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 23 - 31, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

I found some peices of thick sping steel, but they're not the right shape. Does springsteel lose its 'springyness' when it is worked and/or heated? Thank you.
   Bonis - Friday, 01/23/04 08:41:51 EST

Gas forges seem to be the craze.
Which one is more cost effective to run. Gas or coal?
   tom - Friday, 01/23/04 09:14:17 EST

Off to MarsCon ( http://www.marscon.net/ ) with lots of e-mail awaiting my attention. Back Sunday night (although it will probably take me the rest of the week by then- I had 160 spam in my Trash this morning at Oakley, and sent only about a dozen real E-mails to my In-box).

Unter-Guru Atli checking out. Keep it modern 'til I come back or Thomas the Orange comes on line from Nuevo Mexico.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/23/04 09:14:28 EST

Thanks for the advice. I Don't need to jack up all the building/barn. Only the front because the foundation is leaning outward. It is pulling the front side down with it. I need to support about 2 wooden beams which have cracked and then go cut wood for the new beams. (Spring/summer project)
   - Brian - Friday, 01/23/04 09:15:08 EST

RE:racoons, we have to put our trash in 50 gal plastic olive barrels with a screw on top , we've never had a racoon at it .our dog [a bouvier/newfoundland] thinks they taste good and that keeps 'em nervous. but the barrels are really to keep the bears out, they can knock them around and claw mark it up some, but these barrels {$20 canadian] are indistructable! Last year the bears came out of the bush in collumns! I only saw 4 or 5 but people were seeing 6 at once in their yards! Possums? well they are moving north, they are up as far as Toronto and getting pretty common south of there. perssimons? Huh?
   lydia's forge - Friday, 01/23/04 09:32:55 EST

Building Leveling: When things are twisting and pulling out of shape, especialy when the framing is pushing outward you also need turnbuckles to realign the walls AND keep them from slipping off the foundation (disaster). You can get the big ones at industrial hardware and building suppliers. Normally these have 5/8" UP tension rods. Sometimes they are needed to straighten things diagonaly while jacking and then can be removed when everything is straight.
   - guru - Friday, 01/23/04 09:35:53 EST

Spring Steel: Bonis, All steels require heat treatment to be hardened and tempered correctly. If you heat a spring to bend it then is must be heat treated. See our heat treatment FAQ.

Note that "springyness" is the same for all steels. The difference in springs is hardness that lets you spring it farther without bending. But up to a point soft mild steel is just as good as a spring steel spring. . . Fact is stranger than fisction.
   - guru - Friday, 01/23/04 09:39:12 EST

Gas vs. Coal: Tom, it depends on your location, local laws and neighbors.

Location: Coal is getting harder and harder to get in many locations. Smiths that used to go to their local fuel supplier to get coal now have to go to extrordinary lengths to obtain good coal at reasonable prices. There are many places from which you can order coal by the bag but shipping often doubles the cost.

Local Laws: Zoning and emmisions laws vary from place to place. In some places you can use coal as a hobby smith but you cannot if you are commercial. In other places you just cannot make coal smoke at all. And there are also open flame ordinances in many locations.

Neighbors: Local laws or not, if your neighbors complain you may be out of business. In a previous generation coal smoke was common and nobody gave it a thought. Today the smell is strange and immediately alerts people to a local "polluter"

All the above address whether or not you can use coal at all. Economics do not matter and the situation makes the descision for you. Then it is "To smith or not to smith".

In most comparisons the fuel value for the work done vs. the cost have been roughly equivalent. But there are other more important factors. Each forge type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Coal forges are dirty gas forges are very clean.

Coal forges MUST be vented via a stack where you can often get away without one for gas.

Coal forges are slow to start, gas can be started with the push of a button.

Gas forges are limited by their volume and door opening, coal forges are not.

Gas forges must be sized for the work to be efficient, coal forges fit a wide range of work simply by building the fire whatever size is needed.

Gas forges are more expensive to build due to the need for expensive refractory insulating material. And although a good commercial gas forge is cheaper than than a good coal forge, you often need several gas forges to do the job of one coal forge.
   - guru - Friday, 01/23/04 10:22:41 EST

Thanks Guru,
My location is not a problem for use of coal. Many houses in my rural community still use coal to heat their houses, SW Pennsylvania. The smell is very common. Also acquiring coal is not a problem. Good quality, probably not a problem either. I use to heat my house with coal too, until three years ago. I still have 100# of anthracite left. I think to start I will go with the coal.
This site IS GREAT!
   tom - Friday, 01/23/04 11:01:56 EST

Tom, for many things coal is best and many smiths forced to use gas would like to use coal on ocassion. Note however that anthracite is difficult to use. It requires a lot to get going, a deeper than normal fire, a lot of air to keep going (hand crank is nearly impossible) and goes out almost as soon as the forced blast stops. It also burns very hot and can burn out firepots that might last for decades with bituminious coal.

The perfect blacksmithing coal is soft bituminious coal with low ash, low sulfur, high BTU and just enough volitiles to melt and coke down properly. The ash also needs to be the type that consolidates to clinker rather than being loose fly ash.
   - guru - Friday, 01/23/04 11:26:10 EST

Who would be willing to test some coke for me?? i would send out a sample and even pay for an opinion. i am interested in knowing what it takes to light it, keep it going, and its forging performance. chemical analysis if feasable. let me know; appreciate any assistance
   - rugg - Friday, 01/23/04 12:37:04 EST

Rugg, build a fire and see how it works. If you can't do that, take a 5 gal bucket to an experienced member of your local Artist Blksmth Asso and ask her to check it out for you. If it's good stuff, why do you care about the exact chemical analysis? We inherited a ton of coal and I gave 5 gal bkts to several friends. Everybody liked it and we all agree it's good. Now we'll go back & haul off the rest of it.
   - Ron Childers - Friday, 01/23/04 13:21:39 EST

Lydia's Forge,
Persimmons are a small fruit that ripens after the first frost. They grow on trees that are almost like a weed on my place. After they ripen, they drop from the tree, and deer, possums, and recoons like them like a child likes candy. Beware however trying one still on the tree, as they will turn you mouth inside out with astringent taste. Ripe they are quite nice, and sweet.
   ptree - Friday, 01/23/04 17:35:47 EST

Quenchcrack, Guru and others,
I made some cable damascus, and gave it to the young metalurgist at work. He polished, etched with 10% Nital, and ran Knoop superficial hardness. From Wayne Goodards book, I expected that he would find Martinsite and decarb'ed steel. He found martinsite, but the areas that etched black did not look like decarb to him. The hardness was 58 to 61 in the martinsite and about 40 in the black areas. He said the black areas did not have a structure that he had seen before. Any ideas as to what the black areas are?
   ptree - Friday, 01/23/04 17:41:42 EST

By the way, for those not real familar with Opossums, Do you know why the racoon crossed the road?

To show the possum it was possible:)
   ptree - Friday, 01/23/04 17:45:46 EST

Triple-wall pipe flange: dragon-boy,

Try to check with your local oil furnace repair man ,he may have,or have a supplier that can order it for you. I worked at a hardware and heating supply for four years making ductwork and pipes, when we could not order the size pipe that we needed we made our own. flue pipes we used 26 gauge or heavier. I can't find our old supplier on line ,but here is one that say's it carry's 10"triple wall pipe. http://www.duravent.com/catalogs/AllFuel/L102about_dplus.htm
It is for the Dura Plus pipe.
or go to http://www.duravent.com
and check the memu for Dura Plus 1700* triple-wall pipe.
Hope that helps. PS triple-wall seems to be bit price-ee at frist but it meets most/all insurance companys codes if installed correctly.
   DanD skabvenger - Friday, 01/23/04 17:51:14 EST

Cable Damascus: Ptree, I have seen a lot of naturaly etched (rusted) welds in wrought iron that showed an area of different material at the weld joint. Rather than decarburized steel I think flux removes a certain amount of carbon leaving a deoxidized and decarburized steel or iron of high purity. This is just a theory based on observations of lots of old forge welds and has no basis in metallurgy. In cable Damascus I am not sure which metal etches darkest, the high carbon base metal or low carbon weld metal.

This is one of those questions that we need guru grandpa Meier for, but alas he no longer visits here. I suspect life caught up with him and he had to either work or play and play doesn't pay the bills. . .

You may be able to catch him on bladeforums.com
   - guru - Friday, 01/23/04 18:11:15 EST

Long time lurker, but first time poster on this site. O
ver the past few years have learned a lot and have started
to buid a forge and aquire tools for the blacksmith trade.
at this time i have the opportuity to buy a 150# Paragon anvil for $300. It is in very good condition. I know that it is cast steel anvil and was made in Sweden.What I would like to know is how does it compare in quality to a forged steel anvil and is this a good purchase for a first anvil?
   coyote - Friday, 01/23/04 22:55:52 EST

Decarb in Damascus:

Often, decarb will appear as a brighter etching component, especially under a microscope. However, it sometimes appears darker. If the person viewing this is inexperienced, he may be seeing decarb and not realize it. From the hardness data you provided, it sounds like there is local decarb, but it is not complete. The base material, in this case cable, is probably a 1084/1095 type steel. The interface, where decarb has taken place, is probably more like a 1030/1040 which will still harden, but to a lesser extent than the high carbon areas.
   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 01/24/04 08:40:06 EST

Sorry for the double post. I wasn't quite done and hit enter by mistake. I do not think that flux contributes to decarb, nor does it "pull" oxygen out of the steel. It does react with oxides present on the steel and it provides a physical barrier to prevent further oxidation. Decarb is quite common on any piece of steel that sees elevated temps. The depth of the decarb is a function of the temperature and time at temp. In the case of the large forgngs we produce, 1/16 inch or greater is not unusual. To prevent decarb, heat in an atmosphere free of oxygen or use some kind of coating/flux. This is done when heat treating high alloy tool steels.
   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 01/24/04 08:45:58 EST

Ptree suggested I ask you. I mounted a sample for him of some wire rope which he proceeded to hammer into a letter opener. After etching with 10% nital etchant (production grade), I was able to the striations of the martensitic quenched wire(1085, I believe is what Ptree told me it was) and there there was black islands in between these striation that Ptree tried to convince me that was de-carb (he referenced a book, you may want to elaborate Ptree). I've unfortunately looked at alot of de-carb, and with nital etch, I've always seen de-carb as white and not black, hence without carbon.
Do you have an idea what this is? Is it just impurities, oxidation, etc.? Both Ptree and myself are interested.

   Austenite Axlethumb - Saturday, 01/24/04 10:11:32 EST

Hmmm, Ptree beat me to it.....I am not familiar with the bottom up reading here.

My Appologies....
   Austenite Axlethumb - Saturday, 01/24/04 10:15:20 EST

Is W-2 a good blade metal?
   - colinnn - Saturday, 01/24/04 10:50:06 EST

Jimmy, We allow personal sales listings on the Hammer-In but not here. I've removed your posts, you may replace them on the Hammer-In.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 10:59:24 EST

W2: ColinNN, Yes, almost all tool steels are good blade materials. The W series are the least expensive and often used. You just have to be careful in your heat treating. The thinner the blade the more flexible it needs to be. So you need to be sure to temper (draw back) the hardness as much as possible. Thin blades should be able to flex VERY far. The ABA test is 90° but I do not know if they specify a radius. A true test of flexibility must consider the thickness and length in proportion to the radius of the bend.

There are tricks of the trade and then there is engineering knowledge. A good bladesmith studies engineering, metallurgy AND art as well as the skills of a blademith. Get the books, study them. I'll post this one more time. The linked article is far from complete.

Resources : The end of innocence

If anyone would like to volunteer images of their blade making projects for the article drop me a line. I'm looking for parts and assembly photos as well as stages.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 11:15:34 EST

Paragon Sweden Coyote, Yes this is a good anvil and the price is OK. It is much like the Kohlswa anvils that are more common in the US. Normally they are very hard and will ring like a bell. Good hard cast steel anvils ring so loud that most need to be tied or bolted down tight to reduce the noise because it is often at a destructive level.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 11:45:27 EST

i have gone to every single bookstore in my city (i would prefer not to say what city because of internet security) and i have not found one book on blacksmithing or bladesmithing. the closest i got to this is a book on how to make little projects out of sheet metal (all of them which involve no heat whatsoever.)

i just finished my newest knife and i took much more time into the making of the blade so that it was Perfectly flat as you said i should do. it helped a lot that i went out and bought a small belt sander. before i bought it though, i was using a brick with sand on it to make it perfectly smooth. it didnt work although i did spend about 24 hours just doing that. i have to tell you, where i live, i am basically the only blacksmith who hand forges things around. my city is really not a metallurgical community. i have to go about 200 miles to find the nearest blacksmith and 100 miles to the nearest metal supplier. also, the nearest coal company is over 200 miles away! this is why i am forced to use charcoal briquettes. I dont have the TIME to go look for coal and i dont have the TIME to drive out 200 miles to the nearest bladesmith.

this is why i have asked so many questions that i am sure i could have found in a book. there are none where i live! not one! it gets pretty frustrating.

thankyou for replying to me about the W-2. i will send you a picture of my latest knife soon.
   - colinnn - Saturday, 01/24/04 12:01:25 EST

Austenite axlethumb,
A good choice of name:)
   - ptree - Saturday, 01/24/04 12:05:24 EST

im wanting to make a sandblasting box, does anyone know of a good source for the gloves, gun, hose etc. a place that has kits perhaps... or plans for that matter.
   andy - Saturday, 01/24/04 12:20:31 EST

colinn: Amazon and other net booksellers are very convenient. You NEED books

   adam - Saturday, 01/24/04 12:55:47 EST

BOOKS: ColinNN, I am sure your local library can borrow books by Inter Library Loan. Few public libraries have books on the more esoteric subjects but they CAN get them for you. ILL costs nothing at many libraries and at others you pay for the UPS charges to ship the books. This is a rather small amount compared to traveling to distant libraries. You DO have to have a library card, fill in a form and wait. Often it takes weeks as the book may be checked out at the best source. In the worst case the Library of Congress is a member of the ILL system and they have just about every book published and ALL books copyrighted in the US.

Do not overlook local college or University libraries. Most are open to the public during certain hours. Call and ASK. Most do not alow the public to borrow books but all have good fairly priced copy machines if you need a diagram or data chart. The scenery in college libraries is usualy pretty interesting too. . .

ALL the books listed are available from their publishers OR from the linked on-line used book stores. I found dozens of copies of Metalwork Technology and Practice available at a fraction of NEW just the other day. There were also some early editions at collectors prices (only a little over NEW).

I have NEVER been in a public library that didn't have a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK in their reference section. Most also have copies of MARKS'. However, both of these are available used on-line for a quarter to a tenth of new.

Most of this is duplication from the Sword Making article. Note the section on education.


A generation ago it was not unusual for any one of us to travel hundreds of miles to meet with another smith for a few hours. Today many of us still travel great distances to go to meets or just to visit distant blacksmith friends. MOST of us do better at seeing other smiths than our near relatives. A few months ago TonyB went to visit ViCopper in the Virgin Islands and Dimag has traveled from the North West Canadian bush to visit Bill Epps in Texas (several times).

I've traveled tens of thousands of miles (at my cost) reporting on meets so that those who could not could at least get a feel for what goes on. The thousands of images are all still posted on our NEWS page and there will be several more editions this year.

At the upcoming ABANA conference you will find blacksmiths from EVERY continent. During the last conference the complaint was that they had TOO many smiths as demonstrators from other countries. I think it was a stupid compliant. Where else could you see a real Japanese sword smith working? And for only a few hundred dollars. When I went to CanIRON II there was a native African smith, Uri Hofi from Israel was a demonstrator as was our Frank Turley (who is in Costa Rica now giving lessons). The late Charley Sutton and Francis Whitaker were also at CanIronII.

The closest conferences to me are about 100 miles but they are small local things (with the exception of Daniel Boone's Hammerfest). The nearest large conferences are over 200 miles and the better ones (AFC and SouthEast Conference) close to 1,000 one way. All but the closest cost me a night at a motel (or three). People that are realy interested in learning from other smiths find a way. Many camp out and I have known of a few that hitch hiked. Often you can find someone to stay with.

To be able to log in to the Internet and find thousands of smiths willing to answer questions. . . hog heaven.

