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This is an archive of posts from January 16 - 22, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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In any discussion of the cost of labor, it is necessary to consider the "actual" cost of that labor, rather than simply the wages to the laborer. While I know that many advocate paying a laborer "under the table", that is a case of being "penny wise and pound foolish", in my opinion and experience. With any employee comes the requirement for paying into Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Worker's Compensation Insurance Fund, etc. All of these costs add up to about half the amount the employees is making hourly. This adds to the out of pocket cost for said employee, so many small employers elect to either pay under the table or to claim that the hourly worker is "contract labor" and therefore responsible for paying his/her own SS, FUTA, WC, etc, in order to save these expenses. Failing to pay them, however, can cost far more than the deductions if the employer is caught by the IRS or worse, if the employee is injured on the job.

If you, as an employer, fail to pay into the Social Security fund as required, the penalties are enormous and jail time is not out of the question. If your employee is injured on the job or worse, disabled, you could easily lose your business, home, personal possessions and future income, if any. All to save a few dollars? Pound foolish, I say.

If you are operating so close to the bone that you must pay an employee under the table to make ends meet, you would be far better off to take a second job, rather than risk all you own betting that an unskilled worker operating dangerous equipment won't get hurt and won't sue your shorts off when he does.

Thhe foregoing may sound harsh, but I have seen a couple of friends lose their homes and businesses just this way, and one who is still in business, but paying over $28K/yr to a former employee who is on disability for life after not using required safety equipment on the job. I would really hate to see someting similar happen to anyone here.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 01/14/09 23:50:18 EST

Absolutely right vicopper. All apprenticeship programs should be accredited and on the books paying into the insurances and SS.

A good guage. If you pay someone 10.00 an hour you will actually be paying 20.00 an hour in wage. This include amounts paid into the appropriate systems.

Again I feel guaging the value of an apprentice by what one pays is missing the entire point of a guild system.
If you feel you are wasting valuable production time and a small wage to teach someone a skill then you are the wrong person to do so. You will only cause resentment due to your attitude problem not the person learning.

Basically a shift in thought is required. You get out of a person what you put into a person. Again on all levels not just labor output. Seems Americans are so capitalistic all they think about is profits and time value of making them. Miss the hole darn point. Those profit/time values are only important to a certain singular level and are not concrete.
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 01/15/09 00:26:09 EST

Is there any practical limit to the length of hose I should use on oxy acetylene? I have just bought two rolls of hose and then wondered if I should use it all. I HATE hoses too short (welder cables ditto) but am I missing some rule?
   philip in china - Thursday, 01/15/09 01:05:57 EST

Q: What do you call of businessman who doesn't pay much attention to the bottom line (profit)?

A: A former businessman.

When I was doing budgeting work for the Air Force the out-of-pocket compensation costs were 29%. That is, 129% of the employees salary would be what they would cost you. That would, of course, vary by industry. For example I suspect the factor would be significantly higher in a UAW-controlled automobile plant with better benefits.

One option is to hire only through a temporary worker agency so they are responsible for all of the bookkeeping involved. You pay them, not the employee directly. They take out the deductions from the employee's pay and match them as required.

One of my BILs in FL had a H&A/C business and employed two of his sons at one time or another - but through a temporary service. He said it made it sooooo much simplier on him.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 01/15/09 08:10:08 EST

I've never taken a business course, but I was born into a family business and have been in charge of payroll and billing since 1998. I can tell you emphatically that unless you know how much your business earns per day, you can never know how much you should pay your employees and your bills. For example, I have a store location that on any Sunday is open for 5 hours. I pay two employees, insurance, taxes, utilities, cost of merchandise and supplies for the 5 hours. If that location does not do enough business for us to come out even, we are paying too much for any one or more items billed. There is NO laws in the US that demands employers to pay benefits for health, dental or days off. Unemployment insurance, workers comp, taxes and other items MUST be paid by the employer. If not, not only can you get audited, but fined, noticed, even shut down. You can be scrutinized to the tiniest detail if the system wants to.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 01/15/09 09:38:21 EST

I think a large part of what the Gurus were saying was also about the QUALITY of the apprentice as well. I know that at least in my career field, there are people that hardly know which end of a hammer to hold, or that (no exaggeration, I was witness to this first hand!) you need to adjust the Oxygen and Acetylene while ARC welding... As I once heard from an old instructor: "You can polish a turd all you want; in the end, it's still a turd" I can understand why some smiths would be hesitant about letting a potential walking liability into their shop where said person could wreak untold havoc on tools, projects and themselves...
   MacFly - Thursday, 01/15/09 09:54:08 EST

Hose Length: Phillip, There is pressure drop in all hose and the longer the more pressure drop. However, the drop increases with velocity or flow rate. At a very low flow rate there is not much drop but at a high flow rate you can lose 50% pressure in 100 feet of hose. In oxy-acetylene systems the drop in acetylene pressure is rarely apparent over 20 to 30 feet. But on the oxygen when cutting the drop can be significant, especially with heavy cutting. The problem on the acetylene side is the starting pressure is 15 PSI or less MAX.

I've used oxy-propane on 100 feet of hose but the propane can be run at higher starting pressure than acetylene. Unless you really needed that length the hoses were a pain. 50 feet is a good length but I would not go over that. Pressure drop starts to become apparent at that point.

Hose diameter is also a factor. When the distance become great a larger diameter can offset some of the pressure drop. But then you have a lot of gas in the hoses. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 09:58:33 EST

Pat Stakem:

Since you're working with C & O, you could probably get further information from Hopewell Furnace in Pennsylvania ( www.nps.gov/hope/ ) and Saugus ironworks in Massachusetts ( www.nps.gov/sair/ ). Give them a call and see if they can provide further insight once you follow-up on Frank's suggestions.

By the way, are you my old friend from the NAR, or another Pat Stakem?
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/15/09 10:12:07 EST

hand made engraving punches:

well i've gotten lots of help from here before so i'm here again(with poor spelling and everything, lol).

the problem this time is that i work in an armory(working on becoming full fledge gunsmith). our machineguns have to have the serial number of the weapon stamped on a dogtag that is attached to each of its 2 barrels. this is because the headspace for that gun is only checked with those barrels.

so we had a crappy dog tag machine that was so inneficient and horrible that we threw that out. we also had a nice set of numbered stamps or punches that worked fantasticly. however somehow some way someone replaced a few of the numbers in the set with numbers we already have. so now we are stuck with a dremmel tool scratching numbers on dog tags.

i know i could prolly find some more punches online but i thought it would be a fun project to do but i DO need help. the issue is twofold.

i plan to annel the steel before working on it. ive read of anneling before but never performed it. the processes i read before described heating the metal and then submerging it in a bucket of ashes for 24 hours to let it soften. could you guys give me a quick crash course in such an operation?

the other is how to make the numbers on the stamp. the only 2 ways i could think of are 1: anneling the steel and using a dremel to shave off the exess metal. or 2: annel the steel, use a hard chissel to cut the number or lettering in a piece of concrete(deep recess) and then hammer the softened point of the punch into the concrete hopefully forcing the metal to take the shape of the recess(and potentially spreading out the flat surface area on the head as well...). what do you think of these two ideas? is there a better way to get it done?
   Lcpl Johnson - Thursday, 01/15/09 11:03:11 EST

Punches: Lcpl Johnson, note that you use punches to "stamp" and graving chisels or burins to chisel engraved markings. THEN there are machine engravers that use a small rotating cutting tool and are guided by template or computer system.

Many of these tools have been hand cut. It is done under great magnification using all manner of die sinking tools and fine sharp edged grinders as well as flexible shaft machines like Foredom tools, Dremel or die grinders.

See our iForge demo #65 on Matrix Punches. to start. This has a number of hand methods including hot work.

Others such as Grant Sarver use EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) to cut the dies for making the punch or the punch itself directly. The dog-Tag machine you scrapped was intended to deform thin sheet metal, not stamp into solid.

The steel used for figure and letter punches varies with the grade of the tools but the best are made of steel like S-7 and carefully heat treated. It requires a temperature controlled heat treating furnace to achieve the 20 or 25°F/hr cooling rate to anneal.

Making good punches of this nature is a real specialty and the commercial products comparatively inexpensive (to making them on your own). If you need a special inspectors or makers mark that is one thing but I would not waste my time making tools that are made MUCH BETTER by specialists.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 11:56:53 EST


Everyone you have all good and valid perspectives. I am enjoying them.
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 01/15/09 12:01:07 EST

Dang Ptree you're lucky---mine takes *all* my salary!

Rustystuff; I am probably a bit out of date on how the guild system works as I have been studying it's presence in the medieval, renaissance, and colonial timeperiods for the last 30 years; but nothing later than that.

During much of that time it was used to control competition, quality and prices and there are well documented examples of it trying to limit innovation too, (See History of Western Technology, MIT press for the troubles a Nuremberg "red metal turner" got into for inventing better lathes during the late renaissance).

I think we are having a problem of terminology here. In blacksmithing/bladesmithing we get a lot of people NOT in an official program which has stated contractual rights and duties that want to trade labour for training; only they rate their labour at a much higher worth than is probably warrented.

I teach/mentor for free as payback for what I have been given over the years; but I run my smithing as a dead-loss hobby than a business---that year working for a swordmaker taught me that I enjoyed it much more as a hobby than as a business. Any money I make in it goes for buying big ticket items for it---books, tools, propane...

However I do not have "apprentices" as that to me involves a much more rigerous relationship. I have friends and students at my forge. I someday may take on an apprentice; but that will involve sitting down and working out the rights and responsibilities and duties of *both* of us as it will be a job for me as well as them.

The idea that we have a duty to spread and preserve information would be totally *un*-guild like during most of the existance of the guilds! (and is one of the things I treasure in the modern blacksmithing world!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/15/09 12:12:11 EST

Employees: These also include people you don not pay directly but are in the position to manage them. While you have less bookkeeping responsibility you have their safety in your hands.

Employee Safety: Often it is your job to instruct an employee in the right or SAFE way to do a job. We had a fellow in the shop that was using an angle grinder in a dangerous manner (grinding in a notch) and I told him not to do it as the grinder could kick back and hit him in the face. I had to tell him this twice. There was no third time because the inevitable happened, the grinder kicked back, went through his face shield and hit him in the mouth breaking his jaw and taking out a number of teeth. It also knocked him out. We were very lucky one of the other guys came by because he would have bled to death.

This brings up a point on employee safety and YOUR liability. I had told this fellow NOT to do what he was doing. The second time I should have written it up and had him sign a copy that said he understood this was dangerous and had been told NOT to do it.

This was the first and only time I have had to deal with OSHA and an injury lawsuit. The employee insisted he was told to do the job the wrong way. . . Lots of affidavits and letters. The employer had to pay quite a bit. I was in the middle.

SO, If folks insist on doing dangerous things and you have warned them, record it, send them home, or both.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 12:23:33 EST


thank you for the word. i knew that i could buy them cheeply(only a few bucks honestly) but i thought it would be a nice project to further improve my crafting skills with metal. now the dog tag machine worked but aparrently it took way too much time adjusting and manouvering the primitive workings so it would stamp the dog tag going on the barrel just right....

i'll just buy some new punches sometime and then later down the road try to make my own as an exersize. right now my facilities are a tad bit limited... i can heat the metal to annel it but i cant really have a "proper" forge and workspace to keep heating metal as i work on it. at this point i am essentially limited to anneling metal on the weekends and then working it however i feel durring my spare time at work.
   Lcpl Johnson - Thursday, 01/15/09 12:49:34 EST

Good tool steel usually comes annealed and if you do not heat it can be worked by cold methods as-is. That is part of the high cost of many tool steels, its ready to machine.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 12:52:15 EST

NOTICE! webmasters with anvilfire server accounts:

We are moving to a new server in the next few days/week. I've tried to contact everyone directly but several contact emails have failed.

