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 9 - 12, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Ahhh, swords. I'm not a regular reader of Anvilfire, but every time I read, I come across young, ignorant people wishing to make swords (or knives at least), and an ever-increasing irritation from the rest of the posters for having to fight with the same ignorant questions again and again and again.

I'm 21, I'll put forth first, and I have forged a pretty decent sword at the end of last year. It is still awaiting its handle assembly, but forging and heat treatment are done.

One of the things I wanted to do eventually when I started out blacksmithing was to be able to forge swords and machete blades. Why? I don't really have a good answer beyond the sentiment that they are "cool". Actually, for the machete part, I do a fair amount of brush cutting, so that was a more practical matter. But I grew up reading Conan and other swords and sorcery stories, and my interest led that way.

I realized when I started forging that I did not have the skills or knowledge to forge a sword. I read Internet boards for the most part, and some books, and I built several forges and played around making things out of iron. I bought the video featuring Tim Lively and Tai Goo from Hood's Woods. Some of the things I made from iron were blades.

And I have improved. I started forging when I was 16, and I think I can make a good blade now. (Handles still give me fits, but that's another matter.) So I wanted to make sword for the same reasons the rest of these people do, but I went about it in a manner that actually led to me making some. I realized my ignorance, realized to some extent how ignorant my questions sounded, and did not expect to learn it all in one reading.

I'd strongly recommend that anyone with no money or experience who wants to make blades wend their way over to primalfires.com as Wendy suggested. They specialize in forging blades using a minimum of equipment and using scrap resources. Develop a good method of knife making, then tackle your sword. The same skills are used, but you don't waste a lot of time and energy messing up a sword when you still haven't learned good control of a hammer, or the way to file.

It's late, my apologies for anything I wrote that is out of place.

"Simple, not to be confused with easy." - Stormcrow
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 02/09/04 01:16:32 EST

Hi, this is my first time posting here, but I've been reading for a while now.

Kain, I'm also new and just reciently built my first forge. I was having the same problems you seem to be, I'd look at one set of plans, but I don't have the right kind of thingamajiggy, so I'd look at another and the dohicky I have isn't the right size, etc.
Then I read somewhere about a guy who went to a hammer-in someplace and built a forge on the spot out of a cardboard box, filled it with dirt, and poked some bellows through the side and that made all the other research finally click.
The details are not importand, you just need something to hold a fire in and a hole for air, that's it. I hope this helps you like it did me.
   - AWP - Monday, 02/09/04 01:35:56 EST

Hi, I've been procrastinating on getting a forge for a while. I've read quite a bit, read several books on smithing, and even a few on welding. I have the anvil, and a makeshift anvil stand. All I really need is a forge. I've been considering two options, both propane:
1. A firebrick forge. I've seen several examples on the net and they seem like a good option. I want to go the propane route, and will probably try to order an atmosphere type propane burner, so I have at least one functional one. I plan to make one or two more on my own.
2. I have 2 small spent helium tanks, and am also considering getting an oxyacetylene torch set and making a tube forge out of these. I suspect that as long as I bleed the two tanks, it will be safe to cut these. Am I correct? After that I want to line it with Kaowool and set fire bricks on the floor as a rest for the steel.
I want to start with the brick forge, just to get running, then migrate to the tube type forge and put the bricks to other uses. Coal is not an option, I live in a neighborhood. In a year or two when I move out into the country, I'll build a proper coal forge. I have bought nothing yet, but plan to do so in the next 2 weeks. I've decided to stop reading and start doing, cuz the wife keeps looking at cheapie iron work for the yard, plant holders and such, and I keep saying, "jeez, that looks so simple. If I had my forge I could make you something better than that." Well, time to put up or shut up has come, and my hands are itching.
Any advice you can give as far as brick forges, cutting spent helium tanks, and best places to buy a portable oxyacetylene setup (been eyeing one at home depot) would be appretiated. I also saw a rudimentary brick forge that had a brake drum placed on top to hold the blower, I wonder if that (lined with kaowool im sure) would be easier than trying to cut a fire brick to fit an atmosphere burner? I'm still debating trying to make a burner before I buy one, cuz I'm cheap like that, but as the guru said somewhere above, a purchased one will work right away. So far I'm looking at buying the bricks, a burner, the parts for another burner (maybe), the propane lines, regulater, etc., and the oxyacetylene setup. I'm sure its not going to come out cheap... so I may end up spreading the purchases out a bit. And of course any Iron i get is gonna have to be cheap, I'm gonna just scrounge around scrap yards for a while. I may buy some good Iron to make some tongs with, but everything else will be practice iron at first. Anyway, thanks for advice.
   - nuked - Monday, 02/09/04 01:57:14 EST

AWP, Kain;Cheap forge
There was a guy at a couple of the CBA conferences who built a whole blower and forge out of glued cardboard and it worked pretty well.
He used an old broomstick for the blower shaft and an old bike innertube for the drive belt and the rest was all cardboard. The forge was lined with ashes for insulation.
In blacksmithing, brains can get you by when you don't have $...sometimes.
   - Pete F - Monday, 02/09/04 02:47:31 EST

I have a 35,000 ton press and was considering using it to do some press forging. How do press forged parts compare to hammer forged parts as far as strength goes in closed die forging? I used to have a buddy here in town that had access to a big hammer forge, and I could just make my dies and he would "stomp" my parts for me. He has moved.

Is my little press big enough to press forge parts?


Greg Jahnke
   Greg Jahnke - Monday, 02/09/04 04:35:59 EST


If you go with the firebrick forge for your first one, you don't really have to cut any brick. Just stack them up leaving a small space between two of the for the burner to poke in. Note that it is not really necessary to have the burner enter the chamber through the top. It can go in a side or the bottom just as well. For a starting out forge, you probably won't want to make one that is more than one burner can handle, so one layer of hard firebricks for the floor and the sides and roof can be hard firebrick, soft firebrick or Kaowool. The soft brick and the Kaowool will take less time to get up to heat as they don't have the mass of the hard brick. The soft brick are easily cut with a hand saw or you can make holes through them using nothing more than a piece of pipe, twisting it back and forth as you push it through the brick.

I have no idea why a brick gas forge would need to have a brake drum on top of it. A good atmospheric burner like the T-Rex or homemade like a Ron Reil EZ burner requires no blower.

I would recommend NOT buying a torch set at the big box store. Check with your local welding supplier. They will sell brand names you can trust, and they will carry parts and accessories that you will need in the future. With the big box set, all you can get is what comes in the set. Unless it is a Victor, Smith or Uniweld, parts may never be available for it. You have to get your gas and oxygen from the welding supplier anyway, why not talk to them about the torch set?
   vicopper - Monday, 02/09/04 08:10:57 EST

Building Gas Forges: A new book on the subject is coming out in a couple weeks and we will have a review of it here ASAP. It includes details of using MIG tips for orifices and is written by Michael Porter who came up with the idea. He has done a ton of research on building cheap efficient gas forges and I suspect this will be THE plan book of the decade.

SO, if you have any qualms about building a gas forge you may want to wait just a few weeks more.

OR you an purchase a T-Rex and we have Kaowool and ITC-100.

   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 11:45:36 EST


Your's is one of the success stories that make me, and others as well, proud. Thank you for the post!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 11:55:20 EST


Well said.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 11:56:06 EST

Welding Equipment As VIc pointed out, go to your welding supplier. You will NEED him to rent and fill your cylinders. Buying the whole outfit from your selected supplier will go a long way in starting a business relationship. When things go wrong they will most likely be willing to help IF you are a good customer.

Years ago I had a service station. Folks would go to K-Mart and buy oil at get-em-in-the-door prices and then come to ME and expect it to be put in for FREE. . . . Think about the kind of business relationship THEY were developing.

Good Name brands can mean a lot. My first welding outfit was from "Where America Shops". I had it for 18 months when I decided I needed more than one cutting tip size to do professional work. AND I needed to replace the original which was getting pretty ratty. Nope. None available. No parts available. No, they didn't have a big name maker make it and put their name on it. It DID have there lifetime brand name on it but the fine print said one-year warantee. It had been abandonded as a product line and along with it all support. My first big investment in equipment and I was screwed. . . That is why I now have Victor.
   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 11:56:58 EST

Thank you, Paw Paw.
   - Stormcrow - Monday, 02/09/04 12:03:58 EST

Hi guys,

I just wanted to share something I tried this weekend. I was sorting through some old rusty calipers and tools this weekend and was about to through them out when I remembered something a fellow at an auction had told me about vineger and salt. He had said that you add a tablespoon of salt to a gallon of vineger and you can remove rust from most things by letting them soak overnight. I tried it this weekend and was amazed at how well the items cleaned up.

   BobinMich - Monday, 02/09/04 12:48:39 EST

Press Forging: Greg, Most modern forgings are done on big presses. Due to the slower operation the flow of the metal that gives forgings their superior strength is considered to be better in presses.

Capacity depends on the size and shape of the part as well as material. But any press in the thousands of tons can do considerable work. You just have to remember that tehere must be someplace for excess metal to go.
   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 13:01:55 EST

Forges and Forges and Forges: I wrote a nice long post about the simplicity of building a solid fuel forge just a few days ago (02/03/04 15:43) in response to these same "I don kno wha ta do?" questions. The carboard forge is right up there with the mud bucket bellows forge. The brake drum forges WORK and we have detailed drawings of several types.

You guys REALLY need to read here closely or get the basic books and study them. Stop saying you have done so or that you are going to do it. . . DO IT. Then build a forge. All a forge is, is a fire with air blown on it. You can do it with a tin can, charcoal and blowing on it (lung powered) if you want to do small work INCLUDING welding. It works, I;ve done it. A 10 year old can do it. The right conditions happen in building fires all the time.
   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 13:38:36 EST


If they would just realize the Whitesmith started when he was 9 years old and had earned enough to BUY his own anvil in less than a year, it would be a little easier to answer them. Kain is at least trying.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 13:48:32 EST

One other thing on going to the welding supply place for torches, welders, and all the other stuff... besides that both of the local ones I've dealt with have great, helpful staff, know what they're talking about, and can find what they don't have... the prices are not much higher than the big box stores. My Miller Thunderbolt was only about $5 more than HD or Lowe's wanted for the equivalent Lincoln tombstones. The torch set was more, of course, because I was buying a Smith set, rather than the "Cut and weld" box at HD. But I'd already bought two of the HD sets, trying to keep one working outfit ready to go. And with the Smith, I have support, documentation, and an incredible variety of tips for every occasion. The Smith or Victor equipment that I've used just feels better, too. I don't know if it's just the feeling, but I cut a lot cleaner and straighter with the new torch. ;)

   Steve A - Monday, 02/09/04 13:53:48 EST


The difference in "feel" is due to the superior weight and balance of the Smith or Victor torches.

I have a "store brand" O/A set that I bought from my National Weldor supply. It's manufactured by Victor. It's TWICE the set of a HD or Lowes set. But it's not twice the cost!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 14:32:40 EST

I think there is a "mental" problem with blacksmithing and many people. Blacksmithing is sort of the "wild card" of crafts. There is not just one way to do things---there is a *BUNCH* of ways to do things! Some ways work easier for some people than others, some ways only work for 1 fellow and the rest of us are still scratching our heads trying to figure out whay it does work for them.

If you want *1* way to do things asking a bunch of smiths is not the road to go. The basic receipe for a junkyard hammer is a lot like trashcan stew---what have you got onhand? What tools/skills do you have?a blend the two together and you're pounding!

I've made and used a passle of forges in the last 20+ years and it seemed like *all* of them worked, some better than others, some rather restricted in it's use (made a billet welding forge for under $10--including blower and speed control---using regular household tools: Hacksaw, screw driver, 1/4" drill)

If you don't know what you will end up doing I'd not overthink the start up phase. *EXPECT* to burn up stuff in the learning phase---why everyone suggests knives; better to mess up a saturday's and a week of evenings work than to do a sword and mess up a *whole* *lot* *more* time.

Do the research, then do the "hands on" learning. Find the local group---1 afternoon in the shop of a fellow who know's something can save you *6* months of making mistakes on your own.

Example: SOFA has begining smiths classes, pattern welded steel making classes, gas forge building workshops, treadle hammer building workshops, etc---I used to drive in from 2 hours away to attend their meetings and workshops.

Building forges is a fairly common activity at MOB meetings too.

What you won't find is folks saying if you do this this way you can forge your own sword your first lesson and have it come out right.


Thomas "some things you just have to pay your dues"
   Thomas P - Monday, 02/09/04 14:58:12 EST

Thomas, I stuffed the sofa URL in your post. It had been at the top of the page. I wanted it here because of a dozen who what there and when questions that are answered by just clicking the link.

For other groups see our ABANA-Chapter.com page. All the chapter web sites are listed there.
   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 15:24:14 EST

Here are some more sites for building your own forge.
The frist one was thru PawPaw's links, cut and paste.


This next site has a list of many types of forges on it.


As " AWP" said ,when you are making a forge it only needs to be close/ it does not have to be exactly the same.

