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 9 - 16, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Ok, a while ago I decided I want to get into blacksmithing, so I followed various internet directions to create a nice little forge and got the right tools -
but now I want to make something.
Where do I get the metal I need to make, say, a knife?
And for a complete newbie, what kind of metal is best, and how much is it going to cost me?
Is there an internet site around somewhere that sells nice little knife sized bars?
   osborne - Wednesday, 01/09/02 01:50:49 GMT

Good Guru:

Your knowledge and understanding of CAD and its limitations is truly impressive. Personally I have been disgusted with CAD since the beginning. Good draftsmen were replaced by computer operators who did not understand drafting or the products being drawn. All the industrial advantages of CAD are lost when the operator creates additional errors when making a revision. At least with mylars the engineer could see what was scraped and changed!

Taking up CAD to supplement blacksmithing reminds me of Mike George. He wanted to start wood carving so he thought he'd learn blacksmithing first to make his own tools. Several years later we have Salt Fork Craftsmen from that effort and he has not yet started wood carving.

In the same way, learning CAD can itself be a hobby.

   Andy Martin - Wednesday, 01/09/02 02:03:25 GMT

Dave Wells posted the following message on the Hammerin, I thought it should be cross posted to here.

Sad News: Fred Caylor passed away recently. He was founder of Rural Smiths of Mid-America and past president. Fred was
mainly known for giving Little Giant power hammer rebuilding workshops in conjuction with Sid Suedmeir of Little Giant.
- Dave Wells
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 01/09/02 02:21:18 GMT


I'm sure the good Guru and his helpers can recommend some knife steel - maybe something from the Online Metals store? *smile* There's also some links to people who sell billets of steel for making knives on the Anvilfire "links" page.

As far as the rest of the things you might need, Atlanta Cutlery (http://www.atlantacutlery.com) sells knifemaking supplies in small quantities. I used to buy things from them when I was more active in knife collecting and I was happy with their service. They don't sell "blanks" or steel for forging/tempering - they have pretempered blades, which isn't what you want.

   Dreamer - Wednesday, 01/09/02 03:03:11 GMT

Steel for starting out Osborne, As a newbie you will likely burn up quite a few pieces of steel. Even after years of smithing it still happens.

Almost any coil or leaf spring is made of good steel to make knives or wood working tools. Although flat stock like leaf springs would seem to be best they are hard to cut to size for most reasonable sized blades. Round stock from a straightened coil spring is easy to flatten and most automotive coil springs are a good size. Auto scrap yards generaly have numerous coil springs lying about that are useless because they are unidentifiable and rarely needed. Ask for a couple and you might go home with a truck load.

For decorative work it is best to purchase new bar stock because it usualy gets used up in significant quantities. Steel suppliers often require minimum purchases but you can sometimes find a machine shop or welding shop that will sell you a couple sticks of bar stock if you aren't a pest about it. HR (Hot roll) bar is cheaper than CF (cold finished) but in small sizes you sometimes have to go with the more expensive material. If the steel is stored outdoors and is rusted you might get a discount. Rust doesn't hurt when you are going to be heating and forging the bar.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/09/02 04:14:43 GMT

thanks I allways seen to forget about them.
last place you look I guess.
   MP - Wednesday, 01/09/02 07:37:25 GMT

Adam. For small amounts of coal, check with Monte Vista Fuel and Feed on Agua Fria St. Try it, before you buy a whole bunch. Formerly, I got coal from "Buddy" at BTU Concrete Block Company in Raton, and I don't know his source. At one point, I think he got his coal from the York Canyon Mine near Raton, and I understand that York Canyon has closed their mine recently. My latest source is going to be the King Mine in Hesperus, Colorado, just west of Durango. The King Mine has the coal sized; I recommend the smaller lumps. Trinidad, Colorado, had an operating mine for quite a while and used to furnish large amounts to CF&I blast furnaces in Pueblo, CO, but I'm not sure whether they still have coal available or not. Oleo Acres Farrier Supply in Littleton, CO, sells coal in bags. Pricey.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/09/02 13:41:13 GMT

MP and Osborne. I usually get drill rod, W1 water hardening, or O1 oil hardening from Traverse Tool Co., out of Flushing, New York. The W1 has about 95 points carbon, so who needs 1095? I think drill rod is reasonably priced, comes in 3 foot lengths, round sections, scale-free, annealed, easily shipped. Both of these steels are general purpose tool steels. Knives made from them hold up fairly well.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/09/02 13:59:11 GMT

Guru, Thank you for the help, the reason for the period equipment is a group that I am involved in called the society for creative anacranisms, I have alway been interested in forging with the old coal/charcoal methods.
As far as availability of coal, I live in northwest New Mexico and we buy coal buy the ton just a few miles from here, we have had no problem where I live about burning coal in our firebox (for heat). Once again thank you for your help. Michial
   Michial - Wednesday, 01/09/02 14:27:56 GMT

Admiral Steel will sell you 5160 or 1095 or 1084 or most any other steel you will need. I would recomend 5160 for a swoard because it will stand up to the stress of chopping better. Admiral has a web site and will sell small quantities.
   - dale - Wednesday, 01/09/02 14:38:00 GMT

Hi, I've got what is probably a stupid question, or a stupid cluster of questions, and ones for which I should probably already know the answers--but I don't! I'm a grad. student in music, and definitely only a hobbiest blacksmith, but I have a _little_ blacksmithing experience. I worked as a blacksmithing demonstrator at a historic site for a couple of years and made a lot of small hardware there.

Well, I'm trying to collect enough equipment to start doing a little work on my own now, and to eventually develop my skill as a smith. I've just acquired a Champion 400 blower and a small farrier's forge. I've already got a post vise and lots of hammers and tongs.

My question is this: how do I clean these older pieces of equipment, and what should I do to keep them from re-rusting?? I know I could heat the tongs and pop off the rust that way, but I'm very hesitant to try that with the post vise. And there are things like the threads to the tuyere sections and bits of the blower that are rusty as well.

Should I treat them with some chemical to take the rust off?

I know that people usually give this sort of thing a coating of oil to keep off the rust--but what sort of oil do you recommend for that?

Thanks very much for your help...
   Alan - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:24:01 GMT

I am just getting started in blacksmithing. In fact I am just at the point of joining my local group and setting up shop. My question is about an anvil I was given. It is a 125# Hay-Budden . The problem is that about 1/5 of its face is gone. Is it worth getting repaired or should I just look for another anvil?
Thanks in advance.
   Jacob Langthorn - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:41:55 GMT

Jacob, why not use it as is? ANd look for a another anvil as you do. I have an aversion to anvil repairs....
But yes it can be repaired... But if not done correct you make more problems than you fix
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:46:09 GMT

Some of my question stems from my own ignorance of the art. I am not sure how much face surface is needed to work the metal properly.
   Jacob Langthorn - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:49:02 GMT

Wire brush teh vise, do not worry about teh fire pot, and wire brush the outside of the blower if needed. For the inside of the blower... does it work? does it turn freely, if so do the bearings seem ok ? if so just add oil and use.
Since these blowers are not made any longer and since parts are not really avalible, I would suggest not taking apart unless needed, then use care.
Even two different blowers of the same size and make may not have interchangeable parts.....
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:50:51 GMT

Alan, I usually just wire brush my old equipment & coat with a mixture of linseed oil and mineral spirits, the mineral spirits just cut the oil to make it thiner.
   - Mike Roth - Wednesday, 01/09/02 19:56:19 GMT

Rusted Tools Alan, The guys above gave pretty good advise. The vise can be painted and the screw should be kept greased well enough that rust is not a problem. Be sure to oil the pivot of the vise. You can clean with naval jelly if you want but it is still a lot of work. Oil the bare parts of the jaws with WD-40 occasionaly.

The firepot and forge parts generally gets too hot for conventional paint. Wire brush and paint with a high temperature bar-b-que black. This will slow down the rusting. Rusted bolts should be replaced IF they can be removed from the forge without breaking. Never-Sieze is a good high temperature lubricant and can prevent siezure due to rust on forge parts. Its great on vise threads too.

Tools that get used on a regular basis rust little or the rust gets wiped off as it forms. A dusting of WD-40 on everything doesn't hurt. If not used regularly even the face of your anvil should be oiled with light oil. The rust that gets oiled eventualy makes a good oil holding surface that rusts less than bare metal so don't clean off ALL the rust.

The jaws of tongs get too hot to remain oiled but it doesn't hurt to give them a spray of WD-40 along with everything else.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/09/02 21:17:59 GMT

Anvil Repair Jacob, Use it as-is. Consider the drop-off another "feature".

I suspect the area around the hardy hole is broken and makes it difficult to use a hardy. However, anvils went without for thousands of years. Clamp it in a vise or make a holder to put on a stump or post. Most smiths do the heavy pounding work in an area smaller than the palm of your hand. The rest of the anvil is used for shaping and bending which is relatively light work. In many parts of the world TODAY anvils are simple rectangular blocks of steel. Knives, swords and other critical work are commonly done on these small surfaces.

I know, it looks sad. But it is a lot more anvil than many folks have. Use it until you can't stand it or you love the "character" of it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/09/02 21:47:24 GMT

I use never sieze a lot. But be careful which never sieze you use on high temp stuff. There are versions with moly disulfide and the sulfur can break out at high temps and combine with moisture to create sulfuric acid and eat the metal I guess. I'm told 800 degrees is the magic limit for moly disulfide. I just learned that recently.

For most stuff, I am switching to Loctite Marine Grade antisieze. Stops galvanic corrosion and resists water washout. 2400 degrees max. Most of my problems are on vehicles that see road salt.

Never sieze on the vise screws works well too. There, I like the moly disulfide, but have used copper based also. One of the things that kills vise screws is the galling from cranking them down hard.

Rust converter coatings work OK after wire brushing, and then topcoat with paint. The rust converters don't hold up long as a single coat.
   Tony - Wednesday, 01/09/02 22:18:47 GMT

Coal: Thanks for the info on local coal supplies. I also found out that Robb Gunter in Tijeras has a big pile of smithing coal which he sells for $8/100#. In the meantime, until I can drive out to Tijeras I will try the stuff from Monte Vista Fuel and Feed
   adam - Wednesday, 01/09/02 22:34:02 GMT

Never-Sieze: I use the Never-Sieze(tm) brand. A lot of people don't like Never-Sieze because it is messy, but on some things there is nothing better. It greatly increases the efficiency of vise screws so that you don't have to lean so hard on the handle. I also use it on wheel studs and exhust parts. It is good on any threaded part that is prone to rust.

Even though it is great on sliding parts I rarely use it on machines because of the messyness.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/09/02 23:14:49 GMT

Adam: I'd find the time to go to Rob Gunter's shop if I were you. Heck of a good smith. I would love to see the inside of his shop. Heard that he was in the middle of a big job. You south west guys think nothing of driving 6-700 miles anyway. ;)
   - Pete-Raven - Thursday, 01/10/02 00:15:33 GMT

question,i inherted a used anvil,forge and vise.the anvils edges r badly chipped,(2 hard?)im wanting 2 resurface it by welding in then shaving off excess 4 sharp edges,but the 2 oldtimers i know say it will ruin the anvil,is this true ?is coke a good fuel ? and do u have info. on sheild making?many thanks 4 ur time

   belrain - Thursday, 01/10/02 00:59:22 GMT

Never Seize: At one time I was a pipe fitter in a factory. We used Never Seize on everything that would eventually be replaced,gaskets,threads,etc.Works good on steam fittings also. I now use it in the same way at home/farm equipment.
Us pipe fitters didn't stay that clean anyway, the messiness didn't bother us.
   - Dave Wells - Thursday, 01/10/02 01:08:57 GMT

Anvil Repair: Belrain, Anvil corners can be repaired but it needs to be done by someone with experiance. Otherwise, YES, you will screw it up.

Some anvils chip worse than others but it is generaly from abuse. If you need an edge to work on it only needs to be an inch or so wide. Corners should not be sharp but should have a small radius.

Foundry coke is not suitable as forge fuel. There are grades of coke suitable but it is rare. High grade bituminous coal is best. Real charcoal (not briquets) is also good. Never buy a large quantity of fuel until you have taken home a bucket full and tried it out. The only time to ignore this rule is if you purchase the coal from an experianced smith OR one vouches for the quality of the coal.

There are all kinds of ways to make shields. Wood, leather, metal, or combinations of the three were used depending on the location and the time. Thin plywood (3/8") bent to fit a wood cross bar and handle works well. The edges should be protected with heavy sheet metal riveted on. It all depends on what you want it for.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 02:10:18 GMT

I am in need of a web-site or the name of a magazine/book that can help my Dad build his own GAS FORGE??? any ideas appreciated!
   Mary - Thursday, 01/10/02 04:34:07 GMT

Mary one place with a goodly amount of info is Ron Reil's web page.

   Ralph - Thursday, 01/10/02 15:19:05 GMT

How much surface is needed? Well it all depends on what you are doing..... GRIN
If you are forging anchors you will need much more surface area than say if you are making nails mostly...
While the concept of a bigger anvil is better is usually a good one (within reason) , much work in the world is done or was done on small blocks of metal. Eventually you will get better accuracy in your hitting with a hammer and so will 'use' a smaller area of the anvil. But as your skill goes up you will begin to really USE your anvil. Most beginners think that the only feature of an anvil to use is the flat face. But as you go along you will start to use every surface and corner to help do the work of transforming a piece of iron into wonderful new tools art etc. So as our worthy Guru said earlier, use the area with the face missing as a feature......

   Ralph - Thursday, 01/10/02 15:28:31 GMT

SCA still covers 1000 years or so and quite a bit of land to boot, (been in going on 24 years now...); I run two "sca" forges one is based on Y1K forge is built from creek clay and fire safe rocks and side blown by two single action bellows; charcoal for the fuel and a cube of iron for the anvil, though I hope to get a "viking" anvil made sometime this year. The other is a renaissance forge with a double lung bellows and uses coal or charcoal and a large "T" stake anvil (50#+) the hammers and tongs look pretty much the same from roman times till modern times. And remember that 100%wool doesn't burn! Go with a light worsted for summer and layer it up for winter. And *PLEASE* research what people actually used rather than what folk nowdays *believe* was used. (Case in point all those double edged knives running around---take a look in "Knives and Scabbards" from the Museum of London 300+ blades drawn to scale with metallurgical analysis on some of them, dates, handle material, etc...don't recall more than 1 or 2 that *might* have been double edged...)

