John Phin.

The workshop companion. A collection of useful and reliable recipes, rules, processes, methods, wrinkles, and practical hints for the household and the shop online

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and benzine. If they are very old and hard, it is well to
soften them by lightly rubbing with a pledget of wool
dipped in good olive oil. The softened mass will then easily
yield to the action of the other solvents. Eesins, varnishes
and sealing wax may be removed by warming and applying
strong alcohol. Care must always be taken that, in rubbing
the material to remove the stains, the friction shall be ap-
plied the way of the stuff, and not indifferently backwards and
forwards.

Steel Working and Tempering.

Most workmen find themselves, at times, compelled to
forge and temper their own tools, such as drills, cold chisels,
etc. The following hints will be of service :

Forging Steel. Beware of over-heating the piece to be



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 133

forged, and also be careful that the fire is free from sulphur.
Small drills are easily heated in the flame of a lamp or
candle ; a Bnnsen burner will heat sufficiently quite a good
sized tool. Charcoal makes the best fire for all kinds of tools.
If you are compelled to use common bituminous coal let the
fire burn until most of the sulphur has been driven off. Do
not hammer with heavy blows after the steel has cooled. By
tapping it lightly, however, until it becomes black, the close-
ness of the grain is increased.

To Restore burnt Cast Steel Heat it to a bright cherry red
and quench it in water. Do this a few times and then forge
it carefully, and it will be nearly as good as before. The
various recipes for mixtures for restoring burnt steel are
worthless.

Hardening and Tempering Steel. Heat the steel to a bright
cherry red and plunge it in water that has been thoroughly
boiled and then allowed to cool. It will then be "as hard as
fire and water will make it," and too hard for anything
except hardened bearings, or tools for cutting and drilling
glass and very hard metals.

Where very hard tools are required, as, for example, for
cutting_steel or glass, mercury is the best liquid for harden-
ing ste*el tools. The best steel, when forged into shape and
hardened in mercury, will cut almost anything. We have
seen articles made from ordinary steel, which have been
hardened and tempered to a deep straw color, turned with
comparative ease with cutting tools, from good tool steel
hardened in mercury.

To make it stand work without breaking, it must be
tempered. To do this, polish the surface on a grindstone or
with emery paper, so that any change in the color of the
metal may be easily seen. Then heat the tool until the cut-
ting edge shows the proper color, as given below. Large
drills and cold chisels are hardened and tempered at one opera-
tion, the cutting edge being cooled and hardened while the
upper part is left hot. When taken from the water the heat
from the shank passes towards the cutting edge and brings
it to the right degree of softness. Small drills may be best
tempered in the flame of a lamp. A spirit lamp is best,
and the neatest plan is to heat the drill a short distance
from the point and allow the heat to flow towards the cutting
edge. As soon as the right color is seen on the edge, the



134 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION.

entire tool is plunged in water and cooled. In this way the
shank is kept soft and the tool is not so apt to snap off. "

The following are the degrees of heat (Fahrenheit) and
corresponding colors to which tools for different purposes
should be brought :

Temperature. Color. Temper.

430 Very faint yellow. ) Very hard ; suitable for hammer

450 Pale straw color, f faces, drills for stone, etc.

470 F 11 *11 ) -^- ar( l an d inelastic ; suitable for

-o, rt xl ' > shears, scissors, turning tools for

j hard metal, etc.

510 Brown with purple ) Suitable for tools for cutting
spots. vwood and soft metals, such as

538 Purple. ) plane irons, knives, etc.

1 For tools requiring strong cut-

550 Dark blue. I ting edges without extreme luud-

560 Full blue. j ness; as cold chisels, axes, cutlery,

etc.



To Temper Steel on one Edge. Red hot lead is an excellent
thing in which to heat a long plate of steel that requires
softening or tempering on one edge. The steel need only to
be heated at the part required, and there is little dange'r of
the metal warping or springing. By giving sufficient time,
thick portions may be heated equally with thin parts. The
ends of wire springs that are to be bent or riveted may be
softened for that purpose by this process, after the springs
have been hardened or tempered.

Blazing Off. Saws and springs are generally hardened in
various compositions of oil, suet, wax and other ingredients,
which, however, lose their hardening property after a fcv,
weeks constant use ; the saws are heated in long furnaces,
and then immersed horizontally and edgewise in a long trough
containing the composition : two troughs are commonly used,
the one until it gets too warm, then the other for a period,
and so on alternately. Part of the composition is wiped oil
the saws with a piece of leather, when they are removed
from the trough, and they are heated, one by one, over a



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 135

clea 1 ' coke fire, until the grease inflames ; this L, called
"bL,zingoff."

