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 16 - 22, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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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

See also my description of a mud lined forge in "The Blacksmith of 1776" on our Story Page.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 00:19:55 EST

Tire Tumbler: My Dad built one of these of his own design. It used powered rollers that the tires sit on an turn. It works OK but has problems. It uses automobile tire.

One problem is that most auto tires like to close up at the bead. You have to be selective about the tires use use. The other problem is parts bouncing out through the openings. It will run for hours with no problems and then all at once there will be a bunch of parts on the floor. It needs covers to keep parts in. The open sides also let tumbling fluid drip and splash out. It does not appear to be a problem at first (like the parts bouncing out) but these things run 24 hours a day and a little drip becomes a big mess on the floor.

There are good reasons that tilted axel tumblers are the most common commercial modles.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 00:27:52 EST

Thomas, glad you made the long trip safely. If you had been traveling with Paw-Paw he would have stopped for EVERY piece of carry-iron on the Interstate and you would have been a day later and a ton heavier. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 00:30:08 EST

More home baked refractory: There are a variety of home made refractory recipes that sort of work. A popular one uses sand, a little portland cement and vermiculite.

Several years ago I bought the smallest amount of coarse vermiculite I could get from McMaster-Carr (about 6 cubic feet) to play with. So far the only thing I have done with it is add some to commercial refractory concrete to lighten it. This worked but not well. The lightened refractory is very weak and tends to crack. The problem is that the refractory concrete had just enough binder to bind the mullite sand aggregate. Adding more aggregate weakene the mix. This would probably work OK on thick sections but not on the 1" sections I was making. More experimentation later.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 00:38:42 EST

The last bearing that I used consisted of a half inch piece of 5160 cut into a triangle. the "point" was ground to roughly a 1/2" pin. The mild steel plate with the dimple drilled into it was 3/4" thick. I wonder if I bought tool steel and annealed it then hardened it and tempered it if it would work fairly well as the pin and then still use a mild steel plate with a drilled dimple. Of course I would prefer if it was a little more period correct. Any suggestions? Anyone?

Leg Vise
there was a lot of info on American and English leg vises, do you have any info on Spanish leg vices? Any other tools the Spanish blacksmiths would have used (other than anvils) that would be different? Any suggestions of sources of info on Spanish Blacksmithing (other than Turley and Simmons Southwestern Colonial Ironwork) that you know of?

Thanks for the help
   Kevin - Friday, 01/16/04 00:52:54 EST


The guru is right, but I don't know why he's complaining, he's got two nice heavy firpots just waiting to be put to work! (LOL)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 00:55:41 EST

hello,my names Rick and im another beginner blacksmith.i was wondering,when you temper your steel,do you quench it or let it air cool. what is the cooling procedure,and is there anything i need to keep in mind as far as cooling speed,i know it probrably depends on what kind of steel,butif you could give me a General guideline i would apreciate it.
ps.this site is awsome,ive learned a lot and seen A lot of cool project ideas.it makes a seemingly evermore complicated work easyer to understand.
   celtic_warrior - Friday, 01/16/04 00:56:29 EST

can someone explain to me what kinds of welding there are using only hammer and fire(not mig,arc,tig,oxy-ac ect.)and how to use flux,and its purpose.i know how to use flux when soldering pipework,but dont know about it when welding.
   celtic_warrior - Friday, 01/16/04 01:01:36 EST

One more question for you all. Where is the best place to have a stamp made?
   Kevin - Friday, 01/16/04 01:17:31 EST

Mill Stone Bearing: Kevin, The shaft and bearing in our nearly 200 year old Grist Mill are made of wrought iron. The stone drive shaft is about 3" square with a 45° point that ran in a cast iron or wrought iron block. It MIGHT have had babbit in the block but I don't remember any, just grease. On this greased bearing ran a roughly 3,000 pound granite corn stone and its cast iron pinion gear. The 7 foot diameter wood and cast iron driver ran on a similar thrust bearing (missing the block).

No info on Spanish vises but I would bet they are very similar. One feature that seemed to hold on longer in Europe (not England) was a loose or removable wrench "handle" on blacksmith vises.

   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 01:55:46 EST

Stamps: Kevin, Centaur Forge and Kayne and Son handle custom made stamps. If you are looking for a simple letter stamp I would go to Centaur but if you have logo art I would go to Kaynes.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 01:57:56 EST

Celtic Warrior, See our FAQs page and the Heat Treating FAQ. Then see our iForge page and the welding demos.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 01:58:56 EST


The next best thing to reading the bible of Southeastern Iron Work, is to talk to the author. Frank Turley runs the oldest (if I remember correctly) blacksmith school in the country, and he is one of the gurus and a regular on this site.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 02:05:23 EST

Usually tumbling , like other forms of finishing is done in stages..from coarse media on down. Corn-cob charged with a fine abraisive can do a good final surface.
WD Pangburn; Our excellent Paw-Paw was assuming you meant power hammers. If you didn't, there's probably a demo on the subject on the Anvilfire I-forge and the subject is covered in many blacksmithing books. Also, the latest issue of Hammer's Blow has an article on hammer making.
Thomas P; Your natural magnetism is legendary.No problem. Pleased the move went OK..Hope the job goes well.
Join the Cybersmiths and help support Anvilfire...or i'll tell Paw-Paw!
   - Pete F - Friday, 01/16/04 02:24:53 EST


You're right, I didn't even think of hand hammers.

WD Pangburn, if I mis-understood you, it was not intentional.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 03:09:57 EST

Ductile Iron Anvils: Don't. Ductile is a relative term, in this case, meaning more ductile than grey cast iron. It is brittle compared to cast steel. The pearlite matrix is vastly inferior to a properly hardened, martensitic structure. Go for the Czech anvil.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 01/16/04 08:20:05 EST

Paw Paw:

I think you meant "Southwestern" rather than "Southeastern" iron work. Has Frank returned from Central America yet?

It seems to me that I came across a web site, recently, with some good essays on traditional Spanish ironwork. I'll see if I can find it. Also, a trip to the library, and the use of inter-library loans might be a good idea. The WWW, for all of it's virtues, is much like reading the book jackets. To get the full story, it is always wise to get back to the books. The two work well in consort with each other. Alas my home library is a tad short on Spanish work, but I know there were several books on the subject in the Martin Luther King library in D.C. a few years back. I'll dabble further, if I get by there at lunch next week. Also, in terms of subject, remember to try similar seraches for Mexico. They have a very rich ironworking tradition, of which our Southwest was mostly a pale mirror, due to lack of resources.

Clear and cold on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/16/04 08:53:52 EST

leg vices
It seems the most popular spot for stamping the name in on the barrel is the same spot that gets pounded and punched. one vice proclaimes ''patent gridbox'' huh? , the other is an bad hand of scrabble and all I can find is ''---rridge...warranted'' and below the letters''- LID-'' I'll keep on looking.It was -31c yesterday morning but when my forge kicked in I had the warmest shop in the county, had to open up the window!
   lydia - Friday, 01/16/04 09:14:14 EST

Hi Thomas P,
How was your trip? Good to hear that your back on-line.
How long did it take you to get there?
   - AndrewHurd - Friday, 01/16/04 09:25:24 EST

Leg Vise Names: Somewhere in one of my old turn of the century catalogs there is an ingraving of an American vise with the makers name on the side of the rectangular section of the leg. However, this might not have been stamped, it COULD have been a decal. These were popular on tools and machines of the period and were much less expensive than a big metal stamp.

My old Brooks Vise is just barely ledgible and recent paint off spray has made it even more difficult. . as well as my aging eyes. . . that USED to be able to see the hairs on a fly's leg. . . but now have a diffiult time reading 10pt text.

The cast/forged parts such ad the American bench brackets often have a number on the underside. This MAY be a size number. But it is the only identification mark on many vices.

To read some of these things would require the forensic approach used to read filed off serial numbers. I think a light etch is used ???
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 10:33:15 EST


Yes, I was talking about Southwestern Iron, not Southeastern. To late at night.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 10:37:22 EST


Yes, a light etch, but I can't remember what with.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 10:39:28 EST

Ductile Iron Anvils: Modern swage blocks, which are low use and not heavily pounded on are now most often ductile iron. This is better than the grey iron the old ones were made of. But it doesn't make them an anvil.

Machined ductile iron surfaces tend to have a distinct porosity texture from where the graphite nodules were. Where grey iron has a close soft texture, ductile is coarse and open. As-cast surfaces of ductile parts tend to be pretty tight due to the slightly different structure (cooling form the outside) but the texture is there if you have a machining allowance to clean up. Like the face of an anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 10:40:21 EST

Cold ITC-

Maybe a lightbulb burning inside the forge could keep the inner surfaces above freezing while the ITC dries? I may try this just to speed drying, once I get around to ordering ITC from Jock.
   Mike B - Friday, 01/16/04 11:32:24 EST

Hi Ellen,
I'm not that familiar with tumbling parts, but i've been using vinegar for scale removal for some time now with very good results. Place part/s in vinegar over night. Then with a scotchbrite pad go over the part/s. The come out of the vinegar a light greyish color. I have cleaned parts in vinegar, and put them back in brought them back out after a soak of an hour or so, and rinsed them off dried them and rubbed Johnsons paste wax on for a kind of neat patina.
   JWGBHF "Jim" - Friday, 01/16/04 12:52:31 EST

Thank you Paw Paw and Guru your knowledge and expertise has surpased my expectations.
   Carl - Friday, 01/16/04 13:11:24 EST

I recently started blacksmithing this year. What got me started was intrest in knives and swords.I have made about 2 hunting knifes and one throwing knife. I have the most basic smithing tools. (eg. 2 hammers, axe-grinder, anvil,vise,tongs,and forge.)I was wondering if there was any advise on how to mace that vein that you commenly see down the middle. Also pictures would be helpful.

   Jon - Friday, 01/16/04 13:34:42 EST


That would work, BUT... You really don't want to hurry the drying process too much. Drying rapidl, the refractory is more apt to crack.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 13:49:34 EST

Fullered Grooves: Jon, Fullered grooves are made one of three ways. 1) Fullered (forging). 2) Grinding. 3) Machining. Note that like many other knife making processes finish grinding is necessary so a grinder is needed in every case.

Fullering is done with shaped tools. When a groove is fullered on both sides matching top and bottom tools are used. This requires extra hands OR machinery setup to keep things aligned and not go too thin. See our iForge demo #88 on fullers and fullering for images.

Grinding is done a number of ways. One is with a narrow wheel with a rounded face grinding length wise. Another is with a belt sander/grinder and a small diameter contact wheel. I have also seen fullers ground using a hand held angle grinder. This is tricky and time consuming to do a good job. The one I saw in a movie was obviously done with the edge of an angle grinder (a bad/crooked job).

Machining fullers is done on a horizontal or vertical milling machine with a profile ground cutter or a ball mill. If you have one of these machines and know how to use it you probably know how to machine a fuller.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 14:12:15 EST

Wood Grain Finish -
Hi all, thanks for the new anvil info. I have a Czech anvil on the way...and am having visions of her sitting in my carport, daring me to come out and play!

I was wondering whether anyone out there knows how tree-bark type grains can be applied to iron. I have seen mirrors and the like with 2" x 1/4" flat iron frame borders, patterned with a thick, heavy tree bark type grain. Is this pattern rolled onto the hot iron, stamped with a press, done laborously by hand and chisel?

Thanks for your collective wisdom Anvilfire.
Andrew L.

   Andrew Little - Friday, 01/16/04 14:34:19 EST

Wood Texture: Andrew, ALL THE ABOVE. There are sources of roll textured stock but it looks machine made. The best of this is done using a power hammer. You can purchase wood (and other) texturing dies made by Grant Sarver from Kayne and Son. You can also make your own dies. These are typically made by a pattern of weld beads on a die blank. Dies can be either hand held or fixed into the machine. AND you can also use a short hand held chisle under a power hammer or in a heavy hand held air hammer to carve the texture as you desire.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/04 15:43:24 EST

Leg Vise: Thanks to all who responded to my question about identification of old leg vises. One suggestion was to search the archives, but, as someone else pointed out, that's not easy.

Kevin, you mentioned that there is a lot of info on American and English leg vises. Can you point me in the right direction.

   Aubrey W - Friday, 01/16/04 18:07:23 EST

Leg Vises: I have a small english leg vise stamped W.Foster with TR under the name, no doubt this was made by anvil maker William Foster. A European vise I have has the tenon bench bracket thats got a wedge and the jaw pivot pin has a wedge also plus the handle has a ball only on one end so it can be removed while working. I have two later American made vises with Orignial Trenton stamped in them. I have a few more with names but can`t recall them right now.
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 01/16/04 19:04:50 EST

Dan, thanks for the link but I can never seem to reach it - is this correct?

   adam - Friday, 01/16/04 19:45:39 EST


Take the hk out after .com
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/16/04 19:52:59 EST

can anybody help me with this probleme : with the cold weather these day, about -15 f,there is some ice that form in my forge chimney, then when i light it,the ice melt and the water resulting shut off my fire, anyway the air i push in the fire. what can i do with that. chimney is new, not isolated, and prefer not to change it for a isolated one
   - machefer - Friday, 01/16/04 21:05:11 EST


Restoration of serial numbers on iron or steel is usually done using a light etch with ferric chloride. A solution of cupric chloride in hydrochloric acid is also sometimes used. There are a large number of different etchant formulae for different metals and alloys. The ASM volume on metallographic etching lists dozens.

In order to have the best chance of developing a readable number, the surface is first filed or polished smooth. Then when the etchant is applied, the numbers generally appear fairly quickly, say five minutes.

I should note that the serial number is NOT "restored" so much as it is "revealed." The FeCl acts more rapidly on the metal that has had its grain boundaries disturbed by the stamping process and often the number is readable before the surrounding metal has even begun to lose its polish. The depth of actual etch is only on the order of microns, though, just enough to reveal a readable number. To actually "restore" an obliterated number would require re-stamping it.

There are also other methods of reading obliterated serial numbers, such as GMR imaging, electron microscopy, magnetic particle precipitation and others. We're constantly developing new techniques and methods.

Bet you didn't want to know THAT much about serial numbers, did you? (grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 01/16/04 21:33:51 EST

what kind of steel are files usually made of?
   - colinnn - Friday, 01/16/04 22:55:31 EST

Older files are usually plain high carbon steel..like around 1% and if handled carefully make decent tools and blades. Many newer ( especially cheap) files are made of any-old-thing and case hardened.
Grind off the teeth and do a spark test to know where to start. For those of us who work junk steel, spark tests or forge-out-thin-harden-and-break tests help a lot. There's a great book recently back in print in softcover( pretty cheap) called The Complete Modern Blacksmith by A Weiger which is oriented to low-budget and build it with junk and dirt approaches.
If you take a big old file , grind off the teeth and smooth it out; you can cut a chunk off the end and forge out a chisel. Heat treat the chisel and carefully anneal the remaining metal ( heat to non-magnetic red and bury in fine dry ashes, remove next day). Then it will be soft enough that, with care, you can use the chisel you made to cut teeth in the annealed steel and make yourself a file.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 01/17/04 03:28:00 EST

I am currently embarking on g material to build a power hammer. I had a look at the page with all of the different member built hammers...NICE. I think the one that I would like to build is the Dan Dreyer hammer. What I need is a e-mail address or if someone here could forward my address to him I would appreciate it. I am curious if he has plans available for his hammer or not. My e-mail address is:


   Mark Pesetsky - Saturday, 01/17/04 09:07:38 EST

Thanks Guru, PawPaw and Bruce for your suggestions on bearings, vises and stamps. I will go back to the library for more information on the Spanish Southwestern traditions.
   Kevin - Saturday, 01/17/04 09:17:33 EST

Wet Stack: machefer, If I understand you correctly, you have moisture condensing in your stack, freezing, and then melts when you run the forge? Is the ice forming when the forge is not running? If so, it's probably coming from air from your shop going up the stack. This would be wasting heat. Add a damper to the stack so you can close it when you are not using it. Put the damper maybe halfway between the forge and the roof. You need to stop air flow below the point where the stack is cold enough to freeze. Stopping the moist warm air from going up the stack should stop the freezing by reducing/eliminating the moisture in the stack where it is cold enough to freeze. If I misunderstand, please give more info.
   - Tony - Saturday, 01/17/04 10:01:22 EST

Pete, after being un-employed for 8 months and now having to support two locations as my family doesn't move until after the school year ends *and* having to pay to move my shop---can I at least wait until I have seen a paycheck??? Most likely I'll see my first one at the end of Feb.

