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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. Please read the Guidelines before posting a question.
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

HELLO WORLD! Welcome to the NEW Guru's Den! We've been doing a little bit of remodeling. We aren't quite finished but then this web site will never be 'finished'.

Let us know about any bugs or glitches. The first one to figure out the source of our "clue" (to what? You have to figure it out), and posts it here wins an Anvilfire Cap! NO , quessing! Guessing will get you disqualified!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/02/00 12:28:55 GMT

What is stoker coal and how useful is it to a blacksmith?
Bill  <w.ston at gte.net> - Friday, 02/11/00 00:30:28 GMT

STOKER COAL: A stoker is an automatic machine that feeds coal into a heating furnace. Well. . . sort of automatic. Someone has to shovel coal into the hopper of the stoker a couple times a day but at least you don't have to tend the furnace constantly. The stoker uses a screw to feed the coal which is sized suitably. You still have to shovel out and haul away the clinkers and ashes but it beats the alternative (I KNOW, I've done both).

The reason "stoker coal" is good for blacksmithing is that it must be a high grade of coal or the stoker would clog from the clinker that formed in the firebox. It must also burn at an approximate known rate.

The factors that make coal suitable for stoker use also make it a good smithing coal. Some smiths don't like the small lumps (1/2" or 13mm average) but its all what you get used to. I liked the fact that it shovels easily. Many small fuel dealers don't know exactly WHAT they have, but in general if its stoker coal its good for smithing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 00:58:16 GMT

Bruce Wallace Is there some place that makes the springs for the beaudry hammers? there not your normal spring, a friend had one coustom made. Sure took a bite out of his proffit.
kid  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 03:01:13 GMT

Is there any information available on rebuilding a Star Power Hammer?
Bill Stone   <Stonebill at msn.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 04:24:18 GMT

Some years ago I saw an article about acetylene torch applied "hard facing alloys". These were rod stock and were being applied to amish horseshoes to increase the slip resistance of the horseshoe on icy roads. The article was critical of this practice as the alloys wore the road much faster than mild steel horseshoes. If you have been over some of the roads in SE Pa. you can see the groove cut in the road down the middle of the lane. I think the alloys were developed to face oil drill bits. I have an arc welding outfit as well, so arc applied alloy facing is possible. Can you refer me to some source material on this?

Dave Lawrence
Dave Lawrence  <David.J.Lawrence at usa.dupont.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 13:35:07 GMT

Hard Facing Rods: Sorry about the confusion Dave. Currently most of the torch applied stuff is powder that goes in a little hopper and is applied like a spray. The best source of information is your welding supplier and the manufacturers catalogs. Every manucacturer makes different rods and there is only a little cross over.

The material is a combination of the rod and the coating and most is VERY hard. It used by some to face/reface anvils and is used to add wear resistance to heavy equipment buckets and for lining rock and ore crushing equipment.

This is a very hard wear resistant material and is generaly too brittle for a cutting edge. What are you trying to do Dave?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 14:10:33 GMT

STAR HAMMER: Bill, All the old mechanical hammer manufacturers went out of business a long time ago. There is lots of orphan machinery from that era (lathes, drills, milling machines) that people use every day. What you have to understand when you purchase any one of these machines is that you are on your own. Worn out parts are built up and remachined. To what specs? That's up to you. Missing parts. . . well, you have to design or engineer and manufacture your own.

Owning, operating and maintaining old machinery is not a task many people are suited for. It takes time, skill and engineuity to keep old machinery running. Even the most skilled often need to pay a machine shop to make parts.

And yes, there are books that cover the subject. But they are not titled "Rebuilding the Star Hammer", They are title "Machine Shop Practice", "Practical Engineering", "Applied Mechanics". MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is the closest thing to a universal machinist's/mechanics "how-to".

We will help you as much as possible. We are slowly collecting spec sheets and photos of old forging machines and will be posting the information on the Power hammer Page. The best this information will provide is, what that missing part looked like, what was the shape of that spring, how fast should it run. . . However most of the above will always be true.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 14:41:41 GMT

Kid, if your talking about spring arms for a Beaudry Champion, I could see how it could be very expensive to have them made. I don't know any other choice then if you needed one or both then to have it custom made.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 15:06:03 GMT

COST of PARTS: Kid, What did that spring cost? I'll bet the hammer was purcased cheap. The spring may have cost as much as the hammer. However, if that Beaudry hammer were still being manufactured it would cost $50,000 USD (for a small hammer of that quality). If he has $5,000 to $6,000 in a small hammer it is 10% of what a new machine would have cost.

In the introduction to my unwritten book. . . I call the Blacksmith of 21st Century a post-industrial era smith living off the remains of another era. How many smiths do you know that own a NEW Peddinghaus anvil? OR can afford a new Chambersburg? Why are Junk Yard Hammers are not only popular with hobbiests but with working smiths? Even much of our remaining commercial capacity is scrambling around buying old used equipment.

The sad thing about seeing old equipment sold for scrap (which is then exported) is that these are our national profits (different than national product). Any time a small business can startup using the remains of another generation then they are taking advantage of the profit of that generation. Its like an inheritance. Everytime we scrap a usable machine it is giving away our national inheritance. Its a bad thing and our government only sees it as a short term balance of trade when it actually agravates the problem. Besides the value of the machine think of the human and natural resources that went into making the raw materials. . . . Selling scrap overseas is giving away our national inheritance.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 15:50:34 GMT

Our Guru Page Contest is still running!

The first one to figure out the source of our "clue" (to what? You have to figure it out), and posts it here wins an anvilfire Cap! NO , quessing! Guessing will get you disqualified! Clue's to the clue. You have to post a message to see it. Did I say "No, guessing"? Well. . No guesing!

More Contests!

Build the BEST JYH and bring it to Flagstaff for the ABANA 2000 JYH Event and win a NEW! 110 pound Peddinghaus anvil provided by Wallace Metal Works!

Sorry, Employees of anvilfire, members of the color guard and members of the "inner circle" are not eligible. "Best" JYH will be defined by the percentage of recycled materials, originality and usfullness of operation. More details later. .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 18:19:51 GMT

Most of the material that has been applied to horseshoes to reduce slip is borium or drill tec(?). Most of what I have used looks like jagged chunks of borium in a Nickel (?) base that is brazed onto the shoes, usually a band or two spots in the toe area and on each heel. It will GRIP the road. Many horses "stock" up after a couple of days of road work, and need a day or so off. This material can be purchased in the stick form or pellets that can be laid on the shoe and placed in the forge. Most farrier supply houses handle some form. It is a different product than our hard facing materials such as we find on mower blades, plow points, etc,.

Nolan Dorsey
Nolan  <Ndorsey at ck.tec.ok.us> - Friday, 02/11/00 18:34:01 GMT

Nolan: Thank you!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 19:00:50 GMT

I am a 20 year bench Jeweler doing more and more hand fabrication, we also make Mokume which reguires some forging.
We would like to have an Anvil and don't no what to look for or what it should cost. Should we be concerned about hardness and type of metal. Any info that you can provide would be greatly appricated.
Bill Kohler  <BillyBob29 at aol.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 19:15:12 GMT

ANVILS: Bill, Good forging anvils are tool steel or have a tool steel face and are hardened to 55-63Rc or so. Most are just as hard as they can be gotten. Small anvils tend to be harder than large anvils because it is difficult to quench a large anvil (over 250 pounds). There are a LOT of cheap cast iron anvils on the market that you want to avoid. Most old anvils have a tool steel plate forge welded to a wrought iron body. See my series on anvils on our 21st Century page.

For stand-up forging a 100 pound anvil is about the minumum you want for drawing out. 75 pound anvils are fine for fine detailed work in steel. A general blacksmith shop anvil should be 200 pounds or more.

Good new anvils cost $4 to $8/lb. USD. Good used anvils are selling for $2.5 - $5/lb. Our three blacksmith supply advertisers all sell anvils. Centaur Forge, Kayne & Son and Wallace Metal Works. NOTE: It is not unusual to have to dress the surface of an anvil for its desired use. Most are manufactured for iron work and need some grinding and polishing to be suitable for jewelry work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/11/00 19:37:28 GMT

Clues! Hmmm, guess I had better start looking!

Thanks for the site, Guru!
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 02/11/00 22:32:51 GMT

Hmmm Guru, is this clue just a way to drive us nuts!
Hush PawPaw! Don't even go there!

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 02/11/00 22:43:43 GMT


Snicker! Snort! Chuckle! Short trip for you, huh? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Friday, 02/11/00 23:26:08 GMT

When you least expect it I will be there to get you(grin)
Well I am going to have to give up on the clues as I think I am now too lod to concentrate that long.

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 02/11/00 23:46:16 GMT

I asked about the stoker coal the other night. (Didn't want you to confuse me with the Bill Stone asking about the Star Power Hammer.) The coal that I can get locally is Kentucky coal. I'm concerned that it may not be clean enough to work iron with. The gentleman I spoke with expressed the same concern so I thought I'd ask you. Is it clean enough or will I need to buy some and try it?
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 01:19:43 GMT

COAL: Bill, Your answer immediately follows your question above. :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 01:31:26 GMT

Bug: Jush noticed that 'Last Post' on the menu doesn't work on the archives. . . Not an easy fix either :(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 01:33:46 GMT

I give up...
Too hard for us normall people...
Erik  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 01:37:31 GMT

I gave the only clue clue the you need. . . maybe you guys don't read sci-fi or listen to NPR. . . :) Whoops. .. more clues. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 03:30:22 GMT

My machine is too fast for me to see the screen inbetween when you post and when it ret to the screen... Darn
Dave  <dave at why.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 03:40:15 GMT

Howdy Guys,
Haven't been online for a week, so it'll take a while to catch up. I see some reference to a contest and clues, guess I'll have to try for a new hat~ or change the oil in my old one.
My question is what's everyone's favorite treatment for blacksmith elbow. I've got about the worse case I've ever had.
I did manage to set a visitor to the forge on fire this week. Funny where a piece of work, (cut off on the hardie), can end up when you least expect it.
Mike  <WCFarm at parod.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 03:41:47 GMT

test  <test> - Saturday, 02/12/00 03:50:24 GMT

Hi Jock! First time to post here, love your site. I see a lot of regulars here that I've chatted with at another great website.

This isn't a blacksmithing question, but the answer to the source of your clue. It comes from the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. A hilarious series with a definitely British touch to the humor. Are you sure those letters are large and friendly enough? (Grin)

How's that?

P.S. - Hi, Paw PAw, Grandpa, Bruce, et. al.!
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 03:56:29 GMT

A WINNER! Stormcrow, send me your mailing address and your anvilfire hat will be on its way!

The clue that has been staring you ALL in the face was the message on the cover of "The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy". . . DON'T PANIC. And if you're hitchhiking around the Galaxy with a lot of odd aliens and occasionaly being dumped out into the vacuume of space its good advise. . .

I've been running the same contest on the ABANA webmaster's forum with even MORE clues but no-one has even tried. . :(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 04:04:53 GMT

Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaah! First contest I've ever won! Thanks, Jock!

Let this be a lesson to you, kids. A well-read man can win a cap in a contest. :-)
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 04:08:29 GMT

ELBOW: Mike, Can't help. Rest and a power hammer? Figure out what you did wrong and don't do it again. A lot of folks don't and just keep re-injuring themselves.

Contest Folks, I promise the next one will be a blacksmithing related contest. Whoops there already is one, with a REAL prize. A NEW Peddinghaus anvil! As soon as we get it polished and painted we will post a photo of it.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 04:36:40 GMT

Mike (Blacksmiths elbow), I've had pain and numbness in my forearm, thumb, and index finger for several years. I have "choked up" on the handle for years without realizing it, and "forced" the hammer down on the downswing. When I stopped doing this my pain and numbness went away. Let gravity and a full swing bring the hammer down, also let the impact on the hot metal "rebound" the hammer on the upswing. It takes concious effort to change but it works. Hope this helps. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 05:34:40 GMT

Good Guru
I think Stellite still makes a torch applied hardfacing rod
Pete F - Saturday, 02/12/00 07:52:16 GMT

ELBOW again: Mike, Tim Cisneros (above) sent me this link. We have a link to the main page but I'd never looked at this.


Tim is also right about hammering technique. However, we also hammer in many other places other than at the anvil. A friend of mine hurt himself riviting while assembling a gate. When working out of position it is import to use a lighter hammer and THINK about how you are going about the job. I've done a LOT of carpentry work and that puts you in every possible position. Some hurt or tire you very quickly. I've found that you often have to find another way or get your body in a position where the hammering is comfortable even if the rest of you is not.

