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 8 - 14, 2001 on the Guru's Den
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Hello Gurus, I e-mailed the Guru a while ago about starting up blacksmithing with limitted funds. You see, I have to do it for a school project to graduate. I recieved a reply that told me of a book that has ways to cheaply start up blacksmithing. I don't remember what it was and would like to know. I would also like to know where to find the metal that is used to make items, or any other useful info anyone can provide me.
John Carlson  <theslaters74 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/07/01 22:19:30 GMT

Message: John, I must not have answered your letter. I try to answer all my mail but somtimes I set it aside and never get back to it. Some days I have as many email questions as online questions. . .

Our plans and iForge pages have a lot of suggestions for alternative tooling. Most books assume you will obtain an anvil at least. One problem with answering your question is not knowing what you DO have. Today some folks don't have a screw driver much less a hack saw or an electric drill.

There is an alternative anvil described in our anvil series on the 21st Century page and a smaller version on the iForge page under tools from RR rail.

On our plans page there is a description for a "brake drum" forge. If you are any good at scrounging or have a back yard scrap pile it can be built for nothing but a day's effort. LOOK at the version I built back in the 1960's from junk in our garage. I bought less than $4 worth of hardware (in 1969 dollars).

Look at the tooling in use in Eric Thing's shop (Armor page - off 21st Century page). Most of the important tooling is home made. If you explore anvilfire you will find many of the answers to your needs (including which books are best).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 02:07:08 GMT

I've asked this question elsewhere hoping for help.
I would like to know if anyone knows of written info that could be made available to students concerning questions about tongs? Questions such as, why is there a groove in flat bit tongs, why do farriers tongs have round bits and the other thousands of questions asked by students.
Thanks for any possible help.
Steve Rutterbush  <psrrfr at bellsouth .net> - Thursday, 02/08/01 02:29:48 GMT

If I remember right, I read somewhere that each time you heat steel up in the forge, it loses some of it's carbon content.. just out of idle curiosity, if this is right, would you be able to reduce mild steel to plain old wrought iron with a bit of work? (I'm not asking if it's easy, just if it would work)
Sam  <vulanth at mindspring.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 03:35:53 GMT

Carbon: Sam, No. Depending on the condition of the fire you can gain OR lose some carbon. But this is mostly in the surface. If it goes deeper you've done something REAL wrong. The oxidation of the carbon produces "red short" steel that is also quite brittle.

The last wrought iron produced in this country was produced by a Bessemer type process. We think of it as a process that produces mild steel but by blowing the blast a little longer under the right condition you can get pure iron. Immediately after the blast a crucible load of silicate slag was mixed with the iron. It was then dumped out as a "bloom" (just like the old days) and compacted with a hydraulic press and then fed to rolls to make bar. Most of the wrought found in old bridges and other structural uses in the U.S. was made by this process.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 04:42:10 GMT

Tongs: Steve, Almost all features of tongs should be obvious to the user. Are we talking about blacksmithing students or students at a demonstration?

Not all flat tongs have grooved faces. A light "v" chisled in prevents there being a high spot in the center so you get a better grip. Its also feature "E" on the MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK chart that has been published since 1914. The chart is probably older. There is no explanation with the chart. However, you can be sure that almost every pair of factory made tongs made in the U.S. had that feature because it was on the chart, not because someone thought about why.

I cut two v's in a cross shape to produce 4 pads. I'm not sure where I saw it first but it made sense to me. A heavy "V" or "U" lets you hold round and flat work. Occasionaly a "V" helps hold square on corner. My favorite "old" tongs made by some unknown smith generations ago have a shallow "U" in the middle length-wise that makes them semi-universal. They hold flat stock as well as small rounds (3/8 - 1/2") by the end.

Farriers tongs are short for holding narrow stock. The hollow in the center does the same as the "V" above. It lets the tongs grip on the edges instead of the center where the work would rotate on a high spot.

Gooseneck tongs are made to clear bolt heads and also work well on bent corners. I have several pair of these made in Germany that are some of my favorite tongs. These have jaws designed to fit round stock. Those in the MACHINERY HANDBOOK have large "V" jaws instead of half rounds. Both work as well as the other on round, square or hex stock. The difference is a matter of style or personal preference.

Another useful tong design that I made for myself is a "side jaw" tongs. These let you hold long work near the end being forged while nearly parallel to the tongs. I made them for one job and found them handy for many things.

Beyond these few examples there are an uncountable number of styles of tongs made by smiths for special purposes or to suit their personal preferences. Most collections of tongs have more specials than standard types. The real reasons for their specific features went to the grave with their makers generations ago. However, you can be sure that the form suited the function.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 05:39:03 GMT

Topic: welding metal onto anvils???
i have an anvil that is in bad shape there is a chip in the center of it, and it needs five degrees added or taken off from the top to make it level. the chip is about an eighth of an inch deep. I would like to avoid filing the anvil down if it seems viable to try and weld metal back on it. My grandfather is a 40 year welder and with his help i'll have no problems with that part of it, but I have questions about the integrity of the anvil and its usefulness after its welded

Question:What do you think about the possibility of welding iron onto the anvil to even its level and fix a chip on it? I assume iron, but to make certain what is the best metal to weld to an anvil?

Note: i enjoy the ringing so if you think welding the anvil will compromise that, and 10 degrees of filing won't hurt the anvil i'd rather keep the ringing.

kudzu  <BBhuma at mail.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 14:39:57 GMT

Hello All

In building a gas forge is it absolutely neccessary to use a LP regulator or will any gas reulator work?

Anradan  <tcanevaro at romperlandplay.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 14:43:26 GMT

Guru, Am bidding on a Samuel Yellin latch on eBay. His work is quite rare on the west coast, is this something that is common in your neck of the woods. I would love to have it as a part of my display area in my shop for sentimental reasons. The only example is the gate at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco which I visit occasionally just to stand in awe. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 15:11:35 GMT

Tim: I saw an issue of "Old House Journal" about four years ago that had a letter from someone in Oakland or Berkeley who had a bungalow with kitchen cabinet hardware by Yellin. They didn't know who he was, and were wondering if they could get more to match. I think the editors were drooling about them.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Thursday, 02/08/01 15:32:15 GMT

Thanks for the answer about tongs. This is for blacksmith students. I tell students about individual design needs, but they question everything. I like the questions, they make me dig for answers other than the "This is the way it's been done for years" or some other answer that doesn't really answer.

Would you mind if I copy what you wrote for handouts to the students? I'll make sure that your address is copied, also. Anything in writing or drawings is something they can take with them. Verbal explainations are good, but something in hand is better.

Thanks for all the help.
Steve Rutterbush  <psrrfr at bellsouth.net> - Thursday, 02/08/01 15:36:42 GMT

Copies: Steve, you are welcome to use my post. Sorry if I sounded a little gruff. . Long day.

There are many other types of "standard" tongs. Pick-up tongs have long slender jaws with several "humps" that let them fit different diameter rounds. These are called "pick-up" because they are too light for forging. A rivet man (the guy heating the rivets) would use these to handle rivets. Other than the one at the far end I doubt the usefulness of the other openings.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 16:04:41 GMT

Yellin Piece: Tim, No, There IS a little more architectural work but I think his work is spread all over the world. Bill Gichner has a beautiful wood door with Yellin hardware that was found in a scrap yard in the Southwest. . The scrap man didn't have a clue.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 16:09:33 GMT

Regulator: Anradan, What's important is that the range is 0 to 50 PSI and has a guage to match. It SHOULD be rated for propane as some elastomers (rubber, plastics) are not resistant to propane. However, most gas regulators work. Note that gas appliance regulators are designed for very low pressure (inches of water head, not PSI).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 16:50:45 GMT

Anvil Repair: Kudzu, Good anvil faces are hardened tool steel, not common steel or cast iron. Most old ones are glass hard. Their repair is similar to repairing hardened tool steel dies.

Anvils are also of four general types.
  • Forged wrought iron with a forge welded tool steel face.
  • Solid forged tool steel.
  • Cast tool steel
  • Cast iron with a tool steel face welded in the mold
All have the face hardened as hard as possible. This means that attempted weld repairs are likely to cause cracking or soft spots surrounding the weld. Each type needs to be considered carefully before attempting repairs. Anything to loosen the weld of the plate on the welded plate types means death to the anvil.

Repairs CAN be made by preheating the anvil to 350-400°F and welding with special manganese steel rods designed for die repair. Each pass must be quickly cleaned and peened to relieve stress. Skilled repairers blend the edges of the weld.

If the entire face of the anvil slopes to one side of the anvil or the other it was probably made that way. It doesn't matter. Level it by shimming the base or cutting the stand to suit. If it has a gentle sway back it is actually better for straightening things than a flat surface.

Generaly repairs should be avoided. A clean perfect anvil is nice but a sway backed rough edged anvil works just as well for a skilled smith. 99% of all forging is done in a couple square inches. Most old anvils have earned that wear and tear and should be revered for their durability.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 17:18:45 GMT

What if it is an air pressure regulator? I have seen one advertised as a "surplus" item. It does not specify if it is gas or air. I will be checking it out and would like to be sure before buying. No matter how good of a deal it is, if I can't use it, it becomes expensive. One is a "dial lock" 0-30 psi the other does not have a guage but is rated 0-60psi.
Anradan  <tcanevaro at romperlandplay.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 17:19:22 GMT

iForge Demo: I've edited last night's demo and added the source of the scraper burnisher.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 17:22:36 GMT

Air regulator: Anradan, most of these are NOT rated for fuel gases and definitely have the wrong elastomers. They might work for a short while but I wouldn't do it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 17:29:24 GMT

Want to increase my smithing library, and was considering the machinery's handbook. Is it best to get the newest edition or is an old one still a good reference? How much does it change?

