30 Days of Creativity, Day 3: Annealing pan

Some of you know that I am slowly adding some metalworking capability to my little home workspace (Mike’s lent me his Sherline mill, Frankie dug up an old welding outfit, my dad supplied the bench grinder, etc.). As I save up for the items and services I’ll need to pay for, I’ve started to build out the tools I can. I’m not doing anything as sweet as Frankie’s most recent, but I’m starting on a ring clamp, and I managed to finish up my annealing pan this evening.To be completely honest, I just needed to fill it, as I’d done the construction a few weeks ago. Still, I’m counting it… I “finished” it today!


The pan is a square of MDF, bolted to a swivel bearing, bolted to a metal pan I’ve had for years. That, and a firebrick.

The result is actually pretty good. Eventually, I’ll have to swap out the pea gravel I have in there now for pumice, but it will work for now. I’d assumed that any small stone would work to insulate the pan and to allow stable positioning… nope. Regular gravel does little to keep the pan from heating up. I figured that one out after using my little pencil torch to dry out the gravel, and then touching the sides of the pan. I won’t make that mistake again. Here are a few more shots:

[pe2-gallery] IMG_20110603_235114.jpgIMG_20110603_235211.jpg[/pe2-gallery]

Oh, and I added that clever little zoom effect to the images in the blog (highslide to those who know).

9 Replies to “30 Days of Creativity, Day 3: Annealing pan”

    1. Hi,

      What is MDF? and what is the rectangular piece in the annealing pan? Can I use cat litter for the pumice? I need to make an annealing pan to torch fire BRONZclay with a swivel. Thanks Janet

      1. Hey Janet,

        MDF is Medium Density Fiberboard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-density_fibreboard). You’ve seen it, I’m sure. If you ever bought a cheap piece of cabinetry, this the stuff they usually use for the back. It’s basically particle board, but with much smaller particles.

        The Rectangular piece is a bit of firebrick I picked up at a local surplus place. Firebrick (or refractory brick) is basically a ceramic brick designed to handle high temps and to not conduct heat. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firebrick)

        I’d be a little nervous about using cat litter. Most of the stuff you get in stores has perfumes, dyes, and all manner of terrifying stuff. If you can’t get your hands on some pumice, you can try regular old gravel. I’d think sand would work as well, though it might be a bit messy if you’re working indoors.

  1. Just seeing this now/setting up my own metalsmithing area in my studio, and like to DIY everything I can. Thanks for useful pics & advice. Question: can the pan be any metal pan, or should it be a specific metal? If so, what? Thanks!

  2. Probably any metal pan would work, but I’d give you two suggestions:

    1- Don’t use one with any kind of non-stick or protective surface inside. Teflon vaporizes at temperatures way below anything you’d need for metalwork.

    2- Hit a Salvation Army or Goodwill store (my father calls it the “Goodie Store”) and grab an old cake pan or two. Just look for the ones without any sort of coating.

    Send me a photo or two when you get your put together! I’d love to see it.

    also, check out the Ring Clamp: http://heph.aest.us/blog/2011/06/30-days-of-creativity-day-6-ring-clamp/

    1. Vermiculite should work, as it’s just another volcanic mineral, but it will probably retain heat a little longer than pumice. I don’t see why it would be an issue.

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