Local Smiths:

ABANA officialy has about 4,000 members. The chapters (affiliates . .) include those PLUS at least another 10,000. I estimate some 16,000 regular readers of anvilfire that are interested in blacksmithing. That breaks down to a minimum of 80 ABANA members per state, 200 chapter members and over 300 interested parties PER state. That 200-300 per state means that there are (statisticaly) at least two smiths or interested parties in every county. And those are the low data backed up numbers. There are assuradly MORE.

This doesn't include farriers. But they are about equaly distributed as above. Many farriers also play with decorative iron and bladsmithing. Not all, but some.

Several years ago I ran an ad in a local "free-trader" paper for a couple anvils I needed to sell. I had a dozen people seriously interested in smithing inquire and sold all the anvils in one day. Most were newbies but one fellow, an English professor at a local college, was also a bladesmith that wanted to upgrade his anvil. I used to be the only local smith and now there are four working professionaly.

SO, you probably have several folks that are into smithing within your county. A dozen within 100 miles. But if you hide and won't say where you are then you won't find them, nor can they find you.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 13:23:42 EST

Sandblasting Cabinett: Andy, The folks that make and sell these also sell replacement parts such as the gloves. McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) probably has gloves and I am sure they have all the other sandblasting parts, fittings and such. Everything short of a kit.

To find manufactures and get their catalogs start at Thomas Register. They offer their service on-line for free (you can sign in as a guest). Every public library also has a set of Thomas Register. It also comes on CD. In 1999 I bought a complete set and they came with the CD. The books have gone to the dump but the CD's still get used. But these things become rapidly dated.

These things show up often at used equipment dealers and scrap yards. Seems more folks THINK they need them than actually do. Before you build one of these you may want to try OR watch some sandblasting. It is excruciatingly SLOW, you move the hose as slow as you can, for HOURS. Tumblers and vibratory finishers are a much better investment in machinery.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 13:34:34 EST

one little problem about the travelling aspect. i cant drive yet. my family and parents are also not willing to drive 200 miles to see a blacksmith for a couple of hours. they need the time to work and time is very precious for us. since this is for now a serious hobby, i am not going to be able to go see a blacksmith that is 100s of miles away. i will however check out the library
   - colinnn - Saturday, 01/24/04 14:02:15 EST

No Wheels IS a problem. . . I used to walk 10-15 miles to see a girl. . .

That is why contacts HELP. Yes, at your age you do not want to broacast where you are but it is safe to give a state/province. And everyone (including adults) should be wary of anyone they meet on the Internet.

Local smiths will not be listed under "blacksmith" in the yellow pages. Especially if they are hobby smiths. Retired older smiths are also out there and they CAN be found. A notice posted in a public place (Church, Community center, local store) asking for folks that know blacksmiths or that have an interest in the field to contact you might have good results. The willingness to take on the organization of a local group can go a long way and will bring people to YOU rather than you traveling to them.

Be sure to introduce yourself to your local librarian and tell them your interests. They may know someone else with the same interests. If there is enough local interest they MAY add those subjects to their buying list. Take a print out of our bibligraphy. Many libraries have the more general blacksmithing references because there IS a lot of general interest. Be friendly, share your interests.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/24/04 14:49:48 EST

I have an old anvil(currently under my firewood stack,under cover) which is approx 165 pounds. It has four different radii along the sides of the face, is this interesting? I've always loved this thing though it is rarely used. It was given to me by my dad along with a post vise. I just came across this site by accident while surfin' around looking for a bench vise.
   Bob - Saturday, 01/24/04 17:33:55 EST


Most smith's grind various Radii along the sides of the face to do the type of work that they do. Since we don't all do the same things, (I don't shoe horses, for example! grin) that means different radii. That said, if you'll take some pictures, and scan them (or use a digital camera if you have one), I'll try to help you identify the anvil.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/24/04 17:47:26 EST

Austenite Axelthumb: I have seen a fair bit of decarb and it was always very light in color, sort of an eggshell white. I would expect the black stuff to be oxides (scale) that did not get ejected in the hammering process. If they are oxides, they may pop out one day and leave a nice divot in your blade. BTDTBTTS.....grin
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/24/04 19:49:19 EST

Why is it I find almost every post colinnn leaves so very frustrating! I can`t believe someone can be so unknowing as to say they can`t find books or people. Please take up solving crossword puzzles for a hobby colinnn all you need is a pencil and 50 cents for a daily paper. They do have pencils and newspapers where you live don`t they?

Yes I`m an a**hole but that kid is braindead.
   Robert-ironworker - Saturday, 01/24/04 19:59:56 EST

Robert Ironworker.

He has a uniquely American problem. We always search for the magic weight loss pill, the one book that we can learn everything we want to know about anything just by reading it one time, or by watching the same magic movie 87 times.

It never works that way, but in our naivette, we continue looking for the magic.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/24/04 20:54:38 EST

Kids and hobbies:

Robert, I don't think that Colin is braindead at all. He is just a fairly normal 15 year old kid in today's world. He has probably been raised with television and the internet, "resources" that have contributed to the crippling of the minds of too many kids these days. When you and I were his age, we had ONLY the library and the folks we could cajole into showing us something. That forced us to be more resourceful at an earlier age than kids of today. Further, learning through books and example gave us a far, far deeper level of learning than the trivialized and brief view that is available through television and the internet. The ability to do REAL research in a library or newsp[aper morgue is fast going the way of the dinosaur. It is sad.

When I was 15, I wanted to learn about electronics (vacuum tubes, no less), so I checked out every book and periodical the local library had, then went to the university library, then wrangled a "job" at a TV repair place. The job sonsisted of sweeping up and watching/listening/learning for almost a year before I was paid anything OR allowed to handle a customer's set. I persevered until two years later I was doing all the antenna installations, some repair work, and had a helper of my own! I was making more money than some of my high-school instructors. If I had had to rely on the internet and tleevision for my learning, I would never have progressed at all, I don't think.

When we were kids we used tools to make our own "toys", mostly because we couldn't afford to buy anything that was not absolutely necessary. Along the way we learned to use tools, to be resourceful, to be independent and to think things through. Largely by trial and error, I'm afraid. :-) But we DID learn! All my brothers and I have built houses, fixed cars and machinery, and learned to live independently, because we had to. Kids today simply don't have the impetus of absolute necessity that we had a generation or two ago. So don't be too hard on Colin and the others like him. At least they are aware that there is something more out there than video games and TV. Encourage them, foster them and help them learn when you can. They'll be voting on your next Medicare increase/decrease. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 01/24/04 20:58:28 EST

vicopper, You are right with what you said in your post and I should not have lashed out at him that way. My dad ran a small lumber yard for 34 yrs and I grew up at that place building stuff and talking to all the "old guys" that came in. If colinnn was close enough to me I would loan him a forge, anvil, vise and the rest till he worked his way up to own his own tools and would probably give him most of them. Wherever he lives you know there is someone who does black/bladesmithing not far away.

colinnn, I`m sorry for the above post but you got to give us something to work with. I may be wrong but don`t you live off I-70 in Central Missouri?
   Robert-ironworker - Saturday, 01/24/04 21:47:06 EST

Where can I find the plans for a forged wrought iron cross where, through splitting, a diamond shape is left in the center of the cross.
   Walter - Saturday, 01/24/04 23:02:41 EST


Check the iForge demos. The Celtic Cross is the one you want. Can be finished with either a diamond or a circle in the center. Try this link if you can't find it:


   vicopper - Saturday, 01/24/04 23:08:27 EST

Kids and Tools:

One of the things Jock and I have observed with the Metalworking Merit Badge for the Boy Scouts is how few children have any access to home workshops and tools these days. PART of the problem is our tendency to "finish" every space in a house, except for the garage (which usually serves for storage instead of cars, because nobody has attics) these days. Also, fewer jobs and home projects need more than rudimentary tools and skills; EVERYTHING is available, fully finished, if there's any sort of a niche for it. I just attended a lecture on armor making at the con; in the old days we made chain mail for ourselves and could make a small profit from friends and associates. Now it's hardly worth the effort to make any for sale since they can buy from India for $200 what it takes me 130 man hours to make. (This is not to b!t(h and moan, but just an example.) Our kids are wiz's at the keyboard, and can help me finally slow down my cursor on this antique laptop, but despite "Home Despot" there is a definite downturn in both the space, the tools and the skills among the younger generation. As for school shop, the courses are rapidly being replaced (along with Home Ec, which also had practical applications) and they're talking about radically shortening or eliminating recess at some elemantary schools. I guess we'll just squeeze them all into the same size box so that they may fit in the same size cubicles, and be replaced just as interchangeably as the human cogs in the old mass production factory systems.

But I still blame the architects and interior designers as the root cause of the problem. ;-)

Time to limber up the guitar for the evening sessions.

Cold and cloudy on the banks of the James and York.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 01/24/04 23:20:12 EST

Just to add to the other stuff folks have said. How old are you? How did you behave when you were 15 or so? How many teens do you see in forums such as this? Yes sometimes questions can get frustrating. But no one said you have to read them. Or you can read them and get angry, or you can read them and think, at least not all kids are completely satisfied with watching 'reality' TV or other drivel and is instead trying to learn.
You have to remember that there are no natual question askers. You have to be taught HOW to ask questions. Which includes learning how to learn.
   Ralph - Sunday, 01/25/04 00:33:14 EST

Gotta say; for all he is obstinate, Colin IS into it. And he is actually doing it.
He is not spending every waking hour on video games.
You gotta be obstinate to do this dance with fire and steel.
Maybe I'll stop snapping at him too...maybe...a little.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 01/25/04 01:36:01 EST

Just wanted to make a little post here. I've been looking through this site for weeks and still know that I haven't seen everything. (Good work Guru.) Between the IForge stuff and Guru's den I can find most of the information that I wanted anyhow.
I'm new to smithing and was interested in making blades, swords to be precise but knives are great too. I saw the list of books that were reccommended and have bookmarked the page. Likely I'll be hitting Amazon as soon as I have the cash to buy them.

Anyways, I was going to ask what sorts of steel would be good for long blades (I was wondering about S7 but don't like the price much...) and wether flatstock or roundstock are reccommended.

Now to wait for my HF stuff to show up.
   Cyjal - Sunday, 01/25/04 02:53:15 EST

does any body have plans or ideas for making a solid scottish thistle
thanks for your advice on finishes jock i have tried the high temp paint david
   - david hannah - Sunday, 01/25/04 05:21:32 EST

Learning: I once took a class called "Train the Trainer" and it stated that people learn in different ways. Some by reading, some by hearing, some by watching, some by doing. Books and videos and seminars are all popular because they can be done once and widely distributed but when the task involves using your hands, I just don't know how you learn except by doing...and doing again..and again...you cannot learn hammer control without using the hammer. The reference material is essential and my library grows constantly, but it will never replace forge time and actually experimenting with a new technique you read about!
Colinn, stay with it son. Come back and ask all the questions you want. BTW, you will find Robert Ironworker to be a great guy, once you get to know him.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/25/04 07:20:47 EST

Since you can't drive, and need the cash for books etc, perhaps you can make items to sell, that will gain you hammer control, experience, and general skill. Start with some of the I-forge items.Start with the simple, S-hooks, Celtic crosses and the like. I'm sure that there are items that you can make that will do all of the above. As your parents see that you are serious, and makeing some money at this strange art, they will be more likely to want to take you to places that will expand you skills(hammer-ins) The real trick is to impress your parents with your hobby. Make things for your parents, donate to church and other fundraisers. This can be simple, inexpensive things, but will greatly impress those around you.This is the key to sucess as a smith for you at this stage in life.
Good luck, and keep at it.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/25/04 10:19:52 EST

Learning & Not all things are obvious:

I commend Colinnn for trying as hard as he does. He is trying to learn! Someone said, people have to learn how to learn. That is so true! I have spent many years(relative to my life) as an industrial trainer/teacher. It is my opinion that when a student is trying, by asking constant questions, and still failing to learn, the fault lies with the instructor in failing to "teach to the student". It can be very frustrating for the student who is trying and cannot seem to grasp what is being taught. It makes them feel as though they are incapable, dumb, stupid, worthless. When what is usually happening is the instructor is just repeating the same thing, the same way, over and over again and failing to see that they are not communicating effectively to this student. It is very frustrating to the instructor who fails to understand that every person is different and what works to teach one person will not work to teach all people. When this happens, the most common response is very similar to that of Robert Ironworker (no offense meant). When you discourage someone from asking questions, you stop the learning proccess and more often than not, you give the student the feeling that they are not good enough, smart enough, to learn what you know. It is the instructors responsibility to figure out how each pupil needs to learn. An instructor who can't or won't do that shouldn't be teaching, at least not to this pupil.

Colinnn, when you go to the library, or to bookstores, be creative in what you are looking for. I.E. When I went to my library to find books on blacksmithing I only found one book my first time there. I searched the catalog for "blacksmithing", I was very disappointed. After reading more of this site and getting to know some of the terminology of smithing I went back to library and searched on other things like: Steel, Iron, Anvil, Wrought and Metal. I also had written down several authors names and book titles that I found on this and other web sites and searched on them. Low and behold, I found almost two dozen books in the very same library that dealt with blacksmithing. What had seemed the obvious thing to search on, blacksmithing, had yielded the least results. The moral is... Be creative and Never give up trying to learn.

If you are located near Ithaca NY, drop me an email and I would be happy to meet with you -AND- your parents to see if there is any way to help you out.

BTW, the Guru is right about getting the word out that you want to learn and are looking for smiths in your area. Follow every lead that comes your way. I was having a very difficult time finding smiths in my area too. I contacted someone that was way too far away for me to travel to, but I asked them if they knew anyone in my area, I now know of TEN smiths in my area.

One last thing, it just might be that you have to wait until you are old enough to drive before you can chase everything down. Try not to get discouraged in the mean time.

Steve in New York
   Smulch - Sunday, 01/25/04 10:47:58 EST

Okay after going through months of old posts in the archives I found colin saying he lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia and has also used what I`m guessing is his real name, emin muil. colin maybe you have heard of a city that may be near you called Vancouver? If so there is an ABANA chapter known as VIBA, Vancouver Island Blacksmiths Assoc. You can email their President John Marshall at viba@viblacksmiths.com Lets say your 200 miles from Vancouver, if you talk with John Marshall you may find that there are many people who do blacksmithing that may not be far from you but are members of VIBA and friends of John Marshall.

Anyone that wants to start with Sept. 2003 archives and follow the coiln post`s you will find that I`m not the only one who has been short with him, I just happened to be a little on the mean side, it comes with the trade I`m in : )

Quench, Thanks for the pitch, I try to be good once in awhile!

Blacksmithing content, I sold a nice 80lb Fisher anvil yesterday for $100.
   Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 01/25/04 12:09:31 EST

thanks everyone. no offense taken. however, i must say that i am probably the only kid in school who doesnt play video games of any kind and actually has a working forge. i have all the tools available for me and i bought most of them with my own money. i have made many projects before i started making blades. i did make some of the hooks and other begginer projects in the i-Forge before going onto more complicated projects. i have also made a set of my own hand tools that actually work! i am not one of these people who sits on their butts all day and plays video games. in my spare time (the little that i have) i am always in the shop, perfecting my skills. i am going to try to fit in a trip to the library soon and that will make me stop asking so many questions i can find in a book. sorry for frustrating you guys.
   - colinnn - Sunday, 01/25/04 12:24:14 EST

another note,
i have sold quite a few things. a guy asked me to make him a skateboard ramp and i made it in 40 minutes and he got it 45 minutes later. (it did work) i also sold a few candle holders.
   - colinnn - Sunday, 01/25/04 12:41:39 EST

You are on the way to a life a being able to the things others dream of, if they have an imagination. Keep on, and ask all the questions that you have. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask. Also always remember to think through the answers that you get.
Good luck.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/25/04 13:39:44 EST


And please remember that all of us occasionally get up on the wrong side of the bed. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/25/04 14:01:30 EST

before you go to the library, make a list of the books you want and put it in your wallet to take with you,{I NEED TO READ MY OWN POST}. My local Librarian said that to use the Inter Library Loan Program is very easy,if I bring in my list. so she can request them for me.So remember to take your list.Don't do like me and forget the stuff that you go for.
   DanD skabvenger - Sunday, 01/25/04 14:09:01 EST

Not The Obvious & Learning: Smulch's comments about how to search the library (and used books on-line) is right on the mark. Often there is no predefined "nitch" or category for a subject and you have to look where someone with little mechanical experiance (the librarian, most often a woman) would put something. It will be logical, but perhaps not YOUR logic.

For example, on the Internet there is NO CATEGORY for trades other han under arts and crafts, arts and crafts, handcraft or hobbies. There is no place for bricklayers, welders and pipe fitters, shoemakers and the thousands of other trades other than "arts and crafts". This is a kind of effete snobbery applied to indexing the web by people that have NEVER held a hammer in their hand. Equating any job done with ones hands as a hobby is a kind of social discriminination that is becoming rampant in our society.

Learning from Books: Many people have a hard time learning a skill from a book. Often it is not the skill so much as a predisposition about not wanting to take the time to learn the skill or some other sub-consious road block. I've been told by people that they could not learn from books and then they go about doing exactly THAT but in a subject area they have a deep interest in.

The problem today is that we are in a ever increasing technical society and that if you cannot read and LEARN from a technical manual then you are in trouble. In blacksmithing if you stick to basics and do not intend to be economicaly competitive this is not true. BUT as soon as you decide to make your own tools or any other aspect of the trade that requires working with high carbon or alloy steels and their heat treatment (such as bladesmithing) then you had better learn to enjoy studying columns of metalurgical data, understand it and figure out how to apply that data.

Experiance colors our ability to learn from books. Having experianced doing something the hard way you will instantly recoginize the easy way when it is presented to you. With experiance you do not have to learn the entire subject but just fill in some key items that make you more efficient or more cognizant of what and how you are doing something.

Without experiance life IS frustrating. The instructions say "do this" and you try and things dont work the way you expected. The compliant I hear most often is:
"It did not turn out the way it was supposed to!"
My response it that YOU didn't make it "turn out". You let the inanimate beat you.

I have recently had a lot of experiance with this syndrome. The first of any new hand made item rarely "turns out" right. I always expect to make a test piece and learn from it. If I fail to achieve the effect I want I toss the sample I try again. I do not blame the object for not "turning out" the way I expected. I and only *I* am to blame. I admit to my failures and go on and try to overcome them THE NEXT TIME.

At some point in life you ammass so many experiances and become so practiced that you can often make a one off item perfectly the first time. Even though the item is different than anything else you have ever made, every component of its creation, every stroke of the hammer and turn of the file have been practiced and perfected a some other time in your life.

When you watch artists and craftspeople at this skill level it seems like magic and is quite awe inspiring. But it is just an expression of the tens of thousands of hours they have spent at their trade.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/25/04 14:24:44 EST

Making it Look Easy:

I am a fair artist. People think it is a "gift", a born "talent". It is not. I started practicing drawing when I was about four years old. Instead of filling in coloring books I traced the outlines. I asked my parents to show me how to draw a cube. . By the time I was in kindergarten I could draw a nice isometric house shape and using the concepts of isometric lines I added doors, windows and chimneys. Over the years in school I did nothing BUT draw. Back when John Nagy was the hot TV "learn to draw" artist (early 1960's) I had his drawing kits and watched him on TV. I took every chance to be involved in art projects in school. In the third grade I enlarged four scenes from our history book to wall size so that the class could make a mosaic. We did Washington crossing the Delaware and the Surrender at Appotomatox. Those darn squares on the carpet turned diagonaly were a trick. . . and I learned an aspect of applying perspective drawing.

In high school I took drafting (mechanical drawing) and art for three years. I drew all the time in all classes and my grades suffered. My history and biology note books are full of girls faces, guitars and race cars.

When I graduated from HS I could draw charactertures that were a reasonable likness in less than a minute, figure poses in a few more minutes and had painted in every medium and produced sculpture in clay, wood and stone. I spent my senior year making copies of great works in oil, pastel and ink in order to learn from artists of the past. At the same time I read the biographies of all the major artists.

Those drawings in iForge and Paw-Paw's Revolutionary Blacksmith are the result of PRACTICING drawing for nearly 50 years. And the fact is I am woefully out of practice. I can no longer draw figures or faces from my imagination and I would have a hard time starting a painting. I WAS a very good artist but left the field due its social political nature. Today I am just a fair artist. It was not inborn, it was learned over tens of thousands of hours.

My vision as an artist applied to blacksmithing. Forging was very difficult and frustrating at first. But I knew from my art that projects do not "turn out" perfect the time. I was used to making dozens of sketches before I was satisfied. Forging, like drawing takes practice. First pieces are "sketches" that I plan on scraping. It they are right the first time, so much the better, but I never expect it.

Besides spending years drawing I did more of the "typical" childhood things than most. I built tree houses (lots of hammering) and soapbox racers (more hammering and LOTS of filing and sanding). These things gave me skills to apply to sculpture and later blacksmithing and to learning any hand skill.

Years later my son wanted to build a guitar. I told him I would teach him how. He gave me one of those "Your crazy as. . ." looks.

We did a little study, designed our own styles of acoustic guitar and built two. Spent two summers doing it. A big project I do not recommend. A huge part of the project was building all the wooden jigs and fixtures. It was all based on skills in other fields plus some new ones.
Practice, study, don't finish until the job is done.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/25/04 14:54:57 EST

thank you everyone so much for those words. they really inspired me. lots of people i know now can only learn when taught by a TV or a person. i actually like to read books and absorb the information in them. anyways, thanks again.
   - colinnn - Sunday, 01/25/04 15:17:30 EST


That love of reading will carry you a LONG way on the road of life.

The greatest gift that was ever given to me came from an uncle who taught me to read. At age 3! I was ALWAYS ahead of my peer group in reading skills. The ability to read, both rapidly and with comprehension, helped me to "skate" through High School. I read each text book when issued, just before mid term exams, and just before finals. In between, I never opened a book, except to "answer the first 10 questions at the end of chapter 5". I would find the questions, answer them, and usually did all of my homework in one study hall a day. When my reading ability was tested, (freshamn in high school) I was reading College Senior texts at 1,200 to 1,500 words per minute, with 80% comprehension and retention two weeks after reading the work.

I have a high school diploma and a two year college GED. Many folks have thought that I have more education than I do but don't realize that I am 90% self taught.

Uncle Lovel didn't even realize what a gift he had given me. I wish I had told him.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/25/04 15:36:24 EST

colinnn, The most important words you got here today are...Vancouver Island Blacksmiths Assoc. John Marshall and his email viblacksmiths.com contact him and find other smiths in your area.
   Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 01/25/04 16:00:26 EST

I am trying to find a man who mines his owne ore and has extinsave Knolage of anchent sword smithing tecniques. I have herd of such a man who lives in the adderondack mt. some were in the north east. the history chanel did a piece on him (Secrets of the Viking woriors or some such thing if you know him or have aney info on him i would be in your debte Thank you fore your time E mail WanagieHaska@aol.com
   dan - Sunday, 01/25/04 17:41:49 EST

Guru, did you have the John Nagy Learn to Draw kit with the plastic sheet you put over the TV screen to draw on? Got me started, too. Until I learned about Geology, I wanted to be a commercial artist. After a year of geology, I found that way too many Geologists were running Christmas Tree Lots and selling Amway. Metallurgy has been good to me but the urge to create is always there. Blacksmithing was a natural outlet for me.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/25/04 18:09:39 EST

Guru, I think that "arts and crafts" designation may be a twisting of the definition of Arts and Crafts rather than a disrespect of smithing and similar. Welders are craftsmen, blacksmiths are craftsmen and artists, pipefitters are craftsmen, and so forth. Arts and crafts were originally ways to make a living, whether forging iron wagon wheels or painting frescoes on rich people's walls. Unfortunately, nowadays people see the phrase "arts and crafts" and think "hobby", and often they are used interchangeably.

Hazy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T Gold - Sunday, 01/25/04 20:07:57 EST


I'm not certain, but I think you are talking about Thomas Powers. He's one of the guru's here, but is currently in the middle of moving. He'll been checking in fairly regularly, so you should hear from him in a couple or three days.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/25/04 20:28:02 EST

david hannah, I saw some Scottish thistles of iron last year in a large church in Edinburgh. They appeared to be of fagot welded fairly fine wires for the top portion. The bulbous portion below was incised either with a file or a cleverly used cold chisel in a criss-cross pattern, giving the lozenge shapes between the incised lines.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/25/04 20:41:29 EST


One of the very few things that I do that could be called charitable or altruistic is to donate books to the library. (Okay, I admit it, I read them first.) If, after THOROUGHLY searching your local library youcan honestly tell me that there are no blacksmithing books, then I will make my next donation to YOUR local library, instead of my own. That way, you don't have to give out your address, you won't be getting "charity", and you'll still have a book or three available. You will have to give up the name and address of your local library so I can send them the books, of course. Can't be helped, no other way to do it. Firrst, go check them out thoroughly, using the suggestions already given, and check into Ilnter-Library Loans. If that fails, then we'll remedy the situation.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/25/04 20:42:11 EST

The very best thing my parents gave me was a love of learning. I was taught to read, write and do simple arithmetic before I reached kindergarten, thanks to the time they spent teaching me and answering my endless inane questions. I got my first library card at age four and have never lived anywhere that I did not immediately obtain a library card. I love the written word, even when I'm not the one who wrote it. (grin)

The single greatest tragedy to befall mankind was the burning of the library at Alexandria.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/25/04 20:48:08 EST


> The single greatest tragedy to befall mankind was the burning of the library at Alexandria.

Which time? It was burned twice, IIRC. But either way it was a tragedy, BOTH times.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/25/04 21:29:15 EST

Ron Childers; i realized that not everyone will read and remember all of the posts. i have this material that was sold to me as "forging coke". very hyped up and even recommended to me by someone that i respect. i have tried everything that i can muster to get it to work. i put some in my gas forge today to see what it would do (i used the forge while it was in there). while it was laying on the glowing refractory, it was yellow. i blew on it and that cooled it. i dont know what this stuff is, but i do know that i can not use it. i do not have the experience that most do that post here, however, i am not devoid of practical knowledge and some working experience with coal.
if there were someone within 100mi of me, or a regional meeting, i would persue that. as it turns out, i am between frank turley and the pacific coast. i dont mean that as sarcastic; there is no nevada chapter of abana and no so nevada blacksmith meetings. there is a big name sword maker in henderson nv, (cant remember his name), but i dont know him and i think he uses gas.
chemical analysis might be nice to have in the event that this is no where close to what is was reported to be; a document to provide the guy that sold it to me. i have not had the best luck buying things for my hobby, but again, i dont live in north carolina or virginia, that is, if something is not right, i cant just drive down and solve the problelm. the only means for me to ask questions and get advice is....HERE!
if no one that reads my posts is interested in taking a look at this stuff for me, no problem. i will find answers eventually. one thing that a budding smith needs is persistance and drive....
   - rugg - Sunday, 01/25/04 21:29:27 EST


Contact me off list, I'll try to work something out for you.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 01/25/04 21:43:13 EST

Coke: Rugg, you might try getting in touch with the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colorado. I wouldn't be surprised if you could find a student who would run an analysis on it for you, just for the practice. Bujt it sure sounds like some strange stuff to me. After all, coke is supposed to be poretty much pure carbon and should burn if supplied with kindling heat and oxygen to support combustion. If it won't burn in a gas forge, then either you have a very reducing atmosphere already, or that stuff just ain't coke.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/25/04 21:45:04 EST

JPPW and vicopper: thanks for the advice, will persue. was beginning to think that i need to pose as a sword smitten teenager to get any response...
   rugg - Sunday, 01/25/04 22:11:15 EST

Learning Patterns:

For one of our large scale medieval combats (full armor, padded weapons) years ago, I was able top provide both topographic maps AND ariel photographs of the battle site (thanks to my late Air Force friend, Steve). I was somewhat surprised to discover that some folks could understand the photos, and not the maps, and some folks were exactly the opposite. I can gather lots of information from both, and find that they compliment each other. Part of how we understand things is how we're hard-wired, and part of it is how we're trained.

small grudge forgive me but if folks can use the 36 other keys on the keyboard why not should folks not go on and learn to use the shift key and the half dozen punctuation keys too and proof also so that we do not have to try to read sentences like this? it will take the poster just a littl more time and make the message more clear and save the rest of us lots of collective time and provide good practice when they have to use proper grammer and punctuation at school or on the job or when trying to get folks to take them seriously okay?

Or, to put it another way, folks are more likely to take you seriously and be a touch more helpful if one is well spoken. As mentioned above, it also saves the rest of us some time in trying to tease the meaning out of random jumbles of words. :-)

Think thrice, proof twice, post once.

Fine, cold powdery snow is falling in great profusion on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks (where I always take care of the library and librarians): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www/longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone - Sunday, 01/25/04 23:33:08 EST


Quote” Think thrice, proof twice, post once”

Quote” a littl more time”

Otherwise agreed, be lazy; type in a word processor, spell-check, copy, post.
   Nigel - Monday, 01/26/04 03:43:15 EST

Sorry, I was lazy and let the automatic grammar take over.

It should have read:-

Otherwise agreed; be lazy, type in a word processor, spell-check, copy, post.

A slight change in meaning. :)

PTP ! ! !
   Nigel - Monday, 01/26/04 08:46:46 EST

I have to agree with Atli and Nigel. When I recieve a message with no punctuation and or capitalization, the very form and appearance says to me, "I don't care enough about you or your opinion to bother sending my best. Take what you can get!".

Usually that message gets deleted without a reply. I receive approximately a thousand messages a week, about three hundred of which require an answer or some type of action on my part. I can't be bothered with the folks that can't be bothered to send their very best.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/26/04 09:54:06 EST

Paw Paw , Winston Churchill said and I quote, "The self educated man would do well to learn quotes" My OED of quotes burned up in a fire 4 years ago, and still miss it. Clear, and cold [-20f below 0] in the Opeongo Mountains. Tim
   lydia's forge - Monday, 01/26/04 10:01:04 EST


Churchill had a point.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/26/04 10:13:16 EST

Rugg, I didn't realize someone had sold you some faux coke. How much did you buy? Our FABA chapter ordered a semi load from somewhere up the country, North Carolina, maybe. Turned out to be very clean burning, etc. Our's was $160/ton delivered to a member's shop. Much cheaper that way. If you like & respect the guy that turned you on to the coke, surely he would want the person who sold it to you to make it right. Now I understand your interest in the analysis - At this point I think we are all interested in what it is you got stuck with. Most everyone I've dealt with in this business is both trusting and honest. Chances are the person from whom you purchased it was taken as well. He or she would likely be interested as well in the analysis.. Sorry I misunderstood your motive for wanting it analyzed.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 01/26/04 11:46:47 EST

I need to dress the face of my anvil around the hardy hole. The grinding wheels that I have dont do much to the hardened steel plate. What is a an aggressive fast cutting wheel for a 7" angle grinder?

Punctuation: Get real! We are blacksmiths. Half of these guys can't spell to save their lives and the other half couldn't find their colons (or semi-colons) if they tried with both hands. Haw haw haw!

   adam - Monday, 01/26/04 12:26:39 EST

Travel: Frank, Welcome back from Costa Rica. I'm headed there in a couple weeks to visit friends. More off-line.

Donating Books: VI, Wish my memory was that good!

Be advised that many libraries are limited in space and one of the more difficult jobs of the librarian is deciding which books to discard in order to be able to stock NEW books. The decision making process is often difficult but is often based on simple numbers. Books that are checked out regularly are kept, those that nobody looks at are discarded (no matter how important or rare the information). Where this gets tricky is books that people use regularly in the library and don't check out. This is one reason libraries prefer to have librarians reshelve books. Its not just to keep them in the correct place but to record that they were used. Another criteria is the age and condition of the book.

This whole process is a large part of a librarian's duties and whole books are written on the subject (I have one - a library discard). Most public and school libraries have this problem as well as some private libraries. The exception is a few of the most well funded University libraries.

Many of our personal collections and much of what is found in used book stores are library discards. It is a great resource for personal libraries but a sad state of affairs for the libraries and public in general.

