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This is an archive of posts from February 13 - 20, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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mike-hr, Its between a rock and a hard place that kid put you in and I don`t like it when I`m put there. When I`m at work most of the time you have a five man gang and when one guy doesn`t show for a day or two it messes everything up. If I were you I`d hand the kid one of lifes hard lessons and let him deal with it. It also sounds like the teacher is at fault also.
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 02/13/04 00:05:31 EST

Howdy! Long time lurker, first time poster. I've been reading the posts on pipe fitting and there is some good information there. I've always had good luck using yellow Rectorseal on gas and air piping. It's some nasty stuff, like neverseize it gets everywhere, but I've never had it leak. There is gas rated teflon tape out now, it's yellow. I've used it but not enough to really form an opinion of it. On unions, they seem to be directional. I say this because years ago I had problems sealing one and someone told me to turn it around and it worked. You point the cone shaped side in the direction of flow. Now, I have no idea why this would make a difference when the flow is static but since then I've taken the time to orient the fittings when installing them I haven't had a problem.
   bgott - Friday, 02/13/04 01:20:24 EST

Hard Places: Mike, If he worked several hours every day AND long days on every weekend in that time period he could learn what he needs. I seriously doubt you OR he has those hours to put in. I suspect that out of that five weeks he expects to finish it in 5 to 10 hours (one or two hours a weekend). In either case the question is if the time in YOUR schedule now?

In 5 to 10 hours, the hours:

1. As-is the "accelerated" method is "here is a piece of steel, don't burn it, don't work it cold, leave room to grind (whoops shape with a file). OBTW, you have one chance to get it right - today. If its badly misshapened or not even blade shaped that's tough, the schedule is finish it today and continue.

2-3. Here is a file. We don't have time to train you on the dangerous belt grinder and we are not going to do the work FOR YOU. Shaping must be finished today but you really don't have time. Yeah it would have been a LOT easier if you had some forging practice (about 100 hours) and the blade was much smoother and straighter. Try your best but you need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours to do this step with a file IF you file like you are possessed.

4-5. Walk through hardening and tempering. The blade is finished there is no time to polish, make the furniture or grip. If there were points for learning this part, well you didn't, did you? That blackened blade (?) is your finished project.

6-7. Oh you found more time! Here is some sand paper and a holder. Don't use the fine stuff until all the file marks are gone. We still don't have time to train you on the dangerous belt grinder OR the buffing equipement so you must do it the hard way. Yes the coarse file marks will come out but you need about 10 to 12 hours to do it by hand and another 4 to 6 to polish by hand. YES, it IS much more difficult to work the hardened steel. Do what you can.

8-9. Saw out the guard, fit and file to shape. No, there is no time to do anything fancier or to polish the metal.

9-10. Fit and glue on a wood handle, file to rough shape. No there is no time for exotic material, making the pomel or finishing the wood.

At best the finished project is rough still showing forge marks, has a poorly fitted guard and splintery handle. It is one step better than a prision shiv having no athetic value at all. It is NOT something you want to take home and show to your mother. At worst the project will not get beyond step/hour 5 IF that far. Grade D, C if lots of extra time is put in and that is charitable.

Miss ONE weekend and the project cannot be completed, grade F.

Yes, an experianced bladesmith COULD make a half decent appearing blade in that time if he REALLY hustled and didn't care about how good a job he did, but a neophyte cannot.

The alternative is to have him read my Sword Making article and let him make the aluminium wall hanger. Something shorter than 24" could be made in 10 hours using files, sandpaper and LOTS of elbow grease.

The "accelerated" plan is usualy YOU do the work for the child or make it easier by doing the machine operations in 30 minutes that will take 10 hours to do by hand. . . Yep it is not right, its a cheat and thats what you are being asked.

Yeah. . . makes me grumpy too. Give him my schedule above and explain the reality of trying to squeeze 50 to 100 hours into 5 or 10. And it is NOT your fault.
   - guru - Friday, 02/13/04 01:25:46 EST

Mike, he made the choice to not show up, you have no further obligation, and whatever you do will **not** be appreciated. He, and his teacher, showed you absolutely no respect, and at this point, neither of them deserve your respect.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/13/04 01:37:56 EST

Jim, the easiest jig for cutting centerless circles is to use the holesaw to cut a hole in a piece of plywood and then clamp the plywood over the piece to be cut, pull the centering bit out of the holesaw and then drill the hole using the plywood as a guide on the outside of the holesaw. This also works great for enlarging holes you cut too small or in the wrong place.
   bgott - Friday, 02/13/04 01:48:27 EST


This "student" demonstrates what is wrong with the schools, the society and the kids today. There is no sense of personal responsibility. The kid felt that he was entitled to show up whenever he felt like it, or not, at his pleasure and your schedule be da**ed. As a mentor, teacher and craftsman, you are obliged to turn him away at this point. He has failed himself, he has abused your hospitality and he is attempting to now cheat himself , you and the system. Sorry kiddo, no can do. And his teacher at the school who failed to respond to your queries is just another facet of a failing system.

