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Thread: Annealing via finger method - sources of heat?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Annealing via finger method - sources of heat?

    So I've always annealed my cases (although my annealing sessions are infrequent) via the method of rolling them between my fingers over a candle flame until too hot to hold comfortably.

    Faced with the need to do a mass annealing session once again, I thought I would ask if anyone is using a cleaner source of heat than a candle (other than a propane torch). It's no biggy, but I would like to minimize the case cleanup after finishing.

    Has anyone tried either a heat gun or an alcohol lamp? Thought I would ask before experimenting with something others here have almost certainly tried at one point or another.

    My heat gun has a claimed temp of 1110 F. on the high setting; I have no idea what the flame temp of an alcohol lamp is versus a candle.

    Anybody already traveled this road before I thought to try it?

  2. #2
    2 questions

    Is there a particular reason a propane torch is out of the question? I've used it for a long time and they are cheap (especially looking at the hardware stores around black Friday I bet you can get a kit for under 20 dollars for the bottle, torch, striker, and other accessories)

    Do you have a battery drill? (Or corded power drill shouldn't make much difference)

    I chuck a 3/8 drive adapter into the drill then top it off with a deep set socket just barely large enough to fit the case I'm annealing for in...

    Wad up some tin foil at the bottom of your socket to bring the neck of your case up to the level you need exposed above the mouth of the deep set socket...ie how much neck you want to anneal...

    Get a bowl of water and your torch...spin the case in your drill (it doesn't need to spinning fast...slower is better but the idea is just rotation not speed) and hold it over your torch...do it in a dark room.

    Once you see your dull red color drop it in the water (quenching makes no difference on non ferrous metals buy does make handling hot metal alot easier and cleaner...no or reduced risk of setting a towel or carpet ablase)

    I get consistency in annealing every time and if you already have the tools on hand it's rather cheap in comparison to other annealing methods

    The socket protects the case body and base from getting too hot and just the neck gets annealed....I can turn out alot this way in a hurry

    Sent from my Moto G Play using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks for the reply John.

    I personally don't like the propane torch method because I believe it's too much heat too fast when manually handling cases to detect when the heat is right i.e. too hot to hold comfortably. I realize this is a contentious issue sort of like "what's the best oil for my motorcycle", but I picked up my annealing method following the article by Fred Barker or whatever his name was a few decades ago. It works for me when I do anneal, and I just don't want to muck around with what works for the amount of annealing I do. I don't doubt other people believe they get better results/faster results doing it some other way; I'm just happy with what works for me.

    I spin the case by the base while lightly holding the case in the middle with the fingers of my other hand, if that makes any sense. I'm aware of the drill and deep socket method, but judging colors wasn't something I wanted to get into when the finger sensor method has worked quite well for me so far. If I ever started doing a lot of annealing, I'd just fork over the dough for one of the machines.

    Anyways, that's the basis of my question about other sources of heat that would be at least a bit cleaner than a candle flame.

  4. #4
    Yup I get you...and there is likely a certain amount of metalergy I don't understand here if slow heating (ie candle or low temp flame) or high temp flame like torch delivers more or less heat (un desired) to the base...I know most annealers do one or both things from what I can tell:

    1)Shielding the body and base from exposure to flame

    2) heat sink at the body base to wick thermal energy out of the portion you'd like to keep at a higher hardness

    Are you able to get the necks hot enough to reach critical temp while holding them? I know copper (core component of brass) is the second most thermally conductive metal (second only to silver and if I remember not by much) but not sure what the thermal conductivity of brass (with the alloy of zinc) is

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I turn the cases by finger in the flame of my propane torch using MAP gas, I do believe that one needs to get the case neck up to temp quickly for best results, when I feel the heat getting close to what I feel is enough I drop cases into a bucket of water with citric acid added which pretty much removes any discolouration . I then polish cases with oooo steel wool. I only anneal my cases at the same time I trim to length and deburr and uniform primer pockets. I have never lost a treated case to splitting so I see no reason to change. Regards Stephen

  6. #6
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    Annealing is not a contentious issue. It’s based on scientific facts. Time and temperature are what’s required to anneal brass. I will stop here because people like to ignore simple facts when it comes to annealing.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Post #7 is one of the most accurate post I have ever had the pleasure to read!!!

