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 21 - Feb. 2, 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 a novis trying to locate a source for equipment to make scrolls with 1/8 to 1/4 inch round stock.


Ken Slattery -- kslattery1 at Thursday, 01/20/00 01:52:29 GMT

Thanks for the information, and your time. It's great to have a place to come to for answers without the hassels.

Stu -- jarrodax at Thursday, 01/20/00 03:43:49 GMT

Looking for any technical specs. For Nazel 2B hammers.Any info. would be helpfull. Thank you.

Jeremy Andersen -- j.s.andersen at Thursday, 01/20/00 04:09:10 GMT

SCROLLS: Ken, look on the 21st Century page under benders and then the scroll layout demo on the iForge page.

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 05:10:08 GMT

LENGTH of STOCK: Matt, I think you use the diameter at the center line of the bar to calculate the circumference, PI x Dia. And then add one material thickness to the length.

Most blacksmiths just wind up a little extra and trim the ends to make a perfect fit. Most of the time when bending circles in a jig you can't get the bend right to the end so it is better to plan on trimming the straight section. When talking about making a ring to FIT something else the calculation isn't going to take into account the little imperfections in the fit and you will be too short.

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 05:21:53 GMT

John Oliver, You are really trying to hurt the guru's imagination tonight!

I can tell you what your kids WANT to make. Knives, swords, armor, crossbows and anything else pointed or dangerous. . . NO, I'm not being sarcastic, that's what all the guys that ask questions HERE want to make. . . been watching too much "Highlander".

Projects based on scrap are strictly designed around the scrap AND the kind of tools you have (or are allowed to use). If you are alowed to heat metal and forge it, you can do almost anything. Old car springs are good for making tools like punches and chisles (knives, swords). Axels are big enough to make hammers. Any bar stock can be turned into fire tools, kitchen sets. . . Scrap stainless sheet from resturant equipment makes great spatulas and serving spoons. . Heavy chunks of flame cut plate should be turned into anvils, stakes or benchplates.

If you are intrested in THIS route your local ABANA Chapter would be glad to help. We have over 30 step by step blacksmithing projects on the iForge page.

Now Junk Yard Hammers would be a REAL intresting project. Where are you in Canada? Kinda' far to haul em to Flagstaff, AZ :)

If you can't "heat it and beat" it then a lot can be done with sheet metal. Raised vessles take a LOT of time but can teach a lot about the behavior of metal and take few tools. Tree stumps, home made stakes and ball pien hammers. Reposse' can be done using car body material, flashing or the stainless mentioned above (very stuborn to work though), copper is easiest.

If I were teaching a metals class the whole first year (or semester depending on the hours in class) would be tool making with the point that every student would leave with a tool kit at the end of the course. Second year (or semester) would be applying those tools. But this assumes access to forges (or torches and refractory bricks).

The REALLY intresting thing about making tools from scrap is that you have to become a metalurgical detective. Just WHAT is it and how do I heat treat it????

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 06:19:15 GMT

I am looking for information on a Fiarbanks "E" hammer. Any pictures or technical data would be greatly apprieciated.

Ken Zitur -- KjZitur at aol Thursday, 01/20/00 12:23:18 GMT

just a thought on lighting forgefires.
When i start my forge i allways use charcoal (you would need say 1 liter). To start I take a few pices of charcoal and smash them on the anvill (giving me a large handfull of really small pices, allmost dust). I then set fire to a small (just large enough to keep it from falling down the tue) wadd of cloth(cotton or linen)/paper put it in the forge (flames down) and give it a little air.
now i add some air, I just want the flames to catch real good. now I pour the charcoal powder on the burning cloth/paper and let it catch, when it has caught it is time for some larger pieces. Finaly when all the charcoal is glowing i start feeding in coal/coke.
Using charcoal to start the fire actually shortens the timne between lighting the fire and starting smithing. if i use only charcoal for the first 10 min i can smith allmost at once.
just a friendly ip (to be tried or ignored as it pleases the readewr)
Kindly (and i hope helpfully) OErjan

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 01/20/00 13:29:11 GMT


CINDY -- X4FUNCJ at AOL.COM Thursday, 01/20/00 14:37:29 GMT


CINDY -- X4FUNCJ at AOL.COM Thursday, 01/20/00 14:40:28 GMT

FAIRBANKS: Ken, I'm not sure what a model "E" is but here is a Fairbanks flier.

Fairbanks Flier JPG 97Kb

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 15:44:22 GMT

COPPER TUBING: Cindy, If you need specific shape bends wooden jigs can be made. The angular bends will need a radius at the bend to prevent crimping (flatening) the tubing. For spirals, see our articles on benders on the 21st Century page. For soft tubing these same style jigs can be cut from wood (pine shelving) using a jig saw.

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 15:53:26 GMT

OErjan, good discription. Lighting a coal forge fire is sort of an art. Everyone comes up with a method that works well in their forge. I would have the best luck using wood curls made by a hand plane. A supply of which was always short. . . Most of the time I just used a torch.

Frank Turley was doing a wonderful demo at CanIron II where he used (count them) 5 sheets of newsprint, balled and twisted into a mushroom shape. The "stem" was lit and but into the twyer, a little air applied and coal shoveled on. Everything was going great, heat, smoke . . . until the paper was burnt up and the COKE had not lit! His method worked great normally with good coal but the coke needed a torch to get it going!

Anthracite (hard coal) is about the same. It almost takes a bituminous (soft coal) fire to get it going. Once lit it is like coke in that it takes a lot of air to keep it going.

In a friend's shop where there are a lot of big power hammers which get demonstrated on pieces of wood quite often there is almost always enough smashed splintered wood laying around to start the forge. A little trash (paper or carboard) is placed under the wood to get it started, coal shoveled on and away you go!

Probably the most important thing to remember about starting a forge fire is to have dry fuel. If you work outdoors and your forge gets rained on it can be dificult to get a fire started. Soft coal absorbs moisture and if kept dry lights easier. The big problem is that coked down or semi coked down coal is very poras and soaks up a LOT of water. IT is almost imposible to light.

Now days I don't worry much about it. Both of my GAS forges start instantly! One has electronic ignition, the other a push button igniter. Now if I just had heat in the shop. . .

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 16:28:14 GMT

Well..... i'm building a new forge, and the idea was to make it like a table, with the firepit sitting on top of the "table". The legs WERE going to be wood, and the top a 3 foot by 4 foot by 1/4 inch piece of sheet. The firepit was to be made out of brick. Just before I went out to pick the steel top up, my mother, bent on saving me some money, proposed that I scrap the whole thing and go with an old BBQ, lining the inside with the brick, and using the inside as the firepit. Nothing is making sense to me anymore about this thing, so do you have any suggestions???


Erik -- sonic40 at Thursday, 01/20/00 20:35:11 GMT

I am an apprentice looking for information on forged anchors - i would like to make one as an excersise but cannot find any information on designs etc. I would greatly appreciate any help on this.

gerry bobsien -- matthewspradbery at Thursday, 01/20/00 20:40:48 GMT

Matt Nickson:

If you live in San Diego, I am here by inviting you to our basic 1 classes at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista. It is in the northern part of SD county. We are a C.B.A. chapter and the basic 1 class meets the first Saturday of each month at 8:00 am. All are welcome to come. Bring safety glasses and a hammer if you have one. The cost is $5.00 per class to cover the cost of coal and stock. If you join us, You will be required to Join the Muesum and C.B.A. $65 per year total for both memberships. We have people of all levels of experence and if you are willing to learn, we are willing to teach.

Wayne Parris -- benthar at Thursday, 01/20/00 20:48:34 GMT


I've got an old BBQ forge sitting in my yard that I used for years. Made a tuyere for it out of standard plumbing parts, a cart out of the same stuff, lined it with fire brick held together with refractory cement. Worked fine, still does. It's about 7 years old now.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/20/00 21:28:04 GMT

ERIK's FORGE: Sorry, I frustrated you. Forges are nothing more than a place to contain a fire and blow air on it. A hole in the ground works.

Your original idea is a style that a lot of people like but I've never had a chance to try. A flat surface with a hole in the middle OR a pipe from the side was also popular. Normaly the surface is rectangular, about 2 x 3 feet and the hole for the blast is centered equidistant at one end.

Most folks end up putting a "guard" around the edge. This type forge is shown made in metal on the Yucaipa Forge Web Site.

Your wood frame might have needed some insulation between the brick and the wood. Refractory bricks withstand high temperature but are NOT insulators. There IS a type of insulating refractory brick but they are hard to find and purchase. Most wood frame forges are filled with dirt and that lined with clay. The dirt is the insulator (see my Blacksmith of 1776 story for a description).

Paw-Paw is right about the BBQ working fine. In most the sheet metal is too thin but you can line it with dirt and clay like a classic wood frame forge. The refractory bricks are a little heavy for that sheet metal pan but if you have them they are great for all kinds of uses in blacksmithing.

Build your first forge cheap and then see what happens. At the current wholesale price of forged "S" hooks being about $3 each you should be able to make a little money on week ends. .

-- guru Thursday, 01/20/00 22:56:04 GMT


Guru is right about the sheet metal. I failed to mention that the BBQ grill that I converted to a forge is a cast aluminum one. Insulated with fire brick, the outside doesn't even get hot.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 01/20/00 23:11:32 GMT

Ken and Guru. Model "E" is reference to the size of Fairbank hammers. A size "E" is 125#'s.

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 01/20/00 23:30:26 GMT

Not at all. You did nothing to annoy me at all, I was just a little swamped with options. "NOTE"... Something seems to be screwy. I posted that message once, and its been listed 2 times.. Might want to look into that..

Erik -- sonic40 at Friday, 01/21/00 01:04:47 GMT

FAIRBANKS: But Bruce! That flyer says the code is "Memory" whatever THAT is about????

Eric. I don't know WHY the double posts occur. An echo? Hmmm, the log says 2 minutes past between the posts. . . It has something to do with when you finished reading the log. . . HHMMMmmmmm

-- guru Friday, 01/21/00 02:52:47 GMT

Guru, most Fairbanks hammers have a letter cast on their side. I have seen some that don't. My 50#er "B" doesn't and I know someone else who has a 25# "A" that dosen't have a letter either. I have an old Champion Forge catalog and they also gave most of what they sold a code name. Don't really know what it's all about. Why didn't they just call what they had what it was?

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 01/21/00 04:04:15 GMT

LUNAR ECLIPSE - TOTAL: Anybody on the East coast of the US needs to look at the moon NOW!

-- guru Friday, 01/21/00 04:16:46 GMT

Jock, Been logging on but things have been going so smooth I haven't needed to ask any questions lately Thanks to Bill Cottrell. I have a question now though: When I weld this power hammer together I want to minimize warpage, is preheating to say 400 degrees(using a tempil stick)going to eliminate enough of this warping or should I use bolts? My hammer is rather tall (8 ft.) If I could post a .jpg file I can send a drawing. I have one weld that goes up the vertical support that I am worried will "pull" if I weld it. TC

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Friday, 01/21/00 15:06:36 GMT

Guru, grandpa, and all
Question I have is, What does hot short, or perhaps red short mean(perhaps they are the same thing?)? I have seen in books references to one or the other, but no decent description of what they mean.

Ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 01/21/00 16:08:41 GMT

Ralph: Realy should leave this for the Guru to answer, but will give it a shot. It is my understanding that "red short" and "hot short" have the same meaning: the material will crack or break when forged at a normal forging temperature. The most commom reason is the presense of sulfur or phosphorus compounds in the grain boundries. These compounds are liquid at red to orange heats and greatly weaken the steel.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 01/21/00 17:12:40 GMT

A friend of mine is interested in learning the trade/art of blacksmithing. How does one get started? The area we live in is London/Hertfordshire. Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Paul Jenkins -- donnapaul22 at Friday, 01/21/00 17:51:17 GMT

Paul, Print a him copy of my article Getting Started listed at the top of this page. Tell him to take it with a grain of salt. Then have him contact BABA British Artist Blacksmiths Association. There will be folks there that will help and know about local schools, workshops and such.

-- guru Friday, 01/21/00 19:28:27 GMT

WELDING FRAME: Tim, Building structurals is sort of an art. If you know what you are doing it will be warped very little. If you just start at the end and start welding it will curl up like a potato chip.

I had a 9 year veteran union welder working for me a while back. He didn't get it. He would ALWAYS start at the worse place and instead of 'tacking' things together he would go for a full penetration weld first strike!

General rules.
LONG continous welds are BAD. You can warp a 4" thick piece of plate to uselessness with a little buz box.

Have good clean fits before you start. Real weld preps help too.

Tack everything together first. If its crooked then, break the tacks and try again (the above mentioned welder had to TORCH apart several assemblies. . . what a mess).

Use 'stitch welds'. Measure and lay them out if you cannot judge distances accurately by eye (I know you can't through that helmet so DO IT). 1" every 2 or 3 is good.

Alternate from side to side of a rib, flange or web. Balance the forces pulling the weldment out of shape.

Check the shape as you go. You may have to break a tack and do some sledge hammering before you are finished.

If a continous weld is deemed necessary, stitch weld first balancing the welds then fill in the gaps via the same method.

Preheating doesn't do much good on structurals but post weld stress relieving does. Especially on thick flanges. Heat the whole area to a good red and pein it, then let cool slowly. Everything should be straight afterwards.
You can mail me the JPEG as an email attachment. Send only ONE as a test to be sure the attachements are working and then wait until I respond that it worked OK.

-- guru Friday, 01/21/00 19:56:41 GMT

So then if I am understanding this correctly, a red short material will have to forged at a lower temp(color)?
BTW grandpa, you have some very very beautiful work! When ever someone asks what is the limit of what you can do with iron/steel laminates I send them to your page!

Ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 01/21/00 20:04:08 GMT

Boy Scout Metalworking Merit Badge:

Item #1: If any of you are in the Washington Metropolitan Area, I could use some help. The local Scout troops in the Alexandria area are having a Merit Badge Jamboree on Saturday, February 26. I can usually handle about 6 Scouts on my own, but they've signed up 16! If I can get a couple of volunteers, we can handle all of them for the six quick projects needed to teach the principles and complete the merit badge. I was planning on tent stakes as a "hot work" project. If you're available, contact me at the NPS address, or you can call me at 202-565-1173 at work (07:30-16:00 est).

Item #2 Boy Scout Metalwork Merit Badge Pamphlet: Since my boss is the National Park Service/BSA liaison, I end up volunteering for occasional interesting projects. The BSA National Office has contacted me regarding revisions to their Metalworking Merit Badge pamphlet, on the basis that what I don't know, y'all will. I'm looking for three or four of you folks who know both metalwork and Scouting to send out copies and kick around ideas. Volunteers can send their surface address, 'phone numbers and hours of access to me at my NPS cc:mail address. We're not going to see a Blacksmithing Merit Badge again (the trend is to consolidate, rather than to specialize merit badges) but, if reasonable, we may be able to get at least some blacksmithing information in there. If not, it would certainly do no harm to review the present volume, keeping in mind the varying abilities of the Scouts involved.

Jock, Paw Paw, Grandpa, Bruce, Grant? Any of y'all run about in khaki shorts in your youth or serve (like me) as "Third Assistant Scoutmaster"?

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 01/21/00 20:07:41 GMT

I have a noisey Champion Blower that I am trying to lubricate. I have packed all four of the side grease caps. My problem is that I can not get the nut off of the fan shaft located in the fan housing. I have removed the rear fan shaft grease cap and put a 3/4" socket on that end to brace against while trying to loosen the other end. Is the nut on the fan side of the fan shaft reverse threaded? I have purchased some 1/4" ball bearings to replace the existing ones if I can ever get to them. If you know of a schematic or any information I can download, I would appreciate it. Thanks, Billy T.

Billy Templeton -- bhtempleton at Friday, 01/21/00 21:38:26 GMT

My friend and I were planning on going into the sword making business but were not quit sure how to make a proper sword.


Isac -- MUNKYDUDE1 at Saturday, 01/22/00 00:07:53 GMT


See private e-mail. Item #2. Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Cub Pack Committe Chairman as an adult. Two sons both scouts. One grandson now a Cub.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 01/22/00 00:29:25 GMT

Billy, The method that I use is to heat both the nut and bolt, at the same time, to bright red or light straw and then douse them with a sloppy-wet water rag. This will restroy the rust and gunk in the threads. If the threads are damaged, there is nothing to do except repalce the bolt and nut. Most bolt/nut compinations are not hurt by heating and cooling in this fashion. I would not do this on a tempered bolt/nut where the strength might be compromised.
Frank LaRoque

Frank LaRoque -- laroque at Saturday, 01/22/00 01:12:34 GMT

RED-SHORT: Ralph, Generaly it means you have to work the steel hotter. Grandpa was right about the sulphur. Iron sulphides become liquid at a red heat and the material tends to act brittle as it crumbles at the crystal boundrys. Manganese is added to steels to form Manganese sulphide which is plastic at forging temperatures.

HOT-SHORT: Is the result of burning the steel or overheating for a prolonged period. Internal oxidation or oxides at the grain boundrys is the case here. In both cases the steel is not as plastic as it should be and crumbles at a red heat.

I've only worked severly 'short' material one time and it had to be worked very hot or it fell in two. . . Had to look these up to be sure. .

-- guru Saturday, 01/22/00 02:38:14 GMT

Isac MUNKYDUDE, If you don't know anything about it, how are you going to make a business of it? The art of the bladesmith is at the top of the metalworking technological chain. The guys who do it well study metalurgy and engineering and figure out how to apply it to what are also works of art.

The proper way to make a sword is to study the technology until you understand it, the history until you know it, the art until you can tell good from bad. Then you take a piece of steel and forge it to shape, grind it to final shape, file and polish to finish. Along the way you heat treat it (harden and temper), maybe etch or engrave it. Then you fit the guard, grip and pomel (different materials often requiring studies in themselves).

If you are just fooling around you buy a 3/16 x 1-/2" piece of aircraft type aluminium (7075-T6 or 6061-T4), saw a tang on the grip end a point on the business end with a hack saw, file tapers on 'blade' but not too sharp, followed by endless sanding and polishing until it looks like silver (aluminium is great for that). Fit with a guard and wrapped grip.

Almost any public library will have one or more books on knife making. A sword is nothing more than a big knife. Everything is fitted together the same way. If you can't find a book at the library Centaur Forge has a dozen or more titles on the subject. If you have some specific question we will be glad to help.

-- guru Saturday, 01/22/00 03:26:50 GMT

Thanks Frank. I'll give that a try. I hope it doesn't catch the oil or grease on fire inside the housing. I appreciate your help.
Billy T.

Billy Templeton -- bhtempleton at Saturday, 01/22/00 06:06:37 GMT


If Frank's method doesn't work, (and I believe that it will) you can pick up a can of B'Laster from Advance Auto. It's a spray can, will be in the same area as the WD-40, but works a LOT better to break rust.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 01/22/00 06:50:37 GMT

I'm studying to be a machinist, so I have access to a lot of high- quality steel, such as machine, tool, high speed, and hot and cold rolled steel. I was wondering which, if any, could be used in the making of a high-quality blade?

Jeffrey Bressette -- mgolivi at Saturday, 01/22/00 13:36:33 GMT

Jeffery, High Speed steels are almost impossible to heattreat. Almost all other tool steels have been used in knife making. Plain SAE 1095 is one of the best but a lot of folks are useing 52100 from bearings. The more exotic steels are usualy used in laminated steel where you would use alloy tool steel along with mild steel. The result is often called Damascus. There is a long discription earlier this month (soon you will need to look in the archive). In these it is common to use nickle, nickle steels or 400 series stainless in order that the patterns in the layers are more distinctive.

How you handle and heattreat the steel is often more critical than the type of steel itself.

-- guru Saturday, 01/22/00 14:55:21 GMT

Jeffrey: Some of the steels being used by custom knifemakers are: 440C, 154CM, D2, L6, 15N20, 52100, W2 and 1095. It seems that each maker has different ideas of what is "best".

grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 01/22/00 14:59:10 GMT

Thanks Jim. If I can find the B'laster I will try that first before heating the bolt and nut up. Years ago my dad and I would heat up pulleys to get them off of a shaft and then put them in a freezer to put them back on. Besides burning out the "gunk" in the threads, Franks solution is probably based on the same principle. I also wanted to make sure that the threads are not reversed on the fan end of the shaft. It always makes it lot easier if I am turning the nut the right way to loosen it. In my experience, all reverse threaded nuts had a notch or slash cut across them. However, I don't know if they did that back when this blower was made.

Billy Templeton -- bhtempleton at Saturday, 01/22/00 16:46:17 GMT

Guru how are tapered columns for canopy bed frames made? I understand how to make out of solid stock but would prefer not to have to rent a crane :-) to make or move them. How do you taper pipe or tube?

Plain ol "Bill" -- wcottr at Saturday, 01/22/00 17:19:53 GMT


Working on a "little" bending job today. Three lifting bails for an aluminum company. Each one starts with 96 inches of 4 inch round 4140 (300 lbs!). Needs to be bent in a "U" sorta. Actually looks like a side view of a house - three bends. Half hour or so to heat for each bend, then move it to the bender with the forklift. Heat the middle first and bend in a "V" then heat each leg and bend till they're parallel. Hard to keep it all flat. Well worth the trouble though - $3,500.00 each! PERCIEVED VALUE! SUPPLY & DEMAND ETC. By the end of the day we'll bill $10,500.00! Not bad for two guys at one day! Bending is one of the simpler blacksmith operations, but I've found it to be one of the most profitable, even much smaller stuff.

Bigger bender = bigger jobs. I've got a bender I built many years ago from a hydraulic stearing gear for a big ship - 18,000 foot-pounds of torque! Customer is not paying for my labor, he's paying for me keeping this bender sitting here doing nothing most of the time so I have it when he needs something like this. Sure wish I could find more work like this! Only see two or three jobs like this each year. Still - I can't complain!

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 17:58:26 GMT

Grant: Seems like a fat price at first glance, but you don't get that kind of job the first day after you start up. When you factor in all the sales effort, upfront investment risk, fixed overhead from allocating space for the bender,etc, etc., the price begins to even look reasonable.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 01/22/00 19:01:49 GMT

Most certainly I'm bragging when I tell about a job like that, but I DO want blacksmiths to know that there IS money to be made. In my experience it's the rare smith who can make a living on "art". I bend flat bar "J" hooks for local truck body companies, put spear points on pickets for fence fabricators, bend all kinds of little hooks and rings. THE WORK IS OUT THERE if you're willing to do these kind of things. Most areas of the country don't have anyone to resharpen points and chisels for paving breaker tools. No glamor to it, but it helps pay the bills. I know guys who do a $50 - $100 THOUSAND a year just in sharpening! Learning to work with copper, brass, bronze and aluminum is worthwhile too. I used to upset 1-1/4 silicone bronze BY HAND for a shipyard that prior to that made special bolts by turning down 2-1/2 inch bar! I didn't have to do a great job - they would turn it to shape after. Working with that I liked to heat it with a cutting torch to get the right heat, bang it on the anvil till I had it swelled up enough, then drop it in a old-fashion header and beat the head down. Not too hard to do six or eight an hour - twenty years ago I was charging $50.00 each. They saved more than that in material, not to mention the turning time.


I finally drug that SHC (10150, or is that UHC?) steel out of the back forty. It's 2 X 6 or about 35 lbs. per foot. You still want some? Maybe just a small piece to experiment with?

grant -- nakedanvil at Saturday, 01/22/00 19:11:32 GMT


Actually I guess I shouldn't call it by A.I.S.I. as it IS tool steel, so it would be a W-1 or W-2 of 150 points carbon. WWII vintage, was supposed to be for reamers I hear tell.

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 20:09:33 GMT

That type of steel was also used for the undersides of mine sweepers, and some apc's.
Just thought you'd like to know


Erik -- sonic40 at Saturday, 01/22/00 20:40:50 GMT

Grant: Yeah, I'd like to have a small chunk to play with. Maby you could bring some to Flagstaff? ( saves on shipping)
To get those bending jobs requires some leg work to get the word out I would image. Also would expect some time has to pass before the rush comes. If you can remember, why don't you post some data about how many hours of hustling business vs hours of actual production work when you started, and how that ratio changes as your business matures. Might help some see what to expect/hope for if they decide to grow black buggers for a living.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 01/22/00 20:51:50 GMT


Not sure I want to think about that! Back in the last century I would spend at least five days a month pounding on doors. Probably got work from less that 10% of those. Did a local industrial trade show that was a big help. Them folks didn't know what could be done with a little heat and a little power! If they couldn't do it with BF&I (Brute Force & Ignorance) they thought it couldn't be done! Found what I thought to be "competitors" to be a great resource too. Boiler shops, pressbrake shops, and bending shops get A LOT of inquires for thing they either cannot do or don't want to do for one reason or another. Usually because the bend radius is too tight to do cold or it's alloy bar, sometimes just too small a quantity for them to fiddle with! They LOVE being knowlegable and knowing where to send such customers. Great thing about that is by the time they call me they've exausted all the usual resources and are willing to pay almost anything to just get the work done. They're usually so relieved at that point to find someone who can do what they want that price is the LAST thing they care about. SUPPLY & DEMAND!

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 21:15:22 GMT

Forgot to mention - steel suppliers. They want to sell the steel. If they can help their customer find someone to do certain work they stand a better chance of supplying the steel. Sometimes they like to re-sell your services. Used to "proof" bar for Jorgenson steel too. They'd send me a piece about 2 diameters long and all I had to do was upset it down into a pancake. If the surface didn't crack, it was O.K. $100.00, thank you very much. We're talking anything from 2 inch bar up to maybe 10" bar. Used to upset slugs of copper-nickel too. Local suppliers only carry a few sizes of this expensive stuff. If the customer is going to turn a part that will finish 2-1/16 diameter and the supplier only has 2 inch and 4 inch material then upsetting the two inch a little will save big bucks on say 100 pieces four inches long. Yes, Virginia this too is forging. Believe it or not, in this example the savings is about ten pounds at $4.00 per pound, or $40.00 each! And you can charge $40.00 and the machine shop still saves all the extra turning! $4,000.00 for th job, not bad!

grant -- nakedanvil at Saturday, 01/22/00 21:43:51 GMT

I know I'm getting a little long-winded here, just hope some of this is interesting to some, besides I need something to do while the next bar heats - taking about 45 minutes each to heat for these bends.

Sometimes Jorgenson had to supply "forged bar" (probably gummit). To qualify as forged bar it had to be a 3:1 reduction by hammering. Had hammers up to 1,500 lb at that time and LOTS of swages. Bout $1.00 per pound was my going rate twenty years ago. Sometimes it was done to supply a smaller bar than they had in a special material. Mind you, Jorgenson has a BIG forge shop here in Seattle. Great place, furnaces on one side, presses a couple hundred feet away, they work BIG stuff! We weren't competition, I could do things they could not do cost effectivly.

Bolt companies are another source of business. I've made "J" bolts, "L" bolts, "U" bolts, Hanger bolts (just flattened on the end and a hole punched) fin-head bolts, turned stainless hex bolts into countersink screws (slotted with a power hacksaw blade by hand). There IS work for blacksmiths.

