WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from January 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Le Gube;
Even Hollywood knows that the devil will take the blacksmith who works cold iron.
Almost feels sorta secure, knowin' where I'm goin'
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 01/01/02 08:18:16 GMT

Missing Posts:

Sorry Folks. We had a technical glitch. Well. . not too technical, we ran out of disk space. That ends up erasing our forum logs. I restored the logs with the most recent versions I had. The problem is that when I access a blank page the my cache is erased. The above portion of this page is from the last time I down loaded and edited the page.

The disk space problem is one of our growing pains that is going to take money to fix. Meanwhile I am cleaning up old logs and other non-esential files from the server.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 05:24:08 GMT

Hey all you laggards, you are here using Anvilfire..
And pay Jock his pittance so Anvilfire can stay online!!!
Without it we would have nothing to do but reinstall windows over and over!#$***#*! OS
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 01/02/02 05:37:39 GMT


Well said!

You people listening?????
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 01/02/02 05:48:37 GMT

When making a gas forge do you attach the burners at an angle? I've noticed that they are in many pictures.
   Adam O - Wednesday, 01/02/02 07:47:59 GMT

oh dear, all that lost information:-(
   OErjan - Wednesday, 01/02/02 12:35:05 GMT

Iron Ore. The Guru had a pretty good response about iron ore. In New Mexico, we have 'sand iron' or 'iron sand' in most of the arroyos (dry washes). It's mixed with the siliceous sand and shows up as black streaks, especially after a rain. I assume it is a magnetite, as you can gather it easily with a magnet. It is probably a low grade ore. Commercial interests have not bothered with it.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/02/02 13:35:10 GMT


They probably haven't bothered with it because there are "richer" deposits closer to water, and other resources.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 01/02/02 14:10:07 GMT

The posts about fabricating a cone tweaked my imagination. How about a swage block by using/modifying a railroad car hitch(knuckle thing) Some of the angles and grooves look useful. Maybe I can torch and weld some to make it more useable? What kind of stand might work for this odd shaped thing? What do you think? OBTW, after over a year of lurking
I AM joining Cybersmiths, how about you other quite lurkers? Snow in Atlanta!
   Tony - Wednesday, 01/02/02 16:34:47 GMT

Anvils and Swages Tony, any large chunk of iron or steel with unusual surfaces is useful in the blacksmith shop. I suspect railroad car couplers are forgings or cast steel. Very good stuff in any case.

Stands for swage blocks need to be relatively heavy. In many cases they are just a flat surface. I usualy use mine on benches or the weld platen. Those stands that fit the edges of blocks (angle iron frames) are garanteed finger biters. I have one but it came with the block. But the block is too heavy to handle by hand so fingers shouldn't be in the way. . . For my smaller blocks I want to build a multi-level stand like Eric Thing's stake/swage stand (see our Armoury page).
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 16:49:45 GMT

Lost Posts: I found several busy days worth on my other PC (laptop) and have restored them. We still lost yesterday.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 16:51:12 GMT

Guru, would it not be possible to make a "miror" on just the forums? sync them to a separate puter? I KNOW it is frequently done in databases... on networks (yes even over internet).
It should be possible to use say a P133 (OK not exactly overkill but..) with one or two (mirored)40G HD's saving every posting. does this sound possible o great Guru?
ofcourse the computer would have to be a donation to CSI.
here to help (will donate some money asap)
   OErjan - Wednesday, 01/02/02 17:47:49 GMT

Would you believe? Our server runs on 6Gb of disk space? That supports over 50 web sites (all those ABANA-Chapters plus) as well as anvilfire. Same as my three year old desk top.

The actual problem is a software thing that I am not capable of correcting in Perl. The forum logs are all appended to without checking for disk space or an empty file. The problem doesn't actualy occur until someone posts to the log and the software tries to write a file where there is no space. I'm sure a safety routine could be written but as I mentioned, it is beyond my Perl/UNIX skills. I could do it in BASIC for DOS. . .

Our forum software is a VERY customized version of an old freeware guestbook routine. I removed a ton of things then added a bunch more (like support for frames and auto refresh). Most recently I added the current page formatting and user levels. Our new iForge demonstrators page that generates fully formated HTML is a version of the same code.

Given a place to start I'm a fair hacker of Perl and Javascript. Besides our forum code I've customized the Ringlink webring software we run. But there are many things I do not understand in Perl so for the time being I'm just a hacker. Kiwi is doing some things for us in PhP_4 and even though it is similar to Perl I go cross eyed looking at. So I prefer our Perl routines because I can at least maintain them.

Money is always the problem in this business. We need a new bigger server and I need help with much of its maintenance. The problem with the "help" is that its not a few minutes here and an hour there. It is hours of programming and testing and then fixing and. . . (typical computer bs).

So. . for the time being we will just have to muddle through.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 19:42:22 GMT


I accept that there is a software portion of the problem that I don't even begin to understand, let along be able to help with.


Space is Space. Wouldn't a larger hard drive at least be usable as an overflow drive?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 01/02/02 20:02:01 GMT

Guru, how about I donate you a 10GbHd? i have an IDE (Actually ATA100) 10Gb HD i could mail to you (but considering mail servisces and how they handle stuff it would be better to send you $$)
   - OErjan - Wednesday, 01/02/02 20:23:15 GMT

Space: Updating the server disk space is a complicated problem. We lease the server at a remote location. The folks there are in control of hardware upgrades. We have asked about competitive upgrades but have gotten nowhere. For more space they want a LOT more money. We will probably be forced to move to a new service to get the upgrades necessary. But this too is complicated. All those URL's we host will have to be setup with new numeric DNS addresses on the new services routers if we move. Servers come with much of the software preconfigured. As you add URL's you also have to configure the server. At this point it is probably a week's work by a UNIX guru. . . The folks we lease with know that, so they know they are in a good bargaining position.

Nothing is ever simple. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 21:06:49 GMT

Metal Ores For small or primitive operations ore needs to be higher grade than that commonly used by big industry.

For almost every state, province and country there are mineralogical maps that are the results of modern surveys and historical information. These include ore deposits as well as soil and clay deposits and minerals in general. There are also studies published as books covering commercialy developable deposits as well as historical mines and quaries. These are usualy available from the Department of Mineral Resources for your locality, or the state/province library. Any school or University that teaches mining or geology will also have copies. When looking for ores you start there.

Armed with the above information you cross reference likely areas on topographical maps. These almost always have mines including current and hstorical ones marked. From there you go to the local Court Clerks office (or where they record deeds) and determine the owner of the property so that you can get permission to go onto the property. The owner will most likely be able to tell you about any historical or abandonded mines.

THEN if you know what you are looking for (you will need to do some study in this regard), you will need to take a hammer (single jack), stone cutting tools and a pick-axe to mine your ore. Select the very best (richest) ore. A distance of a few feet can make a huge difference in quality. Plan on packing the ore out. If the mine was abandonded long ago, it is unlikely to be near a road.

That is how the folks at the Rockbrige Bloomery do it. They have located some old mines and go as a group (you MUST have crazy friends for this adventure), then pack out the ore.

Bog Ore is an iron nodule that developes in shallow lakes, ponds and swamps as part of a bilogical process. Bog ore was one of the principal ores used in early times. To gather it you need a flat bottomed boat and long tongs for feeling the bottom and lifting out the nudules. Its a lot like crabing. To find bog ore the historical record is best. Get permission as above.

Bog ore was often transported by water to the bloomery that was next to the waterway and probably used the stream for water power. Bog ore was limited in its availability but was easy to "mine" and is very high in iron. The limited availability is why it is no longer used.

Metoric Iron has been used in the past and is still mined today. Old burried cores are often hugh. In many cases the nickle iron is forgable as-is and it is prized by knife makers as an exotic material. You will need a portable saw with diamond blade to slab out pieces. Since most of the sites are well known I doubt that you can get permission to "mine" one. At a large North American meteor crater a tunnel was driven to the burried core. However, at the time they could not cut the very hard nickle iron (silica, corbon. . .) alloy core and the project was abandonded.

Iron sands: As Frank mentioned, this is another source of iron. In fact, a "traditional Japanese sword" is NOT unless the steel was made from iron extracted from specific iron sands (using traditional methods).

I know that in Virginia there were a hundred or so small iron mines that supplied early bloomeries. They were abandonded as the fuel (wood) ran out, or as the industry grew needing better transportation and convienient (large) supplies of fuel and ore. I'm sure this situation was the same in many other areas or the world. Iron wasn't the only thing mined in Virginia. There was copper, lead and a small amount of gold. Most of these are recorded in the type of maps and studies mentioned above.

But before you do any of the above you will need to learn to identify the ore you are looking for. More study and research. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 21:08:29 GMT

Any idea where I can buy a bit of sal ammoniac for welding?

RR track tools.(No. No one asked me) I bought a "stick" of track from our local RR yard for $75. Works out to about $1/ft or less than 10c/lb which is a good deal for tool steel in approximately the right shape. I cut the rail off a short section for stock to make hammers and then realized the upsided down T shaped web that I was left with is an excellent basic shape for anvil tools. I made one hardy, one narrow fuller and one tool shaped like a fuller except the surface is flat and the edges square. This is just perfect for all those times you wished you had a sharp square edge on your anvil. I still have another 33' feet of rail left :)

Perl. My Perl is rusty but it seems to me you could issue, from within Perl, a system command to check available disk space before writing anything and deal with the response in a way that doesnt damage the existing log file.
   adam - Wednesday, 01/02/02 21:12:32 GMT

I've got a six foot guard railing that I need to make. On one side, it can attach to the wall, but on the other side, there is no wall. I'll have to lag it into the floor(where there is about 6" of wood. Is there a rule of thumb for attaching to the floor? Would 3/8" lags be big enough? Thanks a lot
   - Kevin - Wednesday, 01/02/02 21:53:04 GMT

Perl and UNIX Adam, the trick is giving the right system command.

The right way to do it is to alternate between an active file and a backup file and check those file sizes. Then never delete/rename the backup if the current file is zero. The ideal system would send me a mail saying "FIX ME" when it returned an error.

Part of the problem is that for security reasons there are many rules about file writes and such on UNIX systems from Perl that I don't understand. If it were easy then UNIX would be as big a security nightmare as Windirt IIs.

AND THAT is another one of our (and everyone else's) problems. We are being hit daily by systems trying to give Windirt commands on our server. These do no overt damage but the attempts show in the server error logs. Often the error logs are HUGE.

Where the problem lies is the extra disk space and bandwidth used. From looking at our logs I'd estimate 10% of our bandwidth is going to automated hacking probes. Most of these are carried out by computers infected with viruses looking for Windirt servers to hack.

