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This is an archive of posts from January 8 - 15, 2010 on the Guru's Den
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In the book " The Iron Mistress ", does it say the original Bowie knife was made from a meteorite ? I have always been told that it was, and that Bowie himself referred to his knife as being made from a star.
   Mike T. - Friday, 01/08/10 01:20:40 EST

It says metorite wes added to the steel....Great book you an get it for a couple of bucks on Ebay.....
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 01:27:08 EST

Austrian Metal; Guilherme: Google the armor arsenal in Graz, Austria. Incredible metalwork, and you may find some links in the multiple sites for metalworking information. The arsenal was active from the 15th to the 18th century. One nice overall site for the Graz arsenal is: http://www.travel-travel-travel.com/out/archives/21/FAREWELL_TO_ARMS_IN_GRAZ.htm


I've had a lot of fun with this among my friends, announcing that blacksmiths have been discussing this magic metal for years. "See, our archaic art is ahead of the curve..."

Please note: Oakley Sunglasses is NOT a subsidiary of Oakley Forge, Oakley Farm, or anything else in Oakley, Maryland. If it were, I would have a MUCH bigger shop!


An inch of snow and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Getting ready for my annual show in the art room at MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA, next weekend ( http://www.marscon.net/ ) plus a presentation of Beowabbit. A lot of work, both hot and cold, still to do, and it sure is chilly in the forge getting it done, especially of late.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/08/10 08:50:08 EST

Remembering of course that armour smiths and blacksmiths were not the same craft and had different guilds! Hmmm if you could find a listing of some of the guild rules for that time and place then they would have a lot of data on the work life of a smith---hours, start and stop times, days off, etc...

The iron mistress 127 hits for that over at abebooks.com including editions signed by the author and one by Alan Ladd.

   Thomas P - Friday, 01/08/10 12:58:54 EST

grate size. Just a couple of weeks ago I had to enlarge the holes in the grate on my brake drum forge. I burn charcoal and the 1/4 inch holes weren't letting the smallest of the fleas drop down. Opening up the grate with a drill and reamer to a couple of 3/8 slots by connecting the holes. Makes a world of difference in keeping the fire manageable. Also added a water bucket under the ash dump, with the level over the bottom of the pipe.
   Michael - Friday, 01/08/10 14:39:41 EST

philip: thanks, I know. I made my own and one for my dad. I've also built parts for bridges, components for cement factory kilns, support structures and fairleads for offshore drilling rigs, and done rebuilds, conversions, and custom alterations on hundreds of railroad freight cars, etc., etc. My point is that sometimes when people find out I'm a steel fabricator, they ask me how to build something they want, thinking it will be cheaper and easier than buying it (I have no idea why people think this), and the answer is, if you have the tools and the skills to use them, yes, a weight bench is very simple to build, but if you don't, just go out and buy one. The same thing applies here; people who have no idea what it takes to work with metal watch Conan The Barbarian one too many times and get it into their heads that they want to make a sword, then they find this sight and start asking ignorant, misinformed questions to people who have had to answer those same ignorant, misinformed questions a hundred times. I was simply trying to explain that I am NOT one of those people, hoping it would help me get a more useful answer to my question, which leads me to my next topic:

Everybody else: Thank you very much for taking me seriously and giving me useful answers. I appreciate it. Fortunately for me, I am still in the research/material-gathering phase of my forge construction, so thanks for pointing out the flaws in my admittedly rudimentary design, which up until now has been based on mere observation. The resources you have steered me to will help me immensely. Shiloh, I too had heard of Paul Champagne and had hoped to make my pilgramage to his doorstep, only to find out that he has passed away when I tried to contact him. I have seen a number of his beautifully crafted blades over the last few years and wonder if I will ever see their like again.

As for your words on learning how to use a sword before learning how to make one, I am completely of a like mind. I am certainly NOT the finest swordsman in all the land, but I welcome anyone to cross (practice) blades with me, and, win or lose, I've learned something.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 14:58:01 EST

Nip: aside from the interesting and sometimes beautiful formations in the metal brought about by unique changes to the crystalline structure as the meteor is heated by its plunge through the atmosphere and cooled after impact, there is no real difference between meteoric iron and a cast iron stove, and as I believe somebody else pointed out, those features are destroyed by forging and working the material into any kind of tool-quality steel. What IS an important distinction is that your dad's chunk of meteorite is far more valuable, both aesthetically and monetarily, in its original form. My inexpert advice would be use it as a unique paperweight instead of ruining it. Slice up an old section of 90-pound rail, forge it, pound the hell out of it to get a uniform structure, and make him a nice knife out of that instead. Railroad iron is about as hard as it gets, friends.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 15:26:02 EST

Interesting..Do you hve any idea what RR iron is? I know auto springs are usually 5160 so I know haow to heat treat them...Metorite use predates modern steels and at the time did make a better blade ...Nowadays Metorites have that Woo Woo air to them that people out here in Sana Fe really like..I mean it is kinda cool to have something in your steel from outer space..
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 15:46:43 EST

Actually, my brother-in-law (at Cal Tech; retired but still researching solar wind samples from the Genesis Project) has complained that the popularity of meteorites has run up the price so that it is increasingly difficult for educational organizations and scientists to obtain them for research purposes.

The Malay Kris sometimes employs meteoric iron in the laminated structure, as much for the numinous power of "star stuff" as for any inherent superiority of the iron or nickel-iron alloy.

As I remember in the movie, The Iron Mistress, Black is shown melting down the meteorite in a crucible, thus predating the Conan movie’s “poured iron sword” error (or maybe inspiring it).
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 01/08/10 15:46:53 EST

I take the piece of mrtorite..heat it..and squish it in my press untill I get something of uniform size and flatness..Then I sandwich it between other metals and forge it into a billet in the usual manner..With enough folding the metotite is distribed throughout the billet..It does have a brightness that I have not seen in any other Damascus..
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 15:58:50 EST

Well, I sliced off a 1/4 x 1/2 piece 1/8 thin. I used a jewelers saw and about a dozen blades. After cutting, I touched it to the belt sander... no spark at all. It is very magnetic, so I am more inclined to say its Ni mostly. Of course I really hope my dad didn't buy some melted scrap.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/08/10 16:23:46 EST

Apologies, and I'll clarify: when I said "railroad iron," I meant old steel rail. Those in the railroad industry just call it "iron." I worked for a freight 'road for a while, and the slang stuck with me. It starts out as hard medium-carbon steel, something like modern A-process but probably not as hard as A-300. Then you roll trains over it for a few decades, which work-hardens the crown like you wouldn't beleive. Now, I've never done this personally, but I have it on good authority that if you slice out a chunk with a bandsaw and fold it until your arms fall off, it creates a uniform structure that makes excellent blade steel. I've seen a few knives made this way-old RR blacksmiths used to pound them out on slow days. They're pretty impressive.

I specified 90-pound rail because it's not used on the main line anymore but there's a lot of it just lying around, especially near yards, anywhere old lines are being upgraded, and at the sites of big derailments. I have a few odd lengths lying around that will probably find thier way into my forge as I begin my long journey to becoming a bladesmith.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 16:26:40 EST

I was just on Don Foggs site and under Show & Tell someone just posted a picture titled "Celestial Bowie"...Check that out and you'll see why so many love metorite steel..

Bruce..Your brother-in-law sounds just like the lowriders complaing they can't get old Chevies anymore.. LOL
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 16:27:54 EST

citing the Arema (The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association) 2007 document, Part 2 "manufacture o
f Rail"

Standard rail steel:
.74 to.86% Carbon,
.75 to 1.25% Manganese,
.10 to .60% Silicon
Minimum Brinell (of unhardened surface) 310 or 370 dependant of grade ordered.

Low Alloy Rail Steel
.72 to .82% Carbon,
.80 to 1.10% Manganese,
.25 to .40& Chromium,
.10 to .50% Silicon
   Thomas P - Friday, 01/08/10 16:30:22 EST

Anders....Sorry!! I was not trying to insult you...I was very serious..I have some old rail and have never thought about making a blade out of it....but for knifemaking forging is only part of the job..then you have to heat treat..And steels all have different requirements...I'm not fimilar with A-300..Do you know anything about hardening it??
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 16:37:34 EST

As I said, hard stuff.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 16:42:42 EST

I'm very sorry .I think we're having a communication problem..rail sounds like a great idea to me and I would like to try it ..but after forging it has to be quenched [water or oil] then it has to be tempered [temperature and duration]witout knowing these things in advance it's hard for me to spend the time forging a knife...hope this explains my reply...regards,Arthur
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 17:11:38 EST

No insult taken. I'm learning here, so the least I can do is share my knowledge, too. I just realized that I'd been using vague, industry-specific terminoligy that requires both background knowledge and context to having any meaning.