The composition used by an experienced saw maker is two
pounds of suet and a quarter of a pound of beeswax to every
gallon of whale oil ; these are boiled together, and will serve
for thin works and most kinds of steel. The addition of
black resin, to the extent of about one pound to the gallon,
makes it serve for thicker pieces, and for those it refused to
harden before ; but the resin should be added with judgment,
or the works will become too hard and brittle. The compo-
sition is useless when it has been constantly employed for
about a month ; the period depends, however, on the extent
to which it is used, and the trough should be thoroughly
cleansed out before new mixture is placed in it.

The following recipe is recommended : Twenty gallons of
spermaceti oil ; twenty pounds of beef suet, rendered ; one
gallon of neatsfoot oil ; one pound of pitch ; three pounds
of black resin.

These last two articles must be previously melted together,
and then added to the other ingredients ; when the whole
must be heated in a proper iron vessel, with a close cover
fitted to it, until the moisture is entirely evaporated, and the
composition will take fire on a flaming body being presented
to its surface, but which must be instantly extinguished
again, by putting on the cover of the vessel.

Whexx i/ne saws are wanted to be rather hard, but little of
the grease is burned off; Avhen milder, a larger portion ;
and for a spring temper, the whole is allowed to burn away.

When the work is thick, or irregularly thick and thin, as
in some springs, a second and third dose is burned off, to
insure equality of temper at all parts alike.

Gun-lock springs are sometimes literally fried in oil for
a considerable time over a fire in an iron tray ; the thick
parts are then sure to be sufficiently reduced, and the thin
parts do not become the more softened from the continuance
of the blazing heat. But for ordinary steel articles which
aro required to be soft, tough and springy, the usual plan is
to harden and then dip them in any coarse oil, and heat
thorn over the fire until the oil blazes.

Springs and saws appear to lose their elasticity, after
hardening and tempering, from the reduction and friction
they undergo in grinding and polishing. Toward the conclu-



136 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION.

sion of the manufacture, the elasticity of the saw is restored,
principally by hammering, and partly by heating it over a
clear coke fire to a straw color ; the tint is removed by very
diluted muriatic acid, after which the saws are well washect
in plain water and dried.

Welding Steel. As we have already stated in the article on
Iron, welding is in reality a species of autogenous soldering.
And, as in soldering or brazing, it is necessary to keep the
surfaces that are to be united, free from dirt and oxide, so in
welding, the surfaces must be perfectly clean or the joint will
be imperfect. In welding common iron, sand is the flux
generally used. When it is required to weld steel to iron,
the steel must be heated to a less degree than the iron, as it
is the most fusible. The surfaces should be thoroughly
cleaned before they are brought together. Sal ammoniac
cleans the dirt from the steel, and borax causes the oxide to
fuse before it attains that heat which will burn the steel ;
consequently, a mixture of these two substances forms one of
the best materials for welding.

The best mode of preparing this mixture is as follows :
Take ten parts of borax and one part of sal ammoniac and
grind them together. Then melt them together, and when
cold reduce the mixture to fine powder, and preserve in a
well-stopped jar or bottle.

To Blue Steel The mode employed in bluing steel is
merely to subject it to heat. The dark blue is produced at a
temperature of 600, the full blue at 500, and the blue at
550. The steel must be finely polished on its surface, and
then exposed to a uniform degree of heat. Accordingly,
there are three ways of coloring ; first, by a flame producing
no soot, as spirits of wine ; secondly, by a hot plate of iron ;
and thirdly, by wood ashes. As a very regular degree of heat
is necessary, wood ashes for fine work are to be preferred.
The work must be covered over with them, and carefully
watched ; when the color is sufficiently heightened, the \7ork
is perfect.

To Blue Small Steel Articles. Make a box of sheet iron ;
fill it with sand and subject it to a steady heat. The articles
to be blued must be finished and well polished. Immerse
the articles in the sand, keeping watch of them until they
are of the right color, when they should be taken out and
immersed in oil.



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 137

Sulphur.

Sulphur or brimstone is a well-known yellow substance
largely used in the manufacture of matches, gunpowder and
sulphuric acid. Aside from these uses, which are of interest
only to large manufacturers, sulphur is employed for bleach-
ing, disinfecting, making moulds for plaster casts, and as a
cement for fastening iron bars in stone sockets.