Swords are *NOT* a small project! Get a large coil spring and have it torch cut alone one side the stack of rings will make a passel of knives and let you get good with *one* alloy.

Anvil Face size: I have an 1828 William Foster anvil with 90+% of the face gone; just a little corner left. I can still forge knives, hooks and other small items on it without any trouble. I have an anvil basw with the whole top of the anvil from the waist up missing. I can forge items on that too. If you don't know what your're doing working an anvil as it is is far safer than trying to repair it, (got a large anvil where I have to repair the previous repairs by removing them and starting over---I'm learning at the SOFA anvil repair workshops---SOFA is an ABANA chapter in Troy Ohio that is a great resource if you are anywhere near it---I drive about 2 hours each way to meetings!) Now I prefer one of my big anvils with a pristine face but I use the others every once in a while to show folks that they needen't wait the big anvil find before getting started smithing!

Thomas who's forged with a hole in the ground and rocks...
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 01/10/02 15:29:08 GMT

VIRUSES - PSA: Most of the computer viruses we have warned you folks about are still alive and dangerous even though they are not as active as a month or two ago. I'm writting this as 50 some huge SIRCAM.A e-mails with attachments come into my mail box. They started last night from someone in Hawaii. Most or all are probably from the same account sending them out all night. But I won't be the only one recieving them and that means it will probably spread among the unwary or unprotected.

SIRCAM letters start with
"Will you please give me your opinion on the attached file".
The attachment is one of that person's files that has the virus code attached. Files range from personal letters, tax returns, ZIPed project files. . . almost anything. They are often huge and clog up the mail system. But if you get past the virus the files are still intact. I have recieved many things via SIRCAM that were very private. Taxes, financial statements and business proposals. Many folks think viruses are a minor nuisance but spreading your personal stuff across the globe is NOT a minor nuisance.

Viruses that I still recieve daily include:

1. Snow White (promises a sexy screen saver)
2. W32.Badtrans.B at mm

The second two include the sender's address so they can be warned but Snow White does not. All its mail is from HAHAHA. This makes it easy to filter BUT you can't warn the folks that have it.

antivirus.com has a free on-line virus scan that will check your system. It is slow to download the files but it is FREE and up to date. It probably won't run on old win 3.1 systems but Snow White will! Look it up and check for the files it creates on your computer.

IF you try to access antivirus.com or one of the other popular antivirus sites and you get a not-found message OR your computer does nothing then you probably have a virus. Several of the virus programs have lists of these sites and prevent you from accessing them. This includes updating your current antivirus program.

IF you use Microsoft IE or Outlook Express you DO NOT need to open mail or attachments to become infected. With many of the newest viruses if the mail is on you machine then its already too late. Complain to Bill Gates.

HOAXES are very common and we have recently had several run through our group. If you recieve an email warning about a virus from ANYONE, check it out at one of the anti-virus sites before passing it on. Hoaxes are almost more virulent than the viruses.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 16:34:10 GMT

So far this morning, I've dumped 12 copies of SIRCAM from the same address in Hawaii as the guru. I sent him/her/it a notice, but it bounced. His/hers/it's mail box is full. I wonder why? (sarcastic grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/10/02 16:47:13 GMT

Smiths tend to be strong minded and independent. They take pride in finding their own ways to solve problems and to make do with what's at hand. These are admirable qualities but it's a bit tough on beginners.

I think all this talk about how little anvil one really needs is not helpful for newbies. While a good craftsman can do good work even with marginal tools, a beginner needs good tools in good condition. A good tool will help you along and show you what is supposed to happen a poor tool can be made to work if you know what it is supposed to do.

There is also the matter of trying to follow instructions. If your beginner's smithing book says make a step by hammering the work half on half off the edge of the anvil and your anvil doesnt have any edges or the edges are rounded to a 1/2" radius (my first anvil) this is very discouraging.

An experienced smith would solve this problem easily (an experienced smith would not need this book :) ). Perhaps he would make a hardy fuller with the profile he is missing on his anvil. But for a beginner who is just learning how to move the metal making a hardy tool is way out of reach. He probably doesnt even have the experience and confidence to thumb through the Centaur catalog and pick out an anvil block. Besides he just blew his budget on this anvil.

A great deal of what we understand comes from working at the craft. Mostly it is the doing itself that gives understanding, not the explanations. Which is why, in the very beginning one must start out imitating a master using the same tools and the same methods.
   adam - Thursday, 01/10/02 16:53:40 GMT

SCA Forges

Besides having a nice romantic leather bellows on a side blown forge please remember to NOT use the following if you want to use "period" tools (prior to about 1600AD).
  • Modern shaped anvils with horns, hardy hole and a really hard face.
  • Any alloy steels.
  • Twist drills
  • Machine cut files
  • Abrasives other than natural stones or sand (no bonded wheels or sandpaper)
  • Steel wool
  • Wire brushes
  • Vises
  • Any tool manufactured in the last century since they are all made of high grade modern steel or alloy steels. This includes hammers, chisels, punches, tongs, pliers. . .
  • Firebricks or modern refractories.
  • Crucibles made from graphite or alumina.
  • And whatever you do DON'T WEAR SAFETY GLASES, GLOVES or STEEL TOED SHOES - You NEED that one-eyed, scar faced, 8 fingered, 9 toed look to be truely authentic!

Things they DID have (way back then) that we don't think about.
  • Lots of lead, foil sheet and wire.
  • Sulphur
  • Mercury
  • Asbestoes
  • Hydrocloric acid
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • All the poisionous metal salts you could dream of resulting from using the above acids
  • No REAL understanding of metalurgy - just old trial and error practices that worked.
  • Lots of cheap labor (including children exposed to all the above).

I'm sorry if I get rather short with "traditionalists" and people that want "period" tools. What they want is a romantic "look" not the reality of primitive poor quality tools and materials of the past. You can wear animal skins and pump that bellows all day, but as soon as you pick up that chrome-moly alloy hammer and forge (our REALLY good) mild steel on an anvil that weighs more than 30-40 pounds you have broken from the reality of the past.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 17:23:24 GMT

I was wondering if anyone could tell me the type of steel that railroad spikes are made of. These are newer spikes, I would say 3-4 years old. I am interested in forging a knife from them, and was just curious what type of steel I was dealing with. Thanks for the help!
   Matthew Kasten - Thursday, 01/10/02 18:02:52 GMT

Authenticity: This romanticism also ignores all the social infrastructure. Even if you made it to adulthood ( one chance in three) you probably would not be allowed to learn and practice a smith's trade unless you were a freeman and a christian. Women, serfs and jews (like myself) were generally not allowed into the crafts.

If you did land an apprenticeship there was a very high risk of injury and many injuries were fatal or permanently disabling. Just a simple burn could get infected and kill you. If you got as far as setting up your own shop, there was very little money around and you would work for barter which meant that you could only accept customers who had or could get what you needed. There was little friendly sharing of techniques with other smiths. If you did develop a new process you kept it a secret and if your "brother" smiths got too jealous you could find yourself charged with witchcraft.

If you made it into your 30's you were probably with a second wife since the first one likely died in childbirth. In addition to losing a wife you would have seen most of your children die in infancy. Any teeth you had left would hurt like hell. Your joints were probably all damaged from unergonomic hammering techniques and you were probably mentally deranged from metal poisoning.

For a tiny, privileged fraction of the population life was fun. However most of us are descended from families that were common folk and whose living conditions were wretched.

I find little to be nostalgic about the pre 1600's or even pre 1950's :)
   adam - Thursday, 01/10/02 18:06:05 GMT


I'm force to agree for the most part. However, I can wax nostalgic about some PARTS of the middle 19th century, while being fully aware of the down side as well.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 01/10/02 18:23:31 GMT

Quality Tools Adam, I agree with you whole heartedly. I MUCH prefer my 300 pound anvil and REALLY dislike working on anything less than a 125 pound anvil. I have a LOT of really good tools and it makes things much easier.

But where do you draw the line? Do we tell newbies that you MUST have a 125 pound (57kg) anvil or bigger or they are wasting their time?

And how bad is the chipping that someone wants to repair? Now I have seen some REALLY bad anvils. But what 90% of folks think needs to be repaired today (at risk of doing more damage) is inconsequential. The "sharp edge" has become such a big bug-a-boo that most of the dealers that handle used anvils are repairing every minor ding and grinding edges to sharper than new. The fact is that sharp inside corners are bad practice on forgings and rounded edges on anvils do not chip as easily as sharp. Anvil edges should be rounded to at least an 1/16 to 1/8" (1.5-3mm) radius. The heavier the work done the larger the radius should be. I pass on anvils I suspect have been repaired. Almost ALL old anvils have some chipping and the corners are usualy worn (or were dressed) to a gracefully smooth radius.

I have several photos of workers in India and Pakistan using heavy (maybe 20 pound) sledge hammer heads set in a log for anvils. These fellows are producing traditional knives for export in relatively large quantities. TODAY, not 50 or 100 years ago! These are smiths working in nations that have spent billions on nuclear weapons while these smiths are in such poverty that their tools are meger left over scrap from the British Colonial period. These folks are so impoverished that the steel to make a hold down like in last nights iForge demo is an extravagance. It is cheaper to have a laborer hold the work!

We are lucky to be living in modern industrialized nations where we can pick up high quality used tools from generations past at bargain prices. Anvils at 1/10 the cost of new and often FREE. Machine tools, lathes, drill presses and power hammers also at 1/10 or less than new prices are available to those that search for them.

The western blacksmith of the 21st Century is living in a post industrial society and using the leftovers of a very productive past. The majority of these 21st century smiths are hobby smiths that could never afford the tools they have if it were not for the general affluence of the society we live in. Good tools are not cheap, but by and large we are not buying them not to make a living. Those that DO make a living from their smithing often buy new tools. But they are not buying new industrial duty power hammers or weld plattens or machine tools. They are buying old used machines or the new less than industrial duty machinery.

When I know that there are smiths all over the world making a living with tools we wouldn't even consider, it is embarassing to say, "You must have a 125 pound or greater anvil, and a . . .".
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 18:58:46 GMT

Thank you for the advice. I think I will start with the anvil as is and keep my Eyes peeled at the farm sales here in Oklahoma.
   Jacob Langthorn - Thursday, 01/10/02 18:55:12 GMT

Jacob, Good decision. When you find a new-better anvil you will probably find that its nice to keep the old one for those odd things you don't like to do to a good anvil. OR you may want to use it as a second anvil when teaching someone else. You may also reach the point where you are comfortable repairing the old one. But wait until you really know for yourself.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:10:07 GMT

I have to agree with both Jock and Adam. The reality of life in the past is far less romantic than portrayed by book and film. Authenticity, for demonstration purposes, has its place, but safety concerns alone rule out some "authentic" practices. In the Renaissance, Cellini and others did beautiful gold plating using an amalgam of gold powder and mercury that was fired onto the base metal in an open fire. To do so today would be "authentic", but remarkably self-destructive as well as environmentally unfriendly. We need to learn from the craftsmen of the past, from their techniques and writings, and use this knowledge in the light of the new information so that we preserve ourselves and our world as much as possible. There is little "honor" in learning archaic techniques if we use them to damage ourselves and our world.

I was both amused and saddened to note that a good bit of what Adam wrote about the maladies of the early smiths (in their 30's), seem to be a part of my life now that I've reached my fifties. Had I known, in my teens and twenties, the price I would be paying now for my foolish disdain of safety lenses, hearing protectors, respirators, safety guards and protective clothing, I would sure be in a lot better shape than I am! Too soon we get old, too late we get smart...
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:19:07 GMT


Thanks for that very interesting post on smiths in Western post-industrial society versus, well, everywhere else. I agree completely.

I've only begun to set myself up for smithing (although I've done some hobby metalworking before) - obviously my main means of support is legal work. The people at work have been teasing me about "learning a useful trade for when society collapses." I just smile good-naturedly.

What I'm smiling about is that they're actually fairly close to the mark. Between Hubbert's Law and fiat collapse, I don't know how long high-tech IP lawyers are going to be useful to society. But somebody who can work metal is always going to be able to make an honest living. I am hoping we avoid the apocalyptic "Mad Max" scenario, but a big depression - I'm talking a 30's style depression here, maybe worse - wouldn't suprise me. A person with tools, low tech tools, in hand and the knowledge to use them in his head will be a richer man than somebody with a wheelbarrow full of worthless stocks if that day comes.

Sorry for the ramble. Thanks again for the posts.

   Dreamer - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:21:12 GMT

Jacob, Definitely the right decision. I recently went through a bout of the same angst with an anvil I obtained. After much discussion with the Guru and PawPaw, I decided it would be best to just clean it up a bit and use it. Of course, being the diligent person that I am, (my wife calls me "anal retentive"), I spent dozens of hours with the angle grinder and sanding disks until the thing looks like it was chromed. Nonetheless, I took Jock's advice and didn't get carried away with taking the sway out of it or trying for corners you could shave with, and now I have a truly wonderful anvil that I love. The time spent cleaning it up was worth it since it gave me a true appreciation of what I have and will keep me from getting impatient and using it inappropriately and wrecking it. Now if I can just figure out a way to gold plate the thing...

Jock, PawPaw, thanks again for all the assistance and guidance! I'll send you a picture of the thing now that its cleaned up. Those big slab sides polished up beautifully and should come in handy for doing cold work on non-ferrous stuff I want to keep all nice and shiny! Thanks again.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:30:31 GMT

One thing we sorta disagree on ... smile
It is my beliefe that is a person wants to be a blacksmith(in all of its ramifications) then they will need to have a certain mind set. ANd that is one of adaptablity and ingenuity. blacksmiths were suce revered folks in thier communities mostly due to the fact that they thought differently. Did not see impossiblities but merely difficult tasks. So if you did not have a certain tool for a job you either made one OR adapted something else for that job. I am not advocating that rank beginners make do and use tools improperly but merely that they consider other ways.
Good tools in good condition are good, but it will not make you a better smith. That only comes from inside. If you do not have the 'spirt' then new tools will not help.
I feel it is more important to get out and try. Even with less than pristine tools.
I know form my own personal experience that I would like to have a bunch of nice tools... such as power tools, but due to finances and space I am more or less limited to hand tools, so I have had to get creative in some work, but I am willing to do this for now....

   Ralph - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:34:23 GMT

RR-Spikes Matthew, There are two types a low carbon and a high carbon. The high carbon are 40 to 60 point carbon steel and supposedly marked "HC" on the head.