Sal Ammoniac used to be sold in grocery stores as a cleaner. But like 20 Mule Teem Borax is getting hard to find. Check the pottery supply chemical list on our links page. McMaster-Carr sells it in 1/2 and 1 pound blocks.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/02/02 22:05:13 GMT

true Guru. All to true.
40G would be nice though, would let you make a great site even better.
   OErjan - Wednesday, 01/02/02 23:33:05 GMT


What is the best sandblasting media for cleaning up freshly forged steel before painting? I was looking at aluminum oxide, but then saw the 80% glass/20% Al Oxide mix which looked good...

It's a fairly small and cheap sandblaster I just got to go with my Christmas Compresser, if that matters. I've been looking through MCMaster Carr and realized (again) that there are more choices than I thought.



   - Jim - Wednesday, 01/02/02 23:43:49 GMT

If you get an e-mial from me, DON'T OPEN IT. I got it from a friend and being stupid, opened it. It sends it to everybody in my address book. SORRY!!
   Steve Barringer - Thursday, 01/03/02 00:16:26 GMT

I am looking for info / recomendations on new Refflinghaus and Nimba anvils. I have done some research and have company info on Nimbas-but no practical in the field knowledge on quality / performance-and absolutely nothing on Refflinghaus. I have contacted Centaur forge but they don't have to much in the way of technical info. I look forward to any help you can give. Thanks!
   - promethious - Thursday, 01/03/02 00:37:10 GMT

Sandblasting Media: Jim, Sharp coarse silica sand is the most commonly used. However I am not familiar with the glass mixtures. But I don't like powdered glass. Its a good thing to keep in closed booth. . .

Jim Wilson (Paw-paw) recently found that coarser sand was much faster (5 or 6 to 1) than fine sand.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 01:57:30 GMT

Refflinghaus and Nimba: Promethious, Refflinghaus is an old well known manufacturer of anvils but they have not been heavily imported into the U.S. The Centaur site has confusing information claiming "cast from forged steel". . . I believe they are cast steel.

Nimba anvils are made using the best cast alloy steel and heat treating available. They are also one of the best finished anvils made anywhere. The people that have them LOVE them and would not trade for any other.

Being a true believer in "buy American", given the choice between the Nimba and a cast import I would buy the Nimba.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 02:06:51 GMT

Sandblasting medai.

For years, I used "Play Sand" that I bought in 50# bags from Lowes and/or Home Depot. It's a very fine grit.

Recently both were out, so I bought a 50# bag of Medium Grit masonry sand by Quikcrete.

Works MUCH better. Faster and does a better job. And to top it off, it's almost 2 bucks a bag cheaper! I ain't changing back!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 03:05:12 GMT

Spell Checker!

medai should be media!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 03:07:02 GMT

Pete F your name is Black not Blue, is your check in the mail??
   Robert - Thursday, 01/03/02 03:22:48 GMT

Anvils and Swages ...Tony
For that sort of thing, I make anvil stakes from available shapes...just weld on a hardy tang...( sounds funny)
   - Pete F - Thursday, 01/03/02 04:50:28 GMT

Is an acetylene regulator usuable to regulate propane for the purpose of using propane/oxygen for a rosebud? I have an extra large victor regulator that I would like to use so as not to have to buy a propane regulator.
   AZDoug - Thursday, 01/03/02 05:05:52 GMT

I need some tool advise here. It is time to buy a belt sander and I ahve managed to hide some money from the wife. I do mostly decorative leaves, flowers, and some letter openers. What brand is a good quality brand of belt sander? I would rather buy more than i need than not enough. 1/2 hp or 3/4 hp motor? Are there various belt lengths? I assume that a longer belt length gives more cooling time and does not heat the belt so quickly. Amy advise is appreciated. Thanks.
Vance Moore, Meridian, Mississippi
   vance - Thursday, 01/03/02 12:26:43 GMT

Sand Blast Media:

I think it is worth mentioning that silicosis, similar to asbestosis, has been linked to sandblasting with common sand.

Black Beauty (check with welding supply houses) is readily available, relatively inexpensive, and deemed safe by our government caretakers. It is of uniform size and does an excellent job.

Flint abrasive is also cheap but not a well graded as Black Beauty and will cause the small orifices in home sand blasters to plug.

Play Sand is often not sharp-edged which inhibits it's effectiveness, as well as being silicon based.
   Andy Martin - Thursday, 01/03/02 13:06:27 GMT


What is Black Beauty? A horse? (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 14:44:52 GMT

Pawpaw. Your Story is addictive and well written :-)
   OErjan - Thursday, 01/03/02 15:18:00 GMT


Thank you, glad you like it!
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 15:21:00 GMT

Pawpaw: "like it" heh, naah, I would use stronger words but as most know I rarely do. GREAT! spring to mind :-)
   OErjan - Thursday, 01/03/02 15:54:49 GMT

Blue Ink: Pete is indeed a paid up member of CSI and long time supporter of anvilfire. However some members chose not to log in as members OR have "cookies" turned off on their system. In either case their name will not show up in blue.

CSI members that can't remember their expiration date can login to the members forum and the date is displayed on their form there. Forget your password? Just drop me a line.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:07:10 GMT

Regulators: Doug, the best I know is that they work OK. However, they are designed to opperate at a max of 15 PSI where propane regulators may go as high as 50 PSI. But I have never found this to be a problem with torches.

Hoses however, MUST be rated for propane. Cheaper acetylene hoses will degrade (age) very rapidly with propane. Hoses rated for propane use a different type rubber and work with both propane and acetylene. If you didn't specify "for propane" the hoses will be the acetylene type. Ask your welding supplier. If they don't know the difference, go to a different supplier.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:15:51 GMT


I would like to start doing some wrought iron work as a hobby. I have been gathering information about tools required. Do you know anything about Metal Craft USA tools? They offer individual pieces or whole workshops.

Thank you

   Pat - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:16:02 GMT

Propane: Regulators and hoses that are rated for propane are often not rated for propane. Liquid propane is an aggressive solvent. Nevertheless, a lot people use propane in their acetylene systems and get away with it since it's only propane in gas not liquid form.

I bet that a simple cheap 0-35psi regulator available from your local propane dealer for about $25 would do fine.

One advantage of propane is that you can run high pressures and this gives you a much greater range with each tip.

One advantage of propane ovr
   adam - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:19:08 GMT


The paperback book version is being put together by Ruby Faire, "even as we speak". It'll be on sale here at the Anvilfire store. Signed copies (if that is your pleasure) will be available through Anvilfire. Signed copies will cost $2.00 more than un-signed, but the $2 will go to support Anvilfire.

Chapter One of Book Two, the continuation of the story will appear in the Ruby Faire magazine this week, and here on the Anvilfire Story page the first of February.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:23:06 GMT

disk space: guru why not simply require all users to post only on lowercase font? lowercase is a lot smaller than uppercase and this would amount to substantial space savings.

I am surprised that you overlooked this simple (but brilliant) solution.
   Patrick O'blivious - Thursday, 01/03/02 16:25:12 GMT

Metal Craft Tools: Pat, I'm not familiar with their tools. A lot depends on what you want to do. There is hand forged iron work and then there is fabricated ironwork.

One of the most important tools is something that does chean cutoff work. Steel comes in 12 and 20 foot lengths and cuting is often a major task. A cutoff saw (horizontal band saw) is the most flexible in size and they do clean work. Many of the cheap import saws are tools for fools and a huge waste of money. Ironworkers shear stock clean enough for most ironwork and are very fast. But they are expensive and their range is limited. Chop saws (abrasive blade) are an option but I do not like the dust, noise and sharp hard burrs. A torch can be used but will cost in cleanup or poor quality work.

Hole making is the next most important task needing a machine in most shops. Small drill presses are generaly made for wood working and run much too fast for metal working. Look for a heavy OLD drill press (see our second iForge demo on drilling). Iron workers will also make holes VERY efficiently and will punch square holes. However, punching has limited depth (max = equal to diameter). You need a drill press first THEN an ironworker for holes IF you are in high production.

Next is a good oxy-actylene or oxy-propane cutting/welding outfit. Almost all metalwork requires heating, welding, brazing, soldering done with oxy/fuel.

And almost at the same need level as the gas welding equipment is an electric welder. A simple buzz-box (transformer arc welder) is fine. MIG outfits are great if you can afford them but don't have the flexibility of plain old stick welding. Even if you are going to do 100% "traditional" work without arc welds you need one for building jigs and fixtures.

All metal working shops need a good vise (or two or three). The heavier the better. Good blacksmiths leg vises start at 30 pounds. Bench vises less than 50 to 75 pounds are not suitable for any hammering.

Then you need one of more grinders. Bench grinders should only be used for sharpening and small work. Never for cleaning up torch cuts. A good "angle" grinder (hand held) is necessary for cleaning up torch cuts, welds and for heavy deburing. The little 4.5" ones are very handy but the bigger ones are needed for heavy work.

After collecting the above you have a fair start on a metal working "workshop". However, each of the above needs attachments and supporting tools. Just how big or HD the tools are depends on it being a hobby or a business. Exactly what type of work you want to do will determine the other tools you need. If you want to do forge work you will need an anvil and a forge. Although you can buy all kinds of benders (Metal Craft?) most smiths make their own as needed (see our 21st Century and iForge page articles on benders). Bending jigs can can be made of wood.

You can do with much less. I used a hand hacksaw for cutoff for years. But I ended up making a very heavy duty hand saw (see getting sarted). A cutoff saw quickly became a priority. Holes can be worried out with drills that run too fast or by punching. But nothing beats a REAL drill press. A LOT can be done using traditional blacksmithing techniques requiring nothing more than a good anvil and a home made forge, a hammer and a few hand tools. But this is a different class of work than jig bending and fabrication. For that you REALLY need the equipment above before you get specialized.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 18:10:45 GMT

neighborhood smithing -- Although I am not doing it all day long, charcoal works well even with excess sparkage. If anybody asks, it is a high powered BBQ. Can even cook on it (burns a hot dog to a crisp in under 30 seconds at full blast).
   Escher - Thursday, 01/03/02 18:37:14 GMT

On Bill Epps tutorial, rr spike axe, he said to use a splitting punch. Is this the same as a slitting chisel, it looks to be diamond shaped from the picture.
   DanL - Thursday, 01/03/02 18:50:26 GMT

I am going to study abroad this spring at Queens in Belfast Ireland. I was wondering if there were any blacksmiths in Ireland. Also, are there any places of interest you would recommend? (from a blacksmith's point of view, of course) Thank you.
   nico - Thursday, 01/03/02 19:44:36 GMT

Splitting Punch: Dan, these have a punch shaped body and a chisle edge with rounded corners OR a tapering chisle point. They are for making a hole where you don't want to remove material OR want swelling for affect. See our iForge demos #63 & 64.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 20:05:07 GMT

Escher, The small gas forges when set on an old gas grill stand don't look much different than the thousands of gas grills found in back yards and even on apartment balconies. . . ;o)
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 20:09:19 GMT

I can see someone living in an apartment, NC Whisper Baby, or Whisper Momma, on an old grill stand, 100# anvil on a stand, small post vise on a portable stand, and a small store of stock, pounding and twisting a little on weekends, and making some fairly decent side money by doing so.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 20:41:11 GMT

Yeah, but do you know what the pounding is going to sound like in the apartment below????? ;)

Have to develop a non-shock transmitting anvil stand. Springs, shocks, sound damping padding. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 01/03/02 21:00:06 GMT

Not if the smith lives on the first floor!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/03/02 21:52:50 GMT

When building a gas forge do you install the burners at an angle? I've seen it that way in many pictures. Thanks
   Adam O - Thursday, 01/03/02 23:12:56 GMT

Escher... what kind of charcoal? Like for barbequeing? Or is it the real stuff? Where do you get it? My neighbor complains when I fire up the coal, even when its coked... thinks it smells bad (imagine!). But my other neighbor has a wood stove that perhaps I could complement... hmmm...
Guru, any suggestions on this too?
   Rodriguez - Friday, 01/04/02 00:07:42 GMT

...cool, I'm blue too.... *smile*....
   Rodriguez - Friday, 01/04/02 00:08:19 GMT

I should be blue too. Maybe it's because my member name is doug, while my original name to sign on to this was AZdoug???
   AZDoug - Friday, 01/04/02 00:28:13 GMT

Doug, that's probably the reason.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/04/02 00:34:56 GMT


I really don't want to enter this message.