They have the Handbook guide and the Handbook pocket companion these still good or just not enough in them to make it worthwhile?

Scott Quesnelle
Scott Quesnelle  <squesnel at NOSPAMlegato.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 20:12:15 GMT

Hi Guys-

I'm 45 yrs old, have some welding experience, my father was an ironworker. I picked up a cast-iron hibachi at wal-mart
last week for $30, really nice, ash-chamber under the firebox, it'll be a nice starter forge with some firebrick
laid on the sides and a blower.

I'll be annealing a couple of old Nicholson black-diamond files in it this weekend. I'm looking for a recipe for the clay used in the Japanese clay-hardening technique (the one that creates the Hamon, or temper-line).

From other posts here and elsewhere, I've determined that its clay, wood ash, and lye, but can anyone give me an idea of what proportions to use? I'll grind and fine-screen the solid ingredients before mixing with water.


Bob Audlee  <raudlee at itouchcom.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 20:22:20 GMT

Clay protectant: Bob, The trick is the clay is a high refractory clay (the type porceline is made from), the ash is rice hull ash. I don't know about the lye. Some clays like common white ceramic clay boil, foam and evaporate at forge temperatures.

Someone else may know the proportions. Generaly you anneal bare unless its a finished part you have to work and reharden. I use stainless foil for hardening finished parts.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 21:03:05 GMT

Clay protectant

thanks! My message might have been unclear- I do intend to
anneal bare, I was just gathering info for the (far down
the road...) tempering and finishing process. My understanding
was that the lye (sodium hydroxide) somehow kept the clay 'slip' from separating from the blade, if that's any help.
Bob Audlee  <raudlee at itouchcom.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 21:25:27 GMT

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK: Scott, It depends on what you want it for. The old copies (early - mid teens) have more detailed articles about subjects like babbiting, line shafting, thermit welding. Later copies have more details on modern alloys which were being developed and subjects like tungsten carbide inserts and aluminium alloys.

I grew up with my 18th Edition so I still use it (daily). I think the tongs chart is in the 22nd Edition but that is the last that had it I think.

If you casualy browse a first edition and a 25th you will see few differneces. Some articles get bigger while others are reduced (such as those on forging). Sections like the math and structurals area haven't changed since the beginning. Other data like materials properties also have not changed since the begining. But sections on standards, drafting, measuration, alloys and tool holders have changed greatly.

The extra "guides" are just that. Extras and duplication.

No matter what edition you purchase you will find it infinately useful. I started by reading articles in my Dads 13th edition and have refered to my 18th over and over in the last 30+ years and I still learn new things from it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 21:35:05 GMT

I'm a *true* newbie to blacksmithing; I've been at it for about 4 weeks, and really love it. I have a lot of pain in my hands, though, and am wondering if I'm holding the hammer and tongs too hard or perhaps incorrectly. Specifically, a few of my fingers hurt in a bone-deep arthritis sort of way right above the knuckle. Is this just a reaction to the force of the hammering -- something I'll get used to over time?

anne  <awoods at sapient.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 21:47:26 GMT

Pain: Anne, Pain is natures way of saying you are doing something wrong. Most likely you are just doing too much too soon. You shouldn't be squeezing the handle tightly. If you are you are probably using two heavy a hammer. Almost all the books talk about 4 pound hammers. Starting that heavy will destroy your wrist and elbow.

Unless you are very strong or have worked regularly as a carpenter you need to start with about a 2 pound hammer. If the 2 pound hammer gives you trouble drop down to 1-3/4. Then work up in 1/4 pound incements. It should take 3 or 4 months per 1/4 pound. You also have to look at the size work you are doing. 1/2" square stock is BIG when you start out. At an inch or so almost all of us need a power hammer.

Many smiths use no larger than a 2-1/2 to 3 pound hammer. I think I worked up to a 3. . but need to find my lighter hammers now (too much time at the PC).

You should be able to use a very light grip and SWING the hammer from near head height. If you are lifting and pushing the hammer into the work you WILL hurt yourself. A few full time smiths that have worked for YEARS at the anvil can get away with it but most can't. Francis Whitaker and Peter Ross use this pile driver style of hammering. Most others use a light almost non-existant grip balancing the hammer between their fingers. I use a sliding grip like using an axe where I may grip close to the middle of the handle but have let the hammer slide until I am just gripping the butt of the handle. About half way down to the work I'll slide back up the grip. I don't recommend that style but it shows how light a grip you can use.

When you start feeling the deep pain in your palm and fingers it is time to stop. It doesn't matter if you've worked an hour or a day. If the time is short try a lighter hammer. It may take a year or more before you can work at the forge all day.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 02/08/01 22:53:45 GMT

I need a photo or diagram of a love seat or chair made from horseshoes. I now have access to a steady supply of horseshoes and I have seen these in catalogs in the past but I can't seem to find them now. -Thanks
FMitch  <fmitch at usit.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 01:38:52 GMT

One of the common threads around here is the need to paint ironwork, especially in exterior and high humidity settings.

According to the book: "The Blacksmith; Artisan within the Early Community" (based on the exhibit at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum of Landis Valley; Edited by Vernon S. Gunnion and Carroll J. Hopf; 1975; ISBN 75-187815) most colonial iron hardware was painted the same color as the door, shutter or furniture that it was attached to. Fashions change, of course, and these days we like the contrast of the hardware against the furniture or building.

I have two questions for the crew:

(1) Have any of you seen or know of further evidence that would corroborate painting the hardware the same color as the background (the book only contained three or four examples and the blanket statement)?

(2) When did contrasting hardware come into fashion? I know hardware was painted a contrasting color on cannon carriages from the 17th century onward, but how about wagons, houses and furniture?

I can't help but be suspicious of grand blanket statements based on a few examples. On the other claw, the Greeks are reputed to have painted their lovely statues as realistically as possible, and the Victorians picked out some awesomely aweful color combinations for the interiors of some of their buildings. (At least, so it appears to my modern eye.)

Cool and moonlit on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 02:04:18 GMT

Anne-- any chance something's loose or split in the hammer? The tongs tight? Smacking something with the tongs loose or with a cracked hammer handle can produce some really nasty vibes that can cause wicked pain when they get into your hand. how about the height factor? if you're striking something up too high, as on a too-high anvil or up in a leg vise, for example, you can stress tendons and muscles-- the brachioradialis, the biggie that runs down the outside of your forearm-- something awful. and, as the blessed Guru his royal self sez, keeping on when fatigue or pain sets in is bad news. that's what causes the dread bursitis.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 02:34:58 GMT


Suggest you go to the iForge section here at anvilfire, and read demonstration #6, for some concrete do's and don't about hammering, and anvil height, etc.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 06:06:43 GMT

Anne, very often people use gloves on their hammerhand, many of those are too slippery, not enaug friction, wich forces the user to gripp harder than necessary, even without gloves my hands are sometimes to dry and slippery, a little handcream fixes the problem usually
stefan  <stefan at imv.uit.no> - Friday, 02/09/01 07:35:00 GMT

Howdee Guru, my name is Kevin...I meet a retired smith today when I happened to see the skeleton of an old four poster power hammer in the back of an old shop in the country. I stoped by the house and introduced myself and asked if he would be interested in selling it. Come to find out the the hammer was intact but just dissasembled, the vitals being taken inside out of the weather. I could not afford a complete working hammer right now(and believe me he has more than one in his shop) so I just settled for a tour of what must once have been a VERY impressive blacksmithing shop. To my amazement the whole place is filled with a full array of machinist and blacksmithing tools, including a couple of 114# peter wrights one of wich I bought, and get this, A 453# anvil, no thats not a typo, and a type of anvil that i have never seen befor. Its made by Fisher the base measures 15"x13" and tapers up to 12"x14" x 8" thick and has a 1" tool steel face. He also has a cone mandrel that stands 4 foot tall tapering from about 20" to 2" at the top. During our two hour conversation I mentioned that there are a lot of people on the net that may be interested in buying some of these pieces but I honestly cannot put a price on the anvil and cone mandrel becouse i have never bought any tool of that size. And I have never seen a completely flat anvil like this fisher. Is there any way you could give me an honest price that a man might want to pay for these items. Im not posting this as a sales gimick this gentleman is old and in poor health and he mentioned that his wife has a terminal colon illness. I got the impression that money is very tight for them and he needs to sell these items. A fair price would only be proper. Thank you for your time and effort..... Kevin.
Kevin Koontz  <kmkoontz at positech.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 08:51:26 GMT

F Mitch;
Your's is a common type of inquiry and is problematic.
Copying a traditional design is fine. They come to us as part of the history of the craft and are our's to use.

Copying contemporary work means that you are STEALING Another artist's design. You'd have to be either ignorant or an ass to do it.
Designing is hard work and often entails many scrapped attempts and risk of failure. That is the nature of the game. It is part of learning the art.
Original design is protected by law for a reason.
Stealing a design from another blacksmith is morally indefensable...scummy and low.
Besides, do you really want a blacksmith pissed at you?
Come on now, be an adult and work out your own ideas.
It is the honorable thing.
( that ought to stir up some discussion)
Pete F - Friday, 02/09/01 09:35:37 GMT

I have a smaller but similar anvil. I was told that it was for straightening circular saw blades used in lumber mills.
It would help to know what state you are in cause it is expensive to truck that big stuff a long way.
Pete F - Friday, 02/09/01 09:41:57 GMT

Clay protectant: I´ve tried it a few times but the polishing needed to bring out the hamon properly has made me less enthusiastic about the method. My not at all traditional "clay" consisted of a small amount of refractory ("stone-whare-clay, 25% chamotte), ground charcoal and pumice-powder. I mix it by feel and don´t actually know the proportions, but like any "clay" used in metalworking it´s mostly ballast that will not shrink and crack.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 02/09/01 09:52:43 GMT

Design theft: Pete, I agree. On top of what you said, I'm not sure why someone willing to do the work to make something would want to make something "the same" as someone else. I don't get that. Sounds boring in addition to just wrong. Stir that pot, man!

Not sure what FMitch is intending though. To copy or use as the base of his own design?
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 14:10:19 GMT

Design-theft-spinoff: Why is it called "forgery" when somone fakes it? We´re all forging, are we forgers? And when are we paying tribute to the old Masters and when are we stealing designs?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 02/09/01 14:31:21 GMT

I live in central Missouri Pete.
Kevin  <kmkoontz at positech.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 16:12:17 GMT

When I make things that are inspired by the work of others, I always ask the originator if they care first. Haven't had a rejection yet. But then, I'm not good enough to make an exact copy anyway, nor would I want to. That's why I say I'm "inspired" by something, because my version is sufficiently idiosyncratic to obviously be mine. And even the author Robert Heinlein once said "there are no original stories. you just swipe 'em, file off the serial numbers, and change the names." And I don't think he was ever accused of being derivative.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 16:13:28 GMT

There is an interesting articled titled "The Mystery of Making Damascus Blades" in the January issue of Scientific American. An Iowa university professor and a Florida blacksmith used scientific methods to determine how the major features of Damascus steel blades were produced.
Neal Bullington  <nrobertb at aol.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 16:20:47 GMT

Dear Sir,
I am a sophmore who is doing a science fair project on tempering metal.
I plan to create a eset of chisels and temper them at various levels. However in my hunts for information on the web I have been unable to find much information on this lost art.
Any information on Forge work, tempering, or aneeling would be usefull, thank you
Andy Denner  <science_Fair at denner.8m.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 16:38:59 GMT

on the subject of design
my EX shop mate used to come in about once a week and say I saw this or that here, you could make it, seems to be selling well, why don't you try a few and see if they sell. he never could figure out why I wouldn't do it.
on the other hand I have found a few of my designs made by others, when they have not only never seen my work but (as I have never seen ther's) came up with the design before me. sometimes there is only so many logical ways to make something and we unwitingly copy anouthers work.
however that does not change the fact that intentionly copying some one elses design is stealing, being "inspired" by some one has it's place (who of us hasn't been inspired my our betters) but the delibret theft of someones design is on the level with stealing horses.(still in some places a hanging offence)
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 16:42:33 GMT

Matt, that's kind of what I meant, seeing as how most good smiths are my betters. I hate it when someone shows me some cheap piece of catalog crap made of cold-bent and arc-welded stuff and says "Why don't you make one of these?".
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 17:45:00 GMT

Art, inspiration, theft, etc....Picasso said "All art is derivative". He's right. Someone also said "I am what went before me". A designer once said to me that he didn't think that he's had an original idea in his life. Because he's always looking to the past for inspiration. I think Albert Paley is a good example. He is using tried and true forging and fabricating plus every new trick he can get his hands on. What makes him unique is how he combines what he knows and what he thinks. (There is another story that I'd like answers to about Mexico, but I won't go into that now) To my eye his work stands alone. I can tell sometimes when I see others work that "that person had Albert on the brain when he did that piece". Thats ok. To see someones work and copy it in total is wrong. To see it and take a part of it is nothing more than than the dialogue that we humans have been having with one another since we were able to "ape" one another. And then there is the drinking from the same well idea. For the most part you should be able to trace back to where such and such got his or her ideas anyway. Once there start your own trip and see where you end up. People just might start to pay "homage" to you! On the other hand to copy from a catalog NO NO NO!!! Yucky, p-tewy
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 17:46:23 GMT

Plus, when I'm "inspired" by a piece AND get permission to act on said inspiration, the parts that were "inspired" are just that: Parts. Never the whole piece. As you said, there's only so many ways to do certain operations.
Alan L  <see above> - Friday, 02/09/01 17:49:31 GMT

Did anyone bother to inquire what F Mitch’s intentions are?
How old is this person? Many people here are just starting out and/or quite young and would not yet understand your highbrow concepts.
People need to be taught, not flogged in public.
What a great way to discourage someone from blacksmithing.
And what about iForge? Is that now a read only thing too?
People have copied my so-called original ideas and I was thrilled when they did for these reasons: 1) It was good enough for someone to notice and want to copy.
2) It is interesting to see how someone else approached the same set of problems and I have, in turn, learned from them.
3) I was on to something else by then anyway.
If you guard your old ideas like you’re a dog with a bone, how will you find time for new ones?
Dale  <dcb103 at juno.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 18:07:15 GMT

As a teacher I encourage my welding students to take what I teach them, learn from others and make it work for themselves. Does everyone make their tongs different than everyone else?
Dale, interesting points.
Steve Rutterbush  <psrrfr at bellsouth.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 19:30:08 GMT

Design Theft: In the beginning. . . I was an artist and tried very hard to come up with original art forms and designs. I studied a LOT of other artist's work and found that what was often an original idea had been done over and over.

However, once you put an original idea out in public the idea is gone. . Ideas, whether literary, artistic or mechanical invention are hard to come up with but when viewed by others may seem "obvious" or easy.

My one unique artistic idea was a landscape painted to appear to be on the inside surface of a torus. A circular sky surrounded by a very peculiar perspective. It could be hung any direction including on the diagonal. It was great for showing cycles and progressions such as the seasons or the rise and fall of civilization.

I made two paintings in this style. On given to my wife and the other hung in our appartment when we were living at home. Another artist had the gall to photograph and make sketches from them during a party when the house was open and everyone else was elsewhere. . . The idea was stolen even though it was not even "in the public" yet.

The first ABANA conference I went to was in 1984 in Ripley WV. One of the British demonstrators there was making his trademake frogs that had recently been showcased in the British Museum. One of the American smiths (currently very famous and on various boards) was being a regular pest and asking genuinely stupid questions over and over about little details to go with his step by step sketches. You could tell the demonstrator was bothered by the persistance of the questioning. I've had little respect for that smith since.

Today it is not uncommon to see the same thing at demonstrations and we do it EVERY week on iForge. However our demonstrators know what they are getting into and the idea is to SHARE. But there ARE times when demonstrators at chapter meetings or ABANA conferences may be making their trademark pieces in order to demonstrate techniques not to give lessons on how to reproduce their original designs.

Most demonstrators know what they are giving up but WE (on the whole) need to realize that not every demonstrator intends to give up his creativity in the process of sharing knowledge. Enjoy, learn, but don't steal the idea.

Now. . . There are a great many in our field that are craftspeople and just want to MAKE stuff. They don't pretend to be artists or creative types. They know its not their nature. I don't hold this against them or belittle their abilities.

Others of us are the creators of new ideas and its our lot in life to have those that don't have the same creative abilities to take and use our ideas either with or without our permission. I don't like it. But I don't get hot under the collar about it any more. Today, when I post an idea or design of mine on the web I EXPECT it to be copied. That's what I put it out here for.

We all copy from the past and from each other in many ways that are somtimes not obvious. In the case of things from the past such as tool design, tongs, the shape of an anvil or violin, many of these have achieved a "perfect" design that may never be improved upon OR accepted if varied from. These are our heritage as humans.

In other cases even though an idea is new it may be the only obvious solution to a problem. The Hugh McDonald rolling mill is one of those ideas. He has solved problems many of us have thought about for years. He chose to sell plans to his machine and I'm sure other commercial versions besides the Kaynes will be produced. In honor of his creativity I will always address them as a "McDonald Mill". He has given his ideas to US, we should respect his creativity by at LEAST giving him credit.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 20:03:48 GMT

Re: George Harrison's loss of a lawsuit claiming that he stole the idea for "My Sweet Lord", Ringo Starr said he didn't mind someone stealing a good tune. "What bothers me" he said, "is when someone pinches a bummer". I expect all GOOD artists feel the same way. But it's only right to give credit (and cash) where it's due. And it's common courtesy to ask first.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Friday, 02/09/01 21:07:42 GMT

Well said guru, the coping of ideas is a natural course of learning.It makes more sense to me now than ever to create a touch mark .
By the way ,this is a great forum.
John  <nil> - Friday, 02/09/01 21:13:14 GMT

I am a silversmith and want to make some mokume gane in a forge. I've used a forge a few times at Touchstone's facility for making tools. My question is about coal and coke. Would you describe the process by which coal becomes coke? Is it just burning off impurities? We need to maintain a reducing atmosphere inside a little kiln built over the fire of firebrick and plate steel and my understanding is that we must first turn the coal into coke. What type of coal is best to use for this? Thanx for your help.
Pat Frese  <pfrese at epix.net> - Friday, 02/09/01 23:36:29 GMT

welding flux for mild steel is a right bugger to get over here ,any suggestions for making your own, I know borax is a part of it but what else .any help would be much appreciated.
all the best
mark potter
mark  <mpotter at hiddenforge.co.uk> - Friday, 02/09/01 23:53:55 GMT

Flux: Mark, The best flux is plain old borax. If you weld chrome and nickel alloys for making laminated steel you need to add some (5-10%) gound Flourite or Flourspar. This mineral is used in ceramics. The flourine is more agressive than the boron. Be sure to use it with good ventilation.

