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Safety of leaded bronze fittings

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Alex Topfer, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Alex Topfer

    Alex Topfer

    172
    May 1, 2019
    Hey
    I would like to use bronze in my knives, but all of the bronze i can find is bearing grades and contains lead. How safe is this to handle?
    For my more decorative knives I'm not too worried, but I mostly make kitchen knives that (hopefully) get handled around food.

    Also if anyone has suggestions for non-leaded bronze that will ship to Australia that would be useful?
     
  2. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    You want phosphor bronze, aluminum bronze, or Naval bronze. Bearing bronze is the wrong type for knife fittings. The bronzes listed should be available worldwide.
    I wouldn't be as much concerned about getting lead poisoning, as I would about it being a poor choice.
     
    weo and SBuzek like this.
  3. Alex Topfer

    Alex Topfer

    172
    May 1, 2019
    Why wouldn't you be concerned about lead leaching out?

    I'll grab some aluminium bronze, that will work.
    Thank you!
     
  4. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    Lead brass is more of an issue with water systems where the acid in the water leaches the lead out and people drink it. Contact absorption isn't nearly as bad. I wouldn't suggest wearing a lead-brass wedding ring.
    High lead tin-bronze is used because it can easily cast and machines wonderfully. It's safety data sheet shows breathing the dust and ingesting it are very bad, but only has a level 1 rating about skin contact. The reactions are mostly skin rashes in people manufacturing with it. The minor and occasional contact with a lead-bronze knife part would not absorb any significant amount of lead.
     
    Alex Topfer likes this.
  5. Alex Topfer

    Alex Topfer

    172
    May 1, 2019
    Ah, that makes sense (i should have probably thought that through)
     
  6. golfer1

    golfer1

    405
    Nov 24, 2016
    Been handling and reloading lead bullets most of my life. Its more dangerous in a indoor shooting range if they breath the lead dust. Fortunately most indoor shooting ranges are well ventilated.
     

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