Some of you will probably never forgive me.

But I went to confession last week, and the priest made me promise faithfully that I would tell the truth.

He's sure to ask me Sunday if I've done it yet. I've been putting it off, cause I don't want to lose your respect.

But I have to tell the truth.

The fruitcake jokes bother me.

You see, I LIKE fruitcake! Always have. One of my favorite memories from childhood is walking across the tracks to the A & P store on the day after Christmas to buy a couple of their fruit cakes. It was always a special treat to me.

There! I did it! Please don't be TOO hard on me. (plaintive whine)

   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/04/02 04:16:06 GMT

Paw Paw:

Black Beauty is a black, well-graded commercial grit widely available for grit blasting. I don't know the chemical makeup but as I said before, check with your local welding supply house, if they don't carry it, they will probably know who does.

   Andy Martin - Friday, 01/04/02 04:25:12 GMT

Propane Burners: Adam, Forge burners have bend in the pipe to reduce the infrared glare on the burner parts. But not always. Propane is heavy so a down hill slope improves the draft efficiency. With oil burners you want any condensed oil to run down hill into the forge (not back into the burner).

However, some forge burners point straight up and then the pipe curves around and into the top of the firebox. This prevents the burner from acting like a chimney when the burner is idle. Burners at an angle will reduce the hot air that rises from heating the injector tip while a vertical burner will act as a chimney and the parts may get very hot. Where brass fittings are used this could be a problem.

Some burners enter at a right angle while others are angled to spiral the flame around the interior of the forge to prevent hot spots.

Its all up to the designer.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 04:42:15 GMT

Adam, Thanks for the tip on Black Beauty. I'll check with my supplier next week, and if he has it, I'll buy a bag to try it out.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/04/02 04:47:26 GMT

I'll be real embarassed if my cybersmiths membership has run out!!!!Didn't list an email address though I don't think....Will have to double check with Jock....Ah, Whew!
The burden of the temporally challenged is not knowing that stuff.

Pat. Perhaps a good beginning point is the good Guru's 3rd from the last sentance. A homemade forge, a big chunk of steel to serve as an anvil and a hammer are what you really need to start.
Given that, you can make many of the other tools you might want and learn in the process. Splendid work has been done with no more. Join one of your local blacksmithing groups and it will speed learning considerably. Once you have mastered the most basic tools..a direction will be much clearer. All the toys are great fun and speed things along, but they are not the heart of the art.
Patrick O'blivious ...taking your proposal a bit further, let's all go to little tiny print ( myopes vote yes!)and delete obvious windbags like myself.
Rodreguez; hardwood charcoal is best,,forget briquettes.
AZ Doug, Guru is probably sparing you all the flaming you'd get.
   - Pete F - Friday, 01/04/02 04:47:33 GMT

Charcoal: There are places you purchase the real stuff from but they are rare and shipping can add up. Many smiths make their own.

The common method is to fill a burn barrel with wood, get it burning good and then seal it up with a lid. The bottom vents are choked so that only a small amount of air gets in and burns enough wood (and the gases given off) to finish the process.

Good hardwood (oak, hickory) is best but almost any wood will do. Most of the charcoal will be the size of the wood put in so you may want to start with small pieces. Scraps from furniture factories and truck flooring plants is perfect.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 04:57:50 GMT

Fruitcake: My mother makes GREAT fruitcake that usualy disappears pretty fast. However, I HAVE been the recipiant of some of those that the jokes are about (or the same ONE more than once). . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 05:00:57 GMT

I need some advice. Am trying to take Hugh MacDonalds Roo head from the iForge page and forge a wide stable base into that bar stock...It just doesn't want to look right. Help?
   Tony - Friday, 01/04/02 05:51:26 GMT

Before I waste more coal experimenting: Anyone out there experienced in making high-medieval axes with the long sleeve or socket? Can weld sockets for spears, can weld axes, can weld halberds, can even make medieval axes with short socket, but long sockets defeat me. I have made some by making a very large axe and grinding away until it looked right, but it doesn´t feel right. So, anyone who knows how to make an axeblade grow out of a tapered tube without using arcwelding, please tell me how you do it.
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 01/04/02 13:20:52 GMT

ditto on the charcoal . . . hardwood restaurant grade. I don't go through a lot so I buy from a local kingsford supplier. Long hours could get pricey.
Axes - worked with a smith whose deal was trade axes (tomahawks), he also made a couple of the Lochaber style (big scottish) using the same method. If what you are describing matches the image in my head, then that is a way to do it. Essentially the same as iForge project 28 (Axe). Just bigger.
   Escher - Friday, 01/04/02 14:56:50 GMT

Long Socket: Olle, some of the antiques I have seen appear to have the socket welded on as a seperate piece. I can't remember if it was a butt weld to the socket or if the socket was split and lapped on the sides of the head.

When wrought iron was the common material and stock sizes limited there was a lot of welds made that we would consider difficult. In the Peter Ross scroll with leaf I presented in iForge demo #43, he forge welds 1/16" material to 1/2" material. This took very careful heating of the larger part first and then the two pieces together. The results were an absolutely invisible weld.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 17:06:12 GMT

hi folks
does anyone think it would be possible to get a temper line by clay coating and then air hardening o1 alloy steel?i intend to try it soon and would appreciate any feedback before i do.
thanks chris
   CHRIS MAKIN - Friday, 01/04/02 17:09:02 GMT

Sal Ammoniac bars In an e-mail message this morning I am told that it should be available from your local plumbing supplier.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 17:09:31 GMT

Temper Line: Chris, the temper line is supposedly where the change in crystalization occurs and this is brought out by very careful etching (?) and polishing. I may be wrong but it seems it should work in an alloy steel. Anyone that knows please correct me.

Don't waste your time/money on a full blade. Make a short sample about 4" long and the same section as your proposed blade then apply your hardening process as well as polishing. This can save a LOT of grief and heartache. You can also make several attempts on small samples before doing the "real" thing.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 17:19:17 GMT

Where are the posts about fabricating a cone? Did they get lost? I checked the archives for the last several days and came up with nothing.
   Chris - Friday, 01/04/02 17:20:14 GMT

Temper Lines; most "alloy" steels are too deep hardening to allow for clay tempering to work right. Your best bet is to work with simple carbon steels 10XX and watch the Manganese levels even on those. W1 or W2 have also been reported as workable.

That being said with skill many iffy alloys can be forced into giving the line with great control of the various parameters.

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 01/04/02 17:34:31 GMT

Chris, There was a lot of discussion about that over on KeenJunk.com. I was the one that brought it up & got some good responses. Let me know if you don't find what you're looking for.
   - Mike Roth - Friday, 01/04/02 17:44:55 GMT

Sal Ammoniac: Thanks for the tip about plumbing suppliers.

Question about charcoal: I have been using a gasser and often feel the need for a coal forge but I am concerned about the neighbors. I was wondering about charcoal - I have access to an unlimited supply of scrap hardwood and making charcoal seems to be easy but people tell me it burns up so fast I will spend all my forging time feeding the fire. What does the guru say?

Basic tools: A simple buzzbox AC welder will pay for itself many times over in the blacksmithing tools and fixtures it can make. For myself, I wish I had bought one sooner.
   adam - Friday, 01/04/02 17:49:14 GMT

Cone Fab: Look on the plans page.

Charcoal Burning Rate: Charcoal, being less dense than coal burns faster by volume. But pound for pound they are similar. Hardwood charcoal is denser than softwood charcoal and lasts longer.

Because of the lower fuel density charcoal forges need to be deeper than coal. Charcoal also releases many little glowing "fleas" and the light white ash tends to blow around more than coal ash. Some claim charcoal is dirtier than coal but I'll take white wood ash over coal dust any day. They are both dirty, just differently.

Environmentaly charcoal is a sustainable fuel and can often be made from waste wood. If the wood gases from the coaling process are fed back into the fire it is a much cleaner process than a smouldering air tight wood stove (common throughout American suburbia).
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 18:17:34 GMT

Guru or anyone else, A city near where I live piles up wood chips for people to use as mulch every summer. Do you think this would make decent charcoal? It would sure save time breaking the charcoal up after making it! I was thinking you'd probably have to make a regular fire in the bottom of a drum then put a grate above this to pile on the wood chips, they are fairly large. Then as usual, pipe the wood gas back under the fire to add to the burning. Think this would work?
   - Mike Roth - Friday, 01/04/02 18:26:21 GMT

Wood Chips will coal but often consist of a large amount of bark and dirt. Ash content will be fairly high.
   - guru - Friday, 01/04/02 19:04:52 GMT

O1 is one of the alloys that can be clay temperd to form a line as I have seen it done, but the smiththat did it said it was hard to get right. and I think he got the line a bit lower on the blade than he wanted
   MP - Friday, 01/04/02 21:31:38 GMT

I am lookingfor coppersmithing courses. I live near Louisville Kentucky but I would be willing to travel to a week long course. I am a beginner and currently sell some nic nacs at art shows and on EBAY. I am a beginner and I am wanting to take the skill to higher levels.
   sonny - Friday, 01/04/02 21:32:00 GMT

I picked up a 207# no name anvil today. It's a cast anvil with welded on face. Spark test says cast steel. The thing is.....this anvil rings like a bell, much nicer than wrought. Is this normal or an anomaly
   bbeck - Friday, 01/04/02 23:10:01 GMT

Sonny, I'd suggest contacting the John C. Campbell Folk School at:


See if they have any courses that would help you.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/04/02 23:58:06 GMT


Normal for cast steel, I think.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/04/02 23:58:36 GMT

Odd Anvil: bbeck, I'd have to know more about the anvil. How do you know its a welded on face? On most anvils you cannot see the joint. On most cast iron steel faced anvils the logo is cast in and fairly obvious if not ledgible.