Some of the best books in my collection are library discards.
   - guru - Monday, 01/26/04 12:35:53 EST

Vicopper, Make sure your donation will go into circulation before turning it over to the library - I offered some books such as "The Art of Blacksmithing" by Bealer and "Practical Blacksmithing" by Richardson to our local library, but when I pressed the lady for the truth about what happens to the the books, she said they would sell them in their annual book sale and they would go for 50 cents to a dollar. I would rather loan them out to other smiths than have them sold for furniture books.

You must be an old buzzard, too - lots of kids in college are a whiz on a computer but don't have sense enough to write a check, change a tire, or drive a stick-shift, but the kids in our FABA group have brains enough to work with their hands and I think they will do fine in both categories.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 01/26/04 13:12:31 EST

A.A. and Ptree
The little black specs between the wires in the cable damascus are almost certainly oxides. I have seen the same thing when examining layered damsucus under the microscope. In a billet, assuming oxidation is not to severe, these will behave like tiny inclusions from the original steel making process. To help ensure that you don't get the pop-outs Quenchcrack mentioned, make your billets as thick as possible and draw and much as you can. This will break up the oxide and reduce the chances of getting flaws in the finished product. Cable damascus is probably the most difficult to get the scale out of because of all the nooks and crannies. If you have a big enough cable, you can encase it in weld metal, do all you forging w/o flux, and grind of the excess metal later. This method works for laminated billets too.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 01/26/04 13:20:25 EST

Encasing Damascus: One of the techniques used by some makers is to seal their clean billet stack in a stainless steel tube. A little kerosene is put in the tube via a vent. This burns off leaving an oxygen free atmosphere in the tube. The unfluxed and normally oxidized stainless does not weld to the billet so the billet can be welded, drawn one time in the SS case and then removed. This is a common method applied to very thin laminations (shim stock) where the thiness creates an oxidation problem. After the first weld the thin stock is not a problem.

The would seem like a good method for cable but would present a lot of problems trying to compact the cable in all directions.

   - guru - Monday, 01/26/04 14:38:55 EST

I have a question concerning forge configuration for a specific period / time / place.

I have the opportunity to work in the shop at Fort Loudoun (TN) during the living history weekends (once a month except Jan., Feb., & July). We have a really good program and the folks down there are really dedicated to keeping everything as correct to the period as possible. The original fort was built in 1756 and garrisoned until its surrender to the Cherokee in 1760. They have always put a great deal of energy into the military portrayals (the Independent Company of South Carolina) and the blacksmith shop has often served as just a prop. Over the past couple years, myself and others have shown increasing interest in seeing the shop improved and run in a more realistic manner. There is a good picture of the existing forge on their website:


(This is not me in the pic, BTW. The picture hasn’t been updated in a while. This appears to have been set up for the photo shoot. Good detail on the forge, though.)

As you can see, the forge is laid of stone, but it has a standard modern fire-pot, tuyere/ash-dump built into it. We have a good double-action bellows for the air source and we use charcoal as fuel. Our main smith and primary consultant has suggested that we convert to a side-blast configuration for both period correctness and efficiency (the old fire-pot & ash dump are in bad shape). He will ultimately oversee the change over, but he lives on the other side of the state and I have taken it upon myself to get the ball rolling. This is part of a State Park, so we’ll have to pitch it before the “powers that be” before we get the go-ahead. We have discussed having a steel pan welded up to cover the existing stone top. I know this will be a little high, but we don’t want to get in to tearing out stone. The pan would have raised edges to prevent the reserve fuel from falling off and a high side on the left for the bellows pipe to enter.

I defer to our collective wisdom for input on this project. Would you use .25” plate for the forge? How tall do my sides need to be, especially the blast side? Would you bed this thing to the existing stone, or would you just let it float? Anything else I might be overlooking here?

Thanks in advance.
   - Don A - Monday, 01/26/04 14:56:31 EST


Observe that "littl" was in the 'sample' paragraph.

And I do find myself composing longer missives in a word processing program, then cutting and pasting. But first it needs to meet a critical mass to make it worth your while. Also, my vocabulary, and Bill Gates' do not match very well, I'm always having to do an "add" when spell-checking. The main point is not occasional grammatical glitch or the ypographical terror, but trying to clearly communicate information, especially on a semi-technical forum such as this. A lot of folks have some fairly obscure questions to begin with, so it helps if we don't have to go through an extra layer of decoding. :-)

Snowed in on the banks of the lower Potomac, but catching up on my notes from NPS projects.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/26/04 15:26:04 EST

Atli: I am told you may have a method for making small anchors (6"). I tried my idea for using one piece of steel and slitting the cross-arms and anchor arms out from the side of a flat piece. My mistake was to leave too little room between the two to properly forge the body down. Do you have any info to share on making anchors?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 01/26/04 15:36:29 EST

Ron Childers:

Yes, I'm fast becoming an old buzzard. Down here though, the more common appellation is "old conch." Whichever, I'm getting there. Getting older may not be the most wonderful thing in life, but it is certainly preferrable to the only known alternative. (grin)

As for the book donation, I would only submit it to the library with a cover letter detailing its provenance. That is, I would let the librarian know exactly why I was doing it. That way, if they don't have the space or inclination to shelve the books, they can (with my blessings) simply give them to the lad. Typically, the books I donate to the library here are shelved for a year or two and then either sold, traded or stolen. At least they are not in the landfill. It matters not to me who gets them, as long as they are used by someone. Books were meant to be read, not left to mildew in some dank corner.
   vicopper - Monday, 01/26/04 15:43:15 EST


This forge is about as wrong as one can get. This is a typical arrangement for a hand crank blower but not a bellows.

In almost all traditional bellows blown forges The bellows is behind the chimney and blows through its back just at forge floor level. If the bellows is mounted high and has a pipe then it can be almost anywhere. But usualy they are in the back or in the back to one side.

This bellows is taking up valuable shop/floor space and is in a prime location for getting a hole poked in it.

A steel plate above the forge would be less period than this and would not improve the bellows location. There was no large steel or iron plate available at that time.

To correct this forge the fire pot needs to be removed and the hole filled. A hole needs to be drilled or cut in the back of the chimney. This is going to probably require repairs to the stone work. THEN, the back of the chimney recess will needs to be sloped forward (WITH the air hole). The stone used at the bottom needs to be a refractory stone or brick. The bellows will need to be moved to fit.

In use the fire would built against the back wall. With the fire being closer to the chimney the excessive smoking (evidenced by the smoke stains) will probably be cured.

Alternatively a masonry fire pot can be built with the air coming in from the back and UP. However this is less than period.

At this time the only fuel used in the forge would be charcoal and there would be no need for a clinker breaker or ash dump.
   - guru - Monday, 01/26/04 16:05:50 EST

Your 'sample' paragraph was good enough that I didn’t notice. :)))

I find the ‘critical mass’ is about 10 words, and as to the ‘gates speak’. Its bad enough at work (Civil Engineering), but it keeps loosing the custom dictionary and switching back US English. I have never had a comprehension problem with spelling, however creative, but handwrighting (that one is typical).
   - Nigel - Monday, 01/26/04 17:35:39 EST

Loosing – one that the spell check missed – losing
   - Nigel - Monday, 01/26/04 17:43:38 EST

"handwrighting" the making of hands. . . ;)
   - guru - Monday, 01/26/04 17:50:40 EST

Spell Check: My favorite word processor for many years was PFS Professional Write. The nice thing about its spell check is that it was rated the best in the industry and that the custom word list was just a plain text list that you could check and edit IN the word processor.

The problem with custom lists is that ocasionally you will click "add" when you are wrong. Eventually the list becomes a mess and it needs to be cleaned up. I just checked the one in my HTML editor and it had several mispelled words. The one in my word processor is a mess because it lists both the misspelling and the new word. . . AND is not just a simple list to edit.

I used to take my list from one program and check it with another and look up each special word as I went.

The problem today is that all the programs I use have their own spell check and their own lists. . AND they are not available in a standard input box like this forum uses. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/26/04 18:17:17 EST

Ron Childers, no need for the apology. i bought a ton. i figured that if i was going to ship it this far, might as well get a ton. if i had the analysis, ya'll (others with more knowledge than myself) could say either "no wonder you cant get it to work", or "try this, that stuff can melt tungsten", or something along those lines. i agree, i dont think the salesman knew this would happen. reputation in this clan gets around quick. will update as i learn more. thanks for the reply
   - rugg - Monday, 01/26/04 18:49:33 EST

discovered something interesting yesterday. on an anvil that has had the "face replaced", it does ring, but the tone varies. on the "unrepaired" anvils, the tone is consistant throughout, but the "volume" varies. maybe another test to determine good from junk??

i am having an apple wood stump cut into a suitable base for an anvil. it is a knarled hunk, weighing approx 400#. all that will be cut is the top and bottom, the rest will be left alone. will sandblast and do a limited finish. will post a pic on yahoo when done....
   rugg - Monday, 01/26/04 19:48:39 EST

thems that can - do - thems that cant - teach -
   - MIKE-T - Monday, 01/26/04 19:53:07 EST

Thems that can, do; thems that can't, sure as HECK can't teach either!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 01/26/04 20:17:48 EST

No answer to my question about a grinding stone for my 7" grinder? hmmm .... I do hope my question wasn't rejected because of flawed punctuation.
   adam - Monday, 01/26/04 20:33:41 EST


Nope. At least not from me, I didn't know the answer.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 01/26/04 20:47:24 EST


While I don't think that grinding on an anvil face with a 7" angle grinder is a good idea, a standard 24 grit snag grinding wheel is aggressive enough to cut most anything. If you need something more aggressive than that, you must have an unbelievably hard anvil. The wheels made by Norton are good, in my opinion. There are better ones, but you won't notice the difference anywhere but your wallet. Personally, I wouldn't use anything much more aggressive than an 80 grit zirconium sanding disc, and that only for roughing work. I like a nice smooth face with no grinder divots.

I am assuming for this that you are using a normal 5 to 7,000 rpm grinder and not a low speed buffer.
   vicopper - Monday, 01/26/04 21:17:46 EST

Adam, Sounds to me like your going to damage a anvil that needs nothing done to it. What is the problem around the hardy hole?
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 01/26/04 21:27:55 EST

Rugg, I bought 200# of metallurgical coke, our local group bought 10 tens from Mid Continent Coal Co. It burns o.k. once you get it going, but all in our group who have tried it have only had success with electric blowers and with starting a charcoal or good wire first to get the stuff going. When I get a minute (today was a 12 hour day at my desk) I will throw a couple of chunks in my gas forge and see what it does. It takes a LOT of air!
   Ellen - Monday, 01/26/04 22:21:24 EST

ptp...."good WOOD" fire" first, but a coal fire would do also.
   Ellen - Monday, 01/26/04 22:23:11 EST

I recently found an anvil at a local farm equipment auction place and to me it is unusual. I haven't purchased it yet. There is a 1" hardy hole, but no pritchel hole. There is a square hold through the waist front to back. I didn't see any distinguishing marks or inscriptions to help identify it. There is about a 3 inch section along one edge that is worn away (chipped and broken over time), and one of the feet has been broken off. The anvil seems to weigh about 100 pounds. The guy is asking $100 for the anvil. Two questions. Based on this limited information, does anyone have any idea what london pattern anvils were made with a 1 inch hardy hole and no pritchel hole? And based upon the condition as described, would it be worth $100.00?
   - Blackhammer - Monday, 01/26/04 22:55:45 EST

re: Coke-Rugg what size are the chunks of coke? Two friends and I have been using coke that we got free from a local testing lab because we knew one of the engineers who worked there, and it saved them disposal costs. If it's sized right, starting it with paper, wood, and then a good air blast from the powered blower was no problem. If it was too large, about 3" by 4" or larger we had to break it up into smaller sizes say about 1" by 2" and down. Actually about 3/4" probably worked best. When we had to break it, we put it in a 55 gallon drum and used a piece of 2" bar stock to hit it and fracture it. Slow and not a lot of fun, but it was free. Hope this helps some.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 01/26/04 23:07:07 EST

This is a 350# HB and the plate is about 1/2" thick. It can certainly stand to have 1/16" shaved skimmed off the tail to get the shape that I prefer. The tail is darn hard - much harder than the sweet spot. I suspect this is from the quench rate. I believe this was a "second". Although quite sound it has a number of defects one of which is the shape of the plate in the area of the hardy. The whole anvil is slightly canted sideways as if it were standing in a strong wind. Also, there is a pair small holes in the edge of the plate right next to the step - right where most of the heavy drawing would naturally be done. The holes are each about 1/8 dia and 1/4" deep. They leave a clear imprint on the metal. So far I have restrained myself from filling them in with the welder.

Vic - thx I will look for a Norton

Jim, was just kidding around :)
   adam - Monday, 01/26/04 23:11:44 EST

I have a Trenton anvil. The markings are "W" "125" and "A63719" Could you help with age and meanings of the data? Thanks Bill
   - Bill - Monday, 01/26/04 23:14:31 EST

Hardie hole dressing. There should be a small chamfer, usually slightly radiused at the top edge of the hardie hole, insuring that all bottom tools will sit flush on the anvil.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/26/04 23:28:59 EST

Bill, That can`t be a Trenton with an A starting the serial number, only Hay-Buddens used an A. I got this information from Paw Paw last week as I have a anvil with no makers mark except the weight and serial and mine starts with an A also. My anvil sure doesn`t look like any other Hay-Budden I`ve seen or have, the base/feet area and the horn just don`t say Budden when you look at it. I need to get Anvils in America! Can you read the Trenton mark in the side of your anvil?

adam, So you want a 1/16" down step from the hardy hole on back, whatever your wanting to do it just doesn`t seem like 1/16" would have that much effect to alter the anvil. Why not just use your hammer to shape the iron on the horn or the main work area?
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 01/26/04 23:49:59 EST

ADAM; How about a tungsten carbide burr in a die grinder to radius that hardy hole?
   3dogs - Tuesday, 01/27/04 02:36:38 EST

ADAM: It sounds like you have the special Ridge Runner model Hay Budden, made for the West Virginia trade. It leans like that so's it'll sit flat most anywhere in WV.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 01/27/04 02:42:43 EST


The W and the A are inspectors marks, the 125 is the weight and the serial number says it was manufactured in 1903.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 06:53:06 EST


Sometimes the A is so close to the serial number that it looks like part of the number.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 06:58:39 EST

Vicopper, which key?
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 01/27/04 07:43:13 EST

Vic, Are you a Marathon man?
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 01/27/04 07:48:34 EST

Guru do you have plans anywhere on the site for your wooden anvil stand that I saw when I was up your way? I have looked and must be going blind, because I'm not seeing it anywhere.
   - dragon-boy - Tuesday, 01/27/04 09:03:32 EST

I found it and apologize! I just didnot look through the iforge area.
   - dragon-boy - Tuesday, 01/27/04 09:05:49 EST

Paw Paw, Maybe my anvil is a Trenton, like I say it just doesn`t look like a Hay-Budden. I`ll check today and get the number again. Maybe Bill will say if his does have the Trenton stamp. Thanks!
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 01/27/04 09:13:05 EST


The key will be the amount of space between the A and the numbers. It should be the same, if it's a Hay Budden but if it's a Trenton, there will be more space between the A and the number than there is between the numbers.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 10:00:15 EST

Whenever I try to finish my knife handle with linseed oil, it always has a sort of fishy smell. I use hemlock root. After I carve out the designs, I burn a very fine layer on the wood to make it look aged. I then apply a mixture of linseed oil and soot. This makes it look very good but smell like smoked salmon. Do you have any idea why it is doing this? If so, what should I use to deodorize it, since I don't want to wreck my work.
thank you
   - colinnn - Tuesday, 01/27/04 10:42:28 EST

Are you using boiled linseed oil or raw linseed oil? I've never experienced a fishy smell with either. I also LIKE smoked salmon, so I guess I wouldn't mind if my handle smelled a bit like it (big grin).
You might try switching to Tung oil or Danish oil, they're thinner and dry faster than linseed oil, but they do not have that great slightly yellowish cast.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 01/27/04 11:18:42 EST

Yep, its the ridgerunner model :). I am not really concerned about the hardy hole itself, rather I am trying to dress the face in the area next to the hardy hole. Right now it's lumpy and not very useful. Sure I could work somewhere else. But why should I? This is a tool not some sacred relic- I mean to have it in good working order
   adam - Tuesday, 01/27/04 11:42:29 EST

According to Postman, almost all HB's have an inspector's mark - a single digit about 5/8" tall deeply stamped under the horn - usually on the left as you face the horn. If this is missing, I would guess it's a Trenton.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/27/04 11:45:47 EST

Hole Through Anvil: Blackhammer, If the square hole is from flat side to flat side and you can see clear through it then this is a chainmakers anvil and quire rare. Holes in the waist from beak to heal are handling holes and though deep do not go all the way through.

