The Modern Hardening Room
Category: HARDENING CARBON STEEL FOR TOOLS
A hardening room of today means a very
different place from the dirty, dark smithshop in the corner with
the open coal forge. There, when we wanted to be somewhat particular,
we sometimes shoveled the coal cinders to one side and piled a great
pile of charcoal on the forge. We now have a complete equipment;
a gas- or oil-heating furnace, good running water, several sizes
of lead pots, and an oil tank large enough to hold a barrel of
oil. By running water, we mean a large tank with overflow pipes
giving a constant supply. The ordinary hardening room equipment
should consist of:
Gas or oil muffle furnace for hardening.
Gas or oil forge furnace.
A good size gas or oil furnace for annealing and case-hardening.
A gas or oil furnace to hold lead pots.
Oil tempering tank, gas- or oil-heated.
Large oil tank to hold at least a barrel of oil.
Big water tank with screen trays connected with large pipe from bottom
The furnace should be connected with pyrometers and tempering tank with
Beside all this you need a good man. It does not make much difference
how completely the hardening department is fitted up, if you expect
good work, a small percentage of loss and to be able to tackle anything
that comes along, you must have a good man, one who understands
the difference between low- and high-carbon steel, who knows when
particular care must be exercised on particular work. In other
words, a man who knows how his work should be done, and has the
intelligence to follow directions on treatments of steel on which
he has had no experience.
Jewelers' tools, especially for silversmith's work, probably have
to stand the greatest punishment of any all-steel tools and to
make a spoon die so hard that it will not sink under a blow from
an 1,800-lb. hammer with a 4-ft. drop, and still not crack, demands
To harden such dies, first cover the impression on the die with
paste made from bone dust or lampblack and oil. Place face down
in an iron box partly filled with crushed charcoal, leaving back
of die uncovered so that the heat can be seen at all times. Heat
slowly in furnace to a good cherry red. The heat depends on the
quality and the analysis of steel and the recommended actions of
the steel maker should be carefully followed. When withdrawn from
the fire the die should be quenched as shown in Fig. 80 with the
face of die down and the back a short distance out of the water.
When the back is black, immerse all over.
If such a tank is not at hand, it would pay to rig one up at once,
although a barrel of brine may be used, or the back of the die
may be first immersed to a depth of about 1/2 in. When the piece
is immersed, hold die on an angle as in Fig. 81.
This is for the purpose of expelling all steam bubbles as they
form in contact with hot steel. We are aware of the fact that a
great many toolmakers in jewelry shops still cling to the overhead
bath, as in Fig. 82, but more broken pieces and more dies with
soft spots are due to this method than to all the others combined,
as the water strikes one spot in force, contracting the surface
so much faster than the rest of the die that the results are the
same as if an uneven heating had been given the steel.
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