Working With M3 Mokume

The best way to work with any new material is to first understand what the material is and M3 is no different. The simple explanation is that our engineers have discovered a way to make real natural elements; metal, lava, carbon, etc. easy to work with standard woodworking tools. Due to the purity of the elements we use and the way they are combined the finished product looks and feels like the elements we use. Metal looks and feels like real metal because it is and the same holds true with all the elements we use. 

This new breed of composite material is more versatile and easy to work with. It machines much like a dense hardwood or composite stone products. There is no need for coolants or exotic tooling. Both hand and CNC machining, as well as carving, can be accomplished with standard tooling. Carbide tipped tools will remain sharp longer than HSS tools. M3 material can be drilled, sawed, milled, turned, carved, threaded and polished to create heirloom quality pieces with the brilliance of a gem finish. When working with any material using sharp clean tooling will produce the best results. Care must be taken not to create heat in excess of normal handling temperatures. As a rule of thumb – if the piece is too hot to touch the material temperature is too high. Excess heat will begin to break down the cross linking and diminish the strength and stability of the material. 

ALWAYS USE APPROIATE SAFTEY EQUIPMENT WHILE WORKING WITH M3 COMPOSITE MATERIALS! 

DRILLING:
For example if you wish to drill a deep hole or through hole (as in pen making) make sure to keep the flutes of the drill bit clear so drill shaves are ejected rather than creating additional friction and heat. This is easily done by backing the bit out about every ½” of travel or any time you see the shaving are not being ejected. We recommend drill speeds below 800 rpm and standard fluted bits rather than brad point. Bit types like a brad point have increased surface contact and therefore can increase friction and heat. If you choose this type of bit take it slow. Always make sure the piece is securely clamped so it doesn’t move and bind the bit. If drilling a through hole make sure the exit hole surface is securely backed up with a sacrificial piece or drill part of the way through from one side then flit the piece and complete the through hole. 

THREADING:
The same general principles apply to threading that applies to drilling. Additionally, make sure you allow sufficient wall thickness and use the proper bit size for the tap you choose. It is also important to choose the correct thread type and pitch for your particular application. One easy way to drill and tap a whole is on the lathe. Use the proper holding chuck for the shape of the peace. Secure the peace in that chuck on the inboard side of the headstock of the lathe. Insert a drill chuck into the poppet barrel of the tailstock with the correct size bit. With the drill chuck retracted into the tailstock, move the tailstock toward the piece until the tip of the bit almost touches the peace, then lock it down. Turn the lathe on at a slow speed below 800 RPM and slowly advance the drill bit into the piece by turning the tailstock hand wheel. Be sure to follow the drill procedures recommended above and don’t forget to back the bit out periodically to clear the flutes. You may have to use one hand to keep the drill chuck from turning in the mortise taper. When the whole is complete to the correct depth make sure to blow all residual dust and particles out of the hole. If you don’t have a compressor available, canned air (as sold in a computer store or office supply store) works well. 

Remove the drill bit from the drill chuck and replace it with the correct size tap. Be sure to mark the tap (1 rap of tape works well) at a point that does not exceed the depth of the whole. If you need the threads the full depth of the hole use a bottom tap to finish the threats. With the drill chuck retracted into the tailstock, move the tailstock toward the piece until the taper on the tip of the tap just barely starts to enter the hole, then lock it down. Tapping this way is a hand operation so you will want to make sure the power to the lathe is disconnected. You will also want to maintain a snug fit between the drill chuck Morris taper and the tailstock so you are able to turn the drill chuck by hand with very little resistance. This will allow you to feel the tapping resistance and still maintain correct alignment between the tap and the whole. Turn the hand wheel on the tail stock to advance the tap until it just begins to enter the hole then stop. Now use one hand on the drill chuck (not the hand wheel)to advance it forward so the tap enters the hole while using your other hand to slowly turn the holding chuck and spindle (by hand) in the same direction as it would spin if the lathe was powered. Maintain steady advancing pressure while slowly turning the holding chuck and spindle. About every 1 to 1-1/2 turns reverse this process to clear the chips and shaving from the tap flutes and threads. Blowing out the hole is also advisable. Don’t forget to reverse your hand pressure on the tap so you don’t strip the threads you just cut. Continue this process slowly to continue cutting new threads deeper into the hole. Periodically, advance the poppet barrel using the hand wheel just enough to maintain proper alignment of the mortise taper, drill chuck and tap. It may take a few tries to become proficient at this method so you may want to use a piece of scrap the first time. Once you do master this process you will tap perfectly aligned holes every time!

Sanding

  1. Sand parts with 150, 180, 220, 320, 400, 600 grit using a good quality “P” grade sandpaper.
  2. Flat parts are best sanded in alternating directions (cross hatch) when possible.
  3. Clean surface between each sanding grit with a soft bush or 0000 steel wool.

Polishing rounds on a lathe

  1. With the lathe turned off, use a gloved finger to apply a small dab of PMP “A”, just enough to cover the complete part.
  2. Turn the lathe on and carefully apply medium pressure to the underside (for safety) of part using a soft cloth (like terry or cotton) tri-folded to about 1″ wide.  Move the cloth side to side slowly to get even constant contact without creating more heat than is comfortable to the touch.
  3. When the polish seems to disappear from the surface move to a clean part of the polishing cloth to remove residue.
  4. Repeat steps 2, 3, & 4 again with PMP “A” then twice again with PMP “B”.

Polishing flats on a buffer

  1. For best results use a buffer arbor speed between 1650 & 1750 PRM’s with an 8” diameter lose flannel wheel.  This will produce a SFPM (surface feet per minute) between 3300 & 3500 SFPM.  Good results may also be achieved by using an alternate drive such as a drill motor or grinder motor clamped securely in a vise with a buffing arbor and lose flannel wheel.  Keep buffing wheel clean and free of excessive buffing compound build up.
  2. Use a gloved finger to apply a small dab of PMP “A”, just enough to cover the complete part.
  3. Holding the part securely at the top edge, move the part toward the buffing wheel on the side of the arbor that the wheel is turning down toward the floor (not the side of the wheel coming up) so the bottom of the face you are polishing touches the wheel first and always below the center line of the arbor.
  4. Using medium pressure, move the part side to side while feeding the part down so the wheel contact point continues to move up the face until you reach about 3/4s of the way up the face.
  5. Move the part away from the wheel and rotate the face 180 degrees so the bottom face that is polished is now at the top.  Then repeat step 4 until the face has an even shine.  Be careful not to create anymore heat than is comfortable to the touch and always overlap polishing strokes.
  6. Repeat these steps again with PMP “A” then twice again with PMP “B”.
  7. If you are using a drill motor or other power source, or different size wheel, you can use this formula to calculate SFPM.  Wheel diameter x .25 = ? x arbor speed = SFPM (8” x .25 = 2 x 1650 = 3300 SPFM).

During any polishing process excessive heat can cause glazing/burning of the surface which will reduce the reflectivity and produce a plastic look.  This is real metal in a hybrid binder (not acrylic, urethane or polyester resin) and should be polished as such to achieve the full depth of shine and Gem quality finish befitting a custom crafted creation.

PRECAUTIONS: PMP contains petroleum distillates.  Avoid eye or prolonged skin contact.  Use with ventilation.  In case of contact: Skin: Flush with water; Eyes: Flush with water for 20 minutes and immediately seek medical attention; Inhalation: Administer fresh air or oxygen; Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting—immediately seek medical attention.

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