A-300 is a relatively modern, fairly common high-carbon steel, typically used for things like cutting edges on plows and earth-moving equipment (and dozens of other things, I'm sure). As for hardening, I'm not sure you could get it any harder than it already is, except maybe by rolling freight trains over it for a few decades. Also, I was sort of assuming that you knew heat-treating was part of the process, so I left it out.

Steel rail is rated by lbs/yard; most mainline rail today is 120-pound, although in recent years many key routes (ie: really busy lines) have been upgraded to 150-pound continuous welded rail. With old iron, the rating is stamped or cast onto the web of the rail, usually once on each side, at either end. Failing that, just find a piece that's roughly 3' and weigh it. Your stuff is likely 90- or 100-pound (both "low-alloy" as detailed above, thanks Thom P) unless it's absolutely ancient.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 17:18:39 EST

PS: It'll spatter like crazy if you cut it with an oxyfuel torch. Something to do with the manganese, I think.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 17:21:49 EST

We're still not communicating...

"As for hardening, I'm not sure you could get it any harder than it already is, except maybe by rolling freight trains over it for a few decades. Also, I was sort of assuming that you knew heat-treating was part of the process, so I left it out."

It is hard now,but after forging it will NOT be hard..it must then be hardened and then tempered so it will not be brittle...Each steel requires different techniqes..That is what I was asking about.
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 17:43:45 EST

Whoops. I meant to say that A-300 is a modern, fairly common, HARDENED high-carbon steel, thus the comment on not needing to further it. I'm not sure if it's case hardened or heat-treated or what, but I know it comes straight from the refinery that way. It's difficult stuff to work with; very picky about pre-heating temps for welding, only works with specific electrodes, and it can't be punched, rolled, sheared, or break-formed as far as I know. Sorry, this stuff just comes to me in random bits, or I would have said all this to begin with.

I know for certain it can't be punched; a guy at a fab shop where I used to work shattered a 1 1/4" ironworker punch AND the die on a 3/8" plate of it (he was told to bore it on the drill line, but figured the punch was faster). He had to go to the ER to have a fragment of the punch removed from his shoulder. The man I was partnered with caught a chunk of it with his hardhat. Ahh, the good old days...
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 17:53:51 EST

Crap. I meant 'mill,' not 'refinery.' Sorry. Brain not work good tonight.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 18:01:16 EST

But After You Forge It ...It Will Be Soft...
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 18:02:12 EST

Refer to WORK hardening, which is what makes the top of the rails so hard, all the thousands of tons of weight bearing down on the surface.... you can't replicate that type of hardening at the forge.

When I forge I knife, I draw a point, hammer flat, then forge one side thinner than the other. I cut the tip of the curved steel so it is sharp, then grind the profile of a drop point tip. Then finish stock removal, sharpening, THEN you heat treat. After all treatment (temper included), I final polish and sharpen. If I want to get real serious I grind, sand, then hone the blade edge super sharp.

I can take ANY chunk of steel and do this with it. I have made knives from slices of scrap chunks of tool steel, mild steel, stainless, high carbon, I even made one from wrought iron (just to see it). Made my own billets of laminated wrought/carbon steel for knives. I think that every smith should be able to make a knife, just as much as everyone should know how to make S hooks.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/08/10 18:05:25 EST

Anyway, what I was getting at is that there's no point in sticking something like that in a forge when you can use a less expensive material, since, as you point out, you'll just have to harden it again. I know what your talking about, I'm just not expressing myself very well at the moment. The only reason I mentioned A-300 at all was as a reference to relative hardness.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 18:09:22 EST

"Iron" vs. Steel: Anders, We in the blacksmithing community, welding community and machine shops speak of almost any iron/steel as "iron", UNLESS there is a specific need. "RR-Iron" could be anything from hopper car plate, boiler plate, axels OR rail. Every one a different alloy.

RR-rail is pretty tough and heat treats well but it is far from the best steel and doesn't even approach tool steels.

Any and all effect from work hardening goes away when heated to forge. Laminating and reworking rr-rail steel over and over will just reduce carbon content and is likely to make it very red-short. It is best to cut away the smeared and cracked rolling surface and use the rail steel like any modern steel.

A-300 or A300 must be a proprietary steel name as I cannot find it in the standard references. But its been a long day. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/08/10 18:17:40 EST

Nip: that was kind of my point; why waste a rare and beautiful meteorite when you can get the same end result with a hunk of scrap? I've seen "celestial" blades, and in my opinion the quality and appearance has a lot more to do with the skill and dedication of the maker than whether the raw material came out of the sky or out of the dumpster.

As for myself, since I'm just a beginner, I think I'll start with scrap steel and learn how to make simple things, like, say, billets, then work my way up to knives. I figure if I take it step-by-step I ought to be able to produce a decent-quality sword in a few years.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 18:21:03 EST

Anders..I emailed you a picture of one of my Metorite blades...I very much disagree with your statement that "there is no real difference between meteoric iron and a cast iron stove" The nickel content is very differnt as is the end result...AS you make more knives you will realize there is a great difference between good knife steel and dumpster mystry iron...Check the JS and MS requirements of the ABS,,they simply CANNOT be met using any old steel...me? I swear by 1084 ,1095,or 5160...
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 18:35:24 EST

Guru: I've done a lot of welding and fabricating, but am very new to forging and smithing, so all this is good stuff to know. Helps to sort out fact from fiction, when I've worked different jobs and been told a lot of things by people who seem knowledgable. That's why I'm working my way through your archives and checking out resources you mention instead of wasting a lot of time and effort making easily avoidable mistakes. I'm aware that what the 'old-timers' (don't want to offend anybody with that term) say isn't always gospel, but I tend to put some stock in it.

At the moment, I'm tired and not thinking clearly, so I'm unintentionally omitting details that would help what I'm saying make much more sense, so, g'night.

PS: A-300 may very well be a proprietary name. I've worked with it at a couple of different shops, but now that I think about it, I beleive it all came from the same Canadian supplier. In retrospect, I think I would be better off to just call it "high-carbon really hard stuff."
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 18:52:38 EST

If you wish to make knives.May I humbly suggest that you get some automobile coil springs [Almost all are 5160] cut them into 6"-8" lengths..Straighten them ..weld a piece of 3' long rebar to one end to use as a handle [much easier than tongs]then forge into a knife..Heat to nonmagnetic..Quench in warm oil untill all color is gone..then heat in an oven at 400* for 60 minutes let cool, repeat, then grind your blade dipping in water so as to keep it from overheating .....basically,thats it
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 18:58:45 EST

Meteoric iron is definitely different stuff. It is planetary core material (much like the Earths) and is a mixture (alloy) of iron, nickle and many other or the heavier metals. Much of it from large meteors is crystallized in a manner that may not be reproducible by a metallurgist.

I do not see much use in laminating it other than as surface slabs or mosaic for color. Mixing it into the blade is a high priced way of adding nickle other than for the bragging rights. Sawn, polished and etched is a different thing.
   - guru - Friday, 01/08/10 19:03:23 EST

Guru..Thanks for clarifing what I've been saying...Before the advent of modern steels metorites did add to the quality of the blade..Today it is mostly what is known here in Santa Fe as the Woo Woo effect...some might call it new age BS..some feel it has a mystical sense to it..I find it makes people happy when
I can tell them there is something in the blade from outerspace....The same as any Damascus, It is not necessary for strength or utility but is seen as an art form..
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 19:21:17 EST

i obtained an old rivet forge thats in pretty good shape but has some missing parts such as the handle and leather strap that used to connect to the pully system that turned the blower and also the grate that would sit in the center of the forge is missing. could i get some info where i could find some of these parts. i live in syracuse n.y. I just took this hobby up and i love it and plan on having craftmanship status someday.thank you GURUS matthew.
   matthew - Friday, 01/08/10 19:25:24 EST

arthur: again, I apologize for my unclear communication tonight. I was trying to say that iron is iron, regardless of the source, and that alloys are what make the difference; dumpster mystery iron can be made into excellent steel, and I hope to someday do it myself. My feelings concerning meteorite blades are only my opinion, and who knows, maybe you'll be the guy who changes my mind!
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 19:29:56 EST

