WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from February 20 - 29, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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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

How can I make right-angle bends in 3" pipe with out kinking it? I dont have access to a pipe bender that will handle pipe that big. It's for a swing away harness rack.
Terry Glenn  <tglenn at pathway.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 01:42:39 GMT

Bending Pipe: Terry, that is going to take a LOT of leverage. What radius? It was recently suggested here to freeze water in the pipe and then bend it. This will work great on large radi.

If you are looking for smooth tight radius bends those are most often weld "L's". The inside radius is roughly the pipe radius. This can't be bent. They are formed then welded in place and the joint ground smooth. It looks like a bend but is not. You see them a lot on railings.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 02:17:30 GMT

I just started forging this past week. The first project is a small paring knife. I got a rusty old harrow disc and cut a couple of strips out, forged them to rough shape and annealed in vermiculite, as recommended by Pawpaw. I reduced the thickness about 50%. Unfortunately, I did not hammer out all the pits, assuming I could grind thewm out later. But this steel is hard! Even after annealing. I suppose I should start over with clean material. Any other suggestions? Any way to make this steel easier to grind?
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 03:02:07 GMT


Try heating the steel to non-magnetic, or even a little higher, then burying it in the vermiculite until it is cold to the touch.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 03:18:12 GMT

I did that, Paw Paw. I heated the blanks to orange and cooled to ambient T in 5 gal. of vermiculite. Another page at this site mentions using a rasp for initial smoothing. I have several wood rasps but I've not heard of a rasp for metal. Maybe one of these would work well. If you think so, where can I get one?
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 03:38:24 GMT

I've been out of contact for a while and recently had a discussion with a friend about the proper liquid to quench steel. Remeber, I'm still learning how to shape it and I'm still making mistakes. I have a book by Alexander G. Weygers that is a compilation of three books he wrote between 1973 and 1978. He talks about using everything from salt to lambs fat and of cours water and oil. He states that it depends on the thickness of the steel which you should use. I'm not done reading the book yet so I may be over simplifying it. I'm also guessing that steel has come a long way since the '70's. What books are available to bring my information up to date? Also, aren't some of the chemicals used for tempering also used in nerve gas? I know salt can produce very dangerous fumes when it's burned. Any advice would be VERY welcome.
Bill Stone  <w.stone at gte.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 03:44:29 GMT

Dear guru I would like to start a Blacksmith shop and love the old wrought iron gates my question is 1.what size coal burning size forge should I fabricate by welding I was thinking a 6 ft. by 4 ft. #2Is this type of work profitable.
Guy   <titanhilo at aol.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 09:32:08 GMT

Bending Pipe: For a tight 90 degree bend without a bender you would have to weld in a 90 degree elbow as Guru said, for a larger radius you could try filling with sand so it doesn't colapse and a heat with a torch , if you try this way don't try to bend in one shot , heat some and bend some, working your way down pipe
Tom-L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 10:39:39 GMT

The bend does need to be tight. I guess I will have to cut and weld.
Terry Glenn  <tglenn at pathway.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 13:56:00 GMT

In my net surfing, I came across a formula for a soap quench, but it calls for 8 oz Shaklee Basic "i" (a wetting agent. I have no idea what this stuff is (or what a wetting agent is for that matter). Can you please help me?

the formula is:

5 Gal water
5 Lbs table salt
32 oz dawn dishwashing liquid (the blue stuff)
8 oz Shaklee Basic "i" (a wetting agent)
I found it on: http://www.celticknot.com/elektric/anvil/index.html
minatawa  <minatawa at alltel.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 14:37:25 GMT

SUPER QUENCH Minatawa, Is what you have found. It is often used on mild steel to get a little extra hardness. I've found that COLD (ice) water does the same thing. You don't want to use it on high carbon steels. Its alchemy but a lot of folks believe in it.

GRINDING STEEL: Nick, Your disk harrow steel may not only be a high carbon steel but an abrasion resistant steel. Abrasion resistant steel is difficult to grind hard or soft.

Efficient knife grinding is best done using belt sander/grinders specially designed for the purpose. The open grit on the belts is much more aggressive than grinding most grinding wheels.

Wheels for grinding steels are rated for particular materials and purposes. Often the wheels that come on a common bench grinder are not very good. The logic of abrasives is backwards from what you would think too. Soft materials use a 'hard' wheel while very hard steels require a soft wheel. The soft wheel sheds the dull and clogged abrasives that build up rapidly while grinding hard material. A water based "coolant" system not only cools the material being ground (and the wheel or belt) but washes away the swarf that clogs the abrasive. Grinding wet quickly pays for itself in abrasives and quality of work. Not many knife grinders use it but it is well worth while.

Wheels are also designed for varying aggressiveness. Coarse grits on a porus friable matrix cut very fast but the same grit tightly packed on a hard vitified wheel do not cut nearly as fast. The fibre glass backed wheels for hand held grinders come in these ratings. A long lasting wheel makes a smooth finish but is expensive in man hours. The fast cutting wheels are used up quickly but they move some steel! Its the only kind I use since I discovered them.

You CAN NOT get the right abrasives OR a straight answer about them from your local hardware store or farm supply. You have to go to industrial suppliers, welding suppliers and machine shop suppliers. The right wheel will cut that disk harrow steel like a cutting torch.

A "rasp" in metalworking terms is a big coarse file, NOT a wood working rasp. Steel is often rasped hot and filed cold.

You anneal a knife to semi-finish it (grinding or filing). The heat treating process is going to scale the knife again and require grinding while hardened. If it is a small knife then there is not much to grind so you probably need to skip as many steps as possible.

Pitted, rough or ground steel that isn't going to be reduced 75% or more by forging will show the pits and grinding marks after forging. In knife making you should start with a clean blank.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 14:47:49 GMT


Thanks for taking over Nick's question, I was out of touch most of yesterday.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 15:02:44 GMT

SIZE of FORGE: Guy, most rail-road forges were not that big. A few old brick forges are made that big but modern ones are sized much the same as iron/steel forges. A 3' x 3' (90cm x 90cm) forge is huge. A 2' x 3' (60cm x 90cm) is a large standard size shop forge.

The forge is the least important tool in the architectural shop (anyone can throw together a forge). The most important is a power hammer followed by a big flat weld platten. An anvil and several vises are good too. .

Architectural ironwork is a very difficult business to make a living at. It also takes years of training and experiance to be any good at it. Every blacksmith THINKS they want to do it because it is the glory work. Good ironwork on an expensive building is like diamond jewelery on a beautiful woman. Its the crowning touch. It says "money spent HERE". However, due to the thousands of hours required these jobs are rarely bid or will pay correctly. A job that the inexperianced will bid $5,000 - $10,000 and the experianced (and more efficient) smith will bid $25,000 to $50,000 dollars is probably worth $100,000 to $250,000 dollars.

What's the difference? One is a naive bid that MAY be taken by a naive buyer (both in big trouble now). The second is a "make a living" bid that is really a cut-throat price because the experianced smith knows his competition is the fabricator that is not going to provide the same product. The last is the price the smith NEEDED to charge to hire and train help and deliver the job in a reasonable time AND make a profit so he can survive until the next big job.

In the meantime the fabricators get the jobs because they have a proven record of delivering jobs on time and rarely turn in naive bids. Selling the QUALITY of real hand wrought is more difficult than learning to produce it.

There are many other jobs blacksmiths can produce. Furniture is a big market now and similar to architectural work in the creative aspect but does not have many of the drawbacks.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 15:22:20 GMT

MORE on QUENCHANTS: Bill, Steels haven't changed much since the 1970's. There were BIG changes from the early 1940's. However, most rules are pretty much the same.

Old recipes for quenching oil are often in the category I call alchemy, some witch's brew. No science, mostly old wives tales or whatever was on hand. Certain oils have been found to be better than others. Mineral oil works well, so does ATF. Synthetic oils with no or very high flash points are very good. The old non-inflamable PCB transformer oil would make GREAT quenchant and is a good reason NOT to bring home someone's old tank of quenching oil. Modern industry use polymer quenchants which can be adjusted to the needed quench rate.

Thickness of the section does make a difference in quenchants and technique however the definition "heavy sections" are big dies and anvil size pieces of steel. In those cases many steels are listed as oil OR water hardening and that means water for "heavy" sections. Some steels just cannot take the thermal shock and you use the recomended quenchant only.

HARDENING SALTS There is a BIG difference between a salt bath for tempering and a hardening bath. Hardening salts are used for CASE hardening and one of the most popular is cyanide salts. The fumes are not good but you don't get gas unless an acid meets the salt. A heat treating bath is generaly common salt or a special high temperature salt and is used to produce relatively high hardening temperatures and protect the work from oxidation. Low temperature salt baths are used for "martempering" which has great advantages in knife work (See Don Fogg's page).

Heattreating is an art that often requires testing and trial and error to get a specific result from a specific piece. It is not all "pat" rules and going "by the book".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 17:59:11 GMT


I recently asked you about tapping/cutting fluids per my stainless steel u-bolt project. I have since used several of the replacements for tricloroethane based cutting fluids including (1)Generic cutting oil (Lowe's), (2)LPS water-based cutting fluid, (3) LPS Tap-Matic "Gold" oil based, and (4) TapFree Excel (oil based). I still like the TapFree brand best, although none of the above is as good as original TapFree (trichloroethane).

I forgot to ask you a question about my u-bolt manufacturing process. I am heating the 316 ss threaded rods to red hot to bend them and then letting them "air cool" slowly. The resultant u-bolt is blackened where the heat was applied. They don't appear to rust in my saltwater application, but could you comment on what is happening to the stainless steel in general? How are the properties of the metal being changed? Is there a better way to do this, short of a big press?

Rob Babcock
Rob Babcock  <rob.babcock at alcoa.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 18:47:34 GMT

Thanks for your advice, Guru. I got a 50 grit belt and cleaned up my knife blanks pretty well but I will sure not use pitted steel again. I have some softer wheels that I use to regrind bevels on chisels and plane irons. I'll try one of these next time. I know you're right, though. Those wheels do cut fast.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 18:48:48 GMT

U-BOLTS: Rob, It is recommended to quench most 300 stainless to retain its corrosion resistance but I have not seen a problem otherwise. Stainless is used for applications much more severe than a little salt water and I expect that is where handling is more critical.

I cold bent mine with a little bender I built. The trick was holding on to the short end. I put a bracket on the bender and screwed a nut on the threaded part. I'll go see if I can find it and add a photo to our benders article.

Normaly I don't build benders that are very sophisticated but on this job I was being paid to build tooling for high quantity orders that never came through (good thing I charged for the tooling).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 19:21:54 GMT

What materials would one need to make a good sword about 20 inches in length?
Ananoumys  <none> - Monday, 02/21/00 19:35:26 GMT

Guru, what type of quench for my 300 stainless? Is water quench ok? Could you give me some details?

Sorry for the beginner's question....