Whatever course of action you take, you will be screwed. If you refguse him, you are a hardcase with no patience for youth. If you take him on, you are perpetuating his folly and tacitly encouraging his half-baked approach to a craft that most of us here feel strongly about. It's a no-win situation, but one way you lose by saying "NO", and the other way you lose after having invested another few dozen hours of your time and energy. Time and energy that could be far better spent on someone who will respect it, or spent with your family, or just teaching yourself some new technique. To me, it's a no-brainer decision, but I'm not known for suffering fools to waste my time.

Were it me, I would send Registered Mail letters to the student and to the teacher, advising them that successful completion of the project is impossible at this late date, and that you cannot afford the time to continue mentoring an uninvolved pupil. I would send a copy of the letter to the Superintendent of Schools as well, that he/she might be aware of the teacher's lack of involvement as well. At least you will have documented your position and, in the future, your reputation as a crusty, demanding curmudgeon will weed out similar wasters of your time before they even reach your door.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/13/04 02:05:17 EST

TIG welding nickle silver (question from Wednesday):

Ironbasher, since no one has picked up on your question, I'll throw my 5 (10?) cents in. I once tigged two nickles together with no problem. I think I had the dial set around 70 or 80 amps, but I can't remember if I floored the pedal (my machine has HF starting). IIRC a U.S. nickle is 70/30 Cu/Ni. Maybe your material has some zinc or something in it?

If you think starting amps are the problem, try striking the arc on a scrap of copper and walking it onto your workpiece.
   Mike B - Friday, 02/13/04 05:57:53 EST


> Mike, he made the choice to not show up, you have no further obligation, and whatever you do will **not** be
> appreciated. He, and his teacher, showed you absolutely no respect, and at this point, neither of them deserve
> your respect.

The lady nailed it! Well said, Ellen!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/13/04 07:23:24 EST

Mike, They gave you good advice. Same thing with my grandson: "Paw Paw, will you teach me how to make a knife?" He didn't stick with it and I tossed his project in the corner. It's there if he ever wants to finish it but I'll not do it for him.
   Ron Childers - Friday, 02/13/04 07:34:47 EST


Also a good answer. I had a similar situation involving one of my foster daughters and a horse head poker. I did the same thing you did. She never did finish it.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/13/04 07:40:47 EST

Just reading through the posts and I see what you posted about CO being cumulative. I am a commercial diver and whilst we are aware of the dangers of breathing CO under pressure; did not realize that it was cumulative. Would you provide further details please.
Happy for email here to keep the pages clear of unrelated material if you want.
   12_bolts - Friday, 02/13/04 08:17:31 EST

I, too have done a bit of teaching, and found that some students have an aptitude for a particular thing but cannot get beyond what comes naturally. They lack the discipline to WORK at learning something. Getting beyond a good start is what separates the curious from the truly interested!
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 02/13/04 08:28:34 EST

Mike, I agree with the sentiment line that you have no more responsibility to this student. I feel the frustration you are going through. This same "school system" has let down many kids, including my own. The saying you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink is so true. My son for years in the public school system was just passed on and on. He wouldn't do assignments, missed deadlines and just didn't care. Mind you WE did everything WE could to help him. We provided help from us when he needed it, a quiet place to do homework, set aside time for him to do his work, sent him to "learning centers" provided tutors, in short, all we could do. He learned that half hearted work was ok for school. His first “real world” lesson came when he got a job he loved but was late and called in a lot and was thus fired from it. This wakeup call hit him between the eyes and for the first time in his life, there were consequences from an outside source for his actions. The school system let him down. For years they just passed him on and on while his mother and I BEGGED the system to fail him and make him repeat a grade in school. They didn't want to hurt his self esteem and let him feel the embarrassment of repeating a grade. He is getting better now, but just what does the school system think they are teaching when they don't hold people responsible for their own actions?
   Wayne P - Friday, 02/13/04 08:38:15 EST

Thanks for the responce Mike B. I am trying to help a friend tig weld nickle-silver for fancy knife sheaths. Against my advice he insisted on buying a small inverter tig machine, it can only be run on d.c. straight polarity as the gas comes through the center of the straight polarity post. I had counciled him that for a few hundred more he could get a full featured ac/dc machine that was only a little larger as space was his primary concern. that way we could have played with both polarity and have ac cleaning action too.I had thought of the copper starting block trick, but the same person that convinced him to buy the inverter told him the starting block was nothing more than a crutch so he wont try it. He is a friend so I am still trying to help him solve his problem, even though this other "helper" seems to have his ear, and I am a certified tig welder{A.W.S.} but what do I know? ironbasher{kinzea l thompson}
   kinzea l thompson - Friday, 02/13/04 09:07:37 EST

TIG Problem: Kinzea, I have too little experiance with TIG to comment on the problem but I do know that the machine your friend purchased was designed to do nothing but medium weight ferrous welding. To weld aluminium you need AC and to weld light weight materials you need reverse polarity. In this case your friend probably needs to be silver soldering with oxy-acetylene. Sure it can be done with the right TIG equipment and lots of practice. . .