Tell Paw Paw if you must---just don't tell his wife----she must be a formidable lady to wake up next to him all these years---remember what Kipling said about being wounded on an Afgan plain?

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 01/17/04 10:11:30 EST

Being new to the art,I have many questions on a variety of topics.but for know,How do you get a hollow grind on a blade and keep it even? Is there some sort of jig? And what would be the proper stone size? Thank yall...J
   - jimmy - Saturday, 01/17/04 12:12:35 EST

Aubrey W.
I was actually referring to the discussions in the last couple of days from the guru's den (here) where several people were discussing differences between American and English Post vises. That is all the information that I have right now on them...
   kevin - Saturday, 01/17/04 12:23:39 EST

Hello everyone. anyone have an idea about how to make a tool stand to hold hardies ,hammers ,sring swages etc., must be portable, light enough for one person to move ,fold down for transport any help would be appreciated.
   David NC - Saturday, 01/17/04 12:41:57 EST


Maybe you should think about building it out of wood and adding small wheels.
   - Moe - Saturday, 01/17/04 12:49:42 EST

question on bellows iam thinking of hanging them from rafters .is this good or bad as far as the problem with gases? and i am thinking of using rubber from roofingin place of leather for wraping them . anyone ever thought of this ? and is it a bad idea? i figure there far enough from forge to keep the rubber from melting just not sure on any blow back
   - marty - Saturday, 01/17/04 13:27:00 EST

I really do not think it makes a difference as to where they are hung. Most I have seen were form the rafters, but...... At Fort Vancouver NHS, the records show that teh bellows were actually behind the forge and about chest level. But currently the bellows in use are in the rafters.
Not sure about the rubber. I would think that if you can get canvas it will be good enough, but if you have the rubber just laying about, use it and see.
   Ralph - Saturday, 01/17/04 13:41:12 EST


I was wodering what the best way to hold an anvil off the Ground would be? Would a big Cedar Block do?
   - Brian - Saturday, 01/17/04 14:03:04 EST

Ice Problem: machefer, If the moisture is coming from outside then a cap on the chimney would help. If it is coming from inside then you need a damper at the bottom to prevent moist indoor air from rising into the stack and freezing as Tony noted. Moisture coming down a stack is the only good reason for a "smoke shelf". . . They are actually a moisture and trash shelf.

Dan Dreyer: Mark, Dan dissapeared (I think he moved to Canada) a couple years ago. We have not had contact with him since. His hammer is built on the spring helve design like the "Little Rusty" except that he used beefier professionaly made parts AND a speed control on the motor. The speed control is a job for an electronics whiz.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 14:10:55 EST

Hollow Grind: Jimmy, This is done on a contact wheel on a belt grinder. In custom knives (and many production blades) the accuracy of the grind comes from skill and practice.

Shaping ANYTHING with any type of grinder is a skill that requires a good eye, thought, and absolute concentration. I frequenty make parts that look like machined parts using a heavy snag grinder that others usualy just make a bigger mess with. It is the skill of an artist craftsperson. Some have it, some learn it and others never get it.

Practice, practice, practice. But stop when your work gets worse. Then you are either too tired or don't care and you are learning bad habbits. Always strive for improvement. Even those that seem to do "perfect" work in OUR eyes, can see their own flaws and are always trying to improve.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 14:20:12 EST

Portable and Light Weight: David NC, These words are an oxymoron when it comes to blacksmithing equipment. . .

The most efficient and convienient "stand" for these tools is the one the anvil is resting on. The anvil stand is a necessity (for those that stand and work) that requires a definite solidarity. Why waste it or waste energy designing and building a seperate stand for tools when you already have one?

If you need a light portable table/bench you cannot beat a B&D Shopmate.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 14:26:14 EST

Bellows Location: Marty, There are advantages and disadvantages to a high location. The advantage is that they are out of the way and less likely to poked with a bar os steel. On the other hand there is NOTHING in most shops that is out of range of a 12 or 20 foot bar. If they are high enough to walk under then you have gained significant valuable shop space. Note that it is important to setup the hand levers in a correct (comfortable) ratio not matter where the bellows were located.

I suspect that a high bellows is more likely to have hot gases rise up into it. But a lot depends on your forge style and design. After looking at how paired bellows were designed to operate with a shield stone I have learned to appreciate their genius.

A properly setup paired bellows had two seperate nozzels that created high velocity jets of air. These would blow into another nozzel but not be connected. As the air rushed out of one nozzel it would help prevent air from being sucked into the adjacent nozzel (a pneumatic check valve). When neither nozzel was blowing the gap between the nozzels and the inlet of the shield stone acted as a "vacumme break" so that gases did not travel from the forge fire into the bellows. Pretty darn slick. . . and uses some sophisticated pneumatic switching that did not become a science until the later 19th century. It is also something folks building replica viking forges often screw up by plumbing everything up solid. I think many old forge installations missed this point. By connecting things solid they THOUGHT they were doing better. . .

The same vacuume break technology could be built into the end of the pipe leading from a bellows to forge. At the forge the pipe would need to be reduced down to a nozzel of about 1/2 the pipe's diameter. This would be fitted loosely into the pipe leading to the forge. Gases trying to travel back up the pipe would find the path out of the short tuyere easier than into the nozzel.

Another fix is to simply put a check valve at the forge end of the pipe. Besides preventing stray gases from going up the pipe it would also keep mice out of your bellows. . it DOES happen.

Rubber has all kinds of problems in this application. It is heavy, it melts and burns. Cannot be sewn, requires vulcanizing tools to join. Some types age rapidly. It will probably work. . . Not my material of choice.

The last time I priced leather for a bellows it could be done for $120 - $150. Cheap considering the labor that goes into building a double chambred bellows that will last at LEAST a generation or two.

   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 14:57:03 EST

Forge Stand: Brian, stumps are one of the most common stands. For many other options see our iForge demo #144 on anvil stands.

David NC, See the same demo. It has several stands that hold EVERYTHING.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 15:13:32 EST

Does anybody know anything about automatic feed systems on coal fired boilers?
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 01/17/04 17:36:03 EST

HavokTD, How Big? I used to maintain the stoker on our coal furnace until we replaced the furnace with gas. Then I used the old furnace blower to build my first forge. The furnace was big enough to heat a 10 room Victorian "grand" home.

It used a primitive ratchet and paw transmission to turn a feed conveyor screw. The same motor powered the blower. The screw jambed up on a regular basis and sheared the shear pin. . . Spent many hours on the coal dust covered floor working on greasy parts. . . or shoveling coal, or shoveling and hauling ashes. . . It was a full time job. That is why we got rid of it.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/04 18:10:58 EST

I want some 1050 or 1060 Carbon Steel flat bars for making swords.Is there a place on the internet to buy some?
   - Arvil Byrd - Saturday, 01/17/04 18:23:15 EST

Paw Paw:

That's exactly the problem I wanted to know about. a friend heats his shop with the same style system, with a presurestat runnung an electric motor on the feed auger. keeps shearing the pins, especially when it's really cold out. I was somdering if it was just dirty coal or something like that doing it, or if the system itself was just poorly designed. I haven't seen it myself, though, so the description could be off.
   - Havoktd - Saturday, 01/17/04 18:30:50 EST

I just got a 1904 Grinnell "Modern Power Hammer" for free. Have you heard of it? I intend to rebuild it, but a few parts are missing and I'd like to find somebody with a photo or drawing of one.

   Mike Bowen - Saturday, 01/17/04 18:36:03 EST

Sorry I missed a dot, try this,
comhk should be com.hk -- I don't know if what Paw Paw said will work or not, but this should work now. I just got my frist pair of Bi-FOGGers, B), and am still learning how to use them....
   DanD skabvenger - Saturday, 01/17/04 18:40:29 EST

MOTOR SPEED CONTROL: Jock; how about the drive motor & speed control from the treadmill that nobody uses anyway ? That's an SCR unit, isn't it ? Or, would the HP be too low?
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/17/04 19:07:56 EST

Byrd; Yes.

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 01/17/04 19:49:56 EST

Fellas,Thanks for the Knowledge, I hope that I will have something to show ya soon.Already built one/chisel edge-But it's coming along. I visit often Thanks...J
   - jimmy - Saturday, 01/17/04 21:43:59 EST


Jock answered the question, not me. I've never worked with one of them The only coal furnaces I've ever worked, the power was behind the shovel.

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/17/04 22:24:17 EST

Re: Portable tool stand.

This second picture on this web page shows a portable tool stand (wheels). It may suit your purpose or suggest an idea.

   Howard - Saturday, 01/17/04 22:35:14 EST

Oops, sorry, Paw Paw, I got you and the venerable guru crossed up. One more vote in favour of proof reading before hitting send, I guess.
   - Havoktd - Saturday, 01/17/04 22:50:08 EST

thank you tony. yes about my freezing probleme, you understand it. i try to put insolating wool at the base of the stack,just were the hood cap of the forge change for a stack.that will be the easiest way to make a try.hope this work. thanks
   - machefer - Saturday, 01/17/04 23:03:10 EST


No big problem. Didn't upset me.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/17/04 23:29:40 EST

Somewhere recently (I think it was the invitation to the summer ABANA conference) there was a photograph of a tailgate area, showing several house jacks. I have one, and I've used it around the farm where it's proven quite useful. However, I can't really think of a blacksmithing use for these things. Am I missing some neat trick? Is this the poor-man's fly press? Anvil adjuster? Semi-portable beer bottle stand with optional height adjustment so that you can bring it up even with the arm of your comfy chair while watching a conference demonstration?

Inquisitors' minds want to know.

Sleet and freezing rain on the banks of the lower Potomac. I may have to ice-skate to church tomorrow morning.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 01/18/04 00:05:48 EST


I suppose, if you are one of those rare few who have a phobia about hydraulics, you could use one for bending things, but why? Seriously (semi), I suppose that those things sell to blacksmiths because you can't really be a BLACKSMITH unless you drive a hefty pickup or flatbed and wear bib overalls. A handyman jack is just a natural accouterment of the whole millieu, kind of like chewin' tobacco and floppy-eared hound dogs. I guess I'm going to have to get one. But not until they make tropical-weight bib overalls.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/18/04 00:45:18 EST

Hi Guru
I and just thinking of purchasing an anvil and I am not altogether sure what type of anvill is the better choice for blade making and general forging I have no doubt personal preference would play a part in the choice.But what would you sugest a london style or farrier or double horn euro style or is the london style the same flat square end as the farrier type (I bow to your expertise)

   Derek - Sunday, 01/18/04 01:12:37 EST

Sorry, should have seperated that last bit...didn't mean you should join the Cybersmiths personally...you are it..and of an enhanced status certainly.
I was prompting the lurkers to join.
Unemployed for 8 months, then having to move is plain nasty!
What a drain...may it resolve sweetly. The depth of your knowledge has value to us all..hang in there.
David NC: I've modified old news stand paper racks and wire store displays for holding hammers and stakes with some success..looks funky but it's quick. When I'd finally accumulated enough tooling that it looked like the wire rack might collapse, I made a big one with slanted shelves cut from a heavy rock sorting screen from the gravel plant. The hammer handles slant out the back.
Arvil: check the Anvilfire store first.
Atli: those jacks are real versitile..push, pull, easy to bolt stuff onto, used with a setup like giant tongs you can generate real metal moving pressure and they're great for bending long stock...tolerating much more heat than hydraulics. As you note, the adjustable beer bottle stand is the most important use..with elaborate attachments it will hold and even open a whole 6 pack.
Marty; you might consider some sort of anti-backsiphon valve in the pipe...a light leather flap outght to do it.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/18/04 01:39:39 EST

sorry guys disregard previous anvil posting my question was already answered I just missed it somehow.
my sincere apologies
   Derek - Sunday, 01/18/04 03:18:11 EST

Vic, my old bibs turn into tropical weight ones when the legs get so beat up they don't keep the snow out. Just get out the scissors and make cutoff bib shorts. Very comfy and no need for any other fabric, so very airy. And what a fashion statement! Especially if they have some grease stains.

Atli, I use short house jacks for the base for adjustable stands. Weld on some tripod legs and very handy around the shop. OK for up and down, but a little sloppy for side to side though.

machefer, you are more than welcome. If you insulate the stack and moist air is going up, it may just freeze farther up. But an insulated stack will generally "draw" better anyway, so try away!
   - Tony - Sunday, 01/18/04 09:57:17 EST

Machefer.. as a fellow cold climate forger ..what I think is happening, is your stack is pulling moist shop air up at night and while you are not working, then when your forge is hot there is no build up ,just melting... We jam a beach ball up into the 10'' stack opening when not in use.. low tech ,but it works! stay warm, lydia
   lydia - Sunday, 01/18/04 11:07:02 EST


Did you ever forget about the beach ball when you started the fire? Bet that got your attention! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/18/04 11:22:16 EST

how does the Rockwell scale of hardness compare to the Moh's scale of hardness?
   - colinnn - Sunday, 01/18/04 11:24:24 EST

Paw Paw.. no. but in a windstorm it can occasionally pop out and scare the &*$%* out of you
   lydia - Sunday, 01/18/04 11:35:10 EST

I am in the process of buying blacksmithing tools for my shop and I am trying to find the best of what I need, I can fford to get what I need now as opposed to buying something now and then realizing later I should have bought somethng else. I am looking at anvils and I have contacted Old World about their 453# Habermann and their Forgemaster double burner. Also I have contacted Euroanvil in Columbia ,TN about their 500#Euroanvil. To be honest with you I get more confused. What would your recommend that I buy as far as an anvil, forge and hammers and tools to start with, also what about an anvil stand. I am physically strong,I powerlift as a hobby and I am interested in getting started. Also which book that you recommend should I get first to read. I appreciate your time and help, also I just joined ABANA - Thank you again, Robert Foster
   ?Robert Foster - Sunday, 01/18/04 12:21:37 EST


That's probably pretty close to what I imagined. I could just see the beach ball exploding and myself trying to get out from under the bench I just dove under! With echos of "INCOMING!" ringing in my ears.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/18/04 12:33:49 EST

Vicopper, they make UtiliKilts in hawaiian prints, maybe you could start your own trend in tropical print tennessee tuxedos, mon. BOG
Robert Foster, I suggest you spend your money first on the books reviewed on the bookshelf page here, then on classes at someplace like John C. Campbell or other training schools, then go to every ABANA meeting and Hammer-in that is within driving distance. The tools will then fall into place as if by magic. My two cents worth.
   John McPherson - Sunday, 01/18/04 13:35:07 EST

But they don't make Utilikilts in clann colors! (waaa!)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/18/04 14:56:27 EST

thanks for the info on the bellows i was trying to picture in my mind how to set up the piping . i think i got a good idea now . i do agree with using leather but as i do sheet metal for a big roofing co. the rubber scrapes are free and im cheep. i'll expeiriment and let ya know if i dont blow myself up.it'l be a month or so before i get set up
   - marty - Sunday, 01/18/04 17:15:34 EST

another quetion if i may im thinkin about hamering out some copper pots fer the kitchen. they say copper is poison to food any idea on what could be used to line the iside
   - marty - Sunday, 01/18/04 17:21:52 EST

House Jacks: Alti, With all those soon to start leaning barns and sheds on crumbling acres I would think that you would be stock piling the things for their actual use at some future date. Every time I have needed some I ended up making them by the dozen. . . (old beams must have a LONG distributed load, you can't just push in the middle).
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/04 17:23:09 EST

Quality Tools: Robert, If money is no object then the best two NEW anvils on the market are the Peddinghaus, followed by the Nimba. Then there are also some wonderful OLD Hay-Buddens that sell for less and are of a class never to made again. AND one the very finest English anvils was the William FOSTER which is what I would be searching for if I had your name. . . . "yeah. . . It was MADE by ma' great, great, great, grandaddady. . . ."