Updates made in the next few days or week may be lost and need to be reloaded. Be sure you have a full backup of your web site.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 14:19:48 EST

Hello I have been soaking some bolts in muriatic acid to remove the zinc before forging. The acid is now about dead. My question is where did the zinc go? Are the fumes or acid toxic at this point? thanks
   coolhand - Thursday, 01/15/09 16:29:20 EST

Acids: Coolhand, There are lots of variables in your question.

The zinc has become part of the hydrochloric acid probably forming zinc chloride or zinc hydroxychloride and releasing hydrogen. If the acid is completely killed you have zinc hydroxychloride and water with various hydroxy ions. Since the zinc compound is acidic you still have an acid. To kill it completely you can add sodium carbonate (Baking soda).

Now you have a hodge poge of zinc salts and who knows what. It is not highly toxic but it IS a heavy metal waste.

Look up zinc chloride and Lewis acids.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 16:42:27 EST

Lcpl Johnson: I hope you checked to see if someone had signed for that machine before you tossed it or the next time inventory comes around somebody is going to get their pay deducted. Butter bars don't like it if you tricked them into signing for everything and then it gets lost and they have to pay for it.He,He,He.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 01/15/09 18:23:30 EST

Acid pickle baths. The sludge of every pickle bath I have ever tested to allow legal disposal has been found to meet the legal requirements for a "Hazardous waste" The sludges have leachable heavy metals, meeting the "characteristic" of "Toxicity". They are almost always low enough in Ph to also meet the characteristic of "Corrosive"
Now this is for Industrial entities. I surely would not pour this stuff out on the ground, as the zinc is toxic, even if you are not an industry.

For those running pickle baths, please do be aware that a good active pickle makes hydrogen when used. This is how a pickle works. The acid creeps under the scale and so forth and makes hydrogen in the chemical reaction with the metal. The hydrogen pops the scale, paint etc off. Zinc plate usually makes a vigerous boiling reaction and liberates lots of hydrogen. And since hydrogen is very flammable (See Hindenburg airship) be very careful of ignition points.

Safety guy out.
   - ptree - Thursday, 01/15/09 18:36:46 EST

Ive been using coke in my forge and ive been using, even for welding, a shallow fire and this is causing oxidation bad enough even with borax it makes welding tough... If i were to use more coke with less air, would the fuel consumption rate be the same?
   - Jacob lockhart - Thursday, 01/15/09 19:44:12 EST


White vinegar will do the same thing as muriatic acid, just slower. Overnight as opposed to an hour. No worries about spills or breathing it in or splashing. Still has the sludge to deal with thou.
   Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 01/15/09 20:11:21 EST


Forget the notion of having an amployee sign a notice, waiver, warning, etc. My friend who is paying $28K/yr to keep someone not working, is doing so because that employee claimed disability due to skin problems caused by not wearing gloves. She had been directed to wear them, both verbally and in writing, and had signed a waiver stating she chose not to wear them and releasing the company of liability. NOT! Worker's Compensation most emphatically told my friend that employees cannot legally waive the use of safety equipment and he was liable. Worker's Comp told him that he should immediately terminate any employee who fails to use safety equipment.

So, when employees insist on doing it unsafely, your best recourse is to document the infraction and terminate them on the spot unless you really want to support them for life while they watch Oprah and eat bon-bons.
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/15/09 20:17:30 EST

Dave Boyer and ThomasP, I know that yes indeed i have one of the good ones and yes she does indeed take all my salery. Of course does does pay all those pesky bills with same:)

I actually had quite good luck with 3 out of 4 kids as far as working in the shop. One had no interest but the other applied themselves and tried both to learn and to work hard. I did have a policy of paying them, and much like in life, I told them the more you know, the more you earn. I started them at 6 or 8 picking up small iron bits from around the shop. They got a little money. Once they could help by holding things they got a $ an hour. when they qualified to run the saw after I set the stops, they got $2 an hour. When they could measure and cut, $3 an hour and so forth. Once they got pretty compentnet, they paid for the materials, contributed to the shop expenses for consumables and sold the products and kept the difference. Not too many 13 year olds that earned that much. It taught them leasons they don't learn in school.

I have daughters that can measure and cut steel to the 32nd with a tape measure, layout and drill holes to the same. I don't expect them to smith all their lifes, but it empowering, and every good parent wants that for their kids. My oldest daughter helps her male friends with their cars! My sons got the same, and while I thought it was pretty standard stuff for boys from my own youth, it is not. They are considered gifted mechanically by their peers:) AND Scott can swing a mean 14# sledge for striking at my anvil.
   - ptree - Thursday, 01/15/09 20:17:40 EST


Hard to say. Theoretically, less air would burn less coke. But then, you obviously aren't using up all the oxygen now. Even if the deeper fire burns more coke, you'll still come out ahead by not needing multiple attempts to weld (or to go back and start from scratch).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 01/15/09 20:18:01 EST

For a very hot welding fire for small pieces smiths used to use a heavy cast iron cylinder (short section of pipe) on top of their fire filled with fuel. The gases coming off the cylinder get hot enough to weld over the fire rather than in it.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/15/09 20:49:15 EST

IS it ususal to be charged a "haxardous materials fee" for welding consumables? I picked up a few odss and ends the other day, about 30 ucks worth including abut 5 bucksa worth of mild steel filler rod. The invoice came out a little high so i took the time to look at it in detail. Sure enough it included a "hazardous materials fee of almost 5 bucks. The sales guy told me it was because of the copper coating on the filler rod. He then waived the charge when I told him I would just go with coathangers. What's up with this? I've never heard of such a thing, and he backed off on it pretty quick. IS this a scam or what?
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 01/15/09 23:03:33 EST

Lcpl Johnson, one way to make the punches you are talking about(from your name it sounds like you are in the USMC, why don't you just order a complete new set from supply?)
is the methode I used to make my I.D. stamp when I was an apprentice.
I was given a piece of .5X.5X3." long S-7 and told to scribe what would be my particuler "symbol" on the face of it, bearing in mind that it had to be reversed to show up correctly when in use.
After I did this I was given a set of small "prick" punches and shown to carefully mark around the perimeter of the design with the smallest of the punches and make the out line of the design lower than the surface of the design its self. Then with the next larger punch I would repeat the prosess over and over untill I had "raised" the surface of the design by a 1/16 "
Also you will note that the sides of the charictors on your stamps are slightly tapperd or "wedge" shaped. This is for strength and wear resistance of the charictor shape its self.
This was acomplished by the use of the progessivly larger points of the punches I used.
Most all marking punches made today are done by a CNC engraving machine the can be programed with any design, letter, number,or symbol you want.
As the Guru has stated tool steels come in a relitively soft state and, can be worked as is with good tools and then hardend for use.
I was an armorer in the old ARMY of the 80's and 90's. We never put ID tages on the M2 barrels(wear would you attach it with out damaging the barrel?) we just had our gun crews use the quick methode of turning the new barrel all the way in and then back out two or three clicks.
The M60's had their own spare in the spare barrel bag carried by the A-gunner.
   - merl - Thursday, 01/15/09 23:10:14 EST

Peter-- my welding boutique ("our motto: we don't care if you live or die") charges a haz mat fee for just about everything and if they thought of it, they'd add demurrage for figuring out the bill.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 01/16/09 00:13:48 EST

Peter, Sounds like a scam to me. The only time a fee such as this would be applied is if the government required it AND that fee included the return of the resulting waste to the seller to be disposed of (get a recipt for return materials).

Occasionally I've had people try to pull fast ones by stating that "the law requires it". My response is "show me the law". Any place collecting for the government will have a copy of the regulations. Any hemming and hawing (or voiding the charge) is an indication of a flim flam. I would find a new supplier.

That said, THEY could have fees they are paying for waste disposal that they are trying to collect from their customers rather than just marking up all their products. If its their waste it is their cost of operations and they can pass it on. But to list it as a seperate charge is peculiar. But things are done differently in every state.

On the extreme end of this kind of thing they were closing scrap yards because of "rust pollution" in parts of Virginia. The logic was that all iron and steel has some lead in it. Thus rust had lead in it. . . But there's a lot more in the paint but that is a different issue.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 00:54:53 EST

Closing scrapyard because of 'rust pollution' reminds me of the current horse issue. PETA has managed to essentially get all of the horse slaughter houses in the U.S. shut down. Now there is a glut of old/crippled/unwanted horses with extremely limited disposal methods.

If there are no scrapyards, where is scrap iron to go?

On lead in paint I have been told basically it is a non-issue. The paint chips will pass through a human body basically without any potential lead in it being absorbed. Anyone know for sure?

Going from memory here but I recall reading somewhere when there were high levels of lead in inner-city children the problem wasn't paint, but vehicle exhaust fumes.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/16/09 03:11:43 EST

In order,
Employee misconduct is a defense against an OSHA citation, but the requirements are that the disipline be documented, regular and consistant. This means that you use the same progressive disipline against EVERY violation of safety standards, and have proof of same, IE. written records. I have defended against an OSHA citation, displayed the records, and the citation was not written.

I do NOT think this will work as far as worker's comp goes. The laws for workers comp vary state to state. In Kentucky for instance, the employee basically can not sue the employer. The workers comp required payment of medical bills is given in exchange for the loss of the right to sue. There is an exception for criminal conspiracy to injure someone. (I can have the Rock write this in legalese if someone wants)
So... Use your disipline system. That may be in a small company one safety strike and you are out.

Lead paint DOES NOT pass through the body in a harmless manner. The digestive system is an acidic system and the lead is leached out causing grave harm, if in quantity, especially in the very young. Also most of the old lead paint systems used for house paint are designed to chalk, to preserve the paints nice white color over the years. The chalk is high in lead and is very easy to breath and then into the bodies bone marrow and fat. Once in, VERY difficult to get back out.
When small children, those under 6 years have a high blood lead level developement is changed with IQ loss, aggression etc occurring. The only way to reduce very high levels is Cheleation theraphy, and that is a very hard treatment with many side effects of its own.

Ptree the safety guy, who does workers comp, and who has been a lead risk assesor and inspector.
   ptree - Friday, 01/16/09 07:27:06 EST

Completely re organizing my shop. I have about 2 tons of scrap metal all over the place, so I am (trying) to put all like items together (shock absorbers go here, all mufflers go here, stock rack goes here) etc. I have the daunting task of emptying crates and boxes full of odds and ends. In doing so, I found an old gas company's beryllium brass wrench. I am assuming that it's not a good idea to forge it or even scratch it. So, what the heck do I do with it? I have no use for it, the span is too big to fit any of my tank fittings. Is it worth much to a collector?

Regardless, there is a small (but ever growing) pile of thin wall tubing, failed projects and cast iron growing in front of my house. The local scrap guys are taking a break due to -20 degree weather.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/16/09 08:50:01 EST

Lead Paint, Exhaust Fumes: The research showed that high levels of lead in soil was related to inner city highways, particularly big interchanges. These created huge hot spots. In that case it was not the paint on the houses in old neighborhoods that caused high lead levels in the soil. It also showed that lead levels in children had little to do with high levels in the soil (so it was the paint). When this study was performed lead had stopped being used in gasoline and that part of the hazards of living next to a major highway had been abated.