Sulphur, when burned, produces sulphurous acid, a gas
which destroys most vegetable colors and the germs of most
diseases. As a bleaching agent it is sometimes to be preferred
to chlorine, as it does not injure the fabrics so much. The
method of using it is to hang the articles to be bleached in
a large box or closet in which the sulphur is afterwards
burned. The easiest way to burn the sulphur is to dip
heavy brown paper in melted sulphur, and burn the matches
thus produced. In this way the sulphur is exposed to the
air sufficiently to cause it to continue to burn when once
ignited. Another very good plan is to place the sulphur on
a block of iron or brick which has been previously heated to
above the melting point of sulphur. The sulphur, if then
ignited, will continue to burn freely, but it is almost im-
possible to get a cold mass of sulphur to burn freely.

The" same method answers for disinfecting rooms, and
sulphurous acid vapors are the least injurious and most easily
procured of all our disinfectants. The National Board of
Health, in their recent "Instructions for Disinfection," say
that " fumigation with sulphur is the only practicable method
for disinfecting the house. For this purpose the rooms to
be disinfected must be vacated. Heavy clothing, blankets,
bedding, etc., should be opened and exposed during the
fumigation. Close the rooms as tightly as possible, ignite the
sulphur, and allow the room to remain closed for twenty-four
hours. For a room about ten feet square at least two pounds of
sulphur should be used ; for larger rooms, proportionally in-
creased quantities." Of course in making arrangements for
burning the sulphur great care must be exercised so as not to
set the floor on fire. Safety is best secured by placing the
burning sulphur over a tub of water or a considerable heap
of sand or soil.

In making moulds for taking plaster casts, the sulphur
must be rendered plastic. This is an extraordinary property
possessed by this material, and one known only to chemists



133 THE WOBKSHOP COMPANION.

and experts. When sulphur is melted and poured into water,
instead of becoming hard it remains quite soft like dough,
and in this state it may be pressed into the most minute
crevices of a medal or other object, so as to take a perfect
mould of it. From this mould plaster casts or electrotypes
may be taken. After a short time the sulphur returns to its
original hard, yellow, brittle condition.

As a cement for fastening iron rods in the holes sunk in
stones, as in the gratings of windows and the iron work of
fences, sulphur is now extensively used instead of lead. To
pure sulphur, however, there is this very strong objection that
it is exceedingly brittle and is readily fractured, and even
reduced to coarse powder by sudden changes of temperature.
We have seen a huge roll of sulphur broken simply by the
heat of the hand. This may be avoided, in a measure, by
mixing the melted sulphur with some inert powder like sand.
Iron filings have also been mixed with it for the purpose.

Tin.

Tin is a brilliant, silvery -white metal. It is very malleable,
but its power to resist tensile strains is so small that it is not
very ductile. When bent it emits a peculiar crackling sound,
arising from the destruction of cohesion amongst its particles.
When a bar of tin is rapidly bent backwards and forwards
several times successively, it becomes so hot that it cannot
be held in the hand.

Tin is acted upon by caustic alkalies (potash and soda),
but resists the acids of fruit, etc. ; hence its use for coating
iron so as to prevent corrosion and rust. Tin plate is sheet
iron which has been coated with tin. To apply the tin the
iron must be heated, and this is apt, in some cases, to injure
the articles to be tinned, as it softens the iron, or in other
words draws its temper. The process described under the
head "Iron," page 70, enables us to avoid this difficulty.

Tin forms alloys with various metals, those of lead and
copper being best known. That with lead is known as solder
and pewter (see under these heads); that with copper is
bronze, gun metal or "composition."

Tin and iron may be fused together in all proportions,
forming apparently homogeneous alloys. Berthier describes
one containing 35 - 1 per cent, of tin, and another containing
50 per cent, of tin, both being very brittle and capable of