   DanD skabvenger - Monday, 02/09/04 15:24:20 EST


You've got a typo in the first link. It should start out with http, not htt.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 15:48:56 EST

im doning a report on blacksmithing and i need to know why blacksmiths where vidal in the 1800's. if you could please write back thanks
   - ashlee - Monday, 02/09/04 17:00:57 EST

im doning a report on blacksmithing and i need to know why blacksmiths where vidal in the 1800's. if you could please write back thanks
   - ashlee - Monday, 02/09/04 17:02:00 EST


The blacksmith was vital in the 1800's because Lowe's and Home Depot had not gone into business yet.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 17:30:22 EST

Thanks everyone for the input on the forges and the good advice on where to shop for welding equipment, I intend to follow it. I'd also like to thank everyone for their long running patience with the "sword" making and "homework report" questions that pop up (not from me, thankfully.) Ya'll show a great deal of restraint considering the frequency of these questions. The wealth of information provided in this forum is phenomenal. I have noticed a repitition to some of the advice though, and it's all sound.
   - nuked - Monday, 02/09/04 17:37:28 EST


The "repetition" of some of the advice is actually simple when you think about it. Two plus two will always equal four.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 17:47:56 EST

For those building forges, etc.
I see repeated requests for plans,don't have this part or that, can't get it to look just like the plans. As several others have stated, the plans are a simple idea of what worked for them with the "stuff" they had. It is not rocket science. Go to any decent hardware store, and you can get pipe fittings that screw together, and you can make the whole air pipe from this. You can get a pipe flange and bolt the piping to a brake drum and you have a forge. If you can weld, the posibilities are beyond belief. Exhaust pipe can be bought already bent into angles, and these can work. The posibilities are limited only by YOUR imagination.
It does not have to be like anybody elses idea, just yours.
If it does not work for long, you will learn and the next one will be better.
Remember to always make new and original mistakes.
   ptree - Monday, 02/09/04 18:26:09 EST

Forge building,
Don't forget when your lighting your newly built forge (or any forge) to make sure you have some way to put a fire out. As a MINIMUM I like 2 five gallon pails of water, and a 10 pound fire extingisher.
   JimG - Monday, 02/09/04 19:12:40 EST

THE BLACKSMITH Ironworker and Farrier by Aldren A. Watson, ISBN 0-393-32057-X, Chapter 11 has complete instructions. Your local library either has it or can get it on Inter Library Loan. I got my copy from Barnes and Noble for less than $20.

You guys (not just you, Kain) are going to have to resign yourselves to reading books. That's where the information is located.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 19:46:48 EST

Wanna talk about the blood? Is it yours? Did you read the Iforge demo about Pawpaws adventure?
Do you have a first aid kit, and the knowledge to use it? The Red Cross has some very nice classes, and if you do not have any first aid training, you should get some ASAP.
   ptree - Monday, 02/09/04 19:56:08 EST

Heh, I visit Barnes and Noble all the time, I never looked for books on blacksmithing.
   Kain - Monday, 02/09/04 20:04:25 EST

Since YOU believe in medicine, do you know first aid? As for never really safe, YOU can improve your own safety alot. Or you can throw caution to the wind and maybe lose the ability to blacksmith, or much of anything else. Lose your eyesight, and most things become almost impossible.
Take care.
   ptree - Monday, 02/09/04 20:16:15 EST

PawPaw and Whitesmith

May I correct your posting of Monday, 02/09/04 13:48:32 EST

Whitesmith was 9 years old when he did his first Anvilfire iForge demo #112 Colonial lighter. He did not stop at one demo, but continued to present demos #132 EZ Tongs, #143 5 good tools, and #153 12 point star.

And you forgot to mention that the anvil he purchased with his own money from the sales of his blacksmithing products was a 250 pound anvil.

Whitesmith's success is directly attributed to the encouragment of Paw Paw, Guru, and others on Anvilfire. It was interesting to watch the three of them at a blacksmithing demo (fall 2003). Whitesmith had as much time on the anvil during the day long demo, as did PawPaw or Guru.

Thank you both, and the folks at Anvilfire, for encouraging the new blacksmiths. Many WILL become Master Blacksmiths - given time.

   - Ntech - Monday, 02/09/04 20:20:35 EST

Working with Whitesmith is always a pleasure. He listens, tries hard to understand, asks intelligent questions and practices what he is taught until he can do it without thinking.

Watching him demonstrate is a double pleasure.

His daddy better watch out, or Whitesmith will be a better blacksmith than his daddy is! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 20:25:42 EST

Ntech, These last two young guys here just talk and never listen. I offered free of charge The Art of Blacksmithing to Kain and he wouldn`t confirm with a second email on his address so the deals off. He just said hes at Barnes and Noble all the time and has never thought of buying a blacksmithing book? I see that as having little interest or thought about it all and I`d bet the book Paw Paw just told him about is on the shelf, it is everytime I walk into our Barnes and Noble. You just can`t help some people as much as you would like to.
   Robert-ironworker - Monday, 02/09/04 20:43:28 EST

Fire: One of the best all round cheap anti-fire products is just plain old sand. It is suitable for all types of fires where water is not. You don't put water on an oil, grease or metal fire. CO2 fire extinguishers are expensive and unless properly used can be worthless. You have to be very close to the base of the fire with CO2. If the fire is a flamable liquid and surrounding items are above the flash point as soon as you quit with CO2 the fire reignites. I watched a car small car fire get out of hand because the CO2 wouldn't keep the fire down. . . Standard purple K fire extinguishers are the best all around but like all extinguishers must be tested or replaced often. A cheap two year old "home or kitchen" size extinguisher has a 50% chance of being worthless. Its REAL depressing to run, get the extinguisher, run back to the fire, pull the pin and . . . fizzle. I did that three times at ONE chimney fire. Finally had to procure a bucket of sand. . . Today I would probably die of a heart attack before making the third up hill run. . .

The best fire extinguisher is a cool head. Ever see someone panic with a kitchen grease fire? All it takes is putting a lid on the pan. It soesn't have to be the RIGHT lid, any lid. Dump water on a grease fire and it will splatter and you will be lucky to survive or not.

Don't think a grease fire is going to happen in your shop? Not cooking? Well how about that tub of wax you are melting to add oil to or that gallon of quenching oil that is too little to quench that oversized bowie you just forged. . . or. . .

The worst thing about when people panic in situations like this is that I KNOW they were taught basic fire safety in every elementary school grade (not just one) and then several more times in middle and high school. PSA's on TV teach little children to "stop drop and roll" yet I have seen adults with clothing fires on several ocassions running for help. . .

Maybe we are flooded with too much information and folks don't pay attention when safety issues come up.

Kain, Gloves will do you no good if you set them on fire. In fact you can be hurt worse wearing gloves IF you are not aware of the hazzards. WET gloves are a vary dangerous hazzard. Pick up a hot piece with them and the water will turn to steam and cook you inside the gloves. Same goes for kitchen mits. THINK about what you do. Pay attention to your suroundings. Relax and think about what you are doing. Move slow with purpose.
   - guru - Monday, 02/09/04 21:27:58 EST

Post Deleted by -Guru
   Kain - Monday, 02/09/04 21:40:21 EST


I'm sorry you're having a difficult time, but that type of language is NOT acceptable here on anvilfire. Taking your frustrations out on us is no way to get help.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/09/04 22:47:57 EST

Kain, Kevlar gloves are available from Pieh Tool Co for sure, and probably Centaur Forge for about $15. A Good Investment if you handle Hot Steel. A Black Heat can burn pretty bad!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 00:05:58 EST

Question on anvils: Does anyone here have experience with, or knowledge of the quality of the Cliff Carroll anvils? Seems like the 130# might be a decent configuration for work besides shoeing, and they are available locally at a decent price. I love my big Hay Budden, but portable it isn't. Thanks!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 00:25:20 EST


No input on the Carroll anvils, but a test with a hammer would answer the question for you.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 00:27:40 EST

Paw Paw, there's a Peter Wright across the street, but the seller has not responded to my questions, so $250 firm plus $100 UPS doesn't interest me a whole lot. Used a Peter Wright in my Dec. class for 3 days and it was A Good Anvil....but I really hesitate to buy a used anvil, sight unseen, from a stranger.....must be getting suspicious...grin!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 00:42:51 EST

Sign seen in a classroom.
"In this class, we often hear three kinds of questions. The first kind lets the teacher know how much you know. The second lets the teacher know how little the teacher knows. The third asks for information.

In this class, we will deal only with the third kind of question."
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/10/04 01:59:00 EST


I'd look at the one closest to home then. The seller not answering questions give one a bad feeling.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 08:17:21 EST

Kain, You think we are picking on you? Go back and read your posts. Were it anyone else what you think? No one who posts here is immune from being picked on.(Equal opportunity). Ever heard of a "Nattering Nabob of Negativism"? Can you think of someone to whom that may apply?
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/10/04 08:33:45 EST

I have found a couple of types of people who want to learn blacksmithing: One is the "I Can'ts" they tell me they always wanted to smith but they can't cause it's too expensive---so I tell them how to get set up for about $25, then they tell me they can't because they live in town and the smoke causes problems (I lived in a 100 year old house downtown with narrow lots and managed somehow) so I teach them about charcoal and propane forges, then they say they can't read any books on smithing cause they can't buy them, so I tell them about public libraries and ILL, USW used to go on for quite a while; now when I recognize an "I Can't" I just agree with them and get on to the second class of student the "I Will" teaching one of these is like throwing lit matches on a puddle of gasoline. You talk to them for as long as the forge is hot and next time you see them they have built 3 forges, found impromptu and commercial anvils, read every book you mentioned and are just bout the stage to start teaching *you* stuff!

One's a heck of a lot more fun to be around...

Thomas (did Spiro Agnew learn to forge while in prison for income tax evasion?)
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/10/04 10:04:31 EST

Kain AKA Silent_Becoming @ aol.com DNS

This is official notice that you are no longer welcome at these forums. Do not post a question or a response to this notice. It will be deleted as soon as it appears as will all other future postings from you.

This site and forums are privately owned and as such I have the right to ask you to leave. To return and leave postings is tresspassing and it will be reported to your ISP at comporium.net.

This action is taken because of your use of language, inappropriate use of a public forum and refusal to observe common decency.

Jock Dempsey
webmaster & guru at anvilfire.com!

cc: email
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 10:14:02 EST

Way to go Guru
I was really getting tired of that fellow
   Chris Makin - Tuesday, 02/10/04 10:30:03 EST

Safety: My old analogy about seatbelts (especially when someone says: "...and if he'd been wearing his seatbelt he woulda DIED.") is: do you want to play Russian roulette with five chambers loaded or five chambers empty? Anybody can get unlucky, but anything that increases my odds or reduces the damage is fine by me.

Ashlee: Go to the library and get: THE BLACKSMITH Ironworker and Farrier by Aldren A. Watson, ISBN 0-393-32057-X, mentioned in another context above; and check out Bealer’s The Art of Blacksmithing, mentioned on our Bookshelf page. Another good book would be the Colonial Craftsman by Edwin Tunis, back in print. If your library doesn't have it, ask for an inter-library loan. Then sit back, enjoy, look at the pictures (there’s wonderful illustrations in the Watson and Tunis books, and Bealer makes a good start), and learn something. If you're in grade school, the occasional mistakes that crop-up in these books won't matter; and if you're in college, it's a longer row you'll have to hoe than asking here! ;-)

Kain: Less random mumblings and more thoughtful, and INFORMED, questions would be in order; think thrice, post once- you can probably answer many of your own questions if you think about them. It's all about working things out. If you ask the Guru about tempering a 5160 car spring, or ask Thomas the Orange or I about making a Viking axe, or Frank or Paw Paw about horse harness, you'll get a succinct answer. Asking questions is not a bad thing, but you need to know what questions to ask. Yes; it's hard to get started for some folks, but hey, nobody said life was simple. Slow down, think things out, do some research and then come back with some questions that we can actually answer. Otherwise, Dear Abby stands ready in the newspaper to fulfill your other needs. ;-)

Getting warmer and drier on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/10/04 10:56:28 EST

...as usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. Still, I think it's good advice for any of us, including the beginners. (Anything to keep the thought that went into it from becoming a complete waste. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/10/04 11:00:36 EST


I hate to see you have to do it, but I'm glad you did.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 12:17:20 EST

Bruce - you don't waste many words...
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/10/04 12:21:22 EST

We have all spent a lot of time discussing the historic evolution of forges, anvils, vices and hammers. I've learned a lot.

But what about the lowly wire brush? At what point in history did the use of a wire brush (hand-held) become common in the smithy?
   - Don A - Tuesday, 02/10/04 12:27:41 EST

BTU calculation: The state is making me jump through a row of hoops before they will let me hook up my forge to the NG line.

I need a BTU rating for my forge. How do I go from orifice size & pressure to BTU for natural gas?

