistance, and which ones form patinas? Thanks!
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
  2. T.L.E. Sharp

    T.L.E. Sharp Oatmeal Pecan is better than Chocolate-chip. Platinum Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    Assuming they're actually those materials and not just anodized those colors, they'll all patina and snail trail with really any carry at all.

    That's sort if the point I think. They age with regular use and become unique. That comes at the expense of being rather heavy and comparatively soft.

    None of them will rust. They've no iron in them.
    gazz98 and mwhich50 like this.
  3. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    The all age; and all get a different patina.

    For some people their sweat reacts with copper and creates a metallic smell.
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  4. lieferung

    lieferung Basic Member Basic Member

    May 24, 2016
    Assuming they are the actual materials, copper is quite smelly in my opinion. Brass, not so much, and I like the color better (both before and after patina). I don't know the attributes of bronze, curious to know.
  5. stonproject


    Nov 22, 2013
    I looked these up, they're the actual materials. The copper version weighs over a pound!
    chiral.grolim likes this.
  6. ruddyduck

    ruddyduck Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 30, 2019
    I can't comment on copper, but I've owned both brass and bronze watches. Both will form a similar patina, but it'll likely form on the brass a little quicker. As for hardness, it really depends on what composition the bronze is...there are several types. Also, bronze does have copper in it, so the redder the color, the more copper it has. This can affect how the patina looks. The patina develops a deep redish hue with bronze that has a lot of copper. My favorite bronze from the patina aspect is CuSn8.
    Chronovore likes this.
  7. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    It's not the copper that you can smell. It's body odor; either yours or whoever handed you the item.
  8. mwhich50

    mwhich50 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2011
  9. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    These are all interesting materials. All of them can patina differently and that's part of the charm. I'm less familiar with bronze as an EDC material but copper and brass do tend to smell. It's true that you aren't really smelling the metal. However, it isn't really "body odor" either. The metals are causing chemical reactions to organic compounds including those adsorbed from your body. There is an interesting discussion of the chemistry here:

    The main issue I have is getting that smell on my hands after handling my brass EDC items. It is very noticeable if I touch my face or eat something by hand. I suppose that's a good reminder to wash my hands. This could be doubly important with brass as it often contains a small amount of lead. It is usually a small amount but no amount of lead is good for you and exposure tends to be cumulative.
    mwhich50 likes this.
  10. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Copper will patina the fastest, followed by bronze then brass. They’re all going to be heavy. If they get too dark, you can use a cleaner to restore the look or use a fine steel wool to give them an antique look. There may even be a sealer that will protect the new look finish and odor issue. Not real sure how it would hold up to constant use.
    mwhich50 likes this.
  11. lex2006

    lex2006 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 20, 2014
    Brass is copper and zinc
    Bronze is copper and tin
    Copper is just copper, if I was going to handle any material for a length of time it would be copper .
    And like the others have already said they will all take a patina for some sort.
    mwhich50 likes this.
  12. goldie


    Feb 18, 2000
    One thing I noticed about brass handles/scales is it increases weight of the knife a lot . I had the Reate Jack in brass, it was a boat anchor so I sold it. I had one in carbon fiber,too and the difference in weight was huge.And that was just overlays.If the scales are all brass it can really be heavy. Something to think about with some of these materials.
  13. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Some bronzes use aluminum, phosphorus or silicon (or sometimes other alloying elements) instead of or along with tin.

    Bronze has the best overall corrosion resistance, which is why (along with its strength and machineability) it is widely used for propellers for ocean-going vessels, from small private vessels to large container ships and aircraft carriers.

    Brasses usually have a more yellowish appearance, while most bronze alloys are slightly reddish (except for aluminum bronzes, which look more like brass). Pure copper is redder than either brass or bronze. Copper is the softest, and generally brass is harder than copper and bronze alloys are harder than brass.

    All three will patina to a dark color. A good example is the US Cent coin. Before 1962 they were bronze (with a few years, like 1943-1946 being steel and brass, and before the mid 1860s they were a different copper alloy, and the original cents from the late 1700s to 1857 being pure copper). From 1962-1982 they were brass. From mid-1982 on they have been copper plated zinc. From a distance you can't tell the difference between them once they have developed a deep patina.

    Personally I am a big fan of tin and silicon bronzes.
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  14. lieferung

    lieferung Basic Member Basic Member

    May 24, 2016
    The actual science says otherwise :rolleyes:;):

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  15. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    These materials will scratch but they also patina to make them wear nicely like leather. But they also polish from spots they rub to your pocket.

    Brass has more golden color, copper has more reddish tone to it. Bronze I think is deepest in color though I only know it from jewelry.

    Really nice materials if you like rustic natural look, but I’d prefer them in more old school knives.

    For me I’m still rebelling against them since few years ago when people had to have them in every single place.
    mwhich50 likes this.
  16. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Oh baby. The brass one does weigh in at 14.88 ozs . Bronze = 15.52 ozs. Copper = 17.92 ozs. :D

    Some of you smaller folks might find yourself walking in circles with 18 ozs clipped to one side of your body. Kinda like how a tank turns...
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  17. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    To smell the metal you need to vaporize (melt) it.

    He who smelt it; dealt it.

    Comparison of iron metal with other metals (copper, brass, zinc, etc.): When solid copper metal or brass (copper-zinc alloy) was contacted with the skin instead of iron, a similar metallic odor and GC-peak pattern of carbonyl hydrocarbons was produced and up to one μmole/dm² of monovalent cuprous ion [CuX+" role="presentation">Cu+] was detected as a corrosion product (Supporting Figs. S3 to S6). Zinc, a metal that forms ZnX2+" role="presentation">Zn2+ but no stable ZnX+" role="presentation">Zn+, was hesitant to form metallic odor, except on very strong rubbing of the metal versus skin (that could produce metastable monovalent ZnX+" role="presentation">Zn+). The use of common color-tests to demonstrate directly on human palm skin the presence of low-valence ions (ferrous and cuprous) from the corrosion of iron, copper and brass alloys is shown in Supporting Figure S6. Alumina powder rubbed on skin did not produce significant odorants. These results provide additional evidence that it is not metal evaporation, but skin lipid peroxide reduction and decomposition by low valence metal ions that produces the odorants.
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  18. mwhich50

    mwhich50 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    I have the G-10 version: 9.5 oz. I definitely know it is in my pocket.

    I love the look of the brass, copper, etc, but I'm not too crazy about the "lead exposure" part.
    Chronovore likes this.
  19. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Is the "lead exposure" one of those California Prop 65 things? If so I don't think you need to worry unless you plan to swallow a bunch of these for a circus act.
  20. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    There are different types of brass but the stuff used in common keys can be up around 2.5% lead. Small amounts can rub off upon surface contact. It isn't huge but remember, no amount of lead is good for you. This is why many brass keys are now coated and we have advisories to not let small children play with them.

    Exactly how dangerous this is will depend on a lot of factors. For instance, how much lead is in your EDC brass? How often do you fondle your brass gear? How often do you touch your face or eat with your hands after using that gear? How often do you wash your hands after using your gear? What else gets stored in those pockets? An important question is how much lead you are picking up from other sources of exposure since it is cumulative.
    mwhich50 likes this.

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