In the described condition mast brands are easily worth $1/pound. If it is a chainmakers anvil it is a collectors item worth considerably more. OR you can use it as-is.

The hole in the chain makers anvil was used to hold a bar upon which tools for dressing the inside surfaces of chain links were clamped. The other end of the bar often supported an "Oliver" mechanism to hold the opposite tool or just a hammer while the smith held both link and tool.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/27/04 12:51:23 EST

Hard Lumps in Anvil Face: Sounds like weld repair with hard facing rod which is very abrasion resistant. . . That is the reason that it is not recommended for repairs. It makes hard places that will ding hammers and are very tough to grind. The repairs become high spots as the area around it wears or settles.

If using a snag grinder ask your welding supplier for fast cutting wheels )short life). The "long life" wheels are very hard so they do not wear down and when cloged stay cloged. The harder the material the softer the wheel. Sounds backwards but that the rule for grinding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/27/04 13:17:17 EST

Anvil Absolutes: Richard Postman will tell you that most of what is in his book is the best he could figure and that no hard fast rules should be assumed. AIA is the history of many anvil manufacturers that were ALL out of business 50 years ago or so and based on available data. Since its publication he has found or been presented with many more facts that he hopes to put in another book tentativly titled "More about Anvils" some of which will correct mistakes in AIA.

If you want to see the new book published it will help to buy his book Mousehole Forge (which will help finance the new book). See our book review page and store. We currently have a "deal" on Mousehole forge bundled with a Gil Fahrenwald calendar.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/27/04 13:24:23 EST

I'll reinforce what the guru said about MOUSEHOLE FORGE. I've got it, I read it, I reviewed it for the book shelf and I'm glad I bought it. I'd buy it again if my copy walked off. (I'd also spend some time chasing the person that walked it off. I'd enjoy the ensuing conversation, I doubt that he would!)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 13:31:28 EST

PawPaw's book: I DIDN'T take. And anyways, I put it back in its original place.

Lumpy anvil. Hardface makes sense, but I dont think there has been any welding. "wavey" is a better description. I am pretty sure this is the original plate. The sweet spot is significantly dished out on the far side (from the smith). I think it was mostly used for sledge work - this might even account for it's drunken list - though this is a lot of anvil to knock sideways. The dished area is my main forging spot and I use its shape to advantage. However, this is a large face, and there is about 5" between the sweet spot and the hardy that I would like to dress to a nice flat with square (not sharp but 90 deg) shoulders.
   adam - Tuesday, 01/27/04 14:38:22 EST

I have a beginning blacksmith question. What is the best method to start the coal on fire in a forge?
   Rob Thompson - Tuesday, 01/27/04 15:20:16 EST

Robert and Paw Paw,
Thank you for your knowledge. The anvil has "Trenton", with a little "o" as next to the last letter in the word Trenton. That name is stamped on the anvil side and set inside a sideways diamond. The serial number does begin with an "A". The top of the "A" is tilted a little to the left and the bottom right of the "A" almost touches the first number, "6". Underneath, the base is somewhat concaved about 1". Is it true that the base could be cast, the center section forged, and the top surface heat welded? How do you find and know about it manufacture date of 1902? Was $240 a good price to pay?
Also I have a newer anvil but no markings other than a light sky blue painted body and casted on one side are these terms" "45 KG" and underneath that is "England".
Can you help me with this one, too? Bill
   - Bill - Tuesday, 01/27/04 15:54:29 EST

Bill, Vaughn anvils come from England, they are marked in KG, are still made, and a nice anvil. Piehl Tool Co. sells them, and they are a traditional "London Pattern" anvil. They are painted blue.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 01/27/04 16:11:14 EST


The serial number gives us the year of manufacture on several different types of anvils. The fact that the A is "tilted" shows that it's an inspector's mark, rather than part of the serial number. See my other message to Robert.

Yes, some Trenton's had a cast steel bottom, with a cast steel top arc welded at the waist. It's still a good anvil.

The identification information for most Anvils found in America is found in the book ANVILS IN AMERICA by Richard Postman. The book is for sale in the Anvilfire store.

As for your second anvil, the sky blue was probably put on it here in the US. You might find more information under the paint, look on the side with the "England" on it.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 17:09:51 EST

I have a 125# Trenton, that was made in 1903. It has a concave depression under the base, the feet are cast,welded to a forged body with a hard plate welded on top.. It has the same logo on the side, and has a porter bar hole front and rear. I love this anvil. doesn't ring too loud, has great rebound,and from Postmans book, and the markings, I know that Mr. Charlie Taylor was the hammerman. Pretty neat for 100 year old tool.
   ptree - Tuesday, 01/27/04 17:14:18 EST


You got me, girl. I totally forgot about the Vaughn.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 01/27/04 17:17:15 EST

Starting Coal Fire: Rob, The BEST way is the fastest and easiest way. IF your coal is OK but a little cranky starting an oxyacetylene torch is quickest. This same coal will need a little kindling on top of wood to get started.
IF you have first class coal and a good forge with a properly shaped fire pot you can start a coal fire with three sheets of newsprint. Twist into a ball with a stem like a mushroom OR as Master Turley says a mushroom cloud. Light the tail, stuff burning end down into clean fire pot shovel on coal and then gently crank up the air. Give it just enough air that the most smoke billows. As the paper burns out the coal will have started burning and you can crank up the air a little more. As the coal collapses where the paper used to be push some more in. After this next batch smokes a while (holding down the trapped heat) I usualy poke a vent hole in the pile which ignites the smoke and then the fire starts burning cleaner.

If you have bad coal you will need a torch or kindling and a fairly good wood fire.

Once a coal fire is going you need to constantly be mounding up fresh coal around the sides of the fire to replace the center as it burns out. The coal at the edges cokes down and then fills the center burning the hottest and leaving a little ash and a few clinkers.

As the day progresses the clinkers build up more and more. Wventually you will have a large lump or ring that is blocking the blast to pull out of the fire. This usualy requires rebuilting the fire but without needing to restart.

If the extra coal around the center of the fire starts to burn prematurely of the fire spreads too much a little water is sprinkled on the coal to put is out. DO NOT dump water on a hot cast iron forge or firepot. The shock will crack the cast iron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/27/04 18:38:08 EST

Jock, When I click on the calendar and Mousehole book package deal it takes me to the ITC products page. Is there something wrong on my end or yours?
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 01/27/04 20:22:41 EST

I recently saw an old anvil at an old farm equipment auction. It weighs about 100 pounds and has a 2 to 3 inch chunk missing(3/8’ wide) along one edge. One foot is broken off. The face and horn, however are in good condition. There is no pritchel hole, only a 1 inch hardy hole. There is a square hole through the waist from front to back. The anvil is a London pattern. The man is asking $100.00. Two questions. Iis this anvil worth buying in the condition I described? Does anyone have any idea what make of anvil this might be? There are no inscriptions or markings of any kind. I have heard that most old anvils with no pritchel hole have small hardy holes. This one having a full inch makes me curious. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 01/27/04 20:29:28 EST

I recently saw an old anvil at an old farm equipment auction. It weighs about 100 pounds and has a 2 to 3 inch chunk missing(3/8’ wide) along one edge. One foot is broken off. The face and horn, however are in good condition. There is no pritchel hole, only a 1 inch hardy hole. There is a square hole through the waist from front to back. The anvil is a London pattern. The man is asking $100.00. Two questions. Iis this anvil worth buying in the condition I described? Does anyone have any idea what make of anvil this might be? There are no inscriptions or markings of any kind. I have heard that most old anvils with no pritchel hole have small hardy holes. This one having a full inch makes me curious. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 01/27/04 20:30:34 EST

I apologize for the redundant posts. I didn't realize they had gone through. Thanks for the information Guru. The hole is a handling hole (heel to horn). If it's still there when I go back, I'll pick it up.
   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 01/27/04 20:37:39 EST

Thank you all for the help with my anvils' history. Ellen, I did a search for Piehl Tool Co. and didn't find it. Is there another place to look for the Vaughn or England made anvils? Thanks again, Bill
   - Bill - Tuesday, 01/27/04 21:34:51 EST

BILL: Try looking under PIEH Tool Co. (No "L")
   3dogs - Wednesday, 01/28/04 01:43:03 EST

gavainh and ellen, thanks for the reply on the coke... the chunks are peanut to walnut size. i spoke with the guy that sold it to me. i believe this stuff is for real. he suggested a good wood fire and piling on the coke and keep up the blast. i will try this....have heard from more than one person that uses it that once you get the knack of it, you will never go back to coal. i hope they are right, see, i have a ton of it....one of the gurus has be generous enough to try it out also.
   - rugg - Wednesday, 01/28/04 03:52:41 EST

I am a proficient mig and ark welder
I would like to know how to form the shapes of spades and shovels and other gardening equipment.
   David Robertson - Wednesday, 01/28/04 06:37:37 EST

colin I'm seconding Alan's vote for tung oil [aka. swedish oil] I first used it as the finish on an antique iron setee 18 years ago and it still looks great . Lydia uses it as a clear finish on interior railings etc. Holds up well,goes on easy,dries hard and best of all, it's cheap!
   lydia's forge - Wednesday, 01/28/04 08:54:16 EST

I have located a forge not too far from my house. I don't have the complete discription yet but it was made in 1950. The potable forge is about 4 feet tall with a hand operated blower. I am calling the seller tonight. What questions should I ask him. And how much should I pay for this thing. I know that is hard to answer without the details.
   tom - Wednesday, 01/28/04 09:55:51 EST

Forge Questions: Tom, Definitely too few details. A similar new forge would probably cost over $800. Used forges sell from $125 up depending on the condition.

The major problem in many old forges is missing parts followed by cracked fire pots and and cast iron pans. You really need to see it and look closely.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 10:08:19 EST

I am going to make the trip. Its about an hour from where I live. thanks for the advice Guru.
   tom - Wednesday, 01/28/04 10:29:12 EST

Shovels: David, These are usualy made from a mild to medium carbon steel for toughness. The tapered and curved sockets on most common shovels are formed over a mandrel in a multi step or multi motion press operation that takes about 1 second. Blanking is done on a punch press and forming the socket and blade in two seperate operations tha only take a few seconds.

So you REALLY want to make thes by hand?

To form these by hand you start with a profiled blank. Bend about a 3/8" "cuff" on the end of that will be the socket. Bending can be done hot by hand or cold in a large vise and then closed with a hammer on the anvil. Bend the "foot pads" a the top of the blade to a 90° angle (it will be difficult to do so later). Roll and fit the socket over a mandrel using a light hammer and forming tongs. You will probably need to start at the open end and and work toward the blade. Clamping to the mandrel will help. If you use care you can hammer out the wrinkles on the back (normaly seen on production shovels). This is an upsetting process that makes the metal thicker and must be done at a red heat. After forming the socket arc the blade in a form or between two parallel bars welded to a plate. This too can be done by hand but a press (arbor, hydraulic or fly press) will do a smoother job.

Old shovels had seperate forged (hot worked) sockets that were forge welded to the pan/blade making a thicker area where they connected. The connection was usualy a large triangular shape.

Small shovels and trowels were (and still are) forged with a tapered blade blending into a thick tang. The tang was imbedded in the handle with a long ferrule to reinforce the handle.

The best modern trowels are forged from one piece of steel tapering to all edges, the tang an integral piece. This is done largely in small shops by hand using a power hammer and lots of skill. Cheap trowels have a tang welded to flat plate. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 10:59:11 EST

Vaughan Anvils and Pieh Tool: Bill, Pieh Tool Co. is one of our advertisers. They are listed on the drop down menu, on our advertisers page and their banners run here constantly. Centaur Forge (another advertiser) also carries Vaughan tools.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 11:03:31 EST

Bad Links: Robert, That is my fault. I thought I had fixed that everywhere. . . . Working on it.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 11:11:09 EST

Mousehole Forge Book and Calendar Bundle

We do not run our "local" ads as often as paying advertisers so it takes longer to wait an test them. . . And I've screwed up this add ever since it was posted in November. . :(
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 11:41:43 EST

I received an email today asking where a person could find the Russian Anvils now that Harbor Freight no longer carries them. I checked the HF website and they are no longer listed. Does anyone have any insight into this? Does it mean my HF Ruskie will become more valuable? I could sell it on ebay for a lot less than the scalpers and still make money!
Regarding one-piece trowels, I forged one last year from a piece of 2-1/2" x 1/4" x 6" plate. It was a LOT of work by hand but it came out quite nice. I tapered the blade, dished it down and forged the handle and fullered it opposite the dish in the blade. Of course, nobody would ever pay what it is worth in time and effort so I didn't see much future in it.....
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 01/28/04 11:49:34 EST


Ruskky Anvil

There are a couple on eBay.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 12:12:31 EST

I'm trying to bend some 1" x2" x1/8 channel iron on its flat. I'm trying for a smooth curve, as if i'd wrapped on a 12" disc. I only need the channel to be bent 45* off flat, in a smooth curve. I've tried it with a three point set up in H-Press, cold. Apply x pressure, advance 1/2 inch, etc. That mostly collapses the inside leg of the channel. Next i tried two round dogs on the platen table, hot. i got the required bend, but it corkscrewed and the walls kinked. It looks terrible after straightening.
I think the next step is to fabricate from flat bar, torched to radius, and weld on side bars. That would work, but i've found myself in that horrible 'there should be a way thru this' personal challenge mentality.
Thanks for any ideas, mike
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 01/28/04 12:49:12 EST

Cast Russian Anvils: QC, I think Harbor Freight was the only importer under the name "Central Forge" as they also carry Chinese anvils under the same brand name. Although I do see Central Forge products in many fleamarkets. So they may be coming in through another imported but I cannot believe there was enough markup for a middle man.

Products like these come and go as stock runs out, exchange rates fluctuate, import rules change. Often factories run a large quantity of a low cost product during a period of low work and then when business picks up they stop running the make-work jobs. These were so cheap that I believe that is what they were, make-work, jobs. They were retailing for less than what similar products from former Eastern block countries wholesale for.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 12:51:38 EST

Linseed Oil: You might say the smell is fishy if you were not familiar with it. Raw or boiled both dry but raw takes a VERY long time. The smell also remains for a very long time. That is the nature of linseed oil.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 12:54:47 EST

Channel Bend: Mike, That is a tough bend to make. We rolled 1" x 3/4" x 1/8" channel flat in a large radius (7 foot circle) in my tire bender and wrecked the steel shafted cast iron rolls. The edge of the channel cracked the CI.

Conical bends are made with rolls with the rollers ar angles but I suspect you are making too small a cone for cold stretching. If upsetting the edges then it is really tough.

If you need to make more than one of these I would make a fixture from plate with a bar welded to it to make a corner to work against. You would cut the plate in a large ring, roll to cone, weld, then bend and weld a piece of 1/2" square bar to create the corner.

To use you would heat the channel in the forge to start the end and then with a big rose bud to keep moving. Start the end, clamp it, bend some more and clamp. Ah. .. did I say you are going to need a lot of clamps. . .

Expensive way to go. However, if VERY hot and heated for its full length you might be able to wrangle it into the jig in one heat.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 13:06:56 EST

Channel Bending

MIke, As you are discovering channel is one of the hardest shapes to bend smoothly. If you really want to make this bend rather than fabricating a sweep then you will have to make an internal mandrel ( a filler to fit between the legs) and bend the whole assembly at once or you could try lightly welding another flat to the open side of the legs to make a tubular shape. You will probably have to bend it hot around a form or into a setup on your H press. After you bend you can cut off the extra flat and clean up the channel.