Most of us need a very light grip on the hammer, almost a balancng grip using the technique that Tim describes above. That fierce driving grip that a few use is only good for that few. I will not mention names but the two most famous smiths past and present use that pile driver grip. They manage to get away with it, perhaps from strength but the rest of us can not. Lighten up!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 15:23:18 GMT

guru thanks for you guys time and wisdom.
jwolfe  <jwolfe at sonet.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 19:14:19 GMT


Reference your elbow. How do you hold your hammer? If you use your thumb on top of the hammer, you need to read the iForge demonstration about hammer control.


Since when did you EVER miss a chance to zing me, bubblehead! (grin)


Welcome to anvilfire! You WOULD be the one to win the hat! Congratulations! But well read? Read quite a bit of trash too, don't you ? (grin) BTW, I just finished the last of the David Eddings books, I've got everything he's written. (grin)

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 19:57:12 GMT

Custom Knifemake looking for plans on building a "Air Hammer" Please let me know if you can help me out. Thanks
Roger Clark  <bruingear at aol.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 20:56:53 GMT

Why, yes Paw Paw, I do read a lot of trash. But I try to ignore your smart comments as much as I can. (Grin!)
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Saturday, 02/12/00 20:58:52 GMT


I was wondering if you could tell me what the final RPM for a Champion 35LB power hammer should be. Or send me a sight that I could use to look it up for myself.
Reid  <Joeydoves at AOL.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 21:32:48 GMT

Another question I have is; What is the average price for a 1941, 400lb, Cast anvil?
Reid  <Joeydoves at AOL.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 21:38:46 GMT

Reid: Your answer got archived! I posted a comparitive chart and said 450RPM, Bruce says its a 30# hammer and specs say 400.

Archives! Folks we archive this page every 10 days and soon it will be weekly. Your answer is almost always within a few posts of your question unless it got missed or we didn't know. When questions are near the break point for the archive we try to include the answer with the question.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 21:47:00 GMT

ANVIL: Cast what? Iron or Steel? You can't give away scrap cast iron right now and thats what a NEW or old cast iron anvil is worth, scrap.

For all other anvils it depends on their condition. Anvils are not real collectors items or antiques unless they are over 150 years old and most that age are still in use. "Antique" anvils are more like 1700's "Colonial" anvils.

A good cast steel anvil needs to be hard and not be chipped too badly. Used anvils sell for $2/lb to 5$/lb USD depending on condition and who's buying and who's selling. BIG anvils tend to sell for more because of their rarity. Most common anvil size is 125 therefore they go for less. Small anvils also sell for more.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 22:01:23 GMT

I'm not a blacksmith,I'm a mason intrested in the top and side draft masonry built forges. I was assisted by a gentileman at aother web site to here. I'm looking for dimentions or drawings of of Blacksmith Forges. The circa is 1850-1920. I don't know if dates matter or if mason built forges have remained the same. I've worked on a 1 forge so far that was not drafting since it was built. After rebuilding the drat hole at the pots edge in increasing the chimney tile I was told it work great! But now since this there are many other inquires about this type of masonry.
T. Smith  <Ffbrick at AOL.COM> - Saturday, 02/12/00 22:09:46 GMT

ANVIL TYPES: There are two other "cast" anvils. The "Fisher - Eagle" and ductile iron. The Fisher is actually a hybrid. IT has a steel insert welded "in the mold" to a cast iron body. They are OK until that "patent" joint comes apart. People either love or hate a Fisher. They were the first American mass produced anvil.

A number of modern makers are making ductile iron anvils. Ductile has qualities of both cast iron and mild steel. Ductile is weldable but is not a true steel. It has none of the properties of tool steel which is what all good anvils are faced with.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 22:12:06 GMT

Forge Flue: T.Smith, The Book Practical Blacksmithing by M.T. Richardson has drawings of a number of side draft forges from that period. There are no dimensions but they appear to be to scale.

The following pages of the anvilfire NEWS have images of old flues and of new steel flues which were patterned after old masonary ones that worked well.




The side draft flue has a relatively small opening of 10x10" or 12x12" that creates a high velocity as it opens into a larger expansion chambre or flue. In the steel models above the expansion chambre has a sloped back like a fireplace creating a "smoke shelf". The cross section entering the smoke shelf should be equal to or larger than the intake (about 1.5x). The flue itself should be a minimum of 12x12 and 14x14 is recommended. The twyeer (where the air blast enters the forge) should be centered within 8" to 12" of the flue opening. Have the opening about 2 courses above the fire bed works better than being too low.

If the twyeer is too far from the flue it doesn't matter what you do. The smoke is going to fill the shop.

Of course you know that flue height and position relative to roofs and other buildings often have as much to do with "draw" as anything else.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/12/00 23:00:09 GMT

My smithing hovel is just a roof and my metal often gets rusty by the time I use it. What can I use to remove the red hue left on the iro after I have forge it?
Barry  <bmyers647 at aol.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 00:02:38 GMT

Weather bird,

Me and Rodney, we get NO respect. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Sunday, 02/13/00 01:06:53 GMT

I am interested in building a power hammer, however the pictures and plans on your website leave a little too much to the imagination and I would like everything laid out if I could. I don't have a lot of spare time to do this and I don't want to waste a bunch of time engineering stuff that someone already has engineered. Does anyone give away or sell detailed plans and instructions for a power hammer?
Thank you Steve Hansen
Stephen Hansen  <turkhansen at aol.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 03:51:31 GMT


Wire brush, or sand blaster.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Sunday, 02/13/00 03:55:11 GMT

PLANS: Stephen, There are a variety of plans available for air hammers but not for mechanical hammers. These still require a lot of design-it yourself. The reason we have rather nebulous palns for JYH hammers is that it is the most affordable way for most to build a hammer.

Mechanical hammers are a much more sophisticated machine to build than they appear. I've been designing mechanical hammers attempting to get the cost down but it is difficult. Hammer prices keep coming in around $6-$10K

There is also the question of the usefulness of the plans. To build a NICE durable mechanical hammer requires a well equiped machine shop. Do you have an 18" lathe? A milling machine or 16" shaper? Not many people do, so the plans would be a waste of time unless someone were paying for the engineering time for one set of plans.

We are working on the problem but there are many reasons that mechanical hammers are no longer manufactured. Among them is the libility issue. Then there is the fact that you can buy a VERY nice used mechanical hammer for the cost of materials to build one. I can fix you up with a VERY nice 250# Beaudry for $6,200.

For about the same price I can design and detail a very nice hammer for you. All CAD drawings to industrial standards. Then you can resell the plans to recoup some of your investment.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 04:45:56 GMT

We are getting ready to buy a 100 pound Moloch power hammer. I am sure we will need various parts for it. Any advise for where we should look for parts to rebuild it? thanks, Steve Johnson
steve Johnson  <sjohnson at flash.net> - Sunday, 02/13/00 14:37:34 GMT

Hello, i know trhis is an odd question..and someone might feel like kickin' me in the bum for this but hey...i gotta ask:

I am curently trying to repair my fathers wakazashii have everything to do so except the fuchi and kashira...they are hard to find and when i do they are too expensive..what i'm asking is how can i make them?

Thank You,
Scotsman  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 15:08:39 GMT

Moloch Hammer: Steve, These were designed by the Meier Brothers, the same folks that designed the Little Giant. Later, Little Giant bought out what was left of the company. . However, as much as they LOOK like a Little Giant they are not the same. See my comments above about the Star Hammer, out of production machinery and being on your own.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 16:04:10 GMT

I am making a jyh. can I use a steel core with concrete around it for an anvil? also do I really need a brake to stop the hammer motion? The hammer will only be 50 lbs or less. thanks
Bill Boger  <woboger at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 16:12:17 GMT

JYH: Bill, You can make a concrete base to give the hammer mass but it does not add significatly to the value of the anvil. The concrete does not have the strength to take the pounding so there must be a good anvil mass and it must be well supported on the concrete. A load distribution plate (or flanges) and rubber padding are needed. If you put too light an anvil on a concrete base you will be effectively hammering directly on the concrete base. How many wacks with a sledge hammer can a piece of concrete take? Not many. . .

A concrete base is sort of like a portable foundation. When I built my first JYH I had a huge piece of steel plate to mount the hammer on. This is often not available nor is it easy to work with. You can build a hollow "base" from light angle iron and pieces of plate with anchor points for the machinery. Then fill the "base" with concrete. This adds weight AND makes a stiff support for the machinery. It is also relatively cheap. Up until you fill with concrete the base is also easy to handle.

Most power hammers do not have a brake. Most of the better ones did but none of the Little Giants nor the cheaper hammers come with one.

I've just been informed by the ABANA 2000 folks that we shouldn't worry too much about the weight of our JYH hammers and that 200VAC may be available. . . Will update the rules soon. .

I am also setting up a "guru's notebook" that will be full of rough JYH idea sketches. I haven't had time to complete the manual I was going to put together so this will have to do.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 16:59:37 GMT

Hi, I've managed to get access to an iron smelting furnace. Although I know some basics about the smelting and casting process (I am able to do two piece resin/sand and splash moulds) I need to find out about weights and measures, ratios temperatures and types of fuels etc. my library hasnt been much help and I wondered if you could point me in the right direction to get as much info as possible on this complex process. I realise this is quite a broad question and any help would be greatly appreciated.


paul b (England)
Paul B.  <paulb65 at zensearch.net> - Sunday, 02/13/00 19:46:40 GMT

Thanks for the information. I liked the mason work shown on the double forge setup. Again Thanks!!
T. Smith  <Ffbrick at AOL.COM> - Sunday, 02/13/00 19:53:51 GMT

Scotsman: You can probably buy parts from Fred Lohman cheaper than you can make them. http://involved-swords.com
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 20:32:43 GMT

IRON MELTING: Paul, The books by C.W. Ammen are designed for the small scale or do-it-yourself foundry man. Don't shy away from these books because of the do-it-yourself aspect. In an industrial setting everyone from the furnacemaster to the patternmaker likes to keep their trade secrets. C.W. Ammen covers it ALL giving up many of what WERE trade secrets. His instructions are suitable for building your own backyard furnace to operating a small commercial foundry. The books are available directly from author and from metalworking book sellers like Cantaur Forge and Norm Larson.

I'm assuming you are speaking of an old coupla type furnace (looks like a tall brick chiminey). The fuel is foundry coke. This is either a coal or petroleum product. As long as you feed fuel and iron to the furnace you can stay in operation (24 hours a day). The capacity of the maximum pour is usualy one taping of the furnace. Big operations run for a week between "dropping the bottom" of the furnace. Small operations often spend most of the week preparing molds and getting everything ready for "pour day" and then run as long as they have molds to fill.

You want to use good clean CAST iron if you want good castings. Many small foundrys toss in ANYTHING iron or steel and get some pretty poor results. Using scrap is OK just be sure you know what you are using. Cast iron is slightly less dense than steel. Specific gravity is 7.37gr/cm3 or 0.2665lb/cuin = 460 lbs/cu foot.

Most small foundries use "petro-bond no-bake" sand for making molds. It takes a lot less skill than greensand molds and produces good results. You use up a lot of refractory cement and clay operating a coupla so find a local foundry supply and make friends.

Look for or order those C.W. Ammen books. ASM (see our links page) also has industrial references on the subject. You need both if you are serious about pouring iron.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 20:38:51 GMT

I have been working a my grandfathers welding shop since I was 10 I am 22 now and we make alot of wrought iron but we don't have a forge. I would appreciate it if you could send me some plans of a coke forge or a gas forge I could bend scolls with. I have a table I have to make out of 1" square solid stock that I have to make some tight scrolls with. I would rather have a coke forge I heard gas are dangerous. If you would please send me a set of plans thank you.
Josh Major  <jljaja at cs.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 22:35:09 GMT

FORGES: Josh, there are numerous forge plans around. Currently all we have is a free beginers "Brake Drum" forge on our plans page.
Try this link www.loganact.com/mwn/howto/forge/dcforge.html

What you want to burn is a good grade of coal. If you can't get good coal localy then you want a gas or oil forge. Gas forges are no more dangerous than your domestic gas stove. Some have safety cut-offs some don't (just like the majority of old gas stoves).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 23:34:02 GMT

Thanks grandpa..will do..:)
Scotsman  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 02/13/00 23:42:50 GMT

I'm glad grandpa answered your question Scotsman because I don't understand Scotch/Japanese!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 00:12:27 GMT

Do you know of any web sights with information on Champion Power hammers?
Reid  <Joeydoves at AOL.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 00:45:24 GMT

Are there any tricks to replacing the spring of a post vise with a car leaf spring? My post vise is missing the spring, otherwise it's all cleaned up and ready to reassemble and install.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Monday, 02/14/00 01:24:49 GMT

Reid, I've got a few unposted images. There might be some in the PABA edition of the NEWS. I saw 3-4 that weekend.