"....dumpster mystery iron can be made into excellent steel..." Please tell me how??
   - arthur - Friday, 01/08/10 19:44:16 EST

arth: also, thanks for the tip on knife blades. I've already got a bunch of old box car springs, I beleive they are 5160 as well, so I'll try using those when I get to that point. Like I said, though, I'm planning to start by learning the basic skills and techniques, then making VERY simple things before I try to make something like a knife. I tend to be picky with my own work; when I started welding, it bothered me a lot to produce something that met the standards that the job called for, but that I felt I could have done better if I could do it over again. Since learning this is a hobby instead of a profession, I can take that extra time to be satisfied with what I'm doing before I move on. Given that I have only the basic knowledge and a whole lot to learn, I'd rather turn out a bunch of practice work and then have my first knife blade be something basic but satisfactory instead of turning out a bunch of junk knives and getting frustrated. I have access to a lot of free scrap iron to practice with, and I can use the extra time learning how to make a good handle so my first knife will be a finished product that I can keep and be happy with.
   Anders Benson - Friday, 01/08/10 19:55:46 EST

Loved the post, I'm going to post this sign in our shop

Whenever possible the metal used in this blacksmith shop is unobtanium, an alloy of nonexistium, an earth friendly mineral.
   Carver Jake - Friday, 01/08/10 20:01:14 EST

There is AR-300 Abrasion Resistant plate used for many of the applications you mentioned. It's medium carbon quenched and tempered. At .40 - .55 it could make a serviceable knife.
   - grant - Friday, 01/08/10 20:33:50 EST

Forge Parts: Matthew, Sorry to give you bad news. . . but all the companies that made these old forges have been out of business for about 50 years. If you need parts you need to find another forge like the one you have (difficult) or make them yourself. There are NO after market or restoration suppliers for these long orphaned machines.

Some parts, like the belt, are commonly available material. Industrial suppliers still sell leather belting or cotton belting which will also work. These belts are also close enough to a common "hold your pants up" belt that a leather shop should be able to help you.

Some folks use a cast-iron floor drain cover for a forge grate. The holes are much too little for me. I prefer a single 1/2" bar across the opening to slow down but not stop coal from falling into the ash dump.

With these old old machines "pretty good shape" means ALL the parts are there.

Lucky for you, a forge is the most variable piece of blacksmiths equipment and anyone can build one that works well enough to get started. In fact most professional forges are built mostly by the smith.
   - guru - Friday, 01/08/10 20:53:55 EST


Forge Parts

You can purchase a new cast iron replacement rivet forge tuyere grate from centaur forge one of the advertisers here.

You can buy a length of harness leather and lace the ends together to use for the belt. Any harness maker can supply you with the leather. The wooden handle you can make.
   - Burnt Forge - Friday, 01/08/10 21:49:26 EST

Whoops. . . Its been a while since I studied Centaur's catalog. I knew they (and Kaynes) had major forge parts but I did not know Centaur had a flat grate available.

One note on leather belting. I used to recommend McMaster-Carr for leather belting. The last belts I ordered at significant cost were thin, uneven in thickness, and patched together from short pieces. They stretched so bad (getting even thinner) that they had to be replaced almost immediately.
   - guru - Friday, 01/08/10 22:30:17 EST

Interesting things I learned about leather recently. Had to replace the leather belt that wraps around the flywheel on my screw press, bout 4" wide X 10 feet long and 1/2" thick (2 ply). Supplier said it's hard to get heavy industrial leather anymore. Seems almost no one raises cattle in cold climates anymore and their skin doesn't get very thick. Fine for coats and such. When they can get it, it's one truck load, take it or leave it, no culling through. Cost me about $250.00 which I thought was fine actually. The last one lasted me 10 years.

For drive applications they make leather faced belts with a polyester backing, strong and no stretching.
   - grant - Friday, 01/08/10 23:31:07 EST

Photos emailed your way. :)
   - Burnt Forge - Friday, 01/08/10 23:33:03 EST

Leather. . As long ago as the 70's I was told that off-shore interests had made contracts on 90% or so of all U.S. hides. They largely go to Japanese plants and converted to "synthetic" or processed leather. This is what most shoe leather is today. Take apart a shoe and you find the leather backed by cloth. The "leather" has been ground, digested and formed on the cloth backing. Thus the high production shoe industry no longer deals with hides and odd shaped pieces but rolls of continuous material. . .

The problem I have with the leather faced transmission belting is that it still has the temperature faults of nylon and polyester belting. High coefficients of thermal expansion and contraction. Too tight when cold, too loose when hot. Its worse than the moisture variance of good natural leather belting.
   - guru - Saturday, 01/09/10 00:06:27 EST

Arthur, steel loses color at about 900F. The martensite does not begin to form until the steel reaches about 600F. If you remove the steel from the quench before the martensite forms, you get a structure of ferrite, pearlite, and maybe bainite. Also, many springs on modern automobiles are a much lower alloy than the 5160 used in days past. I always wonder about why we still regard meteoric iron/nickel as something weird from outer space. We are all made from something from outerspace: we are in outer space and the materials of earth are from outer space. In fact, it is speculated that the iron/nickel core in our planet was the result of a massive collision between earth and a planet sized iron meteor.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/09/10 09:58:17 EST

Old timey lore. In thinking about what Quenchcrack shared, an old time smith told me to bring the high carbon steel out of the quench water when "it quits quivering." He was talking about the churning "cush" sound that you hear when the vapor blanket and steam are surrounding the workpiece. By withdrawing it at that time, it is supposed to help prevent cracks. In my experience, the steel is just about touchable when withdrawn, I'm thinking between 150º and 200ºF. Thank goodness it's below 600ºF.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/09/10 12:02:05 EST

Frank, I like to bring the steel out about that temperature, too. It begins auto-tempering the steel and improves the toughness to prevent cracks. It also prevents thermal shock of putting a very hard piece of cold steel into a hot temper oven. One little detail often overlooked about heating to non-magnetic is that above the eutectoid carbon content (about .78% C) the steel will lose its magnetic field BUT AT A TEMPERATURE BELOW THAT WHICH IS NEEDED TO FORM AUSTENITE. In other words, very high carbon steel, like 1095 or many of the high carbon tool steels need to be heated much hotter than the non-magnetic point if you plan to get a fully martensitic structure.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/09/10 12:23:59 EST

Quenchcrack....Sorry I left out some details..I was just trying to give a brief explanation of knifemaking to someone convinced that work hardened steel would never have to be hardened agin even after forging....Actually I Differrently quench..Quenching the thin [sharp]edge of the blade untill all color is gone and then submarge the entire blade..I like to buy my blade steel and get certs with it,but I still think coil springs ars a better place to start then "mystry Iron"...As far as metorites go,people just love that stuff...maybe because we all grew up with "Star Trek"....Regards..Arthur
   - arthur - Saturday, 01/09/10 13:01:22 EST

Higher Hardening Heat: QC, The I believe same is true for lower carbon steels (less than 0.5%). Or am I reading the chart wrong?
   - guru - Saturday, 01/09/10 13:54:08 EST

I have never participated it his forum before, the response was very quick and informitive.Thank you for the information on the rivet forge & parts. matthew
   matthew - Saturday, 01/09/10 14:07:27 EST

Guru, the eutectoid point is the only point where the ferrite will become austenite at roughly the curie temperature. The lower critical temperature for austenite formation is 1333F; Curie is about 1460F. If you have a eutectoid carbon content, just heating to non-magnetic does give you a fully austenitic structure. For less than the eutectoid carbon content, depending on the exact % carbon, you will get some lesser percentage of austenite at the curie point. To get 100% austenite at less than the eutectoid carbon content, you do indeed need to heat hotter. For more than the eutectoid carbon content, you basically get VERY little austenite if you just heat to non-magnetic regardless of the exact carbon content. If I could use a Fe-C phase diagram, you could see this fairly clearly.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 01/09/10 14:37:09 EST

HUGE Tool Collection for Sale: The estates of Hunter and Jean Pilkinton have now been settled. All of the tools in Hunter's World of Tools Museum are up for sale on an individual, make an offer basis. Stanley wood block collection is gone, but almost all of the blacksmithing-related equipment, including anvils, are still available. For an appointment call Donald Pilkinton at 931-266-4184 or donpilk@gmail.com (Donald doesn't check e-mail on a regular basis.)