If you need to have the look of the channel in your finished piece one trick is to cut out the inner leg and the flat web for a distance that will equal the length of the outer circumference of your bend. Bend the resulting flat into the arc you need. Now bend the part you removed if possible- if not cut the flange part off the web and bend it to the inner arc. Tack that back into place and cut a piece to replace the web from flat. If you weld and grind carefully it will be nearly invisible. Good Luck.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 01/28/04 13:16:03 EST

thanks, guys!
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 01/28/04 13:31:27 EST

Another trick that works for bending channel cold is to fill the channel with a low melting point alloy like Cerro-bend. Unfortunately, this wont work for doing it hot, as the Cerro-Bend has a melting temp around 200 degrees. It costs about 25 bucks a pound from MSC or Mcmaster Carr. Reusable many times.
To bend channel the hard way cold requires dies for a hossfeld or diacro bender, a separate set of dies for each set of channel, at about 250 or more per set of dies. Or you could bend it with a powered angle roll. Depends on how many you need.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 01/28/04 14:02:23 EST

Harbor Freight Anvils: Go to their website, harborfreight.com, and key on "Retail Stores". Look for the one near you, and call them. You'll probably find that they still have some 110 lb Rooskies in stock.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 01/28/04 14:10:01 EST

Mike, I was about to come back with something similar as SGensh, saw notches and then weld and grind. Still a lot of work but less than fabrication from three pieces. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 14:10:59 EST

What are the advantages or disadvantages of using a fly press (#6) to weld steel. Can I use a fly press in the same manner as a hydraulic press when making mosaic damascus?

   Dan - Wednesday, 01/28/04 14:13:50 EST

Mike-hr and channel bending.

This is one of the miricles that St. Francis taught us;-) If you have a copy of "The Blacksmith's Cookbook" on page 32 he describes how to do it under "Square Noodles". The trick is it is not a one step process. First you need to put a compensating bend in the other leg of the angle opposite your curve... Make the bend 3 times the final radius, so for your table it would be 36", the other leg will distort when you make this bend don't worry about it. Get it in your forks and make the bend you wanted, and it should straighten itself out and should be pretty smooth. Good luck. Francis says in the description you should be able to do it cold... For what thats worth:-) Still not very clear is it. The edge you want pointing up when you are done, needs to be bent first, with that edge pointing out away from the center of the radius, which is 36". Then flip it arounds and put it in the bending forks the way you want it to be and bend it back around to the 12 radius. The 2-1 on the legs might mess you up, never tried that. IN the example Francis uses 1x1, and says he has done 2x2x.25 cold. Hope that helps:-)

Merelion's Lair Forge
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 01/28/04 14:20:26 EST

Im new at blacksmithing and I want to keep this simple.What type of metal should I use for starting in heating and shaping of metal, and where do I find it?By the way im in the Carolinas now(USA) so, its hard to find a blacksmithing supportive shop.
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 15:00:55 EST


Keeping in mind that I've never seen a flypress in action, I'd suspect that it would work, but it might take more practice to get the pattern even. The advantage of a hydraulic press in this application is that you can spread the force over a larger area than with a hammer or maybe even a flypress. Using a press of any sort will result in greater uniformity of pattern than a hammer.

I have been thinking about this since I spent a saturday afternoon two weeks ago watching a knifemaker make a billet of pattern-welded steel in a 30-ton hydraulic press. The platen was about 6" x 9". Of course, for mosaic one would use several sets of V-blocks before switching to a flat platen. He commented that the advantge of a press over a hammer is a better weld, expressed by the notion that a hammered billet will have hollows on the ends where the outer layers of steel have moved more than the inner layers, but a pressed billet will be "squooshed out" on the ends.

I think the best pattern development for non-mosaic damascus would result from pressing the initial billet, then rolling it out in a small rolling mill. But that's not what you asked. I'd suspect a flypress would be almost as good as hydraulic, with the chief disadvantage being that a flypress may not be as strong.

So: The short answer is "maybe."
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 01/28/04 15:01:12 EST

I just got why my question was false, you can use any metal you want, you dont buy specific metals without specific reasons right?
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 15:32:59 EST

Kain, since nobody else is saying anything, I suggest you go to the top of this page and click where it says "getting started in blacksmithing." You will find a great many questions answered there.

By the way, there are probably more smiths in the Carolinas than just about anywhere else in the states, except for Virginia.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 01/28/04 16:00:30 EST


Hard to find a blacksmith in North Carolina? You're probably right, I only know of about a 150 in NC. Where are you (city) in NC?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 16:53:08 EST

Kain: There are all sorts of steels some are harder to forge than others - some are almost unforgeable. Most smithing work is done with MILD STEEL. This is the easiest to forge and the most commonly found. It's what you should start with. Most of the steel lying around is mild steel and there are ways to check this but at this point, I suggest you go down to the steel yard and buy a few pieces of 3/8" round or square.
   adam - Wednesday, 01/28/04 16:59:56 EST

Bill, on Vaughn anvils if you want to send me your email address I will send you a picture of new, blue Vaughn anvil.
If you click on my name at the end of this post it should give you my email address.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/28/04 18:18:47 EST

Thank you, Im in Charlotte... I just keep my hopes to myself and never asked anyone. And I live right at a metal shop(thats what I call it) and plenty of rods and spare metal supplies of my own I can test for carbon containment. I just didnt know that I should try using my own metal. And im reading the getting started already, ill look into it deeper.
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 19:05:33 EST

Not to flood the forums, but I just bought a jewlers anvil for $1.50.But itll be a while before I can use I guess.
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 19:34:09 EST

Kaine, I want you to email Melanie Williams at mmwiliams@nc.rr.com and ask her for a copy of the NCABANA roster. Tell her that Paw Paw Wilson told you to write to her. When you get the roster, you can look up the smiths in your area.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 21:00:30 EST

Thank you Paw Paw
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 21:04:45 EST

Rugg, I put 4 pieces of coke into my gas forge tonight, and the pieces got red hot, that was all.....no flames or visible combustion. Took about a minute to start getting red around the edges, solid red in two or three minutes, turned the gas off, they lost the red in a couple of minutes and looked as though they had never been used......this coke works fine for me in my coal forge, but it takes LOTS of air, I have a Centaur electric blower and you can crank it up to an impressive blast. I also build a good fire of wood or charcoal or coal before I add any coke.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/28/04 21:19:03 EST

Rugg, also my coke is in chunks about 1/2" diameter up to less than 1" in diameter, pretty small stuff.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 01/28/04 21:21:00 EST

Forge Welding in Presses: Dan, There is is probably little advantage to other presses other than speed (within the same capacity). Fly presses move relatively fast compared to a hydraulic press. But being hand powered they are almost useless for the drawing. The hand powered fly presses are much less powerful than the common hydraulic forging presses being built. And neither moves fast enough to be efficient drawing machines regardless of capacity.

The niftyest and most efficient machine for working laminated steel billets is the McDonald Mill. With one tenth the horsepower of a hydraulic press you can weld and draw out a billet. They are compact and quiet running machines. However, they are NOT an industrial rolling mill. They cannot be used for cold imbossing or continous rolling (that requires water cooled rolls). See our book review page and the plans for the McDonald Mill.

There is no substitute for POWER. If you want a machine that will forge weld and draw billets, make upsets, texture bar and be an all round blacksmithing machine you want a BIG power hammer (100 to 300 pounds).

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:12:54 EST

Kain, I mis-spelled the web address for Melanie. It should read: mmwilliams@nc.rr.com (two l's) I just got off the phone with her, she's expecting your email.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:15:07 EST

I wrote to the address Paw Paw, but it sent me an e-mail back saying "550 5.1.1 unknown or illegal alias: mmwiliams@nc.rr.com"
   Kain - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:16:45 EST

Kain, See the message just before your last one. I had a typo in the address that I posted at first.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:24:34 EST

Are the cheap Russian anvils any beter than the china made anvils?
   - marty - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:31:48 EST


Yes. No contest. The Russian anvil is made out of cast steel, the Chinese crap is cast iron. All the difference in the world. The Russian anvil is still not a GREAT anvil, but it's a good starter anvil.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 01/28/04 22:47:25 EST

Ebay has 4-110# russian cast anvils if you do a search

$119.,$99.,and two @ $84.,right now but they want $45. or $60. shipping. ?? could maybe find Better Deal elseware,,Maybe??
Was at ebay earlier and checked for 110# anvils just to see what they wanted .
   DanD - Wednesday, 01/28/04 23:55:12 EST

Russian Anvil
Is the shipping price a good price,or is it high at those amounts. For FedX and UPS. Just wandering.
Have $60. saved. Can't decide weather to buy Anvil or Bagpipes.
   DanD skabvenger - Thursday, 01/29/04 00:33:58 EST


My choice would be an anvil. But your mileage may vary. Shipping id very dependent on location. If they have to ship all the way across the country, $45 is a good price, if they just have to ship across town, it's highway robbery.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 08:37:27 EST

Hold on everyone, Don`t go on a Russian anvil buying spree because HF isn`t going to carry them anymore. I saw several on the shelf just last week at a HF in my area. Be sure to call it may be worth driving to the next town to pick it up at the store. I`m not knocking the Russian anvil but if I was going to invest around $150 in one I wouldn`t because your just going to move up to a better anvil anyway. Euroanvils ad is here, upper right hand corner in navigation box. The 167lb German Style anvil is $380 and is a good one too. Can`t afford it? Buy the Russian and a short time will pass and you will be kicking yourself. If Quenchcrack comes around he will tell you the same thing cause he done it.
   Robert-ironworker - Thursday, 01/29/04 09:13:15 EST

Can anyone describe the process of micro-alloying and to what benefit would a micro-alloyed railroad joint bar have versus a non-micro-alloyed bar?

Thank you,
   Joe Tall - Thursday, 01/29/04 09:31:12 EST

Joe at Guilford Rail, One of our metalurgists may have to help you on this one. However, I suspect you have not defined the question well enough. Little things like what are you replacing?

My little knowledge of micro alloys is that they are steels with very small amounts of alloying ingrediants. This should make them a cheaper alternative to a high alloy steel IF they perform the same. However, cost/price is often determined by availability and quantity more than actual cost of production. Criticality of heat treatment may also have a cost effect.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:02:19 EST

I just found your site. Excellent stuff!!Im just getting into smithing. Long time welder/fab. ironworker by trade. Scrounger at heart.
I heard of a guy that makes fish by using gauge metal seal welded all the way around except the mouth. Some how he heats up the fish and blows them up with compressed air. Any info on this or who the guy is would be appreciated.

Thanks a million,
   Luke Palmer - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:04:50 EST

Any one have info about seal welded gauge metal fish that are heated an blown up or expanded with compressed air?
   - Luke Palmer - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:06:47 EST

Howdy, realy good stuff found here! Im along time ironworker (tradesman) fab./welder. New to smithing as a hobby but have dinked around with iron for years. Im looking for info about making fish out of gauge metal, seal welded, and then heated up and expanded with compressed air. Any help would be great.
   Barkley Sagebrush - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:15:38 EST

Don't know about fish, but Elizabeth Brim makes sheet steel "pillows", complete with diamond-tuck embossing. I think you weld up the blanks, and weld on a short pipe attachment to blow into, heat the whole thing to medium red either in a gas forge or with a few BIG rosebuds, then stick an air hose on the little pipe (which is hopefully cool enough to hook the hose to), and give it some air.

Never done it, but read about it somewhere.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:16:43 EST

Oh, and Luke or barkley or whoever you are, this is a bulliten-board type place, not a chat. Don't expect real-time answers.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:18:19 EST

Russian Anvils: Anybody watch the 60 minutes story on Counterfiting in China last night? Shortly after our article on Russian anvils was posted Chinese copies appeared on the market. Cheeper copies of an unbelievably cheep product?????

NOTE: When Harbor Frieght had them on sale the $99 price INCLUDED shipping anywhere in the US.

NOTE: Seller states "for professional use, made of high carbon tempered steel". This is incorrect. No professional
would have anything to do with this anvil and the steel is not high carbon. See our report on them HF Russian Anvil Product Review

NOTE: Many ebayer's make their profit on shipping which is "unrefundable". You pay shipping AGAIN to return a defective product and they have still made a profit and you are out shipping TWICE (probably enough to buy a good used anvil).

NOTE: The second anvils that came up in that eBay search were absolutely NOT the Russian but probably a Chinese anvil. Check out the two hardie holes and the overhanging faux plate.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 11:45:25 EST

Luke Palmer AKA Barkly Sagebrush (IP Please pick a name and use it. Folks here do not treat internet lounge lizards well here.

As Alan pointed out its done with an air fitting, the long metal type like you see on big truch tire. These are usualy brass and you have to braze them on. You have to be REALLY carefull. The folks doing it have been using manual air pumps (not air compressors). It is tough pumping but it is better than having red hot shrapnel flying all over.

All kinds of strange methods have been used to shape metal. One artist uses primer cord layed out in a pattern under steel plate. When it goes off it makes a deep force impression along the line of the cord. Its a type of explosive forming.

Then there is fold forming which is a newly recognized method of making textural and surface effects. It is based on the fact that when you fold a piece of steel plate the outside of the bend is permanently stretched. When flattened the plate can never go back completely flat.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 12:01:10 EST

Apprentice update: I walked and talked Amanda through her first 1095 & nickel billet last night. The pattern is so striking she is comtemplating additional items other than just bracelets. She is now commited to making smithing her vocation, but I told her to stay in FSU art school and get her credentials while learning techniques and improving efficiency. She agreed.(Thanx, Jerry C). She is gathering some tools (thanx for the help Pete B)and is also working with another lady smith in our local chapter. These young ladies turn out some nice work.
Colinn, s the Guru said, there are probably other aspiring smiths in your area who would help defray travel expenses even if you do have to travel a few hundred miles to a meeting or a conference.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 01/29/04 12:08:14 EST

Hmmm anvil or pipes? Hard choice, but since I have an anvil already I guess I would go with the pipes...(grin)

Get tha anvil. As I think you can get a better anvil for 100 bucks than you can get pipes at that price.
   Ralph - Thursday, 01/29/04 12:36:59 EST

Ralph & DanD; Come to think about it, whichever one you get, somebody is gonna b--ch about the noise.
   3dogs - Thursday, 01/29/04 12:41:54 EST

Honestly though, Dan, good pipin' makes me eyes wet. You'll wanna be careful wi' tha pipes, lad. Somebody'll be tryin' to make ye a Shriner. (Which ain't a bad thing)
   3dogs - Thursday, 01/29/04 12:53:37 EST

Is anyone ever going to reprint FW's "Recipes in Iron?" (I can't find a copy anywhere)or publish his second book? I heard a year ago that the second book was in the review process, but haven't heard anything since.
   robcostello - Thursday, 01/29/04 13:03:19 EST

Rob, I suspect it is not a matter of a "reprint". The copyrights belong to the family and printing is not cheap. Many of these books are printed by the author at great expense and then sold over a period of time. Folks have to consider how long it is going to take to get their money back selling 1,000 books.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 15:26:50 EST


Go to this site. www.balconesforge.org/technical articles/Robb Gunter's angle-iron bender. I have seen him demonstrate this item and it works like a jewel.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Thursday, 01/29/04 15:55:34 EST

I just got some more metal from old desks that had broken. I think theyll be usable even if theyre a little thin.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 16:14:39 EST

Kain, Virtually all metal is reusable for SOMETHING. My first forge had brackets all over it made of the heavy aluminium body material from an Austin Healy 100-4 (very rare antique but totaled). I applied for a job once at a place in the Carribean that made bread trays from oil drums and racks from wire recyled from heavy tension cable (LOTS of straightening). A friend of mine has built significant portions of big hydroturbines out of scraped underground steel tanks. Many years ago I built a wood stove from an old water pressure tank. The AFC's Montogomery, Alabama group has a four station teaching setup on a trailer that all the forges are built entirely from discarded hot water tanks.

AND anywhere in the world where there has been significant unrest children scavange battle fields for spent brass from small arms to cannon and bombs. Much of it is used by local metal workers as is or sometimes is is melted and cast. Sadly many of these children are maimed or killed by mines. The toll on the innocent by mines is far greater than with combatants. There is a push to ban the manufacture of anti personel mines but the big hold up is the United States. Our arms manufacturers make too much money selling mines. . .