However, spikes were manufactured by many manufacturers and they vary quite a bit. As with all scrap steel the best thing to do is take a sample and test it.

First try the "spark test". On a grinder in low light grind the sample and watch the sparks. Wrought iron and very low carbon steel make long sparks with few branches. As the carbon increases the sparks start to branch and get fuzzier and fuzzier. Test a couple known pieces of metal and see the difference. Then your sample. Be sure to use firm pressure as lightly grinding can make small sparks that appear to be higher carbon than they are.

The try hardening the sample. Heat it to a medium red or a little higher than non-magnetic (steel stops being magnetic at 1435°F. Then quench it in oil or warm water. Try a file on it. If it slides off without digging in you have a hardenable piece of steel. If it doesn't harden then try a little hotter (a low orange). If it hardens then it is probably less than 50 point steel.

Note that many tool steels are air hardening (no quench) and other are oil quench. Water is too sever (too sudden) for these steels. You always want to use the least severe quench that produces the necessary results.

Points is a common term for the decimal percentage of carbon in steel. Mild steel known as SAE 1020 has 0.20% carbon or 20 points. 4140 is an alloy steel with 40 points carbon and 1095 is a plain high carbon steel with 95 points.

After hardening any common steel you need to "temper" it. Tempering is the reheating of the steel to some temperature below the hardening point to reduce the brittleness. This also reduces the hardness but that is a necessary fact of life. This is another testing area. Temper your hard sample at different temperatures until you find the right hardness. The minimum tempering temperature is 350°F and 450°F is recommended for many steels. You want to temper to as high a temperature as possible and keep the necesary hardness. Many "hard" tools such as hammers can be filed and others such as knives a file will scratch but not cut well. Temper temperatures are often judges by the rainbow of colors that appear on clean steel. Each color indicates a specific temperature on plain carbon steel. On alloy steels the colors are similar but not the same temperatures.

Testing unknown steels is a trial and error, as well as educational process.

If you want to avoid all this then you need to puchase new steel of a know composition, then heat treat it at the recomended temperatures.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 19:55:36 GMT

Hi, I have been involved in timber framing for the last couple of years and I want to learn how to make a socket handled framing chisel and slick (1-1/2" to 3-1/2" blade width).
Also, which metals make the best choice for framing chisels and slicks? Where to purchase?
I'm in East Tennessee and would like to learn this and then make some myself. Thanks very much, Chip.
   Chip Piller - Thursday, 01/10/02 20:30:56 GMT

Guru the Cu RR-Spikes then? not common but out there. about like the mild ones but wil a little copper in them.
   OErjan - Thursday, 01/10/02 21:03:32 GMT

Chip, I do full log timber framing sometimes. My favorite timber framing chisels are from leaf spring material. 5160 usually I guess. As you must know, knots can wreak havoc on hard edges. I prefer a little softer temper that I can file damage out of and sharpen quickly. If you were only working with knot free wood, then I would go for tool steels. O-1 or A-2. I do have a tool steel set too, but I bought those. After having edges chipped, I only use them for clear wood. I made the spring material chisels after and use those the most. Maybe because I did make them. Grin.

Spring material can be had from old car or truck springs, but I now buy new cutoff scrap from a local spring shop.

Alexander Weygers, complete modern blacksmith book discusses making chisels, including socket chisels, in detail. I don't have the ISBN nummber handy.

My .02 worth
   Tony - Thursday, 01/10/02 22:09:55 GMT

Big Chisels Chip, as Tony pointed out spring steel is a good (cheap) material and works well. The only chisels I made for wood working were made from old MG leaf springs. I made two pairs of gouges for my brother and myself. Each set had a 1-1/4" wide half round with internal bevel and a 3/4" half round with external bevel. The steel was oil quenched and tempered by heating until the oil smoked off (real scientific!). They have lasted through years of use in sculpture and pattern making. The only failing was the flat tangs. My handles (walnut with 1" conduit ferrule and 1-1/2 pipe end band) have held up well but my brother used a steel headed stone hammer (like a small single jack) on his and wrecked the handles. I've always used a mallet or carving maul.

The weak link on many tools of this type is the handle joint. There are three ways to make a socket. One is to forge the socket portion flat and wide then roll it into a cone socket and weld it. The weld is difficult and may old chisels the socket was just overlapped and then riveted (often into the wood).

The next way is to forge the socket from a piece of schedule 40 water pipe, on the chisle forge a shoulder with short tang that fits the socket snugly and then weld the two together. This can be a forge weld or an arc weld. If you arc weld it then dress the weld by forging, not grinding. Forging conditions the weld material and does not reduce the size of the weld.

If I make any more chisels for wood working I'll use a third similar technique without the weld. A heavy shoulder is formed on the chisel with a tennon shaped round tang proportionate to the chisel. The tang is fited into the handle up to the shoulder, a long socket shaped ferrule is fitted to the handle. AND a plain band is used on the striking end. . . . I know I've described this before, did I do an iForge demo on it???

For smaller chisels round stock works best as it is easy to flatten and the round part makes good shoulders. For heavy mortising chisels flat stock may be best.

Using scrap spring material you can afford to burn up a few (and you will, we all do).

Fantastic weather in central Virgina today! High near 70°F (or it felt like it).
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 23:25:38 GMT

We have had 16 Pub Registrations come in today! Wonder what is up?
   - guru - Thursday, 01/10/02 23:29:55 GMT

Adam; early smiths were probably in better health then 19th century smiths; in fact anthropological studies show that medieval people were often in better shape than "factory serfs" of the industrial revolution. Better diet and working conditions. It is also surprising how many women were in the crafts---enough that their presence were regulated in the guild rules we have had handed down (mostly they were required to only work in their father's or husband's shop though some did become guildmembers upon the death of their husbands...)

While it's important to point out that the medieval and renaissance times were quite different from today it's important to not make the mistake of going to far the other way too! (One interesting fact: if you survived childhood your likely age of death was not to far from todays and probably better than 150 years ago. It was the large infant mortality that drug down the *AVERAGE* length of life back then.)

I much prefer today's advantages but realize that there were some advantages of life before sitcoms on TV!

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 01/11/02 00:30:42 GMT

I came across an old bench type drill press made by Buffalo Forge. It's quite small, standing about 30" tall. It has a small, old, 1/4 hp motor that runs a flat belt over a right angle pully arrangement to a two step pully on the top of the drill. Its all cast iron. Over all its in nice working condition with no signs of breakage or abuse. It belongs to a friend who is willing to sell it, but neither of us has seen another like it and don't know what its worth. Although I know its worth what someone is willing to pay, I'm looking for a ballpark value that's fair to us both.I'd like it as a neat, old, usable antique for my shop. Any ideas?
   Dave C - Friday, 01/11/02 02:05:56 GMT

RE early smithing
the quality of life was very dependent on were and at what time you lived nothern france in the 100 years war was NOT a nice place to call home but before and after it was much as thomas discribed.(from what I have read any way)
the old guild system had some merit and in some ways did great things but it did have meny draw backs some for good reason and some from pure stupidy.
re virus got 25 or so from our friend in hawaii this morning sent then two notices that they are infected the first got to them the second bounced
kind of makes it worse when you know they have been told ... don't it
unless there mail box being maxed out has frosen the computer.
we all need to take more and more care in our actions on the net as things are only going to get worse untill we ALL as a groop do something to stop it (meening up dateing our virus protection regulerly)
we can blame the evil microgate that has more holes in it than swiss cheese but if we know of the holes then are they to blame or are we. not only that but if enough of us complane about this problem and STOP useing ther products they will be forced to fix there programing. so in a way we are still at falt for useing them.
sorry for the rant but I am geting sick of cleaning out my hard drive and eraseing viruses from my mail box.
   MP - Friday, 01/11/02 02:56:47 GMT


No need to apologize, I've had about the same number today, Jerry Carrol had seven, Jock has had over 70. We're all tired of fooling with it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 01/11/02 04:06:10 GMT

THE VIRUS - What we are seeing here is how ONE person using MS Outlook or IE as their mailer can effect hundreds of people. This one is sending mail to everyone's addresses found in cached forum files from THIS site and others.

We have instituted an encryption system that prevents that from happening but it is not retroactive to archives prior to September. And of course these viruses use the infected system's address books too which has nothing to do with anvilfire.

ANTI-VIRUS programs DO NOT WORK. They only work on old identified viruses. The newest viruses take advantage of gross security problems in Outlook and IE and can launch themselves without the user opening the mail OR running attachemnts. IF you use these programs for e-mail you are part of the problem. You WILL become infected and WILL transmit (broadcast) viruses.

Every virus goes through a several week period before it is identified and the "anti-virus" programs updated. THEN there is the delay between when the the new update is available and when you update your anti-virus protection. It only takes a few hours for a virus to spread to every country on the planet. In the month between then and when you have "protection" hundreds of millions of computers running OE and IE will be infected.

In the past seven months I have been flooded by virus mail. Thousands of pieces. I look at the headers of EVERY mail. Every one has been generated by Outlook Express. The problem will not go away until people quit using it.

When I logged on an hour ago I also started my mail program. It is still downloading the trash from that ONE person. This morning it was three hours. Multiply that by the possibly hundreds of people being sent the same mail and the wasted computer time is enormous. It has also cost ME half of my day. ONE person, running OE, with their mailer set to 5 or 6 minute intervals has done this.

After an hour of downloads my mailer immediately checked again and MORE is coming in. I have to crash my mailer to be able to check my mail. . .

Microsoft IE/OE is the problem. Yes, without them there would still be viruses but they would be MUCH harder to write and MUCH LESS virulent. Instead of everyone having a problem it would be an occasional rarity.

AND***** It is wasting OUR time here where we could be discussing IMPORTANT things like how long a anvil's horn needs to be to satisfy a REAL blacksmith. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 05:19:36 GMT

Adam, Guru.....Bravo!
These are the good old days, in so far as we are going to get them. And for us as smiths...it is splendid.
There is excellent steel abandoned by the side of the road..so much so that it is regarded as a nuisance.
There is a market for our products and there are tools the smiths of yore could only dream of.
The time we live in is so lush, that if you are willing to live low to the ground, you can enjoy incredible freedom of action...so lush that there is almost no competition for food that you have to stoop to hunt or gather.
I've collected perhaps 30 tons of steel presently on hand and very little of it is new...and paid very little for the portion that I bought.
Ain't got no gold ( a dangerous substance), but in my eyes...I'm rich.....yeah, ok, rich and kinda drunk.
   - Pete F - Friday, 01/11/02 07:32:45 GMT

Guru, I found a formula on this site about figuring the curve of railing, but cannot see all the dimensions. Could you look at it and give me some help in understanding it? The site is www.keenjunk.com/_bsj/200112_17-4.htm thank you, Scott Vickrey
   Scott Vickrey - Friday, 01/11/02 12:41:52 GMT

Looking for imfo. on piping and controlls for air forging press digrams would help
THanks tjw
   T J W - Friday, 01/11/02 14:47:32 GMT

Formulas: Scott, why not ask the source?

I can read the first formula. It is Pythagorous.

D (diameter of rail on flat) equals the square root OF

the diameter of the railing squared plus the rise in the stair in 180° squared.

D = SQR(A2 + B2)

That is the same as in my article on spiral stairs.

I cannot read the character being divided by 2 in the second formula (too low res) but it appears to be the quadratic formula which I was never real good with and I'm not sure what they are doing. I would have to start at the beginning making the layouts and working out the math.

The source is the Blacksmiths Journal.
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 18:00:43 GMT

Air Hammers TJW, there is an article on the Alabama Forge Council page and a video tape (see our book review page). You can also purchase the "Simple Air Hammer" plans from ABANA.
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 18:04:53 GMT

Viruses: Right now it feels alright to have a old and slow computer. The mail-viruses can be deleted before they stick.
I even tried to open the first sircam when i got it, but couldn´t, aparently since the "carrier-file" was to modern for my old crackerbox.

BTW, I´ve blocked that hawaian source (yes, over here as well) and had an online-scan just a few hours ago.
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 01/11/02 19:10:49 GMT

Well, I´ve blocked Hawaii alright, but right now there´s 112 messages queing to get bounced. Could someone living closer to the Pacific than I do please cut the land-cable?
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 01/11/02 19:20:38 GMT

VIRUS WARS: Had 80 more mails from that ONE client this morning all withh 500K attachmants. On my dial up line that is hours of download time. Here is a URL that may help those of you recieving mail from Cameron.


If you have a POP3 mailbox you need to go to "advanced login" and enter:


The service will list your email and you can read it OR select pieces to DELETE. This morning I deleted the 80 virus mails THEN used my regular mail program to download the regular overnight mail.

In these cases there are several actions you can use. One is to complain to abuse at the_users_server.com. Responsible systems will address the problem ASAP. The current problem is with Road Runner (hawaii.rr.com) who has stonewalled.

If the system managers refuse to act then you can write to admin at orbz.org. ORBZ is a blacklisting group that will put spammer address on a list that is used as a filter to incoming mail. The problem with this is that it will filter all the mail from a given system. When SIRCAM originaly spread I was forced to submit a major system in Sweden that some of our regular users use. I had written to them several times and all I got was stonewalling. I wrote to ORBZ and the mail stopped for a week. The Swedish system appealed to ORBZ and got off the blacklist and the mail started again (same address, same single attachment). So I complained again and the mail stopped. Maybe after being blacklisted twice they addressed the original problem.

However, in the interim our users in Sweden could not send mail to me or thousands of other systems.

If you complain to either system always attach mail with "full headers". If you don't know how to do that then you are wasting your time. This is a drastic action and shouldn't be taken lightly. Currently it is common to get four or five mails from an infected source before the user sorts it out. But when their mail system is set to run every 5 minutes 24 hours a day unattended then it is a different problem. From the bulk of mail being sent from the current subject I would guess they are on a high speed cable line which increases the problem greatly. They can send mail in seconds that takes me hours to download. . .

Some good friends that I have warned over and over again about IE/OE recently started using OE because "it was there on their system", they had an infection in the first day. They WILL get more.

One of my brothers that is VERY web savy and a professional programmer just got infected with mm.badtrans. He runs Norton antivirus and updates it daily. It didn't work. He still got infected. Norton didn't catch the virus until AFTER the infected mail ran. Its first action was to try to delete the system kernal (what makes windirt run).

"Using Microsoft mail products is like having unprotected sex with strangers every day. ."