If you are going to buy an Eastern European anvil then get one from Steve at Euroanvils.net. He is a friend and advertises here, the other guy does not. Steve also deals direct with the foundries and has control of the quality he gets. He does not deal through importers or middlemen.

The descision of what kind of forge to get is VERY complicated. IF you can get good coal economicaly AND there is no local oposition to using coal AND you can afford the proper stack then you should have a nice big coal forge in your shop. The Kaynes sell the heaviest firepot of all our advertisers and they also sell blowers and air gates. Peih and Centaur both sell complete forges.

THEN, Every serious shop ends up with several sizes of gas forge. The little one and two burner forges are fast clean and efficient. However, they don't get quite as hot as coal AND they have very limited flexibility so that various sizes are needed. I would have one small gas forge, one large comnmercial gas forge with counterbalanced door AND a good coal forge.

But don't forget that an oxyacetylene torch and a buzz box (or better arc welder) are minimum requirements in a modern blacksmith shop. Spend money here before buying a forge. Once you have these two items you can build any kind of forge you want.

You may be a power lifter but the muscles required to use a hammer with finesse are different than those used to lift one. Every size of work requires its own size hammer. In any case every smithy needs a range of forging hammers starting at about 2 pounds up to a 10 pound sledge. Then it is handy to have a range of ball piens for riveting and dimpling that range from 8 oz (227 g) up to 2-1/2 pounds (1134 g). Then there are other specialty hammers such as planishing, doming, raising and pecking hammers that every smith eventually collects. Although you will spend 95% of your time using just ONE favorite hammer you will eventually have dozens.

After the basics there is every metal working tool that exists. Hacksaws, chop saws, grinders. Files of every type and size, punches and chisles, shears and punches. . .

A "fully equiped" smithy is a modern machine and welding shop with an anvil and forge.

   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/04 17:51:58 EST

UtiliKilts..... Plain brown or tan goes with all clans.. Or so does Black.... (grin)
Just thinking of seeing you in a kilt makes me cringe.......
   Ralph - Sunday, 01/18/04 18:16:17 EST

This is the kind of information I have been looking for, thanks very much, two questions what book would you recommend for a novice to read first and where can I find Hay-Buddens and William Foster anvils?
   ?Robert Foster - Sunday, 01/18/04 18:46:06 EST


I don't want plain brown or black. I want the Gunn Tartan! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/18/04 18:53:55 EST

Robert Foster,

Click on the "Getting Started in Blacksmithing" link at the top or bottom of this page for a recommended reading list.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/18/04 18:54:56 EST

I'd really suggest doing some smithing before spending top dollar on top of the line tooling. When I teach I tell folks that smithing is something that really sounds neat; but once they get into it some folks find that it just doesn't suit them---no problem, just admit it and go on and try out something else. Don't waste their time and my time trying to tough it out.

Also if you are not set into what you want to do in the craft the "high dollar tools" differ, (few knifemakers dream about hossfields many ornamental iron folks don't need a big hammer or press, etc.)

As to where to find old anvils---talk to folks. I bought my William Foster at a fleamarket in Columbus OH. At the fleamarket here in Las Cruces I got a lead on a fellow's 80+ year old aunt with a full blacksmith's shop he says she won't get rid off, unfortunately it's in WV---too far to attend the estate sale that will occur someday.

Thomas (sending the Guru some mail)
   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 01/18/04 20:08:06 EST

I am trying to find metal punches that can be used for decorative purposes and any other tools for that purpose.
I am a shop teacher that is starting a metal working class and would appreciate any help you can give me.
   Bill Costanzo - Sunday, 01/18/04 20:28:26 EST

Robert Foster: Hay-Buddens haven't been made since the 1940s, and Wm. Foster has been out of business since the late 1800s. Just so you don't get discouraged if you can't find one (grin). To a blacksmith these are not antiques. Also keep in mind that while big is good, most of us use anvils in the 150lb range and have no problems.

Of course, last night I got to work on a 200lb Fisher, and that was kind of interesting...

Tropical-weight bibs: Try www.pointerbrand.com, look at overalls, carpenters, lowback. I swear by them, and at them when I forget to take off the apron part and it catches flux... Anyway, they're very lightweight 100% cotton. Made in USA (Bristol, TN) too!
   - Alan-L - Sunday, 01/18/04 21:00:24 EST

Colinnn - It's really hard to compare the Moh's hardness scale to Rockwell hardnesses. Moh's is an a will scratch b type of hardness, Rockwell hardnessess are based on preloading a penetrator with a given precision load, then applying the mainload for a standard time (10 seconds if memory serves) then releasing the load, and reading the hardness off a dial indicator, or an electronic readout. For blacksmithing, the 2 most common types of Rockwell are going to be B scale and C scale. B for annealed materials and C for quenched and tempered medium and high carbon and alloy steels. The indenter for B is a hardened 1/16" steel ball the indenter for C is a diamond pyramid. That said, in my last job as a lab supervisor, we used 8 different Rockwell hardness scales: 15 N & T, 30 N & T, 45 N & T, B and C. There are more, I just haven't used them on any sort of regular basis (I know there are A, F, and H). The Rockwell scale is much more precise than the Moh scale of comparative hardness. In Moh, if memory serves correctly glass is harder than steel. Yet, old glass cutters from the 60's used hardened steel wheels that were able to score glass.
When specifying or talking about Rockwell hardness, you need to specify the scale, such as Rc60, or Rb92. For examples, Rb92, was maximum acceptable hardness for fully spheroidized annealed 52100. Rc57 is fairly typical for production knives, barrel steel for the M16 had to be Rc30, 31, or 32 after quenching and double tempering, a lot of annealed 400 series stainless for automotive exhausts is around Rb80. There are cross references as to what different scales of hardnesses are equivalent. The full ASTM specification on Rockwell hardness testing is about 20 pages long. There are also ASTM methods for Brinell and Vickers hardness testing, and also for Shure scheleroscope hardness (you bounce a ball off the surface and measure the rebound height). One of the major manufacturers of Rockwell hardness test machines is the Wilson Div. of Instron Corp. As a student, you might be able to get them to send you a comparative hardness chart - they have them and often give them to companies that use their calibration services, or purchase their Rockwell supplies ( things such as indenters, standard test blocks, etc.)
Colinnn - not trying to make you feel belittled - there's just a lot of information behind the Rockwell hardness testing scales and methods. Hope the info helps.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 01/18/04 21:44:43 EST

Hey,is there a better way to transfer my patterns to metal than gluing the paper on?
   james - Sunday, 01/18/04 21:49:37 EST

Robert Foster, Alan L. that just left a post for you is a fine example (if I may go ahead and use you) of a person who has a minimum of tools but turns out work thats just great all the way around. Alan makes knives, camp axes, tomahawks, guns, chainmail and a array of other items that are something to look at! With a forge, anvil, vise and a small assortment of hand tools such as hammers, files ect. you can do just about what you want, you just have to put your mind into action to get it done.

Alan L, You know the word "minimun" wasn`t used to portray you as some poor slob who can`t buy enough tools to work with : ) You are the best example of a smith to use for Robert Foster.
   - Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 01/18/04 22:04:56 EST

Alan-L, When you describe working on the 200 lb. Fisher as kind of interesting what do you mean? Was it particularly diferent than working your usual anvil in some way?
   SGensh - Sunday, 01/18/04 22:41:43 EST

Pattern Transfer: James, To what? Sheet metal? Ever watch someone transfer a sewing pattern to cloth? Carbon paper is used. Most armours use patterns cut out of poster board and then use a felt tip Sharpie or Magic Marker to trace the pattern. When the same pattern is to be reused many times the pattern is cut from sheet metal or wood and marked and labled as to job and purpose (ID number).

Machinists paint the metal (solids and sheet) with layout dye, let it dry and then scribe lines in the dye. Depending on the job and the type of metal finish I use paint, scribe directly on the finished surface, use chalk or pencil on scale. . .

There are as many different methods as there are metal workers. The standard methods are covered in basic metal shop texts.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/04 23:46:41 EST

Copper and Food: Marty, Copper cookware is normally tinned to prevent copper transfer to food. On the other hand, in the Southeast they are VERY fond of cooking apple butter in great huge copper kettles. The kettles start out green, brown and generaly scroungy looking from their last use. After cooking the sauce for many hours they are the brightest you have ever seen a copper surface. I often ask where did all the copper oxide and carbonates go. . . The relpy is usualy "Geeze, I never thought of that!".

Tinning copper ware is an art and a sure fire way to wreck an expensive item if you are not practiced in the art. I agreed to TRY is once on the condition that the fellow would not blame me if it ruined his pot. It DID and he blamed me. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/04 23:52:36 EST

Mohs and Rockwell: Gavainh, Thanks for the long explaniation. CollinNN, Generally Mohs is used to compare rocks and minerals and Rockwell scales to test specific metals in certain conditions.

We have a Brinell to Rockwell chart on the FAQs page.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/04 23:56:55 EST

thanks a lot for the explanation.
   - colinnn - Monday, 01/19/04 00:05:01 EST

Metal Punches: Bill C, To punch what? Punches for tin work are made from nail sets, center punches and even nails work. Punches to punch characters in soft steel, aluminium and brass are available from various manufacturers in number and letter sets. The sizes range from 32'nds to a full inch (takes a big hammer).

Anything other than standard sans-serif characters are special order. Custom die makers make everything from inspectors marks to full logos in hardened tool steel. In the past standard sets had nice Romanesque serifs but no longer. Optional sets for high stressed parts make the characters from a row of hemispherical dots. This is to prevent the possibility of starting a crack.

Leather working punches can be used in soft metal but it is not recommended practice. These come with all kinds of fancy border and lining marks as well as fancy characters.

If you need something specific it is not too difficult to make your own. See our iForge demo #65 on matrix punches.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 00:11:42 EST

PATTERN TRANSFER; Let us not forget the ever popular pounce method. A spur-like wheel on a handle is used to perforate the layout lines on heavy paper, the paper is then turned over to lightly sand down the perforations. The paper is then turned back over and secured in place and a cloth bag containing chalkline powder is tapped over the perforations. The paper is removed, and then you play "connect the dots". This technique is frequently used for sewing and sign painting, as vicopper can attest to. I had a customer a looooong time ago who needed the graphics refreshed every couple of weeks on his stock car, so after he got the sheet metal straightened/replaced, I'd drag out his patterns, tape them on the car, dust them with the chalk bag, pull the pattern, and start moppin' on the One Shot. Saved a lot of layout time. If you have to reverse the pattern, say, for some symmetrical scrollwork, flip the pattern.
   3dogs - Monday, 01/19/04 00:35:10 EST

METAL PUNCHES; Bill Costanzo & Guru; There are hardened punches which replicate many of the Craftool leather punches, and they are available through Thunderbird Supply Co. in Albuquerque NM. Thunderbird specializes in supplies for Navajo, Hopi and other Indian metalsmiths. Their prices are reasonable, and you can find their website on Google.
   3dogs - Monday, 01/19/04 00:47:37 EST

Treadle Hammers? I've been thinking of building one but I am not sure whether or not it will meet my needs. I understand that they are usually used as a good and reliable alternative to a striker. Are they? Also how much hammering energy can you generate from a treadle hammer? Is it powerful enough to use as a small trip hammer? Can heavier stock be drawn out faster then using a heavy cross pein on an anvil, or a bottom fuller?
   - Louis - Monday, 01/19/04 01:42:02 EST

It depends on the treadle hammer...making your own, you can build to your needs.
A heavy treadle hammer is a fair substitute for a striker but no trip hammer.
A light TH is quicker for chasing and embossing.
Most THs lack a sufficient weight anvil.
The real virtue is that they can strike a controlled blow and you still have 2 hands free for the work and tooling.
I can draw steel considerably faster with my TH and a spring fuller than I can with a substantial cross pein and the rounded edge of the anvil . I'm not sure that is true of the ABANA design hammer
   - Pete F - Monday, 01/19/04 02:44:40 EST

I have recently been hired as an apprentice welder/blacksmith and am tool poor could some one help me decide what 4 hammers would be the basic starter I have a 3.5 lb. st peen and a 2.5lb. flat /rounded hammer. Please hurry my christmas money is burning a hole in my pocket........Thanks....... Rick
   Rick Cram - Monday, 01/19/04 05:32:28 EST

PPW, If it is not Douglas then it matters not which Tartan you wear...(grin)
   Ralph - Monday, 01/19/04 06:01:13 EST

If it isn't Gunn, then it isn't Tartan! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/19/04 08:07:52 EST


A straight peen and a good ball peen. If you catch the dreaded Harbor Freight sale, their 4 hammer set of Ball Peens is actually a pretty good buy. You'll need to dress the hammers of course, but you'd have to do that no matter where you bought the hammer.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/19/04 08:09:21 EST

Anvil Differences, thanks!

SGensch: My usual anvil is a 143 lb Peter Wright, and I started with a 100 lb Columbian. Both of these are so lively they'll throw the hammer back almost as hard as you hit with it. They will also deafen you with the ringing if you don't bolt them down tight. The 200 lb Fisher had a much wider face than I'm used to, and didn't seem to be very lively compared to my smaller anvils. And, of course, being a Fisher it didn't ring at all, but that doesn't bother me. That's all I meant by "interesting".

Robert: Thanks! Unfortunately, I am a good example of making do with what I can afford, which isn't much. I do think that it's best for beginners to gain their skills with a minimum of tools, if for no other reason than to understand just exactly what it is they're doing with the big toys like power hammers and treadle hammers. For my tomahawks, the only tools I really need to use are a forge, one cross-pein or straight-pein hammer, an anvil of any size, a drift, a vise (and that's not strictly required), and one set of tongs that I modified from a flea-market pair. A cutoff hardy or a hacksaw is handy too.

Skill is something you HAVE to have. Tools are great, but the best tools in the world will not make you a better smith if you don't have the ability to do what you want with the simple tools to begin with. The number-one skill any smith needs is hammer control. If you can't hit the spot you want, it isn't gonna work. The only way to get this skill is to practice. A lot! So don't get hung up on having all the toys before you have the skill to know what you really need. That said, I want a big power hammer, a press, a treadle hammer, a belt grinder, and... and... (big grin)
   Alan-L - Monday, 01/19/04 09:30:35 EST

Hammer Selection: Rick, I've written on this and need to edit a FAQ. IF you are in fact hired as an apprentice this is a question you need to ask your employer. You may not need any hand hammers at all.

Unless you have spent YEARS forging every day a 3.5 pound (1600 g) hammer is TOO HEAVY. You will hurt yourself before you develop the control and accuarcy needed in hand forging.

A good starter size (depending on your size and hammer experiance) is a 900g (2 pound) hammer in a standard cross pien (English, French, German. .). For ocassional use and for daily use after using a lighter hammer until you can work with it all day and not feel it is a 1000 to 1200g (2.2 to 2.6 lb) hammer. Smiths with a power hammer available for heavy work almost never use a hammer of 3 pounds or more. However, those that work alone without a power hammer doing general work MAY work up to a 4 pound hammer and ocassionaly pick up a short handled sledge (6 to 8 pounds) for roughing heavy work. Note that the smaller "starter" hammers do not get wasted as they are always handy for light work or in a tight place.

Beyond the two cross piens and a sledge hammer (if you work for someone else they usualy provide sledges), a selection of ball piens is handy for riveting, dimpling and converting into other special hammer shapes. A few smiths forge with ball piens but others will think you are uncouth and will cringe when you pickup a ball pein.