Steel faced cast iron anvils generaly don't ring like other anvils but will ring if properly supported and struck on the horn or heal. Then there are cast anvils that have an offset to make the top appear to be a seperate plate even though they are one piece. Cast iron anvils of this type are the most common but some good quality cast steel anvils have been made this way.

As simple as anvils seem there is much variety in construction methods and styles.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/05/02 00:33:24 GMT

Coppersmithing: Sonny, another North Carolina crafts school is Penland.

Look for silversmithing courses the techniques are almost identical. Spinning, raising, embossing and repouse' is the same in all non-ferrous metals.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/05/02 00:42:10 GMT

I am new to metal working and have a small project going that I need to bend a small piece of cast iron. Wondering how to go about it. Can I just force it? My small knowledge of CI suggests it is too brittle to bend that way. What about heating it first. Will that affect its strenghth after it cools?
   Kelly - Saturday, 01/05/02 03:31:05 GMT

Paw Paw, Thanks for coming forward on the fruitcake front. I have always loved fruitcake. Unfortunately I don't get to indulge much anymore since I found I am diabetic.
As for the Black Beauty, I have used it and the best I can remember it is slag removed from the inside of smokestacks and boilers. It is medium grain and creates less dust than sand. It also does a very good job of cleaning and prepping metal for finishing. Better than sand in my limited opinion. But make sure you wear a mask. I don't wnat you to kick off until you finish the Revolutionary Blacksmith
   - Larry - Saturday, 01/05/02 03:51:33 GMT


I wear a full hood when I'm sandblasting. I've got COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Am not taking ANY more chances with my lungs.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 01/05/02 04:20:27 GMT


NO! Heating it will just cause it to crumble when you try to bend it. I speak from experience!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 01/05/02 04:35:41 GMT

Guru, a friend had brought me some 1/4 in rod and requested that I make him some BBQ tools. The rod appears to be stainless when cut, but has a slight grab or drag when tested with a magnet. Incidentally, this material is parts from a clothing store garment hangers. I can forge it without difficulty. My concern is this: several years ago, I read that although many people use refrigerator racks for homemade BBQ grill, that some metal finishes used on them are toxic when heated. Any further test I should do on this metal or is my concern an overkill?
   Ned Digh - Saturday, 01/05/02 04:43:42 GMT

Boy Scout Metalworking Merit Badge

They want me to do another session for the Merit Badge Jamboree near Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, February 23. Last year I had Doug Ayen to help me,
which was great, especially since I had to run off, after setting up the equipment, for a previous obligation. (You out there Doug?)

So far they have nine boys signed up, and they could easily double that. Some of these boys have been waiting for two years. If I had one or two other smiths, and
another forge, we could do a few more boys.

Oddly enough, the new merit badge book is still unavailable, at least at the local Virginia council level, so the standard procedure is to use the previous one. I have the lesson plan from last year, (which incorporates some of the operations in the new requirements) and I'll be
glad to send it to anyone interested.

Contact me through this board (or the V H-I) or at the asylum address and we'll see what we can do. Any response before Monday morning may still make the
Jamboree coordinator more than happy.

This is a fun event! The kids really like it, plus they learn something.

Thawing out on the banks of the lower Potomac. (Actually, it's too cold to thaw, but the snow and ice are sublimating.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 01/05/02 05:18:33 GMT

Kelly: Most cast irons won't bend hot or cold..there are a few exceptions.Ductile iron castings for example, but i suspect that older castings will be a problem generally.
Reproducing the part in steel to fit is probably the way to go if it is a simple piece. It is possible to cut and weld the stuff...most of the time.
When presented with cast iron to work with, a blacksmiths basic instinct is to turn up his nose so you can see the black boogers that are a reliable sign of authenticity
   - Pete F - Saturday, 01/05/02 06:29:28 GMT

Stainless: Ned, "non-magnetic" 300 series DOES react to a magnet when work hardened. If you anneal a piece (heat to orange and quench it) it should no longer be magnetic. If it is very hard and magnetic then it is not 300 series stainless and is probably plated mild steel.

Plating can be a hazard but you must consider the quantity. These small rods do not have enough surface to worry about. If the parts are zinc plated the zinc will burn off brightly and leave white residue. Most chrome plating has copper under it and will flare green. I've never worked chrome plated steel but I suspect that you end up sharp edged hard scale. If you work in a reasonably well ventilated shop I would not worry about it.

1/4" is a little light for anything except toasting forks. .
   - guru - Saturday, 01/05/02 17:02:13 GMT

Another cast iron question: What is the advantage of cast iron over regular mild steel for forge parts like firebox and tuyere?

I am making a small coal/charcoal forge using welded scrap (mild) steel and plumbing fittings - will this work well enough?
   adam - Saturday, 01/05/02 18:39:14 GMT

Cast Iron Adam, Generaly CI is more corrosion and fire resistant than steel. But its biggest advantage is that it is cheap to make casting from and was the most common of cast metals. When the grate is part of the fire pot the pot acts as a heat sink and helps cool the grate. However, once burned out it is difficult to repair.

Mild steel works fine in a forge. Grates should be replaceable as they burn up easily. Many lightweight forges had sheet metal pans a little heavier than a charcoal grill. However, the heavier the better up to about 3/8" (10mm).

Old hot water heater tanks work well and the domed head makes a nice forge pan. I've used old automobile wheels with great success. However, it is difficult to find wheels that are not mostly holes today.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/05/02 19:20:16 GMT

Frank Turley - My dad and I watched with great interest as you forged hammer heads and other tools at IronFest in Grapevine, TX, this past summer. My dad and I would like to know if there is any video of you showing how you forge the hammer heads in particular and other tools in general. Our video camera was kaput at that point. Thanks.
   Stormcrow - Saturday, 01/05/02 21:06:02 GMT

I am using a wheel from a semi as a fire pot. I have made an upside-down cone that is welded airtight to center hub of the semi wheel. I have welded washers over all of the bolt holes and closed the centers of the holes with weld. I have also welded sheet metal over the air vents that are on the side of the wheel.

My question is about the grate. First I had welded 1/4" rod onto the wheel spaced about 3/4" apart. There were two problems with this. One, the charcoal bricket was falling through all the time. Two, I had made the grate flush with the wheel, instead of at the bottem of the cone. Thus I had a fire in the shape of a dome, instead of a sphere. Since then I have placed a piece of sheet metal with a bunch of 1/4" holes drilled into it on top of the grill. Then I removed them both. Then installed a piece of 1/4" thick steel with a bunch of holes drilled into it in place of the grill. This was done because I had delibretly left the gap around the the edge of the thin sheet and the wheel. To build a "bigger" fire. The fire kept growing in under the thick layer of bricket. After doing some research I found out that I had the location of the grate in the wrong place.

O.K. enough of the history! My question is, what is a good way to make a grate. The bottem of the "cone" goes to a 4" o.d. tube. Should I make a clinker breaker? If so, is a clinker breaker just a grate that can pivot? What is a good width between the bars of a grate, or should I use a piece of thick sheet metal with holes drilled into it? What size would be good for the holes in the sheet steel?

Sorry about the onslaught of questions I just don't know what I am doing!

Oh yeah! I tried to call Centaur Forge, Ltd. They have different phone #'s than you have posted. They are 1-800-666-9175 and 1-262-763-9175.

Thanks for all the help!

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 01/05/02 21:13:53 GMT

FIREPOT: Caleb, Keep it simple. 1/2" (13mm) bar is best for grates. The air outlet should be no bigger than 2" x 2" (50mm x 50mm) so only one or two bars are needed. A friend of mine makes his of 3/8 x 1/2" stainless steel bar bent in a "U" shape to make two cross bars. The ends are turned up a little to help keep it positioned in the bottom of the fire pot. He makes several at a time as they eventualy get burned up.

If you are going to continue to burn charcoal then consider a side blown forge. In this the air simply comes in from the side and blows across the bottom of the forge. You need at least a brick's length of open space.

When you burn coal it sticks together and doesn't lie directly on the grate all the time. Coal ash and clinkers also quickly collect at the grate protecting it. However, charcoal does not stick together and its light ash blows off the grate. This means the fire is sitting directly on the grate and burns them out rapidly.

Clinker breakers are needed for coal only and vary in style. The simplest is a triangular block of iron/steel on a shaft. The triangular section lets you either focus the fire (point up) or spread the fire (base up). Rotating it shifts the ashes and clinkers so they fall into the ash dump.

Clinker breakers are regular maintenance items and are often missing in old forges. So many smiths do without for ease of maintenance.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/05/02 22:13:56 GMT

I was just wondering if it is possible to design a chainmail vest for a dog that is used to catch and hold wild boar? The most common homemade vest I've seen are made from fire hose but a chain vest would be cooler wouldn't it? The boar uses razor sharp tusks to slash/gouge it's attackers.
   thunderbelly - Sunday, 01/06/02 00:54:05 GMT

Stormcrow, There haven't been too many videos taken of me at work. I kind of discourage it, because I run a school, and I don't know what is going to happen to the videos. If the videos are pro quality and are edited, including a voiceover, I wouldn't have any rights to the final product...I think that's correct. Any lawyers out there? Besides, I sometimes talk bad and tell terrible jokes as part of the demo. Once, I told a guy to shut down his videocam, which he did. I then took a heat, and when I turned to the anvil, he was gone! Which tells me that he wasn't interested in the first place, just wanted to take pictures. Another guy took some shots with my permission, came back the next day, and said, "Ya' know, it took you 484 hammer blows to make that bar shoe!" Now, that's my idea of what *NOT* to do of an evening...count the damn hammer blows on a video. So Stormcrow, if there are any hammer-making videos out there, they are rare. I'll be offering a one-weeker in toolsmithing at Peters Valley Craft Center, Layton, New Jersey, June 13-18.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/06/02 01:19:07 GMT

I would like to know how to get stainless steel to stay
together when blacksmith welding? I make damascus knifes us
ing borax as a flux and have no trouble getting the steel to stay together. When I try stainles it comes apart. I use a heat of 2300 degrees . Please search my problem
   Ken Friedline - Sunday, 01/06/02 02:00:19 GMT

I"m 52 years old and been blacksmithing for 5 years. I"m having trouble getting stainless steel to blacksmith weld. I have no trouble with high carbon steel at 2300 degrees using borrax as a flux. please reply.
   Ken Friedline - Sunday, 01/06/02 02:22:04 GMT

SS Lamination Ken, borax is not quite aggressive enough to flux the chrome oxide on the stainless. You need to add about 5-10% (max) flourite (flourspar) powder to the borax. The flourine compounds are much more aggressive than the boron. Be sure to use LOTS of ventilation. Flux grade flourite powder is available from ceramics suppliers. Try the folks listed on our links page.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/06/02 02:58:02 GMT

Dog maile: Sure, its not only possible to design it but to MAKE it and would work fine. There are lots of folks that make mail (for a price). Chain might be "cool" but it is also heavy. There has been lots of animal armor over the years. Horses had armor at one time and I've seen armor on a dog in some movie or another. For practical purposes you can go to the folks that make stainless link fabric for butchers gloves. They have made a full "shark suit" for a diver. One of those shark movie advanture guys. . .

