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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 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Ben, Note that Dimag is a professional gas line welder.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 09:24:35 EST

John Burrill: I recommend contacting the vendor you purchased it from.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/08/07 09:26:12 EST

Forgemaster: John, This is a serious problem. Burning in the burner tubes will burn them out or worse. Any time this happens in ANY forge shut it off immediately!

Have you thought about calling Forgemaster OR one of their dealers? To cure this problem the first thing is they are going to ask questions.

Forgemaster has a very nice web page about how to light their forges and the difference between new and old forges. There is a retrofit air restrictor for early models to improve how they light.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 09:35:57 EST

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have a BS in Applied Science and Technology and a K-12 science teacher.

This semester we are working on the them "If you could go back in time what would you need?". Naturaly, mining and metal working is a key item. The problem is, honestly, I have never mined, refined or molded any metal. I have no more than a vague idea that meteorites may have been used and that there is a historical tie-in with pottery firing.

As my audience is quite young I need to have a basic understanding and be able to present it in 30 minutes or less. They will not be required to produce usable tools at the end :)

Can you give me a quick run-down on what the most simple set up would be to get iron (or other metal) implement production started should one suddenly find themself in the stone age?

Many thanks in advance!
   Yet Reader - Monday, 01/08/07 15:27:56 EST

Dear Sir or Madam:
Seems typos R' me today...actually I don't have a K-12 science teacher. Rather, I am one. Secondly, we are not working on the them but instead a theme. Sorry, I better go back to the coffee pot. My cafine low light is on.
   Yet Reader - Monday, 01/08/07 15:31:39 EST


I am a sound effects recordist for a film production company. As always we are out gathering fresh new sounds for movies we work on. Who would I talk to about getting a hold of a large bellows (renting or purchasing)? Something similar to the one pictured on this link would be wonderful:


Please note I am on the west coast of the U.S. Thank you so much for your time!

All the best,
   Jeremy - Monday, 01/08/07 15:44:06 EST

How metal started being used after the stone age (so I've been told, maybe it was just the aliens) is that "native" copper was just found pretty much lying around on the ground. It could have been formed just by hitting it with a rock (maybe they tried to knap it at first like the flint?). As you bang it into shape, it starts to work-harden and eventually will crack, heating it up and dunking in water will fix this, which is called "annealing". I couldn't guess on how they stumbled onto bronze. Once they actually starting messing with iron (some of which was unknowingly steel), they probably discovered the secret to hardening it fairly quickly, since the method to harden steel is pretty much identical to the method of annealing non-ferrus metals. Since copper is soft enough and doesn't need to be hammered hot, maybe you can even let the kids hammer a copper bar a little and make keychains in the shape of smashed copper.
   AwP - Monday, 01/08/07 15:44:33 EST


I am a sound effects recordist for a film production company. As always we are out gathering fresh new sounds for movies we work on. Who would I talk to about getting a hold of a large bellows (renting or purchasing)? Something similar to the one picture on this link would be wonderful: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/forges/50bellow.htm

Please note I am on the west coast of the U.S. Thank you so much for your time!

All the best,
   Jeremy - Monday, 01/08/07 15:54:49 EST

Yet Reader; in many ways bronze is a better metal for tools being easier to make and work with---being able to cast in simple clay or stone molds is a big help! Bronze is actually about the same hardness as plain iron as well. Why did they make the switch? *Tin* was hard to find to make bronze; even the phoenicians found it profitable to sail from the Mediterranian see all the way to Cornwall in England to get tin to make bronze. Iron ores can be found all over the place from the iron sands to bog iron.

I have smelted iron from ore using Y1K techniques and could do so given stone age technology support---However it would take a number of people supporting me while I did it: mining ore and clay, cutting wood and making charcoal; building the furnace, skinning and tanning animal skins for the pot bellows, etc---a lot more overhead than working native metals that will reduce and even melt in a common campfire under some conditions!

May I commend to your attention "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" for an overview of how biomass fueled furnaces were used for smelting.

   Thomas P - Monday, 01/08/07 16:13:55 EST

Could you advise me how to repair a broken in two 75 kg anvil
bought from Euroanvils?
   Riva - Monday, 01/08/07 16:43:02 EST

Restarting Technology or the reality of the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court:

Yet R.

Fiction and fantasy often takes up the subject of what would happen IF someone with advanced knowledge landed in the past. . probably nothing. The reason I say this is that there have been individuals throughout history that solved technical problems well in advanced of their time and nothing came of it. Why? Because society was not ready. There was no infrastructure to support the knowledge and no driving need. Without the need of a better mousetrap (such as a plague of mice and rats) society would not buy nor support the manufacture of improved traps.

With THAT in mind you would first needs lots of charcoal. This assumes there is a bountiful supply of wood, workers to coal it and transportation from the forests to where the metal is to be smelted.

Second, you need the ore. The more primitive the operation the richer the ore. Very rich ores often have veins of native metal in them that are simply melted out. But this is a rarity almost as rare as meteoric metal. The ore must be mined and transported to the place where it is going to be smelted. This is usually close to the mine.

Then you need a flux. This is a compound that helps seperate the rock from the metal and makes the resulting slag fluid so that it can be poored or taped off. Flux is often sea shells or a lime rich limestone.

Last you will need a source of mechanical power to blow the air on the fire to make it very hot or to hammer the metal if you are making iron. This is more common in making iron than in smelting copper.

So you need, fuel, ore, flux, power and transportation. When you combine these needs it makes more sense of my statement about societies needs. It takes many people working cooperatively to make metal. It also dictates where you are making metal. Ore is heavier than normal rock and therefore hard to move. Transportation can be by people carrying the ore, or animals carrying the load or in a more advanced society by boat or wagon. In the most primitive society the transportation of goods is by people power. So that cooperation comes into play again. Your power source can also be the manpower, horse or animal power, wind or water power. Again you most primitive power source would be people. So you have people making charcoal, digging hard rock ore, providing transportation and mechanical energy.

Did I say that you needed LOTS of people to help you?

The ore is mined then crushed. It is then roasted in a bonfire and crushed again. Hard work. The charcoal is broken up into pieces about 1" in size.

Then the charcoal is put into a cylindrical shaped furnace made of brick and clay. The type of brick and clay is based on earlier technology of the potters making ceramics. The technology of making pottery comes first and leads to the discovery of smelting metals.

SMELTING: Air is blown into the bottom of the furnace using a bellows. In small operations this may be done by hand. As it may take all day and part of the night to smelt a load of metal it will take more than one person.

When the fire is hot more charcoal is added to fill up the furnace. On top of this is put some crushed ore and a little flux. The amounts must be carefully measured and recorded so that the copper smelter of iron master can repeatedly produce metal and improve the efficiency over time. This record keeping meant that the leader of the operation was usually the most well educated of the group.

As the fuel burns down more is added and more ore and flux as well. Each batch of fuel, ore and flux added in layers is called a "charge". Keeping track of and adjusting the charge as needed was the Master smelter's job.

It was also important to carefully control the amount of air entering the furnace. Most ores are a compound such as an oxide of a metal. To separate the oxygen from the metal the fire must have excess carbon and make hot carbon monoxide which would help strip (reduce) the oxygen from the metal.

After a number of charges were added to the furnace there would be a pool of liquid metal at the bottom of the furnace with a pool of molten slag on top of it. Occasionally the furnace would b "tapped" (a hole poked in a thin clay spot) and the molten lava like slag would run out. This would leave more room for metal at the bottom of the furnace.

When there was sufficient metal in the furnace it would be removed. The method of removal depends on the metal. Copper and cast iron would be drained out by tapping the bottom of the furnace and run into molds. Wrought iron would be removed with tongs as a semi-molten "bloom" and then hammered into shape. There is a big technological difference between these three metals but the basics given above are the same.

So, as you see, you start with a cooperative society with a knowledge base that allows measuring, counting and keeping notes. You also need the previous technological base of making pottery in high temperature kilns (ovens). AND you must have the NEED. Without a serious need for the metal most societies would not make it. Producing food would be more important. However, if a society was on a trade route where they could easily trade the metal for food and clothing and other good THEN it would be worthwhile for the whole village to be in the metal manufacturing business.

The act of extracting the metal is fairly simple once discovered. Convincing all your neighbors to help you is the hard part!
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 16:57:36 EST

I've seen Discovery channel "How It's Made" and they showed a method of crushing ore to a powder, then running it through a moving belt of magnets. The iron sticks, the rock falls out. Then the iron powder is rolled under heat into pellets. The pellets get refined further in other processes. I'm sure I'm oversimplifying it, but that's what it looked like. If this is right, shouldn't those pellets be mostly pure iron? Is there any way to get my hands on any of that?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 01/08/07 17:23:46 EST

Dear Guru
Could you advise me how to handle a broken anvil?
thanks in advance
   Riva - Monday, 01/08/07 17:36:20 EST

Nip, The iron oxide is still magnetic and what this does is separate the gross rock from the true ore. Then the oxygen must be separated from the iron. The process reduces the amount of or heated and fuel needed. When fuel is cheap you heat the rock and ore. . when fuel is expensive you try to reduce the amount of rock.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 17:59:15 EST

Broken Anvil: Riva, You need to be more specific. Is the horn broken off? The heel? Broken at the waist or right through the center?

Arc welding will be the way to go. As this is a steel casting you will need to be prepared to preheat the parts brior to welding.

The first step will be to make weld preps. At the root they will want to be 45#&176; making a 90#&176; joint about 5/8 to 3/4" wide. Then the prep usually changes angle and tapers out gently to an inch or two depending on the depth of the weld.

The parts would then be aligned, waste bars used to hold them in place. Then the whole preheated to about 300#&176;F and welding started. If using stick welding then stop and clean the slag between each pass, peen and continue. Weld until flush with a common rod everywhere except the face. Stop about 1/2" short of the face. Use a SAE7024 to finish at the face with one pass of hard facing rod if you want.

Then lots of grinding.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 18:14:54 EST


I would suggest that you contact John at Blacksmith SUpply (an Anvilfire advertiser) and ask him about warranty. Unless you used plastic explosives on it, that about had to be a manufacturing defect to make a cast steel anvil break in two pieces.
   vicopper - Monday, 01/08/07 18:19:54 EST

More anvil repair: How deep the weld depends on where the break is. By the way, HOW did you break the anvil???

If the broken part is a heel or horn or a piece of such then the weld should be full penetration. If the waist is broken then you just need a good deep weld (about 1.5" all around).

If broken vertical through the center then I would question the quality of the casting seriously. Any place that breaks probably had sand or porosity that you may want to cut out and then build back up as part of the repair.

When done welding any thick body areas I would do a post heat with a large torch or rose bud while keeping the face below 350#&176;F. Then cool slowly while keeping the face cool (use a wet swab on a stick). You would want to use a Tempil stick and keep checking until the no part of the anvil is 350#&176;F and then it air cool over night.

Then grind. You will often find weld porosity in the face, edges, working sides or horn that needs to be cut out then rewelded.
   - guru - Monday, 01/08/07 18:29:19 EST

John Burrill-- have you checked to see that the balky burner tube is not simply clogged-- doesn't have a big fat chunky wasp nest in it? Wasps LOVE tubes.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/08/07 19:44:49 EST

Yet R, a very good visual resource is the mini series, "Out of the firey furnace" It was on PBS a few years ago, and my local library has the 6 tapes. Goes into great detail on early metalurgy and how it is thought these things were discovered.

Nippilini, I believe that the process you describe is the Tacanite process that was used to concentrate ;low grade ore. It was mothballed for years, and a few years ago when the Chinese were buying any iron/steel they could get, they contracted to open that mill back up and to supply the pellets to China for 10 years I think.
   ptree - Monday, 01/08/07 20:07:30 EST

semi-enclosed coke forge? My forge is outside and doesn't have a hood. I burn coke. I've recently come across a stack of insulating furnace bricks - the light, soft ones - and am wondering about the pros and cons of making an arched roof for my forge. The intention is to reflect heat to improve efficiency so I can back off on the air-blast thus reducing scale etc. I've seen a few old, brick hooded forges, but never the kind of "tunnel forge" I'm thinking of. Is there a reason most people don't have reflective/insulating roofs on their forges? Obviously one needs to have easy access to the fire, but a high roof with large opening would allow this.
   andrew - Monday, 01/08/07 20:15:32 EST

andrew: I've seen that done alot with charcoal, the traditional Japanese forge has a tunnel, but I'm guessing that since coal is so much hotter that people rarely feel the need.
   AwP - Monday, 01/08/07 21:31:58 EST


Locate some ore docks and follow the train tracks leeding to them, you will find piles of iron ore laying around these areas. Last time I was in Michigan anyways this was the case.
   - Leaf D - Monday, 01/08/07 22:08:56 EST

Nip: The iron ore pellets are about the size of small marbels, fairly round, but not smooth. You might be able to find them along railroad tracks around Philly, not sure.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/08/07 23:17:37 EST

Riva - I too would suggest asking the dealer about waranty, as a steel casting should be ductile and have bent before breaking. You havn't said anything about a BENT broken anvil. If You end up having to repair it Yourself, post a picture on Forgemagic.com if You can, then We could give more specific instructions. When repairing broken tool steel at the plant they used a preheat and postheat of 400f and 9018 rod with tool steel finish passes on the working surfaces, but that was on heat treateed tool steel parts at about 60-62 R"C".
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/08/07 23:44:47 EST

A good broken anvil story:

A few months back I came across a William Foster (~1849 as I recall) with a good face and over a hundreweight, but with the horn broken off. I picked it up for a young beginning blacksmith (Matt Brenzo) for about $50.00 and said not to worry too much about the horn, I'd keep my eye out for a stake or something similar. Last week, while I was visiting one of our folks from Camp Fenby and the Longship Company up in Pennsylvania, we trotted off to an antique shop where he pointed out an Old English style anvil, originally about 133#, with the heel broken off, but a well-shaped horn. It was marked down to $35. Master Brenzo now has one heeless and one hornless anvil for a complete, if somewhat flexible, unit. He's promised to send me pictures of the two sited together.