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 22:15:14 GMT

Bought (and paid for) my first forklift on a bending job. Couldn't do the job without it so it was figured in the bid. We were bending new permanent mooring anchors for the Navy at Pearl Harbor. Had to bend 2-1/2inch X 20 foot bars in hair pins with the legs bent into "J"'s. Three 180 degree bends each. Filled up a couple containers of these. Needed the forklift to handle the stuff. Boy, when you get a heat in the middle they sure like to droop! Had to make a spreader bar to lift them with. Bent the ends first, then the middle. Near impossible to keep everything flat! Fork lift came in handy there too. after making the third bend in the middle, we'd throw it on the floor and drive the the forklift OVER IT to "roll" it flat! They took them to Pearl and stuck them in big concrete forms with just the bight sticking out. After that, they dropped them in the harbor with mooring bouys hooked to them.

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 22:33:45 GMT

Never know WHATS gonna pay the bills. Many years ago during a VERY slow and cold winter the ONLY job I had to speak of was a sawing job. Fortunatly, I had a Marvel Automatic power hacksaw. Steel supplier didn't want to have his saw tied up so much, so he sent me the job. Lopi Wood stoves needed what they called stove collars, bout 2 inches of 10 inch pipe where the stove pipe fastened on. At that time they were doing around 200 stoves per day! Only made about $1.00 each, but as I said it kept the wolf away from the door. Saw ran all day unattended except to put another pipe on. Would have made more money rolling them from flat bar, but then I'd be screwing the steel supplier who sent me the work.

Many manufacturers need small things made. Often a little hot bending or squashing will provide a better part than the one they now have welded/machined/cast.

O.K. I'll be quiet now (unless you beg me!).

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 23:03:59 GMT

One more, and then I promise I'll shutup!

Don't forget forge shops and other blacksmith shops! Make friends with anyone you might consider competition. Don't start a feud if they beat you fair on a bid either. Often you can do things that they can't, people tend to get into specialties. Sometimes they might get too busy and sub things out to you. Many "forge" shops don't know diddly about blacksmithing, believe it or not. They get inquiries for all sorts of things, but if it can't be done in drop forge dies, they're lost. You also might be able to learn from these folks and even have them make things for you!

Does that address your question, GRANDPA! just had to get me started, didn't you

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 23:34:56 GMT

You also might consider gate and railing faricators to be competition or even "them guys who slap shit together with a mig gun". When it comes to cranking out miles of fence you'll never compete. They DO get inquiries for higher class work and often will buy "elemints" either stock or custom made to slap in with the mig welder. There are blacksmiths out there who do this kind of thing almost exclusively! Do the parts you like and let them do all the crap!

grant -- nakedanvil Saturday, 01/22/00 23:43:24 GMT

Hahahahah. . . "Back in the last century. . " Just WAIT 20 years and you can tell that to kids born in THIS century and OH, MY won't they think you are ANCIENT!

Let "them" do the installation too. . . :o)

ODD JOBS: Can be profitable too. Best money I ever made was drilling holes with an old worn out antique flat belt drive 20" drill press. If someting needs to be Bent, Drilled AND Welded it's amazing how many "welding" shops turn it down. When other's have turned it down YOU are worth more.

When curves are involved most other "conventional" shops will turn down the job too.
TAPERED TUBE: Plain ol "Bill", Bet you thought we would never get to you. . .

Forging pipe takes a little preparation. "V" swages are needed so that as you forge the tube it upsets the wall. Often when large changes in diameter are made the section becomes almost solid. 1-1/2" pipe (1.9"OD) has a cross section approximately equal to a 7/8" round bar.

Intresting things can be done with pipe. Forge it square then neck it down and flare back out to round and taper the round to a spindle. Of course once you've gone with a hollow section you can throw away tradition and arc weld the round spindle to a larger piece of square tubing for the "leg". This too can be dressed by forging, either to give it square corners or to make the rounded corners into chamfers so the whole looks like solid forged.

A hint for twisting square tube. Find a round bar that fits loosly but almost fills the square tube. THEN twist the tube and the bar keeps it from collapsing. Might take some oil and a press to get the bar out if its too tight a fit. . .

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 00:01:06 GMT

MORE ODD JOBS: A local machine shop picked up a job back in the late 1920's (THE Depression). The fellow was imaginative enough to know that he could bend and fabricate lightweight tubing with wooden bending jigs and an old punch press he had that dated from ANOTHER earlier century. . . For 50 years they made the frames for almost every portable sign you saw in front of service stations carrying the Penziol, Wolfshead or Quakerstate banner. . . ONce or twice every year there would be an order for a couple hundred. And every year, no matter how busy the shop was, EVERYONE made sign frames. They were still using most of the 50 year old tooling when the old man died and the family finaly got out of the business.

One "gravy" job that kept the shop in business for half a century.

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 00:19:32 GMT

My standing line for customers visiting my table at a science-fiction convention or a craft show ends with: "and if I can't handle it, I know blacksmiths who can." Brad Silberberg mentioned when the BGOP visited his shop the other year that he did the pretty parts and let a local railing/fence shop handle the fabrication and installation.

Not only is there more than one way to skin cats, but some are better, cheaper and more profitable.

Ship is covered and the creek is frozen over on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 01/23/00 00:54:40 GMT

O mighty guru: I am looking for a 25lb. Little Giant power hammer, any help you can give me will be appreciated. Do you know how i can get in touch with Sid Sudemier? I am a bladesmith and keep the anvil hot and ringing clear.
Thanks Knifemaker at Griffen Mountain Knifeworks

Dave Darby -- knfmkr at Sunday, 01/23/00 01:31:37 GMT

RE:A hint for twisting square tube. Find a round bar that fits loosly but almost fills the square tube. THEN twist the tube and the bar keeps it from collapsing. Might take some oil and a press to get the bar out if its too tight a fit. . .

You might try pipe or tube then you don't have to remove it... I have done it and it works good..

RE tube bending:
I bend small tube (3/8) all the time to (180*) U bends, and what I use is
CERRBEND it is a low melt metal (212*)

you fill the tube then it acts as a solid , bend as you want, then melt out
metal in boiling water.

McMaster-Carr supply co. sells it

Glenn -- ridgart at Sunday, 01/23/00 01:57:25 GMT

I am trying to restore and antique kersoene lamp. The lens door has a spring steel clip to hold it shut. The clip is broken and I would like to fabricate a new one. It's a very small part and I am wondering if it is possible to anneal a piece of an old hacksaw blade, then shape it and retemper it. If possible how should I proceed?

Thanks for your help.


Peter Ashley -- fpashley at Sunday, 01/23/00 02:30:17 GMT

Peter: Recently made a distributor cap retaining clip for the next door neighbor. Found a worn out bandsaw blade that was only .002" thicker than the original. What worked the best for me was--
1. Anneal a section of the bandsaw blade that is long enough.
2. Cut to shape cold with tin snips.
3. Bend to shape cold.
4. Harden and temper to spring.
5. Test springyness.
6. Tell neighbor how difficult it was.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 01/23/00 02:43:16 GMT

Do you know if all the Hey-Budden anvils were forged, and if not, do you know when the forged ones were last manufactured?

Jerry James -- gpjames at Sunday, 01/23/00 04:11:24 GMT

Could you help me find a website that expains how pewter crafts are made. Thank you

Jose Antonio -- jperez at Sunday, 01/23/00 04:28:16 GMT

Any advise on melting colored glass to place into metal for decorative effect? Would like to melt some coke bottle or deep blue glass like was in old milk magnesia bottles to place in animal sculpture for eyes, etc. Any suggestions on technique appreciated. Saw mention of using this in a blacksmith book somewhere. Thanks, Travis

Travis -- TRAVISDEEN at Sunday, 01/23/00 04:37:40 GMT

LITTLE GIANT: Dave, Look on our Power hammer Page on the manufacturers list. Drop Bruce Wallace a line on the 25# AND put a notice on the Hammer-In

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 04:38:00 GMT

Glenn, Ceracast Cerabend is GREAT stuff but we were talking bed post sized tubing. . . ;-)

Jerry, Haybuddens were ALL forged. Early ones were wrought with tool steel face, later ones had all tool steel upper bodies. They went just before the crash, 1928. Best anvil made in most folks opinion.

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 04:43:41 GMT

Excuse me, Hay-Budden (it was a partnership)

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 04:44:32 GMT

Hi, about how hard must the air pressure be from the bellow.

Marcus -- Kall_ocain at Sunday, 01/23/00 10:25:28 GMT

I've e-mailed Grant Sarver in hopes of contacting him about fly presses at nakedanvil at . Unfortunatley i've gotten no response. Is there any other way of contacting him? I'd really like to find and set up a fly press and i understand he sells them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kevin Casey -- kc at Sunday, 01/23/00 14:31:40 GMT

I was interested in making graphite molds. I would like to know what is used as the binding agent or the whatever process is used to hold the graphite atoms together - the question seems equivalent to "How to I make a pencil lead?" For simplicity, how would I make a graphite block?

Lino Geo Lino Bailey -- lino at Sunday, 01/23/00 14:59:54 GMT

BELLOWS AIR PRESSURE: Marcus, Intresting question. I'll have do a few calculations. . . area of top.. . density of pine. . braces. .center of gravity. . . area of discharge. . About 5 psi static (plugged discharge). But THAT is a lot more than what is seen in operation where flow is involved. CFM is the usual measurement used for forges and this varies greatly depending on the size and condition of the fire. A range of 20 to 200 CFM is common. Of course there are times with a bellows where you "over pump" and use direct pressure rather than that of the top of the second chamber. Then the static pressure may go all the way up to 6-7 psi!

Kevin, Grant is notorious (he'll like that word) for not answering e-mail. His 800 number is listed on his web page

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 16:41:13 GMT

Do you have a wedsite address for the Blacksmiths' Guild of the Potomac? The one I have is not current.

Gerald Thacker -- thacker at Sunday, 01/23/00 17:15:26 GMT

GRAPHITE: Lino, First most graphite molds are machined from solid not cast. Second, different binders are used for various applications and in very small amounts. A press is used to squeeze the binder and the graphite powder together so that it is hard and dense requiring little binder. Third, WHY?

The common method uses bituminous binder (coal-tar pitch) and it is then sintered (heated in a controled atmosphere) carbonizing the binder so that what is left is graphite and carbon. Furfural resin is also used becoming polymerized.

Pencil leads are made of clay and graphite which is fired in an oven but there are new types (worthless to me) that use a plastic binder. And then the type used for drawing on plastic drafting film use a hard wax and plastic binder.

Not mentioned in my materials book, epoxy is used as a binder for some purposes.

Then if you want REALLY weird I've got a piece of material that looks like graphite and copper or bronze powder, maybe 50/50. Its very heavy so I know it has a lot of metal in it. . . . Odd nuclear/defense industry stuff. .

For high temperature mold making you can get machinable clay that is fired in a kiln after machining. It is designed to be very dimensionaly stable.

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 17:16:07 GMT

I have recently acquired a small protable forge in very good condition, and I'd like to keep it that way. The fellow I bought it from suggested lining the bottom with fire clay to keep the metal from burning through. Can you suggest a source for fire clay?

Gerald Thacker -- thacker at Sunday, 01/23/00 17:18:55 GMT

FIRE CLAY: Gerald, the most important thing to keeping the forge in good condition is to NOT leave burnt coal or ashes in it. Sulphur in the coal ash is extreamly corrosive and will eat up a sheet metal forge pan in no time. I do not recommed lining these forges because the acids and salts from the coal get under the clay and still do thier damage. If this type forge is left out doors or in a damp environment with coal ashes in the pan the bottom will disapear in one or two years. I've had 1/4" (7mm) plate disappear in in a few years. . .

If you do line it the bottom should be cleaned and painted with zinc powder paint (cold galvanizing) then a top coat of barbeque black (high temperature graphite based paint). Allow to cure a few days before claying. Clay should be mixed as stiff as possible and applied in about a 1/2" (10-15mm) layer. Allow to dry thouroughly. Patch the cracks and alow to dry again.

Loose dirt, clay or ashes can be used to line the bottom of the forge. In most cases the bed of coal does the job. Dump out the coal and lining when not in use. Wipe out and touch up the paint if going into storage.

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 17:46:26 GMT

That carbon/copper block sounds like some stuff they sell for E.D.M. I use lots of solid carbon and I've used copper for E.D.M. electrodes. Seen that stuff advertized, never tried it though.

Kevin Casey:

Think I've probably brought in all the fly presses I'm going to for awhile. Sorry! (notorious? really?)

grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 01/23/00 17:59:39 GMT

Grant, I figured the carbon/copper material was for some type of electrode. EDM makes sense. If I ever have to drag it out and move it I'll cut off a sample and send it to you.

-- guru Sunday, 01/23/00 18:28:18 GMT

Many thanks for the advice. It makes sense. If I should decide to use the fire clay, can you suggest a source of it, perhaps in the Washington, DC area?

Gerald Thacker -- thacker at Sunday, 01/23/00 19:14:32 GMT

I've seen forges lined with DIRT! Now the trouble with saying "dirt" is that not all dirts are created equal. The kind you want is mostly sand with a little clay. This is also the best kind of dirt for a floor. Packs down nice and produces very little dust. A LITTLE organic matter will help make it porous after it burns out. If you're into gardening you probably know your soil type.

Kevin Casey: my phone # is (800) 993-6744 (I usually answer THAT)

grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 01/23/00 19:46:11 GMT


If that mixed copper block is pretty crushable, its what they used to use for a shock base for the old minuteman icbm tactical missiles. The things would rest on a pad that had springs below it, with the springs resting on the copper mix. The idea was that if the bunker was hit with a low yield missile, the springs would take the shock, leving the thing intact. When hit with someting harder, or with a higher yeild(nuclear), the springs would compress so far that they would throw the misile out on the rebound. thus the blocks. If the springs were jabbed down, then the blocks would break, dissipating the shock iinto the ground below.
Where did you get it from, by the way>>>.


Erik -- sonic40 at Sunday, 01/23/00 21:47:16 GMT

Hi. I am interested in finding some information about propane torch use. Basic metal art projects are the types of things I would be doing. Type of metal that can be used with one and different techniques, know of any sites? Thank you

lisa -- sponge4info at Sunday, 01/23/00 22:42:29 GMT

Hi Guru,
I've got a question that I'm sure has been addressed before.
However, I could not find it in the archives.
Could you please shed some light on what size chimney (round) "C"
grade or B-vent would best facilitate a permanent indoor forge setup,
to allow for maximum draw of products of combustion?
Is a hood prefered?,or just secured ducting in proximity to the fire.
If only ducting is required,should the opening be mounted vertical or horizontal to the fire? Should there be any consideration to provide
make up air? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Mark -- m.c.puigmarti at Sunday, 01/23/00 23:01:43 GMT

I have a 25#LG. The Main babbitt bearings are chupped off on the outer edges of the journals, consequently the oil leaks out the journals pretty fast I have been using chainsaw bar oil for lube. Any remedies, other than recasting the babbit, switch to higher visc. oil perhaps? Thanks

Mike Sweany -- sweanym1 at Monday, 01/24/00 00:09:10 GMT

do you know where i could buy a fly press?

Kevin Casey -- kc at Monday, 01/24/00 00:17:07 GMT

I will primarily be making pioneer repoductions, laminated knife blades and ceremonial trade tomahawks. What kind of power hammer would you recommend to add to the shop to do 80 to 90 percent of this type of work. Ive been looking at the kinyan air hammer 150#. Would this be a good choice?

Jerome Wheeler -- jwheels at Monday, 01/24/00 02:18:44 GMT

Jerome, 100# to 150# hammers are a very good size for general work right down to 1/4" (7mm) stock. Smaller hammers can do the job but they run so fast it is hard for the smith to keep up. It also takes less heats with the bigger hammer resulting in generaly cleaner work.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 02:44:28 GMT

Kasey, Bruce Wallace had some old ones listed a while back and they may still be available. These were manual machines.


-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 02:50:35 GMT

LITTLE GIANT OIL: Mike, bar oil is a little thin. I'd use 30W or 20W50. New bearings won't matter. Plain journal bearing leak oil. If a Little Giant or any of the other mechanical hammers is not covered with oil its either just been cleaned and painted OR its not being properly lubricated. Seals are a modern invention designed to keep dirt out of ball bearings. Plain bearings in old machines LEAK! The open guides need lots of oil and it runs everywhere too. The clutch and toggles need oil and it runs out of them! If you don't like all the oil you had better not buy any more OLD machinery.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 02:57:40 GMT

HOOD and CHIMINEY: Mark, 10" ID (250mm) is the minimum for a forge but 12" (300mm) is best. A side draft intake is best. See the last page of the ABANA conference edition of the NEWS and the AFC edition for modern steel side draft "hoods".

Any time you have a large chiminey in operation make-up air is important. However few buildings were THAT tight until the recent era.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 04:25:11 GMT

PROPANE TORCH: Lisa, Standard propane torches are suitable for soft soldering but the flame is too large for delicate work. Bottle mounted propane torches also cannot be used at angle less than horizontal and horizontal is a problem until the fuel is half used up. In the bottle the fuel is liquid. It biols and becomes gas in the upper portion. If you tip the torch to where liquid gets in the valve/nozzle than the torch goes out.

For most work a non-bottle mounted torch is best. These are made for use without an oxygen bottle but WITH pure oxygen the flame temperature almost doubles and is much more useful.

It would help to know what type work you are intrested in.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 04:31:16 GMT

Erik, The graphite/copper material I have came from a machine shop scrap pile.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 04:32:46 GMT

On bending: I had a jobb involving the bending of tube1" dia 8"long with 1/16" wall(25mm dia,190mm long,1,5mm) in a ~2"(47mm)curve (measured inside). Guess what, I used a verry cheap filler for that; ICE!. To bend the tube I heated the part of it I wanted soft to a dull red and quenched. I filled the tube with water and placed outside over night (I had temps around 0*F or -25*C). When i came back the day after I placed in a bender and.... I got about 5$ each, easy money or what:-).
problem was that the person who wanted the jobb only wanted 125 made. Oh well not bad for 3 days work.

OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 01/24/00 12:43:00 GMT


Joe im still on the pub -- x Monday, 01/24/00 12:43:28 GMT


What a wonderful low-tech solution!

Grant -- Nakedanvil Monday, 01/24/00 15:03:21 GMT

I was delighted to read your remarks about smithing jobs. Most of what I do has no glamor factor, but it pays the bills. To everyone that passed on information and suggestions to me on my ring job, thank you for your help. Those 50 hog feeder rings will keep the doors open this winter for sure.

Mike -- WCFarm at Monday, 01/24/00 18:46:39 GMT

I know real blacksmiths do it with a chisel but... I'm looking at
buying a cut-off saw. Mostly I'll be cutting angle and box sections.
What would you guys recommend, a cheap bandsaw, power hacksaw or
splash out some more and get a fairly convincing bandsaw?

David Round -- round at Monday, 01/24/00 18:55:26 GMT

David, Good hacksaw blades have been around since the 1600's. . Much work requires that clean square cut end and even jobs that don't need it often go smoother and faster. Saws are expensive. Band saws are the work horse of the industry but recipocating power hacksaws are still common. Marvel has always made one of the best.

Avoid the little 4x6 saws. I have one made by Ridgid Tools that is GREAT but no longer made. We bought a copy from Sears and it was the pits. The cast iron bed had been replaced with pressed steel and didn't have the rigidity necessary in a saw. There are many REAL cheap copies of this saw and most are complete junk. Some of the import stuff is very good but some is also very bad. It's surprising how many machines are sold that never worked. Not on paper, not at the factory and not in your shop - until you redesign and rebuild it. . .

Whatever saw you buy be sure to look at it closely. If its at a dealer have him cut a large piece of stock and check it with a straight edge and square. You would be surprised how many saws not only don't cut square but cut curved instead of straight! Any saw bigger than the 4x6 needs a coolant system. It is NOT an option.

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 19:29:40 GMT

I see a few plans out on the net for the smithing magician but none that I have seen specify the type of steel to be used for the dies. Can anyone suggest the best type of steel to use as dies in the magician for hot work? Thanks - Ian....

Ian -- slerner at Monday, 01/24/00 21:30:26 GMT

Ian, steel for hot work dies varies according to the use and expected life. You can get hundreds maybe thousands of uses out of mild steel. Medium carbon alloy steels like 4140 will increase this number. S-7 is often recommended as it is both a shock resistant and air hardening tool steel. If you are looking for fine detail from sharp edges or low relief in the die then S-7 or H-13 is necessary as softer steels will "wash out" from wear.

Economicaly the best for low production rates is mild steel. In high production the economics lean toward a power hammer and scraping the little hand tool. . .

In the end whatever you can get a good deal on is the "best".

-- guru Monday, 01/24/00 22:04:58 GMT

Grandpa Tells A Story.
Sometime in the early part of December 1999, while perusing the web,
I found a complete set of "Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute"
( 1880-1971) available for sale. Made contact, and after some dickering
we came to agreement on price. Committed to purchase, and they packed
and shipped the 200 books in 20 boxes about a week before the holidays.
Boxes arrived in good shape, but guess what--- there were 150 books,
"Stahl Und Eisen" zeitschrift fur das deutsche eisenhuttenwesen, instead
of the 200 JISI books. Well,somebody in shipping sure made a big mistake.
The company was agast when informed, but readily assured me that I would
get the correct books, and I have them now. If anybody is interested
in a complete set of "Stahl und Eisen" 1881 to 1961,152 books, please
contact Allan Stypeck at Second story books. ph 301 770 0477 ex 13 or
email:-- bookguys at secondstorybooks--.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 01/24/00 23:49:16 GMT

Looking for details on the ABANA conclave in Flagstaff. Many thanks for info or guidance to same: costs, fees, camping-- can't seem to find it on the ABANA site, etc.

John Neary -- jneary at Tuesday, 01/25/00 00:54:59 GMT

John, We have a banner on our home page like so :)

ABANA 2000 Conference

We have the rotating anvil with a link on the ABANA 2000 JYH Event page with a count down clock that says. . . 168 days to go!

Will have more soon. . .

-- guru Tuesday, 01/25/00 01:08:38 GMT

OOOOOps! Sorry, Jock! Many thanks!

John Neary -- jneary at Tuesday, 01/25/00 02:21:11 GMT

Frank and Jim,
I tried the B'laster on the fan shaft nut for the Champion 400 blower and it worked great. I was able to get the nut off and install new bearings and pack them with grease for both the front and back grease caps. The blower is a lot quieter, however it is a little more difficult to turn. I am hoping that this is just because of the grease. I used GRC Fibre Bearing Grease. This is the same grease used in packing wheel bearings. Do you think that it is too thick of a grease? Thanks for your help.

Billy Templeton -- bhtempleton at Tuesday, 01/25/00 03:07:51 GMT

Guru: In the Francis Whitaker book "The Blacksmith Cookbook - Recipes in Iron" there is a Francis designed & built metal shear. I understand most of it except the "stop link" item 9 & the "wedge" parts items 15 & 16. Perhaps you have seen the original in operation or you know someone who has made this shear? A photo or two and / or description of operation would be a great help. Thanks, Jim C. Perry, OK.

Jim Carothers -- colonel at Tuesday, 01/25/00 03:15:26 GMT

I'm actually a woodworker by trade. But what I am
looking for is a branding iron to stamp my work. I have found where I can get my name ingraved in a branding iron but, I am looking for something with a little more pizzazz. Something with a logo or an emblem. Can you give me any ideas or resources to check into to get a branding iron made with a logo or emblem engraved in it? thank you

joe wright -- Tuesday, 01/25/00 03:52:40 GMT


The grease MIGHT be a little heavy, but don't change it yet. Crank it a while to see if it eases up any.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 01/25/00 03:54:13 GMT

Can I have information on Blacksmiths in the 1700's

Dehacka2 -- Dehacka2 at Tuesday, 01/25/00 12:46:43 GMT

12 to 15" (1/3 M) Snow in our little part of Virginia this PM. The Internet seems to be in overload as all I can get is a 600 baud connection (even though Windows reports 37K baud. . .
FRANCIS WHITAKER SHEAR: Jim, sorry I've not seen it OR the book. Most shop-made shears are only good for small work so they are not as handy as it would seem.

I made one for 1/4" (7mm) and 3/16" (5mm) bar stock. Drilled three holes through two pieces of old leaf spring. One 3/8" for the pivot, and one each for the two bars. Forged a tapered tand on one bar and stuffed it into a piece of 1/2" EMT (steel conduit), then welded or brazed it together. Welded the other bar to the end of a piece of angle iron so it could be clamped in a vise. Bolted together using a nyloc nut. The cutting holes were less than 1" (24mm) from the pivot and it still took maybe 30-50 pounds (20k) on the 3' (2/3m) handle to cut 1/4" steel bar. Also welded a short piece of pipe in line with the cutting holes to support long bar.

Harden? Temper? .. the old MG Midgit springs were sorta' annealed so I could drill the holes. That was it. I've cut thousands of pieces for basket twists on this primitive little shear. Keep the cutting area oiled and it will cut tens of thousands more. . . However, I think that if I had tried to make it cut 5/16" (8mm) stock that something would have broke. The shear I built before this one was huge - and a total failure.
1700's SMITHYS: Dehacka2, We have two peices of historical fiction based on the era posted on the 21st Century page. Blacksmith of 1776 and A Day in the Life of an Aprentice. Eric Sloane wrote and illustrated several books on the era A Museum of Early American Tools and Diary of an Early American Boy, Noah Blake. Then there is Diderots Enclclopedia of Trades and Industries which recorded the industry of France in the late 1700's.

-- guru Tuesday, 01/25/00 18:25:39 GMT

BRANDING IRONS: Joe, Centaur Forge is the agent for an outfit that makes punches for metal and branding irons too. Contact them for a catalog. The pizazz of the design is up to you.

-- guru Tuesday, 01/25/00 18:29:23 GMT

I am looking for a Temp. Chart that is posted on the net maybe. One that can be viewed via the net.

Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Tuesday, 01/25/00 18:45:05 GMT

Hello; I work at F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and we are in the process of organizing an event for this summer called "A Day with the Smiths." We have already secured a blacksmith and a bladesmith, but we need more smiths--a goldsmith, silversmith, tinsmith, pewtersmith, etc. Any suggestions on where I can get in touch with such people, to invite them to be demonstrators at our event? Thanks--Ashley Applegate, interpretive naturalist, FDR Park

Ashley Applegate -- fdr at Tuesday, 01/25/00 19:30:21 GMT

Bobby, THERE USED to be one on the ABANA site, If you can't find it let me know. We have a dynamic one that needs completion.
NON_FERROUS SMITHS: Ashley, Try (link at bottom of our home page) and GUILD OF METALSMITHS, (link on page).

-- guru Tuesday, 01/25/00 20:04:22 GMT

how does one become a blacksmith? do any Canadian schools teach it?

Jonathan Piper -- Ken.thorne at Wednesday, 01/26/00 02:44:36 GMT

Thank you, for the notes on the shear.
Jim C.

