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I've been using powdered graphite punch lube ($5 per pound at the local John Deere dealer) for a while now and really like it's performance characteristics, but application was tricky.  I tried squirting the dry powder, and mixing up a paste with water, but didn't like the mess or the steam blowing it off my tools and work pieces respectively.  My solution was to mix it into a thick paste with linseed oil as the liquid.  I can dip in a tool or paint it on with a chip brush, little mess and it mostly sticks where I want it to. Plus when I knock the container over there is a minute or two before it spills.  

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I mixed flake graphite up with renaissance wax and found that held it on the punch quite well. The disadvantage was that the white spirit would evaporate from the tub and I would have to mix more in every now and then.

 

A few years ago I noticed that the label on the High Pressure cutting fluid I have for sawing, drilling, tapping Stainless Steel said also suitable for "forming and forging" so I have been using that to carry the graphite and it stays liquid for months. It is Molyslip brand MWF which is a molybdenised  oil. The only drawback is that it does not smell as nice as the Renaissance wax when it cooks...

 

 

I found the graphite greatly reduces the friction on the punch enabling the press to "punch above its weight" with regard to the size of hole relative to tonnage available.

 

If you do a search on here there was a thread a few months ago where  Forgemaster refers to some proprietary lubricants which sounded very user friendly. I could not track them down in the UK but I seem to remember that ptree also knew of them or USA equivalents.

 

Alan

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Both Fuchs qand Henkel have excellent forge lubes. The alkaline salts versions are the simplest and most friendly. They are a water diluted, dip or spray onto a hot tool. The water converts to steam pulling a tremendous amount of heat from the tool and leaves behind a tightly adhered dry film lubricant. If it freezes thaw and use. If the water evaporates out add water back. once diluted it stays in suspension and does not require stirring. Does not smoke or smell when forging. Does not spread all over the shop like graphite.
Acts like ball bearing on hot work tools.
Henkel is Forge ease P3 185
The Fuchs should be under the lubradol line.
Getting small quantitys is the issue.

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I bought a gallon of (at that time years ago) ptree's lube stuff.  Still have over a 1/2 of that gallon (you dilute it with water).  Recently I added a graphite based lube to mix with the ptree lube....have yet to test it.

 

Seems the cheapest and easiest way is to do what you can and just take another heat.  K I S S !!!!  :)

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Love the Henkel lube when I can get it to flash off and leave a nice film.  I have had it dramatically increase the penetration of the tool, really nice when it works the way it is supposed to. I dip the tools and sometimes its hard not to drench them, which doesn't leave you with the nice film.  If you use a spray bottle you get better flash and film on smaller tools, but you also don't get the full quench to keep the tool cool...   There are always trade offs in life.  I also like to add powdered green coal to a deep hole. 

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  • 2 years later...

I use the John Deere graphite mixed with beeswax. Keeps solid when not in use, and a quick dip in the can with a warm punch gives you just enough to coat the punch.

One warning: if you're using a hand-held punch, don't forget to wear a glove to protect your hand both from the heat of the workpiece and from any melted wax that happens to spurt up. Don't ask me how I know this.

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