If you can't get borax let us know.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 00:03:55 GMT

Coal and Mokume Gane': Pat, Not all coals coke. Good blacksmith coals do. This is a soft high grade bituminous coal.

Coking is the process of cooking off the volitiles from coal . This reduces it to nearly pure carbon with a coarse porosity. The porosity exposes more surface area to burning so it burns hotter (and cleaner since the volitiles have been burned off).

Foundry coke is made from both coal and petroleum in closed retorts. The gases are collected for use in chemical processes and some may be recycled to produce heat for the coking process. Coal gas or "producer gas" is often sold for uses similar to natural gas.

Now then. . the trick is going to be the temperature control for Mokume Gane'. I'm sure you know that the temperature used is just at or a little below the melting point of the lowest melting point alloy in the stack. It must also be very clean. Due to the contaminates such as sulfur in the coal I would recommed charcoal for Mokume Gane' rather than coke.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 00:17:34 GMT

I am looking to buy a forge to do wrought iron with,
what is an atmospheric gas forge compared to a non atmospheric?
chad  <chado at gci.net> - Saturday, 02/10/01 03:47:02 GMT

Atmospheric: Chad, Atmospheric forges do not have a blower, they run at "atmospheric" pressure. These are the forges with venturi type burners such as the NC-TOOL and Forgemaster forges. Ron Reil has plans for this type forge.

A blower type forge uses a little blower just like you would use on a coal forge. Gas is dumped in and WHooooooommmmmm... Dead simple compared to atmosperic types.

However, both type burners mush be balanced to size of the forge enclosure. Their nozzel must also be sized so that the gas/air velocity is faster than the "flame front" velocity. Otherwise the fire runs up into the burner which can damage the burner.

Check our plans page for our burner sketch and links list.

You can also purchase small gas forges from our advertisers (which keepd us in business).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 04:57:47 GMT

Hi, I'm making a coffee table for a metal work project, and am thinking about using wrought iron somewhere in it (i'm still designing it), but i'm concerned about getting a nice finish on it (preferably country orientated). I heard that you can dip the red hot metal into oil after you've worked it to seal it and give it a black finish, the problem is i'm concerned that the oil will blow up or something when the red hot metal is applied. Will this happen? Do i need to get some other, special kind of oil? and do you know of any other finishing techniques i can use? (don't bother researching them if u don't i'm just curious).

I'm in the second last year of high school and this'll be my 3rd full year of doing metal work.
My experience shouldn't be too bad, but i'm not sure, i do know i'm pretty green when it comes to blacksmithing though. But anything i don't get i can just ask my teacher anyway so that should be fine.

Thanks very much for your help,
Jason  <chocolatec_1 at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 05:13:05 GMT

Hot Oil Dip: Jason, No. Burned oil finishes are applied and then cooked on. Dipping hot iron in oil makes big clouds of smoke AND the smoke often flashes into flame. It is done to harden oil-quench steels but it is best to avoid unless you have industrial duty ventilation.

Clean it, paint it black. OR if its been heated all over or was hot roll to start with you can wax the iron and it turns a nice black. However, this is a high maintenance finish and alows rust over time.

Paint is better. Flat black is common but boring. Use your imagination. Antique bronze is a nice color (shades of green hand rubbed). A nice dark red. .

Check above and in the archives. I rant a lot about paint as apposed to "natural" finishes.

Check our iForge page for lots of ideas and step by step projects.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 05:46:50 GMT

Reproducing traditional work is a fine thing and is to be encouraged.
Attempting to copy contemporary work is still theft , even if it is done poorly or with insignificant variations. Being "inspired" to make pretty much the same thing is the wrong thing to do; with one exception.
Copying is fine if you come to an agreement with the originator. This sort of arrangement is established practice and the payment for doing so is called a royalty. A royalty is usually paid for each copy. It is the only fair thing.
If this tradition isn't honored, then creativity becomes a real disadvantage, because doing original work is slow and risky.
Most of the time, when a smith says they are not creative, The fact is that they are unpracticed and unwilling to do the work of developing their own ideas. When they do come up with ideas, they are unwilling to risk failure in bringing it to life. They would rather steal than risk embarassment.
If you are doing original work, you should expect failures along the way. That too is part of the game.
When a demonstrator offers up a design for you to work with, that is a gift, be grateful.
When Heinline said, scuff," Aww shucks, it's just the same old story, twasnt nutin much" he was being humble. The statement wasnt to be taken, er, literally.
Being inspired by, and learning from other smith's work is a great thing and helps the art as a whole grow...just dont run off with the whole pie.
Folks who say there is no original work will produce none.
Each piece you do is a whole new opportunity to make brand new mistakes. Why repeat the same old mistakes over and over again ? Every time you pick up a hammer you get another chance.
Do try to learn from your mistakes.
I try not to repeat mine more than a dozen times or so.
Every mistake may be a technique in another situation.
Stretch your brains so that your work can grow.
There now, Ive growled over that bone quite enough , time to go and make some new mistakes.
Oh, if F Mitch was an innocent, I apologize, mostly.
Pete F - Saturday, 02/10/01 07:04:29 GMT


I’m a semi- professional smith from Ireland and I’m working on developing a range of Mica lamp shades to complement my forged steel lamp stands. Now my difficulty is while I’ve traced a few suppliers of Mica I have no idea what type I need,,,i.e flexible or not? , what
thickness?, what kind of heat is required to make it flexible?.I;m asking this question within this form because I have seen a few smiths in the States use Mica in there forged steel work notably Tom Joyce.
Any help much appreciated as I;ve been scouring the web for days trying to solve this one and I cant give up.


John Collins
John Collins  <straysparks at eircom.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 07:48:49 GMT

Mica: John, Several of our group use mica so I'll let them answer. Flexible mica is flexable at room temperature. Many years ago it was called issenglass and used autmobiles with soft top (convertable) type enclosures.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 13:31:40 GMT

John Collins: Tar Heel Mica Co. Plumtree NC. USA 1-828-765-
4535 For information on US companies use thomasregister.com
I just got 5 36"x36" sheets for about $20.00 each. .025

Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 13:40:09 GMT

I am just learning (trying to)and I really appreciate the demos on IForge and other plans and sketches that I have seen on the net.....and I hope that no one objects to my copying some of the designs...I am doing this as a hobby and have NO plans to go commercial...I understand the concern about copying someones design and then using it to make money..I think that this is wrong....
I don't know enough about forging yet.. so I study all the designs,ways of doing something,then I try to use all or some of the ways ...anyway my 2cents worth....after I learn enough, I hope I can come up with my own designs..so thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge.....Mikey
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 15:19:45 GMT

iForge: Mikey, The folks that do our iForge demos expect their designs to be copied. That's what they are there for. Many of the demos are of items shown by one smith to another to another. . A few are original (such as many of Bill Epps pieces) but have been demonstrated so many times that they have been given to the public domain.

However, you may note in many cases that credit has been given to the person that showed the item to our demonstrator.

You would not belive how much it costs to maintain a web site like anvilfire. We also work hard (full time) to provide all this. Advertisers help, CSI membership also helps and we make a little off sales. But we are still operating in the red and certainly would not turn down donations ("for the cause").
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 15:52:19 GMT

I would like a plan of any type that would help me to build a gas and a coal fired forge that I could construct in a suburban garage in UK.
Vince Hodson  <hods50 at yahoo.co.uk> - Saturday, 02/10/01 16:17:47 GMT

Okay Guru...I just joined up....as a member ....will that help?.......some?.....I really want to be a member of the blacksmithing clan......and willing to help anyway I can....Didn't see any place for extra donations...maybe you could post an address>?Mikey
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 18:29:30 GMT

Thanks to Guru for helping us new folks.......It's appreciated.....
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 18:44:44 GMT

Mikey: Thank you! Be sure to contact your local ABANA-Chapter. They are pretty active in your state and will be a great deal of help when you need real "hands on" help or are looking for tools or equipment.

One and ALL We may have a minor technical glitch on Monday and possibly be off-line for a while. If so it will be for a short period. NOTE: It will not effect the sites we host.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 02/10/01 19:17:25 GMT

Hello Gurus and all others.
I am conducting research for a materials science class at my school. Does anyone here know of any website that has information on computer modeling of steels? If you do, could you please e-mail me?
Ben Zimmerman  <auto44344 at hushmail.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 02:43:06 GMT

need to find info about forging one piece spurs
Justin Beaird  <beaird123 at peoplepc.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 04:34:50 GMT

Sorry about being cranky the last couple of posts. It is an issue that needs to be hauled out to goose us with ,every now and then.
We have got tools and materials that are better and more versitile than all the blacksmiths before us ever had. Better than most of them could have dreamed of.
Why waste the opportunity by repeating the same old thing?
Snooty, huh?
Pete F - Sunday, 02/11/01 07:46:53 GMT

Steel: Ben, If you are talking about alloying or crystal phases then there is no such thing. The metalurgical "science" of alloying is purely imperical. Its all trial and error. With the exception of the analytical methods and a better understanding of the structure of alloys, the development of new alloys is still no more advanced than in the days of alchemy. Research into alloys from superconductors to structural metals is srtictly trial and error, or a some metalurgists call it "heat it and beat it metalurgy".

IF someone were to develop a predictive algorythm or a set of formulae that could predict the outcome of a combination of alloying ingrediants it would be the biggest scientific breakthrough of all time. Cheap superconductors, cold fusion. . . anything possible in the realm of physics would suddenly be within our abilities. . Star Trek time.