Jim Carothers -- colonel at Wednesday, 01/26/00 02:46:31 GMT

I have a metalworking shop that I am adding to as needs arise. I need a drill press now but I don't know what type to get. I am working with metal up to 1/4" in thickness.
I would greatly appreciate any information on what brands of drill pressses have a reputaion for quality, and the specifications I should look for drilling metal. I understand that there are different kinds of drill presses: the radial-arm drill press seems the most versitile.
My shop now consists of MIG and Oxy/Acet welding apparatus, a Porter/cable chop saw, and an old, but beautiful and functional anvil.
I am also in the market for a small forge, or the means to construct one.
As I am teaching myself, with some help from friends, any insights, and information is greatly appreciated.
Is ther a internet chat group for metalworkers that would welcome a novice such as me?
Thanks for your time,

L.McGill -- lms at Wednesday, 01/26/00 03:37:44 GMT

Hi. I'm pretty much a novice blacksmith. I'm a professional graphic artist but working on a computer or drawing board all day makes for a fat butt and a bad back and very poor eayes so I tinker with steel and wood to actually relax and get outside. I just posted an inquiry about charcoal in your discussion area. Then I started through your site and came across the brakedrum forge plans. I have recently finished my own brakedrum forge using a twenty gallon trashcan as a hood with a two foot stove pipe off the top of it to keep the smoke out of my eyes. It works well. An added bonus is that it seems to move the air over the coals and keeps them hot. My question though is in regardes to the grate in the bottom of the forge. Ive worked fires that had a small grate only large enough to cover the air hole in the base of the drum. Though they seem to work and keep the coals hot enough I found that they only heated small areas of the metal and if I needed to bend or really move the metal this was not enough. As a side note the fires were made using Kentucky shale coal left in old bins around Fort Knox for the past fifteen or twenty years. It had originally been used to heat the buildings. You can imagine the sulfur and other junk that was in it. My design uses a larger grate that resembles a thick bar-b-que grill and is lifted away from the bottom of the drum on short legs to allow the air to spread more evenly through the fire. The first forge I made was less than well thought out but I used this system and it seemed to work better than the small grate that I had learned the basics on. I am burning charcoal now because it is much cleaner than the shale but it burns considerably faster. Is my design a good idea or would I be better off with the small grate?

Bill Stone -- w.stone at Wednesday, 01/26/00 03:50:10 GMT

I have a 1931 Evinrude 4hp outboard that I am restoring. The cylinders are made of cast iron and one of them has a hole through the water jacket into the cylinder near the combustion end. The casting is very thin in this area due to a poor casting at at the time of manufacture. What would be the best way of repairing this? I would think that brazing might be the easiest way to go. I have no experience in welding or brazing so really don't know which to pursue for getting it repaired. If it is not too difficult to work with cast iron I would like to repair it myself. Thanks

Neil Leslie -- woodpecker at Wednesday, 01/26/00 04:25:48 GMT

L. McGill,

May I proudly reccomend the Slack Tub Pub located here at the Anvilfire Web site? You can find the link on the main page. You will find lots of folks in there, some of the most experienced smiths in the country, and some of the newest. You will be welome! The folks there will be glad to help you with questions, and advice, when you ask. I'm in there most evenings for at least a little while.

Bill, the next to the last question is the most important question in your message. You ask<' Is my design a good idea?" . Let me ask you a question in return, if I may.

Does it work? You've already answere the question, when you said that it seemed to work better than the small grate.

If it works, then the idea is good! Could it be better? Possibly, but as long as it works well for you, why worry about it? (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 01/26/00 04:30:17 GMT

How does one go about finding out if there is a ABANA Chapter in my area ( middle Georgia )? I am not even a beginning blacksmith yet but I am very interested in the art. I have found your site to be an extreamly valuable reference but I need person to person help as well. by the way would a cast iron bath tub do well as a forge? ( using the drain hole for air and the heave iron drain pipes to distribute the air evenly throughout the fire )

minatawa -- minatawa at Wednesday, 01/26/00 14:57:58 GMT

To find an ABANA chapter near you, you can go to the ABANA page(should be a link at the anvilfire home page. They have a listing of the chapters and where they are located.

Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 01/26/00 15:22:03 GMT

I want to make some custom profile, sort of a modified wide flange beam. The cross section will be small, about 3/4" x 3/4". Some thoughts I've had about how to do this are: pull hot bar stock through an extruding die (Rules for making the die?); set up rollers and pull hot bar through them; build up the profile from flat bar with longitudinal welds (doesn't sound like fun). Extrusion sounds most promising to me. The cross section does not have the right symmetry for die forging (I don't know how else to describe what I mean). Has anyone else done this? I really don't know how to proceed and would be grateful for any help.

Rob. Curry -- curry at Wednesday, 01/26/00 15:41:30 GMT

Bobby, Don Fogg has a temp chart at Some steel suppliers will also provide one with your order, if you ask for it.

Eric Bramblett -- bramec at Wednesday, 01/26/00 16:41:22 GMT

Thanks Guru,and Eric I needed it to see about what temp my gas forge I just built with the help of those listed on site. Thanks for the Great info Guru and all that give of their time. I built two with parts laying around the shop and the insulation scraps at work. The only thing I bought was the blower. I not able to get a welding heat but I'm close.

Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Wednesday, 01/26/00 17:39:00 GMT

Bobby, Gas forges need some back pressure to slightly choke the combustion chamber to achieve welding heat. They often need some type of intake air control. When everything is JUST right the flame TRIES to run up into the burner but does not. To prevent THAT you sometimes need a slight reduction at the end of the burner to increase the fuel/air velocity. Home builts take some tweaking but they will achieve welding heat if you have enough fuel.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 20:24:02 GMT

CUSTOM BEAM: Rob, Generaly if you can roll it you can forge it. Wide flange beam gets those nice flat flanges from several steps in the rolling process. It just doesn't go in one side of a roll and come out the other all nice and square.

Custom beams are always fabricated as are most of the beams in steel shell buildings. However your small section makes that a little tricky. I have known designers that would give shops drawings requiring such non-sense. . .

Suggestions for a process of this nature are dependant on two things
  • You or your shop's capabilities.
  • How much of this material needs to be made?
A big machine shop just needing a few feet (10-20) would machine bar from solid. These guys are VERY efficient at making chips it requires little planing or thinking about. They would just DO-IT.

Anyone with a good sized power hammer (preferably over 100 pounds (+45kg)) could make some simple dies and forge it. It could be done in one LONG variable section die but two or three steps would be better. This would be ecomonical if you needed 50 feet (15 m) or more. Its really a job for a 300 pound (135kg) hammer.

Send me a drawing of the section or complete dimensions and we can discuss it further.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 20:54:12 GMT

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 21:11:17 GMT

1931 EVINRUDE: Neil, this is a tough one. Normally when a cylinder is rusted or burnt through it must be machined out and a custom sleeve machined and pressed in. THEN the sleeve is machined to the correct bore. Brazing might work but welding is probably out of the question. Cast iron tends to break somewhere else (the other side of the casting) when the weld cools. Brazing is less drastic but it cannot take the heat in most combustion chambers. In both cases the part is very likely going to be warped to the point of needing serious machining in any case. Sorry, no magic bullet.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 21:23:12 GMT

Eric that is a GREAT chart from Don Fogg's site! That's why I made your link "hot".
FORGE GRATE: Bill Stone, There are hundreds of types of forge grates. Many end up burnt out and rarely get replaced. The ones with a "clinker breaker" were designed back in the era when not only did all blacksmiths burn coal but allmost every home that had central heat! A few years ago there was a fellow pushing a grate made of small stainless bars set closely together. Claimed better heats and no clogging.

The point is, what ever works for you if great! I'm surprised Paw-Paw didn't give you his "Ask a dozen blacksmiths how to do something and you'll get a dozen different answers and they all work!"

Charcoal is less dense than coal so it takes a lot more in volume. Good coal IS available in Kentucky. Try any coal dealer. Most stoker coals are higher grade because they NEED to be. . . Your local ABANA chapter folks can tell you exactly who has the best localy. You can also try the list from Fred Holder's Blacksmith's Gazette which we also carry here.

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 21:40:11 GMT

DRILL PRESS: L.McGill, Good metal working drill presses are expensive. Those sold at your favorite department store run TOO FAST for metal work and have an itty-bitty 3/16" (5mm) wide V-belt drive. . .

The best bargain in drill presses are the heavy old 20" flat belt drive geared head machines that were built from the mid 1800's up through the 1950's. These were so standard they were a commodity item like PC's are today. Hundreds of manufacturers making the same product.

I have 3 . . or is it 4?. . one needs rebuilding. . . Anyway, they are GREAT machines. The 20" models take a 1-1/2HP motor. They will easily bury a 3/16" (5mm) drill in 2" (50mm) of stainless steel and then follow THAT with a 1" drill throwing blue chips and coolant smoke!

Typicaly they can purchased for $200 to $300 US while a comprable NEW modern machine will cost $4,000 to $6,000. . .

-- guru Wednesday, 01/26/00 21:57:33 GMT

Now you've said it, machining is obviously the way to go (I only need sixteen one-foot sections). Many thanks.

Rob. Curry -- curry at Wednesday, 01/26/00 22:54:11 GMT

Can swages and fullers be made from cold-drawn steel?
My local steel yard has 1018 in cold-drawn. I was thinking
about some 2"X2" to make them from.
T Glenn

T Glenn -- tglenn at Thursday, 01/27/00 02:17:48 GMT

guru looking for a Ir-54 air hammer looked everywear.also grant is correct about making big $$$ on sharpening pavement breaker bits. I sharpening on one of his ka-100 hammers we worked that machine every day for 4-years very tough hammer still going strong.

frank -- dutchess forge at Thursday, 01/27/00 05:16:20 GMT

Hiya Frank!

Actually that was one of a limitted number of 150 pound hammers I produced. Whatca need the I-R for?

grant -- nakedanvil at Thursday, 01/27/00 08:23:31 GMT

FULLERS and SWAGE MATERIAL: T Glenn, Bottom swages and low production dies can be made of mild steel (SAE 1018-1020, A-36). Dies can not have sharp edges and you must be careful to do only HOT work and keep the die free of scale. Struck tool and leading surface tools like fullers should be of a better (higher carbon) steel.

I've made and used numerous tools for use under the power hammer from mild steel. They are "quick and dirty" tooling. Good for a short
job, possibly needing to be dressed during the job as they wear quickly. Normaly it is done when you need a tool NOW (immediatly OR sooner) and the right tool steel is not available, or is not economical, or you don't want to fool with hardening or tempering.

If you are making a set of universal tools for the shop then using low carbon steel is not economical. If you are going to the trouble of forging, heattreating, dresing and posibly putting a handle on a tool it is a waste of your valuable time. Not just the time used to make a tool but to replace it later.

MILD STEEL, 1018, 1020: Mild is a misnomer. It is the lowest carbon steel commonly available. There ARE lower carbon special use steels but they are not commonly available. Hot rolled it is used for all type of weldments and is what most wrought iron work is produced in. It CAN be hardened to a small extent but if tempered most of the advantage is lost. Mild steel is often "case hardened" where carbon is added to the surface and increases the hardenability of the surface only.

COLD DRAWN STEEL: Many steels are cold drawn but generally it is SAE 1020. It is expensive because it has been descaled and is a precision size. It is commonly called "screw-machine stock" or "key stock" because of it precise dimentions. It will be slightly work hardened. Machine shops use a lot of it because it doesn't need a lot of premachining for many uses. Smiths use it when hot-roll is not available or the size wanted is not available. If you want 1/4" square or smaller then cold drawn is what you have to buy. Generally it is a better quality steel than hot roll.

SWAGE BLOCKS are made of cast iron although modern ones are being made of ductile iron. Ocassionaly dies are made of cast iron. The advantage to cast iron is its rigidity. Where a soft iron die will swell, creep or wash out the cast iron will not. However it is brittle and may break where the steel part will just deform.

IF you are making tools it is probably better to use something of higher carbon than "mild steel". S-7 is considered by many modern smiths to be a universal steel for their purposes. It is shock resistant (therefore the "S") and air hardening so it is good for hot work. 1095 was the common tool steel of smiths for a long time because of its range of uses and easy of handling (compared to alloy steel). SAE4140 is cheaper and is good for bottom (hardy hole) dies and power hammer dies. 5160 is also in wide use and is more hardenable than 4140. For us scrounger smiths old car springs (flat AND coil) are are "best" source for "tool" steel.

Sunny and -12C / 10F with 12-15" (35cm) of powder snow in South Central Virgina, USA.

-- guru Thursday, 01/27/00 14:40:23 GMT

Dear Guru,
In your post of 1/21/00 you speak of a nine year union weldor who could not keep weldmentes alined. Did the thought cross your mind he may have never had to before? I live in the Norfolk VA aeria. I have been employed as a union pilebuck and carpenter for almost 30 years.I have taught many exshipyard weldors basic layout and fitting. They are union brothers but in the shipyard all they did was burn wire and they are better than I am in that one task.

John Wallace -- pdweldor3 at Thursday, 01/27/00 19:08:36 GMT

John, The fellow represented himself as a "fitter". But, YES, I learned the hard way that 9 years of working in a union shop (one very close to you) was not what I call experiance. But he sure could burn rods!

My point was that not everyone could do the particular job. On the other hand, someone with a LITTLE bit of welding experiance and a lot of craftsmanship could. It doesn't matter if you are building with stone, wood or steel, paying attention to details and caring about the results is the same.

-- guru Thursday, 01/27/00 19:38:43 GMT

To: Paw Paw and The Guru,
Thanks for the reassurance and the advice. A gent by the name of Mike has also sent me some good advice and thanks to him again. I'm going to be making some tongs in the near future as well as some simple garden tools, a trowel, weed puller, hand hoe, etc. I was planning to use rebar for both projects but I'm wondering if I should use a better grade of steel. What do you think?

Bill -- w.stone at Friday, 01/28/00 00:25:06 GMT


Rebar is kind of a `mystery metal' in that you never really know how it is going to behave. The reason for that is that rebar is frequently made from scrap.

