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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. He or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from January 15 - 31, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has three helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Guru, After reading the postings on forge blowers, I figured my input might help somebody. I use the injection blower off an oil furnace-has a side gate for adjusting air flow all the way down to nill that has an ear on it to hook a rod or wire, I use a throttle cable from a lawnmower, for remote control. The blower is about 2 feet from the ash dump and has a throat of about 13/4" diameter, an old drive shaft tube that was laying around fit perfect. Plenty of air,easily adjusted,and simple.

    Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Saturday, 01/16/99 02:38:09 GMT

    I,ve been watching the postings and checking out the links and web sites for about a month and most of my questions get answered without
    asking. When you demonstrate smithing at a park or community function,do you have to have your own insurance coverage or does the sponsor supply it?

    Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at keynetnet Saturday, 01/16/99 02:52:41 GMT

    We are having a Chinook for the weekend, maybe I can dig my way out to the forge before it gets to cold again. The old gas forge tends to put out lumps instead of gas at -26 c. ;-)

    Doug -- dhall at Saturday, 01/16/99 03:30:55 GMT


    That depends on the individual situation, and your question NEEDS to be asked a whole lot more often than it usually is.

    The "Historic" Park where I demonstrte most often carries full insurance. That's important, because of the dangers that are naturally present when blacksmithing.

    I also make sure that I have a perimeter rope that's at least 8 - 10 feet from the anvil and the forge. I want to keep the public, especially small children, at least that far away from hot metal, sparks, etc.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 01/16/99 03:42:57 GMT

    INSURANCE: I never had any when I was demonstrating. I probably should have. A few events will mention or require insurance coverage but most don't publicize the fact that they DO have insurance coverage least someone take advantage of the situation.

    This is one of those subjects that most of us go through life with a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy. I was often invited to do demonstrations. In this case I think you should expect the entity inviting you to take the insurance responsibility.

    This is also one of those places in life where you should ask yourself if you can afford the possible repercussions of even a minor accident. Even if you are not to blame AND someone else's insurance is covering you the legal fees can run into the thousands in an instant.

    ABANA and its chapters are covered by insurance for its meetings and events. I don't know the details of the insurance but it is one of the reasons ABANA and its chapters have rules against blowing anvils and other risky behaviour.

    The setup Jim is currently using is one I designed. The perimeter fence often caused a bit of commotion with craft show organizers, "You need HOW MUCH SPACE?" Yes, if you want live blacksmithing demonstrations you have to give up that 25' circle PLUS room for the public outside of that! Even with this kind of distance things can go wrong.

    I stopped using a hardy AND hot cutters in demonstrations because of situations where I was VERY lucky. The simple act of hot cutting a nail can produce a hot high velocity missle that will travel 20 or 30 feet. Twice I was hot cutting a claw hammer off the end of a bar with an over eager striker. Twice the red hot claw hammer spit off the anvil and struck the back wall of the forge with resounding thump! The first time I said to myself (as the crowd applauded), "Never do it like that again!" The SECOND time I said to myself, NEVER DO IT AGAIN, PERIOD!" Both times it was just dumb luck that the part did not fly into the face of a child in the standing room only crowd!

    Ask yourself, "Do I feel lucky today?" Your future may depend on the answer.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/16/99 04:27:29 GMT

    That "Do I feel lucky "applies to the shop at any time.WEAR YOUR PPE ALWAYS( PPE=personal protective equipment) Get used to your safety glasses, cause your seeing eye dog can't strike very well.

    Bob -- bbnm at Saturday, 01/16/99 05:47:21 GMT

    I have no experience.I would like to know how the iron wheels that was used on horse drawn wagons and equipment that now we see as decoration at driveways and yards were made? Were some smithed and some cast? Are there still people who make them? thanks rooster

    rooster -- roosterred at Saturday, 01/16/99 06:49:19 GMT

    WHEELS: All wooden hubbed and spoked wheels had wrought iron or mild steel tires. With the exception of modern arc welding methods replaceing forge welding (heating in the fire and hammering together) these wheels have been made the same way since the beginning of the iron age. And YES, there are still a few wheelwrights around.

    The steel spoked wheels you see from old farm equipment are a relatively modern invention. They probably started making them about 1900. They are a factory product and most of the parts including the rims are forged. A few have cast parts but castings are generally not strong enough for this type wheel. These are still made for some farm equipment but rubber tired wheels are used anywhere the equipment is going travel on the road.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/16/99 12:32:47 GMT

    Guru can you tell me what grade of steel is in an old paper cuting
    blade I have. I'm thinking of cutting so knifes out of it with a
    plasma rig.The markings on the blade are England 2012288&IKS Mark I

    Thanks Bobby Neal

    Bobby Neal -- bbneal at Saturday, 01/16/99 16:36:12 GMT

    Bobby, Not a clue. However, since paper is very abrasive and these cutters work a LONG time without sharpening I'd say it is pretty good stuff. Probably relatively high carbon, over 75 points. As with all steels of unknown chemistry you need to test a sample. Spark test, forge some, harden and temper it. . . Experiment with a small piece.

    The problem with saying "such and such" type of device is made of XXXX steel is that the type steel used is up to every manufacturer and not every manufacturer uses the same steel. Over time the steel used may vary with ONE manufacturer.

    You have a couple choices. Purchase new certified material, purchase new material and take the suppliers word for it (they are basicaly honest but stock DOES occasionaly get put in the wrong bin) OR use scrap material and determine if it is appropriate to use on your own.

    Short of chemical analysis it is difficult to determine the EXACT steel you have picked up. There are THOUSANDS of steels both plain and alloy. Even with chemical testing you might have to search through the specs for ALL those steels before you find the one you have.

    Starting with a suggested use list like the SAE list in Machinery's Handbook will get you close to the type of steel but as mentioned above EVERY manufacturer makes his own choices. Over time new steels are developed and old ones are replaced, sometimes for the good, sometimes to cut costs.

    Consider a steel's original use, then judge for yourself or test it.

    -- guru Sunday, 01/17/99 14:57:11 GMT

    Dear Guru:

    I'm a 36 year old co-owner of a mechanical contracting business. Master's level college education. I have been making stock removal knives from 154-CM, D-2 and O-1. In the last year I bought a big anvil and built a propane forge and I have been learning how to forge blades out of plow sweeps and O-1 round stock. I like the ability to be able to put a distal taper in a blade much more effectively in the forge than on the grinder/sander.

    I would be interested in your thoughts about the usefullness of a 25 lb. Little Giant in a part-time shop of my size. A man offered me an operating Little Giant for $500. It seems to be in good shape, no play in the bearings, runs well (I guess, I've never seen another). Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.

    Great site,


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Sunday, 01/17/99 17:31:56 GMT


    GRAB IT!!! If you decide you don't really want/need it, you can re-sell it for more than he wants for it!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 01/17/99 18:06:15 GMT

    Josh, Like Jim said! The 25# Little Giant is in great demand because it is small (800-900 pounds) and can be run on a 3/4 or 1HP single phase motor. Typicaly they sell for 3 to 4 times that price (once in the hands of dealers or blacksmiths) so you will not need to worry about return on investment.

    Like anvils, any hammer is better than no hammer. A 25# hammer is too small for many folks but it is a GREAT machine to learn with. Many folks with small shops swear by them. Later you can trade up to something bigger if you want. The intresting thing about LG prices is that the bigger models sell for about the same as the small ones due to the higher demand for the small machines.

    If you are selling your knives the power hammer will pay for itself in a very short time.

    -- guru Sunday, 01/17/99 18:47:15 GMT

    Thanks for the prompt replies, I am going to buy the machine and use it in my shop. I appreciate your help.


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Monday, 01/18/99 00:56:55 GMT

    I have finished some hand rails for a friend of a friend and they insist on me being paid the "going rate". What is a average hourly rate for a blacksmith?

    J. B. Allinson Jr. -- jballinson at Monday, 01/18/99 01:13:35 GMT


    I don't knon what the "averagere rate" is, but I charge $30/hr.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 01/18/99 02:01:43 GMT

    DOING BUSINESS WITH FRIENDS: Tricky Business. Unless you have a time and materials contract with a fixed hourly rate you should have had a fixed quote before you started the job. Hourly rates depend on your skill level, the type of shop you have and the type of work you provided.

    In a mechanized blacksmith shop producing production work the hourly rate may be well over $100/hr U.S. Of course the volume of work produced should reflect that rate. Mechanized shops often produce more for less than a manual labor shop with minimun wage laborers.

    In a fabrication shop where the components are made somewhere else and the rails are mearly fitted together the "going rate" will be so much a foot. Even here the rate per foot will vary greatly depending on the type of rail. Quotes as low $15-$25/ft are not unusual. Today there are components that look like fancy hand forged work. In this case the components alone may cost $50/ft.

    In shops that produce an all hand forged product the customer is often paying for a work of art. In this case rails can cost $50-$100/foot or more. However, most smiths that produce this work know they are competing against the fabricator's quote (even though there is no direct comparison) and often bid less than they should.

    In your case where the job is done (installed?) you should take the cost of materials used and add a fair hourly rate for the work performed. Something in the neighborhood of $25/hr.(min). Here again there are a LOT of variables. Twenty years ago skilled laborers such as welders and fitters were being paid nearly this much. Today in our screwed up economy the same laborers are being paid half what they WERE in some parts of the country. Meanwhile they SHOULD be making double what they did 20 years ago to just break even. As an independant contractor your "rate" should be considerably more than a laborer doing the same work.

    Pricing in a "free" or "market" economy is not simple for ANY business. Everyone wants to make as much as possible but often take less than they need to stay in business. "Fair" profit is rarely considered. In most retail businesses the selling price must be double the cost (min). The market economy is a rough place. Let us know when you figure it out.

    -- guru Monday, 01/18/99 02:23:50 GMT

    Jock the story about the Blacksmith in the American Revolution was great. Found a lot of information I needed. Thanks. Anyone else have any information on Early forges and design, prior to 1800? I am trying to recreate an early Middle Age type forge. Portable type as used in battles.

    Jeff Spoor

    jeff spoor -- sktools at Monday, 01/18/99 12:27:51 GMT

    Jeff, Viking forges used a "shield stone" in front of an air pit over which a hide was fixed (weighted down?). Air from the hide being raised and lowered passed under of through? the shield stone into the fire pit on the other side. All this forge requires is the hide, a flat rock and possibly a tweer tube. But I can see how a small trench dug under the shield sone would suffice for the tube and the rock would be found on site, all thats left is the hide. How portable can you get? Manipulating the hide probably requires one to lift an edge for intake air and a little practice.

    Atli, what is wrong with this description???

    -- guru Monday, 01/18/99 12:51:36 GMT

    I would like information about the history of blacksmithing for a research paper at school.

    Aaron Chance -- jonnichance at Monday, 01/18/99 16:35:18 GMT

    Do you Know of any blacksmithing companys in Texas that craft swords,armor, and items in that line? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your service.