Wire Brush: I have a video of Peter Ross in which he mentions that wire brushes were not used in his period (Colonial). I imagine that the wire brush didnt appear until both, steel became fairly cheap and wire was mass produced. Late 19th century is my guess
   adam - Tuesday, 02/10/04 12:59:39 EST


I don't have the calculations here at work with me, but a quick search of Johnson Gas Forges website discloses that their 2 burner model uses 200,000BTu's/Hr. The big 4 burner uses twice that much. For simplicity's sake you could use those figures for your forge, depending on how many burners you have. It looks like about 100,000 BTu/Hr per burner, to me. That coincides with the calculations that I worked out for my propane forge, if I remember.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/10/04 13:41:24 EST


Sorry, I neglected to note that the figures Johnson gives for their forges are based on 4-1/2" to 14" water column gas pressure for natural gas. The other figures are kind of meaningless if you don't know the pressure.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/10/04 13:46:40 EST

Paw Paw, There is a vast difference in maturity among the new-to-blacksmithing folks. Cronological age is not that important. At our last conference we had two working farriers that took our beginning and intermediate courses along with some ten-year-olds. All of them were willing to put forth the effort to learn something new. Whitesmith is young, but he would be welcome in our shop anytime - if he promised not to show us up too bad. Chronical age is not as important as maturity and drive. (Betcha he has some decent safety equipment too). iforge # 66 is required reading for the beginners in our shop, 9 to 99, and they must listen to my stern admonition about safety and common sense if they want to hang around. No one has violated the rules such as "no hot metal on common areas", and "do not touch metal on a forge" and above all, "wear safety glasses", Other than a few minor burns, we have had no injuries.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/10/04 13:47:08 EST

Rich, thanks for your notes. I can probably figure out how to go from inches of water to PSI. But I will need to show how I derived the my numbers. While perfectly good for *practical* purposes, I dont think the authorities will be convinced by a back calculation from a mfr spec for a different forge.

BTW My orifice is 1/16 inch and the pressure will be 0-5psi. I am not sure exactly what my op. press will be since I havent been able to run the forge with NG. I am also concerned that too large a BTU rating will cross some threshold into commercial ratings where things will get much more complicated. So I may reduce the orifice size for certification purposes.

I really wish these guys would just leave me alone and let me blow myself up in the privacy of my own home.
   adam - Tuesday, 02/10/04 13:57:10 EST


Re: Maturity levels. The variation is wide in ANY field of endeavor. But it particularly obvious in blacksmithing, it seems to me.

Whitesmith's safety equipment? Safety glasses, ear plug and ear muffs, a good apron and a good glove for his left hand. May have other equipment that I'm not aware of. But his dad and I both emphasize safety.

The fact that you have them read iForge #66 makes me feel good, that's why it's there, to serve as a horrible example.

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 14:08:44 EST

Paw Paw,

I read it and went straight to the Anvilfire shop and ordered the three pack of safty gogles. Non one does anything in my shop with out them on.
   MIke Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 14:25:18 EST


   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 14:35:59 EST

Hi Jock, just a real quick question here...Rod has asked me to try and find out what the best way to sharpen a "Frost" hoof knife would be? Thankyou
   Gilly - Tuesday, 02/10/04 14:42:46 EST

Sorry... my mistake....this is NOT a Frost knife, these are much better quality knives than a frost, so he's wondering what the best way to sharpen them would be
   Gilly - Tuesday, 02/10/04 14:51:24 EST

Sharpening Hoff Knives: Roddy and Gilly, This one will best be answered by one of the farriers. I tend to sharpen all knives alike trying to reproduce the original edge. That is, I try not to reduce the original bevel. Many folks shorten the bevel shorter and shorter until a blade needs a major rework to get it back.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 15:09:48 EST

Wire Brushes: I tend to think this is a rather late invention. Probably mid 1800's. However, factory brass wire drawing started in the 1300's and iron wire shortly afterwards. This is important to organologists studying musical instrumnets because it dates when metal strings became available for stringed instuments. But I think the drawing of hardenable steel wire necessary for wire brushes came much later.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 15:14:13 EST

Let me say, once again, thanks to the Guru and the guru's that help all of us new to smithing.
Nuked, sounds like you and I are kinda in the same stages or at least close to it so let me pass on what I've found/done.

I was able to build a stacked brick forge with salvaged firebrick and a homemade reil type burner. Niether one was exactly like I had hoped as far as parts or design but they work. I introduced the burner through the side and made the opening by using a halfbrick and filling the void aroung the burner flare by wrapping Kaowool around it. (BTW I'm not sure this was a healthy thing to do, I wore a particle filter while cutting and building this part of the forge but after I quit moving the Kaowool around I quit worrying about the dust from it. How insidiouse is this dust?) It worked well but I had aspirations for a little more perminent forge so I moved onto a 20# propane cylinder.
I don't have a lot of tools (but working on that) and also had no cutting torch. To cut this I first bled the cylender dry, then used a hack saw and cut the valve stem SLOWLY (The thought here was a bad valve may leave me with an unknown amout of gas still in the tank). Once I was confident that the tank was empty then I used a cut-off wheel ($5.00 at HD) on a cheepo circular saw ($25 at HD) to cut openings. I paid a welding shop way too much $$ to cut an opening and mount a pipe to the body that became the flare for my burner, lined the body with kaowool and then a layer of ITC. It works but is way to big for the things I do and doesn't build quiet enough heat with one burner. If your helium tank is the same size as a propane cylender it may be a bit large. Hope this helps.
   - Aksmith - Tuesday, 02/10/04 15:31:52 EST

Gilly, from **watching** farriers most use a special square shaped sharpening steel available from farrier supply stores (about $10), but at lest one I know has a 1" belt sander in the back of his truck and uses that. As guru said, maintain the original bevel. Frank will have the defininitive word on this.....
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 15:45:20 EST

The helium tank will work, but should actually be a two burner design. I've got a couple here that I plan to convert as soon as Jock is finished with the R&D on the burners that he's working on.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 15:47:01 EST

Water Column: Water at 20°C (68°F) weighs .03606 per cubic inch. So, 1 column inch of water = .03606 PSI. Machinery's Handbook gives it at 15°C (59°F) which results in a slightly higher density (.036086).

Column inches of water at 20° and 15°C
1 column inch of water = .03606 .03609
2 column inch of water = .07212 .07217
3 column inch of water = .10818 .10826
4 column inch of water = .14424 .14434
5 column inch of water = .18030 .18043
10 column inch of water = .3606 .36085
15 column inch of water = .5409 .5413
20 column inch of water = .7212 .7217
25 column inch of water = .9015 .9021
30 column inch of water = 1.0818 1.0826 PSI

Most standard measurements are given at 70°F or 20°C which are close enough that it makes very little difference. Machinery's water column conversion was probably based on the average temperature of water in pipes which is around 60°F or 15°C (standing water tends to be cooler than room temperature).

Your 5 PSI is some 138 inches of water column. No, the gas company will not provide this "high pressure".

So you are back to BTU/hr a BIG pipe and much larger orifice. Note that some venturi burners do not cope well with large low pressure orifices. Small single burner forges run around 30-40,000 BTU. Double that for two burner forges OR forges with larger burners. NG has a lot lower BTU per given volume due to the small molecule campared to propane.

If you know the fuel consumption of your forge in pounds of Propane per hour this can be converted to BTU/hr.

The Chastain book on tilting furnaces has some very good fuel usage and BTU conversion tables and such.

If this is a home built forge your homeowners insurance may be in jeapordy. If your house burns down (forge related or not) they will claim that you had a non-UL approved device hooked up permanently in your home and can refuse to pay even if it was not the cause.

You can get away with portable devices but as soon as they are bolted down or hard plumbed into the gas or water they become permanent fixtures and different rules apply. That is probably the biggest reason the gas company is being troublesome.

Adam, let me know if you need alternative mail hosting.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:02:23 EST

Dust: AKsmith, the dust from almost all refractory materials are problematic. Most contain SOME form of silica that is in the form of long crystals that irritate the lining of the lungs (like asbestoes). Kaowool is also considered a possible carcenogen IF a significant amount of its finest dust is inhaled. Usualy Kaowool is not too much of a problem except where it is exposd to forge flame for a long while and it becomes dusty. That is why it is recommended to coat it with ITC-100. If you have just stuffed a little around a pipe to close a gap it is probably OK. It is not nearly as bad as the clouds of dust created while sawing bricks dry.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:10:31 EST


Membership in CSI (links at the top and bottom of the page) helps support Anvilfire. For the price of a cup of coffee a week, you can be a part of the group. We have NO barriers based on age, experience, religious, ethnic group, gender or political views. All are most welcome.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:12:26 EST

I picked up a Peddinghaus 1000g cross pein from a farrier supply company near here. The difference between moving iron with the Peddinghaus and the Home Depot hammer of the same weight is amazing. If the difference between a real anvil and my cheesy Russian Harbor freight special is ANYTHING like that, I have a serious case of anvil lust building here.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:14:31 EST

On Building Gas Forges: We are looking forward to the Michael Porter book coming out shortly. Since as Paw-Paw noted we have a supply of cylinders, Kaowool, ITC and various plumbing bits and pieces we will be building a BUNCH of forges this spring and reporting on them. We will have at LEAST one forge building workshop. Let me know if you are interested and can spend a day or two in South Central Virginia. Note that a date is not yet set.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:31:24 EST

GILLY!!!!!!! Hiya Girl! Long time no see.
How is the Great White North and you and Rod?
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:40:03 EST

Hammers and Anvils: Mike, In anvils bigger is better. In hammers its the dress of the face. The more curvature the hammer face the faster it moves metal. Tha Peddinghaus probably had the typical arched face (curved on one axis). This is great for moving metal in one direction. Common American style cross piens have a hemisperical grind that varies from almost flat on some hammers to highly curved on others. The degree of the curve determines how fast they move metal. The problem is that quality control has gone to pieces on many tools and the face curvature on cheap hammers is often not to any definit spec. Flat is also CHEAPER to make. The better quality cross piens had a machined curve to the face that was generated from a template, geometricaly OR via CNC. Cheap ones are just hand ground by a production worker that is simply told to make it smooth and pretty.

So, when you bring have any hammer, plan on dressing it. Most of the German hammers such as the Peddinghaus have sharp corners that need dressing. They know it. They expect the end user to know what THEY want and dress the hammer accordingly. Old beat up hammers often have mared faces and dings that need cleaning up. While fixing the dings it pays to redress the hammer to a more useful shape.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:48:34 EST

Guru: Thanks for all the info. I have paid the county a chunk of $$ to put in a "high" pressure service - 5psi (that's why I am in this boat - if I could have used the standard 4 oz service, I would have done the plumbing myself and not needed to "bother" anyone). My forge is blown. I have already checked with my homeowner's insurance and they say it's not a problem. What I am looking for is a way to calculate cu ft/hour from the orifice and the pressure and then, to convert cu ft of NG per hour to BTU
   adam - Tuesday, 02/10/04 16:57:11 EST

Mike, I used a couple of differend Peddy hammers in my Dec. class and wound up buying both for my shop. They are awesome hammers, as Guru said you will want to ...carefully...dress the sharp edges. I dressed mine a bit at a time until they were where I wanted them. It's easier to take metal off than to put it back on....esp. on hammers.

A good,high quality anvil will absolutely spoil you. One of the best investments you can make, in my opinion.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 17:02:49 EST

differend = different.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 17:03:18 EST

Mike Trahey,

You're in serious trouble, then. A good anvil is like a good woman, but it'll never leave unless you throw it out! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 17:30:03 EST

Paw Paw,

I'll take that to mean that a good anvil is a thing of beauty becasue to the best of my knowledge, they are not interchangeable. YMMV.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 18:06:34 EST


That's close enough for government work. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 18:11:14 EST

Dressing hammers....
I used to put mine in little suits, but then realized they were happier in cutoffs.... (grin)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/10/04 18:27:05 EST

BTU's and Orifices: Adam. Lets use a little logic to step around some of the calculations. First, the orifice has nothing to do with anything unless the forge has already been tested on NG. You MAY need to drill it out to four or five times that size to get enough gas. Most NG gas lines for forges are 1" and UP. The orifice is just a controling restriction. It DOES help prevent backfiring due to the increased velocity but its primary purpose is to control the flow.

What you NEED to know is the BTU/hr necessary to opperate the forge regardless of fuel. Then the gas company will convert that to cubic feet. Last thing to calculate is the orrifice size.

If the forge is home built then the BTU will have to be determined from the previous fuel consuption (propane) or calculated. If the forge is a commercial unit then ask the manufacturer.

I think you've gotten focused on doing the calculations from the wrong end and are not giving enough information. Forge volume is the key. Type of insulation has an effect but is difficult to calculate. Doors or lack of have an effect. Lets see if we can nail down BTU first.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 18:49:39 EST

Paw Paw, not quite true---I had a beautiful 200 pound anvil walk off once---I cried. My next one I kept chained to the triphammer with a log chain and a *big* lock.

Still on the first wife so can't compare retention stratagies

OOPS she told me lately that she has been lurking here just to read my postings---it's been a hard winter up there lately---so I guess I should watch what I saw here---she still has control of the Anvil Stack! save for the runt that travelled down here with me....

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 02/10/04 18:50:55 EST


Did you catch the individual that lent his legs to the anvil? Can we visit his grave to piddle on it?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:00:23 EST


I'm new to the whole blacksmithing thing my self. A few pointers on looking for help from this particular resource.

1. Read as many of the articles contained on the web site. The link in the pull down titled 21st century is a good place to start.
2. There is a lot of experience and knowledge on this forum. These people also tend to have a high regard for intellectual property rights so bribes that might violate someone’s copyright wont get you far.
3. Taking the time to use proper capitalization, punctuation and grammar will help show the masters that you are respectful of their time. A properly formatted post is much easier to read and understand.
You will find that the people who post here are just about the most patient people on the Internet when it comes to answering questions. They do get a lot of repeats and many of the answers are in the FAQ.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:12:39 EST

I have heard from a reputable source (can't remember where) that Kaowool dust is only dangerous *AFTER* it's been fired. I am pretty sure that this is true. I know that my glass teacher, who has been working with the stuff for more than 20 years, has fine lungs... I wouldn't be too worried about it unless you're shredding it in a blender and snorting it, honestly (Grin).