Rob Babcock
Rob Babcock  <rob.babcock at alcoa.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 19:56:33 GMT

Sword Steel: SAE 1095 carbon tool steel properly heat treated will make a very nice sword. Old car springs don't have that much carbon but make fair swords if you are on a budget. If its a wall hanger or for fun and games then mild steel is easier to work and looks the same.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 19:57:16 GMT

300 Series Stainless: Rob, This is a non-hardening material. It is normaly quenched from about 1850-2050°F (1010-1120°C). Air quench thin sections, water quench thick. I say "about" because there are a dozen or so 300 series stainlesses. These numbers are for the most common 304SS. This is the annealing method for 300 series Stainless and is also the reccomended procedure for achieving maximum corosion resistance.

Stainlesses are work hardening so cold drawn stainless is very springy. They are also "red hard" in a limited manner so forging needs to be at higher than average temperatures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 20:10:51 GMT

Hammer speeds and weights: Guru, thanks for pointing me to the Little Giant Spec info. I had seen that info, but I thought I'd ask again since the speeds seem very high. Especially compared to the other JYH's shown. Again, not having used a power hammer, I don't have anything to help me make decisions other than the experience of people on this site. I'm actually thinking of trying to get it done and pictures taken by 3-15 for the competition. That's going to be a push! We'll see how much midnight oil there is my lamp.

Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 20:21:43 GMT

Cast Iron Finish: I forgot to add this to the last post. I picked up some swage blocks. Is there a good way to protect them from rust that won't interfere with function? Would spraying them with light oil be good enough, or would any excess oil cause a problem when using them? Thanks,
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Monday, 02/21/00 22:08:30 GMT

Blocks and Anvils: Rust is a normal function. A coat of barbeque black won't hurt a thing unless they are going to be used for non-ferrous metals. This is especialy good as they get relatively low use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/21/00 23:43:31 GMT

I'm a biomed tech by trade but I have an old post drill. It's made by Champion Forge and Blower Co. It's complete and after several hours of hard work cleaning today works perfectly. I'm not interested in selling it (although for the right price everything is for sale) but I'm trying to find out what it's worth and the date range it might have been made. Do you know of the names for some good books on antique blacksmithing tools?
keith  <golnik at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 00:05:42 GMT

Homemade forges For the past 15 years I have used with great sucess my first forge I have the capacity to bring 3" square to a welding heat. The whole thing was made from salvage yard steel, 2'x3'1/4" diamond deck plate for the top plate 1 1/2 pipe for the legs the firepot is 8"x10" at the top sloping over a 5"inch drop to 6"x8" at the bottom (mini Buffalo railroad firepot) a chunk of 1 1/2" square bar welded corner up for a clinker breaker in a 3"tweeer made out of pipe with a 1 1/2 air inlet and a 12 ga coal "fence"around the sides and back. my air blast is supplied by an old Champion electric blower (wedding present) controlled by a light dimmer switch these last about 2 years and cost less than $5.00 to replace. This forge has lived outside for its entire life and is still going strong. Total cost incluing 5 pounds of 6011 rods about $50.00 Would I change anything on it, probably not. Will I build another like it when it finaly dies, absoloutly! The only thing different I will do when I build forgeII is to make a cardboard pattern for the firepot first so I do the trim and try fitting on the sideplate angles with sissors insted of a torch. So all of all of you new smiths just gather your courage, go to the junkyard, and you can have a serious forge just like mine for not a bunch of money.
Bob Keyes  <Keyes47 at earthlink.net> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 00:37:59 GMT

Jock - I got my hat on Thursday. I think it looks great! Too bad that you weren't giving away the Peddinghaus for "Don't Pamic!" and the hat for the best hammer! Oh well, I guess I'll make due with my Peter Wright... Actually, I love my Peter Wright. Having worked on about three anvils for a brief time, though, my opinion might not mean much.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 01:52:02 GMT


Well.. I'm thinking of investing in a burn cream supplier. I wear gloves, but nothing keeps me from being burned. Anyhints?
Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 01:59:51 GMT


Yes, it can be VERY rewarding once you learn to use your PETER WRIGHT!

Remember: Old blacksmiths never die, they just quit using their Peter Wright!
grant  <nakedanvil at forgetools.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 02:30:32 GMT

EEEEGADS! I should have know I would stir Grant up by mentioning that. Please, hide the children's eyes!
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 02:45:03 GMT


Too late, you've already seen it! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 03:59:14 GMT

Them burns are a very effective educator. Feedback is prompt and the lessons are memorable. The hint? Remember your quench tank and the shortest route to it.
Pete Fels - Tuesday, 02/22/00 05:36:34 GMT

OLD TOOLS: Keith, Most of these type tools are worth more as tools than collectors items. Put a Jacobs chuck in that drill and it will make 1/2" holes all day long and faster than a drill press from where America shops.

Most of these have patent dates in the 1870's but were made in some form earlier. The vast majority on hand were sold between 1890 and 1930. Around 1930-40 the REA stretched electric lines to most of rural America. After that "hand crank" became antique. . . The rural blacksmith was also fading fast by that time.

The old turn-of-the century reprint Sears Catalogs have them and Centaur Forge sells a reprint Champion (or is it Buffalo?) catalog.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 05:39:11 GMT

How do you rust berlyium copper?? Any help would be great.
Matt Lisiewski  <parmanmatt at cs.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 05:50:55 GMT

Burns: Sparrowhawk, Fire resistant gloves are common in blacksmithing circles. However, the little burns are part of the territory. Most will tell you. "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen".

One reason I always reccomend an arc welding course is if you can't take THAT you might as well stay out of blacksmithing. Welders learn to just "grin and bear it" while a sputter ball sizzles away in a tender spot like the crease of the arm or in the shoe. The ones that drive me crazy are the sputter balls that get in your ear and wizz around in a circle . . . . But if you flinch in the middle of burning that rod you'll have a mess so you just keep on welding. You also learn to wear long sleaves and pants in 90°F (32°C)weather.

Some of the burns stop happening when you learn to put on your apron and gloves BEFORE the first burn of the day. Learning how to stay out of the way of the sparks YOU make comes with practice. Most practiced smiths go weeks without a burn that raises a blister. But burns are part of the job and you shouldn't be too surprised when they happen.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 05:53:09 GMT

Berylium Copper: Only iron and steel "rust". All non-ferous materials oxidize or corrode. To color copper alloys almost always requires very strong chemicals. The chemicals are determined by the color desired. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has numerous recipes.

What are you making from berylium copper? Be extra careful if you create dust from grinding, filing or buffing. Berylium poisioning from inhaling the dust resembles pnemonia or flue. While being treated with anti-biotics for the wrong thing most victims die.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 06:02:07 GMT

Hi Guru, Can you please define and describe, the process known as passivation. My understanding is, this is the technical name and technique, for the many countless hours I've spent pickling & polishing many different stainless forgings in the attempt to remove surface carbonization. Thank You.
Steve E  <e26fish at aol.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 08:15:47 GMT

passivation: The changing of a chemicaly active surface of a metal to a much less reactive state. Contrast with activation - ASM Metals Reference Book

Here is a technical article on using polyaniline coating from surfacefinishing.com,
Polyaniline Coating Promises Excellent Corrosion Protection

Although the term passivation is normaly applied to stainless all non-noble metals can have a passivating treatment. Most oxide finishes are a form of passivation if the oxides are not reactive. Phosphating (the use of phosphoric acid) on steel is a type of passivation.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 14:10:52 GMT

Sword steel:
If we are speaking about non-alloy carbon steel then steel for leaf-springs, usually .6 to .8 % carbon, is closer to the optimum than a .95 tool-steel. Historically almost all swords in almost all cultures where made of steel in that range. They where very seldom made out of one piece of homogenus steel, though.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 15:55:22 GMT

Nit pick: Between 600ad and 1700ad there were an awful lot of swords made of "wootz" in the near east, with greater than 1.00%carbon. Would use "many" or "a great number" rather than "almost all" to describe the whole picture.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 17:17:12 GMT

I recently inherited my great-grandfather's blacksmith set from teh old farm. parts of it are possibly over 100 years old. All of the pieces are rusty and covered with grease/dirt mixture. I am planning to clean up all the parts and paint them. What color were they originally if they were actually painted? Would it depend upon manufacturer or is there a common color that most were painted? Would sandblasting be harmfull to these parts? I am currently restoring an antique tractor and sandblasting is wonderful for this.
John Gold  <jhgold at stic.net> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 19:54:15 GMT

OLD TOOLS: John, Unless severely rusted DO NOT sandblast! Clean with a mild solvent like kerosene. If there is original paint it is hiding under the greasy places. Many tools may not have been painted but factory made tools MAY have had a thin black "Japan" or lacquer. Those with crusty rust may be cleaned chemicaly with Naval Jelly. However, many old tools develope a wonderful smooth rust finish that may be restored by the cleaning with kerosene. This old brown finish tells a lot about tools and it may not be a uniform finish. Sandblasting will remove most of the collectors value of the tools.

More complex devices like blowers and drills had heavier paint jobs that may be restorable. These were often black but red and green have been reported. They also have machined finishes and the shafts have no seals. Sandblasting makes a mess of these and can ruin machined finishes. Machined surfaces that are rusted need to be cleaned and then possibly polished with fine grit wet-or-dry sand paper. 180 grit is "fine" by metalworking standards. Some machined surfaces such as the outside of the "chuck" portion of a hand cranked drill should be left with a rust finish but the working parts of the shaft and column should be cleaned until bright. If there is heavy rust pitting don't worry about it, just oil and sand the whole and leave the oiled rust where it lays.

Under that grease and dirt tools may have the original blue grey scale, temper colors, paint or rust. Clean first, then decide what to do. Almost none of these were bright shiney things when new. Most had a very thin black Japan to keep them from rusting while in stock but did nothing for the tool while in use. Oiled rust was the normal finish for a majority of these tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/22/00 20:41:37 GMT

Guru. I was given some electrodes and I can't find out anything about them mayby you can help, and if there is a website with a crossreference for welding rods please tell me where. The rods are certanium AC-DC 299, certanium AC-DC 711, and certanium 770 MOX. They seem like a high nickle rod but more info would be aqppreciated.thanks.
KID  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 00:44:11 GMT

How do I find Don Fogg's page?
Bill   <w.stone at gte.net> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 02:43:33 GMT

My wife and I are searching for information on how to color steel with heat. We have been experimenting with our torch with good results, but we are looking for information on how to get a wide range of color. We are using (mostly) 12 gauge steel (hot rolled)and are cutting designs with a plasma cutter. We are also interested in the best way to preserve the color and prevent rusting.
Wayne Gay  <Gaywoodsiron at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 03:33:58 GMT

My wife and I are searching for information on how to color steel with heat. We have been experimenting with our torch with good results, but we are looking for information on how to get a wide range of color. We are using (mostly) 12 gauge steel (hot rolled)and are cutting designs with a plasma cutter. We are also interested in the best way to preserve the color and prevent rusting.
Wayne Gay  <Gaywoodsiron at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 03:36:44 GMT

Guru(or Bruce Blackistone)- i have a chance to demonstrate at a local Renaissance Fair & i do not know much about medieval blacksmithing. can you give me possible reference materials for simple items that i could forge(not swords,armour,things like that) any information would be helpful.
Steve Stransky  <Slstransky at cs.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 04:30:03 GMT

www.dfoggknives.com: Bill if you lose it its on our links page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 04:46:17 GMT

Temper Colors: Wayne, these are oxides on the surface of the metal. The entire range is on any clean piece you have cut with a torch. If you want uniform overall color you can do it with temperature control on your stove top. Clear lacquer is the only coating you can use.

