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 10 - 15, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

Thomas P; Just heat everything on a Mesquite fire. Everybody will just assume you're makin' fajitas.
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/10/04 01:15:33 EST

If you want a warm shop the best thing is to insulate it. I was in JimG's shop at -20 and I think the only way you could stay warm was by working. I stood by the wood stove and froze. Jim glad to here you got it insulated.

Back in the seventies as a student I got to work on a government funded solar test house, 12" thick double walled, air barrier on the outside, vapour barrier on the inside, an early style air-to-air heat exchanger. It had the neatest glass vacuum solar collectors. The first year they ran it solar, it worked out to costing $1700,00 a month to run, the reason was the mechanical was crazy and a couple hailstorms took out the glass collectors (twice). The second year they took out all the solar and put in a natural gas furnace, it cost $50.00 for the year. A house the same size ran about $300.00 to $400.00 a year if memory serves.

Insulation and removing air leaks are very important, you can allow for ventilation when you are working (think of an air to air heat exchanger, they have been around for at least the last 20 years and people are changing them out, talk to some HVAC guys). Today the shop was -12ºF got it to 63ºF in 4 hours, it took 3 ½ hours to get the frost off the steel on the racks. I don't normally do this but the heat had been off in the shop since before Christmas. I really wish I had natural gas to the shop.

Those garage U radiant heater are nice if the ceilings are high enough but with an 8' ceiling you need a sun hat to stand under them. I like the smaller ceiling mounted forced air units. In floor is really nice but has a slow recovery time.

Bruce I don't know why every one worries about CO with gas forges, mine sits at zero as well, if you really want to get scared, look at it when the coal forge is going.

Sorry for rambling on, late night insomnia
   Daryl - Saturday, 01/10/04 02:39:05 EST

Your first question reveals that you have failed to read even the basics on the craft.
The heat range necessary for forging is specific to the alloy you are forging. .You don't seem to have the foggiest about either...just like last time you posted.
Diving right in and getting your hands in it is great ..now it's time to do a bunch of reading and learn the basics. I'm self taught and you are headed the same way, which is cool...but you are wasting a fat part of your life if you don't read at least some of what blacksmiths have figured out over the last few thousand years...that's more history than a guy can reinvent in a lifetime.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 01/10/04 03:22:51 EST


IIRC, you're running an atmospheric forge (no blower). On these, increasing the gas pressure doesn't necessarily make the mixture richer. Ideally, the gas flowing through the orifice and venturi draws in a proportional amount of air, keeping the mixture constant throughout the operating range. Of course, nothing's absolutely ideal, but I don't think you can assume that increasing the gas pressure makes the mixture *either* richer or leaner.

On my homemade atmospheric forge, I've got an extra needle valve and (very) low velocity orifice so I can bleed in extra gas without affecting the airflow (much). I find the the forge runs lean (needing more extra gas) at startup and becomes richer as it heats. Once the forge is hot, I don't find myself adjusting the extra gas much even when I make large adjustments in regulator pressure.
   Mike B - Saturday, 01/10/04 07:04:01 EST

Daryl, The garage type tube rediant heaters are mostly straight run type, and can be placed at a 45 degree angle, radiating somewhat sideways if the roof height is low. I have mounted them this way in the plant on occasion, as we need to heat the backside of the upsetters to keep the lube oil flowing. These upsetters have upwards of 150 lube points and use EP-460 gear oil. At 20F this oil is easy to shovel, not easy to pump thru a Trabon lubricator!
I built a solar house in 1986, and still live in it. It is passive solar, ie. the windows/house is the collector. I built R-30 walls, R-60 roof and R-48 crawlspace insulation levels. It gets about 30% of the heat from the rather iffy sun in the S. Indiana area, and the rest from an outside woodburning boiler. I can heat this house, slowly, with the 3600 watts of backup strip heaters in the tiny heatpump. The moral is don't waste much energy and you don't need much. I burn scrap wood from a pallet mill, and dunnage wood from work, and my electric draw to heat is about 1000 watts when everything is running. I heat 3000 Square feet to about 70F in the winter. My total heating bill for purchased wood etc is in the $200/year range.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/10/04 07:51:05 EST


> I was in JimG's shop at -20 and I think the only way you could stay warm was by working. I stood by the wood stove and froze.

So why weren't you working? Lazy? (big evil grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/10/04 10:23:55 EST

Daryl, do you still part your hair in the middle? That explains a lot of things! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/10/04 10:27:50 EST

Hi, I've got a bunch of questions... I hope no one minds.
1) does anybody know where there is a demo, or something for oxy-acetalyne cutting, or barring that can someeone give me some pointers? I've been trying to cut up some mild steel plate, and can't seem to get the cutting slag to clear out of the cut, and I can't sem to get the cut to keep running for more then 6 inches or so, without it blowing out and having to re-start.

2) do old files make good hand wood carving tools, and if so would this be a good starting project in 'smithing?

3) Is there a way to get the ripples out of a big piece of 1/2" plate steel if you don't have a really big press?

4) How do you get the other guys in your shop to stop calling your pile of metal bits junk, and more importantly, get them to stop trying to throw it out?

thanks for the help.
   - Havoktd - Saturday, 01/10/04 11:05:54 EST

Oxy-acetylene cutting: Sounds like you're trying to go too fast. Check your pressures. depending on tip size, if you're cutting 1/2" plate, acetylene ought to be from 4 to 8 psi, oxygen anywhere from 16-30 psi. adjust the tip so that the preheat flames are a nice clear blue with no yellow showing, and once you pop the cutting lever, keep the speed slow and steady. If you go too slow you get a rough slaggy cut that often welds back together behind you, if you go too fast the cut stops. If you don't go at an even speed, both things happen. It just takes practice and a steady hand. Also try tilting the torch a bit so the oxy jet is pointed ever so slightly forwards, that has worked for me on occasion.

Files: they can, but it's a lot of work when you could just start with new steel.

What kind of ripples in the plate?

Finally, put your stash somewhere else where they can't get to it. Or put it in a barrel with a biohazard sticker on it, and a big label that says "warning: contact causes incurable halitosis" The actual best way is to make something out of your scrap pile and show your coworkers what you can do with it. Your pile ought to start growing instead of shrinking!
   Alan-L - Saturday, 01/10/04 11:41:52 EST

Well once again thanks for the fast and numerous responses to a question asked. My cubby-hole is insulated but was lacking any real heat source. I'll be looking into the u-shaped hanging unit. floor space being non-existant. Drawing the outside air to the forge is perfect. I converted an old window mount A.C. unit for an electric blower. Move the electrics and mount it in the window backwards. yeee haaa. Thanks a bunch gang.
   Gronk - Saturday, 01/10/04 11:49:03 EST

Cutting Torch: Havoktd, To do good work with a cutting torch requires as much or more skill than other welding processes. It also requires finding out how to properly setup the torch from the manufacturer.

Slag filling the kerf is usualy from using too big a tip on thin plate (resulting in melting rather than burining) or too little pressure on thick plate OR moving too slow on either.

Cutting tips come in a wide range of sizes each with about a 1/2" range. If you are out of that range then get the right tip. How do tell if the tip is right? SIMPLE, the manufacturer for YOUR torch has a list specific to that torch. It will also get recommended pressure ranges. This will be in the torch users manual. If you do not have one get one (or a catalog) from your welding supplier.

Some welding references have this data on specific brands but I have never had any luck. These are usualy an example given for the author's torch not a universal list.

Skills: The feed rate of the torch is critical to the continuation of the cut. You have to move like a MACHINE. Perfect smooth, square and constant. Any jerks change in rate or wobbles will stop the cut.

There is a distinct limit as to how far the human body can move steadily in one direction. The first step when cutting is to get comfortable. Then move the torch through the line of the cut to be sure you can do so without repositioning yourself. Adjust you position and the hose if necessary to the best position. The probability is that you will only be able to cut 6" to 10" without stopping.

PLAN on stops in the cut. When you get to a stop point circle the torch around to the OUTSIDE of the line to make a new starting point. If you have a perfect cut going this may not be necessary but if the cut it slightly clogged the circle at the end will be open. Then reposition yourself for the next section as above.

As in ALL welding you must be LOOKING into the cut, down INTO the kerf, you must FOCUS on what you are doing closely. This requires the right filter lenses which are usualy darker for cutting than for welding. If you are looking down into the cut as well as where the cut is traveliing then you have not learned how to look at your work. A clearly marked line helps.

If you want perfect cuts they make machines for it. BUT with practice a great deal can be done by hand. One of my welding references shows a fellow cutting smooth 1" thick slabs off a 6" by 6" block by hand. It CAN be done.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/10/04 11:52:15 EST

Files for Tools: Havoktd, Yes but see our Junkyard Steel FAQ and Heat Treating FAQ.

Metal Bits of Junk: Well. . There is usable scrap and there ARE bits of junk. Even the best blacksmith generates useless metal pieces. There are TWO things that these can be used for, concrete aggregate or forge welded into a larger billet. In both cases they dissapear. Of course they CAN be put into the recycle bin but no self respecting blacksmith would admit to that. . .

Metal Bits of Junk II: If you turn them into something beautiful or useful then others will see value in the "junk". Be forewarned, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/10/04 11:59:11 EST

REDWOLF: I think you will want to line your rim. I've built two brake drum forges, and found that it works best if you line it, makeing a sort or inverted cone. What happens otherwise, is that you get your fire in the middle and the coal kinda slags up on the outside, and doesn't funnel naturally into the fire. Remember, you have to keep feeding that coal fire, and the slope of the sides after lining it, just makes that easier and more efficient. At least im my experience.
   Bob H - Saturday, 01/10/04 12:49:20 EST

Guillotine tool question: I am finally in the process of making mine. It will be free standing, patterned after the one I used in class last month. The jaws will be 1/2" mild steel, 8" long by 2" high. I was planning to use slightly less than 1/2" round O-1 for the hard part of the jaws. It came annealed from the metal supplier so I will need to harden it after cutting it to length, and I will be arc welding it to the mild steel jaws. I plan on using 7018 so the weld will be more shock resistant than if I used 6013.