Seems like Hunter numbered every tool in the museum and had a 3" x 5" card on it (something like over 30,000 cards) with what he knew about tool. You need to ask for cards separately.

Please feel free to spread this information to any other forum and such who you think may be interested.

I can pretty well assure you neither of their two children have any pride of ownership in the tools so whoever gets there first may get the best deals.

I don't know about the extensive equipment and tools in his personal shop, but suspect they are also available on a make an offer basis.

For those which need to stay overnight there is a motel in Waverly, TN. If you would be camping, I have plenty of yard space with electric and water available. I'm about one mile from site of tool museum.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 01/09/10 15:07:50 EST

This reminds me of a one liner I heard.."When I die I hope my wife dosen't sell my toys for what I Told her I paid for them"
   - arthur - Saturday, 01/09/10 16:37:38 EST

Anyone here do gold plating?

I've found a few local companies just int he yellowpages already, but I'd rather give the $$ to a Anvilfire friend than a stranger.

I have a "chainmail" style chain necklace [SCA knight's chain] and some cast aluminum belt plaques I'd like to get gold plated. The customer originally wanted to know the price to have them cast in gold.... :)

Anyone have this capability?

   - Mike/Marco - Saturday, 01/09/10 18:46:00 EST

Mike/Marco: I would look at a product called gilders paste befor even thinking about gold plating.
Gold colored anodizing on aluminum is very UN-convincing but, one of the advertizers here on anvilfire sells at least three or fore different typs of gold gilders paste that looks like the real thing. Check it out.
   - merl - Saturday, 01/09/10 20:00:25 EST

Grant: Is AR-300 plate similar to "T1" plate?
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 01/09/10 20:01:22 EST

Merl: Thanks for the suggestion. I just ordered the rich gold and foundry bronzy colors to test.
   - Mike/Marco - Saturday, 01/09/10 20:28:53 EST

There's a big difference between paint and metallic plating. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 01/09/10 22:07:09 EST

Guru, re paint vs metallic plating
Ye, I expect there will be quite a difference, but the requestor has asked me to explore all options having found the price of using real gold for the construction fo the chain and belt plaques.

I've seen reference to this paste before here, and thought I'd paly with it a bit. I've a few other projects that might use it, and the stuff is not very expensive.

I'm still interested in platers, if any are present here. I've seen a few home plating kits advertised, but even the kit exceeds the budget.
   - Mike/Marco - Saturday, 01/09/10 22:17:12 EST

hi i have an old axe i found in the garden which i tried to sharpen with a file. about one third of the bevel was too hard to file. the rest of it was fairly soft. i got the bright idea i would put it in the kitchen oven at 490 degrees f to soften up the hard part. i assumed the whole axe would be tempered the same. i left it in there for about 3 hours (2 at 490 and then with the heat turned off. the colors on the bevel which was shiny to start with was blue or purple on the previously hard spot and almost brown on the rest or the relatively soft part. when i filed the blue part is still a bit hard and the original soft part seems even softer. please explain. i thought 490 would still leave the hard part pretty hard and would not change the rest of the axe. what can i do now?
   bill hickey - Saturday, 01/09/10 22:56:32 EST

Bill, If the axe is quite old or hand made it may have a steeled edge. This is where a piece of medium to high carbon steel is welded to a soft wrought iron or mild steel body. The soft iron body is not (or not very) hardenable.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/10/10 01:20:23 EST

Mike, The best way to make "economical" gold objects is to use yellow brass, polish highly and then lacquer OR have gold flashed. Also note that "shiny" does not come from plating, the object needs to be brightly polished
   - guru - Sunday, 01/10/10 01:27:53 EST

Mike/Marco and Guru,
I, myself have thought about metallic platings. One thought
I have is this. Mix gold, brass, silver, nickle etc. powder
with clear epoxy or some other bonding agent. Get the proportions just right, then paint the mixture on the object to be plated. After sufficient drying time, sand or buff with very fine grit and then polish to a bright shine.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 01/10/10 07:36:45 EST

Atually, I think perhaps an epoxy bonding would hold up better than electroplating as I believe after much rubbing or handling electroplating would have a tendency to wear through. I have a gold plated Railroad pocket watch that my Dad left to me, you can see where the gold wore off through much handling ( I will take it to a jeweler for another plating job ) however the watch will be used for display.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 01/10/10 07:44:36 EST

Maybe you could find someone to sputter the belt buckle with titanium nitride -- at least you wouldn't have to worry about it wearing off.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 01/10/10 09:05:31 EST

On aluminium a good anodizing is economical and gold anodizing is very pretty. Note however that the best finish for anodizing is one with a fine even texture. You can finish to a near polish then put a fine grit finish on the part (fine grit blasting or fine sand paper).
   - guru - Sunday, 01/10/10 11:20:39 EST

Dave, yeah, they're all just low-alloy quenched & tempered wear resistant steels. Couple different grades of T-1 (300 is now uncommon, 321 &360) and three or four of AR. AR-300 has been pretty much been superseded by AR-360, 400 and 500. The three digit number is the normal brinell hardness.
   - grant - Sunday, 01/10/10 13:43:54 EST

does anyone know if 1045 will survive as an anvil if used as quenched? thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Sunday, 01/10/10 17:42:48 EST

Bigfoot, I think the Russian anvils were 1040 but were not heat treated. If quenched, the anvil would easily get to 45Rc, less if tempered. It would be an OK anvil for a hobbyist.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 01/10/10 17:47:44 EST

thanks QC i was looking at buying a 4x4x12 lump of 1045 but i think i will get the same size lump in 4150 (higher hardness and toughness). thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Sunday, 01/10/10 18:11:18 EST

Should have at least 50 gallons of oil warmed to at least 70 degrees to quench. Don't even THINK about water quenching 4150. I'd go with the 1045 and quench it with a garden hose.
   - grant - Sunday, 01/10/10 19:20:41 EST

grant: i know a guy who owns a truck shop who knows a guy who is a professional heat treater. :D i was gonna go for an oil quench on the 4150 (i have done a similar sized piece in 5 gallons of oil BTW but it was a cool day so the oil did not light). i think 1045 will work well enough for a traveling anvil or knife making anvil. thanks to all!
   bigfoot - Sunday, 01/10/10 19:45:57 EST

Similar? How similar? 50 pounds of 1650 degree steel into 40 pounds of oil? Given the specific heat of the two, it should/would/could be total disaster. Physics is physics. Would raise the oil to over 450 degrees depending on the start temperature of the oil. Might not be above the flash point, but pretty ineffective coolant at those temperatures.
   - grant - Sunday, 01/10/10 21:24:25 EST

Thanks Grant, I had suspected the 300 might be Brinell hardness.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/10/10 21:51:23 EST

Two things cause oil quenches to ignite. One is the oil reaching the flash point. The second is smoke from the quench reaching red hot metal or some other point of ignition (forge fire, or other).
   - guru - Sunday, 01/10/10 22:08:32 EST

grant: it was actual HT oil purchased from mcmaster carr and i had only heated 2 inches on the end.
   bigfoot - Monday, 01/11/10 06:40:35 EST

Water Quenching 4150 - why not, in large sizes like a 4 x 4 x 12 chunk? Industrially, for 4140 anything over 2 " round we water quenched. Resulpherized 4150 - 4 " and thicker as unidirection plate was water quenched. Of course it then went immediately into the tempering furnace.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 01/11/10 12:25:38 EST

Too many stress risers (corners) on a square block to use water. You will spall the edges and corners off if you're lucky, split it into multiple small chunks (salesmans samples?) if you are not. The big question is what would you used to handle it with? Definately a job for a heat treat service.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 01/11/10 12:49:15 EST

QC i did a chunk of truck axle about 2in round in oil (it was about 16 inches long). i just heated one end and grabbed the other with gloves and put it in the oil. it worked out and i came back w/o burns.
   bigfoot - Monday, 01/11/10 13:04:05 EST

Quenching Oil Fires:

1) Dip one leaf-spring sized barn hinge in 15 gallons of oil at a medium red heat.

Stupidly pull hinge out of quench to "see how it's doing..."

Quickly plunge "falming sword" hinge back into quench as friend runs for door yelling.

Allow hinge to fully cool, remove from quenching barrel, replace metal lid (the hinge was longer than the tank was deep, so the lid was not an option a few moments earlier).

Clear shop of smoke.