Ball Piens: Also known as Engineer's hammers. Over the years these rather grotesquely shaped but stylish hammers have been available in one and two ounce (40-50g) increments from little 2 oz.(50g) up to 3-1/2 lb. (1600g) monsters. Today the range is often sporatic with gaps and many blacksmithing suppliers do not carry them at all. Last year I started to replace an incremental set and ended up with about 10 different size used ball piens.

Old ball piens usualy had crisp sharp chamfers on the octagonal reaches between body and pien. I suspect this was an English style as it matches the lines of the old English blacksmith vises. Modern ball piens have soft rounded features without much style. Old ball piens had a very nearly spherical ball end that often was well over half the sphere. Modern hammers often have poorly shaped piens more like a bullet shape and are never more than half round.

Dressing Hammers: Most forging hammers need to have the faces dressed from the way they come from the factory. Forging hammers should never have flat faces but should have a gentle crown. The edges should have smooth gently rounded corners and the whole quite smooth. For cold work and working soft non-ferrous metals hammer faces should be polished. However, for general smithing a smooth grind with a belt sander (180 grit) is sufficient. Forge scale tends to be rougher than a polished surface and it is hard, wearing polished surfaces to match itself.

Some high quality hammers come ready dressed but this is becomming rarer and rarer. Hammers such as the German Peddinghaus forging hammers are quite roughly ground as they assume that the end user is a true craftsperson who will want to dress the hammer THEIR way. Many cheap hammers are not only undressed but often have rough machining marks. Unless you have an experianced eye you should dress hammers with a file and sandpaper by hand.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 11:01:34 EST

Robt F - Good start - now find your local Artist Blacksmith Association (you didn't say where you live)and attend some of their meetings and demos and you will get to see(and use)a number of different brands of tools. In our chapter there are always 25 to 30 anvils for sale and usually a bunch tailgated at the conferences. Get what is most ergonomic for you. Most of my stuff is different from real people, but it has to work for me.
   - Ron Childers - Monday, 01/19/04 11:11:49 EST

Treadle Hammers: Louis, I used to pooh-pooh treadle hammers until I watched an expert using one. They are a great tool. But they are not the be-all end-all of tools and do not replace a power hammer. Flypresses are the same. They are a great tool but they are not a tredle hammer nor are they a power hammer. Each has its best application.

There is no substitute for power. People undersetimate the fact that a little machine with a 1/4 HP motor can outwork a human for any time period longer than a minute. The Treadle Hammer is limited by YOUR HP output. Yes, you might be able to draw out a few pieces faster than by hand. But if you need to draw out dozens of points on 1/2" or larger bar you will quickly run out of energy. A small power hammer may even be slower than you for a piece or two BUT it can work continously without rest making hundreds of parts.

An example is the shock absorber link EC-JYH. It is a real powder puff of a power hammer. But in a hour of testing we cranked out a dozen long points on 1" bar stock. I can forge ONE faster then the EC-JYH. Some smiths maybe 3 or 4. But to keep up the pace for hours is impossible. In the song/story "John Henry, Steel Driving Man" he beats the machine but then falls dead.

Most of the treadle hammer designs work but I would stick to the simplest construction. As Pete (AKA "thumb tenderizer fels") a long time treadle hammer user pointed out, most have too light an anvil. They are no different than a power hammer or shop anvil in this respect. Shoot for 5 to 10 to one minimum. The one great error in some of the treadle hammer plans is the suggestion to fill a hollow tube with lead for the ram. This is NOT an appropriate or needed use for lead. Use steel.

Heavy Drawing is always faster and more efficient with a round faced tool. The more crown a hammer has the faster it moves steel. But it leaves a rougher surface. Fullers are used for directional drawing. See our iForge demo #88, Fullers and Fullering.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 11:39:29 EST

I have a large "bit" (20 in. long) used in an air hammer on concrete that has spalled at the business end. Not just one or two spalled chips, but the whole end is spalled with perhaps 20 or 30 chips spalled off.
I am a metallurgist with 25 years experience and thought that it would be a poor hardness or microstructure that caused this, but when compared with a "new" bit, the microhardness profile and microstructural profiles were virtually identical.
The steel is a 1040. That may be part of the problem in that the steel has way too little hardenability; but there seems to be something about this particular bit that caused it to abrade in a spalling mode rather than uniform wear.
Have you seen such spalling of hammers or heavy "bits"?
   Rich42 - Monday, 01/19/04 12:13:28 EST

Blade fuller: Don Fogg has a tool on his site made with a carbide cutter that is used to scrape fullers into blades
   Tone - Monday, 01/19/04 12:37:53 EST

This is the link for scraped fullers http://www.dfoggknives.com/fullers.htm
   Tone - Monday, 01/19/04 12:45:15 EST

Alan-L, Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering if the size (width) or sound difference was what you meant. I have a big Fisher set low as my main anvil and a smaller narrower anvil set a little higher for light detail work. (Coincidentally the small one is a Peter Wright a little over a hundred pounds. Excellent point you make about skill versus tools. This last comment from an unreformed tool junkie (grin).
   SGensh - Monday, 01/19/04 13:09:53 EST

Spalling: Rich, I would bet that the piece was overheated (burned) when forged. OR it could have been forged cold creating micro cracks that didn't show up until application. But it does sound like it was over hard.

The thing to remember is that steel is never as uniform a product as we would like to think of it being. If you have just ONE expample of the problem then it is just a spurious problem. It could have been a high carbon spot or a bad tempering job. It could have been how and when the tool was applied (was the ambient temperature below ZERO?). If it is a repeating problem then it may be time to check to see if all the bits were from the same lot of materials, same production run. .

No answers, just more questions.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 13:44:54 EST

Tone, Good link, Don is always coming up with something new or improved. Scrapers have been around for a long time. Using a carbide insert is a slick trick.

In the recent past they used to make small hand powered shapers that could be used for the same task. They are quite rare but very handy.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 14:23:41 EST

Question, I am a newbie at this. I am so new I don't know what questions to ask. I have found your site very helpful and plan on getting books to read. But, I want to eventually get into copper smithing. Do I still need a forge for this? I imagine it would not have to be as hot. Are the tools to work the copper different? I guess I should have asked you first if you know anything about copper smithing. Do You? Any books you could recommend would be greatly appreciated too.
   tom - Monday, 01/19/04 14:58:04 EST

smithin' coke: problem: can not get it "going", "lit", "fired up", ect.
i have the large champ 400 that appears to be working well. tight plumbing with 3" pipe to a vulcan fire pot. this w/e, i used a large rose bud oxy/acet torch and torched it pretty good, then cranked like crazy. the "coke" never got hotter than orange and the surrounding "coke" did not catch. the orange coke chunks went out quickly when i stopped the blast.

only two things are possible; the coke is not suitable for a forge, or there is something goofy with my set up. i am at a loss. i have used coal before and can easily start it with one wadded up piece of newspaper. i have read that coke requires a constant blast, but i can not even start it with a torch. any help or comments appreciated!!!
   rugg - Monday, 01/19/04 15:02:52 EST

Rugg, I bought some metallurgical coke awhile back and found it was easiest to light if I built a good charcoal fire (real charcoal, not brickettes) first, or a small coal fire first then add the coke. It does want to go out, needs a continuous air blast, I have an electric blower.
   ellen - Monday, 01/19/04 15:44:03 EST

ellen, i tried using charcoal just as you described; no luck. if i could get it lit with the crank, i would buy an electric blower eventually. it is strange that a torch would not get it going. thanks for the reply..
   rugg - Monday, 01/19/04 15:49:13 EST

Copper Smithing: Tom, Copper smithing is considerably different than blacksmithing. Copper, brass and bronze is worked primarily cold. However, they work harden from repeated hammering and bending and must be anealed. Anealing non-ferrous metals calls for it to be heated to just below the melting temperature or a very low red in low light, then quenching in water. Annealing small pieces is done with a torch, large pieces is done with a bon-fire. Rarely is a forge used.

Joining most copper alloys is done mostly by soft soldering, silver soldering or brazing. Soft soldering can be done with a small propane torch but the other methods generally require oxy-acetylene. So a good torch is usualy needed.

Although a blacksmith's anvil can be used for copper smithing the most common tool for this work is a stake or stake anvil. These can vary from a heavy bent steel bar set in a stump to sophisticated specialized stakes with names like "blow horn", "candle mold", "hatchet" and "edging". See our FAQ article on Selecting and Anvil.

The most common "anvil" for forming is a hardwood stump with depressions burnt or carved into it.

The hammers and techniques used for copper work are primarily the same as those used by armourers, silversmiths and repousse workers. See repoussetools.com and our Armoury page.

Most blacksmiths do some non-ferrous work in their shops using the tools at hand. However, when one specializes the tools are quite different.

Look for books on silversmithing, repousse' and sheetmetal work.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 16:33:55 EST

More about Stakes: At the 2000 ABANA Conference in Flagstaff there was a family of Mexican copper smiths demonstrating their work. Two of the most used stakes they used to raise their beautiful copper vessles on were lengths of truck axel. One was bent at a right angle for about 6" and the other was straight. Both were a little over 1" in diameter, had rounded ends were set in fairly heavy stumps. Both looked to have been roughly torch cut and then finished by hand. The work produced on these primitive tools was amazing.

More about Copper Smithing: Methods I left out were hammering with the work supported on a sandbag. These are usualy leather but I made one from the leg of a pair of jeans line with a plastic bag. Not very durable but it has lasted for several jobs.

The support method for repousse is pitch. Repousse pitch is a mixture of tar, wax and inert media such as sand or plaster. The pitch is melted and poured in a box backing the work. The metal is worked until the pitch is in no condition to continue OR until the metal needs annealing and then the pitch is melted off. After annealing the pitch is repoured to fit the new shape and then work continues.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 17:07:19 EST

Tom, we had a coppersmith demo at our August meeting and for
annealing the copper she used a metal pan, like you can get at Checker auto for catching oil drips, filled with the lava rock you use for BBQ grills, she put the copper on top of the lava, then heated it with a propane "weed burner" torch, these are less than $20 at Harbor Freight (not counting the propane tank). It heated real fast, then she would quench it in water.
   ellen - Monday, 01/19/04 17:19:49 EST

James, one way to transfer patterns to metal is to draw them on visqueen with a sharpie then use an engraving tool. Follow the lines and it will leave a nice scribed line on your metal. If you are careful, you can reuse the pattern several times. The reason for the visqueen is so you can trace the design you drew on your table or chalkboard.
   - dave dufficy - Monday, 01/19/04 17:43:53 EST

Thanks folks for the info on coppersmithing.
I have a question on blackmithing too. Can one use anthracite coal in a forge?
   tom - Monday, 01/19/04 18:06:18 EST


Anthracite is the fuel of choice in england. It's a bit harder to keep going than Bituminous. Takes more air.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/19/04 18:09:48 EST

I don't have a forge yet but I do have about 100# of the anthracite stuff. I use to burn it for heating my house. I'll hang on to it then
   tom - Monday, 01/19/04 18:16:31 EST


Mix it 50/50 with bituminous and it'll be a lot easier to work with.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/19/04 18:26:21 EST

Copper Smithing Again: Tom, See my iForge demo #80 on Brass candle sticks. This is a bit different than much traditional work.

Bituminous Coal is best. Anthracite works but takes LOTS of air.

   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 18:41:33 EST

Coke Problems: Rugg, It sounds like you have too shallow a fire. AND you CANNOT use a manual blower unless you have a helper and it is cranked CONSTANTLY. Pausing for just a moment can reduce the amount burning to where the fire is not self sustaining.

I used coke for a brief period with my bellows. Getting the fire going was tough but keeping it going was the worst. The fire would go completely out while working one short heat. . . All that effort lost. . . Spent DAYS fooling with it and never made ONE piece of work. Had lots of hot fires until I had to stop pumping the belows a minute.

The "orange" chunks are not burning, they are just heated to an orange heat. The air cools them. Coke burns white. You CAN start coke with a torch but the part that is buring must be at the bottom of the fire and the rest of the bed must be hot. It is easiest to start with charcoal or coal.

In small foundry setups they heat the refractory liner until it is red hot with a gas burner, then add wood or charcoal and then pile the coke on. It is a carefully planned ritual that takes patience. Add the coke too soon and you will be cleaning out the coupla to try a restart. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 18:55:22 EST

copper can be anealed with a simple blow torch like a plumber uses. i use a big propane weed burner.ive done a lot of copper roofs,gutters,chimleys,and cornece(that fancystuff on old buildings).12 years in it and still would not claim to be real copper smith. i just got a copy of the art of coppersmithing .its still in print for about $25
   - marty - Monday, 01/19/04 18:58:36 EST

Guru: While you are on the subject of copper, I have been doing a lot of hot copper forging, I'm concerned about safety, vapours, dust, etc. I do try to work as safe and clean as possible but I worry that I may be missing some thing obvious. An example of hot forged copper work.
   - Daryl - Monday, 01/19/04 19:08:23 EST


Coppersmithing uses all the same techniques as silversmithing or goldsmithing. A good book on the subject is Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht. Most silversmithing books will have information that is useful, but will be aimed mostly at jewelry making. The techniques most commonly used for copper are forging, raising, sinking, and sometimes spinning. As said, annealing isrequired and must be done frequently.

For annealing, I always have preferred a pan filled with pumice stone, about pea sized, and I use a homemade air/gas torch made from plumbing fittings. Uses a small blower for the air supply and gobbles up propane like it was free. It does put out a flame that embarrasses those weed burners, though. (grin) don't quench in water, though. I use a 5-10% solution of sulfuric acid in water, as it dissolves the firescale. Sparex #2, a jeweler's pickling solution, is made from sodium metabisulfate (half-neutral H2SO4) and is less likely to cause burns or eat your Levi's.

I have a decent array of silversmithing stakes that I use for silver, copper and steel. A combination t-stake like a Dixon #7 is a good starting point, followed by a rocker stake. Planishing requires a whole arsenal of stakes to fit various contours. You can never have enough, like all tools. (grin)

As far as toxicity goes, copper is fairly benign, if you use some sense. Like most all metals, it is not easily metabolized by the human body, and shouldn't be ingested in any great quantity. Copper does not give off toxic gasses when heated to annealing temperatures, but will if it is heated to the point of vaporizing. The biggest danger is breathing thedust when sanding or buffing. Always wear a respirator when grinding, sanding or buffing ANY metal. It is also a good idea to wear gloves, both to protect you from absorbing the dust through your skin and to protect the fresh metal from your acidic sweat, which will discolor it. White cotton photo lab gloves are my favorite.

If you do any etching of copper, always thoroughly neutralize the work after etching. Acid left on the surface will form copper salts that are more readily absorbed by your body and may be quite harmful. A rinse in a sloution of bicarbonate of soda will effectively neutralize the acid, followed by a fresh water rinse.

Daryl: That is a very nice copper bowl. Was it hot forged? I'm assuming it was, since it looks like it is pretty thick to work cold.

The heat range for hot forging copper is pretty narrow, but it works like a dream in the right range. The biggest problem I've had when hot forging both copper and silver is that they have such high thermalconductivity that there isn't any cool place to grab them. You just have to use tongs, and I find tongs to be a hindrance when raising deep vessels. In my climate here in the tropics, a dinner-plate sized disk of metal radiates a tremendous amount of heat, so I have to wear a glove on my hammer hand (something I hate), and wear long sleeves and trousers. It can get pretty sweaty real quickly!
   vicopper - Monday, 01/19/04 20:29:23 EST

Daryl, As VIc said, its the dust that gets you. You know when you have that copper taste in your mouth you have been doing something wrong. Fans and ventilation are easier than respirators. Beautiful bowl.

VIc, Yeah tongs are very necessary for all non-ferrous. They are even needed when doing hot raising of steel.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/04 20:46:56 EST

Can anyone suggest a 14" diamond blade to replace the abrasive wheels used on a DeWalt cut-off saw? I have read about the "Diamond Twister Blade" by First Edition Products, but would like to hear from "experienced" users.