My question is, should I harden the O-1, then weld it to the jaws, then temper? Or is there a different sequence as preferable? Also what hardening temperature would you recommend, and tempering temperature. I will have to temper by color as I do not have a pyrometer. I was planning to use vegetable cooking oil for a quenchant.

Thank you for your help! I love this site!
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 13:27:24 EST

Ptree and Guru: thank you very much for the help on drill sharpening. My drills are much happier with the Starret 22C, and it is easy to use with my 8" grinding wheel and a can of water there, even my 1/2" to 1" bits sharpen very quickly.
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 13:30:42 EST

I'm glad it worked out for you. A lot of people have trouble sharpening drills, especially if they don't see a pro do a few. The drill gage is a great help that is often overlooked. I've got one, and use it. There are cheaper gages on the market, but the Starret is made in the US and is the best. One thing to look out for, is drills made in china. Having just recieved a batch of forty 13mm drills at work, we were burning up one drill out of 8 in a multi-spindle. All were sharp, but when tested we found that the hardness varied from 34 to 60 Rc. I had expected US drills and will specify in the future.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/10/04 13:56:08 EST

I have been wanting to ask those who are of a scientific mind set to explain why my forge drew better when I added a section of stovepipe to the stack. I would think that the smoke, as it rises looses heat and becomes more dense and would reduce the flow. The only explanation I could come up with is the possibility that the smoke is continuing to expand as it is pushed up the stack by the cooler air in the shop. But I get stuck in triing to understand this by the thought that the smoke cools as it goes up. My stack is only 6" in diameter (side draft system) and I was considering increasing the diameter to rid some of the smoke from the shop per Jock's recommendations. But for now, being alittle careful to keep the fire from getting too spread out and having added just one section of stove pipe and am amazed at how much cleaner the air I breath is.
any thoughts?
   - L sundstrom - Saturday, 01/10/04 13:57:33 EST

4" pipe

ThomasP told me someone was looking for a pirce of 4" pipe to use for dishing? I have a piece with 3/16" wall and Don, the local dragon w/horde, said he has some 3/8" wall.

Whomever was looking, email me about how big a piece you need.

   MikeM-Ohio - Saturday, 01/10/04 14:09:20 EST

ellen: welding the tool steel will draw any heat treatment you might have done previously. IMO weld (using 7018 or a stainless rod) and then quench and temper. I draw tools like this to a blue/spring temper by putting them in my kitchen oven and running a "clean" cycle. My guillotine tool is just made of mild steel and the working edge of the jaw shows no wear (I only use it for pipe) but the part struck by the hammer has mushroomed severely and I wish I had thought to weld on a pc of heavy mild steel for a striking pad.
   adam - Saturday, 01/10/04 17:19:04 EST


Think of your stack as a hot air baloon. The longer the stack, the more hot air it holds, and the more lift it makes. The air does cool as it goes up, so each length of stack you add will be less help. The air can never get colder than the outside air, though, so it can never subtract from the lift. But a longer stack *is* harder to push air through.
   Mike B - Saturday, 01/10/04 18:49:36 EST

Adam, thank you. Should I weld a piece of high carbon steel to the top of the striking surface? Like maybe 1" X 1/2" thick? And then heat treat the whole assembly at the same time?
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 18:55:30 EST

Ptree, thanks but Chinese drills are only for wood....I have a Starret 6" rule I've had since I built my first rifle about 30 years ago and it is as good as when new and new saved me a lot of time and trouble in wasted materials.
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 18:58:15 EST

Welding on High Carbon Steel bits: Ellen, there is a very good chance of causing permenant cracking/crystalization problems by welding to very high carbon tool steel (anything over 1% carbon). If you want to arc weld on a hard nose use a medium carbon steel like spring steel (4140, 5160, 1095 max).

After welding high carbon steel to low you should heat to a forging heat and work a little with a hammer to break down excessive crystalization at the weld and reduce stresses. Then normalize and heat treat.

Striking ends can be soft but are best made of at least medium carbon steel tempered to well below a spring temper or almost as soft as they will temper. By the time you weld on a hard piece to both ends you have spent more time and money tha if you had just bought a bar of good steel to start with. 4140 is common for this application.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/10/04 19:59:22 EST

Ellen, I like mild steel for a striking pad. It's less likely to build up stress as it mushrooms and it's kinder to the hammer, less fussy to weld etc. When it finally gets obliterated, I torch it off and weld on a new one. If you do go with mild steel, oil quenching the O1 should have no effect on it (I am guessing you are planning an oil quench)? So you can heat treat the whole tool (if that's easiest) and do whats best for the working edge.

You might consider just skipping the whole heat treatment. Unless its a sharp edge, tool steel does pretty good just plain annealed . I have several fullers that I never bothered to harden and they are just fine. You can always heat treat later.

1 x 1/2 inch strap is what I would choose

   adam - Saturday, 01/10/04 20:07:36 EST

Atli, If you don't find something more local, let me know exactly the dimensions you are looking for. I probably have something here in WI. Not pipe, but heavy wall seamless tube. Should still be under the 70 pound limit of the USPS. Free to you if it was free to me. You pay shipping.
   - Tony - Saturday, 01/10/04 20:48:44 EST

The china drills were a surprise to me as i was told that they would be American.Had to try them as out of time when they arrived. I will specify US made on all future orders and return the junk. I also love Starret tools, as well as Browne and Sharpe.
Another possibility for the hard edge you want on the tool might be a "toolhard" type rod. Just arc weld and grind to shape. 4140 is reasonable, and super easy to find and heattreat. Every machine shop will have a good supply of 4140, and will probably sell small chunks cheap. New large axles from heavy trucks are 1541H, and thismaterialis pretty similar to 4140. Lots of forging to use for you tool though.

   ptree - Saturday, 01/10/04 21:09:47 EST

Ptree and Guru, thanks much for all the good advice. I figure the jaws are easily replacable (just drop in) so I think I will go with with the O-1 and the mild steel, you know the mindset "use what you have". The idea of a "strike plate" is excellent, and I will incorporate it into my design....
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 23:54:24 EST

Oops I meant to say Adam and Guru in the above......
   Ellen - Saturday, 01/10/04 23:56:32 EST

Hi Guru I would like to know how to calgulate the strike force of my mechanical hammer i had just built for making damascus I am a knife maker and n member of the South African knife makers guild.i do all the work on my knives my self as well as the engeneering and milling and turning in and around my work shop.
The hammer i just built has a 32kg head the stroke is 250mm the motor is a1.1 kilo watt and rpm is 1420.

I am just curios to know what the actual strike force is of the hammer. If there is a place where i can send a picture of the hammer to for others to see please let me know.

Your help in this matter wil be verymuch appreciatted.

Cheers "VAN" van der merwe Pretoria SOUTH AFRICA
   "VAN" van der Merwe - Sunday, 01/11/04 05:33:40 EST


The guru will have to calculate the force of your hammer, but I am sure that if you send him a picture of your hammer, he will post it on the power hammer page.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/11/04 06:47:29 EST


Do you know either Bertie Rietveld or Tom Nelson? One of them, (and I can't remember for sure which one) used to be a regular here, but got sick and dropped away. Haven't heard anything in a good while. They built a hammer, which is on the power hammer page.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/11/04 10:48:19 EST

Dear Guru
I am a novice Australian smith considering importing a new 'Euroanvil' from the manufacturer in Czech and would be interested to hear any views you might have on the quality of these high-manganese steel anvils. They are heat treated to 47-51 rockwell. Is this a typical hardness rating for anvils today, and if not, will it matter much if they are not as hard as other anvils on the market?
   Andrew Little - Sunday, 01/11/04 13:53:34 EST

Andrew, Yes it is. Some are a little harder and some a little softer. Due to quench rates large anvils tend to be a softer than small anvils. It was not unusual for a 100 pound (45 kg) anvil to be glass hard while a 300 pound (136 kg) anvil from the same manufacturer made of the same materials would be considerably softer.

Modern cast steel anvils are usualy a deep hardening alloy steel that does not need to be quite as hard as the old steel faced anvils. Cast anvils are also best being softer than forged anvils due to the tendancey to chip.

Tool hardeness is always a compromise. You would like them to be as hard as possible but then the brittleness problem looms large. So you soften the material to increase the toughness. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 01/11/04 14:43:09 EST

Hammer Force Calculations are very difficult. Although the energy of impact would seem to be simple (mass times the velocity squared) there are many other variables.

Hammer linkages such as the toggle type are constantly accelerating and deacelerating the ram so the exact velocity in hard to determine. At the same time the spring in the linkage is applying a varried force to return the ram in the oposite direction. This varied force is divided by the vector of the change in the toggle angle. Note also that on toggle and spring linkage hammers the stroke is much greater than the crank stroke (by 2 or 3 to 1).

All these things are changing at once and the efficiency of each component and the geometry of the linkage varies greatly from design to design. Any unknown or dimensional error makes it impossible to calculate. Other items greatly effect hammer efficiency such as guide friction and anvil to ram ratio.

Consider this, when a crank and toggle linkage hammer has its crank at 90° to the ram travel (3:00 on a clockwise rotational crank) the ram is going theoreticaly its fastest. But in many hammers gravity contiunes to accelerate the ram as the crank is already trying to slow it down. So the ram SHOULD be going its fastest at about 4:00. Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 the hammer should strike. In toggle linkage the crank is now assisted by the compressed spring to about the 7:30 point where the crank and spring both start lifting the ram. Confused? Try working up a mathematical model that tells you what is happening at any one point.

