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Videos and Demos
This is the jewelry side of things- there is a jewelry/
burnout kiln, a casting machine (built into the table) a rolling mill
just behind the soldering tray and the miscellany of the jeweler's trade.
That rail anvil was one of the first things I made on my first coal rivetting forge. I finished it
by hand and heat treated it, quenching in a 30 gallon trash can of heated brine. Then I
made damascus blades on it for a couple years before I could afford to work up to the gas forge,
the treadle hammer and the Nimba. It was brutal to work billets on, but it makes a perfect jeweler's anvil.
Hot Work and Forging
This is my forging area. There are two forges with an interchangeable
burner. One is for large billets and one is for blades. The blade forge is based on Don Fogg's design.
It is a pleasure to operate and my thanks go out to Mr. Fogg for
making the design available to others. It is easy to construct and
will forge a blade up to sword length; the burner is made from simple
plumbing parts and the blower allows for complete control of the forge
atmosphere for welding. I can drop a foot-long thermocouple down the
inside of the forges and get very accurate temperatures for
heat-treating or soaking billets.
The treadle hammer is based on the "Modified Treadle Hammer," plans by H. Peot,
available from ABANA,
and which I further modified with an emphasis on
sturdiness. The hammer is 75 lbs. and is a solid piece of 4 1/2"
shaft, as is the pedestal. I did all of my damascus on it for nearly ten years-
though I have certainly kept myself in good shape by doing
so. Fill the back square tubing with sand, and bolt that baby down. You're welcome.
On the right is my 24 ton Uncle Al's
Hydraulic Press - a real boon to the billet-maker!
The anvil is a 120 lb. Titan
Forge. For an anvil of its weight it has a very large face and is
perfect for bladesmithing. I love this anvil.
Grinding & Milling
This is where I do my grinding and finishing. I have a
10" wheel, 2" x 72"
N.E. Coote Grinder running on a 220 volt, 1 Horsepower motor with pulleys for speed
control. There are 8" and 6" contact
wheels available as well. The whole machine tilts
forward and the wheel assembly on the back can run from 1/4" up to 4" contact wheels. The Coote is
a great, upgradeable machine and very affordable compared to the knifemaking standards.
Under the grinder is an 850 CFM dust collector with a 5
micron dust filter by Penn State Industries. I have constructed a spark
arrestor out of a 5 gallon bucket with an inlet that drops vertically
to within 4" of the bottom and an outlet at the top. The bucket is filled
with 2" of water. So far, so good, but be careful! Fine steel
dust or wood sandings in a bag collector are explosive aerosols
and my first 'spark arrestor,' failed to stop a burning glob of metal filings
from going down the hole and blowing the bag... remember to keep your fire extinguishers handy.
Heat Treating Control Panel
These are the controls for my high & low temperature salt tanks. Salt tanks provide
accurate, oxygen free heating environments, eliminating variables and iron oxide, meaning that work
can be nearly finished before heat treating, and very predictably hardened, quenched & tempered. The digital
controllers receive input from thermocouples installed in thermocouple wells into the salt
tanks. They turn solenoid valves on and off as necessary, and have an algorithmical approach
to figuring out how the temperature responds. They're pretty amazing- I can simply dial in the
temperature I wish to heat at and off they go. And they can go off! You can read about the
pitfalls of all this convenience below.
I am using the Omron E5CN
with the relay option to open and close the 12v solenoid valves. It will cruise the temperatures
to within about 10 Degrees F. With the two valves on each line I can run the tanks
manually, set a high burn and a low burn or simply fuel on and fuel
Heat Treating Salt Tanks
These are my high & low temp salt tanks for hardening, quenching and tempering blades. They
are digitally controlled and gas fired. The high temperature tank is comprised of a stainless
steel tube in order to resist the accelerated rusting which the salt produces. My salts are
a 50 / 50 mix of sodium chloride and calcium chloride- both cheap and effective. There
are thermowells protruding into the tanks from the bottom that hold 14" thermocouples. They
measure the temperature of the tanks and send that information to the digital temperature
controllers which open and close the 12v solenoid valves which in turn regulate the propane. The
propane is self-igniting at working temperatures in the high temperature tank. The low temperature
salt tank requires an electric ignition- I am using a
which is a burner transformer for oil-burning heating systems. It turns on and off with the gas
Surrounding the stainless steel tube which
holds the high temperature salt is a 14" diameter 3/8" thick pipe lined with
Inswool and coated with an undercoat of Satanite and an overcoat of
ITC-100. Satanite is a mortar refractory which is hard and stable;
ITC-100 is a refractory meant for kiln walls which reflects heat very
efficiently. The burners are based on Ron Reil's design. I had to use the 2" bell reducer
and the Tweco Tip with an orifice of .035, and the Zoeller Flare to really get the burners up to
temp. There are two so I can heat the top of the tank first, as the
salts expand greatly when they melt and using the bottom burner
exclusively would create a monster pipe-bomb. You can, should you so choose, drop a long tapered
rod into the tank when you're done using it, and before the salts solidify. It will prevent blowouts
on refiring by conducting heat and relieving pressure, so they say. The other exciting salt-tank
risk results from introducing a blade with as little as a drop of water or oil on it. At 1500 F.
degrees, one drop of water becomes three cubic feet of steam well nigh instantly, and your salt tank
becomes a hot, molten-salt cannon. Who doesn't love a hot, molten-salt cannon?
The exhaust port behind the tank is a 3" elbow that rises into the 4" stove pipe.
The draft of the heating chamber gasses pulls additional air over the
actual molten salts and effectively vents the fumes, which can otherwise rust damn near
everything in your shop.
The low temperature tank runs from 400 - 900F and can be used to quench as well as temper. It's so
convenient, in fact, that I'm willing to risk the hygroscopic and self-oxidizing qualities the low
temperature salts can exhibit...