In my pursuit of toolmaking, I don’t want others to come to harm. I use a lot of odd bits and bobs to make things with. Brass and bronze have a special appeal. The problem is that these items can be full of lead. Leaded brass is easy to work and polishes up with ease.
As long as no one looks over your shoulder or cares about the dangers, there are a lot of good reasons for a business to use leaded materials. Since compassion is only allowed in publicly traded companies when it is dictated by law, or demonstrably more profitable, it is just not safe to assume the products we buy are safe.
10$ and free shipping for 8 test swabs is a bargain considering that what you don’t know can make you and your children stupid and irrational. (Free shipping on $25+ orders, so you will have to get a few other items. Getting this marshmallow gun with it will still leave you 2 cents short.)
You take a swab, shake it up, crunch up the little glass containers inside the plastic sleeve, shake it up again with the swab pointed up, to mix the tiny shards of glass, powder and liquid, and then point it down and squeeze juice into the swap.
There is enough juice to drip some of the test fluid on a few objects and then swab with the remainder. This way you can test a few things at once.
I gathered a bunch of stuff I wanted to test and cleaned or polished or sanded a few areas on these surfaces. I also put the stuff that I thought would be safe first on my list to test. Once you have rubbed the swab on grungy or lead, you can not do further testing with it. You can however as long as it is still damp, clean and testing negative, keep checking stuff.
It comes with a couple of cards with lead spots so you can be sure it is working if everything tests out lead free.
The high speed sprayer nozzle, a long discontinued item from Harbor Freight, tested positive. The brass hose connector also discontinued, from Harbor Freight also tested positive, but not strongly.
This is sad, because both of these items are used for gardens, pets, yards and even children. It is also sad, because they would make great ferrules for tools. The little Stanley insert for opening sliding cabinets tested negative as did several other nice brass fittings. The old air hose fitting tested negative so it will someday be a very pretty ferrule.
These three pieces of brass all show red. The one on the left I was planning to use to make a tool today. This is the reason I started the lead testing. Now it is trash. I am not going to use it. The middle piece is a tube from a pen turning kit. Since the user will never touch it, I don’t have a big issue with the lead content.
Since the dust and shavings will be in my work area after I work it, I am going to have to come up with another way to turn pens. Otherwise I will be increasing the ambient lead in my work area, yard and on the products I make. The tube on the far right is a typical brass tube like you can get at a lot of hobby stores. Yes it tested positive. I will not be buying anymore of these.
I pulled off the sleeve on one of the test swabs so you can see the two glass vials inside. Make sure to crunch them up well and mix the ingredients. Note the scarlet stain on the trammel below the vial. Sadly this trammel tested quite positive.
I was worried about the small brass fittings in these pictures but they seem O.K..
The beautiful, functional and well designed trammels that I got from Rockler will never be used again. I really did not want this tool to fail. I just lightly brushed a whisper of the test fluid on the inside flat of the trammel.
The picture does not do justice to the lovely scattering of scarlet that matches with the lead test included with the kit.
This is really sad as this is probably the prettiest tool that I have ever bought. This trammel is perfect apart from the fact that it is laden with lead. I cannot use it, nor will I pass it on to someone else for them to use. I have tested brass fittings on 12 other tools and none of them came close to as high a reading as this trammel. I really liked this trammel set.
I probably would have put a thin coating of epoxy and then hard wax on it and just been careful if it had a low level of lead in it. Foolish of me perhaps, but it really is a nice trammel. This is not just a touch of lead however.
I guess this is another good reason to make your own tools. It is also a good reason to drink Kombucha Tea.