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

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

This is an archive of posts from January 1 - 9, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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I just bought a power hammer and would like to make a new set of dies. I was wondering type of steel to use. I have a neighbor willing to teach me to use his milling machine and shaper to cut the dove tail, in trade for access to the hammer. Thanks for your time and have happy new year.
   - doyle - Wednesday, 12/31/03 22:34:03 EST

Doyle, that's a good trade. Take him up on it. Education is NEVER wasted time!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/01/04 01:53:15 EST

Maud; While the Guru is technically right......
Buy a new spring..
Those things are nasty when they break!
Welding will destroy the grain structure of the metal adjacent to the weld and it will be prone to breaking there.
I'm cheaper than you are..and I'd go and buy a new one.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 01/01/04 03:56:47 EST

There should be a tag on the spring that has the pull weigth on it, so that you get the right size for the weigth of the door. Also the manufactuers recommend that you buy a new set so that the door lifts up without twisting in the frame. keep the unbroken one for spare if you bought the pair of replacement springs,/or use it to make stuff with.
the new springs should have the weight tags on them ,,LEAVE THE TAGS ON THE NEW SPRINGS,, that way the next guy to change them has and idea of what to replace them with. Stanley springs are color coded on one end, they also used to have a door size chart on their boxes.
If it is the type that Habu has then you MUST buyg boths to replace it. Do not save the unbroken one cut it up to make stuff with. It is the safest way to do it. take the car out of the bay. cheaper then a new windshield. Ask my Dad,but I won't tell on him.... %P (Grin)

DanD skabvenger
   DD scavenger - Thursday, 01/01/04 06:04:02 EST

Bunsen burner:

eander, my brother gave me a standard high-school-type bunsen burner. I believe these are normally set to run with natural gas at low pressure. So I figured it would run better with the high-pressure propane I use with my forge. Once in a while I get it right. This little thing puts out a lot of heat. Not as much as my 3/4" burners, but a whole lot more than a plumber's torch. Yours would probably work as well as, most probably better than, my 3/4" burner.

   - MarcG - Thursday, 01/01/04 08:21:03 EST

Boy, I thought I was lucky to have a neighbor with a tractor/loader. A neighbor with a mill and shaper, and willing to teach you how? do you know what a deal that is? If your in S. Indiana, let me know as I might move close to you.
   ptree - Thursday, 01/01/04 09:23:59 EST

Hammer Dies: Doyle, You will find various manufacturers making dies out of a variety of tool steels. All need to be heat treated. I have made power hammer dies out of 4140 because that is what I had. I've also made them out of A2 because it is easy to heat treat. Some folks use H13 but hot work steels are overkill unless the die has a cutting edge. Dies with built in hot cuts usualy have them bolted on and they are different than the base metal. Others use S7 because it is a "shock resistent" steel.

Industrial hammers use a variety of steels in the 50 point carbon range. Due to alloy content 4140 gets by but 4150 would be better.

A lot depends on what you can afford. A new 36" piece of annealed A2 or S7 will cost you as much as several sets of dies from the manufacturer IF they are still available.

The critical part of this job is measurement. You need to carefully measure the machine doevtails and make a drawing of the dies. Besides the dovetail angle (which is not a standard) there is also the wedge taper to consider. In most machines the hammer dovetail is striaght and the die has a taper that matches the wedge. Not that tapers are measured in fractions of an inch per foot on old machinery. Angles and tapers are both measured over pins and parallels using micrometer caliper and then calculated. Normally they should be some even number (10°, 12° - 3/8"/ft or 1/4"/ft) but sometimes they were not machined that accurately and a perfect fit is some odd value.

The last time I made dies I used the wedges in the shaper vise to set the taper angle.

Note that late Little Giant top dies use a wedge that has both the dovetail taper and the wedge angle on it. The upper dies have parallel sides and the taper is in the ram. The dowel in hammer dies is to prevent them from moving while tightening the wedge and to prevent gross misalignment that could damage the machine.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/01/04 10:13:45 EST

Bunsen Burners: The little school lab size with the 1/2" tube has less BTU capactity than a standard propane torch. SO. . it would make a nice "little" bean can forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/01/04 10:53:25 EST

Alti, if the feets get cold try some Carhartt socks. Best they is in my experience.
   - Ten Hammers - Thursday, 01/01/04 16:08:55 EST

I was wondering if you could tell me what fork lift forks were made of and would it be good for forging my own tools?
   Steven - Thursday, 01/01/04 21:16:22 EST

Bunsen burner:

Far be it for me to disagree with the Guru, but I believe the normal BTU capacity of a bunsen burner is based on the much lower pressure of NG. As I mentioned, I did try this at home, but with about 20psi of LP and it was definitely much higher than a plumber's torch.

Its construction is very similar to the T-Rex. To adjust the air input, the whole barrel screws into the gas jet, cutting down the air slots. And a needle valve adjusts the gas flow. It's possible, even probable, that it can't sustain this heat without melting. But it seemed OK for the 10 or 20 minutes I tried it.

   - MarcG - Thursday, 01/01/04 21:56:52 EST

Not sure but I think NG has a lower BTU rating than propane so it is a function of the gas more than the burner.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/01/04 23:37:03 EST

Im looking for advise to welding cast iron, Im 47, with several years experince in welding, I have a small farm here in southwest OK. and am interested in getting started in blacksmithing. Have bought a book on blacksmithing, and have started collecting tools( ie. anvil and forge) but they are hard to find and expensive to buy. Am making my own forge from the design I found on your website, with a little modification. I have this huge round cast iron base, with a hole in the center ( have no idea what it was for) a two inch pipe will fit in the center and I want to weld that in there for the stand and stem for my forge. Im sure I will need to preheat the base right? Any tips or suggestions appreciated, I only have a small A/C lincoln welder to work with. Thanks, Marvin
   Marvin reynolds - Friday, 01/02/04 09:00:29 EST

I've got a couple questions about one of the I-forge projects:

101-Candle Twist Candle Stick, Ralph Douglas, 20 June 2001

I made my wife one of these for Christmas. I was very pleased at how it came out for a first try. It did, however, take me 3 tries and one serious hammer throwin'/cussin' fit to stick that 1st weld. You've got 3 rounds wired together in a pyramid. Tendency is for the top piece that is being struck to act as a wedge between the lower 2, thus forcing the other 2 apart and breaking the weld. I was finally able to make it work by using light blows and a lot of rotation. I was wondering if some sort of "V" or round swage would help with this procedure?

Now, the next step calls for the pieces to be welded in one spot a few inches from the other end, leaving the ends free. How would be the best way to do this with a forge weld? Seems like it would require a good bit of upset to keep from having a skinny spot in the work. By the way, I did mine without this second weld; just kept it wired-up below the twist and let the legs flow right out of the twist. I like the way this looks, so I'll probably continue to forego the second weld, but I was curious, none the less.

One more; what would be the best method for attaching the drip pan? I tried my hand at forge brazing, but that didn't go too good. Probably need to work on that some more. Remember, I'm still torch-less, MIG-less, etc., just the forge.
   - Don Abbott - Friday, 01/02/04 09:36:47 EST

BTU Capacity: On most atmospheric burners this is determined by the size of the mixer or bore. Yes propane has a higher BTU but it is also a heavy gas that needs proper mixing with air. Small burner = low BTU . . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/02/04 09:37:34 EST

bundle weld: I always start this weld in a V block or the step of the anvil. Also, plain borax is kind of slippery - adding iron filings or using EZ weld is a big help to stick the weld together.

BTW People sometimes refer this as a "bundle weld" but I think it's really a "faggot weld".
   adam - Friday, 01/02/04 10:10:01 EST

Marvin, To weld on cast iron you will need ni-rod , pretty expensive stuff.you also have to problem of different expansion and contraction rates of cast iron (almost none)and steel .When the steel cools and shrinks it may cause cracking between the two metals. I think your best and least expensive way would be to weld a flange on the pipe and bolt it to the cast iron pan to avoid cracking the cast iron.
   Tom-L - Friday, 01/02/04 10:42:21 EST

Marvin Reynolds where in SW OK are you? The Saltfork Craftsman Assoc. have Hammerins almost every weekend somewhere in Oklahoma. Contact by email and I'll put you in touch with a couple of people. Furthest out that I know of is Mountain View, so if you are this side of Altus should be easy to hook you up.
   Mills - Friday, 01/02/04 10:52:33 EST


A faggot weld is when the stock is folded back upon itself and welded to it self. A bundle weld is when separate pieces are wired and welded to each other.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/02/04 11:02:34 EST

Torchless, Arcless: Don, First you have to recognize that there are designs for forge welding and designs for other types of welding. And then there are places that you can avoid welding all together.

On the bundle of three you simply make sure you put one bar over the other to close the weld (tilt the bundle on a corner). Don't force one leg between the others. On this particular design I would twist the bars together first and then make the weld. Actually *I* would do it with a torch. . .

On the cup there is what is known as a "penny" weld. It is a braze weld done in a forge. When pennies were bronze (before 1983) you could use pennies, today smiths use copper wire or brazing rod. Wire and rod works well because you can make a little ring of the copper alloy to put on the joint. Another method is to use powdered brazing alloy (spelter). Clean, heat, flux, add brazing alloy, heat gently and flux more, shut off heat or remove from forge when the brazing alloy melts. Let cool.

Drip pans can be done a bunch of ways. I prefer to rivet pans with cups. The one in this project has a spike but could be spikeless. I'd use a ball pien hammer to make a depression in the center of the pan and then rivet the pan on using the depression to countersink the head. Normally when I do this I file a shouldered tennon on the stem. On plain round and square bar I machine the tennon.

What? Machine? YES. Blacksmiths have had every sort of machine from the time it was invented (and much was invented by blacksmiths). You can't do EVERYTHING with a hammer. And many things are not done as efficiently with a hammer (and file) as by other methods.

Bare minimum machinery in a blacksmith shop should be a drill press and a lathe. Lathes are much simplier than a drill press and can be built by hand. They are called the King of Machine Tools for a reason. More operations can be done on a lathe than any other machine. Almost every shop other than the most primitive after 1800 (and many before) had a lathe. Blacksmith (metalworking) shops had lathes before they had grinders or power hammers. People don't think of this because it is not poetic.
Under the low roofed shed the village smith hulks, turning wheels and cranking levers, doing a sprightly dance among the curling metal chips.

Metal squeels and oil smoke rises as the smith deftly turns an axel. Checked with calipers by the keen eyed smith the last pass finished he now turns the machine once more to deburr corners with a file and call it a job well done.
Well, I SAID its not poetic and I'M NOT a poet. . . and I have other things to do today ;)

   - guru - Friday, 01/02/04 11:19:51 EST

Faggot Weld Paw-Paw you lose. Faggots are a bunch of sticks (kindling) of like kind. A faggot weld is any time a bunch of rods of like kind are welded together. There is no difference in bundling and folding as far as the type of weld. The derogatory slang use of this term is based on the definition applied to kindling.

   - guru - Friday, 01/02/04 11:27:38 EST

OK, I've lost before. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/02/04 11:33:07 EST

Welding CI: Marvin, As Tom-L pointed out there are some serious problems welding cast iron. Then there is cast iron and there is CAST IRON. A lot depends on the type of iron. Many people claim great sucess welding cast iron but often they have welded ductile iron or some other cast varient that is better behaved than the typical CI.

Small simple shaped CI items can be welded with a torch or with NI rod. When torch welding the entire item is brought close to the welding heat and stresses are avoided. Arc welding induces a lot of stress and the work needs to be preheated.

Complex shapes are where welding CI gets tricky. You generaly don't preheat where at the weld location but on the opposite side of the item so that when the two sides cool there is even shrinkage. Otherwise the weld fails OR a crack appears on the opposite side. You can spend a lifetime chasing cracks in a piece of CI. When we say opposite side here we are talking opposite SIDE. On a wheel, cylinder or tube it is the place 180° from the weld. On more complex shapes it is trickier. . .

Where to preheat many CI shapes is covered in every reference on welding. Reason #1 for taking a welding course. You have to buy the book.

The best way to repair or attach things to most CI items is via brazing. A good braze weld is nearly the same strength as the CI and the cracking due to shrinkage rarely if ever occurs. Otherwise I recommed a mechanical fix. Make brackets, drill holes, use bolts or rivets.
   - guru - Friday, 01/02/04 11:53:10 EST

Paw Paw, You are half right with the faggot weld. As you said "when the stock is folded back upon itself and welded to itself" That is a faggot weld. Making a bundle of rods and welding them is also a faggot weld.
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 01/02/04 13:30:37 EST

Guru, I can trace tilthammers and rotary grind stones back till about Y1K; but of course most shops did not have the full complement of the heavy working tools and perhaps some of them did not use the early lathes much either.

Specialization seems to have been more common in medieval times than modern times.