Several years ago metalurgists the world over completed a set of research called the "Binary Alloy Series". Every possible combination of two metals in every possible ratio was alloyed and tested for all the properties of metals. Density, strength, coeficients of expansion, conductivity crystal structure. The results make up an encyclopedia size set of data. Its the necessary information to develop and test the above mentioned algorythms. However, this is a small part of the puzzle. Many alloys have three, four or five significant metals. Combine this with all the possible ratios then you have a nearly infinite number of combinations.

This problem is on the scale of sentient artificial intelegence. The solution of these problems will come about by one of several methods. Hard work - I give this a low probility due to the complexity of the subjects. Accidental discovery - I think there is a greater likelyhood than through "hard work". Genius or Savant - This is the most likely way these questions will be answered.

The reason I put a low value on the "hard work" solution in this case is that this is the kind of research that will be done by groups and I think the the answer will require ONE clear view of the whole. I suspect it may require true AI to solve the metalurgical problem since the problem AND the answer are both very complex. The possiblity of AI being discovered by accident may be greater than by purpose or genius.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 08:20:21 GMT

Snooty: Pete, NO. I think you are exactly right. In my long delayed book about blacksmithing I call this the Third Age of Iron. In North America we are working on the fringe of a post industrial era. There has been a resurgence in interest in blacksmithing at a time when the tools and equipment of the recent Second Age still exist. Not only do we have better NEW tools, we have very low cost used tools in large quantities. Anvils, forges and powerhammers from the last century sell for a fraction of what new cost and there is still relatively good availabliity.

We also have the best availability of knowledge the art has ever seen at any point in history. What was almost lost has been FOUND, recorded and published. There are books on everything from the basic to sophisticated technique. There are also books of examples of work from all of the world.

The blacksmith of the early 21st Century has ALL the advantages.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 08:33:06 GMT

Hello guru, I'm a 33 yr old canadian firefighter (5yrs profesional) and previous to that a apprenticeship trained steel fabricator.My father has been in the steel trades all his life and started me in his shop at an early age. Now that I'm out of the trade I've been interested in doing blacksmithing as a hobby.As far as fabricating and welding equipment go I am well equipped.Ive been searching for an anvil for a couple of years now and have found one.From reading some of your previous posts a few of my questions have been answered as far as type of anvil and re-surfacing the tool face. I believe it to be a cast tool steel 150#er with numerous scars and nicks on the tool face(gives it character)and am guessing that it is more than 50 to 60 yrs old.I was wondering what it would be worth?
Brian  <ATOMIC190 at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 09:10:55 GMT

I build steel drums, musical instruments. Originally from Trinidad, they are now found on all the Caribbean Islands and on every cruise ship, as well as in over a thousand grade schools, hi schools and colleges in the US.

We start with the "bottom" of a 55 gallon drum. The drums are hand hammered into a concave bowl shape, up to 9 inches deep, with as many as 32 notes in one drum.

My question is about stainless steel. I'd like to try to build drums from stainless. A metallurgist suggested 304 or 316 stainless and said that the stainless will work harden much more than the low carbon steel we now use. (18 ga. usually about .060% Carbon). Can you tell me if there is any way practical to un work harden the stainless as I go?
Keith Kropf  <kropfk1k2 at msn.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 10:26:02 GMT

Anvil Value: Brian, In good condition old anvils sell for $1 to $2.5 US per pound. A lot depends on where you are and who you are dealing with. Ocassionaly anvils are still sold at "bargain" prices of $50 but the also sell for as much as new on eBay once in a while (about $4 US /pound). However, this happens about once a year then eBay prices settle back to the market price above.

One thing to keep in mind is that an old anvil is just often as good a tool as a new one. Maybe enough better to be worth NEW even with some defects. Cast steel anvils are still made by Kohlswa (Sweden) and Nimba in the U.S. as well as several makers of farrier's anvils and some lesser known brands.

I've had several Kohlswa anvils (have one now) and liked them. Then tend to ring about as loud as an anvil or louder. The edges tend to chip although I've never chiped one. Mine have been old used anvils that others had abused. . . . Maybe the previous users broke off the parts that were going to break under any one's use. .

I generaly recommend dressing with a grinder and working around minor flaws. However, it sonds like you have enough experiance to make your own decision about repairs.

Welcome to blacksmithing! I think you will find it much different than your previous experiance in metalwork.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 15:49:06 GMT

Pete: sorry I caused any crankiness, I guess I wasn't clear enough in my posts. I do not advocate using someone elses' designs, period. Two personal examples of what I meant by being inspired are: 1. a candleholder I made after admiring one by Elmer Roush. I asked him if it was his personal design and did he mind if I attempted it. He replied that he didn't come up with the basic idea himself, he got it from Francis W, who got it from one of his students, etc., so I was welcome to it.
2. A knife guard and metal-mounted sheath I made after admiring a similar piece by John House. Same story, except for the Francis part.
I did not make exact copies, because what would be the point? As you said, why copy what's gone before? But, there's no reason not to stand on the shoulders of giants (as someone said) in order to see farther.

Sorry for any confusion or implication that design theft is in any way acceptable.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 02/11/01 16:42:31 GMT

Steel Drums: Keith, I have a rare copy of the how-to booklet by Pete Seeger on making steel drums. So I know a little about the subject.

Stainless anneals differently than carbon steel. It acts more like non-ferrous material. It is heated to a red (1900 - 2050°F for a few minutes and then quenched. Time is critical but thin sheet heats through rather quickly and time is not so critical. After heating the surface it will have black scale on it just like carbon steel. Thin sheet can air cool.

It is also a completely different animal to work. Burrs are sharp and do not break or crumble. It is an enigma. It is tough and abrasion resistant yet it is not as strong as low carbon steel and scratches easily. Everything about it is difficult. Cost of items made of stainless must often reflect the difficulty of working it as well as the higher material cost.

Making a steel drum from it is going to be difficult. As you know proper temper is critical to making sound. Work hardening can also be a disaster resulting in cracks. All I can advise you to do is to plan on doing a lot of experimentation. I'd like to hear of your results.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 16:43:33 GMT

Do you know what kind of pitch is the best for repousse? Where to get it, or how to make it? Thank you.
Kevin - Sunday, 02/11/01 22:00:35 GMT

Also, how would you tune a steel drum? Thank you very much.
Kevin - Sunday, 02/11/01 22:10:48 GMT

Repouse' Pitch: Kevin, Its available from jewelers and art suppliers. There are various grades depending on how much support you need. For heavy work fine sand is added. Besides giving more support the sand is cheap.

Artist's pitch is probably a mixture of tar and parafin. Plus fine sand as mentioned above for heavy work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 23:09:59 GMT

Steel Drum Tuning: Kevin, you are full of questions today aren't you! :)

Steel drums have a pattern of dish shapes raised in them. The size of each dish partialy sets the tone. Then the stretching of the metal is used for fine adjustments. A standard of some type like a pitch pipe is used for tuning. (Repose' pitch is not used to form the shapes).

Steel drums are made with ranges of notes. Bass, baratone, alto. . . (may be wrong terms). Those with high pitch notes have more smaller nodes on them than those with the lower bass notes.

Like many musical instruments a lot of trial and error went into developing the patterns used to make the notes. There is also a lot more art to it than the uninitiated would think.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 02/11/01 23:35:20 GMT

Thanks for the answers. There's more where those came from!
Kevin - Monday, 02/12/01 05:04:17 GMT

A while back there was some discussion on replacement screws for post vises. I happened by the local Woodcrafters Store today, they carry a 1 1/4 vise screw and nut set made by Record (an english co. I believe) that looks like it would be a reasonable replacement part. Thier price was $49 US. But then they tend to be fairly high on their prices. It may be possible to find them some where else for a more reasonable cost. Or perhaps someone could order them direct (guru?) and sell them. It doesn't look like it would take a lot to modify the screws to work in a post vise, if the price could be brought down enough to make it worth while.

Oh, and on the subject of new alloys/serindipity, it is my understanding that when the first high temp superconductor was found, they were actually trying to develop a super NON-conductor or insulator. And penicillin was considered a contaminate before it was realized it could be used for curing diseases. I think most of our biggest discoveries were done by accident. (either that or aliens)(just joking)
Moldy  <later> - Monday, 02/12/01 07:22:13 GMT

Alan ;
I really wasnt barking at you. I suspect that most of us are pretty much of one mind on this. Just trying to hold a crumbling line. The values weaken if they arent pumped back up from time to time. ( sorry about the mixed metafore)
There was an article last year (?) in Scientific American (?) trying to analyze the mechanism of steel drum sound. They were way off in a # of ways. They used stainless for their test pieces with dismal results.
In years past I made a whole bunch of experimental musical instruments. My experience was that stainless wasnt very good for most active resonant applications.the alloys I played with seemed to damp sound more than carbon steel.
The steel drums are more subtle than they appear.If you listen closely, you may hear that the notes often have 2 dominant sounds . On close inspection, I saw that the sound wave in the metal was not concentric and symetrical like a bell, but sinusoidal ( wave like) with part of the bottom of the dished out note flexing up while the other part flexed down splitting the dished note area. The tuning I saw done involved striking from both sides to achieve and adjust the shape of the bottom of each note area. Thickness,workhardening and shape all influence the note.....I think.
Pete F - Monday, 02/12/01 08:19:43 GMT

Learned Master Guru,
On the subject of trailers which a reader queried, Steve Smith auobooks has a book on the design and construction of trailers, and a print packet for same. I have not seen it but am told it is worthwhile. Either can be ordered off the net. Please keep up the good work, this is by far the best blacksmithing site on the net. Thank you so much for it.
coyote  <elmaii at aol.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 13:06:11 GMT

Question on Annealing Phosphor Bronze Wire:
I brought some phospor bronze wire, and was told that it will work harden. To anneal, I was told to heat to 1,100 degrees and slow cool. The instructions in the jewerly article that I am following saies to "anneal like copper, heat to dull red and quench in hot water.". I know it can not be both ways. Any advice from the guru? Additionally, what source would you recommend for aquiring this information in the future, the Machinery Handbook ( mine's on order )? Thanks, Fred ( jyblood at nwi.net ).
Fred  <jyblood at nwi.net> - Monday, 02/12/01 14:47:28 GMT

Phosphor Bronze: Fred, I use the ASM Metals Reference Book for details about alloys. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is very good but doesn't include all the alloys that exisit. It is targeted to the machine trade and is a very general reference. On some subjects it is very complete but on the subject of alloys they have had to make many editorial decisions.