For all these reasons most hammer manufacturers ended up simply rating their hammer by the dead ram weight and machine type. Some brands were more efficient than others and the only way to know was familiarity with the machines (Fairbanks hit hardest, followed by Bradley and then others such as Little Giant). In mechanical hammers the rating is the ram and die together, in air hammers it is the total of piston, rod, ram and die. In hydraulic forging presses it is the platen and die weight plus the hydraulic force.

Although many air hammer manufactures provide the energy of the blow this is often highly fudged. For dead drop or power assisted hammers this is one thing but almost all machines are applying reverse lifting force well before the hammer strikes. This is necessary to prevent bounce strikes and to operate the machine at the most productive rate.

One method of measuring the force of hammers was devised using a 1" dia 1" tall lead cylinder. The hammer struck ONE blow on the cylinder and the rating determined by the how much the cylinder flattened. This assumed a hammer that could hit ONE hard blow at its hardest. This is difficult to do with most hammers and requires a skilled operator familiar with the specific machine. This system is good for comparing two similar hammers of equal ram weight. However, manufacturers fudged on ram weights and often made them 10 to 15% heavier than rated in order to make the hammer appear to hit harder than the competition. . .

In the end, nobody cared. You bought a machine of a known make that could do the job and let it go at that.

SO, you have a 32 kg (70#) rated Vand der Merwe.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/11/04 15:26:14 EST


   SLIM SPURLING - Sunday, 01/11/04 18:23:19 EST


IF we have exceeded your dreams, it is ONLY because we stand on the shoulders of Giants!

And you are one of them!

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/11/04 20:13:22 EST

Good evening how are you gents this evening? i have gone through the dreaded games of the divorce. a game too common anymore . however i have still in my possesion a 50 pound star hammer that i need to pass along .would any of you be able to use or know somone that can put it to good use? would love to see a beginner that has the tallent to beable to use it . i think it will be a pretty good buy. any interest mya contact me at ramrod@comwares.net thank you keep your powder dry ramrod
   ramrod - Sunday, 01/11/04 20:57:20 EST

Thank you for your reply and the advise,do you have a contact or source were I can buy a Lindsay catalog?

Once more "Thanks for you time"

The OZ
   ozzie - Sunday, 01/11/04 21:31:03 EST


Cut and paste this link, mate. It'll take you right to Lidsay books.

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/11/04 22:25:34 EST


I forgot to tell you to scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see where to click to get a catalog.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/11/04 22:27:01 EST

I just got an old rusted file. what type of steel are files usually made of?
   - colinnn - Sunday, 01/11/04 22:57:36 EST

Thanks to everybody for their responses on the 4" pipe mandrel and CO levels; I'm catching up after the Southern Maryland Celtic Society's medieval feast last night and a very busy weekend. Will respond soon.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 01/11/04 23:10:59 EST

Ramrod; Condolences
There is a demand for those good old mechanical hammers...but the potential buyer is best if in your neighborhood..so let the folks know roughly where you are.
Slim: there are a number of folks who could help..will let the guru be more specific. But on the light end , i've found an air powered chipping hammer in a frame to be real handy..a foot pedal air valve works well for control.
   - Pete F - Monday, 01/12/04 01:04:36 EST

I have recently purchased a blacksmith bellows made by Alldays and Onion Birmingham/London. can you tell me much about the company or its history. There are a few holes in the leather, can you suggest a good leather to patch it up.

thank you
   David - Monday, 01/12/04 06:46:49 EST

Shop Heating
I'll give you my nickles worth on shop heating. My shop is 19' square inside. Ceiling (what there is)roughly 7'. Drafty building. Two fullsize doors on east side have rollers and move horizontally. One entry door on southwest. Snow blows in some places. Four piece hip roof with a 3' long ridge. Forge sets close to center and has a hood that sets IN the forge. Flue is old auger pipe. When I fire the forge, hood heats with flue. Hood provides some heat when working in forge. Space is a premium here too.

I have a 20# bottle with a Mr Heater (2 head) attached to it that sets behind me when I face the forge. This heater does a pretty good job. I live is southeast Iowa. We don't get NEAR cold for long periods like the Canadian boys do, but the other morning at -4º the shop warmed to tolerable temps in hour or so.

Wintertime forging can be dangerous for me. I sweat a lot. Too hot will be bad. Too cold is obvious. Too many clothes can be bad. I usually just wear a tee shirt and longsleeved shirt under the bibs I wear year round (not insulated duck bibs). I wear a flannel or hooded sweatshirt for a top coat to the shop. After firing the heater and firing the forge and settin up whatever I'm gonna do in the shop, I usually forge something small to get the fire in shape after initial firing and banking (obviously coal fire). In the next 1/2 hour I'm taking the coat off and working in just the standard clothes. Sure it's cold, but not truthfully bad. Working back and forth from the welding table and forge and vise and plasma I get some relief returning to the home spot which is between the 2 heaters (forge and propane). The hood cools and I add some blast. I end up using more coal (some for just shop heat) but in the long run it works out pretty good.

I got to wear Carhartt socks to keep the feets warm. My feet go, I'm toast. I have a folding chair that I can set between the forge and the propane heater when I need to just set and study something (mebbe that something is setting on the anvil). These little propane heaters work pretty good and I have a spare bottle. I've already stated that the shop is drafty. CO don't really concern me for this reason. CO DOES concern me in a tight confine. This is pretty long winded to tell you about heat, but lotta things involved in heat.

   - Ten Hammers - Monday, 01/12/04 06:51:04 EST

When did blacksmithing originate? What are the steps taken to build a sword? What region of the world did blacksmithing originate? Do you have any research information on blacksmithing, if so may i look at it?
   Pete - Monday, 01/12/04 08:13:36 EST

Andrew, I have a 167 Lb Czech made German-Pattern anvil and have been using it for about 6 months. Even an occasional errant blow has not made any significant marks on the face. It has excellent rebound and the edges have been tempered soft enough to round over with a file. I think these anvils are well worth the money.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 01/12/04 08:48:03 EST

Pete, sounds like a paper is due. Blacksmithing started with the iron age---though I might quibble and claim that the work done with meteoritic iron would count---but much of that was done cold.

Steps in making a sword: given the smithy and smith, first step is to procure the metal, second step is to forge it to shape, third step clean up with stock removal, fourth is heat treat, fifth is finish with stock removal. sixth is hilting, seventh is scabbard making *NOTE* historically smiths did not need to smelt their own metal, they would buy/barter for it. Also the smith would be done after step 4, step 5 and on would be done by other craftsmen in different shops.

Also not the web is *NOT* the best place to go looking for this info; it's in *books* like "The Complete Bladesmith"---how anyone can think that a couple of pages on the web can replace hundreds of pages in a book is beyond my comprehension...what the web is good at is finding out what books to dig into.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/12/04 08:56:47 EST


Besides what Thomas had to say our policy is to NOT do homework for students. Most of your questions can be answered using a good print encylopedia like Britanica. World Book may have the basics but not the details. Then there are hundreds of books on blacksmithing at least one of which will be in your public library. Try looking for "The Art of Blacksmithing" by Alex bealer. It is only $10-$13 from major book sellers like Amazon.com

Our site is filled with almost nothing but blacksmithing information. However most of the historical information is dribbled here and there throughout the archives of this page. It would be easier to use the encylopedia.

Western histories point the beginnings of the Iron Age to the Causus Mountains and the Middle East. However, India and China had very ancient Iron Ages of their own that the West tends to ignore. The full truth of the matter is yet to be determined and published.
   - guru - Monday, 01/12/04 10:08:57 EST

Thomas P,
Your Bio says your a Medievalist.
That is one of my favourite subjects.
I'm obsessed with the Medievil times.
How much do you know one bladesmithing?
Andrew HURD
   - Andrew Hurd - Monday, 01/12/04 09:27:44 EST

I was wondering how I could slowly enter the trade. How to work upwards? Any advice would be good
I was hoping to have a small forge in my garage,
what would be the precautions that I would need to take?

I am curently searching for a good anvil any ideas?
   - Andrew Hurd - Monday, 01/12/04 09:33:47 EST

Server: Andrew H, There is nothing wrong with the server, however there IS something wrong with your rapid fire questions without atempting to look around a little first. I deleted the repeat messages and messages to yourself.

You have been to this web site often enough to know we have a LOT of information and how to access it.

Go to the FAQ's page and read the article on selecting an anvil. It has links to more articles about anvils as well as the half dozen folks that sell anvils here.

Read our getting started article. Or perhaps read it again. It answers many questions about getting into the trade.

   - guru - Monday, 01/12/04 10:27:22 EST

i was going to do the same thing with my first forge but then decided against it. it can be extremely dangerous to put a forge in the garage. you MUST have a powerful ventilation system because the fumes are toxic. you have to clear the area so that there are NO CHEMICALS OR explosives whatsoever. basically, do not build your forge inside a garage. it is best (unless you want to build a shop building) to build it outside. this is where mine is. it makes sure that the toxic fumes and the smoke can dissipate into the air. a garage is NOT A GOOD IDEA. outside is much better.
   - colinnn - Monday, 01/12/04 10:32:10 EST

Alldays and Onion: David, I was just mentioning the same brand to a fellow this AM. As far as I know Alldays and Onion is out of business (for many years). They also manufactured mechanical power hammers that were sold throughout the British Commonwealth but not in the US. They are commonly found in Canada and Australia

Bellows leather gets very stiff and hard from dissuse. Old leather needs to be well oiled with Neets Foot oil and or Saddle Soap. After these have soaked in a month or so the leather needs to be reoiled. The leather must be soft and pliable before using the bellows.

Once the leather is soft and plable a thin patch can be applied using a sewing awl. To get to the back side you need someone with skinny arms that can reach through the valve holes. Most bellows were not made to be maintained from the backside of the leather so this can be tricky OR impossible. I build bellows with the valves on a removable board so that one can reach inside and work on the leather.

