I guess by now, I should be less surprised that such a simple item as cone pick isn't represented in a how-to. I'm pretty passionate about recreating the obvious, the overlooked, and under-represented. I've made some educated guesses as to how to make these based of photos of originals and what I've read. I admit this is an experiment and bit of a proof of concept. The one key piece of information I'm lacking is the actual wire diameter of the originals. I tried piano wire at first only to find that it was a bit over kill. I then thought I'd try some 18 gauge wire I had in my shop and after some heat treating it seems to work great. My 18 gauge wire measures .039 inches. If someone reading this has reliable thickness readings on an original, please share it with the community. Enough preamble, let's get into how I did it.
What you'll need:
- Wire. I used galvanized--avoid it if you can. When galvanized metal gets hot it releases poisonous gas. I have air scrubbers, lots of ventilation in my shop, and experience so I did it, but I recommend regular steel wire.
- Propane Torch or reliable heat source. Mapp gas will be much too hot a flame.
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- A form to help bend the wire. The loop should be 1/2" wide. In my case I found a 1/4" drive 11/32" deep socket met that requirement just fine for me.
- Bench Vise
- Container of Water
- Container of Oil. I used SAE 30.
- Tape Measure or Measuring Device
- Belt Sander or File to make a taper on the end of the pick
I start with cutting a piece of wire longer than the finished product to give more to hang on to. I then lock my form into my vice and using my fingers bend the wire into a loop around the form. I use the needle nose pliers for any minor adjustments. I then trim the pick to length. The documentation I've consistently seen states the shaft should be 1 1/2" long. I then take the pick to the belt sander and rotate the pick to get an even point on the end. Using my hammer, anvil, and fingers I straighten the wire to my liking before moving on. After that, I fire up my propane torch and with the pick in a pair of pliers, I try my best to evenly heat the pick to a red hot. This only takes a few seconds. Once there, I quickly quench in water to harden the wire. For a bit of rust protection and nicer finish, I'll simply re-heat and quench in oil. The second heat is just to warm it up. I don't try to make it red hot again. After it cools for a few seconds, I wipe clean and it's ready for service. When you flick the end of it with your finger, it should spring back to shape and not easily bend. Keep in mind, it's wire so it will bend with enough force but should be considerably harder than when it came off the spool.
This only takes a few minutes to do and is quite rewarding. If anyone out there has more technical information on the originals let us know on our website or Facebook page. Also, if anyone is more knowledgeable in metallurgy than me share a tip if you have one.