Personally, for the kind of things you are talking about, I'd go buy a couple of sticks (20' pieces) of 1/2" hot rolled mild steel.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 01/28/00 01:06:25 GMT

Gurus: I wish first to compliment your venerable selves on your patience answering and re answering so many questions of the "I am going into the xyz business, what do I need to know?" type. You truly are holy. Now I have a question, Iam trying (in the true bs tradition) to make most of my own tools, and yep, you guested it, I am having interresting times. Currently I am trying to make a mini cone mandrel to fit in my hardy hole. I welded (yeah I know) a stem onto a chunk of 2" round steel (some sorta shaft - but very soft) and starting drawing a square to octagonal point on it. Guess what, because I am a puny little (old) runt, I can't hit it hard enough to draw out the center, so I get what amounts to a nacient cold shunt. I tried upsetting it back into the body, but it just gets worse. My current solution it to bury a stick of 7018-ac into it (while its red hot) and keep on forging. But, your guruness, I know that is not a correct solution (St. Francis would flip I Know. I am awating your wisdom while prostrating myself on the alter of my ignorance.....Thanks and Kudo's to one and all.

Tim -- leepil at Friday, 01/28/00 01:09:56 GMT


Get up off the floor! That stuff is EMBARASSING! (grin)

I would suspect that you're not getting it hot enough to be able to work it easily. A piece of steel is just like a woman, get it hot enough and you can do anything you want to it.

(the big guru is gonna get me for that one!) :)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 01/28/00 02:29:09 GMT

Need advice on "mild steel" for fabricated fence panels and gates.All of the ornamental iron shops use mild steel, is this a basic generic term? All the steel I have worked with has been A513. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

Thomas -- lava at Friday, 01/28/00 07:51:36 GMT


"Mild Steel" can be something like either 1018, 1020, or A36. The 1018 and 1020 are harder to come by these days. The A36 is more common because it is used as structural steel, but it doesn't forge as good. Generally when you go to welding and ornamental iron shops, they use "mild steel".

Phil -- rosche at Friday, 01/28/00 12:47:24 GMT

Tim, Paw-Paw may be partialy right but the higher the carbon content or tougher the steel the worse the problem of creating this problem. Not having enough power to really forge the piece is the main problem. You need penetrating blows that would take heavy sledges or a power hammer (of suficient size). One recomendation to prevent the problem is to round the end of the billet before starting to forge. This is a good idea on any heavy piece of tools steel. Many forging operations plan on cutting off the bad end.

I'll have to look up the technical term for this but I expect Grant will let us know. . . Its curently just a little above freezing in my office this morning and my fingers don't type well when frozen. . .

Considering the type of tool you are making I doubt it matters how you fix the problem. Weld builtup is good solution for this case.

Something below ZERO (below minus 20) in Virgina. . ..

-- guru Friday, 01/28/00 15:02:01 GMT

MILD STEEL: Thomas, Phil is right. Just a few posts earlier I had a long discourse on mild steel. . . The problem occurs when what you get IS NOT mild steel. I've had it happen a couple times.

Once I was sold a load of some type of medium carbon steel as mild. Made a ton of fireplace tools from it. Working with mild you get in the bad habbit of quenching everything just to cool it for handling. After using most of it up and selling most of the product I was demonstrating at a show. I made a rather neat loop handled fire poker where the end of the loop is flattened and wrapped around the handle. I finished and quenched it while pretty hot from a second heat used to straighten some flaws. Then I flipped it around to forge the business end and 'click' the handle broke off in my hand! THIS in front of a crowd of maybe 20. . . .

-- guru Friday, 01/28/00 15:11:35 GMT

Last night the mail system ran amuck sending over 100 copies of the same mail to thousands of their clients worldwide! Attempts to contact them when the problem was first noticed were fruitless. This morning the term "endless loop" will be ringing in the halls of their corporate headquarters.

-- guru Friday, 01/28/00 15:25:08 GMT

Guru... I am not in any way a blacksmith, have very little experience (that being what I learned in high school metal shop), and have no immediate desire to learn how. However, I have a brother-in-law who's unique life's experience has enabled him to dabble as a hobbyiest blacksmith, and at times work as a professional blacksmith, over the last 25 years on-and-off. My sister's family is not well off living in a single income environment (namely my sister), and they have been trying to save up enough to allow my brother-in-law to start a forge for metal sculpting and blade work. At this time they have managed to collect all the tools and materials my brother-in-law will need with the exception of an anvil. I care for them greatly and would like to obtain an anvil as a gift to them. I have looked on the web for information on anvils, looked at postings for used anvils, looked at web-sites selling new anvils, and am still no closer to knowing what to buy. At this time I am leaning towards the purchase of a new anvil for them. Do you have any recommendations (specs and manufacturer would be greatly appreciated) for a new anvil to be used for knife and sword making, as well as general purpose metal sculpting?

K. Davis -- davis at Friday, 01/28/00 15:40:14 GMT

ANVILS: K., Old anvils are as good as or often better than new anvils. New anvils are an expensive tool but you have to consider the the cost of finding a good used anvil. If you contact your local ABANA Chapter and go to one of their meets you will find the finding much easier.

All of our advertisers that carry new anvils carry the forged steel Peddinghaus. I can't say its the best anvil because I had some complaints about the finish on the horn of mine, but it is the last forged steel anvil made. There are many other good anvils but they are all cast, not forged. Forged is better.

Many tool purchases are a personal decision and that is something to take into consideration. The search for the "Holy Grail" of shop tools is often a part of the process of becoming a blacksmith.

-- guru Friday, 01/28/00 17:26:33 GMT

Pardon the simple question, but I've always assumed iron was produced and sold primarily in rectangular form, due to the number of tools a smith uses to make it round, and that rolled and extruded rod came with the advent of steel production.
I have an old hand writen "recipe book" that starts every project: "Tak a sq roode..." or "Mak a rund roode..", that seems to predate production steel. Any insight would satisfy my curiosity.

Your comments to Tim this morning was delightful. An excellent reminder that a good welding heat is useful in other applications. I would only suggest that repeated heatings can lead to increased carbon content....;-)

Mike -- WCFarm at Friday, 01/28/00 18:41:17 GMT

Mike, Square was the only available bar stock for several centuries. Early mills rolled flat bar and then "slit" or split the bar with rolls that had square interlocking grooves. Besides being square I suspect this product was fairly rough having sheared edges, unless they rolled the slit product through a second time.

One has to be carefull making generalizations about the history of technology. It is very poorly documented. As early as the 1400's bronze wire was being drawn in various sizes. The result was that many stringed instruments with bronze stings became available shortly afterwards. Prior to this copper, silver and gold wire was available due to the comparitive easy of drawing the wire. Gold wire may have been being made for millinia. I'm not sure when iron/steel wire became available but it was probably not too long after bronze.

-- guru Friday, 01/28/00 19:08:52 GMT


Nice play on words! (grin)

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 01/28/00 20:39:25 GMT

how can i get the power hammer 50 kg built planes or any built info.

eli raz -- eli-raz at Friday, 01/28/00 23:41:13 GMT

PLANS: Eli, ABANA has air hammer plans. There are no mechanical hammer plans that I know about. We are working on some but it will be longer than you may want to wait. Currently we are working on Junk Yard Hammer (home built) plans. See Junk Yard Hammer page

-- guru Saturday, 01/29/00 04:50:41 GMT

Dear Guru,
I have tried to order one of thoes hats a number of times with no luck. Each time I try, after I have filled out my address and click on the secure server, a message appears which tellls me it is not possible to order at this time. What am I doing wrong? Better yet, How else may I order one?
Thanks. BTW great site. I have learned much form it and hope to continue to do so.
Two degrees this AM in central Mass. More Snow on the way for late Sun. and Mon.

Mark Suchocki -- dilligaf at Saturday, 01/29/00 10:05:40 GMT

Hi guys, thanks for the info on my fairbanks hammer! Does anyone know where I might find a spring or specs for a spring for this hammer. Right now it has a shortened boxcar spring in it. It loolks a little heavy (1" diameter wire). Thanks

Ken Zitur -- KjZitur at aol Saturday, 01/29/00 13:13:04 GMT

Do you think an in-line oiler is the way to go for the Kiyon style guides or how about several zerk fittings? Almost drilled the guides W/O the shims in place, you saved me MUCH aggravation. Thanks,TC

Tim Cisneros -- blacksmith at Saturday, 01/29/00 14:00:32 GMT

Ken, Sid Suedemier has parts for Fairbanks hammers. Don't know how much he has but it's worth giving him a try.

H "Sid" Suedemier
420 4th Cors
Nebraska City, NE 68410

Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Saturday, 01/29/00 14:09:11 GMT

ORDER FORM: Mark, I will look into the order from problem.

Are you sure you were not reading the "Security Certificate" wrong? Every browser in the world that was distributed until late last year had security certificates that expired on January 1st. Yep it was planned NOT to support these browsers beyond Y2K.

I guess I should get that mail order form setup! More by mail. . .

-- guru Saturday, 01/29/00 16:07:02 GMT

I am looking for help on selecting an anvil. I'm new at blacksmithing and I'm having great difficulty in locating a used anvil approixatly 150 lbs. in good condition. I am seriously thinking of biting the bullet and springing for a new anvil. I've seen in the catalogues a Peddinghaus anvil, 165 lbs. I know they're very expensive, approximately $800 USD but I may have no choice. Do you feel that these are quality anvils and do you know if they're cast. or wrought iron? I would appreciate any help that you can give me. My blacksmith instructor has a Peter Wright approximately 200 lbs. and it's just great! Many thanks, looking forward to your response
mcsleg at

Jim -- mcsleg at Saturday, 01/29/00 19:34:14 GMT

ANVILS: Jim, The answer to your question is a few posts UP but I will say a little more. Peddinghaus anvils are forged steel. No one makes a wrought anvil any more and Peddinghaus is the last forged anvil. They have the most rebound of ANY anvil made in the past or present (see our testing, under anvils on the 21st Century page). I've had several cast Swedish anvils. Both had GREAT rebound and test almost as well as Peddinghaus. Modern cast alloy steel anvils are often as good an anvil as you can get. See my comments on used anvils above.

-- guru Saturday, 01/29/00 20:28:03 GMT

Guru and crew,
I just spent about six hours trying to render down a 10 gal. trash can of wood into charcoal. I've been talking to Mike who is one of this sites patrons about a method he heard about from a buckskinner friend. Basicaly what I did was susspend the can about six inches above a medium sized camp fire. I had punched a hole in the lid about the size of a dime then set it tight. Like I said I tended the fire for about six hours with a nice stream of green/grey smoke puffing out of the top. When it finally went to just a whisp I took the fire away and plugged the hole then I left it to cool. When I checked it later only about a third to a half of the wood had rendered down. The rest is blackened and lightly chared. I'm planning to reduce the mount of wood in the can in order to keep the wood closer to the fire. Does this sound right and do you have any suggestions? Like I told Mike, This seems to be more art than science. Thanks.

Bill -- w.stone at Saturday, 01/29/00 22:57:59 GMT

Is it possible to cast steel or iron parts in wood molds???

Bill Epps -- B-Epps at Sunday, 01/30/00 00:55:15 GMT

Hi! I have an old 1930's harley davidson neck which is drop-forged steel. I want to be able to reproduce this part with a modification. I have been told this process is done with dies and about a hundred tons of pressure.....and that the set up cost to do this is around 10 grand. I need to know if there is a CHEAP way to accomplish this process at home.....not mass production but being able to produce several. My experience level is low...i have studied a lot and have found an antique forge which i know is capable of melting steel...have studied this subject extensively and know the dangers, melting temps, what to strive for in mold design and pouring, etc. But just today found out EXACTLY what drop-forged means. I am pretty handy with fabrication and making a tool do what i want it to do, so if you have any answers or suggestions i would really appreciate it. Do you know anyone in the Rocky Mountain area that DOES drop-forged steel? We are in Wyoming. Also...i know of a company in sweden that uses hard wood molds to cast barrels and heads for you know what kind of liner or release agent they use inside these hardwood molds to protect the wood and keep the part from sticking? Thank you for any information you might be able to give me.

Tony Ford -- vltonybob at Sunday, 01/30/00 00:58:13 GMT

Guru: It's hard for me to pass on the above three---- have fun.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Sunday, 01/30/00 01:08:14 GMT

Guru, I read above you got an anvil at an auction. How do I find out about auctions? I've never seen any near the Dallas Texas area. Any smiths around there know of any cheap anvils? I am new to smithing, and am looking for a small, used anvil to get started with. Also, what is a good type of metal to start on? Thanks.

Derek -- dwuz2 at Sunday, 01/30/00 02:02:25 GMT

One more question for you guru =), I am using a cast iron skillet (yes a skillet) for a small fire pot. Is this acceptable? I use a set of hand bellows with a tue iron. It does NOT go under the fire though, otherwise it melts. What is the best way to use this? Should I get a cooling system so that the tue iron can go under the fire, or is it ok like that? Thanks in advance.

