Self portrait (c) 1989 Jock Dempsey, click for bio. WELCOME to the Guru's Den!

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 1 - 10, 2000 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four 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).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, asylum at of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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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
Hat animation by Andrew Hooper anvilfire! hats are here!

Or you can GO DIRECTLY TO ORDER FORM It works now!

-- guru

I am planning to start construction of my smithy this spring, as soon as the ground thaws. My question is this: With the operation of a coal forge with the stove pipe exiting through the roof is it safe to construct the roof from plywood and shingles , or would it be more adviseable to use corrigated steel roofing?
Thank You for all your help , now and in the past.
Happy New Year to you and all who visit this site

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Saturday, 01/01/00 04:14:56 GMT

hello all. happy new year century and millenium from PA. thanks for the info over the last millenium, it's just to bad i didn't find this site more towards the begining of the old millenium. i wonder who will
be the first JYH winner of the millenium!!!! great now i can stop saying that millenium word.

alex bender -- klownsrbad at Saturday, 01/01/00 05:33:09 GMT

Alex, say that millenium word for the next year until we change into the next one! In reality, the next century also starts next year. The calender started with the year 1 so add 10 years, 100 years or 1000 years to that and you will always endup with a year that ends with 1 as in the next millenium will start in 2001

BenThar -- benthar at Saturday, 01/01/00 09:15:13 GMT

Guru. i have just found a source for a steel whith rather odd caracteristics (0.35-0.45%C 1-1.2%Cr 16-18%Mn and 0.2-0.25`%Si less than 0.05%S andless than 0.02P).
I know that it hardens but what is it good for? Hammers, anvil-tools ???
I am slightly surprised by the high Mn content(should make for a work hardening steel extraordinare)
I got roughly 50Kg of the stuff for free from a junkyard, it had the steel spec taped on in a plastic bag.

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Saturday, 01/01/00 11:25:42 GMT

How do I simply temper a piece of metal to create a spring for use in a bicycle brake. I have little experence, the piece of metal is stainless steel, and it can bend as it needs to be a spring.

Eddie -- eddie at Saturday, 01/01/00 17:21:59 GMT

I am getting started in metatalworking. and would like information on references on the patinization of steel /metal.

matt azevedo -- DAZE193381 at AOL.COM Saturday, 01/01/00 20:16:04 GMT

BICYCLE BRAKE: Eddie, only certain types of stainless can be hardened into a spring. Most common stainless is tough but unhardenable. The hardenable type requires a temperature controled furnace. Regular carbon steel can be hardened AND tempered (seperate processes that require each other) by simple means such as a blacksmith uses but it still requires skill and knowing what type of steel you are dealing with.

THE SIMPLE EXPLANIATION: To harden carbon steel, heat until it becomes non-magnetic (a low red), quench in oil or water. To temper, immediately after hardening, grind or polish a place on the part and heat until that area starts showing some color. Springs are often drawn to a blue. This temper temperature is about 600-700F.

Other alloy steels may require different methods.

-- guru Saturday, 01/01/00 20:28:55 GMT

STOVE PIPE: Mark, it doesn't matter what kind of roof you have so much as you need to protect it from the heat at the penetration point. Building codes (local and national) cover this and your building supplier would be the best person to answer this question.

-- guru Saturday, 01/01/00 20:31:41 GMT

I am building a knife from an old metal saw blade and I need to know how to put the temper back in the blade. I am doing this as a home project and have no experience in metallurgy. I was told to heat it up and put it in oil but do not know the temp. length of time etc... Thanks. for any advice.

ARTIE -- AKocian at Saturday, 01/01/00 21:04:58 GMT

I'm a beginning bladesmith. I'm planning on doing a japanese style knife out of crane cable that I forge welded. What is the carbon content of crane cable? Can crane cable be water hardened or does it have to be oil hardened? I hope that it can be water hardened if the water is heated to about 120F.

Michael Bouse -- Sgain dhu Sunday, 01/02/00 15:05:23 GMT

ARTIE: Your question has been answered numerous times this month including just a couple posts up. Before hardening and tempering a piece of steel you need to know what kind of steel it is or take a sample or two and do a lot of trial and error. Some of the following also applies. . .

MICHAEL: I've been told cable is as high as .85% carbon (SAE 1085). However, after forge welding it together it may have lost or gained carbon. You are now the steel manufacturer as are most Japanese bladesmiths. As the manufacturer you are responsible for determining the proper heattreating processes. You need to take a sample of the billet and test it. Forge it, anneal it, harden and temper it, test it for hardness, inspect it for cracks. Experiment with it. Try to break it!

A warm or hot water quench can be the equivalent of an oil quench for certain size parts. Your testing must be of similar cross section as the actual part. The Japanese bladesmith masks his blade with refractory clay to control the hardening. Quenching a bare blade in water is different than quenching an insulated blade. More trial and error.

The sucessful bladesmith does not learn everything from others. He must have a logical scientific mind and be observant of the methods he uses. There are too many cases where standard formulae or methods do not apply. This is especialy true when you become the material manufacturer such as when making any type of laminated steel.

You may follow a famous individuals formulae step by step but did you judge the forging temperture the same? Is the ambient temperture and lighting in your shop the same? Is your forge the same type and adjusted the same? Do you forge as quickly and as efficiently using the same tools or machines? Are you SURE your raw materials were the same? Are you as good as that famous individual?

-- guru Sunday, 01/02/00 17:06:01 GMT

Dear sirs;
Happy New Year to everyone. Over the last two years I have pratciced black smithing. I finnished a large Xmass order in time for the holiday and after people had seen my work I had another order to fill almost twice the size. I just want to thank all of you for the advice and help I have learned on this site. Jock great site Thanks again.
no snow yet in mass.

Dan Scott -- Thornton at Sunday, 01/02/00 19:45:11 GMT

Guru thanks for the update, M Bouse E-mailed a process I will try. I have enough information to at least get started and develope a formulae.
Thanks Again, Artie

Artie -- AKocian at Sunday, 01/02/00 20:07:23 GMT

I'm looking for a retail source for a wrought iron table base, very plain and inexpensive, so i can create a mosaic top. Outdoor use; round or square, coffee table heighth. Thank you.

N. Kele -- kele_hi at Sunday, 01/02/00 22:01:02 GMT

OErjan tried to post a response this AM put network had crashed. . Will do again. .

-- guru Monday, 01/03/00 00:16:26 GMT

OErjan, I couldn't find an exact match for your steel. The first problem is that I think your percentage of Manganese is 10 times higher than ANY steel. I think, you OR the labler slipped a decimal place. Mn of 1.6 to 1.8 is the max. Normal is less than a fourth.

The amount of chrome makes it a chrome manganese steel. If we were using standard numeric nomenclature it would be an SAE 5140 steel or close to the AST 202 pressure vessel steel that is popular for making Damascus (except it is higher carbon). It IS still a very high Manganese steel. It probably should be oil quenched and is a 120+KPSI steel.

-- guru Monday, 01/03/00 01:50:04 GMT

Oerjan: There is an " austenitic manganese steel" (ASTM A128) that has 12.0 to 14.0% mn ,1.0 to 1.4 C, and up to 1.5 Cr. It is used for rail points, rock crusher parts, dredger buckets etc. ( ASM metals handbook, vol 1, 8th ed., pg834--)

grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 01/03/00 04:16:51 GMT

Grandpa, THANKS! I spent hours searching my ASM metals reference this AM. . . Hmmmm, yours is an ultra high carbon steel but closer to what he described otherwise. OErjan's is a medium carbon steel. .

That's why I tell people to test, test, test scrap steel of unknown origin. Now here's a case where we know what it is but not what its performance or heat treat specs are. . . Tomarrow OErjan is going to tell us the tag had the steel mill's name and phone number on it! :)

-- guru Monday, 01/03/00 04:59:57 GMT

Oerjan, Grandpa:

Local steel foundry specializes in austenitic manganese steel. They make all the kinds of things grandpa listed. As with 300 stainless, they quench this stuff from around 2000 to anneal. Quite a sight (and sound) when they roll out this great car-bottom furnace (as in rail-car) and dump umteen ton of hot steel into a swimming pool-size quench tank filled with water and 100lb. blocks of ice. Really strange stuff, rockwells like it's soft, but very dificult to machine. Understand it actually work-hardens ahead of the tool bit. In the melt they shovel in forro-manganese (speigelessen) in big shiny chunks.

grant -- nakedanvil at Monday, 01/03/00 05:35:17 GMT

Guru, Looking for info on an anvil I acquired recently. 485#, with John Brooks - Stood??? ( I assume the name of the place of manufacture) and ER at the bottom. The hardy hole is about 1 3/8

Peter Staples -- pstaples at Monday, 01/03/00 05:38:11 GMT

What kind of steel is used for tire irons?

bill -- wwinte05 at Monday, 01/03/00 05:41:10 GMT

Guru, and the message continues-- and the pritchel hole is about 5/8" Question is: I am assuming this is a cast steel anvil and I can machine about 1/16" off it to remove most of the nicks without doing the anvil much harm. Any info is appreciated.

Peter Staples -- pstaples at Monday, 01/03/00 05:55:29 GMT

IRON TIRES: Bill, Wrought iron was used, then mild steel.
ANVIL: Peter, I looked up your anvil in "Anvils in America" and did not find it. In the 1800's Mouse Hole forge (In England) was operated by "Brooks and Cooper". Could not find specifics on Brooks. These would have been forged wrought iron steel faced anvils.

In modern anvils there has been a Brooks, now Vaughn/Brooks who make a cast steel anvil. They can be recognized by their very heavy heal and huge drop from table to horn.

Anvil faces are ground after hardening. It IS possible to machine anvils but it takes an unbeleivably rigid machine and carbide cutters suficient to machine hardened tool steel. I've seen a few re-machined anvils at hammer-ins. They were always "government" jobs. You could tell from the blue streaks and shiney surface that the machine did NOT like it! I don't know anyone that would re-machine an anvil on THEIR machine using up a big handfull of THEIR inserts. .