The ASM Metals Reference Book is good but I do not like the way the edition I have is organized (2nd Edition, 1983). I'm sure they have improved it. It is also a general reference so there are some details left out. This is a highly recommended book for knife makers and others that deal with a wide range of alloys.

For copper alloys I have an old book titled Copper and Copper Based Alloys, by Wilkins and Bunn, 1943, McGraw-Hill. It has a dozen or more graphs of data for every alloy covered.

From Copper and Copper Based Alloys we learn that "Phosphor Bronze" is a generic term for the family of tin bonzes that are deoxidized using phosphorus. Alloys of 1% to 8% to tin are covered by this group. No special handling is mentioned in the case of annealing.

Oddly enough you CAN have it both ways with non-ferrous alloys. The anneal occurs during the heating as there is grain growth that is not reversed by quenching. However, quenching freezes that structure so you get a slightly larger grain from quenching than by air cooling. There are a few bronzes such as aluminium bronze that benifit from air cooling.

The annealing range is as low as 900°F but is recommended to be held for up to 2 hours. I suspect the air cool just gives the item a few more minutes at annealing temperature than the quench when heating rapidly with a torch. This may be why someone thought the slow cool was benificial. However, it is the annealing time that is key.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 16:06:39 GMT

Stainless & Music: Pete Etal, I was going to mention that I didn't think SS was a very good instrument material. The difference is akin to soft nylon and gut strings. Very similar materials but a slight difference in density and a large difference in strength and hardness. Although some hard nylons have been developed for strings there is nothing quite like gut. The combination of higher density, greater hardness and higher strength all combine to make gut a much superior string material.

My feeling about SS for certain resonate members is the same. SS would seem to be a great material for this purpose (steel drums) but I have a feeling it is not.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 16:42:52 GMT

Greeting fellow Blacksmiths. I am searching for a book or two on rebuilding power hammers. I recently purchased a Mayer Bro. 25 lb hammer in need of a Lot of TLC. I have Dave Manzer video on power hammers but was looking for a book to supplement the video. Any Help would be appreciated.
Roy Gilham  <rgilham at home.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 19:31:36 GMT

Guru, not being a machine designer and no access to anyone that is, I have a question about your JYH. Im not sure what type of connection or bearing to put where the brake drum connects to the hammer mechanism. On your JYH, where the shocks connect to the truck axel. Have you a suggestion/answer or any help?

It's good to know that people such as Moldy are reporting where to find items. I've found ACME threaded rod in the MSC
catalog. They also have round/spherical washers. All sorts of sizes and prices.

Thanks, again.
Steve Rutterbush  <psrrfr at bellsouth.net> - Monday, 02/12/01 19:47:25 GMT

Steve, I saw the stock in MSC but I felt the cost for the Nuts was a bit out of line for our use. By the time you got the stock and bought a nut it would be a bit too much $$$$.
That is unless you made a nut or were luckey enough to have a match with your existing nut.
The Record set comes with a screw, a cast nut and a fitting end for a wood vise type handle.
If someone wanted to buy a large chunk of MSC threaded stock and cut it up, make nuts and sell it I would bet you could make a decent profit. I have too many Irons in the fire or I'd think about it.
Moldy  <no thanks> - Monday, 02/12/01 20:35:22 GMT

I have been trying to mak a spring for a knife. I have read taht I need to anneal the material before I work with it. Then I have to bring it up to a degree which I cannot measure. Color does not mean anything to me now. It did in the past when I welded and did other things.
I do not even remember how to case harden tools which I helped my father do when I was young.
What would you recommend for me to harden a spring?
What do I do to case harden a tool. I have a torch, an anvil, hammers, and pliers of all types.

Walter  <waltersmith at peoplepc.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 21:23:22 GMT

Hammer Book: Roy, You want the Kern Little Giant Book Centaur Forge has it.

Hammer Bearing Steve I used a bronze bushing. Old Little Giants and other hammers used solid bronze parts on a steel shaft. I used a 1" mild steel shaft and oilite bushing with a 1/16" wall. The better old hammers have bronze bushings at all the pivots.

NOTE that the shock absorber hammer is not the best design although it is one of the easiest to build. They hit very soft and not at all if run too fast. I want to add a horizontal flat spring on top of the ram connecting to the shocks on mine. About 14-16" would do it. Still, about 140 RPM is the max.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 22:51:10 GMT

Spring & Heat Treat: Walter, To anneal you want to heat to where the steel becomes non-magnetic then bury in ashes or quick lime and let cool as slow as possible. To harden, heat until the steel becomes non-magnetic and then quench in oil. After hardening you must temper. For springs this means 500-600°F. Polished steel will turn a nice blue at spring temper. To get an even controlled heat use a heavy steel block, clean the surface and heat slowly until the desired temper color and then set the piece to be tempered on the heated block. A kitchen stove works well for this.

Casehardening requires the part to be sealed in an air tight container filled with powdered charcoal. Heat box and contents to a red heat. Length of time is determined by the size of the part and depth of case. Small parts (gun screws, triggers) are casehardened for as little as 10 minutes. Larger parts may go for a couple hours. You normally water quench directly from the casehardening box.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 02/12/01 23:01:07 GMT

Mokume. I have made a couple experiments trying to make mokume using steel plates to press the sheets of brass and copper and heating in the forge. Temperature control is definitely a problem. So far I have had stacks that did not bond together well and stacks that melted into an ugly mess. I plan on making an enclosure of fire bricks and then heating with propane. The way I envision it, I will be able to keep a better eye on the metal and kill the heat as it starts to sweat. Its not a huge difference in procedure, but I have found it too hard to see what's going on inside the mound of flaming coke.

About the clay used to create a hamon: I believe some of the sword smiths over at Sword Forum use Satanite, a commercial refractory clay. Don Fogg's site has a lot of info too. (sorry, I don't have URLs available at the moment.)
J. Dickson  <TheIrony at woldnet.att.net> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 00:06:14 GMT

First, thank you for your previous answer, so now I know the difference between atmospheric and non atmospheric gas forges, which one do you suggest for this wrought iron guy? I do lots of stairrails so I can only imagine working with square stock.
chad  <chado at gci.net> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 03:41:42 GMT

Mokume Gane': A gas 'forge' needs to be a furnace with some type of temperature control. On my forge I have two adjustable timers. Dwell ON and dwell OFF. You can hold a pretty stable temperature that way. The system has electic ignition to be sure ON is ON. . .

We have a link to Don Fogg's on our link page.

Type of Forge Chad those are personal decisions. I have both types and use them both. Blower type get hotter easier but require electricity.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 05:50:53 GMT

Dear Sirs, Last week I asked you for a contact to hang an axe for me. I recieved an E mail from some one about my problem but when I wrote him back I did not recieve an answer. Please help me to find some one to install a new haft on my axe. THANKS Steve
Steve Fields  <fields.s at att.net> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 06:12:35 GMT

Good Morning,
I have skimmed thru your lists, and haven't seen this one, so: Does anyone have experience or knowledge on the use of tumblers to clean and burnish iron work? My tendons are complaining about my use of wire wheels on angle grinders, and even switching to a bench grinder wire wheel still bothers me.
I want to convert a powered concrete mixer to tumble-not much work, i imagine; throw the stuff in and turn it on...but I don't know anything about the tumbling media, except what I read in the rio grande catalog, designed more for jewelry.
Thanks in advance
Patrick T
Patrick T  <res00x2e at gte.net> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 15:02:24 GMT

Patrick T,

I havn't done it yet myself, but I'm told by many smiths to use walnut shells for tumbling steel, supposed to do a really good job.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 15:18:11 GMT

Price of an anvil depends on how much you need it! Anvils needing major repairs do not bring much money on the re-sale market for smiths---but may be cherished by antique dealers.

e-bay had one last weekend, 150# wrought anvil-looked like the middle plate on the top had de-laminated and been replced by hardfacing (this provides a date too! later anvils used single plate tops!). It looked like a good repair and a *very* usable anvil. It went for about $70. *I* would have paid more if I had access over the weekend.

Since its hard to judge if a repair was done right folks are a bit more leary about them. I always woundered about the lovely anvils in the SOFA shop---till we had an "anvil repair" day and found out that most of them had started pretty skanky and had been repaid and were providing good service in a communal shop (ie hard on tools).

Age of an anvil is usually not a factor in pricing it to use. My cheapest anvil a *very* abused William Foster made in 1828 was only $5

If it looks usable I would offer $1 a pound. If real rough 66 cents per pound.

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 15:32:08 GMT

Tumbling Media: Patrick, Tumbling is a great way to finish parts. However, there is little control. Corners will be slightly rounded and some details lost in the process.

There is a wide variety of tumbling and vibratory finishing media. Vibratory finishers have rapidly replaced tumbling in industry because it can be done on shaking conveyors and is faster and more controlable than tumbling. Vibratory finishers also do a better job of deburing.