   Ed Killoran - Monday, 01/19/04 20:49:28 EST

does welding hardended steel to cast steel require a special rod or type of welding?
   - John D - Monday, 01/19/04 21:06:35 EST

Vicopper and Guru, Thanks a lot for the info, and comments. Most times when you mention that you forge copper people assume that you are doing it cold and that you are annealing it. I mainly am working material ľĒ and thicker. I like to use it by its self and as a contrasting piece for Ironwork. The dust is the big worry for me, and Iím presently building a grinding, polishing room. I hope that 2 ľ air changes a minute will be enough 450cfm on the dust collector and the same with an AMU fan. I will still wear a respirator, and gloves, Iíve had the green fingers, the thought of green lungs is what scares me.

I find tongs leave marks on hot copper, this only a problem on the finished part, but if you donít mind smoke it is worth making a stack of wood inserts for your tongs.

Vic the bowl was forged hot to get the exaggerated hammer marks. Then forged cold to turn the bowl inside out so the dimples were on the outside. I was hammering on what is now the inside, sinking I think is the correct term. It had to be annealed several times.
   - Daryl - Monday, 01/19/04 22:25:40 EST

Thanks for the ideas folks.I get to burn and mash my fingers just on weekends mostly.i'm glad i found a place to pick real smithys brains
   james - Monday, 01/19/04 23:27:04 EST

Daryl: Thanks for the additional information on the bowl. A very nice piece indeed. And yes, sinking is the appropriate term for that operation. You should have adequate clean air with 2-1/2 changes a minute, I would think. The gloves and respirator are still a good idea, I agree. You could also use a positive pressure respirator if you wanted to have the belt and the suspenders too. :-)

Jock: I use tongs for the conductive stuff, but I've tried using a heavy asbestos mitten for angle raising steel and preferred it to tongs. I have three left mittens, so I change them off as each one gets warmed up. Works pretty well on pieces larger than a salad plate, and gives me much better control. In angle raising, most of the control is in the "tong" hand rather than the hammer hand, and you have to do too many different movements quickly for tongs to work very well, at least for me. Probably Eric Thing doesn't have this problem. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 01/19/04 23:37:12 EST

guru, thanks for the reply. now that i have a ton of it, i will need to get an electric blower. do you think that i can mix it with a good coal without as much fuss??
   rugg - Tuesday, 01/20/04 00:04:09 EST

Forging copper..a wee addendum dumdum
For hot forging, copper is sweet and buttery.It can be approached much as forging steel, except at a lower temperature. It moves easily.Unlike steel, you can keep on forging as it cools.It's very forgiving.
Tong marks in soft metals....take a piece of plump, annealed copper and bend up a cover for your tong jaws.
Daryl; Handsome bowl...great texture..like the inverted approach...how did you keep the indentations so crisp?
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 01/20/04 01:21:59 EST

While we are on the subject of Dust it is worthwhile to look at this site. Googling for 'Bills cyclone blower' yields: http://cnets.net/~eclectic/woodworking/cyclone/blower.cfm

He is a woodworker with lung problems who wouldn't quit his passion. Good info
   Mills - Tuesday, 01/20/04 08:44:27 EST

A comment about working copper and steel on the same forge and anvil: Copper is unusual in that, in a liquid state, it will readily flow into the grain boundaries of steel. It weakens the grain boundaries and is effectively, a crack. It may be a good practice to do a thorough job of cleaning up any copper dust, debris, scuff marks, etc from the forge, anvil and tools before you go back to working steel.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/20/04 08:47:10 EST


Thanks for that bit of information on copper and steel! I learn something new every day.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/20/04 09:47:25 EST

Catching Up:

SGensh swung by on a foray to Lower Virginia to drop by a pipe jig for my Anglo-Saxon shield boss experiments. (I have another being mailed to me, so I can try an alternate method.) Nice of him to swing by Crumbling Acres, er, Oakley Farm and see my setup. At least I had a few ongoing projects to show him so that I could look respectable. A pleasure having him by. (And I did finish rehilting that Japanese ďNinjaĒ style sword for my sonís friend, so itís ready for MarsCon.) Thanks, Steve.

Robert Foster: I tell my friends: ďIím stringy, but Iím weak.Ē ;-) On the other claw, everyone at home, church and work has me open any stuck jars or bottle caps, so blacksmithing and rowing a longship must be doing some good.

I had the sad honor of helping my friends widow clean out and sell off his blacksmith shop this last year. What amazed me was how much wonderful work he did with so few tools. Master Finnr was truly a master of the crafts. For some of us (including me) gathering the tools is part of the fun; and itís a great convenience to have just the right tool at the right time. (And it frequently saves a lot of time, too.) Still, skill, practice and patience go a long way; and what tools you really need will suggest themselves when you know which direction you want your work to go- art, blades, reproductions, architectural, domestic- all have their needs and requirements for different tools in different scales.

House Jacks: Now that the additional virtues have been explicated, I shall have to keep my eye out for a few more to round out the versatility. Thanks to all for the answers.

Anthracite: Usually needs constant air flow, cokes as individual hard pieces (instead of consolidating in ďfoamyĒ lumps like bituminous) and the clinker doesnít consolidate, either, so you have to spend more time picking them out before firing up again. It has itís virtues, but like charcoal, you have to learn to work with it, and unlearn other habits. Also, like charcoal, keep the fire deep.

Off to MarsCon next Friday through Sunday ( http://www.marscon.net/ ) to hang out with the kids and friends in Williamsburg, VA. Not getting a vendorís table this year- got clobbered too bad last year. I might donate something to the art auction, if I have a chance. Too busy working on family and friendsí projects and catching up on backlog.

We certainly are a chatty lot this past Dr.MLKJr. weekend; arenít we?

Sunny and cold on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/20/04 10:18:08 EST

Guru thanks for the site it has been a big help!
   - Mart - Tuesday, 01/20/04 11:07:27 EST

Copper in steel: QC could you elaborate a bit more? What about brazing or penny welding? Does this also compromise the structure of the steel? I read somewhere that a brazed joint, properly done can, have a tensile strength in excess of 100k psi - even stronger than an arcweld - so why does the copper between the grains act as a "crack" and not a glue?
   adam - Tuesday, 01/20/04 11:24:27 EST

I wish I had had more time to spend with Bruce Blackistone on that short visit. I barely had a chance to learn what he is trying to do with his shield boss experiments and I can see he has lots of information to share. Saw some nice looking work there.

Bruce, you got me thinking about raising steel with the discussion of the bosses and the Eric Thing Helm. I had to experiment last night by cold raising a small dish from 1/8". I can't imagine doing the helm!

Thanks for the Pecan stumps and say hi to Amanda for me.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 01/20/04 12:55:35 EST

Pure copper melts at about 1900F, just a few hundred degrees below the forge-welding temperature. Pure copper will penetrate the grain boundaries, separating them and, having fairly low strength itself, reduces the strength of the steel in that area. I have prepared samples for photomicrographs where the copper between the grains can be readily seen in a microscope. Brazing rod is a brass alloy, and as with any alloy, will have a lower melting point. The physics of the phenomenon of liquid metal embrittlement is beyond the scope of this posting (since I can't remember all the details!). The brazing brass does not penetrate the grains as pure copper does but rather forms a mechanical surface bond on the steel. The strength of the bond is a function of the strength of the brazing alloy and how competant the welder is. I cannot speak to the issue of penny brazing as I have never tried it. New pennies are only copper-plated zinc discs and would probably burn up before you got them to actually wet in. Many months ago there was a question about copper contamination of the fire-pot and how it prevents achieving a good forge weld. Perhaps the Alpha Guru could opine on that subject.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/20/04 13:06:46 EST

On Coke

One of the guys in the local satelite group uses coke in his forge to very good effect, his home built forge out of scrap stainless sheet and tubing has an electric blower and he just builds a paper fire then splinters of wood and then kindling and then once he has a good burn going he starts adding coke, I can't remember if he covers over the fire with the coke or just gets it going a piece at time, but with some bricks around the fire pot to deepen it and an electric blower he loves it, and has no problems to speak of (except maybe too much heat:-) I have 200# of coke to try, but it is sitting there with the nearly 200# of Pocco #3 waiting for me to get the coal forge set up in the shop. (love my gasser, but should rebuild my coalforge so I don't go through so much gas! But I really like stacking a ton of pieces in the gasser and then just runnin through them:-)

Robert Foster: Hammer Control!

I used to do a bit of power lifting, and learned to smith when I was still young and invincible:-) I used a 6# hand sledge for almost everything, it was my favorite hammer, and I would sometimes forge for 6 or 8 hours straight. BUT I am 36 now and have to watch how big a hammer I try to use, and I can't forge very long with a big hammer. Learn good form, it might be even more important in blacksmithing than it is in powerlifting! AND DO NOT! push to the failure point with a hammer. With blacksmithing if your form gets bad when you get fatigued, you will end up cause yourself lasting harm. You will know what I mean when your elbow starts to go (and the problem might actually be in how you hold your wrist, not in the elbow directly, biomechanics isn't always simple and straightforward. A powerlifter is in more peril than some skinny guy like Atli, because you have the muscles there already, (most of them atleast) and you are used to really pushing yourself. The best advice I can give you is start small, and be patient. Find someone who really knows what they are doing and have them teach you how to swing a hammer. Blacksmithing is a ton of fun, and it is a good tired and sore like powerlifting, but like lifting if you are not careful and don't use good form you can really hurt yourself. Learn how to adjust your hammers to what suits you best, Jock may be able to pick up any hammer that has a good head on it and use it, but I find that most hammer handles don't suit me at all, and I need to rework them a fair amount, but my body is pretty picky after all the abuse I have put it through:-) Be Patient, have fun, and be careful! ANd protect any body part you want to keep (eyes, ears, lungs are a good place to start:-)
Robert you never mentioned where you were at? There are people from all over the world who hang out here, and you might live just a short distance from one of us...
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 01/20/04 13:28:30 EST

Mixing Fuels: Rugg, I have had bad luck mixing fuels. It can end up being a real research project. Use a little wood, charcoal or coal to get a small hot fire going and then pour on the coke.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/04 13:35:09 EST

Diamond Blades: Ed, All the diamond blades I've had experiance with were material or material harness specific. Yeah, diamonds are diamonds are diamonds but the matrix varies from soft rubber, to hard rubber, plastic, brass, bronze and steel. . All needed an adequate coolant system (cannot be used dry). I do not have experiance with your specific brand/type.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/04 13:50:39 EST

penny weld: QC thanks for your explanation. Very interesting! All this metallurgy stuff seems more like a black art than a science :)

"Penny welding" is a smithing term for copper brazing left over from the time when pennies were always copper. I don't think anyone uses zinc pennies. Today it's usually done with copper scrap - like a bit of electrical wire. I have only seen it used for joining light decorative elements where strength is not really an issue. From your posts I infer that A. penny welding is not a substitute for brazing. B. where strength is important, one should carefully to control the heat used in brazing
   adam - Tuesday, 01/20/04 14:58:42 EST


When I was using coke as fuel I started it by getting a wood fire going that would fill up 1/2 to 3/4 of the fire pot with heat. Then I would add a layer of coke so that I could still see the glowing of the wood under the coke. Then I would add another layer of wood on top of the coke layer. The wood would ignite with the heat that the coke didn't absorb. Then you have a layer of burning wood on bottem and top of the coke. I would keep adding layers of wood and coke until I had a good pile of fire. Usually I could use the fire before all of the coke was going.

As the Guru said it takes some experimenting to find out which fuels work together for you. I would add enough wood into the fire when it was going to keep it hot!? I built my forge so that I can prop open the ash dump. Thusly when I would take the iron out(crank blower) I would prop open the ash dump so that it could draw air easier and more or less keep going.

This worked for ME, but it took a lot of effort and attention to keep the fire going and I didn't want to change back to an electric blower so I went back to regular coal.

Note, sometimes it took me a full fire pot of burning wood to start the coke.

I hope this helps.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 01/20/04 17:25:30 EST

Copper dust, or most any dust.
First, most any dust that is inhaled is bad for you. Some are just more serious. A possible solution for some may be a downdraft grinding table. These are comericially available but pricey. As the thing is mostly a steel box with a grate on top, and a large exhaust fan to pull air down into the box, and out thru a filter, seems like your average blacksmith can fashion one. The back and sides are raised so that as you stand at the table, and grind, the large flow of air down into the table thru the grate pulls the dust away from the operator. Need to exhaust through a filter, and outside the shop. We had several that we ground castings on, and they were a joy to use. The sparks would bend down into the table, and there was almost no clean up around the grinding operation.
   ptree - Tuesday, 01/20/04 17:32:35 EST

I am building a set of fire doors and I am haveing a hard time locating the screen material. Do you know of a source? Screen or honeycomb expanded metal would work.
Thank you!
   Russell Colvin - Tuesday, 01/20/04 17:43:27 EST

mr caleb, guru, and Fionnbharr, thanks for the advice. i hope i can make this work. this coke is reported to burn "much hotter" than coal. i wish i knew how tricky it is to get going. will try again this w/e....
   rugg - Tuesday, 01/20/04 18:14:48 EST

Try MSC.

   Ralph - Tuesday, 01/20/04 18:30:05 EST


Also check http://www.mcnichols.com

They specialize in mesh and expanded metal.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/20/04 18:31:24 EST

Downdraft Table: Ptree, I have seen one of these as a welding bench, GREAT device. It was a heavy bench frame with the work surface made of bar grating. Under the bench top there as a sheet metal hopper (like an upside down hood). In the back was a hole for the exhust fan. In one end a clean out door for all the heavy weld spatter and rod stubs. Besides keeping the air clean a high proportion of that nastly black MIG sputter beads that instantly cover a clean shop floor stay in the hopper until you clean it out.

On the bar grating work surface there were a couple "islands" of steel plate set flush into the bar grating. This provided solid work surfaces for small work.

These are expensive benches (bought OR built) and I can see where they could be agrevating at times when you drop tools through the grate. You also lose under bench storage. But if you want a really clean healthy environment to work in this is the best. The down draft pulls fumes and dust away from you rather than UP past you like some overhead systems. It is useful for arc welding of all types except possibly TIG as well as gas welding, brazing and soldering.

For buffing and grinding systems I would think that an ample collector hood at the wheel would be most efficient.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/04 19:14:44 EST

Free "Ultimate" Anvil Stump

The stump-grinder folks came by, nibbled the upper stump off with a short chainsaw, and left the main stump sitting on the lawn while they ground the base.

The pecan stump is 5' long, over 2 Ĺ' X 4' at the square end, and 2' X 4' at the "nibbled" end. Estimated weight is: [~1.75' squared X pi X 5' X 53# per cubic foot (cured hickory, a close relative of pecan)] 2,548 pounds, or a little more for moisture.

Free for any blacksmith who wants to bring the equipment and cart it away. Sink it into the ground and you have one heck of a stump, or a Christmas Yule Log good for all twelve days of Christmas next year! It's presently located next to the gravel drive, so your truck won't sink into the lawn.

This is the one SGensh couldn't take last week. ;-) also, does ptree mean pecan tree? It could be a natural match. theres a number of "smaller" stumps, including one that Paw Paw might want.

Wasting not, wanting not, on the banks of the lower Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/20/04 20:43:17 EST

Atli, If I can load it in my truck, I want it! That'll be my anvil mount when we move!

When is Camp Fenby, I need to get it on my calendar?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/20/04 21:24:16 EST

To John D: re welding hardened steel to cast steel - can't comment about the type of rod, but you'll destroy the properties of the hardened steel by welding, and have a heck of a heat affected zone that will probably negatively affect its properties even more.