-- guru Monday, 01/03/00 14:37:16 GMT

Dear Guru'
I was wondering through your site and I had seen a picture of a bunch of dies and sampels of the work made by said dies and I cant find them again. were might they be. thank you

Dan Scott -- thornton at Monday, 01/03/00 18:05:33 GMT

Dan, Hmmmm. . Southeastern Conference page 9

-- guru Monday, 01/03/00 20:59:28 GMT

NO I did NOT slip a deciml place on that steel, but they may have (looks like much more carbon judging how it hardens).
To be on the safe side I have sent a sample to be tested this week (is it not great to have a metalurgy lab less than 5km from home and friends that work there:-))
I have tried the steel it hardens VERRY much by cold working.
so much so that I think I will trow it away.
To make things worse it gets verry brittle and won't hold up even for a air cooling without showing fractures (heated to ~800-825c cooled in still air) I was using a different piece than when checking for work hardening.
the source is a place where they crush rocks for road works and such (found the address on the back of a lable).
Thanks I will try to weld it and see, mabe if I have other steels around it, it will hold upp better
thanks any other uses any one (hey it is virtually for free:-) they wont even recycle the stuff because of the Mn content...

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 01/03/00 21:03:23 GMT

Does anyone know where I can get an anvil made of steel that won't be too expensive? I'm located around Concord, New Hampshire. All the anvils I've seen for sale are cast iron.

jeff fogel -- onehorse at Monday, 01/03/00 21:56:59 GMT

Jeff, Cheap and Anvil generaly don't go together. The best inexpensive anvils are used old anvils. Old anvils are generaly as good as new if you have time to look. Locate your closest ABANA chapter and go to a meeting. There is almost always someone selling anvils.

For new anvils our advertisers sell them, centaur forge, Kayne & Son and Wallace Metalwork. Bruce Wallace sells both new and used anvils and is not too far from you (comparitivly speaking).

-- guru Tuesday, 01/04/00 00:49:50 GMT

0erjan, austenitic manganese steel, could be what they call a
din 1 3401 steel, when used in patternweldet steel, gives a very strong contrast, etches very fast and deep, in torsion damaskus it helps against tvisting off the steel.
make a 20 layer damacus with 3401 and iron, tvist it, put edge steel all around it, dagger stile, grind and then etch in h2so4 and you can
etch it so heavy that all the 3401 goes away and you still have enaugh steel on the edge, and you have all the little openings where the 3401 has been. Not suitable for the edge on account on beeing austenitic, even when it has high carbon. 3401 was first used in damaskus by Heinz Denig in Germany

stefan -- stefan at imv.uit no Tuesday, 01/04/00 07:41:34 GMT

How does a bellow work.

Fred -- racerboy117 at Tuesday, 01/04/00 15:18:49 GMT

Jock, on p.16 of the Feb. Street Rodder an engine is described that uses only 3 moving plates and weighs only #100. The Australian "inventor" claims to have developed this masterpiece himself yet I seem to recall an article in Hot Rod a number of years ago in which you (or another Jock Dempsey) described just such an engine. True? Or am I getting too much CO in the shop? Snow in Rochester, MN take care all! brian

brian rognholt -- brognholt at Tuesday, 01/04/00 15:38:41 GMT

Brian, I may have formerly been a sports car mechanic but I think you've been heating the shop with Chevy fumes too long. . .

You would be surprised how many inventors do not do a serious patent search to see if someone else invented it. The intresting thing about the mass of patents recorded is that most of them do not work. They may work in some logical sense but not in the real world. If something is patented and its not being manufactured, then there is a good chance it has serious problems, or just plain doesn't work.

Snow? Its been 60-70F in Virginia so several days. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 01/04/00 18:35:52 GMT

BELLOWS: Fred, there are a number of types but they all work on the same principle. There is an expanding chamber (like your lungs) or cylinder with piston. The intake has a "flap" type check valve that lets air in but not out. Air "breaths" in through the check valve and out through the outlet pipe.

Double chambered "Great" bellows have a center board with check valves in it as well as the bottom board. The bottom board pushes air past the center board's check valve inflating the second chamber. The weight of the top board pushes the air out through the discharge pipe. The advantage of two chambers is a steadier flow of air and preventing fire and smoke from being sucked IN through the discharge pipe.

The Japanese bellows is a long square box with a wooden piston that is pushed back and fourth. This is a double acting "cylinder" discharging air while the piston travels in either direction.

The earliest "bellows" was an animal skin stretched over a shallow depression in the earth. A fellow from Finland told me about a modern adaptation he had made by using a 5 gallon plastic bucket and some thin plastic sheeting. It worked. . .

In the iron manufacturing business they are called "blowing" engines. Early ones were actual huge double bellows operated by water power. Later ones were piston pumps, some fans, screws and even a falling water venturi pump.

-- guru Tuesday, 01/04/00 18:53:57 GMT

I have recently joined the Fiddler's Grove Blacksmith's Club, of lebanon Tn. I am wondering where can I information about the basics, of blacksmithing.. Thanks

Lloyd Anderson -- Thunderbear at Tuesday, 01/04/00 22:35:36 GMT

I have recently joined the Fiddler's Grove Blacksmith's Club, of lebanon Tn. I am wondering where can I information about the basics, of blacksmithing.. Thanks

Lloyd Anderson -- Thunderbear at Tuesday, 01/04/00 22:36:02 GMT

Lloyd, This is the place! However, I DO recomend a few books, see our article at the top of the page Getting Started, then if you need about 30 step by step projects to do see our iForge page. And we have ALL sorts of articles on our 21st Century page too.

Is the Fiddler's Grove Blacksmith's Club an ABANA chapter or just a local group? I don't see them listed on the ABANA page.

-- guru Tuesday, 01/04/00 22:55:55 GMT

Is there a solution to put on brass to keep it from tarnishing? I'm trying to clean up an antique brass bed but it keeps turning.

J.P. -- kandj at Tuesday, 01/04/00 23:02:06 GMT

J.P. Sorry, NO. Brass furniture and other items are polished, cleaned and then lacquered. It must be VERY clean as most buffing compounds contain wax. Otherwise a gold flash works until it rubs through.

-- guru Tuesday, 01/04/00 23:22:10 GMT

Looking for air hammer plans--sold my 100# Bradley-use my own press to forge weld-Any help appreciated--Storch Knives

Ed Storch -- storchkn at Tuesday, 01/04/00 23:55:10 GMT

Ed, ABANA sells the Ron Kinyon plans. In the near future we will carry basic information for AIR-JYH builders. The Alabama Forge Council Page has some information on modified circuits.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 00:36:25 GMT

I have a Swedish anvil that has 148 stamped on the side. Can I tell the weight from those numbers?

JOE -- jmarshok at dellnet.mail Wednesday, 01/05/00 01:47:27 GMT

Joe, Swedish anvils where marked in ture pounds. It's a safe beat that it's 148 pounds

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 01/05/00 02:00:56 GMT

A question about coal. I have always heard that Sewell coal is the ultimate for forge use. What makes it so. I am currently buying coal used in a power generating plant.

JOE -- jmarshok at dellnet.mail Wednesday, 01/05/00 02:29:47 GMT

Guru, I am an antique restorationist, ( 27 years), and cast small parts for missing drawer pulls out of brass as I need them. I also cut a lot of replacement parts out of brass on the band saw.I would like to cast a low temp metal. Melting at about 500 degrees. Need it tough enough to use for drawer pulls and placques. Also, can I line the mould with a metal powder like brass and use it for a coating? I cannot seem to find a source of information on this subject. Could you help there also? The reason for the low temps would be for beginners to experance this technique and also keep the costs down for the first time caster that just wants to experment with casting and not cost them too much. Thanks in advance for the help.
I wanted to join the abana but the site is closed for repairs. Could you give me the address to send my dues to and become a full time member??? Thanks
Frank LaRoque....541-296-1066..For any one that wants to call and talk about this intresting problem of mine.

Frank LaRoque -- laroque at Wednesday, 01/05/00 02:58:56 GMT

Can anyone help with a good alloy cleaner and polish , preferably a commercial or industry composition , for cleaning and polishing alloy tappet covers in vechile restotation ,
Any help or pointers appreciated ,
Graham .
PS , a nice site , glad I came looking

G Webster -- wig at Wednesday, 01/05/00 03:01:06 GMT

I have been wanting to get into metalworking for quite some time. I recently got my hands on some steel which I want to use to make a sword. I have all the grinding tools I need to make the angles and polish the blade, but I've run into a problem I didn't anticipate: when I examined the steel closely, I noticed it is slightly curved. Is there any way to safely straighted the steel without forging it?(a forge is WAY out of my budget) Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Daryl Rue -- therues at Wednesday, 01/05/00 05:37:00 GMT

LOW TEMP CASTING: Frank, Have *I* got a deal for you!

Zamak (Zinc aluminium alloy) melts at 700F and pours 800F. It can be cast in sand, plaster and permanent steel molds using bronze casting techniques. Gingery and C.W. Ammen have both written books on the subject (back yard foundry). I've done it on a low production commercial basis and it is not very difficult. Like any casting process there are some tricks that you need to learn by doing but we made some very nice parts in permanent molds by gravity casting. Looked like injection cast parts.

Zinc can and IS often brass plated. I don't think putting brass powder in the mold would do anything other than make a mess. Another option is paint. . Foundry cast Zamak parts are aproximatly equal in strength to 660 bronze and a better bearing material. Due to its low casting temperature you can cast around steel studs and inserts. Look into it. The only lower temperature casting material is one of the nearly pure tin "pewter" type alloys and they are more expensive and impossible to find as scrap. Most parts like automotive carburetters are Zamak.

PO Box 816
Farmington, Georgia
706-310-1030 ph
706-769-7147 fax

Well. . the ABANA site is running but their new construction is a little of a mess. . Had to look in print for dues. . . :)

Regular membership is $45, senior over 65 $40, student $35.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 06:34:46 GMT

COAL QUALITY: Joe, Coal varies from one pit or shaft to the next. As an organic substance coal varies in consistancy from peat to hard anthracite (pure carbon) to oil shale. The best for blacksmithing is not the best for everything else.

Good blacksmithing coal is a high calorie low ash low sulfur bituminous. Hard coal (anthacite) does not have the volitiles that make bituminous soft and also easy to keep burning. High ash coal makes it hard to forge weld. Sulfur can make steel brittle. The high calorie level is determined by a combination of factors that make the coal burn easily. The "best" coal for blacksmithing is generaly the easiest to forge weld with.

We have a link to coal analysis's on our links page and I have several more to post. . (sorry Glenn) Pocahantus #2 is the best.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 07:09:51 GMT

STEEL BLADE: Daryl, the steel is not necessarily the correct grade or tempered for use as-is. Generaly a piece that is "spring" temper can be bent in a press to take out a slight bow. I think one suggestion was to "whack it against a large tree trunk". A "large" tree is used because of the gentle radius!

Back to the forge and the "temper" issue. You may not need a forge and a great many blades are made by the "stock removal" method, but those are all eventualy heat treated (hardened and tempered). This requires an oven or salt bath large enough to heat the blade to a red heat and then reheat to tempering temperature (500-700F) after quenching. Of course you can take the blade to a heat-treater when it is 95% complete. You want to do the final surface grind and polishing AFTER hardening. Just some things to consider.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 07:26:12 GMT

TAPPET COVERS: Graham, most of these are aluminium, a few the zinc mentioned above. Both polish up brilliantly but the zinc turns grey rapidly. If made of zinc they would probably be chrome plated. Discoloration on both is corrosion. Once degreased the only thing that will return the polish is mechanical means. That means abrasives, fine sandpaper (320 - 400 grit), then rubbing compound like you use on a lacquer paint job. I prefer Dupont "orange". Or you can use Tripoli buffing compound on a powered cotton buffing wheel.

If they don't have a "brilliant" finish then fine steel wool soap pads like "SOS" pads (like for cleaning cooking pans) work great wet.

Yeah, nothing but hard work.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 07:36:47 GMT

Jock, Any resource available for information on photographing metalwork. Yellin used a white sheet with black and white film. He moved the sheet back and forth to minimize shadows and I suppose a low f/stop or slow shutter speed. Side lighting would also minimize shadows. I have some copper on the gate I'm working on and Black & White film wouldn't show the copper. Thanks, and Happy New Year. TC

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Wednesday, 01/05/00 15:00:47 GMT

what qualifications does one need to do this, how much education

dan tubman -- wiccadan at Wednesday, 01/05/00 15:43:07 GMT

I am searching for information on wooden forges. I work as the Blacksmith for the Northern Forest Heritage Park. The northern Forest Heritage Park is currently building a reproduction turn-of-the-century logging camp of northern New England. Our first building up was the blacksmith shop which has been in working order for just under a year now. My current project in the blacksmith shop is the building of a wooden forge. We have found evidence of wooden forges being used extensively in the woods camps. Wooden forges were easily built with materials at hand. However there is no written information aviable as to how they are acctually built. It was observed that a side blast tuyere iron was used in most of these forges. I plan to make mine out of fire clay as seen in the forges at Collonial Williamsburg. One question would be, is this type of tuyere acctually desirable or workable? The legs of the forge will be hewn out of loggs into six inch square legs. A wooden box will then be built 3'x4'x1.5' deep. The box will be filled most of the way with gravel or other fill mediums. A layer of brick will be cemented in place followed by a two inch thick layer of fireclay. A four or five inch deep fire pot will be molded one foot from the side of the forge. I am also looking at building a telescoping hood suspended with counter weights to allow for large uquard peices. Does this sound like a workable design? If there is any information whatever on this subject please let me know. Thanks........

George Pare' -- heritage at Wednesday, 01/05/00 16:51:38 GMT

CORRECTION: Pocahantus #3 is the best grade of coal. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:02:55 GMT

WOOD FRAME FORGE: George, the design sounds like it will work. Read my story Blacksmith of 1776 for info on similar forges. The only trouble I see is that where this type forge would be in use there would be NO hood, especialy a high tech counter balanced telescoping one. . . Just high overhead clearance and good ventilation (what walls?)

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:07:31 GMT

I am an archaeologist at the University of Delaware and am currently researching and cataloging artifacts from a later half of the 19 th C. blacksmith shop associated with a blast furnace. Beside Lasanski's "To Draw, Upset, and Weld" I have found little on industrail blacksmiths. I have examined the report of the excavations at Hopwell Furnace, PA and am going to Batsto Furnace Thursday to check them out. Does anyone recomendations as to other sources to check? Thank you for your consideration.

Keith Doms -- doms at Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:27:14 GMT

Re: wood forges

It sounds as if you are going over kill on the fill. I have a friend who has a wooden forge and he has only about 2-3 inch of clay over the wood. Works fine.
As to the side blown., I prefer them. We have one at Ft. Vancouver NHS. It is a little differnt to work, but I like it

Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:34:05 GMT

QUALIFICATIONS: Dan, It depends on the level of work. Most modern blacksmiths are artist/craftspeople and self employed. Many have college degrees (art, history. . ) and in the case of some top bladesmiths have masters or doctorates in metalurgy.

Industrial blacksmiths are often also machinists and operate NC or computer operated machines. Even the steel wharehouse or service center has been invaded by computer guided laser and plasma torches.

Blacksmiths were the original alchemists, their materials earth:
  • (iron and ore)
  • air (to make the fire hotter)
  • fire (to convert the ore and soften the iron)
  • water (to cool and harden steel).
These do not just accidentaly happen. Even two thousand years ago the required level of knowledge (education) was greater than for the average worker.

Blacksmiths were always one of the important forces in the advancement of technology. Most of the great mechanical inventors were blacksmiths or had blacksmithing backgrounds. Men like James Nasmyth (steam hammer, self acting machines), Eli Whitney (interchangable parts, milling machine) and Henry Ford (the production line) knew and understood blacksmithing well enough that their inventions almost put the blacksmith out of business! They also changed our world.

Lets say, "More than a high school education."

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:34:17 GMT

Dear Gerus,
Can any one tell me for what purpose a blacksmith use mercury?
I found a small bottle of it at a 19th C. blacksmith site. I have found it listed as an ingrediant for one recipe for cold solder that dates to 1889.

Keith R. Doms -- doms at Wednesday, 01/05/00 17:36:44 GMT

Thank you for the advice "guru" and "Keith Doms" I would only ask further to keep the basic idea out at the bottom. I am still looking for sources to authenticate this forge in our logging camp. If there is any thing out there from arround the turn of the century I would love to here from you. Thanks again for the advice it will be seriously considered and presented to my superiors.

George Pare' -- heritage at Wednesday, 01/05/00 18:45:39 GMT

Thankyou for your help. Can you give me any advice on where to look for a heat treater?

Daryl Rue -- therues at Wednesday, 01/05/00 18:48:21 GMT

Thankyou for your help. Can you give me any advice on where to look for a heat treater?

Daryl Rue -- therues at Wednesday, 01/05/00 18:48:55 GMT


Mercury was used for "fire gilding" You'd make an amalgam of gold and mercury, paint it on the clean metal and then gently heat it as the mercury vaporized, leaving a decorative gold deposit. (You would want to hold your breath while doing this and you still might end up a little shakey! Not recommended for the safety conscious or folks intending to live a long, healthy life.) However, I suspect this was done mostly on the finer swords and firearms. Did this shop handle weaponry? Also, this was used for jewelry. Any sign of working precious metals at the shop as a sideline?

Meanwhile, I'll check some of my references at home tonight.

Visit your National Parks:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Wednesday, 01/05/00 19:10:55 GMT

LATE 19th CENTURY SHOP: Keith, one of the reasons you don't find much historical literature is that today's shops are no different. Arc welding was invented in 1888. . . The steam hammer in 1839 and almost every type of machine tool by 1850. Many shops today are equiped with tools and machines from that era!

One of the best references for the period is M.T. Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing

More specific is Lillico's Blacksmiths Manual Illustrated (1930) Lillico was born 1887.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 19:32:07 GMT

Mercury has long been used to remove lead from firearms. You plug the barrel and fill it with mercury for a day or so and the lead disolves into the mercury. Again a firearm use.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Wednesday, 01/05/00 19:38:38 GMT

Dear guru,
Thank you. The tools are not what I am really interested in. (This particular smith seems to have cleaned out befoer the building was used to house cars) I am looking more for social history and what roles the smith filled. From the artifact it appears that this smithy did a lot of pipe fitting and wagon repair. Unfortunately I can't be certain if this is standard for all smiths or does this reflect the needs of the blast furnace. That is what I am trying to discover.

Keith Doms -- doms at Wednesday, 01/05/00 19:51:03 GMT

COAL CORRECTION #2: I've been advised that SEWELL is very good and that Pocahantus #3 is "one of" the best :)

LATE 19th CENTURY SHOP: Keith, Lilico's illustrations are reproduced in almost every (industrial) modern open die forging manual.

If you REALLY want to know about the Era read (study) Nasmyth's autobiography. Industry in the U.S. had caught up to the level he was at in England by the period you are researching.

Ever hear the story about putting a pocket watch under a multi-ton steam hammer and giving it just enough of a whack to make it bounce? And THEN making metal foil out of it with the next to demonstrate control? Every old industrial smith in the WORLD will tell you HE invented it or knew the guy that did. Nope! It was James Nasmyth demonstrating HIS INVENTION of the steam hammer about 1845.