Turning cold on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/09/07 00:25:50 EST

Coke Forge: Andrew, What you are describing was in the past a manufactured coke forge. Either Champion or Buffalo made them. The roof was held together in a slight arch by tension bolts and end plates. Coke forges run VERY hot and need a very heavy duty fire pot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 00:37:08 EST

Half Anvils: I've seen this situation as well. It is not perfect but it is very serviceable AND you have two basic forging surfaces so two people could work. I used to take an old un-horned Colonial anvil to work with Boy Scouts. Worked fine and they learned to turn a scroll over a rounded corner.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 00:39:53 EST

Sounds like Riva and her friends should mebbe quit using C-4 at their anvil shoots.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 01/09/07 03:56:30 EST

we are brass casting unit , we are facing problem of iron in our scrap. how can we remove iron for melted brass
   Neeraj - Tuesday, 01/09/07 08:09:40 EST

Speaking of anvil shoots, a segment of Ripley's Believe it or Not yesterday included one. Two guys (perhaps brothers) were able to shoot a 100lb anvil over 500 feet in the air. For a base they used what sort of looked like a sawer's anvil with a hole in the top. When the anvil landed it buried itself about three feet into the dirt.

For the shot anvil to land on the base anvil would be extremely rare, but I have heard stories of it happening.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 01/09/07 09:34:00 EST

Iron in Brass: Neeraj, Normally iron floats on the brass and can be scraped off with the dross OR a bottom pouring crucible used. Normally the best automated method of iron removal is to grind the scrap as small as is economically possible then use magnetic separation prior to melting.

If the iron is dissolved in the brass then that is a different matter. The normal manner of reducing unwanted content in copper alloys is to dilute the contaminated material in good clean material until it has an acceptable trace metal level. Otherwise the purification of the metal is similar to that used to process pure copper and would be very expensive. This is done by chemical and electrolitic seperation.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 10:38:24 EST

Raw Taconite is about 25 to 30% iron, It's also one of the hardest rocks in the world, after processing you end up with a pellet that is about 65% iron, the pellets come in four main types, acid or fluxed, and the iron can be magnetic or non-magnetic. The fluxed pellets include limestone in the pellet. If you really want some I will walk over to the tracks and see if NT400 had a leaking car lately, 125 100 ton cars 4 to 6 times a week, there might be some.
   - Hudson - Tuesday, 01/09/07 12:21:11 EST

Taconite pellets were our least favorite ore for our Y1K bloomery---way too much flux for our system; you got iron soup that was a pain to consolidate. You also had to crush the pellets to powder since the Y1K system was not as aggressive as a 100' high coke fired blast furnace.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/09/07 12:34:46 EST

"For the shot anvil to land on the base anvil would be extremely rare, but I have heard stories of it happening."
Ken Scharabok -

Which reminds me of the story about early scientists (or philosophers) tryin to demonstrate the earth's rotation by firing a cannon STRAIGHT up. A number of random influences caused the ball to land... in a somewhat unpredictable manner with little or no relation to the east-west rotation. Well, thank goodness for Foucault's pendulum! :-) www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmah/pendulum.htm

Expecting a touch of snow on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/09/07 12:36:12 EST

Thanks Hudson... I live in the Philly area and the freight lines around here I have no idea their contents or destinations.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 01/09/07 13:52:47 EST

I am planning to make a scroll jig by inserting steel pins into wet concrete and letting it dry. Any one aware of any toxic fumes from concrete? I don't have a welder so I can't use a metal form.
   - Robert Dean - Tuesday, 01/09/07 15:16:04 EST

On the GA TV program, Anvil & Forge I believe, it had a segment on one of the Southern Regionals in Madison, GA. David Oliver shot an anvil. When it landed he went out and stray-painted a bullseye around it.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 01/09/07 15:17:20 EST


I am a sound effects recordist for a film production company. As always we are out gathering fresh new sounds for movies we work on. Who would I talk to about getting a hold of a large bellows (renting or purchasing)? Something similar to the one picture on this link would be wonderful: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/forges/50bellow.htm

Please note I am on the west coast of the U.S. Thank you so much for your time!

All the best,
   Jeremy - Tuesday, 01/09/07 15:36:10 EST

Robert, do you have a drill, if so drill some holes in a angle (so you can clamp in a vise) and heat the pins, insert and head the bottom side, I think concrete will break and the cost will be high. You do want to be able move this jig around don't you.
   daveb - Tuesday, 01/09/07 15:56:17 EST

Robert, why not drill holes for the pins in a block of wood if you can't drill holes for them in a chunk of steel? Concrete will be rather heavy and fragile. If you have long term exposure to hot metal you can make unslaked lime.

Before I bought a welder for $45 i used to bring the stuff I needed welded to a local welding company Friday around quitting time and they would do it for a sixpack.


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/09/07 15:58:53 EST

Concrete Scroll Jig ???????

I am not sure of the point. Are the scrolls that big?

Concrete is a relatively weak material, especially in small pieces. It is also NOT heat resistant. If you are going to be hot bending then the concrete will spall (explode in flakes from steam).

There are many ways to make bending jigs none of which I would recommend using concrete.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:00:57 EST

Great Bellows: Jeremy, sorry for not addressing your question sooner. I would recommend you contact the California Blacksmiths Association at www.calsmith.org.

Great bellows used to be factory made for a brief time but no more. Most existing bellows are antiques that are no longer in working condition due to cracked and dry leather or rotten wood. Others are hand made and quite variable. Each bellows tends to make its own noises or none at all.

Bellows Sounds:

In some large antique bellows they had wooden check valves which would make a little wooden plop sound each time they closed. Most bellows however have leather or felt covered valves that make no sound. At the most these may make a light fffifing when overloaded.

Rushing air. Most of the rushing air sounds are made when the bellows is pumped too hard and there are leaks. You get some ffffifing of leaking air at the top of the stroke. This may be coming from gaps in the leather, hinges or boards and sometimes the valves.

The "breathing" sound is actually the fire being blown on in a rhythmic manner.

The most distinct sounds coming specifically from the bellows are the slackening and tightening of the leathers which is somewhat like the flapping of sails on a sailboat except at a more rhythmic rate.

The sounds of individual bellows are that of the linkages and boards. The squeak of a pivot, the creak of the wood rafters supporting the linkage and bellows, the rattle of the chain linkage. These sounds are only heard in a specific installation and would be different in every shop yet familiar enough with the other sounds that they would be recognizable to a blacksmith who has used a bellows.

To find these sounds you will need to travel to the shops with the installed bellows to record their sound. At the least you need the bellows, the linkage, handle and a stand. A forge would also be in order.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:23:31 EST

maybe you could also make a wood - with nail type jig and face it with cement board or clay or something for heat resistance? laminate, drill holes thru, insert pins?
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:33:02 EST

Hey, does anyone know wehre you can buy cast iron tea kettles, the kind that can be hung over a fire from a tripod or something?
i dont even know where to start, i konw some camping stores carry cast iron fry pans, and sometimes thin enamaled coffee pots, but i need a old cast iron tea kettle,
also, has anyone here had water boiled in a properly seasoned cast iron pot or kettle? does the cast iron change the taste because you have to oil it to season it, if tea was made, would it taste bad?
   Cameron - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:36:42 EST

jeremy if you really want a bellows, they are on E - bay from time to time. Expensive shipping and possibly in disrepair, though. There are also plans to build them, I think maybe a link on this site...
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:37:30 EST

I recently purchased a cast - iron tea kettle at an asian grocery. These places often have them an different sizes but usually they a decorated with chinese or japanese motifs. The water tastes fine as the pot came already seasoned and ready to go but they did recommend boiling a couple pots first to rinse it. And always wipe it completely dry....
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:41:58 EST

What tool is used to get the "scoop" seen in the back of japanese chisels and plane irons?
   JGJG - Tuesday, 01/09/07 16:46:03 EST


Thanks for your reply. And thanks so much for the leads.

As a side note: We are looking for a large bellows to use in conjunction with objects that we will construct to imitate a large animal’s trachea. (The bellows would be operating as lungs). The desired sound would be the respiratory system of a large ill beast. In our recordings we are hoping to capture how the air interacts with our artificial trachea. So, we would be avoiding sounds like leather and wood creaks… though, at some point on another project that would be great to record!

I also took a look at blowers for pipe organs. Yet, since we are interested in having very detailed control over the “breathing” and since we feared that a pipe organ blower would be too steady sounding for an ill animal, I’m exploring the idea of something that is hand operated.

Thank you for all of your guidance. I’m learning more every day!

All the best,
   Jeremy - Tuesday, 01/09/07 17:13:30 EST

Iron tea kettle:
Cameron, I've seen heavy iron tea kettle for setting on the stove for sale in wood stove stores.
   - JohnW - Tuesday, 01/09/07 18:29:38 EST

Cameron; you boil the water in the tea kettle---you make tea in the tea *POT* which is generally ceramic. One of the reasons to boil a few kettles of water before using is to line the tea kettle with a lime depost and so keep the water and the iron a bit further apart. I would suspect that Lodge still made a cast iron kettle and that Lehmans (sp?) hardware store in OH that supports the Amish comunity would sell them. Woodstove dealers sometimes sell them as humidifiers for wood stoves.

Bellows: Jeremy; when SWABA demo'd at the Festival of the Cranes in 2005 we had one smith who was using a double lunged bellows. It turned out that there was a group from a wolf sanctuary that was set up around the corner from the smiths and the wolf they had on display was very nervous due to the sounds of something *LARGE* breathing heavily right around the corner from him...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/09/07 19:25:43 EST

Thanks, so much,
yeah, i called some local hardware stores and camping places, and they have one, 2 Qt and it costs $19.95
   Cameron - Tuesday, 01/09/07 19:48:47 EST

Wow! Is there any way I could get in contact with that smith? Thank you.

   Jeremy - Tuesday, 01/09/07 19:50:49 EST


From what I see on an old post, you built one... Is this true?! :)
   Jeremy - Tuesday, 01/09/07 19:56:53 EST

Jeremy, Yes, I built that one and used it for many years. It was not quite "traditional" as I used flap valves of my own design and decorative hinges. I suspect that to replicate an animals lungs a bellows would do very well but would not want valves at all since you want the air moving in and out through the same opening (bellows blow continously in one direction). Lungs on their own make little noise when healthy but make (as my old GP used to describe when I had asthma) wheezes, rails, rattles and . . . forget the last term).

Click on my name and you should be able to e-mail me. If that does not work use our contact form.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 20:05:10 EST

Japanese Metal Work: JGJG, I am not positive about this specific feature but Japanese blade smiths do a LOT of shaping with scrapers. Scrapers can be flat or curved and will make a considerable amount of chips in experienced hands. Hollows and grooves are also hand scraped by various smiths. They are also ground but scraping was preferred because it removes metal faster than natural abrasives operated at normal (for them) speeds.

A throughly modern smith (of any era) would use whatever tool he had on hand that would do the job the most efficiently and effectively. Hand scraping, grinding, milling. Results are what is important.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 20:14:26 EST

Thanks for the replies about the scrolling jig. The concrete settled some and the pins shifted so that's out. Think I'll try the pins in a board thing.
   - Robert Dean - Tuesday, 01/09/07 20:22:23 EST

Pins in a board: If you are bending relative thin flat stock you could use and all wood bender with hardwoood dowels and a softwood base. Or a step up would be a hardwood base with precision drilled holes and press fit dowel pins.

For tube and light scroll bending you can saw a bending template from laminated plywood.

But if you would be a LITTLE more specific about what you are trying to achieve then we could be a lot more help.

When setting steel pins into concrete there are TWO methods. One it to weld the pins to rebar anchored in the form. The second is to support the pins from above the concrete with a board. To cast a loose concrete block with steel pins the block would be cast upside down with the pins set into 1) the soil 2) clay 3) a board as part of the bottom of the mold. There are all kinds of ways to do these things. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/09/07 20:35:06 EST

GURU: That was a good tutorial and review on chucks. Nothing I hadn't heard before, but still a good review. Thanks!
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 01/09/07 22:05:02 EST

Hi again ,
i was just wondering, canadian tire and ribtor both sell kettles , for humidity on a wood stove, i have not seen the ribtor one, but the canadian tire one says not for boiling water for human consumption, why would this be? and is there anything you can do to it to make it drinkable from?
also, if the other one does not have a label saying not for drinking, is it safe to assume that as long as it is seasoned correctly, it is safe to use?
   Cameron - Tuesday, 01/09/07 22:05:47 EST

Cameron-- copper vessels need to be tinned inside to prevent poisoning.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 01/09/07 22:33:40 EST

I mean Cast Iron Kettles
   Cameron - Tuesday, 01/09/07 22:48:27 EST

I'm looking for a few good brains to pick and I think you guys have some of the Best on the Net, so here it goes. I'm getting myself set up for doing armor, I've done some in the past and i've always worked with steel. I'm interested this time in doing something a bit more interesting and I'm leaning to bronze. This isn't really a forging questions but more of a what is the diffrence between all the diffrent bronzes out there and what should I look for? Aluma Bronze, Silicom Bronze, Phos Bronze. I'm mostly working in sheet metal, cold forming but I dont' know enough about what all the numbers mean to know what is what. Help!
   frostfly - Tuesday, 01/09/07 22:50:35 EST

JGJG, The alpha guru is right about the scrapers or "shaves". The Japanese call the tool a sen. They come in different sizes. For the channel on the backs of chisels, a sen is used because the base of the channel is flat, not radiused. The sen is a push tool. I've made them, so I know the conformation of the tools and their heat treatment.