Scrapyards: The point was the scrapyards were holding some items like old machinery for resale not as scrap but as old machines or old cars. The action forced old machines and autos to be ground up and sold immediately as scrap. This has resulted in it being much more difficult to find old auto parts and the old machinery, well, was something being held for hard times when small businesses could not afford (or could not get the credit) to buy new machinery. . . . Maybe that applies to cars too. SO once again, we have shot ourselves in the foot.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 09:06:46 EST

Beryllium Bronze Wrenches: Nip, These are valuable to someone. I have an old 1/1 - 9/16 that I inherited from a brother in law that had to do some work in a hazardous area one time.

The problem with Be is inhaling the dust. So polishing, grinding and dust making operations are hazardous. However, chip making and filing is safe but machining should be done wet to prevent making dust. I suspect forging is safe in a well ventilated area.

Besides wrenches springs in locks are made of beryllium bronze and many "brass" hammers are beryllium bronze and should also be treated with care.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 09:36:04 EST

i want leaf and flower patterns so i can make dies for my press. thanks
   mian - Friday, 01/16/09 11:57:27 EST

Hi Guru

Beryllium Bronze

I use to machine alot of this material. I never knew there was an issue of exposure until now reading this forum.

What are the health issues of this material?
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 01/16/09 11:58:22 EST

I also use to polish vintage beryllium tools as Nippulini talks about.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 01/16/09 12:09:21 EST

Leaf and Flower Patterns: While these exist mostly in old references, nature is your best resource.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 12:48:42 EST

Rustystuff, I would Google "MSDS, Beryllium Bronze" to start with and see what that gets you.
   - merl - Friday, 01/16/09 12:52:09 EST

I'm going to make a bell out of a huge, old, fire extinguisher. I need to cut the bottom off and got to wondering if the fumes from the powder would be dangerous if I used OA torch or should I saw it off?
   - Willy Cunningham - Friday, 01/16/09 13:02:51 EST

Beryllium Exposure: This can be quite dangerous. Beryllium dust if inhaled causes flue and pneumonia like symptoms much like zinc exposure. However, when the exposure reaches the pneumonia level it is almost always fatal. This is another one of those metal poisonings that often goes undiagnosed because it presents itself like flu and metal poisoning is rarely tested for.

Issac Asimov wrote a great story titled "Sucker Bait" based on this subject. Space explorers found a wonderful uninhabited planet with no animal life but dense plant life of all types. A regular Garden of Eden. The more they explored the better it got.

However, after a short while the explorers started to become ill. First one, then another. Finally the last man got the spacecraft off the planet but knew he was doomed as well. But he had figured it out after having run every know biological test on his crew mates. The rocks and soil had levels of beryllium similar to Earth's aluminum content. With every breath they took the dust in the air was poisoning them.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 13:37:38 EST

Willy, would not inhale it on purpose but the point is to be able to spray it on a fire. You are best off not torching any container. The reason most explode is NOT the original contents but the unburned fuel and pure oxygen that fills the container while cutting.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 13:42:11 EST

Thanks, I have removed the valve and drilled hole near the base. I will see if my sawzall is up to the project before flaming it off.
   - Willy Cunningham - Friday, 01/16/09 13:48:15 EST

Nippullini: Your wrench may be of interest to collectors of such (and some have quite large collections). One guy published "My First 1000 Wrenches", followed by "My Second 1000 Wrenches". Try eBay.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 01/16/09 14:28:02 EST

It's ALWAYS About Economics!

Rustystuff: You make a lot of good points about apprenticeships. But, things are different now than 100-200 years ago. The point was made about SS and workmans comp etc. today. Back then they did not have any of that. They took in an apprentice with the idea of making a return. Usually room and board was enough for the first couple years. Altruism was not the motive, in fact often the family paid the master to take in an appretice.

My best advice would be to bring some usefull skills with you. Learn welding or machining or drawing (art or technical).
   - grant - Friday, 01/16/09 17:10:41 EST

I have seen some web sites that sell battle ready swords such as www.HandMadeSword.com, and www.RealArmorOfGod.com. Does any one know if any of these sites can be trusted to have quality work? I know HandMadeSword sells katanas for around 90 dollars us. Are you getting what you pay for or are there some good deals out there?
   Michael - Friday, 01/16/09 20:50:59 EST

Michael, I would ask these questions on one of the sword forums.

But think about it this way. How much quality of workmanship could YOU put into a hand made sword selling for $100 or less ($40 wholesale)? A couple hours? You would probably spend more time griping over the thing at that price.

On the other hand. There are videos on YouTube of Chinese guys using 2000 year old techniques to hand make swords from who knows WHAT kind of material. LOTS of hours wasted hand grinding on the SIDE of an unmounted grindstone. Very, very low tech. So what kind of materials and heat treatment do you get from a shop full of $1/hour guys?

Yeah, you generally get what you pay for.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 21:10:48 EST

Haz Mat Fee: I have been charged a Haz Mat Fee on argon, an inert gas by Airgas Inc. While the material itself isn't a hazard, there is some danger in it's being compressesd to high pressure. Ripoff? Probably, Legal? Probably.

More recently I exchanged a load of cylinders at GTS-WELCO, and there was no such charge. The cylinders were argon, oxygen & acetylene in various sizes. They have My business from now on.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 01/16/09 21:20:27 EST

Anyone have a hydraulic press from Haarbor freight? Is it anygood? If so could it be modified into a forging press with a 3/4 inch steel plate for the steel to be pressed onto since most come with a seperated pressing area to press out things( dont know the tech terms) and what kind of head do i need? A hydraulic press is new to me and im waiting to fing a big 30 to 50 ton before goin to HF, any advice would be helpful, god bless.
   - Jacob lockhart - Friday, 01/16/09 21:25:36 EST

Apprenticeships and Training: In the old time Apprenticeship the family paid a fee to help get past the initial training period. Then the Apprentice was bound in a legal contract that said if he ran away he would be hunted down beaten and dragged back home where he would probably be beaten some more. If the Master was lucky the Apprentice paid his way the last few years prior to becoming a Journeyman. There was also penalties for the Master that did not teach. The whole of the system was economics. You worked for 7 years for two years or less of education from someone that had been through it himself.

Today anti slavery laws apply to apprenticeship contracts so they can no longer be binding for a period of time. SO, money replaces the bound slavery. Education has a cost. You cannot go to Harvard, UVA, Caltech or even your local community college without paying. So why do people expect to NOT pay for an education in a really useful and rare trade?

While there are many things people trade for it is almost impossible to trade the time of an uneducated newby for that of a mature adult with decades of experience and education. PARENTS do that for free for their children but not for every urchin on the street.

NOW. . if a Doctor or a Lawyer (or even a good bookkeeper/acountant) wanted to trade hour for hour that would be a fair trade.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 21:33:23 EST

RE: Brass refinishing. I have three new floor receptacles with rather bright finished brass cover plates (only finish available, don't care for plastic) in my new wood floor. Anyone know of some kind of treatment to give them a dull bronze color for the finish. There is probably an existing clear finish one would have to burn off. Again I couldn't find any other finish and these dudes are 70 bucks apiece. I appreciate anyone's knowledge for this problem.
   Arlo - Friday, 01/16/09 21:59:42 EST

Cheap Hydraulic Presses: Jacob, Even the old ones made from real structural steel channel (not the bent up stuff they use today) end up bent when used to full capacity. Most have a cylinder in them that is 2x or 3x the capacity of the frame.

We have an "American" hydraulic press made in North Carolina which looks a lot like the HF 20T. It has a sticker on it that says "30 tons capacity" and a twenty ton cylinder. Both the head frame and the table frame parts are bent. I was there when they got bent and it WAS NOT being abused. The shortest (about 10") long handle was being used firmly on the cylinder but not overly hard.

These poorly designed presses ALL require adding diagonals to the feet or they will fall on you. To use to capacity

Once these parts start bending they lose about 50% of their strength from not being in the right plane. Note also that the HF presses are being sold with cast iron "arbor plates" instead of the standard steel plates.

On the other hand, I paid more for my BlackHawk made in USA 20 ton cylinder in the 1970's than they charge for a whole press today.

I built my first press, and I would build another before putting up with the aggravation of one of the cheap ones.

If you are going to use one anywhere NEAR capacity they will bend. Most equipment like this gets used to 1.5 or 2x capacity.

The problem with under capacity press frames is they SPRING. Springing stores energy and if something slips part go flying. The stiffer the frame the safer the press.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 22:05:52 EST

Brass Plates: Arlo, As floor plates they are going to wear to a nice dull but bright yellow unless there is no traffic and then they will turn green where scratched. You can remove the clearcoat with sandpaper and get a roughened "flat: finish that is not so bright but it will still be yellow. If you put an aged finish on them they will easily wear to yellow in high traffic areas.

If you wanted redish bronze I suspect they make those. However, you have the same situation. The base color of the metal is what will be the worn color.

Check with Birchwood Casey. They make instant blues for gunsmiths and I THINK some of them work on brass as well. IF you have low traffic then a chemical finish will hold up.
   - guru - Friday, 01/16/09 22:35:57 EST

If the presses are prone to building , where could i find good instruction to build a press like this one, though mine wont have the air assist. And make it at a semi decent price?

   - Jacob lockhart - Friday, 01/16/09 22:49:41 EST


Did you receive my email messages I sent pertaining to our previous days email conversation? I sent them today, Friday. One bounced back, but the others didn't? I am seeking an approval on the short article final draft for accuracy.


Real interesting info folks. Thanks for your input Grant, Guru, Jock, Thomas, Rich, Nipp, Ken, Jeff and whoever else I am forgetting. Been through an aprrenticship in Machining and Blacksmithing. Learned alot from both, but not everything. Still much more room for me to learn.

I am very impressed with the structure of the Amish apprenticeship guild system. I can't believe by the time some of those young folks reach mid teens they are pretty much already masters of their craft. Ofcoarse they have practiced their skill upteen hours a day for years at that point under careful instruction.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 01/16/09 22:58:35 EST

i mean bending not building
   - Jacob lockhart - Friday, 01/16/09 23:00:38 EST

Jacob Lockhart,

I fyou want a hydraulic press for forging, you need a big, FAST press, not a manually-powered or air-over-hydraulic press intended for press fitting of parts and cold bending. Hot forging requires speed to get the metal moved before the heat is lost and that means a lot of hydraulic fluid moving through the system at pressure.

A friend of mine and excellent blacksmith, has a hydraulic press he built for forging. I believe it uses a 5hp pump driving an 8" ram and he considers it "just adequate" for hot forging, and says he should have more power and a two-stage pump.

I would guess that he, being a master scrounger, probably only spent about a thousand bucks or so putting it together, but if you bought the parts new it would cost four times that, plus labor. It isn't a toy, it's a serious forging tool and the price is commensurate.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/16/09 23:23:57 EST

Beryllium - Rustystuff, 30 years ago I was looking for work and got a call from a recruiter Brush Wellman wanted to talk to me about a position as a Metallurgist in a Beryllium plant in Cleveland. I didn't know anything about beryllium as all work had been with steel. I looked in the 1948 metals handbook and they had a section on beryllium - it was so nasty as far as known effects on humans in 1948 that I called the recruiter back immediately and told him I had no interest in the position or anything else to do with beryllium. As ptree notes - look at modern MSDS's I'd probably also do a check on Wikipedia for just general info and then get my hands on an up to date Metals Handbook.

Jacob - building presses - there's are several threads over on Don Fogg's Knife Forum about home built hydraulic presses in the tools and tool making section of the forum.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 01/16/09 23:55:18 EST

Press Bending: For every increase in span the deflection of a beam goes up by the cube of the increase.

My old DOS program Mass2(tm) did simple deflection calcs on simple models with beams and channels including the pre 1984 AISC database (which I had permission to use). There are several hundred common structural sections so general instructions on a frame are not possible OR you must use the EXACT steel and dimensions someone else supplies.