Quenchcrack - good comment about copper and steel, that sort of basic metallurgy is much more in the background ( or maybe dustpile) of my mind since I'm working in quality assurance (ISO 9001:2000/QS-9000 systems) for a company making iron powder. On that comment - a lot of automotive components made from iron powders have significant amounts of copper in them - 2% is not uncommon, and some mixes we ship have up to 20% (self lubricating bearings). The parts are weaker than pure steel ones, but you can get some very unique peoperites by alloying in this way.
On another track, when I worked for Airco (now BOC Gases) I helped support brazing applications - parts that fit together, and then had copper rings or copper based brazing compound placed on the joints and then run through brazing furnaces - (continuous belt furnaces with controlled atmospheres using nitrogen and hydrogen mixtures and run at slight posiitive pressure versus atmosphere - think 0.25 inches of water column) temperatures varied somewhat, but were in the range of 1750 to 1850 F and achieved good bond between the parts. A lot of the end uses were widgets for automotive or appliance use.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 01/20/04 21:49:19 EST

Hello, my name is Mark, and I have been learning blacksmithing for about 2 years. I grew up doing leatherwork, woodwork, and some metalwork thanks to my Dad. I also worked in a machine shop for several years and this background has helped me pursue my favorite hobby, building muzzle loading guns and related items, (knives, powder horns, hunting bags etc). Since I started blacksmithing, I've come up with some questions I hope you can help me with. 1st, After I light my forge and it becomes what I believe to be a good fire, it seems that in 15 or so minutes, the opening (3") in the firepot is about 75% clogged with molten clinker. I made this forge, and the opening hole is fire brick that has become somewhat jagged, across which I lay 3 half inch square bars. Even though I have some problems, so far I consider my smithing a success. So, the question is, is it my feed store grade, who knows from where coal, or something else. 2nd, I just recently found and purchased a M&H Armitage Mouse Hole Forge Anvil weighing 157lbs. It was a great find, but it is somewhat worn with a couple of chips and a bit concaved in the middle of the face. My question is, is it OK to carefully grind the face true,(probably have to go down about 1 eighth inch) or should I preserve it as an antique? Thanks so much. Mark!
   Mark R. - Tuesday, 01/20/04 22:43:09 EST

i'm not quite sure how this works, but here goes. I am new to blacksmithing, and am in the process of gathering tools, forge, anvils, etc. Have any of you ever tried to convert a propane grill into a forge? If so, I'd love some advice. thanks
   - maestro - Tuesday, 01/20/04 23:21:47 EST

am I online?
   - maestro - Tuesday, 01/20/04 23:32:12 EST

Gurus, I am trying to punch 5/8 x 2 flatbar to have a 1/2" hole...yes, the hard way. I have drilled a 1/8 pilot hole and have been using a series of small punches to finish and am not having a happy time. Should I be slot punching first then drifting rather than just punching?
any suggestions on how to proceede? Oh Yeah, suppose (hah) that I get a hole slightly off center, is there any way to correct this? I seem to remember seeing how to re-align such a offcenter hole, but cant find the reference.
Thanks in advance.
   - Tim - Tuesday, 01/20/04 23:38:29 EST

Pete F. Thanks, I use a sand bag with rubber on top, not the easiest thing and a lot of dumb luck. I have ruined more than I've made. Iím sure the Comedy Channel would like to do a documentary of me making them; the rubber can make for a lively anvil :).

Q.C. good point about the copper and the migration, you mentioned that once before so I always do a careful clean up. I did melt copper on steel by accident; it sure looked interesting. Iím loath to do it again but I would like to try it on a wall piece. Weakening the steel shouldnít be a problem; it just needs to support its own weight. But is back to melting copper so fumes and polishing etc. Your thoughts ?

Ptree and Guru, Iím still working on the down draft table I want to run three different pieces of equipment on it. It is hard to come up with one that fills all my needs. It is good to hear they work. I just hope that my 450 CFM dust collector will pull the majority of it in.

Tim on punching holes the hard way, mark accurately on both sides and slit and drift (I slit from both sides and try to meet in the middle). I donít use pilot holes but it sounds like a good way of making accurate marks. Remember that your bar will get shorter.
   - Daryl - Wednesday, 01/21/04 00:06:55 EST

Can I use a Acetylene regulator on a propane tank? From what I understand you can safely use one that way but you can not use a Propane Regulator on an Acetylene tank.
I need to draw 35pds. from a 100 pound tank.(Propane forge)
   Will - Wednesday, 01/21/04 00:25:57 EST

Thanks for the advice I seem to have opened a can of worms . The 3.5 lb hammer is heavy for me now but useful for a short time it seems that a 2.5lb hammer has sufficient heft and I can control it.I would like to do some sheet metal work so I have leaned toward the polishing/embossing type hammers. I will pick up a few sets of the harbor frt. ball peens and try to reforge and modify ( if they are of sufficient metal quality)to hammers I need. Thanks for your guidance and I really enjoy surfing your site just to read ques and ans. .........Rick
   - Rick - Wednesday, 01/21/04 00:37:27 EST

My question is how do you fold metal to where it can be form to a Sword. I am also an big collector. thanks for any info you can provide.
   Alan - Wednesday, 01/21/04 06:16:37 EST

Will, Don't use an acetylene regulator on a gas forge; buy a "redhead" adjustable propane regulator (about $25) and a pressure guage (about $10) And some hose rated for propane. Use your ace reg on your ox/propane cutting & heating setup. I think the acetylene regulator would freeze up trying to use at that much pressure. We use only abt 5 psi on our propane forges; 35 sounds high.
   - Ron Childers - Wednesday, 01/21/04 08:01:42 EST

Clinkers and Anvil: Mark, You have a low grade of coal if you are getting clinker that fast. HOWEVER, if you have not cleaned the ashes from you forge in a while they contribute to clinker even when you are adding new coal.

Don't try to repair that M&H Mousehole anvil. It is in typical condition and absolutely useful AS-IS. Sharp corner chipping should be dressed by grinding a gentle radius on them. You can also do a little straightening from the side.

That gentle sway is perfect for making straight parts. You cannot straighten with a hammer on a flat surface. You need clearance under the part for deflection and spring. Do not try to flatten that face. You may however want to lightly dress it with a belt sander to remove minor dings and rust pits. Smooth is good but flat is way over rated, sharp corners make bad forgings.

After using that anvil for a while you will find that it is not the condition of the anvil that makes good work but the skill of the worker.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:12:48 EST

I have an anvil which I haven't been using for a few years and it has started to rust. Do have any ideas how I could fix it up or take better care?

   - Brian - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:22:13 EST

Hammer Weights Again:Rick, It is not a can of worms. It is a typical problem faced by folks new to the trade. Many of the old books on smithing such as Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing talk about smiths typically using 4 pound hammers. This MAY have been true in backwoods shops where they didn't have power hammers AND where the smith was using hammers from the time he could walk EVERY DAY of his life. These were different times and you had to do what you HAD to do. But today people often come into this craft having never used a hammer in their life. In the past a simple farmer probably used a hammer more during any given year than a modern carpenter does working full time today.

Just like lifting weights you start light and work up so you don't hurt yourself. However, unlike lifting weights where the goal is more and more, in smithing the goal is more and more CONTROL. You have to try some smithing and then watch a pro using a little 2 pound move metal like it was clay to fully understand control. It is not how hard you hit the metal but how quickly between blows each one carefully aimed.

After 4 or 5 years of smithing I had worked up to a 3-1/2 pound hammer. I was working alone without the aid of a power hammer. I did almost everything with the same hammer. Forging everything from delicate scrolls in 3/16 and 1/4" bar drawn to long slender points and gracefull leaves up to 1" square bar for andirons. But for 3 of those 5 years I worked mostly with a little 2 pound hammer that I eventualy wore out.

Today, after sitting at a desk and keyboard for 20 years I use the same heavy hammer for a short period of time but tend to use the old worn light hammer more. But I will also ocassionaly pick up a 6 pound short handled sledge. It is impossible to control but for a few brief blows it will move more metal in a couple heats than the lighter hammers in an hour.

Control is the key. Followed by speed. In smithing, power is a combination of the two.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:34:23 EST

Gas Grill Conversion: Maestro, Generlly no. The regulators and burners are designed for warming meat to about 350 to 400°F not metal to 2,500°F. However, there is enough there to build a MICRO forge suitable for heating a large nail to forging heat. See our Gas Forges FAQ.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:38:44 EST

Will, liquid propane is an agressive solvent and will degrade components in an acetylene regulator. People do use acetylene regulators for propane but why take the risk? Like Ron says, the right equipment is cheap.
   - adam - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:44:18 EST

Folding Metal in Swords: Alan, We tend to use the term "folding" because it is convienient but in actuality the metal is not folded, it is cut and stacked then welded. For ease of handling when cut with a chisle a thin layer is left uncut to act as a hinge. When bent at this hinge the pieces stay to together.

The point of the "folding" is to either create flat laminations for pattern welding OR to mix the metals in a controlled fashion in order to make a more homegenous material. Both goals require control that simple bending of the metal back on it self does not give. When bent, the metal layers in the ends are vertical rather than horizontal and both control and even lamination is lost. These ends would have to be cut off when finished producing a great amount of waste in a material that has had so much time and energy put into it that its value is approaching gold. So the smith carefully cuts and stacks his billets between each welding and forging operation.

For details see the bibliogaphy to our upcoming article on sword making at Resources : The end of innocence. We have reviews of many of the books and at least two have diagrams of the pattern development process.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 09:56:18 EST

Rusting Anvil: Brian, There is a saying among smiths "Don't let your anvil rust". Sounds simple. But what is means is to use your anvil every day. Use keeps rust off.

Otherwise, like ALL machinery and tools with bare metal surfaces you OIL it to prevent rust. For short term rust prevention I use WD-40. In our high humidity location short term means every day. Note that other "rust breakers" such as Liquid Wrench contain chemicals that can accelerate rust rather than prevent it. For longer term protection use non-detergent motor oil (detergent oil absorbs water and you get rust UNDER the oil). OR use something like CRC's "Store and Lube". For very long term storage clean and paint all over then apply CRC "Heavy Duty Corrosion Inhibitor". This hardens like cosmolene.

Clean off the short or long term protectants before use.

Most new anvils come from the factory painted a nice black with a little clear lacquer on the machined surfaces. Both are only sufficient to prevent rust until the product is delivered to the end user. Old anvils usualy end up bare all over, the face and horn bright from use and the body a nice rust brown. If you oil the entire anvil ocassionaly the body rust turns dark brown.

Currently both of my shop anvils have shiney new paint jobs and polished faces. The reason? Both were photographed for various articles about anvils. See Kohlswa.com for the photo I took of my big anvil. It is not nearly that pretty now as it has been used for over a year since that photo was taken. But it is nice to clean up the tools once in a while. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 10:17:10 EST

Acetylene regulators on propane tanks:

We (my dad and I) have been using an acet regulator on a propane tank for probably eight years now with no problems. Some acetylene regulators are rated for dual/multi-fuel use; some are not. It should say in your manual, or you can ask your local welding supply store where you got your regulator. Also, BE SURE TO USE THE RIGHT HOSE! Buy some good multiple-fuel-compatible hose at the welding store when you go to ask them about the regulator. If you use the wrong kind of hose, the inside will degrade and then the crud from the degrading will go forward and plug your burner orifice, and then where will you be?

Incidentally, as a relatively un-athletic 18yo, I am finding a 2.5lb engineer's hammer to be friendliest for general use. Heavy enough for drawing down, narrow enough head for relatively fine work like turning scrolls. Visually attractive, too (Grin).

Wet and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 01/21/04 11:07:42 EST

Dear Mighty Guru,
I've been working with tools & wood for 30 years, and in my current job often fabricate jigs & fixtures with wood, plastic and metals. I collect & use old hand planes and wish to make my own blades from O1 steel. I've found the info. I need on heat treating, but need to cut a slot starting from a drilled hole to attach the chipbreaker to the blade. I have a 1944 Delta/Rockwell 1/2" chuck drill press & an inexpensive cross slide vise. Can I use these? If so, what specific configuration cutter would you suggest & at what RPM?
Thank you,
Tom - your humble novice.
   Tom MacGregor - Wednesday, 01/21/04 12:02:39 EST

I am a senior and as part of my graduation requirments I have to do a senior project, in which I job shadow someone and write and essay. I have chosen blacksmithing and was wondering if anyone knew of a book or website that could give me the complete history of blacksmithing, from it's origin till now, I also live in Randleman N.C. (27350 zip code) and was wondering if there is any way to find a blacksmith in my area. Thanks!!!
   Jon - Wednesday, 01/21/04 12:05:37 EST

I have an anvil tool that is being made from 4140 steel. do i need to harden/temper this? if so to what temp?
   Brett A. Black - Wednesday, 01/21/04 12:25:43 EST

I just got the call to schedule delivery of my FLYPRESS!!! Early b-day present from my wife... I am the lickiest man on earth, AND I have a flypress.

So, anyone have suggestions for a stand? I have seen teh anvil stands page here [use a stump myself], but I imagine the stop torque can be a problem, so don't want to risk this thing laying down the first time I use it.

What's YOUR flypress sit on, those of you who have them?

Sunny and cold in central OH,
   MikeM-OH - Wednesday, 01/21/04 12:28:55 EST

A complete history of blacksmithing from it's origin till now???

Takes a big book to cover 6,000 years. And they didn't have books back that far.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:02:25 EST

Brett, what kind of tool? A hot cut hardy need not be hardened but a cold cut will. Give us another clue and we can give you better hardening and tempering temperatures.

Jon, I am not sure anyone can know the COMPLETE history of blacksmithing from its origins until now. It is a pretty good assumption that man was pounding on metal before he started keeping records.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:03:45 EST

Rusty Anvils: I forgot to mention that I have been using a rust preventative made by Naval Jelly. I spray a small spot on the anvil face and wipe it over the horn and face. I also wipe down my hammers with it. It does not smoke when you put hot iron on the anvil if you keep the film thin. So far, no rust.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:29:00 EST

I'm an experienced metalworker (45 yrs) in the US southwest.For a Spanish Colonial tinwork cabinet I'm making, I'm hoping to find info on instructions on the construction of a functional latching lock set, including key, typical of those used in 17th/18thcentury
   verne lucero - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:31:22 EST

Milling with Drill Press: Tom, Drill presses make VERY poor milling machines and then are only suitable to cut aluminium, wood and plastics. They do not have a rigid enough head and spindle. The play and flexibility of the vise also reduce the capacity. You didn't say what size groove you want to mill and this determines the MAX speed of the cutter. For a 1/4" slot somewhere around 1300 is right milling mild steel in a mill. Machining tool steel in a light drill press about half that speed. If the vise is not steady (lets the work shift or pull) then slower still. You would use a four flute 1/2" shank single ended HSS end mill.

If all I had was the drill press I would drill end holes and hack saw out the slot and finish with files. It will take less time, cost less money, and probably do a better job.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:34:23 EST

Okay i'm pulling my hair out tring to find this thing and i'm not sure i really need it in the first place. When installing stove pipe for a forge do i need a different piece to exit the roof or can I cut a hole and fit the regular stove pipe through it?
   dragon-boy - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:37:47 EST

Flypress Stand: Mike M, Like many small machines the base is an important part of the setup. Yes, stopping torque IS a consideration and the stand will need to be bolted to the floor. All the stands I have seen were heavy angle iron frames or heavy shop benches. The Kaynes have one with bars on the top but I would use a flat piece of steel plate 1/4" thick or more. You will want a hole in the plate for biscuits to drop through. Height wants to be convienient to accessing the wheel and the work both. This means the bigger press needs a lower bench.

I usualy build this type of stand with storage shelves underneith for tooling. You will also want some pins to hold the wrenches used to change tooling and adjust the machine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:42:04 EST

Roof Penetration: DB, It depends on your roof construction but usualy a tripple wall penetration flange or bushing is required. Even if it is a plain tin roof if the pipe is less than 30" from framing then the insulating bushing is required (by fire code and building codes).
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:46:14 EST

Milling in drill press
Woodwrights shop just a couple of weeks ago included something very similar. Just like guru says. drill, drill, drill, drill, chisel or saw, then file. Done.
   Tom H - Wednesday, 01/21/04 13:56:00 EST

Spanish Colonial Lock: Verne, you will find no plans for this style lock, I've reseached the subject thoroughly and bought all the available books (in and out of print) on the subject.