I would mix plate with mail for the best protection.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/06/02 03:30:05 GMT

More on SS. Stainless is often "pasivated" using a harsh acid solution. This not only removes scale but also the iron from the surface. When laminating SS you need to remove the passivated surface.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/06/02 03:57:41 GMT

Good Guru;
There are about 5" of steel thickness in the form of a couple of heavy plates about the size of the foot of the anvil of my 40KG hammer that I would like to use to add to the mass of the anvil.
If that isn't practical, I'd like to use them to absorb some of the vibration the hammer transmits to the earth.

Can I simply place the anvil directly on top of the steel mass?..perhaps with a layer of copper to take up some of the irregularities in the anvil casting?
The foundation plans call for a thick layer of hardwood under the anvil.
Will alternating layers of wood and steel act to dissapate the vibration? Sort of a PH Dagwood sandwich.
Trying to make an anvil of horizontal layers of steel seems to absorb a lot of energy...can this be used to advantage?
I know a big bed of those really chewy macaroons would do it but I don't want the dog digging under the hammer.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/06/02 09:26:54 GMT

When I was at the abana conference in 2000 I saw a demo by Tia Goo. He was using charcoal in a unigue way. He had a large galvanized bucket maybe 10 gallon. It was full of wood ash with a deep trough dug into it. The side of the bucket had a hole in it for an air pipe, the pipe was connected to a hand crank blowed. He told us that charcoal was different then coal and needed to be treated differently. That the reason charcoal had gotten such a bad name was because everyone tries to burn it in forges designed for another fuel (either coal or coke).

This forge design solves many problems. No burning grates, just push in the pipe as it burns off. Lower fuel consumption rates (ash is a pretty good refractoy when compared to the steel or iron of a standard forge). It is cheap and easy to build (hint: no welding). And it uses charchoal with does not affend your neighbors.

I work at a blacksmith shop full time and have access to after hours but I would like to have a forge at home. I have neighbors on all sides and close. My bucket is half full of barbeque ashes.
   Josh - Sunday, 01/06/02 09:34:35 GMT

Tim Lively sells the guts of the forge mentioned by Josh, and pictures are shown at livelyknives.com.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/06/02 14:45:23 GMT

Guru, This is a point where we seem to differ, in my experience pine and alder charcoalcoal burns slower and more even than the hardwoods. AND sparks less.
OH just a note I use less air with charcoal, just enough to get a good glow in the middle of the carefully managed (with water) fire.
   OErjan - Sunday, 01/06/02 18:27:28 GMT

Hammer Foundations: Pete, over the years theory about hammer foundations have changed. The tendancy in big hammers has been to add cushioning to the point that hydraulic forging presses have replaced hammers.

The wood under your cast hammer anvil is there so that you can trim it until the anvil sits true and level while being well supported. When setting a hammer frame and anvil seperately there can be quite a bit of error and the wood both absorbs shock and distributes load while alowing alignment of the anvil to the frame. On self contained and common air hammers the relationship between frame and die height is critical. If the ram travels too far it will bottom out and wreck the hammer (normally breaking the seal housing or tearing the bolts out of the frame, damaging the ram or piston). On most installations the anvil is set higher than the max travel point to allow for settling and die changes.

When there is an unmachined pair of mating surfaces or a significant layer of cushioning, the added mass is not added to the anvil but to the foundation. Anvil mass must be a tight compact mass. Adding mass in the form of steel plate to the foundation can reduce the shock transmitted to the floor or soil below the foundation. In this case you are creating something similar to an inertia block foundation. The result is close to the same as increased anvil mass but not quite the same. Yes it will absorb more vibration.

On a true inertia block foundation the hammer and anvil are set in the normal manner atop a hugh block of steel reinforced concrete weighing four to five time the hammer or ten times the anvil mass. The inertia block is set on springs and a hydraulic damper OR rubber isolation mounts. These are set in the bottom of a concrete lined pit the inertia block normally being poured in place. On large hammers there is sufficient space around the hammer for a man to work in the pit. On smaller hammers there is some tricky forming and blocking involved. In both the gap between the floor and the inertia block is covered with deck plates.

The larger the mass reacting to the blow of the hammer the less motion there is and the less transmitted energy. Consider billiard balls. Equal masses transmit almost 100% of their energy from the moving to the stationary, stoping the moving mass and propelling the formerly stationary mass away at almost the same velocity as the original moving mass. Increase the size of the second mass (the anvil) and there is less and less (but never zero) velocity (motion) as the energy is transmitted from the smaller mass (the hammer). The foundation (if heavier than the anvil) acts as a third mass further reducing the motion. However, the foundation sets on the resiliant earth (imovable object from our perspective) which returns the foundation and the anvil back to their original (relative) position.

The same is true of hand hammer and anvil. However, hand hammer velocities are higher than most power hammers. Therefore the need for the 50 or 100 to one (or greater) ratio between anvil and hammer.

If the added mass is not "anvil" mass then it is foundation and can be cheaper material such as concrete. If for some reason your stack of steel plate is more economical then use it. A "Dagwood" sandwich of steel and plywood sounds like a plan to me. Just hold the mayo.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/06/02 19:37:47 GMT

At one time, I had a set of plans for building a "blacksmith' magician. Even printed them out. Now I've lost the darn thing. And I've promised to send a copy to a friend.

Any body got a copy? Or a source? Or an idea?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 01/06/02 20:06:55 GMT

Pawpaw: is it this plan, http://www.metalsmith.org/pub/mtlsmith/V16.4/magi.html , or http://www.metalsmith.org/edu/equipment/tooling/tooling-meeting.htm , or http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/Garden/9993/projects/helper1.html , and finally this variant http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/Garden/9993/projects/swageh.html ?
These are the ones I could find on the net. I have one other but it is like one of the others (dimentions differ but...) so not much point posting it.
Here to help OErjan
   OErjan - Sunday, 01/06/02 21:10:33 GMT

dog armor
I knew some one that had made a full plate suit for his pup.
based it on a suit that was made for a mastife (in scotland I think) was in business for a bit but went back to school and I don't know if they ever went back to business name of the comp. was Naketa armory (named after there dog) and they were out of new york state hope that helps.
   MP - Sunday, 01/06/02 21:48:24 GMT


I'm a lawyer (if you're going to throw things, please make them light things. Thank you.) Your concern about videos of you being used without your consent is not without foundation, but it's not as bad as you might think.

People have an inherent "right of publicity" in that their likeness belongs to them and cannot be used without their consent. The major exception to this is the "fair use" doctrine. Mostly with regard to likeness rights it means you have to be somehow newsworthy before someone can use your likeness without permission. Commerical use is *right out,* even if you are newsworthy. That professionally editied video with the voiceover would actually be *less* likely to be protected, because if they went to all that trouble, they'll be hard pressed to prove they weren't trying to make some money off you. Since you take money to provide expertise, it would be easy for you to prove that using a video of you would be harmful to you.

Of course, you've got to catch them first, but if you did, I think you'd come out all right.

   Dreamer - Sunday, 01/06/02 22:22:41 GMT

Frank Turley,
I'm not a copyright lawyer, but if you're interested in a video you should talk to one. I don't think it would be difficult to write a contract so that you hire someone to make a video and you keep the rights in it. Of course, you'd have to find someone willing to work on those terms and pay them to do it.
   - Mike B - Sunday, 01/06/02 22:30:57 GMT


Jock reminded me that we have pictures of the one that Bill Epps uses in the iForge demos (number 41). That's not exactly the same drawing that I had before, but it's close, so I sent that link to my friend.

But many thanks for taking the time to look those up for me, I've saved all three of them.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 01/07/02 00:19:29 GMT

looking for welding flux, or receipe for same. it was on hammer-in cant locate it in archives
Thanking You
   P.J. Conlan - Monday, 01/07/02 00:22:44 GMT

Dreamer, Thank you. I was going to put in my two cents worth on this based on the little I know about copyright and decided not.

Things get sticky when you perform (demonstrate) in public or at a public event. Most uses can come under being news but as you mentioned, a "how-to" video would definitely be infringing on the individual's rights. That is why I never show demonstrations step by step in our NEWS even though it would be easy to do. I don't even take step by step photos because I know that they won't be used.

I actually have an aversion to making step by step notes. I would prefer to figure out something original on my own. I know some folks can't do that so it doesn't bother me when I see them taking notes. The one exception was at a conference in Ripley West Virginia where one fellow that thinks of himself as a "superior smith" was badgering one of the British demonstrators on details of how he made his trademark frogs. He had taken copious notes but wanted to see steps repeated SLOWLY (during the demonstrator's break), so he could draw the step by step. The demonstrator obliged. But I thought it was an embarrasing scene.

We are very lucky that we have had volunteers that have offered their wonderful step-by-step how-to on our iForge page. But it has been done VOLUNTARILY and the folks doing the demos have done so knowing people are going to reproduce their designs. Some are quite original designs, I know that most of mine are. But we have chosen to give them away.
But people also need to realize that putting on a public demonstration is different than offering step-by-step how-to. One should be able to amaze and inspire without giving away the secrets that make something amazing. An important part of the journey is figuring things out on your own.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 00:39:56 GMT

FLUX, PJ, no need for a recipe. Just plain old borax (see info on 21st Century page). IF you are welding stainless or high chrome alloys you will need to add a small amount of flourite (see post above, yeaterday).

You can cook borax to remove the excess water bound in the crystals (10 per molecule) but it is not necessary.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 00:44:52 GMT

Dog Armor: Check over in the Armour Archive ( www.armourarchive.org ). They have a goodly crew of armorers and mailsmiths. For something as critical as this, dealing with a powerful animal like a boar, you're going to want to get it right, or your dog may pay for it. Remember that mail was used in conjunction with a padded garment beneath it. Mail reists cuts, thrusts and slices, but a lot of shock is still transmitted, and you can end up with broken ribs or other bones, even through intact mail. The padding helps.