Plug in a beam or channel, the length and load and it returned the deflection and stress. Generally the goal is to have low deflection and stress at or under 10,000 PSI.

In most structural beam calcs you want a maximum of 1/4" deflection in a beam. But this is for floors, small bridges and crane beams. On a press frame you may want to limit deflection to 1/32" or possibly 1/16" max.


The above was a beta version of a DOS program with a few incomplete parts. It works on win98, win2000 and XP in DOS windows. The install does not setup the shortcut. Just extract into a folder called mass2.

I still use this program often. There is a little documentation and the input/interface is a little odd (it was written in the 80's). Play with it. It's the only program you will find with the AISC database and deflection calcs. For details on the Math see MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and the AISC Steel Construction Manual. All disclaimer and caveats apply.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/09 05:08:36 EST

Beryllium. This stuff is so toxic that OSHA compliance officers who were in the plants just long enough to inspect them have blood levels. Big lawsuit between the compliance officer and the Gov't, to force the Gov't to do blood testing, release the numbers to the guys, and cover the effects. I will not go near the stuff, in any form other than a solid just laying there.

At the valve shop, we had a number of apprentice programs. Run jointly by the union(steel workers) and the company.

Both came out well. Then, a fellow could start work with a high school diploma, work at a menial job, and earn enough to survive. After a couple of years of decent work history apply for an open apprentice program. The path to Tool and Die maker started by first finishing the Tool Grinder program. This program was a 1000 hour program. Included math at the local adult ed program, as well as some english comp. This was a program that usually took about 2 years. The Hours to complete had to be "Good Hours". That is ones doing tasks to reach a goal. Once the goal was hit IE. Say properly lipping a drill, then further hours practicing and doing same were capped.
Once the person had a journyman tool grinders ticket he had to work at the job for a couple of years. These guys could then make tools by grinding, using machines like a Cinc # 2 universal tool grinder etc.

From there they could enter the Tool and Die Maker program. I think I remember this as a 2000 hour program that took about 5 years. A journyman tool and die maker in our shops was the "Top rate" of union positions. They usually had 7 years or so of apprentice training, probably 12 years at the company, Had serious math from the local community college and were the masters of making things. They could make anything you could sketch, and I can attest that I tested them on this every day. These masters at the trade could sink a die for a closed die drop hammer, make the carbon electrode to sink same, make the parts to repair the EDM, and the hammer, as well as light forging to make tools to make tools. They could weld with any process. They could measure a burnt up, twisted broken machine part, reverse engineer, sketch by hand, and make and heat treat same. Then install it in the machine and time the machine so it could work.
And that is the real value of an apprentice program in a modern company. A truely skilled master craftsman that KNOWS his trade, is experienced and can operate as a master craftsman in about 12 to 15 years versus a guy that is near end of his career before he has reached this level.

It is possible to get there without the program, some do in short time. Most don't as there is no formal process and program to expose the person to a orderly program of learning and practice.

For this type program to perform for both the company and the employees takes a company that is stable, and that provides employement that will entice folks to stay long enough to both go thru the program, and then work there long enough to reap the rewards for both. Most companies these days do not in any real way resemble this.
At the valve shop, the average employee started after high school, or as a drafted and discharged veteran, or post college, and retired from that company. The family that ran the company knew this and ran the company to make a profit for both the family and the employees. The fourth generation lost sight of this, ended up selling and then the new buyers sold it out from under us.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/17/09 08:50:25 EST

Forging presses.
The arbor presses to be found in HF and other places are not in any way forging presses. A forging press MUST be very fast compared to a normal shop arbor press. An arbor press Must be pretty slow to allow positioning and care in pressing.

I have built non-forging presses for industry. Up to 100 tons on a regular basis, with one at 1000 tons. These were somewhat fast production swaging presses, and the 1000 ton was a portable straightening press for W-24-320# Wide flange. These had frame work that was built to a standard about 300 times heavier than any arbor press.

The smallest forging press I have been around in industry was a little 200 ton Erie. It was a 4 post press that had about a 200 hp hydraulic system. And it was slow! The 4 posts that were the frame were 24" diameter steel columns.

Also remember if building your own to consider what happens when the hose bursts, as hydraulic fluid spraying on your hot forging is exciting. Been there seen the results, and one memorable occasion was very close when the flamethrower belched!

Safety guy out.
   ptree - Saturday, 01/17/09 08:58:36 EST

From what I've read about beryllium poisoning (not all that much, I'll admit), it's caused by something like an alergic reaction. Some people aren't affected, others can end up dying from a small exposure.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 01/17/09 09:38:30 EST

Every Welding supply company in the Western United States charges a Hazmat Fee. Nope, its not required by law- but they are required by law to deal with expensive hazmat regulations, and they are totally within their rights to pass any and every cost along to their customers that they want to.
My bills, whether its in LA, Phoenix, or Seattle, have included a hazmat charge now for probably at least 5 years.
Where I live, there is nobody who doesnt charge it, so its just a fact of life.

I deal with a local chain, which has a dozen stores, and have had an account with them for 15 years now- and the couple bucks they charge me for Hazmat, is FAR outweighed by the deals, freebies, discounts, cheap rentals, and advice I get all the time from them.
With welding supplies, becoming a known customer almost always has invisible benefits.
Sweating a few bucks, on "principle", is penny wise, and pound foolish.

   - Ries - Saturday, 01/17/09 11:01:55 EST

Being a "regular" customer: This has always had benefits, especially in business. Knowing the counter guy can often get you into the stock room to LOOK for the right file or tool you cannot properly describe. It can get you partial units of things that are not normally broken open. It can get you first notice of things going on sale. It generally gets you better service.

However, this is not always true. Miles constantly complains about his local welding supply. Recently the service at our server company has gone down the tubes and I'm debating throwing away the $200 I just paid for a new server (currently unused) and going elsewhere. It appears a lot of businesses are adopting the Microsnot model of doing business. . . (damn the customer, abandon all hope ye who enter here, the customer is never right).

But most good businesses that do not have a monopoly usually give a lot of perks to being a good customer (even to small customers).

On the other hand I TRY to be a GOOD customer. There are folks that are very needy, always complain and are a general nuisance. If you have been in business any time you will have had some of these. Often it does not matter how much they pay it is not worth doing business with them. Remember THAT when you are the customer.

LAST, Taking your problems with your Big box store, on-line purchased or other discounted equipment to a local dealer for parts or repairs IS NOT how you start a good business relationship.

   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/09 11:26:58 EST

For reference, I have never paid a Hazmat fee to my welder supply house, nor does the company I work for. Almost every company that serves my employer does charge a fuel surcharge. The method varies, and in many cases is nothing more than I will because I can type thing. And none have gone down as deisel went back down.
   - ptree - Saturday, 01/17/09 13:47:26 EST

Ries: Of course a business has to pass on its costs. I don't get charged and "electric power fee" or a "labor fee" or a "phone expense fee" or a . . . you get the point. Why shopuld I be charged this one incidental business expense separately from the stated price of the goods I am buying, when every other business expense is recovered in those prices. And more to the point, how is it fair, legal or legitimate in any way to attach it arbitrarily to certain goods and slip it into the invoice without any notice or mention of it whatever. The time I caught it, it was 90 percent of the price of the item it was attached to and over fifteen percent of the rest of the invoice. The previous week, I had bought a Harris O/A outfit, tanks and fills, extra tips, gloves, soapstone etc etc all well over $500 and didn't notice a hazmat charge. Then 5 bucks worth of filler rod gets a 5 buck charge? I call that a decpetive trade practice. AS Guru says, I was instantly a good customer and struck up a rapport with the manager, which is why he backed off on the hazmat charge. I didn't whine about, just questioed it, and it was obviously a company policy that he was not real enthusiastic, if not not downright embarrassed about. So OK, if its stated up front and I know which products trigger it, OK. At least then I know what I am really paying for certain products, and I can choose not to. But if it just pops up unnanounced again, different story.
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 01/17/09 16:23:39 EST

Dig this (and be sure to look up the welding school Leno refers to in the last line of the interview)http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/welder-shortage-jay-leno-video.html:
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 01/17/09 16:24:36 EST

OK lets make it easy!

Also see the one on "how NOT to make a weld".
   - guru - Saturday, 01/17/09 17:53:36 EST

The guy I bought my propane from for years retired and sold his biz a little while ago. The last invoice had a ORF fee of 2%. When I asked him what the ORF was he said it stood for owner retirement fee, and anyone who asked about it didn't have to pay. He later said that only about 10 of his hundreds of customers asked.
   Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 01/17/09 18:37:47 EST

Jock-- Thanks for putting up this video. Every junior and senior high school student and teacher should see it. The oldest of my grandkids is deep into it, loves it, his sister wanted to sign for the class and a teacher tried to discourage her, saying it's a waste brains. Uh huh. The big problem is I suspect many teachers are liberal arts grads, unfamiliar with and suspicious of engineering, technology, and/or God forbid, anything manual.
Do you have an URL for the how NOT to video? Search Youtube for it and no fewer than 193 possibilities pop up....
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 01/17/09 20:32:47 EST

Apprenticeship: I served a tool & die apprenticeship approved by the State of Pensylvania from '77-'81. This included 4 years of night schooling paid for by the company. I started at $3.50/HR and finished at $ 7.57/HR. Those were not particularly good wages at the time. I had completed 4 years of VoTec high school machine shop graduating with honors before starting the apprenticeship. As an apprentice, I learned tool & die work the way it was done there [electrical lamination dies], and did make various parts for the tooling We built, and serviced these dies. There were some aspects of the trade that I learned about by keeping a close eye on the senior journymen rather than doing what I was supposed too, I was there to learn, not be a handle cranking machine monkey. As an apprentice opcasionally I had to shovel snow and cutt grass, but there was an old guy to sweep chips so I didn't have to do that.

I left right after completing the apprenticeship, It would have been a long while before any of the speacialty positions [jig bore, jig grinder, cylindrical grinder, form grinder, plunge EDM & wire EDM] opened up there as they had journymen for these positions. I wasn't even fully trained in these as an apprentice, but had picked up a fair ammount, see above paragraph.

I had been recruted by one of My night school teachers as has a few other top students. That shop built entirely different tooling [computer chip manufacturing tooling] and I learned a lot more. This job was too far from home and not secure enough to move closer to.

The next shop stamped internal magnetic shields from .003" & .004". The tooling was cheaply built and crude, all together different from what I had done before. I did get to experience first hand what it is like to be foreman of a manufacturing operation and deal with tardyness and absenteeism from the company point of view. No future here either.

I then went to an automobile & truck frame manufacturing company and learned to build rather large tooling in a union shop atmosphere. This was another completely different experience. after a few years I was a top scale tool & die maker and "running" jobs Myself rather than working under the old timers.

The above describes about 10 years of tool & die experience, the first 4 as an apprentice, and the next 5 or 6 as a journyman. I worked in that field a while longer before I burned out, then I went sailing...

   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 01/17/09 20:58:31 EST

I have a brand new anvil, a good one. I use it infrequently for only hot work, a knife here and there. I want to use it for cold work, riveting steel rivets. It's just sitting there and I'm one to use something and not baby it.

QUESTION: Is it a bad idea or not to use my pristine anvil to rivet steel rivets and put it to more use? Thank you guys!
   Jay - Saturday, 01/17/09 20:59:09 EST

I need to add to My post about the welding supply stores, that Airgas while it USED to have helpfull staff in My town now has a different crew, somewhat friendly, but short on usefull information and not good at getting it.

