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Creating a new tool.


JohnCuaresma

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In my business, I occasionally come across security bolts that need to be removed without the bolt key. With a lot of work, I'm usually able to remove them, but it takes up valuable time. In an effort to become more efficient, I attempted to make a key. It's similar to a wheel lock on cars and the torque ranges anywhere from 75-100. I am completely new at this and I know others here will have better ideas on how this could have been done, which is why I'm here.

 

I took one of the security bolts, secured it tightly in a table vice and brushed motor oil on the security pattern. I took an old broken ratchet wrench and heated it with an oxygen/acetylene torch. When it started to to glow, I lined it up with the pattern and struck it with a mini-sledge a few times. I repeated the steps a few times until the tool completely filled the needed pattern.

 

I then let it cool, cleaned up the edges and welded it to a socket. Total work time was about half an hour and, to me, the result was beautiful. It was the first time I ever shaped metal and I was quite proud of myself. When I tried to use the tool in a torqued security bolt, the entire pattern I made just twisted right off.

 

Here's what I figured. A ratchet wrench is a strong metal to begin with. Reshaping it a little would result in a strong tool, but I was obviously wrong. I emailed a guy who had a tool making video on YouTube and he said I needed to reheat and quench the tool, then bake it in an oven at 450 degrees for half an hour. Hardening and tempering is what he said, but I can't remember which is which.

 

Using the rest of the broken ratchet, I tried it again and made another nice looking tool. I did the quenching and baking, but the result was the same. The pattern twisted right off again. Now I'm out of axygen and acetylene. Would a bottle of MAPP gas from Home Depot get hot enough to reshape metal?

 

You seem like a talented group. Could you folks offer up some suggestions?

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Heat it up to the point where a magnet will no longer stick to it, then quickly quench it in water or oil. This hardens the metal and keeps it from being marked or bent, but also brittle. This is called hardening. Tempering is heating it up just a bit so it doesn't break easily. It could be you didn't heat it up enough when you hardened it.

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

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Thanks for the quick reply. That's probably it. I didn't know about the magnet part. So, after the quenching, 450 in an oven for half an hour is enough to finish the tool? Is MAPP gas hot enough for this project?

 

If I were to hire someone for this job, what would be a fair price?

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I use security bolts a lot. I bought both of my tools at ACE hardware for about $20. Sounds like all the time you have invested is worth more than that.

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”

 

George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

Blademark photo 375x75BladeMarkPunch-125-sm_zps2e740d6d.jpg

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I'm thinking that the material that you're using to make the tool might be the issue. If I'm understanding correctly, you are using a ratchet handle for the tool? Is it cadmium clad? That might be the issue right there, the cadmium making the tool brittle. Do the same thing with an old lug wrench, or an old crow bar. This is going to be the hard part. You need to find a socket that does not have a cadmium cladding, either that or just grind a 1/2 square on the end of your tool and use a standard socket to turn it.

 

To heat treat it, bring the tool up to non-magnetic, quench in oil, temper for 2-3 hours at 450F. Do this in a darkened space, you don't need nearly as much heat as you think you do.

 

Just my .02

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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John,

 

Those are larger than mine. One of the ones I work with is a 1/2" and the other is nearly an inch.

 

I would use 1075, forge the key part and the do what Geoff recommends. His advise is pretty good.

Edited by GBrackett

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”

 

George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

Blademark photo 375x75BladeMarkPunch-125-sm_zps2e740d6d.jpg

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I'm thinking that the material that you're using to make the tool might be the issue. If I'm understanding correctly, you are using a ratchet handle for the tool? Is it cadmium clad? That might be the issue right there, the cadmium making the tool brittle. Do the same thing with an old lug wrench, or an old crow bar. This is going to be the hard part. You need to find a socket that does not have a cadmium cladding, either that or just grind a 1/2 square on the end of your tool and use a standard socket to turn it.

 

To heat treat it, bring the tool up to non-magnetic, quench in oil, temper for 2-3 hours at 450F. Do this in a darkened space, you don't need nearly as much heat as you think you do.

 

Just my .02

 

Geoff

 

Geoff, did you mean Chromium? The cadmium would have boiled off by the time the metal reached critical (MP: 609.93 F BP: 1413 F). Cadmium fumes would have also put John out of commission for some time (if not permanently).

I think you are right that the ratchet wrench wasn't made of so great quality metal. I worked in a hardware store from about 16-22, and I can say that some of the lower end ratchets we sold had plastic components and very poor quality steel. The only tough parts of a ratchet are the ring gear and ratcheting teeth, anyway. The rest could be made from brass, nearly.

 

Thanks for the quick reply. That's probably it. I didn't know about the magnet part. So, after the quenching, 450 in an oven for half an hour is enough to finish the tool? Is MAPP gas hot enough for this project?

 

If I were to hire someone for this job, what would be a fair price?

I think Mapp or propane are both hot enough, but it's less about temperature and more about heat transfer. Some firebricks can help save on heat loss, but failing that, you might need a bigger flame depending how big your wrench is.

 

George's advice on tracking down some 1075 is excellent--you'll know the performance of the metal you're working on going in and won't waste nearly as much gas.

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Glad to know there are people like you men keeping up with this disappearing art. It seems like all metal is stamped these days.

