Friday, August 10, 2012

The Humble Quench Can

Sometimes I am amazed at what I cannot find on the internet.  Perhaps not as often as being amazed at what I can find.  My old slack tub dipper, which I’ve always called a quench can, was dilapidated and heavier that it needed to be so I decided to make a better one.  I did an image search to see what clever designs other smiths may have posted.  After considerable searching using several possible titles I found only one decent image.

It is just the s run of the mill variety like I made and was now planning to replace.  This is such a common blacksmithing tool I thought, surely, it would be better documented.  When I searched my memory I couldn’t come up with much either.  I did recall seeing examples using a spring ring to capture the can instead of riveting or welding and that seemed like a good idea as it allows the can to be easily replaced.

My original can was fabricated from 14 gauge sheet and MIG welded.  It holds about a cup or cup and a half of water and has held up well.  I punched three holes in the side so a small stream of water could be be accurately dribbled on a small area as when cooling a twist or one side of an off-center punch hole.  I was told that punching control holes like that allowed the tool to be called a Tennessee valve.  Probably a term not favored by those from Tennessee.

The old can was battered and looked like it had been stepped on or run over and straightened several times.  It that condition it isn’t exactly photogenic.

I didn’t bother forging a new handle grip but found an old twist crook piece and welded it to a piece of 1/8” x 1/2” flat bar.  The I formed a ring which would capture the can.  I used a 14 oz Alaskan pink salmon can.  It is seamless, aluminum and has a nice taper to push into the spring ring.

I forgot to record the final length but it is somewhere between 16” and 24”.  If I was to take the time to make a better grip I would think about handrail code dimensions for easy grip and control. I think this will work well for me.  It is quite a bit lighter than the old one.  I didn’t put any holes in the side yet.  Time will tell if I feel like I need that modification.

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