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/02/04 14:06:57 EST

Do you have any designs or info for an armillary sphere?
Thank you
   André Boudreault - Friday, 01/02/04 14:34:59 EST

is there a homemade recipe to pattina copper to a brown or dark brown color. thanks
   bill strasser - Friday, 01/02/04 15:01:26 EST

dark brown pattina
I have used vegetable oil to restore pattina on old fixtures that have been cleaned.Just coat with light film and heat gently with a torch or in an oven.
   Chris Makin - Friday, 01/02/04 16:09:17 EST

Don - bundle weld - I like that term. I've used wire and hose clamps to hold the bundle together at forge meetings. Now, I've mostly done bundles of four, but it happens that I had two bundles of three making plant hangars for Christmas last month. Instead of laying them on the anvil point up, where striking the top might push the others apart, I placed it with the point to the side, where I was really just hammering two of the rods together. Then rotated 120 degrees to hit another two, then another 120 to get the last two. That stuck them all on the first heat. Second heat, I placed the bundle point up. After that, I squared up the welded part and went on to draw out and bend the hanging hook. Does that make sense?
   Steve A - Friday, 01/02/04 16:11:14 EST


I guess half right is better than half a$$ed! (big grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/02/04 16:55:24 EST

Copper patina:

For a dark brown on copper, I use a very dilute solution of cold-blue for guns. The type that contains selenious acid. If I remember correctly, Brownell's was the brand I last used. I dilute it about 4:1 with water and rub it on with a rag, then warm the piece gently. I will also work without the warming, but is slower.

Liver of sulfur solution will also give a brownish-black on copper, but is harder to control. Dissolve a lump the size of a garbanzo bean in about a pint of boiling water. When the solution has cooled, dilute it by half with water and apply to warm copper. The oxide layer may show signs of flaking if left in the solution too long.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/02/04 16:55:55 EST

I have re-patina'ed old pennies after cleaning them by mixing powdered sulfur with mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Make a paste and rub it in. It is fairly easy to control if done cold. Don't ask me how I learned this or why.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 01/02/04 21:17:30 EST

Welding bundles(especually if odd numbers are used) I too use the step of the anvil. Works well. As for borax being slipery... if it is wired together it matters not, yes? But I hate adding even more crud to the weld area. including iron filings. I view it as just one more impurity and so the weld has more chances of being bad
   Ralph - Friday, 01/02/04 22:44:47 EST

Do you know the worth of an "Allens," anvil/vise combination? any advice would be helpful
   scott - Friday, 01/02/04 22:53:58 EST


With no intention of raining on your parade, you need to sell that to a collector, not a blacksmith. Most combination tools are designed to do many things, none of them well. And when the primary material is Cast Iron, you're in a pretty brittle situation.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/02/04 22:57:05 EST

Andre' about your armillary question. There are a number of books on sundails that should cover armillaries as well. Use "Sundail" as your search query for someplace like bookfinder.com There are also some other websites that you can track down using "Sundail design" as you search query. I don't have a copy of any of the sundail books handy or I would help more... Good Luck
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 01/03/04 02:10:10 EST

Andre; I have a pretty good book on building wooden sundials of various types. However, I see no reason why the designs couldn't be applied to metal. The title is "Easy to Make Wooden Sundials", By Milton Stoneman. It is published by Dover Publications, and the ISBN number is 0486241416. The price is only about $6.00 US. I hope it works for you. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/03/04 02:56:22 EST

Google.com has about a bazillion listings for "armillary spere"
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/03/04 03:08:43 EST

Whenever i try to differentially harden a blade, the clay always cracks and falls off in the fire. even if it stays on, it does not stick to the blade. How do i prevent this?
   - colin - Saturday, 01/03/04 11:26:19 EST

Differential Hardening: I would suggest you consider hardening the entire blade and applying differential TEMPERING. It is easier to do and gives a stronger tempered structure to the spine. The transformation to martensite, the hard steel structure, is accompanied by a volumetric expansion. Hardening only the edge could lead to warping and distortion as well as leaving the spine with a less robust microstructure. Either place the spine on a heated plate, or put the blade in a shallow pan of water and use a torch to draw the spine and handle.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/03/04 12:10:59 EST

Anvil/Vise: Many of these are just a vise with horn shape extending over the arm at the back. Sometimes the flat over the body is machine finished. These are a vise with surfaces for light bending and riveting, not a vise/anvil combination. Many standard bench vises were made this way in the first part of the twentieth century. They are no good for forging as they are too light and as Paw-Paw mentined the CI is too brittle. I have a little 2-1/2" one of these that I have had since I was four years old. Great tool as long as it is not abused. It was old and in good condition when it was given to me and it is still in good condition.

Vise Value: Vises come in various sizes ranging from little hand held jewelers and lapidary vises up through heavy chipping vises and blacksmiths vises that weighed as much as 250 pounds.

Bench and blacksmith vises should always be discussed in terms of weight, not jaw size. One 6" jaw vise may weigh twice as much as another 6" jaw vise. The heavier vise is designed for chipping, bending and metal shop work, while the lighter vise is for sharpening saw teeth, wood working, light sheet metal work and such. Generally the heavier vises are worth more but it depends on what the user wants. Vice prices should compare to per pound prices of anvils but are currently lower.

Vises get abused and worn out. Vises with broken or missing parts are worth much less than half of a complete vise OR scrap value as there are no parts available for 99% of the used vises on the market. Same for worn screws and nuts. Replacement screws and nuts are available for some vises but not all. They often require machining to fit right and most are always a mis-match.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/03/04 12:13:28 EST

Differential Hardening with Clay QC, This is a common method of hardening used in traditional Japanese bladesmithing. Another method of differential hardening is to quench a narrow edge.

Colin, As a traditional Japanese method you need to obtain one of the books on Japanese bladesmithing and then carefully follow the instructions. The clay used is not a common clay, it is a fine refractory (high aluminia) clay such as porceline is made of. It is also bonded with ashes or rice hulls or something of that sort. It must be completely dry before hardening. Many Western smiths use a refractory cement that has a binder in it.

The clay is applied in a thin layer and then scraped off in a gentle taper to expose a narrow edge. This fine edge should only require passing through the fire for a moment to heat the thin edge.

As QC pointed out it is metalurgicaly better to harden the entire blade and then temper the parts that you want softer. This is the standard recognized method of heat treating most items. At this point in your learning blademaking you should be sticking to standard methods.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/03/04 12:42:26 EST

Colin...If you are interested in clay hardening, check out Don Foggs site. He has a wealth of information on several pages. There is also an article on the FABA website. Both are listed in the Anvilfire links.
I also agree with the good Guru and QC...acquire and read all you can about the subject. Stick with the basics until you have gained those skills. Experience and progress will come with each hour you spend at the forge and with every word you read. "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Leon and Hiroko Kapp and Yoshindo Yoshihara is an excellent book, not a how to book, but rich in the history, techniques and tradition of swordsmithing.
   R Guess - Saturday, 01/03/04 14:15:48 EST

Good Guru, I was aware that this is a traditional Japanese swordmaking process. However, for must of us, traditional Japanese swordmaking processes are as far removed from our skills as a brake drum forge is from a jet engine. Like you said, first things first. A master swordmaker in Japan spent a lifetime learning to do just one thing, and do it with incredible skill and artistry. I don't think any of us will attain that skill level working on our own in a garage or tool shed. However, I recall learning that differential TEMPERING is the traditional blacksmith way to make a good blade. I still think it has a lot of advantages over differential hardening even if you don't get the hamon line. Maybe you could cheat a little and just etch it in?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/03/04 15:41:32 EST

any info on the Polyquip #270 welder driven by three cylinder Kubota diesel
   Sam - Saturday, 01/03/04 17:13:18 EST

How dependable is the Kubota 3 cylinder diesel? How many hours before overhaul?
   Sam - Saturday, 01/03/04 17:14:46 EST

Dear Guru
I am a 37 yo 'new' smithy who intends to turn the hobby into an eventual business ( don't we all ). I am considering purchasing a new anvil, the 'two-horn classic' of 260 lbs, US$600. Do you have an opinion on the model and company selling this item? Thanks for your time.
   Andrew Little - Saturday, 01/03/04 17:24:36 EST

Question on Post Drills. Are they useful in today's shop? Does the chuck need to be replaced? And can they drill through 1/2" steel?
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/03/04 18:42:37 EST

Andrew, I have had a Habermann anvil for about 3 years now and I just love it. Good rebound,fairly clean casting. I have also purchased one of Tom Clarks turkish continental style anvils as a smaller traveling anvil and it works just fine. Of course neither one of these anvils is as nice as a Nimba, but I'm afraid if I had a Nimba I would get a large piece of beveled glass cut and put it on top of the Nimba and use it as a coffee table in my living room, they are to me that pretty and refined. kinzea
   kinzea - Saturday, 01/03/04 19:17:23 EST


Yes, Yes, and Yes. They'll drill through considerably more than 1/2" steel, it just takes longer.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/03/04 19:38:41 EST

Kubota diesel:

I don't know about the one on the welder, but every Kubota diesel I ever dealt with (on generators, tractors, backhoes, etc) was a darn good engine. Probably not as tough as a Perkins, but a very good engine nonetheless.

Two things are death to any diesel engine: Short, frequent starts/stops and inadequate lubrication. Diesel engines like to be run for at least enough time to get up to heat and stay there for fifteen minutes and they should never be run without some load on them (tears up the main bearings). With any diesel, it is important to have a good fuel/water separator and to keep fuel stabilizer in the fuel if it is going to sit more than six months without being used up. If not used frequently, the oil should be changed as though it had been used.

Time between overhauls is a matter of care invested in preventative maintenance. I have a Chevy V6 gasoline engine that has just over 300,000 miles on it without an overhaul. I'd say it's just about due. :-) Your mileage may vary, as they say.
   vicopper - Saturday, 01/03/04 19:46:11 EST

Sam and Kubotas,
What do teh sales folks at the local Kubota dealer say about overhauls? That would be one of the first places to ask. Then go from there.
   Ralph - Saturday, 01/03/04 21:03:02 EST

Sam and Kubotas,

I'm going to dis-agree with Ralph on this one. Instead of talking to the sales staff, go talk to the mechanics in the service department. Ask what the most common problem is and what is the best preventive maintenance to keep it out of their shop. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/03/04 23:32:22 EST

Clay for Hardening:

A friend of mine was taking some Japanese swordsmiths to an event when he drove by an excavation. The passengers asked him to stop, they sampled the clay, declared it "just right" for the process, collected some of it, and drove off chattering about their good fortune in finding some of the right stuff in this country.

(Well, that's the story he told me. :-)

Anyway, "just the right stuff" is frequently the magic ingredient to many operations; some stuff welds with a sand flux, some needs borax, and some stuff needs EZ-Weld. Some clays stick (all too well when I was protecting some dragons heads during another high temp operation) and some clays fall into the fire.

Post Drill Capabilities:

Drilled a 1/2" (12.7 mm) hole 1 1/2" (38 mm) into a small medieval-style block anvil for the bottom tang to set it in a log; and it only took me 1,400 turns (hand fed it every ten turns on the crank, a 1/8th twist on the top wheel). Excellent exercise.

An April day come early (60s!) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 01/03/04 23:37:03 EST

That is better advice. Yeah I know it is going to shock folks that we agree in public but hey when you say something good....
   Ralph - Sunday, 01/04/04 02:34:11 EST

Euroanvils: Andrew, Steve is very good to do business with and can be trusted to do you right.

Note that many new anvils are not finished very well. The faces are machined and ground but the sides and the horn are usualy AS-CAST. This means some time with a grinder/sander. The sides of the anvil should be smooth for an inch or two from the face down (for making bends).
   - guru - Sunday, 01/04/04 03:00:50 EST

Post Drills: I probably have more drillpresses than most folks and I still use an old hand crank on ocassion. As Bruce pointed out they are a LOT of work drilling large holes (I've drilled up to 3/4"). But for smaller drills they are a charm to use.

They do not come with a "chuck". They come with a 1/2" diameter hole or socket with a big square head set screw to lock on a flat on the bit. "Blacksmith bits" all had 1/2" shanks all the was down to little 1/32" bits. . . They are no longer made and I have never seen a set. So. . to make these machines useful you need to add a Jacobs chuck. They sell the chucks without shanks and you can get a 1/2" straight shank to fit. WITH the chuck the machine is very valuable, without it the machine is a fine museum piece. . .

An option to the chuck is to make a set of 1/2" bushings to fit onto standard straight shank bits. However, these require a lathe to make the hole true. You make a snug fitting bushing for each size and cross drill and tap for a small set screw. For a 7/16" you will need to either cross drill and pin the shank OR press fit it.

