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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. He or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from February 1 - 28, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has three helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    I am something new to the blacksmithing. Now a friend of mine wants to make a protection for a window. We like to make some shape picks(peaks?) out of 3/4 there any way to make picks out of pipe?
    thanks very much stefan

    stefan eugster -- eugster at Monday, 02/01/99 03:40:21 GMT

    I think the English word you are looking for is "point". Yes, points can be forged on pipe. It can be done by gently hammering the pipe as you rotate it on the anvil. You must be careful not to flatten the end of the pipe.

    It is easier if you make a "V" shaped tool so that the pipe moves inward 3 ways instead of flatening (2 sides).

    Either method makes the walls of the pipe thicker as you make the pipe smaller. It is easier to forge a point on solid bar than on pipe.

    Pienso que la palabra inglesa que usted est buscando es " point ". S, las puntas se pueden forjar en el tubo. Puede ser hecho suavemente martillando el tubo como usted lo rota en el yunque. Usted debe tener cuidado de no aplanar el extremo del tubo.

    Es ms fcil si usted hace una herramienta formada de " V " de modo que el tubo mueva hacia adentro 3 maneras en vez de flatening (2 caras).

    Cualquier mtodo hace las paredes del tubo ms gruesas mientras que usted hace el tubo ms pequeo. Es ms fcil forjar una punta en barra slida que en el tubo.

    Translation by

    -- guru Monday, 02/01/99 04:43:13 GMT

    I'm pretty new to blacksmithing,and my forge is a little Champion"rivet forge".My question is this,I can build a nice little fire,but it never seems to be quite deep enough,although I assume this is just the way it is with this type of forge.The main problem is that the fire just keeps getting shallower until it pretty much goes out.It seems that there ia no way to clear the ash and stuff from the bottom,as with an ash dump tweer.Is there some trick to this that I dont know yet,or do you just have to keep starting new fires?

    Bob Atkison -- N/A Monday, 02/01/99 20:49:31 GMT

    Bob Atkison,

    I too have a riviters forge, and I have found that they DO take a little more care and work. I usually have more green coal around the fire and just rake in to the center.
    As for the clinker and ash, i guess I have better luck finding good coal as that has not been a problem. Though I do let my fire rest(or was that me?) and then seach for clinker.

    a semi-sunny day(yay! no rain) In Oregon

    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Monday, 02/01/99 21:37:36 GMT

    A friend of mine is looking for a beginner blacksmith training or workshop to attend in the Eastern part of the country. Do you have any information that could help us locate such an event.

    michelle -- mfhthompson at Monday, 02/01/99 21:44:08 GMT


    I would recommend that you contact a local ABANA chapter. The Guru has a link to their webpage.
    Once you find out who is in the area you are then contact them.

    Ralph -- douglass at Monday, 02/01/99 22:40:52 GMT


    Ralph's answer is good. Joining ABANA is the very first thing.

    One good school on the east coast is the John C. Campbell Folk School located in Brasstown, NC. They have a web page, but I don't have the URL handy. The ALTVISTA search engine can find it for you. I've got to remember to post the URL so the guru can set up a link.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 02/01/99 23:18:46 GMT


    Found the URL to the blacksmithing class schedule at the Folk School. This is an OLD schedule, BUT the 1-800 number is good.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 02/01/99 23:31:15 GMT

    I am a bricklayer in the cleveland area who has a verry basic knoledge of blacksmithing. i am intrested in makeing specilty tuckpointing tools that are not comericlally avaliable . I have made some of them out of h.r 1020 but they do not last as long and are not as strong as Iwould like. thease tools are subject to constant abrasiion on a masonary wall. would 4140 or w-1 be a better choice?

    Greg Lamb -- baldman100 at Tuesday, 02/02/99 03:41:48 GMT

    Greg, Almost ANY medium to high carbon steel would be better than 1020. There are a variety of abrasion resistant steels available. In this case you need hard and abrasion resistant. 4140 is good steel but as a medium carbon steel its hardness is limited. W-1 will harden much harder but is not rated as abrasion resistant. Before I look up a steel I would suggest you try stainless. 304SS is non-hardenable but it IS very abrasion resistant (and doesn't rust). A cutlery stainless like 440C would be hard and abrasion resistant. Heat treating is tricky though.

    In tool steels the air hardening (expnsive) grades A-2, A6, and A-10 are abrasion resistant. The low-carbon mold steel P4 is also abrasion resistant.

    Like making a knife a laminated steel would be optimal. An A6 face welded to a tough mild steel or 4140 back. High hardness and abrasion resistance with a tough support. Clading with hardfaceing rod is another option. Many grades of hardfaceing rod are made for protecting heavy equipment buckets and blades. A very similar working condition. Everything about selecting "optimal" steels is a trade off. One place you can beat many factory tools is with selective heattreating. Leave the working edge as hard as possible while drawing the temper back as much as possible at the tang and non-wear areas for toughness.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/02/99 04:24:48 GMT

    Does anybody have any suggestions for shipping a 140# anvil from Nova Scotia to Boise Idaho? I just bought one and I would like to not have to pay too much to get it to me. UPS wants $85, and Greyhound won't ship anything across the border. So far it looks like Yellow or Consolidated might be my best bet.

    Todd -- torin at Tuesday, 02/02/99 04:57:51 GMT

    I have just acquired a very old forge. It would be at least 50 years old. It was manufactured by the Silver manufacturing company in Salem USA.It has an ID number of 912.There seem to be pieces missing, would there be any books, sketches available that would help me restore it to as close to original as possible.

    Terry Dickson -- dickot at Tuesday, 02/02/99 10:04:51 GMT

    Todd, the only thing I know about shipping via truck is that crated costs less than loose or uncrated. You may need to consider what's best for the seller (or what they agreed to).

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/02/99 13:02:01 GMT

    Try amtrak, I shipped 20 boxes of books across the states for $200 five years ago.

    Welded the crack in my anvil, now she sings sweet and high. I will do a hammer bounce test on her this a.m. to check for dead spots, then it is into service for her. My last anvil was an 80# one, so this should be a treat!


    Chris -- kilpe4 at Tuesday, 02/02/99 13:05:31 GMT

    OLD FORGE - Terry, the most commonly available books with a variety of old forges are the reprints of turn of the century Sears and Robucks catalogs. For an example see Forge - Lever A 1915 Sears Roebuck lever action forge on our 21st Century page. I've never heard of this brand but it is very likely to be similar to or a copy of other forges of the era.
    Chris, Bigger IS better!

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/02/99 13:11:14 GMT


    UPS is by far the cheapest and easiest way to ship your anvil..

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Tuesday, 02/02/99 14:43:51 GMT

    Hi I am doing a project for my 8th grade class about blacksmithing and I need to anwser some questions about the trade.Like how did the Industrial revolution effect the blacksmith?What contributions did the blacksmith give to society?When and where did blacksmithing begin?
    Thanks I appreciate the help.

    Curt Schillinger -- Seniro at Tuesday, 02/02/99 21:01:31 GMT

    Curt, Many of the techniques used in blacksmithing were developed in the Bronze age which was a LONG time before before the Iron age. Although iron was known much earlier the Iron Age officialy began about 1,000 BC some where in the Caucus Mountains of Asia. The first person to heat a piece of iron and shape it with a hammer was the first blacksmith. The word, blacksmith comes from the black metal (iron) and the word smite which means "to hit".

    From the beginning of the Iron Age until the mid 1800's when factories took over most manufacturing, blacksmiths made virtualy ALL tools and a great deal of the parts for machinery. Most people think of blacksmiths as horseshoers but horseshoes were a relatively small part of the blacksmithing trade. In America we have this image of the frontier blacksmith who did everything including shoeing horses but in other parts of the world blacksmiths had specialized long ago and the word farrier was used to describe a horseshoer. Today there are still people that run high production industrial forging machines and rightly called blacksmiths. There are also a great number of tools still being manufactured in small blacksmith shops.

    You could not have had the industrial revolution without the blacksmith. Social and economic forces created the industrial revolution but blacksmiths made it happen. The demands for industrial products during the Industrial Revolution made iron and steel more plentiful and blacksmith's tools improved due to the availability of materials. Some of the great inventors of the Industrial Revolution were blacksmiths such as Eli Whitney and James Nasmyth.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/02/99 22:54:53 GMT

    I am looking for a good source for finishes in general but right now I could use a good rust patina. I used to se one at fortyseven productions but I doubt they will give me the recipe. Thanks JDragt

    jeremt dragt -- JDragt at Tuesday, 02/02/99 23:06:17 GMT

    FINISHES: If the finish is for indoor use a good coat of clear lacquer will alow many natural finishes to be used. Even gun blueing and parkerizing require constant cleaning and oiling unless sealed. If the work is to be used out doors there is only one or two satifactory methods of finishing. Both use elemental zinc for anodic protection.
    See my article Chapter 13, Corrosion and it Prevention on our 21st Century page for the reasons and methods.

    If like many other smiths you love that natural oxide blue then the solution is stainless steel. 304 stainless turns the exact same color as carbon steel when heated and forged but will retain that blue grey luster outdoors indefinitly. See the article Latch also on the 21st Century page.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/03/99 03:18:02 GMT

    I need a good supply of lump charcoal.

    Ox -- strawox at Wednesday, 02/03/99 03:30:53 GMT


    I'd love to use 304 stainless for a lot of my work. But durned if I can afford it. Can you imagine what triangle sales would do if you could tell folks it would never rust?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 02/03/99 03:50:45 GMT

    304 is too soft to make a good triangle! . . 440C SS ? :)

    CHARCOAL: You might check the listings in the Coal Scuttle (access from main page), however I believe that almost everyone using charcoal as a forge fuel makes their own.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/03/99 04:13:42 GMT

    I am 21 years old and currently stationed in japan at misawa AB. My Dad taught me to ARC and gas weld when I was 14. When I was 17 I attended a vocational welding and metal craft class at a local school.My Dad worked in general construction and when there was somthing to learn I paid attention so I am familiar with most of the tools you would expect to find in a well stocked shop. My question is how does one become a certified Blacksmith? Is it possible? The reason I ask this is I would like to start a Blacksmiths Guild on base here in Japan in order for me to do this I have to go through my chain of command for approval. When my commander is considering my request she will aks if I am qualified. I have been to the library a thousand times to pour through the books on blacksmithing and all related subjects this web site has been very helpful in my quest to get started. I bought Jack Andrew's book and half a dozen others I am doing some more research before I start buy I would be greatful for any advice. Sincerely, Jeremy E. Pointer

    Jeremy Pointer -- Jeremy_Pointer at Wednesday, 02/03/99 06:30:34 GMT

    I am an experienced welder AWS cert.,API cert., but I don't know much
    about cast iron brazing. I want to braze sleeves into a cast iron engine
    block, this has been done before by others successfully for years. I know
    I have to preheat and post heat in ab oven but do not know the temp.
    required or how fast to let it cool off after welding. Also what is a good
    type off brazing rod to use,flux covered or bare with seperate can
    filler wire content ?

    Any help will be appreciated, Al

    Al Marcinkus -- murph114 at Wednesday, 02/03/99 07:51:02 GMT


    I didn't know sleeves were brazed into engine blocks. When we raced Harley's and Norton's we didn't braze sleeves. We cooled the sleeves and heated the cylinders. Then we applied a cost of Loctite 620 to the sleeves and bores before installing.

    I have a Cummins diesel engine in my truck and it's done the same way but you don't heat the block. Cool the sleeve to 10 degrees F. of more in a freezer for a minimum of one hour. Coat Loctite to the bore, remove the frozen sleeve, coat Loctite to the sleeve before installing immediately.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 02/03/99 14:40:23 GMT

    I know that's the way it is normally done, but I am severely modifing
    a tractor block for pulling. This has been done before, but I need advice
    on the questions I posted.


    Al Marcinkus -- murph114 at Wednesday, 02/03/99 22:32:28 GMT

    about forgeing pipe, if you don't tape the cool end shut, hot gases will come up the pipe and burn you.

    Bob -- bbnm at Thursday, 02/04/99 03:29:02 GMT

    CERTIFIED BLACKSMITH (Jeremy): In many places there is no such thing. Some European countries have certification programs and there is an AFLCIO Blacksmiths and Pipefitters union. ABANA has a journeyman program. In the U.S. there are a number of Blacksmithing schools but I do not know if they are accredited.

    Years ago I took a home locksmithing course and was awarded a certificate that says "certified locksmith". Legaly it means nothing. Welders are "certified" in the US by an organization, the AWS and must be recertified every so often. There is no such "accrediting" organization for blacksmiths in the U.S. In Japan I suspect there is are a number of guilds as they take their traditional swordmaking VERY seriously. In your case these would be the governing organization.

    Check out the ABANA journeyman program. I think you will find the starting requirments are enlightening.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/04/99 04:31:36 GMT

    BRAZING ENGINE BLOCK SLEEVES: This is a question for the very few folks that have done it and I wouldn't have a clue as to where to ask. It may have been done but I would be inclined to go with Bruce's advise. If you have the capacity to machine the resulting mess after brazing you should certainly have the capacity to bush the sleeves or make custom sleeves to start.

    Coated vs. uncoated brazing rods is mearly a matter of convienience. The flux is borax in both cases.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/04/99 05:01:46 GMT

    I would like to inquire about forge-welding wire cable in coke fire--any tips on techniques to make solid welds would be welcome.many thanks. arnon

    arnon kartmazov -- mkartmazov at Thursday, 02/04/99 06:45:03 GMT

    COKE FIRE: Coke requires a lot of air therefore tends to result in an oxidizing fire. A deep fire bed will use all the free oxygen. You must also use small coke (fines or breeze) to keep a tight fire. Foundry coke generally comes in lumps that are much too big for blacksmithing. Coke like coal also varies in quality. It will all burn hot enough but I've had some that made some rather strange colored flames (copper greens and sulfur blue) and was not even satifactory for forging!

    -- guru Thursday, 02/04/99 13:03:35 GMT

    Dear sir, Where can I find information on how to refurbish old forges,
    everything from how to refurbish hand powered blowers (and increse output?) to the correct way to mix refactory for the lining and what to mix. Thank you very much! James Ifft james at

    James Ifft -- james at Thursday, 02/04/99 18:02:58 GMT

    Old blowers generaly have problems with worn bearings and gears. Bearings can be replaced but it often requires machining special fits. This is standard machine repair work of the type performed in machine shops. It is not cost effectively to replace worn gears. One gear will likely cost as much as the blower is worth today. Unless the impellor is broken or worn (highly unlikely) there is no way to increase output by making repairs.

    The subject of lining commercial coal forges is a controversial one. I for one am against lining forges. It creates a place for moisture to collect and increase corrosion. Thin light duty forges were intended for light work. Large heavy duty forges were designed for the heavy service required for them. Ocassionaly old forges are too deep for the service they are put to and can be lined with a layer of refractory brick to raise the bed. Otherwise the bed of coal insulates all but the firepot which generally will not stay lined.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/04/99 22:29:47 GMT

    Rebound tested my new anvil, no dead spots, rings like a church bell! One weird thing, though, it rings loudest when hit on the horn!
    Also, the feet were cast from low carbon steel and there is a depression in the underside of the base. Do i need to fill that space, or is the flat area where the feet are good enough support? I have yet to silicon and seat the new beast.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Friday, 02/05/99 02:42:17 GMT


    Sounds like you're in good shope. No, you don't need to fill that space, it's a characteristic of some of the Trenton anvils.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 02/05/99 03:13:07 GMT

    greetings guru and fellow metalsmith; i'm a farmer/welder/blacksmith/metal artist who does alot of nontraditional wrought iron railings using welding and plasma cutting. my small business is called Too Wrought Monkey's and we have been a business for 1.5 years. i have worked with steel for about 17 years. do you know the name of an extruded railing finish cap and do you also know how it can be bent into long sweeping curves downward (no continuing slope, no continuing radius)? the railing cap we have seen is 1.75 inches wide and is approximately 5/8 inches thick with a channel for 1 * 1/4inch flat bar to fit down inside the cap. the center (on top) is rounded and raised. this product is a very nice finishing touch to the railing however we are unable to bend it evenly using hand tools and heat due to the detail and the thickness of the rail. is there a special tool for this? is there thinner steel handrail finish cap available? if so what is it called and where is it available from? i have been made aware of an $11 000 dollar machine which will do it but my partner and i are not interested in becoming a production based company because we are art based. our company is run out of the farm shop and is located at p.o box 162 Osler, Saskatchewan, Canada. please email me regarding these qustions at dalai at

    terry driedger -- dalai at Friday, 02/05/99 05:14:01 GMT

    ANVILS and RING: They ring loudest when struck on the horn or heal because the shape of the London pattern (American pattern even more so) acts like a tuning fork, the two opposite masses (top and base) causing a "standing wave" vibration as each balances the motion of the other.

    The depression in the center of many anvils is very handy for keeping the anvil from rocking when set on a flat surface (and I beleived designed that way). A friend of mine is reparing a really BEAT old mouse hole anvil that was so abbused that the feet were bent upward slightly! The result was that as he tried to grind the top it kept walking away from him! You could actually spin the anvil on the hign spot in the base! Realizing what the problem was he fixed the bottom first and then it stopped trying to turn around when he worked on the top! We will have before, during and after photos when done.

    -- guru Friday, 02/05/99 12:51:09 GMT

    Jock, hope you don't mind my chiming in here, but saw the post from terry driedger and thought that this might help. At CANIRON I two years ago there was a demonstration of flame bending. At the spring NWBA conference in Sisters, OR was another where flame bending was used to do the fitting of a top rail to a spiral staircase. The concept is simple: Use a BIG acetylene torch and heat one side of a long piece of iron to red heat. The heated side expands, and held by the adjacent cool metal upsets slightly. Upon cooling, the entire piece bends toward the side you heated. By repeating this, you cause long continuous bends without marring detail. By concentrating heat in one area, you cause the bending to localize. It's a slow process, and normally you take a few minutes, heat, go away and do something else for an hour, heat again. Limiting factor is the torch -- you need something BIG to heat big sections. Hope this helps. See you at CANIRON II this summer?

    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Friday, 02/05/99 15:03:34 GMT

    What is a proper preheat temp. to maintain while brazing cast iron?
    What is a good brand and type of brazing rod for cast iron?

    Al Marcinkus -- murph114 at Friday, 02/05/99 15:57:50 GMT

    Ineed some Roman armor for a ttheatrical production. Iwanted some Lorica Segmentata if possible. Do you know of someone who has some to sell or rent? Thanks

    Kevin -- kip at Saturday, 02/06/99 00:47:05 GMT


    I continue to read about 52100 as the number one forge steel. Ed Fowler, Ochs, etc. I have not tried it because I am a little intimidated by the annealing procedure. I remember reading Jerry Fisk speaking to the true superiority of forging as opposed to stock removal for blades, and he said that the real secret is handling the annealing and hardening of the steel after the forging operations. My question is, would I be better served by learning 52100 now, or continuing with O-1 until I am better with hot steel. I would be interested in your thoughts.

    In addition, would you address the notion that the effects of forging are lost during the normalizing, annealing and hardening sequence? I am still a little fuzzy on what is really going on.



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 02/06/99 01:14:20 GMT

    I'm making some decorative elements out of pattern welded and acid etched wire. Any ideas on finishes that will allow the texture to show through?

    john -- jbgoode13 at Saturday, 02/06/99 01:15:35 GMT


    I continue to read about 52100 as the number one forge steel. Ed Fowler, Ochs, etc. I have not tried it because I am a little intimidated by the annealing procedure. I remember reading Jerry Fisk speaking to the true superiority of forging as opposed to stock removal for blades, and he said that the real secret is handling the annealing and hardening of the steel after the forging operations. My question is, would I be better served by learning 52100 now, or continuing with O-1 until I am better with hot steel. I would be interested in your thoughts.

    In addition, would you address the notion that the effects of forging are lost during the normalizing, annealing and hardening sequence? I am still a little fuzzy on what is really going on.



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 02/06/99 01:16:01 GMT

    Terry- about bending rail cap, Hossfeld makes dies for manipulating rail cap any old which way, up,down,left,right. As guru has posted earlier most of the time mine just sits there. But other times it also really helps me out. I have a need to bend 1/4 x1" the hard way into large rings, 5O" diameter some times. Mostly I think it depends on your type of business as to weather you need a bender or not.
    A blacksmithing buddy came in to my shop today(1/3 of his income comes from his hossfeld,furniture etc.) but he can't bend 1" angle becouse he doesn't want to buy the dies. You have to watch it though, one could spend alot of money on dies for this tool. There is a man who is producing knockoff hossfeld dies now, They seem just as good as the originals, but I've only seen a couple. The price is good,only 60% of what the name brand is asking. My own bender,I think, was made in a high school shop. It doesn't have the hossfeld name plate riveted on but for that I never would have known. It is made exactly the same.
    If any one has any interest in the # for these dies let me know and I'll bring the # home and post.
    P.S. Jock more shop tours please! The next best thing to visiting someone elses shop is to do it on the web! thanks for the pics. Pete

    Pete -- Ravnstudio at Saturday, 02/06/99 01:19:11 GMT

    Hi guys, my question is, a fellow brought in an Italian black powder revolver barrel that was to soft. It was dimpleing behind the wedge. How hard should this barrel be? What would be the tempering procedure for this particular piece? Any help would be great, thanks

    RJ Preston -- caballo at Saturday, 02/06/99 01:35:27 GMT


    I almost didn't respond to this because of the safety issue involved. Let me make a couple of points that you may already be aware of, just for safety sake.

    1. These reproductions are NOT the best made firearms in the world. I own an Italian reproduction of the Texas 1858 .44.

    2. Usually the area around the wedge is case hardened. A full charge of powder is hard on these pieces.

    3. You can probably get the best information from the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association home page. I don't have the URL, but possibly someone else will have it. If so, I hope they will post it.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 02/06/99 03:15:21 GMT


    Jerry Carroll got the URL for me. Go to:

    They can give you better information than I can.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 02/06/99 03:56:29 GMT

    National Muzzleloading Rifle Association http.//

    jerry -- birdlegs at Saturday, 02/06/99 03:56:30 GMT

    I have a small homemade sheet metal brake that handles metal about 18 inches wide of the type used in heating/ AC ductwork (18 gauge?). It works great and if I remember cost me less than 5 bucks to make. I have need for a larger one something that will handle stuff about 32 inches wide. The base on this one is 2"X2"X1/4" angle, the hold down is 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" X 1/4" angle and the movable pivot block is 1/2" X 1" flat bar. Do you think this size steel is heavy enough to bend 32" materal? If not, is there a "Rule of thumb" to determine what size I need. I know bending sheet metal involves a lot more force than it appears. Thanks bruce

    bruce lowery -- brucelowery at Saturday, 02/06/99 04:14:00 GMT

    I want to build a forge . I have a 55 gal. drum ,some scrap iron and various small stock.As for welding gear,I have a set of torches and a plasma cutter.What else do I need and how do I make it?
    Thank You ole great one

    Keith -- applause. at Saturday, 02/06/99 06:14:27 GMT

    Josh: Last question first. It is quite possible to undo any benefits of forging if the temperatures used for normalizing, annealing, and hardening are not held within rather narrow limits. The main benefit of forging vs grinding is in grain refinement. Too high temperatures in any of the above proceedures will cause grain growth. First question: forging benefits can only be achieved by working the steel at a temperature close to the criticle. So the sucess of the operation depends on the smiths ability to judge these temperatures very accurately. You might try a few pieces of 52100 and see how they compare with the O-1 that you are now using.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Saturday, 02/06/99 06:29:49 GMT

    FORGE from JUNK (Keith): Take a look at the plans for the brake drum forge on the Plans page and at the truck forge on the Centaur Forge page under forges. If you use the drum for a combined hood/pan make sure you use at least a 8" (200mm) pipe for the vent and keep the front opening as small as you can stand. The problem with hoods on forges is that they try to suck up all the air at their opening. If this is mostly fresh air it is going to try to vent that too and the hood will not work. Make the bottom of the forge about 8"-10" (220mm) deep and extend the tweer (air pipe) off the bottom about 2" (50mm). This will keep the heat of the fire off the thin bottom of the forge. You could also put a brake drum fire pot inside the drum and do the same thing.