We have a fine example of a Mexican or Spanish Colonial lock on OldLocks.com at Old Lock. The part not shown is the hasp that the bolt locked into. The mechanism is a simple friction lock, there are no tumblers or keepers. The spring is the split portion of the bolt. We show a similar mechanism in our series on locks Part I.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 14:23:30 EST

the roof is a ply wood board with shingles. so how hard is it to fab this thing since i am having challenges finding a place that carries this?
   dragon-boy - Wednesday, 01/21/04 15:45:17 EST

History of Blacksmithing: Jon, As have been bluntly pointed out this is almost like asking for the history of the world (in detail from the beginning). . . That is why creation stories were created.

If you want to get an idea how long and complicated a history this is, see our Story Page, Ray Smith's Notebook of Metalworking Orgins. This is an incomplete series but starts at the begining and illustrates just how misty the mists of time are.

Then from the beginnings of the modern iron age at about 1500 BC the history of blacksmithing is almost the history of technology. Great civilizations like that of the Classical Greeks were transition civilzations going through the change from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Little is written about the changes in technology of the times but if you understand it as a subtext then stories like the Illiad and the Odyssey make much more sense. Much of Biblical history is during this transitional period with Bronze Age civilizations pushing out the Neolithic and the Iron Age civilizations pushing out the long established Bronze Age cultures. The closeness of blacksmithing to all technology continues through the industrial revolution with most of the greatest inventors being blacksmiths or having the skills of a smith. For an in depth view of how these changes occured and the importance of blacksmithing see the Autobigraphy of James Nasmyth (posted on our story page). Then look at the importance of steel in the development of the United States and our sucesses in WWII. Consider the quote on our 21st Century page, "From the iron age to the space age, the blacksmith did it", Bill Miller.

If you doubt the verasity of such a quote, note that NASA had a blacksmith on staff and a full blacksmith shop with power hammer up into the 1980's. Although this machinery was used largely for research into non-ferrous super alloys and things like single crystal titanium forgings, it was a blacksmith using the tools of a blacksmith to do the work.

AND in this age of computer science and geometric modeling of almost everything, the guys doing REAL cutting edge metallurgical research in such fields as superconductors are know by there compatriots as the "heat and beat it guys", because trial and error and testing under the hammer are how all new alloys are created.

Good luck on your quest
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 16:00:01 EST

DB, This is one of those components that is required to have a UL approval on it. Wood stove stores carry them as do many HVAC suppliers. Any construction supply should at least have a catalog and be able to order one for you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/04 16:05:33 EST

Guru- a couple of days ago andrew asked about bark texture on steel. You gave him the answer that is right 90% of the time- buy one of grants swages and hot texture round bar.
However, in the interest of completeness I would like to add 2 more answers-
1- you can buy pre made bark textured round bar. This is made in europe, and is quite nice- it is very difficult to find the pattern repeat, and it looks very good. JG Braun sells it in several sizes from 1/4" up to about 3/4". It is pricy, but cheaper than making your own if you need more than a few feet. Of course, it does not have the handmade character homemade does. Years ago I used to make a small table that we sold wholesale for $100. Not practical to hand forge the round bar at that price, so I periodically bought several hundred feet of the premade stuff.
2- Small shop scale texture rolling mills are available, also from Europe. In germany, and many other european countries, tradition and sometimes law require historic looking ironwork on historic buildings, and in many places EVERY building is historic. So German smiths make lots ornamental iron, and as a result there is a market for much more sophisticated semi-production machinery. For between $13,000 and $25,000, Glaser, Hebo, and other companies offer texturing mills for common sizes of round, flat and square bar. Many small (2-5 man) European shops have these systems, which also twist, make basket twists, scroll, hot fishtail ends, curve bars, etc. Much like European cabinet shops, which for years have used very advanced sliding panel saws, tilting head shapers, and the like, in 2 or 3 man shops. Here in the usa, we seem to skimp on tools and spend big on pickup trucks. A german smith might not even own a car, but commonly will have a $50,000 ornamental iron bending system. With one of these, you can cold roll infinite amounts of round bar with wood grain, or hundreds of other patterns.
And these systems are finding their way to the US. Hebo's american rep has sold 4 or 5 big systems in the last year or so, and not just to cut and paste mig fabricators. I understand the Klahms in Florida have purchased a large setup, and they are very respectible blacksmiths by anyones standards. So while it is unlikely the average hobby smith will ever buy one, these small rolling mills will become a part of some american shops. I have purchased a Hebo base machine, which twists and bends, and hopefully within a year or so will add on the rolling mill head. It will not replace hand forging, but supplement it on jobs where a fence or railing requires hundreds of feet of textured bar.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 01/21/04 16:10:03 EST

Guru Thanks for the advice.
My anvil has more than alot of rust so I will have to see what will work. Question would paint damge the anvil in any means.

   - Brian - Wednesday, 01/21/04 16:23:27 EST

plane blades: Tom you didnt mention what kind of plane blade - there's a wide variety but I am guessing this is to go in a Stanly metal bodied plane? I have made a few of these. The slot for the screw can be open ended. Nor is there any real need for machinist's accuracy since the blade is adjusted by eye. Drill out the bottom end, scribe two parallel lines, cut out the waste with hacksaw and clean up with a file. Quench in oil and draw the temper from the back until the the cutting edge shows a faint straw color (this for fine work). You can rough grind the edge to shape before heat treating. After heat treating finish grind, (this removes the decarburized layer on the surface of the steel) and hone. Be sure to hone the back to a mirror finish - honing the back is most of the work. I use the scary sharp method (abrasive paper stuck on glass - grits from 300 up to 2000) and finish with a strop and some polishing compound. If you do it right, your shavings will come out so thin, they will have only one side! :)
   adam - Wednesday, 01/21/04 17:19:22 EST

Quenchcrack, the tool i'm having made it a small cone mandrel to fit into the hardy hole on my anvil.
   Brett A Black - Wednesday, 01/21/04 17:34:58 EST

I was wanering if you knew how to make a medieval maul

   Bryan Pepper - Wednesday, 01/21/04 18:57:55 EST

can you use belt sanding material as a belt grinder belt?
thank you
   - colin - Wednesday, 01/21/04 19:09:39 EST

Brian let me put it this way a man dowin in ohio painted a really old anvil then took it to a antique show what do you think the best thing would be. The man at the show said get lost it worthless. So I wouldn't suggest it because it is then unatural like Guru said it is better to try to stop the rusting will W-D 40 etc.
Good luck trying to restore it.
   - Moe - Wednesday, 01/21/04 19:16:45 EST

We have been professionally smithing for years and have done rust patinas many times. We are currently working on a sculpture where we would like to control the rust colors on various parts of the sculpture. We are having difficulty achieving a yellow rust. The item is sandblasted and we have tried peroxide, peroxide with muriatic acid, ammonia, and bleach. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks.
   Julie - Wednesday, 01/21/04 19:17:35 EST

MikeM, Congratulations on the new flypress. My advice is to make the stand heavy and rigid. You will want to bolt it to the floor after you decide where it will be. I have a large old press with a 34" diameter flywheel. It is on the original base which has a footprint of 34" by 38". I wouldn't try to make the base any smaller than the diameter of your flywheel (or the diameter of a circle described by your weights if you have that type. If you use only a 1/4" thick top for the stand make sure you have bracing running under the mounting points of the press to the legs or frame of your stand to avoid distortion. As the Guru said be sure to cut a hole in the top to match the base hole in your press.

Now just think how much tooling you get to make for it! The very first thing you should make is a flatter to fit the ram- never ever hit anything directly with the ram itself or you will very likely mushroom or damage the tool holding bore. Its best to always use shouldered tooling in a press like this to avoid jamming a tool in the bore. A clamp on shaft collar can be tacked to the proper sized shaft for a quick shoulder with no lathe needed. Good luck with it.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 01/21/04 19:44:09 EST

Anvil Painting:

It doesn't hurt the anvil, but most smiths won't mess with a painted anvil because paint is often used to hide a bondo job on badly abused anvils. I've seen this twice, but I've also seen honestly worn and slightly chipped ca. 1920s anvils represented as priceless antiques. That's not right either. Regardless, if you want to paint your own anvil, remember not to paint the face, and to prepare the rusty surfaces so you don't trap rust under the paint. I kind of like rusty brown sides and a shiny face on mine!
   - Alan-L - Wednesday, 01/21/04 20:41:08 EST

A common brand in this area for a triple wall pipe system is HART and COOLEY. They make all the parts for any installation. Try the web for a source.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/21/04 20:55:37 EST

The size of the table tends to control the volume of air movement needed for a down draft table. The smaller one we had was about 3' x 5' top and had a 5hp blower. This table would suck a spark stream from a side grinder and turn it 90 degrees down into the table from about a foot above the grate. It did have some easy to open and close dampers to allow parts to be blanked off. We mostly ran it wide open. Iused it only to grind and sand on, and did not have a problem with dropping tools into it, but it had a clever tray to catch thing that fell in, and to allow dumping out the bigger particles.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/21/04 21:09:18 EST

Bruce Blackistone,
Ptree stands for Perssimon tree forge. I began forgeing in my current home by dragging all the stuff out and setting up under a perssimmon tree. Was OK except in the fall when the fruit was dropping:) Thanks for the offer of the stump, but its a bit of a haul from the Potomic to S. Indiana.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/21/04 21:14:29 EST

I am really stumped. I need to attach a .20" thick steel stamping of a sun to a 1/2" square ring of steel. Does anyone have any helpful methods. This is for a yard sculpture that will need to withstand all types of weather. Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Wednesday, 01/21/04 23:32:25 EST

Betsy, how about drilling and tapping, say 10-24 machine screws... or take to welding shop, it could be tig welded from the backside.
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 01/21/04 23:59:57 EST

Is it possible to forge titanium and steel together? I am trying to make a sword the old way and I am kinda lost. any help would be great.
   Thomas - Thursday, 01/22/04 00:10:33 EST


You might try a good two part epoxy. Or some form of gutter silicone caulk, that stuff usually holds up very well.

Clamp the sun and circle together very well while the stuff dries, that should keep out any excess adhesive and make it stronger.

A mechanical option is to rivet a few "hooks" onto the back of the sun(if there is a back). Make the hooks so that they will slip over the 1/2" square stock with the portion of the hook that is parallel to the sun 7/8" long so that when they are sliped over the square stock. The overhang can be hammered around the square stock to hold it tight. You should also clamp the sun to the circle when you are bending over the hook so that the sun doesn't deform.

You can also use just a plain bolt. Use one with a rounded head or such so that it doesn't mess up the art. Drill a hole in the sun where it would be on the inside or outside of the circle. Then put the bolt head on the front of the sun and a washer on the circle side. The washer should be sitting on the circle. Put on the nut and you are done. The sun and washer will act as a clamp around the circle.

Soft solder is also an option as is welding.

But if I couldn't use either the solder or welder, I would use the hooks.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 01/22/04 00:17:18 EST


I suppose if I was the "lickiest" man on earth, my wife might buy me stuff like that too. Be that as it may, you definately want a solid base. I prefer concrete myself, but is is harder to put in shelves.
   - grant - Thursday, 01/22/04 02:20:12 EST

MIKE M: Does your wife have a cute and equally generous sister?
   3dogs - Thursday, 01/22/04 02:49:08 EST

I would like to ask suppliers or manufacturers of rolled homogenous armour steel
   I.Yuksel KUS - Thursday, 01/22/04 03:25:38 EST

Howdy Folks,I have a question on some "steel" that I have.I would like to know the composition of,If you are familier with the oilfield it is a tong die, it is brittle,but will ware,on occasion break under stress,It is the toughest steel that I know of.If it is steel,any thoughts,knowledge,or practacle use would be welcome,Thank you..J
   jimmy - Thursday, 01/22/04 03:47:12 EST

Thomas (not Bog Iron Thomas), if you're making a sword the old way, titanium will not be in the picture. Wrought iron and plain carbon steel would be. Even on a modern sword titanium wouldn't come into play on a serious blade (except maybe as decoration in the guard or hilt or what-have-you). The best metal for a sword is still steel.

I don't know if steel and titanium can be forge welded together.
   - Stormcrow - Thursday, 01/22/04 06:35:52 EST

Brett, I purchased a 4140 bick from Kayne and Son that was not heat treated and it is holding up just fine. As long as you are using it for shaping HOT iron, it should work well in a normalized condition. Heat to non-magnetic plus about 100 degrees and allow it to cool in still air.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/22/04 08:18:30 EST

Jimmy, tong dies used to be made by carburizing a low carbon, alloy steel, like 8620. This put a very hard case on the teeth and kept the supporting material underneath soft and tough. It would be difficult to forge this material since you have, effectively, two different steels in one piece.
Titanium and steel sword: Nope. Not historically accurate and it would be virtually impossible to get Ti and Fe to forge weld without doing it in a vacuum. The Ti readily absorbs oxygen when heated and also forms brittle titanium nitrides which would be difficult to flux away. Besides, have you priced titanium lately? You could buy a nice wall-hanger for the price of a small Ti billet.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/22/04 08:29:39 EST

guru can you tell me the temperatures used at the forge
most of what i use will be mild steel scrap mainly a36 i think also will use old railway line 1095 &the few springs i need will be made from old car springs (# not known)
i will be getting thermomelt crayons to learn these temperatures (tempil sticks do not seem to be available here
   colinau - Thursday, 01/22/04 09:15:40 EST


Do y'all get the 'possums along with the persimmons in that neck of the wood? Paw Paw has his eyes on the Ultimate Anvil Stump (R) if he can fit it into his truck at Camp Fenby this June. Many fine pieces remain for dishing and anvils and blunt-heavy-objects. Get 'em while they're cold (and before they get in the way of the wif's grass mowing).

Due to Fathers Day and family events, Camp Fenby will be scheduled for June 25, 26 and 27 this year.

Medieval Mauls; Bryan:

Basically, these were large wooden clubs or mallets, like enlarged versions of wood and stone carver's tools. They are commonly associated with English archers during the Hundred Years War, and were used for both pounding in stakes for defensive positions and as blunt-heavy-objects for dispatching armored opponents once they were unhorsed. The only ironwork associated with them would be optional bands to keep the business ends from checking. Rivets and studs might have added to their effectiveness as weapons, but spikes would be right out, since they would be a hazard to the owner (and neighboring foot soldiers) during transport, and interfere with the efficacy of the maul as a tool.

(As a rule of thumb, many tools make good to fair weapons, but most weapons make lousy tools. Never drive nails with the butt of your Glock!)

Cold and cloudy on the banks of the Potomac. It might crank up to 40 degrees today.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/22/04 09:22:50 EST

propane regulator.. they are the way to go , but I'm still wondering about 35psi, we are using a pottery kiln 125000btu venturi burner that I converted from low pressure to high by brazing over, then re-drilling the orifice smaller. it took a bit of trial and error to find the right orifice size[ we melted the duct tape off the venting system!!!] but the highest pressure I found effective was about 12psi with most of the time at 6-8psi. We soap spray our connections on a regular basis , cuz high pressure propane can fill up a shop in a hurry, and at 35psi... uh huh! I'm typing this for Lydia as she grabbed the wrong end of a bar the other day ... wince!!! [:<] a full on grab ! she's soaking her blisters in salt water and doing paper work [with her left hand] for a few days . tim
   lydia's forge - Thursday, 01/22/04 09:22:54 EST

High Pressure: Lydia and Tim, When you need a given pressure you want a regulator and guage rated at about twice the max. If you have a 10 PSI guage and you are running 10 PSI how do you know if you have gone over????? You don't.