Wonderful tool, but like many it requires all the bits and pieces to make it worth having.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/04/04 03:12:17 EST

The Mars lander just sent back it's first images!
Hooray, we have one that works!
Anyone who thinks the investment in NASA isn't worth it better turn in his computer and Kaowool.
But send in your Cybersmiths membership check first please.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/04/04 03:22:32 EST

Sorry this isn't a blacksmith question but this is the only forum on the net that I frequent,and I know there's quite a few viet.vets who check these pages.

I'm after info on a couple of old U.S army friends (circa 1966) ,for my father inlaw ,ex Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

At the time one was a Sgt George Ison, Lt Wpns Adv , 2/5 Bn
Another was Cpt Robert A Bianchi Senior Advisor 2/5 Bn
Not sure if those are Viet Bat.they were advising or U.S

If any one knows any info on these men ,or more probably some way of tracking them down it would be much appreciated.

It makes it hard when you don't know date of birth , home state ,or service number .The only thing we do have is that both men were awarded medals -bronze star "v" ,if that can help ?

Sorry again Guru ,
but this place does have a wide and varied subject matter at times


stcky in Queensland Aust. today 29 c 85% humidity odd heavy shower
   wayne - Sunday, 01/04/04 03:37:10 EST


Classmates.com has a military buddy branch where you can look for folks.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/04/04 08:14:04 EST

Well I went to what is likely to be my last SOFA meeting Saturday. I was amazed that several folk thought my idea of moving Quad-State to NM was a good one!

Didn't find any smithig tools to buy at the fleamarket on the way to the meeting, I mean 6 bucks for a pair of tongs!

Did get to the meeting early and found a hot forge not being used so I forged out the 720 layer bandsaw blade and steel strapping billet into a knife for my brother---christmas present but all the bustle lately has gotton in the way of doing stuff. I still need to do the final tweaking using *my* tools and hope to rough it out before I pack the grinder. I'll probably finish it by hand while I'm bach'n it in NM.

Thomas rain rain go away Thomas wants to forge and needs to pack today...
   Thomas P - Sunday, 01/04/04 08:38:00 EST

Thomas enjoy the rain while you can we spend a lot of time wishing for it in NM !
   aaron - Sunday, 01/04/04 11:37:01 EST

PawPaw, no disrespect but a faggot weld is any weld made up of a multiple number of pieces of material.
The word "faggot" is derived from the ancient french meaning multiple and of the same. As in a faggot of sticks which can be seen in many midevile wood cuts being carried for the purpose of building a fire. These bundles being tied with twine even bring to mind the binding of the rods for welding with wire in the forge.
The name faggot weld for what is sometimes called a bundle weld I know personally goes back a long way.The smith I first apprenticed too,over 35yrs. ago was 93 at the time had been smithing since he was 8 and when questioned about the name told me it was what his Grandfather had called it.
   Doc Dick - Sunday, 01/04/04 12:14:58 EST

America China Trade:

America is in trouble. American basic industries (mining, steel production, energy production) has been under attack since the 1980's and we have lost. While our steel industry is largely dead and dying China is becomming an industrial Giant. They are building, modernizing and expanding their basic industries the way the US did in the 1930's to prepare to fight WWII. The growth is unbelievable, the inverstment being made is huge and WE are the target.

Every day I am sent requests to join the Metalworker's or Blacksmith's webring by Chinese industry, or requests to link or offers to buy or become an importer from large Chinese interests. So far most of these efforts have been backed by poorly designed web sites with pidgeon-English translations and broken links. YES, they are currently inept in this field but they ARE learning. The Chinese are not dumb. YES, they could fix all their web problems by hiring one or two American web professionals. These are big industries that could afford it. But they do not want to. They insist on doing it themselves. They do not want to rely on forigners, forign labor or talent.

Remember the statements that we brought down the mighty USSR economicly? Not a bullet was fired. Well that is what China is doing to US, AND with the help of our leaders. All the republicans see is money to be made exploiting cheap Chinese labor and dumping products in the US. The Chinese see us a cheap supply of food and raw materials as well as a market for finished goods. That is putting us in the position of a third world nation. The rich profit and the working class look for jobs.

Proof? Recently our government took a brief stand on defending our steel industry from Chineses dumping. As soon as it was announced the Chinese said they would refuse to import American corn and soybeans. We (G Bush) immediately backed down. And the Chinese got what they wanted. A place to dump steel AND cheap agicultural goods in quantities they could have gotten nowhere else. They would have let their people go hungry or pay higher prices for food before doing anything to jeapordize their growing industrial might. . Meanwhile they are growing into a position of being able to manipulate American agriculture.

In the 1980's and 1990's it was our textile industry that was under attack. Most of it is gone, the factories shut down workers still looking for jobs or by now on social security. The few US textile companies left are moving their plants off-shore. They cannot compete with Chinese labor so they are competing with central American or South American labor.

It is a war, and we are losing. We are losing at the negotiating table and at the ballot box. Our leaders claim to be patriots but will follow the almighty buck wherever it leads them. They believe their own lines about China being a "trading partner". It is not. It is the wolf at the door and they are feeding it.

China is not the only country trying to dominate American markets. Japan took over our automobile and machine tool industry a long time ago with Taiwan as a partner. Eastern Europe has taken over large blocks of manufacturing and countries like India are are stepping into the picure.

Meanwhile we fight wars for the last bit of oil, we let our primary industries languish and economists tell us we will be a "service" economy. What kind of "service"? Maids, gardeners, prostitutes. . . the ultimate in providing service.

YES, we landed an exploration vehical on Mars. "We are great". But it was an itty bitty low budget, do it on the cheap vehical. It was a "feel good" mission. Bush will mention it in his campaign speaches and claim to support science. But if you looked at the people celebrating at NASA's late night news conference you saw nothing but tired aging engineers from a past generation. There was no young new talent in the group. A great nation with a dynamic ecomomy would be doing BIG science. We would have a fully manned space station, a permanent base on the Moon and hundreds of rovers on Mars. We would be smashing atoms with the worlds largest particle accelerator (the Texas Super Collider). But we are not. Budgets tighten, small works continue and there is nothing to excite youth into advancing science. . . and meanwhile China has put their first man in space. Yes, they are 40 years behind the curve, but they are exciting their youth. They are trying to do everything they can to better us. And if we let them, they will.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/04/04 12:29:13 EST

Folks; I woud like to coin a new phrase. Instead of saying "like taking candy from a baby" for something easy, I propose we use the phrase "Like giving scrap to a blacksmith"

Had a bunch of friends show up and it was truely amazing watching them stand in the rain looking at the the scrap piled up and talking themselves into piece after piece after piece---just hope I can head toward (New) Mexico afore their SO's track me down...

Of course one of them told me he would make regular fleamarket reports to me once I was down there...

Thomas feeling wet and lighter
   Thomas P - Sunday, 01/04/04 12:51:37 EST

Hello,I am just getting started in blacksmithing i brought a small hand forge in the pan was some type of clay or somthing most of it fell out in moving the forge need to know what this was and what to put back in there.Thanks Tom.
   Tom Morelli - Sunday, 01/04/04 13:40:24 EST


A good layer of ash will probably work, other wise mix kitty litter and portland cement, equal portions. Dry mix first, and then mix in just enough water to moisten everything evenly. You want a mix that is stiff enough to hold it's shape when you squeeze it in your hand.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/04/04 13:50:33 EST

Claying Forges: We have written on this many times and I should probably edit a FAQ. Some forges need claying and others do not, a few have cast in "Clay before using".

Generaly if a forge is not going to be used for heavy work you can get away without claying it. If the pan is steel you do not need to clay it. The only pans that should always be clayed are the very thin cast iron pans. The only instructions from a manufacture that I have seen relative to claying was for a flat bottomed forge to make a ducks nest like ring aound the air grate bridging the joint between the pan and grate. This raised area looked like it would help consolidate and give better control of the fire.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/04/04 14:20:38 EST

Thanks for the excellent info on Post Drills. I'll keep my (too fast) drill press and use the savings to renew my CSI membership when it comes due in a few days.

Question on "strange term"....here in Arizona (and New Mexico) we are not accustomed to the term "rain". What kind of term is this? VBG.
   Ellen - Sunday, 01/04/04 14:57:54 EST

Having traveled the world with the military, i may be qualified to explain the term "rain" You may have noticed from time to time moisture that fell from the sky. I'm sure that in you part of the world, that when you looked up in surprise, you found a bird fleeing the scene. In other parts of the world, it seems that from time to time moisture falls from the sky without the birds being involved. In fact sometimes enough moisture falls that things grow! In my area, we have enough moisture that falls from the sky that we actually have green plant life without irrigation!Now I know that this all seems very strange, but once this sinks in, I will explain the even stranger concept of frozen moisture falling from the sky.:)
   ptree - Sunday, 01/04/04 16:07:58 EST

Tis a four letter word in some parts of the country. It is a liquid that no good Irishman would drink.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/04/04 16:27:19 EST


One thing to remember, the term "rain" has no relationship at all to the term "Aqua Vitae". And it is antithetical to the term "Aqua Fortis".
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/04/04 16:41:49 EST

Howdy, Guru-I know that this may sound a little basic, but I was wondering if you could tell me where I might nfind a labelled illustration of a blacksmith's forge (Listing all parts--e.g.-horn, hardie hole, etc.) and also, I was wondering if you know of anyone who has the same type of illustration for a basic fixed-blade knofe? Thanks for your help, I'm sure that my high school students will appreciate it!

   mr.d - Sunday, 01/04/04 21:32:27 EST

Mr. D.,

I don't think such a thing exists, and to try to do it on a single picture would be so crowded with labels that it would be difficult to tell which label went with which object. Many of the items in the blacksmiths shop have many parts, even though they may be a single item. As an example, most people think of an anvil as a single item, but actually it's a collection of parts, each of which have many uses. An illustrated shop such as you describe would certainly be a worthwhile project.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/04/04 22:28:47 EST

Paw Paw didn't Postman have a "poster" of the parts of an anvil? ISTR one but it's packed for the duration...

Of course there are multiple names for many of the parts, like bic or horn, face or table, etc

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/05/04 00:30:17 EST


It's possible, but I couldn't find it and don't remember ever seeing it.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/05/04 00:52:06 EST

RAIN ? PawPaw, isn't that the stuff you mix with Kentucky or Georgia red clay, to help provide ballast for boots, combat ?
   3dogs - Monday, 01/05/04 02:00:52 EST

I seem to remember M.T. Richardson including some pretty descriptive pictures of the anvil and forge in his "Practical Blacksmithing".
   3dogs - Monday, 01/05/04 02:04:50 EST

Well stated, Guru. Per an article in The Wall Street Journal some years ago: "We are selling out America for this quarter's profit, and we are firing our own customers". It doesn't really matter which party - they both embraced NAFTA, Gatt and the WTO. Oh, yes, we are exporting but natural resources, raw materials and now the Chinese are recycling our trash. Don't be suprised if they shoot it back at us.
I always thought we should "buy American", but so many things are made or have parts made elsewhere. Miller welders have parts made in Mexico. OMC likewise. I was truly dismayed to open my new angle grinder from Sears; Made in Tiawan. I Bought a set of Stanley ratchet combination wrenches: Tiawan. Pontiac Grand Am: Korea. Hazzard a guess as to where the computer chips in our military jets are made.....
   Ron Childers - Monday, 01/05/04 07:57:50 EST

Paw Paw, it wasn't part of the book; but a seperate hand out he gave folks at Quad-State one year who had previously bought the book.----Boy am I gonna miss Quad-State! I wanted to talk to them about doing a bloomery run and smelting some Iron ore for the Friday evening program one year.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/05/04 08:29:26 EST

Some where in my childhood I remember a quote of prophecy: "The Great White Bear (USSR?) shall come down from the north and the Yellow race shall inherit the earth." I have no idea where the quote came from, but it has stuck in the back of my mind a long time.

Re:Water: "I never drink the stuff. Fish *------* in it." W.C. Fields.
   habu - Monday, 01/05/04 09:18:50 EST


Didn't the old CosIRA books (and their recent successors) have labeled diagrams? Of course, they'd all be in "British English" and side-blast forges. Then again, one of the recent Centaur Forge catalogs had a diagram of an anvil all in "British English" too. Why caint they speak 'Murican, fer cryin' out loud?

Economics and the Space Program:

Some of these projects are heirs of the NASA "Faster, better cheaper" program, which as Grant Sarver will tell you, is an oxymoron. (“Good fast and cheap; pick two.”) I was amused when NASA graciously announced that “only one in three of these flights succeed” in relation to the European Mars lander. This is on a data base of, what, six or seven attempts?

Meanwhile my brother’s-in-law project ( genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov ) quietly circles an L-point, collecting the solar wind. The original proposal was bumped several times due to MARS projects (such as Sojourner) being more “sexy”. I support NASA, and I even used to work there (as a contractor/peon) in the early ‘70s. I’m glad we’ve got something a little sophisticated on Mars. But trust me, getting there- the technology, funding, Politics and politics, the parts that we don’t really hear about, was half the fun.