    You might want to look at the side draft forge hoods sold by Centaur and there are good pictures of the same at the end of the ABANA and AFC editions of the NEWS. There are also a couple intresting home built forges in the Camp Fenby Editon.

    Build what you have junk to build. All you need is a place to hold the coal (or charcoal) and a source of forced air (lungs, bellows, blower) and you will get a fire hot enough to forge with.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 14:29:58 GMT

    SHEET METAL BRAKE (Bruce): The force resulting in deflection increases by the increase in width CUBED. HIVAC ducting is 22-28ga I think. 18ga is almost 1/16" (1.5mm). Your new design sounds too flimsy to me without going through all the calculations. If you look at comercial brakes they get the strength increase by making the "angle" sections you are using a lot deeper in both axis (not thicker). They also add a truss rod to the moveable brake and the clamp sometimes. Generaly the truss is used on the moving parts due to the need to keep them light while the base is built heavy enough to take whatever is thrown at it.

    You could get the added depth by welding some flat bar to the legs of the angle and then ribbing the insides. Use angle for the bending bar (also extended some) with a truss bar on the diagonal axis (45 between the legs).

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 14:45:47 GMT


    Where can I buy a good shop-size color-temperature chart to keep near the forge? What about tempil markers for judging temperature while I work the steel?



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 02/06/99 15:32:35 GMT

    BENEFITS of FORGING: A lot of what is written in old references about the benefits of forging must be considered criticaly. Forged (hammered OR rolled) metal IS better. But it used to be said that parts with the grain flowing around corners (such as an upset bolt head of forged tennon) were better because of the directional grain. However, modern studies have shown that necking down sharp (or relatively sharp) corners pinches the grain and causes weak places. Knife or other tool tangs are in this catagory. If you forge a sharp corner it weakens the material. It turns out that for bolt heads and knife tangs stock removal (machining) IS better. However, for general conditioning of the metal forging (or rolling) is required for a better product.

    Sharp inside corners whether forged or machined produce stress concentrations and should be avoided in good design of highly stressed parts. Yes, a tang on a knife with a heavy fillet is a pain to fit the guard to but it is much better structuraly. Forging sharp corners aggrevates the problem by producing a point of stress concentration AND that pinched grain at the same point.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 15:37:13 GMT

    Josh, Tempil not only makes the temperature sticks you are looking for but they also publish the industry standard Tempil, Basic Guide to Ferrous Metalurgy. I refer to mine constantly. An online copy with their address can be found on the ABANA web site. This is a heating/forging temperature chart not a temper colors chart.

    Tempil sticks are good for determining the temperature of relatively heavy masses as you heat them (say a casting being preheated prior to welding). For small parts that change temperature rapidly they won't tell you much. However, you CAN heat large blocks to a known temperature and use THAT to temper small pars with.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 15:48:08 GMT

    Would you know where I could purchase a small quantity(2 Ft.)of
    1.5 inch dia. seamless tubing with a .250 wall thickness.

    I am building a mount for an 18th century swivel gun and lining the barrel of a cast steel canon.

    Regards,Ken Cantrell

    Ken Cantrell -- smithy03 at Saturday, 02/06/99 17:35:10 GMT


    I am a artist metal crafter. I mainly use a lot of modern techniques
    in my work, handforming jigs, lathes, mills, drills etc.. I also have a strong background in welding, TIG. I now would like to use blacksmithing techniques in my work. I know this skill is not something you can learn overnight. Could you recommend a good book for a beginner.

    Thank You

    Eli -- ewweldfab2 at Saturday, 02/06/99 22:44:50 GMT

    I am a restoration contractor in North Carolina, getting ready to
    start work on a 1796 courthouse. I would like to know if you knew
    of a source for hand-wrought nails (the real thing). Any information
    would be of great help to us.
    Rob Cullen
    Cullen Builders

    Rob Cullen -- Cullen at Saturday, 02/06/99 23:18:10 GMT

    Eli, the list you want is in Getting Started. There are reviews of the books mentioned on our review's page. The one on The Art is in progress.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 23:36:19 GMT

    Rob, you may be in for a surprise at the cost of the hand wrought nails. There is so much demand for them in tourist attractions that they sell for over a dollar each wholesale in BULK when they are available. The "bulk" is the problem. There are guys that can make close to a thousand nails a day if they REALLY hustle (and put in a LONG day), but due to boredom and fatigue that number drops (plummets) rapidly. Try Nick Vincent of Nathan's Forge

    -- guru Saturday, 02/06/99 23:46:19 GMT

    Is there anywhere to buy blacksmithing tools,(anvils, hammers, tongs,
    etc.)over the internet?

    Tony Clark -- northwoods at Sunday, 02/07/99 02:19:12 GMT

    Tony, so far as I know no dealer has setup to make sales via the net. We host the biggest dealer's (preliminary) web site (Centaur Forge), and they are a long way from having an on-line sales system. They do however take credit cards and phone orders. Bruce Wallace of Wallace Metal Work deals used tools over the internet as do others, but you will have to settle with most via bank draft.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/07/99 03:30:55 GMT

    I am looking for a gift for my father-in-law. I don't know much about the trade, but I'm looking for a sort of stamp that would have his initials on it, which he can sign his blacksmithing art with. I was told there is such a thing out there, but I haven't the foggiest idea of even the first place to look. Can anyone help me?

    Sarah Hunter -- sarahhun at Sunday, 02/07/99 16:25:23 GMT

    I am looking for a gift for my father-in-law. I don't know much about the trade, but I'm looking for a sort of stamp that would have his initials on it, which he can sign his blacksmithing art with. I was told there is such a thing out there, but I haven't the foggiest idea of even the first place to look. Can anyone help me?

    Sarah Hunter -- sarahhun at Sunday, 02/07/99 16:25:40 GMT

    I have been looking for web sites with instructions and patterns for for tinsmithing. I havnt been able to find any. can you tell me of any sites? Kevin.

    Kevin Dorsey -- kdorsey at Sunday, 02/07/99 16:59:16 GMT


    Many smiths make their own "touchmark", but go to the Centaur Forge link here at anvilfire, contact Centaur and send for their catalog. They do not accept phone orders for touchmarks, for obvious reasons.

    I own two touchmarks. They are the same, albeit different sizes, 1/8" and 1/4". I find the 1/8" more useful. I probably use it 50 times for every time I use the 1/4".

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 02/07/99 18:42:25 GMT

    Could one of the gurus please tell me what a #18 Buffalo Drill Pres is? The add says it it a large drill press. Is this one of those with a vertical flat belt drive in the back and a bevel gear drive on the quill. I don't have access to a an old Buffalo catolog. What is the swing and capacity of this drill press, What Morris taper would it have and who much does it weigh? Thanks!

    Ruben Funk -- rfunk at Sunday, 02/07/99 19:54:02 GMT

    Ruben, its probably an 18". My 1899 Carey Catalog lists Buffalo numbers like 1, 1-1/2 for blacksmiths handcrank drills. In 1930 they list 10, 12 and 16 inch drill presses.

    If its an 18" that means it can drill to the center of an 18" circle (generaly a little more). That size drill probably has a #3 Morse taper spindle. Will drill 3/4" (18mm) holes in steel in straight gear, no sweat. All my old 20-21" drills have a #4 Morse taper.

    IF IT *IS* one of the machines as you described you can NOT beat them for drilling holes! A new commercial machine (not a department store toy) of equivalent capacity will cost $4-$6K US.

    Best thing to do is ask the seller.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/07/99 23:17:21 GMT

    Terry Driedger: Your post regarding bending of the rail may be addresed by Peter Marron, Of Chico Calif. He is listed under peter marron, horshoing. He is adept at this and has built some lever operatied tools that will bend railings and caprails. If you cant find him in the book, let me know and Ill try to help. David Schiff

    david schiff -- dschiff at Monday, 02/08/99 06:50:46 GMT

    can you tell me a good flux to use for making damascus? I am having toubles with slag inclusions, I have been using mild steele strap and old saw blade material, I start with 5 layers 2 of the saw blade 3 mild, I can not get it to weld after the third time? I have been using 20 muleteam borax for flux. Any help would be appriciated.

    Justin Tanner -- jtt at Monday, 02/08/99 18:12:09 GMT

    I found in a junk pile a "Buffalo Forge Co. #2" manual metal
    worker,I think? The whole thing had been dipped in red lead
    and came apart easy. It is comprised of a shear and a punch.
    The punch that was in it was 3/16ths and broke. It weighs about
    60-70lbs. and the sockets for the levers are 2". All and all
    a very beefy tool. What can it do???,I.E. punch 1/4" bar for
    3/8th pickets. If it can do things in that range where could
    one find various punches for it without having them machined


    Paul Matthaei -- shod at Monday, 02/08/99 21:05:31 GMT

    FLUX: Justin, most of the folks in the business use good ol' borax, some use anyhydrous borax (see current discussion in the V.Hammer-In. It sounds like accumulated surface oxidation that should be cleaned off between each weld (grind if necessary). Also sounds like you may be burning the steel a little. Jim Hrisoulas recommends using Borax with about 10% Flourite. The flourine makes it VERY reactive and should only be used with plenty of ventilation. Flourite is a mineral and the ground powder can be obtained from ceramics suppliers. It is also used by the steel making industry as flux.

    With the thin layers you are using you might want to try using more for the first weld. Remember Clean, clean, clean. Metal, forge and fire.

    -- guru Monday, 02/08/99 23:15:46 GMT

    MANUAL IRONWORKER: The rule for punch press work is 30 tons per square in to punch steel. That's the sheared area. In the case of a round hole you use diameter * PI * thickness. For square holes it is the perimeter times the thickness or 4 * w * t.
    .375 * PI * .25 = .2945

    .2945 * 30T = 8.8Tons to punch a 3/8" hole in 1/4" stock, a 10ton machine preferred.

    These old machines are typicaly 4 or 8 ton capacity. At 8 tons you've got a lot of your weight on the end of a long lever so the punch must be securely anchored. To determine the available force you can measure the travel at the punch and the travel at the end of the handle (typicaly about 4 feet) and divide. This is your multiplier. The normal design force is about 90 lbs max. Do not try to get more power with a longer handle, the strenght of the frame is the limiting factor. The 90 pounds is just an approximation.