Stormcrow, my second or third blacksmithing project was to make a post vise spring. It was for one of those OLD models that have a rectangular hole and a pinned tennon. It helps if you have another one for a pattern or guide. I made mine from the relatively thin spring from an old British car. They start the same width as the vise, then tapers. The whole has a very slight "S" shape. At the bottom there are two little "wings" where it contacts the front. They wrap around just enough to keep the spring in place. Seems to me I did more torching than forging but when it was finished with nice wide chamfers you couldn't tell it wasn't original.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 02:08:33 GMT

Update on Fred Lohman's site: the URL is http://www.Japanese-Swords.com
Scotsman  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 02:17:32 GMT

So is there anything I need to know about the temper of the spring? I'm quite the novice, but I do have an ok store of knowledge. Tempering isn't something I've gotten to play around with. I think that the springs are off of a '20s Chevrolet.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Monday, 02/14/00 02:21:04 GMT

20's Chevy!: That's collectors material! :)

I think I used mine as forged the first time and it bent. The second time I oil quenched it and used it as is. HEY! It was a LONG time ago. I have better luck quenching in oil. Springs should be tempered some but not too much. A lot depends on the steel. Many springs are tempered to a blue. At least 500°F min.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 03:13:15 GMT

I have notised that several postings have disapeared in the archive. why? did you have trouble saving it?
just curius but anyway.
Now to the question. what would you sugest for material when making a post vise. I had thought 0.50C straight carbon steel like the US 10XXseries or something close.
OErjan  <Pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 11:34:12 GMT

Lost: OErjan, the only postings lost were one days worth a couple months ago. . . The only editing I do is multiple postings and occasionaly I will move an answer to just below the question. This may make it appear that there are gaps. If you notice something in particular let me know. Things DO happen. .

Vise: Old post vises were wrought iron with hard steel faces forge welded to the jaws. Most were manufactured in the same shops that made anvils. If you study the construction, particularly the split "eye" that the screw passes through and the forge welded "cheek" plates, the design is particularly well suited to wrought iron (as it should be).

A medium carbon steel would make a great vise but is over-kill. You would want to be careful to temper the frame for toughness. Making a post vise is quite a project. Like making anvils many of us think about it but never do it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 15:44:47 GMT

while on the subject of handmade post vises, when i bought my anvil and forge i also got a post vise for 15 bucks wich i was told was hand made around the civil war, it is definitly hand made as numerous forge weld lines , well what i was wondering is if i should keep using this wonderful vise or if i run the risk of breaking it and ruining it? also, what might a great piece like this be worth and is there a way i can determine it's age fore sure? any feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks
alex  <klownsrbad at hotmail.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 16:06:19 GMT

I would really like to buy a special gift for my boyfriend - like a training course for working with iron, blacksmithing, wrought iron, whatever (I'm a beginner). I found several beginner and intermediate course across the US, but none in his home town - do ou know of any beginner and intermediate courses - for 3 to 5 days around the Houston area?

Linda  <LJarvis at compuserve.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 17:30:14 GMT

Lessons: Linda, Try these folks. HOUSTON AREA BLACKSMITH ASSOC. They are not an ABANA Chapter but they operate like one and do the same things. Membership might be a good gift. Most chapter meetings have demos and occasionaly "open forges" and workshops. They will also know about local schools that might have classes.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 18:15:16 GMT

Collectors Items: Alex, that is a hard decision in our business. Many of us use 200 year old antique tools every day. So far, I see little interest by collectors in one-off primitive pieces. Generaly they want items that were made in sufficient quantity to create a known market value. Post vises tend to be unmarked and the manufacturer unidentifiable. Good ones currently sell for around $75 US (a bargain) with heavier ones selling for more. Some of the late double screw vises sell fairly high. None come close to the NEW price in the Centaur Forge catalog.

If you think the vise is genuinely hand made, and it is well made, it may have some collectors value. However all older post vises were made of forged and forge welded wrought iron. The construction and techniques of "Factory" made is almost no different than a one off on these tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 18:32:32 GMT

Concrete base for power hammer...

Thanks for this very interesting idea. Do you recommend
anything for inbetween the base and a concrete garage floor
to help isolate the hammer? I'm worried about the neighbors, :-)
Tod Amon  <amon at suu.edu> - Monday, 02/14/00 19:29:47 GMT

Hey Guru;
Different methods of upsetting metal would make a great iForge demonstration. I've got a 100 lb. post vice mounted on a buzz saw flywheel for a base, that's my main mobile vice. I use it all the time for upsetting small stock. I just came in from making a handfull of Massey wheel rim locks that I bumped up to 9/16 square from some old 3/8 scrap rod in the vice, and seeing the vice questions reminded me that "making it bigger" is a major hurdle for folks new to the craft. It's not like I'm volunteering, I'll leave that to The Color Guard. Gotta go eat a bite, 'n back to the forge.
Mike  <WCFarm at parod.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 19:51:18 GMT

To answer your question from a few days ago, I had to make a bunch of big hinges and shutter fittings for the museums' new barn, and running out of time, (we caught a spell of nice weather, and they got extra help). To save time, heat, and coal, I grabbed my 5 lb. cut-off sledge, and went after it for a week. I usually gob on the horse liniment, but it didn't help much this time. (drat, just dripped mustard on the keyboard), Anyway, I don't think it helped playing drums for 5 hours friday night~ couldn't get a long sleave shirt over my elbow. The vet's comming over this afternoon to preg check some cows we AI'ed, so I figure he may have something that will work.
Mike  <WCFarm at parod.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 20:22:40 GMT

Concrete Base: Tod, details about composite bases will be next in my sketchbook. Hammers need mass to help hold them in place and reduce transmited vibration. My comment about not being able to replace anvil mass with concrete is not 100% true but the last time I mentioned this a fellow started telling everyone *I* said you could make a concrete anvil and then started offering them for sale!

Concrete is less than 10% as strong as cast iron. You must have enough anvil to absorb and return the energy that the concrete cannot take. Then load should also be spread out by a flange or mounting pad. And then perhaps a rubber pad too. Load distribution can also be achieved with inserts in the concrete.

This is nothing new in machine design. However, it is not common practice because of durability problems. Concrete shrinks with age. It also looses mass as trapped water eventualy evaporates out. But we are building Junk Yard Hammers and home-built machines that are never going to be as durable as an industrial duty machine so this is not really a problem. The benifits are that it is cheap mass that the machine would not have otherwise. It can also save on materials. . . more on that later.

Your noise question is hard to answer. Most hammer noise comes from the dies striking the work and the ram cocking and striking the frame. Noise transmission can be reduced with a rubber pad in some cases but may increase it in others. How close are your neighbors and how big a hammer?

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 21:08:53 GMT


Get some more of his horse linament. I'd give you the recipe for the home made linament that my grandfather made, but the food and drug folks would jail me. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Monday, 02/14/00 21:11:27 GMT

Mike: I was right the first time, you needed a helper or a power hammer!

The flywheel for a vise base is a good idea. I like a well anchored vise. Don't have one in my new shop yet and it frustrates me every time I go to do ANYTHING.

On upsetting, a good friend of mine who is quite good at it still calls upsetting "an upsetting experiance". Heavy vises and benches for "bucking" the work help a lot. One of the better ideas he saw in Germany was an old anvil, turned upside down and set into the concrete floor. The base of the old anvil had one of those square handling holes. When they needed to upset the end on a post, they stuck the cold end in the hole an wailed away. The old anvil took the shock the floor couldn't and the hole kept the end of the bar from kicking around.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 21:21:58 GMT

Guru, and company...
i've gotten almost to the end of a project that I starten a while ago. I'm nearly finished with a reproduction of an early 15th century dirk, and I'm worried about the blade warping. Any way to prevent this????

Also. How can I ensure that the sides have the same angle to them??
Its taken me a while to get them to what I think is pretty close to identical..
many thanks
Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:17:36 GMT

I am an abstract sculptor, I work primarely with metal and stone. I have just started my ventures in blacksmithing and finding out what I need to learn. I got my first anvil this winter, what can you tell me about it: It is used, it feels like it weighs about 160-170lbs. Stamped on one side of the anvil is: "Brighton" (it is hard to make out so this may be a variation of what it actually says) and below it is stamped, "HILL" or "HALL". On the other side is stamped: 1 1 23. What could you tell me about this anvil and what would you suggest for a first timer's forge?
Michael McShane  <metalartme at yahoo.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:19:22 GMT


OK, first let's do the weight part. the numbers you cite are in the Olde Englis Hundred Weight system, which is based on the standard weight of a "stone" 14 pounds. (don't ask me how they determined that, I don't have the slightest idea!)

The first number is for hundred weights or 112 pounds. The second number is for 1/4 hundred weights or 28 pounds. The third number is actual pounds.

So your anivl ways 112+28+23 pounds for a grand total of 163 pounds. Your guess of 160 - 170 was very close.

On page 73 of ANVILS IN AMERICA by Richard A. Postman he mentions an English manufacturer named Hill. The other word MIGHT be Burmingham, which is consistent with the markings on the three anvils that Mr. Postman has recorded.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:51:49 GMT

Spell checker! But it wouldn't have caught one of the goofs. The third paragraph SHOULD read,

So your anvil weighs 112+28+23 pounds for a grand total of 163 pounds.

Sorry bout that!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:54:21 GMT

ANVIL: Michael, The weight is those three numbers in hundred weights (112#), quarter hundred weights (28#) and pounds. 112 + 28 + 23 = 163 pounds so your guess was very good. I couldn't find your anvil listed in Anvils in America but it sounds like an old English anvil. Brighton Hall is in England best I can remember.

I'd start with a brake drum forge and test the local available coal. If you can't get decent coal without a lot of difficulty then a gas forge is in order. OR you may have a preference for a gas forge. All our advertisers sell them. The little NC-TOOL forges are a good place to start. They are quiet and efficient.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:54:31 GMT

Paw-Paw!: I'm going to quit answering anvil name questions and leave them ALL up to you from now on!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/14/00 23:55:46 GMT

POST VICES I had an old post vice in terribal condition, no screw and part of the jaw face missing. It must have been burried for many yrs, the grain of the wrought was vary visable. It was amazing how many welds were in it, they welded where it wasn't necessary except to use up small pieces of iron. I would bet it was made in a factory but it still was hand made since not much closed die forging was used. things still had the variables that denote hand made. With wrought iron there wasn't the scrap piles that we have today. IMHO :)
KID  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 00:53:38 GMT

Has anyone tried forge-welding rebar? I have no experience working rebar in a forge, but I have an awful lot of it sitting around. I thought it could make a good material for candleholders and whatnot after the ridges are disposed of. Also, it should give me something to play around with and learn on.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 01:15:50 GMT


OK! (grin)


You can make a lot of stuff with rebar, but the quality is pretty inconsistent. One place in a bar might be a re-cycled car, the next inch might be a re-cycled Pepsi can. It's made from scap.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 01:45:46 GMT

Thank you for the information on the weight and make of my anvil. I am pleased to hear that it has at least come up in publications in the past. After Paw-Paw's entry that it may have Burmingham inscribed on the side, I do recall it saying this, not Brighton like I had thought it may. Thank you, I am sure I'll have more questions in the near future. -Michael
Michael McShane  <Metalartme at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 02:05:43 GMT

But can it forge weld usually? I'm not trying to make tools or anything that has to be strong. I just need to make some widget or other that I can produce easily and sell for spending money.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 02:05:51 GMT

Anivl--scap!!! mercy.. I've heard good smiths can't spell as is witnessed sometimes in the Pub. gotta be true :)
Jerry  <birdlegs at keynet.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 02:08:31 GMT


Sometimes yes, sometims no. Depends on the quality of the inch you're working with.

Make a bunch of "S" hooks. They're quick, easy, and they sell well. Retail for a dollar an inch in this area. A four inch "S" hook sells for $4.00, five in for $5.00 and so on.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 02:59:19 GMT

Don't Panic!
(I was just about to type the answer when the screen refreshed, and you won the hat...now I gotta BUY one.)
I'm sure you can forge weld rebar, but it might be more bother than it's worth. I never learned to stick weld, but a few years ago, I bought a cheap little wire welder, and man, is it ever a time saver. I grind off the slop, heat it in the forge, and a few smacks later, it looks, er, good! I sand blast most things when I'm done, (either in the cabinet, or outside with a pressure blaster), which piens any leftover grind marks, and makes it ready for finish. Time is money. You really got to crank out the trade goods to make a profit.
Mike  <WCFarm at parod.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 03:06:25 GMT

I have a Peterite Anvil, 110lbs. The face and horn have been abused. I would like to know where I could get this re-done and approximate cost. I live in Canada in the province of Alberta.
Fred  <gofer at telusplanet.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 03:23:00 GMT

Jim: Take two dictionaries and call me in the morning!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 03:55:34 GMT

Rebar Welds; Stormcrow:

I have been pretty successful faggot welding "serpent pattern" rebar, the stuff with the chevron pattern. I use it for dragons and beast heads and all sorts of stuff. Sat next to a Canadian rebar merchant on the way out to Arizona last year, who said there was rebar, and there was rebar. Quality and performance vary from manufacture to manufacturer, as well as from batch to batch. I had some wonderful World War II stuff with a very "organic" raised pattern, from the old U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base. It was terrible, all of it red-short. Crumbled at any sort of a forging heat. Then again, by that stage of the war, we weren't too picky, as long as the barracks stayed up.