BRONZE INFO. You might google the Copper Development Association. They have online information and can send written information.

shibui.com sells Japanese cast iron tea kettles.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/09/07 23:48:56 EST


I believe there's a traditional blacksmith shop, with bellows, at Sutters Mill historic site in California. I know the national Park Service has a bunch of them scattered in surrounding states like Oregon and (a little more distant) Arizona and Colorado. (I can check the NPS sites tomorrow to confirm.)

Silicon Bronze:

I've done some fairly nice work sinkingf and raising with silicon bronze, but mostly in components such as spangenhelm quarters. (I used to pick some up whenever I visited Denver from Atlas Metal Sales, but the last time I was there they didn't want to be bothered; so I'm looking for other sources of late.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 01/10/07 00:16:41 EST

Brass and Bronzes: Frostfly, Most of the good sheet brass is plenty workable and is often picked for color when doing armour. Some of the nicest looking armour is made using steel with brass components like decorative rivets, trim strips and such. This can be cold worked or cast. Many brass armour decorations are cast using a good yellow brass such as cartridge brass or brazing rod.

Technically bronze is a copper tin alloy and brass is copper and zinc. However, there is a lot of cross over in names of traditional alloys as well as alloys that are made with both tin and zinc that are called bronzes. So be aware that often someone will call a brass bronze (Naval Bronze is brass) and a bronze, brass. Don't get into arguments about it. Just note the alloy and go from there.

In the small shop all the same techniques that apply to steel are applied to copper alloys. Forging, raising, and repousse'. But as noted above brass is also cast in various quantities and is commonly part of the armourers craft. See our news articles covering the two West Virginia Armour-Ins we attended.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/10/07 00:22:37 EST

I would recomend maybe making your own bellows? Not really all that hard if you are wanting to make a set that would not require valves. And you could make it relitavely quite and less expensive by using vinyl for the side walls. Some plywood would work plenty well for the top and bottom along with some hardware store hinges a little pipe and such. here is a link that is fairly easy to understand http://www.emainc.com/radnor/bellows.htm
you can massively simplify these plans for what you are wanting to do with a creature breathing in and out the same tube.
Good Luck
   James Rader - Wednesday, 01/10/07 03:27:27 EST

Maybe this has been seen before,, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bnffUHYUI
   - Mike - Wednesday, 01/10/07 03:42:19 EST

I plan on using it for a color addition, and my day job is in Picture framing and the idea of doing anything with gold(aka brass) makes me want to gag. So I'm more interetested in Bronze and Copper to add some color to what is usually a very monochromatic craft.

A couple questions on tools. I'd like to pick up a bench throatless shear, and a Hole Punch. i'd like them both to work on at least 14 guage sheet steel if not a bit thicker. I've surfed the net a lot and seen a lot that claim to be able to cut a lot, for not a lot of cash. which makes me a triffle nervous. I know the Beverly is the standard, are any of the rest of them worth the price? I've been looking on Ebay and found Item number 280068696827 Any suggestions on Punches? Again on ebay i found Item number 200066704120
   frostfly - Wednesday, 01/10/07 03:53:34 EST

On bellows as lungs, the equivalent would be an animal with a valved hole in its chest to suck in air, then exhaled through the nose or mouth. I would think the entry valve on a bellows would have to be sealed and then the exit valve locked open to create the same intake/exhaust sound, with possibly some curves or obstructions in the end tube. For this a fireplace bellows might work just as well as a large forge bellows.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 01/10/07 05:22:55 EST

Aquatic mammals (whales and the like) have a valved breathing hole, but its not a valve that would make an audible clunk or clicking.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 01/10/07 09:49:14 EST

I have used one of those punches before. My little brother had it when we were making modifications to his little bass boat (I think he borrowed the punch from where he works), and we used it for punching holes in some of the aluminum for pop rivets. IIRC we were punching holes for 3/16 rivets in 1/8 aluminum (maybe slightly thinner), and it worked pretty good. I don't know if it was that exact brand of punch, but it was very similar.

I've never used one of those types of shears, but just looking at it, it doesn't look like it would cut curves very well. It appears that the back of the frame is very narrow, allowing the steel, after it is cut, to pass STRAIGHT through the shear. If you tried cutting a curve, it might get hung up on the frame. But that is just what it looks like to me.

If you have the available funds, definitely splurge and get a Beverly, you wont ever regret it. With a little practice and a delicate touch you can cut a near perfect straight line. With the assistance of a couple roller stands you can cut down a 4X8 sheet into halves, thirds, whatever you want. Very handy indeed.
I also made a shorter handle for mine out of 1" conduit that is half as long as the original. I still get plenty of leverage when cutting 18 gauge and thinner, and it is a little easier on the shoulders not having to make that long arc swing needed with the longer handle.
If funds are a little short, get what you can afford, and then save up for a Beverly. Another good idea is to check auctions and such. I got my Beverly B1 at a farm auction for the grand total of 10 dollars (nobody there really knew what it was or what it was worth!) The deals are out there, ya just gotta look.

-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 01/10/07 10:21:32 EST

Sheet Metal Tools: Frosty, I paid $150 for a very old Beverly that needed blades (another $90) for a good reason. These are highly stressed tools that are made of top grade steel castings. Most of the clones are made of CI or poor quality steel castings and not finished well.

Your first item is not a throatless shear. This is an old and common design for a cheap straight line shear. They are a marginal tool at best and do not cut curves. There are only a couple designs that cut curves and the Beverly is the best. In fact they are the ONLY manufacturer to make their specific design until the Chinese cloners started copying theirs. . . Well, the Russians probably copied it for their own use during the Cold War.

The punch you pointed out is very light duty. Look at the C frame. Good ones are about 2" thick and SOLID not lightly ribbed. This one also clearly states it is only good for 20ga steel.

Another big difference between Beverly, Pexto and Whitney punches and the cheap imports is that the punches and dies for the US brand name stuff are made to cut stainless steel which is very hard and abrasive on dies. These high alloys dies and blades have a VERY long life on mild steel and almost infinite on non-ferrous.

Group of tools photo (c) 2004 Jock Dempsey
The tools above were part of a group I collected for doing armour type work. Some are tools I had and others were picked up in 2003 and 2004. They were cleaned and painted for this photo. The shear in the center is the Beverly #2 shear mentioned above. It had so much use the blades were worn to where they no longer could be adjusted to work. . new blades made it good as new. The punch in the foreground cost $14 at a fleamarket without dies. I bought an OEM set of 3 sizes for $60. NOte how heavy the C section of this punch is compared to the cheap ones. . . The beakhorn stake cost $85 used which was about half of normal. I've purchased several others since. The crimping pliers are very handy for crimping and bending. I inherited these from a very good friend that died in an accident in the 1970's. The pecking hammer is one I have had since I was 14.

Not shown and also collected during the same two year period was a set of mushroom stakes and steel balls that range from a little over an inch to 8" in diameter. They include old large ball bearing balls, stakes, a heavy duty grader body ball joint ball forging and numerous ball mill balls. All were picked up at various blacksmiths meets and from blacksmithing contacts. You do not need to spend but a few hours in an armourer's shop to realize how valuable these work surfaces are.

Since then I have been collecting various repousse' and sheet metal hammers. Good ones for armour work are both rare and expensive. I suspect those sold NEW by Blacksmiths Depot are a better deal than used. However, many patterns are no longer in production. I also came across a larger Whitney punch at about 10% of new.

My point above is that tool collections do not happen instantly unless you are willing to spend a lot of money. Those that outfit their shops with discount no-name equipment in a hurry are often sorry they did so. Some of these tools are actually good deals but a majority are junk designed specifically for the fleamarket and ebay where price is everything and there is no dealer responsibility, warrantee or replacement parts.

When you DO buy good old tools used at the fleamarket, ebay or hammer-in you are often buying tools that will actually appreciate in value while you are using them. Most of the Chinese junk sold on ebay is not worth the shipping and is worthless once used.

It is obvious from your questions about the tools above that you have little experience with what good tools look like or cost. Start with industrial catalogs from respected brands and study the specs. And until you know the difference between good and junk stay away from ALL the new stuff on ebay and PLEASE do not ask me about it. 99.99% of it is junk and I do not need to look. Often there are good used tools on ebay but you will have to risk paying auction prices on those which is often too much.

Take your time studying the industry, find folks doing it and see what tools they are using. If you MUST do it now then find work arounds and stick to the inexpensive processes. You can do a LOT with a ball pien hammer and a wood block.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/10/07 11:26:12 EST

Jeremy; yes I built my own double lunger bellows using heavily treated canvas from a place that did work for oil well drilling rigs for the "leathers" I had it for about 20 years and left it with friends in OH when I moved to NM---to force myself to make one with the improvements I had thought up---still on the list.

The fellow whose bellows disturbed the wolf is the webmaster for SWABA and I believe he could be contacted through the SWABA web page that happens to be linked from the ABANA-Chapter.com link found on the "Navigate Anvilfire" drop down menue on the top right of this page...

To me most of the sound is generated when the air goes through the tuyer and charcoal or coal and not just the plain bellows which mainly has the valve flaping and perhaps creaking of the pole.

Kettles: I'd guess that kettles *not* for human consumption were made from cheap cast iron that does not have a "clean history" and so rather than worrying about someone suing them over possibly toxic contaminants in the iron they just rate them "not for human consumption" Since most of these are not used for cooking anyway it's cheaper than making sure that your metal is good to start with. A company that makes them specifically for cooking, like Lodge, probably uses better iron and charges for the extra care and cost!

Armour making: may I commend to your attention www.armourarchive.org An extensive forum on armour making. May I also comment that medieval/renaissance european armour was often painted, engraved, blued, gilt, enameled and covered by embroidered silk surcoats---not monochrome at all!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/10/07 11:49:37 EST

You are a veritable Font of Information. I'll wait til I can find the good stuff, Thanks for the info.
   frostfly - Wednesday, 01/10/07 12:02:58 EST

Cameron, FYI - Japanese style cast iron teapots are usually enameled on the interior and are meant to be used for steeping the tea leaves only, not to boil water. It sounds as though you're trying to use the teapot in a historical reenactment setting. I'm not certain what time period you're trying to emulate, but in a lot of them sheet metal vessels were used a lot more than heavy cast iron. For the French & Indian War and Revolutionary War periods, tinplate is probably the most accurate choice of material, with tin-lined copper sheet being a second. Most of the American Colonial period reenactors I know have switched to tin lined sheet copper cooking vessels - period correct, they don't wear out nearly as quickly as tinplate (most readily available tinplate is electrolytically plated, and the thickness of the tin layer and resulting durability do not match that of the older methods). Handmade copper ware is not cheap, but you do support an American craftsman and it will probably last your life & longer. The oldest piece I have is about 15 years old now, and the exterior has a great patina while the interior is still in great shape.

For a source, I can recommend Westminster Forge out of Connecticut they have a web prescence & will ship product to you. I've purchased from then, but have no other relation to them.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 01/10/07 13:32:48 EST

Tool Capacities: I find it interesting that the deep throat punch with the light weight frame listed on ebay is rated at 2,400 pounds. My little Whitney #5 Jr. is rated the same but only has a 2" throat. When punching at full capacity (3/16 through 1/16) the little #5 which is VERY stoutly made almost requires two handed operation and springs enough that you think (or are sure) it is overloaded. . . The springing C frame is a hint that you should not squeeze harder.

The 1.75" depth frame on the little #5 Jr. is made about the same proportions as the Whitney punch shown in the photo above. Doubling the the depth of the frame increases the strain by 4x. So how do you get away with a lighter frame? You don't. It will bend or break on the first slight overload or full capacity operation.

Compare what the ebay punch of supposedly the same rated capacity looks like compared to the original at Roper Whitney.


The price is 9x more but you get 5x the materials or more and the tool is the "real McCoy" not a cheap knock-off. It is designed for REAL use not once or twice by a homeowner and forgotten about. AND as Gavainh pointed out above you are supporting your fellow American workers.

NOTE: The new tonnage chart on the Roper Whitney site is a little optimistic or assumes everything is perfect (exact metal thickness, soft temper, sharp punches). My tonnage chart and calculator on our math page is based on the same company's figures from the 1960's when they were a little more conservative.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/10/07 13:44:36 EST

JGJG on Donfoggknives.com there is information about the sen and a little photo demo of building one as well
   - vorpal - Wednesday, 01/10/07 15:24:50 EST

Jeremy's artificial lung:

I would think, since you want to create air movement for an animal breathing, you would want non-linear airflow, as opposed to the way a great bellows works. A great bellows draws air in through one hole (or two) and expels tit through the nozzle. No air is drawn back through the nozzle due to check valves. Your “trachea” powered by a great bellows would only exhale, never inhale.