    -- guru Monday, 02/08/99 23:48:10 GMT

    I am a reasonably experienced blacksmith working out of a shop in Tiverton, RI called The Metal Works. I have a 450lb. tool steel anvil and the edges of it need refacing. My question is,what type of welding rod should I use and a good pre-heat temp. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but never really had the proper info. Any advice you can give me about my refacing project will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Eric

    Eric Smith -- wolfgang at Tuesday, 02/09/99 01:26:36 GMT

    Eric, I always recommend not making anvil repairs unless it is absolutely necessary. Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge recommends the McKay rod below with the advice that too soft is better than too hard. I'm inclined to agree with this as very hard anvils always seem to end up with severely chiped and spalled edges.

    A preheat of 350-400 is generaly recommended and a manganese rod such as McKay 886 or Stultz Manganese XL. Peen after every pass. Almost every maker has a rod for tool steel repair. They are also always the very pricey $1 or more each type rods!

    Some folks just go at it with a 7018 and I heard a recommendation the other weekend to use your MIG, dress it and if it needs it again later just touch it up again. The important thing to remember is to grind out all the fine hair line cracks. They will show up as temper blue lines along the edges of the cracks as you grind the weld prep.

    The problem with anvil repair using the specialty rods is that the manufacturers of the rods expect you to heat treat the entire part after welding.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/09/99 03:57:21 GMT

    I'm using a new Peddinghaus 1500gm. Swedish-style hammer that I like quite a bit, except that it is completely flat across the face, with a slight crown from top to bottom. Will I regret grinding the face so that it has a slight radius across the face, as well as up and down?

    Brad DeVries -- bdevries at Tuesday, 02/09/99 16:02:51 GMT

    Brad, The shape of your hammer is a very personal fit to most blacksmiths. Standard industrial smithing hammers (what I use) have a considerable spherical crown and heavy chamfers makeing the face circular rather than square. Some smiths prefer flatter some more crowned. If you add crown and don't like it you can always grind a little more off. It is common, depending on your anvil height and style of working to favor one edge or another on your hammer. Dressing that edge so the hammer makes better contact is common. Look at the wear pattern and remove the area that is being favored if it is obvious. Its yours, make it fit you.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/10/99 00:34:52 GMT

    All of us newbies and our questions, it's great knowing we have somewhere to turn for answers. Thanks Mr. Guru and staff.
    My question; I am making sculptured forms from mind steel, my problem is by the time I get to the fine finish stage the metal has became very brittle and thin in spots that require repeated torch work. I do not want to go to a thicker gauge of steel for the tools and equipment I now have will not allow it. I know it is more than likely the crafter and not the material. Ideas, suggestions??? Thanks

    Doug -- dagrp at Wednesday, 02/10/99 18:28:38 GMT

    Sorry, but I can not resist...

    Doug, so is this "mind steel" something you can make by hard thought?

    Ralph -- douglass at Wednesday, 02/10/99 19:27:17 GMT


    Shame on you! Snicker!


    don't pay any attention to Ralph, he can't help it. (grin)

    Are you cooling the work in between passes with the torch? If so, how are you cooling it?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 02/10/99 20:52:25 GMT

    Sheet metal sculpture. . . Traditionaly forms created in metal are "raised". Raising starts with a slight stretching of the metal but as it continues the metal is actually "upset" which is making it thicker. Instead of pushing the center out and stretching it you form the edges inward. If you try to do it by stretching you will always end up with holes in your work.

    Raising is done cold but as the metal work hardens you must anneal it every so often. The process is different fo ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals are heated to a dull red and then quenched. Ferrous metals are heated the same but then cooled as slowly as possible (several hours if possible). If you have ever picked up a piece of steel that has been in a bonfire and cooled in the ashes you may have noticed how soft it was. These conditions produce an almost perfect anneal. To achieve this slow cool a part can be burried in ashes or quick lime. The lime is light and fluffy like the ashes and conducts very little heat. Parts burried in lime will be hot enough to burn you the next day!

    Anneal, raise, anneal, raise, the process can go numerous cycles IF you do not burn the metal OR wait too long before you anneal.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/10/99 22:28:31 GMT

    OBTW, Doug, a REAL blacksmith starts with a big THICK heavy chunk of metal and then froms the shape from thick to thin with material to spare! :)

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/10/99 22:31:33 GMT

    Guru: for the neophyte, and i know this is going to sound like is a chev better than a ford or dodge, the better belt grinder to start with for knife making? square wheel, bador or burr king or is an off brand as good? if an off brand any recommendations? many thanks and this is a great site.

    Dublin Lee -- dlee at Wednesday, 02/10/99 23:08:49 GMT

    Dublin: Personal preference: 1st Bob Dozier, 2nd Bader , but they cost a lot of money. Beginner maby should start with the cheapest they can find, then move up to better if they stay interested.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 02/10/99 23:37:53 GMT

    Dublin, Baldor makes very good motors but I haven't been as impressed by their grinders. They make them because the motor is a significant portion. They are good but not the best. From what I've seen of many of the "off" brands you could do better building your own. There are HUGE differences between the different grinders (weight of frame, ball or plain bearings, enclosed or open). Grandpa is right in this case about starting cheap and working up. Eventually every knife shop ends up with a dozen grinders or so. Even a low quality first purchase will still have a place in that conglomeration of different grits, speeds, belt widths and wheel configurations if you reach that point.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/11/99 01:01:04 GMT

    I am looking for information on a "Kaukauna" trip hammer. I recently discoverd one and would like some background info on it. My efforts have yet to be succesful, please let me hear from you. Thanks.

    Trenton Tye -- Twt at Thursday, 02/11/99 15:10:26 GMT

    Enlightened One:

    I picked up some 4140 the other year for tool stock (punches, fullers, hot chisels...) and it's been so long I've forgotten what the seller said about heat treatment. From the factory, does it need anealing before I cut it with the hacksaw? How hot (color) for critical temperature? Quench in oil? Temper to what color for hot or cold work? I could guess at most of these, but it's handy to nail it the first time (and cheaper in time and materials).

    I'll be at home most of next week so I plan to do a few tools in the 4140, as long as I've got some other irons in the fire.

    Thank you.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Thursday, 02/11/99 16:50:02 GMT

    Trenton, Kaukauna Machine Works redesigned Mayer Power Hammers. Later they merged with the Molock Stoker Co. The resulting Moloch Co. continued to build the Mayer Hammer which was renamed the Moloch Power Hammer.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 02/11/99 21:04:25 GMT

    Just to add a few words about Knifemakers belt grinders. I went through this a while, buy, which one. Their are belt grinder plans on the net if you are handy & have some tools but the trick is where to get the contact wheels & the quality (bought vs home made) They are expensive....I did read about folks who made their own having problems with vibration at higher speeds & had to cut back the motor speeds.

    In the end I bought a Bader frame & installed a DC motor I had traded for. I haven't regreted it, great machine. Learning how to grind on it now that's another issue.

    Guru, nice to see this site really so busy....back after my enforced holiday.

    Bob -- robert_miller at Friday, 02/12/99 00:34:51 GMT

    Bob, just keep those fingers warm and hunt and peck more!
    SAE/AISI 4140 has .38-.43% C, .75-1.0% Mn, .8-1.0% Cr, .12-.25% Mo
    It is classed a direct hardening medium carbon alloy steel of medium hardenability. Generaly it is oil quenched but heavy sections may be water hardened under carefully controled conditions.

    Normalizing temp: 870C 1600F
    Annealing temp : 800C 1500F
    Harden at : 1440F
    Temper at : 400F for 510Bhn
    Temper at : 800F for 370Bhn
    Temper at : 1200F for 230Bhn

    Most of the above courtesy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK 20th Ed.

    -- guru Friday, 02/12/99 02:14:55 GMT

    Darn! Bruce! you want temper colors TOO? NOTE: Temper color charts are ONLY GOOD for PLAIN CARBON STEELS. Every alloy will be different due to the way they oxidize! Temper colors are the color of the iron oxides that form on a clean surface and are greatly affected by chrome and nickle.

    430F - Very pale yellow (that first haze)
    800F - Above a light blue (=640F).

    You can always heat a plain carbon steel plate to the desired temper color and use it as a heat sink to draw the temper from a smaller part.
    I recently saw a post somewhere by someone bitching about the nearly $100 price tag of a new MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. . . It has almost ALL the information most blacksmiths need about heattreatment of specific steels that you would have to purchase an equally expensive specialized reference to get PLUS it has applications charts, every possible gemometric formula, standard steel sections, the last word on threads, fits and tolerances , information about non-ferrous metals, coloring metals, weights measures DRILL SIZES. . . A complete description of whats in MACHINERY'S would run at least the 2,500 pages of the book itself!

    You would easily spend that much on a weekend workshop where you would learn a tenth as much if you had spent the time studying MACHINERY'S! AND if the price is too much you can buy older volumes every day of the week on Bibliofind or Ebay for 1/3 to 1/2 the new price! The older editions (all the way back to the first) have most of the information you need. The earlier editions have better sections on babbiting and anvils but the newer editions have better information about modern alloy steels and drawing standards (like weld symbols).

    Bruce, this wasn't aimed at you! Just trying to sell some handbooks (that I currently don't get a penny for advertising (hint, hint)).
    Hey! look at that count! Over 20K and guess what? Neither my nor my helpers accesses are counted! Otherwise it would read at LEAST 6 or 8K more! Thanks for the support folks!

    -- guru Friday, 02/12/99 02:50:02 GMT

    Now, who am I going to trust, the knowledgable Guru, or some book? Especially a book that the Library always seems to want back the week before I think of the next question. Seriously, though, I should have thought of MH. On the other hand, by posting questions here, you or the other contributors may be aware of wrinkles "undreampt of" in the written material.

    While I'm posting anyway:

    In contemplating various doodled designs for junkyard treadle and power hammers, and adjustments of the hammer/anvil gap for stock and tool differences... What would be the physics and efficiencies of a stack of 8"x8"x1" steel plates, bolted tightly together, as an anvil? Clearance heights could be adjusted in incraments of an inch by adding and removing plates, the whole resting on a larger base. If the surfaces were well met, then I don't think there would be too much disapation of energy. (Hey, if it's a dog idea, I can always throw the cocktail napkin away!)

    Remember: Curiousity drives the Count. (20K indeed!)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylim at Friday, 02/12/99 03:34:12 GMT

    Stacked anvils dissapate a LOT of energy. Plate that appears flat will really surprise you when you try to stack it. Every fit must be machined or surface ground. Brian Rogenholt built an anvil of vertical bars that gets around the need to find one huge lump. Its still not as good as solid but it works better than stacked.

    -- guru Friday, 02/12/99 13:49:32 GMT

    I am interested in a recipe for a case hardening solution. I would like to use it on 18 gauge mild steel, with the hope that it might give it better mechanical properties (resistance to plastic deformation). I have read (I don't know where) that a paste could be made from sugar and charcoal powder. I dont know the proportions or even if it would work with mild steel. Thank you for your help.

    Caleb Hogg -- hoggcal at Friday, 02/12/99 17:09:48 GMT

    The last to emails I sent to you bounced back.
    Are you having problems with your mail program? Or are you trying to tell me something?


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Friday, 02/12/99 18:22:52 GMT


    Server problems. Keep sending them, they'll eventually get through. Jerry Carroll is haveing the same problem.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 02/12/99 18:31:47 GMT

    Temper-colours: Why would anyone want to use anything but honest carbon steel?

    "That low-tech bugger"

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 02/12/99 18:36:25 GMT

    Case-hardening: Anyone tried the old way with leather-charcoal in an iron or clay container? Does it work well, or do you need some more esotheric ingredients as well?

    Dark and cold, but getting lighter every day, in central Sweden

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 02/12/99 18:50:47 GMT

    Caleb, case hardening requires bringing the part up to a red heat in an oxygen deprived container filled with a carbonacious substance (usualy charcoal) for a period of time. It is not a suitable process for sheet stock (unless you have made small parts from the sheet).

