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, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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You need to get in touch with the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil group. Their website is at:

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/01/04 00:01:15 EST


Try longshipco.ORG, not com. Check the URL that Bruce gave you again.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/01/04 00:02:10 EST


Try Swordforum.com, note dropping the s on forums
   - Daryl - Sunday, 02/01/04 01:40:46 EST

im in the market for a mill lathe drill machine does know about the smithy unit
   rocky abessinio - Sunday, 02/01/04 07:27:41 EST

Bill & All, I was kind of wondering about the "duck's nest" appelation, and the following is pure conjecture. Some species of duck lay their eggs in tree hollows, but some lay them in ground nests. The older side blast forges had a wet wood ash or sand hearth area in front of the horizontal tuyere nose. You could dig out your own depression for the duck's nest, depending on the size work you were doing. The analogy is there. Presently, "duck's nest" is used sometimes to mean the cast iron firepot. The little British book, "The Blacksmith's Craft", calls the hot fire center, the "heart of the fire", a term which I like.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/01/04 10:27:54 EST

i bought a 560 lb vaughn brooks a couple years ago from centaur forge. it only has brooks england on it and the color is / was an ugly blue.
   - MIKE-T - Sunday, 02/01/04 12:16:57 EST

How much carbon does A-36 have in it?
   logan byrd - Sunday, 02/01/04 12:33:02 EST

Combination Tools: Rocky, Unless all you want to machine is VERY small wood and plastic parts such as in making minatures and models these combination machines are worthless.

There are serious rigidity problems with drill press type spindles that make even the largest industrial drill presses worthless for milling even the smallest slots. Lathe carriages DO NOT have the positional stability or sufficient mass in the cross slide to be used to support work for milling. They are designed for DOWN force only.

Between the spindle problems and the table problems these machines have always been a joke. In metal it is much less time consuming and more precision to hand saw slots with a jewlers saw or to chisel them by hand (like it was done for a hundred years) than to try to worry a slot out with one of these machines.

IF you want to do machine work save your money and buy a good 8 to 12" lathe and all (or a good set of) the attachments. Used machines WITH attachements are good deals. Without they are not. You can spend more than a small lathe costs on one good Buck six jaw chuck to fit it.

Then get a real drill press (NOT a department store wood working machine). A good drill press vise is useful but not necessary. DO NOT try to use a milling table on any drill press.

With these two tools you can do almost everything. Blocks of metal can have every side squared and flattened on a lathe. You can drill on a lathe but they are very inefficient about it. Use the drill press. You can make drill jigs and do power taping with a drill press (see iForge demo on drill press furniture and the one on fixturing).

Look for old ANCIENT books on machine work. Many of these were written back before every lathe had a three jaw and a four jaw chuck and machineist FORGED their cutter bits. Learn how to do setups on a face plate and to support work between centers and on mandrels. Study and make the tools for measuring runout (predating dial indicators). You will be amazed at what you can do on a engine lathe.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 12:45:32 EST

Logan, A36 is not supposed to have over 0.27% carbon. The manganese can be around 0.60%/0.90%. Present day manufacturers consider it a "mild steel".
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/01/04 12:48:13 EST

A-36: Logan, This steel has a range of carbon from (I think) as low as 15 points to a high of 36. In general it is considered "mild" steel unless you get hold of some of the higher carbon. A-36 is an ASTM performance test designation for structural steel. It does not define the exact content of the steel as do other types of specs like SAE. So you can have a wild range of carbon and manganese as long as the steel meets the MINIMUM specs for strength and ductility. The wide range of carbon is why sometimes you can get away with making tools out of it using a severe quench and other times it is a dud.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 12:55:17 EST

i just sent you a few pictures of my newest knife. how is it? i took your advice and took much more time on shaping the blade and having nice, flat planes. could you please comment on it?
thank you
   - colinnn - Sunday, 02/01/04 13:29:22 EST

Is there a steel in the store with enough carbon to make a sword? If there is what metal is it?
   logan byrd - Sunday, 02/01/04 13:35:09 EST

Would be "Bladesmith" in Trouble: In this craft there is no excuse for bad tools. WE MAKE TOOLS.

A campfire is not a forge but it becomes one when you make charcoal first and blow on the fire using any one of a thousand methods. It can be done with a fur, blanket or discarded jacket . . . (rags). There are better ways and in our modern junk ridden society anyone with imagination and a little gumption can find them.

I-beam is not suitable for an anvil but for thousands of years (including today) thousands of bladesmiths have used anvils that were no bigger than an 8 pound up sledge hammer and in fact many make a living exporting blades to the US using exactly that for an anvil - this very day.

RR-rail is also not really suitable for an anvil for forging but it HAS been used. See our iForge page demo on tools from RR-rail for a better plan.

You are in the heart of where more blacksmithing equipment is dug out barns, sheds and the very Earth than anywhere else on the planet. Look at our NEWS coverage from last summer's Quad State Event in Ohio. Don't come here whining about not being able to find tools. You have not looked or asked.

You need to STUDY some books on the subject starting at the BEGINNING. See the article in progress (Gen X Swordmaking) I have just posted on our FAQ's page and Armoury Page. It has an excellent bibliography. See also our article on Getting Started.

The most important tool in this craft is the one between your ears. Feed it, develop it. Ask no more questions here until you have studied (not glossed over) the articles referenced above and all the links leading from them AND at least one of the books in the bibliographies. THEN when you do not understand something come back here and ask.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 13:37:25 EST

Sword Steel: Logan, The answer is easy (or not) but if you have to ask you are not ready to make a sword. See my post to "Bladesmith" in Trouble. Follow the recommended links.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 13:44:32 EST

I’m working on a railroad encyclopedia (one of a group of writers). A question has arisen and, as the only one of the bunch who has ever done any forging (not forgery), I was asked to answer. Unfortunately, it’s been a long time, and I could certainly use some help from you.

1. The question was, is steel heated to “red” heat or “white” before forging? My recollection is that it was red-orange and that if you got to white you were in danger of getting a Fourth of July sparkler and then goodbye to your workpiece!

2. Furthermore, is there a different color (temperature) for hand forging vs. machine forging?

Your comments on these two points would be greatly appreciated. If it matters, I am in New Jersey, USA.

Thanks in advance.
   Daniel LeMaire Bauch - Sunday, 02/01/04 14:21:22 EST


Most hand forging is done at an almost white temperature. For many things, a red heat is not plastic enough to work. I would suspect (but don't know for sure) that machine forging would be much the same, albeit the increase in available force might change that.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/01/04 14:35:01 EST

Forging Temperature: Daniel, This varies according to the type of steel. Low carbon steels are worked as hot as possible below burning. Depending on your ambient light this would appear to be a white to yellow heat but generaly a "white" heat is considerd burnt.

High carbon steels are worked at lower temperatures because there melting and burning points are proportionaly lower.

Normal forging heat ranges from bright yellow down to a red organge for very high carbon steels. As Paw-Paw noted a red may be too low.

Alloy tool steels are worked in a much narrower range than other steels. A low yellow is the starting point but just a little hotter and the steel crumbles. Below a red orange the steel becomes too stiff to work. Working stiff tool steel hurts both the steel and tools working it.

Large modern rail road shops would use temperature controlled furnaces to heat steel for forging so there was no guessing.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 14:45:18 EST

Hey, uhhh you know the brake drum forge mentioned in Plan file? If so, what if I cant get a brake drum, what else could I use?
   Kain - Sunday, 02/01/04 14:54:33 EST

"Bladesmith" in Trouble: Paw-Paw says I was too hard on you. Maybe I was. But others have already pointed you to places with answers. I have pointed to more.

There are no simple magic answers. Bladsmithing is the top of the craft and requires studying from the bottom up. Many start by forging blades but they have usualy studied all the the prerequisites or have a background in metalworking. Just like in school, you learn to add before you multiply and you learn algebra before calculus. Bladesmithing is like calculus. You must understand what comes before it. In blacksmithing that includes simple tasks like the proper way to use a file and drill a hole, how to do layout, read a drawing and make measurements.

Reading and the ability to do research are also part of the necessary skill set as things become more technical. For many of the tasks to be learned there are no schools.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 15:00:24 EST

guru, ive read all the books i can find on blacksmithing at the library. ive gone on the internet and learned how to do it,and ive done lots of small projects. my biggest problem is that every blacksmith says to do stuff in different ways, so instead of learning i get confused and discouraged when my blades brake. (my current project is a leaf brooch i saw in lord of the rings, that is untill i get my sword info figured out.)
   bladesmith in trouble - Sunday, 02/01/04 15:21:13 EST


A wheel will work, but it's a bit too deep for coal, which is a curable problem.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/01/04 15:33:21 EST

Welding Heat: That is largely a matter of depth of the fire bed relative to the size of the work being heated.

In "perfect" coal a fire only a few inches deep is necessary to achieve welding heat. In normal or average coal it takes 4" to 6" (10 to 15cm). In charcoal it takes 5" to 8" plus a fuel cover for large welds (such as billets) but it can be done in small stock with only a few inches. In uncoaled wood it can be achieved in about 12 to 18". So depending on the type of fuel you have the fire depth is critical.

It is easy to use too much air, create an oxidizing condition AND not achieve a welding heat. A blower must have some type of control, control valve or gate. Many folks find it easier to use a hand crank blower or bellows to get just the perfect amount of air.

Size if fuel is critical in charcoal and coke fires. Coal clumps together and makes a burning wall but fuels where the air goes through the bed must be sized for the size of the work, the forge and the blast. Briquette size lumps are too big for small work in a shallow forge. Lumps this size and smaller are used in large iron making furnaces. So start there and down. The smaller the fuel lumps the more concentrated the fire and the smallower the fire needed to achieve welding heat.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 15:43:08 EST


Since I cannot seem to find an email address on this site, I am left with the only option of posting a message on here. I was recently doing some internet research and came across a page on this site regarding Brighid, a Celtic goddess associated with smithcraft. I wish to inform the webmasters of this site that the information provided on that page entitled "The Smith God" is originally published in the book Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses by R. J. Stewart. The copyright is R. J. Stewart 1990. The excerpt found on this site is on pages 118 to 120 of the above book. I trust that this will corrected in due course.

   Cassandrah - Sunday, 02/01/04 16:06:00 EST

Breakage: This is a matter of incorrect handling of the steel or poor tempering methods. Even if you know what kind of steel you are using it helps to experiment. Thermal shock (suddenly heating cold steel) can create cracking problems later in high carbon and tool steels. Forging too hot or too cold can also create problems.

If you overheat steel and then quench it rather than heating it JUST ENOUGH you end up with large oversized crystals in your steel and possible cracking from the quench. Tempering does not cure this problem.

After forging many bladesmiths recommend "thermo cycling". This is roughly equivalent to normalizing. The steel is heated to exactly the upper transformation temperature (the A3 point) and allowed to cool. This temperature is at the non-magnetic point for steels between 60 and 70 points and slightly lower for higher carbon steels THEN it increases above 85 points of carbon (see the Tempil Basic Guide to Ferrous Metalurgy). At the A3 point or just below the steel has its smallest crystal structure. This is what you want when you harden the steel. Pretreating the steel to that condition helps make the piece more uniform and to repair damage caused by overheating of soaking. Harden afterwards to the same temperature.

Tempering is largely an experimental thing and depending on the steel its temperature is critical to a range of 10°F or 5°C. There are all kinds of ways to judge this in a small shop with no tools but the eveness and knowing where you are is critical. In general you want to temper a blade (or any other tool) to as soft as you can stand it. It pays to experiment with rough forged and ground pieces similar to the section of the blade you want to make. DO NOT waste effort making a finished object and then failure testing it. Make samples. Take notes. Be sire your tests are under the same conditions.

All this takes time and patience. It does not just magicaly happen.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 16:15:11 EST

Cassandrah, Will take care of imediately. More by mail.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 16:17:52 EST

In mordern machine forging, almost all critical production work is done using induction heating. With a mordern induction heater, temp can be controlled very closly. In an older Railroad shop, the heating would have been more like that I saw used in the large drop hammer shop I was around in the 1980s. The billets were heated in a gas fired forge, and the heat was determined by eye. A pyrometer was available, but the experienced heaters did not need it to decide the billets were heated thru, and at the temp required. The c1023 (A105) was heated to 2250F. Depending on the light, this was a orange to high yellow. The steam drop hammers in this shop would be of similar technology to a drop hammer found in a large overhaul depot or manufactor.
The open die hammers would have been more common at the mid level to smaller shops.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/01/04 17:36:09 EST

I have all the equipment I need to forge a sword(I could use some better tongs and anvil) all I need is some steel. I have forged a knife and will forge some more before I forge a sword. I use a brick forge and use charcoal for fuel and a bellows to heat it.
   logan byrd - Sunday, 02/01/04 18:41:41 EST

I just sent you a few pictures of my newest knife. How is it? I took your advice and took much more time on shaping the blade and having nice, flat planes. Could you please comment on it?
Thank you
   - colinnn - Sunday, 02/01/04 20:21:16 EST

Steels: Logan, The SAE 4130 is an alloy steel that will not take a hard sharp edge but is very tough and the right type thing for a mock combat sword. The W-1 and O-1 are very common and relatively inexpensive tool steels that are 1% C (100 points). These are higher carbon than needed but are commonly available and can be tempered down. SAE 1095 is available from McMaster-Carr as spring stock but they also might have bar. I prefer rounds for forged blades because it is easier to get a nice diamond section forged. For practice try some auto front end coil springs. These are 1/2" to 5/8" round and when forged flat and tapered make a perfect sword or large knife width blade. The steel is somewhere in the range of SAE 1095 to SAE 5160
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/04 23:59:04 EST

ColliNN, You need to LOOK at the photos before you send them. They were too dark to really tell what was going on and when I lightened them there was still no detail. Turn OFF the flash and get good light.

Yes, your general lines had improved but there appeared to be no taper to the blade, forged or ground (but it was hard to tell). What I could see were a lot of rough grinding marks where you did not take time finishing (blade and furniture). You are getting in two big a hurry to put a handle on your blades. FINISH them first. When fine grinding or sharpening grain shows it should all be in exactly the same direction, perfectly parallel and the same overall texture.

SO, Here is your assignment. Find a nice photo in a blade magazine or on the web of a nice simple but classy looking blade. Pick something without a hollow grind. Then COPY it. Forge, file, grind and sand until your version has the exact same shape and lines. The finish does not need to be a bright mirror finish but it must have NO flaws or discernable grinding or filing marks. The copy can be in mild steel if you want but it must be exact.

Working by hand it could easily take a week to put the finish on the blade after it is rough shaped.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 00:11:07 EST

What is the common opinion on the T-Rex series of burners? The burners are linked here: http://www.hybridburners.com/ and I thought they looked excellent, I'd just like a professional opinion. (Or maybe a few.)
   Cyjal - Monday, 02/02/04 00:13:57 EST

i forgot to tell you that i had not polished the blade yet. i didnt know however that you had to finish them before putting the handle on.
   - colinnn - Monday, 02/02/04 00:24:00 EST

T-Rex Burners: Cyjal, I have one I am supposed to do a comparison test on but have not completed building a fair comparison setup. However, I have used the burner in a crucible furnace and a small forge and it has performed quite well. I cannot tell the difference between it and the burners I have built using MIG tips but it DOES have more adjustment and should be able to be made to do things that a non-adjustable burner cannot do.

Even the simplest atmospheric burners require time and money to build. I did not spend much on hardware but I had to go to FOUR different places to find all the right parts. They are a good buy and unlike home built burners they work the first time.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 00:24:25 EST

CollinNN, Finish every detail of all the metal parts before assembly. Ocassionaly metal furniture parts are final fit with the wood and finished after assembly but this is usualy just the pomel.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 00:28:24 EST

guru, for my sword im going to do a stock removal process, the steel i want has to be springy, tough, and holds a good edge. im not able to heat the entire 36 inch blade, even if i could i wuold screw it up. so i need a type of steel that all ready has these qualitys, culd you tell me what type of steel i need.
on a diffrent note, ive taken what you said into account and whent searching for proper tools. im building my own forge out of a big grill ive got in my back yard, but i still cant find a good anvil in my price range, new or used. do you kno0w were i can find one, about 100 pounds for abuot $100. ive got all the hammers, tong, and the like, i cuold want
please help i wuold really like to get
some proper tools, im going to have
lots of money soon, so i can buy any
thing i need
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 01:08:05 EST

When forging a set of farriers tongs what size hole and what size rivet do you use. Any info on riveting tongs together would be appreciated. Thanks
Roger A
   Roger A - Monday, 02/02/04 02:02:26 EST

bladesmith in trouble ;
You aren't listening very well. Stubbornness is a virtue in this trade in certain areas..learning isn't one so much.
Stock removal is a rinky dink way to make a sword and getting tool steel that is already heat treated through the stock removal process without blowing the temper is extremely difficult...a silly proposition really.
Blade forging involves heating only a small part of the length at a time.
" springy, tough, and holds a good edge" requires differential heat treating so that the edge stay hard, springy and tough means softer.
You need an effective forge..it need not be expensive.
Anvil;The effective forging area necessary is only a few square inches that is well enough backed up. A heavy shaft of 2 or 3 inches in diameter with the bottom end buried in the ground makes an excellent blade anvil and costs a few bucks at a junkyard.
A grill will not survive forging heat for long.
Read the " getting started" section.And join your local blacksmith assn..the tailgate sales there are a good place to buy tools and the demonstrations will show you ways to make it work.
Why do all you guys want swords? What are you going to do with them?
Hey...I know..you just gotta forge your sword out of a plowshare or a pruning hook.
I sometimes imagine all you sword carriers meeting some misty isolated place in the dusk and hacking each other to pieces..then the police show up with flashlights and shoot the last man standing.
   - Pete F - Monday, 02/02/04 02:14:22 EST

Riveting tongs
Roger, go to Anvilfire - iForge demos #83 and #84 on riveting. There are 6 or so demos on making tongs #5, #115, #129, #132 and each is riveted as I recall.

   - Conner - Monday, 02/02/04 03:42:01 EST

Kain, a lesson in Scrounging 101 is in order. Don't they have cars & trucks where you live? Go to your nearest brake & alignment shop and tell them what you want. Chances are there are several brake drums in their pile that will work for a forge. I would bet they will also give you coil springs, center links and assorted other "junque" if you ask. Scrap iron is hardly worth the cost to haul it off so most shops are glad for you to take it.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/02/04 07:39:55 EST

bladesmith in trouble, When you get your "lots of money" email me and I will sell you some of the bladesmithing tools you need. I have a forge and anvil that will produce a sword on the first try, they are guaranteed to work.
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 02/02/04 10:20:19 EST

Tong Rivet Size: Blacksmiths make their tongs using the handiest punch in their collection and drift the hole to fit whatever rivet they have on hand (usualy 5/16" or 3/8" or 8 - 10mm) if they have factory rivets. IF they make the rivet then they proportion it by eye unless they are making a rivet from round bar and then they size it to the round bar on hand (probably 3/8" round).

Almost every size tong should use a different size rivet. If you want specifics find an old copy (pre 22nd Ed) of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. There is a chart with dimensions for standard tongs including rivet sizes, rein length and section etc. Due to the availability of rivets in certain increments the chart has some overlap. Modern rivet selection may not be as good as what was available when the chart was created almost 100 years ago.

Simple rule, you are better off to use a larger rivet than a smaller one.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 10:20:33 EST

Ron Childers, Scrap iron is quickly becoming worth the time to pick it up and haul it to the salvage yard, has anyone looked at steel prices in the last month? There are scrap haulers in all forms running up and down the roads here.
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 02/02/04 10:24:57 EST

I forgot to tell you on my last post that i was trying to copy the blade of a scramasax made by Jake Powning in your assignment assignment given to me. Here's the link: http://www.powning.com/jake/commish/dirks.shtml. His work in my opinion is amazing and i am trying to take after him. The blade that i was trying to copy there is called the "thorn Rune scramasax" and i think it is 5th down from the top. How does mine compare without the polish? I know the handle is different but i couldnt get the shape correct.
   - colinnn - Monday, 02/02/04 10:43:28 EST

Pre Heat Treated Sword Blanks: You might try the various blade magazines and forums but I think they they will laugh at you (rolling on the floor). And then send you here because we have a reputation for handling this kind of question.

Stock removal STARTS with annealed steel (the most common preheat treated condition of tool steel). Stock removal is not done with grinding alone, it requires sawing, drilling and filing.

When the blade is finished the stock removal guys that don't do their own heat treating PAY a professional to do it. Being a sword the heat treater will want YOU to specify the exact heat treat or final condition in metallurgical terms and will probably charge 10 times their normal rate or more IF they don't flat out refuse to be involved in amature weapon making (you will have to develope a working relationship by showing some common sense and a knowledge of what you are doing). Ah. . don't forget to specify the selective tempering of the tang and ricasso.

Modern steel suppliers supply steel in the as-rolled condition, annealed condition, AND at very special prices a few rare alloys hardened and tempered to the just barely machinable condition. The only one I know of is Timken Latrobe Viscount 44 - H13 at Rc44 which is much too brittle for a sword.

TOOLS: The most important tools you need now is enlightenment. Please reread our sword making article (its now posted on the FAQs and Armour page and has been hit 1,000 times in 24 hour). Obtain ALL the books listed and study them.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 10:45:50 EST

Tongs: I highly recommend Bill Epps' tape on Making Tongs http://www.teachingtapes.net/BlacksmithVideosCatalog.html

Pete: Swords. Really! If you make a black powder weapon then at least you can go out and shoot beer cans. What can you possibly do with a sword? Clear the weeds in your yard?
   adam - Monday, 02/02/04 11:01:43 EST

Adam, that is why I wrote that long introduction to the sword making article. I think I need to seperate the rest of the article and then require a test before continuing. . .

   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 11:22:24 EST

I have a small (and I mean small) rivet forge and wondered if it appears in any old catalogs. The pan is 13.5" across, it stands on three gently curved legs making it 14" tall in total. The fan housing mounts directly under the pan with a simple 2 gear operating mechanism. Basically it looks like a cast iron frying pan on legs... Sound familiar to anyone??I'm curious about age and origin. Thanks. I can post a photo if needed.
   wendy lawrence - Monday, 02/02/04 12:01:04 EST


Send me the pictures and I'll see if I can identify it for you . Any information that is part of the object, (such as a patent number cast into the blower housing) will help.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/02/04 12:11:45 EST

Mini Forge: Wendy, That is a prospector's forge. Each major maker made one and they were VERY similar. They usualy came with a very nice fitted wooden box that was designed to be packed on a pack animal. The small size is primarily for testing ores but they would also be used to sharpen hand picks and such.

There is a picture of two with their boxes in our Champion Forge catalog CD review.

   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 13:09:25 EST

is it the harder the steel the more spring, or the softer the steel? Thanks
   - Bonis - Monday, 02/02/04 13:15:43 EST

Springyness: Bonis, It is a hard to believe truth but ALL steel has the same "springyness" as defined by the modulus of elasticity (29.8 million PSI).

That means that a spring made of mild steel and one made of hardened tool steel has the same deflection given the same load.

The difference is that the soft mild steel will yeild (permenantly deform) much sooner than the hardened steel part. Thus the hard spring can have a longer travel and return to its original shape.

IF too hard the spring will break before it deflects. SO, a good spring is a carefully balanced temper that will travel the farthest without yeilding or breaking.

In fact, this is the goal of all hardened steel parts.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 14:07:33 EST

OBTW - That also means that a properly designed mild steel spring is as good as a hardened and tempered spring steel spring in many applications.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/04 14:10:53 EST

Re: Mini forge- There are no numbers or marks on it anywhere. To know that it is a prospector's forge is helpful. Thank you. I am still curious about the possible age of the little gem, though...
   wendy lawrence - Monday, 02/02/04 14:59:25 EST

Gurus, I see that you are constantly hit up for knife and sword making information. Send these eager folks to primalfires.com There's tons of info and beginner tutorials etc. If folks want more details they can ask the experts on the knife pages where to go for more in depth info. Best.
   wendy lawrence - Monday, 02/02/04 15:08:45 EST

Thanks Guru! I will probably buy some W-1 rounds or flats. I have found some W-1 drill stock 6ft long and 1/2" in diameter for $10.40. But is it thich enough to make a relativley wide sword without sacrificing thickness or do I need a thicker peice?
   logan byrd - Monday, 02/02/04 15:43:57 EST

the reason im making a sword is that all of the "battle ready" swords run from $200-$3,200. i need a good sword for damage testing,( taking comercial swords and showin what crap they are), and for reanactment demonstrations. im not going to " hack people into pieces".
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 15:54:18 EST

hey pete i already explained why i wanted to do the stock removal instead of forge it, my blades suck, they alway bend or snap
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 16:03:09 EST

Robert Ironwoker - Scrap steel sells for 2.5 to 3 cents a pound when sold to the scrap yard. They sell it to us for 18 cents a pound - that includes 52100,1095 or any of the spring steels, angle iron, mild steel or whatever. If it is a small amount they don't want to write a ticket for a few bucks so "catch you next time". At $50 a ton, it's hardly worth the time & labor to haul it off.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/02/04 16:42:57 EST

where can i find oneof those harbor frieght russian anvils ?
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 16:47:08 EST

i already checked ebay
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 16:47:52 EST

All you kids who are wanting to make swords MUST get and read "The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas before asking more questions. At least you'll have some Idea of what you're asking before you hurt yourself, waste money, and hurt somebody else, in that order. W-1 and other high-alloy tool steels ARE NOT suitable for swords. They are intrinsically brittle, which is fine for their intended uses, but not what you want in a long blade. They will shatter the first time you hit something.

PLEASE read the swordmaking FAQ here, and keep reading it until it starts making sense.
   Alan-L - Monday, 02/02/04 17:06:15 EST

Ron Childers, I`m glad i don`t have your negative outlook on scrap or I wouldn`t have sold $320 worth of it to the salvage yard last week. A farm being sold near here need cleaned up and the seller called me. I went out loaded all scrap with a forked bucket tractor on a sided farm trailer and pulled it away. I`m guessing I used $12 worth of gas and took 4 hours to complete the task and stick the money in my pocket.

You must be one of them goshed darned rich fellers thats alot smarter than us dum ol`country boys.
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 02/02/04 18:01:35 EST

JPPW, i tried the coke yesterday after starting with a wood fire. got it to work, in fact, it works very well. i never used coke before; i burned up a few pieces before i got the hang of it. i was surprised that i did not need to keep the blast going. if it died down a little, a few cranks got it up again without a problem. no smoke! it also seems to last longer than coal. not as messy for sure. now i know why i have heard people not going back to coal after using this brand: L-brand forge coke.

if you want to play with some of it, i will send you some...
   - rugg - Monday, 02/02/04 18:10:34 EST

what are the advantages & disadvantages of carbon steel?
   Tom - Monday, 02/02/04 18:27:18 EST

dear guru's, i am looking for information on 17th/18th century moravian blacksmithing. books or web sites with examples/pics specifically, but anything would be great. i am a 33 year old novice/intermediate smith looking for this info to better prepair me for a smithing job interview at a new historic moravian blacksmith shop. thanx in advance for any help you can give.
   dave - Monday, 02/02/04 18:45:46 EST

Current price on #2 foundry solids 3' or less is in the $200+ for large quantity. Small guys may get 1 to 3 cents per pound. The difference is in the quantity, and the non-mixed alloy.
   ptree - Monday, 02/02/04 18:54:45 EST

Bladesmith in Trouble. You are right, you are in trouble. If, as in your own words, your blades suck, and they always break or bend, then you've got no business making a sword. You have to be able to make a good knife before you go on to making a sword. Learn to walk before you try to run!
   Bob H. - Monday, 02/02/04 20:16:58 EST


I've got enough coal tucked away here and at Bethabara to last me for about 5 or 6 years at the rate that I use it. I'll take a look at it if you need me to, but otherwise, I don't need it.


I am the blacksmith for Historic Bethabara Park, in Winston-Salem, NC. Go to my web site, get my phone number, and give me a call, I'll try to help you.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/02/04 20:47:40 EST

I have been forging for a while but I cannot get my stock up to more than a bright orange heat. As you probably know, I use charcoal briquettes as fuel (As i have no other choice. I have tried real charcoal, but the embers just went all over the place lke fireworks). Anyways, how big does a fire have to be to get it to welding heat? How long do you think it would take for charcoal briquettes to reach that temperature? I made a fire for experimentation 2 days ago (It was about 8 inches high and 7 inches across). I also blew air into it at full power for about 10 minutes. Is this fire big enough? How big do you think i should make it? My forge is about the same size as a small, charcoal burning barbeque. Any info would be great.
Thank you
   - colinnn - Monday, 02/02/04 21:10:28 EST

hey, bob h. i ve been practicing and i finslly found out what i was doing wrong the two knives i made work great! im so happy i finally got it right.oh and these knives are very long,almost short swords the blades are about 20" long
i tried them out hacking at a 2 by 4, they were strong and stayed sharp.
my problem was i was heating the bldes up to much for tempering and then cooling them, i found out the right tempature and stoped quenching the blades!
   bladesmith in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 21:16:15 EST

im sorry for bothering you experts with stupid ideas and questions. i guess every thing you hear from freinds and the internet isnt always true. cut me some slack here, im only 14
   bladesmith not in trouble - Monday, 02/02/04 21:24:56 EST

Hey Ron, we have 13 cars 10 work and I have a lot of buddies that work at a junkshop and autoshop. But the operation of building the forge bothers me. If I mess up im screwed.
   Kain - Monday, 02/02/04 22:02:09 EST

Dave, Where is the Moravian shop? I visited a museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, not to far from Bethlehem, that had a lot of Moravian hardware to study. I can tell you that many of the hinges are of the curved "staghorn" (sometimes called ram's horn) variety, not too unlike some of the PA Dutch (Deutsch) hinges.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/02/04 22:20:41 EST

Cyjal, I'm no expert by any means, but I have used 3 T-Rex burners on 2 different forges and I can't say enough good things about them. They start easy, and operate well under a wide range of operating pressures. I can run my forge at 10 or 15 psi and then have it drop down to 1 1/2 or 2 on bypass and they still work fine.

I decided to use the T-Rex because when I was doing the research before building my forge I figured out that I didn't have the ability to assemble my own burner with enough precision to make it work as well, and so the expense was a worthwhile investment.

If you check out my site you can see them in action.

   FredlyFX - Monday, 02/02/04 22:41:30 EST

Hey Bladesmith in Trouble. The Harbor Freight store in San Bernardino has 2 or 3 in stock. I hit one the last time I was in there with a 3lb hammer and was really suprised how nice a ring it had. Of course the shape of the horn needed a lot of work.

   FredlyFX - Monday, 02/02/04 22:45:54 EST

I am very interested in learning blacksmithing, I have one obstacle to overcome , I am a right hand amputee and am wondering if there is anyone else out there in a simular situation and if so how did they approach problems? I am 66 years of age and a retired electronic engineer, have arc,mig,and gas welded for many years. I like to build things and would like to broaden my horizons with blacksmithing. If you could point me in the right direction i would appreciate it
   bruce bailey - Monday, 02/02/04 22:46:50 EST

I want to make my own hammers, fullers and hot and cold sets. I have been advised to use 4340 (EN24) steel for the hammers but have had no advice for the other items.

Is 4340 an easy (forgiving) steel to work and what steels should I use for the other items?

Thanks in advance
   Bob G. - Monday, 02/02/04 23:05:54 EST

bruce, get a treadle hammer...do you have a prosthesis?? i read that the bull hammer guys built a power hammer for an amputee; another option to ponder
   - rugg - Monday, 02/02/04 23:09:33 EST

Rugg, glad you have the coke working good, esp. since you have a ton of it. I kind of like mine, too, but since I built a propane forge a few weeks ago I like that convenience .... a lot.
   Ellen - Monday, 02/02/04 23:16:08 EST

Charcoal and Welding Temperatures:

One trick used by the old smiths using charcoal was to take a plate or sheet of metal and place it over the mound (paying attention to which way it was tilted). This has enabled me to get up to welding temperatures. The other two tricks are lots of fuel and taking the time to let the fire develop. Chunk charcoal does tend to blow out whan you pull too much blast (and when the coals get small) but Moxon complained about the same thing in the late 17th century, so it's nothing new. Mostly a matter of fire tending, blast control and practice.

So go back there and practice.