   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 19:41:42 GMT

Olle, the public mail address I gave above will let you delete those mails from your mail-server in-box.
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 19:43:53 GMT

You can also write to the following address. This one does not respond with an auto responder.

"Road Runner Security [SBJ]" abuse at rr.com
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 20:04:35 GMT

Using Microsoft mail products may be as risky as unprotected sex with strangers but it sure isn't nearly as much fun! :)
   adam - Friday, 01/11/02 20:59:35 GMT

Well, you DO get -BLEEP-ed anyway....
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 01/11/02 21:19:11 GMT

My daughter wants to make a sword. She is the best student her H.S. Industrial Arts teacher has, so he will help her make a sword, but they do not have a forge. What can be done to help them? We live in Des Moines, Iowa
   Eric Zingler - Friday, 01/11/02 22:53:12 GMT

No sooner than I mentioned the "friends" that didn't take my advise I got mail from a relative of their's that maintained their web site. The infamous badtrans. . . Passed through the family and on to other OE users. . .

My brother has spent all day repairing his infected system. Figure that out at $100/hr. . . Same nasty badtrans. HE is an expert, had "virus protection" and its taking all day to fix. On top of that, because badtrans sends passwords to its authors he must change all his passwords. . .

The EVIL EMPIRE is Microsoft. And Bill Gates harbors the cyber terroists. Perhaps we should send in the B-52's
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 23:03:57 GMT

Eric's sword question going by mail.
   - guru - Friday, 01/11/02 23:29:40 GMT

hello guru, i'm 23 year old carpenter from central va. i'm interested in crafting weapons like swords. i would prefer to do it the old way, befor electrisity. i dont have any experience in the craft so i will be starting from scratch. i have read a little on the subject but would like a profesional opinion on how to build a small fordge and any relative information on the metal or mixed metals that are best for strong light weight blades. thank you jason m
   jason marquis - Friday, 01/11/02 23:35:28 GMT

I have discovered an anti-virus program that is not only the best I have ever seen, and the best that several hotshot programmer-type friends have ever seen, IT IS FREE! It is called AVG. It can be downloaded from www.grisoft.com. They make big bucks selling it to the big boys, so they give it away to you and me. It is self-updating, self-repairing, etc. I use OE and it has caught two viruses in my incoming mail and eliminated them before I ever opened the mail. Ditto for several others who have used it. Orders of magnitude better than Norton or McAfee.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 01/11/02 23:39:46 GMT

Hey Jock...I paid my dues, howcome my name isn't blue? Do I need to use the screen name I selected with my CSI membership? Can I change it to my real name? Or should I change my real name? grin. My thanks for your great website and all the valuable information you and all the others here provide. The membership is a bargain! Everyone should get one.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 01/11/02 23:48:16 GMT

Rich, if you logged in through the members login AND your PC browser does not have cookies disabled then your name SHOULD be blue. IF everything is working the border around the input box on this page should be your color (blue for members, and whatever for gurus).

There is your login name and your NIC. The system uses your NICname. Yours is currently set to your login but can be different AND you can change it in the Name box after logging in - but that is temporary. Once you have logged in as a member the cookie information will be retained but it helps to refresh it once in a while.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 00:07:46 GMT

I'm a writer currently working on a travel/medieval project combining non-fiction with fiction. One of my characters in the fictional part, set in the 13th century of Wales and England, discovers the way to harden iron/steel using wolfram/tungsten. To keep my book historically correct and as accurate as possible, I need to know, if possible, by what name was wolfram/tungsten known at that time? I know it is found in Cornwall, England, which is where my character obtains his supply in my book. Hope you can help me or suggest another link or expert to talk to?
Ray Smith
   Ray Smith - Saturday, 01/12/02 00:35:50 GMT

Thanks Jock, now I feel like a real person! Grin
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 01/12/02 02:29:10 GMT

Sockets for chisels:

If you use pipe, it is best not to use galvanized pipe unless you clean the zinc off outside and inside. Zinc in the fire can be dangerous, and zinc will be quickly absorbed into steel at high temperatures. I once saw nuts on 2-1/4 inch diameter studs fracture in two after only a few hours operation at 1600 deg or so. The nuts had been supplied by a firm that painted over galvanizing on military surplus originals. The nuts literally fell apart and allowed 2000 deg hydrogen at 1400 psi to escape. Fortunately hydrogen at that temp burns upon exposure to oxygen so the fire was all at the flanges. Upon investigation we discovered the galvanizing but also learned that it quickly embrittles steel by "leaching" along the grain boundaries.

Use black pipe or soak the galvanized pipe in muriatic acid until clean, at your own risk, then neutralize the pipe in soda water.

   Andy Martin - Saturday, 01/12/02 02:43:40 GMT

Andy, That is good to know. Bruce Wallace makes tools for a zinc processor and they constantly have problems with tools used in the liquid zinc. Bruce says that broken tools were impossible to repair and that even chisels could not be repointed. I knew that liquid zinc rapidly disolved steel but not that it was absorbed.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 02:49:18 GMT

I have read that some metals need to be quenched in oil rather than water. If so what types of oil are used?? thanks
   Jim - Saturday, 01/12/02 03:11:22 GMT

Problems with zinc plating.

I'm neither a metalurgist, or a chemist, but it looks like there is an ion exchange taking place. That would account for the absorbtion, I think.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 01/12/02 03:24:51 GMT

Quenching: Steel is quenched from a red heat to harden it. Water is commonly used. Some high carbon steels need to be quenched (cooled) slower so oil is used. Steel that needs a more severe quench is cooled in brine. But some modern steels harden simply by cooling in room temperature air and are called "air hardening". To anneal (soften) non-ferrous metals for cold working they are heated to a low red heat and quenched in water.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 04:57:49 GMT

chisels: Ive made few with black pipe sockets. Pretty easy unless the welded seam in the pipe opens up at the wrong place.

The Japanese often make their chisels with a tang and a shoulder and with a separate socket that is really a deep tapered ferule - in the manner that Guru suggested above. I think I will try that method next time.
   adam - Saturday, 01/12/02 05:01:38 GMT

Ray Smith. You are really "Reaching Out" with your early technology, unless you're into fantasy/science fiction. There wasn't a great deal of ironwork being done at that time in what is now the UK. Iron was hard-won from the ores, and was therefore, very dear. Tungsten wasn't extracted from ores until 1783 and wasn't practical for use until 1904 as electric lamp filaments. Two of the tungsten bearing ores are scheelite and wolframite. Presently, tungsten is alloyed with steel, a relatively recent development in the Western world. A few celebrated Eastern swords contained tungsten, but that could be happenstance, where the iron ore also contained traces of tungsten. The working of the metals in the early days was more pragmatic that emperical. "Daddy did it this way; granddaddy did it this way; and great granddaddy did it this way. Therefore, *I'm* going to do it this way." The whys and wherefores of present-day metallurgy had not been apprehended. Even the idea of iron having a carbon content was not considered until, I believe, the late 18th century. Reference: Materials Handbook.

Attention Neophyte sword dreamers. We have said repeatedly on this site that swords are very difficult to make. I've had three students who insisted of making swords. In all cases, they wound up with burned metal, crooked metal, heat treatment and material handling problems. Even making a knife will throw you a knuckle ball. I love a comment made by Cracked Anvil a while back: "A sword? What're you going to do with it? You can't take it to the movies."
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/12/02 13:25:09 GMT

I recently purchased a rather interesting book. Entitled The Complete Modern Blacksmith, which is actually 3 books in one
and was written by Alexander G Weygers. It contains details on the basics eg. anvil height and how to properly use a hammer. Tempering and how to make basic caving tools.
Hope this is of interest.
   Mike Valois - Saturday, 01/12/02 14:27:13 GMT

I live in central Illinois and have been dealing anvils, tongs and a lot of other related tools.I am 67 years old
and the question I am asking, I did know but forgot. Must
be my age.
How do you read the code on anvils for the weight?
   - Jacck Coleman - Saturday, 01/12/02 14:57:16 GMT

Anvil Weight Jack, On English anvils it is in Olde English Hundred weights.

First number = 112 x
Second number = 28 x
Third number = whole pounds. Add them all up.

Since the middle number is 1/4 hundredweights it is never over three so it is always 0, 1, 2, or 3. The last numcer is never over 24 but I have never seen one over 20. Perhaps on very small anvils it would be more common but in fact it is most commonly less than 10.

The numbers often had dots between them # . # . ## but they are not always visible or distinquishable from rust pitting.

Many anvils have also been marked in kilograms and pounds. Many cast anvils are marked without the last digit as in:

5 = 50 pounds
12 = 120 pounds.

Unless the markings are clear I usualy weigh anvils. It is easy to mistake an anvil marked 2 0 0 for 224 lbs when it is actualy 200 pounds. If you are selling anvils by weight you had better know.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 16:15:08 GMT


Sometime this weekend anvilfire and its hosted sites will all be off-line for an hour or so while our server is being updated. Probably Sunday (Eastern US time). This will not effect mail services.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 16:19:52 GMT

Hola. I've been trying to develope my skills according to the "Skills Expected for the Employment of a Journeyman" as listed on the ABANA website. Not that I plan to be employed as a journeyman (but why not...?), but for the sake of my own craftsmanship in the forge. One sticking point for me is forging a square corner using square stock. I believe that I have plenty of heat and the muscle to do it with, but I always end up with a crack on the inside of the bend. Am I going too fast? Trying to move more metal than wants to move? Is there a certain hammering technique? One of my books says to work it into the anvil, the other says to not let the corner touch the anvil, but to push the metal down into the bar. Am I just a freak? And are the techniques the same as when forging a corner in flat bar?
This is a great site, this forum especially. Its kind of like reading the Bible... I'm not particularly interested in CAD or swords or broken anvils, but its all good information that will no doubt be called upon someday. Then I can say, "hmm... I think I remember reading about this somewhere...", its always fun to log in and see whats being discussed. Thanks.
   Rodriguez - Saturday, 01/12/02 17:56:54 GMT

W Tungsten: Ray, The best I know tungsten is almost never used alone as an aloying ingrediant in steel. Its the carbon that controls hardness. Aloying ingrediants increase toughness and tungsten increases high temperature resistance. The most common strength increasing metals in steel are chrome and nickle. Trace amounts of copper or aluminium increases corrosion resistance but higher levels cause brittleness. Generaly it was only in the last century that there was sufficiant quality control to produce useful alloys of known content.

Tungsten is added to steel using ferro-tungsten. Tungsten is one of the highest temperature melting metals. Liquid steel will not melt it but may slowly disolve it.

As Frank pointed out knowledge of metalurgy is fairly recent. As short a time ago as the early 1900's people thought that crystalization was what caused steels to fail because every broken piece showed a crystaline surface. There were all kinds of non-factual reasons (old wive's tales) given for crystalization prior to failure. In fact all steel has a crystal structure. The finer the structure the stronger the steel. This is controled by the heat treating process.

To make maters worse, even today, there is no predictive science of metalurgy. All alloys are a creation of trial and error process. Based on a century of trial and error we can now take educated quesses about the addition of alloying ingrediants to steel but the results always have to be tested and explored AFTER the alloy is made. One NASA scientist told me we are still in the "Heat it and beat it" era of metalurgy.

In the 13th century it would have been a great feat for someone to have discovered crucible steel (a technique that is attributed to Huntsman in the 1700's but is thought to have been discovered and lost in previous times). This is a prerequisite to controled alloying of steel. Hardening and tempering were practiced at the time by the most well trained smiths but there was no real understanding of it.

To write about these subjects in fiction requires a lot of knowledge of the practicises and techniques known today as well as what was not known in different periods of history. Making this task difficult is the fact that technological history is very poorly recorded (even today).

Many people attribute the steam engine to James Watt when in fact what he did was improve on existing inventions. However, his greatest achievements were the invention of the tools necessary to pursue his research. He invented the pressure gauge and from that the strip recorder in order to analyze steam engine performance. He also started the study of strength of materials. These are all very important items TODAY. Meanwhile the steam engine is mostly a thing of the past.

A technique used by every trained smith is the scarfing of weld surfaces to a convex surface to prevent the inclusion of flux and debris in the weld. This seems to be something so basic that smiths would have known from almost the beginning but it was actually discovered (via research) by James Nasmyth in the 1845 (See James Nasmyth autobiography, List of inventions and contrievences, An Improved Method of Welding Iron - on our story page).

The point? If you wrote about a smith in the 18th century knowingly scarfing a weld with convex surfaces then you are attributing to the smith knowledge that he would not have had or been taught. The scarf seems a picky detail but it is one that any blacksmith would know about. But not necessarily where the convex scarf fits into history.

Dealing with technology in fiction is always a tricky proposition. They best writers try to avoid specifics that they can be caught on. For those writing about the future it is dificult because current technology can easily surpass their imagination (or fail to meet it when the time comes).
In the 1940's and 50's scientists predicted that everything would be powered by miniture nuclear power sources. Perhaps it still will in the distant future but the great Asimov created all his (near future) robots based on the egg sized nuclear power sources predicted by scientists of his time. To avoid the trap of being too specific his robots had "positronic" computers for brains. This part of his fiction will probably always hold up. On the other hand "conventional" semiconductors may achieve the power needed in our near future.

Dealing with the past is just as tricky. First there is known historical methods or technology. But secondly we are constantly finding out new things about our poorly recorded past. But the worst part is that many folks take dealing with history VERY seriously. SO. . . most fictions of the past deal with mythical places and magical happenings. Its a lot easier.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 18:10:43 GMT

Sockets from Pipe - Seamless pipe is readily available. No weld seam to open up. One of the most common is ASTM A-106 Grade B. It is available in standard pipe sizes down to 1/8" and generally in schedule 40, 80, and 160. If you are fortunate to know a pipe fabricator, drop off pieses are cheap or free. A pipe supplier (check the Yellow Pages) should have it, usually "triple marked" with API 5-L, ASTM A-53 B and ASTM A-106 B meaning the pipe meets the requirements of all three specifications. A-106 B, however, requires the pipe be seamless, that is made from a billet hot pierced it's entire length. So if you are a good blacksmith, try piercing a 1" round 1 ft long to make a pipe. If you can do that, move on to 20 ft long!

   Andy Martin - Saturday, 01/12/02 18:32:02 GMT

Square inside Corners: Rodriguez, This is actually a tricky bit of forging. That "crack" is usualy what is often called a "cold shut", a fold in the metal.