GTS on the other hand, shows up anually at one of Our hammer ins, and is more willing to work with Me. I have to drive to the next town up the line, but it is worth it. It is not really about the haz mat charge, that is just 1 more reason.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 01/17/09 21:15:52 EST

Jay, it depends how hard Your anvil is. I have an old Swedish cast steel anvil that You could never mark by heading rivets on. I straighten cold steel on it all the time, no problem.
Try it carefully on Yours, if You need to make a sacrificial plate [good for other uses like chissel cutting] make one that fits well & stays put.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 01/17/09 21:29:27 EST

I am one to use a tool for a tool also. Using a Blacksmith anvil to cold riveting is absolutely fine. Farmers used anvils for cold riveting on farm equiptment for decades. Many would use one for riveting triangular cutting teeth on sicle bars. I am opening pandora's box here because they made a small cheap cast anvil specific for that purpose. Most farmers used a plain old anvil as it was very functional for other tasks as well.

Keep in mind the rivet is actually soft. Much more so then the anvil face. You are not hitting the anvil direct. Yes it is fine.
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 01/17/09 21:31:59 EST

I wish to die cut up to 18 gage coil stock. The cut would be a profile 10 inches wide.
Can you help me with tooling?
George Frazier, production R&D
Please direct e-mail response to george@pinenut.com
   George Frazier - Saturday, 01/17/09 21:36:33 EST

As Rustystuff pointed out, commercial rivets are dead soft. Probably softer than a piece of tool steel that you let cool a little too much under the hammer.

While the rivets will not damage the anvil, using the face of the anvil to buck rivets will put a flat spots on the rivet heads. If that matters to you, make a snap -- a piece of steel with a depression to match the rivet head. Set that between the anvil and the rivet.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 01/17/09 22:18:15 EST

Thanks Mike BR
I forgot to mention using a bucking block for the rivets as Mike mentions. Ken S. Poor boy Blacksmith Tools makes and sells a usable mild steel one. Blacksmith Depot sells a nice drop forged hardened one. I have one of the Depot's and like it. Ken's would work fine as well. Only if you need the top of the rivet with its original dome.
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 01/17/09 22:47:06 EST

Bucking blocks are listed under swage blocks at the Depot. Most jeweler suppliers have dapping blocks that would work the same way.
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 01/17/09 22:48:44 EST

Jock did you put Jay Lenno up to that PSA?

I am guessing your spam filter did not allow you to get my updated article after we conferred and you probably didn't see my above message to you since you are busy. I totally rewrote it and sent it out today to be publishhed. I do thank you for your input. I just wish I could have got a go ahead or do it over again first. I value your input as always. As I am just doing a favor I still had to hold the accelerator down. You understand. Thanks Brother!!
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 01/17/09 22:59:32 EST

Anybody out there know where that other video is? Thanks!
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 01/17/09 23:28:44 EST

Miles, it was on the welding tips site.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 00:52:53 EST

Sorry folks. Been testing the new server. . . Kiwi to the rescue! But its late and time to sleep. . . z zz z
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 00:58:17 EST

Thanks for all the help! I've got a nimba titan, and I just want it to last forever, but theres work to be done right.
   Jay - Sunday, 01/18/09 01:19:02 EST

Jay: Assuming you are using standard mushroom headed rivets, it is easy to make your own rivet backer block. Take the rivet you will be using and size the head with a drill bit size card. Then find a piece of mild steel say at least twice the depth of the head. Now use that size drill bit until the bottom of the rivet head is just barely above the surface of the backer block. Use as it, but heating and water quenching wouldn't hurt either.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 01/18/09 04:34:49 EST

HI, Im making a gas forge, it will have a forge size of 4"X4" and 18" long with 3" refractory all around, cut out for a 1 and a 1/2" fire brick bottom, do I need 1 or 2 burners in it?
   - grimme - Sunday, 01/18/09 07:44:38 EST

It depends on the size and type burner. On a long slender forge you get a more even heat with multiple inlets. But I would guess two small bore (1/2" SCHD 40 pipe) venturi burners.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 10:54:55 EST

It's so noisy in this dang shop I guess they didn't here me!


I wish to die cut up to 18 gage coil stock. The cut would be a profile 10 inches wide.
Can you help me with tooling?
George Frazier, production R&D
www.ozarkdome .com
Please direct e-mail response to george@pinenut.com

P.S. Just funnin' guys, but my request is sincere.
Thnx, G.
   - George Frazier - Sunday, 01/18/09 11:37:44 EST

Thanks, Jock! The URL, in case anybody wants to see it without the thrill of the hide-and-seek, is http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/learn-how-not-to-weld.html
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 01/18/09 12:46:37 EST

I am in from the shop, and tried out the flip up shade 3 clip ons. I am pleased. They match my mild avaitor style safety glasses in lens shape almost exactly. They do help with looking into a welding fire. I made a bending fork for the anvil hardy. First bent some 3/4" round in half, then fagot welded about an inch. Then cut and added a 1/4" thick scab to each side to make enough metal to fill the hardy hole. The loose scab plates take a fair amount of fiddling in the fire. The shade 3's helped as my eyes were able to see the colors better instead of being dazzled. I did note that the green lens made for a different color at weld temp, but I adapted right away. I like them. I also fired up the gas forge and heated and straightened some heavy spring stock. Again the lack of dazzle from the forge was helpful.

I did brush the lens by accident with a dirty gloves hand and left a big smear of grit and dust. No biggee, just went on and when i came in did the lens wash as one should always do with a plastic lens to preserve the scratchfree surface. The proper way is to wet the lens, with a half drop of liquid soap gently scrub the lens with your fingers and rinse free. Use a clean towel or scrap of tee shirt to dry. These lens are no hard coated so some small care will keep the lens in good shape.

I feel that I can reccomend these to anyone who wishs a shade three flip up lens to clip on their safety glasses. And at less then $9.00 plus shipping a deal compared to the phillips lens on the internet.
Contact Mike Morrison at Hagemeyer at 502-961-5930 and ask for AOSAFETY Pn 40427-00000. The take major cards and ship UPS.

And I got the sample clip ons for doing the test :)
   - ptree - Sunday, 01/18/09 13:26:32 EST

George- you are talking stamping, not die cutting.

If I was you, I would job this out. Yes, you could probably stamp these one at a time, on a hydraulic press, but the right way to do it is to run them in an automatic coil feeding OBI stamping press, a 200 ton Bliss or something similar.
The guys who do this professionally will have the presses, the coil feeders, the forklifts to feed em, the support equipment, and either in house machine shops for the dies, or long standing relationships with tool and die shops that do nothing but this.
Die design is a lifetime learning kind of thing- not for novices. And different presses act differently, different materials act differently, and then there is deburring, flattening, plating or galvanizing, and on and on.

My guess is you can get your hubs knocked out for a buck or two apiece, after tooling costs, from a big stamping shop, or, you can tool up yourself, and have em end up costing you ten bucks each, in labor costs you dont pay yourself, and take a lot longer to do, also.
There are big stamping companies in Kansas City, Lots in Chicago, google stamping, and start calling and getting quotes.

   - Ries - Sunday, 01/18/09 13:52:14 EST

Welding Video

I thought I sucked at electric welding. At least I read my welding manual first. That kid sure needs to before making a video to teach people the wrong way. The manual that came with the weld would have shown him how to lay a bead.

On the up side he talked about safety and had a friendly attitude free teaching persona.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 15:10:46 EST

Ultraviolet Lamp

I have been looking for an economic small ultraviolet lamp for curring uv glue. The lamps I find are 128.00. Would an ultraviolet blacklight work the same? Yes, I do use the sunshine for this purpose. In the winter it is very few and far between and has been subzero temps as well.

Also I thought I found a source for Potassium Permanganate, well I was wrong.

As it turns out: Home Depot, Tractor Supply , All Farrier supplies, pool supply, agway and all my local hardware stores do not carry it. Lowe's advertised having it and as it turns out they do not stock it.

Any direction would be appreciated.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 15:46:25 EST

potassium permanganate- I think Dixie Gunworks carries it- If I remember correctly, it is called "old Bones" as it is used to give bones an antique look- I have misplaced my catalog so I am going from memory- which is marginal- check it out
   - ptpiddler - Sunday, 01/18/09 16:01:03 EST

A cheap source of UV light is a photographers "type A photoflood" lightbulb, available from most better photography stores, and will cost you only a few dollars. This fits in a standard medium base lamp socket, but as it runs very hot the socket must be porcelain. Potassium permanganate is an extremely strong oxidizer, and as such may be harder to find, now that DHS is doing such a fine job to protect us from ourselves. It used to be readily available at hardware stores that carried water softening products.
   - Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 01/18/09 16:01:37 EST

Thank you very much!!

ptpiddler & Charlie Spademan

very good direction and much appreciated!!
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 16:18:10 EST

Dixie Guns Works does not have "Old Bones" or Potassium Permanganate anymore. Oh Hecky Darn!! Looks like DHS has wipped it out. If anyone finds it let me know.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 16:32:55 EST

Better Living Through Chemistry: I suspect that any chemical worth having in the shop is going to get scarcer and scarcer. Many things that would be listed as "bad boys toys" were once common in Children's chemistry sets. I had several Gilbert's "Fun with Chemistry" sets and the local hobby shop had refills for everything except Potassium Nitrate which they had figured out that even 10 year olds could make gun powder with and was dangerous just mixed with the sulfur that came in the kits. Potassium permanganate was one of the many little 2 oz jars of stuff that sold for less than a dollar each. Others included cobalt chloride, iron filings, magnesium, zinc and copper strips, Ammonium nitrate, Phenalthaline solution, and other I can no longer remember. We added to these with various common substances of the times such as red devil lye, tincture of iodine (potassium iodide or sodium iodide), sugar, bleach. . .

We figured out by logic and trial and error that you could make potassium nitrate from the available potassium chloride and sodium nitrate. . . The mixture made great fuses but lousy flash paper.

The good old days. . . we learned a lot and remember it.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 16:48:35 EST

How many pounds of force can an average man hit with? With something like a 2 - 4 lbs hammer
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 01/18/09 17:25:18 EST

clip on flip up sun glasses:
Hey ptree, that's great! I suggested these here over a year ago but, the place were I usualy buy them has gone over to the useless skinny little things made for the snotty looking perscription glasses everyone has now days.
I bought the last two pair they had and I usualy get a years worth of use out of them. I'll be glad to have a new sorce for them so thanks again!
I like them too and realy need them because of the glare from the fire. I try to have good strong light were I need it in the shop but, when I work at night I notice it takes my eyes too long to adjust from a glance at the fire and then to the work at the anvil.
Judging the heat is easy if you consider the temp of the white hot center of the fire(coke or coal) and then I compare the color of the work to that. When they are close to the same color, it's hammer time!
   - merl - Sunday, 01/18/09 18:07:11 EST

Jay Leno has been on that particular bent for years. I read a letter he wrote to someone about a lack of machinists in his area when there used to be a shop on every corner when he was a kid. Apparently he couldn't find anyone to cut helical/hemispherical gears for the rearend of one of his Deusenbergs. He puts loads of cash into his cars but I haven't heard of him financing any schools where people can go and learn these lost skills. With his kind of money and influence he could build his own school.
   Robert Cutting - Sunday, 01/18/09 18:07:58 EST

Thanks for the rapid responce. I see you have quite a bit more understanding than I of tool & die.
I have the hubs to which you refer punched out on a big
CNC(?) machine.
The die(?) is for a different project. It specifically deals with coil stock precut then formed. The operation will end up kind of like a seamless gutter, roller former, but precut on a particular profile at both ends. I was hoping for a symmetrical die to cut last end of piece #1 and the first end of piece #2(length stop), than the cut to length piece would go through a roller/former. My partner is in charge of the forming and punching machines. At this point I'm trying to find a tool and die person to look at some designs to cost out tooling. The roller former part is totally covered, Just have to find the cutters or someone to make them.
Thanks again, G.
   George Frazier - Sunday, 01/18/09 18:33:23 EST

Where some plans of a small tire or junkyard hammer, that are farily explanitory? I find lots of talk about the on forums but never written plans.
   - James Kryle - Sunday, 01/18/09 18:36:23 EST

Considering the sort of money Leno gets for his time in personal appearances, his plugging the AWS and the outfit and school in the videos, plus his urging young folk to consider going into the field is a not inconsiderable donation/ gesture in itself, doncha think? I am not seeking strife here, just trying to be fair.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 01/18/09 20:04:26 EST

James Kryle, The spare tire hammer is detailed in an excellent set of prints availble from Clay Spencer. These are very detailed nicely drawn plans.
There are a set of plans on Iforge iron for Jr Strasil's little helve hammer. I built a rusty type that is on the junk yard hammer page here on Anvilfire.
The hammer I built is mare of a scroungers adaptation than from plans.
   - ptree - Sunday, 01/18/09 20:06:54 EST

Junk Yard Hammers: James, we have lots of photos and descriptions on the Power Hammer page catalog of user built and JYH hammers.

