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I Forge Iron

Alternatives to propane torch for local heating on a quick job


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I've done some backyard blacksmithing with a campfire forge, but occasionally have need of quick localized heating for small jobs like the one in front of me now - heat and bend the tang on a scythe to get it properly fitted. This particular job I can't do in the fire or a traditional forge as it would kill the heat treatment on the blade.

I have access to a weld shop, and could do this there, but would like the capability at home. The plumbers torch I have is inadequate for these tasks though it did work on a small spring heat treat job.

Any options out there short of buying a full size welder's torch?

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Is this something you just want to do one time for this project, or do you want this capability in general moving forward?

If it's a one time thing you could wrap the blade portion in a water soaked towel and you should be able to heat on a coal or charcoal forge and bend the tang without ruining the temper.

If you want the capability in general then you could build a propane burner of Mikey's or Frosty's design, which could be used for local heat (with a flame retention nozzle installed).  You could also buy an induction system designed for mechanics to help remove rusted nuts, but you'd be getting close to the price of a torch setup at that point. I believe you can also still buy an acetylene plumber's torch which gets hotter than a handheld propane torch, but not as hot as oxy/acetylene.

Getting portable focused high intensity heat is going to be a challenge if you don't want to spend any money.

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If you can't find an air/acetylene torch kit used on Craig's List, MAPP gas torches put out a lot more heat than the cheap plumbers propane ones.  I got one of the larger ones at a big box store and have used it for tempering back tangs more than once.  I would certainly follow Buzzkill's recommendation to have some sort of heat sink to avoid having the heat run back up the blade.

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I'd second the MAPP gas torch. They are very useful and price isnt too bad for a tank and auto ignite torch.

If it is something you might do often I like my small inductor but they are a bit pricy. Great for localized heating on certain things tho. I got the miniductor. Still cheaper than a torch setup and continual bottle changes. 

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On Amazon.com you can buy dual use torches (MAP gas, which is actually propylene, and propane). Take the time to find one for about $25; not one of the overpriced torches with electronic ignition; this works fine on butane lighters, but I've yet to find electronic ignition on a MAP or propane torch-head that doesn't quite working sooner or later.

MAP is about one-third hotter than propane; yes, in a dual-fuel torch-head it will heat a 1/2" round bar to red heat quite rapidly.





























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