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Chris Christenberry

Time for a proper quencing bucket

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I''m still convalescing from my retina surgery and am weight restricted, so I can't do much of anything in my shop.  So I'm at the computer "information shopping". ;)  I don't have a quench bucket capable of quenching full-sized knives. (i.e. hunting or camp knives)  I know a lot of people use ammo cans and they look as it they'll do the job.  The lid is a "plus" feature, as far as I'm concerned.  But how to move it around the shop if I need to without spilling the oil?  Is the lid tight enough on those cans to facilitate spill-less moving?  Is the volume too small to quench say 4 knives, one right after the other, without raising the temp of the oil too high to use?  Or should I opt for a little larger container?

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I use a bread loaf pan, and pour the oil back into a plastic container (once cool) for storage.  Pans like that can be found at the dollar store, so it is super cheap and effective, and if you are needing to not over-heat oil, just have multiple pans!  This could work for ammo cans, too.  And remember that ammo cans come in various sizes.  

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Thanks, Jerrod.  I know they come in different sizes, but I can't find sizes on any of the sites I've looked at.  I don't know the difference in a .30 cal can and a .50 cal can as far as volume of the interior. 

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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.30 cal ammo can dimensions

30 cal ammo can is approximately 11 inches long x 3½ inches wide x 7½ inches high and weighs about 4 pounds, 8 ounces when empty.

 

.50 cal ammo can dimensions

Military "M2A1" Ammo Can 50 Caliber New 11" x 5-1/2" x 7"

 

You can guesstimate internal dimensions from there.  

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Most of the ammo cans have an over center latch and a rubber seal so they're water tight when closed.  Definitely shouldn't spill with lid closed. 

I use a stainless restaurant pan with lid like you see at a buffet.  Got it cheap at goodwill. 

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Thanks, Jerrod.  Would the .50 cal can handle 4 heat treatings back to back if I needed to?

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Depends on blade sizes and alloys.  Smaller mass means less heating of the oil, and some alloys are much more forgiving on oil temp, so you can start cooler and end hotter.  It also depend on how quick "back to back" is for you.  

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Sorry, I guess that really was a  "how high is high" question. :wacko: What I was meaning was if I wanted to quench 4 hunting knives.  But I didn't think about the alloy's making a difference.  "Back to back" would be 4 blades in the oven at one time and then quenching them one right after the other...............but I guess I'm still asking ambiguous questions. ;) Probably a .50 cal can would do what I need.  I'll see if I can find one somewhere local so I can see if it's rusted out or not and has a good seal on it.

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If you're really worried about volume, a 20mm can is 17" x 14" x 8."  I would go for that, just because you can't do a blade longer than about 13" in a .50 cal can.  Also all steel with a waterproof gasket.  And the lid comes all the way off.  https://www.amazon.com/Can-Military-Surplus-Metal-Large/dp/B01LFIFPAK

 

I have a 6x6x18" 10-ga. steel pan welded up by a friend.  I made a thin (20 ga.) lid for it to keep the mice out.  I also have a 6" round x 54" tall pipe for longer blades.  And the bottom of an oxygen cylinder, 8" diameter x 30" long.  If I'd known about 20mm cans when I started out I'd have probably used one.  The fact that they are steel means you can also heat the outside with a weedburner to preheat your oil if your oil and steel require it.  

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Don't see myself making anything much larger than a Camp knife, Alan.  But I like the idea of more volume for the liquid so I don't have to worry about pushing the temp too high for proper HT.  Thanks.

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i recently switched from a 5 gallon plastic bucket to a 20 ish cup coffee pot so i can pre heat my oil by flipping a switch i just Carrie them carefully to avoid spillage 

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I've considered the "office" 40-cup coffee pot myself.  Ought to be able to pick one up at the thrift shop fairly inexpensively.  Lots to consider.

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I am a fan of the idea that when you find something that works, buy enough to last you a long time......

So I built a quench tank out of 8x8x27 inch steel tube and welded it to a baseplate and made a cover for it.