Like any other form of scrap, it takes some experimentation, and a state of mind prepared for any eventuality. If you find a source with consistant performance, the problem is solved. Given the general switch away from content standards to performance standards, we may all find ourselves in this boat. Scrap is making up a considerable part of the resource stream, and the efficiencies in energy consumption and pollution control argue that it will continue to rise as a percentage of the total.

Hey, try it. Just remember that a failure may as easily be the stock's fault as much as the technique.

Cool and muddy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 03:59:17 GMT

Anvil Repair: Fred, That Peter Wright has a tool steel face welded onto a wrought iron body. Repair requires careful preheat and special welding rods. When done welding it needs a day's worth of grinding. Altogether it can be a couple days labor plus materials. A lot depends on the severity of the damage. Many smiths do it for themselves. Rarely is it paid for.

At the CanIron conference in Galgary last summer there was a weld and grinde wizard there named Bill Plante. I'm not sure where is is from but I thought he was local. If he his (within a province or so) it would worth seeking him out. Bill was building anvils from plate and scrap, hard facing them and grinding smooth. There is a picture of a piece of his work on pge 4 of our CanIron coverage. I'm afraid I missed his demo.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 04:11:51 GMT

Mike: Sorry you lost out but its been there staring folks in the face for a month. . .

Dressing Welds If you have to dress welds on forge work avoid grinding them. It takes a LOT of forging for that distinct ground surface to disapear. Grind your prep, weld it, and if you use stick, power wire brush off the flux. At forging temperature the arc welding flux is about as stiff as the steel and it will forge into the steel and then later weather out showing a weld crevice. Clean and wire brush the weld and then heat and forge it to dress it. If you can't forge weld you can at least produce traditional looking work that looks good even to other smiths.

I have several opinions about welding and grinding. On any type of strucural I would not accept ground down welds in our fabrication shop or from our venders. If a weld is so bad is has to be ground (other than minor touch up at the ends) then it should have been ground out entirely and done again.

If a weld is supposed to be hidden and not show then it should REALLY not show. If you weld and grind, then grind until you can't tell there was a weld. Otherwise the welds should be neat clean and not ground. Good welding can be a design element as well as collars and rivits. There is a metal artist who's work shows up in a lot of classy "craft" galleries. He uses old welding cylinders, brake drums and all kinds of industrial hardware to produce his art. It is all arc welded together. He has a great sense of design and the welds are perfect and undressed. The work is classy. It is not tradition ironwork but it is GOOD ironwork.

No matter what your style of blacksmithing is, do quality work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 04:35:57 GMT


Buying mild steel isn't that expensive. Here in Colorado, I pay about $7 for a 20 foot stick of 3/8" square stock. Hint: bring your cutting torch or a hacksaw if you can't haul a standard 20' length. Otherwise they'll charge you to cut it ($10 per cut here.)

You may also want to look for scrap material from a local fabrication shop, commercial construction/remodel jobs, recyclers, oilfield & heavy equipment repair places, auto junkyards, etc. Many of my punches & pritchels are made from old car springs, which are an acceptable substitute for tool steel when the budget is tight.

I have one of the small NC Tools propane forges, and it works OK for smaller items (it's designed for horseshoeing.)The small door in the back is nice for working with longer pieces of bar stock, but an atmospheric forge doesn't seem to be able to reach welding heats at my altitude (5,300 ft.) Your local farrier supply house might be a good place to look for a used propane forge, especially if there's a horseshoeing school in your area; There's always people who outfit themselves and then bail out of the shoeing business a few months later -- That's how I got mine. Propane forges are very convenient and portable, but I'd recommend a coal forge if your situation allows that option.

I'm still learning too, and am itching to build a shop instead of working off the back of my pickup truck.
Robert Gallahan  <BobG at Privatei.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 04:47:21 GMT

HIGH ALTITUDE FORGE: Robert, The ABANA recuperative gas forge plans from the SANDIA Labs in New Mexico were designed to make up for the 5% loss per 1,000 feet of altitude that a gas forge suffers. They achieved measured temperatures of 2300-2600F (1315C). This is done by preheating the intake air to aprox 800-1000F (480C) and thouroughly mixing the gas/air.

They operated on both propane and natural gas with a change in orifice sizes. These forges are very efficient having a 20% fuel savings and producing very little carbon monoxide.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 14:55:01 GMT

On the topic of post vices, I have a story to share. I've worked metal a long time, but I built my first forge in late December. I needed to bend some 1.5" by 2.5" bar the hard way. So I heated it up in a charcoal fire(not in a forge), put it in my 6" machinists bench vice and tried to bend it. The non-forge coal fire was not hot enough, so I needed more leverage. Heat it up again, put it in the vice, stand on top of the bench and pull like a bull. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back on the floor with the red hot bar and what was left of my Columbian vice on top of my leg! No human parts broken, but scorched pants and boots and a sore ankle. The vice broke! So I built the forge to get the bar bent for the job at hand and then designed and built a post vice that wouldn't break. I have always had a problem with vices not gripping hard enough, so I decided to use mechanical advantage and put an adjustable pivot where the screw would normally be and the screw down below it with a 2 to 1 advantage. I used the same 1.5" by 2.5" bar for the leg and arm. My 10 year old son can now squash a piece of schedule 80 1" pipe down to flat without heat in the new vice. The vice is also designed so that you can drop a long piece to be bent down through the center of the jaws instead of having to clamp off to one side of the jaws because it would hit the screw. If anyone is interested, when I get my new computer and scanner, and figure out how to use the scanner, I will try to post a picture. My vice was made to fit my steel bench, but I could make one or more to fit other mounts if someone was interested. It also works well as a small anvil. I have a bunch of the 1.5" by 2.5" bar. It really makes things easier (and safer) for me. At least so far.
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 20:06:10 GMT

HEAVY BENDING: Tony, it sounds like an intresting tool. Be glad to post a picture if you want to mail a copy.

That is some BIG stock you are bending. Common bench vises are not made for the kind of bending you were doing. Back when a 6" machinists sytle vise weighed 150 pounds and they were still called a "chipping" vises and were not made for bending heavy bending. Blacksmiths leg or post vises are made of wrought iron or forged steel and can take much more abuse. However, even the heaviest will not take bending too heavy a piece if it is not hot enough.

The BEST tools for heavy bending are a hydraulic press (you would be surprised what you can bend cold) OR a weld platten. When you dog down a piece of bar on a table that weighs more than a ton you can REALLY lean on it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 20:36:53 GMT

Heavy Bending. Yes, Guru, I (er... the bar) was not hot enough and I was abusing the 6" vice and deserved what I got. It was a big old bench vice, though. I just thought you all might find it amusing, too. My son sure laughed after he realized I wasn't broke or on fire.

Let's see, I can work on making a hydraulic press and dies (it's on the list, too) or I can think about a JYH. I won't make ABANA 2000, but the subconscious is working on it. What to do first? Press, JYH, gas forge.... So many tools to make and so little time! I sure hope they get that cloning thing down pat soon so I can get more done.

In this case, I did not want to cold bend and have the residual stresses in the bar. The real problem was "not enough heat" as you pointed out. Hence the forge. You never really know what you can do until you use the right tools. But you don't know what the right tool is until you struggle and push the envelope either. Hopefully my son will learn from watching my mistakes and not make the same ones.

I'll send a picture when I get them back. I assume I'll find an address somewhere on the site.
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 21:11:59 GMT


I would CERTAINLY be interested in your post vise. I almost always have a problem getting a vice tight enough.

Another problem for me is the quantity of hands required to do anything. When you need both hands to maneuver the piece of hot steel into the vice, which hand to you use to tighten the vise? I frequently TRY to do it with my knee. By the time the darn vise it tight, the steel is cold! Irritating as the devil! I've got an old post vise that I'm planning on turning into a foot operated vise, but could your vise be adapted to work that way?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 21:44:27 GMT

Compound Vise.
Paw Paw, Yes, it could be mechanically foot activated. Great idea! To be mechanical, it would have to be adjusted for the work before clamping to keep the stroke down, but it is certainly doable. And it can be such that it is self locking. Cripes, now I have to build version 2. Anyone want to buy version one??

But then, you have given me another idea. Why not make it hydraulic?

Oh Oh, the mind is grinding again.

I'm currently using a ratchet to tighten the screw and since the screw is lower than a normal post vise, using the knee method works well. You push the ratchet with your knee, let it fall by gravity and do it again, etc.

Or I call my son out to be the third hand. I'll be lost when he gets old enough to not be there to help! I'll have it hydraulic by then.

Got to go now.
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 22:38:42 GMT


No problem about adjusting before hand, then you're working with cold steel.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Tuesday, 02/15/00 23:21:56 GMT

Guru's et all: many thanks for your comments on scrap, rebar and welding, all very timely. As to rebar and mild steel contents, aren't they all made out of recycled stuff, I know what passes for mild steel hereabouts (a36 I think they call it) is 'variable' it delaminates, burns funny or behaves properly depending on the phases of the moon (or is it hemlines?) Is there a difference twixt rebar and a36.
I must be lucky, cuts here (Orygun) are only 50 centavos.
Thanks for the site, the insight and so on.
Tim - Tuesday, 02/15/00 23:22:12 GMT

STEEL: Good "mild" steel is generaly what you get when you purchase cold drawn bar. Normaly this is SAE 1018-1020. It is a high quality product designed for use in screw machines and other applications where mild steel of a know character is required. Hot rolled bar can be either 1020 or A36. A36 is structural grade steel that may be as high as .29% C, 1% Mn, AND may be a copper bearing steel.

Rebar USED to be made of scrap and the cut off ends of billits that had shrinks and cold shuts. The (old) spec for it was ASTM A15. Today there is higher quality control (but do you know how old it IS). It comes in three grades based on a minumum tensil strength. The high strength stuff is fairly high carbon and is what some folks have success making tools that need to hardened. I THINK it can be as high as .75% C. With several grades available you should always test as with all scrap.

Then there are the leaded steels that machine like butter and take a wonderful finish but don't forge worth a darn. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 00:33:38 GMT

Tony - Y'know, I've been batting around an idea for and insanely strong post vise made out of the caps ofrailroad track and run by hydraulics. The operative word here is "insane".

Robert - I'm 17 years old, live near a small, dying town, and have less than $100 to operate on. All I need for right now is something to play around with and hopefully sell to the craft/antique stores around here for some spending money. The most plentiful scrap metal around here is rebar fence posts, so that's why I wanted to know about its potential forge welding ability. For that matter, ha ha, I've only forge welded once so far! Penniless, inexperienced youth playing with red hot metal! Sounds dangerous and fun!
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 00:36:54 GMT

Guru....need some help.Posted a message on the V Hammerin,no luck.Took a weekend course on damascas steel now I can't come up with a supplier for nickel,,,or is there another nickel type steel I can use ? My skill level is past intermediate....Thanks Dave
Dave Stewart  <jeds at lcsys.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 00:48:22 GMT

Nickel: Dave, I saw your message and meant to post. . . Don't visit the Hammer-In as often as I should. I set it aside as a free-for-all and I think my postings sometimes inhibit things so I let it go.

First, the folks that did the workshop would probably be glad to supply you. Have you asked?

McMaster-Carr lists Nickel Bars, sheet and foil.

First listing is for Hasteloy X or Inco HX.

Second listing Nickle 400, 65Ni/32Cu. . Not sure if that works. Last listing is an Nickle/Iron alloy "foil" that comes in 0.010 thickness (max).