Walnut shell is used for fine finishing of non-ferrous metal and as a blasting media for deburing inside holes. Corn cobs are used for polishing and deoxidizing non-ferrous metals.

Steel punch biscuits and broken up RR-rail is used for cleaning ferrous castings.

Modern abrasive media comes in a variety of abrasives in a ceramic matrix. There are also various shapes, triangular, pyramidal, cylindrical and "V" cut cylindrical. The triangular provide more sharp edges and are more aggressive while the "V cylindrical provide both sharp and curved surfaces. The more agressive media will remove scale quickly reducing the time and the rounding of corners.

Novaculite, the mineral that Arkansas Stones are made of, is sold as broken up chips for tumbling.

Tumbling is done both wet and dry. Wet tumbling can help wash away the fine dusty grit that is produced AND keep down that dust. A non-foaming detergent is used to help the process. Do NOT use common soaps or detergents unless you want soap suds coming out the doors of your shop.

Tumbling speed is critical. Too slow and the parts slide wearing down one surface. Too fast and the parts don't slide OR tumble they just go round and round. Hexagonal and octagonal drums reduce the sliding problem. Tumbling drums are normaly lined with rubber to reduce wear.

McMaster-Carr sells the machines and the media.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 16:35:18 GMT

I'm interested in casting some bronze pieces for my 70 year old boat. For openers, I thought I'd try making a couple of patterns and have a local foundry pour the metal. Setting up to do the actual casting would be a later step. My first project might best be described as a "bell reducer". It would be 5 1/2 inch ID on one end and 5 inch OD on the other, with a wall thickness of about 1/4 inch. It would be about 6 inches tall. The casting could be a little rough, since I'll chuck it in a lathe and machine the finished dimensions. Can you recommend a book or website that describes the basics of pattern making? Thanks.
Jerry Crosby
Jerry Crosby  <katcrosby at aol.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 18:19:44 GMT

I'm a novice at metal work. I will be doing some work with hand plane irons (blades) that will require heating them to remove adhesive. How hot can I get them without losing their temper? thanks dave
Dave Douglas  <dbdouglas at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 19:22:44 GMT

Plain Irons: Dave, Not very hot. Temper is effected at 500°F. But if you are removing most glues you could boil the parts or use a hot air gun without a problem. Gently waving a propane torch along the sharp edge would destroy the temper of most plain irons.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 19:29:10 GMT

Pattern Making: Jerry, Ask Centaur and Norm Larson about books by C.W. Ammen. He has one on making wood patterns that is good. There is also one on casting brass. You will need to understand the process and a few details before making the pattern.

You should approach the foundry you intend to use first. Some will work with outside and amature pattern makers while others won't take on anything but high production casting work. Most are of the later sort.

Pattern making requires the same precision as making the parts. It is not unusual to make patterns to tolerances or +/- .010". For the part you wish to make there will be a pattern with "core prints" and a core box (a mold) to make the core. Many modern foundries do not have the skilled personell of the old-time foundries and will require your pattern to be "boarded". This was normally only done on production patterns but today it is often the only way to get your pattern in the foundry. For boarding plan on splitting your pattern into two pieces on the parting line. Non boarded patterns are called "loose patterns". Ask if the foundry will handle loose patterns.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 19:40:23 GMT

Ax handle: Steve, the process would be as follows for me. Get a dry piece of ash or hickory (preferred) 4 inches longer than the finished handle and about six inches diameter. No knots. Split off pieces with a froe until you are close to shape, then draw knife to near final shape and sand or scrape (preferred) to final shape. If you want a significant bend in the handle, then I would steam bend after the froe work and before final draw knifing. Need to keep the wood fibers as continuous as possible. Whittle (preferred) or sand the end that goes into the ax head until it is a very tight sliding fit. I'd epoxy the head to the handle, then put in two circular wedges after the epoxy sets. Then soak the whole thing in danish oil for a day, wipe off the excess, let dry for a week and fine sand the handle. Done.

Or.... go to a good farm or contractor supply store and buy a wood or fiberglass handle that fits and epoxy it to the head. I don't like the plastic over fiberglass handles. Too squishy (technical term).

Tumbling: Sometimes you can get used media from a plater or metal finisher for cheap. If the parts are small and light and you don't need to do this forever, an old front loading clothes dryer will work until the drum or door wears through. (grin) Or you can get fancy and line the drum and door with castable urethane. Gravel or round stone may work in the concrete mixer too. Road gravel is a nice mix of stone and sand and clay. As the guru said, tumbling and vibratory finishing is very dependent on the part to be finished. Must adjust media, speed and other parameters for the work and desired finish. Ahhh, so many options......
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 20:06:07 GMT

Hello guru and friends. i have had a life changing month. not only have i gone through hard times w/relationship but i have put myself through what i like to think of as intensive practice. That has meant spending a good 6 hours a day(unless im too sore or not alert enough ) in the workshop, at first i just hammered any junky piece of scrap as flat as possible, then i began bending rebar into knots and neat shapes with no more than some torch work and sweat.
One night i made 3 rebar hearts for valentines day, another i began trying composite metal work with brass, steel, and tin. Then i messed around pounding steel wool, then pounding it into copper or brass scrap.(Have you ever heard of anything like that with steel wool before?) well, on one particular bad night i was melting some brass into some copper, then i thought i might add some powdered silver, i sprinkled the silver on and before it could melt the whole puddle Exploded. i got some bad burns but i bandaged them and went right back to work. my sculpture designs have progressed alot and ive found a really neat way of making "prototypes" of sculptures before i go brazing away. manipulating puddles of solder can bring great inspiration for shapes and ideas, i have some really neat copper wire and sheet sculptures that I first saw in such a puddle. well, im sorry if this may seem wrather useless info, but heres my question i just recieved a five foot by five foot sheet of muntz metal, and i was wondering if it would be suitable material for mideval armor or the like?

Thx alot guru
AdamSmith - Tuesday, 02/13/01 21:53:08 GMT

Muntz: Adam, That's 40Zn 60Cu and considered a high strength brass. It hot works well but is not considered a good cold working metal.

IF you were going to use brass of bronze for armor that might be as good as any. However the low rating for cold working means it needs to be annealed often.

You have to be careful when handling any type of powdered metal around heat and flames. Many metals that are not considered flamable are like other sudstances that when powdered are flamable OR explosive. They can also act as catylsts in chemical reactions.

Powdered corn starch makes a GREAT dust explosion. Powdered talc (talcum powder) does not. A few years ago a TV prop person confused the type of baby powder used in the stunt fire extinguishers. She filled the fire extinguisher with the corn starch type. When the actor used it to put out a fire in front of another actor the dust explosion set the second actor on fire! Luckily the dust is low mass and doesn't burn very long. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/13/01 23:10:45 GMT

Hi Kind Sir:
I am looking for any information about tire benders. I just acquired one and was hoping someone could give me some advice about them. It is an off brand that has a set of teeth runing
down the sides that you move a roller on . The teeth dog it in so it will not move. I can make a circle with it but have noticed that if I start a bend with straight stock with the moveable roller in place I get a certain diameter. Is there any way to predict the diameter. I can also creep up on the desired diameter, but not sure if this is correct. Thanks in advance
Tim  <Falconforge at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 01:38:57 GMT

I'm needing a supplier for square head laggs.Could someone post a supplier- for your info- square nails and assorted old style nails are made and sold by Tremont nail Co. 1-800-842-0560.
Tom Poulin  <poulintom at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 02:59:03 GMT

Tire Bender: Tim, Due to the variables of temper, thickness, carbon content and such it is impossible to predict the radius bent. So you are doing it right. . trial and error. The bend is actually not critical for the purpose they were designed for. As long as you could get the ends together to weld the tire they have done their job.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 03:28:13 GMT

Question about switchblade making: Ok Ok Ok I know this is mainly a blacksmith site but I know a few bladesmiths hang out here too, I am on my last leg hear I want to make kind of like a Neo-Tribal Looking Switchblade but every where I search I can't find any info on them exept companys that make them. Would anyone here by chance know anything about switchblades or a place to find info or anything that would help me, (I know almot nothing)---Please don't critisize me on the fact that some view these knives to be bad, Thanks for any info.
josh  <Profish at voyager.net> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 03:33:27 GMT

Square Head Lag bolts: Tom, The last time I inquired about these (20 years ago) they had to be special ordered by the barrel or production run. Since then the fastener industry has changed a LOT. Wharehousers, the few there are, must order fasteners a year in advance. If they misjudge their needs they are stuck. This situation has resulted in a much lower range of fasteners being available.

Occasionaly there is a cache of square head lags. Maybe someone reading this may know of some.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 03:58:50 GMT

Guru, and any others who have been thru this. Background: I am 44 years old, the kid is out of high school, and the wife and I are moving to a place in the country, where zoning will let me have a 2,000 square foot (max) shop. I have found out that 3 phase electrical service extended from the next farm over is available (for a price). How do you figure how much power is required to run some of the bigger than homeowner sized equipment such as air compressors, lathes, power hammers, etc. I only want to do this once, my electrician is a nice guy, but doesn't need two boats. ;-)
John McPherson  <trollworks at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 04:13:08 GMT

Switch Blade: Josh, I'm afraid I know little about the mechanism. They require a fairly strong spring due to the short lever length on the back of the blade.

I suspect there are knife books on the subject but I do not know of specific titles. The fact that switch blades or automatic knives are illegal in most states is a whole 'nother story.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 04:15:24 GMT

Power: John, You need enough to run the largest motor or welder you might have in your shop. A 100 Amp service is required for most little 240 VAC buzz boxes and MIG units (mine requires a 90A breaker and will trip it running the HF TIG unit welding Al). Most buzz boxes need that size to run heavy rods at full power (like building an anvil) but otherwise can run on a lot less. Note that transformer welders are 1PH.

Motors are actually less of a problem. A 100A service will run a huge motor (30-40HP). 10Hp is probably the limit on that rural service even if you have 3PH. If the 3PH is high voltage and they have to hang a set of transformers then there is almost no limit to the motor size. Rural saw mills commonly run 100 HP motors.

Where cost (besides the installation) gets to be a problem is if they are going to put you on a demand meter. Run that welder full tilt for a few minutes and the power company will charge you a "demand fee" based on that heavy draw. Check on it. Also check to see it they are going to charge you for the special installation forever. They do THAT too in some places. Be sure the contract matches what you are told and what the rate commisions alow.

3PH is nice if it isn't going to cost a bundle to maintain. Single phase with a rotary converter is cheaper if you install it from the start. There are no demand fees and minimus are small (much less on single phase). Put in a 200A service divided between a 100A 1PH box and a 100A 3PH box hooked to the inverter. Put rotary inverters in a shed or dog house seperate from your shop. They are unbelievably noisy (don't believe the manufacturers). This can be done off the domestic lines but there IS a 10HP motor limit.

The two heaviest motor loads in most small shops is an air hammer or compressor. 10HP will run up to a 165# air hammer (or compressor for same) or a 250# mechanical. Now if you want a Nazel 3B or an old 500# steam hammer then you may need that industrial power supply. I opted to buy a gasoline powered air compressor. It will provide enough air for a HUGE hammer(1,000#).

Lathes, Mills, Saws, Shapers generaly run 2 or 3HP motors. Ocassionaly a 5HP. Machines to big for your shop would need 10HP or larger motors. Good lighting will draw more current than one of these. The welders or an electic furnace (kiln or heat treat oven) are still the heavy draw.

No matter how you wire your shop the power company is going to run a skinny little wire 1/4 the size the code requires YOU to run. . . . :) Such is life
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 04:54:19 GMT

Good Guru;
2 Questions if you will...
Do I understand from the above post that I could run 30 HP of electric motors on my 100 amp single phase shop service?

If the object of a power hammer foundation is, in part, to add mass to the hammer's anvil, Then why do I see refrences to putting a heavy rubber pad and/or a stack of timbers on top of a massive cement block?
Will the cast iron beat itself to death without something more forgiving under it?
Say what? Can't hear you.
Pete F - Wednesday, 02/14/01 07:34:27 GMT

Yes I'm interested in the building plans
of the JYH plans from Jock Dempsey
Wim Bollen  <bol.qubit.wim at pandora.be> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 13:11:44 GMT

Who has home-built a surface grinder with profiling capacity? Well, I have, but it doesn´t work that well so I´m building another and am grateful for design-suggestions.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 15:49:21 GMT

Olle, check out Beaumont Metal Works, http://www.geocities.com/beaumontmetal/
They have some great, simple how to, supplies, & suggestions. I just built one myself, just a simple one, but it works for now, I'll probably build a nice one later when I have the time!
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 15:58:25 GMT

Olle, Oops, I just noticed that you wanted a surface grinder! Can't help you there, was thinking belt sander/grinder. Sorry.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 15:59:45 GMT

100 Amp Service: Pete, I miss guessed above. . Whoops! That 30HP motor will draw 80 Amps at full load and needs a 110 Amp breaker on the service. If the motor is started unloaded it would probably run on 100A. the 40HP I mentioned above is too much.

However, also note what I said about domestic and rural distribution systems. The power companies don't like more than a 10HP motor on their lines. Too much surge. However, mine said that if I put a soft start device on the motor that they would allow it (I think I asked about a 15HP motor). They don't have a clue about what or how phase converters effect their lines. . .

That 40Hp motor would draw 104 A at 240VAC and require a 150A breaker.

There is a myth about 3PH being cheaper. What is cheaper is high voltage. On a 480V system the Amperage needed for a given motor is half. This makes everything from switches to wire cheaper. In a distant past the electric companies discount power to large industrial customers but as these long term contracts run out industry is often ending up paying the same as you and I.

Hammer foundations: They should not be needed to add extra mass to the hammer. The timbers provide a cushion that does several things.
  • Helps distribute the force evenly between anvil and foundation.
  • Prevents the concrete from being pounded into bits.
  • Absorbs the force over an increased time period which increases penetration of the blow which is good for the steel AND reduces wear on the hammer.
The foundation itself is designed to support the anvil and or machine AND reduce the transmission of shock to the surrounding building. Cushioning helps reduce the shock transmission.

Setting up forging hammers has some critical points. If you set the machine on a hard foundation that is not a perfect match for the base of the machine then you have stress concentration on the machine frame. Even with a seperate anvil the frame tries to lift itself as it reacts to every blow. It then drops back onto the foundation. If this is on uneven hard spots eventual breakage is likely to occur. Cushioning between the frame and foundation helps reduce the posibility of a stress concentration AND absorbs shock to the machine. Ever notice those springs under the bolts of BIG hammers? Those allow movement but still hold the machine down or to its anvil. IF you look closely at this joint while the hammer is running under high load it is opening and closing on every blow.

Hammers with less than a 15:1 ram to anvil ratio need a lot of foundation to absorb shock. Oddly enough, the cheap Little Giant has a 15:1 ratio. Bradley's and Fairbanks and a few of the other high quality mechanicals had more. Most of the new hammers have considerably less. The small one piece Chinese hammer has about 6.5:1 and the heavier two piece hammers 12:1.

The rare 20:1 ratio machines need much less foundation. Most of the 1 piece American hammers such as Nazel and Chambersburg were in the range or 18 to 20:1. The reason being that the frame would be under tremondous stress with less anvil and likely to break. Two piece hammers do not have this problem but came with optional 20:1 anvils when shock to the surroundings wanted to be reduced. On large hammers if the ground and floor vibrate noticably it adds to the stress and fatigue of the operator. Reducing operator fatigue increases productivity so many industries put the extra into heavier anvils and foundations because over time it was a good investment.

I've pulled my comparison review on the Power hammer Page while it is being rewritten, but the Kuhn hammer as sold by Centaur Forge with that huge steel block under it has a 23:1 ratio when you only count the half of the block under the anvil. This increases the cost of the hammer a little but provides a great above ground foundation that increases the resale value of the hammer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 16:41:46 GMT

axe-- hafta heft a helve onto your axe? No need to hire a smith to handle that proble. It's a snap. Just follow these easy directions. First, if this is a real emergency, just cut the haft off a handy axe that you are not using and affix it to the one you wish to helve. If there is time, hie yourself to the nearest helve monger's and help yourself to a handsome haft. Be sure to get a right handed or left handed haft, as the need may be. Hustle homeward, and there, carefully determine which way you intend to employ the tool. I.e., put the head onto the helve right side up if you intend to work mostly overhead, but if chopping downward, reverse the blade. Ofttimes the old haft is stuck in the eye of the axe. Many artisans simply burn it out. This is bad for the iron molecules, and the carbon molecules also, and they will indicate their displeasure by getting all soft and mushy. Note carefully the anterior-posterior orientation of the new haft. Heft it heartily. Nothing hurts more than hammering a haft in only to hark to the discovery that it is in backwards. Once oriented (orientated in the UK) properly, insert a wooden wedge in the slot. Hammer. Then insert a steel wedge cross-wise and hammer. Happy helving! (I'll be out of the country attending the cast iron festival in Tierra del Fuego next few days and Jock will be happy to answer any questions you may have about any of the above.)
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 17:09:40 GMT

A 10HP motor might be enough horsepower to run a new 165# Chinese hammer. But “light duty” early Nazel 2B’s were 165# hammer and they only required a 7-1/2HP motor. Later “heavy duty” 2B’s were 200# hammers but they still used the same 7-1/2HP motor. To use the same 10HP motor you could have a “heavy duty” 3B with 300# ram. As you might tell there was nothing “light duty” about any Nazel hammer. The first “heavy duty” hammer Nazel made was in 1945. Nazel still offered a light duty hammers along with their heavy duty hammers. It was the customer’s choice. It was standard practice for most of these hammers to have at least a 15 to 1 anvil to ram ratio. It’s my option; Nazel made the best most efficient air hammers ever. They’re still a good buy for the money considering what’s available new. It would be a easy choice if I had the money to spend what I'd spend it on.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 18:26:05 GMT

In one of your responces 8/2/01 Re: "Tongs" you identified "side jaw" tongs. Can you describe these in more detail? Hou about a demo on making a set?
John  <jmanning at cartech.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 20:13:32 GMT

Need some coke info please.
I have been using hardwood lump charcoal in the forge. In my cupola travels, I am getting some coke mixture. Blend of half petroleum coke, half bituminous coal source coke. Volatiles are supposed to be 15% which seems high for coke. I have no other specs yet. I'll be getting a couple of tons at $50 per ton. Any idea how it would work for forge fuel? Or straight petroleum coke? I checked around on the site and saw nothing on petroleum coke. My textbooks say it is low in ash and higher than other cokes in heat content, but that's about it. I assume it will be a bit harder to get the fire going. At $50 per ton, I might be tempted to switch away from by beloved charcoal! Thanks in advance!

BTW, C Reiss coal in Green Bay, WI is no longer selling smithing coal. It's listed in the coal source list, but alas, they don't want to do retail any more. Bruce, more customers for you.
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Wednesday, 02/14/01 20:53:05 GMT

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