    Ryan -- SKIPROBOAT at Monday, 01/18/99 17:26:15 GMT

    I have a question that may seem obvious to to long time smiths but as someone new to the art I could use some help. I know that coke is a product of coal exposed to heat and/or fire. My question is: What is coke's appearence? What does it look like? How can I tell when my coal has reached the coke stage? Thanks.

    Marcus -- marcusiv at Monday, 01/18/99 18:29:07 GMT

    I have a question that may seem obvious to to long time smiths but as someone new to the art I could use some help. I know that coke is a product of coal exposed to heat and/or fire. My question is: What is coke's appearence? What does it look like? How can I tell when my coal has reached the coke stage? Thanks.

    Marcus -- marcusiv at Monday, 01/18/99 18:29:38 GMT

    Here I am again with the questions. Jim Wilson was kind enough to lend his vast years of experience and expertise to my forge building project.
    The forge is now in it's completion stages and here is the big question:
    I have a forced air furnace fan and motor for the air system. It has a 1/4 hourse motor. Is this too big for my needs?
    I also have a small fan that I used on my water heater forge that worked well for that application. Which one should I use?

    Minnesota Jim -- jimn at Monday, 01/18/99 19:43:24 GMT

    Minnesota Jim,


    Better watch that youngster!! (grin)

    Use the small fan. The big one will blow the fire right out of the forge!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 01/18/99 22:12:54 GMT

    Hey Guru,
    I have some experience at forge work. I would like to get into ornamental ironwork using gas and arc welding equipment. Can you suggest a good starter's welding set-up?(oxy-acet., mig, tig, etc.)
    Also, how can I make perfect circles with bar stock such as 3/8" round or flat stock? Another question, I where is King Supply Co. located? Thank Very Much.

    kevin -- no e-mail adress Monday, 01/18/99 22:35:20 GMT

    I'm constructing the forge described on Would a 150 CFM blower be big enough or should I get a 500 cfm blower?

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Monday, 01/18/99 23:17:54 GMT

    HISTORY OF BLACKSMITHING: That's practically a history of civilization! At least the history of technology. . .

    BLACKsmithing, the "black" comming from iron, the black metal. The beginning predates the actual iron age (about 4,000 BC) depending on the place. Prior to the Iron age was the Bronze age. Bronze is both cast and forged (hammered while hot). The forging techniques carried over into the iron age with the forging of iron. Foundries "cast" iron (pour it into molds), blacksmiths forge iron. It is postulated that some metoric iron was forged before man knew how to smelt iron (extract from ore). In the Bible story of David and Goliath, Goliath's people were in the Iron age technologicaly while the Isrealites were still in the Bronze age. Having iron (and steel) gave Goliath and his people a reputation of being great warriers and "war like". The Romans were among the first to shoe their horses and put iron tires on their wheels. These made the Roman chariot a fast and dependable form of transportation but it also demanded hard paved roads.

    The development and production of iron plodded along very slowly. The industrial revolution increased the demand for iron and steel. Larger and more complex bloomeries (iron furnaces) were built and eventually fed a fair sized factory system in the late 1700's (See link to Saugus Ironworks and the book Pioneer Ironworks). For many blacksmiths this is the "golden" era, before mechanization and mass production. It wasn't until the 1800's that the Iron age really took off. Development of the Bessemer process made steel available in huge quantities. About the same time the Steam Hammer was developed (See the on-line Autobiography of James Nasmyth via our book review page). These two events are what brings us into the modern era of the Iron age.

    During most of this time the blacksmith was increasingly in demand. It is not until the 20th Century that the need for the blacksmith faded. The automobile, mass production and a taste for "modern" factory made things almost erradicated the blacksmith. Then, in 1969 Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing was published. It came at a time when there was a great intrest in exploring the old crafts and what I call "The Third Age of Iron" was born. ABANA (Artist Blacksmith Association of North America) was established and more books about blacksmithing were written. Today there are more blacksmiths than ever. There are blacksmiths producing traditional architectual work, blacksmiths producing modern sculptural work and every other kind of blacksmith you can imagine.

    A few references to look up:

    The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex Bealer

    Pioneer Ironworks, Saugus Ironworks, Hopewell Village, Catlan Furnace.

    Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industries

    Check out the ABANA web site and contact a local chapter. Most have monthly meetings and blacksmithing demonstrations. Some also maintain libraries of books about blacksmithing that are hard to find in school or public libraries.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 01:21:36 GMT

    TEXAS SWORDSMITHS: I'm sure there are some. Try our links page. We have several sword links and these list both makers and other sword sites. All you TEXAS swordsmiths and SBA types speak up!

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 01:32:14 GMT

    COKE: Looks like a fine greyblack sponge and is very light in weight. If you burn a coal that will coke the half burnt stuff is coke. You'll know it when you see it. To make coke get a hot fire going then mound up some fresh coal and turn off the air. Sprinkle with water and pack with your shovel. Let smoulder (should make lots of yellow smoke). If it catches fire (visible flames) sprinkle on some more water. After half hour or so break apart the mound. If a lot of the coal hasn't stuck together and about half converted to coke then your coal is probably not cokable.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 01:38:39 GMT

    KING SUPPLY CO: Tell them they should be advertising on anvilfire!

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 01:43:14 GMT

    WELDING EQUIPMENT (Kevin): I prefer Victor oxy-acetylene equipment. Originally I bought a famous dept store brand and got screwed when I couldn't get parts or service for the product they orphaned. Get a full sized set, you can't go wrong with Victor. If you have a propane forge Victor has a full line of propane tips you can use in their standard torches.

    ARC WELDING EQUIPMENT: Most small blacksmith shops can get by with nothing but a little AC Buzz box (240VAC). Miller and Lincoln both make good dependable units. The EC-JYH was built with a 25 year old Miller that the cables are rotting off of! Stay away from the "micro" 120 VAC units.

    MIG (gas shielded wire), is great equipment to have but you need to be doing sufficient volume of work to justify the equip. These require a lease on ANOTHER cylinder (Argon/CO2 mix) which is a significant expense. The wire also rusts if you don't use it fast enough. I KNOW mine has a full rusted roll that I will have to replace the next time I use it. ANY production welding work should be done with MIG. MIG WILL NOT weld rusted or painted metal. I would have had to have ground off ALL the rust on the scrap I built the EC-JYH with in order to do the welding.

    TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas or "Heliarc"). No point in having this equipment in the Blacksmith shop unless you are doing a lot of aluminium or stainless work. Some blacksmiths DO use a lot of aluminium and this is esential equipment in their shops. TIG also requires ANOTHER gas cylinder (pure argon or helium).

    PERFECT CIRCLES: No such thing as perfect in real life! Lots of ways to make circles. How many do you need? Winding coils on a cylinder (cold) and then sawing them off is the most common method. The same method that works for wire mail rings also works on 1/2" (13mm) stock. For low quantities see the article on Benders on the 21st Century page. or KING SUPPLY sells them. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 04:20:13 GMT

    Been away with the kids, peddling fine iron work at a science fiction convention to folks with money in their pockets and romantic notions in their heads. Made just about enough to cover expenses, ABANA and BGOP dues. On the other hand the kids had a good time, and we played guitar 'til 02:00, when they threw us out of the con hospitality suite.

    Portable Medieval Forges:

    The "hide and pit" bellows isn't very efficient, and would be tricky to operate, but it is cheap and portable. I've been looking at this question due to several other inquiries. I've found no evidence of "portable" forges until you get to the 18th and 19th centuries, with their horse drawn cavalry and artillery forges. However, absense of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absense, so maybe we haven't stumbled accross the right codex illustration yet. I would like to make the point that "portable", a cohesive unit designed for transport from place to place, is different from "field expedient" in which standard elements are combined with local materials. For that: an anvil, tongs, hammers, stock and a workable bellows could be combined with some rocks, turf, wood, and so forth to set up a temporary shop. Think of Humphrey Bogart and Katherinne Hepburn re-welding the propeller shaft in "The African Queen". (A scene that still leaves me a little skeptical. I'll have to take another look.) A field expedient forge isn't as neat or as handy as a truly portable one, but it can be just as workable.

    I've received the photographs of the forge that the Norwegian Viking reenactors had at Union Station. I'll try to get them off to Jock for posting in the NEWS tomorrow, before I have to run off to Ft. Worth for a couple of days.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Tuesday, 01/19/99 04:21:27 GMT

    Atli: If Iremember correctly, that was a bronze propeller, and no flux, and no bellows!!! No doubt that Bogart could do it though.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 01/19/99 04:39:30 GMT

    FORGE BLOWER SIZE: Forges require different size blowers for the size of the forge and the character of the work you are going to do. Quality of fuel makes a difference too. You burn less high BTU coal to do a job and generaly need less air.

    The shop size Great Bellows I built and used for years had a capacity of about 60 CFM (5 cuft disp in 5 sec) in normal use. By pumping faster than the upper chamber could discharge you could bump this up to maybe 100 CFM for a short period. This worked great for 90% of the work I did. It WAS, however a small forge and not really suitable for heavy work (I tried). On the other hand the bellows has more pressure capacity than the little squirel cage blowers of even double its capacity.

    Both size blowers you are speaking of are sold by Centaur Forge. The 500 CFM model will provide enough air for the biggest blacksmithing job. Most of the time it will need to be throttled back to about 10%. The small blower will do most work that is required of a small shop. Ocassionaly you will need to run it a full capacity, but it too will be throttled back most of the time. The big difference of course is that you can not get MORE from the small blower and you can always use less of what the bigger blower provides.

    If you look at blower capacities and the piping required you will find that the 500 CFM blower needs larger than 2" diameter pipe to get full advantage of the blower. The smaller blower is rated closer to the 2" pipe in the lyton creek plans.

    If you look at my piping plan for the brake drum forge you will note that I recommend a heavy steam flange at the bottom of the forge and a floor flange for the blower. The reducing T has the large end down so that debris will fall out rather than jam in the tweer. When using a small blower you can use a lighting dimmer for the control but the larger blower will require a sliding gate valve at the flange.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 05:12:33 GMT

    THE AFRICAN QUEEN (one of my favorites): Bogart got the girl (Katherine Hepburn) at the end of the movie so I guess he could do ANYTHING, but I still laugh every time I see that forge welding scene!

    Its almost as much fun as the forging scene in Conan the Barbarian! But, but, but what's that they're doing? First they are CASTING metal in an open stone mold (bronze age technique that doesn't EVEN work for steel). THEN after forging the CAST blade you match color with the artic sunrise (how else do you judge sunrise red?) and quench in a fluffy snow bank!

    Conan, do you know the enigma of steel? YES, Hollywood writers and directors will never get it right!