Other things that had changed by the late 19th and are still the same.
  • The material. Bulk steel was being processed by the Bessemer process and Wrought Iron quickly becoming a thing of the past.
  • The motive power. Line shafting from steam engines was being used in large AND small shops. Then gasoline engines were became common. By 1900 most of these had been abandonded for the convienience of little efficient electric motors.

HEATTREATER: Let your fingers do the walking? Ask a local machine shop who THEY use. They may do their own and not advertise it.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 20:01:59 GMT

Keith, We have criss-crossing posts! The Richardson book has a lot of what you are looking for.

In the AMERICAS and then in other frontier countries (Austraila, New Zealand) you had the pioneer or frontier blacksmith. Out of necessity they DID IT ALL. This was centuries after the farrier and wheelwright had become specialists in Europe. If was metal or mechanical it was taken to the smith. Again, we are talking the STEAM era. Lots of pipe fitting. . . How old are you? Remember OLD fashioned service stations. . Like the small blacksmith/farrier shops they replaced they often did it all. . bicycle repair, welding. . . if it took tools and a mechanic they (WE) worked on it.

The blast furnace would have needed pipe fitting for the reasons mentioned above. They also used pipe for directing the blast.

However, we have a problem with terms. YOUR guy's shop may have been a maintenence or general smithy. At a furnace the "Industrial" smiths ran the big forging machines. Either tilt hammers or big steam hammers like Nasmyth's.

I bought out a maintenence smithy from a 1930's cellophane factory. It was a complete shop. Had a little mechanical hammer, forge, heattreating furnace and all the applicable tools you buy at the time. It had nothing to do with the product. It supported the machine shop and power plants.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 20:33:05 GMT

PHOTOGRAPHING IRONWORK: Tim, I have some real disaster stories I could tell about that. . . On this one we went prepared with (the necessary permission first) lights, tripods cameras, lenses extra film Cathedral Shoot . . Meter's were bad in both cameras. . :( Digitals came out OK. Slides were trash. .

I DO have some hints. Yes you want a relatively shallow depth of field but you want enough that the work is in focus. If you are at any sort of angle to a gate the focus must encompass the entire piece.

High contrast is a big problem. Black iron against white backgrounds or worse, the sky. . . Use a Kodak "grey" card to determine correct exposure.

Studio (shop) conditions are best. If you MUST use a sheet, IRON it!!!! Better yet, purchase a roll of "seemless" from your photo supply store. Its about 10% or less than the cost of hiring a good professional photographer (which, if you live by your ironwork, you should do). Seemless comes in white, black, grey. . . Grey would reduce some of the contrast problems.

Last, have your Kodak film processed by Kodak. I've had slides taken on the same day in the same location come back "green" from one processor and "blue" from another. The 1/hr places have scratched my film, exposed it to light, zapped it with static (makes lightening streaks).

If the photos are for a web page (only) use a digital camera. Review them on a good monitor while setup and keep tweeking until you get them right!

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 21:08:35 GMT

I'm new to smithing. Finally made my first forge last weekend and have been using lots of natural hardwood lump charcoal. My 10 year old and I are having a blast (pun intended). Since first accessing the site on Monday, I have learned a great deal. Thanks very much to all who contribute! Hopefully I will get to the point that I can contribute also. I am a mechanical engineer with much experience in metal fabrication (MIG welding)and woodworking. I am relearning machining.
I have a couple of questions and would appreciate the help. First, I can't seem to find a good used anvil in a short time and since I can't afford a new Peddinghaus or anything close, I plan to make one. I've seen the plans and drawings on the site and plan to do something similar. Turned and welded on cone, slab body with wide legs/upset blocks. Tool steel face. I have access to a well equipped tool room and I'll be turning the cone tonight. Regarding attaching the face to the body, I was thinking of drilling and tapping 6 holes in the bottom of the 3/4" thick tool steel face plate and blind bolting from the bottom. Does that sound like an acceptable way to go or is there a better method to attach the face to the body? S7 tool steel seems to be recommended for the face plate. Any other suggestions? I assume a hardened tool steel face would be better than case hardening a medium carbon steel slab body? Second topic is coal. As I said, I am using lump hardwood charcoal and it seems to work OK if I break up the big chunks first. Regarding heat output, smoke, control, and cost, what are the pros and cons for hardwood lump coal vs. bituminous coal vs. coke? And is there any cost comparison between propane and coal? Can a well insulated, recuperating propane forge run less expensively than a hooded coal forge? I have designed and had large industrial smelters and ovens built, so I am familiar with gas furnaces. But I was wondering if anyone has done a fuel cost comparison between a reasonably efficient propane forge and a hooded pan coal forge. I pay $6 per 20 lbs of hardwood charcoal and $.60 per gallon of propane.
As I see it now, Smithing will be a frequent hobby for me. I've always enjoyed iron. Now I enjoy HOT iron too.
Thanks in advance and thanks again for all of the info on the site(s)!


Tony -- lubeeng at Wednesday, 01/05/00 21:35:50 GMT

Tony, I don't recomend bolt on anvil faces. There is a huge energy transmision loss at the joint. The slightest seperation in forge welded joints results in a dead place that also sounds dead. A soft face is better than stacked plate.

Also, a lot of the support and fracture resistance of the plate comes from being welded on. Anvil faces are used at or beyond the material limits and take a lot of consideration. All those threaded holes are places for crack probagation too. The sophistication of anvil dynamics are highly under appreciated. Use a good one for a while then try other things and you'll find it is just not the same.

I suspect a block of 4150 will cost less than the S7 plate.

Best source of anvils is other blacksmiths and the tool dealers that go to their meets. Join your local ABANA chapter

Forge efficiency - I've seen fuel/btu/day comparisons but there are some practical concerns. I have two gas forges. A big 50,000 btu home built with stacked brick enclosure and a little NC-TOOL Whisper Baby. The Whisper Baby has yet to reach welding heat but my big forge will put a glaze on foundry refractories and melt down a stack of billets. That's why I built it with a dwell on/off control. The Whisper Baby has been run several hours a day for weeks on ONE 40# propane cylinder but my big forge freezes up TWO of the same cylinders in about 4 hours. Both take about 20 minutes to get up to working heat. The Whisper Baby is good only for small work. However, my big forge has limitations too as do all enclosed forge/furnaces. I can pick up the Whisper Baby and carry it with one hand. My big forge is probably. . . 500 pounds +/-100!

Open solid fuel forges can be run at 10% capacity and are still efficient. Shovel on some more fuel and crank up the air and you've gone from a nail makers fire to something you can heat twenty pound billets in! You can't do that with gas forges.

But, I can crank a valve, tweek the igniter and my Whisper Baby is running. Quietly. Cleanly. No ashes to carry out. No smoke to fog up my vision. I don't worry about my PC in the upstairs office!

Hey! We could use an imaginative M.E. in the ABANA-2000 JYH competition!

-- guru Wednesday, 01/05/00 22:28:45 GMT

hello all and happy new year. my question is what is better (easer to use) a side blast or bottem blast forge. is one harder to control the heat in or more efficient. thanks in advance. you guys are such a huge help.

drglnc -- drglnc at Wednesday, 01/05/00 23:23:07 GMT

hello, my name is ben carpenter. I am a juniorand a metalsmithing and jewlery major at the Maine college of art, studing under Tim McCreight and Allen Perry. Unfortunally there is no blacksmithing at my school despite its great metals program. I am looking for a summer apprenticeship in a blacksmith's shop. I am not completly ignorant of the the craft. I have done several workshops all over the east coast, including Peters Valley and up at Haystack with Doug Wilson. This really is the life that I want to get into, but am having some difficulty finding education outside of the weekend workshops. If anyone has an apprenticeship, or shop assistant position open for this upcomming summer, please concider me.
Benjamin Carpenter
C/O Metalsmithing dept.
Maine College Of Art
Portland ,Me 04101
(207) 874-1946
vitaminc at
thank you

benjamin carpenter -- vitaminc at Thursday, 01/06/00 00:00:47 GMT

DRAGON LANCE: For the first three millenia or so of the iron age all known forges were side draft. Who would be SO stupid as to build a forge that the fuel could fall down into the tweer??? Design considerations included the fact that it was easiest to point the nose of the bellows into the side of a firebox. The fuel was primarily charcoal and deep fires were common.

When coal and cast iron forges became common in the last 150 years the bottom blast also became common. Coal also alows for a shallow fire.

Today most coal forges in North America are bottom blast. Side blast forges are still popular in Britian but that may be because they burn coal and coke "breeze" or fines.

I expect it all depends on what you are familiar with, but it also seems to make a difference what fuel you use.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 00:46:07 GMT

I have a combination anvil/blower unit that I am trying to find some information. The anvil/blower is mounted on a stand. The blower is under the anvil. On the back side of the anvil is a vice operated by a small hand wheel and the face of the anvil flips up when the vice is not needed. (Don't know why) It looks like the unit was set up to be used with an electric motor and I want to rig it up to be run by hand. The unit was made by Champion and so far I can find nothing exactly like it. From my description can it be pictured what it looks like on where it might have been used. The anvis is approx. 50#.

JOE -- jmarshok Thursday, 01/06/00 00:58:39 GMT

JOE, These were the Swiss Army Knife / Shop Smith of the steam era. Unlike these modern counterparts as a universal tool they were pretty much worthless. They sliced, they diced they made julieann fries. . . You can find them in the old reprint Sears and Robuck Catalogs. They are something of a collectors item if all the pieces are there.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 01:15:03 GMT

Were you apologizing to me? If you were,why?

Glenn -- tglenn at Thursday, 01/06/00 01:35:04 GMT


I am in the design/scrounge phase of building a Power Hammer. I have a question about drive belts. My experience is that V-drive belts tend to do the slip, slip, grab all at once thing. I would prefer a flat belt. What material makes for good belts, and where can I find it.