See; it's easy! ;-)

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 01/11/10 15:38:18 EST

Thank QC. The corners are doubly at risk because it's hard not to overheat them in a forge. Bigfoot: 2" round 12" long weighs 10 pounds, 4 X 4 X 12 inch weighs 54 pounds. Mass = heat storage. Also, I can heat 2" of 2" round. Bout the minimum I can heat on 4" square would be 4-5 inches. 20 times as much heat and 10 times as much weight.
   - grant - Monday, 01/11/10 16:08:52 EST

Bigfoot, a little, no make that BIG Safety warning! Be very very careful that your quench oil never gets any water in it. A large hot hunk of steel into a container of oil floating on water usually results in a volcano like eruption of flaming oil and the loss of structure and people.

And pay close attention to Grant, he knows of that which he speaks.
   ptree - Monday, 01/11/10 18:07:31 EST

I remember when a friend (who shall remain nameless) was quenching a coil spring for a customer. Maybe the size of a 100lb little giant spring. Into the 5 gallon pail it went, all was well for a while, then the plastic bucket slumped to a few inches high! Five gallons of flaming oil and plastic running across his floor! Lucky he didn't burn the shop down. One thoughtless moment is all it takes. Really impressed the customer too!
   - grant - Monday, 01/11/10 18:27:02 EST

Grant, I worked at a shop that shall remain nameless, and in that shop we made a long, tubular shaft for an jet engine company that shall remain nameless:)
That shaft, about 10 to 12' long was heat treated after forging, and it was a special quench. Very special, in that the outside got one quenchant and the ID a different quenchant. You guessed it, water on one side and oil on the other. Now try to imagine the fun that ensues when you try to seal the bottom of that tube, and remember it is at about 1800F so no rubber seals, whist the oil and water try to mix, and then get pumped back onto the part. Exciting:)

   ptree - Monday, 01/11/10 18:49:00 EST

Ptree i listen but i often don't admit it. i also learned about exploding quench a while back (at a demo of course! it sent the small children running for cover, but it was a small soup can size explosion).
ps. grant thanks for doing the math and proving me wrong. i am glad that my idea failed before it began so i don't have to learn the hard way.
second ps. the heating will be done with a BIG rosebud so i can heat a minimum amount of the steel.
thanks to all!
   bigfoot - Monday, 01/11/10 19:26:06 EST

We built a machine that pumped glycerin couplant to an ultra-sonic testing shoe and then sucked it up from the edges of the same shoe. Worked pretty good but the operators would rather flood the area with fluid and let someone else clean it up. . . Sort of like the sealing and seperating of hot oil and water quenchant. . . Lots of pumps, filter separators, plumbing. . .

I've had the same experience as Bruce. Walking around with a flaming bar of iron, flaming oil dripping off of it while looking for some place to put it down is loads of fun. . . I couldn't put it back in the forge because that would require tipping the bar up or to level and having the flaming oil run down to my hand. . .

These things are why I recommend doing a walk through of critical moves (such as in casting) so you have a plan for putting down hot tongs, where to sit semi-full crucibles or changing tools with or without help. It is easy to find yourself with both hands full and in an emergency or near emergency situation. Panic is not a good reaction at these moments.

When quenching long bars as Bruce was you can have a notch or hole in the quenchant cover to reduce the flaring. But having enough oil is always best.

Bigfoot, As part of my walk through system knowing what to do with that hot rosebud is an important part of the plan. It is also a great source of ignition for oil smoke. . .
   - guru - Monday, 01/11/10 20:01:32 EST

I worked at a company that had a captive HT plant. The insurance company came out and insisted on putting WATER sprinkers over the oil quench tank. We were quenching a 10" hollow bar (tube) when the overhead crane lost power with the tube half in and half out of the quench. In about 30 seconds the vapors ignited and the tube became a flame thrower. Of course, it shot up into the air and triggered the water sprinkler which spewed water all over flaming oil. Major damage and the insureance company was on the hook for every bit of it. I love it when a good plan falls apart!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 01/11/10 20:33:20 EST

Guru: i have learned to listen to guys who know better then me which is why i am talking to the fellows i will do this with before hand and just do a trial (cold) run just to be safe(ish). and also why i am only heating the end (i have quenched 8lb hammers before so i can just scale up my project to this).
   bigfoot - Monday, 01/11/10 21:17:43 EST

Sounds like you got good plan Bigfoot. Use the torch to heat only the center (like 3" circle) part. By the time the center get's hot, the edges and corners should be hot enough.
   - grant - Tuesday, 01/12/10 01:52:33 EST

I saw on myth busters (the tv show) the test whether pouring a cup of water on a grease fire would make a 30 foot fireball. It made about a 25 foot fireball. It was amazing. the water expands something like 1600 percent in volume when it flashes into steam.
   Josh S. - Tuesday, 01/12/10 07:44:26 EST

Quenchcrack, At the new valve plant we built in 1994, we had a central system for oil coolant for 28 large screw machines. The system pumped about 2500 gallons a minute into the machines and into the head of the trough that ran underthe achines to catch the shavings and oil that went into the machines. Factory Mutual, our insurance co wanted us to put a water sprinkler system IN the trough. I pointed out that once lit the flaming oil would be in the 27,000 gallon main tank in something like 20 seconds, and then the sprinkler water would then flood out at the rate the sprinklers would supply water. Next they wanted a "Hot Wire"sensor in the trough. But the bird nests of shaving falling into the 18" wide trough would have set that off in no time. Then they wanted a laser detector shooting down the lenght of the 350' long trough. I pointed out the mist load would trip that. They settled on a ball valve, at the head of the trough, that was tied into the coolant pumps, the fire alarm, and was a 3" straight water pipe.
The idea was we could flush the fire to the tank, where we could isolate it and fog it cool and out.
Never had to try that.

We did have a fire in a chip conveyor, and when the fire dept showed, to put out the very smokey fire, My best safety committee man caught them and pointed out that the water would flush the fire back into the tank with 27,000... I am another fellow were actively rolling the 250# CO2 extinguishers the fire dept gladly expended on the fire and it was out.

The Fire Cheif and I became friends and he brought every crew through the plant to train, and brought new trainees there as well.
   ptree - Tuesday, 01/12/10 08:03:44 EST

I didn't scroll back far enough to see what Bigfoot was up to. In my small shop situation, I use Quenchtex oil in a 5 gallon bucket. A perf metal basket w/bail sits in there, in case I lose a piece and have to fish for it.

I have found that on my small tool quenches that if you only partially submerge the incandescent heat, the oil can reach the burnoff point. I learned to fully submerge the heat. Don't forget to agitate.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 01/12/10 08:15:41 EST

i have re found a big truck axle (about 33 inches long) yesterday. i am considering upsetting the end, then forging it square instead of buying something. it is long enough that i can handle one end and get the othe nice and hot. it is not the quite 3in round but it is close to 2 1/4 inches, so a bit of upsetting will do the trick (i hope). thanks for the help!
   bigfoot - Tuesday, 01/12/10 08:39:46 EST

what are the secrets of blacksmithing
   hobgoblin - Tuesday, 01/12/10 10:47:11 EST

I do know a smith who burned down his shop doing an oil quench. As I heard it he didn't have enough oil so he tilted his plastic 5 gal bucket on it's side a bit. The flare up ate through the bucket and flaming oil did the rest.

I have a metal gas bottle I use for oil quenching and a couple of pieces of heavy stock on heavy steel wire I can heat in the forge and then drop into the bottom of the tank and hook the wire on the rim to pre-heat it.