On the other claw, with all that iron oxide tinting the soil, there must be some great blacksmithing opportunities up there, if there were only enough fuel and oxygen. ;-)

Warm and wet but fixin' to get back to January on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/05/04 10:16:50 EST

Anvil and Forge Diagrams: Mr.D, These are some of the very basic things that I have been avoiding putting on anvilfire because they are in EVERY book on blacksmithing. See our Getting Started article for suggested references.

Forges come in dozens of types ranging from a hole in the ground with a mouth blown air supply to modern gas forges with multiple burners and digital temperature controls. The basics that apply to all forges are a fire pot or box and a tuyere (air pipe) to blow air on the fuel (doubles as the burner on gas/oil forges). Air can and has been provided by mouth, the wind, animal hides over a hole, wineskins, bellows (many types), blowers (hand, belt and electric), air compressors and venturi effect.

Anvil parts depend somewhat on the style. In North America we tend to assume that all people use the same type anvil, they do not. The only parts common to all anvils is the face (top), body (middle of mass) and base or foot (bottom). London or American pattern anvils are nearly the most standard and most complicated but modern farrier's anvils have added specialized features as well as the fad feature dejur.

In general you have the face plus a horn or bick (shaped either like a cone, birds beak or a rhinoceros horn). European anvils have both a round and square horn as do most stake anvils (another type of anvil). The face may have a square hole called a hardy hole and a small round hole called a pritchell hole. Some anvils have a series of round holes. These are incorrectly called pritchell holes, they are punching holes. Only the small hole properly sized for a farrier's punch is a "pritchell" hole. The large round hole in European anvils SHOULD be called a punching hole.

Eventually I will cover these topics with illustrations but as I previously said it is something that EVERY book on blacksmithing covers (in a limited fashion). We never intended to replace books with anvilfire.

The Postman anvil card was provided with every first printing of Anvils in America. Being a loose sheet most people lose it.
   - guru - Monday, 01/05/04 10:52:40 EST

Alti:- did i hear something about a solar forge, then you say fuel!
   - Nigel - Monday, 01/05/04 11:09:50 EST

China & our government:

Very well stated Guru!

If we allow things to continue our economy will colapse just as Russia's did!!

Here's the kick...

I said "if 'WE' allow"...

This country still has the power to stop this from happening if "WE THE PEOPLE" wake up and start governing our country again.
I am an activist, my wife was in Miami in November to protest FTAA while I ran protests locally. There were over 20,000 people in Miami protesting FTAA but all it received in the main stream media was an "oh by the way", while Micheal Jackson's ugly face was plastered world wide in the media. Did you know our government spent $8,500,000 to 'control' the protesters in Miami? Of course our government says that money was spent on 'Security' for the city and for the protesters against acts of terrorism. That money came out of the Iraqi war fund. Our government considers political protesters as terrorists and it is in the process of trying to pass laws against the act of political protesting, stating that it is an act and form of terrorism because it jeopardizes the stability and security of the nation. Did you know that our government has issued statements that it will enact MARTIAL LAW if there is another terrorist attack on the USA? What will it mean if our government does manage to get laws passed against political protesting as a form of terrorism?

The problem as I see it (maybe I'm wrong) is we have too many ignorant Americans who trust our government or who don't believe they have the power to change things. We have media that is controlled by the almighty corporate dollar so we don't get the REAL news. If your interested here is an alternative news media about FTAA, http://www.ftaaimc.org/en/index.shtml

Our government is controlled by money through election campaign donations.

Let me say that again...

"Our Government is controlled by MONEY"!!!!!!!!

How do "We The People" get the rest of our nation to see what is really happening?
how do we regain control of our government?

That's what I'm trying to figure out.



P.S. Namaste,
How is it pronounced, what does it mean?
   Steve in New York - Monday, 01/05/04 11:38:56 EST

To make use of the iron oxides on mars you need to smelt them and that will take a carbon based fuel to provide the CO need to strip away the O from the Fe at high temps.

Also while the air is much thinner---good for solar collection, Mars *is* farther out there and so the energy per sq meter is lower. Of course if you can get enough heat the scaling problem will be much smaller on Mars...

Hmm, wonder If I can get funding for an experiment at the Atacama site in Chile; 16500' up there, very dry, it already is a decent Mars analogue...

Thomas Powers
   Thomas P - Monday, 01/05/04 12:01:07 EST

Yep; what Thomas said. Notice the size of the solar panels being extended from the Mars landers: lots of panel space, compared to instrumentation.

"Oh the sun shines weakly on my old Gusev Crater home..."
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/05/04 12:29:19 EST

Habu, (and all), Look in your Bible. Daniel 7 speaks of the Bear and Revelation 9 tells of the army of 200 million from the East. Sounds like a dreadful scenario. But there is a way to be saved from that coming wrath. It is in the Bible also. Think about it.
   - Tom H - Monday, 01/05/04 15:05:51 EST

"Way down inside the Gusev Crater, far, far away"

Hmm, must have spent too much time snorting shop and bookcase dust lately; gave my daughter's boyfriend a 1 brick forge and a chunk of rail, now to find a spare ball pein and his weight in scrap (there is madness in my method)!

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/05/04 15:12:47 EST

Steel and Carbon Based Fuels: Steel, is quite frankly an absolute necessity of civilization and technology. LOTS of steel. To make steel (reduce it from ore) as Thomas pointed out requires a carbon based fuel. And not just ANY carbon based fuel but coke derived from fossil fuels, coal or oil.

Steel and fuel necessary to manufacture it are strategic materials as well as necesary to sustain our civilization. In the US the ore is currently plentiful. However, coal and oil are very finite resources that the planet IS going to run out of in our children's lifetime. Drilling in the last primitive places and strip mining every inch of coal will only put off the end a decade or so.

Then what? Then the price of iron and steel scrap skyrocket. Scrap becomes a stratigic material. Nothing new can be built without tearing down something old. Economies faulter, argibusiness fails, famine, death. . .

So what are we doing about it? We are selling our scrap to Japan to turn into automobiles to sell back to us. We are selling our coal to Japan and Europe while we fight wars over who controls the oil in the Middle East. . .

Coal and oil need to be reserved for steel making and replaced by other fuels. Space based solar, nuclear. . .

Japan is ahead of us in this too. While we are passively letting our nuclear plants fall into disrepair our only substitute is to burn coal and oil. Meanwhile Japan is taking advantage of Europe's failure to handle the nuclear waste issue (same as us) and is hauling away the "scrap" nuclear fuel which can be reprocessed in to usable fuel AND via breeder reactor used to more than double the fuel value WHILE making power. They are preparing for the end of the fossil fuel age while taking advantage of our not having any plan at all.

And when the last lump of coal is burning in the last running coal power plant, CNN will be broadcasting some rock star's funeral or latest escapades.

   - guru - Monday, 01/05/04 15:41:19 EST

My wifes newest work: Hi all Dawn has a new comic strip that she has on her web site. This is in addition to all the other stuff she is doing to support that site.
SO if you have the inclination please look.

   Ralph - Monday, 01/05/04 18:34:21 EST

Moving: Thomas, if you find another one of those boilermaker's hammers you didn't know you had send it my way. . .

Comics: Ralph, nice work. Need blacksmithy cartoons. .
   - guru - Monday, 01/05/04 20:26:06 EST

Guru; I think I got rid of all but my personal one; but I'll swing by *my* source and see if they had one "misfiled" that has turned up since my last sack and pillage raid.

Nothing like stacking heavy wooden boxes full of tools up to the ceilings to engender the thirst to go visit the "odd tool dealers"

Now to build a ramp to get the boxes out of the basement...

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/05/04 21:38:40 EST

Ah, Thomas... there you are! Greetings to the gurus... new poster here. I'm in my 50s and making fantasy coins. (Thomas P. has been to my shop) I'm still searching for contact info for obtaining pure iron sheet and heavy wire... it coins beautifully but seems to be difficult to find at the moment! I'm also wondering if anybody has contact info for Grant Sarver and Off Center Products. I keep running across the page http://www.anvilfire.com/power/morepwr8.htm with the wonderful photos of the large powered screw presses and I'd like to talk to him about those.
Be well! Tom
   - Tom Maringer - Monday, 01/05/04 22:03:15 EST

Tom Maringer
you might try e-mail: gnsjr@worldnet.att.net for Off Center and Grant
As for Pure Iron it is no longer sold here in teh USA, but it is still sold in Europe. DO a google search for it.
My google seach came up with this..... http://www.artmetalco.com/usages-uk.htm
   Ralph - Monday, 01/05/04 23:39:25 EST

Pure Iron: Tom, It is manufactured in Europe and distributed there to blacksmiths. There WAS a US dealer but they got out of the business and sold out the last of their inventory.

The closest thing to PI is transformer and motor armature plates. The reason they uses PI is that it is not magnetizable. Otherwise these parts would become magnetic and fight the change in flux direction (heat and resistance). It is also used for solenoid cores. I know small transformers use thin sheet but big transformers probably use thicker sheet (maybe 1/16").

Grant posts here ocassionaly put doesn't leave an e-mail address. I've got his phone number somewhere but you didn't leave an address either. .

The folks at BigBLUhammer.com have one of the large flypresses for sale (that was purchased from Grant) and are ready to DEAL. It would probably make a set of four coins in one pass. Ratings on these big machines is limited only by the stretch of the tension rods. See also Flypress.com
   - guru - Monday, 01/05/04 23:40:56 EST

Good Guru;
When we run out of fossil fuels we will probably turn to methane hydrate. There is an enormous amount of it on the deep, cold ocean bottoms. Recovering it is still technically difficult but the resource is so huge that it will be done. Geeze, deep sea pharts .
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 01/06/04 03:28:53 EST

Hey Guru's
Just wondering what type of metal you would suggest to make
ornamental swords.
Happy New Year!
   Andrew Hurd - Tuesday, 01/06/04 09:40:46 EST

I always suspected that one day we'd be strip mining our land fills for the incredible resources that we've been throwing away through the last century.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/06/04 09:51:48 EST

Ornamental Sword Material: Aluminium, Stainless, plated mild or medium carbon steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 10:03:22 EST

Thanks Guru,
My Second question is where would I get some,
and what would the price range be.
Thank you.
   - Andrew Hurd - Tuesday, 01/06/04 10:19:15 EST

Hello i have a molock power hammer being offered to me and i need information about machine .
   oscar - Tuesday, 01/06/04 10:32:09 EST

Ornamental Sword Material II: Andrew, All three are available from metal service centers or from our On-line Metals Store. In aluminium a sword blank sized piece is about $2 plus shipping. Carbon steel will probably be similar but a stainless billet would be about $10.

I left out bronze and Damascus. You can buy pattern welded steel from a variety of sources but the price is high compared to plain bar stock ($500 to $700 for sword size billets). Bronze or brass was used for swords for 4,000 years before the iron age. So if you are looking at making a sword for an Ancient Greek hero it would be bronze.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 10:56:47 EST

Moloch Power Hammers were designed by the men who designed and built Little Giants. The mechanism is very similar but the frames are generaly heavier. Parts look interchangable but they are not. Haven't been made or serviced for 75 years. Like all orphan machinery, you are on your own for parts and repairs.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 10:59:38 EST

Anybody have contact info for the fellow selling the deep draw steel stock at Quad-State? I got a piece for Tom; but can't find the dealers info and with the move the likelyhood goes way down...

Guru, I stopped by the place I got the WWII british boilermaker's hammers and they said some weirdo bought them all last spring---the lack of my beard provides great insight on how I am perceived...I'll keep my eye open for a spare but AFAIKT they are "history".

Glueing up old piano keys to replace a sheath that a friend crushed---luckily I don't have anything else to do right now, anybody want to by some prime beachfront property in NM?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/06/04 11:57:54 EST

Tom Maringer

It certainly is nice to hear from you. You may not remember me, but we got connected through Thomas Powers and Dr. Carroll Mobley when I was a student at OSU. I recently asked our steel supplier about pure iron sources and he suggested I contact the following individual who deals in transformer type iron. I was told he had some bar stock.

Joe Buzoto: 203-272-5701

Patrick Nowak
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 01/06/04 12:57:47 EST

Guru, there is another way to reduce iron without the use of oil or coke. It involves dropping pelletized iron ore through a pressurized atmosphere of superheated methane. I saw this process in use at a mill in Brazil. As has been previously mentioned, methyl hydrate seems to be an abundant sea-floor resource. Of course, recovery of the Hydrate is not just difficult, it poses a HUGE danger to life on the planet. The uncontrolled release of methane from the sea-floor would create havoc with the atmosphere.

Deep-drawing steel: Ask for "Low Intersticial" steel.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/06/04 13:14:59 EST

Pelletized ore = $
Pressure vessel = $
New unproven fuel source = $

It may work but can it supply the world's steel requirements at a coat that doesn't kill the economy that requires it?