My first welding purchase was a small buzz box. Great little Miller AC machine. 30 years later the insulation is falling off the leads and power cord but it still runs great. However, as soon as I got it setup I realized that I needed oxy-acetylene to do cutting and many of the odd jobs I wanted to do could not be done with a stick. . .

A minimum oxy-acetylene is more expensive to get setup than many of the small electric processes but it IS where folks need to start. You cannot avoid it if you are serious about metal working. A lot of people get talked into cheaper solutions and then find they cannot do what they wanted.
   - guru - Friday, 02/13/04 10:29:01 EST

Education System: I've railed on this subject more than a couple times and it is best to take any further discussion of it to the Hammer-In.

There is a lot wrong with our system today mostly having to do with too much government oversight. But there is enough right about it that people from all over the world come here to get an American education. And we HAVE managed to turn out some of the most creative people in the world.
   - guru - Friday, 02/13/04 10:33:50 EST

Thank you all for the support on this. I'll let you know what happens.
   mike-hr - Friday, 02/13/04 11:04:47 EST

Why can't they just be soldered ?It should be strong enough for knife sheaths.
   Chris Makin - Friday, 02/13/04 11:07:04 EST

$7.00 Digital Pyrometer

I built a pyrometer yesterday for under $7. I found that my local electronics store had thermocouple wire in 10' lengths for $2 and H/F had their item #p30756 digital Volt meter VTOM on sale for $3.99.(it was cheaper than batteries for my old one) The wire is R type and is rated for 1500C and to make a thermocouple all you do is twist the ends of the wire and fuse the pigtail with a oxy/acy torch. With the two dissimilar wires, you have just created a battery that works in the millivolt range, the voltage changes with the temperature. Connect the wires to the volt meter turn the dial to DCA 2000µ (the u is not quite the symbol but those who know, will know and those don't will figure it out.) You will get a reading (mine said 0000 (not to worry) )

Next to calibrate, go to http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/graphing/line.asp

and enter the following readings: after dipping the tip in ice water (32f)= -6 (my case), Room temp was 70f=0, I then put the lead in my mouth (100f) (ok, ok 98.6), then in boiling water 202f (I'm at 5000 ft). You will find that the relationships between the temp and the reading are a strait line (should be close enough for the girls we hang out with), with mine a 20m/a change in reading is a 100f change in temp. If your readings go the wrong way, swap the leads on you volt meter.

Next I need to melt some lead, and aluminum ( let them cool to the point that they begin to re-solidify to reach the point of transition, i.e.: melting point) and get some higher readings for my chart. I am thinking about using some stainless tubing that I have to cover the probe, but I am not sure what to use for a heat conductive electrical insulator to keep the probe off of tubing. Suggestion and corrections welcome.

For more information on wire types, calibration, and expected meter readings go to http://srdata.nist.gov/its90/main/ , http://srdata.nist.gov/its90/tables/table_i.html and http://srdata.nist.gov/its90/menu/menu.html The d*mn g*vmt uses that fur'en C readings for Temp. so those of you who are equipped can do the math. Grin.

your mileage may very. Guru feel free to edit for content and use as you please.
   Habu - Friday, 02/13/04 11:18:45 EST

Try those sites again



   Habu - Friday, 02/13/04 11:25:23 EST

I just found this on thermocouples
   Habu - Friday, 02/13/04 12:04:10 EST

I'd like to share a few thoughts. When teaching very young children, we moderate our expectations. We give them opportunities to learn without asking so much that we overwhelm them. As the student grows in strength and ability, so does our expectation. It is right and respectful on our part as teachers to treat students this way. Asking or accepting far less of a student then what they are capable of is disrespectful and a disservice.
A 17 year old in our culture is considered to be near adult. While it might not be appropriate in some cases to expect the same commitment from a 17 year old young man as you do from the men on your work crew, it is appropriate to expect the teenager to have enough commitment to stick to and complete his school assignments. To my mind, it's not a matter of the inconvenience to you that an accelerated course represents. It is more a question of the disservice and disrespect that will be shown to the student in lowering your expectations that far. In general, the consequences of a failing grade on the building trades project should not be more sever then a person his age can handle.
Might I suggest that you, the student and the teacher meet and discus an extension for a simpler project with a greatly reduced possible grade? That way, the kid can learn that life has consequences. He can still get a passing grade. He hasn’t been completely bailed out and he hasn’t been abandoned. He might also learn a thing or two about crafting things by hand.
   Mike Trahey - Friday, 02/13/04 14:04:41 EST


Excellent work! Snatch me a length or two of that thermocouple wire, will you? That's a "gotta have" item, in my book.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/13/04 14:13:19 EST


What about coating the pigtail with the ITC 213 product for coating metal? The use page says it protects metals from erosion and oxidation. If it's not acting as an IR reflector it should work ok no?
   Mike Trahey - Friday, 02/13/04 14:20:19 EST


I've been thinking along those lines, but Mike said it better than I. Don't toss him off the sleigh, but work negotiate for more modest, and timely, project.

“We do not throw our people to the wolves. However, we do, from time to time, invite the wolves to lunch."
(Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/13/04 14:22:40 EST

"You can lead a horse to water and if you can teach it to do the backstroke, you've really got something! [a non-sequitur]
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/13/04 14:47:37 EST


Non Sequitur is one of my favorite classical authors. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/13/04 15:32:03 EST

Thermocouple Calibration: The Chromolox and expecially the Omega catalogs have a lot of information on calibration with tables of voltages expected from various thermocouple alloy pairs. FREE manuals!

Standard DC millivolt meters can be used. Read the voltage OR make your own scale/face.

Normally about 1/2" to 3/4" (13 to 19mm) of the thermocouple wire is twisted together. The junction is a small bead welded at the very tip. I've found that many of the alloys must be TIG welded. Be sure to disconnect BOTH leads from the meter before welding or you will fry the meter.

The excess wire can be coated with ITC products. They recommend 213 followed by 100 or 296-A. I have not tried it on the junction. I suspect it would work. The lag could not be as bad as from a thermowell. It is good to protect the thermocouple as they tend to burn up at high temperatures. If you use 213 only on the junction it would probably not interfere and it WOULD increase wire life. The combination of 213 and 296-A is used on heating elements and greatly increases their life.

In the past the thermocouple wire was run considerable distances to the meter. Today they make special high copper temperature balanced wire and special couplings to extend the thermocouple leads long distances. Do not do this with standard hardware and wire as it will change the readings greatly.
   - guru - Friday, 02/13/04 15:56:02 EST

Thank you Paw Paw, i'll take that ta thought.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Friday, 02/13/04 16:02:29 EST

In two years at Westinghouse air brake, I did testing on a full spectrum of pneumatic and hydraulic components. At Henry Voght machine co. I did a spectrum of components and supplies used in the manufacture, installation and use of Ice making machines, high pressure valves and fittings, ice cream makers, and huge industrial boilers. I also designed and built machines for the manufacture and test of the above. Simple enough list?:) Ask and I'll offer whatever I know.
On 3' pipe wrenchs. A 3' wrench is not needed on new installation of anything smaller than anout 1 1/4", if the fittings and pipe threads are right. From handtite, the make up is only a thread or three. Over tighting crushes the threads and ruins the seal. Look up pipe threads and the make-up lenghts in the Machineries manual and you may agree. On unions, as we used to make most of the domestic unions for high pressure, a dirty little secrete is that the unions are poorly made, and the seats are usually egg shaped. Turning the union around did not change anything except the egg shaped seats relationship to each other. Egg to egg they seal. Next union you get, put a dab of lapping compound on the seats,but the nut on loosly and twist lightly. look at the result for contact and you will see the results of the three jaw chuck that gripped them while they were machined. Also be aware that the cheap iron fittings now brought into this country are likly to leak thru the walls as the castings are so bad.
   ptree - Friday, 02/13/04 16:59:27 EST

ron childers, i would appreciate info on how to contact rocky mountian forge, AKA rocky mountain productions. i bought a tape from a demo @ denton park, NC, by tal harris; unfortunately, part one did not arrive. they also have a few other tapes that i am interested in.

   - rugg - Friday, 02/13/04 17:01:17 EST

Vic I would be happy to deliver it to you if you would send me a tickiet

-28f in the mountains above town the night before last. 55f here today. Got to love Colorado
   Habu - Friday, 02/13/04 19:38:13 EST

Thanks for the replies Guru and Chris, My friend has been successfully soldering his nickle silver sheaths together, but as the ever escalating standards in the knife realm continue to climb skyward, the telltale seam of solder, however minute it may be is no longer state of the art. Common reasoning being if you shear a strip of material from the same piece and lot your sheath is being made from you will have darn near perfect color match. We have good results using silver brazing flux on the joint prior to welding, but it strikes me as just plain wrong headed , having to use flux with an inert gas {argon}. Thanks again for the input. kinzea
   kinzea l thompson - Friday, 02/13/04 19:55:58 EST

Fionnbharr, what is your definition of efficiency? BTU's per dollar or BTU's to the work / input BTU's?

Historically, Natural gas has been less dollars per BTU. I do not actually know right now which is cheaper and I'm sure it varies by area.

BTU's to the work / input BTU's I don't know. I have seen some reference to Nat. Gas being more efficient in home appliances, but I can't figure out why a a burner system couldn't be designed to net the same efficiency. A burner for natural gas at 90% efficient WILL be different than a burner for LPG (propane/butane mix mostly)at 90% efficient. We need a combustion engineer or a good chemical person to go further. I am at my limit of that knowledge.

bgott, Rectorseal. That brings back memories. I won't say what I have heard that stuff called, but it relates to some women's complaints about plumbers pants. I call it snot. Kinda like contact cement on steroids as I remember it. I saw a fitter put tape on joints and then smear with Rectorseal. It is good stuff as dope goes, but I find PST 565 far superior. To each his own.

I do not work for Henkel Loctite. Grin.

Swagelock makes good fittings. But fussy tightening and as you said, big cost and not readily available.

I have sweated copper air lines too. The frustration from bad steel pipe fittings and threads is big.

   - Tony - Friday, 02/13/04 20:04:23 EST

I just purchased an anvil that I posted about a few weeks ago. It is a london pattern that is marked 1-0-10. Do only european anvils use hundredweights? Part of one foot is missing, and a small chunk is missing from part of one edge. The ring is quite piercing and the rebound is great. There is a square carrying hole from horn to heel. I have a couple of pictures of it. Would any of you be interested in looking at the pictures to try and help me identify it? I am pleased with the anvil, I am just curious about it's origins. I do not yet have a copy of "Anvils in America", but I plan to get one. Thanks for your help.

   Blackhammer - Friday, 02/13/04 20:42:49 EST

Cast Iron Welding: Rentaratchet, Yes. You can weld cast iron with mig wire such as ER-70S-X. The wire is the standard mild steel core wire used in most steel electrodes. It is not nickle or Ni-Rod. The weld on the cast iron will be more brittle than a weld made with ni-rod, but it will weld. With the proper heat treatment and shielding gas stronger welds can be accomplished, but that's a whole book in it's self.
   - CWI - Friday, 02/13/04 20:57:20 EST

That locktite PST is good stuff. I use it on concrete vibrate where they assemble shaft to head. Drop this thing in a "slab" of wet mud and it vibrates at around 10,000 cycles per minute. That's a fair amount of shakin' goin' on! The PST keeps the water out of the mechanism, and these are straight machine threrads, not tapered threads.
   rentaratchet - Friday, 02/13/04 21:16:02 EST

vibrate = vibrators
   rentaratchet - Friday, 02/13/04 21:16:36 EST

I have tried several of the sealants other than the Loctite PST. I have seen many use both tape and dope.Tape and dope is a waste and defeats both. In the eary ninties, When the clean air act came out,a lot of emphasis was but on organic vapor emmisions from chemical plants. You may have seen VOC"S listed on paints and such. Same thing. As we were big in supplying the refinerys, we did a lot of work on sealing against organic compounds. The test standard that was accepted by the EPA and industry was to test with Methane(natural gas). The limit by the EPA was 500 parts per million emmisions when tested with a flame ionazation organic vapor analyxer. To put this in perspective, we pretty much had to banish the guys who had intestional gas from the lab when testing, as one good toot would peg the meter if the offender was close. I had to pipe up the test rig to be absolutly tight, as any leakage would cause the tested valve to fail. As we were charging big $$$$ to certify these valves as pasing the standard, this rig had to also stay tite. I used swaglok stainless fittings and hose, and the pipe threads that were used were primed and sealed with Loctite pst.I tested the rig prior to starting the testing every day, and that rig was tight for the years up to shut down of the plant in 2002. by the way this rig was usually charged to 500 psig, but was also used to 1000psig with air and nitrogen.

The best way to test for gas leakage is with snoop or equivelent, and use nitrogen as the test gas. Nitrogen is cheap, relativly benign, and has a very small, slippery, low viscosity molecule. Often guys use this as a welding gas so it is handy. Helium is better, but it will leak thru the walls in thin metal, and is so slippery that it will wear you out chasing leaks.

Copper for air lines is marginal in my opinion, but please do not use plastic pipe! I have heard guys planning to use PVC. Do not use PVC, as it will embrittle and explode after a few years. A lot of the problem is that the compressor oils attack the plastic and remove the plastizers.

For those planning to pipe up an air line, remember to slope the air line to a water removal device, such as a drip leg with valve, or filter drain. Always pipe off branchs from the top of the line to keep water in the main, and also remember that Ptree said that when he tested about every automatic drain bowl on filters that they were all automatic, automaticlly stopped up!
   ptree - Friday, 02/13/04 21:46:27 EST

Three more bits about Loctite,
There is another Loctite thread sealant, listed as for hydraulic piping. It is a thin watery product, and did not work well for me.

A handy loctite product is Loctite 290. It is a green, thin product that will creep into joints and lock threads. Not for pipes but for threaded fastners. Also will seal pinholes in weld seams for things like low pressure water tanks.
To remove threaded fastners that are Loctited and are too tight to turn, heat to about 350F. This melts the sealant and you can then easly turn.
   ptree - Friday, 02/13/04 22:06:31 EST

Needing Flux: Kinzea, On aluminium the HF AC breaks up the surface oxide so that welding can be achieved. You may just have to clean better immediately prior to welding or get an AC machine.
   - guru - Friday, 02/13/04 22:34:29 EST

Blackhammer, Sure, I'll look at pictures. My e-address is at the top of this page under Gurus. The hundredweight numbers are used on anvils in Great Britain.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/13/04 22:50:01 EST

Blackhammer, Hey I like looking at anvils, if you don`t mind send me some pics too. Thanks ironworker1098@yahoo.com
   Robert-ironworker - Friday, 02/13/04 23:20:09 EST

Thanks, ptree, I had thought it was pretty dumb but I tried three different joints and they all leaked until I turned them around. I had never had the problem before but it had been ten years since I had used any and I was having a hard time figuring out what I was doing wrong. Heck, I used thirty or forty of them installing a steam boiler at Mare Island Naval Shipyard twenty years ago and none of them leaked. I figured they must of changed the seat angle or something like that.
   bgott - Friday, 02/13/04 23:33:50 EST

Robert and Frank thanks for the replies. I have e-mailed some anvil pictures to you. Thanks for looking. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

   Blackhammer - Friday, 02/13/04 23:40:38 EST

Hydraulic/pneumatic loctite.. Ptree, thats #545 if I remember correctly. Purple. We use that very successfully (with the primer N) on high pressure hydraulic pipe threads. I try to discourage customers from wanting pipe threads on everything, especially hydraulics. But the customer is always right. The 545 has no particles in it like the 565 does. The particles can royally screw up servo valves and seals, so no 565 on high end hydraulics with tight clearances. No matter how good you keep the dope off the end of the threads, when you make up the joint, some of the dope can be squeezed IN. This is also the problem with teflon tape.

No Phartin in the lab? That's just not right. Grin!

CWI, I have welded ductile iron with ER70S mig wire. Successfully. A really big section too. But I was never gonna tell anyone about it until you did. Grin. I was very surprised when it worked. I can't recommend it for anything where human safety is involved however. The counterweight on one of my trebuchets is ductile iron and welded on with ER70S mig wire. I don't let anyone else cock that one though.
   - Tony - Saturday, 02/14/04 09:44:44 EST

The seat angles on most domestic unions have not changed since the thirties, but the methods of mfg did. Most of the high quality makers are gone, and the foreign is mostly junk.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/14/04 10:33:33 EST

The old man who owned the company where we made the best valves and fittings produced anywhere, hated pipe threads, and often stated that taking a pipe and cutting sharp grooves at the place of highest stress was plain dumb. In the high pressure steam that was our main market, I agree. We made class 2500 valves, that were intended for 2500psi steam at around 1200F. We tested those valves at 6750 psi with cold water on the seats and 10,500 psi on the shell. Threads in that service are dangerous. Socket weld or buttweld is the only reasonable connection. Yet, we sold about 1/3 of these valves with pipe threads. We made 2000#, 3000#, 6000# and 9000# forged steel fittings. I still remember seeing 6" threaded ells and tees, in class 6000# rating! now thats were a really big wrench is needed.
On the Loctite 545, we tried it on standard pipe and fittings, and had repeated failures. It may have been from the very cyclic service that we tried it in. The Pst worked in the same service. I have used pst on a few servos, and very extensivly on high pressure hydro testers, that used close tolerence components(not as tite as servo).These units ran up to pressure in about 1/2 a second, held pressure, and explosivly dropped to zero 15 seconds later. then repeat, 16 hours a day. the pressures were mostly in the 3000psi range, but I had several machines tht ran to 10,500 psi. When I went over 10,5000, I went to threaded and coned Autoclave Engineers type fitting. I only worked to 33,000 psi,but I have seen pictures of their use to over 150,000psi.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/14/04 10:47:59 EST

If you wonder how we got fittings and valves to hold the pressures mentioned above, we forged every part that contained pressure. Everything was forged solid, and machine out for the internals. We actually shipped a little more than half of our steel back out as scrap. We had one machine in particular that machined ells and tees that would bury you in shavings. A 2000#, 2" tee forging went in weighing 11.43#s and came out at 2.45#. This machine made 270 of these an hour, and we ran it 3 shifts.
Figure the weight of shavings, and the number of drop forged tees we made!
   ptree - Saturday, 02/14/04 10:55:37 EST

   - TD DUNNAM - Saturday, 02/14/04 12:43:29 EST

TD, The anvil is an early 20th century Columbian made in Cleveland, Ohio. The 0 may be a code for when the anvil was made (?).
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/14/04 13:01:26 EST

Welding silver nickle

   - CWI - Saturday, 02/14/04 15:04:57 EST

This is not a question but more of a thank you.
I'm in the process of researching for a fictional book about a blacksmiths apprentice and would like to thank you for all the information you provided on your site. It was most enjoyable and enlightening. Thank you again.
Paul Lepine
   Paul - Saturday, 02/14/04 15:18:21 EST

   - fasf - Saturday, 02/14/04 15:18:56 EST


You are quite welcome. If we can be of further help, don't hesitate to contact us.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 16:29:07 EST

This page lists "Maximum Allowable Internal Working Pressures for Seamless Copper Tubing"


So you can see 125psi WOG usinf type K copper should not be a problem.
   - Hudson - Saturday, 02/14/04 17:15:29 EST

Ok, i'm gonna try making a bellow, I need to know how to make one. I need to know especially what type of bag to get and where to get it.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Saturday, 02/14/04 18:26:18 EST

Lone Blacksmith,

You don't really need a bag. What you need is either light leather, light weight Nauga Hide (if you can find any Nauga's to skin! grin) or possibly light canvas. All will work, leather will work the best. One source for leather is Tandy Leather Company. Their website is located at:

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 18:50:28 EST

One source for a good set of plans is THE BLACKSMITH, Ironworker and Farrier, by Aldren A. Watson. Chapter Eleven is a complete set of plans, with dimensions. The ISBN is:0-393-32057-X. Your public library might have it, or they can get it for you through the Inter Library Loan system.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 18:53:58 EST

I've been asked to make a range hood with a hammered steel frame and copper panels. I'm curious how the copper will react with the steel over time. should there be a barrier between the two metals?
   brad westring - Saturday, 02/14/04 19:30:55 EST


Bi-metallic corrosion may very well be a problem. You will want to isolate the copper as much as possible. It would work far better if they would let you use hammered copper instead of hammered iron.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 20:54:00 EST


5,832# ± of shavings, and 6,480 Fittings a day.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 21:03:31 EST

Pawpaw, thats right, and that was one size, of one class, of one type of fitting. We shipped about a million #'s a month. With all the different types of mfg going on a scrap box divers paradise!!!
Imagine those 5800# of shavings, all in long coils, birdnested together. Hard to handle. We shredded them and then wrung the oil out, the blew them in a rail car. Saved about 40,000 gallons of oil a year off the shavings.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/14/04 21:25:52 EST

Hello to all, I have a question about Damascus steel making. I am a newbee but have read quite a bit from this sight and others. Hell, I don’t even have the right equipment to forge weld. All I have is an Oxyacetylene torch some fire brick and I think an ASO that I bought form harbor freight before I looked at your topics on anvils. Any way what I am doing is folding the steel scrape rebar squared up over on its self, I guess its called a faggot weld. But, what I am curious about is how many folds will I have to make to be able to see an appreciable effect in the final look of what ever I decide to make. And I know that most recipe use different carbon content steels welded together then folded but; at the moment I am not trying something that complex YET.
Thank you, Nelson Rasmussen
   Nelson Rasmussen - Saturday, 02/14/04 21:37:24 EST


That's enough cutting oil to make a difference in the bottom line! (grin)


Yes, what you are doing is called a faggot weld. And self welding back to self will never show a difference on final grind, becsause the material is all the same. It takes two (or more) types of steel to show a difference between the layers.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/14/04 21:55:26 EST

I have somthing to add to that if thats the case than how can people can make Damascus out of steel Cable.
   Nelson Rasmussen - Saturday, 02/14/04 23:07:49 EST

ok I take that back I found the anser its Not realy damascus its called faux damascus but thanks for the anser you gave and have a good one
   Nelson Rasmussen - Saturday, 02/14/04 23:32:36 EST

Is ther any page were I can see how I make a´ ex flower ?
   Jens Erik Jensen - Sunday, 02/15/04 01:38:14 EST

Hello again I have another question on a little different topic. I know you probably tired of all the newbee questions but I cant seem to find the answers to my specific questions. I am constructing a gas fired forge and want to know when I place my burner in to the chamber or I should in the firebrick. It is a square chamber made of refractory firebrick and I plan on using a venturi burner similar to the one on Anvilfires FAQ page. Should it point directly at the spot where I am going to place my work or should I make it so it heats the chamber and steel indirectly?
   Nelson Rasmussen - Sunday, 02/15/04 02:05:16 EST


What particular flower do you want to make?


Most folks place their burner so that the flame spirals around the shell, and heats the whole forge at the same time.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/15/04 02:14:55 EST

Jens, there is some info on flowers on the iForge page of this site.

Nelson, put the burner so it heats things indirectly. You can get a pattern from welding the same metal back to itself, but it won't be very clear. Rebar is not a very homogenous material to begin with, so it may show a pattern if you etch it without welding! I have seen this phenomenon in old circular sawblades from sawmills.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/15/04 10:21:06 EST

Nelson, ask all the questions you want here **as long as they aren't about making a six foot broadsword for your **first** forging project. Then you might get some short answers.....

I have two propane forges, both are two burner atmospheric types, homemade burners like on Ron Reil's page, one forge heats the metal directly, the other swirls the heat around, both work great, it is possible that the swirling heat generates less scale, but otherwise they both work great.
   Ellen - Sunday, 02/15/04 14:34:09 EST

   reardon - Sunday, 02/15/04 17:45:17 EST

I need to buy coal and my supplier shut down so i'm gonna have to buy online. Problem is that I dont have or use credit cards.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/15/04 18:25:31 EST


You'll have to build a jig with a clamp at one point where you want the twist to start. Then apply the twisting wrench at the other end of the twist. Heat in the middle. Remember, Even heat = Even Twist. Uneven heat = uneven twist.