The type of leather can be any that is soft and pliable. The type used for upholstery or clothing works fine.

Most old bellows that start to get cracks in the leather are ready to be re-leathered. Ocassionaly they can be oiled (as noted above) and put back into service after a month or so. But fully dried leather that has started to rot is often not restorable. It is almost easier to build a new bellows from scratch than to re-leather an old bellows.
   - guru - Monday, 01/12/04 10:47:54 EST

A question along the lines of a warm shop. What is the safest way to warm an anvil prior to starting work on it. Due to the way I have to work, my anvil is pretty cold and really pulls the heat out of anything I lay on it. I've heard mention of pre-warming the anvil but I'd rather work n a cold anvil that goof up the temper/hardness on an anvilface. Is heating a plate in the forge then placing it on the anvil safer than gentle, difuse direct heating with a torch?

   - Aksmith - Monday, 01/12/04 10:54:42 EST


Pick up one of the heat "tapes" that are designed to keep water pipes from freezing. Wrap it around the anvil, plug it in. (get the shortest you can find) They have a thermostat and will cut off when they get to the pre-set temperature.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/12/04 11:08:58 EST

One point of interest. The Jan/Feb issue of 'Countryside &Small stock journal' has a two page article in a couple quick ways to improvise tongs. Good for beginners with welder access.
   - Aksmith - Monday, 01/12/04 11:13:54 EST

Alldays and Onion: I seem to recall, a couple of years back, a couple of antique dealers posting all about the net for a name brand bellows, possibly A & O, and offering some unusually high price. I figured that they were competing in a weird high stakes scavenger hunt or that some well-funded museum or project had revealed its budget. I noticed on another commercial site a pair of used, antique great bellows for $1,000. I don’t think the market will support that sort of price for an item that, while unusual, is not exactly rare, and usually requires extensive restoration to make useable, and good conservation (at least minimal temperature and humidity control) to preserve in a non-working museum setting. Mold and mice love these things. For a price like that, you could build your own, and better. Probably a result of (as my father-in-law would say) diarrhea of money inflating prices and perceived values.

On the other claw, there’s a ____ born every minute; a ____ and his money are soon parted, and you can ____ some of the people all of the time. And I’ll give you 10% if you help me launder all of my Nigerian oil money, left by a distant cousin. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/12/04 12:08:48 EST

Thanks Mr. Hammers. The side draft stays cool as old toast it draws so well. Nice in summer. I mostly insulated to kill the noise level to outside ears, figuring the forge would keep things well heated. And while it doesn't usually get "Canada cold" here... every once in a while. Yup, I'm with you on dressing like the Michelin man. Dress to stay warm then you can't move. Is this Mr. Heater the catalytic type the lads were referring to? Course I'm thinking if I have to lay out the cabbage for a propane heater, wouldn't a nice little gas forge heat things up just fine? Hmmm think I'll go make a nice hearty lunch for Sweety pie and mention my old bones.
   Gronk - Monday, 01/12/04 12:25:51 EST

Czech Anvils:

I have not used these anvils, but I have heard many good things about them. One thing I do want to point out. These anvils are made from a medium carbon, slightly higher Mn steel. I did see the chemsitry on these anvils once. If I recall correctly it was about 0.30% carbon and the Mn level was somewhere between 1 and 2%. This puts them into the 1500 series steels which are plain carbon steels that have additional Mn for hardenability. They are not the same as the high Mn steels (13% Mn) that are used for abrasion resistant applications. The 13% Mn types (Hadfield steel) are extremly sensitive to work hardening and are often found as hardfacing alloys on earthmoving equipment.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 01/12/04 12:49:31 EST

I have picked up a few of those large removable teeth that are used with earth moving machinery. These are BIG 10" long or longer. What kind of steel are these likely to be and what are they useful for? Currently I am using one as a wheel chock for my truck :)

Anvil warming. It rarely goes below 15F here in N. NM. On cold days I take a chunk of steel , heat it to red hot while the forge is warming up and set it on the anvil.
   adam - Monday, 01/12/04 15:56:57 EST

I am searching for a good anvil that will last me. I have seen alot of kinds and am wondering what the best one to go with. It would need to last and be quite strong because I am doing alot of work with it. I have herd of the fire regulations and they are cracking down im my area.
   - Stephen - Monday, 01/12/04 17:01:07 EST

Andrew; bladesmithing is how I got into blacksmithing; I'd love to discuss aspects of the craft in medieval times---I've even smelted my own wrought iron starting with ore and a baed of clay in a creek; but:

I've just finished tarping and tieing my overloaded pick-up and will be off line for a while as I drive 1500 miles to a new job---have to find a place to live, new ISP, etc so it will probably be a while before I get back on board (and even longer before the research library gets unpacked)

There are several others, (like Atli!) who are into medieval iron work and I throw you on their mercies, BWAhahahahahahahaha

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/12/04 17:40:01 EST

Thomas P
I hope that you will be able to get settled and pick up where you left off. Hope the drive goes well. What is your new job?
   - Andrew - Monday, 01/12/04 18:45:08 EST

Stephen, asking this bunch "what is the best anvil?" is like asking a room full of drunks " What is the best beer?". They all have a perfered brand, but they are still in search of the "Best". Grin BTW was there ever a final vote on what to call the large stack of avial that all blacksmiths own(or would like to)
   habu - Monday, 01/12/04 18:51:03 EST

what are the best makes of anvils?
   - Stephen - Monday, 01/12/04 19:17:28 EST


A "Heard" of anvils sounds about right to me! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/12/04 20:32:11 EST


What are the best makes of cars?

Your question has no answer! Some anvils are best for one type of work, others are best for other types of works.

Most folks, myself included prefer wrought iron anvils with tool steel faces. Moushole anvils, Peter Wright, others of the same type.

   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/12/04 20:42:55 EST



   - SLIM SPURLING - Monday, 01/12/04 22:59:36 EST

I'm running an 18th Century grist mill and need a new thrust bearing for it. The thrust bearing is essentially an a steel pin rotating in a dimple in a steel plate. Once I make a new bearing, I need to harden and then temper it. What would you suggest for this process? The pin will spin at a maximum of 65rpm and has water splashing on it while it spins and needs to support around 1000 pounds. The first one we used was just water quenched mild steel and only lasted a year. The one that is currently working is oil quenched steel and has lasted over a year so far. Ideally, the pin should outlast a mild steel plate. Thanks
   Kevin - Tuesday, 01/13/04 01:02:21 EST

Kevin; How about a piece of work hardening AR (abrasion resistant) plate with a dimple pounded or pressed into it with a hydraulic shop press. Check with your local steel supplier. How thick was your last one?
   3dogs - Tuesday, 01/13/04 01:36:25 EST

I would like to say thanks for all the valuable I was provided with by you. Thanks for all of it, I might need more information later.

   Pete - Tuesday, 01/13/04 07:32:52 EST

Habu, I think "a ring of anvils" was well received by all.

Kevin, does the bearing get wet? Does it get rusty? How did it fail? Abrasive wear, cracking, fatigue, or what? If you can provide more details, we might be able to give you a specific alloy/treatment suggestion.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/13/04 08:11:50 EST

Thanks guru the site has been really usfull.
   - Stephen - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:09:21 EST

I'm REALLY sorry about all the posts,
The "self-messages" were sent to Andrew Little,
So I'm sorry if I did anything to make you upset.
   - Andrew Hurd - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:10:34 EST

How big is a resonable bellow?
   - Mike - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:21:14 EST

SLIM, E-mail on the way about small hammers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:26:23 EST

Do you know of any Blacksmith shows?
   - Moe - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:45:05 EST

Bellows Size: Mike this is proportional to the work you do. Jewelers of the past used small benchtop charcoal fires and provided air by mouth or little moulder's bellows. Old iron furnaces uses bellows that were ten or twelve feet long.

Using the description in Bealers Art of Blacksmithing for an "average" size bellows for a "general" shop I built the bellows in the article on our 21st Century Page. These were used for many years and were what I would consider the perfect sized bellows. The working section is roughly four feet long and three feet wide at the widest. They open about four feet at the back (each half about two feet).

These belows have a light pull and plenty of blast. Note that the pull is related to the weight of the wood, particularlly the top and spreader boards. To provide plenty of nail area many bellows were made with very thick boards. This results in a heavy pull and slow response. Mine were built using 3/4" pine (1" nominal shelving). The trick is to layout the pieces so that there are no knots along the edges. Out of 50 feet of edge I had one small knot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:48:09 EST

Moe, See our Calendar of Events page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 09:59:35 EST

Anvil Quality: See my article on selecting an anvil of our FAQ's page and the links from it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:03:34 EST

Thanks for the information on selecting an anvil.
   - Moe - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:13:40 EST

I am just starting blacksmithing as a hobby, have been lurking here for a few months and really appreciate all the info here. Construction on my charcoal forge is proceeding, but I have run into a bit of a snag. I am using a 13" brake drum for a firepot and a 3/8" steel plate for the hearth table. After cutting and grinding the hole for the drum to sit in the plate, the top of the rim of the drum sits 3/4" above the plate. I had initially planned on leaving the plate bare, but the height difference between the plate and the top of the drum will present some difficulty in pushing in fresh charcoal from the side. I have considered a layer of firebrick on top of the plate to bring the level of the hearth above the rim of the drum/firepot. What would the gurus recommend as far as type of firebrick? Also, can anyone suggest a supplier in Milwaukee, WI. Thank you!
   Frank Kloiber - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:19:16 EST

Thomas P
Good luck with the move, let me know how it all works out.
   - Andrew Hurd - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:19:31 EST

After learning the things i have learned i want to become a blacksmith, where do i get the things for cheap?
   - Pete - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:39:03 EST

Stephen: Good anvils can be had from Kayne & Son, from Nimba, from EuroAnvils and from OldWorld Anvils. All of these kinds of anvils will serve a professional smith for many years. Which is the best? Very hard to say. Stay away from cast iron anvil look alikes sold by importers such as Harbor Freight. Unless you know what you are doing, stay away from used anvils.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/13/04 10:52:52 EST

Cheap Pete: There are ocassionaly "deals" on tools when someone either doesn't know the value of what they have or do not care and just want to move it. Yes, there are still $50 Hay-Buddens out there but YOU will have to unearth them.

