controlling quenchant fire

Joined
Dec 24, 2005
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Hi, I'm still pretty new to all of this and I'm having trouble with the transmission fluid (about 1 gallon) that I use to quench with . Every time I use it the entire surface catches fire and produces tons of smoke(which my wife hates) and 18in flames that she hasn't seen:D . Is this problem inherent with all oil based quenchents? If so what else can I use? I'm working in my basement and don't want to burn the house down, it's bad enough that I have my gas forge and burning outfit down there near the furnace:eek: . How does the super quench formula work? thanks
 
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Apr 8, 2003
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Hey Rocketmann,

What temp are you heating your oil to?
You might want to think about doing that part outside if you can.
Make a metal lid so you can snuf flames and don't forget to keep a fire extinguisher handy.:thumbup:



I'm in Guilford CT....you can swing by my shop sometime if you like.
Mace
 
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Dec 24, 2005
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Mace visiting your shop sounds like a great idea and I'm sure that it would help me alot. I'm heating the oil to about 120 degrees and it never get's much hotter than 150 when quenching. I do have a metal lid and a fire extinguisher but I find it difficult to hold the blade in the oil and cover the flames with the lid at the same time.:cool:
 
Joined
Jun 17, 2001
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5,705
You just want to use the super quench when its a last resort. Stuff like rail road spikes and a few other things that have lower amounts of carbon.

After burning down my shop and barn this past summer I'd be scared to death to be doing what your doing in the basement. There's some water based quenches that are out now. Pretty sure Don Fogg uses one of them. You might be able to find some information on it at his site.
 
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Dec 24, 2005
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Well, I keep the shop very clean (no paper/cardboard/hay or sawdust hanging around), and I am carefull when I work. I have great ventilation and several fire extinguishers on hand..Still I know that this is not the best idea, but it is 5 degrees outside and that just sucks:grumpy: and I hope to talk the wife into a new outside shop soon.
 
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Oct 16, 2001
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A few possible fixes are as follows:

If you are going to use ATF as opposed to a commercial quenchent, why not get more of it? It is cheap and with more you could go deeper.

Avoid edge quenching a fully heated blade. If you submerge the entire blade you will lessen your chance of flames.

Avoid using superheated tongs. If you are getting your tongs very hot while holding the blade, they may be causing the fire.

Basically, if you can get everything hot submerged in your quenchent you will probably not get flame-ups--and your quenchant may "last" longer as well.

John
 
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Dec 24, 2005
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I thought that it was nessesary to edge quench!!!!!!!!!what difference if any will quenching the entire knife have??
 
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Jun 10, 2003
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Less flames !!! While edge quenching is popular it's benefits aren't that great as far as I'm concerned. If you're not looking for a hamon quench the whole thing .Edge quenching produces a martensite edge and pearlite spine . Quenching the whole thing gives you martensite on edge and spine which will have a stronger spine though perhaps not as tough as the weaker pearlite.I would not do the edge quench in the house , too messy, to dangerous.
 
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Aug 15, 2005
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Rocketmann,

In my humble opinion (which is really based on wisdom imparted by Dan Margani, Tim Zowada, and Kevin Cashen) it is better to quench the entire blade, then soften the back if you wish. Unless, of course, your primary concern is creating a bold temper line. I quench straight down in Park Metallurgical AAA or #50 oil, depending on the steel. The small flames that occasionally occur are extinguished as soon as I completely submerge the blade. I made my quench tanks from 4" automotive exhaust pipe welded to a steel plate and stood on end. I'll post a picture later on if you would like to see them. Incidentally, Park Metallurgical has a plant just outside of Springfield, MA. That's were I got my quenching oils.

Also, if at all possible I would move the forge out of the basement! That would scare the crap out of me. I do my grinding in the garage or basement, but my forge is in my shed.

I just live in Tolland, CT so if you want to see my set-up or have any questions, just shoot me an email.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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There is one old trick that may help.use a quench tank that is at least six inches above the quench level.Shortly before you are ready to quench the blade give the tank top a dose of CO-2.It is heavier than air and will cover the oil surface.The flames will not happen.The CO-2 can be from a quick blast from a fire extinguisher,a small chunk of dry ice ,a CO-2 tank used for beverage/beer dispensers (these are easy to get),or even nitrogen or argon if you have them around.It won't take much to do the job.
The second part of the answer it that there should be a tight fitting lid to EVERY container of flammable liquid in your shop.INCLUDING THE QUENCH TANK.Just quench,cover ,and the flames will go out.
I will post here a part of the safety talk I have on www.knifehow.com :
FIRE SAFETY.....Have one (or more) fire extinguishers in places where they can be reached.Not in the corner,over the bench, in the back of the shop,or at your brothers house where you left it after frying that turkey last Thanksgiving.They should be at the entrance and exit doors,the right type for the things that can burn in a shop -ABC rated - and big enough for the job.Don't save money here...it could be the best $40-50 you ever spent if you need to use the extinguisher.Keep all combustible liquids stored in proper containers,and in safe places...Not under/over the grinder,next to the forge,etc.Have a tight fitting cover for every tank or pan of combustible liquid you have ,including the quench tank.And keep them covered when not in use.
Think about fires before they happen...Where would a fire happen in your shop,and where would it spread to.Does your 4 year old sleep in the room over the garage?Did you check for any glowing sparks before leaving the shop.IS THERE A FIRE/SMOKE DETECTOR IN YOUR SHOP? Is it wise to store all six propane tanks under the bench?
 