If you bend a piece of square bar and true up the inside corner ignoring the outside you will see that there is missing material. This has to come from upseting. If you try to upset after making the bend you will always get a cold shut.

To start the corner you need to upset the missing material at the point in the bar where the corner is to go. Heat the bar and cool the extra around where you want the upset. Then striking the end of the bar with the far end supported against the anvil or an upsetting block make the upset. Normaly you want some extra material.

Then flaten one side of the bar so the upset is on one side. Then bend the bar with the upset on the outside of the corner. Then as you square up the corner on the anvil work both sides of the corner alternately and evenly. Driving blows pulling the material toward the corner are common but should not be excessive. If you have too much material thinning the bar will not create a cold shut like trying to upset a corner that is lacking in material.

The REAL tricky part is making two corners a specific distance apart. Or all the corners in a square. . . Remember the material that goes into the upset as well as the bit that is lost to scale.

On rectangular bar up to about 1:2 proportions the above method works. But beyond that it is best to lap weld the corners.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 18:41:33 GMT

Piercing Tube Andy, Pipe factories do it one way, smiths another. Seamless tubes can be created by piercing a reasonable short fat round billet (like ring forging). Then it is drawn out. As the tube closes it is worked over a mandrel. It is tough work but a smith can do it by hand.

The method is similar to the way flux cored welding rod or lead solder is made. You start with a big short piece, fill it with flux, cap the ends, and then start drawing it out. You ever see that nifty solder with a number of fine flux cores (five I think). Yep, same way.

Seemless pipe is actually done the same way but the amount of reduction in drawing out is much less (starting from what does seem to be an impossible piercing job).
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 18:54:40 GMT

I'm 22 and just getting started out. i'm having trouble mounting my anvil. If you could give me some advice. I also wanted to know how to put the fire out at the end of the day. Is water alright? or should i just spread it out?
   steve jacoby - Saturday, 01/12/02 20:25:59 GMT

Rodriguez. Francis Whitaker used to forge right angle corners without upsetting first. In fact, he made a Navaho rug design in an iron gate that way. Brother!! Anyway, I have followed his method and have been pretty successful. I saw him do this at a workshop. He felt that upsetting first was a waste of time and energy. You make a fairly tight radius bend, *keeping the bend at about 100 to 105 degrees*. Then, start using, what Guru calls "driving blows", sometimes termed "drawing blows". My cowboy friend, Eldon, from Kansas, calls them "slithering blows". You are pulling the hammer face in an arc toward the outside corners. You are trying to pull material by friction to fill the area of the outside radius. Don't lose the obtuse angle. You'll get some sidways swelling which you can hammer on occasionally...or leave it for strength, if it won't affect the aesthetics of the job. It will take a few heats. When it begins to look fairly good, poco a poco close up the angle. Try to free hand it. Putting the inside of the angle over the anvil edge is a no-no, although you'll be tempted to do so. The British book, "The Blacksmiths' Craft" has some good information on upset corners.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/12/02 20:56:20 GMT

Simple Things Steve, anvils can be supported numerous ways. Many folks prefer a section of log. But those are not always available. Others weld up angle iron stands. Another method is to set the anvil in sand in a cut off barrel. I build wooden "box" stands from 2x12" lumber for two sides and the top, plywood for the sides and a couple short lengths of 2x4 to strengthen the bottom edge of the plywood and to give a larger "footprint".
Box stand by Jock Dempsey (c) 1998 This drawing shows a "block" anvil on a similar stand to the one described above. You can also laminated up a solid block from construction grade lumber. However, I prefer my hollow stand because it will set steady on most uneven surfaces.

I always set blocks between the feet of the anvil so it can be lifted of the stand easily. On stumps most folks drive in large spikes to do the same. Anvils are often clamped or bolted down but I find this very inconvienient.

The anvil should be set at knuckle height when you stand up straight with a closed fist and relaxed arms. For doing light work it can be a little higher. This also helps with those of us that can't see the work quite as well as we used to.

Generaly it is best to just spread out your fire. But we all occasionaly use water when we are in a hurry. You don't want to walk away from the hot coals as some coal will burn all night if good coal and it is fresh. The reason you DO NOT want to use water is that the thermal shock will crack a cast iron forge or firepot. The water and coal ash also create nasty corrosives that eat up forges. For fire maintenance you should have a sprinkler can to dampen the fire. Use it judiciously to put out the fire but never pour water on the hot fire. For one thing the steam blasting off the coals can scald you.

I have a handle I made that springs around a soup can that I poke holes in. The can is made to be easy to change as they rust away pretty fast. The forged handle will last a lifetime or three. .
   - guru - Saturday, 01/12/02 21:57:02 GMT

Frank Turley and guru,
Thank you both for clear answers to my writing query. I'll take your advice and make it a 'magical' substance!!
Ray Smith
   Ray Smith - Sunday, 01/13/02 00:33:59 GMT

It´s interesting to note that Ray, who of course may write whatever he feels is right, checks his facts. When do you think professional historians and archeologists will try to do that?
   - Olle Andersson - Sunday, 01/13/02 01:02:19 GMT

In one of the recent demos it was mentioned using threaded stock (bolts) to make the serations on the edge of leaves such as rose. I'm lost!!! I've tried getting the effect by doing the serations before and after drawing out the leaf and can't get the effect of doing them one at a time. Help!!
   Jerry - Sunday, 01/13/02 01:25:21 GMT

Thread Textures Jerry, It won't be the same as one at a time. It also seems to me that in that particular demo it was a comment as an afterthought and not explained very well.

There are several ways to do this. Uri Hofy demonstrates a little guided guilitene tool using two coarse pipe thread dies to make serations on the edge of rose leaves. The blank is prepared as usual with edges on the diagonal, but before it is fully flattened it is put in tool and given a sharp wack. The teeth of the die inserts impress sharp V's in the sides of the blank. Then it is flattened the rest of the way. The V's are not very crisp after forging but they aren't on rose leaves in the first place. Like much of forging it is not perfect but it is efficient.

In the iForge demo a large piece of threaded material was being used, something over an inch in diameter and preferably two (50mm) with coarse threads. It must be supported well such as in a swage block, vise or welded to a shank to fit the hardy hole. The leaf is forged and must be fairly thick. Then with a good heat the face of the leaf is hammered into the threaded surface one half at a time (right, left). This textures both the face of the leaf and the edges by pushing material out at the bottom of the V's.

Different thread forms or gear teeth will produce different textures.

If you want really sharp V's in the edges then you are going to need to cut them or file them. You can make a folded leaf with thin edges and before opening it up use a cold chisel, notcher, snips or a file cut the V's in the edge. Then when you open the leaf it will be symetrical including flaws. V notching dies can be purchased for hand and bench punches like those made by Roper-Whitney and will cut up to 1/16 (1.6mm). Hand cutting the notches means you can have small close notches at the tip of the leaf and larger on the body.

All these techniques take thought, preparation and practice. The first one almost never turns out. After a dozen or so its like riding a bicycle.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 02:28:19 GMT

Some professional historians and archeologists do try to do that, but not enough. What Ray's question says to me is that he is a conscientious writer.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 01/13/02 02:47:47 GMT

Ray, "Special" techniques and a mysterious substance would work if you don't want to go as far a magic.

There HAVE been some metalurgical techniques that were sophisticated in there complexity and bordering on magic to the point that literature if full of myths about Damascus steel, Wootz and Japanese swords. Even today there are blade makers that trade on these myths selling their wares with a line of BS that rivals the greatest literature. But there are also modern makers that produce products that put the myths to shame or in the least bring them to life. Check out the work of Daryl Meier at MEIER STEEL
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 03:06:33 GMT

For those romantics who simply must have a sword,
My suggestion, as someone who has been bothering steel since the sixtys is,,,,,,
Rent a sword.
It shouldn't take you long to get over the notion
At which time you can return it and reclaim your deposit.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/13/02 03:32:45 GMT

I understand that at your age the urge to mount an anvil with it's inviting hardy hole is strong, but should be resisted.
It will help if you place your anvil on a sturdy hardwood stump with a 1/2" anvil foot bottom shaped depression carved into the top surface.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/13/02 03:50:00 GMT

Your mystery substance can be, as the guru said, carbon, which wasn't known then...but was incorperated indirectly by methodology,,,,such as soaking thin steel in a reducing fire for a long time , then foirge welding together to form a billet.
Credit to Ray as Olle and PPW say for getting it right.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/13/02 04:00:12 GMT

Pete, I try to convince them to make all the pieces in wood, blade, guard, grip, pommel. Its still a big job and much easier than metal. Next option is to make an aluminium blade by stock removal using files and the rest of the parts out of brass, gold, ebony, whatever you want. The aluminium is light and polishes briliantly. It is also what many movie swords are made of. But it is still a ton of work.

I also try to convince them to try to make a really GOOD chef's knife. It has all the parts, requires the same techniques and is just as difficult except for the matter of scale.

But I like "rent a sword".
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 04:11:54 GMT

chef's knife is harder to make than a sword. the day I can make a knife that will keep a profestional chef happy for more than an hour I will call my self a master, and they're so mean to they're knifes, what with the marble cuting blocks and the hacking into bone, washing them in 350deg steam and then trying to debone a fish with the WRONG kind of knife. no wonder they send them out dayly to be sharpened. on the other hand a sword isn't all that sharp and so long as it is thick enough at the hilt and has some sort of balance then it is better than most (read all)of the imported blades that are on the market.
   MP - Sunday, 01/13/02 07:18:21 GMT

I have a metal workshop in kenya, and make all odd metal work as a hobby,I wanted to know if you have tried twisting a 50mm round tube without it breaking from the weld, twisting as in a twisted bar.
   Jitu Patani - Sunday, 01/13/02 07:37:00 GMT

I am 55 years old and have a very minimal amount of experince in forging. I have made a couple dozen knives using trucksprings and they have turned out nicely. I make knives for buckskinners and civil war re-enactors, so I am not looking for the "polished" look of today's knives. What I am looking for is advice on making damascus blades. I have a ready supply of steel cable. I am using an old ferriers forge with an air compressor as my air supply. I have tried several times to forge this cable into a blade but can not seem to get it to work. I was told to soak the cable in borax for 24 hours. Will this help? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Any info you might give will be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks,
   chip newman - Sunday, 01/13/02 13:03:11 GMT

Dear Guru, I am trying to make damascus blades from steel cable. So far my results are not happening. I was told that soaking the cable in borax for 24 hrs would help. I have limited experince in forging. I am using an old ferriers forge. Am I barkng up the wrong tree? Thanks, Chip
   chip newman - Sunday, 01/13/02 13:16:31 GMT

Piercing Pipe: I don't see much difference between large manufacturing companies and smiths. Each is using the resources at hand to produce their metal work. Although some smiths intentionally limit themselves to hand work or old processes, most will use what resources they have available, such as oxy-acetylene, modern steel, hot saw, etc. I like traditional work but always use my trip hammer to save time and energy. Modern factories still have to work the same steel smiths do, and their results are usually very impressive. Piercing seamless pipe is certainly one of those impressive feats which has been accomplished by several companies but is not easy and not all try it.

And like most modern processes, microchips for example, seamless pipe is surprisingly inexpensive. I'll stop.

   Andy Martin - Sunday, 01/13/02 15:35:49 GMT

Cable Damascus Chip, flux is very important but the type of cable and its cleanliness is also important. Our FAQ on Roller Chain Damascus covers some of the problems.

I don't believe soaking the material in a borax/water solution will do any good. Borax does not disolve rust and scale until it is liquid from HEAT. A boric acid solution might help but I don't have any experiance using it as a metal cleaner.

Cable often has a fiber core. This type does not work. Rusted cable generaly won't work. If there is light rust on the outside it is one thing but if rusted internaly then it is almost hopeless.

Forge welding is a skill that one must practice and even the best do not always make every weld. Once the metal is burned in the forge it is almost impossible to weld. Heating must be controlled in a non-oxidizing fire. Often the type of fuel used makes forge welding difficult due to the amount of air needed. Most welding fires have a very gentle blast (more of a breeze). So I am wondering about your compressed air source.

The most common advise if everything else is perfect is to flux, flux, flux. Then tighten the twist of the cable while it it hot but before it reaches welding heat. Then forge gently when welding until the entire piece is welded before flattening excesively. Normaly you must weld in short sections. Flux between each weld.

Hope this helps.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 16:50:30 GMT

Twisted Tubing Jitu, Yes tubing can be twisted and bent. However it usualy must be annealed or heated. Most structural tubing (square or round) is work hardened from the manufacturing process. If you heat the tubing to a red heat and let it cool slowly then it will be workable.

To hot twist a square tube it should be heated, then a close fitting round bar insterted into the tube while twisting. The bar will keep the tube from collapsing. It may need to be driven (hammered) out dependiing on how tight the twist.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 17:01:54 GMT

Chef's Knife MP, That's my point. It may be difficult but the size makes it doable.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 17:09:32 GMT

cable: Some of the gas forges used by farriers do not get hot enough to weld
   adam - Sunday, 01/13/02 19:13:21 GMT

January 13, 2002 at 1,120,590 Our server was offline from 3:15 to 5:00 pm EST today while it was being upgraded.
We now have a slightly faster processor and a larger hard drive (minor upgrades). Hopefully this will keep us running for the next year.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/13/02 22:23:54 GMT

Thanks to Olle, Pete F. and guru again for ongoing advice/info for my research. Much obliged!
   Ray Smith - Sunday, 01/13/02 23:52:35 GMT

Well.....I've been scrounging again. This time I got about 5 feet of roller chain - each link is 2 inches wide by three inches long. The five foot section weighs about 50 pounds - came out of a gear case to an oilfield pumpjack unit.

Anyone have any ideas what I can make out of this thing? My wife's beginning to question my sanity when I bring these things home.

   gary - Monday, 01/14/02 00:56:40 GMT

Hang it on the front porch and call it "industial art"...
   Rodriguez - Monday, 01/14/02 01:20:06 GMT

loop it back around on itself and call it a snow chain for the spare tire that'll make it the same size as the other tires...
   Rodriguez - Monday, 01/14/02 01:22:40 GMT

Oh, wise and gracious guru, I am a blacksmithing newbie, from Dallas, TX. I seek to craft blades for Sghian Dhus and Dirks, and perhaps the occasional Gladius. I posess:

1 Brake Drum / Squirrel cage ventilated forge,
1 55 lb anvil on a pedestal of 6 4x4s
5 ball peen hammers
5 hammers made 100 yrs ago by my wife's great grandfather
and his set of tongs.