Also, mail doesn't weigh all that much, if it's well designed and proportional. My byrnie (14 ga., 3/8" links) contains 12,800 links and only weighs 22.25 pounds (10 kilos). You will probably need welded or rivetted mail for something this dangerous.

Good luck, and take care of the dog.

Visit your National Parks (in another week or two): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/07/02 01:50:40 GMT

Mike B: It's done all the time. Lots of professional videographers work on those terms. (As opposed to photographers, who traditionally have kept the copyrights to their negatives. This has changed somewhat in the age of media, but it still hangs in there.) There should be no problem if he wants a video. If he's near Chicago I can even recommend someone. *smile* So good idea on your part.

The key (and this is NOT legal advice: I may or may not be licensed to practice in the jurisdiciton of any reader of this forum. It is for education only.) is to specify in the contract that the video is a "work for hire" (that's a magic phrase) and that all rights belong to the person buying the video. There's more to it than that, and I highly recommend having a lawyer (NOT an agent or other entertainment woker) give any proposed contract the once-over.

Guru: You're dead on. There's also the consideration of how much of an event is "newsworthy." Showing a smith forging for a moment is one thing: showing everything he does in a process is quite another. Copyright infringement, misappropriation, and so forth are questions of fact as well as law, but they're usually not too hard to work out.

People who want to protect certain smithing products might be interested in researching design patents, which would probably be much more useful than utility patents for most smithcrafted items. The U.S. Patent office has a wonderful website at http://www.uspto.gov where introductory material can be read and publications ordered. Copyrights are handled by the Library of Congress and can be learned about at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/ . I am a licensed patent attorney and would be glad to answer any questions on patents and copyrights that people may have.


   Dreamer - Monday, 01/07/02 02:47:21 GMT

Heya Guru
I'm a jeweller by trade trying to track down a portable welding unit called a micro welder.It creates it's own hydrogen from distilled water, a ketone brew and I'm not sure what else.
It has a small, exceptionally clean burning high heat local flame and it seems like very few people have heard of them
Have you guys? do you use any thing like this in blacksmithing?
The one I heard about was bought to NZ (Kiwi land )from london but I have no Idea from where it was obtained. Can you guys help?
cheers saxoneagle
   saxoneagle - Monday, 01/07/02 11:54:12 GMT

Mornin' gang. I have the opportunity to buy an oxy/act. welding setup. The guy said to make him an offer and I have no idea what I'm looking at. (My welding course doesn't start for 2 more weeks, but I didn't want to let a good deal pass me by.)I'm in the "collecting tools" phase and wanted some general info on what kind of offer should be made for this setup. What questions would be the right ones to ask the owner to determine a fair price? Any thoughts?
   Gronk - Monday, 01/07/02 13:28:29 GMT

Thunder Belly; you sure could desing a dog armour---it would probably end up looking like the ones made for dogs in the middle ages for hunting boar....

The Higgins Armoury has one of these as well at the Royal Armoury in Madrid. Several woodcuts or engravings show armoured dogs hunting boar and "Dogs of the Conquest" has a picture of the Higgins' suit in it.

I'd go with water hardened leather. (take vegetable tanned leather heat in 180 degF water IIRC for a number of seconds then form while still hot and it will harden as it cools) ask around on the newsgroup rec.org.sca and they can point you to the *real* instructions.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 01/07/02 16:50:38 GMT

Pawpaw, those where from my bookmarks page, just useful links I have picked up along the way (years).
Here to help
   OErjan - Monday, 01/07/02 17:09:47 GMT

Price of used Welding Outfit: Gronk, that is a hard one. It depends on the age, brand, model and condition. Is it something your local welding supplier supports? Does it have single stage or two stage regulators?

Bought piecemeal (one piece at a time) a standard duty oxy-acetylene welding outfit may cost as much as $500 US. But the same peices bought as an annual sale item such as the Victor Journeyman set, will run less than $300 (~$280) US.

A complete (packaged) set includes:
  • Oxygen regulator with high and low pressure gauges
  • Acetylene regulator with high and low pressure gauges
  • 20 feet of hose
  • Torch Body
  • Welding tips (3)
  • Small Rosebud
  • Cutting Attachment and one tip
  • Tip Cleaner
  • Striker (spark igniter)
  • Welding Goggles
  • Wrench
This is a typical set and price varies depending on if the torch is full size, mini or heavy duty and if the regulators are two stage or not. A Heavy Duty two stage regulator can cost as much as a comlete packaged set WITH two stage regulators.

A used set as above should be about half price. Was that used set purchased from a dealer or catalog? Flea market?

Cylinders and a carrying rack or cart do not come with packaged sets. You will need one or the other. Sometimes mini cylinders come with welding sets but you need to check with the local suppliers that you will expect to refill them. Full sized cylinders are almost always leased and don't belong to the holder. Ask for recipts or lease papers. No papers, no deal.

I've purchased a lot of used welding equipment and still recommend that your first oxy-acetylene set be purchased from your local dealer that you will be asking to refill cylinders, supply new or replacement parts, and other welding supplies. Ask folks who is a good local dealer. Ask the dealer if they have any upcomming sales. Many will tell you rather than lose the sale.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 17:17:32 GMT

I was recently thinking about using the computer to aid in designing ironwork projects. (This idea was spawned because I have a very hard time drawing what i have in my minds eye). The easist wasy for me to describe what I would want this software to do is by example. My aunt has a fire place in her house, but it has no grill. I would like to make a grill for this fireplace. If I can take some digital photos of the fireplace and nearby surroundings and then import them into a program like photo editor, I could then insert various features, such as a frame and scrolls. I could then play around with this right on the computer until I came up with a few designs that I like. This would save me the hassle of having to redraw the whole picture by hand. By putting in a few dimensions, the software could calculate the length of iron needed for the different features in the grill. Does anyong know if such software exsits, or if similar software is used by graphic designers and other artists? As I am sure you can see, this cabability would be very useful to blacksmiths working with clients far away. Designs could be e-mailed rapidily, thus reducing the overall time required for the design phase of a project. Thanks for you help.
   Patrick - Monday, 01/07/02 17:24:29 GMT

Patrick, I´m sure the guru will tell you, but this is just what CAD was made for. Even rather cheapo programs can accept a scanned picture, and I`m sure the state of the art programs can do a lot more.
   - Olle Andersson - Monday, 01/07/02 17:33:47 GMT

Hammer foundation: I've got the same flavor hammer as Pete F. But almost twice as big. 165lb. I built the factory recomended foundation, 4'x4'x5', poured concrete, re-bar basket, etc. Last week I was in the house working on the computer and a friend was working some 1" bar on the hammer. The hammer is about 80' away on the other side of the shop, which is in a seperate building across the driveway from the house. I love my commute by the way! As I'm sitting there I realize that I can feel the hammer in my feet. And Corey was only using light blows with the hammer. My nearest neighbor is about 200' maybe 250' from the house and I do worry about it. At first when I was digging the hole I thought I was nuts to go that deep. Now I'm glad I did. I forget how much that amount of concrete weighs but add that to a 1800 lb. anvil and thats alot. BTW, the anvil sits in 4" of ash in the pit too. Pete, I think you'll find that your hammer for its size is going to hit harder that you think. Concrete = alot of labor but it will be worth it.
   Pete-Raven - Monday, 01/07/02 17:47:02 GMT

ash wood, not ashes
   Pete-Raven - Monday, 01/07/02 17:55:28 GMT

Patric i use paintsop pro and set the image up so that, for example a fireplace, is 1000 pixles high and go from there. the calculating is not 100% done by puter but conversion is rather straightforward.
May take some "tinkering" to get the right image size for it (use resize comand to SHRINK the image or you wil loose detail)
   OErjan - Monday, 01/07/02 18:21:15 GMT


Kind of an embarrasing question, but....

How the hell do you get upsetting to work? I have been smithing for about a year, and I have had NO luck with upsetting or riviting. Example: I was trying to build a fireplace broom handle (that I saw on IFORGE, thank you) The handle was 3/8" square and needed to be upset to about 1/2" so I would have enough material to make a socket for the wisk broom. I was heating to a bright orange (in a Whisper Daddy, if that matters) and bangin down onto the anvil just like I have read int Edge of the anvil and other books. After about 8 heats and 60 blows I had added about 1/16". Because I was very careful to stay perpendicular to the anvil, I had very little bend to the bar and don't think that I was drawing it back out while straightening.

I have lots of probles with rivets too. They just don't seems to squish right.

Not sure what I am doing wrong here.....


   - Jim - Monday, 01/07/02 18:22:08 GMT

in reference to the riveters forge..whats this "lookin for
chink" you mention?/
   lott - Monday, 01/07/02 18:35:50 GMT

jim I had the same problem when I was starting out ... not sure what I do diferant now but.... the things I find helpful are to,
1 chamfer the end of the bar
2 get a good high heat (almost but not a welding heat)
3 cooling the point of impact (by cooling the first 1/8 or so there isn't so much mushrooming of the end and mor of the energy gets transfered to the work)
4 hit it HARD but be sure to hit it level.

as to riveting the most inportant thing is ot have the right amount left above the joint (I go by eye a little more than 1 1/2 times the diameter of the rivet.)
then the first hit should be hard and strate on top the rest of the blows to round/shape the head.
be sure that the two parts of the joints are touching when you strik the first blow if they shift strike the work (not the rivet) and then make anouther blow to the top of the rivet to start the head.
   MP - Monday, 01/07/02 19:36:20 GMT

Upsetting: A friend of mine calls upsetting and upsettng experiance. After 30 plus years of smithing he still doesn't like it. Although many demonstrators make it look easy it is not.

MP gives the usual hints. They are similar to the ones I gave in the most recent I forge demo (#124). Most smiths upset small bar horizontaly supported just over the edge of the anvil. Rounding the end helps keep the end from mushrooming more than the upset and focuses the force to the center of the bar. Quick light blows do better than heavy slow blows. Working over the edge of the anvil means that you can rotate the bar to help keep it straight.

The REAL trick to those quick blows is a light hammer and LOTS of forging time. Being IN practice and having the correct forging strength is very important in upsetting. Weekend, hobby smiths and those that spend too little time in the forge (such as myself) have a difficult time making upsets.

Heavier bar is forged by striking it verticaly on the anvil or upseting block using the weight of the bar to do the work. Some shops keep anvils or swage blocks set at different heights for upsetting. A shop in Germany has an old anvil set upside down in the floor to act as an upsetting block. The hole in the base of the anvil is used to keep the bar from skidding when struck on the other end.

Very large bar is usualy supported horizontaly on a weld platen or heavy bench and bucked with an anvil dogged to the bench. Upsetting is done with heavy sledges and more than one striker.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 20:06:59 GMT

Riveting: The best suggestions I can make are,

Make sure you have enough material for the head (1-1/2 to 1-3/4 diameters for round and rose heads).