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 05:35:25 GMT

    I have looked at the getting started portion but i am more insterested not in the modern but in more the pre 1500's. I was wondering if I should start at the present then try to learn more of the past or if i could just start in the past and if so how. I am a newbie to this. I am studing other medivial arts and would like to become a blacksmith and to do work in the same or nearly the same style.

    Victor Cooke -- raymondj at Tuesday, 01/19/99 07:47:18 GMT

    I just bought a 204# anvil with a hairline crack 1/2 way through it on the horn side of the waist. I plan on using a carbon arc welder to weld the crack shut after "V" grinding it. My question is, should I preheat the anvil in a fire, or will the carbon arc be able to preheat it well enough. Also, my friend has the carbon arc at his place and he has no forge there. If I need to preheat, what would be the quickest most efficient way to do so w/o a forge?
    I considered build a fire, burning it down to coals, then raking and rearranging the coals around the anvil base, covering with kaowool (leaving a 1" air/heat vent near the waist of the anvil) And heating til the face started to oxidize pale yellow.
    Also, i got a scanner this weekend, so I will be able to finish my article on sword making.


    Chirs -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 01/19/99 12:41:17 GMT

    Chris, that is a common flaw in anvils that were welded at the waist. If it is a twentieth century anvil the base is mild steel and the top high carbon steel. It is good to preheat at the joint with a torch but not absolutely necessary unless the anvil is very cold (and it may well be this time of year). Bruce Wallace recently repaired one of these that was almost completely seperated at the waist. I'll have Bruce tell you what he did.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 13:03:17 GMT

    GETTING STARTED (VC): Alex Bealers The Art of Blacksmithing is the starting place for you.

    I have TOO much to say about doing things the hard way to finish this AM - will do so this evening.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 13:07:56 GMT

    Would you be able to give me the physical address of the company
    I would contact for replacement parts for Bradley hammers.
    Thanks Stephen at b-s

    Stephen Sokoloski -- b-s at Tuesday, 01/19/99 13:29:38 GMT

    Chris: I saw an anvil, in use, that had seperated at the waist, and been repaired by installing a u-bolt through the top half and pulled down to the base with a steel plate at the bottom.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 01/19/99 16:02:05 GMT


    Probably looked funny that way, but should work. All they were trying to do was keep the top half from moving around on the bottom half.

    But sure would LOOK wierd!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/19/99 16:19:28 GMT

    Guru what is Sid,The Little Giants, Phone #

    Thanks Bobby Neal

    Bobby Neal Tuesday, 01/19/99 16:40:34 GMT

    Just starting, what is better for a forge, coal or gas? Will a single burner be hot enough to weld? Any brand names to buy? thanks dlee

    Dublin Lee -- dlee at Tuesday, 01/19/99 16:52:45 GMT

    Jim: It did look funny, but the best part was that it would ring with a clear tone!!!

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 01/19/99 17:53:04 GMT

    Dublin Lee,

    Matter of choice, really. Gas is not as messy as coal, but is generaly more expensive. I prefer coal, but will eventually build/buy a gas forge for convenience. A single burner properly adjusted should get plenty hot to weld with. The NC Whisper series has a good reputation.

    There are also plans here and on Ron Reil's page for building several different types of forge at a considerable savings over buying one.


    That's a little surprising. I would have thought that the break would have destroyed the ring. Guess that's what I get for thinking! :)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/19/99 18:07:40 GMT


    I just bought a 300 Lb. Hay-Budden that was cracked all the way around the waist. Matter of fact the crack was so bad the base was about to fall off the body when picked up. Other then the crack the anvil face is in very good condition. The face is clean, flat and with out any dings or chips.

    How I repaired it? First I used a gouging electrode to V out the crack. Then I used a plain 6011 rod as a filler. I didn't preheat the anvil before welding. If making a repair to the face then perheat would be necessary to relieve stress. I have seen pictures of a forged anvil that was burned up in an unattended open fire. If you elect to preheat for body repair, I would use a propane torch, like the ones used to burn weeds or melt ice. You would get much more controlled heat this way. I would not heat to any oxidize color. If you do the anvil is to hot in my opinion, even for a face repair. I would only heat up to about 250 to 275 degrees F or until water drys off the anvil quickly. Remember you will be putting more heat into the anvil as you weld.

    Before you make any repairs it best to know if you anvil is cast iron, cast steel, forged wrought or forged steel. This is very import because most cast iron anvils do not repair well or at all. It's very easy to de-laminate the hard face off a cast iron anvil with to much heat. If the anvil is cast the crack could as cast from chilling. I have a 5' x 5' platten table that has a hair line crack in the middle that was in the table from new. Casting large items funny things can happen when chilled or cooled.

    BTW, I have been using the Hay-Budden I repaired and it's a great anvil. I think who ever had it before me was not using it hard for fear of breaking it completely. One other thing you said your anvil had a hair line crack half way through. It might not need repair, tap it with a hammer, if you hear a dead spot then I would repair it. Before I fixed the Hay-Budden it definitely was dead all over the face. Now it rings ture with good rebound

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Tuesday, 01/19/99 18:38:34 GMT


    What replacement parts do you need for your Bradley? I just made a deal to buy three Bradley's, a 100 Lb. Upright Helve and two Rudder Cushioned Helves, one is a 100 Lber. and the other is 200 Lbs.

    If you need parts try:

    Cortland Machine & Tool Company
    60 Grant Street P.O. Box 27
    Cortland, NY 13045

    Cortland has some original patterns and they took over Bradley. They don't have parts in stock and what ever you need they can custom make. The catch is custom made, as you might know it's not cheap. I know they can't get any rubber parts. I'm working on finding some who can supply rubber parts for future reference.

    If you talk to Cortland tell them you heard about them on anvilfire.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Tuesday, 01/19/99 19:04:29 GMT

    Thanks for the information. Do you have an address or phone number for King Supply Co.? I'll tell them to advertise at Anvilfire!

    kevin -- none Tuesday, 01/19/99 20:08:21 GMT

    I am attempting to learn to dish metal however I can't find the formula for getting the size right...I am trying to do it the way it was done in the 15th and 16 century.. can you help or know know anyone that can

    Randy -- rhollis at Tuesday, 01/19/99 20:18:43 GMT

    Kevin, CLICK on the LINK above that I posted!

    DISHING METAL (Randy): Say you want to make a hemisphere. The diameter of the flat blank will be equal to approximately 95% of half (for the hemi)of the circumference of the finsihed part.

    Blank for Hemisphere: PI * d/2 *.95 OR 1.492 * d

    IF you were pressing the part this would be nearly exact but the problem is you are "raising" the shape. Raising is mostly upsetting (making the metal thicker) but you start by stretching the center (the initial dishing). The stretch is the 5% we subtracted.

    Another method: Take a sample shape and measure across its surface with a cloth rule. Flattened, this is your width plus a little trim (that 5% you subtract). IF the amount of dish is low and you are not actually raising the metal the trim will be less.

    Raising is a highly complex form of metal working. A skilled smith can upset in one direction and stretch in another forming the sheet like clay. Determining the starting size is somewhat of an art and will vary with the material and your specific work habbits.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 22:32:48 GMT

    LITTLE GIANT - Sid Sudemeier, See NEW list of hammer manufacturers on the Power hammer Page the list is currently being edited and will be complete tonight! This is just one of the hundreds of items that I just haven't gotten "round-tuit". Seemed like a good time with the question being asked about several places in one day!

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/19/99 23:53:49 GMT

    Thank you Guru that was most helpfull...

    Randy Wednesday, 01/20/99 02:00:53 GMT

    COAL vs. GAS FORGES: This question comes up often enough that it deserves a permanent treatment. . .

    COAL: Good coal is becomming harder and harder to find in many places. This is due largely to the gradual replacement of coal furnaces with gas, oil and electric. The problem will get worse, not better. Coal is also being legislated out of existance. Clean air regulations prohibit burning coal in many places. If you are in a location where you can get good coal and are alowed to burn it, coal is generaly easier to learn to forge with a and has a number of advantages over gas. Coal burns hotter producing a more penetrating heat. It can provide a carburizing or neutral atmosphere. It is easier to forge weld using a good grade of coal. It burns quietly while gas tends to be noisy. Coal is safer than gas to store and to use. Especialy if you are teaching children blacksmithing.

    Gas (propane or natural) burns very cleanly and does not require a chiminey in many cases. Although it tends to scale (burn) the work worse than coal it does not contaminate the work with condensed volitiles. Propane is now available almost universaly and is often delivered. There are no ashes or clinkers to dispose of. Many gas forges have built in ignition devices making them very easy to start. While many people complain about it being hard to weld with gas a tremendous amount of welding is done in gas forges every day. If you purchase your propane in bulk it is easy to to tap for an oxy-propane torch reducing the need for one fuel tank. Gas is also prefered for production work, especialy when feeding a power hammer.

    Today many smiths that have the option of having both gas and coal use both to advantage. I've used both and I sure do like just turning my gas forge ON rather than having to build a fire!

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/20/99 03:21:28 GMT

    Well I guess I'm a dirt burner and the guru is a gas passer.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 01/20/99 06:08:03 GMT

    I'm 16 and just starting to get into metalworking and I want to become a weaponsmith. I really have no clue as to how to get started. What should I do first?

    Ian Stewart -- Flametank1 at Wednesday, 01/20/99 06:53:14 GMT

    i know nothing about metal working, but want to take on a project.
    question of rockwell hardness.
    what is required to change this metal hardness? to that of 30 to 40 rockwell hardness and tools or equipment needed. how can this hardness be tested?
    4130 1/4 wall 2" inner dia. seamless steel tube about 1' in length.and
    4130 2" dia. round bar stock about 1' in length.
    if this cannot be acomplished without special training or equipment
    where might i have it done by a professional and what cost may be incurred.
    i live in the tampa bay area of florida.
    thanks for your expertise and time.

    john -- johnb71 at Wednesday, 01/20/99 11:36:20 GMT

    HEATREATING and TESTING: Heattreating consists of heating the part to about 1700-1880°F (to where it becomes non-magnetic) for a fixed amount of time and then quenching (cooling) the part in a fluid appropriate for the material. Quenchants include oil, water and brine. Imediately after quenching the part should be tempered, that is reheating the part to 400-1450°F (depending on the steel and desired hardness). Testing is done with a hardness tester. There are various types but most strike the part with a hard "penetrator" and the size of the depression is measured opticaly under magnification.

    IF the part is a finished precision part it may want to be protected from oxidation in a controlled atmosphere furnace or sealed in a stainless steel foil container. Parts also tend to "grow" in the hardening process. High precision parts are therefore hardened and then ground afterward. Somtimes the growth can be compensated for by trial and error. In all cases of making critical heattreated parts samples should be processed and tested before specifying all the details.

    Blacksmiths are typicaly seat-of-the-pants heattreaters, often judging the heat by color and not using temperature controled furnaces and tempering ovens. Critical parts should be treated by professionals with professional equipment.