I was planning on doing my 1st "work" (this will be just a hobby) using some OLD bed rails and perhaps angle steel from Home Depot, and using the folding / flattening technique for crafting the blade, and using old motor oil as a cooling agent.

I imagine that bedrails are poor grade metal - where, generally speaking, can I get better steel to craft these blades?

I'm not going for a modern, fancy look. I want them to look like they are ANCIENT, yet preserved, so imperfections here and there are OK.

So, guru, what say ye?

Thanks in advance!

Clay Ramsey, Dallas, TX
   Clay Ramsey - Monday, 01/14/02 02:13:50 GMT

Frank Turley,

Bill Manleys private collection is at Conner Prairie. Thought you would like to know some of your early Farrier tooling is on display permanently.
   Dave Wells - Monday, 01/14/02 03:04:01 GMT

Forging Materials Clay, Junk is good to practice on. But source material for blades is relatively cheap and available too. Most springs are the right grade for various blades. Automotive coil springs are a good cross section when flattened out. Junk yards are full of them and you can probably get them for free or near to it. However, all scrap steels are an unknown that must be tested.

Small quantities of tool steels and alloy steels can be purchased from our on-line metals store.

The "folding" and welding method is good practice for forge welding but there are specific processes used when applied to blades. In most modern work different steels are alternated (hard, soft, hard, soft) or (alloy, plain, alloy, plain). Patterns are developed and etched to display them. This is Laminated steel or "Damascus".

In Japanese blade making the folding has to do with the making of the steel from very high carbon steel chunks and no carbon wrought iron. It is a blending process. If you are not making steel from scratch then the folding is wasted time.
   - guru - Monday, 01/14/02 03:44:06 GMT

Gary; 25+ years ago I hauled home a pickup load of worn out logging chain of about the same size. I've used it to make hundreds of handy hinges and pivots etc since. A couple of times a year I spray a little drain oil on the pile.
bed rails are often suprisingly good steel angle iron, with 4 points of carbon ( as a guess) being common.
I respectfully suggest that your first project be much less ambitious unless you have a great capacity to shrug off failure. Hard not to gag on that big a first bite.
   - Pete F - Monday, 01/14/02 04:07:07 GMT

I got a old Champion hand blower in parts in a box. Is there
any place that I can get a parts diagram to determine what may be missing? Is there any place to get bearings for it? I think the reason it was taken apart was because the bearings were bad but the bearing races appear worn but useable...
   Paul Piccola - Monday, 01/14/02 12:25:15 GMT

Blower Parts: Paul, Bad news. These haven't been made in some 50 years and yours may easily be 100 years old. There are no parts. Internal design varied from time to time as there were constant improvements on these. I've seen an internal drawing somewhere but it was an advertisment not a parts drawing. There are reprint Champion catalogs available but I'm not sure they include assembly drawings.

Bearings will have to be carefully measured and modern replacements matched to them (if available). Many folks get these blowers partialy disassembled and can not get the races off the shafts or out of the housing. Modern replacements may need machined bushings and spacers.

The reason most of these old blowers are dissasembled is worn gears, followed by bad bearings. Look closely at the gears. Generaly ANY disernable wear on a gear face visible to the untrained eye is too much and they will have been running very noisy and needed more effort to turn.

Any wear on the bearings will cause wear on the gears. The spacing of gears (shaft center to center) determines the mesh and backlash in the gears. Teeth that are over meshed (too tight) or undermeshed (too loose) by just a few thousands of an inch will cause noise and wear. Once bearings start to wear they continue to wear at an accelerating rate.

Most of the problems in these old blowers begin because they have no seals and leak oil constantly. It was very common for them to run out of oil and be run dry for many years. When they are worn out they are REALLY worn out.
   - guru - Monday, 01/14/02 15:50:37 GMT

Pub Registrations Hey folks, we send a mail response to the e-mail address you register! If it bounces then we don't register you. About 1 out of 10 is either a phoney address OR bounces for some other reason.

Many people setup phoney addresses for use on public forums and then forget to check them. At some point the host closes them down due to non-use or being overfull. When these bounce we pull your registration.

The most recent error we got was "box not accepting mail from your address" (ours). I had to reject the registration.

Our forums now use methods to prevent spammers from harvesting addresses automaticaly. Short of not using e-mail addresses at all, anvilfire is one of the safest systems on the net. If you sign up for forums such as e-groups you will get flooded with spam within hours. Not here!
   - guru - Monday, 01/14/02 17:05:13 GMT

"Alloying Elements in Steel" by Bain (Bainite!!!) is my current bathroom read. Turns out that many elements can have quite an effect often through control of grain size in various ways, the finer the grainsize at quenching the harder the material afterwards. Anybody know if anyone did the experiments with Uranium to see if it was more effective controling austenite than Ti was?

As for medievaloid story methods; I'd go with crucible steel as a "possibility" also brine quenching for the lower C steels and control of tempering when needed. You are out of the NE use of pattern welded swords and towards the use of coal for smithing---perhaps doing a good coking job so your steel doesn't pick up sulfur? I'd have to look into if you could get tungsten into iron/steel unrefined---might work it's how they made brass before metallic zinc was known!

During the medieval and renaissance times steel was believed to be a more refined version of iron (Platonic Idealism!) (and if you consider that more time in a reducing atmosphere does increase the C content maybe not so weird!) It was harder, *whiter*, more "iron like". "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" goes into some detail of the slog towards figuring out what was really going on. IIRC it was around 1786 that someone finally said "It's *CARBON* that makes iron into steel!"

Farrier coal forges may not be large/deep enough to weld up a good cable billet either.

For forging rough styled blades with minimal equipment check out the Neo-Tribal Bladesmiths. I like Tim Lively's website and also the "Outpost".

Bed rails may be quite a lot better steel than angle iron from Home Depot think of the loading a bed takes with a bunch of guys watching a football game in some dorm room...but as mentioned earlier start with car coil spring, temper in oil, get good with forging knives then move on to the forgeweldng and pattern welded steel!

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 01/14/02 17:42:05 GMT


Any idea what the original price of a 50 lb little giant would have been in, oh (looks up serial number) 1924? Sold in NYC if that makes a difference.

Thanks in advance.

   Doug Ayen - Monday, 01/14/02 18:07:03 GMT

Rodriguez. When I'm not standing at the anvil, I can't think of all details. Re the upset corner, each heat needs to be small, so water is poured on each leg near the bend before hammering. Or, if one or both legs are fairly short, they can be quenched quickly in the slack tub. Also, when possible, support at least one leg on the anvil or upsetting block. The finished bend, ideally, should have a fairly sharp outside corner and a slightly radiused inside corner, a "fillet". It acts like a gusset in welding...for strength. Therefore, if it begins to look too tight on the inside corner, you could possibly use a "foot tool", a set hammer with one edge radiused. Use gently to avoid losing all of your upset.

What is a farrier coal forge? Do you mean a little round rivet (pan) forge? I was a farrier, and always used a regular Buffalo firepot. I could get three keg shoes in the fire at one time.

Bed rails are probably medium carbon. Therefore, if y'all ever build a bed and use A36 angle iron, overbuild it.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/14/02 20:47:01 GMT

Jim, pure mineral oil or vegetable oil (peanutoil, oilivoil, linseedoil) is used to quench steel.
   OErjan - Monday, 01/14/02 21:03:25 GMT

ading to my erlyer answerto Jim. quenchants are in order of severity: 10%lye !!DANGEROUS!!, brine, water (cold), water (warm) lukewarm light oil (the easyer it flows the easyer the convection removes the heat), heavy oil, airblast, still air and in some RARE cases melted salts and metalls.
ALL have diferent uses and give everything from shatered and/or warped piece to absolutly no efect depending on material, wrought iron would give no marked hardness with any of these, whereas some high aloy steels would shatter on oilquench in knifesized pieces (even LARGE heavy bowies)so sadly knowing what one has or trial and error are needed to get it right (or near enough to work anyway).
Hope I did get them right, Gurus?
   OErjan - Monday, 01/14/02 22:38:07 GMT


I am going to try to build a fireplace tool holder out of 3 pieces of 3/8" round. Each piece would be a leg on one end and a hook on the other, as I have seen in several designs. I was wondering if I could twist the bars together rather than weld or collar them, and if so, about how much of a twist would I need? I was thinking that I would twist about 4" at the top and bottom fairly tightly. Would this likely hold the bars togther? Any thought on if the 2 twist should be in the same or opposite directions?


   - Jim - Monday, 01/14/02 22:50:52 GMT

if you leave an inch or two between the twists and reverse the driction it will hold the legs nicely. look good to.
   MP - Tuesday, 01/15/02 00:05:29 GMT

Twisted Bundle: Jim, It would work IF you do all the other forging and bending before twisting the bundle but any work on it afterwards will loosen up the bundle. Most of the time when you see stands made this way there are two collars, probably covering welds.

Two twists in opposite directions would probably not loosen the way a long twisted bundle does. The thing to do is make test pieces in 1/4" round stock. The samples would be much smaller and easier to handle.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 00:11:52 GMT

I want to build a forge so I can melt aluminim cans and then pour them into molds, but I know nothing.

What type of forge would i require?
What sort of mold?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Cheers Rich
   Rich - Tuesday, 01/15/02 00:33:23 GMT

Old LG Prices: Doug, My 1932 Carey Machinery & Supply Co. Baltimore, MD catalog lists a belt driven 50 pound Little Giant hammer at $210. With single phase motor it was $308! Combination pick and chisel point dies were $85 extra. In 1976 the same size hammer sold for $3,575 (ten times as much). Single phase motors were only available by special order.

Its interesting that rebuilt hammers are selling for what they sold for new in 1976.

The 1932 prices were depression era prices and may have been a little higher in 1925 but not appreciably so.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 00:35:06 GMT

Aluminium Melter: Rich, a gas crucible furnace is usualy used. See the second page of the NC-TOOL catalog on the Wallace Metal Work page for a typical one.

You can use a steel or cast iron crucible but they must be lined with clay or the aluminium will rapidly disolve the iron. This causes the crucible to leak and contaminates the aluminium. It is best to put out the money for a graphite crucible. Crucibles are given capacity numbers in pounds of aluminium.

The furnace can be built using firebricks or a refractory blanket lining. See our plans page for burner designs that will work with a crucible furnace.

For efficiency most crucible furnaces have a cover or lid with a vent hole in the center. The vent hole is much smaller than the crucible so the lid must be removable. Most lids are set on a pivot that allows them to be lifted off the furnace and then rotated out of the way. The lid becomes very hot so it must be handled with remote tools.

The crucible is lifted out with special crucible tongs that have semicircular jaws to fit the taper (below the bilge) of the crucible. It is then transfered to a pouring shank (a long handled tool with a ring that fits below the bilge) for pouring.

Ingot molds for aluminium can be manufactured from steel. Channel works well. Cut the ends at a 7 degree angle and weld on ends and you have an ingot mold. Graphite parting agent can be used to protect the steel and prevent sticking. Hi-temp barbeque black works too. Just be sure to heat to drive off all the volitiles before using.

I reccomend you find or purchase a copy of CW Ammen's The Metalcaster's Bible.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 01:31:16 GMT


I am using a hamster wheel blower for my forge, in which I am burning charcoal bricket. I am going to switch to coal very soon and from what I have heard I will need a stronger blower.

So I dediced to make my own from wood. It will be about 3' around, with each vane being about 12" to 15" long. The blades will be around 5 1/2" wide. I am making the blower oversized so that I will not need to overdrive the blower. I am going to make it hand powered instead of eletric like my hamster wheel blower.

Anyways when I get it done would you like to send you some pictures and drawings of the design? So that you could put them on the plans page.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/15/02 01:44:39 GMT


What kind of hand held cutting device(heavy duty jigsaw etc.) would be best to cut 1/8" Stainless Steel Sheet, besides heat(i.e. flame, or such)?

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/15/02 01:47:29 GMT

hmm... speaking of melting metals, I've been collecting scrap copper pipe off the consturction sites and I think I have enough to melt and pour a slab to make an anvil saddle for hotcutting. Are there dangers in the possible alloys within the pipe or soldering as far as gases are concerned? I've already melted about two pounds in a small castiron skillet (which I destroyed in the process) in my propane forge. It was fun. The smithy is outside with plenty of ventalation. My cw ammen's book is in the mail ($25 at Amazon). I was also wondering, what type of clay is used in a crucible because I have a friend in pottery that could get all types of clay and she said she'd make me a crucible if I knew what kind of clay to use. She uses "cone 6".... whatever that is. Will an all clay crucible even work? I think I'll try it... what the heck.
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 01/15/02 01:59:37 GMT

I've just bought this huge pile of little spring steel rings, that, in time, will be converted into a nice piece of mail armour. But I have been toying with the idea of blackening them. Now here is my problem: How do I give them a durable black finish? This "total-newbie" hopes for an answer...
   Martin Egerup - Tuesday, 01/15/02 03:23:49 GMT

I'm interested in obtaining plans to make my own pipe forge. Could you please help? I am an experienced blacksmith who is opening my own shop.

Thank You, Leland Call
   Leland Call - Tuesday, 01/15/02 03:57:03 GMT

Getting started.I am a truck mechanic in the motor pool at West Point. The carpenter is replacing all the wood members for an old cannon.He asked the welder to make new nails. he don't do nails. I used a forge artical to make my first nail. it took 20 min. to make it from a 1/2 in. rod. the next four took 5 mins.each. the ox. actl. tourch is ok but the heating area is narrow. Do you have any fourge plans so i could build one.
thank you rich
   Rich Loesche - Tuesday, 01/15/02 03:58:20 GMT

Plans and Stainless Caleb, Yes we would like to see your plans. You can e-mail or snail mail them to me.

Stainless is a pain to cut. A jigsaw (Sabre saw) with metal cutting blade will be best if you don't have a plasma torch. The saw will be slow and you will need several blades. Use some WD-40 as cutting oil and be sure to keep good firm feed pressure on the saw. Stainless work hardens if you less the blade or cutter rub without cutting and then it wrecks the blade.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:17:23 GMT

Clay Crucible: Rodriguez, You need a high alumina or kaolin clay such as porceline clay. Most ceramics kilns can't fire it unless they are capable of stoneware temperatures.