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 139

being reduced to an impalpable powder. The affinity of iron
for tin is also well illustrated in common tin plate, which is
nothing more than sheet iron superficially combined with
tin, to which a further quantity adheres Avithout being in
combination. The alloy of tin and iron upon the plate, how-
ever, is so thin that it can easily be removed by mechanical
friction, and the amount of tin thus alloyed is probably not
much larger than one-half of one per cent. Tin, when added
to pig iron, imparts to it a steel-like texture of fine grain and
great hardness without very great brittleness. Such iron is
easily fused, and gives a sound like a bell. Indeed, in the
Great International Exhibition of 1851, there was a large
bell of cast iron stated to be alloyed with a small proportion
of tin. According to Karsten. pig iron with one per cent, of
tin yields a somewhat cold-short wrought iron with about
0'19 per cent, of tin. Such iron, it is stated, works well
under the hammer, but at a white heat white vapors escape.
With more tin, tho iron in welding gave much waste and
produced cold-short iron, with a fine, white and dull grain.
Eor specific purposes, however, especially where great hard-
ness is required, iron with a small amount of tin, not exceed-
ing 0'^. per cent, seems to be well adapted. Sterling, in
England, hardens the tops of rails with tin, and according to
a report of the English Commission for testing iron in regard
to its adaptability for railroad purposes, the best Dundyvan
bar iron, if alloyed with 0*22 per cent, of tin, supported,
without breaking, a weight of 23 "39 tons to the square inch.
Ott fused wrought iron with 0*5 per cent, of tin, and arrived
at results similar to those of Karsten. Whilst at a welding
heat it worked very well, the smith stating that it was some
of the toughest iron he had ever worked. The grain was
found to be fine and steel-like, with strong lustre and bright
color.

Varnish.

It is in general more economical to buy varnishes than to
make them on tha small scale. Occasionally, however, our
readers may find themselves in a situation where a simple
recipe for a good varnish will prove valuable. We give a few
recipes which are easily followed, and which will undoubtedly
prove useful in special cases.

Basket Ware, Varnish for, The following vanush for



140 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION.

basket \7ork is said to dry rabidly, to possess sufficient
elasticity, and to be applicable with or without admixture of
color : Heat 375 grains of good linseed oil on a sand bath
until it becomes stringy, and a drop placed on a cold,
inclined surface does not run ; then add gradually 7,500
grains of copal oil varnish, or any other copal varnish. As
considerable effervescence takes place, a large vessel is neces-
sary. The desired consistency is given to it, when cold, by
addition of oil of turpentine.

Black Varnish for Optical Work. The external surfaces
of brass and iron are generally blacked or bronzed with
compositions given under the head of lacquers. The insides
of the tubes of telescopes and microscopes should be coated
with a dead black varnish so as to absorb the light and pre-
vent any glare. The varnish that is generally used for this
purpose consists of lampblack, made liquid by means of a
very thin solution of shellac in alcohol, -but such varnish, even
when laid on warm metal, is very apt to scale off and thus
produce two serious evils the exposure of the bright metal-
lic surface and the deposit of specks on the lenses. It will
therefore be found that lampblack, carefully ground in tur-
pentine, to which about a fifth of its volume of gold size or
boiled linseed oil has been added, will adhere much more
firmly. The metal should be warm when the varnish is ap-
plied. Care must be taken not to use too much gold size,
otherwise the effect will be a bright black instead of a dead
black.

Blade Varnish for Cast Iron. 1. For those objects to
which it is applicable one of the best black varnishes is ob-
tained by applying boiled linseed oil to the iron, the latter
being heated to a temperature that will just char or blacken
the oil. The oil seems to enter into the pores of the iron,
and after such an application the metal resists rust and cor-
rosive agents very perfectly.

2. Fuse 40 oz. of asphaltum and add % a gallon of boiled
linseed oil, 6 oz. red lead, 6 oz. litharge, and 4 oz. sulphate
of zinc, dried and powdered. Boil for two hours and mix in
8 oz. fused dark amber gum and a pint of hot linseed oil,
and boil again for two hours more. When the mass has
thickened withdraw the heat and thin down with a gallon of
turpentine.

Green Varnish. There is a most beautiful transparent



THE WORKSHOP COMPANION. 141

/

green varnish employed to give a fine glittering color to gilt
or other decorated works. As the preparation of this varnish
is very little known, an account of it may in all probability
prove of interest to many of our readers. The process is as
follows : Grind a small quantity of a peculiar pigment called
"Chinese blue," along with about double the quantity of
finely-powdered chromate of potash, and a sufficient quantity
of copal varnish thinned with turpentine. The mixture re-
quires the most elaborate grinding or incorporating of its
ingredients, otherwise it will not be transparent, and there-
fore useless for the purpose for which it is intended. The
" tone" of the color may be varied by an alteration in the
proportion of the ingredients. A preponderance of chromate
of potash causes a yellowish shade in the green, as might
have been expected, and vice versa with the blue under the
same circumstances. This colored varnish will produce a
very striking effect in japanned goods, paper hangings, etc.,
and can be made at a very cheap rate.