    NOTE: The temperatures given above are general ranges. Each material has its own specific temperatures for heatreatment. I could look them up for you if you need them. A professional heattreater will have the same references and be able to reccomend the specifics.

    Some machine shops do their own heattreating but many farm it our to specialty shops. Ask a local machine shop about it.

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/20/99 13:05:34 GMT

    Ian, go to the top of this page and click on "Getting Started". That is a guide for BASIC blacksmithing. Weaponsmithing is ADVANCED blacksmithing. You follow the same path but you also need to study metalurgy (see my post above about heattreating), some engineering (strengths of materials) and the art and history of weaponry. The sources for references listed such as Centaur Forge, have books on these subjects too.

    The top people in this field are generaly highly educated having degrees in some technical area plus great knowledge of everything surrounding their art. Plan to continue schooling if this is a carreer path. Metalurgy and engineering are good backgrounds but so is art or history. A good friend of mine says that everything you do in life you bring to the forge. He has recently taken up sking and has found that the necessary balance exercises help him run his power hammer better and produce finer work.

    Study, learn, experiance life. Knowledge is your most important tool.

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/20/99 13:23:41 GMT

    Thanks for the info on forges. Is a 75lb anvil heavy enough and large enough for knife making? thanks dlee

    Dublin Lee -- dlee at Wednesday, 01/20/99 15:49:27 GMT

    I am new to Blacksmithing and live in Atlanta. To give you an idea of what I am looking for, maybe you can help: My boyfriend has been blacksmithing for a couple years now, and he has crafted a homemade forge out of a an old round Weber grill, and a heating duct tube. He has two antique, hand crank blowers (these are a devil to work with after a few hours of cranking). He likes using the coal forge, for the authenticity of it, and the blower. But he says he really would like to get an electric blower, and a nicer forge. I have learned to blacksmith a little myself, (I've made a hook and a candle holder) and would also like that. I do not know enough about the different forges available, and blowers.

    I would like to surprise him for his birthday in March, with a new forge and blower. I have been reading up, and I talked to some people at Centaur just yesterday, and they faxed me some info and pictures on the coal forges they sell. $350-$950. I got a response from an ad I posted at the Scrapbin for a coal forge from a man in Georgia that wants to sell me a "portable" coal forge from Centaur as well, for $125.00. He said that it was set up to run off a car battery originally and has a DC motor. He uses a battery charger, and it generates a pretty good airflow. Maybe you could explain a little more to me the part about the dc motor. Is that for an electric blower that comes with it? Forgive me for not understanding. I like the fact that it comes with a hood and pipe too. My boyfriend would like to set it up inside his garage. What makes a forge portable? is this a good deal do you think? My boyfriend is the type of guy that likes to buy used things, and rig things up to work for him, so I thought it might be a safe bet. And I figured anything has to be better than what he has now. But looking at the different coal forges that Centaur sells, I wondered if a truck forge is limiting in space, and that the kind with a half hood, might be better?

    Aimee Rowden -- aimee at Wednesday, 01/20/99 16:08:23 GMT


    In all probability, the forge that you were looking at was originally a farrier's forge. He would have had it mounted in the back of his truck, to make or size horse shoes. That's why the blower runs off of 12 volts. Yes, the blower would be an intergal part of that forge. It's an "all in one" package.

    There's no reason at all (that I can think of) why that would not make an excellent forge for your boy friend. You would want to look at it, and make sure that it's not cracked or broken, and that it appears to be complete. If everything looks OK, and the blower does work, it should be fine.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/21/99 02:58:24 GMT

    Aimee, That 12VDC motor can be run off a small "trickle" battery charger, a door bell transformer with a $5 bridge diode from radio shack OR an old toy train "transformer" power supply.

    You can cut some of the hood off the truck forge to make it more open or remove it entirely if you work out doors. Many enclosed forges have a hole in the back for heating long bars. Most forges tend to be limiting in one manner or another and you have to find or build the type that suits your and your work best.

    Dublin, that 75 pound anvil is a little light for general work but as long as you are making reasonable sized knives it will suit your purpose. The thing about the anvil search is that once you get ONE others will follow. Trading up is always an option and there are a lot of people that love a small anvil. A couple years ago I sold my small anvils to raise some money NOW I am back in the market for a nice small portable anvil! Big anvils are great until you need to move one. Lastly, ANY anvil is better than NO anvil.

    -- guru Thursday, 01/21/99 03:31:47 GMT


    You know, I didn't think of the train "transformer". But that would even give you a speed control for the blower, wouldn't it? Or would it tend to overheat the motor? Hmm... I need to think about that, may lead to an idea.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/21/99 04:14:52 GMT

    pawpaw, got another thought for you, in my wood shop I have an old electric sewing machine cabinet with the foot operated switch and reastat? for motor control. The sewing machine is gone but in its place,bolted to the heavy cover is my scroll saw hooked up to the stat and working perfectly at various speeds determined by the foot pedal just like the sewing machine did.

    Jerry -- birdlegs at Thursday, 01/21/99 06:08:53 GMT

    Looking for INFO / parts list / manual on a 20" Walker-Turner drill press.
    (metal working)
    Also I have some runout on the spindle, is this bad bearings or is it bent,
    is it fixable at a reasonable cost ?

    Highland Forge

    ridgart at

    Glenn -- ridgart at Thursday, 01/21/99 14:23:00 GMT



    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/21/99 17:20:33 GMT

    So, I broke down and told Martin about my surprise to buy him this forge. He likes the idea. But now that I have received some responses from others, I have also been told that it would be a better investment for us to purchase a vulcan firepot from Centaur with a dumping ash gate, and build our own brick hearth around it for a bigger, better deeper fire instead. Martin also said he can get a squirrel cage blower for free. Any feedback on this idea, verses purchasing the truck forge?

    Aimee -- aimee at Thursday, 01/21/99 18:49:50 GMT


    With the Vulcan Firepot, you're working with new material. It'll las longer, and probably work better. The masonry forge is a great idea, but may be larger than you need. Always remember, you can heat a small piece of stock in a big fire, but it's hard to heat a big piece of stock in a small fire.

    With the truck forge you're working with used material. It's probably a very good forge. I've had VERY good luck with used material. But there MAY be hidden flaws that you and/or the seller are un-aware of.

    If I had to make the choice for myself, I'd go with the new equipment.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/21/99 22:17:00 GMT

    my husband has 25 years exp. with all types of welding etc...
    he is having trouble lately though with his bluing...he has been
    doing metal art for about 3 yrs. misc. flat artwork and around
    15-20 3-D sculptures of wildlife. he seems to have more trouble
    getting the 3-D to hold color....please help.. using acetylene torch
    for bluing.. also what would you recommend for coating the art
    to keep it rust free ...thank you. i'm new to typing, sorry if this is bad.

    Laurie James -- lauriejames at Friday, 01/22/99 05:33:52 GMT

    Prior to returning to my trade as a machinest, I owned and operated a custom furniture and cabinet shop in Tacoma, WA..

    I know the fine art of sharpening and maintaining a cutting edge on many types of tools and knives, and would like to teach my son the skills I have learned the hard way.

    I have recently fashioned a small fishing knife of soft steel so it may be used to teach sharpening technique to my son. I know that it will not hold an edge, but for a young lad, it will provide a learning tool that is soft enough to work with resaults.

    My question is:
    Is there a way to harden the steel by flame and if so, how would I go about it?

    I have access to a wide variety of steels and would like to make a "keeper" for him, but first I want him to learn to shape and maintain a good edge.

    Thank you.

    Will Zeober

    Will -- zwill at Friday, 01/22/99 11:28:14 GMT

    Where is the best places to look for large anvils?

    Bob Holt -- b_j_holt at Friday, 01/22/99 13:51:00 GMT


    Any steel will harden even mild steel. Mild steel has 10 to 20 points of carbon. It's carbon that makes iron steel and it's carbon that makes steel harden. I don't know what you mean by flame hardening. If you mean with a torch, it can be done with lighter items like knife blades. You just have to be able to evenly heat the steel to slightly above 1425 degrees. Mild steel is a good choice for case hardening. Mild steel with 10 to 20 points of carbon can be carburized successfully with out becoming excessively brittle.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 01/22/99 13:55:33 GMT

    Bob Holt:

    What size anvil do you consider large?

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 01/22/99 16:53:47 GMT

    HARDENING LOW CARBON STEEL (Will): Good idea on the sharpening lessons. I often recomend to novice "sword" smiths to try making a blade of mild steel as an exercise. If you can't complete the project in relatively easy to work material the real thing will be hopeless! Bruce covered it pretty well. With mild steel a lot of folks use special quenchants but brine will work better than water.

    Surface hardening can be achived using a product called Kasinite. I think it is a nitriding process similar to using cyanide salts. The part can be heated and coated with the substance and held at temperature with a torch for the prescribed period of time. Kasinite is available from Centaur Forge. Follow the instructions on the can. The problem with case hardened kinves is when you sharpen you remove the hard surface. Alex Bealer mentioned "trade knives" that were case hardened in the 1800's. These led to the users learning to sharpen only one side of the knife!

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 02:13:16 GMT


    Ok, I bought a new Rockwell type hardness tester to help in the quality control of my knife blades, forged and stock removed. The tester reads the test blocks within about a half point. I started testing blades that I have already built and thought were good. Many read anywhere from 50 to 60 HRC. Blades test at different hardness levels depending on the place tested. Is my learning curve about to get steeper? Any thoughts on what is going on?



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at swconnect Saturday, 01/23/99 02:24:12 GMT

    BLUING STEEL w/ TORCH (Laurie): Is the steel being given a "temper" blue or thin coat of black oxide scale? There are a LOT of variables that can effect the outcome. Cleanliness is number one. There may have been a change in the type of abrasives being used or methods of handling. Surface texture can also be a factor.

    A different or new material may be the problem. There are many types of steel available and not all of them oxidize the same. Low alloy and plain carbon steels take coloring by all methods better than alloy steels. Knifemakers use nickel alloy steels in laminated blades for contrast against plain carbon steels.

    The size of the work may be a problem. The "3D" work may be soaking up the heat faster than the "2D" work. A bigger torch may be needed.

    I have some VERY definite opinions about preventing rust (see the 21st Century page). However, a lot of smiths and sculptors use clear lacquer when they want the natural metal color. This is suitable for indoor use for work with a one generation lifetime.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 02:27:34 GMT

    ROCKWELL TESTER (Josh): YEP! YOU ARE IN DEEP "DO" NOW! Any truely accurate measurment of steel parts (shape, finish, hardness) will always surprise you. Hardness will vary depending on temperature, soak time, rate of quench and how well the tempering was controlled. THEN any grinding or heavy buffing that is performed after hardening may have heated the steel sufficiently to reduce the hardness. THEN there are the variations in the piece of steel itself. Of course you already know all this. . .