Guru, I'd be interested in that workshop if it ends up being in/after August. Let me know.

No one has any info on Rivet Spinning? I'm surprised! I bet some of you guys own chainsaws and have to spin your own... gimme the low-down!

Mild and calm in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:12:58 EST

Adam, I think "The Kiln Book Third Editon," Frederick L. Olsen, Krause Publications (2001), which I checked out from the library a few months ago, has the tables you need.

I seem to remember someone else posting here about that book recently. I don't have time to search the archives right now, so consider this my apology for not giving you credit.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:37:57 EST

Guru - yes , quite right! My approach was bass ackward. The orifice will be adjusted until the forge runs right. OK, so how many BTU are in a 20# bottle of propane? Now that I see it this way, Rich's suggestion to use the Johnson forge page makes sense as supporting information.

Mike, Thanks! I will try and get hold of a copy
   adam - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:47:08 EST

T.Gold, see if you can find back issues of "Blade" magazine; they had an article on spinning rivets a while back. Of course, for me, one while equals about two or three years, so until I get my magazine pile unpacked I can't help with the date, except it was before Krause publications took them over, if that helps...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:55:02 EST

T.Gold recomended the book, but I'll be happy to pass the thanks along.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 19:56:41 EST

oops, sorry that WAS mike B.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:03:51 EST

I'm a newbie. I am building a soft brick, gas forge forge. My question is about fire-box coatings. I have heard good stuff about ITC-100 lined over kaowool or soft brick to increase efficiency and longevity. When I bought my brick, the guys there were realy helpful and generous. They gave me some stuff called Adamant Bonding Mortar that is rated up to 2800 F. It is made by Resco Products. Is this substance intended for the same application as ITC-100?
My understanding is that I can apply the ITC-100 to coat the inside of the brick forge. Can I do the same with this Resco Adamant mortar? Thanks.

Columbus, OH
   Pancho - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:08:10 EST

Hoof Knife. Gilly, I haven't seen the sharpening steel that Ellen mentions. In the "olden days", we used a slip stone that had two half-round edges. I have also used a similar stone, kind of like a small sythe stone, but more or less recangular in section. Someone turned me onto a chainsaw file for sharpening the hook. I was an easy convert. Most shoers use just one bevel, on the concave flat of the blade. However some like the bevel on both sides like a regular knife. I used only the one bevel. After using the stones and file and removing any wire edges, I stropped the blade on my apron.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:36:54 EST

anyone know if "rocky comfort forge" is still around??? they sell a large number of blacksmith video tapes.

   rugg - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:53:34 EST


I get a hit off of http://www.rockycomfortforge.com but I can's see anything on the page. May need Internet Exploder from Microsnot.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:57:36 EST

Hoof Knife: actually what I described as a "steel" can be seen online in the Centaur catalog using the Anvilfire pull down menu, and it is the "Micro 100 carbide", lists for $12.60, but Frank's method sounds great, and he has a Lot Of Experience at that, while mine is only from observation and minor trimming in emergencies on my own horses hooves when a professional farrier is not available....like on trail rides, etc.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 20:58:24 EST

Hoof Knife: I should have been more specific: Centaur Forge catalog, then click on "Farrier Tools", then "Knife Sharpeners" and you will see various diamond tools, strops, and then the micro 100 carbide sharpener.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/10/04 21:03:16 EST

JPPW, looks like the site is under construction....
   rugg - Tuesday, 02/10/04 21:12:42 EST


That's kinda what I thought too, but there really wasn't much indication of what was going on.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/10/04 21:14:41 EST

Forge Coatings: Pancho, You can use refractory mortar over soft refractories and blanket to toughen their surface.

The ITC-100 is designed to seal refractories and is a very high infra-red reflectant. It reflects heat better than almost anything else. It acts as a thin protective coating on Kaowool blanket.

Most refractory mortars are smooth pastes and must be troweled on. ITC-100 is mixed to a slurry (cream consistancy) and can be applied with a brush or even sprayed on large surfaces. Often is is used on blanket first, then a mortar mix followed by another coat of ITC-100.

See the instructions for your mortar. Application information and various uses of ITC products are listed in our store.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 22:20:13 EST

Spinning Rivets: TG, Sorry, we have had a lot of distractions here of late and I missed getting to your post.

Rivet spinning is done with a simple tool steel header that is chucked in a drill press. These are fairly easy to make in a lathe and could be worried out in a drill press if you don't have a small lathe (I know you do). The head shape is a low radius not a high round. But it may be possible to spin a high head. The rotating tool is gently pressed down on the rivet stock. This spins the material outward making a rivet head without hammering and damaging the surrounding material. The speed and pressure probably need to be worked out by trial and error for each situation.

Somewhere I have a book on making and repairing pocket knives that explains the details. However, I suspect that if you just make the die and go try it you will learn more.

I would make the dies out of about 1/4" to 3/8" or so W1 drill rod and harden them. Note that tools to be chucked should have soft shanks so the chuck can bite. Since drill bits have soft shanks you could probably saw one off and make a heading die from a piece of that. Since you are pushing down fairly hard you may want the dies long enough to seat in the top of the drill chuck.

Its a pretty simple process. Be sure your rivets are soft material. SS severely work hardens and is probably not suitable for spinning but monel would do well as a white metal.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 22:35:26 EST

TGold, see (www.orbitform.com) for another method of orbital rivet head forming(spinning). May be overkill for a knife.

Adam, sharp edge orifice? How long a throat in the orifice?
   - Tony - Tuesday, 02/10/04 23:25:41 EST

Propane BTU: Adam, from the web. .

Propane = 92,000 BTU gallon
1 Gallon = 5.1 lbs

Above returns 18,039 BTU/lb

BTU/lb (vaporized) 21,622 (Canada Propane Association data)

So 20 pound bottle = 432,440 BTU

OR 360,784 (un vaporized ?)

Average is a little less than 400,000 BTU/20 lb.

Here is an interesting calculator

Metal-Crafts Australia - BTU Calculator

This too had discrepencies in the propane data. Particularly the pounds per gallon.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/10/04 23:43:47 EST

Guru "This too had discrepencies in the propane data. Particularly the pounds per gallon." Might it Imperial to US gallon? Just a thought.
   - Daryl - Tuesday, 02/10/04 23:47:49 EST

OOPS Might it be
   - Daryl - Tuesday, 02/10/04 23:48:55 EST

Tony: Sharp edges: 1/8" black pipe nipple with a hole drilled thru the wall - perhaps 1/16" thick. Thanks!

Guru Thanks a bunch for your help on this. I think I am set with this info
   - adam - Wednesday, 02/11/04 00:02:08 EST

Post Vise Question: I have one headed my way that is minus the spring and mounting plate. Any input on making a spring for this vise, it is a goodly size, 5.5" jaws, about 100# in weight, would be appreciated. Seems like there was a discussion about this awhile ago, but it slips my mind. No hurry, it probably won't be here for a couple of weeks.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/11/04 00:23:47 EST

Ellen; Sounds like a nice stout one. The springs are easy. Functionally, you can just jam a valve spring between the legs down near the pivot. The spring it came with was probably a simple leaf that was held by the mounting bracket, dropping from there to push on the moving leg down near the bottom. Mild steel is probably good enough.
Last year(?) Anvil's ring ran a series of articles on post vise repair.
The mounting plate was held on the vise shaft by wedges in slots where the strap wraps around the backside , just after the wedges, the strap ends are twisted 1/4 turn and spread to be the mounting plates.
Fortunately, you are missing the easy parts. May it always be so.....
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 02/11/04 03:10:12 EST

I saw in an earlier post that differential hardening isn't the best way (meturgically) to make a sword... Why is this? (This is the only real question.)

Of course, I only asked about swords because I saw something about "wooltz" steel in the forums and was wondering about any recommendations on making that blade using only a matchbook and steel-wool... (Or maybe that was a fire starter...)

Oh, and do you know where I can get around ten gallons of lizard's blood to use as quenchant? (At least I know that dragons don't exist... how many people have fallen for that stupid joke?)

Now for procuring that mystery alloy... Maybe I'll go looking for meteors...

Ok, this whole post was almost pointless... other than to point out that us who wish to make swords aren't all here to irritate you… (Hope I lightened up your day Gurus.)
   Cyjal - Wednesday, 02/11/04 03:49:06 EST

Rugg, Rocky Comfort Forge is alive and well. I will see the folks at our FABA mtg this Saturday in Freeport, Fla. If you like, I will get the information for you. Also, Jeff Mohr(Mockingbird Forge)has some excellent videos. You can see some of his demos on "Forge and Anvil" produced by The University of Georgia.

Cyjal, Re: Lizzards blood; If you mean draggons blood it is mentioned in "Fortunes in Formulas". Buy Jim Hrisulous' "Complete Bladesmith", cross reference, get the modern chemical name and go to your local chemical supplier. Be careful what you ask for.....
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 02/11/04 07:16:08 EST

Sharpening a curved blade: Woodcraft sells slip stones used to sharpen the inside curve of woodcarving tools. They carry natural Arkansas stones and waterstones. You might also try a ceramic stick used to sharpen kitchen knives. Stropping the inside curve can be a chore when you sharpen from the outside of the curve but a piece of leather glued to a dowel rod and charged with jewelers rouge works well.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/11/04 08:34:02 EST

Dragon's blood is resin from palm trees used to make incense and varnish. Lizard's blood is obtained from CEO's.
   Gronk - Wednesday, 02/11/04 08:49:01 EST

Differential Hardening: You get a lot of unpredictable metal conditions when you only partly harden a part. In many tools this is not too big a problem but in highly stressed things like springs and blades it can be disasterous.

To get an entirely predictable condition it is best to fully harden and then selectively temper. Since tempering can be done slowly it is much more controllable. My recommendation would be to anneal or thermal cycle, harden, evenly temper to the hardest condition, THEN selectively temper. This assures that the entire piece is tempered to some degree. Further tempering only changes the hardness and increases resiliancy.

Without getting into metallurgical details this is the most predictable method. Other methods are often full of those little things that shouldn't work but we "get away" with them. Like arc welding ball bearings and many anvil repairs. Folks have a streak of luck and get away with things that shouldn't work. Others trying to replicate the same are likely to not be so lucky. In making critical components it is best to not insult the gods by counting on luck every time. It may not be your lucky day. . .

If you want to double temper you can retemper at that hardest condition again without changing the softer areas. Double tempering is an "insurance" temper to be sure you got 100% penetration. Make your own luck.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 09:26:39 EST


We made a spring for an old vice last year. We used an old wagon or buggy spring; looks real similar to a car's leaf spring, only thinner (probably about 1/8" thick). We hot-cut it to length and put a bit of curl in the cut end, being careful to localize the heat and not destroy the temper of the main body of the spring (did't want to have to reheat-treat it). We had to do a very minor cold bend to fine tune it, but now it works great, and it looks like original equipment.
   - Don A - Wednesday, 02/11/04 09:27:09 EST

The stones/ceramics used for sharpening the inside of curved (J) blades and gouges are known as "slip stones" as I recall; you might try searching under that term.

Differential hardening only works on European style broad swords if you quench them in Dragons Blood. ...or lizards blood if you have the time and patience to hunt down that many little skinks! ;-)

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/11/04 09:36:41 EST

Vise Parts: Ellen, The spring can be made of mild or medium carbon steel. As folks have noted A-36 is often not so "mild" and can be hardened. The long leaf spring is also a low stress spring not needing high hardness. Our FAQ has vis pictures albient not very large. I have parts photos but I need to take better ones. Will post those I have now on page two of the FAQ.

Making a replica of the traditional bench bracket can be pretty tricky forging due to the long rectangular hole. English brackets were beautiful castings and the American brackets look to be castings or drop forgings. It would be easier to fabricate the part building it up from smaller pieces.

Later vises used a simple but ugly U-bolt and angle iron bracket. Figure out the length you need, thread the ends of the bar and bend. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 09:54:09 EST

Dust from Kaowool

In reference to the dangers from KAOWOOL go to the International Technical Ceramics (ITC) website and look for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). It will give you the "potential" risks.

MSDS's are used daily at my workplace and have kept a couple of nasty incidents/accidents from happening. You just heave to plow through the format that the info' is presented in.


   Don - Wednesday, 02/11/04 10:01:37 EST

heave - have

my goof during coffe break.

   Don - Wednesday, 02/11/04 10:02:38 EST

Guru Re: arc Welding Ball Bearings. Is there a safety problem with welding ball bearings? I ask because I have recently scrounged 3 gallons of 1/2 to 3/4" ball bearings from a drive line repair company (C/v joints). My thoughts were to make grapes.
   Habu - Wednesday, 02/11/04 10:08:22 EST

MSDS We have the Material Saftety Data Sheets posted for all the products we sell linked to our store pages (including Kaowool). On cut product we supply a copy of the packaging label (also on the store page).

There are several grades and types of Kaowool. The grey stuff is listed as being a known carcenogen if large quantities of dust are inhaled. The white a "possible" carcenogen.

Somewhere (I've lost the link) there was a report on how Kaowool was tested. Apparently finely ground dust from the product made by the usual laboratory grinding methods could not be made sufficiently airborne in order to have the test rats breathe the dust. So special ultra fine dust had to be ground. This resulted in the "possible" carcenogen label.