Derek -- dwuz2 at Sunday, 01/30/00 02:05:46 GMT

Guru, I am a Knifemaker with 8 yrs experience working with a Coal forge. I moved to N.Alabama from Las Vegas a few months ago. I am in the process of making my First gas forge. I an having trouble with the burners and air supply. The forge is made up of 1/4" wall 10/10
square pipe, I welded a 1/4" back and a 3/8" door with a 3X5 window.
I want to use compressed air that is regulated, for the air supply. I want to use three gas tunnels placed equally down the centerline, on the top of the forge, and the air supply fed from the center of the back plate. I am using 1/2" brick in a single row on the inside, except for a "Table" down the center under the tunnels.
Now for the Question......With this setup, gas fed from top and air fed from back, Can I get enough heat to weld a 1 1/2"X 2 1/2" piece of damascus made from L6 and 1084 ( trying to make a slide for a .45 auto, for my father in law), or well i have to rearrange the tunnels and the air supply to get a better heat???? And also, I have regulators on the gas and on the there a standard pressure I need to use?? most books are vauge past the basics, or want to use "thier" recomended blue print for a forge. Thanks, Dale

Dale Baxter -- Elad81 at Sunday, 01/30/00 02:45:42 GMT

Derek, Normaly a side blast twyeer is burried under clay and ashes. In early times they were ceramic (clay) and could take higher temperatures than iron/steel. Another type uses a "shield stone" to protect the tube from heat. The tube actually doesn't touch the shield stone. Somewhere in the NEWS we published photos of a Viking forge the size you are using. A larger deeper fire bed would help your problem.

Farm and machinery auctions will be advertised in your local newspapers. Auction companies will mail fliers to you if you ask. Its a hard way to go if you don't have any experiance.

-- guru Sunday, 01/30/00 02:48:07 GMT

GAS FORGE: Dale, This design has some serious problems. You need the fuel/air to mix outside the forge. Compressed air forges use an expansion chamber (pipe) and inject the gas after the air has expanded. Then the pipe splits to distribute the fuel/air mix. In all forges the pipe must be sized so that the velocity of the fuel/air mix is greater than the flame front velocity. This may be achieved with nozzles but if flash back occurs the forge must be shut down and restarted.

Air/fuel pressures are strictly determined by the flow and back pressure characteristics of the particular forge. You design and build it, you figure it out!

I question your 1/2" thick brick. Normal refractory brick is fairly high density. It withstands high temperatures. It is NOT an insulator. Normaly in gas forges the full 4.5" (120mm) of refratotory is just enough. When you see small "bean can" forges they are lined with low density Kaowool insulation. When used in commercial forges it is 2" thick. The problem with underinsulating a gas forge is you find yourself facing a couple cubic feet of 2,500 degree F material. Getting within a couple feet is TOO close.

Gas forges get plenty hot for welding laminated steel. Probably 99% of all laminated and patern welded steel comes out of gas forges.

-- guru Sunday, 01/30/00 03:32:05 GMT

HARLEY PARTS: Tony, This is a job for an engineer, not a do-it-yourselfer. High stressed parts are forged because the BEST material and process is needed. The alternatives are a weldment or a part machined from solid. The part machined from solid takes the least engineering. Todays numericaly controled mills can sculpt parts from solid blocks or machine flame cut blanks more economicaly than designing and machining production dies for a drop hammer.

Iron or steel cannot be cast in wood molds. Wood patterns are used to make sand, clay or plaster molds.

-- guru Sunday, 01/30/00 03:43:45 GMT

CHARCOAL: Bill Stone, There are lots of ways to make charcoal. The trick is to finish making it without burning it up. One popular method is to build the fire IN the can then load it up and then cap it. A small vent is required and some recommend an inlet vent.

An Australian told me. "Dig a pit, rather get someone ELSE to dig a pit, then start a fire in it. When it is going good pile on a bunch of wood and when its going then cover with corogated steel sheet. Use dirt from the hole to seal the edges. Let it burn itself out and cool for a couple days before opening."

In the mid eighties there was a fellow building charcoal "retorts". A stainless tank with a close fitting sealed door was filled with wood. IT fit inside a shell to circulate heat from the fire built underneith. A small pipe led from the top of the retort and injected the wood gas into the fire. This reduced the fuel required and when gas stopped being expelled the batch was done. Wood gas can be treated like coal gas when it comes to burner design. The whole thing was built on a trailer. The fellow was a bit of an excentric and the fellow that took over his business calls him "that crazy hippy inventor". Still, . . I'd like to have seen one of his retorts.

We have a similar gas fired design posted on the plans page.

-- guru Sunday, 01/30/00 04:26:37 GMT

building a air hammer from my mechanical one. Is there an instructional video available or at least a few drawings and maybe
an air map and a list of parts needed. Once I'm done I WILL do a tutorial complete with pictures with my digital camera. Most of the
hard work is done as the structure is already there.............

AL MATEWISH -- starman at Sunday, 01/30/00 17:20:54 GMT

POWER HAMMERS: You have some great information about hammers on the site, but it looks a bit dated. Any chance for an update? Would also love to find out about differences in capability...e.g., at the Bull website a lot of interesting capabilities are mentioned, but I'm not sure if the other new hammers lack these capabilities.

Tod Amon -- amon at Sunday, 01/30/00 22:52:20 GMT

t wells i am thinking of making a power hammer with a hydraulic cylinder to raise the arm and hammer up and strong springs to bring it back down hard will this work once air pressure is released or will cylinder just come down slowly

twells -- Monday, 01/31/00 01:09:00 GMT


BLIX -- BLIX31 at AOL.COM Monday, 01/31/00 01:26:18 GMT


BLIX -- BLIX31 at AOL.COM Monday, 01/31/00 01:30:08 GMT

HAMMER CONVERSION: Al, The Kinyon Simple Air Hammer plans sold by ABANA include air circuits and phots of several conversions. Converting an old hammer is great recyling. The hard parts to come up with, the anvil and dies are all there.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 01:42:13 GMT

Tod, The makers of the various hammers in our review have been after me to update it and that is a future task. The Bull has a more sophisticated control system than some of the other hammers so it can be put in various modes. All the hammers have improved. The Kaynes have gone to a higher quality cylinder and heavier anvil. The KA has made improvements too. All of these machines have advantages over the other's for different purposes.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 01:50:51 GMT

GRAVITY DROP AIR HAMMER: T wells, It will work fine if you have a big enough exhaust port and piping. The earliest steam hammers raised the ram and then just dropped it. However, it was quickly seen that there was a great advantage to putting pressure on the piston on the down stroke increasing the velocity of the ram to that greater than that of gravity fall alone.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 01:54:26 GMT

SWORDS: BLIX, The first of three steps is to study metalurgy and particularly heattreating. Take a look at this chart. When you understand more of it than I do you will be ready for the second step.

The second step is to study how blades are made. You have a choice of forging and stock removal. Arguments for both are strong and is largely a matter of personal style. Almost all the books on knifemaking and bladesmithing cover both methods. You can order a dozen or so from Centaur Forge. They are all good and all treat the subject from different perspectives. They have videos too. When you are done studying ALL of them then you are ready for step three.

Step three is to make a great kitchen knife. Swords are nothing more than a LARGE knife. Anyone can make a plain old knife. But to make a great kitchen knife that a trained chef would be proud to own is an achievment. Do this, then a sword is just a matter of scale.

While you are studying metalurgy (and you SHOULD do that at a college or University) study some engineering too. You can't discuss modulus of elasticity and LWT ratios with other knife makers unless you understand most of what is taught in a strength of materials class.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 02:19:06 GMT

I would like to set up a blacksmith shop to do ornamental iron work. Can you give me some information or sources to see where best to set up my forge, anvil, vise etc. I have a 20 x 40 building with half cement and half gravel floor. Where would be the best place to put the forge, vise, anvil, etc? Thanks for you help.

Eel -- bcook at Monday, 01/31/00 02:53:39 GMT

need info on anvil repair

michael tucker -- miketucker at Monday, 01/31/00 03:34:56 GMT

Jock, I just given a gear box with a 3 belt pulley on the front and a flat belt pulley on the side. What do I need to do to make this work, and can the flat belt pulley support the shocks and weight of a 50-60# head?

Chris Kilpatrick -- crimsonkil at Monday, 01/31/00 04:20:17 GMT

SHOP LAYOUT: Eel, A lot of this is personal preference but a lot depends on the type and size work you are going to be doing. The forge needs to be where it can have a chiminy unless you are burning gas and larger gas forges should have a hood and vent to the outside. Your anvil wants to be about 3-4 feet from the forge. Most of us put our anvil on a stump or stand so that it can be moved as needed. I like a vise mounted at about the same distance. Vises need to be anchored to the world so that they can be used for bending. If you have a power hammer or three they should also be in close proximity to the forge just outside the anvil/vise circle. If you do very small or use hand held tooling for small work on a power hammer it should be at anvil distance. Next thing in proximity to the forge/anvil/vise/hammer is a weld platten or other heavy bench.

All this is dependant on the character of your work. If you are going to do architectual work then every thing needs to be organized so that you can turn around with a twenty foot bar and feed it into a power hammer or set it on the anvil or weld platten. If you are doing primarily hardware then everything you need should be arranged in a 10x10 area except for stock racks and a saw. If you plan to do it ALL then you need to setup several forge areas that are convienient to each purpose. Are you going to have arc welders in the shop? A lathe or milling machine?

Bruce Wallace keeps his gas forge on a cart with wheels so he can wheel it to the job. When using his power hammer its in a convienient location for that and when he is hand forging work it is set near the anvil. Many smiths will forge one heat under a power hammer AND by hand on the anvil if the job requires it. Gas forges are very size specific. A forge eficient for making nails is not big enough for architectual work but one big enough for that uses a lot too much fuel for small work.

All your planning must consider what tooling you have or plan to have in the future. The gravel floor is better for the feet but the concrete floor is better for moving heavy machinery and doing layout.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 18:20:00 GMT

GEARBOX: Chris, How big are the shafts? How big the box? Any HP rating?

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 18:21:22 GMT

I need to know what material to us to put the fire brick together with and where to get fire brick.


steve -- sforbes at Monday, 01/31/00 19:23:15 GMT

I am trying to find information about hand operated drill presses, esp models that may have been made by the Champion Forge and Blower Co. How much is one worth in operating condition? I would like to get one to display and use in my wood sorking shop. Thanks--Mark

Mark Vachula -- cidermanmv at Monday, 01/31/00 19:46:03 GMT

BRICKS: Steve, 'Fire bricks' can be purchased from any construction supply. However, sometimes they are not rated high enough for a gas forge. In general they are not required for a coal forge. The technical term for fire bricks is 'refreactory' brick. These can be purchased from foundry suppliers. If there are none in your locality try furnace and boiler repair people.

What you glue refractory brick together with depends on what you are building. When building gas forges I prefer NOT to use any cement. Stack the bricks and build a metal frame around them to hold them in place. Stacked forges can easily be disassembled and the expensive refractory brick reused.

If you are building a furnace with an arched top or some type construction that you want to be permanent you need 'refractory cement'. If you are lining a chiminey then you want fire clay to mix with sand and portland cement.

Generaly if you are building some type of forge where you want permanent structures then 'moldable' refractory is cheaper and easier to use. With this you make wooden molds or forms and fill with a stiff mixture of refractory. This is the most economical construction if you must purchase new refractory materials. There is also a do-it-yourself mix using vermiculite, fireclay and mortar mix.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 22:39:37 GMT

HAND CRANK DRILL PRESS: Mark, They were made by the tens of thousands. They are GREAT tools if in good condition. I like to find them on their original mounting board with the little molded edges. Champion's old catalog is reprint as are the old Sears catalogs. Both carried these machines. Currently they sell for anywhere from $50 USD to $150 USD.

You used to be able to purchase "blacksmiths drills". These had a 1/2" shank for even the smallest bits. I've never seen any. I fitted both the hand crank units I use with Jacobs drill chucks that cost more than the machine! It is well worth it.

You will learn two things using one of these machines. 1) Metal cutting bits need to turn slow with high feed pressure and these machines are perfect for it. 2) What Horse Power means! Over 1/2" you have to realy LEAN on that crank! I've drilled up to 3/4" holes with a medium size hand crank machine.

-- guru Monday, 01/31/00 22:50:17 GMT

I work on a tv show and need to get what I thought would be an easy fact -- but it hasn't been. I have some old footage of a man that pushes a nail through a 2x4 with his hand. What I want to know is how much force is needed to hammer a nail into a board (using traditional methods.) Even speed would help. Any facts surrounding this even if you don't know the exact answer to my question would be great. Thanks. Kathryn

Kathryn -- KathrynLA at Monday, 01/31/00 23:41:49 GMT

I would like to create a simple educational demonstration to show students how the ancients produced iron from iron ore and heat.

Is this possible? What materials would be needed? I would do it outdoors, not in a classroom.

Bruce Miller

Bruce Miller -- bruce at Monday, 01/31/00 23:44:58 GMT

NAIL IN BOARD: Kathryn, The amount of force is not the question. The question IS how hard is the board? THAT determines the force.

There is always a trick of some type to these things. I'm sure you've seen all the board breaking demonstrations that marshal arts people put on. If you rotate the board 90 degrees so that it is supported at the end grain it cannot be broken and the demonstrator will be hurt. Or if its a kicking demonstration then the person holding the board is going to be hurt.

YOU could probably push a nail with a large head through a balsa wood board. If the board is construction grade pine or any wood stronger than 2-3 times that of flesh then there is a trick. A hole may have been drilled in the board then covered up. Sized right there would be just enough effort to make it look hard.

Then there is the question of how big is the nail? The diameter of the shank is also important.

You don't have enough facts to ask the right questions to determine the answer.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 00:16:21 GMT

NAIL IN BOARD: Kathryn, another important question---is whisky involved..?

kid -- n/a Tuesday, 02/01/00 00:33:00 GMT

IRON FROM ORE: Bruce, It can be done on a small scale but I'm not sure how small. Go to our links page and then Emile's from the top of the page. There is a section on Iron smelting. Check out the Rockbridge Project. I've got a full days worth of pictures to post from one of their smelts but have not had time. . . Its a LOT of pictures.

The ancients used charcoal for fuel. A bellows or air supply is needed. Don't try to power it by hand as it takes anywhere from a few hours to all day to produce a batch of iron.