    In most labratory methods (yes, get out the white lab coat now!) preparation of the sample is very important. To get consistant results you must have consistant samples. Your test blocks are of equal thickness with parallel sides. Your knives vary in thicknees and being what they ARE do not have parallel surfaces. I do not know how much this effects the results but I expect it does.

    Perhaps grandpa or someone else with experiance using a Rockwell tester can shed some light on the testing of blades.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 02:52:42 GMT

    Josh: There are a number of problems using a rockwell type hardness tester on knives. The first one ,as Guru mentioned, is to have the surface to be tested perpendicular to the indenter, and to be immobile. This takes some jigging with tapered pieces like knife blades, but can be done. The different readings may be due to some shifting of the test piece during testing or it could be due to different hardness in different parts of the knife. The thicker parts will almost always be softer than the thin parts due to differences in heat extraction times.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 01/23/99 03:52:58 GMT

    I have seen several demonstrations of how to light a coal forge fire, but how do you put it out when finished? Does it go out by itself when you stop forcing air thru it?

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Saturday, 01/23/99 14:04:02 GMT

    PUTTING OUT THE FIRE (Neal): Generally you just break open the center where the coal has coked down and shortly the fire is out. If the fire contains a lot of fresh coal you might need to sprinkle the fire with water after having broken it open. NOTE: I said "sprinkle" NOT dowse! Pouring water on hot cast iron or masonry forges can cause them to crack and break. Under certain conditions some forges support a natural draft (the nature of fire) and will burn up a LOT of coal without a forced blast.

    As in anything envolving fire you should use good judgment and never abandon a hot forge. The standard industrial saftey rule of a half hour "fire watch" is a good idea.

    Neal, that was a great question for newbies and the curious. It is easy for us to forget that that ALL of us had to learn these things (often the hard way). Never stop asking questions.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 15:15:51 GMT

    What is the purpose of a Box Leg Vice? I am a beginner.

    HCRuh -- zabet at Saturday, 01/23/99 15:57:23 GMT

    What is the purpose of a Box Leg Vice?

    HCRuh -- Saturday, 01/23/99 16:00:56 GMT

    BLACKSMITH'S LEG VICE: These are the ONLY vises truely designed to be pounded on and are indespensible in the blacksmith shop. The design of these wonderful tools was fixed early in the 17th Century and has not been improved on since (like the Violin). A 30 pound leg vise will sustain more pounding without damage than a 130 pound machinist's or chipping vice. There was a brief experiment with double screw leg vises but these were VERY expensive and not quite as robust a design.

    The blacksmith's leg vise can be used to do anything that you would do in any other vise PLUS it can withstand heavy hammering. This makes it very useful for chisling, riviting, holding dies. . .

    Most of the old leg vises in circulation were manufactured by anvil manufacturers and were made using some of the same techniques. The vise is mostly wrought iron or mild steel and has forge welded steel jaws. Sadly there are very few being manufactured and they are very costly. Currently Centaur Forge is the only source of new leg vises that I know of.

    There are a few HD all steel forged vises such as those made by Ridgid/Peddinghaus that may be nearly as durable as the old leg vices but they certainly DON'T have the classic lines.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 19:14:47 GMT

    Thanks Grandpa:

    I did some experimenting with shims under the blades and it seems to have evened out the results. I was afraid that I might not should have invested in the tester.

    I am looking for guard material for blades that has some pattern to it. I am getting tired of looking at brass and nickel silver. I have forged a few mild steel guards and butt caps and aged them, but was not satisfied with the results. I have an interest in wrought iron, but can't seem to locate any. I heard somewhere that old wagon and surrey rims are wrought, but no one really wants to part with them. It seems that they make good yard ornaments. Mokume would be nice but it seems labor intensive and expensive. Anyone have any thoughts?



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 01/23/99 21:53:09 GMT

    Josh, Wrought iron will show a little pattern but not much. Mokume-gane can be produced in small quantities for a guard with a torch. You can also braze/weld laminate copper then forge the result. Grandpa has wrought iron to sell and will also gladly sell you some of his laminated steel. :)

    If you note my post above, OLD POST VISES were made of wrought iron! I have had pieces of a few that were no longer servicable as vises. . . They are worth more as wrought at $1/pound than as non-functional junk. . . I'd better go check the scrap pile.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/23/99 22:08:01 GMT

    Josh: There are an awful lot of "old" things that can be found at scrap yards that are completely or partially made of wrought iron. Some examples: old farm implements, ladders from city sewer and storm drain tunnels, old bridges, very old coal mine rail, and on and on. Just spend some time at the scrap yards on a "treasure" hunt.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 01/23/99 23:54:18 GMT

    I found an old anvil in our garage, and I was wondering about the history of it. It weighs about 70 pounds and on one side it has stamped NOHAB, and on the other side it has stamped SWEDEN with a 6 under it. Like I said I am curious about the history of it. I have been trying to find info on the internet and all that I have found is that NOHAB was a swedish locomotive manufacturer. If you could possibly find any info about my anvil and e - mail it to me, it would be greatly appreciated. Email to jmj at
    Thank you for your time.
    Jeff Koch

    Jeff Koch -- jmj at Sunday, 01/24/99 01:45:24 GMT

    Hi Guru,it's me again. I've been checking the new "Rings" and now my wife is interested.We both are oldtime craftspeople and the links in Home steading alone is going to cost me some meals and a bunch of sleep, we love it. You guys are great, thank you.

    Jerry -- birdlegs at Sunday, 01/24/99 05:57:55 GMT

    A young man I've been mentoring in blacksmithing asks,

    "Is there a way to make home-made charcoal?"

    Yes. Two modern methods are the "pit" method and the "can" method. Both work the same way.

    In the pit method you dig a big hole, start a fire in it, get it full of burning wood then throw a piece of sheet metal (like heavy barn roofing) over the pit and then seal it with dirt (from the hole). Alow it to smolder and get cool (may take several days).

    In the can method you start with a 55 gallon drum, build a fire in it and fill with wood. When the whole thing is going good cover the can with a metal lid. If you have burner holes toward the bottom you should cover these too. Allow to smolder and get cool before opening.

    IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to NOT open the container once closed. The hot smoldering wood produces flamable gas that is likely to explode.

    Any wood that is not completely coaled can be used to start the next batch. Hard woods make denser charcoal but ALL wood coals. Any wood that is suitable for fire wood is good enough. Dry is best. It is handy (and cleaner) to cut the wood up into managable chunks before coaling. Trim ends from sawmills are good material to make charcoal from.

    -- guru Sunday, 01/24/99 23:44:17 GMT


    Where might I find information on making flintlock rifles? Also, about
    how much space would 300 lbs. of bituminous coal take up?

    Matt Marziale

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Monday, 01/25/99 03:34:05 GMT


    A five gallon bucket holds about 65# of coal. So you're looking at about 5 - 6 five gallon buckets.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 01/25/99 03:58:29 GMT

    Jim, I emailed Matt about the NMLRA and their website. The links they list are sure to get him on the right track for rifle building and probably enough safety tips about blackpowder shooting to prevent bodily harm to self or bystanders. Hope I'm not butting in on anything.

    jerry -- birdlegs at Monday, 01/25/99 05:26:56 GMT


    Not at all! I didn't have that information, or I would have included it. So I'm glad you did, and I'm sure the guru will be also.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 01/25/99 06:31:55 GMT

    FLINTLOCKS: Another GREAT source of information is Dixie Gun Works. Their web site has a LOT to be desired (see our links page) but their catlogs have been a standard "reference" for the blackpowder folks for YEARS! Centaur Forge also has numerous books on the subject as does Norm Larson.

    Jerry, Thanks for the info!

    -- guru Monday, 01/25/99 07:37:54 GMT


    Where's a good place to find out what different size and grades of bolts will take in shear. I looked in the Machinery Handbook ('55 edition) with no joy. Any convenient web sites out there?

    Thanks, Al

    Al Dolney Monday, 01/25/99 18:37:56 GMT

    Guru,it's me again. For more links and info type "Homer Dangler" in your search window. These guys have a lot of hints and tips for gun builders. Maybe one of these days I'll put something together myself. I really enjoy passing along stuff I have learned over the years. I taught karate for several years at the hq for the AKA in Momence,IL. till my body got tooo old to take the beatings kids can give out and enjoyed seeing some of my students get top honors at a lot of tournaments. Now some of them have their own schools and I feel proud to have been part of it.

    jerry -- birdlegs at Monday, 01/25/99 18:45:18 GMT


    A side note that probably doesn't belong on this page, but..

    Over the years I've hired a lot of young guys. Gave them their "basic training" in work ethic, experience in most of the basic trades, etc. I've worked around class schedule, first girl friends, all the rest.

    A couple of them, working together operate an Electrical contracting business. Another is a senior forman building forms for large concrete pours. Another is a shift supervisor for a software company.
    Two more want to buy my customer list so "dad" (that's what they call me) can slow down a little bit.

    I'm a part of all of that, and I'm proud of it. It's a good legacy to leave behind.

    "No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child." The guru does the same thing, mentoring young blacksmiths.

    Actually, I think it helps to keep us young at heart, maybe even live a little longer.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 01/25/99 18:55:43 GMT

    Jim, Amen, doing good feels good.

    jerry -- birdlegs at Monday, 01/25/99 22:42:23 GMT


    Yes, it does. Why does it take some of us so long to learn that?

    Never mind, Jock! I can hear you thinking< "Stupidity might be part of the answer, Jim. And stubborness the rest!" (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/26/99 00:58:05 GMT

    NOHAB ANVIL: I looked it up in Richard Postman's Anvils in America and didn't find any references. Somewhere, I've heard of NOHAB but I can not find a reference to it.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/26/99 02:11:08 GMT


    Could the NOHAB have been made by Kolshaw for the Locomotive works?
    Do you have an email address for Olle? Might he be able to find something out for us?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/26/99 02:31:00 GMT


    For years I have read of the ABS 90 degree bend test, and I am curious just exactly where it came from. Is there some history or tradition that involves this test, or is it a line of thought that I am not acquiring. I would have thought that we would be more interested in the amount of force applied to the side of the blade that would produce failure, whether it is a severe bend or shear. While I realize that a bent knife battle knife might be more useful than a broken one, if the blade bent at one-half the force that would be required to break a similar-stiffer blade, would this not be a superior outcome? I would appreciate the short course in ABS thought.

    I really like the format here, I have numerous questions that no one near me can clarify. I promise not to abuse the privilege.


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Tuesday, 01/26/99 02:42:17 GMT

    Josh: I'm not a member of the ABS, by will venture a guess on the test that you describe. The test is most likely a test of toughness, in which the 90 degree figure was arbitrarily chosen by some one as a benchmark. The idea being to show that the knife will bend to that angle without breaking.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 01/26/99 02:53:35 GMT

    Ok, I forgot to ask the question I came for. I have been using a process for hardening O-1 that I thought was quite inventive, but after reading a little more about Kasenite I am not feeling so clever.