One of the technologies that seemed to be simple and easy was geothermal. How can you beat infinitly renewable, 24/7, ZERO fuel cost? It turns out that the corrosive minerals in the return water eat pipes, wreck turbines and end up creating toxic wastes. . . Geothermal works but it is very expensive compared to burning coal or oil.

The reports on production of methane from seafloor methyl hydrate sounds like just the thing for a mad scientist that doesn't mind creating a major catastrophy or two in order to reach his goals. It COULD be just the thing, but its another solution waiting for megabucks (public money) to do the R&D.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 16:56:46 EST

There is a realitively new process for making fuel from practically anything, with a much higher ratio of energy in to energy converted(efficiency of over 90%) to a usefull form than any other conversion process that I know of. Thermo-depolymerization is what it is, a thermal conversion process.

You can find out more about it at. . .



I heard about this a few years ago. The possibilities are endless. Not only can we now easily convert the municipal waste, such as common garbage, into a usable fuel. The millions and billions of tons of industrial waste can be converted also.

Also, it is competetive in cost to oil company opertations.


I have been screaming about China as our biggest enemy for a while now and almost always people just give me a strange look and laugh. Then after half an hour of explaining what our situation is, they began to nod their head and look concerned. Then they declare it hopeless, which it is not.

Look, China(1,319,132,500 people) and India(1,067,421,100 people) make up more than 1/6th of this worlds(6,355,543,400 people) population EACH, together they make up more than 1/3rd. The United States of America(291,639,900) only makes up 1/21st of the worlds population.

India is producing more computer type technology than any other country in the world, that is where most of the new engineers are coming from. They also represent a big problem for us. Brazil is also surpasing us in the production of agriculture goods. However I will focus on China for now.

Around our industrial explosion, before, during and after World War II we made a lot of giant things that were unsurpased at that point in the world, one of which is the Hoover Dam. China is in the process of building the Three Gorges Dam which shall be the largest in the world. If one were to take this as a sign of how well they can centralize and utilize a work force, as one should. Then compare that to what we were doing before World War II and how well we ran our labor force. Well, then extrapolate how many war machines we made per laborer, how many laborers we had per total population and how we used an abundance of forces to destroy our enemys more advanced forces. This is discluding the nukes, I don't think that they are an issue between China and us directly, both sides have more sense than that. Looking at China, how big of a work force they have and how well they can use it. Imagine if they stoped manufacture of all goods exported to America and made war machines instead, even after just a year or two, that would be significant, distubring and virtually unbeatable.

So how do we stop this from coming to pass. Well, I think that there are only two significant ways for we the people to have an effect. One, scream loud and never shut up, scream in groups or alone amoungst a crowd. It works for the extreme liberals(although that is only because no one screams back). Two, take an issue with what happens outside of your front door. This may sound weak but, the only way to really control what the top government does is to control or at least influence it from the bottem up. From the city , to the UNION of the citys, a county, to the UNION of the countys, a state on to the UNION of the states, our country.

I don't know the exact quote, but Hitler once said something to the effect that a governments greatest asset is the fact that it's people(the citizens) do not think independently, and more so, even if they do think, they do not act upon those thoughts.

Tom H, yeah, the Bible has many answers in it, on many different levels. Oddly enough it does not speak of us(America) being an issue in the end times, it is becoming easier and easier to see why. . .

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/06/04 17:13:50 EST

I should have mentioned the Changing World Technologies, Inc has a small test plant and a large plant beside a turkey processing company where they take the turkey guts thrown out in the processing of the meat. Then turn them into fuel. It is not one of those pipe dreams or scams, it is a real solution to a real problem. Hey, they even had it on the world news for a few seconds a few months ago.grin

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/06/04 17:19:12 EST

Can we move on from political rants? There are plenty of forums for it. We are a diverse group with diverse political opinions but what we do have in common here is an interest in smithing and metal work. Let's stay with that.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/06/04 18:02:14 EST

I second the motion, Adam... I'm liking the discussion, but let's take it to the Hammer-In, ok?

Back to your regularly scheduled blacksmithing content, I am thinking about making some hammers from mild steel to test shapes and designs. Will these hold up for a reasonable "testing period", like a few months? Would case hardening help? (Doubtful, but I had to ask.)

Also, can anyone recommend some steels for punches? And don't say sucker rod, please... the nearest oil well is at least 2,500 miles away and I believe it floats (VBG).

Cool, sunny, and windy in Honolulu, Hawaii. Perfect iron-pounding weather...
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 01/06/04 18:46:26 EST

T. Gold,

If you heat to non-magnetic, then quench in Super Quench, they'll last long enough for testing purpose, I think.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/06/04 18:57:59 EST


Steel for punches, S-7 or H-13. Coil spring from cars and trucks makes decent punches, too.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/06/04 18:58:51 EST

Hammers: In the olde days when steel was precious, these were made by welding a steel face onto a block of soft iron. I've made a couple of top tools this way - leafspring welded onto a mild steel block. It's a surprisingly easy weld. Specially if you use the mig to tack the face in place. (I think the oldtimers used to skip that step :) )

Punches: What PawPaw said, and in that order too. Also, old cold chisels and drift punches are easily reground and make useful punches. If you dont use a hot work steel then you have to take care to cool the punch much more often while using it.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/06/04 19:20:38 EST

hello all, i've been lurking here for a while , im new to blacksmithing and i have a question or two:)
#1 ive made a furnace out of a brake drum from an old ford ranger and i would like to know if i should use the mate to it to build a "cover" to insulate the pot to increase the heating efficiancy , ive already cut a hole in the side for access to the coals , just wondered if it actually makes a difference.

#2 , all i can find in my neck of the woods as far as coal is plain old heating coal, ive heard rumors that this fuel can contaminate the media you work on , hehe of course this doesnt matter for learning but id like to know just the same ,

THanks SO Much for this forum it has given me alot of information and motivation to finally start working in metals . regards
   jesterfester - Tuesday, 01/06/04 19:34:38 EST


If I want a "roof" on my fire for welding purposes, is just make it out of fresh coal. I've never used a cover such as you describe, nor have I ever seen anyone else use one. I wouldn't bother.

A cover to keep rain out is a different story.

As for you coal, ask your supplier for a detailed analysis. Then compare it to the one in the FAQ on Coal and Charcoal.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/06/04 20:41:48 EST

Thanks guru,
Where would I be able to locate
your On-line Metals Store?
Thank you
   - Andrew Hurd - Tuesday, 01/06/04 21:44:56 EST

It depends on just what you mean by "plain old heating coal". When I began blacksmithing more than a few years ago we lived just down the street from a coal supplier. They sold coal primarily for heating purposes and it would weld all day long, once I learned how. The coal was called 'stoker' coal with the chunks about the size of large pea gravel. When we moved to another area, the only coal I could find was large chunks that was really dirty. I tried it once and hauled the rest to the dump. The lack of useable coal actually forced me to go the propane route. For what it's worth; if you can't get clean, high btu, low sulfur and ash coal about the size of gravel at an affordable price spare yourself the frustration and use that energy to build yourself a propane forge. However, I must admit that I haven't quite gotten the hang of welding in my propane forge where once I used to take some pride in the quality of my coal forge welds.
Best of luck.

   Howard - Tuesday, 01/06/04 21:45:43 EST

I should have added. If you live near a power plant that burns coal to run their steam plant you may be in luck. Having worked at such a plant where I tested the coal for heat content, etc., I know they generally get the best stuff.
They may just sell you a ton or two.

   Howard - Tuesday, 01/06/04 21:52:02 EST

Covering the Fire: Forges use fuel at a fairly fast rate at the core of the fire. You must continualy feed that core. In furnaces they do it with screw conveyors so that the fuel comes in under the fire. In a forge it must be open so you can rake fuel in. The other problem with a close cover is that the immediate area close to a forge fire is hot enough to melt almost anything you can afford to cover it with and will even burn up so called high temperature alloys.

Quality of coal varies from black tinted gravel that is almost unburnable to anthracite which is nearly pure carbon. Good smithing coal is a soft coal with little ash and enough volitiles that it can be kept burning easily.

Sulfur contamination from coal is highly overrated. Unless you are manufacturing iron the small amount that is absorbed will only be in the surface scale which, IF you are making critical parts, will be removed by grinding or machineing. The only time sulfur content would be a problem is for someone making laminated steel OR processing steel by repeated welds.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 23:47:42 EST

Political Rants: Sorry, I was the one that got it started and I should probably have a RANTS page if I am going to do that. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/06/04 23:49:10 EST

andrew: pulldown menu in the upper rt hand corner. select "STORE"
   adam - Tuesday, 01/06/04 23:52:02 EST

Guru, as our generous and diligent host I think most here would agree you are entitled to comment on any topic you see fit to discuss, in any way you choose. Thanks for hosting this wonderful site.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/07/04 00:15:18 EST

Ellen, Here,Here and to the Good Guru, Thanks

   habu - Wednesday, 01/07/04 00:36:16 EST

Prototype Hammers: TG, Making the test hammers will be a LOT of work (to test you have to handle them too). Why not experiment with some medium to high carbon steel and have useful tools when you are done?

I have a collection of hammers of all kinds of weird shapes and they all work. Your designs may not be perfect for what you intended BUT they WILL work and you may find a use for them. I know you are an experianced enough craftsperson to make hammers that work well the first time. So why not make the real thing?

I just watched the Wayne Goddard Wire Damascus video for the third time working on the review. Wayne likes hammers that are heavier in the front (like old world and Japanese sledges). He uses reworked ball piens because they have that front heavy balance. He also has a heavy Japanese style sledge he calls his "power hammer" because of its weight and configuration. He demonstrated the different results of the hammers (mentioning as a good way to test) on a piece of plasticine clay.

We have a nice chart with hammer shapes on RepousseTools.com as well as photos of Armourer's hammers from a couple different sources.

Note that many smiths make custom hammers with long bodies to do decorative work and for getting into places that normal hammers are too short for. One of the projects in CoSIRA's Decorative Ironwork is making a slender long piened hammer with one end radiused verticaly and the other horizontaly (Fig 70 in our review).

For forging hammers the more curved the face the faster it moves metal AND the rougher the work. Edges need to be dressed smoothly to prevent marking the work but the flatter the hammer the less the radius as the point of a flat faced hammer is to make things FLAT. But edges always need radiusing. Just dressing common hammers can make a big difference in their usefulness. AND hammers you have been using a lot MAY have worn flatter than when new. Sometimes they work better, sometimes not. Study the face curvature of hammers you like as apposed to those you do not.

What you make punches out of depends on their use. Simple butchers and depression punches can be made of mild steel and will work a couple or a dozen times. But often that is all you need. I recycle a lot of standard punches and chisles. You only need the fancier alloy tool steels for hot work where you have slender tools and cutting edges.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/07/04 00:57:17 EST

I am a metallurgist from India working in the welding field.
I have two questions related to welding application-

1. Most often we find some MMAW electrodes do not work in Low OCV (Open Circuit Voltage)welding transformers (50 OCV) but work well when the OCV is high (>70 OCV). What could be the reason for such behaviour?

2.During welding with lower diameter stainless steel MMAW electrodes, they become red-hot, even if we work on a minumum current setting. Is there any solution to avoid the problem?
   somnath chakravarty - Wednesday, 01/07/04 04:32:33 EST

I am a metallurgist from India working in the welding field.
I have two questions related to welding application-

1. Most often we find some MMAW electrodes do not work in Low OCV (Open Circuit Voltage)welding transformers (50 OCV) but work well when the OCV is high (>70 OCV). What could be the reason for such behaviour?

2.During welding with lower diameter stainless steel MMAW electrodes, they become red-hot, even if we work on a minumum current setting. Is there any solution to avoid the problem?
   somnath chakravarty - Wednesday, 01/07/04 04:43:57 EST

Iam a metallurgist from India working in the welding field.

Most often for Zinc bath (for galvanizing tank) welding Low Silicon weld metal is recommended. Why?
   somnath chakravarty - Wednesday, 01/07/04 05:02:24 EST

   - Andrew Hurd - Wednesday, 01/07/04 09:21:34 EST


What are the best tools to use when starting off?

   - Moe - Wednesday, 01/07/04 09:31:34 EST

Moe, Starting what? For any task it it the tools that you need. In some cases it is the tools that you can afford.

There is a list of tools and descriptions in our Getting Started article (linked at the top and bottom of this page and on the home page).
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/07/04 10:25:36 EST

Politics and Blacksmithing: Sorry to make my blacksmithing post sound so political, but it was indeed blacksmith related. Everything in life is important, especially enjoyment.