Thanks much


Geoff Keyes -- timour at Thursday, 01/06/00 02:20:54 GMT

BELT MATERIAL: Geoff, Flat belts do make much better clutches. Leather is much prefered but heavy cotton works well too. Most industrial suppliers carry belting and can make the splices. You want "Clipper" splicing so you can remove and insert the pin. Or you can "tie" splice it with leather lacing. If the machine is designed so that the belt can be installed spliced then it can have a glued joint. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has methods of splicing and various belt parameters.

McMaster-Carr sells belting cut to length and I think spliced too. If splicing is a problem let me know.

Occasionaly you can find various types of conveyor belting and flat belting at scrap yards. The heavy stuff can be cut with a reciprocating saw.

Flat belt clutch pullies need edges to keep the belt from falling off. Pat McGhee came up with the idea of machining a couple V's out of the middle of a multi-V belt. These pullies are plentiful as junk and the amount to machine is little. Be sure to put a little crown in the middle.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 03:53:23 GMT

Mike-Writer, Hope you find this.

Knife and sword "tangs" are a reduced (forged down) part of the blade. They extend through the guard and handle. The pomel on most blades is the "nut" that holds the handle on the tang. Sometimes they are threaded on like a "nut" but often the end of the tang is upset (rivited) to hold the whole together.

In ages past the tang was heated and pushed through the hole in a wooden handle burning a snug fit. A "silver" handle would be a layer covering the wood, not solid. Handles can also be glued on from two "slabs", carved to shape, then covered. It was common to use a wire wrap. sometimes braded are twisted wires of different metals were used for the variation of color. Once tightly wrapped the wood was hidden and the handle looked like a fancy metal piece. On swords it was common to cover the wood with leather then use an open criss-cross wrap.

Lots of variation. . Go to a hunting goods or gun shop and LOOK at the custom knives. Often you can tell how they are assembled IF you know a little to start with. With the exception of using epoxy to "bed" handles on, knives are made pretty much the same today as thousands of years ago.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 04:05:28 GMT

Like i mentioned in the pub I am writing a book based in semi-mideival times. One of the charachters is a smith and is making a blade. The blade is steel and eight inches in length. It has to be attached to silver alloy handle. I heard a hole and tang mentioned and this seem to be the better method for my purposes. My question is: How would one in those times go about attaching the hilt to the blade? Any help that you could give would be very helpful, thanks.

Mike-Writer -- bkopena at Thursday, 01/06/00 04:05:42 GMT

I'm looking for the name of this occupation performed by my great uncle. Something like a blacksmith, he got rivets red hot and then threw them to a man who caught them with something like a catcher's mitt. The rivets were then used to build a steel bridge or building frame. What is the name of the job of heating up the rivets and then throwing them to the next guy?

Beth Stemple -- bstemple at Thursday, 01/06/00 04:26:49 GMT

Beth, you got me there. . . Maybe some old-timer might know (I'm not as old as everyone thinks). At one time the iron-workers union probably had a name for him like "rivit-forge man". . . I'm trying to think where to even LOOK.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 04:36:33 GMT

Mike, the "tang" is smaller than the blade. This makes a pair of corners called a "shoulder", the guard or hilt has a rectangular hole in it that is a snug fit at the shoulder. It is just pushed on and the handle holds it in place. Modern knife makers silver solder the blade and guard together. If you can see solder, its a bad job. If you can see a gap, its a bad job.

The tang normaly tapers from the shoulder (which should be 3/4 of the blade width) to nearly square or round at the far end. The handle is fitted. Then the pommel is fitted. Then the end of the tang is rivited over. Today it is often threaded on. It could also be rivited in a recess and then the hole pluged with brass or silver.

For a cheap course in fancy blade making, order the Jim Hrisoulas 2 part video set, Forging Damascus, How to Create Pattern Welded Blades. Centaur Forge has it and would gladly take your credit card. . . Your local library will also have a half dozen books on the subject.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 04:49:39 GMT

GURU. I wrote you on the first of JAN.regarding references on the patinization of steel/metal.and have had no reply.please inform me as to weather you deal in this area or not. thank you. Matt.

matt azevedo -- DAze193381 at AOL,COM Thursday, 01/06/00 04:52:56 GMT

Matt, sorry I missed that. I could have sworn I wrote an answer.

The subject is actually rather broad. All these finishes are forms of oxidation. Every metal has its own set of formulae and range of possible colors. You cannot make iron green (short of letting moss grow on it). Aluminium is "anodized" but the colors are all dyes in a lacquer carrier so they can be anything you want including black. Zinc is also "anodized" but it is a different process than aluminium and the colors are not very impressive. Titanium produces the most brilliant range of colors of any metal and all that is required is heat.

None that are applied to steel are weather resistant and must be kept cleaned and oiled. Browning is simple controled rusting, plum colors are modifications of browing by chemical agent and heat, blueing requires the use of nitric acid along with others, and the black is called Parkerizing. All require exceptionaly clean metal and tanks for boiling the work (for cleaning and setting colors).

The term patina is generaly reserved for copper and copper alloys (brass and bronze). In nature these colors generaly contain carbonates of copper. Those applied chemicaly use acids and really nasty compounds of lead, arsenic and other metals. A great variety of colors can be produced ranging from black to yellow. There are numerous chemical treatments for each color. Formerly believed to be weather resistant this finishes do not hold up to acid rain nor air polution.

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has numerous formulae, most gun smithing references also include many ways to finish steel. Centaur Forge carries the book Contemporary Patination. ASM has the most technical references on the subject.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 07:41:53 GMT

Belting: McMaster-Carr does not lace belts. They sell lacing but you have to do it yourself.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 01/06/00 13:24:50 GMT

As to which is better for a forge side or bottom blast. I like both but I use a side blast mostly. If you have done much forging in the past you will see that there are some differences. Mostly as to where the 'hot' spot is. In a side blast forge it is slightly higher than you might expect. And keeping the fire clean seems to be easier(for me anyhow)
With a bottom blast you can seem to get a VERY hot spot. I usually find it by burning up something.... Especially if I have used the side blast a lot. Of course the side draft will burn up your work too.

Ralph -- ralphd at Thursday, 01/06/00 17:37:29 GMT

Thanks alot for thinfo Guru. I'm definitely going to get some books on the subject, but i had one more question that i thought I'd ask. What is the general method of etching a design in a blade with acid? I did some research elsewhere and came across this, but the information didn't have a description of method. Again, any help would be great.

Mike-Writer -- bkopena at Thursday, 01/06/00 22:24:03 GMT

ETCHING: A "ground" or masking substance is painted on the blade. These are made of wax or tar and resist the acid. Then the design is scraped through the ground. Acid is then applied. Sulphuric acid was known to the ancients an is very aggressive.

Engraving is done by chisling the pattern directly into the metal. I have seen sculptural work carved completly through a blade so that the image is fully "in-the-round".

For work of REALLY mythical proportion go to MEIER STEEL. Grandpa's web page. His USA Bowie reintroduced technique that was truely believed to be myth.

-- guru Thursday, 01/06/00 23:02:02 GMT

Greeting, Guru!
I need help. I'm mainly a leather worker, but I want to incorporate metalwork to enhance, such as Xena's plating. Do you know where I can find detailed instruction(Books, Video,You?) on what form of metal(sheet, for example?) is used and whether or not it is heat treated? I am a beginner where metal is concerned, and I hope I have been clear enough. Thanx!

Pete Scully -- pete_scully at Friday, 01/07/00 00:14:58 GMT


The occupation you are refering to generally came under the trade of "Ironworker" (more often known as iron-heads") of the United Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Ironworkers. The man working the forge was simply known as the "heater" and the catcher actually had a cone-shaped metal "cup" to catch the hot rivet and pass it to the "bucker" who would insert it in a hole and then hold a "buck" or "bucking bar" on the head while the "riveter" headed the other side using a "rivet buster" (a 40lb pneumatic hammer). Some trades get all the cool sounding names like "gandy-dancer" and "pile-buck"! There's probably an Ironworkers Union near you and they may even have some old photos you could use.

grant -- nakedanvil at Friday, 01/07/00 00:31:12 GMT

Beth, I know the answer you seek. I read a story about a young man who took a job doing it on the high iron building skyscrapers. The fellow doing the job was called the "heater" (pretty simple huh?) Riveting at the time was a 3 man operation. The hot rivet was tossed to the "backer" who caught it in a metal cone. He used the come to manipulate the rivet so he could get it ito his "Backing Bar" and aligned in the hole. He then used the leverage of the bar against the head of the rivet to hold it in place while the "header" peened it out using an air hammer. This was a juvinille short story written in the 30's or 40's I think, give me a couple days and I'll nail down the author for you, the story is written in great detail.

Ian Starr -- ianstarr at Friday, 01/07/00 00:45:48 GMT



MIKE MCFADDEN -- MCRUDER at AOL.COM Friday, 01/07/00 01:04:58 GMT

Jock, Thanks for the info TC

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Friday, 01/07/00 01:54:37 GMT

Mike, not having seen the show I'm not sure what size stock they were using. What you WANT is hot rolled mild steel bar. Probably 1/8" x 1/4". However most small sizes are no longer available from domestic steel mills in hot roll. The alternative is cold drawn material which is a little more expensive. It also comes with a clean oiled/greased surface which is dirty to handle and hard to paint. I'm sure the people that sold your wife the tool will supply you with the odd size imported steel at 10 times the price. Let me know exactly what you need when the tool comes in.

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 02:12:20 GMT

Dear Gurus,
I am a bit and spur maker in Texas and am looking for a particular type of chain that was used extensively for rein chain on bits built in the early 1900's. It is called loop-in-loop or Etruscan chain and I know that it is still being made but I don't know who the supplier is. I posted this question during the holidays but did not see a response. Can you help me find a source or point me in the right direction. I can make the chain myself but can never get what its worth when made by hand. I would appreciate any assistance.

Larry Stewart -- lstewart at Friday, 01/07/00 02:22:22 GMT

HIGH IRON: Thanks guys! Grant, I KNEW you were a LOT older than I am. . .