    I built an electric furnace a few years ago that has a very sophisticated "fuzzy logic" controller from Omega. The furnace is accurate from 100 to 2000 degrees. When I began to forge blades that needed to be quenched in something other than air I was concerned that I could not get the foil off and get the blade in the medium fast enough to get a good quench. The solution that I came up with was to tightly foil the knife, but to leave about an inch of the stick tang sticking out of the foil. I put a few teaspoons of Kasenite inside the foil to help counteract the decarburization that might occur. When the blade had soaked long enough at the proper temp, I would grab the part of the tang sticking out of the foil with a set of tongs, jerk off the foil with my left welding glove and then down in the quench it went. With the proper protective gear, it seemed like a great solution to a sticky problem until I read that Kasenite is a surface hardening treatment. Am I not as bright as I thought? Maybe I can replace the Kasenite with finely ground coal, or some other high carbon source? Any thoughts or solutions?

    I am setting up a nitrogen atmosphere for the furnace (gentle flow in one end) but this probably will not replace foil and high carbon source to protect the blade. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Tuesday, 01/26/99 03:02:59 GMT

    STRENGTH of BOLTS (Al): Machinery's Handbook sort of falls down on this one however there are a BUNCH of reasons. First is that Machinery's assumes that you are MAKING bolts and need to do the engineering OR you are an engineer needing to know specific details about bolts. Second is that bolts are made in numerous materials and grades. Not too long ago almost every major manufacturer made their own bolts to their own specs using almost every metal available. In most applications shear strength is generaly less of a concern than the strength of the threads and the clamping force exerted by the fastener.

    Finally there are safety factors. Do you want suggested load capacities or load to failure? In our shop it is general practice to design to a max stress of 10,000 PSI. With low grade soft bolts this gives you a safety factor of 3:1. With Grade 8 bolts (around 120,000 PSI material) you get over a 12:1 safety factor. The standard safety factor for crane and hoist design is 5:1. However, it is common for designers to take a component that is already safety rated at 5:1 and use one rated two or three times their expected design load. THIS results in a 10 to 15:1 safety factor. Anytime the load being lifted is people, safety factors of 20:1 are common.

    In critical high performance applications bolts are often stressed to 60% of failure or to 90% of yield. Replace a high strength bolt with a soft bolt in these applications and it is going to fail while tightening! This is why in many applications we calculate for low grade bolts then use high grade bolts and rest easy knowing the bolt is not going to fail.

    The Fasteners Standards Institute publishes a big thick book with EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about bolts. My copy just happens to be one of those books I DO NOT carry in my portable library.

    A safe bolt calculation.

    Safe Load = Sectional area of the bolt in inches times 10,000 PSI.

    If the joint is at the threads rather than the shank use the root diameter of the thread. Both these values are given in Machinery's just after the section on calculating Allowable or Working stresses of bolts.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/26/99 03:41:06 GMT

    Guru can you tell me about cold Gun Blue

    Bill Epps -- B-Epps at Tuesday, 01/26/99 03:53:38 GMT

    Josh, That Kasinite story may explain the different hardnesses of your knives! Many novice knifemakers use roller bearing races to make their blades assuming that they are all solid 51000 alloy steel. However, MANY manufacturers make their roller bearing races using case hardened material. They are exceedingly hard AND tough. The trouble occurs when you make something else out of the race and grind through the case!

    No need to fill the furnace, you could prevent oxidation in the foil by "squirting" some argon in as you seal the end. I've found that a sharp pair of shop snips will open the brittle stainless foil pack quickly IF you leave a nice clean area to cut with nothing in it.

    I tried using some paper in the foil as an oxygen getter. The trouble was I over did and the expanding gases from the paper burning burst the foil! (They PLUMP when you cook 'em, like the hot dogs!) That's when I came up with the argon idea. I haven't had a chance to try it but there was the cylinder full of that nice inert gas right next to where I wrapped that paper around a finished A-2 part to harden! It should work.

    I don't know any more about the 90° test than grandpa but I expect it goes back to when William Moran would demonstrate the strength of a laminated steel blade by bending it 90° in a vise and then straightening it!

    Hey Bill! I'll have to look that one up. I thouroughly enjoyed your demonstration at the AFC conference!

    The lowest temperature bluing process in my Machinery's Handbook requires rinsing in boiling water. It is considered a low temperature process because it does not affect the temper of the part. They note that steels that can take 600°F can be blued much cheaper by other methods.

    A solution of mercury chloride and ammonium chloride is applied to the work three times and dried each time. Then a soulution of copper sulphate, ferric chloride, nitric acid, alcohol and water is then applied three times and dried as before. A third solution of ferrous chloride, nitric acid and water is applied three times, and the work is boiled in clean water and dried each time. Finally, a solution of potassium chloride is applied and the work boiled and dried three times. The work is then scratch brushed and given a thin coating of oil.

    There may be other processes but my two references on blueing are elsewhere.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/26/99 04:39:06 GMT

    Josh: If you wrap the stainless foil tightly around the blade so that the foil is pretty well sealed, then you don't really need any carbon source inside. All the traped oxygen will go to the stainless foil. If you just "have" to put something inside the foil wrap in order to feel safe, you could wrap the blade with plain brown unsized paper then the foil. The paper will "charcoal" into carbon dust during heating.
    On the nitrogen atmosphere, just a note that nitrogen can do bad things to stainless steel at elevated temperatures.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 01/26/99 04:48:57 GMT

    Did you ever test the bottom drive EC-JYH ? I was seriously considering building one. How does it compare to say a 50lb Little Giant for performance? Finally, what sort of prices do the smaller Little Giants generally fetch these days?

    Roger Sutcliffe -- tandaear at Tuesday, 01/26/99 05:15:24 GMT

    LOW RIDER JYH (Roger): No, it hasn't been built yet. It was to be a test bed for several ideas but I haven't had time for more JYH R&D.

    The shock absorber linkage will work exactly the same as it does from above. The design was a result of someones question about putting the drive down low so he wouldn't have to have an overhead hoist to build the hammer. I had to think about the linkage a while but it WILL work. The other idea to test in this design is the concrete base. It is NOT a replacement for anvil mass but an above floor "foundation". Kuhn air hammers are designed to be setup this way and are sold by Centaur Forge with steel slab foundations. I have also seen steel plate enclosed concrete Kuhn foundaions.

    The shock absorber linkage works but does not perform as well as other linkages. It tends to float at high speed thus the RPMs must be limited to about 140-150. Although it doesn't hit as hard given the ram's mass it has great compensation for tool height and works well with hand held tooling. Its big advantage is that it is "quick and dirty" to build.

    One performance enhancement idea I plan to retrofit onto the original EC-JYH is a flat horizontal spring. The shocks would be spread in a triangle and connected to the ram via the flat spring. This would give the hammer a little "snap" thus increasing how hard it hits. This idea works only with the dual shocks and on the overhead drive hammer.

    LITTLE GIANT PRICES: Due to the demand and popularity of the small hammers all size LG's sell for about the same prices. $2,000-$3,000 US is common depending on condition, who's buying and who's selling. This makes the bigger hammers a better deal. There is still an occasional bargain. Just a few posts above a fellow was offered a 25#LG for $500 (we told him, "take it, take it") and I know a fellow that bought a complete shop with two hammers for less than $1K.

    -- guru Tuesday, 01/26/99 13:28:24 GMT

    Case Hardening and Blades

    Wilkinson Swords got it's big break in the late 19th Century during the "sword scandle". During the various battles in Africa, especially Sudan and Egypt, Bitish cavalrymen would atack mailed dervishes and find that their swords were fold up! A crumpled blade tends to be bad for moral (although good for the dervish) and word soon got back to England. It turns out that the blades were being imported from Germany, and were deep case hardened. They apparently worked fine in proof tests, but when the army artificers fitted them to the various regimental hilts, they had to grind down portions of the tang and ricasso to achieve the proper fit. Ground right through the case hardening and created a weak spot... As I remember, Wilkinson used a better grade of steel, better tempering, and no case hardening, and was able to pick up the army contracts. Nothing like a blade failure to get your attention.

    90 Degree Bend Test

    Is the knife supposed to bend 90 degrees and then spring back? or is it bent 90 degrees, and then you can straighten it again without it breaking. The later seems pretty useless, since you can achieve the same effect in a variety of ways with mild steel, wrought iron, low tempered spring stock, and such. A friend of mine described a Near Eastern blade of wootze steel that could be bent sidewise into a near circle and would spring back. (I'll assume it held a good edge too.) However, how it would perform in combat, how stiff the blade was, whether it would transmit a beat to your opponents blade with sufficient force to make an opening instead of flexing, is an open question. All swords and blades are comprmises, but setting certain standards affects where those compromises center.

    Urrk. Waxing philosophic again. This topic is good for several hours and as many beers.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 01/26/99 13:49:58 GMT

    Jock (Bolts): Thanks for the info; I'll relook at Machinery's and find the reference. The application is for a pair of jacks that I built with 2", 1/4" thick square tubing double welded to 9" x 12" railroad tie plate with 1 3/4" square tubing as the movable jack support. The bolt is used to adjust the height and is a Grade 5, 7/16" resting on the bolt shank. The formula you provided shows a capacity of 3000 lbs. I always use two jacks, plus the lifting jack, when I work on my trucks, so I should never reach this limit.

    Josh, if you're still looking for a non-scaling compound to protect your knife blades, check out Brownell's PBC Non-Scaling compound. 1 lb. is listed in their '96 catalog as $13.62, the part number is 083-015-100. Brownell's is a major supplier of gun parts and gun tools and can be reached at Ph. 515-623-5401. I hope this helps.

    Jock, Thanks again.


    Al Dolney Tuesday, 01/26/99 14:31:40 GMT

    "...Bitish...were fold up..." "...comprmises..."? And I read it through twice! Must be a bug in the program. ;-)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 01/26/99 19:52:50 GMT


    Maybe there's a nut loose between the keyboard and the seat? That's the situation here. I'm actually a pretty good speller, but I make LOTS of typing errors. I go through my messages at least twice, as you do. And some STILL slip by. Wish there was some way to activate a spell checker in the posting editor!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/26/99 22:11:42 GMT

    Guru Im making a Transom Window Grille, and I can't make a templet because of where it is located. Do you have the formula for calculating the radius when you have the cord height and cord length known. Thank you for any enlightment.