Steve in New York
   Steve in New York - Wednesday, 01/07/04 10:46:35 EST

Covers for forges.....
Errr no one has mentioned this so I will. If and I say IF you have green coal in the fire and then you cover it you are possibly making a bomb.... The methane may not have a chance to escape and it COULD build up till it goes boom. Just like a bellows can. ONly this time you will have hot coal and fire flying about.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/07/04 10:54:54 EST

T. Gold,
In addition to the S-7 and H-13 ( which do make excellent punches) I have used 5160 and 1084 as well as scrap steel (coil springs from cars ) with great luck.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/07/04 11:01:50 EST

Ralph; KABOOM !!!! I had that happen with a Weber kettle type BBQ grill one time. I must have had a pretty good methane and/or starting fluid fume buildup. I cracked the vent a little bit, let in a little air, and WHOOMP !, instant eyebrow and nosehair shortage.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 01/07/04 12:53:08 EST

After having seen a large bellows do the same I am usually rather cautious when it comes to that sort of thing.
Now mind you I like explosions and all that. But only when I know before had it is going to happen.

I should have gone in to the Service as a member of the CE's but I really did not think of that at the time....
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/07/04 13:16:52 EST

I will add, when first starting and with no benefit of the wisdom here: A large clinker settled onto the tuyere opening, I just leaned into the champion blower trying to overcome the obvious loss in air flow/pressure; big mistake, I soon had quite a volcano with clinker and coal sparks spraying all over the small smithy, down my shirt, into my hair, pockets etc. Quite embarassing, although know one witnessed it. (I am trying to atone for this stupid mistake by confessing) Oh yea, and the hardy that dinged out of ill fitting togs and creased my brow!
   Tone - Wednesday, 01/07/04 14:24:49 EST

togs=tongs PTP!
   Tone - Wednesday, 01/07/04 14:26:24 EST


Everyone in here (that uses coal or charcoal) has had mis-adventures like that, myself included.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/07/04 14:26:50 EST

thanks for the input guys, the coal i can get is in about 2 to 5 inch squar-ish chunks and is clean shiney black , once it starts burning you can almost see oil being pulled from the coal. I left a rail road spike in there to see how hot i could get it , and i got a nice post-it color yellow from the furnace, is this a good heat ? for starting out? also this coal costs $7.00 for 50lbs bag hehe pricey buts the only place ive found , save grabbing it from a railroad dump near my house (illegal ) so im not gonna do that ...
anyhoo anyone know a supplier near Clemson University? thanks again :)
   jesterfester - Wednesday, 01/07/04 15:37:08 EST


That sounds like fairly decent stuff. The heat is enough to work RR spikes, or most mild steels. As for the price, thats not as good as if you were right next to the supplier. Your decision to not "pirate" from the RR is a good decision, they can be really tough on folks who steal from them. That said, you might ASK the folks at the RR if they have any suggestions on a place to buy from. They might even offer to sell you some.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/07/04 15:49:17 EST

Price of coal....
Wish I could get it for 7 per 50lbs... Here in Oregon it is going for about 20 per 50lbs... and last time I got some it was crappy coal to boot.....
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/07/04 16:24:05 EST


Let me see how much truck rental will be to bring 20 tons out there, I think I could sell it for HALF that price and make a profit!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/07/04 17:13:35 EST

Bellows and Green Coal Smoke: The trick is to NEVER jerk the bellows handle hard. Always give the handle a little short pump to test the air before giving a full pull. Its sort of like double clutching. If there is explosive smoke in the bellows the worst it SHOULD do is raise the top of the bellows. Exciting but not destructive. However, if you jerk the handle filling the bellows before the smoke ignites then the bellows have no where to go and fly apart.

Poorly made bellows have too large an air space when at rest and can accumulate enough gas to blow them up no matter what. . when they go it is for the good because now you can replace them with properly designed bellows. Too heavy a top board also aggrevates the problem because it cannot move fast enough and the force goes to the leather and nails.

The short double pump is something that should be consiously practiced on the bellows until it becomes automatic.

I contantly warn Paw-Paw about jerking the bellows handle on my old set. . . He will be picking bellows nails out of his eyebrows one day. . .

Two things create the condition that puts explosive gases in the bellows. One is a big pile of green coal that is not vented (always poke a hole in the stack). Two is wind blowing into the forge and forcing hot unburnt gases in the bottom of the fire back up the tuyere into the belows. The second is more common in outdoor forges but happens in shops with big doors and a small stack. The worse case is a combination of one and two. Lots of viscious yellow smoke and a gentle breeze pushing it back into the bellows.

Normally most of the problem occurs in the pipe between bellows and forge as it acts somewhat like a chimney. So, the shorter the pipe the better.

The bellows shown in DeRe Metalica have pressure release valves on the top board. However, I do not think these are for explosions as they were burning charcoal, it is to prevent overpressurizing since the bellows were water powered. Yeah, just like a pressure release on a modern air compressor. Circa 1500!
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/07/04 17:18:05 EST

i just sent you a few pics of my latest knife. please point out any flaws that you can see in it.
   - colin - Wednesday, 01/07/04 18:44:11 EST

Long time no post for me. Been busy. Still am. No smithing in this post either.

Guru, while you know how I stand on China/US trade from previous discussion, I have to comment on a couple of things.

One, China doesn't mind us teaching them. They learn well. Very well. We, as well as Europe, ARE teaching them. And paying them in the process. Remember, I was one of the "teachers" for a while.

China is rapidly buying raw material and driving the cost of scrap up. IE: Stainless scrap has more than doubled because of Chinese demand in a short time.

The average Chinese citizen is not a bad person. They work hard, want to learn, are fun to socialize with, etc. The communist Chinese who are in power, are the ones we need to look out for. Interestingly, in the US, the business interests and politicians who they own, are also the ones the average US citizen needs to look out for.

The Chinese WILL overtake us. For reasons stated. The average American citizen is letting their elected politicians and business interests cut them off at the knees.

The driver for the Chinese is just like the driver for our business leaders and politicians. The pursuit of money and power. The driver for the average Chinese citizen is to feed their family.

Just my 2 cents from working over there and having many friends who still do. Gotta go. Hope I didn't misspell anything in my haste.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 01/07/04 19:22:24 EST

guru, i just read that an area TV station filmed dixon's fly press demo at kaynes. are you aware of this, and if so, would you be interested in finding a way to distribute copies??

   rugg - Wednesday, 01/07/04 20:02:18 EST

Guru, charcoal will produce combustable gases just like bituminus coal will.Especially poorly produced charcoal ie: charcoal that has not been completly chard. Take it from someone who worked with charcoal the first 3 yrs of his BS carrier and knows.
   Doc Dick - Wednesday, 01/07/04 20:22:58 EST

guru interesting point of view on china.
if we could get our engineers to work for sixty dollars a month like they do and other skilled workers for even less then we could compete.
but since we cant we should let the democratic party continue to raise our pay / give everything away and tax the the people to get it back.
the mindset of americans is get rich overnight, the rest of the world is very patient. its basicaly our own fault and untill we admit it we are doomed
   - MIKE-T - Wednesday, 01/07/04 21:03:33 EST

Mike T.

> the mindset of americans is get rich overnight, the rest of the world is very patient.

I would modify that to say the Western World, rather than Americans, but even limiting it to Americans, it'd dead accurate. Westerners have NEVER been a patient as Orientals, and probably never will be.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/07/04 21:42:47 EST

Hi All! I've been researching an anvil for two weeks now with no luck, then I found this site. I'm trying to find out anything I can about this anvil. If you would be so kind to go to my Webshots page, I have made an album for it so you can see it. The URL is:


Just click on the album called "The Anvil".
Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
   D' Pont 24 - Wednesday, 01/07/04 21:43:12 EST

paw paw , thanks for the input on the coal. but i may have lucked out, it seems a coworker lives in a coalmining town in western virginia, well, he lived. he goes there on the weekend and has offered to scout out some coal from the mines and deliver me some if its cheaper up there ,:) as for the place at the RR , its just a fenced in drop area , with a 100 foot pile of coal sitting there , with no one near it, its kinda wierd that its in the middle of nowhere and theres no one around to ask to buy any . so thats a bust.. ;O(
   jesterfester - Wednesday, 01/07/04 21:55:59 EST

also another question,
I am using a 20" piece of RR tie as an anvil, and i am not pleased with the bounce and inefficiancy of the strike when im workin on it , to me it seems im loosing half my hammer hits to "disipation" of energy into the RR tie, am I not hitting right or is this the price of being to poor to buy an anvil :shrug: also if im right is there a way to counter act this dissapation? at the moment i have it mounted to a poplar tree stump ive buried into the ground bout 2 feet . thanks
   jesterfester - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:02:16 EST

anybody know when the next demo is going to be?
never been a part of a live one, just want to check it out.
   BBlack - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:05:26 EST


Hard to tell from just those two pictures, but it looks a bit like an early pattern Mousehole Forge. If you'll use a scotch brite pad to scrub it down, wipe the dust off of the scrubbed areas and do a rubbing of both sides, I may be able to help you more. The rubbing will show up things that you can't see with the naked eye. Also, look on the front of the foot under the horn and see if there is anything there.


The problem with the rail road anvil is that the web is so thin that it sways from side to side as you hit it. You probably can't see it happening, because the movement is very slight, but it does happen. Try to find a scrap of 1/2" plate that you can weld to the sides of the web. It needs to go all the way from the foot to the bull head, on both sides of the web. That will take a lot of the "spring" out of it and give you a better working anvil.

Another thing you can do is stand it up vertically. You can do an amazing amount of work on that small area, and it will give you more mass under the impact area. And in addition, it'll teach you a lot about hammer control.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:17:54 EST

I think you will have more luck using a piece of RR TRACK as an anvil. The wooden ties don't have much life in them. They realy tend to soak up the energy from the hammer blows(BIG OLD GRIN!). The piece of track should be mounted verticaly or the sides should be welded as Paw Paw said. Better yet, get thee down to a scrap yard and buy a block of steel that weighs about 100#, say round stock or a square of 3" plate. It is cheep and much better than what you are trying to hammer on.
   Wayne P - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:34:00 EST

wow , thanks for the heads up , cause man my pooor little arms get tired quick pounding on that RR "track" lol
guess next time im near atlanta i'll look for a scrap yard , the one in greenville is way to small to have such large pieces .... regards
   jesterfester - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:52:20 EST

Thanks Paw Paw! I'll try and do just that this weekend I hope.
   D' Pont 24 - Wednesday, 01/07/04 22:55:18 EST

Thank you for you time.
I'm taking up a hobbie using copper sheet work and would like to get some help and noledge on how to solder copper?
What is the best process and tools needed? I have solder some in the past but I want to do it following the correct methodes for the best results.

You advise would be greatly apprecated.
   Ozzie - Wednesday, 01/07/04 23:54:16 EST

OZZIE; get ahold of a Lindsay Publications Catalog. They have a reprint of a very old book on copper sheet work, which has all the basic stuff in it. Don't pay as much attention to WHAT they're making as to HOW they're doing it.Besides, it's cheap.
   3dogs - Thursday, 01/08/04 03:08:51 EST

Guru, pontificate all you want. Proves you're a genius since u agree with me.
Many years ago an old gunsmith told me about the process of browning metal. Seems they used a chemical for a controlled oxidation process (rust)and rubbed the gun barrel with (maybe steel wool) between applications. I know about Plumb Brown from Brownell's but is anyone familiar with the old timey process? Thanx
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 01/08/04 07:56:51 EST

Ron Childers;
Rust buling was common on high end gun finishes. There are many different formulas used but basicly the process goes,

1 Polish the metal
2 degrease the metal
3 dip in hot salts
4 place in a cabinet high in humidity to rust
5 rub with clean, oil free steel wool
6 repete steps 3 to 5 until you get the desired finish
7 after last rubbing with steel wool, oil the metal.

Most of the chemicals used are nasty to handle. The process for browning is the same, just different chemicals.

Check with gunsmithing references for the formulations. I know the book "the complete gunsmith" has many such recipies but at the moment it is about 60 miles away from me.
   Wayne P - Thursday, 01/08/04 08:13:37 EST

Operating a coal mine = $
Blast furnace = $
More labor to operate both =$
It is an alternative method that may not be economical now but in the future, it may the the only method.
There is a large methyl hydrate deposit in the area designated as "The Bermuda Triangle". The mysterious sinking of ships is thought to be related to massive methane releases that dropped the average density of seawater, making a steel hull ship too dense to float. It has a similar effect on the ability of a plane to fly through air that has a high percentage of methane, ie, insufficient lift to stay aloft.
Rants: Rave on, Guru. We are not one-dimensional beings and world events affect us, too. I, for one, enjoy reading your perspectives on things other than BS'ing.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/08/04 08:26:41 EST

Jjust wondering what the value of a old anvil would be?

   - Mike - Thursday, 01/08/04 09:16:33 EST

Mike, let me ask you a question: How much is my old pickup worth?

With out *any* informtion on make, model, condition bout all you can say is scrap rate to $3 a pound for an old anvil.