Otherwise good tools cost good money. "Cheap" tools are almost always junk tools that will cost you more in time and aggrevation than you save in cash. If you want cheap junk tools the flea markets, "discount" houses and ebay are loaded with them.

Even if you make all your own tools they are not "cheap" unless your time is worth nothing. You will find that unless your time is worth less than $10/hour that new tools like tongs, hammers and chisels are best bought new than made by hand. However, I recommend that EVERY smith make at least a couple pairs of tongs or more. It is good practice and experiance AND will make you appreciate good factory made tools.

The dealers that advertise here sell the world's best blacksmithing tools at prices you cannot afford to compete with. They are listed on our drop down menu and on our advertisers page.

You cannot learn blacksmithing without the tools.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 11:21:57 EST

Fitting Drum to Plate: Frank, You could always fit some brackets under the plate and bolt the drum on from there.

Half thick bricks are about 1-1/4" thick and are the closest you are going to come to that 3/4". Any type of fired brick will do. The cheapest hard refractory brick would be more than enough for the job, red brick pavers or tile would also work.

Most construction supply places carry fire brick (refractory brick) but to get the half thick bricks you are probably going to have to got to a foundry supplier. Look under foundry or refractory in your yellow pages. Note that most of these guys only deal in full pallets of bricks. But if you are lucky you might find one that has a broken pallet.

Also note that refractory bricks are expensive. Most are well over $1 US each and many are over $2.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 11:34:36 EST

Fire Brick:

I use a wooden forge, with a cast iron firepot suspended on a layer of firebricks over sand. I would suggest that you check with your local building supply about what size bricks he carries- exact dimensions. I know I’ve seen thinner firebricks than the standard (and the standard is bigger than your customary building brick).

Too thick a brick might over-deepen the fire pot, so I’d aim to get something that would reach just above the rim, and fill in the interstices with sand or (better yet) plain ol’ dirt. You don’t really need insulating bricks, the common hard firebrick is just fine, because the heat is going more up than out. Aldron Watson’s book, “The Blacksmith- Iron Worker and Farrier” has a good section on using fire bricks on a variety of forge constructions.

Warm and nice on the banks of the Potomac. Back to January starting tonight or tomorrow.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/13/04 11:38:43 EST

Sources for Inexpensive (rather than cheap) tools: Farm auctions, flea markets, used tool dealers, tailgate sales, SOME antique shops.

Good news: You can find good bargains IF you know what you’re looking at. Once you get going, you can see the possibilities in some used or presently unsuitable tools, and modify them to your needs. Every once in a while you will come upon a “pearl of great price” and buy a wonderful post vise, or anvil, or Baldur buffer (I missed that one, d@mmit; $35!) for a fraction of the present new or used value. It’s fun! It can be a hobby in itself.

Bad news: It takes time, patience and knowledge. You have to educate yourself as to what true values are. You have to develop a good eye for discriminating between ugly ducklings and dead ducks. Some of the “vintage’ tools are in good shape because they were heavy and clumsy, and nobody used them. Some of the stray tools you buy are there for a good reason; and will just take up room in your shop, until you tailgate them, which also takes time. I may buy one thing for every two or three trips to the flea market.

I agree with the Great Guru on patronizing our patron sponsors. A lot of the modern tools are a pleasure to work with- I especially like Grant Sarver’s Off Center Forge tongs, carried by (among others) Kayne and Sons. A lot of the post vises I’ve seen are missing springs, or mounts, or both. Now, it’s no big challenge to forge and fabricate these parts, but, as on any mechanical device, there is an investment in time and skill and materials. I have new tools, I have used tools, some more expensive and some I bought at a bargain price. I even have a few cheap tools- they’re the ones lying broken in the scrap pile awaiting inspiration and opportunity to be turned into something more useful. (Actually, some of those weren’t all that cheap to begin with, but they sure are now!)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/13/04 12:07:57 EST

Cheap Tools: Blacksmithing is the king of crafts because it makes the tools for all the other crafts. One of the great bennies of being a smith is that you can make your own tools. It's fun and it's cheap.

(I know Jock thinks his time is worth $50/hr - but I respectfully disagree - not every hour in your day can be sold for $50 which is why you do your own menial chores rather than hire domestic help. In any case, if you are getting into smithing for the money, you need your head examined. You are probably in it for the FUN and making tools is FUN)

It's true, the heavy stuff, anvil, vise, swedge block etc is out of the range of most small shops but hand tools are quite feasible. Problem is you need some skill to do this - a pair of tongs is not a beginners project IMO. Neither is forging a big chunk of tool steel into a hardy. So you do need to buy a basic set: A hammer, a cutoff hardy, a couple of pairs of tongs, a hot cut chisel and a punch. You should be able to buy all these items for about $150 from Kayne & Son. When you have developed some basic skill with these, spend another $25 on Bill Epps video on tong making and make yourself 30 pairs of tongs. There is nothing like the satisfaction of using a tool you made for yourself

PS How about answering my question on dozer teeth steel? :)
   adam - Tuesday, 01/13/04 12:36:17 EST

Gurus: Two related questions. I tried using the archives, but being a techno-peasant I have difficulties. I search on hammer drill comparison and get lots of hits, I choose one and I get a full list of that archive (guru pages), how do I find the revelant entry therein? Research just researches, do I have to do a eyeball search of the lsit or is it easier (Hope hope). Or could you just revisit the topic? What is the best type of hammer drill (sds vs spline), cord vs cordless etc? I was drilling very old concrete with one of those cheezy 'spade' drills and getting nowhere, a passerby let me use his hammer drill and it took more time to put the bit in than to drill the hole!!! I need one, any suggestions greatly appreciated. tks
   - Tim - Tuesday, 01/13/04 12:40:34 EST

50.00 per hour is cheap! Have you looked aat how much mechanics get paid? Here at the dealership where I got my motorcycle they charge a min of 75 per hour. And he is not counting 24 /7 he is counting work hours. If you are working at this for a living, every hour you spend making tools that are readily avaible over the counter then you have lost money.
As a hobbist it is good to make tools as then you learn many aspects of the craft and in doing so increase your abliity.
Why not learn basic skills while making tongs? And hardies, chisles and punches. I suspect most of us here did. To be honest I have only a few tools I have not made. ( of course to be honest I have very few tools) SO far my total expenditure has been 108.00 and that was for an anvil and hammer.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 01/13/04 13:05:40 EST

Tim, I use a DeWalt corded hammer drill. It's a combo tool, drill, hammer drill, and hammer. This is one of the few cases where I buy a combo tool. The drill comes with a ½" chuck, and they usually last me about 10 years. Get the heavy duty, construction grade drill, not the home owner grade. Theres some difference in cost, but the difference more than pays for itself in the long run.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/13/04 13:24:03 EST

re:mechanic's wages
our shop gets $78/hour from the customer
mechanics (like me) get @21/hour from the shop
we are a new car dealer and most of the labor pays to keep the showroom open.
   Frank Kloiber - Tuesday, 01/13/04 13:33:24 EST

Frank was not saying that the Mech got the total amount, but that is what is billed. Overhead and all that.
Look at how much a nice railing job is billed. 70.00 a foot is cheap ( unless you are doing just a fab job)
I have seen some rails going for over 600.00 per foot. Of course it was a rather intricate job and all.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 01/13/04 14:15:32 EST

Adam, My time is worth $100/hr for certain things such as web work and machine design. I was getting $25/hr 30 years ago. . . In the blacksmith shop if you charge less than $100/hr you will end up making minimum wage after taxes and expenses. Which is what many smiths end up doing and never getting ahead.

Making tongs is only slightly more difficult than "basic" projects. Ugly tongs will work but ugly projects will not sell. Once a smith has practiced enough to make pretty tongs then they can make almost anything else. They also teach humility and that you cannot compete with factory made or imported products.

I agree that buying tongs is a better use of one's money if one has it. But it is also some of the best practice a new smith can get.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 14:30:25 EST

Search: Tim, Our search routine IS currently a failure. We have a new one in progress but it needs a couple thousand dollars worth of programming time put into it.

You would have found little or nothing on masonry drills in our archives.

If I were shopping for a masonry drill I would go to my local commericial hardware supplier and ask what was the most common type of bit (they come in hundreds of proprietary shank styles). Then I would buy the tool that uses that bit.

I have a nice old B&D hammer drill that weighs a ton. . It was probably made in the 1970's when B&D was still making commercial duty tools. It uses a hex and round shank with a simple lever retainer that is easy to change. The problem is that bits are only available by special order and there is a small selection. Luckily it came with a case of bits and I don't use it much.

Note that most folks like the lighter weight drills (mine is about 30 pounds) because they are much easier to use in tight places and horizontaly.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 14:44:09 EST

Hammer Drills:

Tim, I have decided after several years of intensive hammer drill use that you need to quantify your work before you decide which drill to get. For example:

If you are drilling holes under 1/2" in concrete, then a pistol-grip hammer drill with a Jacobs chuck will suffice and the bits are cheap. You can even drill a few holes up to 3/4" with that sort of setup. Anything larger will trash the chuck in short order, then the hammer anvils after that. End of tool.

If you need to drill lots of holes in the 1/2" to 1" range, and do some occasional light duty chipping, then I recommend the SDS D-handled hammer drills such as the Bosch. I have had my Bosch for several years, long after I trashed a Milwaukee 1/2" and a couple of DeWalts. The bits cost more, but are still relatively affordable and easy to find.