Support the back of the rivet (preferably on an anvil).

Hit it hard and straight for the first blow. All the upsetting should occur in that one blow or you are not hitting it hard enough. Follow-up blows should be only for shaping the head and setting down the edges.

When supported against the anvil you should be able to cold head a commercial steel rivet up to about 1/4" (6mm) diameter.

When supported freely by bucking with a hammer, monkey tool or riveting tool it is more difficult but should not be a problem when hot heading. A torch helps a lot for heating rivets and tennons for heading in assembly. It is not unusual to set an anvil on end (horn up) on a bench and using it to support rivets for heading in a gate or grill. Dogs set in weld plattens are very good for this.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 20:31:56 GMT

Drawing in CAD and others: Patrick, CAD and computer graphics are not a "magic bullet" for those that cannot draw. They are expensive and time consuming. There is a long learning curve no matter what program(s) you use. I know, I've turned out MANY professional CAD drawings.

I spent many years using ProDesign which eventualy became DesignCAD. For drawing the DOS versions were much better than the Windirt version which tried too hard to emulate AutoCAD (the standard but also the WORST drawing program ever written).

I've used both the top of the line and the mid cost programs. None are easy to draw in. I also use vector graphics and paint programs (I've created almost all the banners on anvilfire). These also have a long learning curve and again the "top" programs are some of the worst.

In ALL cases you need to study the progams and become practiced in their use before you can be productive in any way. And a big problem is that no ONE program does it all. Most graphic artists bounce around from one program to another to do different tasks on a single image. I've used on a single banner, DesignCAD, CorelDraw, iPhoto and GIF Construction Kit. And I don't consider myself a professional in this field (computer graphics).

The current version of DesignCAD will let you import a graphic background. With a little study and experimentation you can adjust the scale of the drawing to the image so that you are working in true scale. Components drawn as independent items (in CAD) can be moved around on the background, scaled, deleted and edited. The result can be printed with or without the background image. I've used this method using digital photos taken from a tower to layout a site survey to build a bridge. The bridge details were created as seperate overlays that fit the photos (had to paste several together).

This sounds great but it was for an expensive project. The end results were a perfect fit. The graphics were just a tool that helped record measurments that were paistakingly taken and checked mathematicaly and on site.

For what you want to do I would start with a photo taken so that there was as little perspective as possible. Then I would make cheap photocopies and draw on them (freehand with pencil, ink or with drafting tools). If you want pieces you can move around then cut them out with scisors and place them on another copy. . .

If you look at our iForge demos you will find a couple I did in CAD. There are also a few done in vector graphics packages. But the vast majority are hand sketches because that is still the most affordable was to draw.

Where CAD is most useful is where there will be multiple revisions over time and a record of the changes must be kept (engineering settings). It is also useful when multiple copies of a component are used. It also produces very nice FORMAL drawings where ink would normally have been used. But most of the time it is expensive and very time consuming.
   - guru - Monday, 01/07/02 21:41:01 GMT

Guru (or anybody):

Supposing you worked for a company that had a modelmaking shop and there were lots and lots of odd pieces of metal lying around. Supposing that you wanted to make a hardy out of one of those pieces. What characteristics would you look for in said metal piece?

Further suppose none of them can really be identified, other than comments like "I think that's oil-hardened tool steel," or "that's cold-rolled, I bet." *smile*

Any advice?

   Dreamer - Monday, 01/07/02 22:22:05 GMT

Dreamer: sadly the answer is TEST THEM.
Make a spark test and test harden a promising piece in air, then oil then water lastly brine. If none above leaves steel hard enough to refuse a file it is not hardenable the normal way.
Testing a sample using a gas chromatograph and comparing results with charts showing steel compositions would work. Sad fact is it would likely take about 10 times as long as just making a test (likely much less mistakes but...).

Now IF you had a gas chromatograph and database (would love to have a world spanning searchable database like that) you would still be likely end up with several different steel names for same piece. AND to make things interesting some with conflicting heatreat info attached to them at that.
   OErjan - Monday, 01/07/02 22:54:15 GMT

Tool Steel in Shops Dreamer, You have struck on the WHY folks specify "certified" materials. . . shops often don't know WHAT they have. . . On the other hand in small shops the guys there are usualy right. Cold drawn (CF) steel has a smooth smeared surface that is generaly recognizable. Almost all common CF bar is 1018-20 or a leaded version. Small shops purchase tool steel in precision ground flats and rounds. The shapes and ground finish are easily recognizable. If the guy says its tool steel it probably is just that. What grade? Who knows?

CF hex stock is almost always 1018-20 or possibly a medium carbon steel like 4140, but most HR hex stock is some kind of tool steel.

All kinds of stock come in hot roll (HR) bar. But most shops purchase shaft sizes in CF bar. Shaft size HR bar is likely some special alloy.

Over a 20 year period I can tell you almost every piece of steel that came into our shop. Once in a while I will be wrong. If the piece has been machined all over then its a "who knows". But I also know that we bought only three types of tool steels in OUR shop. Viscount (heat treated H13), O1 and W1. The Viscount is fairly easy to recognize or test with a file (the other two are annealed). So I can tell it from the O1 and W1 but unless these are marked (we tried) they are hard to differenciate. All these are discernable from CF bar even though they have a "bright" finish.

If you bring identified alloy steel into your shop MARK IT. Then be sure when you cut off pieces that you don't cut off the marked end (we had one guy do that and he didn't get it when I asked him to mark the rest of the bar. . .).

This is a problem in all shops even when they buy new material. In blacksmith shops where we often use scrap materials it is a serious problem. As OErjan said, test test test.

There are lists of "junk yard steels" that try to identify steels based on their use. We have one that was shared with us on the 21st Century page. The problem is that the lists are generaly poorly compiled AND manufacturers can use whatever steel suits them at the time. We often have folks assume a spring they have is 5160 when it could be anything from 1060 to 1095 and all the alloy steels in between.

After some practice at the forge you will be able to tell a piece of tool steel from mild steel when you forge it. Tool steel is hard to move even when it is hot!

Luckily for blacksmiths most spring and tool steels (other than HSS) heat treat very nearly the same. When you are doing it in the forge without fancy temperature controls you are always guessing. So instead of getting flustered about the exact steel, don't worry about it and just try it. If it hardens and you didn't crack it, then you did OK. Don't overheat the steel while working it or before quenching it. I have better luck oil quenching (even when its "water" hardening steel).
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 00:30:00 GMT

More about CAD - Programming: Most modern CAD systems come with a programmable language. They vary greatly but most integrate special calls that generate data points in the form that the program uses. DesignCAD has one that is based on BASIC. AutoCAD uses LISP or AutoLISP. At one time you could link a Lotus spread sheet to an AutoCAD drawing and changing the spread sheet changed the drawing. Your spreadsheet could include engineering calculations or dynamic proportioning.

Many CAD programs can import simple X,Y coordinate data from a text file. The data can be created manualy or using a simple program.

Creating spirals or scrolls is fairly easy to do in CAD programs and you could also get fancy and write a routine using the above languages that created spirals and scrolls of various character.

One of my early programming projects was to write a program that created the datapoints for a special hydrodynamic curve and then output them to scale in a ProDesignII file format. I spent more time figuring out the file format than doing the math (a full page). It was written in QuickBASIC and produced a curve file given minimal parameters. The printed drawing included a title block with the parameters, date and such. This was before PD-II had a programmable language. Today I still find it better to do the programming in a dedicated programming language even if I have to write my own library of drawing format functions.

So, if you are willing to learn the CAD program inside and out, THEN the programming language AND how to write programs, you can do almost anything in these programs. But these are three sophisticated subjects. A long learning curve.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 00:54:58 GMT

More about CAD - Libraries: Almost all CAD programs come with or have available "libraries" of predrawn objects. Hardware for engineers, architectural elements for architects, map symbols for surveyors. . . Sounds great doesn't it? Just pick some library items and fill in a few lines in between. . . . Some manufacturers even supply CAD drawing libraries of their products and a set of various manufactures drawings are available through Thomas Register.

Yep, it works. But the objects are almost always poorly drawn. Most apply the least number of lines style that gives that ugly CAD look and are written for AutoCAD. I have yet to see any that used line weights (something that was poorly supported in AutoCAD until the newest versions). The manufacturer's drawings that you would think would be very good are often the same poor quality. Always looks like low-bidder, student or new-guy work. . .

SO, if you want a library of objects to produce QUALITY drawings plan on creating your own. There is an art to this just like everything else. You need to understand the CAD program fairly well AND your drawing style.

You might think that all CAD drawings look the same but those are the just the typical "standard" drawings. For a long time AutoCAD didn't support line weights and defered to line color. Most CAD draftspeople learned not to use line weights. The feature I liked about DesignCAD was the line weight control. GOOD CAD drawings can look like an old professional ink drawings. Printed on a Laser printer they can be works of art.

The first item in your library should be a title block and your logo if you have one. Then after that it should have whatever items you think you are going to need to reuse. Library items can have center lines or alignment marks but remember that they will show on the final drawing. Most systems use a "handle" on library items. This is one or more points set as handles that are used to align and position the item. I usualy don't create "standard" library objects but just save my items in a folder of library or stock items.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 01:47:31 GMT

I am not entirely sure how this works, but here goes. I am 26 with limited knowledge of forging, and some knowledge of casting (mostly plastics, and soft metals.) I am looking to do forging in spare time as a personal interest in traditional techniques. I am also trying to outfit a shop (once again traditional, coal and or wood, versus, propane or gas.) I am looking for plans for wood/coal forges, and period tools. I would like to work with primarily small pieces such as knives, and swords. I also plan on doing some forging of time period eating utensils, and casting of pewter utensils. I am sure I have left out many important details that might be important. I am not a profesional, but I have to start some where. please, any advise would be welcomed posted here or in e-mail. thank you
   Michial - Tuesday, 01/08/02 01:53:30 GMT

More about CAD - File Formats: In many CAD programs you can import image files like BMP's or JPEG's. However these are bitmap graphic files and are NOT manipulatable like the CAD drawing. CAD drawings are created from data consisting of X,Y points and drawing commands (line, curve, circle. . .) and are recreated on the screen or in the printer every time they are displayed.

CAD elements are nothing but lines and are transparent. Points can be moved, lines cut, stretched or reconnected. In the bitmaps pixels can be changed but that is it. There is no relationship between any two pixels. Generaly they are not editable within the CAD program.

Halfway between CAD and Bitmap are vector graphics. Many drawing programs use these. A vector graphic consists of a primitive object enclosed by a line that can show or be invisible. The object is usualy filled with a solid color or a graphic. Objects can be moved including their content and can be positioned as layers one in front of the other. Vector graphics are saved in proprietary file formats and only display as a true vector graphic in the creating program or special viewer. Flash graphics are vector graphics for use on the net. Most vector graphics are exported to other formats such as BMP, TIFF or JPEG.

