Tuesday, December 10, 2013

True, Strong and Weak

Several years ago I helped one of my sons install siding on his new home addition.  He ran a framing business and his main helper was also a carpenter.  The took turns measuring and cutting lengths of siding boards.  It was interesting to see how quickly and efficiently they worked.  Right away I noticed something unfamiliar to me in their conversation.  The person measuring would call to the person using the sliding miter saw the length to be cut.  I heard terms such as “Six foot, four and a quarter weak.” Or, “Seven foot, two and five-eights strong.”

I don’t think I ever discussed it with them but it impressed me enough that I remembered it and started using the terms as I did measuring.  It is easier to read the tape to the nearest eighth inch mark and use strong or weak to signify which sixteenth is the cut line.  I suppose another pair of modifier terms such as short/long or shy/proud could be used too.

I use this method almost every day when working with the power hammer.  A lot of forging is done to a particular dimension so I have a set of stop dies which range from 14 gauge, 0.0747”, (I had to look that up), to 1.5”.  Even though the stops are made from some sort of tool steel, over time they thin.  When that becomes noticeable the stops is designated as “weak.”

For instance, a 3/8” stop will become 23/64” in thickness after some use. When it becomes visually noticeable the die is labeled “3/8” weak.”  After further use the stop will thin to 21/64” and that is closer to 5/16” than 3/8” so it should now be designated as “5/16” strong.”

For my work, that difference doesn’t often make a practical difference.   Close is good enough in horseshoes, hand grenades and most of my forging.

Thinning of the working depth.

Label of thinned stop. 
Stop selection for a forging session.

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I don't often check for blog comments, so the best way to contact me is directly: at ottercreeksmith@gmail.com or djedwards@cableone.net