If you need to drill holes larger than 1", or if you are going to do a bunch of 1" holes in a commercial type environment, then go for the bigger Bosch or Hilti rotary hammer with the spline bits. They cost a good bit more, but last longer and put less wear on the hammer mechanism, in my opinion. The Hiltiu is the Cadillac of the crop, but I think the cost is excessive. I recommend the Bosch.

Above the 1" roatry hammers, you get into very heavy industrial tools that won't do rotary hammering, usually. They either hammer, as in breaking hammers, or they drill, as in core drills. They weigh a ton and cost one, too. And the price of the bits will be higher than the cost of a 3/4" Bosch hammer drill.

I hope this helps to answer your question.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/13/04 18:54:42 EST

Can not renew CSI. I get thru shipping info and then get message that server cannot be found. Is there a Problem??
(Other than my ineptitude.)
   Jim Curtis - Tuesday, 01/13/04 20:27:19 EST

Before I pick out an anvil, i just wanted to make sure I pick the right one. I'm going to forge swords and armor (in the future) do you think a 200lb anvil will be enough?
And in order to get the materials for the swords what type of steel should I get?
Thanks for your help!
   lauren - Tuesday, 01/13/04 22:03:42 EST

Lauren, i as many asked this question, I would recomend using AISI 1050 if you can get any from a local steel mill, because it is forgiving to novices, like you and I, and it quite easy to work with, and is the most historicly correct steel for most blades, to the origonal steels. For the armor I am not sure what steel to use, but I would like to know what type of fuel sorce you ar going to use, coal and charcoal work great, coal provides more heat per lump, but charcoal gets less impurities, ok? I preferable use charcoal because it is more open to me for purchase...
   Oshinokeru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 23:20:00 EST

Hey, guru, i was wondering if any of you knew where i could get some used japanese polishing stones, atleast ones that still have some life left in them, because i would hate spending anywhere from 40-80 dollars per stone to ruin them, do you understand? form long ago when i was asking how to do so much, i've buaghten and read a few books, on blacksmithing, now i am prepairing into pulling together the equipment i have, and starting. Wish me luck!! Oh, yes i was wondering, if you had any anvils with the beak, which will make chipping the ends of the AISI 1050 off while forging my blades. Right now, i am currently using just an old railroad iron, works fairly decent, but is a tad rough with the chipping. I am thank full for all of you blacksmiths who endured me, helped me, and still in the end of the frustration, still ackknowledged me as a begginer and tryed yet more to encourage me. Oshi
   Oshinokeru - Tuesday, 01/13/04 23:26:14 EST


Since Thomas the orange is in the midst of a move to New Mexico, and the Greater Guru is still working on his omnibus beginners sword article, I'll make a few suggestions.

First: Swords are definitely something you're going to have to work up to. An understanding of basic blacksmithing and metallurgy helps.

Secondly: Check out the Armoury page, we've posted some useful information there, which will give you some idea of what you're dealing with. Also note the engraving of the renaissance armorer's shop on the page, and the simplicity of the tools. Large and complicated tools may help speed production, but they were never a replacement for skill and patient diligence.

Thirdly: Check out the Bookshelf, and also try an inter-library loan for swordmaking books by Jim Hrisoulis and knifemaking books by Wayne Goddard. If you're serious about this, you might even want to purchase the books. A good reference book is seldom a bad investment, and the knowledge is frequently more valuable than the tools.

Once you've done all of that, you may also want to try the Beginner's Forum over at Sword Forum, and the Armour Archive bulletin boards, as well as here at Anvilfire.

Oshinokeru is right, the 1050 is a good compromise for a basic sword. For experimentation and practice 5160 (or the alloy of the month) used for car leaf springs also works well. Also I would consider a 200 pound anvil more than sufficient for sword and armor work, especially since you will be buying/modifying/making a batch of specialized stakes and stumps for your armor work.

Lastly, see if there are any blacksmiths, armorers or bladesmiths in your area that you can visit, or if you can attend a hammer-in or other blacksmithing event or meeting.

You've got your work cut out for you; good luck.

Andrew Hurd:

The medieval period is a nice place to visit, but (trust me) you woudn't want to live there. Most of our ancestors spent a good part of their lives observing the south ends of a brace of northbound oxen; frequently they didn't even own the oxen. I advise folks who want a true feel for the medieval period to relocate to a third world country run by a controlling oligarchy and enlist as a landless peasant laborer. I love the period too, but every age has its dangers and limitations. The more I've researched, the more I've been fascinated with the tools of common life that allowed our ancestors to survive in the first place. They worked hard for their daily bread. A little blacksmithing will give most folks an appreciation of just how hard you can work. ;-)

Getting colder on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 01/14/04 00:10:47 EST

How long would i have to run a coke fired crucible melter to get 2 pound crucible melts? i have the melter set up(lage diameter iron pipe with high temp refactories and bottom blast shop vac)am i looking at 1 hor for a melt or more?got neighors,thats why. anyone had experience with small batches of steel or iron in a crucible?
   - mark - Wednesday, 01/14/04 08:17:07 EST

guru,have you had any eperience with melting small (2-4lbs.)of iron or steel in a coke fired crucible furnace?i would like to
now how long a burn time im looking at 1-2 hours?i have neighbors,thats why im asking.any help would help,thank you ,mark
   - mark - Wednesday, 01/14/04 08:35:24 EST

Thanks alot Atli
Also just wondering if you know if there are any people in Canada Ontario who might be willing to take on an apprentice?
   - Andrew Hurd - Wednesday, 01/14/04 09:18:58 EST


Check out http://ontarioblacksmith.ncf.ca/
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/14/04 09:21:52 EST

Server Not Found: Jim, This is a common IE time out error. Rather that saying "timed out" or loading slow IE says it cannot find the site. Other times this happens with all browsers when there is a network problem. The "web" is just that, a spider's web of connections that work sometimes and sometimes they don't. The system is supposed to sutomatically adjust to a new path when there are break downs but this often takes time, and ocassionaly manual intervention. It is so complicated that it is amazing it works at all. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/14/04 10:12:12 EST

Re: "Server Not Found"

Netscape does the same thing. It would be a lot easier if the time that the browser spends trying to get hooked up were a variable that could be set by the user, but "the lowest common denominator" wouldn't be able to figure out how to use it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/14/04 11:41:30 EST

Anvils for Swords and Anvils for Armour: Lauren, For making swords any anvil with a flat surface will do. For working alone an anvil with a hardie hole is helpful. For centuries and even today small anvils with a face about the size of one's hand have been used for making swords. There are many photos of workers in the Middle East and Asia working on heavy sledges set into a stump. Note that long straight surfaces are not necessary to make a straight edge. Straight lines are in the skill of the smith.

For armour work most common anvils will not do except for flat work. The most useful tools for armour work are mushroom and ball stakes of different sizes followed by stakes of various shapes. At the 2003 West Virginia Armour-In (see our NEWS Vol 29) the most visible and most used tools (after hammers) were ball stakes and stumps. All the ball stakes at Ted Banning's were recycled from various sources and included large ball bearings, old trailer hitch balls, ball mill balls and a large ball valve segment. For finger gauntlets you need bick type stake anvils, needle case stakes or hand made stakes.

See "Metalforming Tools" on the Pieh Tool site and search for "stake anvils" on the Centaur site. There are currently no photos of either brand of stake on the Pieh site.

Perhaps the most important tool for armour work is a good shear. The Beverly Shear is the most common world wide due to its unique design. In the modern shop the only tool that will replace it for making clean odd shaped cuts in sheet metal is the plasma torch. In the armoury this is the place to spend your money to start.

Balls suitable to make ball stakes are not easy to come by and new are very expensive. Since the Armour-In last spring I have kept an eye out for balls of various sizes and shapes with little luck. Very old trailer balls were round but all new ones have a flat on top. I did manage to purchase a couple beautiful forged ~6" alloy steel balls with heavy shanks at SOFA/Quadstate. These were reject forgings for a heavy machine joint. A little grinding to finish and they are perfect armourers anvil. I paid $40 each for these.

Several ways to make ball/mushroom stake/anvils besides using balls are:

1) Take an 8 pound or larger sledge hammer and grind the face to a hemispherical segment.
2) Look for old auto/truck axels with the rounded flange and rework to suit (torch off flange, weld up center).
3) Weld a round biscuit onto a shank and shape to suit.
4) Forge the tool from solid (the hard way).
5) Machine a ball from solid.

Stumps are stumps, hardwood and softwood work. However, if you live where large trees are rare or stumps not handy you can laminate one up from any finished lumber like making a butcher's block. Cutting dishes can be done by hand or with a chainsaw. Burning is also common. The most common mistake is to make dishes too deep. A small fraction of a sphere (less than 1/4) is best.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/14/04 11:42:55 EST

For any smiths in the UK looking for bellows there are a large set for sale on Ebay


I bought my 3.5 hundredweight wrought iron anvil from this guy so have no fear if you wish to bid.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 01/14/04 11:56:55 EST

Frank, a cheaper solution may be the fiberglass reinforced cement board that's used behind or under tile. I think it's only 1/2 inch thick. I put scrap pieces on my forge table to bring it up to level with the lip of the fire pot, and it's worked fine for several years. It seems to be far enough from the heat that the fire doesn't destroy it, and although I usually rake the coal out onto it to put out the fire, I wouldn't want to get it any hotter than that or it might spall.
   - mstu - Wednesday, 01/14/04 13:11:05 EST

Still can not renew. I get stuck in a loop where address is
Cant get out of this loop by typing in my password. Otherwise after shipping info window and "CONTINUE" button I get "cannot access site" immediately--no apparent timeout.