In forges that have operated a long time with unprotected kaowool the surface breaks down and DOES produce quite fine dust. Since it seems to cling to the surface of forge interior I don't think much is being put into the air. However, it is quite a mess when you go to rebuild an old kaowool board or blanket lined forge.

So, coating the interior of kaowool board and blanket lined forges with ITC-100 is a good idea from both an efficiency and durability stand point as well as a health standpoint.

The ITC-100 has a much higher temperature rating than the kaowool and prevents the surface breakdown resulting in fine dust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 10:45:14 EST

Ball Bearings as Grapes: No safety issue. Just a question of the parts staying together. Arc welding high carbon steel, especially hardened high carbon steel results in gross crystalization with very brittle interfaces in the weld. IF the assembly is properly heat treated or the welding brings the assembly up to an annealing heat then it will hold together OK. But if not the "grapes" can be plucked easier than the real thing. Folks that do this without consideration of the high carbon steel and without grapes breaking off are just lucky.

As the great Clint Eastwood said in Dirty Harry,
"Do you feel lucky, today?"
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 10:53:34 EST

What about the differetialy hardened Japanese swords ?
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 02/11/04 12:02:15 EST

I was thinking more like Grape Shot from the temp shock. Grin. So anneal it is. thanks.
   Habu - Wednesday, 02/11/04 12:08:46 EST

Good Guru, The double tempering has an extra benefit when applied to high carbon steels. When high carbon steel is quenched, it is sluggish to transform to martensite. There may be 20%-30% that remains as the non-magnetic form of iron, austenite. Upon reheating, that retained austenite will decompose to martensite, or, more often, bainite. This results in a tempered part with un-tempered martensite or bainite in it! This often leads to microcracks and ultimate failure of the part. The second temper works on the stuff that formed during the first temper. If you double temper anything, temper about 50 degrees LOWER than the first temper so that you do not lose the desired hardness. Most tools steel benefit from double tempering.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:10:06 EST

Having just recieved a quote for a squirrel cage blower and variable speed motor I find myself needing a sit down and a stiff drink. I guess I'll just have to be a bit more resourceful and make a blower myself. How many CFM do I need in a good sized side blown hearth?

   Bob G - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:16:25 EST

Chris, traditional japanese blades used alloys that were medium carbon steels (0.5% C) and low in Mn making for a very shallow hardening steel. The end result is a glass hard edge that is quite brittle and a soft gooey back to hold it together. They work quite well for "the perfect cut" but even a slight flaw in technique can result in a bent blade or a cracked edge.

For something to be used in the hurly burly of battle *I* would not choose a weapon needing "perfection"....

What I generally tell folks is that the Japanese went through all that trouble cause thay had very bad materials to start with and then they came up with an ingenious method of using them---and stuck with it. NE used pattern welded blades pre 1000 and as better metallurgy came along dropped them in favour of homogeneous steel and came up with ingenious ways of using that....

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:16:27 EST

Chris, the Japanese sword was differentially hardened hundreds if not thousands of years before the science of metallurgy revealed how hardening and tempering really worked. This method is the traditional method, and in the hands of a master smith, results in a true work of art. However, as the Alpha Guru said, it does not achieve the best metallurgical structure. I would put a modern sword, made with modern tool steel and heat treated as Guru described against the best traditional Japanese sword and bet heavily that I could break the Japanese sword before it broke mine.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:20:07 EST

Bob, I saw a nice "dayton" continuous duty squirrel cage blower at the fleamarket last weekend, $20, you would have to make a slider to control the ammount of air but it would work a treat---just like the ones that SOFA uses. It was 164 cfm IIRC.

Where were you looking? Did you check at the local furnace repair shop? Some of the high efficiency furnaces use a blower on the exhaust side that looks like it might work and it's usually the combustion chamber that rusts out trash canning the furnace...so used ones should be free or cheap...

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:23:15 EST


The blower on the fuel gun of an oil furnace works well too.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:38:38 EST

Forge Blowers: Bob, Have you looked at the forge parts on the Kaynes, Centaur or Pieh Tool pages? The Kaynes have some really nice looking blowers for what I think are reasonable prices. They also sell a slide valve.

Variable speed controls are only affordable on the smallest fractional HP shaded pole blowers. On these you can use a ceiling fan or light dimmer.

150 CFM is about the minimum for a small solid fuel forge. Up to 500 CFM is recommended for a large forge. You can always reduce the air flow but you cannot make it MORE than what you have.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:51:16 EST

NEW! We have a new advertiser and contributor Fill Tilt Features.
Full Tilt Features with a blacksmithing slant will be appearing on our story page regularly if we generate enough traffic for them.

I also have another comic series that may alternate with the full tilt features.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 13:57:31 EST


Any ideas on where I could find plain steel discs, about 4" diameter and 1/8" or so thick? Checked McMasterCarr and Online Metals and Arch Ironworks.

If not, is there a good way to cut these out? This is not a high precision part, but it needs to be close. I have though about cutting them out of 1/8" plate on the bandsaw, but I don't think I would end up with a good shape unless I put way too much time into it. I was considering trying to find some 4" round par and cutting a few slices off, but that seems pretty silly.



   -JIM - Wednesday, 02/11/04 14:00:28 EST

That would be 4" round BAR.
   -JIM - Wednesday, 02/11/04 14:00:59 EST

Heavy Disks: Jim, The most efficient way is to have someone plasma or laser machine cut them from plate. The next best method is to saw them but that leaves a lot rough surface to clean up. Inch and a half washers are about that big and thick but they have that big hole in the center.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 14:22:03 EST

You can cut 4" diameter circles on a drill press using a bimetal blade hole saw. Lenox makes the ones I like best. They use a 1/4" pilot bit, but if you have GOOD clamping and a decent drill press with a tight quill, you can cut them centerless. You'll need to get a hole saw for 4-1/4" holes to net a 4" disc. Use the slowest spindle speed your drill press can provide, about 250 rpm or less.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/11/04 14:28:42 EST

Thanks for the quick response!

I doubt a company would be interested in making these, as I only need 4. I may be stuck with cutting them out and cleaning them up.

I'm surprised I couldn't find anyone carrying these, as almost every shape under the sun seems to be available out there.....

Thanks again!

   -Jim - Wednesday, 02/11/04 14:29:42 EST

i'm wondering what type of finsh would be good for hoof picks and key rings, and what info customers should be given about maintenance.

also, is there any liability labelling that you include when selling candleholders? or any that you can suggest?

thanks for any help

thanks for any help
   lisa - Wednesday, 02/11/04 15:24:59 EST

Jim, there is a seller on ebay that sells blacksmith related items. He had some disks about that size that he lists once in a while for candle cups. Do a member search for: scharabo I believe they went for $.99 (what was that Cent sign again?)
   Habu - Wednesday, 02/11/04 15:44:04 EST


The cent sign is Alt 0162. ˘

I've bought stuff from Scharabo. He's honest and you can believe his descriptions.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/11/04 15:59:57 EST

I second that
   Habu - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:09:51 EST

Lisa are you making all those products you listed in your post? are you selling in large quanties?
   - Moe - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:10:34 EST


Also, Kayne and Son sell a candle drip pan that is 3.5", if that would work. It's already cupped, so a call to them might get you enough of the disks before they are cupped.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:17:29 EST

Disks item number : 3270196560 not quite what you wanted but you still might give him a shout. (my memory never was what it once was)
   Habu - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:22:59 EST

I looked at the candle cups, and I think they are a bit to thin. I think 18 gauge is about .05" and I need about .125".

I will look on ebay.

Thanks for all the help!!!

   -Jim - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:23:24 EST

Thanks for the info on differential hardening. Guess I'll stick to a differential temper instead. No hamon... darn. :P (Best leave it to the KISS rule for a few years anyhow.)

Now, about the lizard's blood... Will lawyers work in place of CEO's? I know where I can get a few of those... ;)
   Cyjal - Wednesday, 02/11/04 16:58:54 EST

Unless your going to use the sword for battle I think you would be ok with clay coat hardening you can't beat it for good looks
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 02/11/04 17:03:49 EST

I have noticed that HF has dust collectors for woodworking machines, that include a pressure blower of what appears to be the right size for a forge blower. Of course its a HF quality item, but looks to serve for a part-timer.With the foriegn junk motor, I think that I would run it in the on mode and throttle the air. One way I have seen is to use the butterfly valve from a deisel intake.
I hope this helps.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/11/04 17:55:01 EST

Abusive Posts:

Shawn, = wc10.wlfdle.rnc.net.cable.rogers.com

Folks with static IP addresses should know better than to offer pirated software and threathen to hack web sites. Please take your business elsewhere or our next complaint goes to your ISP, then the local authorities:

Rogers Shared Services - IT admin@RCI.ROGERS.COM
45 Esna Park Drive
Markham, ON L3R 1C9


TO All others: PLEASE do not post or make ANY comments in response to blatnet abusers. It just causes me extra work cleaning up YOUR mess along with theirs. Drop me a line and I will fix ASAP.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 19:40:37 EST

Ellen: I have a vise about that size and weight - came w/o spring or mounting hardware. I made the spring out of of leaf spring. Split one end and folded the ears out to grip the moving leg. The other side was clamped under the mounting bracket. Did not heat treat the spring after forging.
   adam - Wednesday, 02/11/04 18:53:56 EST


i haven't been blacksmithing too long, but have sold quite a few items, not in huge quantities. i have ideas for the hoof picks, but am needing to find a durable finish for them.


   lisa - Wednesday, 02/11/04 18:58:19 EST

Natural gas is 1000 btu per cubic foot. Propane is 2500 btu per cubic foot. Both numbers vary a little by source and composition, but that is what industry uses.

Adam, I don't have a chart for NG for that high a pressure, but figuring the difference in specific gravity from air, I'd say .4 cubic foot per minute at 1 psi and .9 cubic foot per minute at 5 psi. These are estimated numbers, not hard engineered. MANY more factors come into play for a hard number. In fact, I don't know of a calculation that will deal with the changes in direction you have. If you need a hard number, get a flow meter from the welding supply or an industrial heating place. It would be cheaper (and more accurate) than hiring an engineer to give a hard number. Grin.

If they won't let you hook it up, ask THEM to provide an orifice flow chart for the gas they are giving you.

Another rule of thumb is that propane at 11 inches of water gives about 2.7 times as many btu's in the same orifice as natural gas at 4 inches of water. In home appliance kind of orifice sizes.

I know you know this.... remember that you don't get all of the heat content that is in the gas to go to the steel. Much goes out with exhaust, the amount of excess air has a huge play, etc.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 02/11/04 19:36:54 EST

I got a bunch from a local weld shop that had been making a bunch of tanks. They had to have a lot of cutouts so they had many discks of 1/8 inch sheet.... nice and clean cuts, best of all I got it at scrap price at the time.. something like 8 or 9 cents per pound..... at least I was happy as I did not have to cut nor clean.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/11/04 19:50:31 EST

guru do you happen to know the proper parameters for tig welding nickle silver? I am using a small d.c. inverter machine and short of adding soldering flux to the joint before hand I am having no luck on .050 nickle silver. this is a touch start machine and no lower than about 30 amps will it initiate an arc, then the material boils up just as if you had stayed in one place and boiled a puddle in mild steel. ironbasher
   kinzea l thompson - Wednesday, 02/11/04 19:55:59 EST

Thank you Bruce, just forget about me now, im just glad with what I learned and that Guru was honest. I promise to never leave a message again in this forum. Sorry I let you all down.
   - Kain - Wednesday, 02/11/04 20:01:33 EST

Jim, You could make a simple circle cutting jig for your band saw in the time it will take to find the disks.

If you have a guide slot in your table it's easy to make a simple fixture. You can make a quick throw away for this one size or get more elaborate and make it adjustable.

For the single size throw away find a piece of plywood maybe six inches square. check your scrap bin for a piece of flat stock which will slide easily in the table slot or size a strip of wood to do the same. Attach the strip of wood or flat stock to the bottom of the piece of plywood so that the distance from the strip to the edge of the plywood is greater than the distance from the blade to the slot. Turn on the saw and trim the plywood by running it past the blade with the strip in the slot. Discard the waste piece or save it as a shim for your offcut steel.

Measure from the cut edge of the plywood a distance equal to the radius of your circle and drill a hole for a 1/8" dowel or pin about halfway along the cut edge. Insert a pin. Slide the fixture along the slot and use a square to set it so the center of the pin is the same distance from the front of the table as the back ege of your blade gullets. Clamp a piece of scrap to the table so that it always stops there when you slide it in.

Cut a few squares of 1/8" steel slightly bigger than the diameter of your circles and drill a #30 hole at the center of each. (clearance for 1/8" pin) Make life easy on yourself and bend each corner up a little bit to provide a handle when you spin the part in the saw.

With the fixture toward the front of the table place one of the squares over the pin and turn it so it is oriented like a diamond shape and slide it into the blade cutting in a relatively straight line until you reach the stop you set before. Start to rotate the piece of steel into the blade while you keep it against the stop. Use the bent up corners as handles and NEVER push with your hand in a positon where you could touch the blade if you slipped. Cut all the way around and STOP the saw to remove the waste.

To make a permanent fixture make a similar device of steel or aluminum but cut a dovetailed slot across it and mount the pin on a sliding bar which rides in the dovetail and locks in place with set screws. If your saw blade tries to drift in one direction or the other you may have to adjust the back stop until it cuts cleanly.