If you want absolutly glorious temper colors get some titanium sheet. It's a white metal like aluminium but it takes temper colors like steel but better. Makes great jewlery.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 04:51:41 GMT

Ren Fair forging: Steve, just keep it simple. Hooks and fire tools haven't changed a great deal. Just remember that iron and steel were VERY expensive. Practice a good dragon head and you will make lots of folks happy. Dragon pokers, knife handles and candle stands will wow them. :) Regious and mythic symbols are also good themes.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 04:57:45 GMT

Welding Rods: Kid, I didn't miss your question. Looking for the answer. I HATE propriatary designations. . . . :(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 04:59:08 GMT


I would suggest that you check out the following four books through your library or by inter-library loan:

"On Diverse Arts" by Theophilus, (ca. 1120) © 1963,1979 Cyril Stanley Smith; Dover Publications, NY; LoC 78-74298, ISBN 0-486-23784-2.

"The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio" (ca. 1540) translated and edited by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi; ISBN 0-486-26134-4.

"De Re Metallica" by Agricola (1555); Translated by Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover; 1950, Dover edition; LoC A51-8994.

"Mechanick Exercises or the Doctrine of Handy-Works" by Joseph Moxon, (1703) © 1975 by the Early American Industries Association, Scarsdale, NY; LoC 79-15526.

These pretty much straddle the renaissance period, cover the techniques, and will give you something to talk about while the irons are in the fire. If I had to choose one, I'd go with Biringiccio.

As for things to make, do not neglect cookware. Cooking forks, skewers, spits, spit holders, simple knives, cleavers, spoons, ladles, tripods, trivets and such were in constant use (and of similar design) from the early medieval to the colonial period. Start looking through art books, cookbooks, "daily life" books and other sources for iron objects in use during the period. When you spot something, make a sketch and include an approximate scale.

Please let us know how your Renfair gig turns out.

Cool and partly cloudy 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> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 14:23:17 GMT

Was cleaning up my "new" Little Giant yesterday for painting (finally found a rig to haul it) . I noticed that the emblem on the side looked like an attatched plate under all the old paint. When I uncovered it, it was actually part of the casting (including the attatching screws) Any idea when they started doing that? I'm a little disapointed as a nice bronze or brass plate on the side would have looked better. The machine was shipped from the factory on Sept.8th, 1931. Serial # 4531. It's otherwise in good working condition. Another question is what are the torques on all the bolts for this machine? Would Sid Suedmeier have that information? The old "Tight but not too tight, loose but not too loose" might apply? Thanks TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 14:50:09 GMT

Little Giant: Can any one tell me, or tell me where I can find, the crank stroke on a 100 Pound Little Giant? Not the hammer stroke (which is longer due to the spring action), but the actual crank stroke. Thanks!
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 14:51:17 GMT

LG Stroke: Tony, I was collecting that information at one time because its not published anywhere. Was going to add it to my chart. . Hm m m. Its on the first page of the EC-JYH news supplement describing the construction of my JYH for the Asheville conference. 6" (152mm) total crank throw or half that much offset from center. Its the same on both the 50 and 100 pound hammers. On better hammers this is adjustable and is what gives them fine control.

Bolt Tightness Tim, Mechanics were not so stupid nor so annal that they couldn't tighten a bolt in those days. Casting the ID plate into castings has been around for centuries and it is still common practice. I've mentioned before that LG was the bottom of the line when it came to power hammers. When you sell to farmers on credit a brass plate is a little extravagant. Sales on credit is why there are so many Little Giants. LG also spent their money on expensive clutch mechanisms that wern't as good as a simple belt tensioner as used on the BEST machines.

If you want a high class machine WITH two brass plaques Wallace Metal Works is selling a very nice Beaudry in excellent condition. The auction ends early next week.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 15:56:31 GMT

sorry for the interuption, my excitement got the best of me.
you may now return to regularly scedualed surfing :-P
minatawa  <minatawa at alltel.net> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 16:09:44 GMT

BOLTS, BLACKSMITHS and MECHANICS: Sadly the "Artist Blacksmith" of today is NOT the blacksmith of the past. It has always amazed me how many have no mechanical apptitude. At the 1984 ABANA conference in West Virginia we wittnessed a demonstrator walk away from his demo because the guides on the 50# Little Giant he was using had loosened to the point of almost falling apart. After everyone had left Josh Greenwood and I adjusted and tightened the guide bolts using a pipe wrench and a pair of tongs! It took less than 5 minutes and the hammer was run the rest of the weekend. A good demonstrator would have stopped and given a lesson in power hammer maintenance but this fellow was clearly confused about the operation of the machine he was using.

At a hammer-in last year we saw a hammer that was SO clean and oilfree that it refused to run! Even the treadle linkage was jamed from lack of oil. . .

Cleaning and restoring old machines is one thing, but if you are going to RUN them then OIL the machine and learn to adjust it. Power hammers are no different than any other machine tool. You need to be familiar with every aspect of it and its opperation before striking the first blow.

If you own an old power hammer there are two books on the market that you should own. The Kern "Little Giant Book" and "Pounding out the Profits". Both are more historical treatise than how-to but they are a start. THEN there is the Forging Industry Asociation "Open Die Forging Manual" and Lillico's "Blacksmith's Manual Illustrated". These have some of the how-to. I laugh every time a demonstrator uses a standard industrial technique and everyone Ooes and Ahs. . . Its in the books boys.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 16:18:12 GMT

Where can a person get real wrought iron?.
I once heard that iron bridges were made of it intil the 60s. Thanks.
Jim Ellis  <ellis7 at westriv.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 16:19:17 GMT

Minatawa: Good start! Thanks for the advertisment!
Real Wrought Iron:Jim, Several folks are selling pieces of those bridges (which were built by the hundreds and are quickly going to scrap). Our 'Grandpa' Daryl Meier is one. You can also order NEW wrought from England and Europe. See our link to the "Real Wrought Iron Company" on our links page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 16:29:40 GMT

Swordsteels: Nitpick: I knew someone would bring that up! But archeometallurgy still clearly shows that people used to be more concerned about their swords staying in one piece than staying shaving-sharp.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 16:55:13 GMT


Good point. The wootze steel blades were extraordinary because they COULD withstand the rough usage and keep a sharp edge. Most of civilization ered on the side of toughness. Trust me, there is nothing more embarrassing than standing in the battle line holding an empty hilt with the blade flopped on the grass behind you. Amazing how long it takes to go for your backup axe.

"The Sword that was Broken is Busted Again!"

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, 02/23/00 18:43:46 GMT

Sword Steels: I REALLY need to write a "So you want to make a Sword?" FAQ. . . As I metioned earlier in the month mild-steel makes a great wall hanger and is just as leathal (as long as you aren't chopping through armor).

The problem here (this page) is that we get questions from serious smiths trying to learn something as well as kids that have watched too much Highlander! The right answer to any question may be different depending on who is asking the question.

And for those that REALLY think they know something, Kiwi says he's played with Zena's sword on the set in New Zealand and its made of hard rubber! Let future archeologists chew on that one!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 18:44:03 GMT

Guru, I recently saw a post that included a downloadable grid page for design and layout work. Dummy me I didn't bookmark and now I can't find it. I thought it was through someplace on Anvil Fire. Do you remember something like this and if so, wherenell is it. Thanks for your help in advance.
Mack  <mccuin at aiinc.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 19:07:07 GMT

Hey Guru! I'm still putzin' away on that first knife. The thin blade has warped during quenching. What is the best time to straighten it? Now or after tempering? Should I hammer it out or bend it in the vise? Thanks in advance for your advise.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 20:06:12 GMT

Little Giant: Guru, thanks for the prompt reply on the stroke and sorry I didn't find it on the PH page. Believe me, I looked. Just not in the right place! Dang, and I have a 4" stroke roller bearing eccentric too. Oh well, just one more part to make for the JYH.

I have so many JYH options flying around in my head and shop right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to try to start building this weekend. I'd love to have that Beaudry at Wallace, but I think just the shipping to Wisconsin would kill the budget and I do WANT to build something. I agree that a belt clutch is a good way to go, but I found I had a multiplate disc clutch on the right size shaft and I don't have the flat belt pulleys, so from a time and cost standpoint, I may have to try the clutch and leave room to retrofit the flat belt at a later date. I do intend to have an adjustable stroke now that I shouldn't use the 4" eccentric. I definitely see the value for control.

Weighing options and design features is always the fun part for me. I did send for a copy of "Pounding out the Profits", but I'm afraid I won't get it before I start building something in order to try to get done before 3-15. You mentioned that Little Giant was on the lower end of the hammer scale. I've been wondering about the theoretical wisdom of some of the LG features. Besides the cone clutch, the hammer spring arm mass seems quite large. That just burns up power with little energy contribution to the hammer. I like the arched flat spring setup with an adjustment for spring preload. You can add or remove leaves for coarse adjustment and fine tune with threaded tensioners. I'm sure there must be downsides to the arched spring too, but since I havn't thought of them, I plunge blindly on.

Yesterday, I saw your suggestion that all JYH's should be different and that we should experiment. Rest assured that I will NEVER build anything exactly like what someone else has done. That would not be ANY fun! But I do like to take the good features from each and build to suit my needs and desires.

I think I'm now at the point that I won't have to bother you guys any more until I'm done with version one. Thanks again for the help and we'll see what I end up building.
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 20:18:06 GMT

Power hammer routine maintenance and care. I always do a routine checklist before I start any hammer. I’m looking for any damage, lose nuts, bolts or die wedges, excessive wear and any other abnormalities. It doesn't make any difference if it’s a mechanical or air hammer. I then oil all wear points, turn the hammer on and give a few light blows and listen. If I find anything wrong the hammer is shut off immediately. Corrective measures are taken before the hammer is put in full service. If I’m running the hammer for an extended period it’s constantly oiled every 2 to 3 hours. I’m always listening while using the hammer for anything that might sound unusual. Big problems usually start small.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 20:19:12 GMT

Tony, Shipping could kill the deal on the Beaudry. It might be less then you think. I could have it shipped with the trucking company I use for around $400.00
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 20:24:20 GMT

GRIDS: Mack, That link and a method of laying out sprials is in my iForge demo titled "Spirals1"
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 21:50:14 GMT

Straightening Knife: Nick, Probably best to anneal, straighten then reharden. If you try to straighten directly from the quench it should break. Slight bends can be straightened after tempering depending on the steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 21:53:01 GMT

Mechanical aptitude, Half the fun is fooling around with this old machinery. Anyway, who said anything about being an artist? Sure, as heck wasn't me.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/23/00 22:35:15 GMT

My level of experence is in the middle of the road. I was just out in my shop trying to make what i call a twisted rope design poker handle. I started with three pieces of .25 od. hot rolled rod one foot in length. I then forge welded the ends and twisted the piece full lenth. I then scarfed the ends and attempted to forge weld to a .375 od. shaft. This is were the problem comes in. I can"t hold all parts together to make the forge weld. I tried using wire to clamp the rope handle to the shaft. The wire burned up. I then tried a set of tongs and a ring on the reins.
Third attempt was a hose clamp. When pieces are clamped cold is ok. But heated the clamped handle loop tends to colapse,loosing clamping force to center shaft.
Any ideas from those more experenced!
Thank You,
jim criss  <blacksmith4 at prodigy.net> - Thursday, 02/24/00 00:13:18 GMT

Dropped Tongs Weld: Jim, this takes the most practice of any forge weld. Juggling loosely tied parts won't get you there. Although called the "Dropped tongs" method there often are no tongs involved.

Practice your moves cold. Before forging the scarfs try setting one piece on the anvil and bringing the second piece to it. Short pieces will rest on the anvil or be balanced by the second piece, while longer pieces may need a stock prop. If using a prop adjust it so that it is slightly lower than the anvil so that the part does not sit hard on the anvil face cooling the iron.

You should be able to carry both pieces from the forge, set one on the anvil and hold it in place with the OTHER piece as you pick up your hammer and finish the weld.

Yes, I said "finish" the weld. As soon as you touched the two pieces together they should have "stuck". There should not be much of a balancing act. If you can do it cold it should be easier hot. If your shop is arranged so that you can not pick the pieces out of the forge, make a single turn and a step to the anvil, then rearrange your shop.

When resting the pieces on the anvil keep the weld area off the anvil until you make the weld. Rest them so that they are slightly above the face. The anvil will cool the small parts too fast to make the weld. IF you are balancing a long piece (a poker shank) off the side of the anvil with the handle then keep it tipped up just until you hit it.

Practice those moves cold. If you can't bring the pieces to the anvil quickly but CALMLY and hold them there while you pick up your hammer (off the face of the anvil), then press down slightly just before you make contact with the hammer 90 times out of 100 then you are not ready to do it hot.

Practice, practice, practice.

Last Friday while at the Colonial Williamsburg Anderson Blacksmith shop, forge welds were being made every 10-15 minutes all day long. A couple of the newer smiths were repeatedly scarfing and welding 3/4" square bar. The point was to weld and re-weld the bar and not be able to see a difference in size.

Practice your moves until it is like ballet or touch typing. If you have to look or think too hard about it its not going to work. Calm and relaxed makes the weld. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 01:28:13 GMT

I am looking for a special hammer & I thought it might be a blacksmith hammer. I have found a "cross peen hammer"...it looks a lot like the "blacksmith hammer" pictured on your website. My problem is that the "cross peen hammer" has the "wedge" head running at a right angle to the handle. I need one (about 16 to 20 oz) that has the "cross" running parallel to the handle. Can you help? Wayne Sanders
Wayne Sanders  <wayne.sanders at juno.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 01:57:15 GMT

Was in getting steel today at my local steel supplier, and as I was talking to the manager the ground shook, (several times), since we live in the San Francisco bay area I said "feels like an earthquake", he say's "no, thats the shop next door, they have some kind of power hammer and won't let us see it, I think they do some type of titanium forging". So I go next door and introduced myself and the guy takes me back to their shop where I thought my ears were going to bleed it was so loud. He wouldn't tell me what the make was but said it was a 14,000 lb. steam hammer. They were taking billets of Titanium out of the forge with a forklift and hammering them in this thing. All I could say was WOW! Sure beats a Little giant!
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 02:53:03 GMT

Straight Peen Hammer: Wayne, It's still a blacksmiths hammer but called a "straight peen" instead of "cross pien". Used to be fairly common but like many things is fading away.

Centaur Forge sells a 2 pound common striaght peen, part no. H-133. Bill Epps will make you a diagonal peen if you need one halfway in between.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 03:46:04 GMT

More Power!: Tim, It really IS amazing isn't it! What's TRUELY AMAZING is to watch Josh Greenwood forge leaves and flowers under a 500# (225kg) air hammer and then make a pancake out of a 2" dia x 5" long bar in about 3 blows under the same hammer!

Although everyone goes nuts over 25# Little Giants the RIGHT size hammer for most decorative work is a 100-150# (45-60kg) hammer with good control. You can forge 1/4" stock just as well on a 100# Bradley but can you forge 1-1/2" (36mm) square on the 25# Little Giant? Not very efficiently.

In modern industrial parlance a 500# (225kg) or less hammer is a "tool dressing" hammer. 1000# (450kg) and up are money makers. However, years ago tool factories turned out truck loads of hammers and smiths tools on 350# and 500# (225kg) machines. Bradley guided helves and Beaudry hammers were the choice of small industry. Heavy, rugged and controllable over a wide range of work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 04:11:48 GMT

There may be something wrong with teh Pub. I log on and get a message that there is an internal server error, in the place where the dialog should be.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 02/24/00 07:08:05 GMT

Jim Criss:When things wont stay together in the fire:
If nothing else works, rivet together, then weld. Standard practise on some midieval weapons and tools.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Thursday, 02/24/00 09:37:53 GMT

HI i am a 17 year old from newjersey, i have been smithing for two to three years now, i love the work and recently i made a pair of tongs by the examples on the iForge page, thanks for showing how. I acquired my forge from my grandfathers shop which was previously a livery stable for a large nearby city. It was the Farriers forge, but it had no blower or grate. I took a blower off of an old dish washer on junk day, i removed the heating element and covered the hole with sheetmetal, then i put a sheetmetal gate on the intake and i wired it to a switch on the front of the forge. it works great! i would recomend anybody trying this because these blowers are easily acquired. My anvil also came from a friend and it has a wonderful ring, perfect rebound, but half of one side of the base is broken off, and the corners are well rounded, it also has a belly on the table, never the less i got it for nothing and i have very little money so i make do, my Question is wheather i shouls try to help my shop teacher and re weld the corners and the belly, right now i have no square corners. I love your page and i am learnig a lot, hope to talk soon.

May your anvil always ring like a sweet church bell on a sunday morn'

Robert Hogg
Robert  <thetoasterking at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 14:33:42 GMT

Welding: Jim, Olle is right. Today many smiths tack weld the pieces together. On basket twists the bundle is wired or clamped at the middle of the bundle not at the ends to be heated. Plain bar welds are not. They are done as above.

The intresting point about comparing medevil weld technique with modern is that the convex scarf technique that insures that the swarf all squeezes out is a relativly modern technique. It was the result of research into weld failures of naval chain in the 1840's by James Nasmyth. At that time the weld scarf was similar to todays but it wasn't understood that the surfaces must be convex or swarf is trapped in the weld resulting in a weak weld. Scarfs ranged from concave (curved in) to convex (curved out). Those that happened to be convex or flat produced satifactory welds. The concave welds often failed under stress. Flat welds also failed but less often. Once understood that convex scarfs always produced sound welds it was widely adopted.

I wonder if the boys in Williamsburg know this? They may not be using "period" welding technique.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 14:46:00 GMT

How can I bend 3/4 in. copper pipe - into an S shape.
Dwayne  <britbfan at aol.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 22:20:06 GMT

Dwayne-- need the dimensions of the S you are trying to make
xxx  <none> - Thursday, 02/24/00 22:40:08 GMT

KID: You're right.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/24/00 22:57:08 GMT

--- :0) ---
kid  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 00:51:39 GMT

Copper Pipe: There is pipe and tubing and it comes in a variety of wall thicknesses. Straight pipe is not recommended for bending as it is a hard temper (work hardening from the manufacturing process). Tubing is anealed to make it soft and relatively easy to bend. However, there are still limits to how tight you can bend it. A standard tubing bender (available from your local plumbing supply) will make a 3" radius bend in 3/4" copper tubing (5.25" [133mm]ID). This is most likely the tightest practical bend. These benders support the tube for about 1/3 of their cross section.

For a low quantity of bends a wooden form (or complete bender) could be made for copper.

One suggestion for making this type bend has been to freeze water in the tube and use standard bending tools or fixtures. The ice will not burst the tube if its straight and open ended. Cap one end with wax and freeze.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 01:03:15 GMT


Filling the tubing with sand and capping both ends should work too.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 01:33:01 GMT

how do i build a blacksmiths furness
joe clark  <alien_hybrid_ at hotmail.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 02:04:33 GMT

Joe - Do you want a permanent forge or a quick, temporary one? Or as a third option, a gas forge? For a quicky, you can make a small box out of brick or rock that sits on the ground. On one side, leave a gap that allows you to stick a piece of metal pipe (*NOT* galvanized). Into the end of the metal pipe, insert the nozzle of a hair dryer. Light a fire of coal or charcoal in the brick/rock enclosure, turn the hair dryer on low until it gets going well, then increse speed. It's a variation on a very old African technique (Ever seen "The African Queen"? They use this basic design, except for the hair dryer part.)
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Friday, 02/25/00 03:17:48 GMT

NO ROCKS! Unless you really know your rocks and minerals do not use stone in a forge. Some igneous and those rocks that absorb water can spall or explode when heated. Stick to refractory brick, clay or common brick in that order. Cast iron and steel are also very satifactory.

A forge is nothing more than a container for the fire (can be a hole in the ground) and a method of blowing air on the bottom of the fire. The air may be introduced horizontaly or verticaly. Coal and hardwood charcoal are the most common fuels. The coal must be of the best grade.

Air can be provided by lung power (not recommended), bellows or similar device, blower or compressed air. "Squirl cage" or centrifugal fan blowers are the most efficeint.

See our plans page for a good begineers "brake drum" forge. Then try the forge entry on the Centaur Forge page for what commercial forges and fire pots look like.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 04:10:02 GMT

hi we recently purchased a Chambersburg 2CH Hammer and in the manual it recommends for the oiler a Shell Clavis J37 oil or equivalent. Since the manual is 40 years old do you know what oil we should use??? thanks bob lynch
robert lynch  <bobandstevie at pcisys.net> - Friday, 02/25/00 14:14:18 GMT

Robert, a good substitute lubricant to use in your hammer is rock drill oil. It's the same as bar oil for chain saws. I buy it in 5-gallon pails from a local distributor. It’s also a good choice to use on mechanical hammers because it has a clinging agent added.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 17:29:05 GMT


We have a group of "reconstructed" brick blacksmith forges in one of our areas. The flues don't draw very well; not only is the whole face of the chimney black, but the entire facility smokes up as well. We now have the opportunity to make some changes to this shop. Can you point us to any experts in forge and chimney design or other draught (draft) experts with experience in blacksmithing operations and an understanding of and empathy for historical/archaic practices?


Laurin  <laurin_huffman at nps.gov> - Friday, 02/25/00 20:27:08 GMT

Dear Guru
please point me in the right direction. i need to constuct a an open forge for light ironwork, garden furniture/decorative ironwork etc. ideas ,plans,drawings would be a massive help to me. i am getting my own business up & running and oxy-acetylene equipment can only take me a short distance. i look forward to your reply.

cheers mate

Chris Bell
Chris Bell  <Chris at elsonvillage.freeserve.co.uk> - Friday, 02/25/00 20:56:58 GMT

Forge Flues: Laurin, I just came from Colonial Williamsburg where they have four brick forges in the Anderson Blacksmith shop. They worked very well. We will have photos in our next edition of the anvilfire NEWS (maybe next week). If you can get hold of Peter Ross he should be able to help you. Otherwise the only drawings I know of are in Peterson's Practical Blacksmithing.

BASICS: For "side draft" forge. Masonary forge flue should be 14" x 14" OR a 12" dia. pipe (minimum). The opening should only be about 1 foot square and open into a an expansion chamber about 24" to 30" wide and 12" deep. The expansion chamber tapers to a smoke shelf (some have, some do not). Above the shelf the flue tapers (funnels) into the flue.

There are currently steel versions of this type flue that work great. See the last page of our NEWS coverage of the 1998 ABANA conference and our 98 AFC conference cogerage. These copied old masonry flues that worked.

NOTE: Overhead hoods generaly do not work without a huge or tall vent. Many of the old brick flues seen in illustrations such as Diderots were large funnel shaped affairs internaly feeding into a flue with at least 30% to 50% of the area of the brick "hood". Its just a big hole in the roof and very inefficient.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/25/00 21:19:05 GMT

Guru, I apologize. I forgot to mention the exploding rock bit, which was irresponsible and dangerous. I did know that some rocks explode from the contained water if heated. Sorry.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Saturday, 02/26/00 00:13:50 GMT

Forge Flues. there is a good article on building a masonary forge in one of the anvils ring, an ABANA publication, trouble is I don't remember which issue. I do know they have some back issues for sale, Mayby another ABANA member wit a better memory can help you.
KID  <kidbsmih at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 00:26:21 GMT

Rocks: Stormcrow, Not a problem. 99% of the rock you pick-up is probably OK. I just don't know which ones are the bad ones. I've heard sandstone is bad. But localy almost every old dry mason chimimey is made from sandstone. Close inspection shows no spalling.

There are many issues of this type that people of earlier times were closer to and knew which (at least local) materials were suitable for a given purpose. Today we are more likely to know what highway is faster to use during a given time of day than what kind of stone the highway was built with. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 01:41:31 GMT

"Open Forge": Chris, I'm not sure of your meaning. Do you mean a fabricated coal forge? Or on open air shop?

Your oxy-acetylene equipment is a good start. A small arc welder is also nearly indespensible for building your own equipment. Between the two and a scrap pile you can build almost anything.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 01:47:27 GMT

Sir, i am a student in filming and would like to know if you might know where i might access some video footage of actual steel pounding blacksmith work. Something stylized would also be acceptable. Thank you for your time. edmond.
Edmond Clay  <edmondclay at mindspring.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 06:40:31 GMT

good guru;
Any advice as to how to minimize the build up of "pinners" on a file? Pinners are clogged file teeth that score the work and screw up the surface being finished. It seems to be worse with chemically resharpened files......Pete
Pete Fels  <ironyworks at netscape.net> - Saturday, 02/26/00 08:22:06 GMT

Guru:could you enlighten me on the proper way to form the "snub" on a snub end scroll?On 1/4 x 1" stock.I have tried folding over the first 1/4" but this looks too bulky.I've moved back 1/4",butchered a mark and then tapered about 1/2" back and this looks good, but seems like a lot of work and I find it hard to believe the old timers would do this! Read lots of books but this "first step" cannot be found.
Gary  <korecki at bconnex.net> - Saturday, 02/26/00 14:57:54 GMT

Forging Film: Edmond, The Library of Congress has historical films many converted to be downloaded via computer. Try www.loc.gov. ABANA has a members library that has a variety of video tapes of a variety of process. Centaur Forge also has numerous blacksmithing how-to videos. The best way to find blacksmiths at work is to contact your local ABANA-Chapter. You will find that there are thousands of blacksmiths working daily in the US. If you need more specifics let me know where you are and where you are willing to travel to.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 15:17:34 GMT

Scroll with leaf by Peter Ross Williamsburg Blacksmith Snub end scroll: Gary, There are two ways. Historically the ends are made by drawing out the stock in a LONG taper then rolling the end. This method was demonstrated by Williamsburg Blacksmith Peter Ross on this scroll with leaf.

This method works better on flat stock than material isolation. However, traditional flat stock work does not use a snub end scroll. See our Millenium's End edition of the NEWS pages 7 and 8. Pat dressed the ends with a slight taper or chamfer but that is all.
My method is as follows.
  • Break (bend) one thicknesses length over a sharp corner
  • Flip over and chamfer the outside corner about 50%
  • Finish the "roll" by closing the bend
  • Tighten and dress while "hooked" on a sharp corner
The diameters of the finished end should be just a little less than two thickness in each direction. If the result looks too bulky you started the end at a lot more than one thickness from the end. This is one of the RARE instances where you need a sharp corner on the anvil. Since I always used old anvils I had a block for the hardy hole that had sharp corners.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 16:01:56 GMT

  • You can click on the above image for a larger image.
  • The piece was fresh out of the forge and had not been cleaned of welding crud (there are TWO welds in the piece)
  • The rolling method is especialy well suited to wrought iron as it causes no sharp corners and broken grain.
  • After rolling, the ends could be forge welded.
  • No scroll jigs were used on this piece but some speical tools WERE used to make the leaf.
  • Peter said this method was used in an often copied piece of work but the method was not obvious due to paint and rust.

Material isolation is often used on square or round stock to make the snub end. In this case you want to isolate about one and one half to two thickness and then upset the isolated mass before rounding the corners. When using this method care should be taken to use a well rariused edge and NOT try to make the inside corner sharp. This creates a very weak place where the end is likely to break off. If there is a heavy enough but nicely proportioned mass the radius will look right.

The piece above will be the subject of a future iForge demo.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 16:31:58 GMT

Gary: Old timers did it that way much more than we will ever know. I did a railing job a while back where I had to forge a 1/2" round on 1/4x1" and then scroll. The ones that I liked the best were where you could still see the metal rolled up on itself even after 4 coats of paint. (outside railing) The 1/2" end might look big to you viewed straight from the 1/4" side, but from a 45 angle and some distance the 1/2 roll with some of the 1" looks good to my eye. The trick to doing lots of these is to turn the repetition of the job into something else, count how many blows it takes you to make a good one and try to beat it,etc. You need to make a snub end scroll starter though. The first 3/4" is the hardest part to scroll tight enough to look right.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 16:22:20 GMT

Sorry, Guru, but 1095 has too much carbon to make a good sword, it will be too brittle or not hold an edge, depending on how you temper (This per Jim Hrisoulas) it is good for short knives, though.
Chris K - Saturday, 02/26/00 17:16:17 GMT

Pete: Sorry I had to move your response to keep mine together. .

Your observation about the angle of view is correct and often overlooked. Flat stock looks much more massive than it really is when viewed from an angle. This is a good reason to make samples and look at them from all angles. Just because it looks right on paper doesn't mean it will look the same in the real world. Even though the untrained eye sees only the silhouette of iron work that view can never be without some angularity.

The silhouette view of ironwork is most often seen outdoors and of course anywhere there is bright backlighting or a light surface. That view of ironwork is less noticable indoors where the lighting is much more evenly distributed. Consider WHERE your work is going and then look at your samples in a similar environment. The final finish or color of your work will also make a big difference. Traditional black forces the silhouette view of ironwork but lighter colors let the viewer see the depth and texture of the work.

Scroll ends are a matter of style and I should not have said the "right" way above. My intention was to indicate the right way to get the results Gary was looking for and I believe that was a small thickness and a half round end. These ends work well as dressing for flat stock that is left flat OR the begining of a progressive scroll where the first "loop" of the scroll parallels the round end and then expands outward at a greater rate.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 17:17:06 GMT

Sword Materials: 1095 for swords has been recommended by experts that know more than I. Tempering can reduce 1095 to a ductility sufficient to bend without breaking. Neither hardening or tempering need to be uniform.

The questioner was asking about a "short" sword. These are relatively heavy and brittleness is not so much an issue. Edge holding is also not an issue unless you are REALLY planning on going to war using the said sword. I also recommended auto spring steel of unknown composition and MILD STEEL which is probably more than sufficient for the likely intended purpose. I've also recommended aluminium (2024, 6061 and 7075-T6). Sound ridiculous? Its easy to work, easy to produce a brilliant finish and makes a great wall hanger or toy and doesn't rust. It would also be just as leathal as any edged weapon.

What you have to remember is that the folks that ask what material to make a sword out of on this page don't have a clue about knife or sword making and many admit to having never made ANYTHING out of metal (and are not likely to). Anyone that has studied the subject to any degree would not need to ask the question.

The best swords are not made of any one steel but are built up from several each having different properties. Today most swords are made for collectors and even though "real" still (hopefully) end up as wall hangers. The materials selected are often based on rarity such as the meterorite blades made by several makers including Jim Hrisoulas. You could not pick a worse material! Any one piece is far from uniform, has all sorts of weird inclusions, its chemistry is only appoximatly known due to the variations making its heattreating a wild guess. But the collectors love it.

Most laminated "Damascus" steels are also made for their beauty and the pattern produced when etched or colored. Have you ever seen an article on making the "strongest" or "best blade" laminated steel? A report with engineering and metalurgical tests? Well, there have been and years ago the Swedish Army had knives made of a factory produced laminated steel. Bill Moran bought a quantity of it and made a reputation for demonstrating a "hard" blade that took a fine edge and could be clamped in a vise bent over on itself without cracking or breaking! This was a minor blip in the laminated steel business and has not been repeated (that I know of).

What material is "best" for making swords today is not based on sound engineering principles or performance testing nor military purposes but on mythology, art and economics.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 18:21:47 GMT

Do you have access to plans to a home-made powerhammer? My hobby is knife making and other light metal work. If you know where such plans can be obtained, please e-mail me the info. Thanks!
David Crain  <dacnlac.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 20:43:16 GMT

Hello.This question concerns 'touch marks'. We have a pitcher that stands 7.5" on the bottom is the following:'L.B.S.Co.', below this pictures of the following: a cross, a crown & a badge with the # 8 inside, below this, the letters EPNS which are inside boxes, below this are the #'s 1525. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks-Gary
Gary  <gas at citlink.net> - Saturday, 02/26/00 21:33:44 GMT

Your link to the "Real Wrought Iron Company" is not working.
Maybe it's my computer I am not sure.
Jim Ellis  <ellis7 at westriv.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 22:03:00 GMT

Jim: Thanks! Its fixed now. Stupid error. Left out the "http://". . . Seems he sent it to me that way though. . . now to fix it in about 4 other places.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 22:33:01 GMT

Home Made Hammer: David, See our ABANA 2000 JYH Event page for ideas. We currently have no specific plans due to the great variations in skill levels and facilities needed. Curently we are working on plans and ideas for builders of hammers using junk. Its cheap but actually harder to do than designing for one built from a materials list. . which would be more expensive (depending on what your time is worth).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/26/00 22:49:54 GMT

Just yanked some bars out of driftwood that was sitting along the beach... Lumber mill tiedowns that got away??

Anyone know what they use for these things, ie type...
Ive got about 7 feet of teh stuff...
what do I do with it now!

Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 03:12:45 GMT

Iron: Sparrowhawk, could be parts of a dock, bridge or any kind of structure near the sea OR on a river. Even a ship. If its OLD wrought iron and its been in the water a long time (looks like old wood itself) it is useless to try to make something of it. If it is structural stuff its most likely A-36 or something common.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 04:24:04 GMT

Is the conical clutch on a Little Giant supposed to be oiled? If so, what type and how much. The LG I just got doesn't have an owners manual. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 06:31:06 GMT

I was wondering if you could help me? I am looking for a site on the web where I can find out about the history of blacksmithing and the working of metals, tried a few places but they just seem to be about products or company's.
shaun  <shaun at darkrealms.freeserve.co.uk> - Sunday, 02/27/00 13:33:36 GMT

Tim, Does you hammer have a center or end clutch and what size it? Little Giant made so many changes over the years we would need more details about you hammer before we could offer any help. One thing for sure oil is your hammers best friend. If your hammer has wood blocks as a friction material then you would us a light coating of 30w-oil occasionally. If you use to little or too much oil the hammer will not perform correctly. LG's have one of the most complicated clutch systems of any mechanical hammer but when the work they work fine. When they don't work things get real ugly and you'll know something's wrong. The simplest and most efficient is a slack tensioning clutch like the ones found Bradley's, Fairbanks and Beaudry's.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 15:00:00 GMT

Hammer Oil: Tim, As Bruce mentioned oil, oil, oil. The clutches on Little Giants tend to grab instead of smoothly engage or allow you to feather their operation. Oil until it operates smoothly.

There were two center clutch designs. One was cast iron on cast iron the other had a friction material (belting) on the cone and engaged in the cast iron cup. These have (had?) a grease cup on the back end of the shaft to lubricate the clutch bearing. The cup should be given a quarter turn about once a week. If it has been replaced with a zerk fitting give it a shot of grease. If is has neither LOOK for it. Many are missing. Both type clutches need oil on the faces to work smoothly. The thrust bearing should be lubricated daily or more often. I've seen (had) center cone clutch hammers that worked perfectly with completly worn out clutch bearings. This is common as they ran on line shafting that ran night and day.

The wood block clutches have a zerk fitting on the shaft and the wood blocks should also be oiled if the clutch becomes grabby. When the center bearing of these clutches go bad they get completly uncontrolable. These machines are a good candidate for conversion to a slip belt type clutch. Many folks waste a lot of time rebuilding these clutches and adding brakes to the machines when what they should spend their time on is retrofitting a different clutch system.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 15:36:12 GMT

History of Blacksmithing and working metals: Shawn, this is the technological history of mankind! As it is tied closely to history most of it is written by historians. The problem is that the historians were NOT technologists and the result is that technological history is poorly documented on inacurately reported.

It is a vastly broad subject you've described. Eventualy we will cover the subject here in an elementary fashion. The complete answer requires libraries full of books. Books that are rarely duplicated on the web.

The history of ironworking (in western culture) goes back to 2000 BC or earlier with the working of metoric iron. The actual begining of the iron age is placed at 1500 BC but this date keeps getting pushed back further and further. The problem is that all evidence of ironworking evaporates into rust in about a thousand years and evidence from three and four thousand years ago is no longer in existence except in VERY rare cases.

To put things in focus, the bible story of David and Gloiath, is the story of a bronze age people fighting an iron age people. The terrible "war like" Philistines got that reputation because they were in the more technologicaly advanced iron age.

For many years it was believed that early ironworkers knew wrought iron (soft and unhardenable) and cast iron (brittle). Today we are learning that they knew of hard iron (steel). This is because in just the last 25 years we have gained a better understanding of the early processes of extracting iron. The old bloomery process produced a range of product from nearly pure wrought iron to the too brittle to forge cast iron. In between was "hard iron" that could be forged, hardened and tempered and used to cut both cast iron and steel as well as make weapons. This discovery and use of steel is clouded in the mists of time but it is now believed that the earliest iron workers had or recognized steel.

As human economy grew so did the manufacture of iron and steel. The Classical Greeks (400 BC) were a society on the crest of the high bronze age going into the iron age. The great Roman conquers were largely iron age people subduing bronze age peoples. The result is that they spread knowedge of ironworking throughout Europe. The real advances in Western technology starts in the 1300-1400's and becomes the industrial revolution of the 1700's that extends to about 1900. In that 200 year period almost every known machine mechanism was invented and put to use. That period is documented in the following books that you will find in your library.

  • DeRe Metalica, Agricola 1400-1500's
  • Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industries, Dennis Diderot (1700's) in reprint
  • James Watt and the Steam Engine (Late 1700's), Dickinson & Jenkins, Oxford, 1927
  • Autobiography of James Nasmyth, 1888(?).
  • The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex Bealer, 1968
  • Dates approximate
The Nasmyth biography is on-line and can be found via our book review page. That and the book on James Watt cover the greatest peoriod of industrial hisory there ever was. To develop his steam engines Watt had to invent the pressure guage, strip recorder(!) and materials science. Nasmyth was one of the great mechanical geniuses of the age and followed Watts. Nasmyth was the inventor of the steam hammer placing him among the all time great blacksmiths. His biography describes the cottage industry that Britian used to supply the world with goods and spans the earliest machine tool era through the development of the Bessemer steel making process. His mechanisms are used virtualy unchanged in "modern" machine tools. Its a good read if you are really intrested in technological history.

The art of blacksmithing continues to develop as we are always developing new materials and techniques. However, only time seperates the modern blacksmith from the earliest metalworker that picked up a hammer and struck hot metal to shape it. That diffinitive act, the tools and the metal, is no different today than four thousand years ago.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 16:55:38 GMT

I need information about patterns of iron fences. Necesito información sobre modelos de verjas.
roberto clark  <robertoclark at altavista.net> - Sunday, 02/27/00 15:34:47 GMT

Iron Fences: Roberto, Centaur Forge and Norm Larson Books have many books on the subject. Their catalogs have most of the ironworking books in print. Sus catálogos tienen la mayoría de los libros ironworking en la impresión.

I have not seen the following books but they look like what you are looking for. No he visto los libros siguientes pero parecen qué usted está buscando.
  • The Early Ironwork of Charleston
  • Treasury of Ironwork Designs
  • Banister/Railings (Treppengelander); (German, French and English)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 17:49:27 GMT

I am very interested in learning this stuff. Please give me some ideas on what I need to obtain to start a shop.
I have done only a little bit, made some small hooks, ect. on a forge of a friend. Only enough to get me really interested, and I want to be able to do it in my back yard.
Dan  <jdbode1029 at aol.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 17:57:39 GMT

Getting Started: Dan, have you read our article on Getting Started at the top of this page? Lots of good ideas there. Then there is the question of what kind of work do you want to do. It makes a big difference in the type of equipment you need. Jack Andrews' book New Edge of the Anvil is very good on this subject. His first shop was in a teepee. Tents and teepees work well for blacksmithing shelters because they are well ventilated. Just be sure you have LOTS of over head clearance where the forge is. They should also be flame retardant material, have no fringes or frayed edges and never be used after applying solvent based water proofing.

Hmmm wrote a BUNCH here on tools and it started sounding all too familiar. Read the article at the top of the page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 20:42:34 GMT

Dear Guru,
No kid am I but am just starting doing metal sculpture with MIG amd torch. Here goes. I have built several sculptures and wish to coat as I have seen. They art I have seen seems to be rust, is brown but is shiny and mottled. Is this paint or what?Thanks for the help. 'Nuther question. I am using oxy Acetaline for cutting. Is there a cheap electrical cutting source. I go thr

u a lot of gas. Thanks,Don
Don McCrea  <mcjag at earthlink.met> - Sunday, 02/27/00 22:30:57 GMT

Pinners; Pete Fels:

In my old Dixie Gun Works catalog the late Turner Kirkland recommended rubbing "french chalk" (soapstone) into the file to keep brass or copper from clogging the spaces. It seems to work on mine, at least for brass. He also suggested segregating the brass working files from those used on steel, since after use on the steel, the files cut the brass with far less efficiency. Whether soapsone would help on keeping the steel cutting unclogged, I don't know, but it is certainly worth a try. Let us know how well it works for you.

Misty and rainy on the banks of the lower Potomac. Still putting stuff away from the Boy Scout Merit Badge Jamboree yesterday. Nobody burnt, but at least two of the eight discovered that I wasn't kidding about "black heat". The gloves I made them wear turned it into a lesson, instead of a burn.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Sunday, 02/27/00 22:56:53 GMT

Don: The best finish for iron/steel is a good three part paint system. Paint it any color you want. Rust and oxide finishes are common but in the end will always rust more. See my articles on the 21st Century page on corrosion.

That said, a little Chlorox bleach and water will create a lot of rust in a hurry. Neutralize with a weak acid like vinegar (out doors with lots of ventilation) and then neutralize the vinegar with a baking soda solution. Rinse well (boil if possible). Dry then coat with clear lacquer.

There are air-arc torches for cutting and air plasma which is MUCH improved. However, for first class plasma work you need to use argon or nitrogen (I think). You also burn up the tips (there are always some kind of consumables). I believe its cheaper than gas but there is the initial cost.
You can also cut stainless and aluminium with a plasma torch.

Oxy-acetylene cutting can be replaced with Oxy-propane which is a little cheaper and works fine on light metals. It takes some getting used to. Oxy-fuel cutting is one of the most efficient ways of cutting steel. Optimize the tip you are using for the material thickness. Oversized tips use a lot more gas than necessary. For 0 to 6" you should have a minimum of 4 tips and there are generaly 8 or more available depending on the brand of your torch.

Also check your torch and fittings for leaks. A lot of folks lose more gas than they use. Check the cylinder valve packing! I've had to return numerous cylinders that were going to leak away their contents before I got a chance to use them! It doesn't hurt to check then AT the welding supplier or before his truck leaves if he delivers. They often won't give you a 100% refund or one for one exchange once its been in your hands.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 23:05:49 GMT

Pinners: Bruce, thanks for catchng that for me. Yes soapstone does help. If doing finished work some WD-40 on file and work helps. Just be sure to rinse often to prevent the residue from becoming an abrasize. We easily forget that files were oiled when new. . .

I also use a power wire brush (wheel) with relatively soft SS wire on an 1800RPM motor to clean files. Frequent cleaning followed by a light oiling helps a lot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 23:12:40 GMT

Articles by Bruce Blackistone: are now posted at:


Permanent link listings will follow soon.
Light spring rain moving into central VA. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/27/00 23:17:58 GMT

I am not sure if first e=mail got thru so here goes. I am interested on finishes for my metalwork. I have seen a brown rust like finish. It is smooth and not pitted like rust. Paint? Please give me some thoughts on this finish. Thanks, Don
Don McCrea  <mcjag at earthlink.net> - Monday, 02/28/00 00:19:48 GMT

Congrats to you and the missus! 40 is a good number!

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 02/28/00 00:35:55 GMT

Can you IMAGINE?: Being married to PawPaw for 40 years! Congratulations to Sheri for being the most understanding woman on the planet!

Don, your answer is posted a couple posts UP.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 01:16:16 GMT


You're on my list! Paybacks are a female dog in heat! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 01:57:13 GMT

Bruce & Guru,
Thanks for the information. My clutch has what appears to be leather on the cone side which engages inside the clutch. The arm which engages the clutch also extends over to the flywheel and has what appears to be a seat for a brake pad? I don't know if I'm explaining this thoroughly. Would this "brake" also be made of the same material as what's on the cone and should it also be oiled? TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 02:49:07 GMT

Tim, sounds like someone might have made some modification to your hammer. I don't know of any LG that had leather for a clutch or came from the factory with a brake. I could be wrong maybe someone else could jump in and offer some advice that is familiar with a hammer of your type. LG made so many changes over the years there is a good possibility someone else might have a hammer like yours. It’s almost impossible to keep track or have seen every change made. In any case I don’t think a light oiling of the leather would hurt anything. It would be much like oiling a wooden clutch.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 03:16:25 GMT

Guru said in his post that some had a "friction" (belting) material. I may have made a misidentification of the material as being "leather" It is riveted with coppper rivets and looks like heavy leather. I think your right about the modification being made to the brake. I'll have it all together in a couple of days and try to take a picture and send it as a .jpg file. Thanks, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 05:26:43 GMT

Tim, I have seen belting friction material on LG's but it appeared to have been asbestos to me.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 12:43:57 GMT

Question from a rank beginner with limited tooling ( a improvised anvil, home brew gas forge, a few hammers, and a little MIG welder ). I have been approached to make 70 pairs of Sais, a martial arts weapon that looks like a handheld trident with a 7/8" ball on the end of the handle. I would like to do this job in order to pay for some more tooling ( 70 X 70$/each = tooling! ). My trouble is attaching the ball ( 3/4", 7/8", or 1" depending on size ) to the end of the handle. I first tried ball bearings, but they kept cracking at the weld. I then ordered some plain high carbon steel balls from MSC. I can weld them on, but some of them have cracked from just being dropped on the floor. I am I even approaching the problem correctly ( rank beginner here )? IF so, how can I weld the high carbon steel ( manufacturer sayes they are O-1 ) so they will not crack. Or, where can I get some mild steel balls? Any help would be much appreciated. Thx's. FAB.
Fred  <jyblood at nwi.net> - Monday, 02/28/00 14:43:39 GMT

Do you have any suggestions on making a lpg kiln for making mokume-gane? I've done some light blacksmithing and i'm in the welding degree program- mig, tig ,or stick i can probably get it done thank you.
Veazel  <veazel at gateway.net> - Monday, 02/28/00 16:02:39 GMT

Balls: Fred, Approach the problem differently. Last weeekend I just happened to see Nick Vincent of Nathan's Forge demonstrate a slick ball end trick. This is a power hammer job but can be done by hand. First you need some ball spring dies. CL DIE 001. For your application you won't need the necking portion of the die. These dies are easier to make than they look. See the 21st Century page for the text and link to the above image.

Now the trick. Nick took a 5/8" NC Heavy Hex Nut and forced it onto the end of a 1/2" rod. It was a tight fit that probably wrecked the threads. Then, heated it in the forge, went to the clapper dies on the power hammer and in about five blows had a very nice 3/4" ball end!

Several things happen here. The force is applied through the nut reducing the shaft size in the center AND the threads are filled or mashed into the bar. It is a VERY tight end and in this case it filled the die to make a perfect sphere. To do 140 you need some help (a striker) if you do not have a power hammer.

I've done the same by hand with square nuts and without a die. If you arc weld the mass on or get up to forge welding heat the threads are not important. For certain amounts of mass you may want to take bar stock and drill holes instead of using a nut. Using a nut is a slick trick because they are cheap but you are limited in the proportions of mass to shank size.

Back to the ball welding problem. You are dealing with tool steel. You CAN NOT thermal shock tool steel without creating cracks. MIG welding those balls is about as extreame as you can get. However, it CAN be done. You didn't mention what kind of steel the shank is made from??

Preheat (almost to a black heat), weld (at reduced power due to the latent heat), stress relieve (peen) while still hot, and postheat to above critical and annealing all in one continous operation is required. In the end it is still going to be a weak joint. McMaster-Carr has case hardened "Carbon Steel" Balls in 3/4" and 1". These will take welding MUCH better than the O-1.

Large masses on bar have always been a problem for blacksmiths. Upsetting is most common on the end of bars. In this quantity I'd make support dies just the right length to set on top of the anvil and clamped (attached to) Vise Grip welder's clamps. The other method is to isolate the mass and draw out the shank. This too can be done by hand but is a definite power hammer job in any quantity. Both methods also require the ball end clapper die.

There will be photos of Nick's demonstration in the next news.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 16:04:01 GMT

Beginner here and i think i got lucky yesterday
i am in the process of collecting tools to start banging hot metal. i was going to make my own propane forge from plans found on the web but i came accross a ferrier who had 2 forges and just wanted to get rid of them. They are Johnson nateral gas forges and are pretty big about 300 pounds apiece one is a 3 burner and the other is a four bunner unit. Question is can i convert these suckers to propane or do i have to use nateral gas? also i was told that when they are running they sound like jet engines so i would like to be able to tone them down also..any idea's or information would be greatly apriecated
thanks randy
randy  <rwbruce at primate.ucdavis.edu> - Monday, 02/28/00 16:08:02 GMT

LPG Kiln: Veasel, the fabrication is not a problem but you will need temperature controls. See our plans page for a very simple burner (without controls).

To use temperature controls on a gas burner you must also have automatic (electronic ignition). The big gas forge I built was based on a furnace I also built with temperature controls. The controler was easy as it was an old 1930's thermocouple/mechanical mercury switch unit I had on hand. . . Chromalox sells similar modern units.

Sequencing is an intresting problem. The blower takes a few seconds to come up to speed. If you open the gas solenoid and start the blower at the same time the fuel/air velocity is too low and you get flash back (fire in the burner and blower). So, you have to have an ON-DELAY of 3-4 seconds before you open the gas solenoid. You also may need an OFF-DELAY relay to prevent too frequent of cycling.

The melting furnace was operated by the old temperature control. My forge has too modes of operation. ON and AUTO. The AUTO mode cycles the forge for 10-15 seconds on and then 10 seconds off. This dwell on/off mode keeps the forge hot without melting the lining and reduces gas consumption to 50%.

Ignition was provided by a spark-transformer designed for "jet" kerosene heaters. Since my local supplier went out of business I'm not sure where I'd get them now. A modified spark plug was used to provide the insulation and support the extended electrode. The ground electrode was cut off the plug and I TIG welded a piece of SS welding rod to the center electrode. A tooth at the end of the burner provided the ground. An outfit called Aurora makes a commercial version but they are expensive ($140+/-) and must be bought in quantity!

Forge/furnaces can be built cheap. However, temperature controls and supporting electronics have always been expensive. Expect to spend $500-$1000 USD on the controls.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 16:31:28 GMT

Lucky Forges: Randy, these are very expensive forges. You are indeed lucky! Nope, can't help the noise. Matter of fact when adjusted perfect blower type forges make a reverberating hum that rattles your lungs, shop walls and shelves. . . Normally you need to run them a little out of adjustment. My gas forge described above weighs maybe 1000 pounds and will walk across the floor if adjusted for "full volume".

The noise isn't really that bad! :) Yes they can be converted to LPG. Centaur Forge is the dealer and will sell you replacement gas orifices and what ever else is required for conversion.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 16:41:43 GMT

Randy, you can go factory direct for parts. I'm not sure of Johnson's number but I sure you can find it somewhere on the web. I have it somewhere in this mess I call an office. If it turns up I'll relay it to you.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 17:22:25 GMT

ive read many books related to blacksmithing but ive yet to find one that covers finishes. ive got several good tips from anvilfire. ive tried several different types of oil and misc stuff just to experiment but nothing has worked extremely well. (hot/cold apps) any books you would suggest i read would be helpful. thank you in andvance. i love this page, it has been a great help .....
jim  <jrfar at gis.net> - Monday, 02/28/00 20:12:16 GMT

FINISHES: Jim. There is only ONE finish that preserves iron/steel. That is the three part paint process that I describe on the 21st Century page (OR a similar process). On outdoor work any other finish and you are foolng yourself AND your customer. Oil and wax finsihes are temporary and provide minimal protection.

All oxide finishes, scale, rust and gun bluing/blacking are mearly a textured surface to hold oil and prevent rust. If you clean and oil a rust finish like folks do a prized blued weapon then the finish will hold up fine. As soon as you stop maintaining these finishes (regular cleaning and oiling) then rust is the result. Don't EVER expect your customer to maintain your work.

If you insist on the "natural" look then forge stainless steel. Indoor work in a "non-condensing" environment (as the electronics folks put it) can have clear lacquer applied to a chemicaly clean surface (no flux, coal deposits or salt and oils from hands).

Many smiths get this real Zen thing going about "natural" finishes. Well, what's natural is for steel to rust to dust.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 20:41:22 GMT

thanks guru and bruce
i was excited about the find but then when that wore off i had to figure out how to use them..i dont think natural gas is the way to go (ie i have to plub a line out side) so i am hoping to rig it for propane and maybe close off a couple of burners if possible i think it will get too hot but maybe not??? both units have a 1/2 motor hooked up to a blower so maybe i can hook the motors up to a reostat and control the air force
randy  <rwbruce at primate.ucdavis.edu> - Monday, 02/28/00 22:45:53 GMT

Randy: Don't mess with the factory controls. . . The air/fuel mix is balanced for the specific device. Too hot is almost never a problem with gas forges.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/28/00 23:41:46 GMT


Could you give me any leads re: blacksmiths who would be able to make historically accurate--in looks and steel composition/tempering--Moro krises?

I'm talking about the traditional weapon--a sort of short "sword"--as used by the Islamic Moros of the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao of the southern Philippines (similar to Malay krises). These weapons were made of layered steel, etched in order to bring out the layering, had an integral handguard with notches cut along it to catch opponents' blades and had VERY keen edges. Many had the traditional wavy blades but most were straight bladed about 20" or so in length (plus the grip which would then be about 26" overall).

I have a "generic" photo for your information in case you don't know about the Moros and/or their weaponry...just let me know because I don't know how to post it here in this form's window.

I am not ready to buy now and I already have two such krises (probably not of high quality though) but eventually I would like to find a smith who could do serious quality work in making me one or two of these IF he can duplicate the layering and tempering as the Moros made them for hundreds of years.

I do not know of any smiths in Sulu/Jolo but if YOU do, then that would be the best way to go to insure historical accuracy. I'm sure smiths in the northern (Christian) areas of the Phillipines could do this but the kris is a southern (Islamic) area weapon and I prefer to stick with those who actually made/used this weapon unless there is a American smith who is familiar with this weapon and the metallurgical techniques used in making it.

I must tell you that although there is lots of stuff re: the northern Filipino--martial arts styles/weapons and such--there is just about zero on the southern "Filipinos"--the Moros.

Thanks for any tips,

John Dechon
El Paso, TX
John C. Dechon  <johndech at att.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 03:14:07 GMT

I did some blacksmithing in college and I'm starting to get back into it. I'm looking for information on anvils and where to purchase a good anvil in the $250. to $400. range of prices. Thanks.
Todd  <twistedwolfleathers at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 04:11:46 GMT

Anvil Price: Todd, You'll find nothing NEW in that price range. See our anvil series on the 21st Century Page and then find your local ABANA-Chapter. There's always some tailgaters at meets with used anvils in that range.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 04:52:27 GMT

Flat Belt: Any recommendations on flat belt materials? I've decided to bite the bullet of more work and put a flat belt on the JYH. I have not done a flat belt drive and have never done a slipping belt clutch, so I'm not sure how sticky the belt material should be. I'd rather stay away from leather due to stretch, cost, and the fact that the hammer will be used mostly outside. I'm currently planning on making crowned steel pulleys from 8" pipe. I've looked in Machinerys Handbook and Mark's Standard Handbook, but I have not seen a clear recommendation for belt material for a clutching flat belt. All of the discussion is on belts that just transmit power and do not clutch. Unless I find another source, I will probably buy the belting from Mc Master Carr. I just don't know what material to buy. I can go up to a 8" wide belt, but 6" will probably do. The only motor I have laying around is 7.5 HP, 1740 rpm. The motor will drive a big pulley on a shaft at 270 rpm and the flat belt will be from the other end of that shaft, to the hammer shaft at 270 rpm also. Hammer weight will be about 120 pounds on a 4 to 8" crank stroke, spring suspended.

The frame is tacked together on the base plate and the drive shaft is in place. March 15 is toooooo close!

I have the new computer and scanner, but I'm not taking it out of the box until the JYH is done. So it will be a while for the vise pictures.

Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 13:43:07 GMT

MORO KRISES: John, try www.swordforum.com . There are a number of excellent custom bladesmiths who post regularly on their fora, from what I've seen, there are several there with the skills to produce the weapon you seek.

Eric Bramblett  <bramec at bga.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 14:11:08 GMT

Dear Guru;

I have some nickel plated hooks that I want to remove the plating from. How can I do this without destroying the temper? If I heat them they lose their temper, if I do
this how can I retemper then with simple household means?

Mack  <mackman at vvm.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 14:13:50 GMT

Tony, Flat Belt.

The flat belt clutch we have on our Bradley is just a canvas belt. It runs slack until the ideler pully is engaged. Once the belt gets dirty etc. I don't think it makes much difference as to what it is made of. Our hammer is inside and as yours is outside you might want to talk this over with your suppler. The last belt I bought was for my 6" Logan lathe. It uses a belt about 1 inch wide and runs on cast iron pulleys. The ideler pulley on the Bradley is flat and only the driving and driven pulleys are crowned. The ideler goes inbetween the driven and driving pulleys not the other way arround, so that the slack is AFTER the driven pulley and before the driving pulley.
Hope this helps :-)
Wayne Paris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 15:16:57 GMT

Krises:For those that fell like trying.
Tylecote & Gilmour (The metallography of early ferrous edge tools and edged weapons, BAR British series 155, 1986) does an analysis, down to micro-hardnes and trace-elements, of two Malay krises.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 15:53:20 GMT

Flat Belts: Tony, Consult MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for details however, leather is best, heavy laminated canvas works. Slip belt pulleys need crown as do any other flat belts, but they also need edge guides to keep the belt from falling off when slack. Guides are normaly raised edges on the larger driven pulley. These are not normal pullies (ie can't be bought). A great option is to use a multi "V" belt pulley and machine out the unnecessary middle ribs. Remember to machine about 1/32" - 1/16" (1mm) crown on the "flat". It also helps to machine the outside edges vertical so the belt doesn't try to ride up the taper of the "V".

Crown is important because belts pull or run to where they are tightest (seems backwards but its a fact). Crown is commonly machined as taper from the center. In years past it was a gently (expensive) radius.

Driven, driving and tensioner pullies all need crown however some makers leave the crown off idlers. There should be 10 to 20% extra width on pullies. Belt width should be rated for horsepower. A 1.5" leather belt is good for approx 1.5HP. Belt guides can consist of pins, plates or bent bar. All they do is keep the belt from falling off the pullies when slack. Bent round bar is best, be sure belts do not rub on guides when operating.

Preferably all this machineing should be done on a lathe but an enterprising JYH builder would turn the pulley on the JYH shaft using a motor to drive the pulley (perhaps in a extra "V" :) and use a hand held grinder to remove the ribs and create the crown.

The above is for a first-class hammer. Other JYH options are. . . An automobile OR motorcycle wheel as pulley (see the French JYH) and would you believe you could also leave the inflated tire ON THE RIM! This is tricky in the clutch/guide design area but bald tires have the most wonderful natural crown. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 17:04:36 GMT

Nickel Plate: Mack, Are you sure its nickle (shiney slightly yellow cast) or is it zinc? The only chemicals that will remove nickel are very strong acids that will attack the steel 100 times faster than the nickel. Zinc can be removed with a mild acid like vinegar.

You didn't say what kind of hooks (crane or fishing) but tempering either one is not a job for an amature.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 17:11:18 GMT

Flat Belts: Wayne, and Guru, thanks for the info! I have access to a machine shop here at work, so lathe stuff is not a problem. As I mentioned, I was planning to make the pulleys from 8" pipe. But I had not thought about the belt needing guiding when it is slack. Good thing you mentioned that, or the belt would have flown off the first time I started it up. I had also thought about the car wheels, with and without tires, but rejected them because I wanted to keep the hammer shaft mass low so that it comes up to speed quickly and isn't too hard to brake. If I really wanted to go cheap and fast, I would have used a flat belt from the motor to the 33" flywheel on the hammer shaft and I'd probably be done with it by now. But then by the time the hammer shaft was up to speed, the iron would be cold.

But......your talking about tires has given me another idea! Kart tires and wheels. Racing Go karts. I did that for a while in my past life. Adjust the crown with tire pressure, low mass, replacable friction surface, etc. I like it! Now I just have to find some Kart wheels with a 2" and 2.125" hub. See, talking this stuff through with people who know works good.

Jeez, I might be able to get this together cheaper than I thought! So far, I have committed to a batch of homebrew in trade for a 600 pound base plate and the rest I had.

Thanks again!
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 17:46:23 GMT

we need to find a horseshoer to shoe an Amish horse. He needs shoes with Borium on the shoe. Can you Tell me of one in the Wichita Falls,Tx. area.
thank you
Marilyn  <mvermeland at aol.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 18:27:14 GMT

I´ve been around the sword and blade-forums trying to find someone who knows of some realistic, preferably historical, methods of sword testing. Didn´t find any yet. I haven´t made that many swords (after all, who really NEEDS them?) and my testing method so far has been to attack any inanimate object close to the forge and see what happens. It seems to me, that since most military-type swords are made for cutting just about anything but rope, the rope-cutting tests aren´t valid.
Anyone out there got some simple, non-lethal, quasi-scientific testing methods to share?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 20:35:00 GMT

Can I use natural gas for a gas forge? we have a big gas line for my wife's kiln.
Scott Hunter  <shunter at sonic.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 20:35:29 GMT

Yes NG can be used, tho I have not doen so, yet!
There are several folks on here who can give much more info.
I will see what else I can find and will post it here. Of course by then someone else will have already answered your questions! :^)

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 20:49:21 GMT

NG Forge: Scott, Yes. However, it takes a BIG pipe (as you know from the kiln). In industrial locations NG is provided at relatively high pressure but in domestic services it is very low pressure (to prevent dangers from possible leaks). Commercial gas forges are available that run on NG. Most of the build-it yourself designs are for propane (LPG) which is available at pressures up to 25PSI or so. Most commercial LPG forges run on 4 to 8 PSI (which is still high pressure compared to domestic NG).

If you can it is the most economical fuel available in most locations.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 21:25:33 GMT

Texas Farrier: Marilyn, We deal primarily with blacksmiths who are generaly NOT farriers. However, you might contact the closest ABANA-Chapter as there are quite a few cross-over blacksmith/farriers in Texas.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 22:01:25 GMT

What is the diamond spot anvil used for?
Ryan  <Rwthomas22 at aol.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 22:12:17 GMT

Ollie, I'm no sword expert but you make a good point. When swords were military weapons makers got lots of feedback about good swords. The owners of the bad ones were usually pretty quiet after the sword's debut. As you point out, real battle feedback is harder to come by these days. The first thing that comes to mind regarding a test is to cut meat with it. Progressing up the scale and getting more destructive of the sword, you might then cut meat with a bone in it. I'd bet that swords intended for combat were often tested on live animals. I only mention it so I can state that I don't think anyone should hurt an animal just to test a toy. Next you could try wrapping the meat in various combinations of cloth, leather, chainmail, and plate armor. Then test the sword against an axe. I've heard that a common catastrophic failure for differentially heat treated swords occurs when the edge strikes another hard edge at an angle causing a chip and crack. If the edge of the opponent's sword remains intact and wedges into the crack it can cut through the softer steel behind the edge. I think the guru said something earlier about toughness being the main issue. I would tend to agree with that. Against an unarmored opponent aluminum would be as lethal as steel, and I doubt that any sword could slash through modern body armor except under very unusual circumstances (though I may be wrong about that). The tests can be as scientific as you want using controlled conditions and statistical methods. If you'd like I would be happy to help you design your experiments.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 22:35:44 GMT

Diamond spot: Ryan, In regard to what subject? Sounds like part of a hardness tester???
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 23:33:31 GMT

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