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Bluing Shed

in progress ...

You'll recall that I've been establishing a bluing shed to hot salt blue steel.

This being the only step of the entire business that I haven't done myself ... and having had endless headaches securing dependable service ... I figured I'd complete the circle.

It's the supersaturated boiling salt bath that darkens the steel. I've always prepared everything for this bath and had others maintain the tanks. The entire bath process involves cleaning the polished steel, rinsing the cleaning solution off, boiling the steel at the exact proper degree of temp. and salt consistency, neutralizing the salts, cleaning and rinsing the steel, soaking the green blued surface in oil. It involves several heated tanks which have long propane pipe burners under them.

Enough of that for now. I needed the space to set up the shop. The salt steam had to be kept away from the machining shops or it would rust the mills, lathes, saws, etc. I needed an isolated bluing shed. I pressed a corner of the workyard into service. That small courtyard is mainly occupied by the trunk of the massive 111 year old weeping cherry tree that hovers over the shop. I share the ground with it. You note it has made a few dictates as to what area I can use. Behind the ladder and planks there (off frame left) is the massive trunk - probably take three of me to reach around the base. That's just a limb probably 36-40" around showing. Just lop it off? Sure ... it's about 60' long and most likely weighs five tons. And, it's a twig as compared to the trunk. I keep it trimmed so it's growing as vertical as possible to lessen the stress load.


I choose an inside corner of the shop complex (thru the windows left). It gave me two steel sheathed walls 10' high for the interior corner - but required a concrete floor, an irregular building footprint with it's framing and sheathing, and blending dissimilar roof lines.

The door shown is an access door, with it's concrete ramp, to dolly the heavy propane tank into the shed and onto the tank rack - this avoids a trek thru the shops to reach the site.

Nothing about the framing was straight forward. Interior steel surfaces (roof above right) were coated against the salt steam. The interior is not yet finished.

The area is becoming more functional by the day. You see here the evidence of the fresh air intake system working. The shed is designed so that fresh air is always being drawn from behind me - blowing past me - and carrying all fumes away from me and up into the exhaust system.

The ceiling unit which creates the exhaust draft from the inside corner of the room.


The alley back into the courtyard area now being used for the bluing shed as well. It's impossible to get a perspective of all the angles. The flat end of the shed in front of you has the exhaust port flap up at the 10' level. This section is a "bump out" to contain the tank area and some of the exhaust system. You see the propane tank door handle sticking out about chest high to the right of the window. There's a corner and drop back there to the window wall plane.

Dusk now. It's been about a month of work in rain and unGodly heat and humidity here in Md. Working on this project and related maintenance to the shop buildings.

I'm mentioned before, the shop complex is a collection of buildings all grafted together to create the various shops. There are 10 major rooms (shops) within the walls on two levels. The other day I counted twelve exterior doors including roll ups, hatches, entry, and let down drawbridge type. It would simply amaze you as to all the various tools and work stations required to do what I've chosen to manufacture.

Maintaining the entire production system is part of the cycle which yields the product. Hope you find the awareness of what's required to be interesting.

Next will be hooking up the hot tanks with their burners.

Thanks for reading.