Almost all metal melting creates fumes. Copper and brass notably so. See the comments about metal fume fever in the current V.Hammer-In log. Working outdoors IS best, just watch the wind direction.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:21:30 GMT

Mail from springs: Martin, Have you tried CUTTING those springs yet? Without annealing the steel you won't be able to do it with snips or shears. You would have to cut it with those little abrasive wheels on a Dremel Tool and that would get REAL expensive. THEN, they will be too springy to close.

Mail is made from soft steel wire that is coiled on a rod (to look like a spring) and then are cut of with heavy duty snips.

There is no such thing as a truely durable black finish on steel. Gun bluing requires oil to prevent rust. Parkerizing (a flat black like on shot gun barrels) is better but still needs to be kept cleaned and oiled. These are the best. Browning by controled rusting also requires oil but if is rusts a little you just oil it and forget it.

Aluminium can be black (blue, red, yellow, gold, green) anodized which is a very durable finish.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:31:03 GMT

"Pipe" Forge Leland, See our plans page and the link to Ron Reil's Forge and Burner page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:32:11 GMT

Forging Nails and Spikes Rich, See our plans page. The brake drum forge is perfect for nail making if you can obtain coal. See also the links on our gas burner page for gas forges.

If you use firebricks to make a corner or enclosure to heat your steel with a torch it will make a much better heat. The bricks absorb then reflect and transmit the heat into the part being heated. See the "micro forge" on our 21st Century page. Yes, that is a propane torch making that yellow heat. No, it doesn't have the BTU's for large work but it DOES achieve forging heat.

1/2" Stock is spike material! "Nails" and relatively heavy spikes are usualy forged from 1/4" square bar. Be sure you have the closest size bar to the finished nails/spikes. In small stock you usualy have to purchase cold drawn (CF bar) or keystock. But you can obtain it in 1/16" increments from 3/16" to 1/2".
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:53:56 GMT

when i worked in a big machine shop, standard practice for cutting stainless steel sheet was, (don't laugh) turn a worn out metal blade backwards, turn the speed up too high, put on ear muffs and go like heck. it actually works.
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:58:21 GMT

sorry , that's on a vertical metal bandsaw..
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 01/15/02 04:59:43 GMT

Dear Guru: you may have answered this all ready, but it has been bugging me ever since I read it. From the review of the McDonald Rolling Mill, "Hugh originally wanted to draw out the reins on tongs using his rolled mill and he has. But now
he makes them (a lot of them) another way. But THAT is the subject for another story. . . ". So have you told the other story? If not I would like to hear it.
Thanks Daryl
   Daryl - Tuesday, 01/15/02 05:28:59 GMT

Anybody heard of Canedy-Otto MFG Co? I've got a no name cast rivet forge with a little blower attached and was hoping to learn something about it. The blower (7" dia fan housing) says: Canedy- Otto MFG Co Chicago Heights and has the #s 1050-2 & 1050-3 on either side. The crank to fan ratio is 1:45. Just wondering how old the thing is. Thanks for your help.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 01/15/02 06:33:15 GMT

to make steel black:if you have a forge(gass) in which you can warm saltbath you can do it in your shop, otherwise find a heat treater who offers TENIFER Q or TENIFER Q P Q,
prosess temperature reaches 500 degrees celsius, carbon and nitrogen enter the surface of the steel, make it hard, and durable, then it is dropped into another saltbath wich gives it a black surface which is very rustproof, price per kilo for small parts is like 5 dollars
   Stefan - Tuesday, 01/15/02 08:17:21 GMT

If your home made crucible breaks in use, you could end up without toes . Be real careful with molten metal!
Cone 6 is way too cold. You want a clay, if that's what you are determined to use, that is vitrified at around cone 12.,I'd guess...my advice is to buy a crucible and do a really good job on your crucible handling tools.
PS..this is the wrong question to ask us igorant blacksmiths...but were happy to answer.
Martin;, build a good fire with a bed of coals, dump youe springs in it, let them heat up to a cheery red and cover the whole thing with a thick blanket of fine ashes. Dig them out in a couple of days, they should be cool by then, and they should also be pretty soft by then...might even be kinda black too.
Leland; Check out the plans pg first, then go to the links and find Ron Reils forge site.
Rich; the torch flame is narrow and so are nails. Because that skinny stock looses heat so fast, a torch and a couple of fire bricks might serve you pretty well.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 01/15/02 08:45:54 GMT

You might want to re-think the copper cutting plate for hot cuts on your anvil. Copper is a GREAT conductor of heat and your "hot" cut will soon be luke warm at best. I have a piece of "C" channel that fits well on my anvil for my cutting plate. It was cheep, easy, and won't draw the heat out of the work as the copper will.
   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 01/15/02 09:21:42 GMT


Can you recommend a good basic metalurgy book? I have seen small section in the various blacksmithing books I have, but I think I need to look deeper into the subject.

Thanks for the suggestions on the twisted bundle. I will have to figureout a way to twist after everything is forged to shape. The customer doesn't want any collars or welds to be seen. Could I jam a 4" or so section of brazing rod into the center of the bundle, heat and twist? it seems like it would work if I got the heat just right....

Thanks again....

   - Jim - Tuesday, 01/15/02 15:31:07 GMT


I've got a Canedy-Otto catalong, with the number eleven price list (a re-print), but can't find anything on you blower from the numbers you quote. Can you possibly get a picture and send it to us? Might be able to help a little better.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 01/15/02 15:38:06 GMT

Melting Al cans: Al cans are about the *WORST* stuff you can melt and pour. They are almost all Al oxide and very little metal. Very poor return on effort and cost of fuel! Also they are a bad alloy for pouring. You want something that was cast to start with. Pistons are usually suggested and can often be gotton free from auto repair places. Lindsay sell books by Dave Gingery on how to build a crucible furnace (gas, charcoal, or electrical IIRC) and then using green sand casting build a machine shop. Read the one on building your own furnace and casting!

Casting Copper: copper is a tough one to cast it required very high temperatures (*don't* use cast iron as it will melt!) and it absorbs oxygen rapidly leaving you with either a porous and brittle casting or just an unpourable blob of cupric oxide in the crucible. To melt it you want to cover it with a flux like borax or a layer of powdered charcoal to scavange O2. Before pouring stir with a *DRY* charcoal stick to scavange O2.

Be *VERY* careful that the molds are *DRY* one drop of water can literally kill you when you are working with molten copper!

Now I melt small quanties in my forge using a stainless steel coffee creamer as the *disposable* crucible to cast knife parts, (using petrobond oilsand); but I learned by taking a bronze casting class and working with folks who knew what they are doing.

Hand powered blower---you would probably be much happier with a homemade double lung bellows than a centrifugal blower. They really depend heavily on the speed of rotation and most home systems don't have the gearing up that the old hand crank ones had. Bellows are cheap and easy to build though they do take up space. I prefer mine to both my hand crank blower and the electric ones for most everything but doing pattern welding billets.


   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 01/15/02 15:47:09 GMT

Brazing and twist: Jim, I think it unlikely that you will hit just the right temperature. If you want to braze the ends from the inside do it as a seperate operation with a torch.

Try the samples with reverse twist. That should work fine. Worst case is you might need to tighten the twists after making all the necessary adjustments.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 15:50:24 GMT

Home Built Blowers Thomas is right about the speed increase. Normally on belt drive blowers they use a very large pulley (24 or 36") going to a little 1" pulley on the blower for 24-36:1. Commercial blowers have large diameter fans because they also act as a flywheel when made of cast iron. The actual fan shape it fairly inefficient so that it can run faster than needed to keep up the flywheel effect.

The wood and sheet metal blowers I've seen had double step up belting and a small blower.

For homebuilt I personaly prefer a bellows too. They are a proven design (even when built with non-traditional materials) and are relatively durable.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 16:04:43 GMT

John Bahndorf I tried to respond to your mail but the return address bounced.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 16:08:22 GMT

Metallurgy Jim, I don't think there are any "basic" metallurgy books. Most jump into the subject with both feet at a rather technical level. You also have to be aware that there are different areas of metallurgy.

Over the years the authors haved changed but McGraw-Hill used to publish the textbook Elements of Ferrous Metallurgy.

ASM publishes Basic Concepts of Ferrous Metallurgy by George Goodrich and John Svoboda
This book presents and describes basic concepts of metallurgy common to the ferrous foundry industry. A valuable publication for students of ferrous metallurgy and ferrous foundry operations and also foundry personnel who wish to refresh themselves on basic metallurgical principles. Chapters include crystallography, solidification and crystallization, phase equillibrium and metallurgical tools.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 16:25:31 GMT

Thomas Powers'
I have been trying to send you an e-mail, but I don't think it worked. Could you send one to me so that I can re-establish you address. Thanks.
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 01/15/02 16:28:39 GMT

Hugh McDonalds Tongs Daryl, Hugh gave up rolling tong reins because to make a round rein required rollers with no gap and a series of grooves such as used on commercial D rolls. On his setup he was getting a lot of flash and unstatifactory results.

Tong making was one of his early experiments and I think he may have given up too quick. I also think there is still a good possiblity here using the right techniques. Its one reason I REALLY want to build my own rolling mill.

Hugh is a very practical fellow when it comes to toolmaking and he now makes tongs by arc welding reins onto short pieces of flat bar and then forging the pre-fab blank. The rein is welded on next to where the rivet goes so that it provides extra material at the joint. Dressing the welds by forging makes very clean work and helps condition the weld metal so that it is indistinquishable from the other stock. I've used this technique in decorative work and when done right most smiths can't tell it from a forge weld.

Hugh sent me drawings of his technique that I need to dig out and post either on the iForge page as a demo or on the 21st Century page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 16:42:56 GMT

Re: Canedy-Otto blower and hood placement
Thank you for the prompt reply. I will try to get that photo on line so you can take a look. OK- New question: How far above the forge table should one place the hood for nice draw? My hood is a scrounged topper to one of those 70s style middle of yer living room cone fireplace units. They were usually olive green or a redish orange. Sound familiar? It looks very much like the hood that Centaur sells with their "C" model forges (pg 119 of the current catalouge)except that the opening is not quite as large. It's got an 8" flue pipe at the top. Would one call this a side draft hood? The Centaur model is mounted right on the forge table, but my forge and hood don't make such a nice fit. Will the whole principal of side draft be defeated if the hood is mounted somewhat above the forge? Also, the smithy is outside under a three walled structure- I imagine this my affect the dynamics of air flow as well. And finally, with an 8" flue how tall should my chimney be? Thanks for help on this, Guru!
   Wendy - Tuesday, 01/15/02 17:35:02 GMT


If you wish, you can e-mail me a copy of the scan. I can work from that.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Tuesday, 01/15/02 17:59:43 GMT

Guru and Mike,

Thanks for the suggestions for cutting stainless steel sheet! I will try them. T don't have a bandsaw but that is a great piece of knowledge to have!

Yes, you guys are right about needing to overdrive a small blower! When I was first thinking about this project I was going to make a moderatly sized blower. I didn't want to have to use a massive pully for the overdrive. So I was going to use a few pully's in conjunction with each other. A 6" pully(driver) going to a 1" pully. The 1" pully cenected via shaft to a 6" pully that went to another 1" pully. I would do this as many times as needed, with what ever pully sizes that were nescessary. One can see that 6" to 1" is one turn of the driver to six turns of 1" pully, multiplied not added to another 1:6 is 1:36, if done again it would be 6 x 36 which would be 1:216! This system would just be a mess to set up and take up a lot of space.

So I decided to make a VERY large blower so that many rpm's are not needed. I would make a bellows but I prefer doing ambitious and unproven things(that is probaly why I am an inventor). I am shooting for 1000 cf a minute. I will try to make the blower so that turning it once every two seconds will produce this 1000 cf per minute. I am going to calculate the capicity of the space between the vanes and figure that they would push 3/4 of their volume. Multiply this by rpm's and there you go. So I will need to make the total capicity 41.6 c.f. Even if it turn's out not to work very well it will be a fun project. The 30 rpm will keep one's heart beat up when waiting for the work to get hot! The weight of the contrivance shall act as a built in flywheel also!

When I get it done I will snail mail you some pictures and copies of my designs along with a description of why I did what. From there you can do with them what you want.

Thanks again!

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/15/02 18:26:08 GMT

Hoods Wendy, what you have is an overhead hood. See our plans page for drawings of side draft forge hoods.
Overhead hoods try to suck up all the air at their opening. That includes the area around the hood down to the forge. That is a large opening even id the hood is only a foot off the forge. For these and the classic type shown they need to be connected into a larger flue of 12 to 14 (14x14) inches such as a permanent chimney. When fitted with only a stove pipe they are quite smokey. The classic type shown is primarily a wind shield when used outdoors. Quite a bit of smoke will go up the pipe but not all.

Side draft "hoods" have an opening only a little larger than the flue. This creates a high velocity draft that is enhanced by the forge fire and the fact that it is not trying to suck up all that extra cold air. Its the excess cold air and the larger volume that reduces the efficiency of overhead hoods.

The reason a hood works on a wood burning fire place is that the fire is not blown like a forge fire. On a typical forge you blow in 100 to 300 cubic feet of air a minute which when hot is about 150% when it leaves the forge (150 to 450 cuft). A 10" (255mm) diameter flue will handle that but not if its mixed with a lot of extra cold air.

Above an outdoor forge you need a minimum of about six feet of flue pipe. The more the better but supporting it becomes a problem outdoors. The primary reason for it is the same as most tall stacks, to get the smoke out of your immediate (breathing) area.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 18:47:29 GMT


I just thought about it and a centrifical pump does not work on displacement like a positive displacement pump. It works on the speed and girth of the vanes. The speed it dictated by the o.d. of the vane and how fast it is spun.

Thinking about it again I will not need to make the pump even near 41.6 c.f. in displacement! I have decided to make two centrifical pumps one large that is not overdriven and one small that shall be ran via eletric motor or overdriven by hand. If I made the large one so that the o.d. of the vanes is 3' and spun it at 30 rpm. then the vane speed would be 282.7 feet per minute. That would probaly accelerate the air at a good pace! I will be making a "troth" around the vanes that will not move. The "troth" will be twice as wide as the vanes, this should give the air a place to accelerate. I will have one opening on the o.d. of this "troth" which will have a tapered and elongated path to it, this will direct the air to the exit port. The vanes will be sandwiched between two pieces of wood that shall hold them spable, these will spin with the vanes. The "vane sandwich" shall have a case around them with about 1/2" space between the case and the "vane sandwich". The troth will be a part of the casing. The casing shall look like a motorcycle wheel where the wheel is 8" wide and the tire is 16" wide(these are not exact measurements just an example). The reason I will have a space between the casing and the vane sandwich is because the vane sandwich will be held together with bolts and I don't want to recess them because of strength factors. I don't think that I will have much if any air trying to "bleed" between the casing and the vane sandwich because of the large troth that will capture and direct the accelerated air. The small one will be designed the same way, it will just spin much faster.