Sorry for the long post but maybe it will be helpful.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 02/11/04 20:24:09 EST

wen are you going to start the demos back up
   terry-f - Wednesday, 02/11/04 20:52:07 EST

   glenn - Wednesday, 02/11/04 22:37:05 EST


Most folks use either motor oil, automatic transmission fluid, or peanut oil. You can get the later in gallon jugs at Sams, the flash point is higher than motor oil, and it doesn't have all the nasties in it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/11/04 22:50:15 EST

Quenchants: Glenn, No need to yell (allCAPS).

Almost any type of oil can be used used. Most folks have their own preference. However, as Paw-Paw stated, motor oil is not recommended due to the toxic additives. Peanut oil has the highest flash point of the vegatable oils, not higher than motor oil.

Commonly used oils:

Mineral oil (light like baby oil and heavy)
AFT (automatic transmission fluid)
Vegatable oil (such as peanut oil or castor oil)
Animal fat (lard, cooking grease such as bacon fat).
Synthetic oil with high flash point.

Water based synthetic quenchants are now used in industry to avoid the toxicity, fire hazzards and disposal problems of other oils.

Wayne Goddard states in Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop that he likes a mixture of Bacon Grease, parafin and hydraulic fluid (I think). It is just heavy enough that it solidifies when cold and must be warmed to use. As a solid it is easy to transport and he claims it is less likely to go rancid.

See our review of Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop.

The same could be made using all new materials such as lard, mineral oil and parafin.

The critical thing is to have enough oil. Quench the average hunting knife in a quart of oil and it will be boiling (near the flash point) and the smoke will probably ignite. So be sure you have a gallon or two.

To prevent igniting the smoke be sure to quench the entire piece using a wire to support or tongs that are not overheated. Getting the entire piece and any other hot metal under the oil will reduce the possibility of igniting the oil.

Oil having a lower density and lower heat capacity than water means that it heats up quickly. If you have numerous parts to quench be sure the oil does not become too hot. Industrial quenching tanks have heat exchangers to water cool the oil.

Oil quenching is probably one of the most hazzardous things we do in the shop. Study the area where you plan to work before you start. Be sure that flames coming off the oil are not going to ignite some thing above them. Be sure you have an exit path. Be sure to be ready to put out possible fires. Have a cover for the oil container and a bucket of sand nearby.

Most small fires in the blacksmith or welding shop are easy to control and pose little risk. Hot oil fires are different and can get out of control very quickly.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 23:25:37 EST

I forgot to mention. See our FAQ on quenchants for more information.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/11/04 23:31:29 EST

Aaak! Sorry, Glenn. Senior moment.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/11/04 23:34:29 EST

Greetings Guru!
I am a novice level decorative blacksmith, 49 years old, black powder rifle maker (hobbiest). My career background is technical, not "hands on". I was a member of the Saltfork Craftsmen in Oklahoma until I moved to Anchorage AK last July. Can't find good coal here so I am going to switch to Propane or butane. I have a single burner forge about 10" dia by 14" long and will be using it in my two car garage (door up-back door open). I plan to keep the bottle outside of the garage at all times (sheltered) and set up a system where a hose would lead from the bottle to the regulator which will be attached to the hard plumbing at the forge. That way I hope to be able to adjust the pressure without leaving the forge. In addition to a shutoff valve between the regulator and burner, I would also have a main shutoff valve between the bottle and regulator in the hard plumbing at the forge. The hose from the bottle would attach to the forge at the main shutoff valve. Since my only experience with propane is with a gas grill, I want to make sure that a system like this will be reasonably safe. I plan on using teflon plumber's tape and leak check with soap outside first. I would appreciate your opinion and any advice you might have to offer.
   Roy Turner - Wednesday, 02/11/04 23:50:06 EST

Plumbing: Roy, Leak tight is only assured by leak testing. So you are off to a good start. Be sure to test valve packings while open and closed. That includes the one on the bottle and on every new exchange bottle.

Although I love teflon tape it has some some faults when used in gas systems. The problem is that bits of the tape get in the system and clog orifices in regulators, gauges and burners. Even if you are carefull about keeping the tape away from ends of threads it squeezes out and ends up stretching across the opening. SO, if you want to avoid problems, use the teflon goop instead.

Your plan is sound. Just remember that the more connections you have the greater the chance of leaks. Also be sure to use hose rated for propane or avoid hose altogether and use copper tubing.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 00:56:27 EST

Hello to everyone here and thank you in advance. I have a small question I need to ask see I am trying to build my own gas fired forge and am having a little difficulty trying to figure out what kind of regulator to us for my propane tank. What I would like to know is can I use one off of a barbecue grill or should I buy some kind of regulator specially made for the job.
   Nelson Rasmussen - Thursday, 02/12/04 00:58:25 EST


Go to your welding supply house and buy a regulater. The one that goes to a BBQ grill will not supply enough propane. I found that out the hard way.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/12/04 01:00:32 EST

Roy, I would also suggest, since you are in Alaska, you may **occasionally** fire up your forge with the doors partially closed that a carbon monoxide detector would be a good idea, they are only a few dollars at Home Deposit and similar stores. Also, and others know a lot more about this than I do, in cold weather, an outside propane tank may not deliver as much pressure as you would like for your forge, so you may need to consider some type of vented shelter for the tank....the larger the tank, the less of a problem this is.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/12/04 01:43:29 EST

Check with your propane supplier..I got a proper propane reg, adjustable to 30# for $25 from my supply co.
And now i've got gas.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 02/12/04 02:09:04 EST

Pete F; A couple drops of Beano will clear that right up. (Cheap shot, but somebody had to do it.)VBOG
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/12/04 02:38:02 EST


Rolaids work better. (nother big grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/12/04 03:15:13 EST

Piping Gas:

From my reading of Roy's post, it appears that he is planning to run the full tank pressure from the tank to the regulator, which will be mounted at or near the forge. I'm planning to do just that for my shop, since I get nervous about having a heavier-than-air gas cylinder in an enclosed space. But I have some concerns about using copper tubing at tank pressures. I see it done here for cooking gas (LP), but only a very short pigtail from the tank valve to the regulator. After that, the low pressure is piped in soft copper tubing to the appliance.

Since full tank pressure can reach 250 psi, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be safer to use SCH 40 black steel pipe. Copper tubing is too easily damaged by errant objects, work hardening and the like to make me feel really comfortable using it, but I don't have any hard data to back up my thinking. What do you knowledgeable engineer types think about this?

   vicopper - Thursday, 02/12/04 08:51:32 EST

we put in a carbon monoxide detector 4 years ago... it only went off once, Lydia was grinding and heard the beeping ,turned around to see the gage on the acetelene tank burning merrily. ..[thank the gods it wasn't the oxy!], lessons learned :check your tanks! and test your detector. By the way the cheap detectors will save your life, but are not sensitive enough to protect your health from pervasive low level c/ monoxide you have to spend at least $100.. or so I'm informed [ we still have the cheapie!].
   tim - Thursday, 02/12/04 08:52:44 EST

As an owner of a automotive emission testing for 5 years I tested 15,000 cars a year for CO. My choice for my shop was a Nighthawk detetor with a digital read out. CO is cumulative in you body and this detector does a cumulative moving average over 8 hours. So it will go off quickly at high concntrations but will also go off with a low concentration over a longer period. The digital read out will give you a instant reading every 2 minutes. Price should run between $50-60. When I was tuning my forge I was finding that the level in an OPEN garage could run as high as 400ppm in short order, now with proper tuning 20-30 ppm in a closed 1 car garage. Still to high to stay in for long. But I know my forge is set up close. Rural fire departments sometimes sell them as fund raisers.


Sorry for the rant but I'm living with the long term effects of CO exposure and It is a hot button for me.
   Habu - Thursday, 02/12/04 09:55:30 EST

Lisa, what about forging the hoof picks from stainless and not worrying about the finish?

I have a hand forged 440C eating knife I put through the dishwasher at regular intervals...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/12/04 09:56:16 EST

Vicopper I have a hard plumbed system for my propane using blackpipe i got away from full tank presure in the pipe by using two regulators one set at 30lbs the max presure I use and one at the forge(s) that I tune from 0-30lb depending on present use I use a 0-35 gauge at the forge end and a 0-100 at the tank end this may seem over the top but an extra $50 for safty seems like money well spent to me

   Mark P - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:19:08 EST

I'd like to buy some punctuation please Vanna, :) sorry guys forgot to proof before sending.
   Mark P - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:23:10 EST

I want to add to what Habu said. In my limited experience, coal forges give off far more CO, I have yet to be in a shop with a coal forge that didn't set off the digital detector (usual 400 ppm) in a couple of minutes. Most smiths at least in this area don't think of getting a detector until the get a gas forge. For the sake of your own health, buy one now. I have yet to hear of anyone been over come by the CO but I wonder how many accidents have happened.
   - Daryl - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:31:33 EST

Mark and Mike,

Thank you both for the responses. Based on what Mark tells me, I think I'll try to locate another regulator to slap on the tank to keep the line pressures around 40#. Seems like a good plan, thanks!

And based on Mike's warning about the CO, I'll definitely be looking for a Nighthawk detector. Too many years of too many cigarettes has left my lungs in no condition to trifle with CO exposure. Now that I have a real shop, with walls and everything, it suddenly becomes critical to get one. Thanks for the reminder and the recommendation, MIke!
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:42:18 EST

Propane Piping: I missed the full tank pressure part. Generally that is not aceptable. It is done in some places but not recomended. The lower the pressure the less volume you get from a leak in a given time. In the pressure range we are speaking of the mas is around 240-250 (I think).

To be able to control the flow at the forge use two valves. A needle valve to control the flow/pressure and a ball valve to turn the fuel on/off. Use a fixed "high" pressure outdoor regulator at the tank or pigtail. These preset regulators are available up to 15 PSI from comercial propane dealers.

The needle valve does not control pressure but when the gas is flowing it creates a limited flow that will limit the pressure. As soon as the flow stops the pressure at the valve is equal to incoming line pressure. This is exactly how you control a torch. The incoming pressure is greater than needed at the torch and is adjusted with needle valves. The last time I put together a setup like this I bought Victor torch valves for the setup.

My last permanent propane to bulk tank setup consisted of:

Fixed 15 PSI regulator (from propane supplier)
Copper pigtail to my manifold.
Black iron pipe manifold consisting of
   10" long 1/2" nipple to penetrate block wall
   (4) 10" long 1/2" nipples
   (3) T's
   (4) 1/2" to 1/4" NPT bushings
    low presure gauge (0-30 PSI)
    (2) Victor valves with hose fittings
    Misc plugs.

The manifold was bench built and pressure leak tested using compressed air. The manifold was bolted to a concrete block wall. It was leak tested again after installation. A furnace was plumbed to one end of the manifold with 3/8" copper tubing and it had its own flow control valve. The two Victor valves provided outlets for an oxypropane torch and a small air propane torch. These could have been ball valves with hose fittings since the torches had their own control valves. Next to the end of the manifold we had anchor chains for an oxygen cylinder.

This setup fueled the furnace/forge and torches (one a big rose bud) all at once and was quite convienient.

My plan for my current shop was to do something similar but on a larger scale. Permenant piping would be run to forge locations and welding stations. This alows the use of a single large bulk tank for all your shop applications. You can save the portable bottles for field work.

Note, in a number of places outside the US propane cylinders are used without regulators, just a needle valve to control the flow at the forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:43:26 EST

Here in Michigan, my propane supplier runs 3/8 or 1/2 inch copper tubing from the 250 gal tank underground to the house where the regulator is mounted to the black iron piping required inside the house. No couplings on the copper allowed. Regulators are required to be outside because sometimes they vent when the diaphragm fails(seldom). My supplier was very helpful in working out all the details.
   Jim Curtis - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:48:59 EST

Another plumbing question:

I have a heck of a time getting consistent results using black pipe and goop. Teflon tape seems to work all the time, so what's the trick using goop? I coat both male and female threads with the brush and then work it into the threads with my finger. Then assemble and check for leaks. About 1/3 of the time I get tiny bubbles.

Am I tightening too tight? Not enough?

I also have problems when running through right angles. In order to fit the whole assembly in the space provided, I need to have nice right angles. Sometimes getting that perfect angle has me loosening, as I can't tighten enough.

I'm moving to a new home, with a bigger shop space, and now's the time to find out how to do it right.


   MarcG - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:51:12 EST

Dual regulators: When you use two regulators in a line be sure that one is significantly higher pressure than the second. Two regulators at near the same presure will "hunt". As the flow starts the one closest to the out let will compensate, followed by a line delay the second regulator will compensate, then the first must change again followed by the second AGAIN. This can go on continously but usualy starts out as being very noticable than settles down after a few minutes. But it will start right back up again with any change. Hunting can be noisy, be noticable at the output and will cause premature failure of regulators.

In two stage regulators this is not a problem because there is no line distance between the two parts so there is no appreciable delay between the two reacting. Thus no hunting.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 10:54:00 EST

Propane regulation:

At my school's glass shop, we get all our propane from a HUGE propane tank. (Apparently it has never run out in 30 years of running a glass shop...) Somewhere, there is a very large regulator, and the pressure is stepped down to 25psi. The entire system runs on 25psi, and at each furnace there is a pressure gauge, a ball valve, and a needle valve. The ball valve is on/off, the needle valve tunes the furnace (preheat pressure, working pressure, whatever). This works out to be a very good way of doing things; seems easier and cheaper than two regulators, and works just as well.

Guru, thanks for the info on rivet spinning. I'll let you know how it comes out; I think I'll be using drill bit shanks like you said.

Rainy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:06:32 EST

Tightening Pipe: When I built my manifold with teflon tape the joints screwed in until they were nearly burried (out of thread). I suspect this was related to it being cheap import pipe from a major consumer supply chain. Getting things tight was one reason I built it in a heavy vise (with BIG pipe wrenches).

Getting pipe to end up pointing the right direction is a art. But one thing you NEVER do is back up. If you need 5° less, you turn the joint another 355°. This takes big wrenches and is why plumbers get the big bucks for gas line work. They also used a hardening goop or pipe dope. Ask your plumbing supplier for the correct dope.

One "trick" to getting right angles is the placement of unions. If you put one of these in the line where you have a critical corner you just assemble the pieces as tight as you can get and then close the union last. This can add two many extra joints in a manifold with lots of drops but it can easily take care of one or two ultra picky points.

The proper way to get small wall and panel mounted items like gauges to connect to a manifold is through short coiled pigtails made of tubing. Then that 5° tightening problem goes away. The flexible connection takes care of the problem. We had a complicated panel with flow and pressure gauges to build. The designer did it all with hard fittings. . . We DID get it together but at tremondous cost in time. Many parts had to be custom cut and threaded and joints often failed and had to be taken apart and redone. It was a nightmare that could have been avoided.

Like I said, there is a reason experianced guys get the big bucks. They are cheaper to hire in the long run.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:15:13 EST

T.G, take pictures! It might make a good iForge demo. Making and testing plus how-to and finished results.

Ah. . you just never noticed the guy in the big bulk truck that comes once a month and tops off the propane tank. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:18:27 EST

Guru, I have noted some of what you call "hunt" on my system, it was really annoying when I had two 0-30 regulators and took a few minutes to settle out as you noted. I thought I had a bad regulator and swaped out the one at the tank end first putting in the higher pressure regulator there. This settled out the system and I have had no more problems except when I try to call for more pressure than the first regulator is set for(when forge welding) and I believe that this could be solved by remembering to set the first regulator to 40# BEFORE I need it.
   Mark P - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:25:45 EST

Does anyone here know how to temper glass? Any help would be appreciated. Also, what kind of steel is usually used in cable?
Thank you
   - colinnn - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:27:31 EST

Coal gas and CO detection....
I agree that coal will give off more CO than a gas forge, BUT generally speaking since coal forges give off MUCH MUCH more nasty smelling SMOKE they are vented much better so the CO is not as bad overall. And since most folks erroneously think gas forges are fumeless they use them in shops/spaces that are not I repeat NOT vented well and so have CO build up. Also with detectors you have to be carefull as at least used to particulte would set them off. So you can get false alarms.
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:33:17 EST

tempering glass

try this link www.alumaxbath.com/tech/tgp.htm
   Mark P - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:33:41 EST

Thanks, Guru. I'm pretty sure my problems have been not getting tight enough. I'm not too clear on the union thing, though. Won't tightening the union last tighten one side and loosen the other? Or does that mostly give me some extra "slop"? If I assemble that one last, then tightening will tighten an extra two joints, giving me a little extra room?

Also, I take it you assemble as much as possible at the bench and hang the whole assembly, if possible?

But now I'm thinking that I know how to sweat copper, and that gives more flexibility. Maybe just do the whole thing with that.

-Marc (who's looking forward to an 8' ceiling and a flat floor :-)
   MarcG - Thursday, 02/12/04 11:45:32 EST


I think you're confusing unions and couplings. A coupling is just a female threaded collar for joining two pieces of pipe, both of which have to be tightened fully.

A union, on the other hand, is a joining device that uses two mated faces to make the joint. One if fixed, and is screwed onto one piece of pipe. The other half screws onto the other piece of pipe and has a locking collar that pulls the two machined faces into a tight joint. A union allows the two pipes to be rotated into position before tighteneing, allowing you to get everything lined up. They also make replacement of parts, such as your water heater, much easier.

Get a couple of good sized pipe wrenches about 18 to 24" long and you'll be much happier. I have pipe wrenches up to 3' long, but I only use the big one for pipe over 2" diameter. And rusted trailer hitches :-) I would not sweat any joints in gas pipe, no matter what. How you gonna take it apart again? Torch a pipe full of gas and/or gas residue? Not me, thanks. Use threaded fittings, unless you fancy a quick trip through that new ceiling.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/12/04 12:26:35 EST

   - TONY - Thursday, 02/12/04 12:28:55 EST

Collnnn, the answer to the cable question is: *yes* cable is made from low carbon steel, high carbon steel, galvanized, stainless, etc depending on what it was designed for.

If you are trying to buy some for knife making they high carbon steel versions may be described as "plow steel" "double plow steel" and "double improved plow steel" (IIRC my research library is 1600 miles away) with the first grade being about 1070 and the last around 1090.

I think this naming convention is an old hangover from making blister steel where you could run it through the process several times getting a bit more C each time---but really adding to the cost!

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 02/12/04 12:41:15 EST

Curious about glass tempering.... Just what were you going to be doing with it? I ask as I have played around with glass and iron just a bit, but so far have not tempered... at least not intentionally... but then again what I know about glass slumping etc could maybe half fill a thimble... but it has not stopped me from forging ahead.... ( pun intended)
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/12/04 12:52:13 EST

Hoof Pick Finish: Carbon steel will always require more care than stainless but carbon steel is a lot more available as scrap. If you want to enhance the corrosion resistance of carbon steel, put a bright polish on it. I use a 6" Scotchbrite wheel for this and usually get a nearly mirror finish. I then heat the item to about 100F and melt bees wax on it and polish it up when cool. If the customer wants a unique, hand-made tool but won't spend the time to take care of it, maybe you need to politely send them to buy an ugly off-the-shelf pick made from foreign stainless in a dirty factory.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/12/04 12:52:56 EST

Thanks, Vic. I wasn't really confusing unions with couplings. In reality I had no idea that there was such a thing as a union.

I learned something new today. Can I go home now?

Maybe I should look in B&N for a "Plumbing for Dummies" book. Who knows what else I don't know?
   MarcG - Thursday, 02/12/04 13:27:23 EST

Morse Left Hand Mills; Tony, Sounds like a rare item. . . maybe specials. Sure the taper is a Morse? Brown and Sharp made milling machines with a B&S taper which is similar to but different than a Morse taper. To confuse matters they may have been manufactured by Morse. I've seen lots of milling cutters with B&S tapers but never Morse. But you never know. Tons of lathes and drill presses used (still use) Morse tapers.

I would put them on eBay. You are welcome to offer them on our Hammer-In. Be sure to list contact information and location. Might be someone next door that just HAS to have them. . You never know.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 13:34:53 EST

About Plumbing: MarcG, There is a LOT to know. Little details like counduit couplings look exactly like pipe couplings of the same size. Except they have straight threads! Hard to detect and leak forever! Standard pipe with tapered threads is used for heavy (rigid) conduit.

Reds are reducing couplings
Bushes are adaptor bushings
A "street L" is an elbow with male and female threads.
Nipples are threaded pipe in the range of "close" to 6" in length. Close is double the length of the thread length.

Pipe sizes are a nominal inside diameter that varies according to pressure rating (schedule number). All NPT pipe is the same outside diameter for all schedules (wall thicknesses). Schedule 40 is normal pipe and the ID is a little over the nominal to allow for scale build up.

Pipe threads are odd non-standard series so that common bolts or threaded rod cannot be screwed into pipe fittings.

McMaster-Carr sells all types of plumping products and has nice pictures of all the fittings in their on-line and print catalogs.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 14:25:59 EST

Thanks to all who have posted or sent email about the discs! I really liked the jig that SGensh described, so I think I will go with that method.

I'll let you know how it works!

   -Jim - Thursday, 02/12/04 14:31:08 EST

Hoof Picks. A number of horseshoers will forge hoof picks out of one-half a used horseshoe. The ones I made, I would give to customers. With care, you get a nice, radiused "point" and maybe a tapered, recurved pick-end. The other end could have a punched or drifted hole or rattail end for hanging. Some shoers put a horseshead on the end opposite the hook. Most folks couldn't care less about finish, because they liked the nail crease and holes running down the length. Quenchcrack's finishing idea sounds pretty good to me. The 6" Scotchbrite wheels I get from a local jewelry supply, and presently they run about $40.00.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/12/04 14:55:05 EST


I don't know if the "FOR DUMMIES" series has a plumbing book, but it would surprise me if it didn't. There are lots of good how-to books right there on the book shelves at HD or Lowe's. I have a few out of the Ortho series. Oldest of the lot is the plumbing book I bought from the hardware store where I worked in high school. As a clerk, I was getting questions I couldn't answer. Bought and read the book, walked around and looked at all the stuff in stock, and found I could handle a lot more of the questions. Working off that knowledge base and rereading occasionally, I've replumbed one house, built another, and fixed up a few other things.

   Steve A - Thursday, 02/12/04 15:16:56 EST

hey, i was wondering what your opinion is of a chambersburg 100lb. utility hammer? and, if 3500 is a good price for it. the dies sit perpendicular to the hammer, so the work feeds straight into the throat. there is a hole, i think its about 4" for the work to feed through. from what i understand, the hammer was designed to assist in drill sharpening. i was just trying to figure out if it is a good forging hammer. i do light to medium forging (up to 3" diameter work).

   david brown - Thursday, 02/12/04 16:47:51 EST

Does anybody know of a house jack supplier in Canada? I have a friend who will be needing them in the spring to fix up some of his sheds!

   - Moe - Thursday, 02/12/04 17:30:40 EST

Haveing spent about 17 years in R&D working with piping and valves and fittings, I can offer the following as help in sealing gasses.For the common fuel gasses, propane, methane(natural gas),butane, and propolyne, Teflon tape is a poor choice. Teflon tape is NOT a sealant, but rather a lubricant. This allows screwing the pipe tightly together. For gasses that are dangerous, and that have strong ordors, you will have leaks. For the best results, an anarobic sealent, applied with the correct primer will give excellent results and still allow disassembly.An excellent type that I used for iron, steel, copper, brass and stainless steel fittings is Loctite PST. The primer is a safety solvent that removes the threading oils, and leaves a bit of finely devided copper behind to help catalyze the sealant. With this type sealant I have been succesful with pressure from inches of water to 10,5000psi.
For general gas piping, the green hardening dopes are ok, but not great.
For leak testing, which I and a crew of co-ops did all day every day, a leak test fluid, available at most any piping supplier, and weld supplier, will be much easier, and is maybe 100 times more sensitive. The soap solutions tend to suds when applied,and is therfore hard to use to detect small leaks. The commericial products will go on clear and bubble like wild at a tiny leak. A couple of favorite brands are Snoop, and Seamtest. There are many, most all work well, and come in nifty squirt bottles that can sit next to the gas bottles for valve stem testing of new bottles.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/12/04 17:33:16 EST

Unions for gas piping.
For gas tite seal on pipe unions, the cheap black iron unions found at hardware stores tend to require very high make up torgues, and still leak. A better choice, that costs a bit more, but provides much better service, is a soft seated union. These have a brass seat inserted into the female tailpiece. Easy to torque, seals well. don't forget a bit of anti-seize on the nut threads, as this reduces the required makeup torque, and eases disassembly later.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/12/04 17:37:12 EST

Ball valves for gas service.
At the big box stores and most hardwares, you will find generic ball valves. most will have a paper tag, and little in the way of marking. The good valves will be marked on the valve side, in raised letter, 300 W.O.G. This means 300 psig, Water, Oil, Gas. These will have better stem packings, and most will have a blow out proof stem. Domestic mfg is hard to find, much more expensive, but well work the cost in value.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/12/04 17:41:24 EST

Can cast iron be welded with MIG using standard wire?
   - rentaratchet - Thursday, 02/12/04 18:06:56 EST

Chambersburg Utility: David, This is an excellent hammer. Normally they have flat dies so the die direction is not critical. I've never seen one with a hole through the frame. There IS an access hole for the valve linkage behind the ram.

The advantage of the utility hammers is that they are heavy one piece hammers that do not require a special foundation pit. The disadvantage is that Chambersburg is no longer in business and you are on your own if parts wear out or break.

It is common for the throttle valves to rust and sieze or to wear and need rebuilding.

Check to be sure the hammer has a "safety cap". This is a part about 6" tall on top of the cylinder with a small pilot line going to it. The safety cap is a cushion that stops the piston from hitting the head and breaking the top of the cylinder. If the hammer doesn't have a safety cap it is worth about half the quoted price. If the valve mechanism is broken or in bad condition, again the hammer is worth about half. There should be an oiler on the left hand side or the back of the hammer.