    Bill Epps -- www.B-Epps at Wednesday, 01/27/99 00:02:52 GMT

    RADIS of SEGMMENT (Bill): I guess I'm paying for making you pose with those cute horse sculptures you make from horseshoes! This is from the section on Mensuration in Machinery's Handbook, I've used it and it works. Accuracy of measurment is very important in this formula. You might want to put this one in a spreadsheet or a little BASIC program.

    r = radius
    c = segment width or cord
    h = segment height

    c2 + 4h2
    r = -----------------



    Radius=(c^2 + 4 * h^2) / (8 * h)

    PRINT Radius

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/27/99 01:55:21 GMT


    Man, the more I learn about steel and knifemaking, the more I realize that I don't know anything. I come up with clever solutions only to fine that I didn't understand the problem.

    As you can see I am a little obssessive about eliminating possible chances for error, I want to be able to build a perfect knife evertime with no mistakes. I think I'm not even to the point that I understand how big an undertaking this really is. What a steep learning curve this continues to be. I appreciate the chance to ask you guys for help.


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Wednesday, 01/27/99 03:11:14 GMT


    I'm not a knife maker. But with grandpa Meier here to help, you couldn't be in better company. If you get a chance, go to the links page and take a look at grandpa's web site.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 01/27/99 03:27:53 GMT

    Josh, At least you are understanding that it is NOT simple. You would not believe how many guys I get that say, "I don't know anything but I want to make swords. . . tell me how?"

    However, if you are serious and making knives in some quantity then quality control becomes a little easier. As you are learning, temperature control can be critical to the final product. Forging temperature, hardening temperature and the temperature of the quenchant and tempering temperature. That is one thing that there is plenty of equipment to measure and contol today. You want catalogs from Chromalox and Omega.

    See Don Fogg's web page and the salt bath furnace he uses for heat treating. The salt bath evenly soaks the blade and protects it from oxidation. They can be used for both hardening and tempering. The important thing is the temperature control. The fact that your thermocouple is emmersed in the liquid salt means that you get a very accurate temperature reading.

    I also recomend that you get a copy of the ASM Metals Reference Book. It contains information on every alloy commercialy available and has the definitive heattreating specs. THEN remember that every batch of material and different cross sections make a difference in the heattreating specifics.

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/27/99 03:48:19 GMT

    Hmmm, Jim, in case you haven't noticed, all one has to do is click on the MEIER STEEL banner or go to the top of this page!

    Speaking of books, you may note that I just answered three questions this week using Machinery's Handbook and I just checked my facts (yes you can harden from a salt bath) for a fourth. Its not just for machinists its for blacksmiths too!

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/27/99 04:03:21 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I live on the eastcoast of Australia and am new to
    Blacksmithing. I have some questions for you and would much
    appreciate your experienced response.
    1. When making pliers and pincers, how do you make the
    hole that enables them to open?
    2. I have no welding equipment, is there a way to melt
    metal together or weld it with Borax?
    Thankyou very much I look forward to hearing from you,
    hole to

    Saul Tomkins -- alannahr at Wednesday, 01/27/99 05:42:40 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I live on the eastcoast of Australia and am new to
    Blacksmithing. I have some questions for you and would much
    appreciate your experienced response.
    1. When making pliers and pincers, how do you make the
    hole that enables them to open?
    2. I have no welding equipment, is there a way to melt
    metal together or weld it with Borax?
    Thankyou very much I look forward to hearing from you,
    hole to

    Saul Tomkins -- alannahr at Wednesday, 01/27/99 05:45:50 GMT

    Guru, who is the host/server provider for Anvilfire? I have my .com purchased, business cards bought and website being built. All I need is a server. I've been shopping on the net for hosts and have many different companies' plans to choose from. Your counsel has been wise so far and this is such a nice site. Your help would be much appreciated!!! freezing rain in Rochester MN Brian Rognholt Odin Forge

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Wednesday, 01/27/99 10:08:23 GMT


    I had noticed, but had also forgotten.

    I noticed the references THE HANDBOOK, but I'm not that familiar with it. Need to spend more time with it, I guess.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 01/27/99 10:12:07 GMT

    Brian, go to AKA I've been pretty happy with them. However, they do NOT provide a lot of stock programming like this "guestbook" scrip the Hammer-In and Guru page run on. These require their $50/month account and *I* had to supply the code and edit it myself to suit. In order to get access to a server with a compiler we have accounts at another ISP. That server has the Slack-Tub Pub on it and may support some other goodies in the future.

    Many local dial-up ISP's support virtual web hosting of sites with their own domain name. Originaly I started that way but ran into a roadblock getting the scrips set up (THEY wanted to do it $$$$). For a simple site this is by far the most economical way to go.

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/27/99 17:45:03 GMT

    Someone mentioned my name? (Jim)

    NOHAB started out 1847 as "Nydqvist och Holm" in Trollhättan, one of the first truly industrialised towns in Sweden. They mostly produced steam locomotives (later diesel and electric)and heavy machinery. They changed their name to NOHAB in 1937. Don´t know if they still exists or if anvils was a big part of their production. Could probably find out, though.

    Another thing while I´m here: Where does one find good insulated gloves that dont come apart in the seams as soon as you put your hands in the fire. (Yes, I´m aware that tongs where invented just for that purpose, but I´ve been making 15:th century chandeliers. They are to cumbersome to handle with tongs, and before you reach forging temperature in one part the part you HAVE to hold it in will be HOT!)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 01/27/99 21:53:25 GMT

    TONGS and WELDING (Saul): The rivit hole in tongs and pliers is hot punched OR you can drill it. If you are talking about a "pocket joint" (I think that's what its called) where one part passes through the other, then that's a little trickier. These are hot punched and dressed with a file. To install the pass through piece the joint hole is spread open while hot and then closed back on the mate. These joints are rarely used on blacksmith tools.

    Wrought Iron and Steel can be forge welded using borax flux. The pieces are heated until hot enough for the borax to melt and borax is applied. The parts are further heated until the surface just starts to melt then the pieces are put together and the joint hammered tight. Forge welding requires careful joint preparation, care in heating and skill in judging when ready and in the forging. Forge welding takes a lot of practice but produces beautiful clean joints. However, it is relatively expensive in fuel and labor and not nearly as versatile as gas and electric welding.

    -- guru Wednesday, 01/27/99 22:36:24 GMT


    Guilty as charged! Thanks for checking in. We had a question from a fellow that found a 70# NOHAB anvil, and we can't find any information on it.

    I can get you some gloves here that will be a big help. I'll be seing the guy at the end of next month, and will pick some up if you want. Not very expensive, and we can worry about that later, I need some myself. I'll try and call him and get him to send them to me. Send me an address in e-mail and I'll send them to you.


    The pocket joint goes back quite a ways. I've seen forceps and hemostats that date to the 1700's that were joined in exactly the same way as the ones we use today. I've never tried to make one. When a re-enactment surgeon asked me to see what I could do, I bought a couple of cheap sets, burned the chrome off of them and re-shaped the handles to match the ones in the museum. He was amazed at how well they came out. Add some rust, and you couldn't tell them from originals. Couple of his fellow re-enactment surgeons want me to make some more! (grin) I haven't told them HOW I do it.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 01/27/99 22:56:03 GMT


    Before I buy them, what size glove do you wear? (grin) If nothing else, trace your hand, scan and mail to me snail mail. I'll compare to my own hand to find a size that you should be able to wear.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 01/27/99 22:58:55 GMT

    I am an artist with a couple of years expierence with welding, mostly preference..I enjoy steel ..I've had this yearning to try my hand at knife making and have read several books. The forge is the way for me, something small, handmade etc, my question..{at last}
    I live in a residential neighborhood, I have a large backyard but,
    will the initial smoke from the forge (as the coal becomes coke )
    be a problem legally or otherwise

    will drumm -- RADWED at Thursday, 01/28/99 01:56:10 GMT


    Depends on where you live. That's not a cop out, different municipalities have different regulations. But, I work with a coal forge in the backyard of an urban neighborhood. If you start your fire fairly small, doesn't make much more smoke than a barbeque grill.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/28/99 02:14:19 GMT

    Will, in many older cities the zoning laws may save you! Some of the old regulations allowed blacksmith (read farrier's) shops in many residential neighborhoods! The biggest problem is in localities that have new air quality laws. The strictist outlaw regular charcoal grills. From what I understand a "hobby" forge may be exempt but as soon as you become commercial the regs kick in. Gas forges can also be hand made but they are not for the timid.

    Speaking of "small" and gas forge. Last weekend I saw a ONE BRICK gas forge at Daniel Boone's! It was an insulating brick hollowed out with a hole in the side for a standard propane torch. The inside had a nice yellow/white glow when I saw it! Will publish a photo tonight.

    -- guru Thursday, 01/28/99 02:57:35 GMT

    A one brick forge? Now THAT I want to see!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/28/99 03:27:39 GMT

    Micro Forge

    -- guru Thursday, 01/28/99 03:57:39 GMT

    Well I'll be durned!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/28/99 04:38:22 GMT

    To Bruce Blackistone:
    One of the things you missed in your sword answer, when you said would a flexible blade be able to beat back an opponent's blade and make an opening. Not all swords were made to beat back an opponents blade, some were made to flex around the blade to deliver the point in spite of the opponent's block. Wielding technique also plays a role in sword design and blade geometry.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 01/28/99 04:44:31 GMT

    Oh Awl seeing and impotent Guru! *L*
    I just bought an anvil and need to indentify it. It has two square holes at the waist, one fore and one aft. The fore is 1" and the aft 1/2" approx. there is a seam (weld?) horizontal at the waist and one vertical that runs fore to aft between the feet. Height is 11 1/2" and the length is 30", weight is 204#. Any clue as to it's origin?

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 01/28/99 05:38:56 GMT

    Hi folks! Am looking for a copy of Kerns' bok The Little Giant Powerhammer and have had little luck in the search.Thought maybe you might know if a unused (HA HA) copy. Also ahd Dave and Babe Brandon visit us for the weekend ahd a bang up time pouring the babbitt for two fifty # Littke Giants! That damming compound really does look like bear s--t!! Thanx in advance for any help. Dave.

    Dave Neagle -- dneagle at Thursday, 01/28/99 08:33:15 GMT

    Chris, sounds like a generic Coyoteus cloberous anvilis to me. :)

    Seriously, the features you described are common among a lot of 20th century anvils. However, it sounds like a Buel Patent, Trenton anvil (made by Columbus Forge and Iron). The base of these anvils is cast low carbon steel, the upper body wrought iron or steel and a tool steel face forge welded on. Many were sold by private labels and may have gone unmarked.

    Dave, I was lucky to have gotten a copy of the Kern's book in a trade for a new Machinery's Handbook! Norn Larson recently listed it in his new catalog and then found that the second printing was delayed or postponed. . :(

    The Brandon's are a hoot! I think I still owe Babe something for her museum but can't remember what. . . I think its a leaf. Paw-Paw, (that #2$%&* at !!#) gave her the leaf I forged on the EC-JYH at Asheville. First leaf I ever forged on a power hammer and real stinker! The trouble IS, if I give her a good one I STILL won't get back the one that looks like a skewered dry fish!