One thing I did do was to make a base for it to fit in so it's a lot harder to accidentally knock over when zooming from the forge to the quench. I of course have a can that fits over the top for smothering. (and the shop extinguisher is CO2)

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 01/12/10 10:53:15 EST

Bat wings and newt eyes
   - arthur - Tuesday, 01/12/10 12:03:48 EST

This is an idea I had, but need some advice on how to do it. Take a damascus blade with a good etch. Dip it in either molten brass or silver. After it hardens, grind the brass or silver down to the bare metal, leaving the brass or silver imbeded in the etched design. I think it would have a pretty effect. Would the blade need to be hot before dipping ? Have any of you done this ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 01/12/10 12:06:50 EST

I just started blacksmithing a year ago, and lately got an order for a door hook, i have had a little trouble figuring out how it attaches to the door, i tried to make a flat, square hook to go over the top of the door, but it never whose quite square, do i need to make some sort of hardy tool to make the corners less round, and the top flat, or is there some trick of the trade i don't know about.
   - marc schaeffer - Tuesday, 01/12/10 12:07:25 EST

I diagree about the bat wings and newt eyes. Let me tell you a story that will demonstrate it. There was a guy that had a job cleaning out rabbit cages. One day he said, there should be something I can do with all of these rabbit pills. I know ! I'll bottle them up and sell them as smart pills. Well he bottled them up, and this guy came along and he said what are all these bottle for ? The other guy said, thay are smart pills, buy a few bottles and see how good they work. Well, this guy started taking the smart pills and one day he came by and was mad as heck. He said, I'm mad at you, I realize now that you have been duping me by selling me rabbit pills !! The other guy said, see there you are getting smarter already !! :)
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 01/12/10 12:19:43 EST

Brass inlay: Mike T, The brass will not stick to the etched (oxidized) places unless cleaned and fluxed. There are ways to do this sort of surface fill but it requires a lot of texture, then clean metal, then flux and usually brass applied with a torch. This can also be done with red bronze or silver solder.

Door Hooks: Marc, Some anvils have a thin enough heel to do this job, others have a side clip or spring clip. Otherwise, those who make a lot of these to fit doors usually have a block the thickness of the door. The corners will always be slightly rounded but if fit to the block will loop out away from the corners of the door slightly and not cut into the wood. I would use a door thickness block in the vise.

To get such an odd thickness (our interior doors measure 1.375" or 35mm) you do not need a solid piece. Forge a 2" x 1/2" (50 x 14mm) or larger bar to the thickness of the door then weld pieces of the same bar flush to the sides.

No tricks, just a good eye. Be sure to measure the doors it is to fit. Thickness have varied over time.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/12/10 12:47:54 EST

FIRST, Your most important tool is between your ears. The study of history, mathematics, chemistry and art are as important as the methods of the craft.

SECOND, Do not believe old wives tales or anvil salesmen.

THIRD, Get it hot and hit it hard.

FOURTH, Blacksmiths that work cold metal or do not charge enough for their work are doomed (to failure, to hell, to whatever dark afterlife you believe in).

FIFTH, If you do not love every aspect of the craft, even the repetitious picky jobs, then find another.

SIXTH, If you profit from this advise then you should send 10% of your profits to the anvilfire guru.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/12/10 13:54:30 EST


Any anvil is better than no anvil and cast iron does not an anvil make.

Steel always looks like it moves easier and stay hotter longer for others with more experience. It does. Practice, daily practice, and more practice. . . makes the steel move faster.

Blacksmiths and welders get little burns every day. If you can't take the pain without putting on a display, stay out of the forge.

The vise is a productivity tool that gets used as much or more than the anvil, thus it is just as important a tool. Machinists vises work but are not a replacement for a blacksmiths leg vise.

Any punch lube is better than no punch lube.

The fastest way to cut heavy steel is with a cutting torch, the fastest way to put it together is with an arc welder. Neither may be the best way to do the job. Saws cut cleaner and other methods of assembly may be more appropriate than arc welding. But you cannot beat a torch and welder for making quick and dirty tools, jigs and fixtures.

A modern blacksmith shop looks very much like a modern welding or machine shop. We are all in a world market whether we want to be or not. To be competitive you must be productive and that requires taking advantage of the right tools.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/12/10 14:34:50 EST

I love all your "Secrets of Blacksmithing" I am certain I do not have the tool that is between my ears! What does it look like and where can I get one cheap? grin
   - BubbaJ - Tuesday, 01/12/10 14:53:17 EST

Bubba, See the SciFy series LEXX (on Hulu). Lots of those tools in jars and on stands there. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/12/10 15:36:10 EST

Huh, I can't hardly remember the last time I got burned. On the other hand I sometimes find a burn or other trauma when I'm at the computer and I wonder where the heck that came from.
   - grant - Tuesday, 01/12/10 15:50:13 EST

I almost never get burned either- but I do have some interesting scars, from the times I have gotten burned. Rebar makes a nice pattern on skin.
But then, I havent used my post vise in probably 2 years.

Which is to say, after you learn to do it right, most blacksmiths generally break the rules, and do things wrong.
And everybody does different things "wrong".
   - Ries - Tuesday, 01/12/10 17:14:17 EST

Grant- Memory is a terrible thing to... um, what was I talking about? ;)

Oil quench buckets- I made mine out of a length of 8" square tube with a big plate welded on the bottom for stability and a fitted cap, and another cap that's just a piece of 11ga. with a long 1/2" handle so I can snuff a flare up without getting too close.
   Judson Yaggy - Tuesday, 01/12/10 17:54:21 EST

Don't get me wrong, I've got a great memory.........it's just short!
   - grant - Tuesday, 01/12/10 18:27:06 EST

Guru, the check is in the mail!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 01/12/10 19:27:03 EST

Hmmmmm, I'll believe it when I see it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 01/12/10 21:51:42 EST

Marc, Guru has the trick for making the hooks. My only advice would be to make sure the hook part is thin, no more than 1/8-inch and maybe even 1/16-inch, unless you want to spend the time checking out the clearances where the hook is going. If it's too thick it may rub on the top jamb (ugly scrape marks) or hit the stop, preventing the door from closing easily.
   - Marc (the other one) - Wednesday, 01/13/10 07:40:46 EST

Yes, thin but not too thin. . . 1/16" (1.6mm) is about right.

If you start it with a blow from the pien of your hammer the long way to spread the stock, OR do it on a fuller or along the center line of the horn, it will be wider than just forging it out. On small stock it only takes a couple good spreading blows before flattening to retain most of the stock cross section.

Making hooks is easy, making good hooks is still an art. But the small stock lets you learn on small projects. Hooks from 1/4" square stock can have fine scrolled ends, leaves, flames or even animal heads forged on them. Textures can vary and there can be crisply chamfered corners. Its the skill that goes into these details that makes the difference between a $5 and a $25 hook made in the same time.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/13/10 09:23:05 EST

I made my first hooks of this variety 1/16" thick and REALY wide.(to manage the weight of the thing hanging) the other side of the door might look better if it were split and curled, would i want to split it before or after i flatten it.

good to know there's another marc spelled with a C out there.
   - Marc Schaeffer - Wednesday, 01/13/10 09:23:41 EST

sorry, i didn't mean the looks better door split and curled
   - Marc Schaeffer - Wednesday, 01/13/10 09:27:14 EST

hello im fairly new but i was wondering if anyone has ever converted an electric blower to handcrank cause the motor on my blower just burned up
   sid - Wednesday, 01/13/10 10:32:32 EST

Hooks, semantics, terminology.

My first thought about Marc's inquiry was a hook and eye, not an over-the-top. Then, the old fashioned name for a pintle is a hinge hook. Technically, a pintle works with the ships rudder. Those door top hooks; are they something like Wall-Mart modern, or do they date way back? In any event, if the hooks tend to bind on the header, a gain could be chiseled, so they could be inlet. There is nothing wrong with nailing or screwing a hook to the face of the door through a flattened boss or leaf form.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/13/10 11:01:14 EST

I believe early blacksmiths had to make round bars from square stock...If this is true, do you know when round stock first became available?
   grant - Wednesday, 01/13/10 11:24:06 EST

When the first blacksmith forged square into round ;)

I suspect sometime in the 1800's. I do know that drawn brass wire was being made in quantity in the 1300's. . .

Will keep an eye out for that information.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/13/10 11:39:49 EST

Blowers: Sid, Yes it can be done but the trick is to speed up a comfortable 40 RPM hand cranking to the blower speed (1200 or 1800 RPM). This is a 30 to 45:1 speed increase. Normally gears and belts change speed about 3:1 and 5:1 is occasionally found. So multiple steps are required. Two 5:1 yield 25:1. So 5:1, 3:1, 3:1 total 45:1. With every step there is added bearings, parts and friction. The bearings and shafts add a significant cost.

One way that large speed increasers have been made on the cheap is by using a bicycle drive and a belt coming off the wheel.

I've seen old hand made blowers that were mostly wood including wood pulleys running flat leather belts. For low friction drives flat belts are best and anything hand operated wants to have low loses such as to friction.

If your plan is to purchase parts (bearings, shafting, pulleys) a new blower from Centaur or Blacksmiths Depot would be cheaper.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/13/10 11:52:08 EST

That must be another grant.
   - grant Sarver - Wednesday, 01/13/10 12:41:47 EST

looking for 4130 8 inch thick x 48 x 84 any help
   rick - Wednesday, 01/13/10 12:43:07 EST

Round Stock: I'd guess that round stock became "available" after the rolling mill starting being used so 17th Century?