I've started writing a manual on this subject several times and end up getting too far into engineering that you just have to have a gut felling for to build junkyard equipment. The whole philosophy of building a JYH is contradictory to being able to be described in a PLAN. You take what you find.

Example: If I made plans to build a junkyard hammer like our original (not recommended) and said you needed the following:

1) 1978 Oldsmobile 98 real axel (non positive traction)
2) 1968 Ford 302 engine block (stripped)
3) 28" x 48" x 2" steel plate
4) 10" round by 2" thick steel
5) (2) 12" dia. x 4" thick steel rounds
6) A 3/4 HP 56C frame motor
7) A 1/2 HP motor with identical slip speed
8) 4" dia. x 12" steel
9) 12" of 18# 10" Wide flange
10) 6' of 12# 8" S (old style I-beam)
11) 8" of 120# RR rail.
12. . . 20+. . and so on.

And then gave exact plans for building the hammer, to follow the plans you would need to start with the exact or equivalent replacement parts (such as Cadillac rear axle of the same year). On top of being difficult to find it would put a LOT of pressure on those specific relatively rare parts. The parts I used were what I found and what was on hand.

As soon as you replace any part then YOU are the engineer. I can not teach you this in a little manual. Making plans flexible enough for anything you find is nearly impossible.

Last spring we started building two hammer with tire clutches. I had to search three counties (half a dozen junkyards) to find TWO that were the same and were not worn out (new replacement mini spare tires without wheel are about $200 ea. so there is great demand) I had to physically GO to those yards because even those that advertise how helpful they are would not look for a specific spare. AND despite everyone's claim of them being plentiful they are far and few between in Southern VA / Northern NC. All the yards I went to only had less than a dozen and most of those were worn out or damaged. Find two alike? I was amazed when it came together.

We wanted two identical wheels because we were building two hammers with identical drives. While I think the tire hammer is great I would not design a detail plan around it again. We are going to publish the plan. But it will be specific with no guarantees on finding the exact wheel.

After we finish these hammers and plans I will do another set based on making all the parts. It is the only way to make good plans. Then if you want to substitute you can.

If you look at all the JYH articles almost everything we are doing is in those pages except for our unique spring arrangement that I do not want to publicize unless it works as well as I hope. We are building two built up anvils according to both of my drawings. The frame is like the NC-JYH and the tire clutch similar except we are using a fabricated shaft with flange and pillow blocks.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 20:19:21 EST

George Frazier, while I"m not one of the "guru's" here and have no affiliation with anvilfire.com other than one of its many saticfied particapants, I am a qualified tool& die maker by trade and would be willing to look over what you have.
If you click on my underlined name on the bottom you can e-mail me and we can take it from there.
   merl - Sunday, 01/18/09 21:26:55 EST

Jay Lenno

Mr. Lenno is already philanthropies. He has given away millions and helps thousands of people such as folks in the Sept. 11 th tragedy, Hurrican Katrina the Indian Ocean Earthquake and on and on.

Maybe some of you folks could donate your income and start an organization to save the trades. I don't think it is up to a man who has already helped so many and given his time freely to raise awareness.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 21:51:52 EST

Someone please remind me..what is the approx temp of "white hot" ...
   will sanders - Sunday, 01/18/09 21:53:08 EST

Altruism is selfless concern for the welfare of others..i.e...."Jay Lenno"

Acording to this forum: Altruism doesn't exist

Need I say More?
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 21:56:05 EST

Mr. Sanders 2426 F
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 01/18/09 22:17:48 EST

Note that color temperatures have a lot to do with ambient lighting. In bright sunlight anything up to a white heat is often indistinguishable and not even visible as a "heat" until well over what would be orange in low light. I've worked a lot in bright sunlight and do not trust eyeballing temperatures. Even indoors the ambient lighting varies and can make a big difference in perceived heat.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/18/09 22:54:36 EST

What kind of motors can you put on a small spring helve hammer and expect it to last? I have an old edger motor but i think it 2 or 3 horses. I also have electric motors availible.
   - Jacob lockhart - Sunday, 01/18/09 22:59:43 EST

George Frazier: I am another of the tool & die makers who frequent this sight, You can pick My brain if You need to. I suggest You find a local [convienient to Your location] tool & die shop to work with to actually build Your tooling if possible. If You click on My name on this post You should be able to eMail Me.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 01/19/09 00:03:33 EST

George, what you are describing is the type of thing that Vogel specialises in, so I would try talking to them first.

   - Ries - Monday, 01/19/09 01:56:14 EST

Thanks Merl, we'll talk.

Thanks Ries, I'll take a look.
I don't know who can do what I want, I'm just in preliminary design stages,
but, I know it can be done.
Now I'm off to the drawing table for some sketch work, maybe I could post an image of the profile?

Would that be O.K., Jock?
Thank you Dave, I'll be in touch through that.
I'll tune in again soon. Jock, thanks again for keeping up such a great site! I hope I haven't broken any rules in looking for a T&D man here, but I figured this would be the place to go!
Thnx, George
   George Frazier - Monday, 01/19/09 07:51:14 EST

George, Currently you cannot post images here *new forum on the way) but you can e-mail it to me and I'll post. The alternative is a URL to an image hosting site. Just don't try to put it in HTML ir our system will filter it out.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/09 08:00:39 EST

Blanking Parts: Today, unless the numbers are huge, fine blanks are often cut using computer guided plasm, waterjet of laser. You can cut a LOT of parts this way for what one die set and dies costs. In thin gauge material these processes can be quite fast and the folks that do it often have multi head machines. Besides the cost advantage for tooling there is an advantage that if you make a mistake on a bending allowance or the part shape there is almost no cost in making the change where it can be a disaster in hard tooling.

I am not sure where the price break is today but I suspect that it is the difference in cost per part vs. labor, materials and tooling. There is also some cost in not having it done in your shop (shipping and moving material). On the other hand, this can sometimes be an advantage.

It is easy to get stuck thinking about how to do something in your own shop when it may be cheaper to farm it out to someone else using a different process.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/09 10:41:25 EST

Altruism-- From what I have seen and personally experienced in benefits from Anvilfire over the past several years, Jock Dempsey is the embodiment of altruism. Unsolicited testimonial.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/19/09 11:48:08 EST

I have about 5 pounds of used piercing needles. They are 440 stainless and I would like to know what the best way to turn them into a billet that I can forge a knife with. I've tried melting them into a form made of Kaowool, but it ends up a big crumbly mess similar to a red short. I don't have crucible capability, and I've tried forge welding a bunch of them but they're too small to stick. Should I just give up on this endeavour?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 01/19/09 11:49:54 EST

Needle Damascus: Nip, Take a method from the Damascus makers, use something to bundle the pieces AND exclude air. They started by using using stainless tubing, then to stainless foil. The foil might be your best bet.

They package the billet pieces in the container which is sealed with the exception of a small hole. Then a little bit of kerosene is squirted into the hole. This gases and burns off leaving no oxygen in the container. It is a fluxless method. However, I do not know if it will work on 440 to 440.

The thing about many passivated SS objects is the surface is all chrome/nickle the iron having been removed.

I might try a high flourite flux in the packet so SS to SS. No matter how you handle it the welding will need to compress toward the center (maybe in a V-block - a U also works).

On the other hand, most Damascus blades are a mixture of steels with different weldabilities the lowest weldability material helping to weld to the higher.

If the needles are long enough to bundle and twist (like cable) the welding forging force will be less likely to seperate the pieces. When cable is welded the twist is tightened hot to help compress toward solid.

I do not think the container must be stainless. However, when stainless is used in conventional lamination it doesn't weld well to the billet and can be removed. Cleanliness is also critical. I would find a way to mechanically clean the little parts, perhaps in a tumbler.

Just some ideas. This is not really my field.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/09 12:54:47 EST

On what Guru was saying: I was making up the front and back opening frames for my freon tank propane forges. I had to buy the mild steel stock, cut to length, champher some edges, weld them together, grind off welds and then drill eight holes in each plate. I turned the job over to a commercial company who cut them out of 1/4" x 4' x 10' plate stock. Were I to somehow price out my labor I suspect they can do the job a lot cheaper.

I will note I still make one odd size frame manually due to the low volume of need for it.

On the forge gas assembly the 3/4" nipples will not fit into the 1" pipe I use as receivers. Here I have a local machine shop lathe down the nipples to fit. Price has been $1 per nipple as I leave them and they are done as the shop operater has them done when some employee has down time. Perhaps I could buy my own lathe, but it would take up shop space and my time. If the price were to go to say $3 a nipple, then...

About one a month I have local labor come in to do stock replacement cutting, drilling and deburring.

On the farm I own an old backhoe. However, when there is an extensive job to do, I hire it out. They can do it much faster than I could and it saves wear and tear on an aging piece of equipment.

Thus, don't overlook hiring someone else to do the work for you if it is more economical.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 01/19/09 14:25:28 EST

No one said Jay Leno doesn't give to good causes and while his plugs and personal letters showing support are probably very helpful I was just trying to find out if anyone had heard of him donating money to a metalworking project on the same scale as his other altruistic acts. Seems like his passion for the automotive and mechanical would have resulted in such an effort. I suppose it might have happened and just not been publicized.

I like to think that paying for my own eduction as a machinist, learning every possible thing I can about metal working and spending all the spare time I have doing it qualifies a preserving the trade. I'm more than happy to share any information and skill that I have with everyone I can. I have every intention of teaching it to my son. My grandfather, mother, and father were all machinists and my great uncle was a welder and sheet metal man. It's heritage and I'm donating my life to it.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 01/19/09 15:33:26 EST

Hi Folks, what do you guys think about painting blacksmithing tools? I bought a very nice big post vise that the seller wire brushed before selling. It is great to be able to see any flaws, but rust from condensation can be a problem in my unheated shop. On the other hand, I don't want to reduce the value of the tools either. Any thoughts? Thanks!
   Dave Francis - Monday, 01/19/09 16:52:31 EST

Painting tools

Without paint my tools would all rust away. I paint everything. How would it reduce the value?
   philip in china - Monday, 01/19/09 17:48:20 EST

Dave Francis, my shop is also unheated and I just give my stuff a light coat of hydraulic oil and rub it in with a shop rag. Seems to do the trick.
   - merl - Monday, 01/19/09 18:16:25 EST

My antique, hand made post vise is painted. It was painted by the man that made it. Is nice shiny aluminum paint because that is what he had. He made it during his apprentice program at a now defunct farm equipment factory in about 1905 or 6. I know this because his Son Gave me the vise. The Son was my Dad. I would not dream of wire brushing, or totally repainting, but when the paint finally wears enough thru use, I will then repaint the worn areas with some nice aluminum paint. It will match the small repaints done by my Grandfather and Father. I will also make sure that my sons and daughters know about the history of this tool. (And where I hid the aluminum paint:)
   - ptree - Monday, 01/19/09 18:27:07 EST

Hi Robert
Good points. I am glad you clarified. In the perspective you put things it does make one wonder why he hasn't donated more in the trade/craft arena. Maybe he just has too many "Irons In The Fire".