For odd projects and learning on your own scrap metal can go a long way. However, when you are in business you genneraly cannot afford the time to scrounge and reuse scrap. Time is more valuable than materials. See our Junkyard Steels article on the FAQs page.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:12:02 EST

I am going to forge a tradition (but funtional) ice climbing axe. It needs to be both stong and light weight. It will have a steel head and a wood handle. The head is double ended; one end has sort of a spike and the other an adz like end.
Do you think it would be better to slit and dift a thick bar, then draw it down (to about 3/16) or start with thin flat stock and forge weld a piece on to form the eye?
Thanks a lot,
   - Hayes - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:23:00 EST

Thank you guru I read the article and Im glad you answered my message. I hope I can one day meet you.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:24:19 EST

btw i meant slit and drift
sorry about that
   - Hayes - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:24:48 EST

Amanda could stay in school AND make blacksmithing her vocation- University of Illinois at Carbondale offers undergraduate, and, I think MFA's in blacksmithing. Some of our countries best artist blacksmiths have degrees from there, including Jim Wallace who runs the Ornamental Iron Museum, and lately I have been meeting a lot of young smiths from there, including several women who are recent graduates. The ones I have met have been working full time as blacksmiths in some of the shops around here, and they seem to really know what they are doing.
   - Ries - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:31:14 EST

I have low carbon allumunum I was tinking of usin for a cone on a forge but... I want to use a heavy stone small chimney top I found in a creek. I have not built a forge yet so I want to know what a blacksmith will say or instruct.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:32:31 EST

I forgot, are there any ABANA in NC.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:33:15 EST


Yes, the list of smiths that Melanie will send you is from the member ship roster of the NCABANA group.

Did you read my message above about the typo in Melanie's addres that I sent you?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:43:42 EST

Ice Axe: Hayes, It is generaly easier to start heavy and work down rather than build up. However, if you slit and drift, the bar does not need to be too terribly heavy. When you slit the width of the bar only needs to be double the eye wall thickness. A 1/2" wide bar would leave 1/4" per side or a little less. However, this may be narrower than the spike needs to be where it meets the eye. So that may be your starting width. Then you would slit for a smaller eye and then thin the sides by hammering it over a tapered drift (not down onto, but hammering the sides to thin out). So you may want to start with a 3/4" or 1" wide bar.

A little planning can go a long way. If you have difficulty visualizing the mass and changes in shape then try it in modeling clay. This can also help you determine the minimum material you need to start.

This style forging (large eye, narrow polls) is a common hammer style for decorative work.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:44:51 EST

"low carbon aluminium" Kain, Since carbon is not an alloying ingrediant in any alloy (other than PM super alloys) there is no such thing. In general aluminium is to be avoided in forge construction because of its low melting point. In my case it was used for brackets holding contols to the frame well below the heat effected zone, not parts of the forge proper.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:51:09 EST

You know im... giving up. ill just watch others im not going to be anyone special anyway. Im sorry I bothered all of you.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 17:55:09 EST

Kain, I don`t know why your giving up before starting but theres several people here trying to help you. Read Paw Paws post back up the line.
   Robert-ironworker - Thursday, 01/29/04 19:33:55 EST

Well ill keep trying. For the hope that I can do what I always wanted to do.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 19:35:43 EST

I just hate being looked down on, I really want to be helped though.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 19:37:43 EST

Kain, no matter how skilled someone is at something they had to start somewhere. (Maybe our guru's would be nice enough to tell us about the trouble they had starting out?) Keep up collecting knowledge; you'll never get to where you want to be without asking questions, reading books and honing your skills.
   Cyjal - Thursday, 01/29/04 19:46:53 EST


I'm going to be a little bit blunt with you. Not looking down on you, I just want to be sure you understand me.

You've asked intelligent questions. They reveal that you don't know much about metal work. They also reveal that you want to learn. BUT they also reveal that you would like for us to think that you know more than you do.

Won't work, son. You know why? Almost every one of us in here, myself included, was at one time exactly where you are tonight.

So. don't BS us. Ask us questions, we'll answer them. READ the answers.

In other words, pay attention in class. (grin) We are not school teachers. We won't give you any homework. But we WILL give you suggestions on what books to read, and how to get in touch with folks who might be able to help.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 20:09:39 EST

Do you have any books to suggest? And right but... Close in one way, I feel like the 10 yr old boy following a frontline without even knowing how to load my rifle. But your right on trying to sound intelligent. I just dont want to fall behind, Im sorry I forgot what you said earlier.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 20:14:23 EST

By the way Melanie is a beutiful name, and I really like the name Paw Paw. One day I hope I can meet you, and WHEN I do, I want follow your choices on whats right for me whenever someone gives me a direction to follow in metalworking. Maybe I could be your apprentice... But I doupt you would have the time.
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 20:46:33 EST

want to*
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 20:47:19 EST

Kain, we all feel that way at times, about different types of situations. Don't sweat it, it's human.

So I'm going to be blunt with you again. You seem to be mature enough to handle that. "I forgot what you said earlier." Did somebody erase my messages???? Or are the still there to be read?? Doesn't make you look small to re-read the messages, I do it all the time. Most of us do.

Books to read. Have you read the GETTING STARTED IN BLACKSMITHING article? There's a whole list of books in there. Most of them you can get from your public library. Some will have to come to the library through a program called Inter Library Loan. If you're not familiar with that program (and many folks aren't) your librarian can explain how it works and help you with the paperwork. Print out the list of books from the GETTING STARTED article and take it with you. Some of the books, you will want to keep for a personal reference. Check with the used book stores both on line, and in town, and you can get most of them for pennies on the dollar over what they would cost new.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 20:49:16 EST

Heh, I think ill try The Art of Blacksmithing first
   Kain - Thursday, 01/29/04 21:02:39 EST


OK, that's a good one to start with. There are a couple of errors in the book, because Alex Bealer (the author) didn't know much about blacksmithing when he started. But they aren't serious, and when you actually start working with the steel, you'll recognize the errors when you get to them. That particular book happens to be the first one I bought when I came back to the anvil.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 22:40:13 EST


I just went back and read the couple of messages that you wrote. I'm very complimented that you would consider apprenticing with me. But in all honesty, I'm a fair country smith, but I'm not a great artist smith. You can see the kind of work I like to do best on my home page. It's located at: http://www.pawpawsforge.com

Paw Paw is the name I called my grandfather, and now my grandchildren call me by that name, in memory of him.

If you are going to be in the Winston Salem area, contact me, I'd be pleased to meet you and your parents. Or, you can find my demonstration schedule on my web page and you and your parents might be able to come to Bethabara when I'm doing a demonstration there.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 01/29/04 22:45:01 EST

Kain, Click on my name and email me and I`ll send you a new copy of The Art of Blacksmithing, I got one for a Christmas gift and already had one.
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 01/30/04 00:04:24 EST

Howdy men! Have been looking @ the sites for awhile. Do enjoy it lots. Just joined moments ago. I trieed to post before but it did not seem to work without being a member. So this is just a test post. please let me know if it pans out.
   Barkley Sagebrush - Friday, 01/30/04 00:27:33 EST


Your message did work.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/30/04 00:42:00 EST

My apologies, Im not a computer guru. I just figured this out. Im just interested in what other folks are doing and sharing ideas. I guess I spend to much time in the shop and not enough time on the pc. I didnt want to get off on the wrong leg. Please bare with. Also I am aware about "flying shrapnel" that was the reason for my question. I wanted to know if any one had a techniqe that was safe. just got off work.
   Barkley Sagebrush - Friday, 01/30/04 00:47:35 EST


Look back up the page to where you posted messages today. This is a Bulleting Board type system, not a live chat. We do have a live chat, but the messages in there are not kept, they are dumped every night. Messages in here and their answers are archived once a week. One note, the live chat does require registration, (no cost, just have to register) and the Guru is running about a month behind on the registrations, he just has too darn much to do.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/30/04 00:47:36 EST

Whats the difference?
   Barkley Sagebrush - Friday, 01/30/04 00:49:21 EST

I was just reading up the page about aluminum. I do know you can do some working of it by using a piece of kiln dried pine for a temp stick. When the pine starts smokin'....be quick.
   Barkley Sagebrush - Friday, 01/30/04 01:04:27 EST

Try this link for R Gunther's angle iron bender
Barkley: I recently demonstrated inflatable fish at the fall CBA meeting. Elizabeth Brim invented the technique and did her's hot..which is hairy fun. I saw her blow one up in the forge..the seam let go..no real damage..but it's a spooky practice. My version uses annealed steel and water pressure. It doesn't work quite as well as hot, but it's a heck of a lot safer. The critical thing is to get a good edge weld and make sure to evacuate all the air. If it lets go ..the water just sprays you down...a summer sport perhaps.
Yup..you can hot forge aluminum..i think not all alloys. Start when the pine stick chars and listen to the sound of the hammer so you can stop before it gets too stiff again.
The Anvilfire live chat is called "slack tub pub" and folks chat in real time..screen refreshes once a minute or so. Here on the Guru's page, a bulletin board, folks check back in every day or so to see what the gurus answer
   - Pete F - Friday, 01/30/04 03:12:38 EST


Usually questions asked here are answered in a couple of hours. Occasionally it will take a bit longer, even up to a day or so.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/30/04 10:58:57 EST

Rugg, I pulled the few pieces of coke out of my gas forge this AM before heading to work, and even thought they did not flame in the blast, only turned red, when they were cool it was obvious they had undergone combustion, the color was lighter, the pieces felt lighter, and they just "looked" oxidized....exactly like the pieces of partially unused coke at the edges of my coke fire when I use it for smithing.
   Ellen - Friday, 01/30/04 11:04:38 EST

Rugg, sorry, it was not clear from my post above, but these are the pieces I put in my gas forge the other night and posted the results here a couple of days ago.
   Ellen - Friday, 01/30/04 11:17:52 EST

Back from Costa Rica where I gave a one-on-one class without a trip hammer. We double-struck and used charcoal for fuel. A list of things we made, I posted on Virtual Hammer-in. I didn't want to take up too much space here. I think the list gives new meaning to the saying, "Them as can't do, teach". Check it out.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/30/04 12:17:19 EST

im 16 and i have never worked with metal before but i would like to learn how, as much as i try to teah my self off the internet i cannot find anything to teach me. Do you know where i can learn how? what i would like to do is make my own knives and othere things but i just dont know where to learn please e-mail me back i would really appreciate it
   Mike - Friday, 01/30/04 12:52:15 EST

Mike. We have a vast array of articles here and links to many other sites. However, you NEED books. Scroll UP to my posting of 01/24/04 11:15:34 and the link "Resources: The end of innocence". This bibliography starts with a very good basic text book on general metalworking and progresses from there. The list has links to our book reviews and other bladesmithing resiurces. This is the bibliography for an article on smordmaking that is in progress. However, you may want to follow the link and read it from the top throught the section on education.

See also the "Getting Started" link at the top and bottom of this page.
   - guru - Friday, 01/30/04 13:46:59 EST

Sacem table-type horizontal boring machine
Model MST - 110 AC, dated: 1983
looking for machanical operating manual or print
A web address will work
Thank you
   Gary Kravitz - Friday, 01/30/04 14:00:48 EST

Thank you for each the information on the Trenton and the Vaughn-like anvil. As I looked over the blue Vaughn-like anvil, only "45KGS" and below it "England" are casted on the side. The paint is a very thin coat of light blue and doesn't appear to hide any other markings. It is in great shape. My question is: Is there a way to tell how new/old this anvil is? Thanks for all the support. Bill
   Bill - Friday, 01/30/04 14:30:37 EST


Somplace in ANVILS IN AMERICA, Richard Postman mentions that after a certain date all anvils manufactured in England for export were required to have the word ENGLAND stamped on the anvil. I've spent almost an hour trying to find that date and I'll be a dirty name if I can find it. Maybe someone else will remember what it was.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 01/30/04 15:03:00 EST

A while back there was a post about the legality of filling propane tanks with the old style valves if used for commercial purposes, ie, propane forges and not for home bbq grills. My gas man hasn't heard of this. Does anyone know of a federal statute number dealing with this matter? There was also a post about a "For Commercial Use Only" decal, but I never saw any more about it. What is the verdict?
   Ron Childers - Friday, 01/30/04 15:13:31 EST

Bill, the Piehtoolco.com website has pix of their Vaughns in color, as does Centaur. I know they have England on them, and the weight in Kg, but can't remember if the name Vaughn is on them or not.
   Ellen - Friday, 01/30/04 15:35:15 EST

Bill's Anvil:

Bill, this anvil sounds like one of the newer Record anvils, which are all cast iron. You can see them on eBay if you search for "record anvil". Does it ring much when you hit it? How's the rebound?

Also, Guru, a few days ago you mentioned attempting to tin a fellow's copper teapot for him... any info on this process, suggested reading? In the same vein, which metals are food-safe and which aren't? So far I know stainless and tin are OK. Is there a list somewhere, or are these it? (Grin)

I will join CSI by the end of the year, this I swear.

Windy, rainy, and cool in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 01/30/04 15:35:29 EST

TG, you missed new years already? ;)

Tinning. It was a complete failure. I have no good sources of instruction, only warnings NOT to attempt it on irreplaceble items (it was a 40 gallon copper kettle).

   - guru - Friday, 01/30/04 16:38:23 EST

Back from metal digging... Paw Paw, thats what I call my grandfather, thats what I think about every time I see your name. And I like the way of "works? Yeah. Good." Rather than art, but art inblacksmithing will probably help me in detailed work or visual features. And Rob, thanks for the offer ill email you.
   Kain - Friday, 01/30/04 16:53:12 EST

Propane Cylinders: Ron, The DOT regulations required the replacement of all cylinders up to 40 pounds with new valves several years ago. The cost of replacing the valve is prohibitive so replacement cylinders has been the norm. HOWEVER, many of the replacement cylinders had cheap valves or the cylinders were not properly purged causing all types of delivery problems.

As time went on dealers in many states realized that unless the specific STATE had laws and was inforcing the DOT regulation that they could continue to refill the old cylinders. That is the case where I am.

The main discussion about this and the legalities was on February 2003 week 1. Search for "OPD" valves. Included a quote from the NFPA and my commentary.

Since then my local supplier has continued to fill my old cylinders. My local welding supplier said only if the cylinder in not over so old (weaseling around saying NO).

However, the practical wisdom is now saying that "Industrial Use Only" only applies to the exempted horizontal HD fork lift type fuel tanks.

Note that the ODP valves are rated in BTU. ASK. If the dealer selling the cylinder cannot tell you the rating of the valve then DON'T BUY IT. Usualy the bigger the cylinder the higher the rating. A small forge runs 20,000 BTU/hr. A medium blacksmiths forge 30-40,000 BTU/hr. A small industrial duty forge will run 50-100,000 BTU/hr.

Cylinders designed to run a small gas grill or stove only need to provide 5 to 10 BTU/hr. which is much less than all but the smallest forges. So the suppliers of cylinders for the purpose of small cook stoves can use very limited valves (for THEIR purpose).

   - guru - Friday, 01/30/04 17:04:17 EST

Paw Paw:

I believe the rule regarding "England" an anvils went into effect in the early to mid 1930's so dating the Vaughn might be a tad difficult. I have seen pictures of Vaughn anvils that are white-The COSIRA book and book by Parkinson by shown them this way.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 01/30/04 17:12:33 EST

LP-Gas questions? try
scroll down to " contact us " link at bottom of page. they can give you local rules if you live in USA,(48 states).Not all states use the same rules or inforce them.
has FAQ, on LP-Gas,and answers
   DanD skabvenger - Friday, 01/30/04 17:47:57 EST

MikeHR, How did you make out on the channel bend? Did you find a method that worked for you?
   SGensh - Friday, 01/30/04 19:25:03 EST

what material should I make the homemade jacks out of?
   - Moe - Friday, 01/30/04 19:39:57 EST

SGensh, i wimped out and cut out three 15 degree pie shaped wedges, adds up to 45 degrees. I bent to shape and welded up, i kinda like the looks of it. I printed out all the responses to this, next time we get all the great minds over here, i'm going to propose a mini workshop on the thing.
I liked R. Gunters angle iron bender, gonna make one on those, too.
   mike-hr - Friday, 01/30/04 20:09:26 EST

Mike-HR, Getting it done doesn't seem to me to be wimping out. I've never had any luck getting a smooth bend with inside notches- did you bend hot or cold?