Then I bought 5 gallons of quench oil. That was back in 2006? Haven't bought any quench oil since. (although I did manage to get 30 gallons of medium speed oil for free)

 

Quench tank.JPG

 

No, you don't need one that big, but when it comes down to having more volume and buying oil as few times as possible, bigger is better.

Not to mention that a vertical quench helps eliminate quench warp.

See if you can find an old coffee urn at the Goodwill or other thrift store.

Edited by Joshua States

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On 11/27/2019 at 1:33 PM, Chris Christenberry said:

I don't know the difference in a .30 cal can and a .50 cal can as far as volume of the interior. 

If it's not too far, the strip outside Ft. Sill is full of places selling ammo cans. 

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I use a turkey fryer pot. I have plans to make one with an old oxygen cylinder for swords but I have yet to make a sword so I haven't needed it.

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Thanks, Gerald.  I never knew there were surplus stores down there.  Ft. Sill is a two hour drive from my place.  I'd be better off buying on-line and paying shipping, I think.

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Mine is an old SS fire extuingisher that I cut the top off of and made a wood lid for. Holds 20 liters/5 gallons and while the forge is heating I have a 4 inch legth of 2 1/2 in steel bar weded to a handle heating and it is enough to heat the oil to qunch temp (120-130*). Never need to move it.

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Whew.  Never expected to have you guys come forward with so many ideas...................good ideas at that.  I've not had the opportunity to quench a full-sized blade, but after a lot of questions of bladesmiths and much reading, I'm leaning toward some sort of vertical tank.  I think I'd like to have some sort of tank with a heating element so I can maintain a constant temperature.  Any vertical tank is going to have a variation of temperature from the top to the bottom of the tank, so I'm thinking of coming up with some method of constantly "moving" the liquid within the tank, i.e. a small impeller or something like that.  That may be too technical, but I like the concept. :lol:

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On 11/29/2019 at 3:46 PM, Chris Christenberry said:

I'm thinking of coming up with some method of constantly "moving" the liquid within the tank,

Fish tank bubbler. That's what I use in my acid etching tanks to agitate the etch. It speeds up the etch rather nicely.

It will help circulate the oil in a sizeable tank. My FeCl tank is 3" ABS pipe about 24" long. The same size would work well for a vertical knife quench tank.

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Certainly would, Josh.  Good suggestion.  I think that would do a good job.

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I use a "black iron bluing tank" built for hot bluing gun barrels. It's sold by Brownells. 

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/metal-bluing/black-iron-tanks/black-iron-bluing-tank-prod1062.aspx

 

It's about 3/4 full of Park's 50. I made a lid to keep stuff from falling in and to put out any fires. 

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Honestly I just use 8" stove pipe with a cap at the bottom that I caulked the bejeezus out of when I was a teenager. A 48" section holds 5 gallons.

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On 2/27/2020 at 10:21 PM, Joshua States said:

It will help circulate the oil in a sizeable tank

 

While it will certainly help agitate the oil I"m not sure the air bubbles it adds will be helpful for the quench operation.  As I understand it, ideally you want the quench oil moving around your blade, but not necessarily cavitating.

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28 minutes ago, Dan Hertzson said:

 

While it will certainly help agitate the oil I"m not sure the air bubbles it adds will be helpful for the quench operation.  As I understand it, ideally you want the quench oil moving around your blade, but not necessarily cavitating.

I have often wondered whether the whole agitation of the quenchant to remove air bubbles and vapor pockets argument isn't just another urban legend that has found it's way into our lexicon. Sometimes, it seems, modern blade smiths have a knack for inventing solutions to problems that are mythical in origin. 

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4 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

I have often wondered whether the whole agitation of the quenchant to remove air bubbles and vapor pockets argument isn't just another urban legend that has found it's way into our lexicon. Sometimes, it seems, modern blade smiths have a knack for inventing solutions to problems that are mythical in origin. 

 

It certainly is not a myth.  I am currently designing a quench tank at work, specifically working on agitating it enough to remove the vapor barrier.  I have to get water in a 6000 gallon tank to move across the parts at 200+ ft/min.  I've also done tests on cleanliness of water during a quench, and it is very important in heavier section parts (multiple inches thick).  

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