Miles...I understand you don't really exist. Therefore I have no comment other than someone earlier this week suggested the falicy of Altruism on this site. I certainly believe in Altruism.

Note I have no judgment toward Jock being Altruistic or not in his private life. He may be very. Anvilfire though very informative is supported by funds of others and advertising. That is simply a called a business. Even though I am sure he has sacraficed potential income levels and a lifstyle to devote his time here. It is still not true altruism in my opinion. Note...I am not saying he isn't truely altruistic in other ways. For all I know he gives everything away and is always helping the needy and sick. I would call Anvilfire more of a passionate business for him.

potassium permanganate:

I finally was able to locate two sources today. One is a taxidermy supply and only sells 1oz containers. The source I purchased from today offers the 5 lb containers of the powder form. That was the quantity I needed. I apprecaite everyone's help. The inspiration helped me spark thought of other potential sources to check.

   - Rustystuff - Monday, 01/19/09 19:58:05 EST

Wire Brushed Tools: There are a bunch of dealers that do this and I absolutely hate it. A 100 to 200 year old tool that hasn't set outdoors rusting for a couple decades has a very nice thick layer of the ORIGINAL scale, rust, oil, paint, more rust. . . That will protect for a LONG time. If the item shows rust I'll often paint or oil it depending on the mood.

Many of these old tools such as leg vises came with a pretty poor black paint or thinned tar coating to prevent rust in shipping and storage. So they started with something over the scale. An appropriate paint job would be similar. But if the scale has been removed it would be good to degease, prime with a zinc powder primer (or primer of your choice) then paint it. On old leg vises I usually use whatever black (usually Derusto barbeque black) I have on hand. Then oil over that.

The only time I paint anvils is to photograph them. But I'll paint other tools including tongs and hammers to slow rusting. The high temp black is best on tongs. Hammers get painted whatever is on hand. Lately since I have more hammers than I use regularly the faces and peens get painted as well. The thin paint will wear off quickly when the tool is needed and generally will not hurt the work.

Paint, even on the anvil face is better than rust.
   - guru - Monday, 01/19/09 19:59:35 EST

Mr. Ken Scharabok, thank you for the instructions I'll make one in the future for round headed rivets. I'm just using steel flat headed rivets right now from RJ Leahey, forgot to mention the shape. I'll give it a go if it ever gets warmer than 0 degrees out.
   Jay - Monday, 01/19/09 20:17:47 EST

My antique post vises are all "users", not things that I just collect, and all but one of them have been cleaned, missing parts made, trued up, then polished and blued/oiled. One has a forged vine climbing up the leg from a crack in the concrete floor. I live/work with these tools eight ot twelve hours almost every day of the year and I like them to look nice as well as work well. The amount of time I have spent getting them polished to the point they can be blued and oiled is frankly ridiculous, but I enjoy the end result enough to enjoy the work.

My latest acquisition, found right here on the island, is a nice heavy old possible Australian-export Peter Wright. It needs a bit of work but is useable as is and I use it daily. Dunno if I'll ever be willing to take it out of service long enough to finish, though - I've gotten to like using it a lot.

Since my shop is on an island in the middle of the Caribbean, everything that is not painted, plated or slathered with Vaseline will rust almost overnight. My secondary anvils are kept varnished on the faces to prevent rust but still look bare. As Jock noted, the varnish pops right off when I use them, but only takes a quick spritz with the rattle can to renew. Machine ways are Vaselined, since oil just doesn't do it. Ditto for hammer faces. Some stuff is just rusty...too much stuff, I guess. :-)
   vicopper - Monday, 01/19/09 21:27:50 EST

Is there a movie on this flight? Could we put it up, please?
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/19/09 23:29:08 EST

I am truly sorry. That was rude, nay, harsh. I would love to have an all-nighter splitting hairs and discussing the quiddities and even the quod re: altruism. Where should we start? Did Mother Teresa suffer, working there in the slums? No? Did she enjoy it? If she enjoyed it, why was she sainted, for doing something she got chuckles and kicks out of? If Jay Leno is reallllllllly and truly a generous guy, howcum he has those nifty suits and all those big cars? Hmmmm? I mean, why doesn't he give them away as Bill Gates does? What? Bill doesn't give everything away, either? You mean to say he has that great big house all to himself and the little lady? Gosh, I guess that means he's only human. Get me Thomas Aquinas, at home. Tom? Hey, man, long time no see, how's it going there in Utopia, babe? Got a man here thinks you can't be altruistic and take in ads.... What? I don't know how he feels about interest on loans. We haven't got to that yet.... Pass me that cofee and that toasted English, would you? Gee, but this is fun. Not a helluva ot to do with smiting, but.... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 01/19/09 23:43:40 EST

Miles you make me smile and laugh in your commentaries. I am sure we are both right, wrong or just goofie at the same time. Just perspectives is all. Mine probably has much room for improvement. It is all good. ;)

I keep forgetting you don't really exist...sometimes I like to think you are real. I hope everyone else can see your posts or I am going to look even more foolish.

Now back to the anvil. ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...snort...zzzz...
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 01/20/09 00:49:23 EST

Over on the British Blades website a gentleman has made ball bearing damascus. He put ball bearings in a metal tube with a small piece of paper and both ends welded shut except for a small hole so the paper would burn and pull out the oxygen and result in a better weld I believe.

My question is: While it looks really cool what kind of strength and integrity would this kind of metal have? Is it really good as a user or best left as a looker which at the prices his pieces go for is what it will no doubt be. Of course his work qualifies more as art than tool.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 01/20/09 03:17:53 EST


I am taking this discussion on altruism over to the hammerin, so as not to distract from the technical forum.

Altruism focuses on a motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (for example, God, a king), a specific organization (for example, a government), or an abstract concept (for example, patriotism etc). Some individuals may feel both altruism and duty, while others may not. Pure altruism is giving without regard to reward or the benefits of recognition and need.
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 01/20/09 03:18:29 EST

Non-Blacksmithing Question:
In my faucet strainer in the bathroom, I find small black flakes. Are they from the water well, or from the water system? The well is ~200 ft deep. The local geology, according to http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/maps/map7.pdf, is:

Red sandstone,
shale, and conglomerate
by diabase

My area typically shows sandstone on the surface, we see the diabase about 5 miles north.

The water system consists of said well, submerged pump, black plastic pipe into the basement, steel tank – lining unknown, but tank from ~1985, maybe. Copper and PVC delivery pipes, new faucet, (stainless or brass)

The particles are black, random sizes and shapes, and are attracted to a magnet.

Am I sitting on a potential Iron mine, or do I need a new water tank?

Sorry for the slight deviation from topic, but I know and respect the knowledge base here.
   - Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 01/20/09 07:28:32 EST

Dave Leppo, It sounds like a form of magnetite.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/20/09 08:03:16 EST

Gentlemen, thanks very much for the discussion about painting tools. The post vise has two coats of paint freshly applied. I appreciate all the input!
   Dave Francis - Tuesday, 01/20/09 09:28:43 EST

Living in a dry climate I prefer not to paint postvises as I dislike the smell of hot metal on paint. If I need to protect something I am more likely to warm it nice and hot and wax it as the smell of burning wax doesn't bother me as much.

99% of postvises are not "collectable" and do not need the cosseting that such items would require.

OTOH I really like what Rich has done with his stuff and if I ever win the lottery I'll hire him to go over all my shop tools.

As for anvilfire being run as a business; that's a hoot! If it was run as a business it would have been shut down *years* ago. It's run as a labour of love and not as a profit center---yes there are contributions but they would not cover the equipment expenses and a decent salary for Jock.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/20/09 11:50:25 EST

Magnetic Grit: Dave, I have not tried a magnet on it but we get a very fine but gritty black particles from our well. It was enough that it clogged an expensive water softener in about a year. . . So we installed a filter from AquaPure/AMF Cuno. These will turn thick mud water into clear clean water.

I am a firm believer in good water filters on the main line. They SHOULD come after the pump but before the tank. However, in our situation the line from the ground to the tank is only inches long and in a bad access point. So we put it between the tank and the water softener.

The AquaPure filters are a cellulose matrix type stuff that does a great job. They are NOT the wound string type filters which are pretty worthless.

One thing about a whole house filter is that they MUST be replaced on a regular schedule. Dirt can build up just enough for bacteria to grow and a "clean" filter may not be so clean. . . replace at least three or four times a year even if not clogged.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/09 11:56:01 EST

I have some small aluminum rivets. I know they have to be annealed and then put in freezer to keep soft tell put to use.Can I do this in my kitchen oven if so what temp and for how long before they go into the freezer..I thank you., Al
   Al Matthews - Tuesday, 01/20/09 12:06:12 EST

6061 is heated to around 1000 degrees and quenched to solution heat treat (soften). It's then precipitation hardened around 350 degrees. If the rivets are 6061, heating in the oven would only make them harder.

Of course there are lots of aluminum alloys, but I think most heat treatable ones are similiar in this respect. Especially ones that need to live in the freezer to stay soft.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 01/20/09 12:53:44 EST

And who appointed you the playground monitor here? I happen to prefer continuing this discussion right here where it started. Only we are going to stick to the value of training and finesse all the flapdoodle and eschew the recondite, okay? Leno says it makes sense for a person entering the craft to get welding training. I'll buy that whether he is getting paid to say it or not.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 01/20/09 14:48:37 EST

Economics: NO, Leno said welders make a lot of money. . . I don't know. I know they used to compared to others in the 70's. But like many others in construction I think their wages have stayed the same or dropped. Guys working high steel back then were getting paid $25 to $28/hour. With inflation you would have to be making over $100/hour today to equal that. (I base inflation on what you could buy a pickup truck for then compared to now, about a 4-1 or 5-1 ratio. Same with rent, housing. . ). Leno was also pointing to an all aluminum chassis as he was complaining about welding costs. There are costs that are only efficient in spacecraft . . .

As to what I make. . . well, from anvilfire and the little web work I do for other people and sales from our store I've made just enough for the last 5 years to NOT pay taxes (you go look up the amount). But as a self employed person there is no such thing as NOT paying. . you have to pay self-employment tax (15.3% or double SS) on every penny. So at the end of a year of living on very little I get to fork over 15.3% that I do not have after spending a couple weeks on book keeping. The result is that I am currently in debt, something I had tried VERY hard to avoid all my life. The only way I've survived is to not have rent, mortgage or any kind of insurance not required by law.

To top it all off I spent money on new operating software this year for anvilfire (that is not working yet) and I'm desperately trying to get a new server to run while paying for two. The move to the second server is currently a major disaster and is probably going to cost another $1000 that I do not have. . . (Anyone out there an expert on debugging DSM server management software with unsupported versions of Apache and PHP?).

But I continue to plod ahead. However, Lately I've thought that if I was old enough to collect SS I think I would chuck it all at this point. I could make a lot more making trinkets in the back yard and SS will be about what I make now. It would also be better for my health which is suffering from 12-16 hour days at a desk. . . Maybe 10 years was my limit.

   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/09 15:48:08 EST

Leno & welders wages: The guys doing Leno's work probably do earn a good living.

Pipeline welders & oil rig welders with their own truck & tools can make well over 100 K/year if they can stay working most of the time.