 

I won't pretend to know what you all were talking about. It was a broken ratchet wrench that I used. The handle end. If I remember correctly, it was Home Depot's Husky brand. I've never had a handle break, so I assumed they were sturdy.

 

I was working on a new tool most of this morning. I took an unused wheel lock, ground off the pattern, and made a blank. Then I used some of my wife's nail polish and painted the bolt. Then, I pressed the blank to the bolt to transfer the new pattern. From there, I just removed material that wasn't painted. It took a while, but I think I made a passable tool. The wheel lock key I started with was used with my impact wrench, so I think the metal is strong enough for these purposes.

 

Thanks again for all the help.

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Might just be getting the metal way to hot in the first place. Burnt steel is brittle no matter what you do to it. I made this mistake a few times while learning.

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Got a picture of one of these things? That might help us picture what you're up to a bit better.

It looks similar to the upright one at the top left of the image. The pattern measures 1.25 - 1.5". The bolts can be found on large pieces of medical equipment. The manufacturer will not sell me a key because I am an independant service provider.

GroupScrews_lg.jpg

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Heat treating steel, while it has been done by eye for a couple of thousand years, is a tricky thing. We (bladesmiths and other kinds of smiths) agonize about it endlessly. Non magnetic, in a carbon steel, is about 1500 F, but in some alloys it can be much higher. If you over heat steel you can promote grain growth, which weakens the steel, or if the steel you've chosen is of an alloy that needs some specific kind of heat treating, it can behave the way your first attempts did. Also, coatings on the material can change the base steels properties in unpredictable ways, when heated. I'm also thinking about some of the early attempts to work in Ti, and the problems they had with embrittlement due to tool claddings and chlorine levels in the local water.

 

If your way worked, that is good. I think the hot method would work, given the right steel. Casting from a wax mold? Laser scan and 3D printing? Multi axis milling machine? A letter from your clients to the manufacturer? There must be a way to skin this cat.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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We've already tried to obtain a key with cooperation of clients. The problem is the manufacturers want the hospital and clinics to use factory service techs. I work for myself and they feel they would be helping their competition.

 

I've looked into having a key made by mill and 3d printing, but all the places I contacted were asking at least $200. I was able to hammer out a tool in about half an hour. If the right metal and process was used, it probably would have worked and for much less than $200. I think the tool I made yesterday will work, but I won't know until Tuesday or Wednesday.

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It's obvious this type of metal work takes skills and experience I don't have to do it right. What would it cost to have someone here hammer out a usable tool for me? There would be no rush on this. I could send one of the bolts and the next time one of you is heating something up, maybe you could make the key and a spare for me?

 

If asking this is against any forum rules, my apologies. Feel free to edit or delete.

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Post a photo of a head so we can get an idea of what it looks like. Add a quarter to the photo for size reference. I might give it a try. I have made a few tools out of O1 and 1075 that seem to work ok. Even made a hardie tool to hot cut steel out of 4140. It's been in service for the last 18 months and still sharp.

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”

 

George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

Blademark photo 375x75BladeMarkPunch-125-sm_zps2e740d6d.jpg

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Where are you located? I'm betting that there is a forum member not too far away. You are right, this is a pretty simple project.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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Hmmm... I'm thinking it might be easier to make a sort of pin vise-type tool...Hardened pins set in holes that fit the outer lobes of the "keyhole". Prehardened music wire set in holes drilled in the end of some W-1 drill rod sort of thing. How much torque are we talking about here? It might take enough pins to almost fill the keyhole to keep 'em from snapping, but that's my first thought. I don't see getting a deep enough impression from driving in a bar.

 

Second thought: Looking at the keys in that picture, they seem to be made by making the actual key portion from a hardened steel then setting them in a standard socket wrench-type thingy. Patience, a few chainsaw files, and a drill press and you could make the key part out of a cutoff of drill rod, braze it to the end of another for the socket drive, and harden/temper it afterwards. Brazing heat is well above hardening heat.

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No idea what you were trying to tell me in the first paragraph, so I'll just answer the portion I can. Torque is somewhere between 75-100 lbs and they use Loctite, so the tool needs to be sturdy. It's subject to lots of vibration.

 

When I attempted to create the tool, I was able to hammer an impression all the way to the back of the pattern. It couldn't have gotten deeper. It looked perfect to me. Like the tool the factory techs use. I've seen the tool they use. It looks just like a wheel lock key, slips into a socket and is used with a 3/8 ratchet.

 

What you described in the second paragraph is about what I did yesterday. Using an unused wheel lock key, I repatterned it to fit using a rotary tool. It took a while and my hands are a little tired today, but it just might work.

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Now I'm on my computer. Just saw the photo. I lost the wheel nut key to my Lexus a few years back. They wanted my eldest child for a replacement. I got one made at a certified aviation repair station. Their machine shop manufactured it for me. They charged me $50 for it 6 years ago. They regularly made special keyed tools in order to open older components that they worked on. Check with a FAA repair shop in your area.

”Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor!”

 

George Brackett

American Bladesmith's Society,

Apprentice Member

Hialeah, Florida

Blademark photo 375x75BladeMarkPunch-125-sm_zps2e740d6d.jpg

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Thanks for the info, George. There's a private airport not far from me. If the tool I made yesterday doesn't work and I've exhausted other options, I may give the airport a try. I imagine the cost has gone up considerably in 6 years which would put it outside of my practical range.

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