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Dec 24, 2005
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The quench tank is covered at all times and the extinguisher is on the floor next to it. I will try to quench the entire blade from now on! Also as someone said before I will use cold tongs ,I think that they were contributing to the problem:eek: Hopefully these measures will help.. thanks for the imput..
 
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Sep 13, 2005
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345
I used transmission fluid for 2 and a half years and had some flash ups happen from time to time. Usually, it was only on knives that were very large or that I got too hot. In most cases I just blew the flames out like a birthday cake. There was one that didn't want to go out, ( a big 12 in. bowie) but I have a metal lid for my tank that I keep nearby if I need it, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss it some more. I like the edge quench, but I'll do just about anything, at least once.:D
 
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Dec 2, 1999
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9,910
Ive been kicking the idea around to buy a parts cleaning tank. You know the kind, they sit on top of a 16 gal. drum and have a hinged lid. I could fill the drum with light hydraulic oil that has a flame retardant additive like Texaco A or super quench if I win the lottery. They also have a circulation pump so the oil temp can be adjusted by pumping in fresh cool oil when needed. I will have a digital pyrometer and a thermocouple.
Anybody have $300 I can borrow?
 
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Dec 8, 2005
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707
I edge-quench most of kitchen knifes, in the garage, using oil I got from McMaster.

It will catch on some fire for 2-3 secs, but very localized, right by the blade. I use baking pans from ShopRite, few different sizes - NOT the
alum foil type. I always
use a larger, shallow pan as spill-containment, just in case.


When doing thicker knifes, I quench the whole thing and
never ever there is a flame (make sure not to bring the whole tank to the
flash point by quencing bunch of knifes in succession).

Commercial oils are engineered not to flare up as easily as yer
Crisco.

Still it is a hassle, as you need to remove all traces of oil
off the blade before putting it into tempering oven. I wash
it in hot water (it comes naturally as I remove
anti-scaling compound before tempering cycle).

This is why I was so interested when I saw a description
of brine-quench technique, tailored for knifemakers: http://www.navaching.com/forge/heattreat.html

But it is VERY tricky and complicated, compared to dunk-sizzle-done
traditional method. Do it wrong and penalty is too severe :)
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2005
Messages
633
rocketmann said:
Hi, I'm still pretty new to all of this and I'm having trouble with the transmission fluid (about 1 gallon) that I use to quench with . Every time I use it the entire surface catches fire and produces tons of smoke(which my wife hates) and 18in flames that she hasn't seen:D . Is this problem inherent with all oil based quenchents? If so what else can I use? I'm working in my basement and don't want to burn the house down, it's bad enough that I have my gas forge and burning outfit down there near the furnace:eek: . How does the super quench formula work? thanks

The easiest way to control flames in ATF is to reduce the surface area exposed and increase the distance between the upper lip of the quenching tank and the surface of the oil. Use a narrow, deep tank and have a non flammable cover you can drag over it to smother the flames. If the tank is deep from the surface to the top lip, it reduces the flow of fresh air to the surface and keeps the flames low. I use a 22 inch section of aluminum gutter with the ends epoxied on. It has cross bars on the ends and sits into a winow planter full of water. I use about 1" deep ATF with a grate for a spacer to keep the blade from going all the way to the bottom. I adjust the amount of oil used to change the depth of the quench.

If you end quench use a tall pipe about 4 inches in diameter. When it flares up during the quench, just place a gloved hand over the top around the tongs to snuff the flames. Both methods listed still produce nasty smoke, use a exhaust fan or do it outside.

I agree whith the people who said quench the entire blade, but if you are going for the quency line on the blade this will at least reduce the flames.

Jim A.
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2005
Messages
1,291
Here is the photo of the quench tanks I use. The white plastic thing is just one of the sewer pipe caps that I use to cover the oil when I'm not using it. These tanks have worked out quite well for me.

Quench-tanks.jpg

Also, here is the contact information for Park Metallurical - Heatbath Corp in Springfield. They shipped me ten gallons of their AAA and of their #50 oils a few years ago without any hassle.
Park Metallurical - Heatbath Corp
P.O. Box 51048
Indian Orchard, MA 01151-5048
Tel: 413.452.2000
Fax: 413.543.2378​

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