Chambersburg recommended a 10 HP air compressor to run this hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 18:19:09 EST

Cast Iron Welding: Rentaratchet, No.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 18:26:59 EST

Jim, I sent a couple of pics your way by email. They may help with the fixture.
   SGensh - Thursday, 02/12/04 18:36:03 EST

Thank you everyone.
The reason I want to know about tempering glass is that I want to broden my horizons to things other than bladesmithing and blacksmithing. Thanks Thomas and Mark.
   - colinnn - Thursday, 02/12/04 18:49:41 EST

Colinnn, as good a reason as many and better than most.
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:14:30 EST

I am admitttedly a 'smith wannabe. I'll will continue to be a wannabe until family restraints and responsibilities allow free time that is not currently available. Priorities!! However, I am a fairly accomplished nut-turner, with over twenty years experience working on rental equipment. I heartily applaud your comments of 9 Feb 04 about getting started if you want to do it!
   rentaratchet - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:31:12 EST


There's a saying among blacksmiths that gets mis-used a lot, but in context makes sense. The saying is "Just do it!" What needs to be added to the statement is "AFTER studying all the information you can find!"

As for priorities, we all have to deal with them, and they are constantly changing.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:39:06 EST


Colinnn, cool it slowly from 1000 degrees to room temperature. Need to take at least 8 hours, preferably 12, to ramp down. Requires a temperature-controlled furnace. This is annealing procedure; I do not know why you would want to temper it; the only use for tempered glass that I know of is vehicle windows, and that is something that should probably be left to the professionals.

Guru, my glass teacher swears to it... it is a BIG tank, the second or third-biggest I've ever seen outside of the ones at the shipyards (giant spherical tanks). I reckon it weighs at least two or three tons filled... I'm not much good at reckoning but I think that's close (Grin).

We have lots of sweated joints in 1/4" copper tubing in our gas setup at school... it's not THAT unsafe... the gas inside the line doesn't get any O2 in it because it's under pressure even when you turn the valve off (at least for QUITE A WHILE) so you can pretty safely resweat faulty joints. I've seen it done. (I prefer hose and barbs myself.)

We've gotten great results with teflon tape... nary a leak so far. Test with soapy water.

Colinnn, email me off-list and I will give you some leads on sources of information for glassworking.

Sunny and rainy (!) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:39:47 EST

Rentaratchet, You will probably have a fairly easy time of it. Many of our newbies and even some accomplished smiths have very limited or no mechanical skills. I good background in mechanics goes a long way.

Those comments were aimed at some folks that had been led to water and instead of drinking they just fouled the water and complained that they were still thirsty.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:39:56 EST


As in "You can lead a fool to water, but you can't make him drink!"

Water being the "Pool of Knowledge" of course! (Grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/12/04 19:47:13 EST

Couple of points to add to the piping thing.

ptree's advice to use aneraobic pipe sealant is one of the best things you have heard. The actual Loctite number is PST 565. While I knew what it was, one of the guys at my plumbing supplier said it was the same as teflon dope. One of the other guys, who knows better, slapped him upside the head. It is pricey, ($37 for 250 ml) but if anyone buys it, uses it properly and doesn't think it is worth every penny, send it to me and I'll send you the money. (limited to one 50ml size bottle per household. No duplicate entries, allow six weeks, etc.) Grin. And definitely get the primer for times when you want it to take pressure fast or the temp is cold. The primer is #7649 (primer N).

This sealant is good for many common fluids. Water, air etc. Not just gas. look on the loctite website for more.

If you use teflon tape, eventually you will find a piece of it cloggin your orifice.

I do not use black steel pipe for gas anymore. Too many problems with the joints and poor quality fittings. And cost. And faster. I use FLARED or soldered copper. NO compression fittings. Yes, black pipe and compression fittings can work. But not nearly as leak free. Look at the burst pressure of copper tubing. It's high. Yes, copper is not as damage resistant as steel pipe. That is the only drawback I can think of. Tubing flare tools can be had for about $10. The flare connection is a union and can be made and remade leak free very many times. No worries about how long to cut the pipe nipple, rotation of the fitting, etc.

Copper is better for underground runs for corrosion.

Threaded joints can develop leaks from thermal cycling like what happens next to a forge.

I run tank pressure in soft copper tube from the house 500 gallon tank to the shop. Hard copper above ground. A listed gas ball valve at every use point. 2500 psi wire reinforced hydraulic hose for flex connections. I feel safer flinging hot iron around the wire reinforced hydraulic hose than fabric reinforced LP hose. Make sure the hydraulic hose liner is good for fuel gasses. Nitrile liner is fine. And a copper tube run along the side of the forge since I have burned rubber hose. I use no regulator, but a 1/8" needle valve on each burner. The choice of needle valve is important as some do not control well in the low range. Alkon brand has worked best so far.

A pressure regulator is nothing more than an automatic throttling valve. If the supply pressure remains fairly constant, as my 500 gallon tank does, the needle valve is faster to adjust than a regulator. It does not matter if the tank pressure on the upstream side of the needle valve is 200 psi as in summer or 25 psi as in winter. Control is great. A quarter turn from just barely running to full blast in a freon or LP tank sized forge. I had a regulator and took it off. Nothing wrong with a regulator but I have found it unnecessary and slow.

If you run from a 20 pound propane tank, the pressure will drop off as you use and cool the tank. In that case, a regulator is a good idea to even out the pressure variation and not have to adjust the needle valve.

Roy, stick with propane in cold Alaska times. Butane will not vaporize well when cold. You will "run out" of gas.

Some other Natural gas and propane tidbits. Guru mentioned that the propane molecule is larger and heavier. About 2.8 times heavier.

9.5 cubic feet of air are required to burn 1 cubic foot of natural gas at standard temp (68 F) and pressure (0 psig).

24 cubic feet of air are required to burn 1 cubic foot of propane. 24/9.5 = ? The ratio carries through.

About the same WEIGHT of air is required to burn the same WEIGHT of natural gas and propane at standard temp and pressure. Propane needs a little less.

The 1000 btu per cubic foot for natural gas and 2500 btu per cubic foot for propane is the higher heating value. When you burn, you are vaporizing the water in the air and heating up the nitrogen in the air. This is wasted heat that does not get to your forge or work. The hot nitrogen does help heat, but it also carries a lot of heat out the exhaust. The lower heating value takes into account the vaporizing of the water. About 900 btu per cubic foot for natural gas and about 2250 btu for propane.

Hope this helps.
   - Tony - Thursday, 02/12/04 20:11:50 EST

T Gold,
glass work......
Only thing I sorta disagree with. You do not have to have temp controlled furnaces.... at least not ones with electronics etc... Have you ever seen some of the glass work from before electricity?
I ran into the same arguments as to how I could not slump glass into some of the iron pieces I was wanting to with out mauch expensive equipment. SO I went ahead and tried with a plain ole coal forge and got it right first time. I will admit I have had some failures since but I have learned and now I can do what I want most times first time around. But I do know I know nothing about glass and I hope to remeidy that soon.
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/12/04 20:47:54 EST


Thanks! I'll take the word of a P.E. who is also a Master Plumber and my friend any day. Now I have the facts and can act accordingly. Doesn't mean I'll do everything you say, of course. (grin) But I won't be able to say I wasn't advised.

I did notice that the pressure rating for copper was pretty close to that of black steel when I checked it out. I have flaring tools, so I'll go that route. The steel pipe available here is just about the cheapest crud that China produces and as consistent as a politician, so I won't be disappointed to avoid it. Thanks again.

   vicopper - Thursday, 02/12/04 21:02:05 EST

OK, Today I found out that my forge had a flaw, ya know I keep it clean and functional, but I was cleanin out clinkers today and found out that my screening was bent and debree was falling into my blower. I pulled off the blower and ashes were piled infront of it. I'm just glad that I cleaned and checked it 'cause it could have turned worse.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Thursday, 02/12/04 21:25:05 EST


Biggest problem was probably a reduction in air volume to the fire. But it is something that needs to be checked regularly.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/12/04 21:27:45 EST

Vic, you are, as always, very welcome. And gracious. Know good rum. Have good taste in friends, Etc.

And hey! If everyone did all the good things they were told, (me included) there'd be nothing to bitxx about. Grin.

   - Tony - Thursday, 02/12/04 21:45:40 EST

T.Gold - re oxygen in gas lines, even at positive pressure. I worked for Airco Industrial Gases (now BOC) as a field engineer supporting all gas applications. We did a lot of work at moderately high pressures such as 125 psig, at least until it got to a final use point. Nitrogen lines, even at that pressure could be contaminated by oxygen from the atmosphere backflowing through leaks in the piping. It's a molecular effect where you get a microscopic layer of oxygen flowing on the surface of the pipe trying to reach an equilibrium partial pressure with the nitrogen. Don't know that it would ever get you into flammable/explosive ranges but enough to contaminate and cause problems where chemical reactions (such as carburizing) were occuring. Tony - I haven't had to play with piping for about 15 years, even then we had gone to schedule 80 for a lot of installations as the quality of schedule 40 fittings was questionable at best. When using flexible copper tube, we tended to rely on top rate american made fittings from either Swagelok or Parker. To the best of my knowledge both are still US made and still top notch, but not cheap. On the other hand, you could take them apart numerous times, put them back together and they were still leak free. By the way we used Snoop for leak detection.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 02/12/04 21:54:05 EST

thanks for the ideas, everybody.
   - lisa - Thursday, 02/12/04 22:24:43 EST

Propane vs Natural Gas???

Now I have a question. I have been told that natural gas was more efficient than propane? But the numbers that Tony was rattling off seemed to indicate that there were more BTUs in the propane. I may be simple but isn't more BETTER???:-) It seems a little confusing. I assume that propane burns a little hotter 2800 if I remember right (like that is likely:-) Just looking for the truth, and more than willing to recognise that common knowledge is commonly wrong:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 02/12/04 22:34:37 EST

Ptree can we just get a list of the items that you had to do comparitive product testing on? A list of the best in class for various thing. I am certain it would save me a lot of time and heartache. (And for the record I hate the goop thread sealant! My air lines leak like a seave! I wear hearing protection only partly to save my hearing, mostly I just don't want to have to listen to the hissssssss...;-) What makes me mad was I bought really nice high quallity fittings, and gooped 'em up carefully, torqued them down pretty good, and then the thing still leaked bad. I was going to rebuild the system in the spring (when it was a little warmer) with teflon tape, but now I am going to get some of the Locktite PST565 and redo my lines. I guess while I am at it I will add some softseat unions to the setup, and bench build them with the locktite PST565 and a 3' pipe wrench!

True wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others, and not have to make them yourself! :-)

OK, now the recommendation is:
For air and gas lines, thread tape BAD, Goop Bad, Locktite PST 565 Good. I had heard that thread tape could be a problem, but I hadn't heard what I should use, now I know!:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 02/12/04 22:56:20 EST

You folks will enjoy this... last fall, i was approached by a friend of a friend of a friend, to mentor a high school senior for his senior building trades project. At 17, he has quite a collection of blades and daggers from all over the world. He.... wanted to make a 12 inch dagger for his project. i recollected all the analogys from the Guru's den about brain surgeon vs. G.P. etc., finally worried him down to a four inch blade of his choosing, but we would work at basics every week, until he could make general blacksmith projects, and then move up.
He came to 3 sessions. First i gave him a crusty red fir 6x6 and 50 16d nails, and had him drive them in an X pattern, four at a time, untill they were gone. ( I like a small amount of suffering in a student, so i gave him a roundface hammer, with a slight ball grind). He did quite well, only bending over 3 nails. The same day, he built a fire in the coal forge, and made a four sided point, a chisel point , and a round point, all out of 1/2" sq. I sent him home grinning, he had tangible evidence to show his family and teachers what he learned his first day. the next two sessions, we made s-hooks, drive-in hooks, and steak turners, again so he could bring stuff home for kudos and encouragement. Poof! No calls since last october. When his progress reports came in the mail, i would scribe out nasty-grams with dirty hands, and ask the teacher if the little vaquero was still alive. No response from teacher or student, until tonight. He has five weeks to finish his knife, and decided to ask me to do an accelerated routine, so he could make his grade. When i asked him about his lack of showing up or calling, he said, 'uhh, sorry'.
He's a bright kid, but something inside of my gumpy soul makes me want to, well, throttle him and his parents and teacher.
I know this has happened to many of you, in one circumstance or the other, what's the protocal for something like this? I get a kick from teaching kids how to get dirty, I also feel that in a building trades class, not coming to work for 4 months shouldn't be rewarded...
Thanks for listening, appreciate any thoughts, mike
   mike-hr - Thursday, 02/12/04 22:58:20 EST

I do know that the next compressed air system I do will be soldered copper, with ball valves. I visited a friend years ago and saw my 1st copper compressed air system, he showed me how easy it was to work with and change, we did a tap off a 3 inch line in under 15 minutes from vent the line to back to full pressure. Vented the line, made the two cuts with the tubing cutter, cleaned and fluxed the pipe, wiggled the tee with the ball valve body already soldered on it position, wrapped the ball valve body in a wet rag to protect it, soldered the two joints, reassembled the ball valve, and turned the air back on, checked for leaks (none!) and were done, did this during the production crews coffee break, they never even noticed that the air had been shut off. He was then able to plumb in the new machines at his leisure. Another nice thing about copper is that you don't get that rusty water you get with black pipe. The copper pipe used was "type K" which is a hard copper used in air conditioning among other things and is different sizes than your garden variety copper plumbing fittings.
   - Hudson - Thursday, 02/12/04 23:19:32 EST

Copper. Plumbed my cabin last summer with 1/2" hard copper sweated together with a mapp torch. Not one leaky joint! Only way to go. Fast, long lasting, efficient use of time and materials....and it was cheaper than galvanized pipe.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/12/04 23:56:18 EST

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