Ah.... Shim stock, Nickle 200, $82 for 0.010, 6"x100". A little pricy for me. However, the advantage of shim stocks is that you can take a pile and weld it and you are a LOT closer to where you are going. I don't know enough about it to tell you haow to keep from burning the outer layers.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 01:15:35 GMT

I have only used a forge a couple times. Me(26) and a couple of my peers reciently resurected a old coal forge from the farmland we live on. We had a friend who is currently a blacksmith art student come and help us set it up (he lives 8 hrs away and only stayed a week) .We found a old broken 50# anvil and we managed to get a rudimentary forge going enough to make some tongs and things. I would like to make a investment in this to hopefully make some money doing something i like (handforged hindges). SO my question ... I was looking for a good anvil and found a woman who has a 120-?? (two people can move it) anvil of some sort. She asked me what it was worth!?. as i said i have a anvil which is broken at the (princhnel) hole. so at this point in the game what importence is a good anvil - what makes a good anvil - what does a 120+# anvil cost - what are the basics needed for getting started - i have 3/4 of a anvil - coal forge - elect. blower- basic 3 lb. lump hammer- tongs- coal rake - Arc welder - access to internet - desire to forge. Thankyou for your time and wisdom. Bitteroot vally, Montana.
louis candreva  <klange at bigsky.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 01:31:02 GMT

Nickel 200: That roll of shim stock is equivalent to 6 cubic inches and weighs 1.93 pounds.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 01:40:21 GMT

Louis: Good anvils have a HARD tool steel face. Old anvils were soft wrought iron with a forge welded tool steel face. VERY durable. Most anvils that pieces break off of are cast iron and not very good.

IF that broken anvil were a little bigger and possibly broke from severe abuse I'd say live with it and use it. But that size is a little small and there is a high probability it is cast iron. . . just my guess.

Good old anvils are WORTH as much as new but sell for a lot less. New anvils can cost as much as $7/pound USD. Average is closer to $5/pound. Old anvils commonly sell for $1/pound but once a smith has it they sell for $2-$3/pound.

Read my series on anvils on the 21st Century page to help you get up to speed. It not a complete series but it has a LOT of information.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 01:54:10 GMT

What types of tools do you use in doing your work,and how do you use them?
Catherine Knuppe  <anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 03:10:17 GMT


To see what tools most of us use, take a stroll through the tool isle of your local home depot. Anything that isnt specifically designed to be used on wood only, most of us have used, along with home made tools, benders, presses, and other assorted LARGE tools. How does the blacksmith use these tools. Most are self explanetory. You hit the metal with the hammer, cut it with the saw, bend it with the benders or the press, flaten it with anything heavy that comes to hand, and save the back by buying a mech hammer.

to list al the tools that most smiths use would take years.
Did you have a particular one in mind???

Hope that answers your question

Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 03:26:23 GMT

TOOLS: Catherine, Click here to go to our V.Hammer-In page after reading this. At the top is is a picture of some of my of tools. If you click on it there is an enlargment.

The big thing in front is an anvil. Its the blacksmiths universal "work bench". It is heavy and very strong because it is hammered on with big hammers. To the left are steel blocks called "swage blocks". They are also known as "hollow anvils". Those and most of the rest of the blacksmiths tools are used for shaping HOT steel.

See the photo to the left? That's me getting ready to hit a hot piece of steel that is resting on an anvil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 05:47:15 GMT

I'm a rookie who has been enjoying playing around with some blacksmithing for about a year. I've been busy building up my collection of tools (forges,anvil, tongs,hammers, etc.)by going to auctions, sales or anyplace I can find some good stuff cheap! Last fall I picked up a box of tools at an auction that had several nice old hammers and handled chisels. No handles, but the heads are very nice. Two of the chisels are basically the same. They are stamped with a horseshoe with the letter A inside for a logo. Also "1-1/2"
is stamped in. I believe these to be both cold chisels, as they aren't very tapered as I would picture a hot cutter to be. Can I reshape one, either by grinding or forging to make a hot cutter? Would the steel be the same? Also, one of the other items appears to be a handled chisel of some sort. It is about eleven inches long from cutting edge to striking end. It is long and tapered to the cutting edge. It has "Cut Devil K-6" stamped into it. Is this a hot cutter? Along with the three chisels there were two cross pein hammer heads in the box I bought. I think everyone at the sale thought it was a bunch of weird old hammers with no handles so I got em for $5. Thanks for your help. I really enjoy all the great info on Anvilfire!
Dave  <dadedafarm at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 03:35:08 GMT

Atha Tools: Dave, The Horseshoe and "A" is the trade mark of one of the most famous and most collected of blacksmith tool makers. They were bought by a company that became Stanley tools. The history is cronicled in Blacksmiths and Farriers Tools at the Shelbourn Museum. Its out of print but you may find a copy at a library. The cut Devil sounds like a hot cutter. A hot-cutter will be long and relatively thin almost like a hatchet but heavier. Should look close to a heavy mortising chisel. Blacksmiths also used handled cold chisels.

Yes, blacksmiths cold chisles can be reworked into a hot cutter. Its a lot of material to move so it would be best to forge it. I'd cut (hot) about 1-2" off before forging because you are going to regain that length. Save the little cut off to make something or to test heat treat the material.

Modern hot cut chisles are slim little things made of high tech hot-work steels. The old ones were the same steel as all the tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 05:38:07 GMT

SparrowHawk (Erik?): I don't mind folks helping answer questions and yours was pretty good. But sometimes you have to read the tone of the message (or the e-mail address). We have a LOT of elementary school kids asking questions here. Sometimes its had to tell a sharp fourth grader from a goofy high school student (and most won't give you a clue) but I (we) try.

Seems to me 4th-7th grade studies early American history or Geography that covers the Colonial period, Williamsburg and Plymouth so we get a lot of Blacksmithing questions from that age group. On the Internet you often can't tell if the questioner is 8 or 80. If a kid asks a good question (even if it is too broad), I try to answer it. I'd rather make a fool of myself than to blow off someone with a real question.

When I started anvilfire I didn't want to write standing articles covering the real BASIC stuff. Why? Because there are some darn GOOD books on the subject. I didn't think we should be duplicating what is already covered so well. Besides, I like books! However, its starting to look like we need at least a super basic primer for kids (or adults that were never exposed to tools of any kind).

Thanks for your input. Don't stop. Just try to watch out for the kids!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 06:43:04 GMT


What's the apprirate heat treat for 4140 steel? I can't find it in my MACHINERY'S or my ASM METALS HANDBOOK, either one. Course, the MACHINERY'S is a 17th edition and the ASM METALS HANDBOOD is the 1948 edition, so that might have SOME bearing on why I can't find it! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at netunlimited.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 14:20:54 GMT

I used to use plain steel lock-rings for making chain-mail. They are becoming pricey and hard to find without zinc on them. Anyone have an idea for a cheaper substitute? Im perfectly capable of making rings myself, its just that Im bored out of my skull knitting the mail, having to cut the rings as well would probably send me over the edge :-)
( Why I make it at all? I supply the weapons and the plate-armor in my own style so I better make the small amount of mail neded.)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 15:59:10 GMT

4140: Is an oil hardening steel of medium hardenability. Quench from 1525-1550°F. Minimum temper at 400°F = 57HRC, max at 1200°F = 29HRC.

ASM Metals Reference Book.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 16:41:58 GMT

In the post to Dave You mention Hasteloy X. Is this a type of nickle.
Bobby neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 18:20:02 GMT

Hasteloy X: Bobby, its a high temperature/performance Ni, Cr, Fe super alloy. It is 50% Nickel and was listed under "nickel". I don't know if it would be useful in laminated steel but it has the right ingrediants.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 18:48:04 GMT

Mail Rings: Olle, I looked in McMaster-Carr without luck. They had what I call "repair links" but they are a little big and come in package of 10. Pricey. I remember following a long thread on one of the Armor pages about mail rings. . . . I went to the Armourers Ring on our Web-Ring Nexus page and this was the second listing:


Its a place in Canada and they sell rings by the Kilogram. Prices didn't look bad. They have a variety of sizes in different materials. They also sell wire, coils and cutters to cut your own.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 19:16:02 GMT

Could you please provide a listing of blacksmithing schools or if it is already on the site somewhere direct me accordingly.


Tom Moore
Tom Moore  <moorejt at westinghouse.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 19:45:14 GMT

Mail; Olle:

As an alternative, I've found a couple of tricks to speed up the link making process. One is to use a brace (as in "brace and bit") and chuck the mandrel in that. Good leverage and fast action. The other trick is, having spun up the coil, I would stretch it to the proper interval before cutting. Some of my friends would do two wires at a time for the same purpose, but that takes real skill. Proper gapping makes it easier to cut, and saves a step of gapping the rings during assembly. I would spin it and cut it in the evenings, while watching television, then link it during the day while riding on the commuter bus.

Good luck.

"All the Chainmail You Can Eat" since 1969.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 20:22:20 GMT

Schools: Tom, I try not to duplicate resources that others do a better job of maintaining. Here is a link to the ABANA list ABANA Schools list.

I recommend:

Turley Forge Blacksmithing School
RR 10 Box 88C
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 471-8608

If I had a choice I'd go to Frank Turley's 3 week session. Frank is a real character but he is a no-nonesense blacksmith and a great teacher.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 20:40:12 GMT

I've never been good at getting the tone of a message.....

The person with the question about tools was just a little vauge for the scope of my mind.

Short of listing every tool, It would be kinda hard to explain what everything is, without writing a book.

Coming from personal experience, the input about looking trough the tool rack at some of these stores is how I figured out how to use alot of the tools that I now own.
Alot of the salesmen are MORE than happy to explain what something does if they think that your gonna buy it.
Sorry if it seemed like I was blowing them off.

Rollingstone.com adverts??????
Interesting choice...
Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 21:15:06 GMT

Adverts: I didn't choose the ads. They come as a package. I filtered out the ones for cigaretts and viagra. . . But maybe some of our "heavy metal" type blacksmiths (bad and weak pun) clicked in and earned anvilfire a dollar or two!

You didn't sound like you were blowing them off. But if the explaination isn't geared right it can have the same effect.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/16/00 21:44:55 GMT

Could you help me? I'm wondering how to make a sword. I'm new to this stuff. I know you need to use high-carbon metal, but how do you find that stuff? I'm trying to find a way to decorate my home, and I'm really interested in medieval swordsmanship. So if you could help me, well, it would be a help.
Catch ya later
Anonymous  <rickhunter22 at Hotmail.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 00:03:44 GMT

Wall Hanger: That's what "pretty", look but don't use, swords are called. They can be made of anything. Mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium. Stainless is tough to work but the fact that is doesn't rust and polishes up like silver makes it GREAT wall hanger material.

Yes real swords are made of high carbon steel but one made of "soft" steel would be just as lethal. It's edge just wouldn't take bashing against shields and trying to hack through mail. Many "modern" swords are made from spring steel. Auto junk yards are full of it. Leaf and coil springs both make decent blades. You can also purchase tool steel from machine shop suppliers or mail order houses like McMaster-Carr.

There are two schools of blade making. Forging and "stock removal". Forging requires a blacksmith's forge, anvil, hammer and lots of practice. It also requires grinders and buffers. It is the traditional method.

"Stock removal" is just what it sounds like. You start with a bar of annealed (softened) steel close to the size blade you want, saw out the basic shape and then start grinding. The idea is that you don't need a forge and that unskilled forging may damage the metal. It still takes a big furnace to heattreat (harden) the (near) finished blade but no hammering is done.

Soft 304 stainless does not grind very well so it is recommended to forge it to shape and do as little grinding as possible. It is abrasion resistant so it is also hard to polish. However, once polished it stays looking good for just about forever.

The same stock removal technique can be used on aluminium using files instead of a grinder. Aluminum clogs up grinding wheels and belts so it is not "ground" but machined or filed. Its still a big job. Aluminium polishes to a silver-white. All the assembly and furniture is the same on an aluminium sword as any other and it will look just as real as any wall hanger. Many "movie" swords are made of aluminium if not made of rubber. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 00:54:39 GMT

I think Rollingstone.com is a great choice, sort of fits the mood. Hey, I'd click on soap opera digest.com if it would help support anvilfire.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 01:00:06 GMT

i would like to make my own gas fired forge, i would like to know where to purchase the kao board for the inside or like wise material and the air tubes. i have alot of experience at fabricating so i feel i can build one and my teacher at shoeing school built many of them and told me how to build one but did'nt tell me where to get the parts. thank you very much karl johnson
karl johnson  <barn at uslink.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 03:57:45 GMT

Forge Parts: Check our plans page. There is a forge burner drawing and then links to other pages including one with lots of gas forge plans. Most of the burners are home built but you can also buy them from McMaster-Carr (see our links page).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 04:22:37 GMT

No questions, just a comment. I took your advice and went to bibliofind.com looking for a copy of Machinery's Handbook and found a copy of the 14th edition from 1951 for $15.00 + $3.00 shipping and handling. Boy, was I surprised. I just wanted to thank you for the hot tip. I'm new to Blacksmithing and this book is a treasure trove of information that I can't believe I didn't have already.

I'm a knife maker and am trying to add bladesmithing to my experience. It's hard to get started on your own without any guidelines. That book is the next best thing to a hands on instructor or apprenticeship, both of which are out of my league right now. I just went full time in the knife shop and don't have the time for school. Any advice you could offer would be greatfully accepted.