    -- guru Thursday, 01/28/99 13:17:07 GMT

    Chris: Touche'!

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Thursday, 01/28/99 14:11:34 GMT


    Yes, you owe Babe a leaf. She plans to mount them side by side with a note saying, "See! Jock CAN learn! (but he's awfully slow! took him xx months to make the second leaf!)"

    Better hurry!

    Laughing out Loud!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/28/99 14:33:06 GMT

    Yeah! Dave and Babe are great folks. I'm lucky that I live fairly close to them so I can benefit from their enthusiasm. It's folks like them that really can keep the 'smithing arts alive and by the way so do people like you and your compadres on this and other sites! Keep up the good fight!So....are you willing to part with your copy???I've got a couple of trade items, wife, gun, dog?? Well best keep the gun and get the idea.Dave

    Dave Neagle -- dneagle at Thursday, 01/28/99 19:07:57 GMT


    I hope Susan reads this before guru does! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/28/99 20:05:54 GMT

    I am trying to find information on what gas rod I can use to fill the pits & imperfections left behind from joining thin steel (18/20 gage). I was trying to stay away from any other metals as I wanted to leave the piece as polished steel.

    Thanks, Doug

    Doug -- dagrp at Friday, 01/29/99 15:57:09 GMT

    I am scrounging parts to make a gas forge, and have a few questions before I settle on a design. Would an all brick forge (similar to the ten min forge)hold up to forge welding temps and how much heat does it radiate? Would a liner of K-wool and or mortar be a good idea? If I use a steel shell and K-wool liner, are fire bricks OK to line the bottom with and rest work on? Thanks.

    Jim -- jdickson at Friday, 01/29/99 16:46:11 GMT

    I have a couple of questions that don't really have a lot in common with each other, other than they're related to blacksmithing.

    1) After shaping a metal and quenching it, how do you know when it's been tempered to the right temperature? Do you quench it again?

    2) I recently got another (used) anvil and it's rusted pretty badly. How would you recommend I remove the rust? Are there any chemicals I could use that are easy to acquire and won't hurt the metal?

    3) What kind of metal or alloy is used to make very high luster steel products (esp. blades and such)?

    and finally

    4) How can you tell which quenching medium to use on different metals?

    If you can answer some or all of those questions I would appreciate it very much. I'm going to order "The Art of Blacksmithing" soon so I won't have to bother you with such elementary questions. Thankyou

    Louis Friday, 01/29/99 18:48:23 GMT

    If you didn't know anything about blacksmithing and could only choose from one book would you choose...
    1. The Art of Blacksmithing 2. The New Edge of the Anvil or 3. A Blacksmithing Primer?


    John Hunter Friday, 01/29/99 18:59:05 GMT

    I have been forging for about 12 years now. I was wnadering if anyone had any plans for a cheap and easy permanent forge as well as an easy portable forge!Thanks

    Bobby Lancaster -- blancaster. at Friday, 01/29/99 19:25:53 GMT

    GAS ROD: Doug, I don't think there is much choice. A mild steel rod is all I've seen available for gas. TIG might be a little cleaner and burn the surface less if you are careful.
    GAS FORGE (Jim): High temperature refractory bricks are required to build a gas forge and are available in higher temperature ratings than Kao-wool. Gas forges of ALL type radiate a lot heat when up to temperature and have soaked a while. I use sheet metal "heat shields" with a 1" (25mm) air space between the shield and the forge and another 1" air space between the shield and objects like fans and gas lines. Two air spaces with places for air to enter at the bottom and exit at the top are needed for large forges that will run all day. Most builders of Koa-wool lined forges end up with a fire brick floor to set work on.

    The most economical refractory is the dry castable material. A cast shell on a brick base (for maintainability) makes a very nice forge. You can make your own wooden molds (like concrete forms) or mold the refractory in a steel shell.

    -- guru Friday, 01/29/99 22:16:13 GMT


    1. I'm gonna let the guru answer this one, he's better at it than I am.

    2. Naval Jelly is a commericial product used for removing rust. It's a mild acid. You can get it at your local hardware store. Just follow the directions.

    3. Almost any metal or alloy can be brought to a high luster. It's a matter of how well polished the metal is. Even mild steel can be polished to look like a mirror. Now getting the metal to KEEP that high a luster is another story entirely.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 01/29/99 22:18:34 GMT


    Sorry, I missed the fourth question.

    4. This one, the guru had also better handle. But I *THINK* he's going to reccomend the ASM's hand book on heat treating.


    You might get different answers from different folks. But I bout Alex Bealers, 'THE ART OF BLACKSMITHING' first and I've never regretted it.


    Since you didn't specify, I'm going to assume you mean coal forge. A little used rivet forge makes a great traveling forge. I even use one here at the house most of the time.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 01/29/99 22:24:13 GMT

    TEMPERING (Louis): (Q 1&4) Tempering temperature is determined mostly by the carbon content of the specific steel you are working with. It is also determined by the application of the part. HARD=BRITTLE, SOFT=TOUGH. Most steels have a minimum temper resulting in a maximum suggested hardness. You can temper at a higher temperature for less hardness and more toughness.

    The specifics for common steels are published in numerous references.
    Machinery's Handbook is a good general reference but if you want ALL the details you need the ASM Metals Handbook. The answer to quenching mediums will be found in the same references. If you are dealing with an unknown (scrap) steel then you must test by trial and error. If you are buying new steel such as tool steels the quenching medium is often part of the designation W-1 is a water quench steel, O-1 an oil quench steel and A-2 an air quench steel. The thickness of the section often makes a difference and some steels may be quenched in more than one medium.

    RUSTED ANVIL: Most heavily rusted anvils need the face and horn polished with a sanding disk or belt sander. The rest can just be oiled to preserve the patina! If you want to paint it use Naval-Jelly or a product called Ospho (a phosphoric acid product).

    SHINEY METAL: Jim covered it. . . The metal is not important it is the LABOR that goes into the polishing.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/30/99 05:59:44 GMT

    The Art of Blacksmithing. Jim and I agree again! Bealer's work was a classic the day it was written and still holds up. It is an absolute MUST if you are intrested in traditional methods. The current price is a bargain for this hard bound book.

    Jack Andrews, NEW Edge of the Anvil is a GREAT all round book and includes more technical information than The Art of Blacksmithing. Jack's work is more practical and includes things like how to look at a business plan if you intend to make a living blacksmithing. He also includes a gallery of work by Samuel Yellin.

    McDaniel's A Blacksmithing Primer is both a general reference and a step by step how-to book. If you need detailed step by step instructions this is the one for you.

    When I started studying blacksmithing these modern references had not yet been published and those from the turn of the century were no longer in print and difficult to find. I studied Machinery's Handbook and the works of Eric Sloane. Today you have a wonderful selection of modern titles to choose from and reprints including classics like M.T. Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing and Lilico's Blacksmith's Manual Illustrated.

    Start with Bealer, but if you want to REALLY understand blacksmithing you need to read them ALL!

    -- guru Saturday, 01/30/99 06:28:52 GMT

    Sorry for the inconvienience! One of our ISP's servers is on the fritz and anvilfire! has been off-line or slowed down for the past two days.

    -- guru Saturday, 01/30/99 23:17:33 GMT

    I am very new to metalworking. I am curious about where I can find out about the different hardness ratings for (any)metal? Example: The Rockwell rating. Thakns for your help.

    Tim -- tftedford at Sunday, 01/31/99 07:47:22 GMT

    Tim, the hardness of metals vary according to their "temper". In most steels this is determined by how much carbon the steel has and how it has been heattreated (a multi-stage process). The steel is hardened by heating, quenching (rapidly cooling) in a quenchant such as oil, water or air. It is then immediately tempered by reheating which reduces the hardness and toughens the steel. Specific temperatures vary according to the carbon content and alloy of steel.

    In non-ferrous metals this is determined by the type of material and "mechanical" condition. The "temper" of these alloys is controled partialy by heat treatment and by work hardening. Work hardening hardens metal by compacting its crystal structure. This occurs via bending, hammering, rolling, or stretching. When the material becomes too hard it is "annealed" via heating and quenching (backwards from steels).

    Then there are the hardenable stainless steels which are "precipitation" hardening. In these alloys the material is held at given temperature for a period of time in a carefully controlled furnace and then slowly cooled. This would anneal (soften) carbon steels but it hardens certain stainless alloys.

    The American Society for Metals International (ASM) publishes numerous books on metals. The closest to what you want is the ASM Metals Reference Book See our links page. However, this is a reference book, you will need to study some metalurgy and maybe a little engineering to fully understand it. The answer to your question can be and IS a life long pursuit for many.

    -- guru Sunday, 01/31/99 14:36:49 GMT

    I have a customer that has a antique 2 color brass table top that needs to be cleaned do you know of a good cleaner that won't damage the piece?

    Tim Dodd -- ffdoddt at Sunday, 01/31/99 12:54:51 GMT

    ANTIQUE BRASS (Tim): Most brass pieces that are colored have either had a chemicaly induced patina applied to them and have been sealed with lacquer OR the color is in a semi-transparent lacquer. This includes most things produced since the 1870's or there about. Many polished brass pieces are also sealed under lacquer. The lacquer finish can be cleaned with soap, water and hard work, then waxed and polished. IF the original finish was UNDER the lacquer it might be possible to remove the lacquer with solvent and re-lacquer. NOTE: Solvents to remove lacquer are very volatile, flamable and the fumes can cause liver and brain damage.

    Raw brass pieces that were polished can be cleaned in soap and water or detergent then polished with a mild abrasive cleaner like "Brasso".

    I am not an expert on antiques. There may be some other solution but I don't think you are going to find a "magic bullet" for this one.

    -- guru Sunday, 01/31/99 15:00:41 GMT


    The best brass cleaning method that I know of won't work on the table. I don't know whether it would work as a solution or not. But a couple of tablespoons of Cream of Tartar spice in a couple of quarts of boiling water in an aluminum container will take the worst corrosion off of brass and make it look like new. I've only used it on parts that can be dropped into the boiling solution, and that'd be kinda difficult with a table.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 01/31/99 19:24:05 GMT

    I'm very new at the internet thing. I am starting a web page for my husband's Blacksmithing shop. He is a member of ABANA and is on the Board of Directors for the California Blacksmith Assoc.(CBA) I would like permission to put your site as a link and can I have his page posted anywhere on your list?

    DKirby -- Gforge8st at Sunday, 01/31/99 20:43:09 GMT

    Mrs. Kirby, Yes, and yes. Mail me or post the URL to your new site and I will add it to the links list. You may want to join the Blacksmith's Web Ring too. It costs nothing but does require adding some HTML code somewhere on your web page. You may use the anvilfire! flaming anvil icon with our link if you wish.

    Mail me at guru at if you need help with the details. Jock Dempsey

    -- guru Sunday, 01/31/99 22:54:47 GMT

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