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I Forge Iron

Oil Drum oven for BLO metal finish

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I make over 100 hooks or handles a week and still struggle with the amount of time it takes to apply BLO finish to each piece. I do love the authentic look but I want a more efficient process. 

Im thinking of creating a large oven out of an oil drum and heated using propane (old bbq element, or homemade). The goal would be to load the oven up with all the weeks items and get to black heat, then pull them out individually and apply BLO/turps/wax mix. 

Has anyone here created an oven of this sort for this specific purpose and had good results?


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At 100 hooks or handles a week, you need to rethink your application process of BLO to metal.  Both hooks or handles are say 3 inches in diameter or less, so make a tube, plastic or metal, with a secure end cap, fill it will BLO and simply dip the metal into the tube. 

Or take a plastic pipe with end caps, lay it down flat, cut the top section off the pipe, fill it with BLO and dip the metal into the tube. Hang to let any excess BLO drip off and capture what drips for the next application.

Use a clothes line to hang a row of 100 hooks or handles, use a spray gun to paint the metal.  You could just lay them flat on a table, spray, let dry, then flip them over and spray the other side.  There is a lot of over spray involved so be careful of the air quality where you are working, and be sure the air and BLO mist DOES NOT reach an explosive level.

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Thanks Glenn, I will try this method. I have in the past submerged small horse shoe nail hooks in a container of BLO, but the finish it left was a black surface finish that would easily chip off opposed to the typical BLO that penetrates the metal. Perhaps the heat was to high. 

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100/day is too many to oil individually. I'd be thinking of a 2nd hand kitchen range, propane would be better I think. Make expanded metal, shallow open top boxes with a lifting bale. Shallow enough to fit two in the oven at a time. Spread a layer of pieces in the pan and let it heat up. Pull it and dip the whole sheebang in the BLO mix. A little practice (one piece at a time) and you'll know how long to let it heat and how fast a dip to give it. 

Another pan like a drain board next to the dip tank so excess can drain back into the dip tank and hang the parts to dry/set up. 

You'd still have to handle them individually but only once rather than several times.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 12/23/2020 at 1:11 AM, Frosty said:

100/day is too many to oil individually. I'd be thinking of a 2nd hand kitchen range

Thanks for the idea, I tried dipping some pieces today in the BLO solution while heating on a small range. A few spontaneous combustions later and I found the method does work if I put the piece of metal back in the forge again after submerged in the BLO as it cooled off to quickly and left a sticky greenish finish. But after the piece was in the forge it turned to that perfect black color. 



On 12/23/2020 at 8:09 AM, anvil said:

If you are making a hundred a day even at a wholesale price of $5 for pulls, that's $500 a day with literally no overhead. Perhaps it's time to hire someone to help out.

Not quite at those numbers yet as it's a hundred a week, but you are right it may be time for some help, which is why I would like to make things as efficient as I can for when someone else is helping I can maximize their time

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Sorry, i misread the numbers.

Hardware was my bread and butter for a long time. I didnt do production. I worked thru a local specialty hardware company as their "custom" guy. My normal was a "housefull" of hardware. Kitchen/bath/cabinet/interior/exterior doors,drawers and more. This usually included hinges, pulls, knobs, screws(fasteners), latches. Entryway and interior door hardware was mated to quality deadbolts etc.

As you learned, the iron must be at the proper temp, not the oil. My solution was to put either a plate of steel or a proper sized piece of channel iron on top of my coal forge. Id put all pieces to be hot oil finished in the channel. With care and practice i could bring all pieces up to within the proper temp range. A few cranks on the blower would maintain this temp. Then remove one at a time and wipe with a rag that had my blo/linseed oil/turps on it. A quick wipe and done. Too hot and it smoked off. Too cold and it was tacky. The cold ones go back on the channel and the too hot ones usually cooled down pretty quickly, so i just kept wiping til done. 

The next steps were done cold. A quick alcohol wipe to clean off the gradoo, then buffed with a carnuba based paste wax. 

The way i did screws was to take a piece of say 1/4"x2"x 12" or so inches long and drill many holes in it sized for the screw. Then use a ox/acetl rosebud or cutting tip and bring the heads up to a red heat. Do a good hand wire brush and wipe all with the same hot oil finish rag. Take due precautions with the rag. This works for plated screws as well. Caution for fumes here too. Wipe with alcohol and buff with a carnuba based paste wax. You can do dozens plus at a time thiis way in just a few minutes.

I found this to be the most efficient system for a good finish. Please note i use a coal forge not propane. You just have far more temp control wirh a coal forge.

Hope this helps.

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