For background, I'm 40 years old and have been making knives for 5 years. I apprenticed under Bob Ogg and made journeyman after my first year. He's gone now, and I am just now picking up the pieces and getting into full swing. I'm not wet behind the ears, but I'm not a seasoned veteran either. Listening is one of my better skills. I like to learn new ways and listen to new ideas.

Thanks again for the hot tip. I hope to hear from you.
Max Burnett/Ogg Custom Knives  <mburnett at apip.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 05:27:00 GMT

back to that rebar subject I was makeing a dragon and when I went to cut off the extra the darn thing eat a brand new bandsaw blade. I did a little testing and it ends up that the bar was high carb (trempered out like A1)the stuff took a hard from a dull red cooled in the air but when I went back for more(good A1 is hard to come by) it worked like used cold roll. I HATE INCONSISTENT STOCK!!! and that's the last time I'll work with rebar.
swordmatt  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 15:07:04 GMT

Praise: Thank you very much! I've been pushing MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK on the net now for three years. Need to work an advertising deal with those folks! Old and new editions each have their advantages. Old ones have a little more on forging and old skills like babbiting. New ones have more up to date information on modern alloys and industrial standards.

I was given an eighteenth edition for Christmas when I was about 18. I still use it because over time you learn where things are. There is a lot more to it than just charts and graphs. The text on many subjects is worth reading. When I wanted to setup buffing equipment I went to MACHINERY'S and there was the SFPM, compounds and wheel type information. . . instant expertise. I once spent weeks calculating the ratios and turns for an old Cincinatti Mill dividing head. made a beautiful chart. . later I found the same chart with more information in MACHINERY'S. . .

Max, the other reference I recommend to knifemakers is the ASM Metals Reference Book. Both Grandpa and I refer to it often to answer alloy and heattreating questions here.

There are a great number of knifemaking books on the market to day. I've only read a couple. I liked Sid? Lantham's Knives and Knifemakers a lot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 15:20:54 GMT

Many thanks to you and the rest of the folks for the information on medieval forges that i asked about.
can i give you a word of warning? i went for a look round the anvilfire web ring -when i hooked onto the sword ring it first threw up a blue screen saying site not found.
when i tried to bail out it then threw up a porn site!
i dont know if it is my server throwing a wobbly or if you have been invaded, but it may be worth checking at your end.
cheers wayne.
Wayne  <Pastlincs at aol.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 15:51:35 GMT

Wayne: Thanks for the heads up! I was just checking all the rings yesterday and everything was working right then. ALL the web rings go through Webring.org except for the "Home" of the ring. Several are broke. The users have abandonded them. We are trying to help straighten this out either by adopting the rings or helping maintain them. Will report/repair the problem momentarily.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 16:07:13 GMT

Ring Problem Fixed: There was a typo in the link to the ring's home. It sure did go the wrong place.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 16:45:53 GMT

Chainmail: Olle, check out the Armorer's Webring through the front page of this site. There are lots of people making and selling rings over the web listed there. -E
Eric Bramblett  <bramec at bga.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 17:10:50 GMT

I have searched the net to no avail. Where can I find a color chart or the equivalent for temperature of steel? I dont really need pictures; a verbal description would do just fine.
Wayne  <pwjones at arkwest.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 17:43:57 GMT

TEMP CHART: Wayne, Don Fogg has a nice one on his site Don Fogg Knives
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 17:59:34 GMT

I've been thinking about JYH's again. The subconscious has been active and I've been looking at the ones on the site again. My problem is that being a new smith, I don't really know what you want a power hammer to do except the obvious "hit the hot metal". If you would, please indulge a couple of questions and comments. I don't mind experimenting, but I like to get fairly close with the first effort.

1. I assume you want/need some clutch mechanism so that the hammer only strokes when you want, but you don't actually turn the driver (motor or otherwise) off in between hammer sessions.

2. I assume you want to be able to regulate the strength of the hit. How is that done with the air JYH's? I assume by controlling air pressure and by controlling the point in the cylinder stroke that the air valve is switched.

3. On a mechanical hammer, do you need to vary the distance between the hammer and the anvil for different thickness stock? I assume that the shock does some of that function on the JYH. But is that enough, or would an adjustable throat be usefull?

4. Would a big flywheel on the driver side of the clutch of a mechanical hammer be a good thing or is there not much need? I assume a flywheel would be a good thing for balance and energy transfer to the ram.

5. On a mechanical hammer, would an adjustable shock be a good feature?

6. I assume you never want the hammer to hit the anvil except when there is work between the two.

7. Guru, why are there two motors on the JYH?

8. What features am I not thinking about that would be a good idea???

Guru, I assume in your JYH, you are using the differential action in the car rear end to act as the clutch. When you apply the brake, all rotation goes to the driving (ram) end and you get hits until you release the brake. Then, since the ram end has more friction, the brake end turns instead. Again because of the differential action. Can you also regulate the strength of the hit with the brake? Splitting the total energy between the two wheel ends in a controllable manner by how hard you apply the brake? If so, Kudo's for thinking of using the differential action! How many hours have you used the rear end? I'm wondering if the differential is going to wear out. Of course, the differential could be modified to take care of that.

I was looking at the Kunz hammers at Centaur and they appear to regulate hit strength and on/off by controlling the air between the two cylinders. I did not look close enough to see if they have an adjustable throat.

I like the air idea for controlability, and an air hammer for me would be low cost, but air compression is usually very energy inefficient. I don't like increasing entropy any more than I have to.

Thanks in advance for any comments and answers! Sorry for being so long winded, curious and inexperienced.

On Machinery's Handbook:
I'm a mechanical engineer and it's the first reference I usually look in also. I have multiple editions for the same reason you cited. Old ones have good info that are not in the new editions. If only I knew everything that was in those books!

On the Compound Vise:
Paw Paw, I just wanted you to know that pre adjustment would be required for a foot operated action. The pre adjustment is a pain, but the much improved clamp strength makes up for it when you need it. BTW, the clamp strength should be in the area of 9000 pounds. Replacing the screw with an air cylinder that takes it up to the point that the arm will bend is an 8" bore air cylinder running at 100 psi. I can easily bend the 1.5" by 2.5" bar arm with the screw that I have now. But I figure that 9000 pounds of clamp force should be enough!

Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 18:24:59 GMT

Oops, I did mean Kuhn, not Kunz. And I went back to the Power hammer page and looked at the Beaudry hammer images. That's the concept I was thinking of. Except I can't see how the clutch function is done on the Beaudry. I'd like to see more about the springs in the ram too if there are any more photos.

Thanks again,

Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 19:00:46 GMT

Hammers: This will be brief because I need to be on the road in an hour or so and I haven't packed. .

JYH SHOCK ABSORBER LINKAGE: Works but is a soft hitter. The shocks compensate for material height great. But that is about it. I will be posting a modification with a flat spring in between the shocks giving the ram some "snap" or overtravel.

The JYH had two motors because I HAD two small motors when I needed one big one. . Hey, it works.

Hammers do not use flywheels for a variety of reasons. However the crank wheel must have balance weight for the horizontal component of the linkage imbalance.

The differential as clutch was somthing I'd wanted to try since I was a kid. Works pretty good. The JYH had some speed problems and we never got a chance to see if we could "throttle" with the brake. Only problem is it makes a huge machine. I won't instruct the average builder to cut the axel.

The BEST clutch for any mechanical hammer is a flat belt pulley clutch. All those expensive cone clutches on Little Giants wear out and cause all kinds of trouble among which is that they are uncontrollable. Look at all the clutch friction material area you get with a belt. . In theory AND in practice they are the best. Beaudry, Bradley and Fairbanks hammers use belt clutches on hammers up to 500 pounds and got results that would let you forge 1/4" square stock under.

In toggle linkage hammers the faster it goes the harder it hits. At slow speed you can get a gentle pat pat pat. The toggle compensates for working changes in stock but you also need to adjust the ram hight for large changes. This is unneccessary in air hammers. You can also modify the strength of the blow on the hammers listed above by adjusting the stroke of the hammer. At short stroke they can run very fast hitting light blows. A long stroke they hit hard powerful slow blows.

Air hammers of all type vary the power and height of the blow by counter balanced valving. Big commercial hammers and the BULL have a feed back link between the ram and the controls and use geometry to make things work. The "NEW" air hammers also work on a balance principle but rely on a limit switch (pilot valve) to return the stroke.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 20:45:04 GMT

The shock used on a dock leveler, the one used to unload trucks uses a shock that is 80-20 I was wondering if that would be a better shock than an auto shock.
Bobby Neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 21:09:53 GMT


I am fabricating some stainless u-bolts from 316 ss 3/8" rod. I have been cutting threads in the sized pieces and then heating and bending them.

For the first several pieces, I was using an old can of TapFree cutting fluid, which was Trichloroethane based. I was able to use a hand threading die, and was getting clean threads relatively easily.

Then I ran out of that can of TapFree. I find that it is no longer available in that formulation (ozone layer - govt. banned). I have tried some other tapping/cutting oils and fluids with terrible results and extreme difficulty of use.

Do you have any pointers for me?

Rob Babcock  <rob.babcock at alcoa.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 21:36:26 GMT


I think you're right, 9000 pounds of clamp force should be PLENTY! (grin) If I need more than that, I'll back my truck over it!

Rob, I use the newest version of TapFree, with decent results. It doesnt' work as well as the older stuff did. I haven't tried it on SS yet.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 21:49:24 GMT

Upon further reflection and the use of that theory stuff, I'm abandoning the shock idea. My original shock thinking was to make an adjustable shock out of a hydraulic cylinder, flow control and a check valve. When the ram is rising, let the flow pass freely from the lower end to the upper through the check valve. When the ram is dropping, make the fluid flow through a needle throttling valve to control how fast and how hard the ram will hit. But always allow some flow so you can compensate for different thicknesses and the accidental overstroke. The problem is that the shock sucks up energy and it is lost to heat. I don't think I want any more heat around when I'm forging . So......I'm going to go the spring route. With a spring, you don't get as much adjustability, but you also don't lose very much energy and with the upper overstroke, you should get a harder and faster hit. At least that's how the gray matter sees it this afternoon. But if someone wants to use a shock and doesn't want to build one, you might try a Rancho RS 9000. they have a little adjuster knob to control how harsh the retract (hit) stroke is. They are for offroad vehicles. I doubt you'll find a used one and if you did, you probably wouldn't want it.
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Thursday, 02/17/00 22:16:05 GMT

U-BOLTS: The problem with the Trichloroethylene TapFree was that people were using it as machine cutting fluid by the gallons and it was creating a hazard for workers. I know, the directions said DO NOT so they ruined it for the rest of us. It is dry-cleaning fluid and still available. Had a very small amount of wax disolved in it.

WD-40 is a better taping fluid than all the water based and non-solvent stuff.

Threads on stainless are difficult. If you measure the threads after cutting them you will find that they are .005" to .010" under the rod size. Machining the rod to the finished thread size helps a lot but is an extra expense. Sometimes the cold drawn rod may be oversize and if you are using hot finish you should be pre-machining.

When I was making stainless U-bolts I made a long guided threading tool that kept the die straight with a snug fitting bronze bushing. Using Tapfree you literaly cramed the tool on and then cranked as fast as you could. Keeping the die perfectly aligned makes a huge difference. This actually worked better than threading in a lathe. Sharp taps and dies make a huge difference too. Most hardware store taps and dies are junk. Are they plated? JUNK!

You should also expect to replace taps and dies on a regular basis. Taps smaller than 3/8" should be thrown away after every job tapping more than a few holes. Sound wasteful? One broken $2 tap can lose a days work or more. On stainless I would plan on replacing dies after just a few parts. If you can tell it feels like it is taking more effort, then its time to replace the tap/die. On stainless it costs more to do everything and this is part of the cost.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 22:21:24 GMT

Toggle Linkage: Tony, what happens in spring and toggle linkage is that the spring compresses both at the top and bottom of the stroke allowing for over-travel. A hammer with 3" of crank throw may have 3 times the ram travel. That extra travel is higher velocity. Some describe it as "snap" but it is harmonicaly balanced over-travel. The over travel at the bottom of the stroke is what makes them work well. Shock absorber hammers have little over-travel and the faster they run the less there is. . :(

Much was made by the makers of hammers about the "regaining" of energy at the top of the stroke. What is important about the way this is done in a toggle linkage hammer is that the upthrust load is absorbed over about 90° of travel. Without this gentle "catch and return" of the ram the machine will try to lift of the ground at the top of the stroke. Most helve hammers have this problem. Grant Sarver's WC-JYH walked all over the lot at Asheville and Bradley helves are some of the heaviest built hammers made trying to counteract this problem.