I would suggest, rather than a leather bellows, you look into a modified version of the Japanese-style box bellows. These are made as a long rectangular or square cross-sectioned box, with a plunger that is pushed/pulled back and forth to move the air. A series of check valves controls the flow of air much like in the great bellows. If you built a box bellows without the check valves, then it would move the air in and out a single hole, the same way your diaphragm moves air in and out of your lungs. It would be dead simple to construct and quite effective. Just calculate the swept volume you need to get the air movement appropriate to you particular “trachea” , build to size, and you’re in business. Keep in mind that the volume of air moved in any given moment is a function of the square surface area of the piston, and the duration of the flow is a function of the length of the box tube.

For your purposes, I’d suggest constructing the box bellows from medium-density fibercore (MDF) board, as that would be very dimensionally stable and have a smooth surface for a low-friction movement of the piston. The piston in a Japanese box bellows is traditionally lined with fur to effect a seal, but I would use felt or synthetic chamois skin. Built using a table saw, your pieces should be true enough to require no more than several thousandths of an inch gasket allowance, so the synthetic fabrics would more than suffice.

I hope this helps you.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/10/07 15:48:25 EST

Frostly-- a Rotex punch will run you $10K undelivered.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 01/10/07 18:04:37 EST

Welded ring video,
That videolink Mike directed us to is awesome. Whats the opinion, was the ring forged round, or machine rolled somehow before welding. Look in the background of the shop too, There is alot of sledgehammer work going on. Anazing what us mere humans can do.
   - Sven - Wednesday, 01/10/07 18:13:45 EST

Sven. Rings can be forged in one piece if the hammer has enough height. I suspect that this piece was forged to a curve on a drop hammer, then wrangled off, now welded.

The more amazing film is making a several ton wrought iron anchor by the build up process. The huge foot diameter anchor shank is built up from hundreds of rods that look like 1/2" rod. Starting with a large piece at welding heat more pieces are added on in a semi continous process largely welded by hand with sledges. This would probably be the same process used in India to make the great iron columns there.

Yes it is pretty amazing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/10/07 18:37:21 EST

To who ever can help..
Two years ago, I purchased a 160# hay- budden anvil.
The anvil is in very good condition and I only paid $70.oo
for it .I would like to know what the estimated value is and how to find out the age.Thank you for your help.
   scott lent - Wednesday, 01/10/07 21:02:45 EST

Scott Lent: Value depends on a lot of variables with condition of the anvil being a major one. On age, look on the front foot for a serial number. May or may not start with an A. Tell us what it is and we can tell you year of manufacture.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 01/10/07 21:11:45 EST

I am a collector of antique Black Forest clocks. i am currently restoring a antique clock with a automated scene above the dial. The automation is of two men working over an anvil. one of the figures arms are missing and need to be remade.. but i do not know what action he is preforming. i am hoping someone who understands the Black Smith trade here may help. This clock was made in Germany Cir 1850 so this is the time period of the shop.

There is a large anvil. The larger of the two men is holding a large hammer. On the hour when the clock strikes he hits the anvil square in the center to the sound of a Gong.

This is fully finctional and works perfectly.

The second man is the mystery.

He is about 3/4 size, and is missing his arms. As the clock ticks his arms move to do some "action". It would be a fast action. I dont think he is swinging a hammer as the one man is taking up almost the whole anvil with his large hammer.

My question is what would man number two be doing?

Is there a tradional for two men to work at the anvil?

Other than swinging a hammer what action could be being preformed.

I know this is a different question, but thought someone here may be able to help.

Please contact me at madeinfurtwangen@yahoo.com with suggestions.


   Justin Miller - Wednesday, 01/10/07 23:09:43 EST

Hello, I have a question about crown dies for my Ron Kinyon power hammer. I recently purchased the Uri Hofi video about free form forging. A very good video by the way. After watching the video I decided to make a set of crown dies. Would the shape of the dies best be made in the rectangular section of a sphere? Or should their convex shape be more of a compound curve? Thank you for your advice.
   Dan - Wednesday, 01/10/07 23:34:26 EST

Justin Miller: The other guy would have been holding the work with a pair of tongs.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 01/11/07 02:09:52 EST

Huge wrought anchor, Where does one see this video ?
Indian Columns,
The theory I heard was the column were welded by stacking a freshly made, but worked to shape bloom on top the other and so on.
I would guess it was done horiziontal, rolling the column end into and out of the fire as needed, then column tilted upright when finished.
I expect examining the iron fibers orientation would verify one method or the other.
   - Sven - Thursday, 01/11/07 04:44:47 EST

Justin Miller: I agree with Dave Boyer. The other one is likely the blacksmith who would have held the work being struck and a smaller hammer. The large hammer one would be the striker, hitting where, when and how hard the blacksmith indicated him to.

Essentially the striker is trained to hit where the blacksmith does as hard as the blacksmith does when the blacksmith tells him to. For example, at some point the blacksmith may have moved his hammer aside or tapped the anvil, telling the striker to take one more hit and stop. Blacksmith may then have done some touch-up work on their own.

Old joke: Blacksmith says to striker, when I nod my head, hit it.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 01/11/07 05:21:17 EST

Crown Dies: Dan, These have been made a great variety of ways with differing results. Those on the Big BLU's were developed by Uri Hofi and Dean Curfman of Big BLU Manufacturing Co. They are two curves a long one and a short one hand dressed to blend together. The result is quite a sophisticated shape and much of it is in the skill of hand dressing. These dies are also striking each other quite often and must be made of very good properly heat treated steel.

Depending on what you want do do these dies are proportional to the hammer. They are easy to make too aggressive. Others using crown dies such as Dan Boone use nearly flat dies with a slight drop off. These allow for radical shaping but cannot make the kind of textures the more aggressive dies make.

The problem with the crown dies is they are one part of a system. You need regular combination dies for blocking, necking and flat forging and a way to change from one to the other fairly rapidly. Those making the best use of these dies use them setup on two hammers.

If you REALLY want the same shape dies used in the video then Big BLU sells them in the weld on style of their old hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 09:27:44 EST

Iron column Sven, The method used by the smiths in the anchor video makes more sense. The bundles of small bars could be heated in several relatively small forges (they were pieces several feet long at full welding heat). The smaller pieces heat rapidly and have more surface at or near a liquid heat as is common in wrought iron welding. The large piece never returns to the forge as it is kept hot by its mass and constant addition of fresh hot iron. No crane is necessary except for the part being grown and that is mostly for rolling the piece over and to keep the end over the anvil. However, once a large mass is achieved that is long enough the work is its own anvil for the purpose of small sledges hitting it. Keeping the work floating in air also helps keep it hot. .

The method is quite ingenious and takes advantage of the thing that primitive societies have more than anything else, manpower. Besides the crew of strikers which would probably need to be rotated during the project there are also people tending the fires, hauling fuel, working the bellows, feeding stock to the fires, bringing hot stock to the work piece, hauling water to the workers, doing the hoisting. . . AND either everyone needed to know exactly what they were doing OR there was more than one person directing the different activities. The later is most likely as the more primitive a society the more guarded the knowledge.

So you have a master smith and two assistants, at least 20 strikers or experienced laborers. Then the support crew. In a technologically primitive society you are looking at maybe a total of 50 or more all involved in this one project at the same time. There would also be days of preparation collecting the fuel, iron, tools and planning the project.

It is a very expensive, large project and no wonder there are only three in India.

In the "modern" 19th century shop there are steam blown coal forges and a rectilinear overhead hoist. They also had a steam hammer for starting the work. A lot less people were needed but the process still made sense.

The wrought iron anchor video is one of several pirated copies of various qualities that are floating around. I have access to a legal copy in PAL format that we are looking to have converted to VHS or DVD.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 12:43:26 EST

Scott Lent: Interestingly enough, I see a 190# Hay Budden bid up over $800 on ebay (110077196867) and the reserve has not yet been met.
   - JohnW - Thursday, 01/11/07 13:30:13 EST

Scott; price is also dependent on location with the coasts running higher than the middle of the USA or the SW for that matter.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/11/07 13:59:08 EST

Intresting looking anvil on (uk) ebay, well the anvils not anything special really, but ive not seen a stand like it before (the bay # 130067584806 )

On anchor making the 'traditional' way a Smith from scotland (Bruce Wilcox)has got a dvd out doing the rounds of him and a crew hand forging one (the 'traditional' way) of 5 cwt (if i remember the weight correctly) -

ive not had chance to see it yet but have heard good things - he posts ' across the street ' every now and again if anyone wants to track down a copy.
   - John N - Thursday, 01/11/07 14:57:48 EST

Hello Guru
Thanks a lot for your help and for the advises of the other blacksmith surfers as well , they will help me to handle that problem.
To make things more clear, I'll try to explain how we got to try to repair a broken anvil: in august 2004 we bought 18 units x 75 kg "euroanvils" from the European distributor, in order to open our blacksmith school in south France . When they arrived we discovered strange marks inside some of the round holes of some of them. Due to the need of receiving students we accepted to keep them with the specific written guarantee that they will be replaced in case of severe damage …
In may 2005 after 3 forging classes we noticed longs cracks all around the heel on one anvil . Two wooden hammer blows were enough to let the heel fall.
You can only imagine our feelings in that moment.
To make two years corespondance short , despite our polite requests the Czech partner of euroanvils didn't stand behind the guarantee he gave, nor did the American side of Euroanvils see fit to answered our emails.
You can see the pictures bellow to illustrate the situation and the type of people using our anvils . Maybe the way to repair is more obvious, or should we get into anvils shooting instead ?
You could also see that the cracks existed when they have painted in black the inside of the hole.
We have similar cracks on others anvils , and we wonder how to handle the repair , does one of you have heard about such defects in euroanvils at the American side ?
Thanks a lot for your help.
ps how could I paste a picture to the text?

   Riva - Thursday, 01/11/07 15:40:55 EST

Guru - for converting a PAL format video to NTSC (North American) format check with a few of the convenience stores in your area; I’ve seen many in the primarily South Asian (Indian) community areas (of Toronto) where conversion services are available for a fee. Usually it’s for converting family videos sent from or to relatives in the old country.

   - Don Shears - Thursday, 01/11/07 15:49:59 EST

guru, what do you think about a hybrid venturi/ ribbon burner design? Could one or two large venturis supply fuel/air for a multi orifice burner head or would each orifice have to have a separate small venturi? I like the idea of very even heat plus atmoshperic air, but would the burner head style impede the vacuum of a venturi?
   - vorpal - Thursday, 01/11/07 16:00:23 EST

John, The Wilcox video is interesting but the forging was obviously a one off and they were not prepared for many situations. The power hammer used was just barely capable of the work and the space was quite cramped. While it is was a large forging for a small shop it was not that impressive. I suspect that the rumors of the big anchor forging film I mentioned (which IS very impressive) has had an effect on his sales.

On the big anchor the last scene is one where 15 strikers head a rivet. The last striker comes from another job and has to carefully pick his time to get into the melee. As the rivet is finished the extra strikers fall back and a group with hand hammers finish smoothing the head. That was pretty impressive. But the important thing was the build up method of making such a large piece.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 16:04:32 EST

Riva, you can e-mail them to me. Click on my name and the address should pop-up.

It sounds like you have been caught in the middle of some business problems. Euroanvils in the US has not had any such quality problems that I know of. However, castings are inspected and if bad, rejected and never reach the public.

However, the Czech "partner" is an agent that arranges with foundries (which have changed several times) and sells the product to Blacksmith Supply who technically owns the patterns and name but does not make anything off European sales.

It sounds to me like you were sold a bunch of seconds or rejects. I will call John tonight and find out what I can.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 16:28:56 EST

John N; a bunch of us are lobbying SOFA to get Bruce Wilcox over as a demonstrator for Quad-State. Feel free to dogpile on! Contact info on the SOFA website linked to here through the ABANA chapter link on Navigate Anvilfire.

Guru Bruce gets a crew together about once a year to do heavy work---just to keep the process alive I think---and is in a pretty remote location---the Shetland Islands IIRC. What do you think your shop would have been like in a place like that? I salute him for the ammount of such work he does.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/11/07 16:46:13 EST

You are probably right , we've lost time money energy and a bit of reputation trying to resolve this embarasing situation, but it seems that only the technical issue will get us out of it !?
thanks a lot for your help
the pictures are on the way
   - Riva - Thursday, 01/11/07 16:46:14 EST

Sending an e-mail to any of the contact points on the SOF&A website does not guarantee anyone will see them. Their address is SOF&A Quad-State 07, P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308. Someone might read the mail.