    Surface treatment is possible with cyanide salts and a torch. One product for doing this is called "Casinite" but it too is not suitable for sheet stock. Cyanide surface treatent is also done in "pots" but you are limited to the size of the pot and the affordability of the materials.

    -- guru Friday, 02/12/99 18:54:44 GMT

    Olle, it works well enough that only about 10 minutes at red heat is required for thin parts like flint lock "frizzens" and small fasteners.

    -- guru Friday, 02/12/99 18:58:57 GMT

    I would like to set up a blacksmith's shop in the old tradition
    for a children's camp in Southern California.

    We need help understanding what would be needed?


    Dave Jones -- dfj at Friday, 02/12/99 19:18:45 GMT

    I second Jock's comments about MH: every time I have a question, I start there.
    I also have something to crow about: I got my 1957 edition for $10!!!!



    Al Dolney Friday, 02/12/99 20:29:44 GMT

    I would appreciate any information you could provide about a Kerry Hard trip hammer. It is about the same size as a #25 Little Giant and similair in design. It also uses round dies about 3-4 inches in diameter.

    Aaron King Friday, 02/12/99 22:16:43 GMT

    If you find a Machinists Handbook for $100 Run away! They can be found in most mail order tool catalogs (Travelers, J&L, etc. for around $60 sometimes less.

    Aaron King Friday, 02/12/99 22:22:39 GMT

    Aaron, Kerrihard hammers were made in Red Oak, Iowa. The Kerrihard Company was founded in the late 1800's. They made their first hammer around 1901 or 1902. A Kerrihard might look similair in design to a Little Giant but it is very diffrent. Kerrihard hammers did not have an "overhead" crank shaft like a Little Giant. They did have a crank shaft that attached to an "overhead" round beam through a yoke. The beam had a stationary fulcrum located at the back of the hammer and a guided ram at the front. The storke of the hammer could be adjusted by moving the connection of the pitman on the beam. Early Keerihard hammers did have a coil spring but later they used rubber cushions like a Bradley Compact. The lightest hammer they made had a 30Lb ram. The 30lb. hammer weighed about 700Lbs. and cost $60.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 02/12/99 23:20:04 GMT

    TRADITIONAL BLACKSMITH SHOP (Dave): Who's traditions? When? Where? There has really never been such a thing. Just a romantic vision of the "classic" smithy. Since before time blacksmiths have been the cutting edge of technology. Even today the tools of the metalurgist that will bring you superconductors and the transparent aluminium of Star Trek fame, are much the same as the smith described by Homer. Today's smith turns out the same product as his predessor but may use computer guided lasers or plasma torchs along with hammer and anvil.

    First, you need a blacksmith. THEN you will need tools and the blacksmith will know what you need and how to make all of it if he's any good. Check out our artical Getting Started . It has a short list of references and sources including organizations you need to check into.

    IF you intend the shop to be a teaching shop then you will need multiples of EVERYTHING (including the blacksmith). The equipment will also need to be adjustable (the anvil height for an 8 year old is about half that of an adult - see NEWS, AFC Edition, p.15). Small safety glasses that will properly fit children ARE available but must be obtained from and industrial safety supplier. There's a LOT to think about besides the blacksmithing equipment.

    Blacksmithing IS NOT a subject that you can take a few weekend workshops or go to a school for a week and then teach it to someone else.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/13/99 04:38:19 GMT

    Hi Jock! How's it going out east? Bruce: the ABANA site has a Tempil chart that can be printed out for nuthin'!! Guru: will be up this week (hopefully). The site is built and host/server contracted! I'll keep you posted (no pun). As usual, your counsel was invaluable. T-storms/Fr.rain/snow all within 15 min. in Rochester MN brian rognholt

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Saturday, 02/13/99 09:51:32 GMT

    TEMPLE CHART: It is an invaluable tool. I have two, a wall sized in my office and another smaller one "A" size I thnk, that I should be carrying in my portable library. These were given to me by a very good friend that may have understood the importance of them better than I. This is a heat temperature chart with universal phase diagram, not a temper color chart. I will have to look into where they can be ordered from. I know ASM carries them.
    As noted above by Brian, not only do we answer questions about metalworking but how to setup web sites and most recently a fellow wanted to know where he could get immediate delivery of a Dona Meilach book on contemporary stoneworking (there were 7 listed on

    -- guru Saturday, 02/13/99 13:33:48 GMT

    HELP RATE anvilfire! on

    Vote for your favorite site! Only one vote allowed.

    -- guru Saturday, 02/13/99 20:04:39 GMT


    Is the metal found in coils springs from automobiles good for making tooling such as chisles and punches?

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Saturday, 02/13/99 22:08:58 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I am a pilgrim at this point. I have a 150 haybudden anvil that is pretty beat up, and I just got what I think is an old champion riviting forge. Upon cleaning up the blower(which turns o.k.) but has a flat spot, I noticed a crack in the case around the bearing journal for the crank. Can this cast iron case be repaired. Do you have any opinion on my using the blower with out doing any repairs. The visual inspection I made of the insides of the blower seemed to look O.K. Any ideas on why it seems to bind slightly at one point? Ball bearings? Thanks for the site and your time. I really enjoy reading everybody's questions. It is a great way to learn. Thanks again!

    Mateo Woodside -- Oldpard at Sunday, 02/14/99 03:11:46 GMT

    SPRING STEEL (Matt): YES! Old auto springs (coil and flat) and axels are great for making tools. A friend of mine makes ALL his personal hammers from truck axels (not because they are better but because of their size). Coil springs take a little work to straighten but you can always torch them into short pieces. However, with a gas forge you can heat the whole thing, drop it over a mandrel and PULL it straight while unwinding it. Don't overlook smaller springs like valve springs and clutch springs. If you are making small tools like gravers or small springs it is better to start small. Valve springs are generaly very high tech stuff due to the duty required of them. I save them for recyling AS springs in diesets and other fixtures.

    Most spring steel is OIL quench. As a product of unknown specifications you must experiment a little with the hardening and tempering (nothing is really free). MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (all editions) has the SAE list of recommended steels. Note that more than one steel may be recommended for one use and don't assume that the first one you find in the list is the one you've got. This is also an old list and a LOT of new steels are in use. In the end it is every manufacturers decision as to what steel to use.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/14/99 14:57:32 GMT

    OLD BLOWER (Mateo): These devices came in various models in different quality levels. Some had plain bearings, some had ball bearings, some had "as cast" gears while others had machined gears. You will have to take it apart to find out.

    My guess based on the evidence of the crack and the "flat" (tight?) spot is that the input shaft is bent causing the gears to bind. Cast iron housings can be brazed to repair them but any type of repair on a casting is a real gamble. Then tendancy is for the repair to hold and a crack appear on the opposite side of the casting. This is a job for someone with lots of experiance. Even then the housing is likely going to need to be rebored. Lately I've taken to repairing castings with fibreglass and epoxy! If the shaft is bent it will need to be straightened and possibly machined. If machined undersized at the bearing it will need to be bushed or if the blower has plain bearings a special bearing made to fit.

    All you can do is take is apart, examine the parts closely and go from there. If you don't have the capacity to do the repairs it will likey cost less to purchase a NEW electric blower than to pay someone else.

    NO REPAIRS: IF there is a tight spot in the gears due to a bent shaft the gears will wear rapidly. You might possibly straighten the shaft and just put it back and get good use of the blower. These type blowers always leaked oil so a little leak around the crank will be nothing new.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/14/99 15:14:44 GMT

    I am an architect who has been asked to locate a jewelry-making anvil as part of the equipment for an art school. Can you give me a hint as to appropriate sizes/ specifications, and at least two sources with telephone numbers? Thanks so much, Martha

    Martha Bell -- mbellassoc at Sunday, 02/14/99 21:36:55 GMT

    I'd like to know how to keep color from torch heating in metal.
    I can get the color to the desired effect but when I put a finish on it many of the purples and reds fade out. I've seen work that kept color. My question is how ?

    Lon -- lon at Monday, 02/15/99 18:21:08 GMT

    JEWLER'S ANVIL (Martha): There are anvils, then there are ANVILS. The best small anvil I can find is a 45 pound Peddinghaus. This is much too small for general forge work but satifactory for forging larger pieces of jewelry. Peddinghaus makes the only forged steel anvil currently on the market making it the best. The dealers for Peddinghaus include Wallace Metal Work, Centaur Forge and Kayne & Son Hardware, 100 Daniel Ridge Rd., Candler, NC 28715, 828-667-8868 . There are specs sheets available through either of the two links above and prices on one.

    Beware of the small cast iron anvils being sold by a variety of hardware suppliers and farm suppliers. They are door stops that LOOK like anvils (but only to the untrained eye). IF the anvil being selected is to be used in a general welding/sculpture studio you will want to get the largest one available instead of the smallest.

    -- guru Monday, 02/15/99 23:18:26 GMT

    Lon, you didn't specify what kind of metal, it makes a difference. Titainium produces BRILLIANT temper colors and keeps them with little or no protection. You also didn't specifiy what finish you are using. Clear lacquer is the only finish that I know of that doesn't wash out the colors. Cleanliness and brilliance of finish make a huge difference in how bright the colors are and how they hold up. Steel should be brought to the finest finish you can achieve before coloring.

    LAST - I have seen certain types of steel sheet stock that colored briliantly. I'm sure it has something to do with the original finish which is probably pickled and thinly laquered.

    -- guru Monday, 02/15/99 23:27:50 GMT

    Thank you for the answer. I asked about retaining color in metal. I use different metals but most of the time it's plain old A-36 or mild steel. I also use 304 to 316 stainless steel. I have mixed A-36 and copper in a flower sculpture. I have used a acrlic finish that they are calling lacquer. Is there another type that is better ? When you speak of finish are you refering to smoothness ? Thank you. lon

    Lon -- lon at Tuesday, 02/16/99 00:30:51 GMT

    I live in mexico city and I will like to buy some used hammers and also I will like to see some gas forges (small hammers and forges). If you have some information about used machines and tools please send me a emial. Thanks.

    Alejandro Fernandez -- gufergar at Tuesday, 02/16/99 01:50:09 GMT

    Lon, yes, when I say "finish" I am speaking in engineering terms. An 8RMS or better. Any previous oxidation will dull the colors, especialy on the non-ferrous. Acrylic lacquer is OK but I've found that the good ol' nitro celulous laquer sold by the musical instument supply folks like Stewart-MacDonalds Guitar supply is better. It may not make a difference in the color loss you are experiancing. Since the colors you are creating are oxides on material that oxidizes on it's naturaly own, the sooner you apply the clear coat the better. I've seen they type of work you are talking about and the color has to do with the finish AND possible coatings on the material BEFORE it is heated or cut with a torch.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/16/99 05:05:44 GMT

    There was a book on blacksmithing I read about 5 years ago that was produced by a workers or guild of craftsmen in rural England.I was wondering if anyone has heard of it, and could shed some light on how to obtain a copy.Thanks

    brad -- brad37 at Tuesday, 02/16/99 05:26:21 GMT

    The "Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas" publishes several books on blacksmithing. Available fron Centaur Forge or Norm Larsen Books.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 02/16/99 17:39:26 GMT

    Brad, addresses for both sources listed above by grandpa are listed in Getting Started.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/16/99 18:10:13 GMT


    rod -- knives at Wednesday, 02/17/99 06:42:56 GMT

    I am looking for a source of books, magazines, or any other type of information source that is available concerning blacksmithing equipment used for the armies during the Civil War period. I would like to join a re-enactment group but I have no idea of the style of clothing, anvil type, etc. Any help would be very much appreciated.