Thomas (my pickups tend toward "scrap rate")
   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/08/04 10:14:57 EST

I have dug up a old anvil when I was looking in my sheds. It is in good shape. It is quite old. Would it be worth any thing?
   Billy - Thursday, 01/08/04 10:18:45 EST

what is the easiest heat to hammer a round bar flat. i bring mine up to a red heat but it takes about 20 heats to get it flat. by the way, did you get my email and the pics of my knife? any constructive critisism would be great.
thank you
   - colin - Thursday, 01/08/04 10:56:10 EST

Anvil Values: Billy and Mike, Anvils as Thomas pointed out above are like used cars. It depends on the model and condition. Also size.

Anvils sell by the pound SORT OF. Very large anvils and very small anvils sell for more per pound than medium sized anvils (100 to 250 pounds). Little 10 to 50 pound anvils sell for as much a $10 to $25 USD/pound IF they are in good condition. Big anvils over 300 pounds sell for $5 to $8 USD/pound depending on brand and condition. Average anvils sell for $1 to $3/pound. Used anvils would be selling for more however NEW imported European anvils are selling for about $3/pound. SO, for a used anvil to sell that high it must be in good condition and be a sought after brand.

A few VERY old anvils fall into the "collectable" category. These are ancient English or European made anvils from the 1700's or earlier and dubbed "Colonial" anvils due to when they came to North America. Collector's prices are absolutely nuts so we try not to deal in them. However, $800 for a 100 pound Colonial anvil that will set on a shelf like a museum piece is not unusual.

D'Pont24, That does indeed look like a very early English anvil. It helps to know what the top looks like. Most early English anvils had a small square "hardy" hole but not a round pritchell (punching) hole. Those without are generally considered to be pre 1830. However this is not an absolute and ocassionaly someone added a pritchell hole.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/08/04 11:17:20 EST

Filmed Demo: Rugg, the Asheville CH-13 filmed interviews with Steve Kayne and George Dixon. They filmed a little bit of the demo and put together a short (less than 5 minute) human interest story. In other words a piece of fluff.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/08/04 11:21:23 EST

Forging Bar: Colin a red heat may be too low. You should be at an orange to a yellow. Orange for tool steel.

How many heats and how long depends on you, the size of the work and the size of your hammer. In mild steel you should be able to flatten 6 to 8" of 1/2" round bar to 1/8" thick in one heat. In spring steel the same in two heats OR one using a heavy hammer (4 to 5 pounds) which I do not recommend.

Knife Finishing: Colin, Your newest knife has most of the same faults as your first. You need to take the time to make FLAT surfaces and smooth straight lines. You are starting to polish MUCH too soon.

Lines need to LOOK straight when forged, then you MAKE them straight by coarse grinding and filing. Don't stop until the lines are clean. Then the flats are carefully worked smooth avoiding the lines that need crisp edges. When all the surfaces are flat and smooth then fine sand (180-240 grit). At this point you can gently radius corners so they are not too sharp. However, they should LOOK straight and clean. Polish only AFTER the blade looks perfect.

To make flat surfaces you need a belt grinder OR large stones. You CAN glue belt sanding material to a board and work surfaces flat that way but it takes a LOT of time. You could build a grinder and finish the blade faster including the grinder construction time.

It is possible to make flat surfaces with a hand held angle grinder but it takes a fine eye for what is flat and the skill to stay off corners. It also takes patience AND persistance. I sculpt all kinds of shapes using heavy angle grinders but I have been doing carving and sculpture since I was 10 years old (over 40 years). Using tools of this type is an art like drawing in metal.

ALWAYS start shaping with a coarse medium. 40 Grit bonded cloth grit belts, large rasp sized files (12" or 14" bastard), chisels or scrapers. Note that powered mediums can be finer.

NEVER change to a finer medium until you are 100% finished at a coarse level. DO NOT quit when there is a wave ding, dip, scale spot or scratch.

CHANGE to progressively finer medium in small jumps. Go from the coarsest to 80 grit, then 120-180, then 240-320.

NEVER change to a finer medium until you are 100% finished at a coarser level. DO NOT quit when there are ANY scratches from the previous grit. NOT ONE.

NEVER start buffing until you have a perfect flat dull finish from the grinding/sanding grits. Note that on metal anything finer than about 240 grit is a waste of time UNLESS you are shooting for a flat unbuffed surface.

START buffing steel with a sharp black emery compound. Then switch to tripoli for the last bit of "color". On brass you start with tripoli and then might dust it lightly with rouge to get the last bit of color out of the buff.

Skipping steps is a waste of time and is a sure mark of a neophyte. If you look at cheap imported blades you will see a brilliant polish over coarse grinding and filing marks. The result is shiney file and grinder waves and grooves. This is sloppy production work. BUT the finish IS brightly and evenly polished all over. As a custom maker you need to do better than the low quality production shops. However, reaching the quality level of a production maker like Buck, Shrade or others is tough. They have the best tools and know what they are doing. The goal of the custom maker is to leave THESE guys in the dust. It can be done. But you cannot compromise on finish in the smallest detail.

Don't fit a handle until the blade is FINISHED.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/08/04 12:20:59 EST

About making knives..... I would encourage you to find a local to you maker and visit with him/her and see what happens. We can tell you via email etc how all day, but I firmly believe that making knives is one of those things that in real life visits are better. I have several books on the subject and after reading them I realized personal instruction was required. I do not think it is due to any lack on my part ( other than experience in knives) but more on much of the knife workd is different.
So I found a local who helped me enought to know I know I did not like making knives. (smile) But ask questions, practise and find a close to you knife maker.
Also why are you starting with round stock? Find some flat stock and go from there.. less hammering. steel is not badly priced when you consider the amount of time you will be investing in a blade and funrniture for the knife.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/08/04 12:43:31 EST

jesterfester, do a web search for 'ocmulgee blacksmith guild' and the web site should tell you how to get ahold of Buster, he's usually got a big pile of good smithing coal for sale and is just outside of Macon GA. Should be only a couple or three hours' drive from Clemson.
   - mstu - Thursday, 01/08/04 14:23:34 EST

MSTU, Don't have to search. All the chapters and guilds are listed on our ABANA-Chapter.com page.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/08/04 15:36:32 EST

Thanks for the advice on anvils. I'll have to find out how old it is know.

   - Billy - Thursday, 01/08/04 15:58:01 EST

Thanks Guru, I forgot you had that here. Outstanding resource as always.
   - mstu - Thursday, 01/08/04 16:44:26 EST

I use Buster's coal and bought a swage block from him. Good coal and as fine a person as you will ever meet.
   Tone - Thursday, 01/08/04 17:06:51 EST

Billy ,
what info if any can you see on the anvil? Name words numbers also location for the same info. Like where the numbers/names etc are at on the anvil.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/08/04 17:34:28 EST

Hi there
I am attempting to make a japanese sword in a back-yard forge.I have 2 books on the subject and I was wondering what kind,type and size steel to use for a 1" wide quarter" thick blade?????
hope you can help, Colin
   Colin Stadler - Thursday, 01/08/04 19:06:46 EST

thnak you very much guru. those points were very helpful.
i have actually searched A LOT in my city and there are only two blacksmiths and both are ornamental blacksmiths.
   - colin - Thursday, 01/08/04 19:13:41 EST

About bladesmiths...
Do you mind saying what city. I think you might be suprised to find there may be more around than known.
Have you looked on the ABS web site? They list bladesmiths that they are associated with.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/08/04 19:19:54 EST

Thanks Guru, I really appreciate it! I've been trying to decide what to do with it since I have no idea on how to go about becoming a blacksmith. LOL
   D' Pont 24 - Thursday, 01/08/04 21:19:27 EST

just one more question about the knife: do you think the blade is salvagable?
   - colin - Thursday, 01/08/04 21:24:34 EST

thanks for the info ralph on ocmulgee and buster , gonna try to attend one of there meetings . if time allows. hehe i work 2 jobs and have a family to deal with so little time is allowed for actual shop time and road trips..
   jesterfester - Thursday, 01/08/04 21:46:15 EST

Another good source for knifemakers is the "Knives 200X" books, they list makers by state in the back and you can look over their work to see if they do the stuff you are interested in.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/08/04 22:59:10 EST

COLIN; Keep it in your archives as Mile Marker #2 on the long road to success.
   3dogs - Friday, 01/09/04 02:55:08 EST

Wayne P, Thanx, That browning process is close to what I remembered from 50 years ago.
Ralph, Colin, we use a lot of 52100 for knife blades; most of it is round bar stock, bearing races and even ball bearings. Colin probably came by some coil spring. Is that what you used? Since the blade is forged anyway, round to flat should take only a few minutes. Colin, do you have a copy of Wayne goddard's "$50 Knife Shop"? Tells you how to make your own equipment with scrounged materials. There is probably an Artist Blacksmith chapter that has meetings near your home. We periodically have classes and demos on beginning knife and tomahawk making. If a person is really interested, I hand him or her a hammer and talk them through the process. Contact your state association and you will find more bladesmiths willing to help you than you ever dreamed existed. Oh, 5160 is a good, tough steel for swords....
   Ron Childers - Friday, 01/09/04 08:04:32 EST

I drove a 1/2" punch through a 1" round bar and ended up with what look like stretch cracks around the outside circumfrance of the bar, dozens of tiny little cracks. Also the surface looks really rough not smooth any more. Any idea what i did wrong? Thanks
   Clyde Winckler - Friday, 01/09/04 09:10:32 EST

thanks for the info Mr.Childers I used 2" flat bar and came out with a flimsy sword you say 5160? Is that round bar?
thanx Colin*
   - Colin* - Friday, 01/09/04 09:45:13 EST

Thomas P
Do you know what the "rules and regulations" are
for where your allowed to have and operate a forge?
   - Andrew Hurd - Friday, 01/09/04 09:53:11 EST

POLITCS: Deja'vu

In this forum on Sunday, 01/04/04 at 12:29 I commented that we need to be doing more big exciting government sponsored science, specificaly "a permanent base on the Moon". I also mentioned the Texas Super Collider.

This morning the Bush Whitehouse staff announced that the President was going to recommend "a permanent base on the Moon to prepare for a manned Mars mission".

No, I am not the President's science advisor (does he have one?). But perhaps someone on 1600 Pennsyvania Ave. reads anvilfire.

But we all know this is election year rehetoric.

Rant continued on the Hammer-In
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 11:32:47 EST

Ok boys and girls. Anyone know a way to heat a small shop (10x 12) in such a way that fumes won't kill me? Its 2 degrees today.. like two fahrenheit. The side-draft coal forge typically raises the temp about 10 degrees. That would bring it to a balmy 12. Not quite enough for me. Kerosene is out and I would need so many electric heaters I wouldn't be able to move. Is there a propane (or something) heater that might not kill me or break the bank?
   Gronk - Friday, 01/09/04 11:45:39 EST

Cracked Steel: Clyde, I think your problem is twofold. One, you probably had either bad material OR high alloy steel and two it sounds like you overheated it.

If you overheat many alloy steels they crumble as the lower melting alloys go into solution and they steel becomes "unglued".

If you had a poor grade of steel you may have actually failed the steel in the thin sections left by punching.

To pierce a round bar (1" with 1/2" hole) as you did there are some design and technical considerations. If the bar was flattened somewhat the material to the sides of the hole would have been greater and probably not failed. OR if you had pierced the hole with a chisle then opened it up the sides would have had more mass AND would not have been stretched to failure. The other solution would be to upset a place in the bar before punching the hole but this is the most difficult solution.

Modern steel is amazing stuff and can take tremondous abuse in manufacturing things from it. However, if you get a piece that is not quite up to par it may fail in a "normal" application.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 11:50:56 EST

Rules and Regulations: Andrew, Every locality is different and the differences often extend to your specific neighborhood.

First there are open fire regulations. These may be state of local. The type of forge and where you have it makes a difference. You might not be able to use a coal forge outdoors but it may be OK indoors. Gas forges sometimes pass for an "enclosed" fire but sometimes don't. In most residential neighborhoods cooking fires (grills) are allowed but a forge would not be. I think it was Thomas who said he keeps a teapot in his forge and offers the fire marshall tea when they come to visit.

Then there are commercial zoning regulations. You may get away with a coal forge as a hobby but be regulated to death as a business.

Every locality applies EPA regulations differently. Some apply them only to businesses but others apply them to every individual. Localy they do not check auto emmision controls but in other parts of the state they do.

The first trick to rules and regulations is to investigate them quietly. If you ASK your zoning administrator if you can opperate a backyard forge the answer is likely to be a resounding NO plus they will now be watching you. Same goes for the local fire marshall and building inspector.

Go to your local public library or courthouse and look up the zoning and fire regulations. If you do not understand them then ask somebody in a similar situation.