Many users push their forges for welding at 10 to 15 PSI. So this means you want at least a 30 PSI regulator and system. They may end up running much lower pressures but there is no problem.

My propane regulator also gets used ocassionaly with a big rosebud torch tip. These require a considerable amount of gas and the flow rates often mean higher pressures.

Gas Leaks: Yes, it is VERY important to check your system for leaks. But do not overlook the cylinder valve packing. I have seen more cylinder leaks than anywhere else. This is especialy a problem on exchange cylinder thay you do not know. I own my propane cylinders and have them refilled but I have had to return oxy-acetylene cylinders on several ocassions. If you test and return immediately the supplier will usually just exchange the cylinder at no charge. However, if you keep it a week or more they will be reluctant as they do not know if you used the gas or it leaked out. It is not uncommon to go to use a "full" cylinder that has been sitting for a month and find it empty.

I used to run a shop that kept and exchanged multiple cylinders every month. After finding full cylinders empty after a few days I started having the guys that recieved the cylinders leak check every one before letting the delivery driver leave. For a few months we had at least one leaker every week. After that the gas plant wised up and started doing their own checks (which they should have been doing in the first place).

Check for leaks but do not assume ANY joint or packing to not be a possible problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 10:31:32 EST

can you use belt sanding material as a belt grinder belt?
thank you
   - colinnn - Thursday, 01/22/04 11:36:41 EST

I have just found/bought Kent's Mechanical Engineers Handbook: Design and Shop Practice and Power. Eleventh edition. Have you used these references? Any comments on their usefulness?
   Tone - Thursday, 01/22/04 11:44:49 EST

Forge Temperatures: Colinau, Coal forges burn at 3,200°F (1760°C) and gas forges at 2,800°F (1538°C). Forging temperatures, hardening and anneling temperatures are way beyond the range of thermomelt crayons. Most thermocouples do not work or max out at forging temperatures.

Wrought iron and low carbon steels require more heat to forge and forge weld than higher carbon steels. The higher the carbon the lower the melting, burning, hardening and annealing temperatures.

The best (only?) color chart covering high temperatures and steel relationships on the market is the Tempil Basic Guide to Ferrous Metallurgy. This is ocassionaly reproduced in books but the reproductions do not have the same color quality. No printed representation of heat colors is perfect because print does not produce light. However, this is the best and EVERY blacksmith should have one.

Note that ALL florescent colors are observed differently depending on the ambient light. In bright sunlight heats up to medium red are often invisible and yellows appear white. there are complicated reasons for these opposites but the point IS that heat colors are different in various shops. Many smiths judge heats by holding the work in the shade of the forge stack or hood but this does not compensate for the adjustment of your eyes to the brighter ambient light.

For temper colors we have a chart that I created linked on our FAQs page. Some color printers will print it, others may not and ALL prints will be slightly different (just as many monitors display the colors differently).

   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 12:09:06 EST

Thanks for the advice Quenchcrack.
   Brett A Black - Thursday, 01/22/04 12:12:14 EST

Good morning,
Me: 60, semi-retired, used to be a shop foreman in British Columbia west coast logging equipment maintenance shops on Vancouver Island.
Nearly 20 years ago I was talking to a blacksmith in Washington state that was doing something to some decoritve steel (I think) to reduce the rusting effect. He told me but damned if I can remember anymore what it was.
Do you have any ideas on this? Thanks for any help.

Like your site, went through the whole thing and will pass it on to a friend who really was born much too late.

   Rick Telford - Thursday, 01/22/04 12:12:16 EST

Attaching sheet to frame: Betsy, Caleb covered most of the methods I could think of. Small drilled and taped holes is a good method. If you use button head socket cap screws they are very low and look like rivets. The sockets can be filled with a little epoxy or bondo and then they look just like EXACTLY like rivets and are tamper proof. Button head screws are available in stainless and black oxide.

Actual rivets also work. On light construction the holes are countersunk and the rivets finished flush after upsetting cold. Many things are assembled with absolutely invisible rivets. Ever try to figure out how a brass padlock is assembled? There is a whole series of brass pins press fit and slightly upset. To disasemble they are driven out.

If you don't want to hammer your rivets then SPIN them. Spinning rivet heads is how most pocket knives are assembled. The rivet is headed by using a die (rivet header) turning in a drill press. A lot of spin and a little pressure and you have a nice head with much less force and more control than hammering.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 12:45:56 EST

Kents: Tone, I am not familiar with it. However, all these engineers and shop references have many things that apply to blacksmithing and heattreating. I constantly recommend MACHINERY'S because it is the most complete and is very commonly available at reasonable prices used and nearly new. Others are not nearly as well known and those aimed at engineers have less practical knowledge than MACHINERY'S which is aimed at machinists and detailers. Marks' is one of those aimed at engineers. It is very good but not as handy as MACHINERY'S. There are also many handbooks for machinists that have more practical basics but less data then MACHINERY'S.

It does not hurt to have MANY references of this sort.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 12:58:05 EST

Anti-Rust Treatment: Rick, there is no telling what the fellow was doing. There are all kinds of recipes for burned oil or wax finishes used by blacksmiths. I do not recommend any of them exept as temporary finishes. All of the amature finishes eventualy evolve into paint formulations which are best left to professionals.

The best finishes start with cleaning by sand blasting or chemicals to remove scale, coal plating, dirt, paint and oil. Then are followed by hot or cold galvanizing. Then a neutral primer followed by a top coat of a weather resistant non-fading paint.

Other painting systems are used but all need to start with clean metal.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:06:15 EST

hello there i am an apprentice blacksmith and i am looking for a good finish for fire side companion sets i have tried ground nut oil but i was wondering if bees wax would be better if you use bees wax could you tell me what the mixture is
thank you very much
   david hannah - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:10:45 EST

Belt Sanding Material? ColinNN, Do mean cloth backed sheet or roll? Most of this IS belt material but you must have the tools and know how to skive and glue the joint. I don't know anyone that "rolls their own". I'm sure it can be done but on low quantities it will probably cost more than stock belts.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:11:06 EST

Does any body know where you could get some good old jacks?
   - Brian - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:17:08 EST

Brain depending where you are there might be some farmers in your are that might have some or you may want to visit a HomeHardware bulding center.
   - Justino - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:20:02 EST

Grant: No comment... I swear it was a typo!! :p

3dogs: Yes, she has a yonger sister who is cute, generous, and comes with 4 children 7,4,2,.8 ... Just find somewhere to bury the husband [or call him the 5th child] and you're all set. LOL

Thank God the wife doesn't read this... gotta check that spelling...

BTW, got a paniced call from my step daughter yesterday when a 48ft trailer pulled into our CUL-DE-SAC!!! I can understand not reading the shipping instructions specifying a residential area, or looking at a map to see its a dead end road... But they got towed out and DIDN"T EAVE THE PRESS!!! AARRGGHHH!!!! Now I have to wait for tehm to come back Friday with a smaller truck.

Sunny AND snowing in central OH
Mike M
   MikeM-OH - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:24:16 EST

Out of curiosity, How important is it to have the same size pipe all the way up? meaning is it okay to get a smaller penetration flange than the pipe used for my flue? Dang near hard to find a ten inch flange for some reason no one carries or is willing to order it for me.
   dragon-boy - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:29:03 EST

   david hannah - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:31:01 EST

Fire Tool Finishes, Home brews and "Natural": David, I use black spray paint for everything except the shovel pans and poker ends. On these I use Rusteoleum barbeque black. Do not use high temperature paint on handles because it chalks (graphite) when it ages.

Note that shovels often see fairly high temperatures from coals hiding in ashes. More than high enough to burn off common finishes.

Hand rubbed bees wax finishes are made by melting beeswax and adding about 15-20 turpentine OR paint thinner. Some people add a little boiled linseed oil.

The problem with bees wax is it is a soft wax and is quite sticky. Dust, lint and ashes stick to it. You are better off using a commercial paste wax such as Bowling Alley wax or Butchers wax. These are mostly carabuna wax which is much harder than beeswax.

As soon as you add linseed oil and perhaps a dryer you are creating a home made varnish. You are much better off purchasing a profesionaly formulated product. Clear acrylic lacquer is the best if you want to try to keep the forged iron blue/black color. Apply on thin coat. Wax with one of the waxes mentioned above if you wish. I would still use high temp paint on poker ends and shovels.

Dried linseed oil is the equivalent of varnish. Varnish is highy porous and dries by oxidation. The porosity and the excess oxygen allows underlying metal to rust. An even coat of scale slows down the rust BUT if you wire brush the surface there is plenty of bare metal even though the surface looks covered with scale.

The only "natural" finish on iron and steel is RUST. IF you want an unchanging natural finish (albiet high maintenance) then force rust the item and then oil it. This results in a dark brown finish that is "self healing" because any bare places will rust again. Occassional oiling will prevent further excessive rusting. However, as soon as maintenance (oiling) stops the rusting will accelerate until the item is dust. That is the nature of iron.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:33:28 EST

David, Don't shout (all caps) and don't repeat yourself. Your question was answered faster than you could get it answered anywhere on the planet and it was FREE.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 13:37:16 EST

Shrinking Stack: DB, Generally NO, it is not a good idea and causes problems. This size is used all the time on fireplace stacks where triple wall pipe is used in a wood box.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 14:14:02 EST

If I want to fabricate a 10 lateral at 45 degrees off of another 10" pipe, how do I layout both the bevel on the lateral and the hole in the main pipe?
   John Lofdahl - Thursday, 01/22/04 16:18:09 EST

I was wondering if you could tell me a little about horse shoes. I have experience with the and was wondering if you had a information.
   Justnio - Thursday, 01/22/04 16:33:39 EST

Thanks for the information Justino. I have one sitting in the basement and it is missing parts. I Will try to locate the closet HomeHardwareBuilding center.
   - Brain - Thursday, 01/22/04 16:37:41 EST

Bruce Blackistone
Possums are to perssimons as blacksmiths are to old tools. Always searching for some! Actually the raccouns are a more serious pest problem. Since the pelt prices went down the population has risen about 10 times. Ever try to keep these critters out of a trash can? I have it on good authority that if one tack welds a good steel can, that will keep'em out 3 out of 4 times. I do have deer around the shop during the day, but they don,t make much of a mess.
   ptree - Thursday, 01/22/04 16:53:48 EST

Raccoons: To keep them out of trash cans use a combination lock. They may be smart but they have no head for figures!
   adam - Thursday, 01/22/04 17:51:40 EST

Pipe Layout: John, That is a little complicated to explain here. Almost all drafting and sheet metal references have the layout method and so do most piping manuals. You have to do it on paper and transfer to the parts. There is also a special tool for doing it.

For the layout method you start with two views. With circles draw on the legs (projected views). Then you divide the circles into about 10° increments and project the pairs of points to where they intersect on the view. The intersections are points to draw the intersecting shape from.

THEN, you need to project the views to flat surface in a grid. This is done by taking half the circumference of the pipe and dividing it up into the same number of sections as you did the circle and projecting the layout to the curve on the grid. When you are finished you have a template that fits on the curved surface of the pipe.

I would do the layouts to the OD of the pipe and then make an inset line for the OD opening to cut in the vertical pipe.

They also make simple layout tools for pipe welders that consist of a clamp on compass with a marker that slide in and out on the axis of rotation. Clamp the tool on the vertical pipe, set your diameter (pipe ID) and mark the pipe. The same tool can be used to create the lines on the end of branching pipe.

These tools also come as torch guides for cutting pipe without all the layout.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 18:09:19 EST

Jacks: There are a slew of deffinitions for this word. Jack the Ripper and Jack Tripper are a pair of Jacks and this will beat an Ace or pair of tens. A type of short rafter at an angle to a main rafter in roof framing is a Jack. Then there are the dozens of lifting devices called Jacks (bumper jack, scissors jack, screw jack, builting jacks, Rail Road and Wagon Jacks. . .). Farriers use a stall jack. There is a Jack shaft and last but not least there is toy called a Jack that looks like a small caltrop used with a small rubber ball in a game called "Jacks".

So exactly what kind of "Jack" are you looking for?

Building Jacks For leveling buildings I make my own screw jacks using 1-1/2" pipe, 1" threaded rod (NF - fine for heavy loads), heavy 1-1/8" washers, a couple nuts to fit the threaded rod and a rectangle of 1/4" steel plate or bar about 3" wide. Cut pipe to length, weld a washer to each end of the pipe, cut threaded rod about 12" long and thread on a nut flush to one end and tack in place then weld the nut the piece of flat bar. Thread another nut on the threaded rod add two washers lubed with never-seize and stick in one end of the pipe. Viola' a house jack. I've made these from as short as about 18" to as long as 10 feet. When you get over 6 feet the pipe size should be increased to 2" nominal and over 8 feet to 3" nominal. The larger Jacks require fabricated end plates from 1/4" plate. I use a BIG wrench to turn the nuts.

In use you can move sagging timbers a couple inches a day until they get near straight and start picking up serious load (on 2 story or greater structures). When jacking on old soft timbers I use hardwood load distribution plates. On long rises it pays to plan on putting in temporary columns, removing the jacks and putting spacers under them. On heavy structures you may need a jack every 2 feet.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 18:45:48 EST

Jock, Thank you for the jack idea. I made a sketch and put it aside, I may have to level my cabin one of these days and I would rather build the jacks than buy them. Long, long ago I helped my Grandfather jack up his barn and we replaced part of the wooden foundation....it was a two story barn, with a fair amount of baled hay in the loft, and it was amazing to participate in that....he was pushing 80 years when we did that project. I sure learned a lot from him! The barn was older than he was and it stood...straight...for many years after that.
   Ellen - Thursday, 01/22/04 19:16:20 EST


Those are the kind of memories that make life worthwhile, sometimes.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/22/04 19:58:12 EST

and then there's mud jacking...
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/22/04 20:01:18 EST

I see that you are from Southern Indiana!! I am just starting out in Blacksmithing, and was wondering if you could show me your shop and give some pointers. I live South of Corydon, and other than speaking to the Blacksmith at Spring Mill (which I could watch all day) I have had no other exposure to smithing.
Thanks Guru for this site. I read it every day at lunch. I have learned so much. I have purchased the books recommended and am in the process of reading. Have stared doing lite smithing. Mainly S-hooks and a few tri-pods.
I've rambled to much!! Sorry.
Thanks, Tom
   Tom J. - Thursday, 01/22/04 20:25:50 EST

I have a barn/large shed that is about 60 years old. Then front foundation has heaved from the frost. The front is pulling away which is messing up the large wooden bean that are horizontal and vertical. The ones which are supporting the floor are cracked and are starting to sag. any ideas as to what type of jacks to use for this spring/summer project.
   - Brian - Thursday, 01/22/04 20:28:38 EST

Tom J.
The recent blacksmith at Spring mill is also often on the slack tub pub on this site. He goes by Possum. You can e-mail me by clicking on my name at the bottom of the post
   ptree - Thursday, 01/22/04 20:36:31 EST

I am lost as to how to copy and paste my code.
   Johnny - Thursday, 01/22/04 21:01:32 EST

Johnny, responded by e-mail. You have to have a web-site to be on a web-ring.

Brian, See my long post on Jacks above. For these kind of projects I make them to fit and then leave in place. But if you need you can always wedge in columns on both sides and remove the jack to reuse.

Like all screw jacks you have to be aware of running out of thread. You always want an inch or so below the top flange.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/22/04 21:16:15 EST

Thanks for the advice guru. I guess I will have to loacete some jacks or some better material.
   - Brian - Thursday, 01/22/04 21:33:24 EST

Your basic screw jack is very powerfull especially when used in multiples, George M. Pullman got his start jacking up downtown Chicago one story.

1. Place large number of screw jacks under building
2. When the whistle blows, everybody turn your jacks 1/4 turn.
3. install blocking.
4. repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary.
5. build new foundations.

   - Hudson - Thursday, 01/22/04 23:38:09 EST

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