Unlike graphic formats that have become fairly standardized CAD formats are proprietary and change with every version of the creating program. AutoCAD 10 cannot open an AutoCAD 13 file. In some cases file formats are not even forward compatible. My thousands of DesignCAD DOS drawings do not import well into DesignCAD for Windows even though they claim to import everyones files. . . :( So I continue to use the DOS version.

To move CAD programs from one program to another there are file interchange formats. AutoCAD's DXF is very popular. However, the competition has almost always produced DXF files that work beter than AutoCAD even though it is their format. A more sophisticated format is IGES. It works better than DXF in many cases. Many engineering programs export IGES.

Generaly bitmaps and vector graphics are not used as library items in CAD programs. Some vector graphic programs import and export DXF files but many of the properties of the vector graphic will be lost. Before planning on importing or exporting files for a project you need to test the formats before putting a lot of effort in drawings. Often losses are too much for the process to be useful.

When exporting DXF files for use in engravers and CAM machines many of the objects need to be converted to primitive graphics. Text from AutoCAD is one of these objects. To test these files I export the DFX and then reimport it in DesignCAD. If the reconverted file looks right then its probably a good file.

Like many of the things in the computer world many of these little details are not in the manuals. You just have to figure them out the hard way.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 02:52:38 GMT

"Traditional" Michial, There are traditional techniques and there is traditional or "period" tools and equipment. Traditional techniques can be done using modern tools. Blacksmithing has changed very little since its beginning. However, even though the basic tools have changed little, they HAVE changed. When you say "period" tools then you need to consider who's and when. 18th Century, Medieval, pre Christian, European, Asian? Unless you are a reenactor or museum demonstrator forget the "period" tools. Hammers have been hammers for thousands of years and fire is fire. Even using a modern power hammer (forging machine) is mearly a modern substitution of manual labor. Much forging was done with helpers swinging sledges.

The choice of forge and fuel depends on your location and availability. Coal is not as readily available as it once was. It can be ordered by the bag but shipping adds up. Charcoal, not wood is the alternate solid fuel. Briquets ARE NOT forge fuel. You need real charcoal. You can make your own or purchase it. It is less common than coal.

Coal is rather smokey and can be a problem in some localities. You need a good chimney and a well ventilated shop. Charcoal burns clean and neighbors are unlikely to complain.

Propane forges are clean and efficient. They are rapidly replacing solid fuel forges. The fuel used has little to do with results of the work. All forges have advantages and disadvantages.

See our Getting Started article for finding tools. See the recomended books as well.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 03:30:09 GMT

Jock, just wanted to give you both Bill's and my new e-mail addresses, so that you can change them on Pub when we log in. Figure I need to make it official. BEpps at mail.EV1.net, and SEpps at mail.EV1.net (that is a number "1" after the EV, not an "L". OK. Thanks for upgrading our names. Do we need to do it ourself, or can you do it for us? Let me know. We will continue to use the other e-mail for a little while, but want to get started using this new one. Thanks again. Shardegay
   Sharon Epps - Tuesday, 01/08/02 03:59:03 GMT

Oh great guru, whose wisdom rarely fails, perhaps you can shed light on my problem. I desire to make a short sword, 18 inch long blade, with a tang of about 7 inches, I plan on shaping the blade by grinding. What would be a good steel to use for a beginner (taken introductory jewelry classes, willing to work like crazy), I've heard both 440c and 5160 tossed around. Additionally, is there a method to achieve a solid black blade, aside from the standard patina and surface finishes? Thank you.
   - D Bynoe - Tuesday, 01/08/02 04:34:15 GMT

Question for Guru Turley. Where can I find blacksmith's coal in the Santa Fe area?
   adam - Tuesday, 01/08/02 05:43:44 GMT

check the dates on the bottles ( like 5-99) they must be within the last 5 years or they will have to be hydroed.
Get the make and model and make sure you can get replacement parts and tips easily.Get a popular make, preferably with O ring seas on the welding tips.
2 stage regulators are desirable if you are going to be using it a lot. Check and see if you can get the regulators rebuilt...may be difficult if they are old.
Look closely at the orofaces on the tips..if they are worn or out of round or flared, they'll have to be replaced. get him to fire it up and weld and cut with it. Check the condition of the hoses.
With big cylinders, a cart, a cutting attachment with cutting tips and a full range of welding tips plus a rosebud; It would bring about $350 around here, where things ain't cheap.
   Pete F - Tuesday, 01/08/02 07:05:56 GMT

Your email addr bounced. I have one of those little hydrogen torches I'd like to sell or trade for...I'm on the central CA coast.
   Pete F - Tuesday, 01/08/02 07:07:48 GMT

D Bynoe
I would sigest 5160 over the 440c as the stainless is harded to work with. have a heat treating shop do the harding/tempering,(if you use 440cyou will have to unless you have a temp controled heat treating oven) a blade that sise should fit in the cradle and around here (ct) the going rate is $30 for up to 25lb. have them temper to RC 55 or so.
as to the blackining you can pay to have it parkerised or use a gun blue. (gun blue will get darker with more coats to an allmost black) and thereare some black oxide cemical finishs on the market most are pricey and dangerise, you may want to look in the yellow pages under metal finishing and find a place that can do it for you.

   MP - Tuesday, 01/08/02 08:41:08 GMT

Steel for Stock Removal: D Bynoe, W-1 in annealed flat precision ground stock is the easiest and probably best for a first attempt at blademaking. Being annealed means you can easily saw the profile and tang or drill it if necessary. The (relatively) soft material also grinds well with common grinding equipment. Being annealed is why it is fairly expensive. W-1 is also commonly available.

W-1 is "water hardening" tool steel but in a relatively thin blade is oil hardening. This is less likely to cause stress problems. W-1 is cheaper than the other tool steels. O-1 is "oil hardening" and more stable when hardening. It is more expensive than the W-1. 1095 is also a good alternative if you can get it in annealed flat bar.

5160 is a good steel but I don't know of any sources that sell it annealed. 440c is cutlery or "surgical" stainless. Its very tricky to heat treat and doesn't hold an edge unless perfectly heat treated. Stainless is also abrasion resistant meaning it is hard to grind and polish. It is best to avoid these more exotic materials until you have more experiance.

We carry O1 and A2 tool steel flat stock in our On-Line metals store.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 09:38:48 GMT

So Guru, how do you really feel about CAD? ;-)} I have used a number of the CAD programs myself, in the end I always ended up sketching by hand then dragging out the drafting board. Especially for things I am building for myself. I always new AutoCAD was horrible, but everyone thought I was crazy . . .
   Escher - Tuesday, 01/08/02 15:13:31 GMT

CAD: Escher, CAD is a wonderful tool for maintaining engineering drawings. All CAD systems have a long learning curve. The are a technical drawing program not artistic. The majority of actual drawing in CAD is not done with a mouse or graphics pad but by inputing numerical coordinates and commands at the baseline. This is the only way to create true scale drawings that other functions such as auto dimensioning require.

But if you are not willing to put in years of study and practice to learn to make good CAD drawings and understand the methods of usings the technical aspects of CAD then DON'T start. You will be very disappointed.

CAD and other graphic systems are portrayed as super powerful tools that instantly create wonderful images in FICTION. This fiction is the majority of what you see on television AND in ads for CAD programs. Operations that are shown happening in seconds are actually the result of many hours (sometime months) of professional artist's time. Most are phoney animations.

CAD (nor any other computer graphics program) will make you an artist. CAD is expensive in man hours and a huge waste of time when applied to the wrong jobs.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 17:43:35 GMT

most custom spring shops have and will sell 5160 annealed or tempered (easy to tell the diferance as the tempered is also pre arched)
a note don't let any one sell you the tempered 5160 it has an amasing memory to straten it you must bring it to a bright red heat and straten then anneale any spot that isn't anealed will go back to the origan arch in heat treating (ie warp) don't sound all that bad but heating up a 3 foot sword and packing it in ash/vermicite before it cools is ... time consumeing and not all that certian.
oh and w1 is a good stock but tends to be pricey and dosn't have the memory or the repeatablaty of the 5160 ( alot of the same things that make a good spring make a good sword.
   MP - Tuesday, 01/08/02 19:03:25 GMT

I like 5160 too but it is not nearly as available as W-1. I know of a dozen places localy that stock annealed "die steel" for machine shops but only one spring shop and its a 60 mile drive. The tool steel also has the convienience of being available in small size increments (sixteenths).

As a blacksmith I don't purchase fancy stock of this sort as it is a waste when hot working. But when doing machine work I use a lot of precision ground O-1 and A-2 purchased as close to size as possible. If I had limited tools I would also use the more expensive stock. But that is a personal preference.

If I were making a display/play sword I would use 304SS. . . Hard to finish for being soft but it stays pretty.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 19:55:34 GMT

I'm not a blacksmith but I'm looking for one to duplicate panels for an antique indoor gate. I live in the Boston area and am having trouble finding a person who doesn't say things like "Those are nice, I've never done anything that fancy...." and "I've talked to a few people, no one's sure how that was done" etc. I don't think reproducing the gate is that elaborate, I think I'm just asking the wrong people.
Any suggestions, I'll travel to NH, VT or CT if nescessary.
   Jen - Tuesday, 01/08/02 21:33:39 GMT

I have the reverse problem as I can't find any one localy that will sell me any tool steels unless I buy 100 lb or more and they want a lot per pound on top of the minamum order ($25.90 for O1 and $19.00 for W1) were as the spring shop I buy from is a ten min drive and will sell me any size for $6 a pound.
any tool steels I use I get from online metals as that is the best price I can find. but I don't like haveing to wait for it or pay for shiping.

any one know of a source for 1095 all I could find was some 1.5" round stock two states away. or for that mater any strat carbon steels couldn't find any 1060 or 1070 when I looked.(that was calling every steel house I could find in three states and every machine shop I could find)
   MP - Tuesday, 01/08/02 21:37:36 GMT

MP, Try McMaster-Carr for your 1095. It is listed under C1095 Spring Steel. Not a great selection of sizes (sheet stick up to 1/8"). They carry a better selection in medium carbon 1045.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 23:23:21 GMT

Fancy Gate: Jen, You are probably right about talking to the wrong people. Try contacting the local ABANA chapters listed on ABANA-Chapter.com. The world is full of metal crafts people and practicaly anything can be reproduced.

If you have a photo you can send to me (scan it or have a digital taken), I can probably tell you what type of work it is and the type of craftsperson you are looking for.

Use good light for the photo and supply at least one closeup of a typical area.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/08/02 23:30:40 GMT

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