The vanes will be made up of three pieces of wood each and shall start at 8" dia. The first at the i.d. of the pump at a 45 deg angle to a line going straight from the i.d. to the o.d. of the circle. This first piece will go from 8" dia to 17" dia. Then there will be a straight piece from 17" dia to 26" dia. Then anothe 45 deg angle piece going from 26" dia to 35" dia the outside of the vanes. The center piece that is straight should work as a place for the air to accelerate while the 45 deg pieces should pull the air in and push it out. I may make the straight piece longer, but that is the general design.

I am only 22, so I am still very ignorant and would apreciate any and all thoughts on this design.


Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/15/02 19:20:35 GMT

Ok, I'm a amateur smith with several hundred pounds of tool steel sitting around in drill bits, milling and lathe tools, mold and die parts, etc. that my father has aquired in 40 years of machining. What's the best way to turn this stuff into bar stock? Some ideas I've had were forge welding piece to piece, melting in a crucible & casting, or just dumping a pile in my forge and trying to get a bloom...
Currently, for a forge I'm working with a 1' dia. ductile iron pipe at 1' high with a plate and tuyere welded on the bottom and side. Any help appreciated, Thanks!!!
   - Al - Tuesday, 01/15/02 20:14:55 GMT

Wow, the ASM site has some cool stuff! "Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist (15 Part Video Set)" only $2000..... *sigh*

   JIM - Tuesday, 01/15/02 20:34:00 GMT

Tool Steel: Al, most of what you listed is High Speed Steel. This is a very difficult steel to forge or to heat treat. It is almost never worked in the small blacksmith shop. The mold and die parts may be something else.

All of those tools are worth much more as-is. If you insist on getting rid of them go to the fleamarket or list them on our V-Hammer-In and offer to trade them.

Check on the price of a 1" drill bit (I'm asuming you have some large stuff). Aprox $25 for a short one and over $50 for one with a tapered shank. Milling cutters are higher.

I'll trade bar stock any day for drills and cutters unless they are rusted beyond hope.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 20:43:12 GMT

ASM Jim, I've spent a bunch with ASM and also buy any of their books used that I can find. Most of the time a membership pays for itself on an order of two books. You may have noted that many of grandpa's and my responses on heat treating refer to ASM references.

Fan and Pump Dynamics Caleb, You are missing some key logic in your design. Fans and turbines are not constant displacement devices. To do work they create pressure termed "head". The pressure produces resistance and thus increases bypass reducing efficiency. For every situation there is an optimum size and specific velocity. Inlets and outlets must be sized correctly. It is a very complicated subject and much of the design is a combination of lots of math as well as some art.

Fans do not move air at zero pressure. There is always pressure if there is movement in a gas or fluid. Forges require a certain amount of presure (head) to work. But if there is too much pressure the air motion in a forge is too energetic and you get a lot of oxidation.

Go ahead with your project but don't overthink it. If you want to get into the logic and engineering you need to get some books on the subject and do a LOT of study. At least look at existing blowers. You can go to on-line catalogs like McMaster-Carr and compare specs. Try graphing them and you will find that nothing in this field fits a straight line (unless graphed on log-log paper).
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 21:01:32 GMT

Caleb, Get a copy of "designing and building centrifugal fans" by David Gingery from Lindsay books. All the homework done, formulae ready to go, just plug in the numbers you want and start building.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 01/15/02 21:08:31 GMT

Guru and crew

I have found several copies of "Elements of Ferrous Metallurgy" all of wich are 1930-1946. Has anything sufficently important changed in since then, or will htese books provide the info I need? I am tending towards the 1946 copy.


Thanks again!

   JIM - Tuesday, 01/15/02 21:20:19 GMT

More on Hoods- http://www.northcoast.com/~solarae/hoodnforge.jpg

guru, here's a picture of the hood I'm refering to and a shot of the forge table as well. Thanks for the input.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 01/15/02 21:22:01 GMT

Jim, when you say metallurgy, do you mean heat treating, or do you want to delve into things like face center cubic and body centered cubic structure and grain boundaries and such? ASM has some good stuff. I would recommend their “Metals Reference Book” it was free last year if you became a member.

How about Metallurgy textbooks? From your local engineering university used textbook seller?

Caleb, fan or blower design. (I had this all typed before Guru and Alan posted their stuff ,so I’ll post it anyway)

I’m glad you figured out that fans are not positive displacement. There are very specific fan design formulae. I think you want to look at them. But first, are you able to make it safe? What is the stress in the rim of the fan wheel? Can the wood and/or metal you might use handle that stress? Do you know? If not, please don’t hurt yourself or others. If you can, great. Then get the fan design formulae and go from there.

In brief, the tip speed of the fan wheel gives pressure. Faster tip speed, more pressure. The width of the fan wheel gives volume. Within reason, speeding up a fan wheel will give more pressure and more flow.

Pressurized air will go from high pressure to low and will take the path of least resistance. At the tip of the rotating fan wheel, the OD of the wheel, the pressure is highest. At the inlet of the fan, the center of the fan wheel, the pressure is lowest. If there is a gap between the fan wheel and the casing (volute), the air WILL leak from OD to ID and power is wasted. Minimize the side clearances. Air molecules do not have a lot of mass, so they can change direction easily. And they are tumbling about quite randomly as they come off the fan wheel OD.

Nothing wrong with "hamster wheel" fans with clean air. They are more efficient than blade wheels like you describe to build. Straight blade wheels are best with dirty air.

All that being said, and without running any calculations, I think a 3 foot diameter fan wheel hand cranked at a good clip, will give you plenty or air to burn some coal. I’m mostly concerned about it coming apart. 3 piece wood vanes sound scary. Single piece plywood ones, with metal disc side plates, maybe. But, again, if you can’t calculate the stresses, or exactly copy a proven design, I encourage you to learn enough to be sure you are safe.

Look at some on line fan catalogs or get some paper ones. New York Blower, Chicago Blower, etc. Search for fan and blower and fan laws, etc.

Then there is the question of balance. Will it vibrate madly?

Invent away, man! But be safe.
   Tony - Tuesday, 01/15/02 21:59:21 GMT

FANS. . . But but but . . . Tony, You left out the number of blades. Generaly the more the better up to a point and ODD numbers are easier to balance. ODD numbers are also less likely to have harmonic problems.

Balance is both mechanical and pneumatic (or hydraulic). Over the years I've had great luck balancing thiings by trial and error. Clamp on a weight, if the vibration gets worse then move it, and again. . . . Using some logic along with the trial and error its posible to cancel out all noticable vibration without a fancy balancer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/15/02 22:11:55 GMT

Thanks Patrick for the mail about you buying a 200# anvil, 20 tongs and a pile of swages and set tools from a fellow for $80---I know you think I need the humility; but with Don around (He'd talk the guy down to $50; just because he could...) I get enough; really I do.

Folks the deals are out there; go forth and find them!

Thomas who once bought a small rivit forge for $50,000--of course they threw in a 5 bedroom brick house on a double lot to sweeten the deal...
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 01/15/02 22:18:05 GMT


I am looking to learn metallurgy to a fairly deep degree. I will be looking at classes in the nearby enginnering colleges, but was looking for something to get me started. I have purchased the "Basic Concepts of Ferrous Metallurgy", so hopefully that will be a good starting point.

I am also leaning on my (soon to be) Brother in Law, who teaches Metallurgy at the Air Force Academy, though he doesn't play with anything as boring as mild steel often. We will probably trade forge time for metallurgy lessons....

   Jim - Tuesday, 01/15/02 22:23:15 GMT

A few posts back the Guru mentioned pricey Dremel cut off wheels (they are). Here's what I do when I need some (but I am not reccomending anyone else do this nor do I vouch for It's safety). I just roughly cut a 3/4" sized disc, with old scissors, from a 3" X 1/32 die grinder cut off wheel and punch a small hole with an awl for the mandrel screw. Dosen't have to be very centered it very rapidly trues itself with use. I get about
8 of them from a $1.35 wheel. Remember.....EYE PROTECTION.
   bob - Tuesday, 01/15/02 22:29:16 GMT

Metallurgy Fundamentals by Daniel A. Brandt... ISBN = 0-87006-922-5. This is a great starter book for learning metallurgy. Its goofy at times because it reads like an 8th grade textbook, but, for me, thats good. Here are some chapter titles: Practical applications of metallurgy, Metallurgical and chemical terms, What is steel?, Manufacture of iron and steel, Hardness, Properties of steel, Crystal structure, Failure and deformation of steel, ...ect. Also heattreating, hardening and tempering, annealing, surface hardening, and other fun stuff are covered too. Lots and lots of tables and diagrams, tiny pieces of history, and Isothermal Transformation Diagrams! Woohoo! Are you guys as excited as I am? Each chapter starts with what you'll be learning in that chapter, then ends with a mini quiz at the end. Hmmmmm... I haven't read this in a while.... I think I'll log off now and do some studying....*smile*.
I had looked in the library at the Colorado School of Mines when I was there and those metallurgy books assumed you knew something to start with... waaaaaaaaay over my head. Also, the isbn I gave you is for the older version. The newer one has more hardness tables and more chapters on alloys. I got mine from the Centaur catalog, but any bookstore will have it. I was tempted to get the new one at Borders the other day.
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 01/15/02 23:50:59 GMT

...and no.... I'm not a salesman for this book.... just a fan of it.... among others....
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 01/15/02 23:51:59 GMT

Hey there,
I am a jewler in northern Ohio and was wondering where I could buy a small amount of 20g titanium. Thand you very much
   Mac Purdy - Wednesday, 01/16/02 00:19:39 GMT

the titanium needs to be in sheet form, and also what is the difference the different types of titanium?
   Mac Purdy - Wednesday, 01/16/02 00:54:28 GMT

Guru: Jim Poor brought a portable rolling mill to the Salt Fork Craftsmen conference last fall. I've been designing one in my head ever since. His had an air cylinder to press the rolls together, and a nice gear motor to turn the rolls. The rolls had one cove groove around each to taper reins with. If the groove is shallow enough you can round the work in multiple passes and never close the rolls entirely, thus avoiding flash, if you don't have to have perfectly round finished product.

My intention is to use a foot treadle to press the rolls, 20 to 1 leverage to get a maximum of 1 ton pressure with 100 lbs on the treadle, with a step adjustment to bring the rolls close to the size of the work to avoid excessive foot travel.

Caleb: You can also cut 1/8" stainless with an inexpensive air abrasive cutoff tool (used to cut muffler pipe, etc). Wider kerf than a Dremel but less expensive wheels.

So my mouse pointer landed on the picture and I saw the label "Guru Self Portrait". I'd never really looked at it before. Is that a Dachsund in the bib?
   Andy Martin - Wednesday, 01/16/02 01:41:47 GMT

Andy, There is a slightly larger copy of the pic in my bio (click "THE GURUS", top of this log, then the link). Yeah, that was me about 200 pounds and 25 years ago. . . That's a 2.5 second exposure at f1.4 and Kodachrome 64 (or Ecktachrome 200??). The 2.5 seconds is the time the self timer keeps the shuter open when set to "B" for bulb. . . A step ladder was used for a camera stand. Yes it was dark and the only light was the forge and glowing iron. I was REALLY into photography at one time.

I've got a great gear reducer for my rolling mill. A new 25:1 Boston helical gear reducer with hollow shaft. Will fit a 2-3/16" shaft with a 1/2" key. Its 5 to 10 times bigger than necessary. . . ;o) Need to get the bearings and acme rod. Going to put a reversing switch on it so that I can set it up for LONG single pass work. Will need a complicated little attachment on the exit - straightening rolls.

Projects, projects. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/16/02 02:29:47 GMT

So how did ya'll know I was wrestling with some air moving problems? I am going to host a Hammerin at my companies shop where it is inside and warm in February. But with an anticipated 6-8 forges it may be a tad smokier than a blues bar on Saturday night.

I can get my hands on an approximate 16" industrial window fan so my first thought is to mount it in a window, attach to a drum for a plenum, use 12" duct to two other drums (equidistant) as collectors and tye in 10" duct from the forge vertically to the drum collector. I would go with 8" but 10 and 12 is what is on hand. I also have a large Roots blower no nmae plate but has 4" pipe outlets and a 5 or 8 HP max. motor to turn it. not sure if it will move enough air though. I also have several smaller regenerative blowers as well as a couple of centrifugal types. All told I can move a lot of air but wouldn't have room for the forges. Too many options at the moment, ain't it great? Given the grocery list and about 1500 ft to play in, could you point me in the right direction? Experimentation starts tommorrow with my own forge to start building something.

   Mills - Wednesday, 01/16/02 02:46:32 GMT

Fans. I left a lot more than number of blades out of that post. Grin. The more blades, the more efficient generally. but it depends on the air. Less blades for dirtier air. Forge blowers generally handle *clean* air.

Jim, if you are going to go deep into metallurgy, then I'd suggest getting some college textbooks. Start with the beginning class texts. ASM stuff IS great, but it generally assumes you have the basics from college courses. Some may disagree. Milk the new brother in law. If he's a dedicated teacher, and you are a dedicated student, you should get along well.

Mills, not knowing as much as I'd like about your building, to exhaust it, I'd be inclined to use the 16" blower and add some duct on the inlet side that draws air from 10 feet above the forges. Hot air rises. Just get it in the pipe before it cools and starts to fall back down. Otherwise, build a bunch of side draft hoods. Drawing right next to the fire is most efficient. But kind of costly for a hammerin?

   Tony - Wednesday, 01/16/02 03:19:26 GMT

Tony That is doable. Have 14' to the rafters. From each drum collector I thought to run 4 10" duct vertically for an effective rise of 10-12'. As forges are set up we try to get some kind of side draft induced as best we could. The exhaust fan would pull horizontally to the outside and dump it. I have some long burning smoke to test the system with when done so there shouldn't be any suprises. Time is very scarce though and I can't afford too much experimentation.

Thanks for the input, it does seem to be my best shot.
   Mills - Wednesday, 01/16/02 04:26:27 GMT

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