Can you just renew me for a year using past credit card info? If so, do so please.
   Jim Curtis - Wednesday, 01/14/04 13:49:25 EST

Dear Guru and others,
Thanks for the info on anvil selection. Without this site as an information well, there'd be a lot more 'error' in a new smithy's trial-and-error learning curve.

Just one more question if I may?

I was about to order in a Czech Euroanvil when I stumbled upon a local Aussie blacksmith shop producing spheroidal graphite cast iron anvils 'as used for crankshafts and high pressure fittings' and which 'should not be confused with standard grey cast iron'. They state that the model has a Brinell Hardness of 250-280 and that it has a 'matrix of 100% pearlite'. A 180lb model retails for around USD$500. They offer to produce cast steel anvils for 2-3 times this cast iron cost.
I've done some reading and shuddered at the 'cast iron' label. Are you able to read anything into this type of anvil based on the material type, hardness, pearlite content and cost?
Thanks for the site and the help.

   Andrew Little - Wednesday, 01/14/04 14:11:59 EST


Ask to do a bounce test on one of their anvils. Preferably with a 1" steel ball. Then make your purchase decision based on the results of the test.

Personally, I wouldn't buy it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/14/04 14:54:46 EST

I am always a tad leery when in the ad they use lots of scientific sounding words. Usually it is due to an inferior product but they are trying to sell to unware folks.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 01/14/04 14:58:17 EST

I was wondering If you know a place in Qeubec Canada where you could be a apprentice? Any Information on the topic would be a appreciated.
   - Stephen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 14:58:41 EST

Andrew, one of the metallurgist types really needs to address this but I think this cast iron in which the carbon has been precipitated out into nodules. The result is a soft material similar to soft iron. While this is better than a cast iron chinese anvil, it is probably no better than a block of mild steel which can be had for a fraction of the price. At best its just a stop gap until you buy a real anvil. Also, I would not spend $1500 on a steel casting from a shop that does not routinely make blackmsith's anvils - there are all kinds of issues like inclusions and heat treating and alloy type to think about. Furthermore, if you buy this kind of bespoke item you are pretty much stuck with it unless you can convince another sucker to take it off your hands. IMO save your $$ until you can get a czech anvil or find a real one for sale not to far from where you live.
   adam - Wednesday, 01/14/04 15:15:50 EST

Found more info., on DH2 metal.
cut and paste
Scroll down to
Typical Analysis
hope this helps
Dan D
   DanD skabvenger - Wednesday, 01/14/04 15:16:48 EST

Guru, I just posted my 52 week renewal information thru your server, looks like it went thru just fine, if it did NOT go thru please let me know and we'll do whatever it takes to get renewed! THANK YOU!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 15:27:41 EST

Guru, please disregard the above post, I just received your email confirmation that the renewal went thru just fine. Thank you!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 15:34:03 EST


Anvil Material: Andrew L., Adam was pretty close. This is what is known as "ductile iron". Yes it is tough stuff but it is not very hard. For crankshafts the journals are case hardened, usualy by nitriding. This applies a thin wear resistant surface. Ductile can be heat treated but is just one step above a cast iron anvil. The price you are quoting is only a little lower than what a forged steel Peddinghaus costs here. Note that the hardness converts to only 28 Rc (high deep hardnesses are measured on the "C" scale).

"Cast steel" can vary from low carbon mild steel to carbon tool steels. In good steel anvils a significant cost is machining and heat treating.

You will need to balance shipping costs with doing local trade. Or as Adam pointed out fend for yourself and make your own.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/14/04 16:05:01 EST

Guru Do you of any Black smith shops in Ontario? Or any places where they offer courses?
   - Stephen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 17:13:17 EST

Armouring - Note I don't play with making armour, but am in the SCA & have several friends who actively armour. In addition to the guru's suggestions for ball stakes, they have also gotten their hands on cast steel grinding balls and have mounted them on stakes to produce ball stakes for their work. The best and most obsessive of them just received his laurel for amouring in December - general opinion was it was long overdue, but he's not always the best at politics, and the SCA is definitely political. He's currently enamored of 4150 for armour, not fond of 300 series stainless steel and the last we discussed still working his way through The Knight and the Blast Furnace. Based on discussions we've had, he's using 4150 in what I'd call a normalized condition - heat above critical and cool in air or in front of a fan. Less distortion than quenching, still plenty strong, and resistant to the pounding handed out in SCA combat.Comments regarding spheroidial graphite cast iron are basically correct per my knowledge, but as a metallurgist,I've never worked much with cast iron, primarily steels instead.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 01/14/04 17:22:41 EST

here are two schools in Ontario
Haliburton School of the Arts http://www.flemingc.on.ca/programs/haliburton/blacksmith.asp

Highland Forge School of Blacksmithing www.HighlandForge.ca

try this addy for more info


if they are of no help contact me through my web site and I'll dig up some more for you, by the way what part of ontario are you in? its a very large area :)


   Mark P - Wednesday, 01/14/04 18:12:33 EST

Thanks for the Information Mark P. Lets put it this way near Toronto.
   - Stephen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 18:53:12 EST

I am in Kingston you can contact me by clicking on my name below this mesage. There are several smiths in your area that may be willing to help you get startted or help with a particular problem... the O.A.B.A is is good place to start there are meetings up near you nearly every month. they rarely come this far east...afraid of us out in the boonies I think :) I beleave http://www.forgeandanvil.com/ has blacksmithing classes as well they are located at

2633 Herrgott Road, Box 299 St. Clements, Ontario Canada NOB 2MO
Tel: (519) 699-4319 Fax: (519) 699-5452 E-mail:

not that far from TO

   Mark P - Wednesday, 01/14/04 20:18:38 EST

Mark P
Thanks again for the information

What is the best way to get to Ottawa via kingston? I belive it might be the 401 then the 416?
   - Stephen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 21:17:57 EST

I am a hobby blacksmith with about 10 years experience. I have several leg vises in my shop, and most are clearly from the later 19th or early 20th Centuries. However, I have one that might be quite a bit older. Is there a resource on the web to help me date this vise. It is completely forged with no cast parts and has a maker's mark that look like CH:KS except the S is on its side. Do you have ideas where I can look?

Aubrey Washington
Rock Creek Forge
   Aubrey Washington - Wednesday, 01/14/04 23:13:48 EST

Tumbling question: has anyone here used tumbling as a means of cleaning off forge scale (mostly from propane forge) from smaller projects? If so any tips as to media to use, speed, would be appreciated. Thanks!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/14/04 23:29:23 EST

After several attempts to make punches and cold cutters from tool steel they allways turn out to soft and distort on the working surface. any advise on tempering or quenching the working end would be highly appreciated.
   roger - Thursday, 01/15/04 00:29:19 EST

First off, are you using new steel or are you using junkyard steel?
It will make a difference. If junkyard or 'found' steel then you will have to experiment with heat treating it.
I would say that since steel is fairly low cost start with new. And ask the steelyard the best heat treat specs.

But for plain jane basic carbon steel I would do this following.
First forge the tool to desired shape. Then aneal it. This is bring it slowly to critical temp ( should be somewhere around cherry red, but since we see differently take it to non-magnectic) immediately place in something like lime, wood ashes or vermiculite and allow to cool SLOWLY til you can hold in in hand with no problem ( or preferably over night)
Now it is soft.
Next bring back to critical temp, and then quench. I would say start by using oil. Some folks say quench the whole thing others will say quench only the first inch or so of the working end . Swirl it arround as you quench it so that you di not have a real sharp demarcation line ( which could crack) If you only do the tip the other end will not be as hard and if you are striking with a hammer this is a good thing.

After hardening you need to now remove some of the brittle hardness by tempering. If you are quick you can use the residual heat in teh non quenched end to bring the 'color' to the tip. So after quenching the tip scour the tip with something ( I use a brick) to get ti sorta shiny so you can se the temper colors. Once you get the color needed quench the whole thing. The tempor color will be a rough estimate of temp attained which will determine final hardness
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/15/04 01:07:46 EST

Stephen, in my very limited experience there are 2 best type of anvils they are: your very first anvil and FREE anvils.

cheers from Australia
   banjo - Thursday, 01/15/04 06:56:09 EST

Ottawa to kingston Hwy 15 straight through to hwy 417 takes you trough some of the best antique hunting areas in Ontario. smiths falls , lombardy, rideau ferry blacksmith stuff by the truck load.

   Mark P - Thursday, 01/15/04 08:42:19 EST

Mark P

What do you condider out in the middle of now where?
Thas for the information. I Believe there is a old Blacksmth shop along the Rideau Canal closer to your way. Do you know about the where abouts?
   - Stephen - Thursday, 01/15/04 09:05:36 EST

Ellen: ~30 rpm, small pieces of steel like slugs for media. I gave a satin finish and the pieces still needed to be cleaned of the fine dusting of fire scale, this was quick and easy on the wire wheel. I found the tumbler very noisy and dirty so I got rid of it, now if I could have it in an out building, that might be different.
   - Daryl - Thursday, 01/15/04 09:33:49 EST

Mark P
How long have you been in the trade?
   - AndrewHurd - Thursday, 01/15/04 09:49:45 EST

Leg Vise Age: Aubrey, These were made in England and the US in very similar styles. The American made vises tended to use more drop forged parts because they were much later industries. All the parts of every English leg vise I have seen were hand or open die forged. But I am sure that at some point they started making them using some closed die forgings. The current ones use arc welded parts. I have never seen one with castigs other than the Fisher double screw vise, all others were 100% forged except possibly the bench bracket on some American vises (and this is probably a closed die drop forging not a casting).

Many blacksmiths vises were made in the same shops as anvils such as M&H Armitage and Peter Wright. Few were marked as they were consider a standard trade item, sold by the pound simply as "Soild Box Blacksmith Vises".

The only point of demarcation in age that I know of is the method of attaching the bench bracket. Early vises supposedly earlier than 1830-40 had the rectangular hole that went through the back leg and spring through which a tennon was pined. Later vises had the wrap around strap that was wedged into a slot in the bracket. I've had two of the early types and one had a nut with a forge welded shoulder band.

