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Tools and Cold

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by HaMMerHeD, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Hey folks. So, we've had sub-freezing temperatures for a couple weeks in a row around here. I've also had a number of tool failures in the same period of time. I had a Japanese saw blade snap in half, the table adjustment handle of by bandsaw crumble, broken router bits, a snapped off forstner head, breaking drill bits, and even a broken clamp head.

    Have you guys had this kind of thing happen with tools in the cold? Last winter wasn't as cold, and my shop isnt heated.

    So is this crap just coincidental?
  2. I've never done cold like THAT- Im from Cali, so I am no expert- but it sure seems a bit beyond coincidence. What kind of numbers are we talking?

    Edit: Ah- sub- freezing, I see now
  3. sharp8874


    Jan 10, 2011
    The cold might have something do with it. Since some of the tools are starting out cold and then heat they could be under more stress from the rapid change in temp. Also I think I heard somewhere that cold metal is more brittle than warm metal. Just a myth though.
  4. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Between 7 and 30 degrees
  5. Yep, that would be causing it. Going from cold to really hot by way of friction is causing expansion cracking. Imagine taking a glass dish out of the freezer and putting it straight into a hot oven, it would crack, just like your tools. Get a space heater, or two and fire them up an hour before you hit the shop.

  6. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA

    As I am presently without a dust collection system, im not sure a space heater is a very good idea.
  7. Jeff Mills

    Jeff Mills

    May 12, 2011
    Woodworking / finishing really needs to be done in a climate controlled area. You'll be amazed how much wood moves based on external environmental conditions (temperature and humidity).
  8. slappa_dat_bass


    Nov 10, 2012
    I'm an auto mechanic by profession, so take it from me: metal fails in the cold ten times more than when its warm. I don't know if it becomes brittle or what, but it isn't coincidence that I replace more broken tie rod ends, universal joints, ball joints, etc. when the temps drop below freezing.
  9. Son of Magni

    Son of Magni

    May 10, 2005
    Builder: ThorBass
    Best to put those forstner bits down your pants for a few minutes first!
  10. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Sounds like a cheap and easy vasectomy.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I've never actually thought about this before, but then again it's never happened to me before. I suppose its possible, but I worked for seven seasons doing carpentry up north through the winters. We worked down to -40 C and lower a few times, and worked regularly at -20 C and I never experienced tool failures like those described. Trying to work wood at those temps though is like trying to wrangle a greased pig. Thankfully all we did was framing and rough work.

    A caveat of my experience is that I worked for a huge multimillion dollar international company so everything we had, right down to our nail punches, was top of the line in quality, which may have affected the lack of breakage. Even inside the shop tents with propane heaters, it would only be a few degrees warmer than outside. Man, looking back, I'm glad I no longer do that stuff!
  12. Oil filled bar heater. ;) Takes a little longer, but there is no exposed element.
  13. ddtkills


    Mar 7, 2009
    yes metal can stress fracture with extreme changes in temp. You should try being less "aggressive" with your feed rates and cutter/drill speed. that way the metal warms up at a slower rate and can expand at a non critical rate.

    +1 on getting a cheap oil filled space heater. they are low temp on the surface and the element is encased in the fluid and not exposed.
  14. cheap, probably, easy, well, to get it down there I suppose would be easy, but the pain might not be:ninja: