WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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 22 - 28, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Steel Making Robert, What lubricants? None are used in hot rolling except internal to the machinery (bearings and such). In cold rolling and swaging processes lubricants are not used because of the need for friction to drive the work.

In die drawing, various lubricants have been used and it changes constantly with time. It is also a complicated subject, The ASM Metals Handbook, Volume on Forming has 10 pages on the subject. Factors include everything from percentage of draw and costs to application and environmental considerations.

See our link to ASM on the links page.
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 00:25:39 GMT

Coal Gator, Soft bituminous with low ash, low sulfur and high BTU is considered "smithing coal" but there are many variables. In locations where all they can get is Anthracite, smiths use it but it is not the best.
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 00:38:09 GMT

In relation to the previous question regarding bituminous vs Anthracite coal,.. is there a way to tell them apart by looking at them or is there a quick test or trick to tell one from the other? Also, thank you for all your doing for us rookies.... It's very much appreciated.
   Louis - Friday, 02/22/02 00:47:32 GMT

Thanks for you help with the Post Vise Spring. I have it together and it works well. Kernel
   kernel - Friday, 02/22/02 00:55:59 GMT

Coal(s): Imagine grades of coal described as colors. Grades vary in more ways than color in imperceptable shades of difference one grade merging into another.

That said. With experiance you can sometimes tell by looking but not always.

Hard coal is shiney and the fracture surfaces look like a hard material. Soft coal rapidly becomes dusty and the corners get knocked off so that it doesn't "look" as hard as hard coal.

BUT, Freshly crushed, graded and washed soft bituminous coal can look hard and shiney. The better grades ARE harder than the softest which have too many volitiles and make more flame and smoke thus have lower BTU output. First class smithing coal is also one of the best grades for automatic stokers. Good coal is good coal and only the best should be labled "smithing coal".
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 03:19:29 GMT

Computer VIRUSES: I don't have one but people we know (but don't know) DO. This nasty new virus sends out mail with a forged "return" address. There is one out there using MY guru at anvilfire.com address. If you get unexpected mail from me DO NOT OPEN IT.

I know this virus is out there using my address because I get the bounced mail from closed or bad addresses. So far there have only been a handful but they are all from people I do not know and they are spread all over the world.

Due to the fact that I am the webmaster of a popular web site and my e-mail address is plastered all over it there is a much higher probality of my address being used this way than others. However, EVERYONE is susceptable to this forgery. YOU don't have to be the infected party. Anyone that that you have ever exchanged email with could be the one with the virus using YOUR return address.

In my case it is even worse because in the past year I have recieved virus generated e-mail from thousands of people and I have responded to EVERY one with a warning and links to go to to fix the problem. All those thousands that I DO NOT KNOW are all possible sources of this new problem.

As always, the source of the problem is Microsoft IE, OE and OE express. At the current rate of increase of viruses spread by these programs and the problems generated by the lack of security purposely designed into those programs we are quickly reaching a point where e-mail as we know it will be a thing of the past. If you can not open mail from someone you supposedly know and trust, what good is it?

FREE On-line Virus Scan

Please check your systems. Learn to secure it. Sadly, many of the people I have sent virus warnings to because their systems were infected often get repeat "infections".
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 03:44:23 GMT

I have a historic building in Brattleboro, VT, that needs stabilization of its brick facade. The engineering design calls for 8-in-square steel plates in four places. I'd like to use ornamental plates such as the star-shaped or flower-shaped cast ones I've seen on older buildings, but I can't find a source of these. Can any of you suggest a source?
   Dean Gallea - Friday, 02/22/02 05:23:35 GMT

I'm sure you are a fine person, but asking a group of blacksmiths where to get cast ornamental fittings borders on insult...no?
But it does raise the possibility of a much more aesthetically interesting and significantly stronger solution.
Why not comission a group of forged steel decorative plates from a competent blacksmith? You can get your choice of style, strength, technique and form. You can even get traditional wrought iron or even bronze or stainless....Much classier...
Brittle cast iron schlock? pfffft! Please.
Too bad I beat the good guru to this. He would have been more diplomatic.
   - Pete F - Friday, 02/22/02 09:16:11 GMT

Terry, Paw Paw,

I sent the photos of the 200# Strap Hammer to the Guru. I could send them directly to you if you would like.

   Paul - Friday, 02/22/02 12:46:45 GMT


Speaking for myself, as long as the guru has them, I have access to them. But thank you for the offer.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 02/22/02 13:29:26 GMT

Hey ya'll, were can a guy get raw iron, for to make
ornamental things. Is there any differance in wrought iron
and just regular ol' pig iron? Your help is appriciated.
   Jason - Friday, 02/22/02 14:00:21 GMT

Dean: Perhaps you could try W. F. Norman Corp, makers of architectural sheet metal ornaments, at 800-641-4038.
   Neal Bullington - Friday, 02/22/02 15:36:27 GMT

Cast Iron Stars Dean, Pete is right, if the Engineer, who should be a licensed professional (a PE), called for STEEL plates then cast iron does not meet his specification. AND if you want decorative steel plates they will have to be custom made by a blacksmith. So you came to the right place.

However, be advised that the PE must approve the design if the plates are not square.

There are places that sell architectural iron but I've never seen stock reinforcement plates as large as you are looking for. I do know several smiths, including myself that have made custom patterns and had them cast in ductile iron. This would also need to be approved by your PE and cost effectivness of custom castings comsidered.

If you only need 4 stars for the front of your building and use plain or less fancy plates on the back OR they attach to structural steel, then it would be cheaper to have a blacksmith do it. But if you need twenty or more then then a custom pattern is cost effective. In between, it is a toss up.

Step one is to consult with your PE. Yeah, he charges like a lawyer. There is also a much more elegant solution, but I charge for design work.

Try King Supply Co.
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 15:46:29 GMT

Raw Iron: Jason, Raw, uncooked (native) iron is a rariety but there are a few deposits here and there throughout the world. You will need to consult mineralogical surveys, get your safari hat and go prospecting.

Blacksmiths generaly use mild steel bar. But you can also purchase soft "pure iron". But I'm afraid its been cooked. Let your fingers do the walking.

"Wrought Iron" has several meanings, see our glossary.

"Pig Iron" needs to be added to the glossary. But it is cast iron, and THAT is in our glossary.

FAQs and Glossary Its also on the pull down menu.

   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 16:02:29 GMT

Jason. 99.999+% of "wrought iron" items made today are made from mild steel, most often A36, find it most anywhere steel is sold, (look in the yellow pages under iron&steel, ask a local weldor where they buy it, etc)

Real wrought iron is rare and pricy only available used or in re-manufactured stock by The Real Wrought Iron Co LTD in England (shipping costs!) It's essentially a composite material composed of a clean iron with ferrous silicate spicules distributed through it---it does not work like mild steel!

Pig Iron is *cast* iron and cannot be forged or cold bent (except for special varieties---even then it is not used for thin ornamental work)

So most likely you are looking for A36 unless you are doing museum grade restoration or replication work.

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/22/02 16:18:05 GMT

I want to put a copper petina on forged iron work, it has been a long time since I have done it and am brain dead.
   - John Vogel - Friday, 02/22/02 16:41:12 GMT

John, I would think that you would have to plate the iron with copper first. You can "copper flash" bright steel with copper sulphate solution but that doesn't provide enough copper to apply a chemical induced patina.

Have you considered paint?
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 17:22:21 GMT

Hi, I have tried paint but I don't get the effect.
I have done it with copper sulfate and got great results, just don't remember how. Thanks much, great site!!!!!!
   - John Vogel - Friday, 02/22/02 17:42:31 GMT

Could you tell me where I could get plans or how to make a branding iron heater fired by propane?
Thank you
   Dan - Friday, 02/22/02 18:17:50 GMT

I was wondering what the pros and cons are of using a bandsaw v.s. a scroll in cutting 440C stainless (steel before hardening and tempering).
   Mark Acree - Friday, 02/22/02 19:16:16 GMT

   NICK - Friday, 02/22/02 21:05:20 GMT

Nick, an etchable steel or iron alloy is part of the process and its going to rust. Mokume Gane' is the Japanese process of laminating silver, gold, copper and brasses. . Uses the same type of pattern development and doesn't rust.
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 23:40:43 GMT

An alternative is to etch very deep. Color and then rub in clear lacquer. Wipe of the top surfaces and let it seal the dark etched part.
   - guru - Friday, 02/22/02 23:44:58 GMT

John Vogel
A saturate solution of copper sulphate in accetic acid (vinigar-pickling strentgh is best)add copper sulphate to warmed acid until it will not absorb any more,warmed mixture to 90F then either paint on or dunk iron ,thickness of plating depends on time (but is never very thick)
   Mark Parkinson - Saturday, 02/23/02 03:14:30 GMT

Speaking as a Professional Engineer, if it's a good PE, he or she would have specified properties, not a material. Let's just hope it is a PE and not an architect without engineering knowledge. Ductile Iron can be substituted for steel in many products.

Decorative structural plates could be made in many ways. Including machining. Although decorative structural plates made by smithing would be preferrable to me too.

Although they are not cheap, not too many PE's charge like lawyers. And there is that little niggling difference of a product useful to society from a good PE.

But I admit bias. Grin.
   Tony - Saturday, 02/23/02 03:41:06 GMT

Steel Wall Anchor Plates

A quick method around the dilemma is to applique the forged ornament over the 8 inch square plate. If a tie rod is to be run through it and bolted, the exterior ornament could just sit between the bolt and the plate like a big, happy orbnamental washer. (Yes, I know that's not "engineer talk", but you see what I mean.) Albert Sonn has three pages of wrought iron wall stays and anchors ion his book Early American Wrought Iron if you need inspiration. (ISBN 0-517-27793-X). I even have one that I salvaged from a D.C. demolition site, a simple "S" scroll type. I think the additional ornament, painted a contrasting color, would look quite elegant atop an 8" X 8" (or even larger!) anchor plate.

As others have advised, check it out with the engineer.

Visit your National Parks (location of much historic ironwork): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 02/23/02 04:15:33 GMT

John, Copper patina. I have been looking into patinas lately. Ron Young has a wide range of patinas and techniques available. He does have a web site but I don't know the address off hand. Very easy to work with and they have a wide range of patinas. Hope this helps. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 02/23/02 15:37:45 GMT

Follow-up on patinas. The following link is to a recent job where I used a rust patina. VERY easy to apply and FAST. I have never done a rust patina before as I always felt rust was the enemy. However after using this technique I will definitely use it again.
Found the other web site: www.ronyoungpatina.com

   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 02/23/02 15:46:18 GMT

Thank you guys very much,I will give it a shot. All I want is a slight green patina and will finish with wax.
Tannks Much.
   - John Vogel - Saturday, 02/23/02 16:12:39 GMT

Hello Friends,

I am in need of your recommendations.

First, let me say that I am taking up small scale farming
late in life(at 37). That of course is not a problem.

However, I feel the need to learn blacksmithing so I can
make and/or repair tools and equipment.

This is a problem, since I don't have a clue where to
start, or how to start.(Other than reading various text
on the web, and a couple of books that briefly cover the
subject of blacksmithing)

So I will start with asking for recommendations of a good
first anvil. From what I have read on anvilfire,
cast iron anvils are bad, used anvils are questionable,
and all practical anvils will be at least 100 pounds.
(100 pounds will be the limit for me, as it must be
portable, and out past 100 pounds they seem expensive
for someone who will not be blacksmithing for profit)

It should be able to support a wide range of old fashioned
blacksmithing tasks, including firewelding.

What make and model of new anvil would you suggest?

Thanks in advance.
   - Taylor - Saturday, 02/23/02 20:19:37 GMT


I'm going to address this one, since the guru is doing a demonstration.

Late in life? (grin) I didn't go back to blacksmithing until I was in my 50's! You're just a kid! (grin)

First reccomendation, Getting Started in Blacksmithing article. Link at the top of this page. Many of the books, you will be able to read through your local library, or throught the Inter Library Loan System.

Secondly, find the nearest organized group to your area and join. The ABANA chapter link on the links page will help you to find it. You will learn a LOT from the guys in your area, and the camaradery is priceless.

Thirdly, if possible, join the CSI group. Link at the bottome of this page.

And finally become a regular reader here at Anvilfire. Many of the techniques of blacksmithing are shown on the iForge page, usually included in basic projects of different types. Be SURE to read all of the safety discussions there and pay attention to what you read.

   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 02/23/02 21:11:36 GMT

Hey all.... another lurker comes to the forefront :-)

I've enjoyed reading all the Q&A over the past few months, but I've got a question now that I think the guru and others can help me with. It's an anvil repair question, but a very specific one. When you get a chance, please point your browser to:


There you will find pictures of my Soderfors anvil, which is also my first anvil. Let me say that I realise it is already a good bit better than most people's first anvil. The face is very flat and the near edge is in great shape.

The far edge, though, has seen better days. I've considered trying to smooth that edge out a bit, but am fearful of making matters worse. I know that the Soderfors Paragon anvils like this one are cast steel, so theoretically it could be a good candidate for refinishing. I don't want to do anything to screw up an already passable anvil though, so I thought I would get the experts' opinions on the subject.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

   Marcus - Sunday, 02/24/02 01:43:10 GMT

I will yield instantly to any of the other gurus or the usual crew here, but I'd do some minimal rounding to ease the chipping a little. Actually looks pretty good, and it's nice to have one rounded edge and one crisp edge, but I'd do the minimum. Boy, someone sure missed the chisel a lot at the step! I might be a little more agressive there, since I use that feature for turnings snd other operations. Looks like a nice anvil, I'd be cautions.

I'm sure more opinions will be forthcoming.

Cool and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac. The Guru and I ran eight Scouts through the new Metalworking Merit Badge, Blacksmithing Option... I am tired! G'night all.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 02/24/02 03:12:26 GMT

Just a follow-up to my above question, the method I'm considering is to take a hand-held belt sander and radius the edge a bit to take out the chipping. Someone emailed me and cautioned me not to try welding, which I NEVER even considered.

They jury is still out, though... I'm going to wait until more people weigh in on the issue before I do anything other than USE the anvil as it is.


   Marcus - Sunday, 02/24/02 04:02:01 GMT

I am trying to write a novel and need to know more about blacksmithing in early 19th century. I need to be able to describe a blacksmith at work. I have been looking at web sites without much luck -- I suspect that my questions may be too simple rather than too complex. For instance is the typical bellows operated by foot or by hand? I suspect it is by foot. If by foot, where is it placed? By the forge? By the anvil? In-between? I am quite willing to give credit in the published source for any assistance. I would appreciate any help.

Devin Bent

   Devin Bent - Sunday, 02/24/02 04:33:20 GMT

taylor's question kinda sparked this, i got a used anvil from a friend who had more anvils than he could use, and it has preformed beautifully. i did'nt need to question the quality of the anvil because i know my friend is too honest to give me a crappyone, but how (aside fromm chips, cracks, and gouges) do i tell a good used anvil from a bad one?

   abe - Sunday, 02/24/02 04:37:53 GMT

Devin Bent,

Suggest you go to the story page and read the on-line version of THE REVOLUTIONARY BLACKSMITH. Some of your questions will be answered in that book. Then contact the author for help with any other questions you may have. Or, you can contact him at his web site: http://www.paw-paws-forge.com
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 02/24/02 05:40:32 GMT

John Vogel; Re; copper patina on steel. I found some stuff a long time ago at a stained glass window supply store that they use to put copper finish on their lead came. I put some on a knife blade I'd just buffed up, dabbed it on with a Q-tip, and danged if it doesn't work on steel too! It might green up if you gave it a quick wipe with acid. Might be worth a try.....
   Paul(3dogs) Wilson - Sunday, 02/24/02 08:00:51 GMT

I second Atli and your own good sense. Be careful not to stay in any 1 area long enough to overheat it when sanding/grinding.
Do as little as possible generally, but I am of the opinion that a good soft radius on the far edge is desirable. On my anvil that radius gently tapers from horn to heel. The edge is roundest up by the horn and I work there a lot.
Devlin: as you guessed the bellows were operated by foot between the forge and anvil.
Large bellows were uncommon contrary to popular belief. The reason that those little bellows, the size of a snow shoe, are so common today in antique shops is that is what was , in fact, generally used.
One set of bellows was strapped to each foot and long soft tubes of tanned and greased pig intestine carried the air to the forge as the smith walked back and forth trailing the flexible pipes. For a gentle blast , the smith had only to tap his toe...a tradition that carries down to this day.
In order to judge the flow of air in the system while his eyes were else where...a small grass reed was attached to the intestine next to the foirge so that the higher the pressure, the louder the reed played. This tradition led to the development of the bagpipes.
Novel, eh?.....Happy to be of help....Pete
   - Pete F - Sunday, 02/24/02 08:16:27 GMT

I´d really like to do some stainless damascus and like to know what kinds of steel and flux are good for it. I´m livin in Germany, but I have no problem with the translation of steeltypes. The best will be a percentage scale of the aloys. I do have a gas and a coal forge.
I would appreciate it if you could come up with some information on making stainless damascus and the needed flux.

Thanks a lot so far and keep the fire going

   Freddie - Sunday, 02/24/02 13:35:18 GMT

Dear Guru:
First let me thank you for offering this great information source. Much of what we do with metal has been lost or poorly documented over the years. You do alot to keep it alive in our generation.
I have a full-time ornamental iron business that produces gates, fences, furniture, etc. - just about anything you can sketch I will take a shot at. Recently I have had a customer ask me to fabricate some 100 ft. of what he calls copper rain chain. This is a 3/8" round copper bar, fabbed into links with a 1 1/2" x 1/2" internal opening - fairly stout stuff to radius this tight (cold) without marking the surface.
I know that chain making goes way back, but I can't say I have every done it before. I would be very appreciative if you could identify any procedures, tooling, or illustrative instructional sources I can get my hands on.
My shop has a 175 lb. air hammer, large forge, various benders (too large for this application) a good range of welding equipment, hand tools, saws, etc. so I can usually make up my own tooling if I know what direction to take.
Thanks for any help your can be and also if there are any characteristics I should be aware of when working with the copper that could give me problems. I look forward to your comments. Jim at Forge Ahead
   Jim Barton - Sunday, 02/24/02 19:09:23 GMT

This is my second posting today, so I hope I don't seem greedy, but I didn't want one question to get lost in the other. This has to do with a metal finish that I have never seen before.
Recently a customer brought me a large (12" sq. x 2.5 ft. high) finial/steeple cap that she picked up in Mexico. It's very light weight and appears to be made of tin with all the seams soldered. The finish on the outside is not a paint, rather has the look of some type of acid finish (brownish/rust/tarnished look) with a sealer over it. On the inside it is shiny, silvery tin (with rust spots started).
I have no idea what type of finish this is, or how to achieve it. The problem is that she wants me to make her an ornamental stove hood to match it. Normally I would do this out of copper, but I can't match this finish with copper.
If you are aware of common finishes out of Mexico, or for tin, or if I should just tell my customer to go with copper, I would appreciate your input.
Jim at Forge Ahead
   Jim Barton - Sunday, 02/24/02 19:31:34 GMT

guru sorry for the long delay in responding to your remarks on bradley hammer straps. I have the book pounding out the profits and think I could figure out the wraping process from these drawings but it was not evedent how many wraps were used and how the front termination was made. Also remarks were made by paul any help with the wraping of this hammer wowld be great. tstover at netusa1.net
   Terry stover - Sunday, 02/24/02 22:58:49 GMT

Jim, I can't help myself on this one. I get people all the time coming into my shop with crap they pick up made in Mexico, Taiwan, etc..... I tell them if they want it to match go back to Mexico and have them make it.. They can probably pay for the trip with the savings over having me do it. I am in no way trying to offend anyone when i make a statement like this. It just annoys me when customers do that. She probably said she wants it "simple" which really means "CHEAP". To answer your question though go to: www.ronyoungpatina.com TC
   Tim Cisneros - Sunday, 02/24/02 23:02:13 GMT

What are these hand held burners called and where can I get one? See picture at following link....


Has anyone used such a burner for larger stuff that will not fit into the forge, as in the picture? Thats quite a large red-heat area in the picture.......I'm impressed. Sometimes I am severely limited in what I can make based on what will fit in my propane forge.

I assume this burner is running off propane.

   Gary - Sunday, 02/24/02 23:15:32 GMT

MARCUS - That looks like a very nice anvil. I'd be inclined to take a grinder/sander to the far edge and just radius the nicks out gently. On the edge next to the step, I think I'd use an angle grinder to move the edge back enough that I could clean it up with about a 1/16" radius or slightly smaller. That's a nice area to have fairly sharp for setting down on. While you're at it, take a wire wheel and get al that paint off and give it a nice coat of Ospho to turn it to black oxide and then folow up with some beeswax and linseed mix to keep it from rusting. Good luck with it!
   vicopper - Monday, 02/25/02 00:19:44 GMT

Gary - What they're using looks to me like propane fired weed burners bieng run at higher than standard pressure. I used to do the same thing for a heat source for annealing large pieces of copper or silver. You can find propane weed burners at varioyus hardware outlets and online through www.northerntools.com. You may have to fiddle with orifice size to get the hottest neutral flame. They can also be handmade using Ron Reil's burner plans, see his website at www.reil1.net. Be careful.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/25/02 00:36:59 GMT

Tim C: Thanks for the direction ... and most of the time your observation would be right on the money. That's the problem with this one, I have already done thousands of dollars of estate fence for this lady and price isn't an object. Otherwise, I would have sent her 'down the road'.
If anything else comes to mind let me know. Jim at Forge Ahead
   Jim Barton - Monday, 02/25/02 00:58:24 GMT

Jim, You're right. If she's already paid you many thousands for other work you should at least be kind to her. I usually tell them that I can come "close" to the patina but I shy away from trying to "match" it. The web site I mentioned in the last post has a catalogue with samples of all thier patinas. I recommend you call them and have them send that to you. You can show it to the client and let them decide. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Monday, 02/25/02 02:07:37 GMT

Jim Barton:

Is this a new piece she picked up? Sounds like an old "tin roof" piece that had lost it's tin/zinc/lead coating on the outside and still retains some on the inside. If it is an antique, what coating is/will be used to preserve it? is it to be kept inside or outside? Attached to a structure or stand-alone? All of these might effect how to handle the problem. Given some additional information I might be able to glean something in the National Park Service historic preservation of metals books.

Now, if it's some new piece that the good folks south of the border antiqued in a manure pile (no offense to our neighbors- New Englanders use the same trick), you could go the old sandpaper and clorox route on the additional work you're supplying. Another possibility is one of the Great Guru's favorites: Paint the D*** thing to match. Hollywood does it all the time.

The Guru should be back on line soon. Probably still recovering from the Boy Scout event.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/25/02 03:07:17 GMT

I was wondering if it's still possible to smith a ring or do they just put it in a mold. And I also want to know how one would work platinum... Thanks
   Joel - Monday, 02/25/02 03:11:21 GMT

Gary: We buy those burners at Princess Auto, we are in Canada and they are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They are a dot com company so you should be able to find them at princessauto.com. I would think the same torch is avaiable in the states. The torches are cheap (offshore)and and I wouldn't buy one if you can't take it back, the first one I bought was broken. They come with 3 different ends the medium and large are in that picture. I use the small one and two 1kg coffee cans (end to end) lined with Kaowool for forging small stuff 1/2" and under. I get about 60 hours of forging out of 20#s of propane. In that set of pictures there is one firing a larger forge, it would have either a medium or large burner end on it.
   Daryl - Monday, 02/25/02 05:21:26 GMT

Brown Patina on Copper
Tim McCreight's book, The Complete Metalsmith suggests 2 ways to get a brown patina on copper.
(A), The first method is done using a water and ferric nitrate solution. The solution consists of one TABLE spoon of ferric nitrate (try Fisher Scientific or mallinkrodt or some nearby chemical supply house) completely dissolved in a quart of water.
The copper surface must be spotlessly clean and free of oil (including fingerprint oil), so use gloves to handle the metal.(clean cotton ones?).
The solution is sprayed on the piece that is to be patinated. Then the metal must be allowed to dry thoroughly. The process should be repeated several times until the desired colour is obtained. This process should be tried on scrap metal first.
(B),The second process is a little exotic but the "chemical" is easier to come by. Namely peanut oil! Many grocery stores carry it and Chinese grocery stores have it for certain. Peanut oil has one of the highest flash points of any domestic edible oils. (it's used for stir frying food, almost exclusively. Peanut allergy in China should a real nightmare).
The metal must be carefully cleaned and dried. Next step is to take several drops of the said peanut oil and rub same between both hands. Rub your greased palms over the piece in a gentle fashion. The desired result is to cover the piece with a thin coating of oil. The oil film is then heated gently with a torch, to the point where the metal begins to smoke. (move the torch quickly around to flame the whole metal object). Dry and then examine the metal in good light. Repeat if a darker patina is desired.
Good Luck, and if it gives you the result you desire take out a membership in the C.S.I. (Cyber Smiths International), found on this site. The membership helps to support Anvilfire (this site) and keep it going so you can get technical answers to your technical questions.
Regards "ā tout La gang", SLAG.
   slag - Monday, 02/25/02 05:56:16 GMT

Ring Forging: Joel, There are several ways to make a ring.

1) Bend the ring out of the desired metal and weld the ends together. Forge (fire) weld, gas weld or electric weld.

2) Punch a round hole in a circular blank. Then forge to shape. The shape can be changed in cross section from rectangular to round. "Ring rolling" or forging on a mandrel is often used on punched blanks to large heavy rings.

3) OR cast in a mold. This is the least common method of forming structural or load bearing rings but small rings like in some jewlery are often cast.

Brown Sheet Metal: Jim, It sounds like "tern plate" to me. Alti knew what it is but couldn't remember the term. It used to be a very common sheet metal product. Can't remember what the brown is but the sheet came from the factory like that.

CHAIN MAKING: Jim, see ring making above. When many rings are needed the bar stock is bent around a mandrel to make a coil (like a spring) and then the rings are cut off the coil. Makers of mail use heavy snips or light bolt cutters. For small quantities some smiths use a hack saw. For rectangular or oblong rings a shaped mandrel could be used but generaly they are made round and then shaped later.

You can also cut stock to length and bend on a simple bending fixture. In large quantities a press would be used to form a "U" shape and then a second operation finishing the other half. This method would work best for unwelded chain with a butt joint.

Copper has some special considerations. The first is that it is difficult to weld. It would be best to braze or silver solder the joint. The second most important consideration is the copper is heavier than steel AND it is MUCH softer. Links in heavy unwelded chain may open up from the weight of the chain alone OR from a very small external force (someone puling on the chain). I would make a sample link or two, calculate the weight of the longest run of chain (16-18 feet?) then ADD the weight of at least ONE adult (200 pounds) and apply that load to the link. If it opens any at all you have a bad situation. The solution is to weld (braze, solder) the links or use bronze. Bronze is approximately the same density as copper, thus the same weight but it is much stronger than pure copper. I would still test it. Many brasses and bronzes can be welded with a torch using the base metal so that there is no color match problem.

Chain has been made since the first metals were worked (native gold, silver and copper). There are various methods.

See the illustrations of chain making in chapter 5 of the Revolutionary Blacksmith on our story page. Note that most smiths make the weld in the end of the link. The reason is that when pulled on the weld can fail but the two ends still pass the next link and the link holds together. It is similar to a "repair link". Purchase some and look closely at them. They are scarfed and ready to forge weld. But they also work unwelded under less load.

I have made decorative chain from square stock with unwelded overlapping "scarfed" joints that looked very nice. I've also made brass chain by making long looped links then twisting the middle of each link. It is easied to twist when welded but can be done unwelded. When unwelded the ends should overlap in the middle section so that you twist 3 bars. There are all kinds of options if you think about it.
   - guru - Monday, 02/25/02 06:18:28 GMT

Jim: To join the copper links use Phos-copper. Its available at a welding supply or a HVAC supplier. The color is a good copper match. You do not have to clean the copper first which means that you don't have shiney spots to deal with. You will have to bring the copper up to a dull red as Phos-copper needs alot of heat. But then I'd take the link to a jig and hammer the weld alittle and it will disappear. This material is VERY strong. I would not climb any mountains with the chain but I bet it would hold my 170 LBS.
   Pete-Raven - Monday, 02/25/02 12:38:16 GMT

Slag, Guru, Atli, Tim, Pete, WOW! The info is great. I also realize the better I describe my problem, the better you can help me out.
The finial is a new piece and the finish is definitely an application. I think you guys are right on the money with it being some sort of patina. I think that Ron Youngs' www.sculptnouveau.com will get me the answer I am after.
As far as the copper chain goes, it gets placed in the down spout of an eaves trough (no down pipe, and no load except for the rain water). It is supposed to be more decorative than down pipe I am told. Normally when I join copper I use a product called Silfloss (available through most plumbing supply houses) using the same process Pete describes.
I will follow up the illustrations in The Revolutionary Blacksmith, but any other leads on mandrels or simple tooling would still be helpful. Thanks again ...Jim at Forge Ahead.
   Jim Barton - Monday, 02/25/02 13:40:36 GMT

Devin: You may want to clarify where your location of the blacksmith shop is. I do know that 1830-1890 in Minnesota (Fort Snelling, probably earlier too) they used a large single bellows through a pipe into the back of the fire pit, right underneath the side draft brick chimney. Actually the whole thing was brick. I have been in a number of forts of the same era, and they all have the same basic set-up, may have been an army reg for all I know. Hope it helps.

   Escher - Monday, 02/25/02 15:00:51 GMT

sorry, I meant to say a single large double-chambered bellows. Although there was space for a second one . . .

   Escher - Monday, 02/25/02 15:02:06 GMT

HI to all :
Is there anyone, who could tell me where to find tin plate that could be used to reproduce old cups,tea pots. lanterns etc. So far I can not find anyone who has any or knows where to get it. I'm tring to learn tin smithing from books but I need tin plate ( Or if there is something else that would work and pass for it, as far as the looks and workablity goes)
I would be thankful for any comments and direction.
   Carl - Monday, 02/25/02 15:10:07 GMT

sorry the last post email was miss typed so this time its correted. carl
   Carl - Monday, 02/25/02 15:12:29 GMT

Mandrel for Coils = ANY smooth bar or pipe the right size. Also see iForge demo on collaring.
   - guru - Monday, 02/25/02 17:39:29 GMT

Tin: First, what we call "tin" or "tin plate" is steel that has a very thin tin plating. Old "tin" roofs were occasionaly tin plated steel or tern plate but in more recent years has been galvanized. If the joints were to be soldered it was tin or tern. But if simple lock joints were to be used then galvanized works fine.

You can purchase galvanized steel flashing or roll roofing at most REAL construction supply houses.

IF the item is to be used for food handling or drinking then it needs to be food grade tin plate and the solder used should be pure tin OR a tin silver mix. Most common solder is lead with tin. Electrical solder still is BUT if you purchase NEW plumbing solder it is the new approved lead free stuff.

I'm not sure where to get old fashioned tin. A tinsmith I knew MANY years ago told me it was hard to get good true tin plate and tern plate (then). Its probably more difficult now. I would use stainless steel for food items OR recycle "tin" cans like our Boy Scout group did this weekend.
   - guru - Monday, 02/25/02 18:26:23 GMT

Devin *location* is very important in what a smith's shop would be like, city, country, seashore, industry, Country, etc. One thing to realize is that under almost no circumstances would a smith be working by himself --- there would always be a helper to strike for the smith and do the grunt work. Also in some locations accounts were settled on the quarter days so for locals work would go on their tab. There are several published examples of blacksmith account books from the first half of the 19th century (why we know that some American smiths would shoe horses as well as make all the rest of the stuff a community needed in iron!) I believe that there is a page listed in "To Forge Upset and Weld"---I'll check it out tonight. Meanwhile *where* are you setting this and what type of smith will they be?

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 02/25/02 18:30:26 GMT

Ditto Pete on the phos copper,you can also use phos bronze to weld copper to copper and also copper to iron.Works real good on galvanized iron without the spittin and sputtering,expensive tho.we are talking tig welding.
   Smitty - Monday, 02/25/02 19:55:44 GMT

I am looking for information on the SW Regionals being held at Dripping Springs Okla.
   Yvonne - Monday, 02/25/02 21:16:30 GMT

As common as a rivet set may be, they are very difficult to find. Do you know of any web sites that carry these?
   Steve Tyminski - Monday, 02/25/02 21:47:39 GMT

Paw-Paw, I called Steve Barringer at Mooresville about the N.C. JYH hammer you have.(I've posted a question on V Hammer-In and Steve covered most of the questions that I had) I'm now moving forward to build this hammer (or my version of it)and wonder if you could comment on some things I could improve on or stay of trouble before I get started. Thanks in advance G. Dahms A very nice day in N.E. Indiana
   Greg Dahms - Monday, 02/25/02 21:51:50 GMT

I've got a couple of suggestions.

1. Steve made the anvil out of a piece of 4" square tubing filled with sand. He was dealing with a time crunch, so I understand why he did it that way. But it's not a very good anvil, so the hammer has less impact per stroke than it could have. I plan to replace it with a piece of 8.5" solid steel. As a guidline, remember that weight is NOT the same thing as mass.

2. Steve also filled the main column with sand. This doesn't hurt anything, but I don't think it does any good either. It just makes the unit harder to move around. A piece of 6" "H" bean would work better, I think.

3. I'm not certain what the blows per minute rate is, but I do intend to speed it up a little bit, at some point in the future.

4. Steve didn't put a switch on the machine, it was just turned on and off by un-plugging it. He probably did that because of dealing with the time problem. I mounted a handy box and switch and wired them in. I like to have an emergency cut off switch fairly close to me when runing power tools.

I've been asked in e-mail to make a set of detail pictures, and will send them to the guru to post as soon as I get them finished.

   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 02/25/02 22:14:00 GMT

Paw-Paw Thanks for the note back! I just got a lenght of "9" dia. 429 ss billit for .10 per pound I plan to use 32" of the material (576#) for the anvil and about 12" of 6" round stock for the hammer (100#) is this the correct ratio of hammer to anvil (or close enought?) Thanks again Greg Dahms
   Greg Dahms - Monday, 02/25/02 22:24:13 GMT

I have just been given three 1kilo tins of bronze welding flux. I was wondering if i can be used for hammer welding mild steel. It say's its ok for welding mild steel and cast iron. Its a fine powder, pink in colour. Any idea's? cheers.....Alex
   Alex - Monday, 02/25/02 23:13:52 GMT

hello everybody, i am looking around for good places to get tool steel in my area, so i was wondering if anyone could give me websites or phone numbers of tool steel suppliers that are easily accessable from the new hampshire area.

   abe - Monday, 02/25/02 23:20:37 GMT

TOOL STEEL, If your southern New Hampshire you could try the Steel Shed in Bernardston Mass. They have a pretty good variety, also C.Liegh Morrel in West Brattleboro may have some around his shop. Great source for coal, equiptment and some advice. ( 802)-254-2400. The Shed's number is (413)-773-9601. Hope this helps Abe- scott
   wolfsmithy - Monday, 02/25/02 23:43:06 GMT

Steve Tyninski. csosborne.com manufactures rivet sets, and can probably refer you to a regional or local source. I believe "The Leather Factory" out of Ft. Worth, TX, carries them. They have retail outlets throughout the U.S. Flea markets are a good place to look.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/26/02 00:22:20 GMT


The "standard" or "ideal" ratio is figured to be 15 to 1. So for a hundred pound ram, you'd need 1500 pounds of anvil.

That said, I think you'll be OK, although more would be better, if you can find it at that same price.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 02/26/02 00:24:40 GMT

Myfinish consisting of equal parts of turpentine, boiled linseed oil and Johnson's Paste Wax--cooked in a double boiler until of uniform consistincy is much more 'runny' than the 'pasty' type finish we used in a course at the John C Campbell Folk School where Vance Baker was the Instructor.What should I do to my finish so that it closely resembles that used at the school? Thank you for your help in this matter..
   Jim LaRue - Tuesday, 02/26/02 00:49:18 GMT

Wax, Jim, The paste wax already has solvent in it. Normally this recipe uses beeswax that doesn't have solvent in it.

You are much better off just to buy liquid floor wax instead of trying to be a amature chemist. Or use bowling alley wax straight out of the can. You can hand rub on boiled linseed oil and let it dry but its slow. . . Whatever you do keep it simple. None of the wax finishes are long lasting rust protection so a lot of effort is a huge waste of time.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/26/02 01:52:17 GMT

thanks scott
   abe - Tuesday, 02/26/02 01:52:43 GMT

Add an equal part of bees wax. Shave to better disolve in the mix. Formulas I have seen also call for about a tablespoon of Japan dryer (source - art store). Apply to warm but not hot metal, when cool, buff with a cloth to remove excess.
   - Conner - Tuesday, 02/26/02 01:54:40 GMT

Hello again friends,

I would first like to thank everyone for recommendations on
getting started in blacksmithing.

I have been reading the documents on anvilfire and have a
couple of starting books on order from centaur forge.

However, my last question might have been overlooked.

What make and model of new anvils would you recommend for
a first anvil?

Buying a used one sounds like a good way to make a mistake
for a true beginner, even after reading anvilfire advice
on checking if an anvil is a good one.

As far as making one of my own, I will save that as a later
project. There are some features on a commercial anvil that
I believe I might need.

So, new, around 100 pounds more or less, can handle a wide
range of old-fashioned blacksmithing tasks including
firewelding, and hopefully affordable. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for everyone's help.
   - Taylor - Tuesday, 02/26/02 02:19:10 GMT


I for one would not advise you to buy a new anvil. Depending on where you are in the country, you should be able to buy a used anvil for 1/3 the cost of a new one.

Starting out, you're going to make mistakes, and whang the face of the anvil a few time. It happens to all of us on occasion, no matter how long we've been working. But it happened a LOT more often when we first started out. Which would you rather ding up, a $150 anvil, or a $700 dollar anvil?

Any anvil from the Mouse Hole Forge, any Peter Wright anvil, any Hay Budden anvil makes a good starting anvil. Wait to buy a new one until you NEED a new, larger anvil.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 02/26/02 03:34:04 GMT

hey taylor, did you get Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing? if not, you might want to check it out- i just got started a couple years ago and it has been really helpful.
p.s. what books did you order? could you tell me if they're good once you've got them? :)
   abe - Tuesday, 02/26/02 03:50:51 GMT

I'd have to agree with Paw Paw, not only will you ding up the anvil, but your friends will help ding it up by bashing the cross peen of the sledge about 1/2" to one side of the intended object! (Oh well, adds texture to the new anvil!)

HOWEVER, if I were short on opportunities and long on cold, hard cash, I sort of like the 130# Mankel that Centaur Forge has for $573 (ouch). Heavy enough for most beginning work (anything under an inch square- which is plenty enough when you're doing it solo) and with a large face in the American style. Also small enough to be reasonably portable. I think it's a good compromise for beginners.

However, that's just my opinion- different ships, different long splices.

G'night all.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/26/02 03:52:50 GMT

New anvils when bought from a reputable source are a very fine tool. The advertisers here that sell anvils all sell very good anvils. Many other places sell cast iron "Anvil Shaped Objects". They are doorstops. Ocassionaly folks will call them boat anchors but anchors mut be more than an ASO.

Good modern anvils are hardened and tempered cast or forged steel. Good old anvils are the same or have hard steel faces on a wrought iron body. All work. Except for the virgin finish old anvils are generaly as good as new.

Even beat to pieces old anvils are better than an ASO. I spent the past weekend teaching a bunch of Boy Scouts blacksmithing. I took two old VERY beat to pieces anvils. One is an 1850's English anvil missing the face starting at the hardy hole and is generaly rough. But it has good rebound. The other is an old Colonial era anvil with the horn broken off and the face actually worn through. These are two VERY sad looking old worn out anvils.

BUT they work just fine. Just as beautiful of work can be produced on these poor old anvils as on one with a bright shiney new finish. Its nice to have good anvils, and I do. But the quality of the work is in the craftsperson.

The heavier the better.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/26/02 03:57:47 GMT

Sorry, I am new to this site and not too computer savvy. My hubby is a Dutch Blacksmith (for 42 years) and has been living in Canada for the last 26 years. He is looking for a coal supplier to ship blacksmith coal here probably one ton. Can you put us in touch with a supplier?

Please e mail me with results.

Thank you. I may not be able to find this message board again.
   franny - Tuesday, 02/26/02 09:19:59 GMT

Please forward by e mail a coal supplier for approx. 1 ton of blacksmith coal.
   franny - Tuesday, 02/26/02 09:21:29 GMT

a tip to drill hard materials is to use a new sharp carbide bit (those cheap ones intended for drilling concrete)in a drillpress set at low rpm. then press down HARD.
btw the hole wil NOT be high precision or even all round (kind of a triangular oval) but it WILL make a hole in most steels even hardened.
btw it MUST be sharp or it will heat up until the brazing holding the carbide softens, if not use a proper weel to sharpen it.
hmm coolant is recomended anyway :-).
   OErjan - Tuesday, 02/26/02 09:36:25 GMT

Guru if i remember correctly the bond titanium to iron HAS been made under certain conditions, but NEVER in a forge. o do it you need CLEAN AND SMOOTH surfaces, NO oxygen, LOTS of preassure and time.
sadly temperature variations are likely to make the bond separate over time.
   OErjan - Tuesday, 02/26/02 10:06:24 GMT

Bronze Welding Flux: Never tried it myself, we always used borax or some sand scrapped off the side of a cliff behind the fort. Give it a shot and let everyone know how it works (definitely try it on scrap first though). I would think the bronze would give it a funky color, but who knows.

   Escher - Tuesday, 02/26/02 14:41:34 GMT

Pressure Welding There are many hi-tech applications where dissimilar mrtals are welded. It is done as mentioned on absolutely clean metal, usualy in a vacuume and with tremondously high pressures. Generaly these are very small welds.

The biggest problem with bonding a metal like titainium to steel is the differential thermal expansion. Do you know how a thermostat works? Two dissimilar metals bonded together. When the temperature changes a few degrees the bimetal strip flexes (a LOT). In bimetalic joints with different coefficients of expansion the part must stretch AND deflect OR the joint will seperate. The power of thermal expansion is often greater than the strength of the materials and must be carefully considered in bimetalic joints. Even carbon steel and stainless steel have different coeficients of expansion.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/26/02 15:50:00 GMT

Guru and all,

I was at Dan Boones this weekend (great fun!) and noticed that the face of his anvils are shiny and smooth. It had obviously been dressed some amount, and looked like it would work really well.

Since I have been reading here I have been leary of doing anything to my anvil, which is is pretty good shape, but I would really like to smooth out the surface a bit. Is this a bad idea? If not, what is the best method to achive good results without causing damage?


   - Jim - Tuesday, 02/26/02 15:57:00 GMT


You're going to get different opinions on this question, so here's mine. (grin)

I use a belt sander with 60 grit aluminan oxide grit. I let the sander just "ride" back and forth and from side to side on the anvil with no pressure, just the weight of the sander.

This gives a flat surface, and a smoother finish that you would expect with that coarse a paper.

Then I grab the 4 1/2" side grinder, put an 80 grit flap wheel on it, and polish the surface. Be careful not to lose the flatness by putting too much pressur on the grinder.

I use the same grinder and wheel to put a radius on the front 4 - 6 inches of the far side. I also use the same comibination to clean up and polish the table and horn.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 02/26/02 16:24:33 GMT

Anvil Faces: Jim, The best commonly available tool to use is a hand held belt sander. It also works well on the horn as long as you roll the sander and don't hold still. I use real coarse grit (80) on steel and it leaves a smooth finish. You can also use an angle grinder but unless you are VERY skilled at producing flat surfaces with one then don't use it for anything other than dressing edges and that mushroomed end on the horn. . .

If your anvil is heavily pitted then forget trying to make it perfect. Those pits may be 1/32 to 1/16" (about 1mm) deep. You really don't want to take that much material off the anvil face. Normally just removing the surface rust if one is heavily rusted is all you want to do.

Dan is a bit fanatical about the surface on his anvil. You may have also noted that his horn is dangerously sharp. But Dan also keeps his shop immaculately clean.

I have also had some folks that demonstrated on polished anvils complain about the work slipping. . . And one demonstrator at Dan's complained about the glare, making it hard to see the work. Its all what you are used to.

See my posting about the anvils I used this weekend. Trying to dress these poor sway backed old anvils to flat and smooth would ruin them (as well as take away their well deserved character).

The last time I dressed an anvil to a polish I immediately used brine to rust the surface then oiled the surface. It was going to rust anyway, so why not a controlled rust?

If you use your anvil daily the surface stays fairly bright. Currently I don't so I am forced to oil them or let them rust.

Not too long ago I saw a photo of an old anvil in use in a Europen shop. The face had cracked in the center of the anvil and with use it was becoming sloped to the middle with a very decided "V". It was a wonderful, large, ancient anvil. The face was polished from use. NOBODY there was dumb enough to consider "fixing" it.

The vast majority of anvils (leg vises, cones. . ) in existance average 100 years old. That means that none of us "own" these ancient tools. We are just temporary caretakers. On average they have had 4 "owners" and if WE don't screw them up they will have many more. THINK about it!

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/26/02 16:24:53 GMT


Belt, not paper, on the sander.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 02/26/02 16:25:13 GMT

I'm building a specialty forge for bending long sections of 1"x1". First I split a 18" long 10" diameter pipe that had 3/8" thick walls. Then I welded the two halves to gether to make a long trough. I then bolted the intake/exhause manifold off a old tractor to the bottom of the half-pipe and drilled holes in the pipe over the ports of the manifold. This ought to give me a long narrow fire with about a 2 foot long hot spot.

question: How would you repair a crack in the exhaust manifold so I don't waste my blast. Of course it's not critical that it be perfect or withstand pressure. I don't have a welder that can use nickle rod. Could I braze it or would you just use furnace cement?

Just for fun I'm going to hook it up to my air compressor and see how she fly. it ought to burn UP some coal. Come spring maybe we'll use it for a pig roast.

Oh by the way, the half pipe will be attached to the bottom of about 300 lbs of scrap that was part of a platform for some kind of an industrial generator.
   L.Sundstrom - Tuesday, 02/26/02 18:04:26 GMT

Old manifold: Larry, Brazing usualy works. However, on a heavy forge it may get hot enough to melt out if the crack is near the hot flange.

Unless this is a side blast, the manifold tubes are going to rapidly fill with coal and ash.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/26/02 18:27:16 GMT

It's probably about 30 degrees off the bottom center line, so I'm hoping that will help but you are right, its going to be a problem. My normal practice is to clean the fire-pot out every morning. I'm wondering if a good blast once a day with compressed air will clear the bilge. I don't have any experience with side blast. How deep into the firebox is the blast hole. Sense the easiest way to mount the manifold is to bolt it flush to the pipe, the holes would always be pointing the air up and towards the center line instead of down into the fire box. this was my concern when I tried to determine the placment of the manifold. Too high up on the pipe and the air is directed across the top of the fire. Too low and the manifold gets clogged up. Nothing's works for me without constant revision. Here we go again.
   L.Sundstrom - Tuesday, 02/26/02 20:15:03 GMT

All the side blast forges I have seen or used had the air nozzle just an inch or so above the bottom of the forge floor. Also the better ones had a bowl like depression about 3 - 4 in from the tip of the nozzle. And on the far side of the depression the 'lip' was about 3 in or so higher than the nozzle. If done correct the working area would be in that area.....
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/26/02 21:59:23 GMT

I wish to build a forge. I have 200 clean firebricks. They have been outside for years. I just covered them with a tarp. I want to build this forge on top of a stand made of 2 columns of 2 cement blocks each. On top of the cement blocks I will place .5"x 4" bars of steel which I have and will cut to length (They are used snow plow blades). I was thinking of using a .25" steel plate if I could find the right size for free. I plan to introduce the air pipe from the side. I will use one layer of bricks on the steel and a curb? of 2 bricks high on the perimeter. I pan to build a chimney on the back of the forge. All bricks will be laid without mortar. This forge will be outside. Do I have to worry about crackung the bricks? If so, how long do I have to wait for them to dry? I plan to use charcoal or possibly coal for fuel. One project is to melt brass to cast a 14" diameter sundial.
Sincerely, Theo
   Theophilos Kuliopulos - Tuesday, 02/26/02 22:40:22 GMT

Guru, I am trying to find a distributer to get minwax spar urethane which I use as a finish on my iron work. Can you give me any suggestions on how to find a wholesaler to get a better price on this? Thanks for your help. Betsy
   Betsy - Wednesday, 02/27/02 01:53:37 GMT

Wholesale Supplies: Betsy, To do that you need to go directly to the manufacturer. But I doubt that you will have much luck. Discount pricing is almost always based on quantity of purchase. In the 1980's most manufacturer's dropped out of the three tier distribution system. Wharehouses ceased to exist AND manufacturers stopped wharehousing inventory. Sound like an idiotic way to do business that is sure to end in failure? If so you are right. But so far it has mostly hurt small businesses and the big guys just keep shuffling their stock and manufacturing around to make it look like they are still healthy busineses. . . This is the NEW American system and it has hurt small manufacturers that would have normally gotten OEM pricing and increased the price of anything not produced in huge quantities.

It used to be that most goods were distributed through wholesale wharehouses. Some goods still are. But the majority of consumer goods now go directly from the manufacturer to the retailer. Min-wax products are now sold by large hardware chains and outfits like Lowes. To get a discount you will need to purchase large quantities of material and possibly contract for it in advance of it being manufactured.

But try the manufacturer. Eventualy you MAY be put in touch with a sales representitive. They may also have a professional sales office. Your other option is to find a replacement material that is made for professional use and possibly sold through the 3 tier system.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 04:30:32 GMT

Refractory Bricks Theophilos, Generaly these do not crack from heat but they do absorb moisture and need to dry before thsy are heated to high temperatures. Building without mortar will give the bricks room to expand and contract and reduce the chances of cracking.

I've found that forge bottoms should be built of bricks turned on edge (not flat). The thin direction is not enough insulation in many cases. I support them on bar grating and would reccomend vent holes in your bottom plate. As the bricks are heated they will liberate a lot of moisture as steam and liquid water. This moisture needs somewhere to go. The same moisture is more likely to cause cracking by freezing than from heating.

The first time you heat it up do so slowly. Maybe burn a fire for 20 minutes and then let it cool overnight before firing it up again. Plan on stacking bricks around the full height of your crucible and filling the space around it with fuel. This will also raise the necessary height of your intake for the chimney.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 04:41:42 GMT

Dear Mr Turley.
I hope I'm not wasting your time with a non technical request. But I'm on the hunt for the addresses of any forges or blacksmithing colleges in County Cork, Ireland.
If you could send some information I would be eternally gratefull.
Yours Hopefully.
Andy McGrath
   Andy McGrath - Wednesday, 02/27/02 13:17:54 GMT

Good Morning Guru(s)!

I'm working on a mechanical junkyard hammer and I have a couple of loaded questions for you. First, I'll give you the known specs of my hammer, which are based one the "junk" I've assembled ,then maybe you can give me some guidelines to determine the unknown specs.

2HP motor
flywheel RPM approx. 140
hammer mass approx. 50 lbs.
Type-Kinda like the Appalachian Power Hammer -Rusty.
Pretty stout spring for Rocker

So what I'm trying to figure out is the flywheel or Hammer stroke. Some of the junkyard hammers on anvilfire seem to have about a 6 or 7 inch stroke, but then I looked at some specs on the 50 lb. Little Giant and it has a max. stroke
of 11 inches. Also how much additional hammer movement should the spring allow beyond the actual stroke of the flywheel?

I know I've probably presented a difficult bunch of questions, and I don't expect you to design this thing for me, but any info at all would be appreciated.

Oh, one more thing. Does the rocker arm type design tend to want to flop around? It seems like it might. Just a feeling, you know?

Thanks, Guru!

Ed Opie

   Ed Opie - Wednesday, 02/27/02 14:30:28 GMT

Guru,could you tell how to make cat tales (weeds in a wetland area) for a small wall piece I was thinking of.Or could you point me in the diection for the info? Thanks
   johnFLH - Wednesday, 02/27/02 17:57:16 GMT

Spring Hammer: Ed, I'm afraid you are on your own here. I've looked at a lot of these hammers but never built one or done a design analysis. Spring dynamics are key to the operation of these hammers.

The "Little Rusty" is a 15 pound hammer or so. I see now where they have a heavier model. Larger spring helve hammers have much heavier stacked springs. Here is an image of a Swedish fjäderhammare (spring hammer).


Stroke is determined by the mechanism. Toggle linkage hammers such as the Little Giant have significant extra stroke both UP and DOWN and depend on the spring rate and RPM. The shock absorber JYH hammers have very little or no over travel thus need a longer stroke. I believe the spring helve does not have nearly as much over travel as the toggle linkage but it DOES have over travel. How much? THAT is the big question. The spring also needs to be stiff enough that the ram does not to "flop around" as you put it. Its all in the spring.

I would start with a copy of the "Rusty" plans if they still sell them.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:19:58 GMT

I've been looking around at gas forges and the Mankel name keeps coming up. Do you knkow anything about their forges?
Thanks, Patrick
   H. Patrick Thornton - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:32:00 GMT

Slack-Tub Pub registrations:

NOTICE: We have not been ignoring Pub registrations. For some reason the SendMail program has been broken and it has just come to my attention. We are working on the problem now.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:32:04 GMT

Cat Tails: John, These are normally forged from pipe or tubing. The ends are pinched shut using a fuller tool (See the Bill Epps Apple from Pipe iForge demo). This is done in the body of the pipe and then the extra is cut off. It is also possible to forge the stem from the pipe making it all one piece.

Be very careful when quenching pipe, the steam will blow out the far end and can scald you even if you are holding the pipe with tongs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:36:19 GMT

Guru Thank You for the help it is greatly appreciated!!!! Thanks Again! johnFLH
   johnFLH - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:39:14 GMT

Mankel manufactures a line of farriers tools and has been in business for quite a while. I have no experiance with their forges but I know a lot of them are in use.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 18:57:35 GMT

Theophilos Kuliopulos. As another point of information, my lump charcoal fueled forge is a steel pan lined with common firebrick. No mortar. My firepot is also lined with firebrick. I stack 6 by 12 inch firebrick on top to contain the fire and help direct the heat inward. My forge sits outside and is covered with a piece of plywood to keep most of the rain off. I have not had a problem with the brick cracking from heat or freezing (in Wisconsin) or with trapped moisture. However, there are many different fire brick formulae and densities and water absorption rates, so there are no guarantees. Work up heat slowly.
   Tony - Wednesday, 02/27/02 19:58:13 GMT

Ed Opie: Fjäderhammare/Springhammer- my hammer has stroke adjustment as well as height adjustment built in to the design. The pic I sent the Guru is from an old catalog and not detailed, but I invite anyone of you to get over here with a digital camera. Or buy one for me...

That might even lead to americans building mechanical hammers the swedish way, as they where meant to be (GRIN)!
   - Olle Andersson - Wednesday, 02/27/02 21:17:48 GMT

Does anyone have any details on double chambered bellows( my next project).If you by any chance have any cut away drawings of the 17th century type(weighted presure control) could you email me. Any help is greatly apreciated.
Incidently, the welding/ brazing flux seems to work, but only if used dry. My hammer welding isn't great but any mishaps can usually be bodged, i mean remedied with the trusty mig welder. Cheers Alex
   Alex - Wednesday, 02/27/02 21:20:05 GMT

Bellows, See article on 21st Century Page. I built these from the sketch in Bealers The Art of Blacksmithing with a few improvements of my own.

Also DeRe Metalica has details but they are of a style for power operation that most people no longer build.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/27/02 23:24:11 GMT


Thanks for the book info.

The ones I have on order are:

1) Basic Blacksmithing
Step-by-step instructions on how to make a round punch, hot chisel, cold chisel, tongs, fuller, hammer, axe, hoe, knife, sickle and more. Where possible, more than one method of making an item is shown and suitable scrap metal sources are listed. All the traditional designs and techniques are based on those used by rural blacksmiths. Item #: BK888

2) Beginning Blacksmithing:One Mississippi Journeyman's View If any of you are familiar with Robert Heath's style of basic writing and down-to-earth explanations of "how to" as in "How to Make Chain Mail" and "How to Make a Blacksmith's Bellows", you will be interested in this book. Heath covers ferrous metals, pattern welding and Damascus steel, making a Kentucky rifle, hardening and tempering, forging small tools, and many other topics. This book is even hand-bound! Excellent beginner's book. Item #: BK709
   - Taylor - Thursday, 02/28/02 00:33:54 GMT

I have started blacksmithing 6 months ago and im learning fast but info and tools are hard to come by. I have found an old anvil and I am trying to refurnish it and so far I have ground down the top with a right angle grinder and started building up the top with a 10011 welding rod and i need to know what kind of Hard Surface rod I Should us to put a good top layer on top my dad is very knowledgable in welding and he suggested a 2110 stoody becouse it makes a good cutting edge its not too hard and won't break so easy, but i need to know what makes a good anvil top and how I should temper it.
   Adam - Thursday, 02/28/02 03:00:48 GMT

Please advise. When purchasing a new double horn anvil, would you consider it necessary to ask the vendor in advance whether or not his anvils are true and flat across the face (horn to horn), or should one assume that they are just so? Are all the cast anvils being produced today held to certain high standards (given the amount of people now producing them) and what should that expected standard be? If an anvil dropped 3/4" from center to tip of round horn and again another 1/4" from center to tip of the other horn, would you consider these acceptable parameters?
   chris - Thursday, 02/28/02 03:29:14 GMT

Dear Sir:

I am a High School student who is doing a science fair project on Black Smithing. I have a question, what are the differences between 1018, 1045, and Stress Proof cold roll steel.
Thank you for your time.
Andy Denner
   Andy Denner - Thursday, 02/28/02 04:30:46 GMT

Good Guru;
It turned out that my homemade 5 HP belt ( 8"X72") sander didnt want to go 3 times as fast despite the rebuilt passive roller end...waaaah.
The driven end went way way astray. The creatively reshaped rubber boat bumpers that covered the driven roller reshaped themselves and the aluminum pipe layer underneath it. Seeing as there seems to be a shortage of boat bumpers here at the ankle of Mount Mars....mmmm
Can you direct me to a source for replacement rubber rollers? Google directed me to a place that makes just the right thing, but it was about $873 over budget...literally! I doubt that I have more than $200 in the machine ( my wife would point out that I'm not counting time ) Even an Anderson accountant might cry if the time had to be figured in.........so
Where might I find an 8" long by 5"-8" diameter rubber roller that can be had without feeling like I'd been had...er , rolled?
   Pete F - Thursday, 02/28/02 08:25:20 GMT

Pete, you might want to try
Beaumont Metal Works, Ltd.
362 E. Beaumont Rd. Columbus, Ohio 43214
Phone:(614) 263-5656
Fax: (614) 261-0094 on the web at "://" just add the http to the front
he makes a lot of custom belt grinder/ sander parts and his prices seem to be very reasonable.
but I think that the part you want made is going to be pricey no matter were you get it. it requires a good deal of work and a lot of materal.

   MP - Thursday, 02/28/02 08:53:28 GMT

I am writting from Australia, and am interested in setting up a forge. I would appriciate if you cold recommend some ggod books for beginners with no experience at all. Also a list of basic tools. Any contacts in Australia would be great.
thanks shane
   shane rynehart - Thursday, 02/28/02 12:41:04 GMT

For dimensioned drawings of a great bellows get Heath's book "How To Make A Blacksmith's Bellows", available for $5 at Centaur Forge. The order # is BK400. Their phone number is 800-666-9175.
   Neal Bullington - Thursday, 02/28/02 13:07:27 GMT

chris: sounds like something less than optimum.
It could be the heatreat that has made it bow shaped.

shane rynehart: try the link below for general geting started info.
Then try here for books: http://www.anvilfire.com/bookrev.htm
and I feel like adding: The complete modern blacksmith by Alexander G Weygers to the list of books.
And Anvilfire is a GREAT resourse in itself aswell. most things are right here. like I-Forge (127 projects step by step).
these forums, the Slack-tub pub chat...
several YEARS of archives, images, articles, stories...
   OErjan - Thursday, 02/28/02 13:56:24 GMT

A question about the anvil rebound testing method described in the 21st century section. If I hold the end of the hammer handle with fingers acting as a pivot, and drop the head 8 to 10 inches above the anvil, the head is going to describe an arc and either miss the anvil completely, or strike it with the edge of the head rather than the flat. Is this correct?
   Neal Bullington - Thursday, 02/28/02 14:24:04 GMT

Dear Guru and Olle Andersson-Thanks for the tips on the springhammer. I think I'll just build as many adjustments into the thing as I can and go from there. I just this minute thought of a clever way to make the stroke adjustable! Clever to me anyway.

   Ed Opie - Thursday, 02/28/02 14:30:39 GMT

Adam, You didn`t say how bad the anvil face was. If the face was all there and just chipped and dinged some you should have used it as it was. I`d say your first mistake was thinking your anvil needed fixing. Second mistake was welding on it, but by now you got to do something with it. Read the GURUs post on anvil faces last Tuesday (up about 30 posts) it really says it all! Good Luck!!
   Robert - Thursday, 02/28/02 15:04:25 GMT

Pete F. you may want to try conveyor vendors. Belt conveyor drive rollers are usually rubber covered. I have seen many about the size you are looking for. They might not be balanced for the speed you may be running, but they will have drive shaft and bearing provisions. Some are cast, but many are welded fabrications from pipe, discs and shafting. If not balanced well enough, should be able to have a balancer fix that. I'd be inclined to weld up my own and use a rubber sleeve of tractor inner tube and then have it balanced. One of the rollers needs to be crowned, but is your idler end crowned already?

One of those small diameter, wide utility trailer tires and wheels is probably too big at 12" ODish? They must be close to 8" wide.
   Tony - Thursday, 02/28/02 16:05:53 GMT

In lay-man's terms, how is metal made and can you pay close attention to machining and grinding?
   robert - Thursday, 02/28/02 16:33:16 GMT

Anvil Repair Adam, First question you should have asked is "Should this anvil be repaired?" Most of the time the answer is NO. Most anvils that people THINK need repairing just need a little light dressing with a grinder and a file.

Second, the 10011 may be hard enough as is. Hard facing rods are designed for abrasion resistance on rock crusher drums, earth moving equipment, NOT tool steel die repair.

Heat treating. First you need a big enough furnace to heat the entire thing, then you need a way to handle it as well as a large volume of flowing water. Anvil manufactures have a difficult enough time and the old steel faced wrought iron anvils often had the faces seperate from the stresses with one loud "pop" as the face went flying off. . .

Now the problem is that the face is whatever the original steel was plus the welding rod. Who knows how they will react to heat treating? Hard facing rods are generaly not heat treatable. If they are, then you need to get the recommendations from the manufacturer. Generaly they are used to build up a surface and it is used as-is after grinding and repairing the holes. Due to the brittleness these surfaces almost always end up covered with fine cracks.

   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 16:43:19 GMT

New Anvil Flattness: Chris, Even the worst cast iron ASO (anvil shapped object)or doorstop generaly have a flat machined surface that doesn't vary more than a few thousands of an inch. Some are machined before heat treating and some are ground afterward. In either case it is difficult to make a surface that is not flat with modern machinery. Heat treating may cause some warping but not so much that you could see it. Anvils made up to 1900 or so were often ground by hand working the anvil against large cylindrical grindstones. It was possible by that method to produce a smooth but out of flat surface.

Flatness aside, NO, not all cast anvils are made to the same specifications. The best are heat treated alloy steel that produces a very hard surface. Some are medium carbon and the makers will tell you they will "work harden". That is an excuse for bad materials or heat treating. The worst are cast iron ASO's.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 16:58:18 GMT

Steel Designations Andy, Find a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for specifics on steels. Your school library probably won't have one but your public library should in the reference section.

Plain carbon steels are designated by the SAE numbers 1018, 1020, 1060. . . The 1000 indicates a plain steel, one without alloying ingrediants. The 20, 40, 60 at the end is the percentage of carbon. 1018 has 0.18% carbon, 1060 has 0.60% carbon. The more carbon the more hardenable the steel. 1018-1020 is "mild steel" which is considered unhardenable for most purposes and is what most decorative and structural work is made from. 1030-1050 are medium carbon steels and are used for tools like wrenches and machine parts like shafting and gears. 1060-1095 are tool steels used for things that need to be hard or springy. This includes springs, edge tools and dies.

"Stress Proof" is a proprietary trade designation for heat treated steel. Other manufactures sell the steel as an "H" series like 1040H meaning the steel has been heat treated, either normalized or annealed so that it is ready to work.

There are many proprietary steel names and designations and they should be avoided whenever possible. The old SAE numbers have been adopted by ANSI and there are interchange numbers in the "Unified Number System". Many of these incorporate the old SAE number into the new longer number.

THEN, there are Japanese, English, German and European steel numbering systems. . . But in North America we use the ANSI-SAE system for most purposes.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 17:15:17 GMT

Guru, there haven't been any iForge demos in February. What happened? The iForge is my favorite site on the web.
A concerned student of forging,
   Rob Costellp - Thursday, 02/28/02 17:21:08 GMT

Metal? Machining? Robert, I'm afraid you are asking much too broad of questions.

Metal is extracted from ore (minerals) by various processes. Some use heat, some chemical and some electric arc, depending on the ore and metal. Afterward it may be processed by hammering, pressing or rolling to bar shaped.

Grinding has existed since before civilization. Many of the same basic mechanical techniques used to grind metals were used to grind native grains before men had metal. Its a VERY long history. Today grinding machines use synthetic abrasives (grit) as well as natural abrasives and even diamond powder. Modern machines are used to grind various shapes with extrodnary precision (millionths of an inch).

Machining has a shorter history but started with hand powered lathes originaly designed to work wood, ivory and bone. They were adapted to make small shafts and metal jewelry. These go back thousands of years depending on where in the world you are. True machine tools started to be developed in the 1300's in Europe but really took giant leaps in the 1800's. Between 1830 and 1900 almost all our basic machine tools were fully developed.

If you want to know about modern machine tools there are books about them in every library and articles in every encylopedia.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 17:45:39 GMT

iForge Demos: Rob, I had to cancel them for the month of February due to other work I needed to do. They will be back in March.

Speaking of which, we need more volunteer demonstrators for the iForge page.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 17:49:18 GMT

My beltgrinder is homemade. Works fine for my needs. 2 wheels, 2 x 48 belt. Wheels are scrap aluminium from a place that does machine work for a plastics plant. The driver wheel has a piece of baler belt glued to it. Spring tensioner and tracking device allow the belt to grab and function very well.
   - Steve O'Grady - Thursday, 02/28/02 18:16:51 GMT

Guru, looking forward to March! Thanks!
   Rob Costello - Thursday, 02/28/02 18:53:10 GMT

Where can I order a stamp to mark my work with my last name?

Also is the stamp used on hot or cold steel.....seems like stamping hot steel with a heat treated stamp would mess up the hardness.

   Gary - Thursday, 02/28/02 20:02:50 GMT

Stamps: Gary, Centaur Forge handles them. Generaly they are hard enough to stamp cold steel but a large stamp takes a huge amount of force. Single letters take as hard a blow as you feel is safe for a hand held tool but multi character ones take a blow from a sledge. So. . . . most are used hot by smiths.

Loss of temper would only be a problem if you were stamping a lot of parts consecutively or rested the punch on the work too long. Most are made of high alloy steels and are often air hardening. This means that their temper point is often 1000°F or so.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 21:35:47 GMT

Shane(Taylor too, maybe)
I have only been working for a couple years and i have had to refer to books frequently. The ones that have helped me the most are A Blacksmithing Primer, by Randy Mcdaniel, The Art of Blacksmithing, by Alex Bealer, The Complete Modern Blacksmith, by Alexander Weygers, and The New Edge of the Anvil, by Jack Andrews.
The only tools I had when I started were a forge, an anvil, a couple cross pien hammers(3.5lb,1.5lb,) and some pliers. This is the bare essential and not really enough, but i just started with that and worked up from there( cut-off hardie, tongs)One of the beauties of blacksmithing is that you can make your own tools as you need them.

   - abe - Thursday, 02/28/02 22:06:49 GMT

Pete F. Be very carefull with Big heavy things spinning way faster than they were designed for. Centrifical/unbalanced forces can be seriously deadly.....Bob
   bbeck - Thursday, 02/28/02 22:48:38 GMT

Anvil Flattness Revisited: The above was about new anvils which are as I mentioned, are normally as flat as most machined surfaces. On old used anvils, particularly old wrought iron bodied anvils, it is a different story.

It is not unusual to see anvils with a gentle sag or sway backed look. This is from years of use but most often from abuse (using sledges on too small an anvil). Many folks consider this slight curvature a terrible thing. However, when you go to straightening something, that gentle concave curve is much more useful than a flat surface. The clearance provided by the curve alows work to spring down and take a little bend when struck. But, on a flat surface there is no room for deflection and what usualy occurs is the part is dented and ends bend up from the center, rather than taking a gentle curve (or taking OUT a gentle curve).

I have used both flat and swayed anvils and HAVE both. You can make straight work on either. The flat anvil can be used as a reference surface but the swayed anvil can be used as a tool for straightening.

When I need to straighten something with a hammer I judge its straightness by eye. If it is severly bent I use the curved side or dish of a swage block IF the anvil I am using is flat. If it is something too heavy to straighten cold with a hammer, I use a hydraulic press AND judge the straightness by eye.

SO, if your old anvil has a little sway, don't sweat it. It may be more useful than a perfectly flat new anvil.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 23:00:26 GMT

ABANA Conflict: Apparently the ABANA conflict still simmers. Currently there is a letter circulating about the upcomming conference. Now certain board members are accusing another board member, who's chapters were thown out of ABANA, of not carrying their part of the load of organizing the upcoming conference. . .

The stupid thing is that the board decided host this conference instead of having a local chapter do it this time. Anyone that has gone to a conference knows there is a ton of work involved and the ABANA board, which is spread all over the country, has bitten off a huge job. I suspect the tempers to raise higher as the frustration level grows. I'm glad I don't work in the ABANA office!
   - guru - Thursday, 02/28/02 23:44:31 GMT

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