    Ken Admire -- ken_admire at Wednesday, 02/17/99 17:23:02 GMT

    Can you recommend a book or site or somewhere that I could find information on making leaves, flowers, vines out of metal. I am a learning blacksmith but I am working with a journeyman of 50 years or more. Thanks

    Lori Rose -- touchela at Wednesday, 02/17/99 21:34:35 GMT

    BEAUDRY HAMMER (Rod): Beaudrys are rare compared to Little Giants. They had several mechanisims and some were better than others but in general the Beaudry was a very good hammer. See our book review page for Pounding Out The Proffits by Douglas Freund. Its a very good book and it covers the Beaudry.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/18/99 02:03:56 GMT

    Ken, most turn of the century blacksmithing equipment is suitable for the Civil War period and will be accepted by re-enactors. I'm not sure of the date of the earliest manufacture of hand crank blowers but it should not be a problem. If you want to be sure, use a double chambered bellows. They were invented around 1770 and are still in use. For clothing you will have to ask other re-enactors. However, I think Dixie Gun Works (see our links page) carries some.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/18/99 02:11:15 GMT

    LEAVES (Lori Rose): The best place to study this topic is in nature itself. After that, Donald Streeter's Professional Blacksmithing has some intresting die setups for cutting blanks. A number of years ago ABANA published a pattern book that had numerous of the complex icanthus leaf forms. Norm Larson carries a number of titles that can be helpful, Wrought Iron Designs by Graves, Tresury of Ironwork Designs by Grafton and Natural Art Forms by Blossfeldt. Centaur Forge carries The Art Nouveau Style by Waddell and Catalog of Drawings for Wrought Ironwork by RDC (formerly CoSIRA). Then for the cost of a phone call, King Supply Company's cataloag has a selection of hundreds of pressed metal leaves (1-800-542-2379).

    AND, a word of advise from Josh Greenwood,
    When developing forged leaves, start where the leaf spreads or near the stem. If you start at the tip and spread the ends they will overlap each other and further work will be impossible.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/18/99 03:51:06 GMT


    Check out the books on the contemporary photo collections and anything on the cavalry and artillery for the War Between the States. Some good information there, plus the feel of how the gear was used and field expedients. Meanwhile; the National Park Service has dozens of battlefields under its care. Follow up at You can e-mail the park and see if the Chief of Interpretation or the Historian can provide you with further leads. Your taxpayers money at work (and well spent, I say ;->).

    Cool (40s F) and raining on the banks of the lower Potomac; 60 miles south of Washington, 30 miles north of the infamous Pt. Lookout Prison Camp and across the river from the birthplaces of Robt. Lee and G. Washington.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 02/18/99 12:47:31 GMT


    SYU YING KWOK -- montecristo at Thursday, 02/18/99 15:24:10 GMT

    Bruce: Wow. "Chief of interpretation" or "Historian" with capital "H".
    I suppose Im already doing much of the same job over here but who wants to be a simple curator (intendent in swedish) when one could have a title like that.

    Cold and beautiful in central Sweden.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Thursday, 02/18/99 18:18:10 GMT

    Olle: The United States Government has this fetish for job classification. It's sort of like magic: if you can name it, you can control it. In truth, the most important line in any job description (especially in the Park Service) is

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Friday, 02/19/99 14:29:05 GMT

    Bruce: is...what?

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 02/19/99 17:01:42 GMT

    SNARGLEGRITCH! The dog ate my e-mail! "other related duties as assigned".

    This was followed by a long post on forging files and finding them red short. (Actually, sort of an orange to yellow short.) To cut to the chase: What's the best temperature for forging file steel for fire strikers? I hadn't tried files before, and they cost all of $0.50 at the flea market. Don't want to waste too much time or money. Secondly, do y'all think the "old knife made from file" was typically ground rather than forged?

    When you mess mostly with wrought iron, car spring and mild steel sheet, 4140 and file steel seem a little exotic, and may not behave as expected. Hence, I dump it here and let you folks fill me in on the wrinkles. Don't want to waste any more of those 50 cent files!

    Clouding up on the banks of the Potomac. We may even see SNOW this weekend.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Longship Company annual meeting this Saturday (a sure omen of snow):

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_balckistone at Friday, 02/19/99 20:05:09 GMT

    Atli: All files are NOT born equal. Best to use old "Nickelson" or "Black Diamond" . Work at no higher than full orange and no lower than full red. Now if we both call the same color the same name you'e in luck. Like those Bing cherries the best. Some files have up to 1.35 carbon. At high heats liquid will form in the grain boundries---red short caused by high carbon as opposed to high sulfur or phosphorus.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 02/19/99 21:02:34 GMT

    Bruce: Ive made a LOT of fire strikers, mostly viking and medevial, and i think file-steel normaly is to hard for that purpose. Common non-alloyed spring steel is far better, it lets the flint bite into it and so gives larger and hotter sparks.

    But file-steel cannot only be forged, If you are careful and flux enough it can be welded as well. I use it as the high carbon part in damascus edge-steel, but never on its own.

    Snow and strong winds in central Sweden.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Friday, 02/19/99 21:34:00 GMT

    PawPaw said that you could help me.(tho I am not sure I can be helped. Beat you to that PawPaw!)

    Seriously now, which book/books talk about pouring babbit? I believe that I might need to on my forge blower.


    Ralph -- douglass at Friday, 02/19/99 22:26:04 GMT

    Ralph, Centaur forge carries a booklet AND the materials for babbiting bearings. The older MACHINERY'S HANDBOOKS (15th and earlier) had extensive articles. Most old machinists of engineer's handbooks from the 30's have articles and many are still in print.

    IF the bearing is to be cast around a shaft (no split), when they say soot the shaft they mean SOOT the shaft. An oxyaceytelene flame does a great job! When tining the housing for the same type bearing use 100% tin solder. Clean brightly, apply copper sulfate solution, let dry then use the rosin flux with powdered tin (the ONLY solder flux). Heat until the flux's tin flashes then add a little more tin. When you pour the babbit this will make sure it sticks. This is especialy important on small babbits in plain bores.

    -- guru Friday, 02/19/99 23:49:29 GMT

    i have been looking for some info on how to build a furnace for melting aluminum and copper but i can't seem to find any. do you know of anyone that has plans? i'd like to build something in the 5lb. capacity range.

    Jared Smith -- deathstalker at Saturday, 02/20/99 01:40:46 GMT

    Hey Guru, you forgot to mention to Ralph when you soot with the torch to leave the oxygen off! (snicker)

    jerry -- birdlegs at Saturday, 02/20/99 05:54:28 GMT

    hey Guru, I noticed in the power hammer page something about an automatic gas forge?

    robert abdallah -- rmetalsmith at Saturday, 02/20/99 15:52:05 GMT

    Hi, I am a teacher. One of my second graders is doing a project on horseshoes and wants to find out when horseshoes were first used and where. Can you help us? Thank you

    Mrs. Yvonne Blake -- yblake at Saturday, 02/20/99 17:28:35 GMT

    Dear Guru: Idaho farriers guild is trying to locate a company that supplies ceramic forge liners. We have unsuccessfully tried to contact the E-Mail address. Do you have any information on contacting that company or another company that makes ceramic forges? Crowe lance is supposed to make a material called Paco 50. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated. Our forges are wearing out! Thank you. Susan.

    Susan Walmsley Sunday, 02/21/99 01:06:03 GMT

    Mrs. Yvonne Blake,

    Guru or one of the farriers will correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember correctly, the horse shoe was first used by the Romans. They built good paved roads, and the horses hooves needed the protection.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 02/21/99 01:12:00 GMT

    Jim: Didn't this same question come up several months ago, and didn't somebody suggest that the Chinese used cast horse shoes 1 or 2 thousand years earlier?

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 02/22/99 01:29:14 GMT

    i am looking for any information on building a gas powered forge.

    gene king -- jsking2110 at Monday, 02/22/99 01:31:17 GMT


    I'm not certain.

    A farrier told me that Alexander the Great used leather horseshoes on some of his cavalry mounts. The Goths apparently used metal horseshoes sometime around 900 BCE. I remember something about the Chinese reference, but it's very vague.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 02/22/99 01:46:42 GMT


    Go the the PLANS section here on Anvilfire. There are a couple of plans there.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 02/22/99 01:47:57 GMT

    Sorry these questions have been waiting. I spent the weekend at Bill Gisgner's MASA spring get-together. Had loads of fun. Will fill a new edition of the NEWS!

    SMALL FOUNDRY: The books of C.W. Ammen include numerous plans for small furnaces for melting aluminium, brass and iron (take your pick).
    Jerry, I think ANYONE that has used an actylene torch knows how to make soot! (on air-actylene torches you just use too much gas. . .)

    Robert, I and others such as Don Fogg build our own automaticly controled gas forges and furnaces. Don uses commercial furnace controllers and a thermocouple and I use on and off delay relays. Both systems require a solenoid valve for the gas and I also include electronic ignition. Both systems require a knowlege level such that if you are capable of building it you should probably be able to design it too. The only "trick-of-the trade" that I learned by experiance on these things is that you need a delay of a few seconds before turning on the gas to allow for the blower motor to come up to speed. The other point to note about these type controls is that they cost roughly $400-$500 US in parts.

    -- guru Monday, 02/22/99 05:16:42 GMT

    HORSE SHOES: When? The problem with this type of question is that we really don't know exactly when many things were first used and the reproted dates are the earliest KNOWN date based on the written record or archeologic evidence. Both are constantly being found to be in error and are always open to revision. The other problem is that we in the West have a clearly Eurocentric point of view. In China and Southeast Asia many things were invented well ahead of the West. Our Eurocentric histories still claim Guttenburg invented movable type when it is now well known that the Koreans invented it some 200-300 years earlier (just about the amount of time required for a technical idea to travel that distance in those days).

    You can safely say that "iron horseshoes were popularized in the West by the Roman Empire" (along with iron chain and padlocks). Bronze shoes may have been in use for a thousand years or more earlier AND as pointed out, shoes of other materials may have been used for as long as the horse was domesticated. "Stone age" man was the no different in inteligence than you or I and I am sure that when his burden bearing domestic animal had sore feet that he was quick to remedy the situation lest HE have to walk or carry the load.

    Along the same line, Morgan Hall pointed out to me that the Double Chambered bellows was described in DeReMetalica in 1540, much earlier than the 1770 date I reported (from Bealer). However, they were being used by Goldsmiths at a time when Blacksmiths were still reported to be using single action bellows alone or in pairs. The invention may be much older, but this is the earliest documented date.

    WOOPS! That was Bill "Gishner's" not Gisgner's. . . more tomarrow!

    -- guru Monday, 02/22/99 05:39:10 GMT

    GAS FORGE PLANS: I have some simple sketches on the plans page as Jim mentioned. For atmospheric forges (without blowers) see Ron Reil's web page. ABANA publishes the plans for the Sandia Labs recuperative forge. It was designed for operation at high altitudes but the system will also quickly produce welding heats.

    FORGE LINERS: All the commercial gas forges on the market are proprietary construction. If you want parts for them you should go back to the original manufacturer. If you want to do-it-yourself the best method is to purchase castable refractory from a foundry supplier and make wooden molds to cast the replacement pieces. Castable refractory is by far the cheapest liner (its what the OEM's used).

    -- guru Monday, 02/22/99 13:22:29 GMT

    Guru, Grandpa,
    I wonder if either of you could help this poor old wanna be?
    I was doing to forge welding yesterday. And every time I would do a foggot weld(at least I think that is how it is called.) The edge that had been layed back over the body would not weld. The are just got thinner. So my question of the moment is, how doi you scarf the tip to get it to weld smoothly into the body?
    Thank you!