    I have finger rolled the cases for years using a propane torch. I simply hold the case so the mouth is higher and count the seconds as i have it in the flame. If you anneal in a dark room with the lights off to start you can see the color change much quicker and wont over heat the necks. After establishing the proper count to anneal the cartridges in hand then turn the lights back on and anneal away to the standard you already set. Also with the lights off you can better see the flame and determine the proper place for yourself to hold/roll the case in the flame.

    I find finger rolling the cases works well for my needs on everything I have from 22 Hornet to 50 BMGs

    For myself finger rolling the cases is ideal, using a propane torch!

    Ken
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
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    Remember Lavoy!
    I'll cling to my God and my guns, and you can keep the "Change".

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I bought an annealing machine about 10 years ago because I got tired of my new unfired Winchester 223 cases getting split necks on the first firing. I shoot enough 223 that it got to be too much work annealing by hand. Before that I dipped them in melted lead. I would pick up a case, dip it into light weight machine oil, dip it into the melted lead, could one thousand one, one thousand 2, ect ect for a few seconds and drop it on a tray and grab another.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Maybe one of the specialty butane lighters for a grill with the long end on it would do what you want. Would be a controlled flame and lower temps than the torches. A little stand made for it and some way of holding it on.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy OldBearHair's Avatar
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    This is only my opinion. I think that whatever method you use to rotate the case, it is the amount of time that it takes to heat the neck that counts. The slowly heated neck allows the heat to transfer down the case. The hot torch quickly heats up the neck to proper values and dropped into water to stop the transfer of heat. You can see the darkened area on the neck if it is done correctly, and if you can hold it with your fingers to do so, I salute you. So How say you? Some of the automatic annealing machines will rotate a brass into position into flame from three propane burner tips for a measured amount of time then drop the case into water.
    I sure like the "John McCorkle" method Post #2 Thank you

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Mapp or propane, roll case in my fingers till I feel the heat, drop in water. Right or wrong, works for me.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    Mapp or propane, roll case in my fingers till I feel the heat, drop in water. Right or wrong, works for me.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    My method also....set the lit torch in a holder on the bench , lights dim so you can watch colors, roll the case between thumb and fore finger in the flame point ...drop it into a pail of water when it gets to the correct color or the case gets hot on the fingers. Overheating is to be avoided, you can always anneal again.
    Gary
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    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  13. #13
    Boolit Man fralic76's Avatar
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    I have been thinking of trying this out. But not sure how big I need to go. This 1 is only 120w. Found it by googling induction brass annealing.

    Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk
    Using Tapatalk

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    The proof is in the pudding. I also anneal by rolling the case in my fingers over a propane torch. It’s quick, easy, and works well for me. It really doesn’t take long to get a feel for how much to heat the neck. I was taught to stop right when it turns that straw color, just before it start to glow. I usually anneal in low light.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    John Barsness has a good article on annealing in the June/July 2017 issue of Handloader. John likes to use the hand held candle method also. He makes reference to using Tempilaq 750° paint to get his timing right and bingo. You see the use of Tempilaq 750° mentioned in many different things I have read on annealing. Why guess at the temperature by using color etc?

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    How does the candle thing work? It sounds like it would be really slow, compared to propane.

    I’ve never used tempilaq, couldn’t bring myself to spend $40 for it when what I do now works so well for me. I’m not a serious bench rest/precision shooter though. If I was it might be a different story.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by fralic76 View Post
    I have been thinking of trying this out. But not sure how big I need to go. This 1 is only 120w. Found it by googling induction brass annealing.

    Sent from my SM-G955W using Tapatalk
    If you get the induction heater set up and it works well you should make a write up on how you put it together. Looks like it would be a little easier and cheaper set up than a torch or open flame for those of us that only get a couple months a year where the weather isn’t terrible.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I like alcohol lamps. Easy to make: small glass jar, punch hole up in center of metal lid, about 1/8 inch cotton cord for wick. I use HEET for fuel (cleaner than ISO-HEET or 91 per cent rubbing alcohol.)
    Just because change doesn't make a difference doesn't mean that change is bad.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy OldBearHair's Avatar
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    Hey Fralic 76, I liked that so well that I ordered one that is to be delivered on the 16th. and not directly from China. Ordered a 4 step pulley that came from England or somewhere over yonder. Supposed to get here October 20 and I still don't have it. Just not right.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy OldBearHair's Avatar
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    Hey Fralic 76, I liked that so well that I ordered one that is to be delivered on the 16th. and not directly from China. Ordered a 4 step pulley that came from England or somewhere over yonder. Supposed to get here October 20 and I still don't have it. Just not right.

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
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