I'd have to look in Moxon and see if he mentions it and in Ironworks on the Saugus to see if their rolls had rounds on them.

Wrought iron doesn't like to go round---all those instructions on tapering Sq and then rounding started with WI.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 01/13/10 13:20:21 EST

Hmmmm. . . That's about a 4.6 ton piece of steel.

In the 80's I would have pointed you to JT Ryerson and they would have it to you within a week. . . I don't have a clue these days. I would start with the big steel guys.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/13/10 13:23:40 EST

Tapering square and then rounding should be done with all ferrocious and non ferrocious metals, wrought iron or no. The square taper gives a uniform point of reference. Without it, you're just hitting willy nilly, helter skelter, hoping that it will become a round taper some day.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/13/10 13:35:19 EST


You can purchase large blocks of all sorts of grades from Scot Forge. You can reach them at 1-800-435-6621. They can provide the block as-forged, heat-treated, milled etc depending on what you need. (Note that I am one of the metallurgists for Scot Forge).

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 01/13/10 14:15:46 EST

i have a sword, but the tang broke of, i wont to forge a tang, but its stainless steel, and i dont feal safe just sticking it in the fire and seeing what happens. i searched around your site but didn't find anything on this subject.
   - Marc Schaeffer - Wednesday, 01/13/10 15:43:27 EST

Mark, There is stainless, then there is stainless. The common varieties (303, 304, 305) are easy forge (tougher than steel but not noticeably so if worked hot).

The cutlery varieties (400 series) are tougher to forge but much more difficult to heat treat.

If the sword is a cheap import it is unlikely to be a cutlery stainless, but who knows. . .

The most noticable difference between 300 and 400 series stainless is the 300 series is not magnetic or is very weakly magnetic.

Without knowing what kind of stainless you have it is difficult to be more specific.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/13/10 16:14:42 EST


I thought a pintle worked with a gudgeon (grin). (For anyone who didn't know, pintles are normally mounted on the rudder and slip into gudgeons on the transom.)
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/13/10 18:52:43 EST


I thought a pintle worked with a gudgeon (grin). (For anyone who didn't know, pintles are normally mounted on the rudder and slip into gudgeons on the transom.)
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/13/10 18:53:14 EST

Sorry about the double post -- I'm using Chrome for the first time, and it didn't show up even though I kept refreshing the page.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 01/13/10 18:55:52 EST

well i was recently given an old hand crank grinder that has a large crack in the housing, could i use the gear reduction box off of it to increase the fan speed, it has a 50-1 gear reduction, it would be a little fast but would it work , thanks for the help by the way.
   sid - Wednesday, 01/13/10 22:29:52 EST

Hi, I am a reasonably experienced artist blacksmith. I would like to know if there is any trick to tying a single knot in a piece of mild steel bar stock? I am thinking of duplicating a free standing coat rack I saw in one of my blacksmithing books and it has a single knot tied in the middle of the post. It looks to be out of maybe 1" round stock. I am hoping to tie the knot without beating the steel to where it looks like I forced it all the way. If there is a secret to performing the knot I hope someone can tell me. Thanks, Ed
   Ed Durrenberger - Wednesday, 01/13/10 22:37:11 EST

Ed Durrenberger, I watched a video on youtube a while back where a guy made a slip knot in a piece of 1/2 or 5/8 round stock with only heat, a hammer and an anvil.
Looked pretty good when he was done.
   - merl - Wednesday, 01/13/10 23:19:19 EST

Knots: Ed, the "trick" is a long bar and a long heat. Then on large bar a big rosebud torch helps a lot. If you are careful there is little hammering on the knot. You will need a good heavy well anchored vise.

I have a series of photos of this being done in small (1/4" or 8mm) round bar stock. The problem is the work was going too fast and is a blur. . I would START by practicing in small stock (or even soft wire) in order to get the steps down pat then work UP in size.

The first step is a smooth right angle bend, then a U perpendicular to the first axis, then bending around and stuffing it through the loop.

Tightening is done by making a bend in one end of the bar and clamping the other in a vise, then striking the bent end to get axial movement. In small bar you can pull hard to tighten much of the knot.

Another knot in bar is a double square knot where four bars make two back to back knots in the middle of the mass.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/14/10 00:16:47 EST

Marc S, most of those cheapo stainless sword-shaped objects are either 410 or 420 stainless. It forges like anything else, but being stainless is a lot harder to move under the hammer. I wouldn't even try to heat-treat it, I'd just stick it in a bucket of ashes after forging. 400 series steels can air-harden enough in thin sections to be brittle.

At least you have now learned why we call them sword-shaped objects with hurting yourself or anyone else, hopefully.

There's a video somewhere of a salesman on one of the home shopping channels nearly giving himself an appendectomy when the cheap stainless katana he was selling snapped in two when he slapped it onto the table.

Needless to say, I don't recommend anyone buy one...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 01/14/10 08:37:57 EST

Speaking of stainless (I don't know why so many people think it's too tricky to work, I absolutely LOVE stainless), some of you may recall the needle project I've been pining over. Well, I've finally figured how to consolidate all those piercing needles. Using thinner ones in the middle of thicker ones in a half/half configuration and crimping, I've been able to make long lengths of them and using them as TIG rod. This way, I can make a billet of built up weldment. So far it's working out very well, the end product forges nicely and eventually I'll be able to make a nice knife from it. Piercing needles are made of 440 stainless, the tips are HT then acid sharpened before we get them. Sure beats all the other methods I've tried.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 01/14/10 11:13:59 EST

Ed: do all your convincing with a wooden hammer! I used to chunk a chunk of firewood in the lathe and make a mallet and glue in a hammer handle for projects like that where I didn't want hammer marks.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/14/10 12:44:42 EST

Actually, I feel like I can contribute here. Most of the meteorite knives that I have seen were carefully worked using stock removal (aka filing, belt grinding) to preserve the natural pattern of the meteorite (some of them were made in such a way to preserve the meteoric thumbprint on the back of the blade). As far as heat treating goes, if there are unusual elements in the iron, you would really need to order a test to see what alloy it most resembles and heat treat it appropriately (or just send it off to Paul Bos and have him do the same thing). I have heard of legendary blades made from meteors but ultimately it is the heat treating that makes a good blade, which is why I think it is unlikely that meteors are great things to make knives out of (it takes a lot of science, experimentation and documentation to develop superior heat treating for each alloy). It is definitely possible to make a beautiful and even functional blade, but it will probably take some money, some effort, and some time. Good luck to you.
   - Matt Marting - Thursday, 01/14/10 13:10:20 EST

Huh, I forgot that the top of the page was the last viewable post. My apologies.

I come for some advice, maybe you know of a technique that can help me. I have been making knife guards out of brass for 3 years with only a drill and a file. The guards are for narrow tang knives so they must be made in such a way that there is a tang sized hole through the guard. There must be an alternative to that, maybe a way to use a milling bit in a drill press (this idea scares me), or maybe there is a kind of saw I could buy and use to cut out the slots. Do you have any ideas?
   - Matt Marting - Thursday, 01/14/10 13:16:21 EST

matt if i actaully make a metal guard i go for a slot punch and just use a small file to make it fit just right.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 01/14/10 13:56:28 EST

Matt, when I slot a guard I dril two holes at either end of the proposed slot and saw out the waste with a jewelers' saw. Then I clean it all up with a file. It takes about the same time as drilling a row of holes and knocking out the web with a narrow chisel then filing, but makes for a neater job.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 01/14/10 14:52:28 EST

Small Slots: I agree on the Jeweler's saw. While it is very slow on thick stock (1/8" is thick for a Jeweler's saw) it is very precise. You can (or should be able to) split a scribed line with a Jeweler's saw.

Milling, cannot be done satisfactorily in a drill press. Every machine is designed for specific forces and drill presses flex, rattle and roll from side loads and the results are broken bits, chewed work. . . Milling in a lathe is almost as bad unless it is a very tight lathe and very little milling. If you want to mill, get a milling machine.

Bigfoot's idea of punching is good but remember that you cannot punch a hole deeper than the thickness of the punch cold. Hot is a different story. You could probably hot punch an on-size tang hole hot using a punch and die in a press (any kind as the force is low).

You could also cast your guards with the slot in them. This opens up other sculptural, shape and decorative possibilities.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/14/10 16:39:04 EST

Thanks for the info about meteroric iron. I can't really do stock removal due to the extremely irregular shape of the piece. I plan on using a little bit of it in conjunction with the melted 440 needle steel and some WI for a neat pattern welded billet.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 01/14/10 18:09:34 EST

I have made quite a few knots in half inch round,but nothing that long, I used a wooden mallet on a stump
to coax it into place. I attended a demo at Dean Curfmans
shop a few years ago when Uri Hoffi demoed making knots in
half inch round stock and after getting the knot close to where he wanted it,he formed an L at the ends of the stock
and clamped one L in the vise and hit the other end tightening the knot after each heat.Uri said he had to do
400 of these knots for a railing and he said none of them were no more than a quarter of an inch off the total length.I would form the knot, in a shorter more managable
length, and then either forge or mig weld the other ends on.Hey, Alan L,had a good gathering at Olivers last Friday
evening....no Krylon rockets..DANG!
Greg S.
   Greg S. - Thursday, 01/14/10 18:44:19 EST

Guards, also make them 2 piece and solder, braze or pin them together (or a combination of the techniques)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 01/14/10 19:02:33 EST

I made a knot in a 1/2" round that was about 6" long. I tapered both ends, put a scroll on one end, and tied it in a knot with hammer and tongs. Not worth all the trouble in my opinion, just wanted to see if I could do it.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 01/14/10 20:45:23 EST

Guru i wanted to tell you that i put the gearbox from the busted grinder on my blower via an adapter plate i made and it now functions perfectly
   sid - Thursday, 01/14/10 21:39:26 EST

Broken Sword Tangs:

I turn them over to my eldest daughter and have her slot, insert and TIG weld the sucker together. Then I re-hilt them; which brings us to...

Slotting Sword Guards:

I usually drill undersized end holes, punch a slightly undersized slot, and then use a quicky drift to drift it near the right size. Final drifting takes place using the actual tang and blade. (If the blade is tempered at that point, I wrap wet rags around the ricasso before clamp it into the vise.) SOme filing may be required for displaced material, but usually I get a strong, stable fit.

Finishing up the "Armored Purse" for the art show at MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia ( http://www.marscon.net/ ) tomorrow through Sunday afternoon. Cold and clouding-up on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 01/14/10 22:59:15 EST

knife guards...Now your talking my game...they really are the deciding factor in a great knife..
My two favorite ways:
1...A Roper Whitney #20 punch...it's a small ratching punch that can punch a 1/2" hole in 1/2" steel..with the right puch,die and stripper and the right clarance..It's small enough to fit in a [large] toolbox and you often can find them on Ebay..I had a 1/8 x 7/8 die & punch made and it works great
2..I bought a Harbor Freight Micro mill that I use only for slotting guards and although it looks like a toy [wife says its cute]It works great and thats all I've been using lately

Most knifemakers I speak to agree that brass really dosen't make it on a quality knife..but thats personal opinion....Good luck
   - arthur - Friday, 01/15/10 01:20:58 EST

There a roper whitney #20 on Ebay right now for $53.

   - arthur - Friday, 01/15/10 01:36:18 EST

Note that while the custom dies Arthur is talking about would ssem to be pricey they will crank out finished to size slots as fast as you can operate the punch. Note that punches for stainless must be made of the BEST steel and very accurately heat treated or they will wear out rapidly.
   - guru - Friday, 01/15/10 09:53:37 EST

Stainles is a whole differnt animal I never work with...but with punching, the correct clearance for the thickness of material is key...not enough and you break the punch...too much and you have a bell shaped hole...Bill Moran the granddaddy of modern Damascus used a #20 Whitney but then again he arc welded tangs to blades..not something I recommend.
   - arthur - Friday, 01/15/10 10:35:10 EST

I've welded tangs to blades a lot. This is done BEFORE HT, so any HAZ or other defects get taken care of. One of my first composite pieces was a knife blade forged from a large roller bearing pin, I made a 4 rod basket twist of mild steel and welded that to a piece of flat bar, then welded to the blade.


It's the bottom one. This page is being worked, I have a LOT more finished work... just haven't found time to take the pictures, update the page, etc.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 01/15/10 11:52:36 EST

I am working on rebuilding a piece of equiptment and want to drill out some pivot holes that have become oval and insert insert brasss press in bearings. The bearings are 1" O.D. and my problem is that if I use a 1" bit in my drill press, the fit is a bit loose. Is there another way I need to do this or do I just need to get a slightly smaller bit and maybe reem it out to fit? Thanks.
   Chuck Sullivan - Friday, 01/15/10 13:42:11 EST

Well Chuck, you really need to drill about 63/64 and finish with a reamer to get a good press fit. Reamer should be turned very slow even by hand in the drill press for alignment. The bushing are probably only .001 or less oversize. You could also weld up the holes and re-drill.
   - grant Sarver - Friday, 01/15/10 13:52:50 EST

Precision Holes: Chuck, Grant has the only method unless you can get the part on a lathe or a mill with a precision boring head. Even then an adjustable reamer is more precise - but it takes care even with the reamer. You need good mikes to measure and adjust as well.

I bought an 1.25" adjustable reamer somewhere recently. . . on-line can't remember where. Was only $32! Similar may be priced over $100 or more at other places. Smaller reamers come made to size for press, on-size and slip fits.

   - guru - Friday, 01/15/10 16:16:35 EST

Hey Nip....My problem is I'm just not that good at Welding..And have a hard time doing delicate stuff with a stick welder...Regards
   - arthur - Friday, 01/15/10 17:13:38 EST

Chuck, there are a few "kludgy" ways to do it too. You can countersink both sides of the hole and peen the bushing over. You could "stake" the bushings in by drilling a couple holes at the line where the bushing and hole meet and putting in rivets or set screws. Or normal set screw from the side with a dimple in the bushing. You can silver solder them in. Lotsa options, I'd have to see the parts.
   - grant Sarver - Friday, 01/15/10 17:54:17 EST

I've taken slightly over length bushings and pressed them to length in a hole. Very tight fit. . But then THEY need to be reamed. Which is something you need to consider. Pressed in bushings are often reamed AFTER press fitting into a reamed to size hole. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/15/10 18:02:22 EST

I just did a big fab job railing that was originally designed with Corten frames and stainless cable infill. In a design meeting I wasn't at they changed it to mild steel painted frames with the sst infill. Partially because the client didn't like the look of rust (I like this guy) and because the architects thought they would save some money on material costs. The cable passes thru the frame in over a thousand locations, and when I told them that the cable vibrating in the wind would eventually chip the paint and rust the mild steel they decided that I should press fit in stainless bushings at each intersection. Just the cost of the bushings was more than twice the savings of the original material change, plus the added labor of installing.

To make a long story short, I discovered 2 things. Some (not all or even very many) metric drill bit sizes leave a finished hole that is just right for press fitting inch based bushings, little or no reaming required. Also, the fly press may be the best thing ever invented for doing the actual pressing.

Please note that this is not precision work, rather architectural where people's eyes start to glaze over when I mention thousandths of an inch!
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 01/15/10 20:15:25 EST

Small Dimensions: Yes, but a .002" gap in a joint can't be felt and a .010" gap can be, AND you can catch a fingernail in it. A rough texture on a surface cannot hardly be measured in thousandths. But the client can see it and maybe they don't care about the difference between 250RMS and 125RMS but they KNOW it when they see it.
   - guru - Friday, 01/15/10 20:34:16 EST

Guru, as usual you are correct. I should have mentioned that the bushings were installed prior to sandblasting, zinc primer, regular primer and 2 coats of automotive grade paint. They became darn near invisible.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 01/15/10 20:50:28 EST

Judson, Sounds like your client's got a very nice job. Its little details that make a difference in longevity and low maintenance.

The original plan also had the problem that CorTen is supposed to be in contact with CorTen only, not the stainless. Rust at those contact points would have been the bimetallic type and possibly produced a lot of staining.

Every type of press has its best application. Flypresses are good for many things but not for others. I've got an arbor press, manual hydraulic press, and several punch presses but no flypress. Eventually I'll have a job where I need one OR I will come across one at the right price.

During our yet uncompleted power hammer project I found that the tool we needed most to speed things up was a good belt grinder or two. So that is our next project (and wish it had been our first). Hopefully this will be the year that the rest of our new shop comes together. Then maybe back to larger projects. . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/15/10 23:20:31 EST

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