    Ralph -- douglass at Monday, 02/22/99 15:31:03 GMT

    Dear Guru. I've been making medieval armor for several years, along with some occasional bladesmithing. Occasionally I "cheat" and make a suit of armor out of stainless, usually 304 as that's quickly available here. What I want to know is if there's some method of soldering, brazing or any other method of affixing 16ga twisted brass wire to the edges of 16 to 20ga stainless armor pieces for decorative trim? I have the "usual" shop tools, 3-burner forge, acetelyne torch, mig rig, Burr King, buffers, grinders, drill presses. I've tried several methods of silver soldering but seem to have difficulty getting the stainless hot enough without melting the brass. I know Revereware does this but that's electronically. Any way to do this at home?

    Ken Riggs -- kenriggs at Monday, 02/22/99 19:52:32 GMT

    The museum i work at has an old mangler, the body i made from ome kind of cast (iron i think) it seem to have been made early 1800's. The shippling co that delivered it droped it and broke the top off.

    what would the best process for welding the broken pices be?, the pices that are broken are no more than 50mm X 25mm, would it be best to preheat then weld? or just use a soft rod? (i suppose i could even braize it).

    thanks in advance

    Andrew Garrett (kiwi) -- andrew at Monday, 02/22/99 19:54:02 GMT

    Ralph, sounds like it could be a number of things. The end you are speaking of is the most exposed part. It will both heat and cool the fastest. There is a good chance that you are trying to heat the work too fast and burning the end or boiling off the flux (same results). IF you are looking for a smooth blend the body of the bar must be upset a little to provide more cross section prior to welding. The end should be tapered and convex (curve up away from the opposite surface) so that flux and swarf can be squeezed out during the weld.

    -- guru Monday, 02/22/99 21:22:07 GMT

    Thanks! I believe I have done all you suggested. So now it is just practice and then more practice.


    Ralph -- douglass at Monday, 02/22/99 21:37:26 GMT


    I had a guy call me the other day at the shop and needed some 2" sq. bar twisted. Can you tell how calculate the amount torque required to twist 2" square hot roll steel 7 1/2 turns on 20 ft. bar?

    Bill Epps -- B-Epps at Tuesday, 02/23/99 02:54:00 GMT

    Bill, a WHOLE LOT! I'll have to do some research and calcs and get back to you on this one. I CAN tell you a way to do it before hand. Mike Boone told me this weekend how he has 4 pieces of angle iron with 4 pieces of round filling each twisted into a single bar! (Imaging an X shape with four rounds). A friend of his does it with a big deisel farm tractor. The bundle is chucked to one side of the axel and the tractor is put into low-low-low (gang plowing gear). The other end must be anchored to something REALLY sturdy and well anchored. Says it takes several hours for the 20 foot lengths!

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 03:21:25 GMT

    Kiwi, Brazing is generally the safest repair to cast iron. It CAN be welded but welding cast is very tricky depending on the shape. Generally it results in cracks in other places. If the parts take much load you should pre-braze the parts (like tinning with solder) then heat until the parts join and can be pushed into correct position. When this part of the joint freezes then you can fill the rest of the joint or blend the outside. Grinding a bevel like a weld prep helps (10x10mm).

    SILVER SOLDER (Ken): If you are melting the brass you are using much too high a melting point silver solder. The type welding suppliers sell is high copper (will match the brass better than the stainless). I've used this common type on brass sheet and rod without problem so you may be having technique trouble. Silver soldering takes very deft control of a small torch tip. Some folks get much better results with an air-acetylene torch.

    One solution might be the new lead free soft solders made for plumbing. The better grades are mostly tin with a little silver to help harden the alloy. This alloy will not darken nearly as bad as the old tin/lead solders and the color match will be better than the copper/silver alloy.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 03:45:09 GMT

    Hi I am working on a 16th century wheellock pistolkit and in the directions it says to heat the (4140) steel to between 1525 and 1625 and then let it air cool???. I have done some work in 5160 before and I know you have to quench it after you heat it . so which proscess is correct.
    Thank You,

    Steve johnson -- idontknw at Tuesday, 02/23/99 06:39:39 GMT

    Steve, most of the old pistols and guns were made of soft mild steel or wrought iron and case hardened. A few parts such as sprins were made of steel but these were often case hardened too. This sounds like they WANT a semi annealed or normalized condition. On the other hand, a very small part may cool fast enough to be hard without quenching. I posted the specs for 4140 above on 2/12/99.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 11:59:10 GMT

    Hmmmm. . . 16th Century. . . No alloy steels available then! The kit maker provided 4140 for safety. It is still much stronger than low carbon and wrought iron steel in the annealed condition. Do what the maker requires OR ask them if they made a mistake.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 12:05:53 GMT

    SOLDER AGAIN: On that Tin/Silver solder, Brownells (the gunsmith suppliers) sells what they call "Hi-Force 44" Solder. It is .96 Sn .04 Ag. Rated at 25,000 PSI anf flows at 475 degrees F.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 15:15:44 GMT

    I was wondering if anyone knew what kind of metal railroad spikes were made of. I have noticed a lot of people selling knives made from
    railroad spikes , and as a novice knifemaker I am always looking for
    some kind of old junk that I can pound into a knife. But if thease things wont harden very well I won't bother with em. Thanks.

    Kial Gunter -- Kial_Gunter at Tuesday, 02/23/99 20:52:04 GMT

    I am planning to build a power hammer soon, any ideas on which material might be best for guides, brass, bronze or synthetic(nylon or plastic). Planning hammer to be in the fifty to seventy five pound range, probably air [powered. Thanks, LB

    Larry Brown -- brownln at Tuesday, 02/23/99 21:13:50 GMT

    RAILROAD SPIKES (Kial): There are two varieties of RR spikes. High carbon and low carbon. The high carbon spikes are supposedly marked on the head "HC". These are actually close to a 40 point medium carbon steel. They WILL harden but may not be up to the standard of some.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 22:43:42 GMT

    POWER HAMMER GUIDES (Larry): I do not recommend plastics for machine guides. Nylon swells when oiled and teflon is actually very abrasive under certain circumstances. Both are subject to more wear than other materials when dirt and grit get in the guide system.

    Steel on steel works if kept well lubricated but unless one part is hardened then both parts wear.

    Cast Iron on steel makes a very good guide system but manufacturing will cast iron is out of the question for most small manufacturers. However, continious cast bar stock is now available in Cast Iron and is very good for machine components. The fact that it is not sand cast means less inclusions and better machineability.

    Bronze on steel or bronze on CI is the best for the small builder as well as the large. The bronze has high lubricity compared to steel and will wear more than the steel (Saving the steel part) making it good for replaceable inserts. Oillite bronze is available in bar stock for this purpose.

    -- guru Tuesday, 02/23/99 22:52:43 GMT

    GUIDES, again: There are a number of new high tech plastic bearing materials available. They are produced in very thin layers that are bonded to metal backings, usualy copper or bronze. This results in a surface with high lubricity that can conduct heat away quickly. There are also tape materials that are applied to machined ways. These require very precision fits and surfaces.

    Some people have suggested using commercial ball or roller guides. The problem with these is that they have a much lower load capacity than plain slides (over 10:1 difference). When sized correctly for heavy impact loads they become large and very expensive.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/24/99 02:33:40 GMT

    I would like to know if there somewhere I can find a set of plans for making a bellows that is operated by a foot treadle. I am making brakedrum forge, a large one with a centaur firepot. I can weld up a frame to any specs, just need direction. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Patrick McGrath

    Patrick T. McGrath -- HidinginLA at Wednesday, 02/24/99 07:41:43 GMT

    Patrick, Any standard lever operated bellows can be rigged up for foot opperation. I'm just not sure why you would want to do it that way. Since the lower chamber of a double champered bellows is lifted to pump air (it acts as it own return weight), you simply need to arrange your linkage for foot operation. Every bellows installation is a special setup dependant on the placement of the bellows. In most old shops it was placed high to prevent damage to the leather from long bars or flying sparks. On the other hand, the Williamsburg Forge built at the UNC Ashville campus had the bellows setup so that nozzel was level to the entry to the twyeer. This reduces the need for long pipe (which wasn't available in the 1700's).

    Before building with a bellows, consider this. Even a large double chambered bellows like the one I had on my portable shop only supplies air for a few seconds after the last pump. Essentialy you pump continously and can not work while doing so (foot OR hand operated). Freeing up your hands with a foot action doesn't gain you much. Centaur Forge has a booklet on making a bellows that is quite detailed.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/24/99 14:49:58 GMT

    Guru;There is a Jardine 25# hammer for sale,and I know nothing about mechanical hammers.Are these good hammers?Any thing a guy should look out for with this particular brand?
    Is electricity flowing off the river yet Jock? -12 and cloudy in norhtern BC.

    dimag -- dimag at Wednesday, 02/24/99 15:40:07 GMT

    I am new tp blacksmithing and toolmaking and am starting to make a set of smiths tools beginning with cold/hot chisels punches etc. I have a question on tempering, I used the following tempering method on most tools after forging heat to cherry red three inches of blade on cold chisels or punches and quench to harden. I then shine surface with a file or abrasive stone to see temper colors and temper with a propane torch flame heating shaft below hardened tip until proper color reaches tip I generally move tool farther from flame to control amount or area to be tempered and temper first inch to inch and a quarter of tool. Now for the question sometimes temper ends up a little too soft and I therefore need to retemper harder. Do I need to harden tip again first or can I just redraw temper with torch flame? Thanks in advance. Also I make all tools from auto coil springs or axle shafts and farm machinery scrap ie unknown high carbon steel.

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Wednesday, 02/24/99 18:14:04 GMT

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at,

    If it is too soft after tempering you will need to reharden first.
    Now mind you this is just the way I do it , but on chisels/punches I heat the piece up to critical(the whole piece) quench the working end only(about an inch or so) then rub working end on a brick to shine it up and allow the heat fron the other end to draw the temper, then quench whole piece at the temper you wanted. This seems to work well for me. It gives a softer striking end with the proper hardness on the work end.

    Ralph Douglass

    Ralph -- douglass at Wednesday, 02/24/99 18:29:58 GMT

    In-re/ Guides thanks for the answer. Would you know of a vendor for the oillite flats I know only of round and tube suppliers? Thanks

    Larry Brown -- brownln at Wednesday, 02/24/99 18:40:30 GMT

    I have never tempered a knive blade but would like to. I have heard and read that one knows relative temp. of steel by its color. At what color would the steel be 1200-1500 degree?

    sdowning -- sdowning at Wednesday, 02/24/99 21:21:47 GMT

    HARDENING/TEMPERING: Judging heat by color is a myth. Can you tell me the value of the reflected candelpower of the light in your shop? No? Neither can I. The temperature "color" you see is inversely proportional to the ambient lighting. In a dark room you may be able to see steel start to florese at around 1,000F. In bright sunlight a piece of steel that is still over 2,000F will appear black. Published charts such as the Tempil chart assume very little ambient lighting (You can find a copy on the ABANA site).

    For a brief article on hardening and tempering see Knives 01 on the 21st Century page.

    -- guru Wednesday, 02/24/99 23:59:25 GMT

    BRONZE BEARING MATERIAL: SAE 841 Oilite Bronze sheet can be purchased from McMaster-Carr (See the link to their site on our Links page.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/25/99 00:02:31 GMT

    Jardine hammer: Dimag, I don't know of the Jardine and I couldn't find it in Pounding Out The Profits. This doesn't mean its a bad hammer, just rare. I know you are enough of a mechanic to recognize good machinery when you see it. Check it out and let us know.