Same situation with Centaur Forge. You can send them an e-mail inquiry about one of their products but don't expect an answer.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 01/11/07 18:00:47 EST

I will heartily second what Thomas said about Bruce Wilcox. A kinder, more helpful soul would be harder to imagine, and he is a third, or possibly fourth, generation blacksmith. His business is primarily making and selling hammers these days, I believe, as he is no longer up to much if any farriery as he used to be. He has not, and does not, as far as I know, sell the video of the anchor making; he graciously offered to share it with a few friends, gratis.
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/11/07 19:56:41 EST

Is there a way you can tell how heavy a piece of metal will be without actually having the metal at hand? i'm making a pot rack about 4 feet long about 18 inches wide with 2 inch wall brackets, and 2 curved pieces as supports about 18inches long on top it's all gonig to be made from 3/16" by 2" flat bar. i need to find out how much it will weigh.
Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:01:36 EST

Weight Calculation: Andrew, The density of mild steel is 0.2835 pounds per cubic inch. So, multiply length x height x width to get volume then by the density. The weight will be as accurate as the dimensions down to a small fraction of a pound.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:14:46 EST

Free Video: Well, in that case it is a very nice video. A friend shared a copy and from the case and disk I assumed it was a commercial product. My apologies.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:16:31 EST

Andrew B the Mass3j calculator on the navigate anvilfire menu will give some good numbers for piece parts of regular dimentsions, add up the bits and you're in the ballpark.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:32:55 EST

Justin Miller, I would bet that the figure with no arms is the supervisor and NOBODY knows what he was doing!!!! :-)
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:48:55 EST

Andrew B.-- Don't forget to weigh the pots. They can really add up. Those cast iron Lodge frying pans and those fancy orange-enameled French stew pots weight a ton. If you put some kind of angled supports inside the curves it would help. And don't dare use screw anchors. Get lag bolts into the wall studs.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:51:12 EST

vorpal-- almost every home gas furnace has just a couple or maybe several Venturis supply multiple-outlet burners. Find Ransome out in California in Google and chat with them. That's all they do, is supply the goodies to solve heating problems.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 01/11/07 20:56:47 EST

On that 190 pound Hay-Budden, there be anvils and there be anvil sellers. This is a collector's quality anvil due to its rareness. Then there is the anvil seller. Matchlessantiques does an outstanding job of presentation and offers a money back guarantee. (I will admit though that he has driven up anvil prices in general and Steve jokes he can't find cheap anvils anymore.)

On the prices he gets, it is sort of like the grading system to where you throw out the high and low scores and then bell curve the rest. His is the one to get thrown out.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/12/07 04:11:03 EST

Steve understands two things, the auction mentality, and that there is always SOMEONE out there that will pay much much more than anyone else. He provides good quality and a guarantee AND is not in a hurry. He lists things with a high reserve and then waits and re-lists until that person with lots of money comes along. If you want to get the highest price you have to be willing to wait.
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 09:29:27 EST


You can also take weight off of a weight chart. The charts are sometimes furnished by steel suppliers, and charts are found in metalworking texts. In the U.S., the weight is given per foot run.

To add a little to what Ken has said. That company describes how they "clean" each anvil to look for flaws, so there is a labor cost that they want to cover. Looking at their other offerings, the Mouse Hole bickern [stake, as they call it] is good looking and may be rare, but the asking price appears outlandish.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/12/07 09:31:53 EST

Exorbitant Prices: Frank, This is a ploy used on various listings. Most lists can be sorted by price. If you are the lowest you are generally on the top of the list which is the best place to be. But if you are the highest you are at the bottom of the list which is the next best place to be. AND occasionally someone sorts in reverse order either by accident or on purpose and you are on top again. . . AND a price that is 100x out of line makes people look as well. . .

So why list an item at a price you are never going to sell it at? ADVERTISING. That bickern Steve listed had links to his other sales. He may even get some off-sale offers to give him a clue what people are willing to pay.

Even honest dealers play the game on ebay.
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 10:19:43 EST

If someones willing to pay the price its not to expensive !

a cheap watch will tell you the time for years, but it would be nice to have a Rolex oyster !

Like I said, ive not seen Bruces video, but i do think its a good thing that there are people who are out there, actually doing it, for no financal gain.

They hand forged an anvil one year, theres no sane reason for doing this, other than a love of what you do which is pretty commendable really, you can hypothosise all you like about these things but very few acutally make the effort to try.

Now if you need a bigger power hammer Bruce let me know !! :) (although I suspect that half of the lights on Shetland go out when the 5 cwt is running! )
   - John N - Friday, 01/12/07 12:31:19 EST

Weight Calculation: Get a copy of "Machinery's Handbook" it has tables for mass....thank you again guru, for recommending it!!!
Pot Rack: Make sure your anchor holes are 16" apart. This way, each bolt will be into a wall stud. Personally, I don't like making the ones that suspend from the ceiling unless they're over an island counter as they always look like an "afterthought" when the kitchen was designed.
   Thumper - Friday, 01/12/07 12:31:55 EST

Wilcock, not Wilcox - my mistake, apologies.
   - John N - Friday, 01/12/07 12:53:57 EST

Forging an Anvil: With ever rising prices and foundries becoming more and more difficult to do business with a forged and fabricated anvil (welded at waist) is becoming a more viable commercial venture.

Peddinghaus anvils are still selling quite well and 100 year old anvils of similar manufacture are now selling for as much or more. Peddinghaus is currently back in production but only at the whims of Ridge Tool Co. who did not want the anvil manufacturing in the first place (the wanted the forged vices). How long they will stay in production is unknown.

The entire world demand for anvils is not enough to get any one foundry really interested in making these hard to cast items. Manufacturers are constantly changing foundries and looking for new suppliers.

Eventually, the low production rate of building an anvil from heavy slabs by flame cutting, machining (and possibly some forging) and welding will be the most economical method to manufacture and anvil. At current prices and demand I am surprised that someone out there has not gone into producing a line of premium quality "hand made" anvils.

There is a variety of options according to the shop capabilities but it is no problem from a technical standpoint.

It is coming. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 13:19:00 EST

Andrew B.
Alternately, try finding a copy of Pocket Ref by Thomas Glover
It includes many references I've found useful in the shop and everyday life. It isn't as mechanically focused as Machinery's but in it's own right it is a very valuable resource (as well as being a might bit less expensive AND more portable than Machinery's).
-Aaron @ The SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 01/12/07 14:26:45 EST

Oh yeh,
It DOES include the steel weight tables.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 01/12/07 14:30:30 EST

Machinery's Handbook not portable???? I carried one in my brief case along with all my drafting tools for 15 years. . .

I have the CD version which I need to install on my new laptop. . . that's pretty portable and goes with me everywhere I travel these days.

But remembering the density of steel in lbs/cuin (.2835) is the best and most portable.
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 15:32:53 EST

Thank you for the advice you gave me thursday regarding crown dies for my power hammer. I realize I made mine to aggressive. Today I have a new question. How do I best identify white metal and is it possible to weld? Thankyou

   Dan - Friday, 01/12/07 17:37:02 EST

In a 1957 newspaper article on Fisher & Norris it noted they were producing 70-80 anvils a week with a crew of 16 - and apparently still making decent money at it. I wonder how many of those 110 lb anvils Harbor Freight sells a week?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/12/07 18:58:53 EST

I guess portability is subjective to some degree. It would take a bigger shirt pocket to fit Machinery's in though ;)

On the same subject, I just checked on Amazon and noticed that the price on Machinery's had dropped over 33 percent. Is there another edition coming out soon, or has the price just finally started coming down? Did a quick webcheck and didn't see anything about a new edition anywhere?

-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 01/12/07 19:13:37 EST

So I receieved a set of taps from McMaster & Carr the other day. Man they are incredible! I bought 3 Ti. Nitride coated and 3 Ti. Carbonitride coated. Haven't gotten to the carbonitride ones yet. They cut like butter and I am quite happy with their performance. My thought now is why the heck do the harware stores carry such junk? Is it like pantyhose where the manufacturer knows of the breakage and figures they make more money with purchases of replacement parts?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/12/07 19:28:58 EST

The Machinery's Handbook doesn't have to be new to be extremely helpful. I bought a 48' edition for $15.00 on ebay and for smithing it has all the necessary info as far as I can tell.
   Thumper - Friday, 01/12/07 20:01:15 EST

Taps and Dies: Nip, I don't understand it. I specifically warn people to NEVER buy hardware store drills OR taps. The bad thing is they are more expensive than industrial quality which you can usually find in any town.

What you cannot convince folks of is that ONE broken tap can cost you enough to buy a whole set of good drills and taps.
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 20:49:04 EST

Machinery's Handbook: They normally come out every 4 years so 2008 will be the new edition. Typically they drop the price of old editions in the last year depending on how overstocked they are.

I suspect the biggest market for Machinery's is engineering and trade schools where they have courses on how to use Machinery's Handbook and every student must have one. It is also why you find quite a few fairly late copies available on the used book market. But many are also copies that engineers bought, referred to a few times in a life time and put back on the shelf where they set until the day they died. That is why there are many mint old editions floating around.

The copy I grew up with is an 18th Edition and is on my desk at this very moment. But I also have the 27th on my bookshelf and occasionally refer to it. My Dad still uses his 13th edition.


We have 5 copies of Machinery's Handbooks from Paw-Paw Wilson's collection. They all available for $25 each + $5 for priority mail shipping in the US and standard rate to Canada. There were others, his sons had first choice. All were bought in recent years from ebay and bookfinder for about what we are asking. See our comparative review linked above for details of editions. Note that most prices mentioned there are now 8 years old.

5th Edition, 10th printing (1919) Moderately rough condition, cover intact, spine split in middle but not separated. A few torn pages and the owners name, date and gift information written on the title page. This one would be worth much more in slightly better condition and I think Paw-Paw paid too much for it.

10th, 13th and 15th Editions, Good condition. slight wear on covers.

11th Edition, well used with old tape on cover edges.

Drop me an e-mail to reserve a copy, first come first serve. Give me a first and second choice unless you are dead set on a specific edition.
   - guru - Friday, 01/12/07 21:42:33 EST

Machinery's Handbook:

I usually consult the one at our library; or I can check it our if I have a long-term project.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 01/13/07 00:43:54 EST

Forging an Anvil: I've been thinking that competing with collectors to buy anvils is a mugs game. I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion on techniques for producing useful anvils. The few things I have read are more focused on re-creating the old designs rather than making the best use of what is available today and combining some older techniques. That's all fine, but given we have different equipment and heavy scrap steel in a variety of sizes it would make sense for anvil design to evolve to make the most of it. I'd like to see how people have used what they can find to make new, useful designs.
One of the first things I read that got me seriously interested in blacksmithing was the apprentices story about the making of an anvil on this very site. I know it probably isn't economically viable to forge an anvil, but neither is doing re-enactments or maintaining viking ships etc. That story is just an awesome piece of imagery & I'd like to see more of the real thing.
   andrew - Saturday, 01/13/07 07:21:06 EST


Jock (Guru) has noted in the past the Harbor Freight 110 pound anvil wouldn't be a bad starter anvil IF it were redesigned. For example, if they were to use say a 110 lb London pattern as a prototype. Same amount of metal, just a more practical shape. Importers probably either don't know or don't care what was the design of a classical anvil from about 1860-1970 (London pattern).

However, I feel you are basically correct. What if Fisher & Norris was still in business today? Would their top plate (which in their later production also included the top portion of the horn) be initially cut out by flame or water, then milled down for the curve of the horn? Would the rest of the body then be mild steel or ductile iron or rebar-grade material?

Where Mark Fisher apparently made his fortune (and place in history) was in how to consistently bond tool steel to cast iron*. I had a discussion with Richard Postman on this and he noted one member of SOF&A (Dave Sprenkle I believe) told him he had bandsaw cut off the end of a broken heeled Vulcan anvil to square it up. The cut came down through 'pegs' on the bottom of the top plate. Why couldn't pegs today simply be arc welded to the bottom of a top plate in an upside down mushroom shape to get that additional bond guarantee? Why couldn't the top plate be a shaped length of upside down scrap RR track? Here in one piece you may have scrap steel capable of being hardened to some degree and a T-shape bonding area between it and the cast material.

What is the anvil market today? Certainly judging from HF continuing to sell their version, and eBay/conference/personal sales, it is still out there. However, does demand justify the minimum price of a new U.S. made supply?

*I would need to clarify with Richard Postman but I believe Mark Fisher's basic technique was to bring the top plate (with a core in the hardy hole) up to forge welding temperature, place it in a mold, dump in flux and then pour cast iron in. If this was the process, I suspect from pulling out the top plate from its furnace to the start of pouring the cast iron may have been a matter of seconds. (Jock do you known Fisher's specific technique?)
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/13/07 08:51:51 EST

Having been around some very large drop forge hammers and presses, I can offer the following on forging an anvil in todays market.
To forge a decent size anvil, say 110 to 125#, in the solid, a drop hammer of say 8,000 to 15,000 could produce a nice ly shaper anvil with no joints. The anvil would need to be forged with the parting line from horn to heel and opposite on the base. Typical would also be a 7 degree draft. The flash could be torched or plasma'ed off, so no hot trim dies needed. Then the anvil would need the top and bottom machined to remove the draft and flash lines as would the horn. This would probably require two sets of die blocks, to get them busted, blocked and finished. Figure about $100,000 for the dies.
To forge in two parts with a weld joint anong the waist, would be simpler, but require die changes. Figure about $100,000 for the dies.
You would still need to pay for the hammer, the power source (boiler or compressor, heat treat, and machining)

Open die would require much less in tooling cost, but much more machining, and you still have that pesky heat treat. And this is going to be a large open die hammer.

Open die press. I think perhaps due to the large size of the billet, with inherent heat, open die press may make the most sense for a forge anvil. But you still have the machineing and heat treating.

If i were to look at making anvils from a mordern biz stanpoint, I personally would explore Precision investment casting. The patern costs are doable, the precision aspect gives you the ability to get a casting that would need minimal grinding, and a pretty finish that would be very appealing. There are several companies that precision investment cast in weight up to several thousand pounds per shot. They are used to making highly specified casting in high alloy matels and can heat treat. The only drawback is that they are mostly in the aerospace trade so $$$. Still, if I were doing this as abiz that is where I would first go. The biz case may not fly.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/13/07 11:30:34 EST

Fisher-Norris method: The problem with the Fisher-Norris method is that in today's world it would cost much more than a good cast steel anvil. The problem today is it is difficult to get foundries to do ANYTHING special much less something really odd-ball. Just getting holes cast in a swage block is difficult and raises the price of the block to more per-pound than a good anvil. . .

You have to remember that in Fisher's day labor was very cheap AND foundries had many highly skilled workers on the moulding floor. Today labor is expensive and most foundries have no skilled laborers on the moulding floor. The skilled labor is now in patternmaking, chemisrty, testing.

Steel and wrought iron were also much more expensive than cast iron in Fisher's day. Today the overhead in foundries have produced a situation where the difference in metal costs is almost nothing.

Recreating a method that was cost effective in the 19th century does not make it so today.

TODAY, It is cheaper in low production and even in some high production situations to make chips, to waste huge amounts of material rather than making a casting or a forging which waste much less metal.

TODAY, It is rapidly becoming more economical to avoid the foundry at all costs. Even shops that have the patterns on hand for replacement machine parts now make weldments and machine them to spec. Even in the 1980's when we were having castings made we had several parts machined from solid cast iron billets turning 85% of the billet to chips because it was cheaper than making ONE pattern and having two casting made.

Todays most economical methods of manufacturing anvils should be steel castings. They CAN be made very well but the foundry MUST be part of the anvil manufacturing business OR a very high quality foundry. However, there are less and less foundries and the total world's production of anvils is not a "good" order for any one of these large foundries.

We are rapidly approaching the point where making an anvil in a machine shop will be the best approach. We already have the best anvils being machined, drilled and broached in machine shops. The next step is to produce two piece fabrications from heavy plate. An anvil base of traditional or German shape can be made entirely by flame cutting with no loss in shape or style. The upper body is a little more difficult but it is no problem to setup and machine the conical horn of the German type anvil from a flame cut blank. Electric welding the two pieces together at the waist is a method that has been in use for nearly a century on two of the best anvils manufactured.

The result would be an all steel anvil with no casting defects that could be made of the highest quality steel. This would not be a cheap anvil. It would be priced with the other top quality anvils. Metallurgically it would be better than most cast anvils and possibly be superior to the only forged anvil, the Peddinghaus which may suddenly drop out of production at any time. .

All it will take is someone with the right shop that wants to go into anvil production. Besides the heavy milling machines currently used to face and drill anvils they will need a 30 to 36" turret lathe (vertical boring mill). Some or all of the heavy flame cutting would need to be done in-house as well.

CHEAP ANVILS: There has always been a market for cheap anvils. Even in the 19th century they sold chilled cast iron anvils as a bottom of the line tool. However, the difference THEN was that they clearly stated what they were. Today you have the low lifes on ebay claiming their cast iron junk is "top quality professional . . ." AND they often get prices equivalent to what good top quality used anvils are selling for. Even HF is wishy washy on them as they have no specs. However, they DO sell for an honest price.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/13/07 12:04:23 EST

If you were to machine shop a two-piece anvil why would the top and bottom halves need to both be steel? Couldn't the base be out of mild steel? Even then, does the base necessarily need to end at the middle or could it continue upward to where say only the top 1"-2" were high grade steel?

In reflection, such an adventure is something Emmert Studebaker might have tried.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/13/07 13:09:08 EST

Mild steel is steel. . . The waist is the best place to weld as it is the smallest and most regular cross section of the anvil.

A mild steel base would be the rule. However, current heavy steel plate prices are such that there is often little difference in construction grade A36 and a medium carbon plate like 1045 or an alloy plate like 4140. I currently know of a large mass item being made of 1040 steel simply because THAT is what is available.

You also want the solid mass of the top of the anvil to be sufficient for the job. Plating of an anvil by arc welding around the edge does a very poor job. Hay-Budden and others who made two piece anvils welded at the waist figured this out a long time ago when there WAS significant materials savings. Today there is even less reason not to make the joint at the most convienient place.

A nearly perfect design for a fabricated anvil is the Hofi pattern. Flat blocks with no heavy chamfers or curves. The upper body parts can be nested to reduce waste in cutting. It does not result in a very pretty design but it is very fabricateable.

   - guru - Saturday, 01/13/07 13:47:19 EST

is there any reason an anvil needs to be one solid, contiguous mass? I realise stacking horizontal plates that don't have full penetration welds between them is bad - since energy doesn't transfer between layers. However, what about multiple vertical plates with a single, hard horizontal top plate? The laminations would be electric welded onto the back of the top plate one at a time, allowing full penetration welds. The result is a large vertical mass under the hammer, but without requiring such deep welds.
   andrew - Saturday, 01/13/07 17:18:31 EST

This works for a power hammer where a loss of mass efficiency is not too bad but with anvils you are talking about PERSONAL wear and tear on YOU, your body and how long you can work and how much of your life you are willing to put into inefficiency. You can hammer on a wood anvil (YES IT WORKS until the anvil is all flames), a rock, even a gravel pile. But they are all highly inefficient.

Solid mass is too cheap not to use it.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/13/07 17:52:37 EST

Would the gurus care to comment on the proper use of a file. I am working on a blade and keep getting deep scratches (grinners) either from the file being scarred or I am not cleaning off the file and work surfaces more than about every 5 strokes. Chalk didnt seem to make much difference. A new file helped and I have resolve to keep it in the plastic wrap it came in when I is not being used. I am sure that all of the other neophytes metal workers lurking here would appreciate some pointers on use of such a basic tool.
   JLW - Saturday, 01/13/07 19:27:40 EST


Keep using chalk. Talc and soapstone also help in the same way. Try using a file card that has not only wire "teeth", but a brush on the reverse. The card is pushed, not pulled. Pulling on it screws up the shape of the wires. A sharpened brass rod can help clean visible pins from the file. I use a brazing rod. Draw filing is helpful on plane surfaces.

You won't get a mirror finish with a file. There is polishing to be done beyond the file finish.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/13/07 21:47:52 EST

Hand Finishing: Filing only goes so far. Keeping chips out of the file is a constant task. I wipe the file with my fingers to remove swarf and prevent chips from building up. When I feel a chip OR see a track in the work, remove it. Same with fine sandpaper.

After filing you can use hand scraping to reduce and smooth the surface further thus keeping flat sharp features. After filing and scraping then you follow with various grits of sand paper.

In the era before finishing primarily with grinding hand scraping was used a great deal.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/13/07 22:58:15 EST

Hi I'm a grade 12 student from Alberta Canada. I relise you probably get questions from newbies a lot but I figured I'd ask anyway. I have taken a begginers smithing course at SAIT and have built a forge (with my dad's help). I have made a few things like fire pokers and wall hooks but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on things that I could make that would be challenging but not overly difficult so I can hone my skills. I would also appreciant suggestions on types of metals that are the best to work with and anything else you think could be helpful to me. Thank-you very much for your time.
Jennifer A
   Jennifer - Saturday, 01/13/07 23:29:15 EST

Hello...can someone tell me the height of the bottom die on a Big Blu Max 110?...I would like to set a platen table at level height with a desire to purchase a Max 110 in the furture...I have e-mailed Big Blu with this request but no responce...
   - Platte River Forge - Saturday, 01/13/07 23:47:34 EST

Jennifer on the upper right corner of this page is a menu marked "NAVIGATE anvilfire" on it you will see iForge How To, there you will find over 150 projects most fairly simple to replicate.


   ThomasP - Sunday, 01/14/07 00:27:52 EST

Atli; I have a 23rd edition that my wife bought for me for US$5 at the library bookstore in *pristine* condition---nobody checked it out so they got rid of it---not a single grimy fingerprint in it---when I got it.

   ThomasP - Sunday, 01/14/07 00:39:32 EST

Tell me more about scrapers.
   JLW - Sunday, 01/14/07 00:46:13 EST

Karen Lewis, wife of Wayne (Coalforge) Lewis passed away in her sleep Saturday morning, after a long fight with cancer. They had been married 37 years this past July, and have 2 kids and 7 grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. Additional information will be posted on the IForgeIron.com prayer list as it becomes available.
   - IForgeIron - Sunday, 01/14/07 01:33:26 EST

JLW, See our iForge Demo #86 Scrapers and Burnishers. Metal Working By Paul N. Hasluck has a good section on scraping. Then look up the Japanese Sen.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 09:46:35 EST


Our iForge demos vary in difficulty you will need to pick and chose but eventually you should be able to do most of them.

Blacksmiths work primarily in mild steel in the form of bars and sheet. But they often make their own tools using tool steel. The modern artist blacksmith works in a variety of metals often making mixed metals pieces such as putting copper or brass highlights on their ironwork. Polished brass collars and finials look very nice on black iron work. Of course you can also paint your work to appear to be such and it has been common to gild parts of painted ironwork.

Copper is one of the softest of metals and is great for repousse'. However, you must be careful about using mixed metals outdoors. The different metals cause rapid corrosion of each other.

Stainless steel can also be forged the same as steel then filed, buffed and polished to a bright finish and with no need to be painted to prevent rust. Stainless handles arc welded to mild steel makes nice work with a contrast. If you make welded mixed metal pieces it is best to weld the blank pieces together then finish the weld along with forging the work. This way the weld disapears without any grinding. You can also rivet on stainless steel blades for kitchen spatulas.

Let your imagination be your guide. There are still many new things to do. You will find them as you find your own personal style.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 10:18:46 EST

Thanks guru. I should have searched first. Thought I knew the contents of the demo's better.
   JLW - Sunday, 01/14/07 12:02:23 EST

ThimasP and Guru
Thanks very much for the adivce. Im sure I be here a lot more looking for advice.
Jennifer A
   Jennifer - Sunday, 01/14/07 13:23:46 EST

I have a Hay Budden 125# antique anvil in excellent condition. I am interested in selling it and wonder what a ballpark figure would be?
   fred - Sunday, 01/14/07 13:43:15 EST

Fred, Hay-Buddens, while they were last manufactured in 1927-28 are not considered an antique. While exceptional examples are considered by some to be collector's items they are for the most part a modern working anvil. Anvils in the 200 year old range are "antique".

PRICE for the most part is strictly a matter of condition as these are working tools. Severely broken corners, repairs, abuse (chisel marks, broken down edges, bent and misshappened horns, torch cuts and arc beads, severe rust) all reduce the value of the anvil.

Top condition Hay-Buddens have been selling for $4 to $5/lb. while those in rough condition can sell for less than $1/lb. The current average seem's to be around $3/lb.

A lot also depends on your location. In Ohio, most of New England and the Mid-Atlantic old anvils are fairly plentiful. Generally from the Mississippi or Great Plains the farther West you go the least plentiful and the higher the price.

AND a lot depends on how big a hurry you are in. There ARE a few people out there that may pay a lot more than others.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 14:34:02 EST

Across the Street, Uri Hofi writes that he is just back from China, and will soon be importing lost wax cast 6150 anvils, in a 120 kg size (265lbs).

There is no reason the chinese cant make good anvils, cheaper than almost anybody else. Just because the Harbor Freight anvils are crummy, doesnt mean Hofi's will be. After all, the chinese are making spacecraft- they can do quality if somebody pays them.

While milling an anvil from a solid block is certainly possible, I think its going to be a while yet before its cost competitive with casting. Its true that Jesse James mills custom motorcycle wheels from 2 foot x 2 foot x 1 foot blocks of aluminum, but then he sells em for $2000 and up each.
If anvils could sell for 2 grand, then you could make money milling em from a block. But a machine capable of doing that is well over a hundred grand, plus as mentioned, heat treating costs, so you would have to be running a LOT of anvils, full time, to justify the expense.

The market seems to be buying plenty of new anvils, probably more than any time since WW2, at current prices of $5 and up per pound.

A two piece cast/alloy steel anvil, made today, would probably cost at least double what a nice one piece cast steel anvil costs- like a Nimba. Definitely double what the euroanvils go for. There is just too much that can go wrong, and cost more, for a material cost savings of at most ten or twenty bucks.

Now if we could find an entire factory that worked as cheap as Ken does, then maybe it would work, but once you start to add in all those annoying costs of doing business in the modern world, like rent, taxes, paying employees, insurance, paying off industrial equipment, buying materials at current market prices, and so on, your overhead quickly goes up.

I think that the Euroanvils are an incredible deal at their current cost, and if you try to make any type of anvil in the USA, no matter what your manufacturing technique, you could not come close to that cost.

Kris Ketchum here in the Northwest, is making what he calls the "ultimate anvil" called the BlackJack and it is indeed very nice- with lots of very well thought out features- and it runs very close to three grand.

Reality, and the modern world, is often just no fun at all, especially when it comes to how much it costs.
   - Ries - Sunday, 01/14/07 15:09:22 EST

Ries, I am not talking about milling the entire anvil from a solid block. I am talking about adding one machining operation, a conical horn and replacing forging the halves with flame cutting. Flame cutting has long been more economical than forging OR casting in low to medium quantities for a number of years.

So except for machining the horn you would have the same number of machining operations as Nimba, Peddinghaus and other quality modern anvils. Welding the waist joint would be the same as on Peddinghaus.

I'm sure the Chinese can make a first class anvil but the money is in the numbers and the numbers are just not there. That is why we are getting poorly cast cheap un-heattreated CI anvils from China and relatively poor quality castings from Eastern Europe. There is not enough market for a top quality product made using high production methods. People complain about pattern costs for simple loose patterns, wait until the price comes in for large precision wax casting dies. The only possible advantage is if the resulting casting was so clean that no machining was required afterward (which IS possible).

I still think we are at a place in time where it is ALMOST economical. Peddinghaus shut down production for 18 months and was considering a permanent shut down. However, there was still a demand for this quality of anvil. If they drop out of the market and foundry costs continue to rise then a first class fabricated anvil becomes a definite possibility. It MAY be today. When I look at the cost per pound of many low production tools it should be possible to manufacture a first class anvil at a sellable price.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 16:22:00 EST

Any idea of what price Uri is envisioning?

One problem I see is that a sizeable portion of the potential market simply doesn't need a 265 pound anvil. I suspect he would sell a whole lot more anvils at 75 kg (165 pounds) than 265.

Second problem is what hardy hole size he chooses to use. The CI anvils Grizzly Industry sells have 1 5/8" in their 200 lb and 2" in their 300 lb. None have pritchel holes.

Concern is he may be designing what he, and not necessarily the U.S. market, wants.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 01/14/07 16:34:34 EST

I have some experience with precision cast, lost wax parts. We made Gates for valves with the tee slot used as cast, and the seating surfaces got a super finish skim and a lap to get the 4 microinch finish and the flatness needed. We made solid Stellite dics for valve that had the disc nut with a bayonet joint, and the only operations on those was to skim the seat and lap. The bayonet joint fit as cast, and was locked with a pressed in pin. The pin hole was cast in place. The tolerenceing available was very nice. We bought perhaps 600,000 gates a year, in several materials, including solid stellite. I could see a lost wax cast anvil that need only to cut off the gate, and perhaps a light grind on the table.
Odd that a couple of days ago I suggested that this was the process I would pursue. Everything I have seen from HOFI has been first rate. I expect no less in this effort. I hope the price is nice as I have been wanting a double horn anvil of about this size.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/14/07 17:35:42 EST

Ken, Those are the world's ugliest ASO's, they do not count as real anvils.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 17:58:10 EST

JLW (and all). Are you 'draw-filing'? If not, investigate this technique sometimes as it is helpful when trying to get a better finish.
All previous comments on cleaning, chalk, etc., are also very important.
Also, try and keep you files sorted as to material being filed. Some for only steel, some for only aluminum, etc.,.
   - Tom H - Sunday, 01/14/07 18:03:08 EST

Hardy (hardie) hole sizes: The world of quality manufactured anvils with broached holes has pretty much standardized on a standard 1" hardy hole. However, in the recent past almost every size anvil had a hole proportionate to the anvil size. I have and have had anvils with 1/2" and 5/8" hardy holes (typical of Colonial anvils). My first anvil had a 7/8" hole and I have a lot of tooling to fit. Both my current anvils have holes over 1" (1-1/8 and 1-3/16). I have a collection of hardy tools with shanks ranging from 7/8" to 1-3/4".

Tooling with smaller shanks get dropped into the anvil and used loose. Tooling with oversize shanks get used in the swage block or vise. The only tool I have that fits is the hardy for my Hay-Budden.

In 1883 Atha Tool listed hardies with shanks from 5/8" to 1-1/8" in 1/8" increments. Brooks jumped from 3/4" to 1-1/4" in their cast anvils. Kohlswa printed tables in the nearest inches but had metric hardy holes.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 18:18:13 EST

Last comment on CI anvils. . Many of us have been to flea markets and sales and seen over the years and seen many hundreds of anvils. But how many were OLD cast iron anvils? I have yet to see ONE even though they have been made and sold in the millions since the 1800's.

Think about it. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 01/14/07 18:21:32 EST

Ken, my first girlfriend used to tell me-
"wanting isnt getting"

What the US market "wants" is a $50 anvil, a $1000 half ton pickup, and 25 cent beer.

What we will get from Hofi is a fairly priced, high quality professional tool that will outlive us, and be a joy to behold.
He will not sell 100,000 a year.
But I doubt anybody who buys one will be sorry they did.

He seemed to indicate that this is a solid thing, and that you should expect to see these within a few months, along with the possibility of Chinese made Uri Hofi hammers.
   - Ries - Sunday, 01/14/07 19:03:55 EST

History note.

Hofi going to China for his anvils reminded me of Dick Cropper of Chatsworth, CA, going to Japan to get his Multi-Products anvils cast. I met Dick in 1963, me being a fledgling farrier. He may have been the first to go abroad to get "modern" farriers' tools made. In addition, the Multi-Products hoof nippers were drop forged and finished in Japan, and marked "MP". The nippers were of high quality, although the anvil was an attenuated version of a Hay-Bud farrier's anvil, and the final product was freaky looking: skinny waist; oversized horn; too thin heel. Cropper also sold horseshoes which were manufactured in Japan.

Multi-Products was in business from 1955 to 1985.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 01/14/07 20:45:53 EST

Where is Kris Ketchum located? I'm here in Idaho outside of Boise.
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/14/07 21:58:43 EST

i went to a antique faire thingy with my friend, and , we saw an anvil, ,a nd it says i think ,
and theres an O to the side,
it is apparently around 262 lbs, or so, it has a step on the side you see if you look at the anvil, and the horn is on the right, and it is attached to thevery base of the horn,
what would be the closest weight to it that was manufactured?
my friend is very well known among old blacksmiths in alberta, and apparently many have heard about me or something,a nd anywyas,
i got it for 325 bucks canadian, on a large stump, i ihave to take about 4 inches off the bottom of the stump so that the anvil is at the right height,
it has a 1 inch by 1 inch haryd, and 2 pritchels one big , one small,
the edges are pretty beat up on the holes and on the anvil face itself, but the actual face is in really good condition, he decided to buy it for me as a christmas gift,
how much would something of this size and condition be worth?
guru, can i sedn you ppictures in a couple days , of my setup and shop area, im trying to figure out the best way to set up my shop ,
   Cameron - Sunday, 01/14/07 23:17:51 EST


ONe thing to consider is that HOfi is probably not all that concerned about pleasing American tastes. If so, his current anvil pattern would be a wasp-waisted, thin-heeled, under-massed mess like most of the currently popular American anvils, particularly the farriery-oriented ones. No, I think Hofi will stick with a double-horn, solid, heavy-waisted style like he always has, and that is what the Europeans, his primary market, definitely desire. Actually, more and more American smiths are discovering the value of that style; witness the sales of Euroanvils, Old Worlde Anvils, Habermann, anvils, etc. It really is a better design. In fact, I just bought a Nimba Gladiator, as I've learned to like the two-horn style much better myself.
   vicopper - Sunday, 01/14/07 23:33:39 EST

Cameron, It might sell for a bit more than that properly advertised.

"Nearest weight?" All the hand made anvils came in at what they came in at and were marked after manufacture +/- 1 lb. The only "even weight" anvils are cast anvils where the pattern is carefully adjusted to result in the finished weight. This also has to assume an exact amount of machining allowance (usualy 1/4") to clean up the face.

Hardy holes tend to get chipped from being used for heavy punching OR using tools that fit too tightly. Hardy tools should drop in and pull out smoothly when turned any direction. Sometimes this means being a little looser than one would like in other directions as the holes are often not square or not perpendicular to the face of the anvil. Tools made to fit only one way will pop a piece of the face right off if struck while wedged in the wrong way. . so don't make them that way!
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 00:13:37 EST

Heavy Waisted Anvils / Anvil Design: The Old English or original London pattern supported nearly the entire face with a body that tapered from the face outward in all directions to the base with the exception of the short heel. It has taken a long time for many smiths used to the waspy American pattern anvils to realize that this was a much better design from a working standpoint.

The other pattern that is very good is the original Austrian pattern which started as a large rectangular slab with the horns and base extended from it (similar to but more gracefully than the Hofi). This was one of the best of the regional designs and was botched by those making the modern cast versions. The advantage of the originals was the hardy hole immediately adjacent to the body of the anvil where it has the most possible support.

Of course the waistless French and Italian pattern anvils have none of the springyness of the waisted anvils. However, they must use width to get the mass and many folks do not like the wide face. However, I have found that with time you get used to whatever you have and make the best use of it.

All these little nuances of good anvil design are unknown to most modern pattern makers who know nothing of blacksmithing or the development and design criteria of a good anvil. Thus you have the Grizzly, the Duck billed Russian, diagonal hardy holes and the botched Austrian. . . The real shame of which is that a beautiful shape can be cast for the same cost as an ugly poorly designed shape. It is made worse when "artists" buy these tools from the artless.

   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 00:37:00 EST

Do you think i got a good deal on it?
and, is it likely a good anvil?
   cameron - Monday, 01/15/07 01:12:45 EST

Yes, and Yes.
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 01:28:12 EST

Cameron: The ENGLAND indicates the anvil was made after 1910, but likely no later than the early 30s. For the logo to be in that good of condition surely the weight stamps are also there. Look at the waist under logo. Should be a number on left, center and right. If 262 pounds (w/o stump) number should be something like 2 1 10, although with the anvil damage you described last number is likely higher than 10.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/15/07 01:47:54 EST

Keep in mind there aren't that many professional or even extremely active blacksmiths in the U.S. Essentially it is a hobby market. JMHO, but 265 pounds is about 100 higher than needed for that market.

Is it worth going after? How many 265 anvils is he likely to sell? A smaller, more saleable model, would have the advantage of the economics of volume.

Much like the old tiered U.S. auto industry with compact, mid-size and full-sized vehicle. Each had a different market.

Actually, were it me, weight would be just under 150 pounds so shipment to buyer can be via a non-freight delivery service, such as UPS, FedEx or DHL.

In my business I don't try to compete with Centaur, Pieh or Blacksmiths Depot for the professional or high value market. I do quite well giving the rest what they either want or can afford.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 01/15/07 01:57:32 EST

Is there a reason many anvil patterns have a narrow waist? I've seen the hofi pattern is more like a rectangular slab with horns, which means more mass vertically under the hammer over a larger area. Something was mentioned about springiness resulting from the waist size. Could somebody elaborate on that a bit more? I understand that farriers anvils have a very narrow waste, which I presume is to make them portable & I can see why it's a compromise, but why have any waste at all?
   andrew - Monday, 01/15/07 02:03:05 EST


Farriers are generally working with pretty small stock, like 5/16" or 3/8" thick by 3/4" wide to make shoes, or they're shaping keg shoes, narrowing or spreading them. They aren't doing heavy forging, and some of them are actually doing most of their work cold.

For that sort of work, they need a horn they can work pretty much all around and a heel that is thin enough to let them get a shoe around it, too. Some of the modern fariers anvils have a heel with turning cams cut out of it to speed up that sort of work. So, they need something they can easily hump in and out of a truck and that will facilitate the type of work they do. BTW, if it had no waist, what would keep it up high enough to get the shoe around it?

Me, I need something that will sit there and take blows when I'm forging down 1-1/2" or 2" stock with a 12# hammer, and not flex or bounce. The only way to get that is lots of mass directly under the hammer. Thus, my rationale for buying the big Nimba. Well, that and I couldn't pass up a half-price deal on a nearly new one, when the shipping is going to flatten my wallet as it is. At least this one is almost 1500 miles closer to me than a new one from Washington, so only 3000 more miles or so to go. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 01/15/07 03:15:24 EST

Cameron: P.S. You appear to have a farrier anvil.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 01/15/07 03:17:36 EST

Essentially what I am saying on new anvil availability is there is the low end (HF 110) and the high end (European imports). The middle (sedan) market is being overlooked.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 01/15/07 12:01:04 EST

I found some more info on Kris Ketchums BlackJack anvil-
Its a 500lb anvil, cast from 8630 steel.
It has both square and hex hardy holes, so you can make hardy tools from hex shafted jackhammer bits. It comes with round holes for using as a bending jig, by inserting round pins in it, not just pritchel holes for punching.

Kris is advertising his phone number in magazines, so I would guess its okay to post it here- 360-658-0803.
I believe he is in the Everett Washington area.
But he does have a custom trailer for his Harley, that holds one 500lb anvil- so I think he might even deliver to Idaho.

My latest info indicates 15,000 to 20,000 blacksmiths in america.
But that doesnt really include all the fab shops that have been coming back to forging after 40 years away.
Every issue of Fabricator, the Nomma magazine, now has an article or two about forging, and its full of blacksmithing equipment ads. These guys have money- I have seen Nomma members drop 35,000$ on CNC bending equipment without blinking- and they are all buying anvils too these days.

I would be interested to know what the sales figures for new, over 200lb anvils are- my guess is that in the last 5 years or so, between Nimba, RatHole, EuroAnvil, Old World Anvil, Tom Clark and Hofi, and the others, at least a couple thousand have been sold.

I know at the last few Abana conferences I have been at, virtually every demo anvil has a sold sign on it by the end of the show.

If americans can routinely spend $35,000 on a new pickup, then a grand for an anvil is not something that is impossible to forsee.

I bet Hofi sells a steady stream of 265lb anvils in the USA- but I guess we will see.

Me, I just get frustrated with inadequate tools- I have never lost a job because I had too much tool, but there has been a lot of money I have had to leave on the table because I didnt have enough tool.
   - Ries - Monday, 01/15/07 12:21:33 EST

As far as the middle of the anvil market goes- both Euroanvil and Old world have several models for sale between $300 and $500- these are in the range of 70 to 175lbs.
Realistically, nobody is going to get prices any lower than this for a new anvil, made of steel, no matter where its made.
   - Ries - Monday, 01/15/07 12:25:55 EST

Guru, Remember when you had your rant a few years ago about telemarketers and when I said they weren't much problem you had a fit? Well, at that time I only got 2 or 3 calls a month, but at 5 or 6 a day I got a privacy line and caller ID. For those that slip through I ask, What is your credit card #? "What?" "I charge $5 per minute for my time. Soon as you give me your credit card # we can talk all day." Never hear from them again.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 01/15/07 12:31:19 EST

Ron, Once we got on the Federal no-call list they all disappeared except the few charities and legal political campainers. We get less than 1 call a month from either. So the no-call list really works. However, you must still be diligent and let folks know that call that you want off their list. You also need to be careful about registering products, especially on-line. The forms often hide and ALWAYS have the "yes add me to your list" prechecked ON. This is a slimy business practice.