Waiting for the ice to fall from the sky on the banks of the lower Potomac. Canoe Neck Creek is already frozen clean across!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/02/04 23:17:17 EST

thank you Bruce
   - colinnn - Monday, 02/02/04 23:36:42 EST

Hi there, I'm kind of new to smithing and I am keen to know if there is any traditional way (other than painting) to protect mild steel from rust. I had a smithy friend some years ago who used some process involving maybe lindseed oil, bees wax and turpentine (though I could be mistaken) which protected against rust and gave a lovely black finish. Does this sort of process sound farmilliar? if so could you please give me the particulars of it or any other that might produce a similar look and rust protective function. thankyou -TIM-
   - TIM - Monday, 02/02/04 23:47:12 EST

Hello there,How can I make masonry chisels out of spring steel?,

thnks before hand,

   Roberto Tijerina - Tuesday, 02/03/04 00:02:18 EST

Guru & guru's

Before i begin with the next round of questions, I forgot to thank you all for your advice last time I had a few. Many thanks.

1) I found a 6' piece of 1" keystock in my pile o metal, and was wondering if it would be hard enough to cut into 6" lengths, and mig weld on end into a block anvil. I haven't got much experiance with spark testing, but they had a few carbon forks, but weren't even close to as fuzzy looking as some sparks I got off of an old file. I don't need much mass (imo) due to the fact that I'm limited right now to pieces small enough to heat with an oxy acetaleyne torch.
2) would covering the surface of said block with a solid mig weld make for a harder work surface?
3) I had my well funded boss get me a 4' X 8' X 1/2" thick piece of plate for a welding table top. It's covered with a shiny thick black coating (not fire scale) that I can't grind off, wire wheel off, or desolve with MEK. It burns into the pieces I'm welding like it's a really poor conductor.... any idea how I can get this stuff off????
4)Colinnn: In my wandering through the web rings attached here, I ran across I site by a gentleman who finished Japanese swords as a buisness. He had lots of data about technique and materials to use for the finishing, but I forget the url. It would probably be really interesting for you, if anybody could recall the url (pretty subtle, eh, guru?).
oh, and if anybody's looking for a beautiful mig welder, go for a miller 251. We just got 2 of 'em a few months ago, and these things ROCK!!!!! my space monkey welder hasn't had to change a setting in 3 months, they're that solid. Well worth the money if you've got it.
   - Havoktd - Tuesday, 02/03/04 00:57:07 EST

Robert & Ptree' It's not ecomical for a shop charging $75 an hr to sort, load and haul scrap for $50 a ton, that's all. I take stuff to the salvage yard and always poke around for something I think may be useful. I won't throw away a 3" piece of angle iron; if I take it there it is useless for anything else.
Kain, read the article on making a breakdrum forge - you won't mess up, but if you do, so what? Try again. Sounds as if you have a good source for materials and some help. Your friends will probably help you; may even want to play too.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/03/04 07:37:10 EST

Would-be bladesmith in trouble:

We are cutting you a heck of a lot of slack. If the answers you get seem to be getting testier, it's because you have given us no evidence that you are reading them and/or paying attention. There is no single quick answer for anything you've asked, and from what you've been telling us you seem to ignore the answers you get. ANY of the books recommended on the "getting started" page will tell you how to do basic heat treating of carbon steels, and they can all be obtained from any public library if you ask. If you read one, you will learn that what you are doing by heating a blade to red and not quenching it is called "normalizing" if it's not an air-hardening alloy. What this does is relieves internal stresses in the steel. It does not harden it. Do you know what kind of steel you have? Did you know different types of steel behave very differently? These are all things that can be answered by the books that have been recommended to you.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/03/04 08:59:08 EST

what is the science of blacksmithing
   Michael D'Elia - Tuesday, 02/03/04 09:03:41 EST

Charcoal Weld. Recent experience with charcoal tells me that an old fire may have too much fly ash for forge welding. A new, deep fire is the route to go.

Masonry Chisel. Usually, junkyard spring steel has about 0.60% carbon, so the edge holding ability may not be as good as a chisel with a higher carbon content. Don't sell the chisel unless you can reproduce the same steel at a later date.

Sword Finishing. Bob Benson, whom in Santa Fe I met about 25 years ago , is now in Hawaii working. bushidojapaneseswords.com

Science of Blacksmithing. I hope this is not a homework assignment. The science has to do with the empirical method as applied to plastic deformation of metals and a study of its microstructure, and the effect of heat and cold on metals. Blacksmithing is also an art, a craft, and a trade.

Regarding the sword junque on this forum. It would be nice to transfer it to the Virtual Hammer-in, or do away with it altogether. A while back, Cracked Anvil summed it up pretty well: "If you make a sword, what're going to do with it? You can't take it to the movies." ¿GET IT?

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/03/04 09:41:46 EST

Havoktd; If, in fact, it is keystock, it is common cold rolled steel. Do your spark test in comparison with a known piece of cold rolled.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/03/04 09:53:08 EST

Does anyone here know the wall thickness of the Centaur Vulcan Firepot sold by Centaur Forge? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:15:15 EST


I can't swear to it, but it runs to mind that it was 3/16ths of an inch. But don't quote me on that. Call them and ask.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:21:41 EST

Alan-L you said W-1 is very brittle, I seen on the internet a guy who made a samurai sword out of it. But I don't really know if it's fuctinal, is O-1 any better? Also I found some clay in a creek where I live, could you use it to get the hamon line in the traditional samurai method?
   logan byrd - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:28:18 EST

Hey PawPaw I live in N.C. too. Is there places where I can get some steel pretty cheap?
   logan byrd - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:30:13 EST

I beleive W-1 can be made into a functional sword if it is properly heat treated and tempered.In the case of a samurai sword were only the edge is hardend it would work well.As far as hamon lines I have made two tanto from this steel(w-1) and they both had nice hamon lines.I tried using o-1 but could not get a hamon line at all.
   Chris Makin - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:50:15 EST

Regarding the clay you would have to experiment with it and add things to it to make it stay on the blade during quenching.You would have better luck with a refractory clay like satanite.
   Chris Makin - Tuesday, 02/03/04 11:53:43 EST

Thanks Chris, should I get 1/2" or 5/8" thick drill stock or another thickness?
   logan byrd - Tuesday, 02/03/04 12:04:12 EST


Either scrounge, or Dillon Supply. I buy mine at Dillon.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 12:04:57 EST

Paw Paw, don't you mean 3/8 on the fire pot? The coke pot may be thicker.....
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/03/04 13:01:56 EST


You might try using some scrap sheet metal or bricks to bank around on two or three sides of your fire. This will allow you to make it deeper and still keep the air blast focused on the sweet spot. Unfortunately, charcoal briquets have so much other crud in them that they don't get as hot as pure charcoal, but ith enough blast and depth, you can get to a near welding heat. You'll also wind up with clinkers from them too, based on my experience.

Bladesmith? in trouble,

You have NOT found out what you were doing wrong, at all. Your "solution" is no solution, but rather another mistake. Yes, it may have avoided shattering the steel, but it did NOTHING for properyl heat-treating it, either. Yyou need to READ THE BOOKS, not fumble around and guess at things. The unfortunate side effect of such folly is what you just experienced. You had a sort-of success that only affirmed your superstition rather than teaching you anything. You need to learn the metallurgy involved in order to truly learn from experimentation.


You CAN build a forge alone. Get a brake drum off a truck, use some 1-1/2" pipe fittings to route your air through the center hole and use whatever you can come up with to hold it all together. Forges can be built from a wooden box lined with brick or clay, so this isn't anything too sophisticated. There are folks around the world who still use a simple hole in the groun with an air pipe hooked to a box or bag bellows for the air. Fundamentally, all you need is something to hold the fuel in place, an air source in the right area and some kindling. All else is just refinements. What have you got to lose?

Bruce Bailey,

I'm going to assume that you have full use of your left arm and hand. If you have a prosthesis for the right that allows secure gripping of things, then tongs can be made to work for you. If not, then you will need to use the left hand for tongs and a power hammer or treadle hammer for striking. Or hire a striker, I suppose. The tong hand does as much for control as the hammer hand does, but only the hammer hand can be replaced by a machine. Find a blacksmith in your area and go work with him to see what will work for you. If you live an a reasonably well-populated area, chances are that there will be a smith who has a treadle or power hammer so you can see what they might do for you. I don't see any intrinsic reason why it can't be made to work for you. Let us now where you are and maybe we can find someone to hook you up with.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/03/04 13:15:52 EST

Logan: Chris Makin nailed it when he said "properly heat-treated and tempered". This is not easy to do. Chris makes some great-looking tantos. Note, however, that a tanto is a short-ish blade. For a sword the key thing you want is flexibility, and other steels are much easier to get that with. I believe Don Fogg uses 1045 or 1060 for his katanas, but I may be wrong.

You sword guys REALLY need to go visit Don Fogg's site, available from the anvilfire links page.

I'm with Frank, maybe we need an "I wanna make a sword but have no clue" board.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/03/04 13:25:48 EST

Centaur Vulcan

I contacted Centaur and the representative said that thickness varies, but is about 1/2". Thanks PawPaw.
   - Blackhammer - Tuesday, 02/03/04 13:55:18 EST

Well Wendy, Frank and Alan have voiced their thoughts on the sword biz so I`ve never been one to keep quiet either. The sword topic passes thru here many times a month and even though bladesmithing is a part of blacksmithing I don`t think this is the right forum for a up and coming bladesmith to hang around. My thoughts on this site is its a General Blacksmithing forum that can help in all fields but doesn`t specialize in sword/knife forging even though advise is here. I`m not trying to run anyone off and all are welcome. If you have a problem with your foot you go to your General M.D. first and as the problem grows you are referred to a Specialist.
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 02/03/04 14:24:22 EST

Other Than Painting. . linseed oil. . : Tim, All the things you listed are parts of amature paint/varnish formulations. Why not use the real thing?
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 14:29:13 EST

"Key Stock" Havoktd, This is normally SAE 1018-1020 AKA mild steel. MIG wire is normally low carbon unless you buy special $stuff$. You COULD use hard facing rod but it is sort of a wast on a built up anvil. Keep scrounging.

Shiney black coating. . . Sounds like ceramic enamel or porceline. If so there is no way to remove it other than chipping a little bit at a time. A new plate would be cheaper. Is it on both sides? If not, flip it over.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 14:35:06 EST

hey there guru, i have a bending question for you. does anyone have a design for a tube bender. i'm talking like .25 to 1" square tubing for furniture work. any ideas on how to bend without kinks? any information would be greatly appriciated. i should be home to the states in a few months from iraq and wanted to get a few things squared away. i sure appriciate any help.

   kasten - Tuesday, 02/03/04 14:54:14 EST

Single Handed: Bruce, I have met several smiths with only one hand or partial use of one arm. They were a little picky about the size and shape of their tongs but managed normal tools in their elbow or with what they had. . . I would think that a smith/welder with a mind to do something better could do so.

If you have a way to grip then you should be able to use tongs. Being the inventive type I would be making a special tool holding prosthesis for myself. This is not my area of expertise so I would have to do some studying of the subject first. Learn what others have done and try to avoid their mistakes. There is nothing magic about these things. Like the tools one needs to hold hot iron they are an extension of the human body.

Smiths are always short handed no matter what and spend a lot of time rigging "third" hands. Often these are as simple as a stock support but can be as complicated as a machine such as a treadle hammer. Most of the time they are trying to replace an entire person, not just one hand.

A stock support can be rigged to hold a pair of tongs and rotate the work from forge to anvil. It is common to clamp tongs onto work. That is what Vise-Grips were invented for. It is bad practice to leave them attached in the fire but it is done all the time. You just have to be careful that they do not get overheated, distort and fall open.

Anyway, hinge the tongs to a support. Flip the work from forge to anvil. Use some simple method to allow the tongs to rotate so that the work can be rotated on the anvil. Its not a perfect solution but it would be a start.

A great deal of work can be done under the power hammer with the correct dies. Combination and crown dies can be used to do all sorts of shaping and all you need to be able to do is hold the stock with tongs in your good hand and operate the hammer with your foot.

If you want to try out a power hammer and free hand machine forging, Oak Hill Ironworks the makers of the Big BLU are sponsoring power hammer clases. See the BigBLUhammer.com page or our schedule of events page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 15:16:23 EST

Benders: kasten, see our 21st Century page and series on benders. The important thing to remember is that their are definite limits to how tight tubing of a specific wall thickness can be bent. Stay within the limits and things work well. Note that the thicker the wall the tighter the bend that can be made.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 15:19:57 EST

Forge and Tool Excuses:

One of the first fellows that wrote to me about equipment problems was trying to come up with a simple hand built blower. What he was using at the time was a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a hole cut in the side for the air outlets and inlets and a heavy plastic bag duct tapped to the top so that he could pull it in and out to pump the air. Simple flap valves were taped over the inlet and outlet. This was a true McGuiverism right down to the duct tape and it WORKED! Cost, part of a roll of duct tape.

When you see things like this and guys in Pakistan and India using an old sledge hammer for an anvil making knives (in production) that are sold in the United States to fools that whine on-line using a thousand dollar computer about not having the money to buy tools or can't figure out how to build a forge it REALLY puts things in perspective.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 15:43:51 EST


Yes, I did mean 3/8's of an inch. Thanks for catching the typeo!


Years ago, I did a bit of work with prosthetics when my step father needed some help. In the back of my mind, I'm seeing a modified prostetic that is actually a tong holder. I don't think a prostetic on the hammer arm would work too well, the impact shock would produce signifacte force on both the prostetic and the limb.

To re-iterate something that I said in email and others have said here. Give us a general location, and we will try to hook you up with someone. If you are in my general area, (Winston-Salem, NC) I will do anything I can to help, and I know several others that will do the same thing.

Much admiration for you sticking with the program and staying active. It isn't always easy, as I know all too well.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 16:57:51 EST

"I wanna make a soord!"

I get disgusted with the various approaches people use to say that. One reason that I've tried (and will continue to try) Kain is the he has NOT asked that question.

"I wanna mek a soord!" is almost the kiss of death for a lot of us! Jock (the Guru) is a lot more patient than I am on the subject.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 16:59:48 EST

continue to try) Kain = continue to try) to help Kaine
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 17:00:57 EST

Ron, I was just noting prices, and noted the higher price was for sorted, large amounts.
I agree that most times the only reason to haul to the scrap yard right now is because the pile is in the way.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/03/04 17:14:18 EST

Bruce Bailey,
In Indiana, we have a very nice blacksmithing association, with many satalite groups across the state. I am sure that you will be welcome at any of the groups. If you live in this area e-mail me and I will advise you of the nearest group.(you can e-mail people on this site by clicking on our names at the bottom of the post)
Good luck
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/03/04 17:32:17 EST

Scrap: Locally the "recyclers" place dumpsters at large shops and wharehouses. ALL the scrap goes in the dumpsters and by contract they cannot let anyone remove anything from them once it is there. Places that use multiple metals have seperate dumpsters. The particular local company is a small cog in a VERY large corporation and they have a no scrounging in the yard rule.

The result is that localy the nifty scrap is nearly impossible to get access to these days and the small non-ferrous scrap dealer is out of business. If you want scrap plate or shaft you have to know someone where the scrap is generated and get it before it goes in the dumpster. SO. . . I am much more guarded about what I do with my steel than I used to be.

It is not this way everywhere (yet).

On the other hand, I will have to move in a year or so. The big question then is what do I do with the hillside covered with 24"x75#, 14" and 10" I and H-beam? Maybe 5 tons. Do I move it all or sell it? Decisions, decisions. . . Hopefully I will have turned a bunch of it into machinery and the decisions will be easier to make.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 17:51:09 EST

Bruce Bailey,
I am not an amputee, but on a different list I am on there is a fellow who is partially paralized. He forges a fair bit by using a treadle hammer. You could also look at making or buying a power hammer.

Should never let what others see as a disablity be one in reality. Based on what you have said so far it seems like you are definatlely living that. Kudos to you man!

Also I would say get with local smiths. Never know who or what you will find.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/03/04 17:57:36 EST

Bruce Bailey, I am contacting a friend of mine that is a fantastic smith and has only one arm. I have to hear from him before passing any emails around, keep checking back here for info.
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 02/03/04 18:37:54 EST

Bruce Bailey,
I'd suggest going with a gas forge. No messing with adding coal or turning on and off the blower. I think that would work well for you. And remember, to be a blacksmith, you have to come up with your own way of doing things, regardless of what everyone else does. We are a stubborn, independant lot, at least my wife thinks I am!
   Bob H - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:04:41 EST

Hi all, I recently came by a 16 speed drill press that I got for the right price (free). The motor runs, the spindle turns and all seems right with it, except that the chuck and arbor are missing. It looks to be expecting a tapered arbor, how do I figure out what size arbor and chuck to order?
   - Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:13:52 EST

Should the handle hole in a hammer head be tapered? If so, how much and which way?
   Ray Anthony - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:17:17 EST

Drill Press Spindle: Mike, It is difficult to say. Some of the import machines use an R-8 taper. That is a Bridgeport milling machine taper. It requires a draw bar (threaded rod pulling from top of spindle) to hold them in place. They have a straight section about 4" long and a about 1" in diameter with a steep tapered section at the bottom. R-8's also use a 3/16" keyway which most people miss and tear out the pin. R-8's come as collets and arbors. R-8 to Jacobs arbors are available.

Most American made drill presses use a Morse taper. These range from a little #1 to a big #5. The most common size on drill presses is #2 and #3. The best way to determine if a taper is a Morse taper is to stick a Morse taper bit or sleave in the spindle and see if it fits. Most morse taper drill press spindles are long exposed things with a cross slot used to drive a wedge through to remove the bit/arbor.

Morse taper tooling includes drill bits with integral shanks, adaptor sleaves in single and multiple increments, adaptor bars to use larger tooling with smaller tapers, and Morse to Jacobs taper arbors. For dimensions see MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK or possibly McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com).

The other common taper on OLD machines is the Brown and Sharpe. Forget it if that is it. . . Then there is the even odder Jarno.

When you figure it out you want the biggest chuck with the widest range that will fit your machine. Some Jacobs chucks start at 3/16" up and others at zero (now defined as .040").

Check the speeds on the machine. Most common drill presses are wood working range speeds (800 RPM UP). For metal working you would like it to at LEAST go as slow as 500 PRM and preferably slower.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:44:03 EST

Has the Pub door been moved to the other side of the building?? Or am I lost again :( ?
   Jerry - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:50:26 EST

Hammer Hole Taper: Ray, Yes and no, they can be either way. Most taper slightly both directions with a radiused edge on the bottom. The hammer handle fits the bottom taper and is then double wedged to fill the top taper (wood and metal). The amount of the taper is probably about 1/4" per foot.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:51:12 EST

Jerry, you are lost. ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:52:31 EST

Bruce Bailey with your spunk I think you will do well in your smithing! Please visit often, ask lots of questions, we will help you all we can, and let us know how it is going for you!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/03/04 19:58:49 EST

Thanx Guru! I appreciate the info and the site. I WILL try the double taper.
   Ray Anthony - Tuesday, 02/03/04 20:07:22 EST

Ray Anthony,

Guru won't say it, but I will. If you find anvilfire helpful, membership in the CSI group (see the link at the bottom or the top of the page) helps keep anvilfire financially afloat. For the price of a cup of coffee a week, you can be a part of the group.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/03/04 20:51:47 EST

Bruce Bailey, All you have to do is click on my name to email me for the address of my friend that lost an arm but is a great blacksmith. You should put anvilfire in the subject box so I know its coming from someone and not just junk.
   Robert-ironworker - Tuesday, 02/03/04 21:10:28 EST

Thanks again for the site Guru!!!!!!
   - Moe - Tuesday, 02/03/04 21:35:40 EST

Thanks for the info on the burners. I guess I know what I'm getting.

I'd go for the "I want to make a sword but have no clue" board. It's part of my interest. Knives and various art projects are up there too though.
   Cyjal - Tuesday, 02/03/04 22:49:00 EST

Mr Guru,
I am 40 years old, ex-navy diver, worked as a farrier for 5 years then sold the business. I have in the past enjoyed working on metal projects and would like to get back at it. The one item I lack now is a forge. I have more time than money and would enjoy making my own. After reading this and other sites and also talking with other smiths I beleive a good direction to head is a forced air gas forge. Now maybe its me but the designs for other types of forges has been plentifull so far. But I have not seen a design or even a modest sketch of a air blower/ gas forge. Can you direct me to a couple of sources for the information I seek?


Terry A. Reist
   Terry Reist - Wednesday, 02/04/04 03:15:45 EST

Bruce Bailey:
I've had the , um, opportunity to work one handed for several cumulative months and what I found was that my treadle hammer was invaluable..I'd respectfully suggest that a treadle hammer is the key tool here.
Colinnn: charcoal briquettes suck. They have clay in them that works against a hot fire. Charcoal may have sparks, but blacksmithing needs to be done in a place where sparks are not a problem..hot stuff goes flying sometimes.
Are you introducing the air from the bottom? Is there enough or too much air at the right times?

Tim: look up the Yellin finish.
bladesmith in trouble; If your forged blades suck, as you say..then you need to correct your technique. Even using stock removal, you will have to heat treat the steel to get what you want. There's no good way around it. It helps to think of it in 2 stages. First hardening ( heat to red and quench) followed by tempering ( 350 to 600 degrees).

Kain; check out the plans page here at Anvilfire for the brake drum forge ( cheap to build)
On the HF anvils..make sure you get a STEEL one, not cast iron.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 02/04/04 03:36:27 EST

Thanks for the answer I was fairly sure it wasn't a simple question and I appreciate your time.
I checked my drill press again, wooo hooo ! it can be belted down to 250 RPM. It was made by a tool company in L.A. back in 1984.
My "new" drill press is almost old enough to drink.
   Mike Trahey - Wednesday, 02/04/04 03:46:43 EST

I would like to cold form (possibly with heat), stainless steel sheet metal (304 18 and 20 ga.)into sculpture artform. Can you offer a resouce for educational reading material and a listing of the proper tools needed. I am at hte point where I need to order a stake holder and various stakes and am confused what to purchase for stainless steel. Can I heat this metal and hot forge it without losing the corrosion-free properties of 304 and 316 stainless? Thank You, JW
   JW - Wednesday, 02/04/04 07:27:49 EST

JW, 304 and 316 are both austenitic (non-magnetic) stainless steels. They are high in chromium (18-20%) and nickel (8-10%). Heat from welding will cause a precipitation of chromium carbides in the heat affected zones of the welds, greatly diminishing the corrosion resistance in these areas. I don't know how big the sculpture will be but if it is too large to heat treat (heat to 2000F and water quench) after welding, I would recommend you use 304L or 316L. These are the same basic chemistries as 304 and 316 but with very low carbon content. The reduced carbon prevents the formation of chromium carbides to the extent that corrosion resistance is not appreciably affected.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/04/04 08:12:53 EST

Hey all. I am looking to buy a new Oxy-Acetylene torch/welding kit. I was looking at a Victor (Journeyman), but with them going through Chapter 11, I seem to be unable to get one delivered (the kit I ordered was supposed to arrive in 2 days, it has been 3 weeks and still no kit). If this is representative of problems they are experiencing due to their bankrupcy, I'm now not sure I want a Victor. The dealer recommended a Uniweld as an alternative to Victor. Anybody know anything abour Uniweld and how they compare? Thanks in advance.
   - Noelle - Wednesday, 02/04/04 09:01:41 EST

Noelle, I can`t believe I`m saying this but I would buy a Smith torch. I have a Victor Journeyman and almost all construction sites I work on run Victor stuff. For the last six months I worked with Smith torches, propane and acetylene. They were the "Smith Lifetime" torch and they just worked great. Alot of times we were cutting 4 inch thick iron and just like a Victor they plowed right thru it. I`m sure Uniweld is a good one too.
   Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 02/04/04 09:25:25 EST

HI I am an intermediate blacksmith and have decided to build one of your Junkyard power hammers. when I went to the junkyard to get a v8 engine block they told me it would crack on the first hit. how have you avoided this problem? I also have a couple of questions on the spring mechanism made by another builder in your archives. can you help me customize a combination of the two hammers?
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely, John Loker
   John Loker - Wednesday, 02/04/04 10:47:40 EST

I forgot to mention which two power hammers. I was reffering to the one built for the east coast contest with shocks, and the one by robert brothers with springs.
   John Loker - Wednesday, 02/04/04 10:50:12 EST

Blower Forge: Terry, Look on our plans page. Wayne Goddard is one of the last proponents of blower forges and discusses them in his books and videos. See our book review page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/04/04 10:53:34 EST


Oxy-acetylene torches have been around for about a hundred years, so there really isn't any new science involved with them. That being the case, I would recommend getting whichever of the brand name torches that are well supported in your area. Most any of them will work but what makes the difference is the availability of tips, accessories and service. Both Smith and Victor have been around forever, and Uniweld is well thought of as well. The one that your local dealers support is the one to go with.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/04/04 11:01:25 EST

Hello everyone. I spoted this today on eBay while surfing around. It's a 500lb Nazel power hammer for 8500. The ad says it's in good working order.

ebay item # 3270825129

   FredlyFX - Wednesday, 02/04/04 12:39:58 EST

Junk Yard Hammers: John, I built the EC-JYH to prove a point and suceeded but it is not a good hammer design. It takes up too much space and the shock linkage hits like a powder puff. The faster it goes the lighter it hits until the ram actually floats, doing nothing.

The best of the Junk Yard Hammers is the NC-JYH and the Little Rusty. The NC-JYH uses toggle linkage which it THE most efficient and powerful hammer linkage invented. It can be simplified by use of a bow spring such as the South African JYH.

There are two schools of JYH construction. One is to use what you have on hand or can get cheap or free. The other is to buy everything you need.

A true JYH is built from junk you find in your shop or nearby. The EC-JYH was built with junk from my shop, the family shop and with a purchased auto real axel and new shocks. I also bout some bushings and bolts. I also bought motors but scraped them and used motors I had on hand. The V8 engine block was junk from a boat that had frozen and cracked. It LOOKED like a good idea but when stripped weighs on 120 pounds or so. It was used as a stand to raise several large lumps of steel that are the actual anvil. Yes, striking it directly OR through less than a substantial anvil would reduce it to small pieces.

Not every shop is equal and building with what you have on hand varies greatly. All the steel beam and plate of the EC-JYH was found on-hand. I did not purchase a single piece of steel. The NC-JYH was built from leftover steel tubing that just happened to be on the stock rack at B2-Design. The HD tie rod ends they used were low hour parts off a race car that are replaced EVERY race just to "be sure". Virtually new parts, free. . .

A superior scrounger can build a JYH with very little or no cash outlay. But to do so you cannot be focused on obtaining a specific part. You need a general idea and then take advantage of opourtunities as they arise. To build the EC-JYH I had to have an auto rear-axel as that was the concept. Since then I have sent two vehiclas to the junk yard that I could have used their axels. . . The V8 engine block was just happenstance. I hadn't figured out what I was going to raise the anvil with and ta-da. . , there it was . . . free along with pullies and other parts.

One of my next projects is to build a rolling mill. I already have the gear reducer. It is about four times heavier than necessary. . but its free. I have all the rest of the steel but it is not what I would use if I had a choice of anything I wanted. I'll need to buy the shaft and roller material unless I am lucky.

Knowing what you need and what could be substituted and not being on a rigid schedule is part of making your own luck.

You can also buy all your materials new. This is much easier from a design stand point because you can plan ahead and make the design ANY WAY YOU WANT. Many manufacturers avoid even simple off-the-shelf components because they often dictate details of the design and if the maker changes the part then you are stuck. . So they make EVERY part themselves. I have built machinery that way and it is definitely easier. But it can be more expensive. However, you can be penny wise and pound foolish when scrounging and sometimes "free" costs more.

Building a mechanical power hammer from new steel parts and components is a problem economicaly. Many of us have looked at various designs in recent years and a fabricated hammer always ends up being too expensive to compete in the market. Air hammers are doing well but they are much simplier machines. You can by a nice one for less than what it costs to build a mechanical hammer from scratch.

SO, don't become obsessed with replicating someone elses JYH.

OBTW - The EC-JYH will probably be for sale this year. It needs a good home. I'm not pushing it but will entertain offers. Located in central Virginia. Will load. Weight 1,300 pounds +/- 50.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/04/04 13:00:44 EST

Victor Torches: I have used them for years and considered them the best MOSTLY because they changed very little and supported their old product. However, I haven't kept up with the fact that they were bought out by Thermadyne. When I looked for news about Thermadyne I found they were having financial trouble as far back as 2001 filing bankruptcy in November of that year. After having bought up a bunch of small welding supply manufacturers they were heavily in debt. All their focus seems to be trying to save themselves at this point.
Debt outstanding at Sept. 30, 2003, stood at $227 million for Thermadyne, a leading global designer and manufacturer of gas and arc cutting and welding products, including equipment, accessories and consumables

Thermadyne emerged from bankruptcy in May 2003, reducing its debt to about $225 million, from about $800 million at the time of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in November 2001.

Reuters Finincial News
There are far too many dealers of Victor equipment that have inventory to have something on backorder. Also note that slow delivery is often the dealer not ordering until they have a sufficient order to get the maximum discount.

Of course they wouldn't be in this trouble if they had advertised on anvilfire ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/04/04 13:39:53 EST

Long URL's: Folks, please don't post long URL's such as ebay items. They break the page. If you must refer to an ebay item do it by item number alone.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/04/04 13:48:24 EST

what is a good stone to build a forge from, and what would be good for mortar?
   shack - Wednesday, 02/04/04 15:46:02 EST

My name is Skip Tallman and I am a neophyte blacksmith want to be. To no ones surprise I still come up with new questions almost daily. Usually I can find the answer but this one has me stumped.

I am looking for advice or direction to source of information to aid in the repair of very old anvil.

It is approximately 100 lbs, cast carbon steel and has a hardness of 60 HRC. It came to me in an abused state.

I have no idea which weld rode to use or what the required post weld heat treatment should be.

Can you please steer me in the right direction.


Skip Tallman

CBA member,



   Skip Tallman - Wednesday, 02/04/04 15:48:47 EST


I am in the market for a metal lathe, and was wondering if you had any suggestions. I don't want to waste money on a piece of juck, but at the same time I can't really afford $2000+ at this point. As mush as anything I want a lathe to learn on, but ideally it would be useful as my skills expand. I have been looking at the $300 harbor freight lathes, understanding that I would basically be getting a disposible toy.

Any thoughts/suggestions on brands/sizes?

Anyone have a good old lathe they are willing to part with for a medium amount of money? I am in the Northern VA area, and would be happy to pick it up.

Saw an ad for a big old south bend + tooling in the valley trader for $2000..... I can dream....
   -Jim - Wednesday, 02/04/04 15:53:43 EST

i have taken bids on a new anvil from Old Wolrd anvils and Euroanvils and they are within $5.00 of each other. Anybody have any opinions on which company is better to deal with?
   Brett - Wednesday, 02/04/04 15:55:59 EST

have heard a lot of great things about euro and their customer relation skills..very professional
   rugg - Wednesday, 02/04/04 16:28:49 EST

Brett, I hear that both companys are good. One thing I would call and ask them is....what if I buy a soft or defective anvil due to poor heat treat at the factory are YOU going to replace the anvil with one you have in stock or are you going to let me try to replace it from half way around the world talking with the factory, how do you stand on customer service?

You should also think about which dealer is closer to you, it may mean a big savings on shipping.
   Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 02/04/04 16:46:02 EST

Terry, I have a blower forge made from the Abana pipe forge plans, and it works well for forgeing. Not for welding yet in my experience. Mine also tends to scale more than coal. I have seen quite a few atmospheric forges that seem to work quite well. I think the pipe forge plans are still available from Abana.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/04 16:49:51 EST

JW, our resident metalurigist, Quenchcrack gave you the lowdown on the alloys. Now a few practical tips for fabrication. Excuse my assuming that you don't khow this stuff if you do.
If using the L alloys of the 300 series, you also must use the same alloy type rods, or you get some funny corroded welds. You need to have grinding wheels dedicated for stainless only, as plain steel will contaminate the areas ground, and they will rust. Same goes for wire wheels. They need to be only for stainless and they need to have stainless steel wire fill. Polish the contact surfaces of all your tools and you will transfer less iron to rust.
As a tip, I paint all my tools for stainless bright blue, so that they stand out as only for stainless. ( the blue was the 300 series color code where I used to work. old habits...)
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/04 16:57:10 EST

John Loker,
As the Guru noted, use what you can obtain easy. I was able to build a crank actuated spring type hammer somewhat like the RUSTY for about $43.00 You must understand that I scrounged hard for about a year, Fell into several very good finds, and had a couple of parts made Gov. style.
That said, a spring type seems to me to be the easy way to get a working hammer for the least money, if you do not have a full machine shop.
The guru is trying to make usable photos of the ones I sent him for the JYH page.If he can get some decent stuff out of the poor pic's I sent him, there are some good details. I have some sketches to send him for the plans page that may help.
You have to persever, and have a lot of imaganation.
Good luck.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/04 17:05:03 EST

Speaking of HF I was curious if any one has any info on the India Carbon Steel anvil? I have called the local hf store and they are holding one of the last russian anvils for me. I was just wondering if the india one was any better than the china one.
   dragon-boy - Wednesday, 02/04/04 17:06:19 EST

On old used lathes. The small South Bends that are very popular, are priced beyond their usefullness. The HF toys are just that. A big lathe, while harder to move is often the better deal. They are priced cheaper yhan the smaller bench lathes. A possible source, and a great site to make any machine freak drool is the Surplus Record. Its on the web, and so far, what I have bought for the companies I worked for have been exactly as advertised.
Good luck.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/04 17:11:11 EST

I'm a reporter with New York's Newsday looking to interview a new/apprentice blacksmith from Long Island, NY. If you have any contacts/leads/suggestions, please email me at jadly000@yahoo.com.

Thanks so much for your help!
   Jessica DuLong - Wednesday, 02/04/04 18:24:27 EST

I'm a reporter with New York's Newsday looking to interview a new/apprentice blacksmith from Long Island, NY. If you have any contacts/leads/suggestions, please email me at jadly000@yahoo.com.

Thanks so much for your help!
   - Jessica DuLong - Wednesday, 02/04/04 18:25:02 EST

Jim,, More on used lathes. As ptree says the South Bends are probably the most popular and are often overpriced. Look around for a old Logan or an Atlas (Some old Sears Craftsman lathes were identical to the industrial Atlas. You can still get most parts for either of these lathes and they both were good competent machines. As the Guru always says- if it is not a quick change gearbox be absolutely sure you get all the change gears as they will cost a fortune to replace. The Atlas may be less expensive as they used some Zamac parts including a breakaway lead screw support which makes some people doubt their quality.

Logan Parts- Logan Actuator Company 815-943-6755

Atlas Parts- Clausing Service Center 574-533-0371
   SGensh - Wednesday, 02/04/04 19:35:23 EST

Kain, I see your email has changed from the one you had at first here. Have you emailed me back about not having a name to go with the P.O. Box address you gave so I can send you the blacksmithing book?

Paw Paw Will USPS take and deliver a book addressed to a box number w/no name? I`ve always used my name, address and phone number to do things.

Its good to be cautious but you have to live also. When you kids start working where you going to tell your boss to send your last check?
   Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 02/04/04 20:34:34 EST


They might, but I sure wouldn't take a chance on it with a book that I valued.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/04/04 20:37:04 EST

What Vicopper meant by having your name in blue was that members of Cyber Smiths International get a lovely blue color for their name at the bottom of the page. Joining CSI is not a donation, but rather a membership. Official gurus get other special colors. This shows their guruship:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/04 20:54:43 EST


Ptree gave you the right answer. Quenchcrack, our resident metallurgist, is green; Thomas Powers, our historian, is orange; Frank Turley, blacksmith emeritus and teacher, is black; Bruce Blackistone, Viking and historian, is red; Jock Dempsey, Guru and Webmaster, is brown (or whatever color he wants [grin]). Members of CSI are "true" blue.

If you desire to send a donation to Anvilfire, you can simply mail it to Jock Dempsey. His address is on the store page, check the drop down menu in the upper right corner of this screen.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/04/04 22:27:37 EST


I'm crushed! (grin)

Kain, Paw Paw is OD Green.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/04/04 22:47:14 EST

One thing I have seen done when TIG welding unknown stainless plate, the welder took some of the scrap over to the shear and shaved off some thin strips to use as welding rod/filler.
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 02/04/04 23:36:08 EST

Hi, I haven't been around for a while but fleeing to (new) Mexico seems to have helped...I want to make a swoord out of twinkies cause they are indestructable; but every time I put one in the forge it starts to burn and then splashes when I hit it with a rock on the curbstone and then folks come and offer me free housing and funny looking M&Ms.....

BTW if it's a cast steel anvil it's *not* "very old" probably only about 100 years old and that's just middle aged to an anvil...

Going to Germany, Garching, near Munchen. Any suggestions on what to visit on my weekend off?

Thomas "back in the saddle again" no gifts of quirts or spurs will be accepted!
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/04/04 23:44:01 EST

Do these bids also include shipping to you? If not which is cheaper?
I think that both are fairly good outfits to deal with and both have decent anvils, but since I only have an older PW anvil I do not know about these new-fangled ones... (grin)
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/05/04 01:18:03 EST

Brett, Setve is a friend and advertizes on anvilfire. That is why we are planning to buy another larger Euroanvil. We bought a Euroanvil at the Madison Ga conference last march and it gets pounded on every day. We like it.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 02/05/04 06:49:04 EST

And Brett; if there is a defect, Steve will make it right - he attends our conferences and participates in the activities - he sure wouldn't want an anvil dropped on his foot.(grin) And you can tell him I said so :)
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 02/05/04 07:42:23 EST

I recentlly purchused a NC wisper momma open end port two burner amosphereic propan forge and i want to know your personal opnions on these forges also what line pressure do i have to set the forge to get to welding temperature? i have been smithing for 12 years but i have always used a coal forge so this is a new concept for this 18 yr old.

thanks for all your help
keep the sparks flying

   little smith - Thursday, 02/05/04 07:56:31 EST

OOOPS! Sorry Paw Paw. Dropping down and giving you twenty for the oversight, Master Sergeant!
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/05/04 08:53:45 EST

Little Smith
I've had a whisper momma for 3yrs and it has been trouble free and easy to use.As far as pressure for welding heat try somwhere between 12-15lb.that has been my experience depending on how patient I am that day
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 02/05/04 10:42:46 EST

Hi Guru /Guys/Gal's
I dont know if this is off topic or not if it is I apologize I have witnessed many comments from various blademakers to the affect that their Handles/scales or "Stabilised" what is this process and how does one accomplish say stabilising whale tooth ivory or some native desert timbers If this is off topic my appologies again but I felt sure there are some Blade smiths amongst you who may have knowledge on this subject...
Thank you for forbearance
best rgds
   luddau - Thursday, 02/05/04 11:07:06 EST

Luddau, I've never used stabilized material, but to the best of my understanding it's the process of coating the item to be stabilized with a polymer resin (superglue is often used) and then placing under a hard vacuum to force the resin into the pores of the material, thus turning it into what is more or less a piece of plastic. Hrisoulas' books have a chapter on the subject.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 02/05/04 11:36:17 EST


I would appreciate it if you could tell me what type of metal I would need to attain the greatest strength in a hollow, square shaft with 1/16" walls, this shaft would be slip fit into another shaft with 1/8" walls. The first 1/16" shaft would be turned buy the 1/8" shaft. also, would it be possible to heat treat the 1/16" shaft reliabily? Cost is somewhat of a factor.
   Troy - Thursday, 02/05/04 12:02:02 EST

Greatest Strength: Troy, There are a lot of factors involved in finding the "best" material. Generally the strongest material will be a tool steel (most are very similar in overall performance). However, these high carbon steels are not the easiest to machine or fabricate and require very carful heat treatment. Most shafts and couplings are made of medium carbon steels such as 1050, 4140, 4150 or 4340 because they are cheaper and easier to fabricate as well as having high toughness.

Generaly in this type of situation you start with the known load conditions and then select the most economical steel that will withstand the loads. This also helps select the toughest material rather than the hardest.

Starting with known loads also tells you if the part is impossible to make. You may have a situation where easy to fabricate aluminium, bronze or zinc may do the job OR a situation where the best alloy steel will not withstand the loads.

Outside of that you have not defined the problem well enough to answer AND this is the type of engineering problem that folks get paid tp answer.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/04 12:45:36 EST

I have a question about using stone for building a forge. I have seen posts about using refractory stone, but I am unsure which types of stone qualify. There is an old granite quarry near my home where I can pick up tailings and a river near by with several different kinds of stone. Will granite withstand the heat well or is there a better stone?
   shack - Thursday, 02/05/04 13:05:22 EST

Stabilizing Organic Materials: Luddau, This is done a variety of ways. One is to soak the material in ethylene glycol until it is fully penetrated. Then the finished item is sealed with a lacquer. This prevents the material from drying, shrinking and cracking. This is a common method used by woodworkers on large sections such as making bowls from solid log sections.

The patented high tech method of hardening and preserving wood is to submerge the material in a polymer liquid and then expose to high levels of gamma radiation using Co60. This process is used to make hardwood floor tiles for commercial buildings. This process results in full penetration of the material making it very hard and durable. The folks that do it are called Advanced Radient Energy (or used to be) and are located in Bedford County just outside of Lynchburg Virginia.

Ivory is best treated with mineral oil to prevent drying and cracking but there may be newer ways. I suspect that every material has its own best method.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/04 13:10:14 EST


For building any solid fuel forge, the important part is the fire bed itself. This may be a cast iron fire pot, a fabricated steel firepot, a refractory clay liner, or some high-tech alumina refractory material. The remainder of the forge is nothing more than a shell or stand for the fire pot. Any type of rock, brick, stone, concrete block (CMU) or even wood will work as long as it is strong enough to support the firepot and tuyere plus the weight of any stock that is being heated. No natural stone other than pumice or lava has much in the way of refractory qualities. Most stone has at least some chemical water in it and may spall or fracture if subjected to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Hence the need for a refractory or metal firepot.

That said, if I was building a forge of native stone,. I would design it so that a commercially available firepot such as Centaur or Kayne sells would fit. It is important to design so that the firepot and tuyere can be replaced without damaging the masonry work, because the firepot WILL wear out over time. The masonry work should outlast several generations of smiths.

I think it would be easier to design a side-draft forge for masonry construction, but there is no reason that a bottom draft type can't be done as well. I'm sure someone here has built one and will hopefully chime in with some details.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/05/04 13:22:53 EST

Refractory stone: Shack, this is a tricky question and usualy must be answered by a local geologist or mason. Many types of stone will withstand heat and others not. Limestone, marble and lime bonded sedimetary stones generaly break down when heated. A few that absorb water OR have water chemicaly bonded in them explode when heated.

Most igneous and volcanic rock will withstand heat just fine but there are exceptions. Some sandstones will withstand heat but do break down when exposed to extream heat. Granite is an igneous rock high in quartz and is generaly heat resistant. Bassalt is one of the best igneous rocks and is used to manufacture high temperature insulation. Soapstone is soft, easy to cut and is used for fire backs in fireplaces, heat sinks on wood stoves and shield stones in forges.

The best thing to do it test the local rock you plan to use before using it. Be sure to be prepared for flying shrapnel when testing stone.

Note that most chimneys do not see very high temperatures and that the only parts of a forge that see extream heat are right at the firepot and the flue intake. If there is a problem with the local rock you can use brick to line the fire area and flue intake.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/04 13:24:22 EST

Gas Forge Pressure/temperature: Little Smith, First, ignore what the gas pressure gauges say. These small relatively inexpensive gauges are often highly inaccurate. They are only suitable as a refernce for YOU and the change (get out of calibration) over time. My forge may run on what the gauge says is 10 PSI and yours may say 20. Currently my most expensive gauge/regulator combination runs my crucible furnace at ZERO PSI. . . Of course that is wrong, and that is the point.

Normally you just keep creeping the pressure up and up until you get what you want without too much flame coming from the vents. However, at welding temperature most gas forges have a significant amount of "dragon's breath".

Often it helps to close some of the extra vents with a scrap of kaowool.

Note that most commercial gas forges do not guarantee forge welding temperatures. They give the fuel in air burning temperature as the operating temperature. However, forges run hotter by the fact that they run slightly above atmospheric pressure, store some of the heat and reflect it into the burning fuel thus burning hotter than the free air value. We take advantage of that as blacksmiths but within limits.

Some folks claim that they cannot reach forging temperature in small gas forges unless they coat the interior with ITC-100. It is a recommended coating for durability AND it does increase interior temperatures by the fact that it is a high UV reflectant. It is worth its cost in increased durability of the lining of small gas forges. See our store for more information.

The higher the carbon content of steel the lower the melting and welding point. The difference between the welding point of wrought iron and tool steel is about 400°F (220°C). So, while someone may be easily welding Damascus billets in their gas forge someone else using the identical forge may be having difficulty with mild steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/04 13:52:43 EST

What is the maximum thickness of steel plate that can be welded effectively with a 70 amp arc welder?
   Blackhammer - Thursday, 02/05/04 14:22:02 EST

luddau: lots of discussion and pictures of the process at custom knife directory forums. Use the search button and look for "stabilizer" or "stabilized wood" or such. I have a setup to do this under construction. The approach I adopted is to immerse the block to be stabilized in a container that's filled with wood hardener, and pull a vacuum with a hand pump that was meant for automotive service work.

   Steve A - Thursday, 02/05/04 14:57:33 EST


When you finish, would you consider doing an iForge demo of the process?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/05/04 15:04:21 EST

Guru, did you mean polyethelene glycol (peg) that wood turners soak green wood in to precent cracking and spliting?
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 02/05/04 15:27:57 EST

Can you define "effectively"? Do you mean "efficiently"? I think I could probably weld plate several feet thick with my old lincoln tombstone and get a good weld; but it would be *VERY* slow as the number of passes increases as you clumb up the V.

Back to an old topic: I think the sword FAQ should include the bit that it is a *LOT* cheaper to buy than to make, sure I can set up a forge and make one for *nothing*---*BUT* in the time it takes to learn and experiment and make one I could have mowed lawns and bought a top of the line sword and a car!!! I'd tell folks that to make a good sword they should expect to spend several years of their "off" time doing nothing but working on it expecting to make and destroy a bunch of prototypes learning the processes.

Thomas Powers
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 02/05/04 15:39:26 EST

Blackhammer, Take lots of passes and you should be able to weld 1/4" steel ok. Are you sure that isn't 70 amp battery charger? grin!
   - Wayne Parris - Thursday, 02/05/04 15:58:53 EST

Thomas, One of those tombstone welders will indeed weld thicker stock with multi passes but you had 225 amps to do it with (at a 10% duty cycle!) His little 70 amp welder won't be able to get much penetration. A fully charged car battery would make a better welder for sure!
   - Wayne Parris - Thursday, 02/05/04 16:05:11 EST

Generation X Swordmaking, AKA Swordmaking for Dummies: *I* wrote that article for folks that have no business trying to make a sword as a first project and those that do not understand or like its message need to find another hobby or haunt another forum (please). The bibliography and the one provided by Bruce Blackistone in his article (linked from the former) are the result of several lifetimes of research. Anyone that is serious about swordmaking has probably studied all those and many more. The rankest amature needs to have studied at least half before starting.

What is rude and obnoxious is people that ask a question, are sent to the answer, do not read the answer OR follow up on the suggestion to READ a BOOK because the answer is quite technical and then come back and ask the same question refrazed another way or another related question that was answered in the same article. . .

The swordmaking article is a reaction to seven years of REAL questions, several times a month, such as. "I've never made anything and I want to make a sword", "I don't have a clue so will you send me to a Master Bladesmith to learn", "I've watched the forging scene in Conan the Barbarian a hundred times and I understand everything except how to . . . What metal can I use to make a sword that will cut concrete and remain sharp?"

Folks say "There are no stupid questions only those afraid to ask." At anvilfire we try hard to live up to the expection of answering EVERY question and have done so in an unbelievable range of subjects (for free). But I have found that there ARE stupid questions. A question becomes stupid when it is asked over and over by the same person after it has been directly answered more than once. A question becomes stupid when it is asked over and over because the answer might include "read a book" and the questioner does not like that answer.

The Internet is a wondrous place where you can find a bewildering amount of information on ANY imaginable subject. However, much of it is of questionable value and is often just plain wrong. The Internet is NOT a replacement for BOOKS. There are a few books on-line and over time there will be more and more. But most of the truely valuable references will never be available (for free) on the Internet. However, many ARE free to study at your local library.

Consider ALL sword making questions answered.

Over time the sword making article will have completed projects with step by step photos. All the reasonable questions not answered in the article are covered in almost EVERY book on knife making. Find one, study it.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/04 16:15:18 EST

Troy, try finding a commercial driveline shop in your town, or maybe a tractor dealership. farm machines have many spinning shafts inside other shafts(power take off). chances are you could find an off the shelf product that's already engineered to meet your needs. theres a newer generation of three-lobed shafting that slides inside it's mate, and transfers power.
   mike-hr - Thursday, 02/05/04 18:32:43 EST

Cannedy Otto Catalog on CD-Rom: this arrived from the Anvilfire store yesterday. I was amazed at the amount of information contained, especially the detailed drawings and parts list. It would certainly facilitate the repair of any of these fine old blowers, post drills, etc, as well as it is chock full of operating specifications and tips. I will be orderering the Champion and Buffalo CD-Roms in the immediate future. What a wonderful resource, and thank you for the FAST shipping, Jock.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/05/04 19:19:29 EST

Gas pressure.

I find it interesting how many people mention gas pressure as a comparison and nothing else. Sometimes it's to the point of bragging *I can forge weld at 3 psi in my forge*. But the important thing is gas flow. I could probably weld with 0.1 psi if I had an orifice big enough.

So psi is one factor, jet orifice size is another, and to be complete, you'd need to factor in the line from the pressure gauge to the actual output.

   - MarcG - Thursday, 02/05/04 20:07:24 EST

Making Magical Swords

The article "Dissertation on making Magical Swords" by Richard Hanson is posted:


This may be a good time to read that article.

   - Conner - Thursday, 02/05/04 20:15:40 EST

Thanks guys I get the general drift regarding "stabilized" materials I appreciate your input and time.
   luddau - Thursday, 02/05/04 21:23:56 EST

Conner, My take on magical swords: somedays everything just seems to work out *right*, the steel was just the right composition, the forging was done perfectly within it's parameters, heat treat was just right for the alloy, etc.

When *everything* works out just right you end up with a blade that is quite a step above the "normal" ones, it cuts
amazingly, it holds an edge forever, it's flexible, light, the harmonics are perfect it must be *MAGIC*. Some folks are good enough that *MAGIC* happens on a regular basis and so the legends of the great smiths of antiquity get started...

Thomas One of the most important lessons in smithing is to learn to *STOP* *before* you make the irretrivial error.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/05/04 22:11:00 EST


The term "stabilized" seems to be relatively new. Used to be that the process was called "impregnating." No matter, the concept is the same. Dunk the wood in something to impregnate it and then pull a vacuum on it until all the air in the wood is replaced by the impregnation agent.

I've done it on several different materials using cyanoacrylate (super glue) and a bell jar, pumping it down with either a laboratory vacuum pump or an aspirator pump. I sold my big vacuum pump when I moved down here and now I use a $15 Harbor Freight automotive vacuum pump that runs off compressed air. It works just fine. A simple venturi type aspirator pump is even cheaper and works fine, too. The cyanoacrylate I get through work. We buy it in quart containers for developing latent fingerprints and I just snatch a bit when I need some. One of the knifemakers' supplyies undoubtedly sells it, and would probably be cheaper than Sirchie Fingerprint Labs.

The process will work well on almost any material that is porous to some degree. It works on bone, wood, leather, some ceramics, and even works on dense cardboard. Something that has pores or voids larger than several thousandths of an inch is less likely to work well with cyanoacrylate and would require a heavier-bodied substance like the gel type cyaoacrylate or one of the high quality epoxies. I've used West Systems epoxy this way and it works extremely well.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/05/04 22:34:00 EST

Vic, you got a catalog number on those pumps?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/05/04 22:46:14 EST

I've been studying the heat treatment of various high carbon/tool steels and have noticed that many of them need to be cooled slowly when annealing e.g. for 4340 a cooling rate of 50F per hour is reccomended. Is a thermostatically controled kiln needed to achieve these slow rates or would a box filled with Vermiculite provide sufficient insulation?

thanks in advance
   Bob G. - Thursday, 02/05/04 23:28:05 EST

Cooling Rate: Bob, Yes they often are. However, mass makes a significant difference. A large mass will cool much slower than a small one. If you want to anneal a needle (or a thin knife) put it on a piece of 1" plate heated to a red and then put both in the annealing medium. The type of annealing medium makes a difference. All I have ever used is quick lime. However, I currently have a very large box of vermiculite an I may try it in the future. But having large air spaces it seems that it would not be as good as the lime . . . but familiarity colors my judgement on this one.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 01:07:34 EST

PAWPAW: Go to harborfreight.com and type 3952 in the little window on the left. The price given is $14.99, but it often comes on sale for $9.99. Scroll down a little further and you will see a green bar which will let you download the operating manual. This unit is designed for evacuating air conditioning systems, so some improvisation will be in order. But, hey ! We be smifs, an' thass what we do.
   3dogs - Friday, 02/06/04 01:54:06 EST

Vicopper: I'm preachin' to the choir here I reckon. That same "stabilization" technique has been used for quite some time to upgrade low grade turquoise, if you recall. It also seems to have acquired a little bit more respectability than it used to have. Are we running out of high grade turquoise ?
   3dogs - Friday, 02/06/04 02:04:37 EST

"Stabilizing" Gem Stones: 3dogs, Find the 10 year old article on gems and saphires in National Geographic. You would not believe the shenanigans that go on in the gem trade. Rubies and saphires that have serious flaws are commonly "fixed" by using oil to fill the voids. The problem is the oil would eventualy dry or run out. I suspect higher tech fixes are used today. It is not due to a shortage, its just a cheat.

Heightening the color of blue saphires is quite common. The problem is that it is a surface treatment that eventualy wears and shows the true color.

To make matters worse the whole saphire cutting trade is controlled by SE Asian organized crime. Try to get into the business and bad things happen. . .
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 02:25:55 EST

Knowing When to Quit: Thomas the orange brings up a topic that few folks understand, when to quit working on a piece.

In fine art the problem is known as "overworking". When making a drawing, painting or sculpture there is a point that if you try to go beyond you ruin the work. It is usualy impossible to go back. So artists learn early to quit while they are ahead. The level at which you quit is based on what you know about yourself. Over time the quitting point may change. But there is always a point where doing the slightest bit more is a lot TOO much.

It is usualy easy to identify something that is oveworked. . it is much like hindsight. You can see it was once better under the mistakes of going to far.

In smithing it is the same. Taking that ONE last heat to touch things up just a little is often one step too far. The scale and oxidation, or just bad hammer work often ruin a piece that could have been cleaned up a little with a file and been just fine. A specific piece usualy cannot be improved beyond a certian point. With practice quality becomes better without looking overworked.

Machinists learn quickly that taking one last rough cut can be a disaster and result in an undersize part. Knowing when to slow down and sneak up on a dimension is the art of the machinist. Judging you cuts so you don't waste time taking too many fine cuts but not taking that one big cut that results in scraping the part.

In heat treating the problem is knowing exactly when to quit. If you don't go far enough the piece will be too brittle, if you go too far it will be too soft. That is the "mystery of steel". Perfection is always a compromize.

When finishing parts the opposite is usualy the problem. The neophyte tires and quits filing or grinding too soon and then skips the intermediate levels and jumps to polishing too soon. At each level of finishing there is a point that is good enough but you never want to stop short. Forge, grind, file, coarse sand, fine sand, then buff. Each stage must be 100% complete on the entire part.

Its like the Willie Nelson song about gambling. Knowing WHEN. It takes constant focus on where you are going, what you want to achive and knowing what you are capable of. Knowing when to quit is knowing yourself.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 02:51:47 EST

Guru, just a suggestion; why not put a link on the home page labeled "Swordmaking Basics" and then hot link it to one of the blade sites? Or the Library of Congress? Heck, you could get real creative about what you link it to...hehehe.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 02/06/04 08:23:33 EST

Tres chiens:

The answer is yes, to all. Thirty years ago, the supply of good turquoise began to dry up, due to the drop in the copper market as much as anything else. (Turquoise if usually found as an adjunct to copper mining.) Lower grade turquoise, often full of voids and almost crumbly, was stabilized with epoxy. Poorly colored turquoise was heated to deepen the color, or dyed, then stabilized to retard color shift. Some really bogus "turquoise" was made by taking cutting swarf and mixing it with epoxy. Then there is the inlaid turquoise that is just a myriad of tiny chips bedded in epoxy and polished flat.

As more and more materials become depleted, there will be new processes developed and used to extend the supply to meet the demand. Fossil ivory, too fragile unless stabilized, is sold to replace elephant tusk ivory which is banned. Bone is often much too brittle and porous unless stabilized. Many exotic woods are too open-grained to polish well unless impregnated.

While the process may have started out as a scam as much as anything, it has become quite legitimate due to dwindling supply and public acceptance. In many cases, the end result of the process is a material far superior to the "original."
   vicopper - Friday, 02/06/04 08:25:32 EST

Dear Black Smith,
I have some questions i have 2 do for school.The questions are:
-Who can be a blacksmith?
-Who can higher a blacksmith?
-Who is the most likley to higher a black smith?
-what kinds of animals do u work on?
-What can u do besides work on animals?
-what do you were?
-what is the easiest thing 2 make?
-When is the easiest time for you to do your work?
-When is the most popular time of the year for a black smith to be highered?
-When did u start to be a black smith?
-When do u work?
How much money do u charge?
-How do you determine your price?
-How many coustamers do you get?
-How many hours a day do u work?
-How do u keep the fire going?
-Where do u work?
-Where do u live?
-Where did black smithing start?
-Where do black smiths live today?
-Where is your family?
-Why are you a black smith?
-Why do you (or don't you)like black smithing?
-Why do u were heavy boots?
-Why do you were the leather aprin?
Im sorry there were so many questions, but i would gladly appreciate it if you could try to get back to me on some of these questions .
Thank you,
   Jenna lakes - Friday, 02/06/04 09:04:49 EST

Re ITC 100. How thick a coat should I put on the Kaowool? I havent put any on yet because the temp in the shop is still below freezing. I do not want to put on too little or too much if this will affect its performance. Thanks.
   Jim Curtis - Friday, 02/06/04 09:05:52 EST

Mo' turquoise 'n' stuff. I have deliberately crushed miscellaneous turquoise chunks that I've bought for next to nothing, mixed them with epoxy resin and attained a very nice inlaid mosaic effect on a sterling silver ring that I made for my wife 35 years ago. But then, I wasn't attempting to pass it off as anything else. Also, I have had some success with a very nice substitute for critter ivory inlays, the Tagua nut. Trouble is, when you start slicing, you never know where the void is. Ahh, yes; stabilized wood. Enter the notorious and ever tacky, multi colored "Pakka" wood knife handles, found at better flea markets everywhere. How about yet another wonderful gift from the French to the schlock schleppers, "FAUX". Thass French fer "bogus", to all the late night Shopping Channel fans out there.
   3dogs - Friday, 02/06/04 09:42:26 EST


Got it, thank you!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/06/04 10:28:05 EST

Jenna; At least you are honest about this being a school assignment. However, I am sure that as you have access to the internet and obviously a computer then you should have access to a word processing program and a spell checker. For the record, I know it is “cool” to use shorthand in today’s world for kids but for the older generation who learned to write with full words, it is annoying to see things like: "2" for "to" or "too", "u" for "you", misspelling of easy words and stumbling with synonyms such as: "higher" for "hire" and "were" for "wear" etc.
We don’t do homework for students here, but the things you are asking requires the input of many people because the answers to your questions are different for every person who works in the craft.

If you are taking a survey of answers mine are:

*Anyone with the interest, some are better at it than others.
*Anyone, what would you like me to make for you? I will send you the price when you define the project.
*Anyone that wants hand crafted workmanship or industry that needs the qualities of a forged product.
*I have never made any item for any animal.
*I wear normal clothes, jeans, cotton shirts etc.
*When I am not bothered by anyone wanting me to do something else.
*All year, the work is not seasonal.
*After my “day” job and between the other chores and projects at home.
*Not enough.
*Like any other business, add up the costs plus something to live on.
*Not enough.
*Counting the job that pays the bills, 16.
*The fire will keep going as long as I keep the propane turned on.
*In a shop at my home.
*I live in the country. In southern California.
*Blacksmithing started thousands of years ago and I don’t believe anyone can say just WHERE it started.
*Most blacksmiths live in houses.
*My family lives in my house.
*I enjoy working with metal, creating useful objects, recycling things most people just throw away.
*answered above, if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it. It is too much work for something you hate to do.
*Who said we wear heavy boots? Reasonable foot protection is required against dropping things on your foot or having hot metal or scale fall on your foot but heavy boots are not a requirement.
*Who said we wear leather aprons? Some smiths do, some don’t it is personal preference. Most people that wear aprons, in any trade, do so to protect their clothes.
   Wayne Parris - Friday, 02/06/04 10:52:35 EST

Sword-making question:-

When people hear I am slowly learning to make my own knives, the vast majority tend to immediately ask "will you make me a sword?". I fear that my response of howling like a banshee and swinging from the light fittings is somehow damaging a potential customer base a couple of decades away.

Is there a better way to tell them "no" that won't cause them to bolt for the nearest emergency exit like so many startled wildebeest?


When I come down from the light fittings, I tend to explain that there are only so many things I can botch in a 3" blade, and the potential for mistakes increases exponentially with length...

Serious bit - what is the current expected time from registration to allowing access to the slack-tub pub?

   Peter - Friday, 02/06/04 11:03:39 EST

Turning Down Work: Peter, Sometimes the most polite way is to simply quote a price that YOU are happy with. Make up a price list with expontential increases as the length increases. Say you make a 12" Red Neck Bowie for $150, then an 18" blade would be $300 and a 24" $900, 30" = $1200 and 34" = $2000. . something like that. Explain that the longer the blade the more difficult it is to keep straight and to heat treat (truth) and therfore the longer the blade the higher the price per inch. Over a certain length you may want to insist on a libility disclaimer and proof that the buyer has homeowner's libility insurance. . .

The prices above are just an example, yours may want to be higher (enough to pay for the necessary equipment).

I am embarrased to say Pub registrations are months behind. I'll look your's up and process ASAP.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 11:20:26 EST

ITC Thickness: Jim, I usualy apply two coats over Kaowool and one over hard refractory. Using the recommended dilution apply a coat as evenly as possible with a brush. Sometimes on Kaowool it is hard to get full even coverage, do not worry about it. Let dry (hours in the summer, overnight in the winter). Then fire the forge until hot. Let cool and apply another coat. The second coat will go on much more evenly and thiner since the kaowool is "sealed".
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 11:40:46 EST

guru- would you please email me- I have been trying to join CSI, and some combination of my computer and your computer wont let me. I just get stuck in cyberlimbo. Same thing happens if I try to use your contact form, or post on the hammer in. The button gets a little blue outline, but nothing else happens.
   Ries - Friday, 02/06/04 12:51:26 EST

Peter: The price point is the best way to discourage folks that I know of. When I had a website up advertising that I made knives and tomahawks, and did general smithing as well, I got at least one request per week from somebody who wanted something either difficult or impossible, and for a laughable price.

I didn't list prices on the page as a way of getting around my ISP's rules of being a commercial site. As a result, you had to email me to get a quote. For a fancy pipe tomahawk, which I DID make, the usual version was $350-$400. That's dirt cheap, and I won't make one for that now. 9 out of 10 people never wrote back once they learned the price. Some folks did ask if I had anything cheaper, at which point I had to explain things in terms of the hours involved, which almost always got some understanding.

And then there were the kids who wanted replicas of fantasy swords/blades/monstrosities they'd seen in Anime or Manga (Japanese cartoon/comic book)series, which were easy to dismiss by saying I'd be happy to make the item if they could prove they owned the copyright! Never had a response back from anyone on that one.
   Alan-L - Friday, 02/06/04 14:07:28 EST

I was wondering if anyone could give me pointers on grinding blade bevels. I have made three knives so far and they turned out fairly good but, I would like to clean up the lines on future projects.
   Jett - Friday, 02/06/04 14:21:50 EST

Grinding: Jett, The Wayne Goddard video (also on DVD) titled the The Wire Damascus Hunting Knife has some good pointers on grinding demonstrated in the video. (review in progress).

One point Wayne makes is to FINISH a complete surface end to end rather than grind a little then look and then grind a little more. Each time you stop you have to reposition the blade and lose accuracy and continuity. You also create a line where you stopped.

Having the right grinding surface helps. Wayne makes special plattens out of wood so that belts have just the right arc or flatness. He also makes most of his own grinders so that he has a great variety. Disk grinding tends to make the flattest surfaces.

After grinding the finishing continues by hand using shaped holders for abrasive paper and cloth. Wet sanding increases life of the abrasives.

Always finish complete surfaces as flat as posible and leave corners as sharp and crisp as possible until the very last. If you round corners early then they get rounder and rounder and it is hard to tell where their center is (the line). Only round corners as the last step before buffing.

Staying off corners when you file, grind and sand takes constant vigilance and concentration on control of the tools. Scrapers are a good tool in this respect as they are easier to make flat planes with. Paper and cloth are the worst because they tend to roll up or bulge at edges and cause rounding. To prevent this the paper or cloth must be held against a flat surface. I often glue them down. Machine tables and surface plates are often used to back up abrasives for this type work. Flat planed boards also work when you glue the abrasive onto them.

It takes practice but you can make parts that look like they were machined and surface ground using hand finishing methods. The rule of keeping off the corners is one of the most important.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/04 15:49:43 EST

Discouraging with a price point can be dangerous! My father ran an RV repair center and one day when they had more work than could be done, a man came in with a Semi-trailer. The front of it was caved in. My father told him that he was really too busy to take the work on (he REALLY didn’t want to do the job) the driver pressed him to do an estimate. So my father figured out what would be a NICE profit on the job then TRIPPLED it! The driver said, when can you start? So refusing a job with price point alone could be dangerous!
   Wayne P - Friday, 02/06/04 15:51:27 EST


This stuff is best applied over wet (soaking wet) kaowool. Wetting the kaowool can make it easier to handle too, depending on your forge design, but if you don't wet it, it has a tendency to form a "shell" on the surface that doesn't last anywhere near as long or work near as well. With the kaowool wet, it soaks in a bit, the wetter the wool is, the further it soaks.

Harbor freight lathe:

I wrote a mini-treatise on this but the school computer I wrote it on ate it! So here goes my second try:

My dad and I have one of these lathes and we have been using it for about seven years now. It's a good lathe for beginners; it is very durable, especially considering that it's a Harbor Freight product, and it's versatile. It is NOT a precision tool by any means; if you have cleaned everything up and tightened everything perfectly, you might get down to 1/64" of slop. But it is tough (ours has never broken down), fairly versatile, and cheap. It's a good learner's lathe. Ours has served as a wood, wax, and metal lathe, and I am working on metalspinning tools for it. Just don't expect precision.

Does anyone have any information on rivet spinning that they could point me to? I'd really like to learn about it, as I have a couple projects that would benefit from a cold-placed non-pop rivet that doesn't have to be hammered. I'm looking at those knife rivets and stuff that you can set with a press, but a) I don't have a press and b) they don't look as strong as a one-piece rivet. Thanks for any info you can provide.

Rainy and windy in Kaneohe, Hawaii. It's my school's Carnival day (Grin)
   T. Gold - Friday, 02/06/04 16:30:08 EST

Paw-Paw, Umm... sure!

I've noticed the same about price points being the way to discourage a customer base. Fortunately most of the folks I've been talking to understand hours and materials just fine, and have at least some idea of what an hourly rate must be. So then it becomes a straightforward question of what would they pay for a given item. For many things, I'm still too inefficient to actually sell something. But I'm getting better. And on some things, I think I'm just about there.

   Steve A - Friday, 02/06/04 16:30:31 EST

T Gold: 1/64 = .015625 tolerance. For an awful lot of the work we do that is just fine. thanks for the report! That's good to know. For those of us in areas where there are not a lot of old tools being scrapped, the Harbor Freight lathe might be the only one we could ever afford.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/06/04 17:59:40 EST

VACUUM PUMP The compressor of an old refrigerator can often be had free, and they work great. Don't forget to keep it lubricated, since it will no longer be sealed.
   - Rob. Curry - Friday, 02/06/04 18:07:41 EST

Im back, I just saw a gas forge and... I didnt realize just how much gas they use. But this was a wilder type of person.
   Kain - Friday, 02/06/04 19:18:39 EST

Kain, a good, medium sized, atmospheric propane forge (two burner) will easily run 8 hours on a small 4-5 gallon tank. That's just over $1 an hour, here in Phoenix with our inflated propane prices......
   Ellen - Friday, 02/06/04 19:29:00 EST

hey guru, i read your sword page awile ago and i realized why you guys got so testy. im going to buy those books you recomended, and get proper tools, im sick of forging with crapy tools, it isnt as much fun as using the real stuff because, i cant weld, cant shape that well because i cant get it hot enough, my tools arent specially made for blacksmithing so they dont work well,and since my blades dont heat even i cant get good blades unless i grind down a piece of steel. dont think im winning, im not im just telling you im taking your advice and getting tools and the books.

by the way i was searching for anvils and i found this amish store, they had A.S.O anvils,(told you i read the page)for $140, and they were only 70#, I WAS OUTRAGED, what a rip off!!!!!!!!
   bladesmith in trouble - Friday, 02/06/04 20:22:39 EST

Price points, refusing work and DVDs:

Thanks for the pointers. At the moment, pricing things is an interesting exercise in itself, not knowing what I can justify on time. I've bought a few knives by makers where the fit & finish is less than I'd be satisfied with, but they are better known, so the name carries some oomph. And therefore a price tag.

I particularly like the copyright suggestion, thanks Alan. The usual request I get is for katanas, needless to say - followed by the gamut of half-truths and misunderstandings about the construction. OK, I like katanas, I've used them in practice a small amount (but I preferred bokken), but I'm not even going to contemplate making one until I'm more satisfied with my skills.

On DVDs - Wayne's is excellent; Gene Osborne's ones on cable damascus are also well worth getting (I did a review of the first one on BritishBlade & CKD); I have the one mentioned in the recent Blade by Charlie Ochs somewhere in transit at the moment too. Sometimes some things are easier to pick up from video (or better yet, live) demonstration than from books.

Ah well, slowly improving. At least I no longer feel the need to grind *all* the way through my welds to test them!
   Peter - Saturday, 02/07/04 02:38:48 EST

I just re-read the Sword making faq, and noticed that you mention stock removal with a belt sander, do you mean using a Sears & Roebuck type woodworkers belt sander or one of the fancy knife blade grinding belt sanders? I wonder if the Sears warrenty covers blademaking :-)
   Hudson - Saturday, 02/07/04 10:12:30 EST

Bladesmith in Trouble:

Have you hooked up with the Southern Ohio Forge folks yet, as Paw Paw directed you on Feb.1? It will help you immeasurably.

Hudson: I can say from sad experience that the sears-type 4x36 belt sanders will work for one knife. After that, the grit in the bearings gets a little overbearing ;-)
   Alan-L - Saturday, 02/07/04 11:01:37 EST

Fuel Costs: Fuel is Fuel is Fuel and costs either time or money the world over. If time is not too much of a concern waste wood can be converted to charcoal very inexpensively. Many do it out of neccessity and others do it becuase they prefer charcoal.

Gas forges CAN be expensive to run. They are only efficient in the size that is just big enough to do the job. If you fire up a big billet heater to make pocket knoves then you are wasting 90% of the fuel.

At Quad-State I was watching a fellow using a micro forge to heat nail stock for header demonstrations. He was only heating one piece at a time but it was taking no longer than in a much bigger gas forge. This was using a propane torch and throw away bottle. It would have probably heated a couple rods at a time.

Micro forge fuel cost? Unknown. But these little bottles are the most expensive fuel you can use. However, it is possible to run one of these torches on a bulk tank and hose.

Refillable portable bottles are also much more expnsive than the bulk tanks that the gas company refills on site. SO, when comparing propane forge fuel costs you must consider the type of supply.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/04 11:51:42 EST

Woodworking Tools Saws, sanders and other machines designed for wood can SOMETIMES be used for metal but most fail miserably when used to cut metal. They make abrasive cut off wheels to fit wood saws. But use one once and the saw is usualy trashed. I made that mistake once. . .

Some sanders are designed for both wood and metal and are no problem. But many woodworking machines do not seal bearings tightly because a little sawdust is usualy not a problem. If it gets in the bearing it is soft and gets pushed out of the way, soaks up a little oil and acts like a seal. . . Metal swarf and especialy grinding grit including abrasive wrecks bearings almost instantly.

Many years ago I bought EVERYTHING from "Where America Shops". But after a bunch of serious repeat failures of electric power tools (armatures that fell apart, switches that locked up, gear boxes that failed) I quit buying ANYTHING from there. I went through 4 angle grinders and never wore out the original wheel. . . The tools they sold were designed for the homeowner that bought them, used them for a few minutes, then hung them on the wall to look pretty and impress friends. Try to put a few hours real use on them and they fell apart. This included the higher priced models with the "Professional" label. They spent all the money on fancy design and pretty color but the working parts were junk.

After that I started buying nothing but REAL professional power tools. The B&D Wildcat grinders (now made by DeWalt), Milwaukee drills. . . They all have lasted for years in heavy service including a machine shop and in construction. The cost was only a LITTLE more than the hardware store "homeowner" quality tools but the quality was infinitely better.

Note that Black and Decker is mostly homeowner stuff and their professional line is made by DeWalt.

Milwaukee used to be the BEST but I have heard some complaints that the quality has gone down. However, some of that is waht you pay for. Since Sears has started carrying their line they have come out with some cheaper models. If you buy the heavier stuff with like the drills with real Jacobs chucks I think they are the same as always. . . but I haven't been in the market for a long time.

Stock Removal: Yes, this is most commonly done on a belt grinder/sander. The large surface area holds up better than a wheel and the belts self cool. Belts are easy to change so that it is possible to use a variety of grits in a short time. Everytime you change a grinding wheel it must be tested and trued. They also tend to load up faster due to the small surface area.

The variety of belt grits available lets you go from heavy stock removal to a near polished surface on the same machine. However, most knifemakers end up with a variety of machines for each range and type of work.

The belt sanders for this are usualy somewhat specialized. Generlly the bigger the better (MORE POWER ! !) but you CAN do small blades on a small belt grinder. Small grinders are also used for fine detail work. Knife grinders usualy have hard flat plattens and rubber contact wheels. The contact wheels are large diameter for grinding hollow grinds.

The most flexible belt grinders have a contact wheel, platten, open belt (for soft curves) and a disk for glue on abrasive sheets. They often tilt for convienience.

You can do much more on a belt grinder than a bench grinder as well as just about every sharpening task the bench grinder is designed for. Once you have a good belt grinder you will relegate the bench grinder to specialized uses like mounting a diamond wheel, wire brush or for buffing.

See the Kayne and Son site and Centaur Forge for various lines of belt grinders.

   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/04 12:56:06 EST

guru, what is the southern ohio forge, a blacksmith club or support group, like to help begginers find tools and information?
   bladesmith in trouble - Saturday, 02/07/04 12:58:36 EST

how much does it cost a month?
   bladesmith in trouble - Saturday, 02/07/04 12:59:14 EST


I'll say this one time. CONTACT SOFA and ask the above questions of the group itself. If you can't be bothered to look at the website when you are given it as a refernce, I can't be bothered with helping you!

If there is any part of the above that you do not understand, ask someone that can read to explain it to you.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/07/04 13:01:44 EST

I have used quite a few Craftsman brand power tools and others, including professional types. I agree that several years ago the Craftsman line declined, But have noticed that recently, say last two years, the line has improved. I can reccomend the 4 1/2" angle grinder as a very good value when on sale. Note that I did not say it was the best, nor least expensive. I have had both the 4" and 4 1/2" and can reccomend the 4 1/2", not the 4". I also have the Dewalt, and at $68.00 on sale at Home Depot, a good value. I don't like the handle on the Dewalt as much but that is a personal opinion. I have a neighbor who has bought a fair number of the under $20 angle grinders at various stores, and they are not worth $5.00.
I have a Grizzly 12" bench disc sander. For about $125 delivered, it is a very useful dedurr and blending machine. It is not a high Hp machine, and has an aluminum dics, but has served me for about 5 years well. Buy the good Zirconemum grit discs. I have a pair of cheap horz./vertical bandsaw. They do have adjustable blade guides. With the blade it came with, would hardly cut a beer can, but with a high quality, brand name bi-metal blade, an excellent tool.

One thing I have found is that with high quality abrasives and blades, most of the cheap tools can give very good quality work, and the abrasives/blades last so much longer that the cost is well offset.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/07/04 13:33:32 EST

Belt Sanders: Currently I do not have a bench type belt sander. Years ago our shop had a nice heavy duty one that was a wonderful tool. Today I use my Milwaukee hand wood sander for dressing hammers and anvil horns and faces. It works well for these ocassional tasks but is NOT a tool I would try to make a blade with.

Belts and Blades: Ptree, So right you are. On an average blacksmithing day my little cut off saw would eat one plain carbon steel blade every day. When I changed to the fancy HSS varible pitch blades by LENOX blade life jumped 100 fold.

The "cheap" blades were costing me about $4.00 each and often broke at the weld when they had lots of life in them. However, the life was not much. The LENOX blades cost me $17.00 each at the time. But they lasted for months in daily use. They were also of sufficient quality that I could run my saw a full speed while sawing stainless and tool steels. In the end the "expensive" blades were much LESS expensive to use. Not only did they last longer they cut faster.

Anyone that has changed blades on a bandsaw knows that blade life if not just the life of the blade, its the time NOT spent installing the blade and adjusting the saw.

I use LENOX blades in my small Ridgid 4x6" saw (the one all the crummy cheap imports copied and left out the blade adjustments) AND in our large 10x12" shop saw. Performance is excellent.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/04 14:08:48 EST

In about 1980 I wrote in 4" tall letters on my shop door :
"I will not buy another craftsman power tool".
And I have stuck with it since. Sears hand tools are great. But the power tools are often made in hair dryer or vacuum cleaner factories. And if you dont put your own name on a tool, there is little incentive to make it very good.
In my shop, currently 3 guys plus me floating in and out, we wear out power tools. I usually have 6 or 7 4 -1/2" grinders at a time, and I have standardised on Bosch. Yeah, they cost a little more- about a hundred bucks. But they last forever, and we use em really hard. Employees drop things off ladders, trip over cords, cut cords with grinders, yank plugs out of walls- all the stuff you dont do yourself when you paid for the tool. Some of my Bosch grinders are 15 years old. Some have had to be rebuilt by bosch once or twice, but they are rebuildable, usually for less than a new one. If not, I buy a new one. We have one big 9" Milwaukee, half metal and half red plastic, and it too has lasted years of hard abuse.
I also really like my Jet 12" disc/ 6x48" belt sander. With blue zirconium belts and discs, you can feed a piece of 1/2" round stainless into the disc and just watch it shrink. 10 years old and still running great. I think it is a horse and a half or two horse motor. Not a real bladesmiths sander, but usable for blades, and everything else as well.
And I am totally sold on bimetal bandsaw blades. We hand cut a lot of stainless on our little 4x6 bandsaw- tilt it up and just run it thru the blade freehand. One of the hardest things on a blade. And we still get a few weeks of use out of starret powerband m2 blades- several hundred cuts at least. I get em from MSC, order em and two days later they arrive.
   ries - Saturday, 02/07/04 16:31:17 EST

I've got a "Welbuilt (brand name)) horizontal/vertical cutting band saw out in the shop. It is NOT the equivilant of a Jet, but (although made in Taiwan) it's also not the typical Taiwan crap. Good bi/metal or High Carbon Lenox blades last an average of a month of cutting.

You get what you pay for folks! Good tools are good value.

If you buy ONE Bosch hand grinder for a hundred bucks, and it outlast twelve Hibachi brand at $20, which was the cheapest tool.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/07/04 16:36:34 EST

i'm a big bosch fan also. i do have a HF 4 1/2" grinder that will probably last forever. I'll walk thru snow to pry open the frozen toolbox in the truck to get a bosch grinder, rather than pick up the HF one that's two feet away.
   mike-hr - Saturday, 02/07/04 17:20:30 EST

I too like the Lennox in my 4" x 6" bandsaw. I use the 9 to 14 tooth variable, bi-metal called the Diemaster II. I think any of the name brands, ie Lennox, Starret, Simmonds etc will earn their keep.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/07/04 18:02:36 EST

I have a good friend that swears by the German power tools but he also bought a lot of Japanese (Makita). All light durable tools.

When I was stocking up on these things I was "Buying American". But many of the "good old" brands are going down hill OR being made overseas. . . My gripe is that I WANT to buy American but it is getting so there is nothing to buy that is worth having. . . I was always willing to pay more if I had to but I cannot afford to unless I get good quality.

   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/04 18:19:58 EST

I have a wide variety of power tools! there are some which are more epensive than others and some that do not last. Master craft it not always the best for some things. But Guru which drill would you sugest?

   - Moe - Saturday, 02/07/04 19:13:04 EST

If you use a hand-held belt sander on steel, take the dust collector bag off first. Don't ask me how I know this. (Grin).
   Mike B - Saturday, 02/07/04 19:15:22 EST

Since you are talking tools theres a guy near here that has a big old reciprocating hack saw with about a 14 inch blade, its powered with elec. and when its finished cutting it has a shut-off. My thoughts were it would be slow and maybe not get used much. He wants $110 for it. Is a saw like this usefull or just one of dust collectors?
   Robert-ironworker - Saturday, 02/07/04 20:00:19 EST

Cheap Tools -

In 1970 I bought a 3/8 drill from Sears... it was from their line called "Companion" which was, at the time, considered lower quality than the Craftsman line. I was poor,still am, but the drill was a bargain at $9.95. I abused that thing for years, thinking that the next hole I drilled would be its last. Well, last year it finally went belly up. Thirty three years of service for $9.95 ... a lucky buy.

Last year (right before I had to throw the old "Companion" away) I was at one of these el cheapo tool sales. You know the kind... ten pounds of screwdrivers for $2.95, etc. They had a table full of $10 angle grinders. Against my better judgement, I plunked down my $10 thinking that I could put a cup brush on it and not have to keep changing from a grinding wheel to a cup brush on my old angle grinder (Skil - in service for over 18 years). At the time, I was working on some gate posts at the entrance to the ranch so the next day, I put the cup brush on and started to clean up some rusty pipe so I could prime it. I was able to clean amost 24 feet of pipe before the thing flew to pieces, literally. The moral - cheap angle grinders, like cheap files, are no bargain. Regardless of their intended use.
   - gerald - Saturday, 02/07/04 20:21:39 EST

Paw Paw, what kind of forge was that you had at the Museum of Appalachia? You know on your demo schedule page.
   Kain - Saturday, 02/07/04 20:25:17 EST

whats the S.O.F.A. web site
   bladesmith in trouble - Saturday, 02/07/04 20:43:58 EST

The big old powered hacksaws will cut and when tuned and in good condition will cut straight in very big sections. They will cut fast with the correct blade for the job. That said, the blades are high, and often hard to find. The hydraulic systems on these old saws MUST work right for them to function properly. Most are obsolete, and hard to obtain parts for. Prior to buying, check the saw to see that the feed adjusts the speed downward, and that the saw lifts a bit on each return stroke. if the hydraulics work ok, and the bearings seem ok, then it might be a decent buy. Most of these things are huge for the cutting ability, and leak oil like they belong to a sheik. I would prefer to buy a decent used cutoff bandsaw.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/07/04 21:36:50 EST


Ask for permission to make a test cut with a decent blade and see how square the cut is. If it's square, grab the saw before it gets away! The old recipricals are slow but they are much more accurate than the band saws. If I had the opportunity, that saw would be sitting in my shop right now, and I'd be bragging!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/07/04 21:51:11 EST


That's a coal forge, welded up firebox from mild steel and bellows for the air supply.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/07/04 21:53:29 EST

I'm a big fan of the Metabo angle grinders. I had to replace my first one a couple of years or so ago after many years of hard srvice. (I had it so long that I'm not sure if it was fifteen or twenty years) I use the Metabo for the heavy work with grinding wheels and stiff cup brushes. I've gone through five of the 4 1/2" Milwalkee grinders (mostly running paper discs) in the same time. I liked the paddle switch on the Milwaulkee for that type of finish sanding work but I'll never buy another one. I'll replace the one which just died with another Metabo. Quality tools always work out to be the least expensive in the long run.
   SGensh - Saturday, 02/07/04 22:11:07 EST

Got to brag, sorry, but I just got a 300# Peter wright for about .80 a pound. O could of got it for .30 but I felt guilty. My question is on the marked weight. The only numbers are under the Peter Wright and it has a 2 on the left side, in the center is a 3 inside a circle that says solid wrought, and on the right side is a 24. It its 224 its 300, and the 3 in the center is ? (300?). Anyway I an grinning like a cheshire kitty with feathers in the teeth. They are still out there, I've only been looking for a decade for a nice medium size anvil..... :)
   - Tim - Sunday, 02/08/04 00:17:56 EST

Tim, If you anvils numbers are 2 3 24 it weighs 332lbs. Way to go, thats a good deal!
   Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 02/08/04 00:30:27 EST

STEVE GENSCH; I'm with you on the Metabo. I use mine at the plant almost exclusively with a cutoff wheel. I will slit 11 ga sheet with it for making guards and boxes. It doesn't cause the warpage that a torch would, and it's pretty easy to follow a straight soapstone line with it. Sometimes, if I have to make a fold, I will cut about halfway through the sheet, Vee the cut a little with the Metabo, and fold it over the edge of the bench. If you don't have ready access to a brake and shear, ya gots to improvise. If you're worried about torsional stresses on the fold causing cracks later on, you can backstitch the fold with a welder, but I've seldom had to.
   3dogs - Sunday, 02/08/04 00:59:27 EST

Everything you want to know about blacksmithing..the answers to all the questions you have asked here....
Are already here on Anvilfire!
Start poking around the different corners and crannies..it's all here...forge design, history, how do do it on the cheap.
Bladesmith-to-be( in trouble?)
Anvilfire has a huge collection of links to other blacksmithing sites. SOFA is your state smithing association....and is on that list
Tim; You win.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 02/08/04 04:37:23 EST

I am re-working (new firepot) an old forge that already has a cement lining. I need to make some cement repairs to the area around the new pot and have some of the modern binder to "paint" onto the old cement to aid in getting a bond with the new. One formula I have seen for low cost fire cement includes addition of 1/2 pound of table salt to the normal mix of 1 shovel of Portland Cement + 3 shovels of sand. Question for the group: What does the additionn of the table salt do or not do? Thanks for your attention. Jim C.
   - Jim C. - Sunday, 02/08/04 09:02:50 EST

Bladesmith wanna-be in trouble:

This is your last chance. READ THE POSTS. Read the top post on this page. Click the link. Laziness and stupidity are not rewarded. Or not in a good way, anyway. If you can't be bothered, neither can I. After all, why should anyone try to help someone who repeatedly ignores the advise they get?

Tim: Score!

Kain: Welcome to the club! One of the signs of a smith is that we don't notice burns much after a while...
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/08/04 09:14:28 EST

I bought an old(thorn scythe-1900)scythe from a man in monroe(sweet union) and I noticed how it was bent, flattened, and curled without leaving any dents or marks of hammer or other tool use on it.
   Kain - Sunday, 02/08/04 09:18:13 EST

Kain, How much did you pay for the old scythe? They are a cool old tool, I got a real nice one hanging in the shed.

I may go get a closer look at that power hacksaw, thanks.
   Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 02/08/04 09:48:05 EST

Heh, $28, I almost bought one with a 4 foot long blade, I forgot what it was called. I may have bought it for cheap but its real, and tough.(just a little rusty on the outer shell)
   Kain - Sunday, 02/08/04 09:56:06 EST

I prefer a well-sharpened scythe to a weed-eater for cutting long grass. Once you get it sharp and learn to keep it that way, and get used to the motion of cutting with it, it's actually faster, too. Plus it gives you a good workout for reducing "love-handles"!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/08/04 11:35:48 EST


I just realized which picture you were talking about. That one was a rivet forge from about the 1920's. I no longer have that one. Sorry, I thought you were asking about the one I use now.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/08/04 12:27:22 EST

3 Dogs, I'm lucky enough to have a small shear (Wysong and Miles 14 ga by 6') and a little press brake (40 ton Pacific Hydraulic with a 12' bed)in the shop. But I've done lots of that "improvising" stuff in the field. It's amazing what you can do with just a few good tools when you need to. I like the kerf to bend idea, I haven't ever tried that one.
   SGensh - Sunday, 02/08/04 12:28:43 EST

Power Drills: I like my 1980-90's Milwaukees. Bought the same 1/4" low speed models for my children. The low speed models are necessary for metal work. Many manufacturers do not give you a choice and using the variable speed control at its lowest limit tends to burn out the motor or control.

We also have several magnetic base drill presses with Milwaukee drills on them that have run for thousands of hours.

Many years ago my parents gave me two bright orange K-Mart power tools for Christmas. Privately I rolled my eyes and stuffed them away because I did not want the frustration of cheap tools. . .

A few years later I was desperate and pulled out the drill to do a job. It did well. I ended up using it to grind valves and hone cylinders on dozens of engines. Great tool made by McSombody & ???. So, later I pulled out the reciprocating saw made by the same company to cut some 1/8" Masonite. It went about two feet (10 seconds) and the cam sheared the coupling bar off the ram. . . I pulled the piece of junk apart, saw the broken spot weld, tack welded it back together best I could and ran the saw another 10 feet. . . At least my repair was 5 times better than the original. It went straight to the trash can.

Prior to my dissapointment in tools from "Where America Shops" I had bought a small $25 circular in about 1974 (that was less than half of what "good" saws were selling for at the time). I used it off and on for twelve years then started the construction of my shop. It almost completed the job but I had a helper that would force the saw when boards pinched and he wrecked the shoulder where the blade seats. I still have the saw and it works but not on heavy cuts. It was a very good tool for the money. Other tools I purchased from the same source had a life counted in a few hours.

The point? You can never tell about power tools. I like my Milwaukee drills but I have two saws made by them that are junk. They hold up OK but they are badly designed clumbsy tools.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/08/04 12:29:41 EST

Power Hacksaw: They are wonderful tools. Blades are available from almost any machine tool supply.

Some of these machines are much more complicated than others. The simple ones have less to go wrong than the complicated ones. Many have purely mechanical feeds that work fine and are easy to repair if necessary. As noted above the hydraulic feeds need careful attention (just as they do on large band saws). Generaly these are a simple machine that are perfect for being maintained in a blacksmith shop.

The advantage of these machines is that they take a heavy hard backed blade that usualy cut very straight. Blades are easy to change and last a long time UNLESS they are jambed into a piece while running. I had an idiot do that in a shop with three brand new 17" blades in one afternoon. He broke big chunks out of the blades each time.

The disadvantage is that they cannot be used to cut small stock. The high cutting force and agressive teeth will pull and bend small stock (less than 1/2"). Same goes for bundles of stock.

These saws can be run wet or dry. Like most the blade lasts much longer wet. However, blades generally have a VERY long life and do not give the kinds of problems common to band saws.

The price is right. Even though I am not in the market I would buy it. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 02/08/04 12:43:13 EST

Wood/Metal Power Tools: Yep, don't use saw dust contaminated collector bags when grinding steel. . . It also pays to clean all the saw dust out of the tool before starting.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/08/04 12:56:09 EST

I am interested in selling horseshoes and basic farrier tools.Where can i find out the manufactures to get started to buy a inventory..shoes,nails, anvils, etc..I am just started out from scatch.Thanks ME Cervas
   ME - Sunday, 02/08/04 17:12:50 EST

hi- i am a sculptor- i have something in bronze i want to patinae pink quick- and i do not have a book handy in this regard- Will someone please let me know- What is a recipe for Pink Patinae? Merci Thankyou very much!!!
   lynda c. - Sunday, 02/08/04 17:43:19 EST

ME, Two of our advertisers are the largest sellers of these items in the country. Start with their catalogs. They list the brands. Then find the manufacturers and make a deal. Most are listed in Thomas Register.

SOME manufacturers decide who they will sell through based on territories. With the Internet making ANY business an international one the idea of territories is archaic.

Note that many of the items they carry are custom made for them by both domestic and overseas manufacturers. This requires designing the product, finding a manufacturer and paying for tooling as well as production.

Getting started in a competitive retail business requires a lot of research. The addresses and contact information for many of these folks is considered proprietary information. Those that are in the position of being privy to such information usualy know better than to burn their clients by giving up contact lists. I do.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/08/04 17:52:29 EST

Man, to tell you the truth I was about to buy a book on making a forge, but... You have to have a spare hot water heater to do so. Atleast for that forge. Maybe theres a book I can get that will tell me how to make a forge in a different way. The planfiles' brakedrum forge didnt work for me, maybe I need a more specific or easier version.
   Kain - Sunday, 02/08/04 18:54:43 EST

I have a small no. 2 flypress that I use mainly for embossing my leatherwork. I have been offered a larger press and have my choice of either a size 4, 6 or 10 press free of charge. The steel sections I work with tend to be no larger than 3" x .5" but usually about 2" x .25". Which press should I choose?

Thanks in advance,
   Bob G - Sunday, 02/08/04 18:55:56 EST


You can do small work on a big press, but it's awfully hard to do large work on a small press. Personally, I'd go for the #10.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/08/04 19:05:14 EST

Hey Paw Paw
   Kain - Sunday, 02/08/04 19:10:04 EST


Rome wasn't built in a day. If you try to hurry and build a forge, you'll have problems. I think you already found that out. The brake drum forge is the simplest forge to build for a first forge, and can be built for nearly nothing if you're a good scrounger. I'm not going to TELL you to go back to the brake drum forge, but I really wish you would. Struggling through the set backs is a good way to learn. LEARNING to struggle through the set backs is an important lesson for life, not just for blacksmithing.

Don't give up so quick son. Keep working on it. Take some pictures of where you are in the process, and email them to me, I'll try to help you out.

But I won't build your forge for you, you've got to do it for yourself to learn anything from the process.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/08/04 19:29:36 EST

Kain, what went wrong with your brake drum forge?
   T Gold - Sunday, 02/08/04 20:16:45 EST

Bronze Patina. LyndaC., If they are still in business, Bryant Lab in Berkeley, California, sells patinating chemicals. I talked to them one time, and they had a chemist on line to help with patina problems. Ph 510-526-3141.

Horseshoes/Supplies. ME, Begin by purchasing "American Farriers Journal 2004 Farrier Supplies and Services", Nov., 2003, Volume 29, Number 7, $30.00. www.americanfarriers.com
You can get listed in the categories called "Products" and "Company A T Z"; when listed, you receive a free copy. This is a 329 page directory of suppliers, farrier schools, ed videos, and brand names of products. I hope you know the difference between pulloffs and a hoof tester.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/08/04 20:34:24 EST

Robert-ironworker, if it's water cooled and in decent shape you can cut a lot on them. The one steel mill I worked at in the 70's used them to slice up slab section and billet section to check for porosity. This was as cooled from off the mills from rolling temperature - finishing at about 1900 F or better. A lot of low carbon mild steel but also some mid carbon light alloys such as 1546H.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 02/08/04 21:46:44 EST

I am making a tool for gardening. What alloy is used for the tines of a pichfork or garden spading fork? Is heat treatment necessary for the yield strength? Is there an alloy of stainless steel that has the same characteristics?
Very interesting website!
   John G. - Sunday, 02/08/04 21:47:45 EST

Sofa is *ONE* of Ohio's smithing organizations. It's close to the western border bout midway north&south.

MOB Mid Ohio Blacksmiths is around Columbus

NOB Northern Ohio Blacksmiths is to the north and

Western Reserve Blacksmiths is to the NE

Went to my first SWABA meeting Saturday, well froze, well fed, good folks and a "there but for the grace of God go I" scrappile. Kind of a nice feeling to realize that my smithing friends back in Ohio were trecking off to a SOFA meeting the same time I was travelling to the SWABA meeting.

Gotta close on my house *soon*, the NRAO guesthouse hasn't said anything bout the anvil in the room, but I picked up around 9' of 3/4" wrought iron rod at the fleamarket today and I don't think they would like it next to the anvil...

   - Thomas P - Sunday, 02/08/04 22:22:25 EST

On the cast steel anvils from India... I have one of those. Seems to have a good rebound and loud (painful) ring. The face seems to be rather soft (quite a bit softer than a hammer anyhow) and I've managed to leave some pretty good dents in it already and I've hardly done anything with it _yet._
Oh well, it's my first anvil anyhow... And it _was_ free too...
   Cyjal - Sunday, 02/08/04 22:39:32 EST

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