    Things to look for in mechanical hammers:

  • Worn bearings - lift the crank wheel with a pry bar. If the babbit is worn more than 1/16" (2mm) it may require rework. Toggle pins and crank bearing should be tighter than this.

  • Worn Guides - grab the ram and give it a shake. If it moves noticably look for an adjustment. Is there an adjustment and is there any left?

  • Missing parts - Springs, pins, pulleys, dies, sow blocks (the block the lower die goes in - also called an anvil cap). All these old machines are no longer supported very well (except Little Giant) and custom parts may cost you as much as the machine.

  • Dies - sometimes old hammers have good dies but often they are beat to pieces. If they are cracked, chipped or sway backed you may need to make new ones. Consider the cost of good tool steel in a big enough lump and the machining cost.

  • Some hammers (like the L.G.) have proprietary clutches that were poorly designed from the start. It turns out that the BEST clutch for a mechanical hammer is a slip belt. This is also fairly easy to retrofit or convert.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/25/99 00:24:32 GMT

    On a mechanical hammer like a little giant,How is the counter balancing set? is it so the shaft is balanced before the linkage is added or does it balance the weight of some or all of the linkage?

    larry Brown -- brownln at Thursday, 02/25/99 04:17:09 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    After reading what you said, I agree. I think now, an electrical setup will be the best. So, it's off to the junk yard to pick up an old variable speed car heater fan/motor and a used 12 volt battery.
    Hook it up to a 24" solar panel a friend gave me just far enough away
    to keep out of trouble and I'm portable.
    Thanks for letting me see the light. I'll let you know how it works out.
    Patrick McGrath

    Patrick McGrath -- HidinginLA at Thursday, 02/25/99 04:54:37 GMT

    MECHANICAL HAMMER BALANCE: The counter balance in the crank wheel balances the horizontal component of the linkage only. This consists of the crank pin, connector and part of the weight of the arms and spring. This keeps the hammer from rocking side to side. The reason for using only part of the linkage weight is that at the ram end it does not move horizontaly at all, while at the crank end it moves the full amount of the stroke. If the mass of the linkage were of uniform section this would mean you balance exactly one half the weight. The trouble comes when you try to determine the amount of force to balance on an obviously non-uniform shape. This is further complicated on machines that have adjustable stroke. On these the designer must take a guess at what will be the most benificial amount to balance. Normaly this is done by determining the maximum imbalance then trying to reduce it in both the minimum and maximum case to some average.

    Since you cannot balance the vertical component (the ram mass) the weight of the hammer and the anchorage to the ground must resist the tendancy of the hammer to hop of the ground. This is why you want to build as heavy a machine as possible (frame and anvil). I've had people insist they wanted a light weight hammer for portability! So what do you do with that portability? A heavy machine can be moved around and used for intermitant service without bolting it down. A lightweight machine MUST be securely bolted to an adequate foundation. So which is more "portable"?

    On the Little Giant they balance the horizontal component of the linkage and pin having determined by proportioning the amount of the linkage to balance (100% of the pin and link, about 30% of the linkage).

    -- guru Thursday, 02/25/99 17:03:02 GMT

    Patrick, I wasn't trying to convince you not to use a bellows, I was just questioning using it by foot power. A bellows is inconvienient in some respects but they are a joy to use. The control you get of the blast is no less than actual physical touch. They are a GREAT tool for doing demonstrations. However, in a full time operation they require an assistant. This is where many a young apprentice started. Years at the bellows learning fire management and watching the work in progress. I suspect it also weeded out those that were not really intrested in learning the craft.

    Blowers are great tools but are not very romantic. If you intend to do public demonstrations then go for the romance! Otherwise Centaur Forge carries a nice 12VDC blower as well as a booklet on building bellows.

    -- guru Thursday, 02/25/99 17:15:42 GMT

    Can you give me a brief description of what a blacksmith does?

    Jessica -- Ice1231 at Thursday, 02/25/99 23:35:32 GMT

    A blacksmith shapes wrought iron and steel by heating it until it is (relatively) soft and working it with hammer, anvil and other tools.

    In modern and ancient times this includes welding by heating the metal until nearly melted and hammering it together. Today the trade of the blacksmith includes modern welding and machine shop methods. Blacksmiths can be industrial smiths that produce common metal items by the thousands under huge forging machines, OR they can be artist blacksmiths producing one off items including architectual metalwork and sculpture. Although by definition a blacksmith works the "black metal", iron, we also work brass, bronze, aluminium, titanium and stainless steel. If you need something made of metal or a metal object repaired a blacksmith can usualy do it.

    -- guru Friday, 02/26/99 00:10:10 GMT

    I am looking for a source of high carbon steel (1095,1090,1085,) round or square stock. I want to make high quality wood chisels and gouges, like my old ones. I have been blacksmithing part time for about 7 years and makeng and selling tools is the area I really want
    to work in

    John N -- newmann at Friday, 02/26/99 02:02:33 GMT

    I live in southern Ontario and somewhere nearby would be best but I
    cannot be fussy if it has to be shipped

    John N -- newmann at Friday, 02/26/99 02:08:52 GMT

    I don't know about ontario but in BC the best place to look for the 10 series is with some of the spring places....if you aren't in say Toronto or an urban area, try loggining onto & doing a search on it.

    Bob -- robert_miller at Friday, 02/26/99 03:28:16 GMT

    Dimag - RE the Jardine Hammer
    Well I haven't seen one but they are a canadian hammer. The one I ran accross was for sale in S. Alberta & had been used to sharpen plow shears. They were made later in life 1930-40's in S Ontario. I had heard they used brass bushings & these could be raplaced. The size I was talking with the feloow was about a 25 lb....never heard if they made a bigger one.... & no one else has heard of them either......hope that helps.

    Bob -- robert_miller at Friday, 02/26/99 03:36:24 GMT

    Thank you Bob! I'd forgotten that we had discussed the Jardine a while back.

    -- guru Friday, 02/26/99 23:36:41 GMT

    Ladies and Gents,

    I'll be out of town for the next week, leaving tomorrow morning and returning next saturday. Try to behave yourselves, and I'll see you when I get back.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 02/27/99 12:40:58 GMT

    I am looking for a book or pictures that would show how to forge leaves and flowers. While I am fairly new to blacksmithing I am working with a journeyman of 50 years. Can you help us find some information.

    Also could you direct me to a local blacksmithing group? We are in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area.

    Thanks for your time. I am learning alot from your web sites.


    Lori Rose -- touchela at Saturday, 02/27/99 14:28:50 GMT

    Thank you for your advice. Ignore second request. I am still new at this technology. I got it now. Thanks.

    Lori -- touchela at Saturday, 02/27/99 14:44:06 GMT


    Robert Mccutcheon -- ginamccutcheon at Saturday, 02/27/99 16:34:08 GMT

    FORGES: There are a variety of forge types dependant on fuel and budget. Probably the best forge you could build would be a coal forge using one of the firepots and blowers sold by Centaur Forge. Side draft vents are best. Check the Centaur page, there are several forges shown. The picture of the large floor forge is as good as a set of plans. Check our news pages of the AFC edition and the last page of the ABANA edition. There are good views of side draft type vents in use.

    If you are intrested in building a gas forge there are some rudimentary plans on our plans and 21st Century pages. See the link to the Ron Reil page from our links page for more specific plans for a variety of forges.

    If building a forge is to be a class project a "brake drum" forge is a common beginning blacksmith project. These are a little limited for ornamental work but everyone can afford to take theirs home! Let me know if you need more details.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 01:02:01 GMT

    Forgot to mention - see the plans for the brake drum forge on our plans page.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 01:06:14 GMT

    Dear Jock,
    I guess I'm just an old romantic, I ordered the book on bellows from
    Centaur. I want to build A bellows myself. It's like when I sculpt,
    I still use a hammer and chisel. Besides if I really get tired of a bellows I'll rig it to a treadmill and teach my dog to earn his keep.

    Patrick T. McGrath -- HidinginLA at Sunday, 02/28/99 05:05:42 GMT

    Looking for a Hay-buden #200 or close to.Can you lead me in the right direction?Thanks.

    Mark A. Witt -- wittsend at Sunday, 02/28/99 05:13:02 GMT

    I have a small coal forge, along with a small anvil. Would like to try my hand at making knives on it. Truthfully, I'm really just a very interested amateur. What experience I've got comes from banging on my equipment. I need to know more about temporing. Could you help me?


    Dwight Hall -- dhall at Sunday, 02/28/99 05:13:14 GMT

    Dwight, there is a brief article on heat treating on the 21st Century page. We could get into it in depth but it really a subject that technical books cover better.

    The process is basicaly thus, heat the steel until it becomes non-magnetic (the transformation point) and quench in water or oil to harden. Then ASAP, reheat the piece to some temperature in the 400 to 1200F range. This is tempering, reducing the hardness and internal strains making the steel tougher. The temperature depends on the type of steel and is usualy in the 400-600F range for carbon steels. This temperature is often judged by the temper color (the rainbow of colors you see on a heated piece of clean steel). There are charts of the colors and the temperatures they represent but they only apply to plain carbon steels, not alloy steels.

    See that article, (Knives 01) then check out the web site of Don Fogg.
    He uses salt pots for tempering and has a lot of good knife information. Then see our link to Blade Forums. More technical knife stuff than you could dream about!

    If you have a very specific question either grandpa or I will be glad to help.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 13:51:53 GMT

    Mark, there are two places to try other than your local resources.

    Bruce Wallace of Wallace Metal Work. Bruce has the fairest prices you will ever run into.

    Then there is Wild Bill Gichner, Iron Age Antiques, Ocean City, Delaware - (302) 539-5344. I know he has wait you are looking for or something very close. However, Bill gets the "wild" from his reputation for high prices. He values items like anvils which are no longer in production as being worth more than new. Expect to pay $7/lb US for an anvil from Bill. In the next anvilfire NEWS I'll be publishing photos from the recent hammer-in at Bill'a and have a photo of his current anvil mountain.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 14:04:44 GMT

    Patrick, Good for you! See the photos of the cute little portable Viking forge and bellows in the anvilfire NEWS

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 14:08:00 GMT

    Lori Rose, Not a problem. I'm afraid I didn't provide much of an answer. There are tons of metalworking books with a little information in each about making leaves and flowers but I don't think there is one specificaly on the subject. I really do think that if you are intrested in it as an art form that my advice to study nature and then figure it out yourself is best. As artists we all strive to be original and in this field figuring out original techniques produces the most original work.

    My friend Josh Greenwood spent several years developing techniques to produce heavy forged icanthus leaves (not thin sheet metal ones). In the end, part of the originality comes from the tools he developed. Someone else trying to do the same thing will get different results using their own tools. In the end you just have to work these problems out yourself.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 14:22:36 GMT

    What kind of tools do u use?

    JETSCRAZE Sunday, 02/28/99 16:30:31 GMT

    What kind of items do u produce?

    JETSCRAZE Sunday, 02/28/99 16:32:09 GMT

    TOOLS: You name it! Besides blacksmith's tools including coal and gas forges, mechanical and steam/air hammers, I also maintain a small machine shop, make musical instruments and do some computer programming, CAD work and writing. Yeah. . . I'm a tool junky. Still have tools my Dad gave me when I was 4 years old. There is a photo of part of my blacksmiths tool collection at the top of the Virtual Hammer-In page.

    WHAT DO I PRODUCE? Currently I am managing the construction of a hydropower plant. Besides design work I do some of the welding and machine work when it is more efficient for me to do so than to instruct someone else how. When I was blacksmithing full time I made mostly small stuff, fireplace tools, garden gates and such, but I have also worked on some larger projects in others shops.

    If you want to know more about me click on the photo at the top left of this page.

    -- guru Sunday, 02/28/99 19:27:46 GMT

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