I also do not register any product that does not require it so that it will work (like MS windirt XP and up). Once you register a product the company can claim they have a "business relationship" with you making it legal to call.

The only illegal telemarketer I repeatedly get calls from is from a "search engine submitter". These are almost always flim-flams and a waste of money. I've always been too busy to confront this one but have them on my list. I'll need to find out who they are the next time they call so that I can turn them in. They have been told not to call back at least 4 times. It figures that the illegal calls I get are internet related.

Now SPAM FAX's are another thing. My FAX uses roll paper and the spammers were using up a roll a month. I finally gave up the seperate fax line. Most of the calls originated from travel and realestate sales companies. I spent a great deal of time on the phone with several asking that they stop sending me FAX's to no avail. Since there is no Federal no-call list for FAX's several states have enacted laws.

   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 14:38:41 EST

guru, I was looking at the JYH stuff, I love it, very much the kind of thing that smithing is all about for me at least, but I was wondering, it looks like you have the hammer running off of the motor(s) continuously when the switch is flipped, and the brake on the drum allows control and stopping the stroke. Does the belt drive slip on the pulleys when the brake is applied? Or does it hold the motor still? Will that be bad for the motor? It looks like the reverse of the use of the foot bail on LGs, etc...
   - vorpal - Monday, 01/15/07 16:29:30 EST

JYH with Differential Clutching: Vorpal, You have to understand how the automobile differential works. They are designed to divide the motion going to the wheels either equally OR unequally so that power is transmitted smoothly when going around curves. This is also what causes one wheel to spin when it is on a slick surface and the other not move.

You can stop one wheel while the other turns. In this case we let the side with the brake drum run free until we need the hammer to run then we stop the brake side. This transfers the motion to the other side where the hammer is connected.

It works well but the overall mechanism is huge.

This hammer was a proof of concept on three different ideas. The clutching, the shock absorber linkage and using a pair of motors. The clutching worked great but as I noted the machine is quite large. The shock absorber linkage worked but is very inefficient. The first blow is very hard then they taper off. If run too fast the shocks let the ram float (holding still) while the machine runs on. The dual motors worked perfectly. However, we had to slow the machine down by letting the belt slip and the dual motors had too much grip on the belt so we disconnected one. I plan on using dual motors again on another machine that has a wide range of needed power. With a 1/2 and a 3/4 HP motor you have available, 1/2HP, 3/4HP and 1-1/4HP. You could also use other combinations.

One change I would like to make is to try a leaf spring between the shocks. This would let the shocks act as self adjusting links and the spring would provide that over center travel that lets Dupont style mechanical hammers hit so hard. I'm sure the hammer would run much better but I am not sure how the shocks would behave in this arrangement.

However, for now my R&D days are over and I will probably left the EC-JYH go to someone with more time to play than I.

The whole point of building a Junk Yard Hammer is to collect what junk you have and build a hammer (or other machine) as cheaply as possible. In most of the developed world we are surrounded by junk pieces of automobiles, machinery and scrap metal. Often for no cost all a machine can be built that does a good job. But the trick is figuring out how to use what you have on hand OR can obtain cheaply.

   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 17:11:12 EST

Trying to size a blower for a pan forge and am wondering how much cfm I should be looking for? Does anyone have a source for these (looking for 120v) Thanks. JW
   Jim Warren - Monday, 01/15/07 17:27:58 EST

Some people mentioned me my visit to CHAINA and my anvil from several point of view and i want with my poor english to reffer to some of them from my point of view.
and feirst of all CHAINA.
This is my FOURTH visit to CHAINA, the first one was just a touring fun to CHINA and MONGOLIA mainly in MONGOLIA this was the time that i took my tools with me and i forged in allan battor in big factories and in very remote places that my forge was a pit in the ground the air came from anold rusuien jeep blower conected to my car battery and the fule was dried sheep horses and cow dungs spent 6 weeks going around just for the fun of it and again i learend a lot!!!
the second time was on bussines i went to visit the ''striker'' air hammer company which is called in CHAINA ''SHANX'I'' AND MANY OTHER PLACES.
WHEN I FIRST CAME TO CHAINA VERY LITTLE PEOPLE SPOKE ENGLISH on the last visit english was not a problam.within the last 10 years 300 ooo ooo chainies learend english ,
how many american learend chainies?. made in chaina some how in the western countries is a nam for bad or male product like japan in the 20th of the past century,some times i see it olso on the site that people are underestimating chaina, i just want to remied that ''boing'' i producing to day most of the spearparts in chaina the same with volks wagen and many other companies in the world. the ''bad '' name was created by the big companies around the world that want to sel chip and make a lot of mony fast! in x'ian the old capetal of chaina 10 000 000 population 1000000 students are learning in 80 universities most of them will be the futuer computer engeneers of chaina because ''x'ian'' is the capital of the computer reserch in the world.
this in very short about chaina but i offer every one to read the book of ted.c.fishmann ''chaina ltd'' it is a new book a very interesting one that was written by an amercan expert for chaina it maks you understand the relation and the influence of chaina on the world today.
and now to the anvil
always my idia with toolsevery tool is 1 simplicity and 2 the mor you can do with one tool the better tool it is! the same with tongs ,chisles hand hammer ,punching tools,and the air hammer dies and system too. in shot all the forging eqipment.if the tool is good and efficiet he is also beutifull IT COMES TOGETHER. i am not locking for the ''grace '' i am looking for the right use and for the multyple use and the comfort and the efficiency!
the anvil that i have desigend that you can forge bend upset punch more than on any other anvil and belive me i forged and demonstrated on almost all of them.on this site there is no possiblity to send fotos or drowings and it is very hard to explain werbaly .it is costacted to puport the hand hammer and the striker blowes the hardie hole is 1 1/8" there are rour prichel holes 1 1/8 1 3/4 1/2 " holes the hole are open all the way dowen to the floor you can upset all around the anvil is 4" across you do not have to bend when forging and there are two bays that you can go with the steel all the way to the groundthere is an upper sharp stage perpendicular to the anvil opposit to the hardie hole.al this is going together with the three leged base and the anvile is seatting on a 1 3/4 steel plate the plate is cut to the exact dimention of the base of the anvil in the bottom of the base thre are two 9/16" 1"deep holes and two pins are lockated so that the anvile holes are on the pins and that privent from the anvilto move ,the anvilis glued to the base with sika flex 11 fc which is a pu very stabel and tough and prevent complitly the anvil ringing.
i think that 120 kg or 265 # is the right waight for proffetionals and amatuers.i never aimed to a mrket i allways aimed for a ggod tool !! a good tool will sel.
thank every one that showed interes
   hofi - Monday, 01/15/07 17:47:27 EST

HOFI, A picture can be posted at Forgemagic. I for one would be very interested in seeing your design.
   ptree - Monday, 01/15/07 19:28:00 EST

There is an exception to every rule, of course, but in my experience, by and large, Made in China means you are buying cheap sure-to-fail shit.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/15/07 19:42:59 EST

Anvils: I wanted a traditional London Pattern or American Pattern anvil. Well, I couldn't find one and settled for the Russian, which I have since sold. I still use, and appreciate, my German Pattern Cast Steel anvil which I bought for $365 several years ago. I have come to appreciate the design advantages of the double horn and thick waist.
China: Mr. Hofi, my company makes welded pipe for oil and gas wells. We are the largest manufacturer of this product in North America. The second largest in North America is foreign owned and is actually the largest pipe manufacturer in the world. We are less concerned about competing with each other than the effect China will have on our market. It is not a question of Chinese Quality. They are catching up rapidly. It is a question of adherance to the order of international trade laws. Chinese innovation has thousands of years of history. Rule of law does not. I was also amazed that most signs in Shanghai were in Chinese and English and many people spoke good English.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 01/15/07 19:56:20 EST

i heard that Austin Community Collage in Texas had a faily decent blacksmtihing program. How do y'all think it ranks?
thanks y'all
Andrew B.
   - andrew B. - Monday, 01/15/07 20:42:52 EST

"It is a question of adherence to the order of international trade laws"???My Granny used to say"People who live in glass houses should never throw stones".
   dimag - Monday, 01/15/07 20:43:55 EST

Miles: Most of the goods You see from China are built for the lowest possible cost, as specified by the retailer. Stuff at that cost would be shit nomatter where it is made. Damn near all Your electronics are made in China from Chinese tooling made with Chinese machine tools. Take something apart and look at the injection molded, die cast and stamped parts. Think what the tooling to make them is like. There are companies in China that will build practically any thing You would want at any quality level You are willing to pay for. In the end, quality levels are set by the seller who has a particular market in mind.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/15/07 20:48:51 EST

good point dimag! Thanks guru, the two motor idea gives me a "1 hp" motor out of nowhere to run the 2x72 grinder I'm building. 1/2 was really underpowered.... Only, how do you keep both sides of the differential from rotating in the first place? Maybe I just need to try it and find out, but does it just work this way w/ no modification?
   - vorpal - Monday, 01/15/07 21:04:02 EST

I was just gifted two large pieces of steel. The guy who gave them to me said something like "truck steering pins" but I didnt realy understand at the time. Theyre 9 1/8 tall solid cylinders (sp?) with a diameter of about 1 3/4 inches. Weight is around 6.8 lbs a peice. It also has what looks like a 1 inch key slot milled into the side perpendicular to the length. No helpfull marks to speak of unless "14259H" or a "M" in a box with a line between the peaks means anything to you guys. Thanks a bunch.
   - Sebastian B. - Monday, 01/15/07 21:25:59 EST

Differential Drive: No modification needed. However, "limited slip" axels will not work. They have a clutch between the two sides so torque is always provided to both sides even if one is slipping.

A differential is a fairly complex piece of gearing known as a planetary gear train. The planet drives either one side or both and can be reversed as well. If you turn the right side forward and the left side backwards the input (middle) will hold still. . .

The reason two motors will work together is that induction motors operate at a slip rate slower than synchronous (1800 RPM). At no load that is the speed they turn but when loaded they turn about 1725 to 1750 or "slip" from synchronous. It is best to have two motors that are rated at the same slip speed and always use the same pulley size.

So what happens is when you apply a load it slows both motors. BOTH pull on the belt because both are TRYING to go faster. One may pull harder than the other (more HP) but both will pull.

Before putting the belt on be sure both motors are turning the same direction! Of course this means you can install one motor on one side of the belt and the other opposite!

   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 22:18:21 EST

Sebastion, Junk Yard Steel is Junk Yard Steel. See our FAW on the subject. I think what you have are known as "king pins".
   - guru - Monday, 01/15/07 22:19:26 EST

that's great, on a belt grinder you could lock a second motor into place with a lever for hogging out or disengage it for finishing work! thanks guru
   - vorpal - Monday, 01/15/07 22:54:02 EST

In building a power hammer on the car spring "rusty" model, is a railroad rail a good choice for a hammer/anvil just for rough hammering? What sort of reduction is necessary for the motor. 1300rpm down to 200 or so?
   JLW - Monday, 01/15/07 23:19:05 EST

Dave-- I have heard that. I have a friend, international maritime lawyer, who says the Koreans build marvelous tankers, too. I suspect we are at the stage where the Land of the Rising Sun was when stuff from there was stamped "Made in Occupied Japan." Just the same, I said it and I stand by it. If i can possibly avoid it-- which is becoming more and more difficult with everything from tools to shoes (even Sorels are now made in China!)-- I don't buy it.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/15/07 23:31:50 EST

Anvils and Shipping Weights:

One of the reasons that the ~70# farrier’s anvils were popular (and thus common) was that UPS would only handle up to 70# back then. And "back" was the problem; they had to limit the weight to what their delivery men could hand carry. Their "hundredweight" service is a relatively new innovation; I guess they had to train and supply all of their drivers with stevedores.

Warm, in the 60s, on the banks of the lower Potomac. More forging for the MarsCon art show in Williamsburg next weekend. ( www.marscon.net )

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 01/16/07 00:04:50 EST

Yes, UPS, FedEx and DHL all will take up to 150 pounds now. I guess they issued their drivers hand carts.

I have received anvils through UPS and DHL which weren't boxed or crated up. One had the shipping label taped to the top and covered with clear tape around the heel. Other the seller had put duct tape completely around the anvil and then put on the label. UPS has a $5.00 special handling surcharge for the service though.

When USPS came out with their Priority Mail flat rate boxes I redesigned a couple of my products so they would fit into one or the other of the boxes.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 01/16/07 03:55:03 EST

Rusty Speeds: JLW, The exact reduction is a factor of the spring dynamics. A long whippy spring must run slow and a heavy stiff spring can run fast. Often there is some R&D involved. However, we are speaking of the maximum operating speed. The hammer should be able to be run slower than full speed by riding the clutch.

There are two type of clutch, the belt type and the tire and wheel type. The belt type should be a flat belt but this requires special pulleys. Folks have built them with V-belts and varied the speed by tilting the motor. However, V-belts are made to NOT slip and they wear rapidly. That leaves the spare tire clutch like the NC-JYH. These work very well and are very controlable. They also give you your reduction easily.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/16/07 09:49:56 EST

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