Two of the early vises I've had also had a small wedge holding the jaw pivot pin in place rather than a threaded nut.

All the English vises tended to have more fine details of decoration than the American vises. The exterior of the nut s were turned and had fine decorative lines. I have one that has the maker Cooper ???? (one of the later proprietors of Mousehole Forge) stamped on the nut. This is the only one I have seen with a makers mark. The legs or arms of English vises had heavy chamfers where the American vises were usualy plain and rectangular. The English vises often had beautiful tapered and fitted springs where American vises had a plain leaf.

Last summer I saw a beautiful large leg vise with a bronze nut. This was the only one I have seen like this but folks said they had seen others and that these were "premium" or top quality vises. I have never seen these offered in a catalog.

English blacksmiths vises were made in the same manner and same patterns from the early 1700's until the early 1900's. Old catalogs show the same details as much later vises with slight variations in decoration.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:00:04 EST

Leg Vises See our FAQ page.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:01:12 EST

Im trying to read the mostly obliterated mfgs stampings on the barrel of my post vices.. do you know of a list of post vice manufacturers that I could compare to?
thanks Lydia
ps. Jock.. the ITC213.. is working well on my burnertips and on the metal band corraling my firebrick roof . I was impressed with how well it spread and covered... also the ITC200 has really hardened up and protected the exposed fiber insulation board
   lydia - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:12:16 EST

Mark P
Just wondering what your e-mail is.
Mine is: andrew_hurd@hotmail.com
   Andrew Hurd - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:13:54 EST

Tumblers: Ellen, Commercial media is bits of specially shaped abrasive like vitrified grinding wheels. Cylinders with sloped ends (like French cut beans) are common. Hard pieces of steel are also used for rough work and currently most old US RR-rail is being broken up to make media for cleaning castings. My father used cut up bits of wet-or-dry sandpaper to put a fine finish on small aluminium parts in his tumbler.

The same media is used in tumblers and vibratory finishers. Properly setup they use a fluid (mostly water) to wash the swarf out of the mix. The tumbing fluid is a non-foaming detergent that leaves a slight rust preventitive on the parts. Dry tumbling is amazingly dirty and should be done in a closed container.

Depending on the time and the media aggressiveness tumbling can just remove scale OR heavily round corners.

Both tumblers and vibratory finishers are noisy and need to be in a seperate shed. Vibratory finishers can benefit from a seperate foundation to reduce noise/vibration transmission.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:18:18 EST

MAIL Andrew Hurd. If you click on the underlined names the person's encrypted e-mail address will be decoded and will launch your mail program (if you use one). IE will prompt you to send mail to "name".

The point of this proprietary and expensive system is to prevent spammers from harvesting e-mail addresses from our forums. Posting your address publicaly is an assurance of getting clobered by spammers.

This information is described in the linked subject "About this Page".
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:25:46 EST

Vise Names: Lydia, As far as I know there is no reference specificaly on blacksmith's vises. Anivls in America does not cover vises in detail but most of the manufacturers also made vises. Mine that I forgot the name when writing the above post is a "Brooks and Cooper". They were in the vise business before they bought Mousehole Forge. Their logo stamped on the curved side of the barrel is the only one I have seen. The logo is in an oval shape with some text in the oval (unreadable).

Mousehole forge was making vises from about 1825 and Brooks and Cooper bought it in 1875. However, my Brooks vise predates 1875 IF you believe the conventional wisdom that says the wrap around bench mounts appeared in 1838.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 10:53:28 EST

hey i was wondering how you make your own hammers if so could u send me a blue print it would greatly be appreciated
   W. Dean Pangburn - Thursday, 01/15/04 11:50:54 EST


On Junk Yard Hammers, there is no such thing as a blueprint. They are made out of what ever parts you can scroungs. Take a look at the User Built Hammers on the Power Hammer Page. (drop down menu). No two are alike, although there are similarities between some of them.

What is a power hammer? A weight moving up and down on a large mass to pound on hot metal. After that is said, all bars are off.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/15/04 12:09:14 EST

There is a 200# anvil for $300 in the S.C. Market Bulletin. I anyone is interested e mail me with the word 'anvil' in the subject line and I'll send you his name and phone #.
   smitty7 - Thursday, 01/15/04 14:14:09 EST

I am thinking about taking up blacksmithing as a hobby and heard of a way to use kitty litter and ash to insulate the the forge as opposed to refractory cement or fire brick. The forge is a primative design that I saw a neo-tribal blacksmith use, I think Dan Fog.Is there any truth to this and if so how do you do it.
   Carl - Thursday, 01/15/04 14:46:50 EST

Guru and all, thanks for tumbling information, I have an old rock tumbler will load it up with a few small forged items and some small pieces of scrap steel and see what happens. At least now I know not to use the corncob media I use for polishing brass for reloading.....just looking for an alternative to the "work grabbing and throwing" wire wheel.
I'm not that eager to test those nice safety glasses I got from the Anvilfire store.....
   Ellen - Thursday, 01/15/04 15:54:34 EST


Half kitty litter, half ashes (or Portland Cement) by volume. Mix well, add just enough water to make a real thick mix, apply like cement. (but save some dry mix) Allow to dry thoroughly before use. Make a small fire, allow it to burn out then sit overnight, then build a normal fire and go to work. If it cracks, use some of the dry mix you saved mixed to a heavy cream consistency, and patch the cracks.

Works well.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/15/04 18:02:01 EST

I am planning to re-line my gas forge. This a forge I built from an old O2 tank. I'll be ordering Kaowool and the ITC products that will be needed from the Anvilfire store (of course)but I have a question. I am in New England and we are now in the midst of a bit of cool weather, somewhat below 0ºf and my smithy is not heated. What is the lowest recomended temp at which ITC products should be applied? It may be a while before we get back to seasonable temps here.
Thank You,
   Harley - Thursday, 01/15/04 18:46:34 EST

I seem to remember reading somewhere about using large truck tires as tumblers. a large rotating shaft is passed through the open center of several large tires. Truck type like the wide fronts off cement trucks or bobcats would work. Several different media can be used to progressivly finish your parts. I also remember reading about using hard concrete nails as media. Cement mixers, while loud will work until you wearthrough the barrel.
   ptree - Thursday, 01/15/04 20:10:52 EST

Arrived safe in Las Cruces NM; won't get to fire up the forge till a week from Saturday...didn't have room to pick up any scrap; but my "detector" sure started dinging once I got off the interstate and onto the back roads in TX&NM

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 01/15/04 20:46:01 EST

If you line the barrel of a cement mixer with rubber floor matting, it won't be nearly as loud, and it'll last a lot longer.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/15/04 21:50:17 EST

tumbler for small stuff http://manly.delconet.com/klahn/tumbler/summary.html
   habu - Thursday, 01/15/04 22:09:46 EST

ITC and -0: Harley, The ITC products are a water based paste that you mix into a slurry with more water. They will work fine above freezing and can be applied in cold weather as long as they do not freeze before drying (let dry and hour, warm with forge, let dry, fire with forge. . ). But if they freeze while applying or before drying that would probably be a mess.

I recommend storing above freezing.

Yeah. . I have to store the ITC inventory in my office in the winter. . . Expecting teens (Fahrenheit) tonight.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/04 23:38:16 EST

Washtub Forge with Refractory Lining: These forges have been made popular by the neo-tribal folks but it is a complicated and problematic design. For one thing the pipe with drilled holes will burn out easily. They also use a very large mass of refractory.

Refractory for coal and charcoal forges is different than for gas and oil forges. Gas and oil forges are an enclosure that contains, holds and stores the heat from the flame. The surfaces often see 3,000°F. Coal and charcoal forges are an open pot (or pit) in which the heat of the fire is mostly directed upward. The area around the tuyere (where the air enters) gets pretty hot but the rest stays below cast iron melting temperature. Mud or clay bonded with a little lime or portland cement works in these forges.

A true "tribal" forge is one made from locally available materials and by ones own wits. Early forges were no more than a conical fire pit with air blown in from the side through a tunnel or tube. A pit forge air pipe (tuyere) can be a clay and stone tunnel. Where pottery was available nesting fired clay tubes were used. Today you have dozens of choices. A modern forge is nothing more than the hole in ground raised to bench height to accomodate the Western method of working while standing. See our plans page for a "brake drum" forge. Note that discarded wheels often work better than brake drums and are more commonly available. Use what you have on hand!

Two other "primitive" forge forms existed that are also still in use or have derivations. One is the Viking style forge with "shield stone". The shield stone was a slab of heat resistant rock (commonly soapstone) with a hole drilled into it. The hole was tapered and rounded. The shield stone was stood verticaly and the bellows blew their air through the hole. This isolated the bellows and their nozzel which was usualy rawhide or wood from the fire, thus "shield" stone. Charcoal fuel was piled against the stone. Vikings carried these forges in pieces, the bellows, the shield stone and sometimes a metal pan to hold the fire. The metal pan made it usable aboard ship. European brick forges were built in a similar method with the air blowing out of a hole in the brick forge back or chimney and the fire piled against the wall.

The other simple forge which is a design still in use by the Japanese and throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia is the trough forge. This forge has two walls of brick two or three feet long parallel to each other and seperated by about 6 to 10". A brick length with clearance is a very handy distance. Air is blown in through a hole in the bottom center of one wall. This type forge can be built with loose stacked red clay or refractory bricks. This is a very good design for blade work because the fire can be long and there are no obstructions lengthwise. Typically the Japanese build these forges at ground level but I have a film of a native smith in Polynesian using one that has a raised hearth to use standing. His bellows was a tubular "box" or piston bellows. The next forge I build will be this type (including the box bellows).
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 00:16:18 EST

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC