Step 10: Annealing
-Safety glasses with side protection
Materials for This Step:
-Bucket of water for quenching (fast cooling)
-Piece of firebrick or insulating material to use as a heat-resistant surface
-Pliers (needlenose or other) for picking up the billet
In this step, we anneal the billet, or reset its crystal structure. This will make it much easier to shape, and less prone to cracking. To do so, put the billet on the piece of firebrick and heat it with the torch. Continuously sweep the flame over the billet, and make sure not to keep the flame in one place for too long. You want the heating to be nice and even.
Continue heating until the billet glows a cherry-red color. Once it does, keep it there for around 5 seconds, turn off the flame, and use the pliers to drop the billet into the bucket of water. This quenches the billet, or cools it rapidly, to keep the grain size small. Letting it cool too slowly can make the billet brittle, causing it to crack later.
Congratulations! You've finished Part I. Onto Part II: Shaping.