Saturday, 30 August 2014

Quick post: How to make a steel spatula

Construction of a steel laboratory spatula.


Laboratory spatulas are useful instrument in any scientific setting. They are an excellent tool for transferring small quantities of reagents, scratching the sides of a flask to induce crystallisation and can be used as a platform for the deflagration of small amounts of pyrotechnic mixtures. Although cheap, finding high quality lab spatulas can, for some, be difficult and often through international sources, which entails shipping rates etc. This report will demonstrate the simplicity of designing and building one's own spatula for minimum costs at home.


To built a laboratory spatula with minimum funds.


- 2 mm steel wire (free)
- butane torch (already had)
- hammer (already had)
- hard steel surface [anvil or bench vice] (already had)
- file(already had)
- sand paper, steel wool and or sanding sponge (already had)
- safety glasses and heavy duty gloves (already had)

Safety considerations

Because steel will be heated to high temperatures, caution must be used when handling the hot material. Keep a burn relief kit nearby and wear safety goggles and heavy duty gloves to protect from burns. Do this in a well ventillated area!


1.Measure out about 18.5 cm of the steel wire.
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2. Begin heating with the torch until you obtain a cherry red, then begin hammering and flattening out the end of the wire (until roughly ~2 cm has been flattened)
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3.A technique known as "hot filing" maybe implemented to shape the spatula. Heat the end and start filling. Use caution. It is useful to thin out the spatula a little at this point.
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4.Once the final shape has been achieved, heat the end of the spatula and quench it to harden the tip.
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5.Repeat steps 1-4 for the other side with the desired shape.

6.Once hardened, the work up of the spatula may begin. use rough sand paper, then go to a finer grade and finish with a sanding block.
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The spatula came out with very satisfactory results. The main limitations of the spatula is that it is not stainless steel, hence it is mainly useful for only rough qualitative work and reactions that will not react with iron. It is also important to wash the spatula after every use and to dry it well to prevent corrosion.


The main goal of the procedure was achieved without major complication.

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