If you are serious about the different hammer mechanisms you need to get a copy of Pounding Out the Profits (see our review page). One hammer design was an "air-cushioned" mechanical hammer.

Well. . . . I'm on the road for a while.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 22:36:30 GMT

can you use a punch press as a hammer mill
ronbo  <ronaldgiroux at sympatico.ca> - Thursday, 02/17/00 23:04:22 GMT

PUNCH PRESS as hammer, NO: Many long explainations but please take my word for it. You might be able to convert to a small clumsy air hammer or hydraulic press.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/17/00 23:22:15 GMT

Many thanks guru.....nickle 200 is what I need ,,,the instructor teaching the course was having a hard time finding nickle himself.When you are just starting out you have lots of questions......Thanks again
Dave Stewart  <jeds at lcsys.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 00:45:23 GMT

Any idea when the Iforge will be updated? Just wondering.
KID  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 01:02:56 GMT


Will be a few days yet. Kiwi is extremely busy with a project. We'll post an announcement here and on the Virtual Hammerin when it's done. Sorry for the delay!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 01:57:02 GMT

I have been cutting metal figures out of carbon steel plate 3/16 thick. suns, quail, roadrunners,etc. I'm using a oxy/acetlyne torch, all cut by hand no computer guided stuff or plazma. I've seen some metal art work in the sedona, AZ area that looked like it was cut out of the same material i'm using but, they have etched it with something giving it a copper or bronze color and then looks they clearcoated it with something. I was hoping you could tell me how this is done. I was also wondering if you could tell me how to make steel rust quickly, giving it a natural rust look.Are there books I can buy to tell me how to change the color of steel? hope you can help, thanks, TODD
todd wolter  <psr1261> - Friday, 02/18/00 02:24:38 GMT

Thanks Paw-Paw I get impatient sometimes :)
kid  <xx> - Friday, 02/18/00 02:30:06 GMT

anyone know what kind of steel a pinion gear is made out of in a '90's model chevrolet truck? was wondering if i can forge weld it into a clump of something and then work it..

Thank You,
Scotsman  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 03:01:15 GMT

i've been cutting figures out of 3/16 carbon steel plate with a oxy/acetlyne torch. I'm wanting to try to change the color of the steel. I've seen some art work that looks like it has been etched to a bronze color and was wondering how to do this or maybe I can find info on this in some books or something. hope you can help, thanks
todd wolter  <PSR1261 at AOL.COM> - Friday, 02/18/00 03:05:01 GMT

todd, a great way to make steel rust quikly is to put bleach on it and let it sit over night, it'll get a nice coating of rust, but needs to be nuetralized, also be sure not to rust al the way throuhg the metal
alex  <klownsrbad at hotmail.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 03:10:59 GMT

Chevy Gear: Scotsman, Normaly 4040 or 4140 and case hardened. Most automotive gears are casehardened and ground.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 03:35:21 GMT

Previous posts about refacing anvils, hornless anvils, etc.
got me to wondering: How do the pros estimate the anvil mass required for the type of work they do? Sure, you can "get by" with a cavalry or stump anvil for demos & knives, but when do you worry about damage, and not just wear? Stock size? Hammer size? Neck size of smith? ;-)
John McPherson  <ahylton at vnet.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 03:48:30 GMT

howdy folks
hammer rookie here and have done a few of the beginner stuff and the demos on your site. problem is im trying to do the longhorn steer and the horns just keep fracturing off. I've tried it cold and hot. I've only got an oxy-acet. with a rosebud for heating. I'm working with 1/2 square cold rolled and just can't figger out why it keeps breaking.
one more thing--- I sure would like to find someone in Central Washington willing to talk to me about about smithing. I just took it up and I love it. My grandfather came to this country smithing for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show--- did his horses! I guess it's my link to the past.
thanks for any info.
joedog  <joenobhill at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 04:07:03 GMT

Breaking steel: Joe, Oxy/Fuel torches heat the surface very fast and the interior of the metal will still be cool. Also tends to oxidize the steel with repeated heating. Both make the steel brittle to work.

When using a rose-bud as a forge it helps to make a firebrick enclosure or even an "L" to sit the steel in. The bricks absorb AND then reflect a lot of heat allowing a soaking heat. You can bounce the flame off the brick to prevent heating the surface too fast. A slow "soaking" heat is the trick. Then, as they say, Strike while the iron is hot! The pros make it look easy because they work fast and the steel seems to stay hot longer. It doesn't, its just that they are so fast. Practice, practice, practice. Make a truck load of hooks and such before getting fancy.

A real forge helps. You can run an oxy/propane rosebud. It has a softer flame and is more economical. Make a forge your next project.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 04:43:56 GMT

Anvil Size: John, Well. . . there is the "mine's bigger'n yours" school. . . However we have history to help us. About three and a half millenia of history.

Anvils can be worn out. "Small" 100 pound anvils get swaybacked and things start cracking from metal fatigue if they are used day in and day out in general work. History has shown that something between a 200 pound (90kg) and 300 pound (140kg) anvil is a good size. In general work these will just about last forever. In heavy work (industrial and rail road type shops) anvils are often heavier with 400 to 500 pound (225kg) being common. One reason for such a heavy anvil is that the heat from large work can soften the face of a smaller anvil.

Then there are reasons for a small anvil. 100 to 125 pounds (45 to 65 kg) is a very portable size anvil. Heavy but not too heavy. Farrier's and farm anvils are typicaly this size. It's a handy size for any shop as a second anvil.

Smaller "bench" anvils are used by craftspeople such as jewlers that are not going to be doing any heavy forging or are doing very small work.

There IS a rough hammer/anvil ratio that seems to work, 60:1 A 50 pound anvil works if the biggest hammer in daily use is 1 pound. A heavy smith's hammer is about 4 pounds so a 240 pound anvil is good. If strikers using heavy sledges are going to be involved often then heavier is better so you find 300 and 350 pound anvils fairly often. Beyond that it gets very difficult for two strong men to handle an anvil so bigger is rare except in industrial shops which almost always have a crane to move equipment.

A combination of physics and practicality.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 05:06:41 GMT

As I do each day I was reading the last posts of Guru's Den. I read the post by Max Burnett in which he stated that he went to bibliofile.com and found a 1951 14th edition of Machinery's Handbook for $15.00. I also went there and ordered a 15th edition 1957 copy of the same for $10.00 plus $2.50 S&H. Can't wait to get my hands on it!
Thanks much for your site. It has brought me a great deal of information and opened up the art of blacksmithing to me.
Mark Suchocki  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 09:03:19 GMT

It's not the mass of the anvil that is so important necessarily, but the size of various aspects of the anvil such as the thickness of the heel, width of the face, etc. My main shop anvil is a 301 pound Peter Wright. But I find that at least half of the stock items that I make require me to do some amount of the forging on another, smaller anvil. If you were only going to have one anvil, 150-175 pounds is pretty much the perfect size.
Phil  <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Friday, 02/18/00 12:42:20 GMT

Dear Guru:
What are the ten first high quality tools I should buy? Can you suggest a conference and school in the eastern half of the US that would give intensive training?

Thanks in advance.


Jeff Price
Jeff Price  <zgfi at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 14:09:02 GMT

Just read your post in answer to "Kid" Friday, (02/11/00 15:50:34 GMT)
about cost of parts and replacement parts of old power hammers. Blacksmiths of today are a link to the past century. Too many blacksmith shops, equipment, and knowledge have simply disappeared into oblivion because of ignorance of it's significance to history. It's imperative that when we come across these old pieces of equipment that we do WHATEVER is necessary to restore them to WORKING condition. Too many of these are restored for 'Museums" and then sit idle. Most machine shop owners when asked will enthusiastically help when presented with this type of project. Remind the machinist that he is the modern day remnant of yesterday's Blacksmith. Then get to work! TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 14:12:00 GMT

Got carried away on last post, forgot to ask the question I had. On my Little Giant, the holes in the end of the toggle arm have wear and are elongated. They are probably OK for now but how is this repaired? Brazing or welding then machining? TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 14:29:00 GMT

I am looking for an 18th century reproduction hack saw that would be able to handle reproduction or modern hack saw blades. If none are available, I would like to find someone who would make such an item.
Gus Fisher  <ggarands at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 14:55:37 GMT


No problem. We all do at times. But this situation was pretty much unavoidable.

Jeff Price.

Forge, Anvil, Hammers and Tongs. In that order, in my opinion.

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. Web site is www.folkschool.com.


You make a very valid point. My youngest son is a Class A Machinist. At a show not too long ago, I made a square corner in 3/4" stock. When I finished, he said "You just did something in 30 minutes with heat and hammer that would have taken me 20 with a 100 ton press. I just work in a hi-tech blacksmith shop!"


On the geting started page (link at the top of this page) there is a picture of a hacksaw made by the guru. It would be fine for what you want.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 15:12:08 GMT

Only one anvil? That's like having only one wife!

"What dear? Yes; Ouch! Sorry; Guess I'll see you guys later..."

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 15:45:20 GMT

Hammer Mechanisms: Guru, thanks for the heads up on "pounding out the profits" I'll try to get a copy as I AM interested in hammer mechanisms. And thanks for the other answers including the flat belt.

I will use a flat belt drive and clutch for the final drive. That will be fun since I've never done one. Back to the junk yard to try to find some low mass flat belt pulleys. I have a nice 33" OD flat belt pulley on a 2" shaft with bearings, but it weighs 900 pounds and the work would be cold before it came up to speed! I'll use that on the drive side of the flat belt clutch so I can use a smaller electric motor.

I see the Beaudry runs at 300 beats per minute max and I see some others in the 200 beats per minute range. For all of you with experience, what is a good speed range to have? And to do work from approximately 3/4" square to 2" square, what is a good hammer weight?

I will also make an adjustable ram stroke and adjustable ram spring preload. After I collect the rest of the parts.....

If this thread is getting too detailed or off topic, please let me know.


Coloring metals: Todd, guess which book has info on coloring metals...Yup, Machinerys Handbook. My 22nd edition has info starting on page 2268. I know the older editions also have some info and probably more. There is info on solution copper plating steel
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 16:34:47 GMT

Paw Paw Wilson,

Thank you for your prompt reply. After looking at the hacksaw you mentioned, I can see it was made with an eye towards artistry, besides practical use.

However, it's actually a too nice for what I need. I'm putting together an 18th century military Articifer's kit to repair muskets and other firearms at re-enactments, so I need a plainer hack saw.

Also, I'm looking for a blacksmith somewhere close to Richmond, VA who will do repair on old tools. Any assitance would be most gratefully appreciated.
Gus Fisher  <ggarands at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 16:51:02 GMT


On the hacksaw, I'll try to scan a picture of my grandfather's hacksaw it's a little later , turn of the century (1899-1900), but is a pretty standard design.

Check with my fellow color guardian, Burce (Atli) Blackistone. He's near DC, so isn't too far away from you.

BTW, there is a local Revolutionary War Re-enactment Group. Guess who the blacksmith is? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 17:59:53 GMT

what is a twitchel hole
p. desharnais  <paulmark at mediaone.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 20:10:18 GMT


It is called 'pritchel'. On an anvil(usually) there are two holes, one is square and is called the hardie hole used for holding various tools on the anvil to help form the hot metal. The pritchel hole is usually near the hardie and is round. Can be used to help punch holes in metal, or to bend metal etc
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 20:23:46 GMT

Jim, thanks for the info!!
Gus Fisher  <ggarands at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 20:23:48 GMT

I need to know how to temper a steel chipping blade that I have made for my chipper/shredder. A replacement costs almost $40.00, and I am trying to save a bundle by using a piece of 1/4" x 1-1/4" x 4-1/2" grey steel stock. I tried heating it to straw color and quenching it in an oil bath, but it did not work at all. Would water quench be better, or am I wasting my time?
Howard Shirk  <ifish25 at aol.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 21:15:09 GMT


Before we can tell you the proper heat treating method for your chippber blade, we need to know what steel alloy it is. There are literally thousands, and each one is different.

BUT, generally speaking, you will heat till the steel is no longer magnetice, quench in cold water. When it is completely cold, I'd advise leaving it in the oven over night at 550 to 600 degrees farenheit, and quenching in Autmatic Transmission Fluid.

The first process hardens the steel, the second process tempers it so that it is not as hard, but is tougher.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 21:37:07 GMT

What are some good ways to anneal high-carbon steel? Other than ashes, is sand ok? Other insulators?
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Friday, 02/18/00 21:46:08 GMT


I used sand for years. But Vermiculite works better. You can get it at a garden store, and a ten pound bag is just right for a five gallon pail.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/18/00 22:00:15 GMT

Thanks a bunch, Pawpaw. I'm gonna try it.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Saturday, 02/19/00 02:42:21 GMT


No problem. It's all I use any more.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 03:39:41 GMT

Guru, Phil, thanks for the input. I'm doing small stuff and knives on a sub-hundred pound Mousehole now, and looking forward to a bigger anvil when I have a place to put it out of the rain. Presently everthing has to be portable.

Atli: If the plural of mouse is mice, is the plural of spouse then spice?
John McPherson  <ahylton at vnet.net> - Saturday, 02/19/00 03:58:03 GMT

LG Links: Tim, Best solution is overbore for 1/16" wall bronze bushings and fit new pins. This is an upgrade to a recurrant problem.
MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK: I'm glad prices have gone back down. Last spring I started buying on eBay for a collection to do the review I posted. Prices started low and in a couple months shot up to $30-$50. I dropped out of THAT market! Still need to do comparison. A chart of index tab entries will show the changes.
TOOLS for BlacksmithingJeff, Paw-Paw left off MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK, Edge of the Anvil, Decorative and Sculptural Ironwoork and ASM Metals Reference Book. The knowledge gained from these are my most important tools. The forge is important but any bright 12 year old can build one so ANVIL first, HD Vise second. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 04:07:56 GMT

HAMMER SPEEDS: Tony, There is a Little Giant spec sheet on the Power hammer Page. Typical for mechanical hammers. However HP available (see HP rating graph) and general design are factors. Short stroke hammers can run faster than long stroke hammers. - 900 pound flywheel is too big (even on prime mover) for a hammer of same ram capacity.
ANNEALING: Best traditional substance is lime as it is very light weight and a very low conductor of heat.

FROM THE ROAD - Williamsburg was wet and overcast but had a good time. On to Daniel Boone's in the AM!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 04:17:59 GMT

ANNEALING: Guru is right that the traditonal substance is lime, BUT Vermiculite is non-toxic.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 04:26:39 GMT

HARDENING and TEMPERING: Whoops! Paw-Paw, never quench anything other than mild steel in COLD water. Warm is best, however every steel has a prefered quenchant. Always test unknown steels in oposite order of severity of quench (ie gentlest quench first).
  • Brine - most severe
  • Water
  • Oil
  • Air (least severe)
YES! There are air quench steels. Oil is most common with alloy steels. I almost never use water other than for low carbon or non-hardenable material.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 04:29:31 GMT

Please tell me what "marging??steel" means. The question came up regarding golf club faces and I remember the term from my long forgotten metalurgy class. How do you spell "margering" or whatever it is? Thanks, Ed
Ed Hirt  <edh4 at earthlink.net> - Saturday, 02/19/00 04:47:38 GMT


HARDENING and TEMPERING: Good point. I was assuming that he was working with mild steel, and I shouldn't have.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 15:14:41 GMT

Thanks, I was thinking bronze bushings but didn't want to redesign a proven product causing MORE problems. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 16:56:17 GMT


How do you Oil Quence something without having the oil flame into your face.
I just cleaned up after the last attempt that burnt out the bucket.
I use about a gallon give or take.. Is that enough??

Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 17:24:55 GMT

Guru, the gearbox I have been given has a 1:1 ratio and 1.25" axle (wrong word, I know, but my brain just went fuzzy). Can it be used for a JYH?
Chris K.  <ckilpatr at lioninc.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 18:10:13 GMT

Looking for a source for soft iron rivets of various sizes, both round head and countersunk flat head.
Chris  <cghall at patten.lib.me.us> - Saturday, 02/19/00 18:50:35 GMT


I'll let the guru anwser the gearbox question, but about the rivets, try:

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 20:08:19 GMT


What is your reasoning on the ATF quench after the draw?
grant  <nakedanvil at forgetools.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 22:55:52 GMT

Sparrow depends on the size piece you are quenching. If your heat treating a few watch springs 1 gallon of oil is plenty. If you doing larger items in larger numbers use more oil and keep it agitated or stirred. Keep the oil below the flash point. It takes more oil to heat up to the flash point then it does less. Always have the oil in a noncombustible bucket with a noncombustible lid. If the oil flashes and catches fire cover the bucket with a lid. Never use water to put out a flammable liquid fire. Always have a working class B flammable liquids fire extinguisher close by if a fire gets out of control. Big fires start small.
Bruce R.Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 02/19/00 23:42:57 GMT


Doesn't make sense, I know, but seems to work better for me. You would think that the piece would be too hard after being quenched a second time. But so far I haven't found it to be.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 00:18:41 GMT

OIL QUENCH: Think about it, oil is less dense than water, less thermal mass for the same volume. It is not as good a conductor of heat as water so the heat is going to build up around the part raising the temperature of the quenchant even higher. It does not evaporate therefore cooling itself like water (it does, except that white 'smoke' is very near the flash point - something you do not want).

Commercial oil quenching tanks have water cooled heat exchanges to keep the oil temperature under control. High flashpoint oils are better than low. Many synthetic oils are non-flamable and make GREAT quenchants for the small shop.

Bruce is a former fireman, and knows what he is talking about when it comes to fires. Oil quenching is something we often get into to unprepared. It is a LOT different than using water. As mentioned the container must be steel and there must be a steel lid. Preferably the lid is hinged to the container so that it is not missing when you need it. You need a large well ventilated area preferably with an exhaust hood. Most oil quench tanks have a rack or heavy screen basket so that you can drop the part in and not have your face or arms over the container during the quench. For small parts like a knife 5 gallons is a good starting point. More is better and it is a good idea to have a cooking thermometer in the oil if you are doing multiple quenches. You may have enough oil for one or two parts and the third one may flash if the oil temperature has risen enough.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 01:51:21 GMT

Gearbox: Chris, You still have insuficiant or erronious information. 1:1 is no gear reduction (input = output). A 1-1/4" shaft is a pretty hefty size but what type of gear box? Most right angle drives are worm boxes which are generaly not suitable for devices with pulsating loads like a power hammer. One way to determine if its a worm box is if you can't rotate the output by hand and the the shafts are not on the same axis besides being at 90°.

Right angle bevel gear boxes are often 1:1 but all they do is change the direction of the shaft and have no other purpose. The shafts will be at the same level.

The input shaft size is genraly a clue to the HP rating. What size is it? Is there a name plate on the box with any kind of information? Brand name and part no?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 02:17:18 GMT

I am not a blacksmith, but I wouldn't mind getting into it eventually. Basically what I need is any information you can provide on swordmaking, medieval especially.
Joe  <threecs at postoffice.ptd.net> - Sunday, 02/20/00 02:55:19 GMT

Paw Paw,
On your son the machinist, I've resisted the trend toward using modern equipment in my blacksmithing over the years as it has up to now been more of a hobby ( Farrier for 23 years). However, one Blacksmith I know and I were discussing it one day and when I asked him how much forge welding he did he said " Not much, do you think a turn of the century blacksmith would turn down the option of using a mig welder over forge welding"? It's a matter of time, the modern day smith has to be able to crank out enough work to make a living. ALL equipment that can save time should be used. My heart says to be a traditionalist but my wallet says to be a realist. For me, as long as the final product shows craftsmanship, care, and attention to detail, then I feel that the use of modern equipment is justified. I do think that forge welding has it's place and should be used when appropriate, it's a valuable skill to learn and one thats difficult and challenging to learn WELL. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 12:29:07 GMT

More: The "forge weld or not" question will be with us a long time. Like Tim, I know smiths that do it both ways. Those conflicting methods never illustrated better than this weekend where we spent a day in the Anderson Blacksmith Shop in Williamsburg, VA and the follwing day at Daniel Boone's near Charlotesville, VA.

At Williamsburg forge welds were being made every fifteen minutes or so a one of the three forges. Some of the most difficult welds were being made. These included thin sheet stock to heavier square stock and a flange type butt weld. All were made as just a matter of, "that's the way its done".

At Dan Boone's we had several demonstrators that all did beautiful work. None of it was forge welded. Although no welding was done during the day, fine examples of arc and grind or arc and forge to dress work were displayed. There were also leaves that were plasma cut and hinges that were laser cut (The 21st Century HAS arrived in blacksmithing).

I am all for using the latest technology in blacksmithing. However, if you gave the Williamsburg smiths and any other group of smiths the same amount of decorative work requiring finished welding, the Williamsburg smiths would be able to go home several hours earlier AND have produced a superior product.

Arc welding is fast. Preparing the joint prior then grinding and dressing the weld afterwards is slow.

Peter Ross said, "If you don't try to learn the traditional techniques such as forge welding, of course you will never learn them. To learn traditional techniques you must be willing to put in the time and practice. . ."

Smiths that use every possible mechanical or technical advantage but forge weld every joint in traditional work are being competive in a specific class of work. It is not a class of work we all want to try to produce or to be competitive in.

My opinion is, there is a place for both classes of work but that they ARE distinctly different classes of work and that we should not pretend otherwise.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 16:27:23 GMT

Maraging Steel:
A precipitation-hardening treatment applied to a special group of iron-base alloys to precipitate one or more intermetallic compounds in a matrix of essnetially carbon-free martnesite. NOTE: The first developed series of maraging steels contained in addition to iron, more than 10% nickel and one or more supplemental hardening elements. In this series aging is done at 480°C (900°F).

ASM Metals Reference Book, 2nd Edition

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 17:07:25 GMT

Ed Hirt: Sorry this took so long. Here's a definition that makes more sense from a practical standpoint.
Maraging steels contain 18% nickel, along with appreciable amounts of molybdenum, cobalt and titanium and almost NO carbon. These alloys can be strengthened significantly by precipitation reaction at a relatively low temperature. . . They can be heat treated to 250 to 300-ksi yeild strength with a simple 900°F aging treatment. . . Maraging steels are used in a variety of high performance applications and most extensively in aircraft and tooling components.

Machine Design
Basics of Design Engineering, June 1992
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 17:29:27 GMT

To whom it may concern, my two cents on maraging steel:
My experience with it is as a fencer (with swords, not barbed wire...) where the governing body decreed several years ago that all competition blades must be made of maraging steel. They did this in the (in my opinion) mistaken belief that steels so treated would snap off clean to a flat point when the blades snapped, thus rendering them a bit safer than plain old carbon steel blades. That's what the catalogs said, anyway...
Alan Longmire  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 02/20/00 17:46:52 GMT

For some reason that I can't fully fathom, I've been bitten by the blacksmith bug. I think it has something to do with a minor spiritual reawakening (don't laugh). Right now it's still just an idea rolling around in my mind.
Anyway, just about the same time that the idea occured to me, I was prowling around in a junk shop and came across an old forge blower (is that the right name?), the kind that is sort of horn-shaped with a big crank on the side and sits on a stand. So I thought I could get it and fabricate a forge from an old barbeque pit as suggested in a book.
Now my question - The guy is asking $125 dollars for the blower. Is that a decent price? It's been sitting outside in the weather, and it's rusty on the outside, but it seems to crank OK. Is it worth considering? Can it be taken apart and refurbished? Or would it be better to keep looking for something better or cheaper or newer?
If you want background on me - I'm 49 years old. Spent 20 years in Air Force Civil Engineering as a carpenter (not a journeyman by any stretch of the imagination). Never done a lick of blacksmithing (not yet anyway). I have an old house on a half-acre lot that is just crying out for all kinds of gardens with lots of garden ornaments and sculpture.
Clark  <a0007731 at airmail.net> - Sunday, 02/20/00 17:58:12 GMT


We're in COMPLETE agreement. That said, let me add that when I demonstrate for a particular period, I use tools and methods appropriate to that period. When I'm here in the shop, I use what ever is the best solution to the job/production

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 19:57:44 GMT

FORGES: Clark, Great! We always need new blood. Yep, that's a blower, the price seems a little steep. They can be repaired but gears are VERY expensive (must be custom made) if worn.

One thing I tell folks intrested in blacksmithing for blacksmithing's sake is, "Don't get stuck on needing 19th century tools". All a forge is, is a pot or hole in the ground to hold the fire where you can blow air on it to make it as hot as possible. How you hold the fire and how you produce the "blast" is almost irrevelent. Look at our plans page for the "brake drum" forge. Its a good starter project, portable and cheap. Then study other forges and see what works for you. Every situation is different. If you have the place and the money a brick forge is a wonderful forge. Its also the least portable thing I can think of. A commercial steel forge is a good investment but do you know what quality coal you have available localy? Don't spend money on a coal forge if you can't get coal. Then you need to look at gas forges. Look at out burner plan and the links on that page.

A little ELECTRIC squirel cage fan is the most convienient and productive blower. A wood and leather bellows is perhaps the most satifying but the most expensive (even when you build it yourself).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/20/00 21:04:07 GMT

I use a hair dryer on my brakedrum forge. It's easier than cranking my 25 dollar Buffalo blower.
John Wallace  <pdweldor3 at aol.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 01:06:49 GMT

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