Someone gave me a book of photographs of Ironworkers working on the Empire State Building. It was common in those days to "ride the iron" as cranes lifted it hundreds of feet or ride the "ball" the weight that kept the cable straight when unloaded. Sometimes there would be three guys standing on the edges of a 12" steel ball and hanging on to the cable. . . Today OSHA would put everyone involved in jail!

The riviters hung off the side of the building using a make-shift rope harness to lean into while holding the 120-180 pound air hammer to set the rivits. No safety harness, just a loop of frayed rope.

Late in the age of riviting buildings together they came out with electric rivit heaters. The rivit, held in tongs, was rested on one copper electrode while the other clamped down on it by foot operation. It only took seconds to have a red hot rivit. They claimed an increase in production and quality as the rivits were not burnt as was common in coal forges.

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 02:28:20 GMT

What tips do you have for welding pieces of high carbon sheet steel. I am attempting to make a socketed chisel from one piece of steel. I have the dimensions closed to what they need to be, but I have trouble getting a welding heat without melting the thin edges. Also, I have trouble getting the end of the socket closed (on the end where the socket portion meets the shaft of chisel.)

Sean Valdrow -- orange at Friday, 01/07/00 03:47:44 GMT

Etruscan Chain: Larry, Try this link. I think I could find it if I knew what I was looking for. . . Your terms may be the proper technical terms for your chain but they are not used by the chain manufacturers. There are 200 listed in Thomas Register but they do not advertise the particular type. . . McMaster-Carr carries what they call Safe and Register Chain that looks like a single row version of the picture below (if I got the right one). a sample

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 04:40:34 GMT

SOCKETED CHISEL: Sean, What you are doing is a tad tricky. The best thing to do is NOT do it that way. . . The "wings" of the socket should not be exceedingly thin. However, they will be if you start with a piece of material that is too close to size and try to spread the steel without upsetting it quite a bit. You see this a LOT in old tools, thin sockets that are split or rivited at the joint instead of welded.

If you work it to one side, like a flag in the wind, then draw some material downward at the narrow portion of the shank, when you "wrap" the socket you should have several layers at the shank and a smooth lap before you start to weld. Melting or burning the edges is a problem of experiance and patience. However, if the joint is well prepared the overlaping pieces should make enough mass not to burn. .

There are several other ways to make this tool. One is to start with a piece of round bar stock, upset the end, then drive a conical punch into the upset. Follow this with drifts or mandrels until the socket is formed. THEN forge the chisel last. Much easier than welding. .

Another way is to make the socket from a piece of schedule 40 pipe. Make a die with a tapered hole to drive it into. Work the socket on a mandrel close to shape but not closed too much. Then fit a shouldered stem on the chisel into the socket. Clamp and upset the end in the socket. Then flux and forge weld the two together. If you are going to have a welded joint you might as well have one that is mechanicaly well supported and doesn't rely on the weld 100%.

The BEST chisel design I've seen had a loose "ferrule socket" and a shouldered tang. The shoulder on the tang had heavy radi to prevent stress. The shoulder was the full diameter of the handle and ferrule. The ferrule was a heavy walled tube shaped like the weld on socket above. Once assembled with a tightly fitted wood handle these would take tremdous abuse. Seems to me one of the woodworking suppliers sells them.

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 05:13:43 GMT


Actually, I worked heavy construction more years ago than I care to think about, let's just say around thirty years ago. Worked as a pile driver (pile-buck) mostly. Often sat a sheet wall stabbing sheet pile.
Lotta heavy foundation work starts with driving a sheet pile "cell" kinda like a room. Sheet pile is like heavy steel tongue-and-groove only there is a bulb on the tongue that matches the groove so they can't come apart except by sliding out the ends. Anyway, the point here is the only way to put these together is to first stand one up and tack weld it to the template (a box-like structure of "I" beam that the sheet wall is built around). Now comes the fun! As the youngest on the crew I had the dubius honor of riding up to the top on the headache ball and sitting is stirrups on the top edge of the wall (40 or 80 feet in the air) to catch the bottom end of the next sheet and steer it into the interlock. Interesting work, really! You're sitting on the edge of one sheet and the crane swings a new one over. You have to grab it with both hands, steer it in and "talk" to the crane opperator by nodding or shaking your head! once it's started you signal the crane to "send it home" and he lets off the brake compleatly and the sheet free-falls! Not unusual for the top edge to dig in and curl a red-hot chip off the one going down! This is happening about six-inches from your crotch! Sometime it'll hang up on the one you're sitting on yank it down a couple feet REAL FAST! Because of that you have to lean forward so your nose is about two inches from the one racing down, otherwise you might catch the one behind in your back! Not sure how much OSHA has gotten involved in the building trade, probably just turn their back on a lot of it as there are few alternatives.

grant -- nakedanvil at Friday, 01/07/00 06:14:17 GMT

XENA'S ARMOUR: Pete, most of the "Hollywood" stuff is lightweight aluminium or plastic. True armor plate is mild steel or wrought iron (no longer made). It is not hardened. It does need to be annealed during the working process as it work hardens from all the hammering.

Annealing steel means to heat it to a red heat (when it becomes non-magnetic thats hot enough) and then let it cool as slow as possible. Insulation helps it cool slow. Bury it in ashes. Lime works good. The current rage is a metal trash can of dry vermiculite.

Tools. . Tree stumps work great for armour's anvils! Carve or burn shallow depressions in the end(s). Take another and set in a RR-spike as a small "mushroom" stake. Old pick axes make good "needle stakes" Larger blocks or bars can be bolted on for other purposes. Short heavy pieces of pipe are good for stretching sheet metal down into. .

Non-Ferrous metals are annealed by heating then QUENCHING in water. . Do not do steel that way. That's how it is hardened. 16 or 18 ga is a
thickness to work.

See our review of Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork. Its full of what you are looking for.

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 06:17:16 GMT

Guru, Great site! I have some beginning projects starting, the first of which is refinishing bronze portholes from a 30 year old sloop. How do I start? I just purchased an industrial buffer/grinder for polishing but must first remove old varnish caulk and heavy green coating. Should I take them somewhere to be dipped. What is the proper procedure. The original finish is pretty rough so a high polish will not be neccessary, but want them "clean" before I refit them. This site is enough to make someone jump into metalworking with enthusiasm! Thanks

Michael Posey -- dj-m.posey at Friday, 01/07/00 15:52:43 GMT

Michael: Up here in the Virginia mountains we don't refinish much seagoing brass/bronze so take this this with a grain of salt. Most paint removers (dip) and metal don't get along well but that is the best way to remove the old paint. The guy that does the dipping will advise you. That green patinia that everyone wants (and is hard to get) is hard to get OFF once it is there. Strong acids are generaly required. Get it dipped first then see what it looks like.

IF the item is going to be painted then sandblasting is the best cleanup. It also provides "tooth" for paint to stick to. However, if you want bare finished bronze then LOTS of "elbow grease" is required. A relatively fine soft (.020 wire) power wire brush will remove corrosion and paint in crevises and leave a slightly burnished surface. Be sure the wheel is rated for the motor/grinder.

-- guru Friday, 01/07/00 16:51:56 GMT

Photographing ironwork can test ones patients (along with ones religion). One way to photograph ironwork is to “light paint”. One method of light painting is to use a small aperture setting and slow shutter speed setting. f-22 to f-45 (no I did not forget the decimal points) and shutter speeds of 20 to 60 seconds. While the shutter is open, a wash-light (flood light with a blue photography bulb) is moved around to wash out the shadows and illuminate all surfaces of the subject that are towards the camera. The use of “Dulling Spray” (a photography supply) on bright or high gloss finished parts can cut down on glare that will burn in the film (get the owners permission first). This spray will wipe off with a damp towel. Another method of light painting is to “multiple expose” the same frame of film, each exposure moving the flash (or what ever light source) to a different angle. I have heard of this method from police photographers working in dark areas. These methods also leave a long focal length (depth of field). What is the camera that we get the best results from? Don’t laugh here. It is one that we have to use a black sheet over our heads to focus and align, the image appears in the back of the camera upside down, after which we drop a film pack in the back of the camera. I think you get the picture (grin). Our (my employer’s) big push in the last couple of years is to use digital cameras. We have several good digital cameras, none of which deliver images anywhere near as good as our film cameras. This leaves us doing a lot of image clean-up on the computers and photo-editing programs. Our main advantage digital cameras. We can shoot pictures, in a few minutes have them in the computer and be using them (or retaking them) while we still have the subject in front of us. For a white back-drop, we use white “butcher’s paper”. It comes in long rolls and is very economical. Bright and sunny with light snow cover in Northeast Iowa.

Mark Kisner -- mekisner at Friday, 01/07/00 16:53:20 GMT

Hello there and Happy New Year. I am currently on a quest to find a blacksmith who can make a personalized branding iron. I am sorry to say that I do not know exactly where to start. I live in the SF Bay Area and would love it if you could refer me someone in the area. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much for your help.

Jenifer Spencer

Jenifer Spencer -- spencerjenifer99 at Friday, 01/07/00 17:49:43 GMT

About the camera, A large format camera with full tilts and swings is the best camera you can get for this type of work!! Few people can afford them, or the cost of the film and processing. Don't be embarrised when you use this camera, take pride in the ability to use a tool that most people don't have a clue about :-)

Tell your employer that you can get digital backs for large format cameras also. This gives you the full flexability of the movements and the convienance of digital.

Warm and clear in So Cal. 75 deg.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Friday, 01/07/00 19:58:28 GMT

Is there a College or Institution in Colorado that teaches The Art of Blacksmithing?

Heather Briggs -- sweetpeahb at Friday, 01/07/00 20:06:12 GMT


I usually shoot in the kitchen, black and white or color, with a grey background. With 400 speed film, you can get those slower time exposures using a tripod, and use some of Mark's infilling tricks with a 100w light waved about. I use an old Nikon hog-leg from the late '60s. Everything is manual, so I can control EVERYTHING.

Two other items haven't been mentioned here: First- try to size the work in the picture, not crowding the edges, not lost in the middle; and provide something in the shot for scale, such as a pencil, a ruler, a body part... This avoids the embarrasment of someone looking at their commission and saying "it looked larger/smaller in the picture".

Second (a secret of all great photographers{not that I are one})- throw away all of your bad shots. If it's a near duplicate, decide the best and toss the other. If you have eight views, and four impart all of the information, keep the four, but only put the best one or two in your portfolio or on display. Save the others only as personal records and references. If you've made a dozen different trivets, photograph them all if you wish, but only display the absolute best or most interesting.

(Reminds me- I have to purge and update MY portfolios!)

Visit your National Parks:

The Ultimate Rowing Machine: (cASE sENSITIVE)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 01/07/00 20:19:42 GMT

hello, i am a somewhat experienced artist and metal sculpter, about a year ago i worked for a blacksmith in virginia and foound that i really enjoyed the work. ever since then i have been looking for a shop that i could learn more of the trade in. i am currently living in boston and i have had a rough time finding a place where i could learn more of the trade. any help in this area would be most appreciated.
p.s. do any of you guys know of some sort of group that operates in the area?
thanks, Josh

Joshua Gilbert -- jtgns at Friday, 01/07/00 20:58:05 GMT

I know the price of a large format camera. We lost one in an accident. The price of the film, this is one of the other reasons we are being pushed towards the digital process. The digital back approaches a five figure number (not counting the two to the right of the decimal point). The bottom line. We can get good pictures from all the cameras. Its a case of matching the camera and technique to the application at hand and the desired outcome. Clear weather in NE Iowa.

Mark Kisner -- mekisner at Friday, 01/07/00 21:02:55 GMT

More Food for Thought
John Deere was a blacksmith and started what is today one of largest farm equipment manufactures in the world. His decendents only in recent years relinquishing control of the board of directors.
Cyrus and Robert McCormick stared in a farm blacksmith shop what wound up as International Harvester and what is today part of Case corporation, another world leading farm equipment manufacturer. Blacksmiths can feel good about this.

Mark Kisner -- mekisner at Friday, 01/07/00 21:11:28 GMT

XENA'S ARMOUR: Hate to put a damper on things with this one, I have seen some of the XENA stuff as its all filmed in NZ, actually Lucy is a local gal :).

Have played with one of her swords, Its amazing what you can do with rubber these days, also most of the armour is a form of rubber, actually I think it was a foam latex vairant.

Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Saturday, 01/08/00 01:40:55 GMT

Guru: Thanks for your help on the auto darkening welding helmet. I have anotehr question. I have the chance to buy a commercial gas forge from an older welding shop. It has a 4"x6"x30" bed and was used to replace the coal forge in the shop for heating plow lays, etc. Are these old commercial forges competitive with the new generation gas forges?


Don Agostine

Don Agostine -- agostine at Saturday, 01/08/00 02:30:56 GMT

Jenifer Spencer,

Frank -- laroque at Saturday, 01/08/00 03:03:22 GMT

Jenifer Spencer, I make branding irons for the working ranches around here and they run from $200 to $2000. The cheap ones are for the working cowboy and the more expensive ones are for display and are plated. Before you have a branding iron made, I would suggest that you check with the cattlemen's association and the state of California for the design of the brand. If it belongs to someone else, you could be in trouble if you used it in any way that the public could see it. Check and be safe. They will also tell you if the design has been taken and then you can make a slight modification and resubmit the brand. If you want to email me, I will be glad to help you.
Frank LaRoque laroque at

Frank -- laroque at Saturday, 01/08/00 03:10:38 GMT

Jock, Am in the process of building a Power Hammer. Initially I thought the EC JYH would do the trick but am convinced that air is the way to go. The Kiwi Blacksmith Andrew Hooper's prototype is beautiful in it's simplicity. My question to you is : What is the schematic for the control of this Hammer and, is it the same in all Power Hammers? I believe I have access to most of the components and will start as soon as I know what the plumbing is for these machines. You've been most helpful so far and will not bother you for a while after this. Thanks TC

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Saturday, 01/08/00 04:13:08 GMT

Don, I think the responses by others on the Hammer-In were more up-to-date than mine on the welding helmet. Ambient light is still cheaper. . .

Those "old" forges are generaly still manufactured and are very expensive compared to the the "new" forge designs. If it is in good working condition it is probably a bargain.

-- guru Saturday, 01/08/00 04:53:42 GMT

I am a brake press operator. I have only realy done 45/90 etc deg
bends on sheet metal. I need to find some equations for bending
semi circular configurations

...Of course this is done by many bends
along the steel. but I need some computations since I just get
a blueprint with a radius

Andy Taylor -- tinman007 at Saturday, 01/08/00 04:54:19 GMT

AIR HAMMER: Tim, the basics are a double acting cylinder, a 5 port pilot (or mechanical) operated valve to swap input output and an exhaust valve, and one or two switching duty pilot valves. There are a variety of circuits that can be used. Try the Alabama Forge Council's web page. Ours is not ready. . .

On commercial/industrial hammers the controls are mechanical. The treadle working through a cam operated reversing mechanism on the ram.

The "simple" air hammer works on an unbalance principle where opening the exhaust starts the ram moving and a switching valve operating off the ram reverses the stroke.

The BULL works through a special mechanical linkage. The Trip Air and BIG BLU use pilot valves. The KA#xx are non-automatic (you step on the valve it goes down, you let off it goes up).

Of critical importance is the alignment of the cylinder to the track of the ram and how you couple the cylinder and ram.

-- guru Saturday, 01/08/00 05:15:38 GMT

FACETTED BEND: Andy, I've written software for this type of thing . . . First, take your stock length. PI x Diameter. Use the centerline of the stock thickness for the diameter to calculate the facets. Then the decide on the width of the facets. On a large part it would be about 2" or 50mm. Divide the stock length by the facet width. This is the number of bends. These numbers need to be iterated (trial and error) until you like the number of bends and the facet width. The bends need to be a whole number and EVEN if you are bending two pieces to be welded together.

Lets say you are making a circle and have 60 bends. That is 360 degrees divided by 60 = 6 degrees per bend (174 deg inside). This is a very gentle bend so you will need to make a sample and test for spring back.

EASY if you sit and think about it. Don't forget to add one material thickness to the length (circumference) calculated using the stock's center line radius. Be sure to use dividers and layout the bends with chalk. Don't expect the results to be perfect. They never are on these.

-- guru Saturday, 01/08/00 05:35:58 GMT

Dear Sir: Am in the process of restoring an early chain maille armour jacket and need a source to purchase some iron links (rings) to repair certain parts that rusted away with time. They must be iron and not galvanized as I will have to age them in nitric acid to match.
Originally the links were welded individually, but I will have to forego this step due to its antiquity and relative fragility.

Can you suggest a source or solution.


Turan-Mirza Kamal -- paramach at mindspring,com Saturday, 01/08/00 18:37:52 GMT

I need a list of a few metal workers who can spin cups of copper, or brass im a magician and would like to have some made but have no idea who to contact thanks for your time Bill

illiam flood -- wflood9627 at Sunday, 01/09/00 01:20:15 GMT

I need a list of people ho kno how to spin metal cups copper, brass ect, im a magician and would like to have a special set made, but have no idea ho to contact, Thank you Bill

william flood -- wfloo9627 at Sunday, 01/09/00 01:25:47 GMT

MAIL: Turan-Mirza Kamal, Modern links would be mild steel and the originals probably wrought iron. There will be a significant textural difference as the wrought has wood-like grain that is exposed by corrosion. If none of the originals show this then they may be made of mild steel. The age could still be over 150 years.

All mail is custom made and links are sized by the individual maker. To have a perfect match you will most likely need to make your own. Links are made by wrapping wire around a mandrel (bar) and then cutting it into pieces. The mandrel sizes the links. Cutting can be done with a hack saw or bolt cutters. I prefer to saw at an angle so when the ring is closed it is exactly the mandrel size.

Wrought iron is no longer manufactured but scrap is still available. Small bar or wire will need to be forged from larger stock.

Much old mail that looks welded has been found to be bradded when examined closely. The entire joined section is blended both by design and age or corrosion.

If you are going to age the rings with nitric acid a little zinc plating (modern galvanizing) will not hurt. McMaster-Carr (see links page) has steel rings of various sizes. Someone reading this may also be able to provide parts.

-- guru Sunday, 01/09/00 01:40:54 GMT

Cause I'm a raw hand at this, I gotta ask. is their a trick of the trade to lighting a forge. I just kinda stick the match in and go, but it takes forever to get going. Am I missing a step??????


Erik -- billybo40 at Sunday, 01/09/00 04:29:55 GMT

Erik, If it lights then that is IT! Different qualities of coal do better than others but 10-15 minutes is normal. Good Pochanantus or Sewell coal in a clean firepot can produce a welding heat in about 5 minutes or less.

Gas forges all seen to take 20 minutes. If they are too clean they are hard to keep lit. . Bits of debris heat up quickly and provide a glowing ignition source.

-- guru Sunday, 01/09/00 04:52:57 GMT

Here's my problem: I conducted an interview with a blacksmith yesterday for our local history publication, Historic CNY. He loaned me a book called "Forging Practice" but it's way too technical. This gentleman does his forging at a nearby museum and specializes in the arts, rather than tools or horseshoes, etc. He makes wrought iron hooks, knick knacks, tables and the like. You could help me out by giving me a history of blacsmithing, especially its U.S. history and by explaining, in layman's terms, some of the equipment a blacksmith uses as follows: Forge, Anvil(how big is an anvil, anyway?), Ball Peen Hammer, Sledges, Tongs, Chisels, Swages, Fullers, Set Hammers and Flatters, Punches, and Drawing Out. Lordy, this is way beyond me. Please help and keep it as simple as possible. If you can't help, please, point me in the right direction.