On the other hand, semi skilled production welders might only make $10-$12/ hour in a shop.

Welding CAN be a good paying trade, or a lousy paying crappy job. Being able to do the highly skilled work is the difference.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 01/20/09 17:22:08 EST

I suspect the guys Leno is hiring have aircraft certifications and N stamps as well as a ton of industry experience.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/09 17:27:58 EST

Guru, very few N stamps left out there anymore. No new construction in a LONG time. Vogt had a N stamp from the get go for valves and fittings, but dropped it in about 1999, due to a lack of orders vs the cost.
   - ptree - Tuesday, 01/20/09 18:28:47 EST

You can go here for an inflation adjuster: http://www.westegg.com/inflation/. It shows $1,000 in 1970 has inflated to about $5,300 today.

However, comparing a 1970 pickup to a 2008/9 one may be apples and oranges as the features/quality is so different.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 01/20/09 18:35:08 EST

Dave Leppo...

I have a friend that is one of the top geological scientists working for the Geological Survey (US Goverment). I talked to him about your post. He said the black particles were most likely Magnatite (good call, Frank). He said that the red sandstone has metal (its rusting causing the red color), but that metal is not generally very magnetic. He said it would not necessarily be unusual for iron to be present in the water flow with resultant flakes to be drawn up into your water supply.

I would expect the advice to use a water filter is the best advice you will get.

Incidently, the fact that iron is in the water does not necessarily mean you are sitting on a iron mine. The source of the iron could be remote.

Good luck....
   - djhammerd - Tuesday, 01/20/09 19:05:35 EST

Geez Miles, I don't know who Thomas Aquinas is but, the phone call to him was a scream!...

You know Guru if I were you I would either find some other way to make this site work to YOUR advantage or hang it up. I think this place is great and would like to think that we can all continue on useing it as it is but, not at the expence of your health and happieness.
If you ever do deside to close up shop I hope you will concider putting the better part of your knowlage on some format that can be downloaded or saved in some way for all of us newbees who need it...
   - merl - Tuesday, 01/20/09 19:56:16 EST

Dave Leppo,

Sure enough sounds like little marticles of magnetite in your well water. Like they say, get a filter. And do change it religiously or you're likely to get a pretty heady odor in the water after a while. Any iron in the water can be fertile breeding ground for a certain bacteria that loves the stuff and produces sulfur dioxide as a byproduct of its metabolism. A second inline filter with a charcoal cartridge will rid you of the smell if you do experience it. Odds are though, since you didn't mention it, that your well doesn't have those little buggers present - good for you. Keeping the filter changed regularly will avoid setting up a breeding ground for them.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/20/09 21:23:45 EST


Forgot to mention - save all those little bits of magnetite. In a couple hundred years or so you'll have enough to smelt some iron from them. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 01/20/09 21:24:55 EST

In our water the little particles are probably magnetite as well. While those that clogged the water softener have been stopped they are very few compared to the rest of the dirt the filter removes. While we never saw any dirt in the water it was definitely there. On my system in the country where we pumped from an open spring I had two filters. One before the tank and a finer one after the tank. The first had an unfiltered water tap going to the toilet. Every time you flushed the pressure from the tank would back flush the primary coarse filter. I couldn't see any point in filtering water that was just going to become sewage. . .

The only thing about running anvilfire is that nobody can fire me or lay me off other than me. While sales are way down (50% from 7 months ago) we are still plugging along hoping the economy will turn around before the money runs out. . . I can't print more like Washington.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/20/09 21:40:43 EST

I don't want to beat the dead magnetite, but we have it from a 355 foot deep well. There isn't much, but I will occasionally clean the washing machine hose filters, because they get a little clogged. In much of New Mexico, we have black sand (magnetite) as part the soil, and it is especially noticeable in the sandy arroyos* after a rain. It shows up as dark streaks, and it can be picked up with a magnet. I think it is low grade as ores go. The iron sand used in the Japanese tatara furnaces is, no doubt, a higher iron yielding grade.
*Arroyos is our local Spanish name for a coulee, draw, gully, or dry wash.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/20/09 23:15:11 EST

Thanks, all, for the Info and Advice. When I bought the house, there was a water softener and a de-acidifier in the water system. The former owner got the vendor of these items to test the water, and then bought them from him. I tested the water for pH and dissolved solids, and found it to be only slightly acidic (~6.5) and slightly hard; and popped the bypass valves on both devices, and unplugged them. There is also a UV light to kill bacteria, which was installed when I bought the place. The softener and acid thingy are still in the basement, just not in use. I will seriously consider replacing all with a filter.
There’s really not that much grit in the faucet strainers, but I notice it in the bathroom because I modified the faucet to “low flow” by adding a plastic disc with an eight inch hole, and the grit clogs the strainer to the point where you notice the flow reduction.

As I mentioned, there is Diabase five miles to the north, and in this area, there’s a lot of “Black Sand” in the streams. This iron-concentrated rock was mined in the past, the ore hauled twenty miles to furnaces by the river. Gold has also been found in small amounts (but not by me, though I’ve looked). The map I posted shows the Diabase running east into Lebanon County, where the famous Cornwall Iron mine and furnace is located. The furnace operated from 1742 to 1833, but the ore was mined till 1972. Bethlehem steel extracted Gold as a by-product from the ore they received from this mine, using the proceeds to cover their operational expenses!

Sorry again from the detour.
   - Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 01/21/09 07:23:48 EST

Some people pay $1 a pint for spring water - I shower in it. My spring becomes cloudy after a heavy rain and was clogging faucets, commodes and the washing machine. I added a 20mc filter where the water comes into the trailer. I use either a paper or wrapped string cartridge, and have been using the same four of them for several years. To clean I place it in an old sock and toss into a load of laundry. However, don't try this with a charcoal filter.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 01/21/09 08:57:31 EST

Ore: magnetite is magnetite and is found in pretty much all igneous rocks---where it comes from in Japan. As to how good an ore it is it is more how well it's been seperated from everything else that might be sitting around it---like rutile.

The magnet does a great job of seperation as all the other crud is not magnetic. Previously you had to seperate it by density---panning is one method but other heavy stuff---like cold will be concentrated with it too.

As iron ores go magnetite is easily smelted in a small bloomery (either european or asian style).

(My grandfather's farm had iron sulfur water so bad I swear you could smelt a cup of it and get enough iron for an anvil!)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/21/09 10:58:16 EST

Ore: Most elements are fairly evenly distributed in the Earth's crust. However, eons of various geologic activity has concentrated many minerals in localized deposits OR in forms that are easier to extract than others. Volcanic activity, errosion and hydraulic deposits.

Volcanic activity has a lot to do with many of the rarer substances. Diamonds for instance are NOT made from coal or solid carbon deposits but very hot carbon gas pressurized to the point where it can crystallize. Many heavy metals originate from deep within the earth and brought to the surface by volcanic activity or some ancient meteor strike that let deep material escape to the surface.

Just as one pans for gold (or black sand) nature has concentrated various materials by the same hydraulic actions. Water washing away lighter substances and leaving heavier behind. Ancient rivers rolling over rock ledges for eons depositing those heavy minerals or native metals, deltas forming and becoming ocean bottom. . .

So now there is a much less equal distribution than the Earth had originally and you find valuable metals and ores in specific and unequally distributed locations.

Authur C. Clark had an interesting theory about gas giants such as Jupiter and Neptune. He thought that if one of these planets were destroyed or broken up that much of the solid remains would be diamond. Where the cores of the smaller planets are mostly heavy metals he thought these would be the lighter including carbon. Talk about a heck of a diamond mine.

   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/09 12:09:58 EST

Maybe you could put a big magnet on the water line before the filter to catch the magnetite? Might give you better mileage, too (grin).
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/21/09 16:58:55 EST

What does this mean?
"Good painting is the kind that looks like sculpture."
Michaelangelo Buonarroti
   - Ty Murch - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:15:24 EST

What does this mean ?
"Good painting is the kind that looks like sculpture."

   - Ty Murch - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:24:10 EST

Before I ask this question I would like to say thanks to the guru and helpers, as well as to others on this website for input and answers to questions - as I often have alot of them. Thanks!

Now for the question - How do you put a shiny brass finish on a peace of ironwork? I know it has somthing to do with a brass brissel brush (thats a tongue twister) but I don't know the details. Could someone give some insight on the process of how it should be properly carried out.
Thanks again.
   - John L. - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:30:19 EST

Howdy Gent's

This may be a question for our famous Blacksmith and jeweler vicopper. I would welcome input from anyone.

Now, there is such a thing as acid etching a piece of plate glass & using diamantine as a final finish. Does anyone know what acid to use and how to do this process?

Mr. Waugh

I looked at your website the other day. It is very nice and well done. I got a very calming feeling that makes me want to visit the Carrebian.
   - Rustymetal - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:35:29 EST

Painting and Sculpture: I suspect the author was referring to an artistic representation that has a sculpted three dimensional look due the use of shading, shadows and reflectivity (bounce light in shadow). The work of Michelangelo was often described this way due to his experience and expertise as a sculptor.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:42:04 EST

Brass on Iron: John, When the iron is hot it can be wire brushed to remove scale then brushed with a fine bristled brass brush. The brass sticks to the hot iron partially due to copper's affinity for iron and partially due to the heat. This is not a highly durable finish and must be lacquered to protect it.

This creates a brassy look but not a polished look. If you want shiny brass the steel will have to be cleaned nearly polished then electro plated then the plating polished.

Another way is to coat the iron with brass by brazing, clean, file and polish with the normal increasingly finer grits and then buffing compound.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/21/09 22:48:36 EST

Some of the better art stores used to carry glass etching supplies and kits, however the big box stores ran the good ones where I lived out of business so you might have to look for an online supplier. It's been a long time since I did any etching.
   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 01/22/09 03:08:55 EST

Glass etching is usually done with hydrofluoric acid. Seriously unfriendly stuff. Sand blasting is an alternative but not good for your lungs.
Hugh McDonald
   Hugh McDonald - Thursday, 01/22/09 03:40:40 EST


Glass etching is done using Hydrofluoric acid (HF), one of the most aggressive and dangerous acids there is. It is available in gel form from some hobby outlets, or in concentrated form from chemical supply houses such as Van Waters and Rogers. Probably a huge haz-mat issue these days, too. The resist for HF is usually a paraffin mixture, and in the days before plastic containers the HF was stored in paraffin-lined glass bottles (scary thought, that).

As for the diamantine finish, there are several different finishes called "diamantine." Themost common being the glass diamantine, or glitter, which was used some in the production of signage. On opaque signs, the diamantine gliter as very coarse, and was applied to the background of the sign by adhering it on a bed of glue or shellac. The process was called "smalting" and the coarse diamantine was called smalts.

On signage for glass doors and windows, etcing was used in combination with gold leaf work and diamantine glitter, mother-of-pearl and other materials were used as decorative centers for ornate lettering. These were adhered with a strong gelatine size and then varnished on the reverse side.

A more commonly done effect of glass that yielded a unique appearance somewhere between etched and carved, was a technique called "glue-chipping." A strong solution of hide glue is applied to absolutely clean glass and allowed to dry very slowly. As it dries, it shrinks, causing a series of overlapping concoidal fractures in the surface of the glass. The result is a pattern of surface unterruptions that looks like frost spicules, or feathers, or abstract leaf-like forms.

I've done all of the above and they're all very labor intensive and very difficult to get anyone to foot the bill for in these days of computer graphics and fake effects that can be had for next to nothing. One of the reasons that I got out of the sign business, in fact.

Hope this answers your question.
   vicopper - Thursday, 01/22/09 09:29:08 EST

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