The furnace is tubular made of refractory material, fed a mixture of fuel, ore and flux. Flux was often limestone. Ancient furnaces were made of refractory stone or brick.

DO NOT short the ancients on materials know how. They were much closer to the materials they used than we are. They may not have known it was aluminia that made refractory fire clays withstand high temperatures but they knew what it looked like and where to get it.

The charcoal was not like like our charcoal briquets. It was real charcoal which doesn't have a lot of additives like sawdust and corn starch.

I'm just guessing but I THINK you could do it with a 24" (600mm) tall coupla with about a 5" (125mm) bore. Being a small furnace you would have to feed it fuel quite often and need a fairly high grade ore.

Check out those on-line resources and feel free to ask more questions.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 00:36:49 GMT

Kid, hahahah hah :)

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 00:40:34 GMT

need info on anvil repair

michael tucker -- miketucker3 at hotmail Tuesday, 02/01/00 03:12:38 GMT

What kind of caps do you guys use for 12" single wall galv. chimney to keep the weather out and still get a good draw. Pipe is 20' with 2 elbows-- I went thru the wall just below the roof cause the metal roof is hard to keep from leaking. I'm 2' above the peak. Thanks

Jerry -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 02/01/00 04:59:41 GMT

I have a replica japanese katana which was damaged.the tang was lossened and the ponit of the blade was turned a little I would be happy to eney help you could give me in having it repared. the sword means alot to me pelease help thank you so much for your time sir. I live in canada.

jinn -- j. rankine at Tuesday, 02/01/00 05:58:10 GMT

I have a replica japanese katana which was damaged.the tang was lossened and the ponit of the blade was turned a little I would be happy to eney help you could give me in having it repared. the sword means alot to me pelease help thank you so much for your time sir. I live in canada.Iam 15

jinn -- j. rankine at Tuesday, 02/01/00 06:00:59 GMT

please give me some helpful hints on finding a starting point. i would like to learn the trade/ art of blacksmithing......i live in florida, however i am flexible ( i can't spell ) and willing to go to where i need to. thank you for all your help......amanda

amanda -- spikefoo Tuesday, 02/01/00 09:32:19 GMT


Contact Grandpa Daryl Meier, his link is at the top of this page. If anyone can tell you how to get your katana fixed, Grandpa is the man.


You also need to go to the top of the page, but you need to click on the "Getting Started" link. Go through that area, then we'll be glad to help you with questions.

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 02/01/00 12:59:22 GMT

I have to quench 5 feet of two-handed sword in the near future.Its longer and thinner than any sword Ive heat-treated before. I have the looong fire and the looong slack-tub, but how to get it from fire to water without it warping?

Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 02/01/00 15:35:30 GMT

CHIMINEY CAP: Jerry, Advise from Steve Kayne, A double cone. The first cone is your standard weather cone a least 2 pipe diameters or a little more. The second is an inverted cone the same diameter as the pipe INSIDE the first. This results in smooth flow rather than turbulence at the cap. Be sure the closest parts are about one half pipe diameter from the the lip of the pipe.

We have cone layout methods on the 21st Century page.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 16:31:26 GMT

Belt Grinders.
I have a Bader II frame. It has a 3 phase motor on it. So I have to replace the motor. I will be using this for heavy (36grit) grinding and for some fine polishing (trizac belts). some knife makinge.
Do I need a variable speed motor?
What HP? ( I assume 2hp )
what is the advantage of variable speed?
I think the finer the grit the slower speed?

Thanks Much

Nicholas -- marceljan at Tuesday, 02/01/00 17:02:27 GMT

Just so happens I was reading my new book last night(Wife bought me Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing!) and it said that to prevent thin blades from warping, you must place two pieces of metal(slightly larger) on both sides of the piece and attach(I assume clamps or wire) And heat treat it like that.
Seems reasonable for smaller blades, and it should work for a longer blade(maybe?)
I will guess grandpa will know!

Good luck

Ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 02/01/00 17:14:18 GMT

On 1/31 you provided Steve some advice on using fire bricks and fire clay. Several days ago you gave me some advice about lining a small portable forge with fire clay.

Can anyone give me some leads on finding the moldable fire clay mentioned, perhaps in the Washington/Baltimore area?

Many thanks.

Gerald Thacker -- thacker at Tuesday, 02/01/00 17:25:34 GMT

Jinn: Your best bet is to go to Professional sword makers and polishers post there regularly. You will need to specify the brand of the katana so that they will know what material was used to make the blade. If you want to have the repair done by someone, suggest you use a Canadain, to simplify the shipping.
Olle: Very carefully! If possible, put the quench tank close to the fire, and about the same level. When the blade gets hot it should be held so that the edge/back is in a verticle plain. If double edge, the quench should be verticle.

grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 02/01/00 18:02:18 GMT

I recently acquired an 1898 Champion Blower & Forge Co. (Lancaster, PA) drillpress. I would like to acquire additional attachments. Sources? Also, what is the value of this beautifully functioning machine? Thanks.

Ann Brooks -- wallsrags at Tuesday, 02/01/00 19:46:10 GMT

DRILL PRESS: Ann, See my post from Wednesday. Also this recent letter,
Guru, I recently got a champion 22' drill press that stands about 7 feet tall. it has a 9 speed power "" axis and a granny low,down to about 60 rpm. we guess 1880 to as late as1915.any guesses? What do you think it is worth.. it is being fully reconditioned as we speak. it has not seen alot of use, many things point to this,condition of the table, bushings and babbit bearings look excelent. also, on the right side is a brass number 7 pinned to it (pines are steel) thanks!

Are you looking to sell or just want to know if you got a good deal? These currently sell for around $300-$400 but are WORTH ten times that if you tried to purchase a modern equivalent.

The brand doesn't make much difference. These machines were and industry standard like PC's. Everyone made them and they were ALL just alike. They were actually made until the mid 50's the best I can tell.

They tag on the side was someone's inventory number.

I have 4 similar machines and LOVE them. Even the broken down worn out one will bury a 3/16" drill in 2" of steel and then follow THAT with a 1" throwing blue chips without dropping into back gear!

- guru
Ann, if yours is one of these old floor model drill presses it will have a #2, #3 or #4 Morse taper. The common 20-22" machines take a #4. Get the biggest Jacobs drill chuck you can and an arbor to fit. If you have a collection of Morse taper drill bits then you will want a set of Morse sleeves to fir the drill bits to the #4 taper.

IF your machine is one of the old hand crank variety see my post of Monday 31st above

All drill presses are much more useful with "furniture". A vise is most common. I have a 6" Wilton drill press vise that is most useful. The best thing about is is that you can drill "through" without drilling into the vise or screw.

Other furniture can be made or purchased. "U" clamps (clamp dogs), square steel bars bent in a "U" can be made by the blacksmith or purchased. These are used with a SET of various length bolts and nuts (T-nuts if your table has T-slots) and spacer or stacker blocks. Heavy clamping washers are need too. I make mine. You can never have enough! The important thing about a furniture set is to keep it together and not "borrow" the bolts for other purposes.

Although a vise is very handy, a universal furniture set can handle a lot of work that doesn't fit or isn't properly supported in a vise. When there is a "production" job to be done I setup alignment or "stop" blocks and put springs under the U-clamps. Imaginative use of drill press and milling machine furniture is a skill that is worth practicing.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 20:17:46 GMT

SWORD QUENCH: Olle, a while back I recommended to a rapier maker to make a rack with narrow (wire) hooks to support the blade. A piece of pipe or something light weight (wood even) with the hooks attached so that you could easily lift the blade from the fire OR slide it into the support. The hooks need to be narrow, possibly with sharp edges, so that they do not impede the quench. Shaped properly they will help hold the blade vertical.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 21:21:11 GMT

FIRE CLAY and REFRACTORYS: Gerald, Regular fire clay can be purchased from constructions suppliers. Castable refractory will need to be purchased from a foundry supply company. They will also have high temperature refractory bricks and Kaowool Forget looking for REAL industrial supplies in the Washington Metropolitian area. There are more 'escort' services there than commercial hardware suppliers. Look in Baltimore.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 21:29:26 GMT

MICHAEL TUCKER: I generally do not recommend repairs to anvils unless they are useless. There are a number of articles on anvil repair on the net plus a bunch of posts in the archives of this page. At least once or more every month.

-- guru Tuesday, 02/01/00 21:34:04 GMT

Guru & others---Thank you for your responses to my question about pipe cap. While getting stock to make the double cone cap, a friend at the store came out with a galvanized turbin with a mounting collar-donated for a resonable price. Looks like I'm in good shape. Again, thanks!!

Jerry -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 02/01/00 22:51:04 GMT

There are two anvils in a local "antique" mall. Both of them have surface rust which has not pocked or penetrated the steel. They both have well rounded shoulders and several shallow dents in the surface of the working plane (I'm not sure that's what it's really called). One is 200# and the other is at least 250#. Each is priced at over $200. This seems a little much even for "antiques". Can I find a better deal on a new anvil or should I consider one of these? There is also an old smiths vice with 8' jaws in dirty but very serviceable condition for $95. Is that a good deal?

Bill -- w.stone at Tuesday, 02/01/00 23:23:30 GMT

What is castable refactory? and where would one find it.

Henry -- hgeiger at Tuesday, 02/01/00 23:24:05 GMT

What is castable refactory? and where would one find it.

Henry -- hgeiger at Tuesday, 02/01/00 23:25:11 GMT

Bill, those prices are RIGHT. If the anvils are decent BUY them both and the VISE. You can get more for them next weekend!

Look to see if the anvils have any markings on the side. Most old worn anvils are some of the best but it doesn't hurt to be sure. If you can find a ball bearing (just the ball) and do a bounce test it will certify them as OK. Any rebound of 40% or greater is OK. Cast iron anvils and junk will bounce a LOT less. See my article on testing anvils on the 21st Century page.

You need to check the screw in the vise. Many wear out. Open and close it, stand it up and tighten it TIGHT! A worn screw will slip (clunk, clunk). Missing springs are an easy blacksmithing project.

Otherwise BUY EM!

-- guru Wednesday, 02/02/00 00:10:46 GMT


The anvil prices are excellent, compared to new. The prices you quote are in the area of $100 a pound if the weights are right and if the anvils are useable. New anvils can run as high as $6 a pound!

The vise, if it's in working condition is a steal! Grab it quick!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 02/02/00 00:10:50 GMT

Bill, that is SUPPOSED to be a dollar a pound, not a hundred dollars!

Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 02/02/00 00:12:50 GMT

CASTABLE REFRACTORY: Henry, It is furnace and crucible lining material that comes in powder form. You mix with water and mold in a form (wood, paper, cardboard or metal). Be sure to let cure, then DRY for a week at least then heat slowly the first time. Its available from foundry suppliers. 25 pound bags I think.

-- guru Wednesday, 02/02/00 00:16:23 GMT

bill,how much over 200? as long as they are not cast iron or useless it sounds like a good deal to me{asuming not much over $200}. i've seen anvils {around 200 lbs. and in good condition} go for over $1,000. of course that was on ebay but even a new medium size peddinghaus anvil {forged steel} is gonna run around 800 i think. more than $1 a lb or maybe even $2$ is the going rate on used anvils, the guru knows for sure but if you don't want them let me know where your at, maybe i'll take a look.the vise i don't know about, i think it's worth it for the use of it and i've seen many in my area go for around that or more, if i didn't have two i'd get the one i saw at the flea market for $90 last week, it only needed another ball on the end of the handle, later

alex bender -- klownrsbad at Wednesday, 02/02/00 00:19:50 GMT

ANVIL PRICES: NEW Peddinghaus anvils vary from $4.40 USD to $8.30 USD not including shipping. Other anvils should be less but not a great deal. Finishing and heattreating are a big part of the cost of anvil manufacturing.

Good USED anvils are selling in the $2/lb to $3/lb unless they are exceptional anvils. That puts the price on a 200 pound anvil at about $500 USD. Of course there are the underpriced anvils at fifty cents a pound and the FREE anvils but those don't count if you need an anvil today. You guys are talking $1/lb. That's a price you can make money on.

However don't guess at the weight. A 100 pound anvil and a 200 pound anvil don't look much different. Find the weight marking on the side or get it to a scale. Get a per/pound price first! Lots of folks guess at the weight.

-- guru Wednesday, 02/02/00 01:51:51 GMT


JAY HOUSTON -- JHOU843156 at AOL.COM Wednesday, 02/02/00 02:44:15 GMT

I have a machine shop at home and am interested in learning about blacksmithing. I want to make a lot of wood carving tools. I want to make a forge and tongs and maybe a power hammer to get started. Do you have any drawings or information sources to get me started?

My background is machinest. I have worked in the shipyard, job shops and many hydroelectric bureau of reclamation power plants.

In my shop I have an 18" Monarch lathe, 10" Southbend, Index milling machine, welders etc.

I am interested in learning more about the blacksmith craft. I can build just about anything I need. Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks, Jim Blankenship

Jim Blankenship Page, AZ

Jim Blankenship -- jimb at Wednesday, 02/02/00 03:36:34 GMT

JAY, Repose' is the process of producing a low relief "sculpture" in sheet metal. It is normaly done in a bed of asphalt to support the work as it is being done. Try this web site for some of the finest:
Koka Metalsmiths The work of Bill Fiorni and Kirsten Skiles.

If the result is just lines it would be called "chasing" I think.

-- guru Wednesday, 02/02/00 04:21:26 GMT

Jim, See our standing article "Getting Started" at the top of this page. The books listed will get you going in the right direction. If you are intrested in building a power hammer see the Power hammer Page and the new ABANA 2000 Junk Yard Hammer Event page. Build it and haul it to Flagstaff this summer and you could win a prize!

-- guru Wednesday, 02/02/00 04:27:11 GMT

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