Peg Hogan -- historic_cny at Sunday, 01/09/00 10:13:50 GMT

A forge is a device to hold and help concentrate the heat that is used to get the metal hot enough to work. Usually coal or charcoal is used for a fuel source.
The bellows or perhaps a blower is used to add or force air into the firepot region of the forge to bring them fire temperature up.
Ball peen hammer is a hand hammer that has a flat striking surface on one end(the face) and a rounded ball surface on the other(the peen), used to give a different texture to metal or to help move the metal in specific ways. Sledges are just LARGE hammers(usually 6-16 pounds) used with 2 hands. Tongs are like long handled pliers or pinchers used to hold hot metal.
I will write more but for now I need to get going.


Ralph -- ralphd at Sunday, 01/09/00 14:22:38 GMT


A much less technical book with LOTS of illustrations is Alex Bealer'S THE ART OF BLACKSMITHING. Your public library should have a copy.

Ralp's descriptions are on the money.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 01/09/00 16:50:30 GMT


That last line was supposed to read RALPH's. (grin)

Another thing.

I've got a 4 oz. brass anvil. The largest anvil ever made (that I know about, anyway) was 1400 pounds. Quite a range there. Most smiths like an anvil around 100 - 150 pounds for demonstrating, and at least a 250 pounder for regular work.

There's some macho silliness involved, too, "My anvil is bigger than your anvil!" (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 01/09/00 16:53:28 GMT

I was wondering, at what temperature does the fire have to be in order for metal to melt? What is the temperature when the impurities (dross)
of the metal seperate from the purities part of the metal?

Gabriel Trevino -- a2jforever at Sunday, 01/09/00 23:01:54 GMT

Gabriel, What metal? Mercury melts at -39 F/C. Many Bismuth alloys are designed to melt at very low temperatures. Anywhere from 100°F up. Tungsten melts at 3,407C / 6,164°F, a very high temperature.

Steel melts at a variety of temperatures too. The melting point of elemental Iron is 1535°C / 2795°F. However steel contains carbon and this reduces the melting point to as low as 2625°F for high carbon steel. Cast iron has more carbon thus an even lower melting point. Alloying ingredients also raise and lower the melting point. Since there are tens of thousands of alloys and varieties of steel there are as many melting points.

The lighter impurities float to the top when the metal melts unless they are soluable in the metal. Since most oxides have a higher melting point and are lighter they float to the top.

However, when using a fluxing agent to clean the surface for welding the oxides generaly are disolved when the flux becomes liquid (see BORAX, 21st Century Page). Fluxes such as borax are very chemicaly active and act as solvents when melted. Borax starts doing its job at about 1,366°F.

Another good solvent is soda glass. Glass in liquid form is a more nearly perfect solvent than water. Glass will disolve huge amounts of metal. This is shown in lead-glass where the disolved lead doubles the density of the glass while it remains transparent. This is why certain sands make good fluxing agents.

-- guru Monday, 01/10/00 00:59:00 GMT

I have found a trip hammer that I'd like to find out about.
Cast into the main body just under the flat belt drive wheel
it says "Mayer Bros. Mankato Minn. I thought that Little
Jiant was in Mankato. Have you heard of Mayer Bros. Hammers
and do you think this type of hammer would be worth restoring?
I have a chance to by this hammer. The asking price is $400
but I think the seller will accept somewhat less than that.
Doug Endrud

Doug -- dendrud at Monday, 01/10/00 05:53:53 GMT

Oops, looks like I didn't need the carraige returns.

Doug -- dendrud at Monday, 01/10/00 06:00:16 GMT

Guru and crew: I just took a look at Birchwood Caseys web page to see what they offered to "color" metal. They advertise a product to blacken and protect what I would consider blacksmith stuff for commercial use. I was wondering if you or others have any experience with these products. I've used their "Plum Brown" for browning black powder gun barrels and gunstock finishing products for years without any complaints. Might be worth looking into.

jerry -- birdlegs at Monday, 01/10/00 06:28:26 GMT

Part two of my list! Chisels are used to cut or otherwise make markes in cold metal, tho there are hot chisels too. They can be straight or curved. Swages are use to help form metal while hot. Simular to the little forming molds use with Play-Doh(some form of trade mark device should go with the name) Fullers are used in pairs or singlely anf they too help form metal by either hammering the metal over the fuller or hitting the fuller onto the metal(I think?)

ralph -- ralphd at Monday, 01/10/00 07:25:48 GMT

Guru and others: Thanks for the responses about anvils and propane vs. coal forges. I agree that there are many practical considerations affecting the fuel cost and heat efficiency of both coal and propane forges. I was just wondering if anyone had done a comparison. I see the potential energy transfer problem with a bolted on tool steel face. I have also learned that S7 tool steel deforms quite a bit in the heat treating process, so I would have to grind the top and bottom faces flat after heat treat also. So, no attached faces for me. I found a 400 pound chunk of high carbon steel tube that I forgot I had. It is 19

Tony -- lubeeng at Monday, 01/10/00 15:43:03 GMT

Well I made my first forge weld Friday Night, I welded a piece of cable. It welded so easy, but Sat. I tried to weld a socond piece of cable but felled. It would get to a welding heat and weld but then it when I would try to weld the next section it was like it oxidize and come apart on the anvil. My ? is can you use to much air, that it oxidizes away. Help!!!!

Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Monday, 01/10/00 15:44:53 GMT


Please let me apologize in advance for this crass commercial
question on your list.
I could use some advise on what to charge for a cut and paste job.
There is an architect/builder here in a very prosperous NE water
front town that has been building a custom waterfront home for His
wife and himself. I have done several indoor pieces for the home and
was about to submit drawings and a quote for two balconies and a very
large deck. However the wife died and the owner now wishes to sell the
house fast.
I expect to get a lot more commissioned work from him so wanting to
stay in his good graces I suggested that he contact "Architectural Iron Designs", because he still wanted something that would go with this big dollar home and he had seen nothing at the local fence/hard-
ware stores that would be appropriate.
I have never done this type of work before,(cut/paste). It will in-
volve around 450 pickets,cap rail etc. I hate to see welds so I intend to attach the pickets at the bottom by bolting through the channel stock and the rest that can't be seen,welded.
I have an hourly on site fee for the installation.The rail and balconies will be assembled in my shop. Short of ordering some portion
of the materials and doing a large prototype that I would not want, I
am stumped as to a fair price to charge. I have done the apple but never the orange and there is always the unforeseen ???


Paul -- shod at Monday, 01/10/00 15:58:32 GMT

Oops, I forgot to add my name and E-mail on the last message and a bunch of it got cut off when it did post, so I'll finish it here.
The 400 pound high carbon steel tube is 19" od and 2.5" wall. It is plenty heavy to use as an anvil, but obviously, there are no straight edges. I'll weld on a turned horn and somehow attach a bar or rail to get a straight edge. Hopefully I'll find a real anvil before I get too frustrated with the modified tube.
On the JYH topic: Where is information on the competition? My wife says you shouldn't tempt me like that. I have a history of spending lots of time on similar temptations. I have a bunch of fluid power experience, so I AM tempted. But maybe I'd better just let the subconscious work on it a while. But if I had some cylinder tubing lying around.........

Thanks again!


Tony -- lubeeng at Monday, 01/10/00 16:17:58 GMT

Guru and Friends,
Occasionally I see some reference in the Den to making bits for horses. I am a beginning blacksmith and have done a little work on some snaffel bits. I am looking for suggestions, sites, books, videos, to help me along. Any help would be appreciated.

Nolan Dorsey -- Ndorsey at Monday, 01/10/00 18:48:36 GMT

Guru and Friends,
Occasionally I see some reference in the Den to making bits for horses. I am a beginning blacksmith and have done a little work on some snaffel bits. I am looking for suggestions, sites, books, videos, to help me along. Any help would be appreciated.

Nolan Dorsey -- Ndorsey at Monday, 01/10/00 18:49:39 GMT

On welding Cable.
Always flux well ahead of where you are welding. The part of the cable that is partway in the fire will oxidize too much.
My steps are :
First clearn cable burn out any oils and such.
Heat, Flux, Brush flux, flux, heat.
Twist cable tight.
flux some more.

When welding cable and other pattern welded (damascas). No such thing as too much flux.
It will eat the bottom of the forge out. I use a propane forge. Replace the liner every 6 months.

Hope this helps.

Nicholas -- marceljan at Monday, 01/10/00 19:25:09 GMT

Made "pineapple" twist some years ago - lost insructions.
Can you help ?

Bill Stege -- WStege at Monday, 01/10/00 20:37:17 GMT

I`ve recently started learning blacksmithing and would like to know where I can find some helpful literature on the making of armour. All I`ve been able to find is info on making chainmaille but I`ve been making chainmaille for about 8 years now and I`d like to get into some plate armour. It would be very much apreciated if you could give me some tips and/or direct me to a web page that would give me some useful info thank you very much, Buddy Holliday.

Buddy Holliday -- buddyholliday at Monday, 01/10/00 20:45:13 GMT

What is the average wieght of steel per square inch???

Erik -- billybo40 at Monday, 01/10/00 21:26:15 GMT

Bill: Jim Wilson (pawpaw) demonstrated the procedure used to create a pinapple twist on "July 28 1999", the demonstration is archived and avalibe from the iForge page via the link below, you will then need to go to the link titled "Twists".


Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Monday, 01/10/00 21:52:57 GMT

Erik: Depending on the steel, but according to Jock Dempsey (guru)'s software "Mass2" the average weight is .2835 Lb/in3 (thats cubic inch). 410 Stainless is .2782 Lb/in3.

Jock... Its a Great peice of software!


Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Monday, 01/10/00 22:10:29 GMT

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