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 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Ron Holmberg,

I neglected to mention that Forgemaster forges are sold by Kayne and Son, one of Anvilfire's advertisers. If you check the advertiser's index and call Steve Kayne, he will undoubtedly give you any help and advice he can. The Kaynes are great folks.
   vicopper - Friday, 01/31/03 21:51:35 GMT

I'm new to blacksmithing and just purchased a used leg vice whereby the mounting plate indicates that it is a "Columbian Vice Manufacturing Company vice from Cleveland". My question is that on the inside of each throat of the jaws there is what I would describe as a mortice cut with a cross pin hole. It looks like a place for the attachment of some type of accessory. What are they for? Thank you for your answer to this question.
   Doug Peacock - Saturday, 02/01/03 00:43:52 GMT

Missfiring Forge: Ron, I have not used a forgemaster but the lack of pressure sounds like a possibility.

The other problem can be clogged orifices. Gas forges use small gas jets that vary from .030" (~.75mm) to .060" (~1.5 mm). Small amounts of debris can easily clog these small holes. One of the most common problems is strands of teflon tape. I love the stuff but you have to be VERY careful with it and some of our members will tell you to NEVER use it. .

A piece of tape flapping back and forth in the manifold could cause on then the other burner to burn more than the other. However, I too suspect that too low of pressure it the problem. Gas forges roar and semi transparent tongues of flame (dragon's breath) shoot out all the open vents when operating at the norm and definitely visible flame leaps from the vents when cranked up to "over capacity" which is sometimes needed to forge weld.

ALSO, small pressure gages are nortoriously inaccurate. Currently my high dollar welding reg and gage reads ZERO when a single burner unit it running at normal capacity. Plus or minus 3 to 5 PSI is not unusual. So an opperating range of 5 to 10 PSI can be anywhere from zero to 15 PSI.

Once a gas forge is at full heat you can often idle back (lower the pressure) considerably. But on a cold restart at such a low pressure the forge will sputter or "waffle".

   - guru - Saturday, 02/01/03 05:16:30 GMT

Forging Time and Swordmaking: A novice may spend days and MANY heats forging a long blade. A professional may do the same in a few hours. A professional with a good power hammer may do the job in a few minutes.

Not too long ago there was a fellow in the Southern US that was forging sword blades for the Asian market on a Nazel 3B. He forged out the blades less expensively and to a greater quality than could be done by cheap Asian labor. The forgings were shipped overseas, finished and fitted with furniture then returned to the US market. You may have seen thes for sale on "The Home Shopping Network" late at night. Big long blades selling for less than $75. Much prettier and better made than those "carbonated steel" things on eBay and for much less money (Also sold with a better but equaly phoney BS).

A friend of mine used to forge out big oversize "redneck" Bowie knives on his Nazel 1B in two or three heats and in less than 15 minutes. Forged using standard open die methods the blades were very clean and needed almost no grinding. They saved the knife maker so much work that the raw forgings were selling for $50 each. Typicaly 4 or 5 were made at a time. A nice days income in one hour.

In the same shop we had a guy come in and bug us about "how to forge a knife" every day for about a week. He was one of those that thought he knew it all and wouldn't pay attention to anything you told hime OR admit he had never made anything in his life. I got tired of the pestering (we were WORKING on a JOB) so one day I finally relented. I took a piece of 1/2" round, pointed and flattened to about 1/4" thick a length of about a foot in an easy heat under the Nazel 1B. Then I reheated and went to the anvil and put 5 nice S bends in the bar the hard way. Next heat went to the 1B for more flattening (to about 1/8") then tapering using a hand fuller. It was now about 1-1/8" wide. One last heat and I dressed the tapers a little better by hand on the horn of the anvil and made final adjustments to the curves. The piece was then clamped in a vise and the angle grinder slid over the surfaces to sharpen it up a little in a couple quick 2 second passes on each of the four surfaces of the diamond section criss. Total elapsed time, less than 10 minutes out of lunch break.

There were no more questions. I didn't expect any. Which was good, because I had lunch to go to and I didn't intend to answer any.

There are MANY lessons to be learned here. You can't beat a man at his own game. Never ask a professional how long it takes to do something and then expect to be able to do it yourself anything NEAR that time. Machines and experiance make a huge difference in competitiveness. Don't pester the guru or he may show you something that may permanently screw with your mind. . .

OBTW - That was only the second blade I had ever forged and the first criss or wavy blade. I even surprised myself. If you don't believe me, ask Paw-Paw. He has seen the blade in my shop.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/01/03 05:56:08 GMT

I have a used speedy forge model number f100a 5692 and I would like some info on it or would like to know where to get it... I think its missing some parts. Thanks
Jim S
   - Jim - Saturday, 02/01/03 14:51:32 GMT

"Jackhammer" bits will not make a good hammer. Why? A jackhammer bit has a hole down the center! I'm sure what was meant was a "paving breaker" bit. I just feel the need to point this out every once in a while, I know everyone calls them jackhammer bits anyway. A jackhammer (percussion drill) and a paving breaker sound the same, so they must BE the same thing, right?

OBTW: I was not the "Grant" who asked about twisting tube.
   - grant - Saturday, 02/01/03 17:45:42 GMT

Bad day at Bedrock, folks. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/01/03 15:13:19 GMT

Yes, Paw Paw. A sad morning indeed. Our prayers go out to all their family and friends.
   Zero - Saturday, 02/01/03 16:19:38 GMT

Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on the critical reentry stage of its flight this morning about 9am EST. Indeed a dark day and a reminder of just how dangerous space travel is. It is surprising that we have not had more of these but all the same it is sad. Reentry of the shuttle is a delicate balancing act fraught with danger EVERY time they return to Earth. 140 tons balanced on the head of a pin surrounded by instant destruction.

There is also the problem of meteorites. A pebble sized rock can destroy a satellite, depressurize the space station or do enough damage to the space shuttle to have caused this morning's disaster. So far, so good. Only the vastness of space has prevented more disasters.

And like the events of Apollo 13, we had again lapsed into complacency about space travel. At that time the national news media had stopped covering trips to the moon as no longer news worthy, or lacking entertainment value. Apollo 13 was very nearly a disaster. The crew was very lucky. But luck rarely favors space travelers. There are too many things that go from bad to complete disaster in an instant.

Let us not just honor those that have perished in the cause of space exploration, let us honor ALL those that risk their lives EVERY time they go into space for humankind.

   - guru - Saturday, 02/01/03 20:43:13 GMT

I just looked at my local paper and found out that twenty seven people have died in my neighborhood. Ranging from 46 to 96 years old, their occupations ranging from a seamstress to a marine. I did not see this on the front page, no it was hidden in the depths of the paper in a section called the obituaries. I find it disturbing that our society has made a mockery of the only day that our nation had that was dedicated towards the celebration of the people who had lost their lives in the past year. This day was all hollows eve. It began in Ireland and was a celebration before the harvest, for the dead. The only days that our society still deems nescessary for remembrance for the dead is those that are dedicated to the veterans who gave their lives for our freedom. I have a greater respect for the people who have given their lives for our freedom than any others. But, I value the life of any person, for each person is(or was) a hero to at least one person in their life.

This is not to disrespect the lives lost in Bedrock, but they were very aware of the risk and were using a technology that is not only absurd and retarted, but outdated. However they were attempting to advance the technology that our society holds sooooo dear and can not fathom living without.

I do not wish this post to upset any one out there, I just felt I had to put forth my disgust of the way in which our society raises those who have a name and fame into an overshadowing idol and diminishes the efforts that those who die each and every day have put forth to make up and maintain the population of our great country.

Oh, I just modified the grate on my fire pot from 5" deep to 2" deep. Now the fire grate is 7" x 7" and the top is 10" x 10". I took a piece of 1/8" plate and riddled it with 7/16" holes which I chamfered. This raised the "heart" of the fire to where it is easly used. The only problem is that the clinker forms in little ribons that like to break up into little chunks.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 02/01/03 20:38:32 GMT

Any tips on hot stamping/branding leather? and ways to reduce puckering?
   K. Graper - Saturday, 02/01/03 20:04:58 GMT

Caleb: I'll take my reply to your above statement over to the Hammer-in forum, so as not to clog the Guru page with my own feelings (i.e. could get long-winded).
   Zero - Saturday, 02/01/03 20:52:04 GMT

Columbian Vise: Doug, I've never seen it on a blacksmiths vise but it sounds like sockets for toothed pipe jaws. Later bench vises had a smilar arrangement. A rectangular hole under each jaw. A roll pin held the toothed jaws in. I've had several bench vises that had the place for the pipe jaws put no jaws. They were either extra and not purchased OR taken out and lost.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/01/03 21:15:26 GMT

Speedy Forge: Jim I have never heard of that name/brand.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/01/03 21:17:06 GMT

old dog, if you still have the wrought iron anvil, i would very much like to see a pic of the bottom...thanks
   rugg - Saturday, 02/01/03 22:34:30 GMT

K. Graper, Branding leather. As far as I know, applying red hot iron to tooling grade cowhide is going to cause charring and puckering. Most leather craftspersons stamp their work while the metal is damp with a custom made stamp at ambient temperature. If you want it to look like a brand, you may have to do a faux brand by grooving the leather and then dyeing it. Also, when creasing by depressing the leather near the edge as on a belt, some leather workers heat the "creaser" slightly over an alcohol lamp flame. This gives a darker burnished look than if the tool were not heated. An electric wood burning kit is another option. If you already have a brand, try stamping it at a just below a black heat. A black heat shows a little red color in the dark, but not in ordinary daylight.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/01/03 23:45:28 GMT

Branding leather: done lots of boots and belts at scout camp. Thicker, smooth leather is easier than thin suede, and is best done at a black heat. Judging the heat, test on a piece of scrap or pine first, smoke is a bad sign. Surface charring is enough. The brand needs enough mass to hold heat. Small logos or initials can be reverse cut into a thick brass bar or disk, then handled like an old soldering iron.
   John McPherson - Sunday, 02/02/03 02:34:18 GMT

K.Graper, I make an Texan historical brand every year for Texas Folklife Featival and brand a fellow who is a mater of cerimones. His name is "professor Katzinjammer". He wears letterhousen. To keep the brand from puckering the leather I make sure the brand is not over heated like they said above (a black heat), and I also dampen the spot where I wish to brand and have no problems. Ok, OK, I put a folded rag or a oven mitt between the leather and his bottom. The professor is a Professor of history and has written several books about Texas history. His name is Robert Thonhoff if you would like to check out some of his writings. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Sunday, 02/02/03 03:52:12 GMT

I,m doing a project in Bäckedals Folkhögskola (in Sweden)about Viking age steel artefacts. I made a copy of "Mastermyr fynd" (Viking age tool kit found from Sweden)file, which i carbonized by using the method introduced by Teophilus (10th c. monk, In book Called "On various arts"). Carbonizing with fat and skin covered with clay went well (and took only 7 minutes, not hours). As I have understood, this is very primitive way of producing steel (has been in use in the beginnings of European Iron age).
The other method which i'm trying now is to melt iron throug coal layers to produce full steel. This method i have taken from 18th c. norwegian manuscript, but i have understood that is has been in use long time (maybe from iron age, but I don't have any research about it).
My question is about literature. Does anybody have any clue about clear books or research about prehistoric and medieval steel production? About the practical ways of producing steel before the "masugns" came in late medieval period. Or is it a forgot area in literature lying between practical blacksmithing and archaeological research?
Thank you, if you have any hints for me...
/Toni Turunen
   Toni Turunen - Sunday, 02/02/03 17:27:36 GMT


Interpretations of the words "coal" and "charcoal" can be misleading. I suspect the original reference was to charcoal which was the predominant fuel in Norway.

Also "iron" and "cast iron" get confused. Is the process you're talking about adding or removing carbon? Damn hard (not impossible) to melt iron.

The "carbonizing" you did was probably very shallow. Regardless of the material used, only time will allow the carbon to migrate very deep.

Can't help you with the research, Good Luck.

OBTW: My mother came from Tronhiem.
   - grant - Sunday, 02/02/03 18:42:28 GMT

Toni Turunen. H.H. Coghlan and others have put together a fairly good work titled, "Notes on Prehistoric and Early Iron in the Old World", 2nd Ed., University of Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum, 1977. There are diagrams of furnaces, photos of artifacts, and a section on the blacksmith's tools.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/02/03 19:30:13 GMT

Stumbled across this story, might be good for the Stories page. Little actual blacksmithing, but a lot of history. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/barrett/menu.html Weather is too nice to stay inside, see ya later.
   John McPherson - Sunday, 02/02/03 19:47:13 GMT

Files: Guru, I have been using a motley collection of assorted files from industrial giants like India and China. At a flea market, I purchased a good (new) Nicholson file. The difference is amazing! Perhaps FSO's (File Shaped Objects) would be another good topic for discussion here or on the FAQ page. What makes a good file? What is the purpose of the various cuts? What is the effect of length on smoothness of the finish? How should files be stored? How many different things can I forge my FSO's into?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/02/03 20:29:37 GMT

Grant: The coal what I'm using is tree coal. With iron I mean soft iron (having coal about 0,15%) and it melts without bigger problems. Carbonizing what I did to the file was prehistoric. It doesn't have to be deep layer (maybe 0,5mm) and it is enough to harden the teeths of the file.
   - Toni Turunen - Sunday, 02/02/03 21:34:28 GMT

Terms: Toni, In North America and most other English speaking places (I think).

charcoal = tree coal (made from wood)

coal = mineral coal, anthracite, bituminius

coke = cooked coal (volitiles cooked off).

mild steel = soft iron with 0.15% carbon

carburizing = carbonizing

wrought iron = iron with no carbon, with silicate

Generaly melting iron in a fire bed of coke or charcoal produces cast iron unlesss the atmosphere is very carefully controled.

Melting of low carbon iron to make steel was usualy done in a crucible or sealed container of some type. There were many processes. "Wootz" steel from India was made by one of the crucible processes but it was made by a decarbonization process of cast iron. Others melted wrought iron and cast iron to produce a mixture that was reduced in carbon sufficiently to be used as tool steel.

Japanese smiths make steel by highly carburizing wrought iron and melting it in their forge. The lump of crude steel that collects in the bottom of the forge is too high in carbon to be useful. The lump is broken up and then forged into a wrought iron bar, mechanicaly "mixing" the two until it is almost a uniform steel. I have known smiths that produced a steel by similar methods skipping the first step by using scrap cast iron. Broken pieces of cast iron was welded into a wrought iron bar which was cut an laminated many times until nearly uniform.

Much has been written on these subjects but much has also been lost. There are people all over the world trying to reproduce old methods and fill in the lost details.

See "The Rockbridge Bloomery" on our links page.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/02/03 22:35:17 GMT

Files: QC, we have a collection of bits and pieces developing into a files FAQ. The problem is that much of the information submitted is still protected by copyright.

Cheap files are made of cheap steel under poor quality control (dull cutters, marginal heat treating. The differences are the same as in all cutting tools. The best drill bits are made from the best cobalt HSS, processed to produce a fine black oxide finish and very carefully heat treated samples from every batch tested. The cutting of the bit has clearance on the flutes and tapering of the web at the point. Often all of these details are absent in cheap drill bits. In fact they are often missing in "not so cheap" bits. First class bits from Consolidated are less expensive than many poor quality hardware store brand bits.

At one time American manufacturers made the worlds finest small tools (bits, milling cutters, arbors, chucks) bar none. Some of the small specialized companies that made these produces still produces the BEST. That includes companies like Nicholson and Morse (both now owned by the Cooper group), Jacobs chucks, L.S. Starett and Brown & Sharpe. Of the products these companies make I will have NONE OTHER in my shop. But as conglomates such as Copper and American Tools buy up these "small" companies and squeeze for more profits I worry about the future of their products. Nicholson has cut way back on the variety of their product and I do not like the NEW B&S tools.

NOTE: I DO know that there are some very fine makers of this class of tools in Europe and other places, Sandivik of Sweden being one. But the American makers listed above are the ones I prefer.

Cheap tools cost you time and money in the long run.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/02/03 23:12:40 GMT

I recently made (machined) two hammers. A 32oz. rounding/diagonal peen out of S-7. Hardened and tempered to 52Rc. This one works great - nice balance, rebound and feel. A engineer friend told me about a "wonderful" steel which was used to make large hot trip hammers. He said it was A-9 got me a piece to try. I am not familiar with hot work steels and when I ask about heat treating he said it just work hardened and he has no idea of how to heat treat it. I checked with my local distributer but they don't carry A-9. So,I made a 46oz. square hammer, sort of like a stone masons hammer. I did not harden it, hoping it would be ok. It has a good balance and ok feel but NO rebound - it's dead (and hard on my arm). I would appreciate some advise - do I continue to use it and hope it gets better or do I heat treat it and if so does anyone know how? Thanks !
   ray - Monday, 02/03/03 00:53:43 GMT

I need a punch to put eyes on iron figures. Can you tell me where I might to buy one? Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Monday, 02/03/03 01:29:35 GMT

Ray, Crucible Steel has some info on A9: www.crucibleservice.com/eselector/prodbyapp/tooldie/crua9.html
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/03/03 01:30:10 GMT

I like Nicholson files, but the finest files made anywhere, in my opinion, are Grobet. Expensive, yes. Worth it? Aboslutely! I have a #6 cut 10" Grobet crossing file that is 25 years old, has been used on blessed near everything, and is still in fine shape. NO other file equals it. For any files other than rough cut, I always buy Grobet. For rough cut, Nicholson is fine.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/03/03 01:30:29 GMT

I want to start blacksmithing for part-time enjoyment. Can you tell me where to start looking for good used equipment? I don't want to jump in and buy a pile of new stuff and find out I don't have what it takes and end up at the flea market trying to convince some schlub he would be a great smither and needs to get his start with me. Thanks
   Rick - Monday, 02/03/03 01:59:47 GMT


Where do you get Grobe files? I've never heard of them.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 02:35:48 GMT

Grobet, durn it!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 02:36:03 GMT


Most of the smiths I know make their own eye punches. To see what one looks like, go to your local hardware store and look at a Stanley nail set. Notice the rounded depression in the business end. An eye punch is essentially the same concept, just bigger. You can make one by forging, (preferred for a smith), grinding, drilling. I make mine out of worn out center punches and drift punches and don't worry too much about heat treating, just quench after every use.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/03/03 02:47:05 GMT


Try Rio Grande Supply or any big industrial supply house. Try these for starters:


They're simply the best I've ever used.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/03/03 02:50:56 GMT


Almost forgot this. Here's a link that will show you every file that Grobet/Vallorbe makes. About 4,000 different ones. That should keep you occupied for a while and make you drool, too.

   vicopper - Monday, 02/03/03 03:01:19 GMT

Paw Paw & Guru & others, thanks for the tip on high temp silicone caulk under my anvil. I finished the steel stand for it today and moved it from the garage to the patio, next to the new forge I finished yesterday. I laid down a thick layer of the silicone caulk under it, and it took the ring away, but the anvil still has wonderful rebound. For those who helped in identifying my Hay Budden, when I moved it today (with neighbor help) I weighed it, and it was 202# actual weight. Haven't found a serial number yet, but there is an inspector number of 7 under the horn, to left of the handling hole. Thanks all! What a wonderful site this is.
   Ellen - Monday, 02/03/03 03:09:23 GMT

Eye Punch: Betsy, Do you need it for hot or cold stamping? For hot work they are not very hard to make. See our iForge demo # titled Matrix Punches and Touchmarks.

Hot work punches do not need to be very hard to work so the material and heat treating are not critical. If the punch is to be used for cold stamping then it needs to be made of a good grade of tool steel like S-7 and carefully hardened and tempered. Folks that make touchmarks like Grant Sarver can so a fine job from your art work.

One way to do-it-yourself is to take an old letter punch and carefully grind the end flat, then use small grinding wheels on a Dremel tool to cut the impression.

Another method for hot work is to paint the design on using lacquer (finger nail polish will work) then etch. You can use Chlorox bleach to etch with.

If you still need someone to make it for you I'm sure one or more of the guys here will give it a shot.
   - guru - Monday, 02/03/03 03:16:28 GMT


Thanks, I just ordered their catalog. I went straight to Grobet, it's usually best to go to the manufacturer if possible. But I'll find out if they have a distributor in my area, too. I check the second link too, though I haven't done so yet.

Ellen, did you fasten it down too?

   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 03:29:20 GMT

Finding Equipment: Rick,

See our Getting Started article.

See our 21st century page series on anvils.

See our iForge page articles on making tools Demo's #9, #41, #45, #48, #49, #57, #65, #86, #88, #93, #98, #99, #114, #118, #121, #122, #125, #129, #130, #132, #143, #144, #154.

See our plans page.

See our advertisers pages (you CAN buy it all NEW).

   - guru - Monday, 02/03/03 03:34:06 GMT

Not yet Paw Paw, just got it the anvil in place about 6pmish and called it quits after a long busy weekend of cutting, bending, welding, etc. I did design the anvil stand to make tightening it extremely easy. Stand and forge came out pretty nice to my eye, will get some pix and post them in a few days. Haven't built a fire in the forge yet. Too tired! Thanks again!
   Ellen - Monday, 02/03/03 04:29:15 GMT

Files and Rasps
Grobet Suisse-Vallorbe makes excellent high quality files and rifflers (die sinker and pattern maker), silversmith rifflers, clockmaker and locksmith files, etc. etc.
Sadly, they drastically reduced their selection about 25 years ago. The reason is that making patterns by subtractive material removal has been superceded, by additive methods (like sputtering buildup etc.). The demand went south and Grobet had to respond.
I was lucky to discover that Leonard Lee of Lee Valley tools had bought a large stock of the discontinued rifflers, files etc. He was selling them at drastically reduced prices, and he eventually reduced the prices again to move the rest of the stock. (I got many at 85% off). The supply is long gone. (about 20 years ago). I am afraid that many of those rifflers, etc. may never be made again.
I bought as much of them as I could afford and a good deal more. (I wished I had had the $ to buy one of each, sigh)But I made out alright.
Some of the very finest rasps (especially cabinet maker's rasps), are manufactured by a French (or maybe Swiss), company named Auriou (the spelling may be slightly incorrect). They are still available, but the prices are really steep. The rasps are hand cut and irregularly so, to make for really excellent tools. (probably the best in the World.) I could never afford them and I cannot justify their expence today. (I am not a master cabinst maker, I canrarely get two wood pieces to fit together at a 90 degree angle! so I sculpt free hand instead).
Look up Auriou and have a feast for the eyes. Wear a bib, though, to protect your good shirt and trousers from drool.
Regards to all from the G.W.N.
   slag - Monday, 02/03/03 04:35:10 GMT

I understand the too tired part, all too well! (wry grin)

Glad to help.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 04:35:20 GMT

Files: I recently had a chance to see a film of a file cutter making files by hand. It was actually surprisingly fast. The fellow hand cut files for about 50 years in an English factory. Watching him work made a lot of sense of those funny looking file cutter's hammers. I would like to setup a file cutting bench and tools to try my hand at it some time.

One interesting fact was that they used to make coarse files very heavy. When they became dull they were annealed, the teeth ground off and new teeth cut. Files would be recycled this way four or five times.

I have a very expensive set of large rasp and file cut riflers made by one of the major European makers and purchased through Garrett-Wade many years ago. They are pretty much worthless. I've made better by bending standard rat tail and triangular files.

Worn out files often have good sections that didn't get worn. Standard half round files tend to have a section of the curved side near the tang that rarely gets worn. I've made several "spoon" files by bending the still sharp "butt" end of the file and cutting off the extra. A hemi-spherical file is a really handy tool if you do wood working.

EDM is what replaced all that hand work in die making and has reduced the variety of available files.

I do not know if Nicholson patternmaker's rasps are hand cut but for the ~$50 price eash they may be. The teeth are cut in a shell pattern that keeps from from being in straight lines like standard rasps. The result is an aggressive cut that leaves a finish that only requires a light sanding to remove rasp marks. Wonderful tools. After 20 years of occasional patternmaking and building a few musical instruments they are no longer sharp.

Worn files and rasps have been a source of tool steel for blacksmiths for many years. A couple years ago at an NC-ABANA meet there was a tool collector that had dozens of tools made from old files and rasps. Punches, hammers, chisles, axes, draw knives. Many of the tools you would not have been able to tell that they were made by laminating files to make a heavy mass except that they had broken and part of the weld failed exposing file teeth INSIDE the tool. I have a small hammer that I suspect was made this way except that the steel had been drawn down and relaminated several times so that the layers appear to only be about 1/64" (.4mm )

Files used for non-ferrous work should be segragated from those used on steel. Once a file has been used on stel it is just a little dull. Softer materials need files with crisp new edges.
   - guru - Monday, 02/03/03 06:57:38 GMT

For CoSIRA / The Rural Development Agency (RDA) / The Countryside Agency, from April 1 2000 (yes that old) try these:-

Tel (0870) 120 6466
Fax (0870) 120 6467
Beware 0870 is a UK special rate code, free I think, I have no idea how it will work with international direct dial, but there is web site which was running 10 mins ago.


If anyone wants the postal address, ask

   Nigel - Monday, 02/03/03 10:19:47 GMT


MANY thanks!

Folks, follow the chain through the publications link on the site Nigel gave above, and you will find the blacksmithing books that are mentioned so often. The prices are not cheap, but they are reasonable. Example, THE BLACKSMITH'S CRAFT first published in 1952 and re-printed in 1997 is 14.95 GBP.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 13:12:03 GMT


Sorry about the nomiclature error. The bits that I have are definetely "pavement breakers" they are 1.125" cross section octagons approx 12" long with a collar forged into them about 5" down from one end. There are no holes in these things and there is nothing hollow about them.

The steel is hard and tough. A hacksaw will bearly mark them and they are a real bear to forge. The die grinder thows beautiful fuzzy sparks from them.

Who ever broke them must have using them on the local (NH) granite.
   Stephen G - Monday, 02/03/03 14:07:15 GMT

Grobet: MSC (Manhattan Supply Company) also sells Grobet files.

I bought some cheap India files from Whorbor Fright a while back to play with knife forging. They were very hard. Worked quite well as a file until they broke. But I wouldn’t expect the next batch to be any good. And now I get used Nicholson and Grobet files from work. Much more consistent under the hammer.
   - Tony - Monday, 02/03/03 15:32:22 GMT


Minor thing of no real importance anyway. Can You tell what brand the tool is? Different manufacturers use different steels and I can give you a little help if I know what brand it is. Regardless, it should be fine for making all sorts of tools.
   - grant - Monday, 02/03/03 15:32:44 GMT

Steel Making; Toni:

I'll post some information on a Danish book that some of my crew gave me as a gift when I get home to my library tonight. It may have some more useful information for you.

Eye Punches; Betsy:

I short-cut on VICopper's advice is to just glom some nail sets at your local flea market, used tool store or (wince) buy them new. I clamp the ones I reserve for hot work into a modified pair of Vise Grips (r) with a V-jaw and wonk the eyeballs in. (It helps to pre-punch (cold) the pupil or otherwise mark the location with soapstone so you can get the eyeballs on straight, mostly.) Cool often. I usually segregate the ones used for hot and cold work, since they will heat up quickly and draw the temper. These nail sets can also be modified for eyebrows and other shapes with a tad of grinding and filing. I keep my eye out for them whenever I'm toshing through the tool bins. Very useful.

Another tool that I've used for this operation is "Atli's Two Eyes With One Blow" tongs. My friends have blessed me with a number of farrier's nippers and pull-offs over the years. Since I'm not a farrier (which takes a true talent with animals and I know my limitations ;-) I have modified one pair by annealing, cutting and grinding them down to leave about 1/4" between the closed jaws, punching/drilling in the pupils and filing/grinding away anything that doesn't look like eyes on both sides. These are used for "side-eyed" animals, such as fish, and other beasties. To use them I heat the head to a yellow, gab it with the ATEWOB tongs, lay the bottom of the tongs on the anvil and give it a good wonk with a medium hammer.

(Hmmm, does this sound like another possible iForge demo?)

Sunny and warmer on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/03/03 15:34:44 GMT

CoSIRA, RDA, TCA: Note that I made Nigel's link hot.

Also please note that our advertiser Artisan Ideas sells many of these titles and you don't need to deal overseas so costs MAY be a little lower.
   - guru - Monday, 02/03/03 15:51:07 GMT

Dear Guru
I have an odd question. Can't find info off the net of libraries in South Africa. No book shops carry pertinent books. Can u maybe help out at all?
I have an antique cast iron stove. Very ornate. Want to find out what it's worth and how to find out circa and origin. Any ideas for me would be a great help.
Thanx. Beryl
   Beryl - Monday, 02/03/03 17:16:35 GMT

ellen, can you make out the serial number on your HB?? does it begin with "A". just curious. you too will develope an anvil fetish if you get "anvils in america". and IAM very curious about the smithin coke from kaynes. i have posted comments on this three times and i guess no one has tried it or knows anything about it. i have not yet constructed my coal forge, but i do have the hood and fire pot. hope to have it done in a few months, until then, the forgmaster will do.

i spoke to steve kayne before i got the forgemaster. we also discussed the dual "input" valve, one per burner. this does not effect the mixture, at least that is what i believe. i didnt know enough at the time to ask him about the air/fuel mixtures and how to optimize this, how to attain a welding heat, ect..i wonder if forgemaster could or would comment. i would like to get a welding heat in a more reducing atmosphere on occasion. anyone with advice is welcome to share it.

JPPW, i borrowed "the blacksmith's craft" from the library, several times. hope to own the whole series one day. hammer of choice during the demos was a ball pein.
   - rugg - Monday, 02/03/03 18:00:31 GMT

Toni may I commend to your attention the archeological Metallurgy mailing list as a
place to ask such questions to people who are actively researching this sort of thing!


Note this is an academic list for people doing research, our talented Guru is a much better source of info for smithing type questions!

Thomas Powers (I've smelted my own iron from ore using Y1K techniques and a lot of Theophilus' techniques from "Divers Arts".)

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 02/03/03 18:19:08 GMT

Hi Rugg, where on the anvil would the serial number be? Looks like there could be some more info under the name on the waist, need to wire brush it stome more......thx!
   Ellen - Monday, 02/03/03 18:33:30 GMT


No markings on these things at all. I haven't tried to heat treat one yet but I assume they are some type that wants an oil quench. I'm going to cut a piece and try it before I do the hammer.

I'm planning on quenching the face, then the cross pien then allowing the heat from the center of the hammer head to temper the face and pien.

Sound like a plan?
   Stephen G - Monday, 02/03/03 19:27:51 GMT


The serial number will be on the front of the anvil, under the horn. On the vertical portion, not the flat portion. You might have the best luck by scrubbing it with a scotch brite pad and then doing a rubbing.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 19:34:16 GMT

Thanks Paw Paw, will do tonite after work, also fasten it down tightly? Grin!
   Ellen - Monday, 02/03/03 19:43:56 GMT


Sounds like a good plan. Most of the bits you run into will respond well to oil quench. Actually most will do O.K. in water too, but oil is always safer and should be fine for what you want.
   - grant - Monday, 02/03/03 19:48:03 GMT


That should do it. Do the same thing to the side where the logo is, while you are at it. A rubbing shows up a lot more than the naked eye will see. Nake EYE, I said, not naked I. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 20:43:11 GMT


And lest you think I have totally lost my mind, check out:

   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 21:32:49 GMT

Amazing! Are any of us that young and thin?
   Ellen - Monday, 02/03/03 21:47:12 GMT

I'll be meeting with a rather acomplished restoration blacksmith from Denmark tomorrow, and likely working with him for a while over the next few weeks. I'll pick his brain of course, every way I can, short of outright draconian methods that would damage him. (grin) I'll do my best to compile a "dictionary" of Danish blacksmithing terms to include on this site. Other than that, does anybody have any specific questions I should ask him, or things I should try to get him to show me? Feel free to email me or post your questions. I'll try to get him to set up an evening and get him into the Pub for a couple of hours, too. I'll let you know what I come up with.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/03/03 21:56:39 GMT

I have a question on steel designations (probably a dumb one!) I have recently acquired a 17th Edn of Machinery's Handbook (1966). Looking at the steels section, I find lots of tables and text talking about SAE 1060, 5160, etc, and similar but sometimes subtly different AISI number. However, I can't find mention of O-1, W-2 and the like.

Were these designations introduced later? Have I just missed them in my book? Any clues?


   minglis - Monday, 02/03/03 22:58:05 GMT


I know I'm not!


Nice One! I can't think of anything at the moment, but will holler if I do.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/03/03 23:02:26 GMT

Antique Stove: Beryl, I'm not sure where to send you. Antique collectors items are not my field. As smiths we deal with a lot of antique tools AS TOOLS but all bets are off when they become collectors items.

Dover books carries a lot of odd antique references and so does Shiffer Books. You might also try our advertiser Artisan Ideas. They handle a variety of books on antiques.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's there were thousands of foundries making wood and coal stoves. Localy (to me) Lynchburg Foundry (part of Intermet until closed down) made wood stove castings for Sears and Roebuck and several other companies. They probably made millions of them and shipped them all over the world. In the 1960's they scraped all the old patterns and now very little is known of the history of the products they produced.

In your case the stove was just as likely to have been made in England or Europe as anywhere else. Books found in in the US on the subject probably do not cover European manufacturers because there was no need to import cast iron products that we supplied ourselves with very well.
   - guru - Monday, 02/03/03 23:12:19 GMT

Betsy, I made my eye punch by taking a pice of 1/2" round spring steel center pucnhed a dimple in the middle of the end face. Next I took a ball baring the size I wanted my eye, then heated the tip of the punch to a yellow heat and drove it over the ball baring. Then after cooled I ground it to shape. Then heat treat.
   triw - Tuesday, 02/04/03 00:09:33 GMT

Naked Blacksmithing: Anyone who would depict a naked blacksmith wielding a large hammer over an anvil at waist height has never been in a smithy! Why, just the though of the spray of hot scale is enough to send shivers down my spine...
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 02/04/03 00:53:36 GMT

ellen, have to yeild to gruru PPW, but i think you will find something on the "front foot", like PP said. also, what does the bottom look like? i am assuming that you saw it before you calked it in..

grant(OC), (the grant that did NOT ask how to twist tube material) are any of your gas forges that forge weld of the venturi design? the higher the line pressure, the higher the gas velocity AND air velocity?? is it possible to "tune" a venturi gas forge??? how can you make a venturi forge get to a welding temp??? thanks!!
   - rugg - Tuesday, 02/04/03 01:12:06 GMT

Rugg: I saw in your reply to Ellen something about smithin' coke from Kayne's. I use it and love it, but I've obviously missed your questions in the past. Try again and I'll see what I can do to supply you with an answer.
   eander4 - Tuesday, 02/04/03 04:45:18 GMT

Minglis. The four and five digit numbers indicate "standard steels", and the letter/number designations indicate specific tool steels. Look up "tool steels" in Machinery's index.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/04/03 13:20:01 GMT

A2, O1, W1, H13: Minglis, I'm not sure when these designations came about but YES they did come after your 17th Edition. My 18th edition doesn't have them either. But they ARE in a 20th Edition. Anyone have a 19th to check?
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/04/03 13:54:00 GMT

Toni; Steel Making:

A book that I recently received as a gift from some of the crew may touch on direct steel making as part of the bloomery process. (Lord knows they were doing the ins and outs of the process, right into the 19th century as you mentioned.) Early Iron Production - Archaeology, Technology and Experiments; edited by Lars Chr. Norbach [No/rbach] (Technical Report Nr. 3 1997; (c) 1997 Historical-Archaeological Experimental Centre, Lejre, and authors; Narayana Press, Gylling, Denmark; ISBN 87-87567-40-7, ISSN 0909-4148.) [Thomas: interested in a selected copy?]

For a thumbnail sketch of a traditional Japanese steelmaking technique the best book that I've come accross is The Craft of the Japanese Sword by Leon and Hiroko Kapp and Yoshindo Yoshihara (1987, 1990; LoC 86-45725; ISBN 0-87011-798-X). It's presently in print, and is frequently advertised in knife making magazines on this side of the pond.

Basically, steel making in a direct bloomery process is a matter of how long you "cook" the bloom, at what temperature and with what amount of charcoal in the initial processing. The first experimental Catalan style bloomery that they built at Williamsburg back in the '80s or early '90s managed to produce some steel to form some chisels, thus reproducing Capt. John Smith's first go at it in the New World at Jamestown.

I'm curious as to whether bits and pieces of scrap wrought iron, rather than being faggoted back together for re-use, weren't recycled through the bloomeries for "steeling". Seems to be a workable concept and more efficient than feeding it through a goose. Might make an interesting experiment.

Dark, rainy and warmer on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/04/03 13:41:44 GMT

Stephan G and S3...

I thought that most breakerbits were made of S series steels and that most of those are AIR hardening. They are fairly durable steels, obviously, but it is safer and you will likely get better results if you air harden the tools you make out of bits. If you have a gas forge you can try to anneal it just stick the whole bit in the forge get it up to a red heat and then shut off the forge with the door closed and let it cool overnight. If you are using a coal forge same process, just you will likely anneal a smaller area. (The gas forge has an advantage with so much waste heat:-) It is still a bear to move, but it will be easier, just not as easy as mild steel (or it seems that way:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:02:56 GMT

Atli; but of course! I was perusing my copy of "Medieval Iron in Society" papers given at the 1985 Symposium in Norberg and found a large listing of appropriate works in the bibliographies of the papers---many of them in scandanavian languages. The conference was put on by the "Swedish Ironmasters' Association" "Jernkontoret" and that may provide a good source of infomation on sources as well.

Iron scrap into a bloomery might not work real well as it might be prone to increase bridging and then form high C lumps in the bloom---probably more efficient to just make blister steel from it.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:06:06 GMT

Thanks from your information Bruce. I managed to got hold to the "Early iron production" book just yesterday. Interesting question this steel making. Making steel in direct bloomery has probably been the most used method, but it seems to be still quite a mystery in practise. But there is also other "primitive" methods to produce steel, which I have been trying´: Carbonizing steel (only surface) with the information of Theophilus. And Ole Evenstad (1782, in English Jensen 1968?) description of melting iron in smithy to steel. I have been trying this method last two days. It worked, but it takes a lot of char coal and work to produce small amounts of steel. No wonder if people earlier laminated sparingly steel to their tools and weapons.
   - Toni Turunen - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:13:22 GMT

Free tool steel identification: take that for wha it is worth:-)

O-# Oil hardening tool steel
W-# Water hardening tool steel
S-# Shockresistant? tool steel, air hardening
H-# Hotworking? tool steel, air hardening
A-# Airhardening? tool steel. over used and confussing:-)
D-# Airhardening tool steel

Often times you can do a websearch and it will yield heat treating and hot working temperatures and processes. Just another good reason to buy new steel for tools, you can request the info sheet on the steel from your supplier. You can also farm out the heat treating the odd steels if you really want it to go right the first time, or you can just wing it like most of us do. (Awe that looks like 1450 degrees, whip it out of the forge and lay on some scrap steel to elevate it off the welding table, and then ignore it till it is cool enough to temper:-)

Course this free and advice and likely to be worth what you paid for it... So do your research with something reliable:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:19:06 GMT

I have been comissioned to make a bearded throwing ax. howeever I can't seem to find decent pictures or plans for a bearded ax. Any information would be welcome.
   888 - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:31:34 GMT

QC, re China, etc files. They are close to worthless. Too much sulpher. One of our members forged a drawknife as a demo & it kept crumbling - had to forge @ a red heat. He had no problems with USA files.

KAYNE & SON - Met Mr Kayne @ conference in Barberville, Fla. Nice gentleman. Has really good prices on new post vises. Some fine hammers and Off Center tongs etc that even I could afford....
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/04/03 14:34:51 GMT

Confusion of Processes, Terms: I'm watching a film about processing and rolling wrought iron at Bliss Hill in England. Great film but there are little but serious technical errors. The film says they are MAKING wrought iron. In fact they are just recycling old wrought. "The piles of old wrought are heated in the puddling furnace". In fact it is NOT a puddling furnace unless iron is melted and carbon burnt out. They were just reheating, not puddling.

Another film I have recently seen the steel making was described as melting iron in a crucible with charcoal. Perhaps they simplified for the non-technical but is was still wrong.

Imagine how confused future techo-historians will be seeing these films from some distant future and thinking that the people of the time when these things were being filmed MUST have known what they were talking about. But appear wrong logicaly and technicaly.

Then consider the errors that definitely exist in early writen descriptions where there was no science or previous technology to guide the writer who was getting much of the information second hand from others who also did not know exactly what was going on . . . only that what they did, worked.

The difference between forging and casting is still confused by many. Tolkein wrote that the "rings of power were forged" and the recent movie has this naration over top of images of casting. Tolkein knew better. Most people should but do not.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/04/03 16:10:25 GMT

S3?? hammer

Why do I get the feeling this is going to be harder (pun intended) than it sounded?

I'll try to get it cut tonight, then I'll see if it air hardens and post a report.
   Stephen G - Tuesday, 02/04/03 17:00:04 GMT

Guru, cite on the Blist Hill WI film? I was there when they were siting in the steam hammers and would love to see them in use.

Sources: evaluating sources is always a fun deal, did they actually see what was done? Did they actually *do* it? Is the description poetic or allegorical, were steps skipped? Were they lied to to keep "trade secrets" or to impress them?

And then there is the translation issues--does the translator *know* both the language *and* the metallurgy---a rare and valuable talent indeed! (not to mention how many times it has been copied and translated before---remember the game "telephone"?

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 02/04/03 17:08:55 GMT


NO breaker bits that I have had tested were S series. I've made millions of them from 8630 under the APEX brand name. Brunner & Lay are a modified 1045, Most other brands are 1078 or 9260. Some of the little chipper chisels are made from S-1 and S-2. Recent Vulcan bits are 1541 I believe. The breaker bits sell VERY cheap, no one can afford to use fancy steels. No air hardening steels are used to the best of my knowledge. Most of these alloys will not get very hard by air quenching.
   - grant - Tuesday, 02/04/03 17:14:59 GMT


Good information.

You can also add:

T-# Tungsten High Speed steel
M-# Molybdenum High Speed steel
P-# Mold Steels

OBTW: 1450 ain't near high enough for air hardening steels, most are quenched from 1850 to as much as 2250.
   - grant - Tuesday, 02/04/03 17:25:48 GMT

Hi All; I am a goldsmith and menuki designer; I used to be a tool and die maker. My Dad has an old buffalo forge(coal) and I want to start making some katana length blades; I will be using 1095 and W2 steel for water quenching, satanitie clay for temper or Harmon line. What I really want to know; is what is the best method for a natural gas forge; for the length I am wanting. I have seen many on the web; but does anyone have a detailed drawing od one that will incorporate natural gas and give me the length I need. If there is a cost for such drawings I am willing to buy them; but I want one I can use and build. I have state HVAC license so working with the volitale fuels does not scare me; just makes me respect them more :) Any help would be much appreciated.

Dana M. Reynolds, csmg
   Dana Reynolds - Tuesday, 02/04/03 18:57:09 GMT

I am in the midst of assembling the stuff to build a natural gas forge. I have had the pleasure of using other people’s professional units as well as a couple of self-builts. I have a copy of a burner design that I pulled from the web, some time back. It is called the BAM burner. I like the flat design. I have searched for more information on its performance but it seems to have disappeared from any of the places I usually search. There is a non-functional URL on Ron Reil’s page. He doesn’t have much information on low-pressure natural gas forges. I have a copy of the round pipe burner design but want more info on the BAM burner. Is there anyone out there using this design? Does this design have some sort of fault? I need some of that famous help that is always available on this site.
   Mr. Bill - Tuesday, 02/04/03 19:04:08 GMT

Now you've lost me.

I understand that the first digit is a "general" allow type (ie 1xxx carbon, 2xxx nickel steel etc) and the last 2 digits are points of carbon (1095 carbon steel 0.95% carbon)

So what does the 2nd digit mean? I take it that 8630 is a Nickel, Chromium and Molybdenum steel with 30 points of carbon, but what does the "6" stand for?
   Stephen G - Tuesday, 02/04/03 20:01:33 GMT

RE FILES --I got to see a German Television special that visited several sites in Germany and among them was one called the Bremacher Hammer Museum at a town called Ludenscheid which is a little east of Dusseldorf. It had a whole lot of tooling typical of smithing and early iron tool manufacturing, but best of all was that they had a smith demonstrating file making and I got the impression that this had been his specialty. Watching him work was an education. He sat at a bench and held the file that he was cutting in place with a leather strap that went over the file blank down to his foot for tension. That was his vise or workholder. He really worked fast. No time at all spent figuring out where to place the tool and strike. It was great to see someone making files with so little equipment, just skill.
   JOHN M. - Tuesday, 02/04/03 21:17:10 GMT

Stephen G., The second digit generally, but not always, gives the approximate amount of the major alloying element. In the case of 8630, I believe it would be nickel [0.40/0.70].
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/04/03 21:28:14 GMT

I am looking for a school or training program in Iowa where I can go to learn Blacksmithing techniques such as "drop forging" but I'm not having any luck finding them. Are their any schools/ training program that teaches this in Iowa? If so, please tell me where so that I can contact them. Thank you.
   Kgipson - Tuesday, 02/04/03 21:36:59 GMT

Gas Forge Plans: Dana, the reason you do not find detailed plans is libility issues. See our plans page and the "stupid gas burner" there are links to Ron Reil's page.

The late type burner designs using MIG tip for gas orifices are the best. I've recently built several with my own mods and they have worked flawlessly the first time. I am using a 1/8 pipe to 1/4" tube fitting to hold the MIG tip.

For forging long blades a standard length forg works. You cannot handle a long limp spaghetti like blade and forge it. You work in sections.

Heat treating is different but doesn't need as high a temperature. Many folks build long tubular forges with multiple burners with seperate valve. They block off the part they are not using with bricks or a piece of kaowool.

Most forges are built for propane but by using a slightly larger orifice you can use NG.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/04/03 22:59:16 GMT

Drop Forging School Kgipson, I doubt if there ever was a school that taught drop forging other than as an engineering subject. For hands on training on big hammers you went to work for a forge shop.

There are two type of drop hammer operation. Open die forging and closed die forging. The basics of open die forging are the same as manual hand forging and in the industry is often called "hand forging". On large pieces several workers will help manipulate the work balanced on a jib crane, one or more will hold long handled tooling in place, a "driver" will run the hammer and the blacksmith will direct the work. This is a team effort. You learn this work by starting at the bottom rung as a laborer handling the work, sweeping off scale and lubricating the dies. People move up as others are worn out, quit or are injured.

Closed die forging is production work. A couple hours training and you are now part of the machinery. If fact, robot manipulators are replacing many drop hammer operators. 99.9% of all forging jobs are production forging.

Many of the blacksmiths schools have small power hammers where one man open die forging is performed. I cannot remember ever seeing a listing for classes specificaly on the hammer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/04/03 23:12:18 GMT

Kgipson, About the closest you're going to get to drop forging techniques without going through an industrual apprenticeship, is to rent or buy[?] videos of Clifton Ralph working. Mr. Ralph spent most of his adult life doing large forgings. After retiring, he made 5 videos which are quite elucidating. My search engine found that the California Blacksmitha Association and the Rocky Mountain Smiths have them for rent. Perhaps other places as well.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/05/03 00:43:58 GMT

I live on the north pacific coast and the environment is real harsh on forged mild steel. I'm re-painting every 4 or 5 years. I was just talking with a fellow who is working on ships and he mentioned a product that they use around rusted metals and fresh metals to keep it from rusting it is called CORROSEAL Rust Converter. Has anybody tried this product,how is its application, is the resulting cover real thick, as is usually the case with marine type of paints. Has anybody got a good painting formula for bare mild steel exterior forge work (large gates)that stands up to this ocean air and need not be applied so thick that it hides so much of the forged appeal. I be real greatful for any information.
   Heinz - Wednesday, 02/05/03 01:41:12 GMT


Check out:

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/05/03 01:56:48 GMT

Heinz, I do a lot of work in the San Francisco Bay Area know for FOG. I zinc plate most outdoor work at a company in Oakland called E.D. Coats. Very reasonable, durable and it does not hide forged work as it is only a 4 mil thick coating. Much better than hot dip galvanizing at about the same cost I then paint with lasting results. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Wednesday, 02/05/03 03:26:11 GMT

S3 and one more reason to doubt any list that says "They use xxxx for yyyy." I had the metalurgist that gave me the S3 say that it was most commonly used for jackhammer bits, and other high impact applications. He has given me some cool steels (all of them a real bear to forge by hand:-) and is alway dutifully impressed by what I make out of them. The high chromium tool steel for spring applications was a real bear, you hit it and it just laughed at you and called you a girlyman. I turned two pieces into coronel socketed lance points:-) My wife held it down while I beat it into submission. Got to love a woman who is a decent striker, and can hold the steel on the same place on the anvil while you waylay it with a 6# crosspein helper sledge:-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 02/05/03 04:25:07 GMT

Hello all Been takeing Black Smithing class for a year now. Ive acquired a hand cranked blower now in working order but no name on it just Tiger cast on the mount.Most I've seen stood on a single tube but this one looks like it had four legs maybe angle iron shaped? Can some one help with who made it and a picture of what the legs looked like?
   Rob. Fitterling - Wednesday, 02/05/03 04:30:00 GMT

Hi Dana, I would suggest you go to "www.livelyknives.com" and check out his gas forge he uses for his knives. JWGBHF.

Hi Paw-Paw, question whens the nest chapter in " Revolutinary Blacksmith 1776" JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 02/05/03 05:06:04 GMT


Just as soon as I finish struggling with it. I may run a month late getting book III going, but I'm trying hard not to.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/05/03 05:13:10 GMT

We all think it's worth waiting for Paw Paw..
And the struggle can be half the fun....(G
Finally got to drill an 1 1/2" hole in 5/8 plate with the "new", older than I am, drill press... and it came out real round!!!Golly, an adult drillpress!
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 02/05/03 08:51:14 GMT


After I burned the grease off of the breakers in the forge I found some markings:


?????lavare Extra AC5 in a script font on the other

   Stephen G - Wednesday, 02/05/03 12:25:55 GMT

Rust Converters: Heinz, Rust converters do not cure the problems of rust from an initial bad finish. They are a cheap make-do.

Constant repainting generally indicates that the initial paint job was applied over scale, dirt, rust, weld flux or WORSE coal plating. If you use coal to forge with it plates cool areas of long bars. The coal plating is not stable nor does paint stick to it well. No paint job is better than the surface it is applied to.

Note that coal plating and welding flux (arc and forge) are hydroscopic, they absorb water from the air (THROUGH PAINT) and then expand causing the paint to flake. Then the process continues with water trapped under the paint. By the time it is noticed there is a big rust pit in a hard to get to location.

If you bought a new truck and had to repaint in 4 or five years you would be really upset. Automobile finishes typicaly last 15 or 20 years unless it is a flawed process (like water based clear coat) or there is mechanical damage. Even after 20 years rust is usualy not the problem but just a faded dull finish.

There is nothing magic about auto finishes. They are just PAINT over steel. However, they start with CLEAN steel. I recommend sandblasting iron work. Then the plate used for most autobodies is phophated but some is zinc coated and the better truck bodies are all galvanized. So either paint with pure zinc powder paint OR have the work galvanized. THEN apply either a neutral primer over zinc paint OR an etching primer over cleaned and aged zinc. Over those two layers apply a hard coat of whatever finish you chose. Many brushing enamels hold up fine.

The zinc paint or galvanizing acts as a sacrificial annode anywhere the paint is nicked and should prevent serious rust until the top coat can be repaired. The type of zinc paint you want is used for "cold galvanizing". It is zinc powder in a very light (low percentage) carrier. So called "zinc rich" and zinc compound primers are no better than any other top coat.

The neutral primer chemicaly isolates the zinc from the top coat AND it is usualy some color (red oxide) that lets you see that the work is fully covered. The top coat protects the other coatings from water and mechanical damage.

Many smiths put a great deal of effort into producing finely crafted metal work and then when it comes time to paint just sweep it off with a broom and slop on a coat of black enamel. . . Often there was no money in the bid for a proper paint job. Good paint is expensive but it is not as costly as ones reputation.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/05/03 12:56:31 GMT

i am constructing a gas forge similar to the ABANA recouperative forge anyway, i need to purchase small quantities of refractory board. could you steer me in the right direction? thank you for your help with this matter and all other inquiries! Aaron from Indiana
   Aaron - Wednesday, 02/05/03 14:44:13 GMT

I beleive anvilfire sells refractory board on the store page.
Anvilfires prices are as good as I have seen anywheres else and delivery is prompt

   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/05/03 16:21:04 GMT


Well, what can I say? I manufactured the one that says APEX ALLOY. The other one is "Delaware Extra" made by Delsteel of Wilmington, Delaware. The first one IS 8630 (similar to 4140 'cept it has some nickel in it), the second is 1078 steel.


I'm sure your metalurgist "thinks" that is true and may have read it somewhere, but it just ain't so. What field does he work in? What does he base that statement on? I've been in the breaker steel manufacturing business for fifteen years. I've used 8630 to produce millions of bits. I've had spectrographic analysis done on every one of my competitors bits and have NEVER seen a case where any "S" series was ever used. OBTW: The tool steel manufacturers that offer S-1, S-2, S-5 and S-7 don't even list an S-3, I can't imagine where you'd even get it, seems to be obsolete. As I said before, some "S" series is used in the little chipper and scaling chisels, mostly for hot work or gummit spec.
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/05/03 16:47:47 GMT


I'm not trying to beat up on you. I agree that many lists that say xxxx steel is used to make yyyy are suspect because they are often based on antecdotal and assumed information. My information is based on years of first-hand knowledge. I have bought, forged and heat treated many millions of pounds of the product under discussion. I have also bid on bits for hundreds of government agencies who specify in detail what steel is to be used and have never seen S-3 specified. While in many cases I would defer to a metalurgist's knowledge, in this case my experience and intimate first-hand knowledge takes precedence. Otherwise it's a little like telling me that my eyes are brown based on scientific genetic prediction, when I know darn well they are blue.
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/05/03 17:49:29 GMT


Thanks for your help. Since these are all hot forging steels that will oil harden it looks like I'm in buisness.

I'm sorry to say, some turkey broke the crap out of one of your bits!
   Stephen G - Wednesday, 02/05/03 18:10:31 GMT

There's refractory board on the store page!? Where? Is this new? I was just looking there a month or two back and didn't see it. Did I miss something? Still haven't bought any and the project is still to come, so I'd be interested...

   Steve A - Wednesday, 02/05/03 18:14:39 GMT


You would not believe the abuse I've seen of bits over the years. Rare to see them broken though. Good luck!

The "thank you" is always appreciated. Too often I never know if the person even got the info.

Let us know how it turns out.
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/05/03 18:29:21 GMT

Rob. Fitterling:

I was meandering through Ebay, saw this Tiger blower and thought of you ( http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3206081933&category=13869). It has a decent picture to look at. Hope this helps!

   eander4 - Wednesday, 02/05/03 18:57:12 GMT

Thanks for the reply PawPaw. I really look forward to the next chapters in the book. Wish I could help. A faithful,and grateful reader. Thanks again for the response. JWGBHF.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 02/05/03 19:28:31 GMT

Refractory Board: It is mentioned on the Kaowool page but I have not yet stocked any. The grade that is available to me is pretty pricey stuff (expensive inventory). I was supposed to do something on it last week but I am still hemming and hawing. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/05/03 19:31:39 GMT

Grant, I have a question. When dressing a pavement breaker, say a point, it is my understanding that the entire tool is hardened and tempered at the factory, not just the business end. When dressing a used point, Delsteel, for one, recommends taking a short heat and forging as quickly as possible, and then hardening with a very short heat. If a guy takes a long heat and takes his time, the heat will conduct a good ways up the shank. Then when the point is hardened, the breaker will break in two while being used, maybe 4 to 6 inches above the point...because the original temper is ruined??

Way back in the 1960s, I visited Pitt's Blacksmithing Service in downtown L.A., and if memory serves, he was dressing used points every morning. He had a sink with a drippy water pipe mounted horizontally over it, many holes along it's length. I think he pointed the bits hot with the power hammer, the tips being heated in a long, trenchy Johnson[?] Forge, open at the top. After forging with the short heat, he laid them on the sink so the the points were just beyond the dripping water. I think the idea was to prevent heat from running up the shank. Then later on, after cooling and when time permitted, he would harden the points, one after the other. Make sense?? Early senile dementia sets in.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/05/03 20:13:56 GMT


You've really hit the nail on the head when it comes to dressing tools. The system described sounds pretty good to keep the heat from migrating up the shank. Many successfull sharpeners take a very short heat, forge with a large hammer (because part of what you're forging ain't very hot), quickly grind, and quench in oil. Long heats and letting the tool air cool can cause problems. What ever you do, the heat treat will be a little screwed up somewhere. Quenching off the forging heat is rarely reccomended, but in this case it seems to stem other problems. "Necessity is the mother of compromise".
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/05/03 20:56:18 GMT

Economics of Compromise: Its the price for sharpening bits that drives the compromise. Typical is about $2.50 each and has been for a very long time. A smith with a BIG hammer (say a Nazel 3B) can make a very good living at it if he hustles. But there is no room in that price for a full heat treat. Heat treaters usualy charge by the pound and the prices I have heard would more than double the cost. The customer could insist if he wanted to pay but if you insisted then the guy down the street doing it for half the price will get the job.

I've seen quite a few broken bits. It takes serious abuse and is usualy not from their designed use. Chain anchorage or handling points in large pieces of hard rock is a typical bit breaker application. Roll that 10 ton block of granite over and watch the bit break as it slams into more rock. Anti-skid pins set into bedrock to hold back a big overloaded track hoe is another. . . The THINGS that go on in construction sites!
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/05/03 22:04:58 GMT

Don't get on the construction guys TOO much. Often times, the prime contractor has failed to specify what equipment is to be on site. Then when you NEED a backhoe, you're probably working with a Bobcat! The equipment is overloaded for the work it is trying to do. That's abuse of the equipment of course, but theres not a darn thing the crew can do but abuse it. You don't get paid unless the work gets done!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/05/03 22:09:48 GMT

If you watch just one snazzy new trackhoe roll down a hillside, you quickly decide that any number of bent anchor pins is a small price to pay for insurance. BTDT

I've been a subcontractor on lots of jobs where the general didn't adequately specify the parameters. The first time it happened, I got a relatively cheap lesson and never again took on a job that I, personally, didn't visit the site and see what I was up against. Nothing teaches you quite like driving a 100' skyhook crane five hours on crappy roads only to discover that you need a 120' to do the job. I was young enough then that I actually, for a minute, considered welding a jib boom on the end of the stick just to do the job, to help out the general who was on a delay clause penalty already. Reason stepped in and I went back for the big crane.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/05/03 22:31:18 GMT

Grant not problem, I am more than willing to admit I am wrong. You are the one with the first hand experience. My freind was working in quality control at Inland Steel I believe, and is a wealth of information trivial and sublime, but we are all miss-informed sometimes:-) It is amazing how even in this age of advanced technology most of what is "common knowledge" is pure fancy and heresay:-) I will cast an even more jaundiced eye at any junksteel list that I see, and try to buy new when I can afford to:-)

By the way what do you make your slitting chisels out of? and do you know what Peddinghaus makes theirs out of? I had someone tell me they were just highcarbon, but I thought they were actually a hotwork steel? (I was probably wrong again, the really good stuff probably is too expensive to use and keep the price down enough to be profitable.) At 11$ or whatever they are, they are a great deal and no blacksmith should be without one:-) (course I can't find mine in the shop:-)

Thanks for the info, I would rather be wrong and learn the truth than continue in my ignorance unaware that I was contributing to the missinformation.
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 02/05/03 22:51:02 GMT


   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/05/03 23:23:08 GMT


Never mind, the light finally dawned. Been There, Done That. Duh! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/05/03 23:29:17 GMT

venturi gas forges, like forgemaster:
1)can you "tune" them?? if so, how??
2)is it possible to get to a welding heat? if so, how?
thanks long in advance...

"eander4": is it easier to weld with the smithin coke?? no clinker, correct?? will you ever use any kind of coal again if the coke is available??

   - rugg - Wednesday, 02/05/03 23:35:46 GMT

Stupid Crane Tricks: VI, I never saw a crane that wasn't pushed to the overload condition almost every time it was used. We constantly had problems in the nuclear biz with portable cranes. The operator would say, "yeah, yeah its good for thirty tons. . ." RIGHT! With the boom straight UP and the load bumping against the chassis. . . But move out a foot or two? No way. I would always end up pointing out the load chart on the side of the cab that derated the machine to 1/4 or less with the boom at 45°. We would have a big huge Grove rated at position for five tons and we had a eight ton part. . And usualy we REALLY needed to be able to walk with the load with the boom straight out to get in a doorway (30'). It is SO easy to tip over one of those machines.

One crew "humped" the machine into the shop while we wern't there. . lift, tip, drop, advance, lift, tip, drop advance. . . Had to replace some huge VERY expensive bearings in a brand new million dollar machine. When they started giving us guff about the bearings I asked which crane they used to move the machine (we already knew). When they pointed out the machine, we told them exactly what they did. A bunch of red faced good 'ole boys didn't have anything to say about it after that.

The other problem we always had was guys doing rigging that didn't undstand that lifting tangent to a horizontal sling creates infinite force. . . briefly, until the sling stretches. OR that any sling angle less than 60° required derating and 45° some serious thought.

VI, You are indeed lucky you backed off that one. I've worked with some pretty bright guys that took crane operators and rigging safety courses annualy for YEARS and still didn't know when something LOOKED wrong it usualy was, or that understood why you don't hook to the middle of that horizontal binding chain to lift. . .

Yeah, WE DID need that high school geometry when we grew up. . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/05/03 23:37:35 GMT


What you say is very true. I turned away lots of jobs becuase someone didn't understand about derating for angle or poor substrate for the outriggers. I've seen an awful lot of sign cranes with cable that looked like something unraveled from a worn out sweater, too. And always used over the stick limits.

Rigging is an art that very few people understand. I'm certain that most crane accidents can probably be traced back to unsafe rigging. It would seem that none of the operators or helpers I saw had been through high school geometry, judging from what they thought would work in the way of rigging and slinging loads. Always trying to shorten the sling to make up for too little stick and then acting surprised when a load shifted, or a sling popped.

High lines are another issue. I've turned down jobs becau the electrocution potential was too high, only to have another operator take the job and get killed, in one case. Totally stupid and avoidable. I only turned down the job because the utility company wasn't available to re-route the lines while I swung the sign, and the customer didn't want to wait one day. So somebody dies for their greed and stupidity. I try to think of it as "evolution in action."

I'm fortunate, I guess, that rigging always seemed to come naturally to me. At least I survived a number of years of it...
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/06/03 01:36:27 GMT


I don't at present make a slit chisel, but I would want to use an "S" series for that.

Strange as it may sound, I've been proven wrong on a couple things I was almost 100% of.
   - grant - Thursday, 02/06/03 03:21:20 GMT

In answer to you questions:
1. It does seem to get hotter and it gets there faster, but I've seen no discernable difference in terms of forge welding. I fear my skills at this task may be the limiting factor :)
3. I really like the coke because my neighbor/landlord is entirely too close, and I don't want to cheese him off with a lot of nasty sulfur-laden smoke on top of the hammering, which is probably already pushing the limits. It also seems to be easier on my throat and hopefully, my skin (does anybody else out there get a rash after summer forging or am I just a 280 lb. wussie?). As such I'll probably use coke whenever I have it, definitely while I'm still renting. Having said that, the coal that Steve Kayne carries is by far the best and cleanest I've ever used, so I wouldn't have any problem switching back if the wind would just cooperate while I'm working or if I worked indoors with appropriate venting.
   eander4 - Thursday, 02/06/03 04:52:47 GMT


Set up a fan to blow the smoke away from you. That's what I used to do before I got the hooded forge that I use now. I used to break out in a rash, almost like hives occasionally when the wind would blow the smoke back at me. A light dose of benadryl usually took care of it.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/06/03 04:57:55 GMT

I was wondering if you could explain upper critical and lower critical temperatures and how they relate to the melting point of steel and the hardening point (cherry red).
I am an intermediate blacksmith and I am kind of cofused about those temperatures.
   - blacksmithbob - Thursday, 02/06/03 05:18:19 GMT

Paw Paw,
Thanks! I'll give that a shot. It'll probably help to keep me cooler during those muggy N. Carolina summer days to boot!

   eander4 - Thursday, 02/06/03 05:46:39 GMT


You might be wondering why I said I would use "S" instead of a hot work steel. Most of the "S" steels have pretty good hot work characteristics and are much tougher, impotand in a hand tool.
   - grant - Thursday, 02/06/03 05:58:10 GMT


I can't prove it, but I suspect that it's the sulphur that we're allergic to. BTW, CVS sells a "sleep aid" that is pure benadryl in 25mg dosage. One caplet was usually enough to control the itching.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/06/03 06:20:40 GMT

Vicopper, you have reminded me of one of the toughest phases of the schooling I had to take to upgrade my journeyman's card; #$%&@ VECTORS! It probably shouldn't have been as difficult as it was, but as we approach our geezerhood, it becomes more and more difficult to absorb seemingly abstract concepts. I still keep my schoolbook in the back of my locker, to ward off the occasional brainphart. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/06/03 06:57:45 GMT

Grant no actually I am not surprised that you would want to use an S series steel. They are really tough, fairly heat resistant, and probably more important pretty forgiving of stupidity:-) and S-7 gets used a ton for hotwork hand tools. Seen a lot of pritchels and forepunches that were made of S-7. I understand being surprised when something you have taken for the gospel truth proves to be just flat out wrong:-) (take for example the S-3 thing:-) But I also know that it is more important to know the truth, than to try and preserve my ego. Anyone can be miss informed, there is no shame in that. It is shameful to be too proud and pigheaded to admit someone else might know more than you do on some topic (however emotionally invested you are in it:-) Luckly I am really easy going and don't get bent out of shape very easily, and I honestly like to know the truth, even if it proves me wrong. Probably more so if it proves me wrong, don't want to inadvertantly deceive someone else with incorrect information. Honesty and personal integrety are pretty important to me, could you tell:-)

Does 8630 forgeweld fairly well, if it is like a nickle 4140 it should make an excellent metal to use in patternwelding? It is a nice tough steel, but do you think that there is enough nickle in it that it would resist the etchant pretty well? I will probably stick with simple high carbon / low carbon combinations till I get the bugs worked out of my new more "industrial" set up (Right up to the piles of safety equipment I will be wearing, a far cry from striping to the waste and wearing just a leather apron in the shop in the summer as a boy:-). Still waiting for the air components to hook up the Bull 75, man do I have an itch to weld up some big billets:-)

Veritatis Splendor
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 02/06/03 13:35:17 GMT

eander4, reason i brought up the ease of welding question was that it appears that coke is extremely clean. i am by no means an experienced forge welder, so much of what i draw on is from what i read. if one can get to an optimal temp in a contaminant/ oxide free environment, and the pieces are prepared correctly, this should not be a mystical procedure. this it why i am curious about coke (the smithin variety, i know the foundry stuff is not suitable); it takes the toughest, most difficult variable to control out of the mix, me thinks at least...welding branching scrolls and different size stock pieces really expands one's landscape....which leads me to the other comment...

the above is why i keep searching, scanning, calling, asking, begging, ect...can i make this venturi forge get hot and clean enough to weld???~!! i know that right now it will not..may never know...

   - rugg - Thursday, 02/06/03 15:43:49 GMT

I was looking into making a hammer like Tom Nelsons. I did see a simple detail drawing on the web, but I can not make out the mechanism between the actual hammer and the springs. Is there a way that I may aquire a more detailed set of plans. (for sale?) Thank you , Dan Gomez
   Dan Gomez - Thursday, 02/06/03 16:50:59 GMT

Rugg; I don't know about *your* venturi forge; however several professional pattern welded blade makers use theirs to weld up their billets---even at 4000'+ altitude! (Hrisoulas for one). A friend of mine *melted* a billet in his.

Controlling O2 seems to be the hardest part rather than getting the temp. (though if you have a hard refractory lining perhaps sticking some kaowool board on top of it might help get the heat up (except for the bottom where the flux will play).

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 02/06/03 17:13:08 GMT

DYI or JYH power hammers: Dan, See our Power hammer Page and then click on "Catalog of User Built or JYH hammer", Then see the "South African" hammer.

There is a drawing but no real details. But it may be enough for you to figure it out yourself.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/06/03 17:34:34 GMT

Forge temperature: Rugg, I went round and round on this with a fellow once and it turned out that he was trying to get the forge up to temperature with the door open. Close the door. Some forges have too many vents and benefit from plugging them. Many gas forges have small vents in the door or ends that can be used as "stock" ports while running the forge with the door closed.

Propane Bottles:
Lack of enough heat is often lack of enough fuel. Forges and furnaces lose heat at a certain rate that must be overcome in order to work properly. If you don't have enough energy going in then you can never reach the maximum possible temperature.

The new safety propane tanks have some serious problems delivering enough fuel. The problems are largely associated with the fact that AS-SOLD the tanks are not purged of air and moisture. Before the first filling the tanks must be purged. In the past this was done by partialy filling the tank and venting off the gas 5 or 6 times. Today it is done with a vacuume system. If you take a NEW propane bottle to be filled and you don't have it purged then you have trouble.

Any moisture in the tank freezes at the new limiter valves inside the tank and restricts the flow of fuel. To prevent this the cylinder MUST be purged. After that the cylinder should never be left setting empty with the valve open or moisture will get into the cylinder thus requiring purging again.

The problem is poorly understood by those in the industry including the places that sell propane bottles (Sears, Walmart, K-mart. . ) and the places that fill the bottles many of which do not have purging equipment. AND if you did not tell the filling station that the bottle was new and needed to be purged they don't know and will just fill it over the air/moisture in the bottle.

SO, crank up the pressure and see what it does. DO NOT believe the pressure gauge more than +/- 5 PSI. If you can't get enough fuel you may need to have the cylinder emptied and purged.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/06/03 19:00:58 GMT

Some of the comercially available multi burner atmospherics need a little tweaking on the bar with the orifices. My freind's NC occassionally needs to be knocked around to get it back so that it is firing true. (of course he is a farrier and it gets knocked around quite a bit goin down the road all the time. Sometimes the tubes need to be shifted slightly to meet up nicely with where the orifices are.

Rugg where are you it might be easier for someone who is close to you to just come over and try and help you out with getting your forge tuned up. We have pretty much covered the most common problems with atmospheric forges:
Too much Oxygen;
Hard refactory heat sink;
clogged orifices, teflon tape, cheap gas/sedement, mud dobber nests;
various alignment issues and unequal pressure that just have to be fiddled with to ease and equalize the flow.

To fix the too much oxygen problem, start by closing the door if your forge has one (which I believe it does:-) Next time you start your forgee, leave the door open and tune it so that there is a low roar with a slightly green rim to th flame while you are running the forge, you will only be able to see this while the forge is cold, once it is up to heat all you can go by is the sound and the glow of the flame inlet in the roof of the forge (both of which I can't trust a great deal.) Venturi's are self mixing so the more gas you pump through the more air it tries to suc through with it, if your particular forge tends to run too lean, you may need to put a little choke on the top bell where the air gets suced into the mixing chamber. Flashing or metal tape should work.

If your forge is lined with a hard refactory it will eat heat and ask for more. You need to get insulating refactory in there, and ideally paint it with ITC 100 and 296 to boost your thermal reflectivity so that more of your heat goes into the steel instead of keeping the hard brick hot. (I have a hard refactory bottom on my forge, incredibly durable, but I have to close up my forge so that there is no free oxygen and have a fresh tank to forge weld, and I have a blower on my forge)

The other issues are resolveable by cleaning and loosening the bolts on things so that you can adjust things to get your optimum flow balance.

In some gas forges it is just flat easy to forge weld, but others it is a real trick to get a good weld to go. Mine is a lot harder than I would like, but when I rebuilt it I was wanting to improve its durability, not its thermal efficiency (big mistake there, a welding plate for a big NC is cheap compared to the refactory investment, and I could weld easily:-)

If you want to throw money at the problem to try and fix it you could go over to Rex Price's website and by some T-Rex burners to replace the ones you have now. They are easy to adjust and very efficient, and would solve one problem, and if you are willing to throw money at the problem you could always go to the anvilfire story, and buy some Kaolwool, ITC 100 and ITC 296, (Then go get a NC Forge welding plate to protect the bottom of your forge, and paint it with the ITC products as well:-) If you do all that you should be able to melt down billets with the door closed easy. Course I don't have that kind of money either:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 02/06/03 19:02:24 GMT

I tried making a norse ax earlier in the week however i couldn't get the blade very wide and it had several cold shuts in it where the corners of the bar folded over. First if I turn the end of the metal where the blade is into a rod this would help the cold shuts right? Next I believe that I need to do more upsetting to get the blade area larger?
   888 - Thursday, 02/06/03 20:29:11 GMT

are there any commercial suppliers of sandstone grindstones? i found one source in italy but they have not responded to my request. cleveland quarries do not sell them anymore and to get a special order would be too expensive. i have one on loan and it does a wonderful job on axes. can the grindstone be hooked up to a motor? its pure misery turning it by hand. thanks
   bill hickey - Thursday, 02/06/03 20:55:49 GMT

888 what method of making the axe did you use? When forge welding the two side of the axe together I don't get the reference to bars and rods...

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 02/06/03 22:00:29 GMT

Since my welding skills are not up to par I am using a large rectangle (formerly a chisel plow point) that I am cutting one side off and punching the eye through the large bolt hole and attempting to draw out one side into an ax however the way that it is the blade would end up being perpindicular to the handle so I forged it into a square and turned it 90degrees and drew it out so that it would be paralell to the handle. I have not heard or seen this method anywhere before it was just simply the way that I thought I could make the ax out of the scrap I had. Instead of saying rod I probaly should have said rounding the corners.
   888 - Thursday, 02/06/03 23:31:32 GMT

Recently bought a weed burner and tank and everything at a propane place and there was no regulator. When I inquired about this I was told you don't need one with the new (improved?) ODP tanks, it's built in! Sure enough, worked fine. Once in a while it won't put out and you have to turn the tank off and start over. Not sure what pressure they are set for (5, 10?), but whatever it is is the max you'll ever get out of it.
   - grant - Friday, 02/07/03 00:21:11 GMT

The more I hear, the more I realize that when the last of my 20# propane bottles run out (got about 1 and a half left) it'll be time to buy a 40# or a 100# bottle.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/07/03 00:26:13 GMT

thanks I did not know Tiger was a brand name.I see round legs(pipe or rod)but just dont see how the clamp holds round legs. I've tryed rods and it pushes the clamp plates out of place to the center holder.
   Rob. Fitterling - Friday, 02/07/03 01:42:45 GMT

Regarding OPD's , someone at my forge meeting mentioned that if a 20 lb propane cylinder is labeled "industrial use only" you are not required to have an OPD. I was curious about this and found the following on the NFPA site:
The 2001 edition of NFPA 58 modified requirements to exempt horizontal cylinders manufactured before October 1, 1998, from requiring OPDs. Also exempt are cylinders used for industrial trucks, industrial welding and cutting gases (these cylinders must be labeled with their use).

I'll have to try this out on my Propane supplier and see
if they agree that Blacksmithing is an "Industrial" use.

- Chris

   Chris Smith - Friday, 02/07/03 03:08:50 GMT

I am looking for fabricated steal pinecones.To use in ornamental iron work.
   michael - Friday, 02/07/03 03:50:48 GMT

Have seen that there are sources for such things as rose petal blanks, but can't find them (referencing the iforge rose tutorial). Thanks Gary
   Gary LaRose - Friday, 02/07/03 03:52:48 GMT

how does one harden SS sheetmetal after its been forged? The portion not heated is still springy and the area heated and shaped is fairly soft and malleable. I tried heating and quenching but it did no good. Advise gurus?
   David - Friday, 02/07/03 04:23:05 GMT

Rob. Fitterling:
Try pipe, it's more forgiving, and I believe that's what was originally in there (It's been a long, long while since I've seen one). The problem may be a diameter issue, i.e. need a smaller size. It's also possible there was a slight crease at the top of the originals to accomodate any unusual shape. I have to admit, I'm shooting in the dark here. I've never actually seen one of these dis-assembled to figure out how it all went together. Anybody else with a thought?
   eander4 - Friday, 02/07/03 06:53:04 GMT

Thank you Guru, Tim Cisneros and Paw Paw for your reply on corroseal, also zinc primer. I have checked out the web site on corroseal, well I'm at awe what this corroseal is able to covers must buy some. I will try this stuff on a small forged and sand blasted item first, may even go as far as putting this coated item into salt water and see what happens after a week.
   Heinz - Friday, 02/07/03 06:57:04 GMT

Hard SS Sheet: David, It depends on the variety of stainless but most common SS is 304. This is not hardenable except by heat treating. It hardens by work hardening. Most bright stainless sheet is work hardened from the rolling process.

Most hardenable stainlesses are "precipitation" hardening and are hardened by holding at an elevated temperature for a specific time then letting cool slowly. Annealing is by heating and quenching. YES, the opposite of plain carbon steels. But it varies according to type.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 08:57:32 GMT

Industrial OPD's: I have heard this reported here and may ask my welding supplier.

But here is the rub. My WELDING supplier fills propane cylinders and I might be able to get away with it there. BUT other places that deal primarily with the public may not go along with the exception.

Matter of fact, if *I* ran one of these places I would not fill old cylinders. Why? What represents accepted labeling? "Industrial Use" hand painted on the cylinder? Stenciled? Stamped into the metal (DO NOT DO THIS). OR some sort of DOT stick on safety label? THEN. . . What happens to "Industrial Use" cylinders that are used for domestic applications???

An industrial supplier where someone has an account as a business would be a different situation.

I'll ask around about it but places that fill propane bottles for the public would be fools to go along with filling an "Industrial Use" cylinder.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 09:25:18 GMT

Sandstone Grindstones: Bill, Smamllish ones (about 10 or 12" diameter) are available from Garrett-Wade Tools. They sell complete water bath grinders and probably sell the replacement wheels.

Supposedly when modern manufactured stones replaced natural sandstone, thousands of grindstones made of Ohio sandstone were used as rip-rap along river banks. One of those strange incidents that will baffle future historians.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 09:39:59 GMT

This is the fourth Thursday (last night) that we have had snow with accumulation in Virginia. This would not be unusual if it were not for the fact that we have either had no snow or maybe one rare snow in January and February for the past 20 years.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 09:57:25 GMT

OPD valves, NFPA: I've written to the NFPA for a clarification on the question of labeling for "Industrial Use" on non-OPD propane cylinders.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 11:09:41 GMT

Gary LaRose, Jere Kirkpatrick of Willets, California, peddles rose and tulip blanks: www.saber.net/~jere/
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/07/03 13:20:19 GMT

When the tank regs changed I bought 3 40 LB tanks from McMaster-Carr. This was cheaper than my local options even w/shipping. When I got them filled for the first time at my local feed supply all they did was open the vent as the tank was being filled untill liquid came out. I was told on keenjunk that this was not the right way to purge and this is the first time I've heard of the vacumn method. One of the tanks did not want to fill all the way at first. I was going to watch that one but have since played the shell game w/the tanks and now cannot tell any difference in the tanks. The instructions if I remember do not say to purge one way or another. I agree how can this, purging, be left to the kids at the corner gas station???
   - Pete-Raven - Friday, 02/07/03 13:25:29 GMT

Sandstone Grindstones; I know of where 12 of them are sitting in the river just down hill of where one of the two anvil manufacturers in my town used to be. They are the "small" ones only 4' in diameter and 6" thick (and I'm *still* trying to think of a way to get that "industrial waste" out of the river!)

Thomas sent in his money for the Industrial Archeology Society chapter membership yesterday
   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/07/03 14:03:32 GMT

One way around the OPD tank issue is to just buy tanks larger than 10 gal(40#) The tanks larger than 10 gal(40#) do not require the opd valve. Not only will you have a tank without the valve, you have a larger tank to get a better flow of gas from to boot! You can also use 7 gal fork lift cylinders, they fall under a different section of the law, as in industrial. They have the quick fill valve built in.
   Wayne Parris - Friday, 02/07/03 14:18:51 GMT

Venturi forges: I use a venturi /gas forge of homemade design and I am at 7000' feet. It is trickier to get to welding heat at this altitude but not a problem.

To what Fionbarr, guru, and others have said I will add:

Getting a forge to temp is like trying to fill a leaky barrel. You have to stay ahead of the leaks and the higher the barrel fills the faster the leaks. Once a forge gets to forging temps a great deal, if not most , of the heat is lost thru radiative transfer (light). As the forge approaches welding heat radiative transfer becomes even more significant (fourth power effect yata yata...) . Blocking up line of sight with soft firebrick or kaowool so that there are few windows for the light to escape w/o hitting a forge wall but not necessarily air tight, can make a big differnce

I have mentioned this before - putting small pcs of crumbled firebrick on the forge floor opposite the burners can significantly increase the operating temp of the forge.
   adam - Friday, 02/07/03 14:46:28 GMT

Thomas - I have exerince lifting anchors and other heavy objects off the ocean floor (up to 5200 lbs). Where is this river and how deep?
   Stephen G - Friday, 02/07/03 15:39:17 GMT

Thomas: where is this river and how much troubel will we get in for rescueing the the grindstones?
   jw watson - Friday, 02/07/03 16:13:10 GMT


I want in, too.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/07/03 16:28:18 GMT

What's annoying is that a friend's kin did a bridge job just up the river from where they are at and had "appropriate" equipment almost in sight of them.

Unfortunately the current occupant of the factory has it sealed off to sell with tall fences and alert guards---they don't own the river but they hassle folk walking along the bank or at least scruffy blacksmiths.

It's a long trudge to an access point on one side, the other side is closer and has a bike path along it. Factory side is *STEEP*

River depth is 6"-6'depending on precipitation, bottom is scummy rocks to muck depending (factories have been dumping there for 100 years or so---lots of scrap metal!)

Guesstimate the wheels run 400-600# and are protruding from the surface during dry weather...still trying to figure out if removing industrial dumping needs a permit, if a sledge or a boat would be better and can my bicycle tow a trailer...Being a member of an Industrial Archeology Society at least gives me a good excuse to stroll around the old industrial part of the city...

Everyone I've shown them too would be happy to have one---don't know if the river soaking has softened them or not. (silica bonded, calcium carbonate bonded, ??)

I was trying to see if any of the anvils that were along the bank when the anvil plant closed got tossed in...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/07/03 17:26:56 GMT

According to Berea, Ohio Historical Socity site, quote:

Once sandstone is removed from the ground and "cured" (that is, its water or "sap" is dried out) it becomes impervious to water, salt, or chemicals, making it superior to other types of building stone or man-made substances.

So it may be in pretty good shape after you get the slime off if they are the good "Berea stones".

BTW you still haven't geven up the location ;)
   Stephen G - Friday, 02/07/03 17:43:15 GMT


Do you really EXPECT Tom to give up the location? I sure as heck wouldn't, would you? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/07/03 17:47:36 GMT

It's a secret "Strictly for liability reasons" (yeah, that's the ticket!) but anyone with Anvils in America could probably track it down---I found it by talking with an old ex-employee at the fleamarket (and it closed in the 50's IIRC)!

I don't know if grindstone properties are as immutable as building stone properties; but I'm willing to find out!

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/07/03 18:05:15 GMT

I have a tow truck and dive gear let me know when you want to go play ( i do under water recovery)
   jw watson - Friday, 02/07/03 18:21:44 GMT

Sandstone and Water: There is sandstone and there is sandstone. The common biege/white stones with what appears to be about 100 to 200 grit sand are quite soft and DO absorb water. When used with a water trough the wheel should not be left standing in the water or it will become both soft AND heavy on that side. The result is a wheel that wears more in one place AND is out of balance. The balance problem is also true of modern vitrified stones.

Given time to dry the stone should be OK. My big grindstone sat outdoors on a farm then at a roadside antique shop for a combined 50 years or so. . . Its only problem was that it was used for much of that 50 years mounted at a 10 degree angle to the shaft and way off center. I had made it a lot rounder but it is still like riding a horse when grinding with it.

Very fine stone like Akansas stone is soft or "green" when mined and then ages as it dries and becomes quite hard. The same is true of marble. Sculptors much prefer fresh quarried stone because it is much easier to work. Old aged marble is difficult to work and much harder on tools.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 18:27:16 GMT

Does anyone have the answers to the ASM self-study course "Electroplating" ?
I woulsd appreciate a copy.
   mike ferretti - Friday, 02/07/03 18:32:09 GMT

Looks to me like I'm back to my project of making one.

Do you think Pa bluestone would work?
   Stephen G - Friday, 02/07/03 18:40:21 GMT

Eric Sloane's Books is where I heard the story of old Ohio grindstones on the river bank. I'm not sure which one as I have most and have read them all more than once. Written in the mid 1950's and very popular in the 1970's I think they are currently out of print so if you see ANY Eric Sloane title in a used book store BUY IT! All were published by Funk and Wagnals. The popular titles are:

Museum of Early American Tools
American Barns and Covered Bridges
Diary of an Early American Boy, Noah Blake
A Reverence for Wood
American Yesterday
Our Vanishing Landscape

Less popular and quite rare.
Eric Sloane's Weather Book
The Sound of Bells

Museum of Early American Tools has the most about blacksmith objects but hand forged tools and their uses are described in almost all of Eric Sloane's works. The illustrations are primarily pen and ink drawings but Sloane was also quite a painter and calanders are still produced with his paintings. I suspect that Alex Bealer was inspired by Sloane's drawings as his in The Art of Blacksmithing are quite similar, but not as good. Sloane was a professional artist while Bealer drew for his book.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 18:47:28 GMT

Underwater Recovery: Having worked in creeks and rivers (as well as playing in them regularly as a kid) you can take advantage of the water if you understand it. And it can kill you if you don't.

Sandstone weighs approx 144 pounds per cubic foot. Water is 62.43. To lift a 144 pound piece of sandstone in water only takes 81 pounds. A significant difference, ESPECIALY if you are doing it by hand.

We have had numerous schemes for moving rocks in a river by hand without creating a lot of attention (don't ask). One was a small "barge" made out of oil drums with a space in between. A ratchet hoist (come-a'long) was fixed to framing between the drums. The load was to be lifted only as high as the bottom of the drums as they sunk from the added load. To take advantage of the displacement of the water by the rocks.

A similar scheme involved two canoes as these would be less conspicuous. Carrying fishing gear helps appearances. The canoes were going to have a light timber frame tying them together (sort of making a Catamaran out of them). The hoist would pull horizontally lifting via a pulley.

As in all areas PLEASE be safe. Wear flotation vests. Be POSITIVE everyone on your crew can swim (don't just ask many people will be embarassed and lie). Be SURE you have a buddy or more. Scout out the currents and water depth before getting in "over your head".

And remember, wood cribing floats and won't stay put, floods and the tide ALWAYS come in just at the crucial moment.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 19:11:14 GMT

guru very true mother nature is very cold harted and not forgiving
   jw watson - Friday, 02/07/03 19:16:21 GMT

And Murphy was an optimist!

My tanks are filled, my dry suit's packed, let's go!
   Stephen G - Friday, 02/07/03 20:03:30 GMT

The problem is that the river "flushes" most of the time not enough water to float a duck, when there is water the current is fierce and not a good idea to work with.

We have thought of chaining a couple of barrels to one when rain is due and running a long steel cable to it from a tree and see if the river would move it to a convient place for us.

Supposed to be in the teen's tonight perhaps I'll take a slip along the river and see if the shallows have froze solid tomorrow.

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/07/03 20:36:47 GMT

BTW I'm offline till Monday...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 02/07/03 21:51:00 GMT

Propane OPD Valves: As I mentioned I asked the NFPA about the "Industrial Use" labeling. I got no response on that specific question BUT here is the response.
I appreciate the concerns expressed in your message. I am advised that the original OPD's were designed for gas grills, and included a limited flow as a safety feature. As you note, this makes the cylinders unusable for many applications.

Since the original production, most if not all manufacturers have increaced the capacity of their OPD valves. I am advised that OPD's are availble up to 1,500,000 Btu/hr, which is more than the vaporization capacity of a 20 or 30 pound cylinder. One of these should work for you and your members. I recommend that you check with a supplier of propane equipment to determine the proper OPD for you application.

This correspondence is not a Formal Interpretation issued pursuant to NFPA Regulations. Any opinions expressed is the personal opinion fo the author, and does not necessarliy represent the official position of the NFPA or its
Technical Committees.In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should be relied upon, to provide consultation services.

Principal Gases Engineer
This also does not address the economics of installing a special higher capacity OPD valve (if you can find one).

Purging: As I noted, this IS a problem and not all places are setup to do it. I called my local propane filling station and he was not setup to do it. I also asked if they knew the flow OR BTU ratings of the valves on the new bottles they sold. They did not have a clue. I am finding that this is a typical situation in the industry.

Industrial Use: I also asked a local filling station about Industrial Use labeling and their response was that they still fill old cylinders no question's asked. He said, "Send all your blacksmith friends by and we will fill them up"

SO I called a welding supplier (a nationwide company) and asked the same series of questions. No, they didn't know the flow or BTU rating on the valves of their new 20 pounds bottles. No, they knew nothing about "Industrial Use" labeling. AND YES, They too would fill old bottles with the exception that they could not have over a 5 year old inspection date. Originaly they had been told NOT to fill old bottles but had a new policy come through and they were told they COULD continue to fill them.

The ability to get the old bottles filled will vary from supplier to supplier AND state by state. In Virginia it appears not to be a problem but I'm sure it is in California.

Labels: I also went to my local safety supply people who have numerous catalogs of signs and safety labels. If there was a standard label for this purpose they would have a listing for it. There was none. So it is not a common thing. I DID have folks offer to make custom labels. But unless hundreds or a thousand were wanted the price would be pretty high.

An Option: The horizontaly mounted propane bottles used on fork lifts are 33 pounds and do not have the OPD valve in them. This is the smallest propane bottle available without the OPD valve. However, they cost a little over twice as much as the little 20 pound bottles.
   - guru - Friday, 02/07/03 23:29:19 GMT

Guru, how much will the water soaked sandstone weigh? Seems as if the sandstone is sorta porous and so would have water in in?

Also how useable would the sand stone be after sitting in the water? I ask as all the ones I have seen that have gotten wet or one side wet always seemed to be SOFT in that area.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/07/03 23:34:02 GMT

Uh Oh, should have read earlier stuff about sandstones....

   Ralph - Friday, 02/07/03 23:36:59 GMT

I'm looking for someone who has relevant experience and can replicate a Gaudi ironwork design for a indoor balcony and/or driveway gate or who can provide a referral, ideally one accessible to Houston. Thanks in advance.
   dave - Saturday, 02/08/03 04:12:00 GMT

Dave, Try Bill Epps at BEsmithy.com. Note: His web page is not much but he does some really fine work. He can make an exact copy or scale the difficulty factor down to suit a budget.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 05:48:55 GMT


I'm looking for articles on repousse' tools and techniques for a new web-page. Also photos of examples of repousse in steel, copper, brass, bronze.

PLEASE: No published or copyrighted works unless YOU are the author/photographer.

Pete, I know you've done a bunch. Now is your chance.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 06:20:12 GMT

Upper and Lower Critical Temperatures: The terms relate to the temperatures at which iron changes phase, or crystal structure. The temperatures can be read from a phase diagram for the particular alloy type. For the iron-carbon phase diagram, the lower critical temperature is where ferrite (body-center cubic crystal) BEGINS to chage to austenite (face-center cubic. This happens at about 1330F. The temperature at which it finishes changing is a function of the carbon content and can range from 1330F up to about 1650F. At about .8% Carbon, iron will completely change phases at about 1330F. This is called the eutectoid composition. Lower and higher carbon contents require higher temperatures to finish the phase change. This topic is covered in first year college metallurgy and is not easily described without some drawings to explain it. I would suggest you check with a local library to see the drawings. One fact that is often overlooked is that these diagrams are EQUILIBRIUM phase diagrams. In other words, they assume that the steel has been held AT TEMPERATURE for a sufficient time to allow the transfomations to take place. They DO NOT happen instantly and just getting the steel above the critical temperature does not ensure the transformation is complete. Heat treaters, who have sophisticated controls on furnaces, allow the steel to soak at temperature to allow the transformation to complete and allow carbides to dissolve. Blacksmiths usually do not have this luxury and must settle for a less than perfect hardening. Steel melts at about 2900F depending on the alloy composition. Forge Welding usually takes place around 2300F. I am trying to write a simplified paper on basic metallurgy for blacksmiths but finding the time to work on it is difficult. Even the basics must draw on other disciplines like chemistry and physics that must be presented before dealing with actual metallurgy. When I get it completed, I will send it to the Guru and if he deems it appropriate, he will post it on this site.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/08/03 15:10:17 GMT

The problem for blacksmiths doing heat treating is HOLDING a piece at a given temperature. It's hard to get a coal fire to HOLD at temp. It can be done with a gas forge, but it's still not easy.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/08/03 15:19:57 GMT

Now I have a question. My "shop" is actually my garage which is attached to the house. I generate a lot of fine metal dust from brushing and grinding which gets tracked into the house. She-who-must-be-obeyed has voiced her great displeasure at this. Vacuuming after the fact does not get it all picked up. Has anyone ever tried to build a grinding "booth" or box to put around their vise to contain the dust? Can a vacuum hose be SAFELY attached to the box to collect it while grinding? Would a large magnet be of any help? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/08/03 15:21:59 GMT


I've never used a magnet for the reason you mention, but I keep lots of them around for other purposes. I think a couple of magnets from 16" speakers (or larger) mounted to a wooden frame with a couple of heavy brushes on the side would collect a LOT of the dust SWMBO is complainging about. Might be all you would need.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/08/03 16:01:42 GMT

Grinding Booth: QC, Capturing that dust in closed space means much greater air concentration thus more to get into your eyes, nose mouth and lungs. A fan would help but would need to change the air at a fairly high rate.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 16:05:33 GMT

Remember that dust in the right concentration in the air is explosive. Sparks from grinding could set it off. So I don't think a closed booth type of system is a good idea, even with a vacuum attached.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/08/03 16:24:00 GMT

Guru and PPW, thanks, forgot about the explosive nature of fine dust. HF has a 100# pull-strength magnet on sale this week for about $4 and I might mount it on a board behind the vise. Can't hurt, I guess, and I might be able to blame errant hammer blows on the magnet!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/08/03 17:03:47 GMT

I'd like some advice on techniques to try to remove die wedges from old Bradley. Dies and wedges have been in place for 30+ years, in the weather.
   Bill Nevill - Saturday, 02/08/03 17:23:40 GMT


Rust remover with B'Laster from your NAPA auto parts store, then an impact puller. Never try to drive the wedges out, most of the time that mushrooms the wedge and just makes it harder to remove.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/08/03 17:54:41 GMT

Magnet up-date: The 100# magnet is a genuine POS. If it can lift 100#, how come I can easily pull it off the metal shelf with one hand? The lifting strength of these magnets must be rated by the same group that determines the "great ring and awsome rebound" of Chinese ASO's.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/08/03 18:19:33 GMT

QC, High power magnets require substantial material under them for the magnetic flux to hold onto. For this kind of magnet 1/4" plate would probably be required to develop full capacity. Our mag-base drill press has a 2,500 pound electro magnet that acts like it is welded onto 1" plate and better. But below 1/2" it gets tweeky and on 1/4" wall structural tubing or beams with less than a 1/2" flange the drilling force capability goes WAY down. Anything less then 1/8" and it marginaly supports its 100 pound weight.

We had 3000 pound permanent magnet lifting magnets in the shop at one time. You REALLY had to be carfull handling them. You MIGHT get away with having your fingers underneigth on a sheet metal shelf or bench but on heavy plate it would be like dropping 3000 pounds on your fingers. If you accidentaly had the break-away cam off the edge of the work you had a devil of a time getting them off. Very handy but very dangerous. They also make heavy lifting magnets with a "switch" so you could disengage them like a magnetic vise or dial indicator base.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 18:32:47 GMT

Bill, You gotta just worry them out. The slide hammer method works on small hammers but has been found to be insufficient on heavier hammers (100# and up). Then it is sledge hammer time. But give them a week or more soaking with various penetrating oils. Warming the anvil cap with a big torch can help.

Be darn sure you are pushing the wedge the RIGHT way. And remember their is a dowel to prevent the die from sliding so don't try to move the die instead of the wedge.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 18:37:54 GMT

Pole spacing is the key. I've got a number of mag chucks (EDM, surface grinder, etc.) both permanent and electric. There is a definite relationship between the pole spacing and the thickness of material they are effective on. Don't quote me, but I believe they have maximum effectiveness where the material at least 1/2 the pole spacing.
   - grant - Saturday, 02/08/03 18:43:11 GMT

Bill Nevill, On my small Little Giant, I used a penetrating oil, then a 4 pound, solid copper hammer, I got only a tiny bit of mushrooming, which I disc-sanded off before driving through.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/08/03 18:53:44 GMT

I'm trying to help a friend to see if we can find some info
on an old anvil he has. Cast into the side it says
Manhattan and Brooklyn. It also has 176 cast into it. We
weighed it and it weighs 172lbs. Where the horn joins the
main body there is a hemispherical protrusion of app. 2in.
Any info or a source of info would be helpful.
Thank you.
   Jerry Polk - Saturday, 02/08/03 19:18:58 GMT

Jerry, Cast or stamped lettering? On all forged anvils the lettering is stamped IN with chisle edged stamps. On cast anvils the lettering is usualy raised by not always.

If you clean the anvil and do a rubbing I'll bet "Manhattan" is Hay-Budden, the manufacturer who was located in Brooklyn. They went out of business in 1928.

The protrusion sticking out of the side of the horn is a "clip horn" for making horseshoes. It probably also has two round holes in the heal that are different distances from the edge of the anvil. Normal blacksmithing anvils only have one round hole known as a "pritchel" hole and no clip horn. Both types have the square hardie hole. Farrier's anvils are also made with a thinner heal and longer horn in proportion to the rest of the anvil.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 19:35:22 GMT

Grinding Wheels /// Snadstone
The knife industry at Tiers, in France (for about 400 years duration and still ongoing), wet grind their knives after forging.
The sandstone wheels sometimes would explode upon start up, in the morning. People got maimed or killed.
The company would leave the wheels partially resting in the water bath over-night after the last day's shift.
What happened was that the submerged portion of the stone grinding wheel soaked in the water and the "dry" portion of the wheel, (resting above the water surface), slowly had water drain out of it. The result was a dangerouslyly out of balance grinding wheel. Unbalanced wheels underwent extreme stresses when the wheel started rotating, in the morning. The stress continued until the whole wheel was uniformly soaked with water. Some stone wheels could not take the stresses and exploded.
The cutlers came up with a very simple solution. The wheels were rotated in the large water troughs, continuously all night. (at a slower r.p.m.).
A lot less wheel explosions were encountered after the adoption of that measure.
   slag - Saturday, 02/08/03 20:53:40 GMT

Magnet Trick
Trapping iron/steel dust with a magnet is a good idea.
Removing the powder from the magnet can be a real bother.
I place a plastic milk bag everted (turned inside out), over the magnet. When the particle build up requires cleaning the magnet, I turn the plastic bag inside out and carefully pull the bag off the magnet. The metal dust is all in the bag.
Bigger magnets might require two bags, one inside the other.
Obviously, do NOT use a plastic covered magnet to test for the critical temperature of heated steel. The plastic will melt and catch fire. (a little like napalm, i.e. sticky, hot, and burning.).
I know the forgoing is obvious to all of us, but just in case ....
Regards to all
   slag - Saturday, 02/08/03 21:07:07 GMT

Question: I am making my first hammer, out of 1 1/2" square S7. In drifting the eye, I managed to get it at an angle to the long axis of the hammer, to the extent that it won't be usable as is. What are the possible, if any, corrective measures? Thanks for any help!
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/08/03 21:17:46 GMT


I'm going to play the devil's advocate on your question regarding the metal dust. I have done a lot of work with stationary grinders, brushes and buffers, genertating large amounts of dust and grinding swarf. For stationary tools, I always used a dust collector hood. Take a look at a buffing hood and you'll see the sort of thing I used. Mine was homebuilt from wood and sheet metal and used a 1/3 h.p. squirrel cage blower as the exhaust fan. I used fibreglas furnace filters cut down to fit. Believe me, the difference is overwhelming! No more buffing lint and grinding swarf all over the place, in your hair, lungs, nose etc. Grinding swarf and metal filings aren't going to make an explosive mixture the way that wood or grain dist does, because the ignition point of the steel is just too high. Nor can it sustain combustion if you could get it started. (When you release the oxygen blast after cutting with an O-A torch, the steel doesn't keep burning, does it?)

A bench with a "hood" on the back side and a hefty blower to drop the pressure behind a filter is the way to go. Use whatever you can find, and I knowe you'll be glad you did. The magnet concept would work if you had enough magnets and a way to get the swarf very close to them, but no magnet I know of is going to snatch the stuf fout of the air from several inches away. For that, you need moving air.

Just my two cents worth. YMMV.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/08/03 21:37:25 GMT

when was blacksmithing created?
   David - Saturday, 02/08/03 21:40:23 GMT

Crooked Handle: Ellen, You can correct it slightly at the end of handle but only slightly. The critical thing is that the face of the hammer is true to the way you hold the hammer. Dressing the handle can change the angle of the hammer relative to your hand a LOT (right to left or axialy). If the face is crooked in line with the handle then dress the face of the hammer until it strikes flat.

Crooked eyes are not unusual in hand made tools. A little tuning of the handle should sort it right out.

   - guru - Saturday, 02/08/03 22:26:23 GMT


About 6,000 years ago.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/08/03 22:32:36 GMT

Ellen, My take on the diagonal hammer eye. The eye is usually punched first when making a hammer or top tool, so that if it is crooked, you can start over. I have corrected slight crookedness on an eye by using a die grinder. If all else fails, start over or turn the crooked eyed piece of stock into a top tool where alignment doesn't matter so much.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/08/03 23:01:28 GMT

David, Blacksmithing started when someone got tired of pounding on cold metal. As Paw-Paw said, 6000 years ago AT LEAST. Forging is mentioned early in the Old Testament (Tubal Cain) and it was probably an old, established art then. I would think that as soon as our Forefathers managed to get a piece of metal big enough to be used as a tool, someone had to pound it into shape. It was probably a piece of meteoric iron and the tool it was made into was likely considered to be a gift of God. Personally, I think they were right.

Dust: I made a dust trap for sawdust using a big box fan and a furnace filter. Same concept only needing more CFM to move heavier dust. Next weekend's project!

Crooked eyes: I found an old 1/2" punch that had a cracked tip and decided to remove the handle and forge it into something useful. Only after I removed the handle did I discover the eye was crooked. The handle was set so well I never noticed it.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/08/03 23:31:18 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC