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General discussion => Gun Building => Topic started by: borderdogs on October 16, 2021, 01:16:23 AM

Title: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: borderdogs on October 16, 2021, 01:16:23 AM
Hi Guys,
I was at a fairer shop a while back looking at anvils and saw some of the propane furnaces they displayed one was a forge my farrier uses. I have been toying with getting an O-A torch set up but was thinking maybe one of these forges would work better. I wanted to use the torch to heat fittings and for other things but the forge might work better than the torch. I don;t have either and probably not in a rush but I was wondering if anyone had thoughts about these. The forge is small and used for horseshoes but for most things it might work. I would appreciate comments on either.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: TommyG on October 16, 2021, 02:54:02 AM
I've had my OA set up for over 40 yrs now.  Can't imagine life without it.  Not just for gunbuilding, but in general. Brazing, welding, cutting, heating, won't be able to do those things with a forge.  That being said, I have been eyeing one of those small propane fired forges lately, but just can't seem to justify it right now as the most forging I do is triggers, plates and various patchbox hardware items. 
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: Clint on October 16, 2021, 03:03:41 AM
O-A torches are mis-used by hundreds of people, mainly to over heat and destroy springs and other small hardening jobs. If you want to do a lot of cutting and flame welding, the torch is a good choice. On the other hand, if you are annealing trigger guards, heat treating steel or just plain forging, the forge is the better choice.  The forge will give you an even heat over a relatively large area and is easy to manage. The torch will give you a very small, very hot fire and bottles that are big enough to be useful are a pain in the neck.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: Bob Roller on October 16, 2021, 03:53:31 AM
In 1965 I bought a Presto-Lite "B" system like plumbers used and have been very pleased with the
success rates in decades of use in lock and trigger making and still do in the few triggers I now make.
I use the #3 and #5 tips only.
Bob Roller
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: kutter on October 16, 2021, 06:23:16 PM
I ave a Harris OA torch, a smaller unit I think they call is an Aircraft Torch. Bought it over 30yrs ago and it's done everything I've needed it to do.
I use the smaller tanks ( Q-size ?) so they're not that cumbersome.
They fit onto a small 2 wheeled cart for mobility. But the unit generally stays in one place.

Tip sizes 0, 2 & 5 take care of everything I've needed.
Welding, brazing and hard soldering. I do use it as a heat source for forging by very lightly clamping the torch in a padded vise horizontally , light it and adj the flame.
Then I'm hands free to hold the work in the flame and hammer away on it, bend it ect.

Not as efficient as a real forge I'm sure,,but I just don't have the need for a Forge very often.
The Torch I use for multiple tasks all the time including things not necessarily gunshop related.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: T*O*F on October 16, 2021, 06:42:22 PM
If you're going to use an OA for forging, get a rosebud tip for it.  It really speeds things up.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: Eric Kettenburg on October 16, 2021, 06:58:54 PM
A looong time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I think it was the 2nd CLA show and I met Bob Harn.  I was really interested to talk to him because aside from maybe Herschel, Bob was really well-known for great iron furnishings on his rifles (along with great everything else too!) and I was dying to know how his forge set up compared to what I was using, which at the time was a stacked-stone, deep pot charcoal forge because I was too darned poor to come up with anything else.

Imagine my surprise when he told me, "I don't have a forge.  I use an acetylene torch for everything."   :o :o :o
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: P.W.Berkuta on October 16, 2021, 08:16:33 PM
I started with a plumbers propane Turbo-torch that has multiple size tips and a 7 gal aluminum tank and use it for heating and soldering. It did not do everything that I wanted it to do. My dad was a welder and he said get a oxy-acetylene set up as it is more versatile. I bought a Victor outfit with tip sizes from 000 - #3 plus a rosebud. This set up does everything that I need and then some. I made my own propane forge for making knives and large heating but I only really use it for hardening and tempering my knives. It has never seen any gun work. I also have one of those hand held bottle propane torches from the hardware store that I use for quick small jobs which they are handy for.

I'd recommend a oxy-acetylene set up with tips sizes from 00 - #2 plus a rosebud and a hand held bottle propane torch from the hardware store that also uses Mapp gas and this will cover ALMOST everything you will be doing gun work plus other around-the-house jobs ;)
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: D. Keith Lisle on October 17, 2021, 01:39:20 PM
About 15 yrs ago I acquired a small forge & blower & I've never had use for it.
I've had a Acetylene outfit for over 40 yrs. Use it at least once a week & sometimes every day in a week.
Will use it today in fact.  If I had to get ride of everything, the A/O set & the wire welder will be the last thing to go. 
As for forging things, it's just so much easier to grab a Acetylene torch & do what I need & shut it off.
When soldering I use a MAPP gas torch.  It is great for soldering. It also works well when forging things if
you have someone to hold it for you while you work the steel. 
A rosebud on a acetylene torch will provide some serious heat, but it also uses allot of fuel, so I seldom use it.

Were I just starting out messing with ML's, I would start with MAPP gas. Just the fact you don't need a striker
is a big plus. Small, easy to store, etc.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: smart dog on October 17, 2021, 02:37:54 PM
Hi Borderdogs,
So much depends  on what you would want to do.  I have an AO unit, a programmable heat treating oven, and MAPP gas.  I use the oven for all my heat treating needs, and the torches for soldering, welding, and fabrication. However, there are times an object is large, like a trigger guard, and I wish I had a forge. For heat treating and making springs, there is nothing better than the programmable oven because you can adjust heat treating regimens with precision.  However, the capacity of the oven cavity is small so long guards won't fit nor can I charcoal blue pistol barrels.  Again, at times I wish I had a forge.

Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: borderdogs on October 17, 2021, 03:22:01 PM
Thanks guys,
You all have given me a lot to think about. I have a propane and a what is a more serious torch that allows a mix of air and gas the yellow "MAPP" tank. It gets hot and I can solder with it but unless I have a set up that creates a shelter it will not get to red heat. When I moved to our farm 20 years ago I had all sorts of welding jobs to do and I just use the one at work but I thought I should just get an O-A torch but never did. Now taking up ML building I find it's like 20 years ago but in many cases I need heat to reshape parts so started thinking of O-A torch again. My fairer has a propane furnace that gets to red heat fairly quickly and talking to him its pretty easy set up. Then when I went to the fairer shop I saw them and had a chance to really study them. I primarily build plains type rifles and it seems I always have to bend something and had pretty much decided on the 0-A torch to the point I was looking at units, tanks, torches, tips, etc. Then once I got talking about the forge with my fairer  I started to have second thoughts. I can't justify getting both but after reading all the great comments I am still not sure what to get although I am leaning on the A-O unit at the moment.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: heinz on October 17, 2021, 07:30:48 PM
A small propane fired forge is a wonderful thing.  I love working on a charcoal or a coal forge. But for practicality and ease of working the propane forge is tops.  You can see your work as you bring it up to heat,   Almost everything for a rifle will fit into propane forge.

You will not smoke up the barnyard or distress your neighbors.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: RAT on October 17, 2021, 08:39:12 PM
I own a charcoal forge, but have never used it. I own a small 2-burner propane forge, and use it all the time. I have a small O/A torch but almost never use it. It's the one they sell for jewelry making. And I use MAPP at lot. A couple of years ago I bought a programmable heat treating oven. Some thoughts...

The propane forge is great. But it heats the whole piece. So, if you just want to bend something, the forge is generally not the best. You need directed heat for that. I use it a lot for brazing.

The small O/A torch I have is almost useless. It doesn't put out enough heat. I wish I had bought a standard welding torch instead. It would have provided enough heat and the heat could be directed.

MAPP is pretty good for general use, including bending things. It doesn't put out enough heat for heavier stock, so I use the forge for that. MAPP is cheap, and easier to support that O/A because I can get it at any hardware or home improvement store. It's my first go-to for most everything.

I have a Bernzomatic MAPP/oxygen torch. It puts out more heat than MAPP by itself, but the knobs are hard to control. The oxygen control is really touchy. It eats oxygen bottles really quick. I can braze with it if the parts aren't too heavy.

I find Propane useless for everything except soft soldering and some tasks that require drawing back hardness on springs and such. This would be where a MAPP torch is too hot and might affect the temper of the spring.

Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: Ted Kramer on October 18, 2021, 01:11:53 AM
Have you ever checked into an oxy/propane torch?

 Iíve had my oxy/acetylene rig for 45 years and used it a lot when I was farming and the acetylene price stayed in the reasonable range. I lease the tanks and I just  exchanged my empty acetylene tank for a full one and it was $85 for I believe 145 cubic ft. , double my last exchange. Iím going to buy a propane tank of equal size to my acetylene tank that I can have refilled for under $40. Just a thought.
Ted K
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: B.Barker on October 18, 2021, 04:51:19 AM
I have both and a coal forge to boot. My question is what do you want to do with it. Torches aren't great for heat treating but they work great for brazing and heating small areas for bending along with being able to add iron or steel to a part to change it's shape. Forges are great for heat treating, forge work and they can be used for brazing. Brazing with a forge is more tricky than with a torch. So if your wanting to make knives, forged trigger guards and butt plates out of mild steel get a forge. If you want it for making small bends, brazing and welding things back together get a torch. Yes torches can put a lot of heat in a small area but you can "soften" the heat by how close you hold it to your work and how much oxygen you add.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: borderdogs on October 18, 2021, 02:09:28 PM
Hi Guys,
Here is a picture of the forge I was interested in:

It isn't that expensive and uses fire bricks as doors. I have the Benzomatic/Mapp torch but with it I can only get red heat if I setup a brick screen. Originally, I was interested in a O-A rig because I could use it around the farm and spot heat rifle parts like trigger guards and hooked tangs but I was thinking of the forge when I talked with my fairer and saw the units myself at the store. With a forge I could make some of the rifle furniture,
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: P.W.Berkuta on October 18, 2021, 07:16:29 PM
Once you get that small forge and try it you will want a O-A torch and that MAPP gas torch --- trust me - I've been there ::). All three are best to have for the right job at hand. ;)
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: deepcreekdale on October 18, 2021, 07:35:47 PM
I use my aircraft O/A torch for almost everything. It is convenient and versatile for a great variety of jobs. I have no problem making springs, case hardening parts, silver soldering iron and brass parts or welding if necessary. I also have a charcoal forge, which is a lot of fun but not really very practical for most gunsmithing tasks for the average guy. A skilled blacksmith will have different mileage than I on that. I sometimes use Propane or MAPP torches, they  are OK but can't do anything my O/S torch does better and faster. Over 45 years ago, when I got out of the service and was waiting to start college, I was lucky to get a job in a big sporting goods store with a huge gun department with a very skilled gunsmith who took me under his wing. When I asked him about getting tools, his advice was, the first thing I should get after decent screwdrivers was an aircraft sized welding torch outfit. Best advice I have every gotten from anyone.
Title: Re: Forge or Oxy-Acetylene torch
Post by: heinz on October 18, 2021, 07:48:43 PM
That would probably work for you.  I personally would go with one of the other two forges that Centaur offers from the same vendor.  They have 5 X 5 openings.  The sliding bricks the one yo pictured would be handy. We usually stack some fire bikes up for the same purpose.  Not so neat but cheap.  The "dragon's tongue" coming out of both opening outhouse propane forges can be pretty fierce.  Centaur Forge are good folks to talk to.  Their knife makers tongs are a great product.