The second trick to rules and regulations is to not upset the neighbors. If you are quiet or don't work later at night or Sunday mornings your neighbors may put up with a little smoke. Be aware of making excess coal smoke. People that make clouds of smoke burning leaves will complain about coal smoke because it smells different. How you maintain the fire can reduce the green coal smoke. But if you are obnoxious or already have an argument going with your neighbors then you can figure that every time you light a fire or go tink, tink tink on your anvil that the police are likely to show up followed by the zoning administrator or fire marshall.

In MOST residential neighborhoods you can get away with all kinds of things as long as you are not in business and you don't piss off your neighbors. Many smiths suggest getting your neighbors involved. Invite them to a barbeque/demo, make gifts for them. Get them excited by about having an "old time smithy" next door.

   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 12:16:10 EST


I am currently dealing with this very issue as a look for a house in WI. In the town where I lived in Ohio, there was no zoning and some of the homes were still heated with coal. I also asked the mayor about the possiblity of having a blacksmith shop before I purchased the house.

In the current situation, I have to accomidate a large hamer than I had before and I have to deal with higher housing prices, which does limit the selection for me. I have approached local official of 2 towns asking about the zoning on different properties. My approach is to usually say "What does x zoning permit" or " could you provide me with a copy of the zoning definitions as I am interested in using the property for something in addition to a residence and want to know if its okay". So far, this has worked pretty good. Since I don't already live in the town, no one knows who I am so they won't be able to check on me later. I did find out that in at least one town forge shops require a manufacturing zoning, but artist studios need only a buisness zoning. So I could try saying that my forge shop is an art studio. Who knows? It might work.
   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/09/04 12:47:05 EST

Shop Heating: Gronk, There is no cheap way. A high degree of insulation is the easiest route but not the cheapest. Foam insulation is very good but must be covered due to flamability. However, it can be applied to existing ceilings and then covered with another layer of sheetrock.

This morning I woke up to a warm bedroom in my very poorly insulated house which is almost ALWAYS cold in the winter. . . It had snowed and 2" of dry snow is fantastic insulation on the roof.

Without insulaton it doesn't matter what type of fuel you use it is expensive.

A good heat exchanger on your forge will increase the heat output BUT it will do the same in the summer and need to be vented. Simple fins welded inside and out will transfer a lot more heat. A seperate cold air supply for the forge will reduce the room air loss. A pipe on the blower intake pulling air in from outside will save 100-200 CFM of lost room air.

A damper in the coal vent will reduce night time heat losses up the chimney. Wind will also come in that cold air pipe.

Heat mass not air. If you keep your slack-tub warm it will radiate heat slowly into the shop. If you have a concrete floor try to keep heat sources such that they warm the floor. Direct heat towards stock racks and machines. However be careful about creating a hot and cold side on precision machine tools.

Insulate mass from the outside. A brick or cinder block building insulated from the outside acts as a huge heat sink and tempers the change in temperature. Masonry buildings also tend to conduct warmth UP from the ground if foundations and walls are insulated. Insulation can be foam sheets applied with screws OR spray on foam. In either case it is usualy covered with stucco but any other sheathing could be used.

Catalytic propane heaters are very clean and efficient. I suspect they are cheaper than electric heaters but they do require some venting (mostly they need fresh air as they DO use oxygen). They come in a variety of sizes and are not very expensive.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 12:48:45 EST

Manned Base on the Moon: This morning, after the Presidents announcement regarding a manned moon base, the Texas Senate voted to re-district the moon to ensure a Republican victory if they get enough folks up there to vote.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 01/09/04 12:59:02 EST

Heating a small shop

Gronk, look into a infrared LP gas heater attachment for a propane bottle. It heats where it's pointed instead of the air in the shop. Some states may prohibit the use of unvented heaters; check local regulations. Use caution about carbon monoxide and other gasses that may be produced.
   - Conner - Friday, 01/09/04 13:03:10 EST

Zoning: Patrick. Be sure to check what is allowed for non-commercial use such as hobbies. Yeah, I know, it is hard to defend a 10,000 pound machine as a hobby, but it IS.

An artists studio can often go anywhere as long as it is not a place of business. Professional offices are often regulated but can go in residential neighborhoods as long as they do not create a parking or traffic problem.

Agriculturaly zoned areas allow almost anything include light manufacturing and many older homes are in agricultural zones.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 13:05:23 EST

shop heating,
For years before I got my very drafty uninsulated shop almost insulated I used one of those catalytic propane heaters. I called it my "butt" heater cause I would set it so it was behind me. And on a propane tank it was at the right height....... Wear good warm boots and warm the anvil before using it. I would use a propane tiger torch and warm the anvil till the water from the propane was gone.
I would often work out there with no other heat in -20°F weather. LeeValley sells an overhead electric radiant heater. I've never used one but a woodworking freind has one in his shop and says it's great. One other thing is to wear something with a hood. You lose a lot of heat out the back of your neck.
   JimG - Friday, 01/09/04 13:13:57 EST

In the books I am reading they say to use high carbon steel 1.0-1.5% carbon does anyone know what type of steel to use and if so where to find it in houston texas??
thanks Colin*
   Colin* - Friday, 01/09/04 13:19:30 EST

According to the print-out "Junkyard Steels", truck coil springs are 5160. I'm not sure that is 100% accurate, as different mfgrs use various steels @ different times. Probably the older truck spgs are a better bet. Goddard says 5160 is good sword steel. He also had an article in "Blade" a few months ago about junk steel for knives. I'll see if I can find it when I get home and let you know the issue. Perhaps you should forge a bit thicker. Two inches seems a bit wide - how long did you try to make it?
If you are serioue about it & I think you are, ask for a subscription to "Blade", safety equipment (I hope you already have it) and tools and equipment for birthdays, etc in leiu of a bunch of useless junk.
   Ron Childers - Friday, 01/09/04 13:35:00 EST

Colin, If your from Houston haven`t you heard of Texas Knifemakers Supply or Houston Area Blacksmith Assoc.? January 17 2004 HABA is having a knife making workshop in La Porte at a members shop. How do I know all this, I just looked it up and took all of a few minutes. You said in another post that you had searched ALOT in your area for blacksmiths, I find it hard to beleive that you done much more than looked at the Yellow Pages under Blacksmith. Contact HABA and get your local contacts started and also become a member, those guys will be glad so show you anything. I would give you their site address but I`m leaving you with this small task to try on your own.
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 01/09/04 13:42:06 EST

Steels: Colin, Almost all of the 0x and Wx series tools steels are in that very high carbon range. These are tricky steels to forge. They are available from our on-line store as well as almost any major hardware supplier that caters to machine shops. You pay a premium for these steels in the annealed and flat ground condition. But they can be sawed, filed, machined and drilled in the annealed condition.

See our recent FAQ on Junkyard steels.

And I agree with Robert. Houston is a big city. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of blacksmiths, bladesmiths and industrial suppliers in Houston. HABA is listed on our ABANA-Chapter.com page.

Blade stiffness is determined by cross section and length. The longer the blade the thicker it must be. To make blades lighter they are fullered. The thicker sections act like the flanges on an I-beam and increase the stiffness in the flat direction without added weight. Short diamond section blades are typical but to keep weight reasonable a fullered section is used on large blades. If you are not into trial and error or researching what others do the strength and flexibiltiy can be calculated. See any book on structural steel for the formulae OR Machinery's Handbook. Note that the modulas of elasticity used to calculate deflection is a constant for ALL steel. It does not matter if it is soft medium carbon steel or hard ultra high carbon steel.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 14:30:04 EST

Appologies? Folks I think we have two "Colin"s posting here. You guys sort out who you are. Last names help a lot. The astrisk doesn't get it.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 15:10:14 EST

What is the difference between a Hay-Budden and a Fischer anvil?
   Matt Jones - Friday, 01/09/04 15:33:55 EST

Anvils: Matt, A LOT. Hay-Budden's are forged, hardened and tempered tool steel, usualy welded at the waist like a Peddinghaus. Some early Hay-budden's were wrought with a steel face but later models had all tool steel upper bodies. Most folks consider them one of the world's best made anvils.

Fisher-Norris Eagle anvils have the distinction of being the first commercial anvil made in the U.S. They were made by a patent process where a steel plate is welded to a cast iron body IN THE MOLD. It was a cheaper high production method of making anvils. Some people like them because they are quiet (don't ring). Their weekness is that if the joint between plate and body seperates it is not repairable. People either love them or hate them.

See our FAQs page and the article on selecting an anvil and the links to the Anvil series.
   - guru - Friday, 01/09/04 16:59:51 EST

Well where I'm living now *anything* that produces fumes discernable off the property is forbidden; so my neighbor's dryer is illegal according to code...Open fires are forbidden except for heating or cooking.

Of course I have run a forge in my backyard of garage for 14 years...at one time I had problems with a neighbor calling the fire department; but by some twist of fate 3 of the four times they responded I was using my smoker to cook dinner and *not* my forge. I believe that they talked to whoever it was about false alarm fees cause they never showed up again. The other time I was using a forge as a heat source for enameling and by the time the FD showed up it was burning smokeless and they were running up and down the alley hunting for what wasn't there. (course while I was putting them straight my enameled silver knife guard melted and I had to start over...).

In NM it seems to be more of a follow your own weird area where I have been looking at houses

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/09/04 18:22:17 EST

Hello Everyone I've been lurking around for about 2 weeks now. I have gotten most of my materials together to start making a forge and side draft forge hood. I've been researching and gathering materials since June. I'm making my forge out of a 16.5" Duely Truck Rim and 1/4' plate steel to fill the gaps. Now I work in a boiler plant and we have refractory cement that I can have. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to line the inside of the rim with the refractory cement?
And Guru Thanks for the site it's been an invaluable resourse.
   - Redwolf - Friday, 01/09/04 19:04:43 EST

i will be colinnn if you want just to make things easier around here.
   - colinnn - Friday, 01/09/04 20:16:04 EST

You can use the ref cement to refine the shape of the inside of your firepot. But it more than likely is not really needed. But of course that is just my humble opinion
   Ralph - Friday, 01/09/04 20:46:43 EST

I am trying to heat a 7 acre forge shop, and the only way to heat a properly vented forge shop is infrared heat. You can't heat the air as it does not stay around. Infrared heats the objects in the area they are aimed at. This means the floor, wall metal etc gets heated and radiates the heat back to you. As the guru pointed out, venting may be required. The nicest units are the tube type, but they are pricey, as a U shaped type sold for garages is about $500 USD. But they are vented, safe, and can be set with a thermostat, and are out of the way as they hang from the ceiling.
   ptree - Friday, 01/09/04 22:15:07 EST

EliminationElm; we have MOB meetings at a friend's shop where there is probably more floor space than ceiling space. Not usually a problem except the owner is say 6" shorter than a couple of our members and so they take their life in their hands just walking through the place...

If one was building the place from dirt up I'd suggest in the floor heating---just don't drill into one of the pipes to fasten down your bender!

I agree that the tube infrared is the way to go to retrofit a shop.

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/09/04 22:36:43 EST


I've tried a number of things and seen various arrangements. There are some underfoot electric heating pads that seem to work well for personal comfort, although you might want to put something over it to protect it if you drop some hot work on it. One old shop I visited had a nice woodstove set up, but you need the space, the fuel, the ventilation and a separate chimney or stack. I tend to use the gas forge when it's cold out, saving coal forge work for more clement spells of weather. With the door open for ventilation (but the window shut and the fan off, necessary with the coal forge) I was running 43 degrees f. (6 C) on the inside and 27 degrees (-2.7) on the exterior with the one burner gas forge. Of course, I was also wearing my insulated leather boots and thermal underwear.


Here in St. Mary's County there is even a specific zoning exemption for new forges, as long as they are 50 feet (15.24 M) from the neighbor's property line. We like to keep our Amish happy, and we're still mostly rural. Just another one of the reasons I love it here.

CO Levels:

Another silly gas forge question- do you tend to create more carbon monoxide running rich or lean? So far the CO detector sits there reading "zero" unless I get it practically in the "dragons breath" zone. I might be doing something right, but then again; maybe the detector is out of whack.

Heading for the teens and a light dusting of snow over the salt water ice on the banks of the lower Potomac. The electric company came by today and fixed the security light taken out by the Oakley pecan in the hurricane. (It gives you an idea of how busy they've been and how much damage was done!)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 01/09/04 22:43:27 EST

Oh yes;

Shield Boss Mandrel:

I'm looking for a scrap piece of 4" outside diameter heavy wall pipe, about 1'-2' long for an experiment in Anglo-Saxon shield boss forging. The heavier the better as it will serve as an internal mandrel for one of the critical operations. I'll be happy to pay for it, as well as shipping. Please contact me off board for further discussions. I think I've got it figured out.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/09/04 22:52:46 EST

Atli - re CO levels - they increase with the incomplete combustion that occurs when you run rich. If you run lean, the flame has plenty of oxygen available and the products are mostly CO2 and water vapor.
   - Gavainh - Saturday, 01/10/04 00:35:39 EST

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