Iron Work, Bright Varnish for. Dissolve 31bs. of resin in
10 pints boiled linseed oil, and add 2 Ibs. of turpentine.

Map Varnish. Clear Canada balsam, 4 oz. ; turpentine,
8 oz. Warm gently and shake until dissolved. Maps, draw-
ings, etc., which are to be varnished with this solution,
should be first brushed over with a solution of isinglass and
allowed to dry thoroughly.

Mastic. Mastic, 6 oz.-; turpentine, 1 quart. Tough, hard,
brilliant and colorless. Excellent for common woodwork.

Metals Bright, Varnish for. In order to make alcoholic
varnish adhere more firmly to polished metallic surfaces, A.
Morell adds one part of pure crystallized boracic acid to 200
parts of the varnish. Thus prepared it adheres so firmly to the
metal that it cannot be scratched off with the finger nail ; it ap-
pears, in fact, like a glaze. If more boracic acid is added than
above recommended the varnish loses its intensity of color.

Paintings, Varnish for. A good varnish can be made as
follows : Mastic, six ounces ; pure turpentine, one-half
ounce ; camphor, two drachms ; spirits of turpentine, nine-
teen ounces ; add first the camphor to the turpentine. The
mixture is made in a water-bath, and when the solution is
effected, add the mastic and the spirits of turpentine near
the end of the operation, then filter through a cotton cloth.
JThe varnish should be laid on very carefully.



142 THE WORKSHOP COMPANION.

IZust, Varnish for Preventing. A varnish for this purpose
may be made of 120 parts resin, 180 sandarac, 50 gumlae.
They should be heated gradually until melted, and thor-
oughly mixed, then 120 parts turpentine added, and sub-
sequently, after further heating, 180 parts rectified alcohol.
After careful filtration, it should be put into tightly-corked
bottles.

Shellac Varnish. Dissolve good shellac or seed lac in
alcohol, making the varnish of any consistence desired.
NOTE. Shellac gives a pale cinnamon colored varnish.
Varnish made with seed lac is deeper colored and redder.
If colorless varnish is desired use bleached shellac, an article
which is to be had at most drug stores.

Tortoise Shell Japan. fake good linseed oil, one gallon ;
amber, one-half pound ; boil together until the fluid is brown
and thick. Then strain through a cloth and boil again until
of consistency of pitch, when it is fit for use. Having pre-
pared this varnish well, clean the article to be japanned, and
then brush the parts over with verniillion mixed Avith shellac;
varnish, or with drying oil diluted with turpentine. "Wlic.n
this coat is dry. brush the whole with the amber varnish
diluted to a proper consistency with turpentine, and then,
when set firm, put the article into a hot stove to undergo heat
for as long a time as required to produce the desired effect.
In some instances as much as two weeks may be required,
after which finish in an annealing oven.

Turpentine Varnish. Clear pale resin, 5 Ibs. ; turpentine,
7 Ibs. Dissolve in any convenient vessel.

Varnish for Violins and similar articles. Sandarach, 6 oz. ;
mastic, 3 oz. ; turpentine varnish, one-half pint ; alcohol 1
gallon. Keep in a tight tin can in a warm place until the
gums are dissolved.

Varnish for Replacing Turpentine and Linseed Oil Paints.
Fr. Theis, of Bissendorf, prepares a varnish consisting of 100
parts of resin, 20 parts of crystallized carbonate of soda, and
50 parts of water, by heating these substances together and
mixing them with a solution of 24 parts of strong liquor
ammonia in 250 parts of water. With the mass thus obtained
the pigments are levigated without the addition of linseed
oil or turpentine ; the paint dries readily without the aid of
a drier and looks very well, especially when varnished. The
paint keeps well, even under water, and becomes very



THE WOEKSHOP COMPANION. ' 143

The cost is said to be about one-third that of ordinary oil
paints.

White, Hard Varnish for Wood or Metal. Mastic, 2 oz. ;
sandarach, 8 oz. ; elemi, 1 oz. ; Strasbourg or Scio turpentine,
4 oz. : alcohol, 1 quart.

White Varnish for Paper, Wood or Linen. Sandarach,
8 oz. ; mastic, 2 oz. ; Canada balsam, 4 oz. ; alcohol, 1 quart.

White Spirit Varnish. Rectified spirit, 1 gallon ; gum


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Online LibraryJohn PhinThe workshop companion. A collection of useful and reliable recipes, rules, processes, methods, wrinkles, and practical hints for the household and the shop → online text (page 13 of 16)