You can make simple angle dies for a Hossfeld similar to R. Gunters tool from flat stock and a few bolts. Saves a lot of hammering but its not "true path" as they say.
   SGensh - Friday, 01/30/04 20:31:46 EST

ellen, thanks for the reply. that is about what i saw when i put the coke in the gas forge. when i shut down the forge, the refractory around the glowing coke was hotter than the rest; it was burning. i blew on the orange coke and it cooled it. i will build a ferocious wood fire and pile the coke on it, keep up with the blast, and hope she works. i am in the early stages of a yard gate. using 1X3/8" for the frame. would be much more efficient to use
   rugg - Friday, 01/30/04 20:45:24 EST

Propane tanks:
There is a provision in the regulations that Ok"s a 20lb old style tank to be refllled,providing that it is only used for industrial purposes. It was brought up by a smith at an NJBA meeting. The smith after much wrangling and obtaining a copy of the regulations convinced his supplier to refill his old tanks. I tried to go this route also and my supplier would have nothing to do with this. Probably because of a liability issue, they do not want a lawsuit if the tank goes up. I may have a copy of the regulation somewhere in my archives. I solved my problem by buying a 100Lb tank...which they happily refill.
   - Ron J. - Friday, 01/30/04 21:02:43 EST

Ellen and Paw-Paw, The blue anvil has a high pitch ring compared to the Trenton. Rebound is quick and has a 3/8 pritchel hole and 3/4" square Hardie hole. The top surface is shiny like it was surfaced ground. Any other ideas about this little one's history?
FYI: I just came from a flea market where I saw another Trenton, although it was pretty rough. I quickly glanced at the base and saw it stamped "166" and a number begining with 77,???. I think he wanted $300.... Way over priced, wasn't it?
SOME GUIDANCE NEEDED: I would like to place my 125# Trenton on one side of my metal vise and the smaller 'blue' anvil on the opposite side. My metal vise is bolted to an 8" pipe mounted two feet deep in concrete and then was filled with concrete. Question: Inside a wooden form with heavy rebar welded to the steel pipe and also dropped into holes drilled in the 2 ft.thick lower block, would pouring a block of concrete around the large vise pipe and mounting the anvils to the top be a suitable idea? Pros/Cons? Bill
   Bill - Friday, 01/30/04 21:17:41 EST


I wouldn't think that mounting your anvils that way would work very well. I find that I move my anvils from time to time, and often I need all the space I can get around/near/below my post vise to be able to bend stock. Having the anvils mounted to the vise just seems too restrictive to me.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/30/04 22:15:42 EST

Bill, you can make a decent anvil stand out of some 2 X 6 boards. Just make a flat sided truncated pyrimid and place anvil on top. FOr a bit more stablitiy put sand or sand bags inside
   Ralph - Friday, 01/30/04 23:51:08 EST

Bill, i was drinking cans of adult beverage, cruising in the great northwest forest, when behold, a big ponderosa pine had fallen on the wayside. The forward thinking forest service servants cut the 28 in tree into 5 foot chunks, and rolled off the road. it was a simple task to un-roll a couple 5 foot chunks back on the road, and into robert red ford, our faithfull backwoods steed. i took a section into the shop, (concrete floor) made a scribe mark where it , minus anvil height , shoul be cut.Insert chainsaw cut, mount anvil, turns out it rocks a little where i like it to be. I just cram little cedar shims under it till it stops moving. really low tech, but sometimes, when company's over, we like to move the anvil to a really wide open space, and practice triple striking. The log section provides good dunnage under the anvil, and it's easy to roll around the area. just cram more shims under it wherever it lands. ive found the best laid plans change, often, and portability rules.. i can hand truck forge, anvil, and multifuntion table with vise, post drill and grinder, anywhere i want, hammer-ins, weekend workshops, jobsites, in not much time at all. just build a really nice expanded metal ramp for the pick up.
   mike-hr - Saturday, 01/31/04 00:32:18 EST

This is a brief, stupid question. I have welded for some time and have started to get into the fine craft side of metal work. However, one question eludes me, my father who is a metalsmith (mostly non-ferrous), and many books I have looked in: Much of the professional, craft metal work (such as clocks, bookends, fire pokers, etc) I have seen has a black finish coloring. These pieces don't seem to be painted so how do you get that coloring on it? A lot of the online resources seem to mandate the use of toxic chemicals which just doesn't seem right. Ideas?
   Stephen - Saturday, 01/31/04 00:44:00 EST

Gary Kravitz; I went to Google.com and typed in Sacem boring machine, and got a boatload of listings. The best looking one was starequipment.net. Every time I see an inquiry such as yours, I go straight to Google, and am seldom disappointed. The reason I picked Star Equipment was the fact that they are Sacem dealers. Glad to be of help. 3dogs
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/31/04 02:07:39 EST

STEPHEN; Meinself, I let the work come down to a black heat, and wipe it down with a rag dampened with CLEAN oil. The heat will cause the blackening that you're after. After it cools, wipe off the oil with a dry rag and apply a coat of ordinary paste wax. My reason for specifying clean oil is because it is pretty common practice to use old motor oil, which can release some pretty nasty stuff when cooked by a piece of hot iron. You don't want any of it on your skin or up your nose.
   3dogs - Saturday, 01/31/04 02:29:17 EST


I do something very similar to what 3dogs does. However, I use peanut oil, rather than motor oil. Many fewer nasties in the oil.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 08:03:06 EST


That trenton at the flea market was manufactured in 1908, and if it was in rough shape was overpriced. $200 would be more appropriate.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 09:00:34 EST

Another nice coloring system is to wire brush the part of loose scale, heat up a little to darken,and as the iron cools back down brush with a brass bristle brush. You can get different effects by using more or less brushing, and temp's. I then use a beeswax, Johnsons paste wax and turpentine mixture. Makes the highlights really standout.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/31/04 09:27:53 EST

Bill, Much as Mike-hr did, I aquired a nice big diameter log section that sat on the floor. I did use hardwood, as that is easy to obtain in this part of the country. I still use the log for demos etc, although after several years I built a new bigger shop, and put a non-mobile wood mount.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/31/04 09:31:08 EST

I am Getting started in blacksmithing. I am planning on building a forge from the end of a large compressor tank,do I need to line it with anything before burning coal in it?
   Matt Beever - Saturday, 01/31/04 10:20:53 EST

Propane Regs Ron, Please see the link in my repsonse above and the reply from the people that WROTE the regulations. They refused to clarify the statement and as an unclear regulation those that go by the new regs in the filed generaly will not try to make policy.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 10:38:13 EST

Jacks: Moe, Go to our archives page, select last weeks archive January 2004 week III, search for "Jacks" (right click on content frame and enter keyword). There are numberous posts. Please see my post on definitions on 01/22/04 at 18:45:48.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 10:44:59 EST

Forge From Tank Matt this is a pretty common design. Most builders shape a fire pot in the bottom (an upside down truncated pyramid about 8" square at the top with 45° sides and a bottom just a little bigger than the incoming flange bore). Scrap material from the rest of the tank is used for this and the air gate.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 11:02:34 EST

Google Searches: 3dogs and all, I too do the same thing. I often wonder how folks find us and not what they are looking for. All I can figure is that they use some general search term instead of exactly what they are looking for.

However, in recent months google has been changing their search and ranking algorithms and have made quite a mess. One thing they were trying to get rid of was spamming of the index especially in unrelated categories and the results have been exactly the opposite. Many of our sites that cover a wide range of subjects have been hurt while sites that should not be listed in the categories they are in pop up at the top of many searches. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 11:11:17 EST

Black Finish on Iron: Stephen, As described above this is one of three finishes, scale, chemical bluing or PAINT. Scaled iron immediately out of the forge can be oiled or waxed. This is a temporary high maintenance finish if used outdoors or where there is condensation on metal. Blueing and Parkerizing as used on guns is a controlled oxide finish that relies on constant cleaning and oiling to prevent rust. Paint is generaly the best finish. Note that ANY so-called "natural" or "old time" recipe that uses wax and oil mixtures is an amature varnish formulation. Many go as far as adding Japan drier. You are much better off to use professional formulations.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 11:23:44 EST

I'm also in favor of the stump-mount approach. Mine are oak, since that's what always seems to fall in my yard during the hurricanes. :-) One thing I might add is since you have two anvils, consider mounting the smaller one higher for detail work. I did this with my smaller one, and it saves my back a lot of grief, since I seem to spend about twice as much time on the detail stuff as I do just moving metal.

   eander4 - Saturday, 01/31/04 12:01:26 EST

Anvil stands....
While I prefere stumps, I was just suggesting that you can build one far easier than many folks can find and then get home suitible stumps.
For example I know that Kansas has trees but I would be guessing tht finding a large stump would be more difficult than say if you lived in the PNWet like I do. Remember..... all it is doing ( usually) is placing the anvil at a good work level and making a good solid platform for same. Should not get too tied into the 'traditionally they used stumps' mind set. Stumps were often time much easier to find than other things....
   Ralph - Saturday, 01/31/04 12:15:20 EST

Matt Beever, email with a coupla pictues of a tank forge is on the way--safe to open!
   Jerry - Saturday, 01/31/04 14:33:28 EST

Anvil Stands: We have almost every type of stand covered in our iForge demo #144 on anvil stands.

Note that for solidity you cannot tell the difference between a large pine and oak. Any solid stump will do.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 15:07:58 EST

E-mail Viruses:

Currently e-mail viruses are rampant. However, more than HALF the virus related mail I recieve is virus bounce reports generated by anti-virus software. The anti-virus software has become part of the problem by SPAMMING.

For several years almost ALL viruses have forged return addresses on mail the virus sends. The forged addresses are taken from any addresses found on the infected computer including those on cached web pages and old mail. Sending a warning to the return address is sending a false alarm AND it is SPAM. These programs make spammers out of anyone using them. I have recieved a large number of these from Symantec software as well as others.

Virus spawned mail actually overloads mail systems and the Internet in general. These anti-virus programs are doubling the problem. The problem has been well known now for several years and every programmer involved with anti-virus software should know about it.

ASK your anit-virus software vender if they send warning mail. Tell them to stop because all they are doing is generating SPAM and making the problem worse. If there is a switch on your software to turn off warning replies then DO IT.

My rant of the day. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 01/31/04 15:52:28 EST

I just got 1 pair of tongs a welders helmet 2 pairs of safety glasses an anvil a sledge hammer and a cross peen hammer.And all I spent was $1.00. I really can hold on money.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 17:30:51 EST

Melanie wrote me back
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 17:37:06 EST

The safety glasses are worth the $1.00! As you begin to learn blacksmithing and craft work in general, please remember to always protect you eyes and ears. As I approach my 50th year, I do still have both eyes. There are about seven damaged safety glasses that died in defending my eyes however. I only wish that I had done more to protect my ears. I did wear protection around loud stuff most of the time. The few times I did not is beginning to show.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/31/04 19:23:04 EST

Is there a place on the internet where you can buy carbon steel bar stock for forging swords? I need steels like 1060,1050,1080.
   logan byrd - Saturday, 01/31/04 19:28:29 EST


Check the anvilfire store.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 19:56:41 EST

I have a pair of earmuffs from home depot, and I have A good pair of earplugs that will lst a while, ill make sure I wear them every time.Thank you.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 19:57:44 EST


I want you to go to the iForge section (use the pull down menu) and read demonstration #66 very carefully.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:04:59 EST

Oh! I forgot to mention that I'm glad you've started collecting some of what you will need.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:20:12 EST

I was wandering...Heh, I need a forge but I dont really know ANYTHING about them. Where can I find information on making or buying types of forges. I read that there are many different types of forges, thats what worries me.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:20:33 EST

im a beginer blade smith and reanactment enthusiast. i read on the internet i can make a sword out of a leaf spring,(you experts dont get upset, ive made lots of knives and swords before, im not stupid enough to try to build a sword as my first project). my problem is my neighbors hate the noise of my pounding,And the leaf spring needs to be straightened(it says it takes days to straighten).this would drive them nuts, and they would probably call the cops.i cant heat it up because i would lose the hardness and it is so hard its impossible to get that back without special equipment.i was wondering if you could give me some tips or tell me what type of steel its made from and where i can buy some.(please try to keep in mind i dont have alot of money to spend)
thank in advance
bladesmith in trouble
   bladesmith in trouble - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:20:38 EST

Thank you, Paw Paw
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:21:35 EST

I read the safety warning you wrote Paw Paw, and I have a few more question.(read and answer the questions above if you havnt already.) Wear can I buy a leather apron? and I lied, one question, one comment...I examined the pictures and I have to say you have a nice house. I hope your scars remain small and your wisdom flurishes greatly from pain and ill fate.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:36:38 EST

   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:37:07 EST


Here in Carolina, you can use just about any type of forge. If you are in the city, it's better if your neighbors might complain about coal. But if you make them something, usually they don't complain. So I'd suggest that you look on the plans page at the Brake Drum Forge. You can probably scrounge all or almost all of the parts. It's a coal forge and it's where I suggest everyone start out. It's a relatively cheap (sometimes free) way to start out and see if you want to continue.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:37:30 EST

You can buy a leather apron at the National Welding Supply store in Charlotte.

The scars did fairly well, most of them blended into the wrinkles. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:39:23 EST


My first demonstration is Saturday, May the 8th at Historic Bethabara Park here in Winston-Salem. It's the annual Celtic festival, and it's a lot of fun. See if you can talk your mom and dad into bringing you up for the day. Tell them that there is good food, GREAT music, and the whole day is fun. They'll enjoy it as much as you will.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:42:37 EST

Thank you Paw Paw, and I go up state to go to the civil war reinactments and other things(including festivals), ill be able to go. I promise. And I should have thought about the welding store. No one cares about coal where I live, theres a guy up the road that burns trash and wood ALL DAY LONG. And my welding teacher uses a wood burning stove for heat and cooking. I use it forironing my clothes sometimes.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 20:59:03 EST

Where do I get a blower? I dont want to spend too much, but I have plenty of money... But I am really cheap.recycle?
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 21:47:32 EST


Easiest way would be to find an old hair dryer and take out the heating coil so it just blows air. Or use the cold setting if it has one.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 22:23:27 EST

Man, my anvil is good but 3 inches of it is broken off.(the back side) Everything else is fine though. Otherwise its really niiiiiiiice.
   Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 22:34:07 EST

Thats what I was thinking, the axact same thing I was going to do in the morning. Heh, you read my mind
   - Kain - Saturday, 01/31/04 22:46:53 EST

A special Thank You for this group's help on the old and new anvils as well as the insight into good ways and places to mount them. Earlier this evening, I was visiting with my 83 yr. old father-in-law and talking about this site's help. He laughed and said, "When I was a boy, my father had a blacksmith forge and blower I turned more times than I can remember. The best place to watch was the very center's coal fire as the blower made it chatter and boil. That spot was the best place to heat the metal red hot was called the "Duck's Nest." Question: Is that term still used or is it a Texas term? Bill
   Bill - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:13:47 EST

Bladesmithing Trouble:

If you've stumbled on the site that has you straightening a car spring, cold, with a sledge hammer- IGNORE IT! This is really a bad method!

Go over to Swordforum.com and check out their beginners information.

For some historical information on sword manufacture (if you care at all about history) go to the Anvilfire Armoury section and read my article on swords (check the pull-down menu "NAVIGATE anvilfire" on the upper right on this page).

Cold and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:16:54 EST

Blower Question: My father has a hand-turned castiron blower. As a kid, I remember I counted the turns of the blower to the handle...it was 81 to 1. What would an old blower with no cracks or missing areas on a cast iron stem and round cast iron and concrete base be worth? Again, Many Thanks, Bill in Texas
   Bill - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:26:22 EST

my problem is i cant get hardening and tempering wright my baldes allways bend or snap, i find it much easier to grind a blade out of a piece of hardened and tempered steel, so i cant forge one it would be horrible
you have to understand i have an i-beam as an anvil & a hot campfire as a forge. i wish i had the real tools but i dont have the money, also there is no supply shops for any thing that has to do with metal working.i live in s. amherst,ohio.(lorain county)
   bladesmith in trouble - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:29:38 EST


The term is still used occasionally. Means the same thing.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:57:32 EST


We're going to need pictures to give you an answer that's even in the ball park. The way you asked is about like me asking you how much is my car worth? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 01/31/04 23:59:31 EST

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