Also, no need to SHOUT, we hear you. (grin)

Lone Blacksmith,

Approximately where are you located?
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/15/04 18:30:23 EST

North Carolina, I started blacksmithing stepping down from my great grandfather.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/15/04 18:43:38 EST

oh, a few milles off Bethebara Park Winston-Salem, NC.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/15/04 18:44:38 EST

PawPaw, looks like Lone is one of your neighbors!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/15/04 18:54:48 EST

Lone, Coal is a solvable problem. Go to my web site, find my phone number, and call me.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/15/04 20:07:00 EST

Im not a phone kinda person but i'll try.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/15/04 20:12:42 EST

Wait, sorry, its pawpawsforge.com isnt it?
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/15/04 20:13:11 EST


   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/15/04 20:43:39 EST

Reardon, Maybe you posed a trick question? If you twist round stock, nothing happens in terms of visual design. You just screw up the grain flow of the metal a little. It is the corners of a bar that give the visual effect of the twist. Most twisted bars are square, flat, hexagonal, or octagonal in section. If you twist the middle portion of a length, you should reforge it so that it has corners. The corners can be sharp or chamfered. Chamfered corners give a "soft look" to the finished twist. For a 20" length twisted hot, you'll be taking more than one heat. Short, adjacent twists can be made to look alike, matching one into the other by pouring water on the fisished area and letting the "lazy" area catch up to it.

I prefer to twist a bar horizontally in the vise as opposed to vertically.

If you don't make a jig, you can set large dividers to leg off where to set the vise jaw edge and the twisting wrench. If no dividers, use a stick with the appropriate marks laid out on it.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/15/04 22:59:01 EST

Duh! Frank, thanks for catching that, I didn't even notice that Reardon had specified round bar.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/15/04 23:05:41 EST

I think Reardon may have meant that he was goint to twist a bundle of 8 pieces of 3/4" round all at once, since I agree that twisting a piece of round bar is an exercise in wasting time.

To twis a bundle of 8 bars that size all at onceis going to take a friend and a really solid vise, plus a good sized forge. to start with you'll need to band, weld or collar the bundle at the start and end of the twist. I would arc weld the pieces together so that a 1" collar will cover the welds after twisting. Then heat the bundle to a good yellow heat and clamp the weld area in the vise. Put a long two-handled twisting wrench on the other end and have a friend help you twist. You may need a rosebud to even out the heat for a uniform twist, or chill the areas that are twisted to allow you to twist the "slow" areas tighter.

You'll be using a LOT of force to twist that much steel, so make a twisting wrench that really fits the bundle well so it doesn't slip. A plumber's pipe vise would be the best for holding the fixed end, or you can weld on a couple of pieces of plate to allow a regular vise to get a good grip. Cut them off when finished.

After the twisting is done, make two collars to cover the weld areas and chase them down into the valleys in the bundle for a nice look. Or make several wraps with some 1/4" round, finishing by beveling the ends for a clean look.

When bundling round bar, some numbers nest together naturally. Seven is the usual number that bundles tightly, which is why cable has seven strands or seven bundles of strands.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/15/04 23:32:53 EST

Lone blacksmith:

If you want to shop online without a credit card, you can do so easily using money orders from the United States Postal Service. They're safe, traceable and economical, as well as being accepted by just about everyone. If buying from Canada or abroad, be advised that you need to purchase an International Money Order rather than the regular kind.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/15/04 23:35:11 EST

Paw Paw & Frank, Reardon is probably going to "oval" the middle 20" of the round bar; it will then make a nice twist.
Vic,A bundle of 8 3/4" bars? Nah, how big would that 6" bundle be and how much torque would it take?
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/16/04 07:05:13 EST

Not 6", now I'm thinking square bars - but still too much to twist. I would bet Reardon is going to twist one at a time and arrange them in a circle. (I got up too early ths AM)
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/16/04 07:22:42 EST

I am working with 24 gauge mild steel, and gave it a brushed finish, and was looking for something to seal it with. These are indoor wall sculptures, and so I was thinking of using butcher's wax and applying it with a rag onto the cold steel surface, and wiping off the excess...Also, there is some surface decoration with tiny nails, and the wax may get caught in the nail heads. Do you think this is a good solution? Please help, as I need to ship these sculptures to a gallery very soon! Thanks so much for your help!
   jen - Monday, 02/16/04 09:01:19 EST

Jen there are many methods. I have used beeswax and a propane torch to heat enough for it run into all nooks and crannies. If there is a build up at some point a little touch of heat and a wipe with a finger or lint free cloth does the job.

This is not a very long lasting finish though. Will it be sufficient? That is the hard part of finishing.
   Mills - Monday, 02/16/04 09:55:03 EST


Do you want a clear finish, or do you want some darkening of the finish? If you want a clear, Krylon clear matt spray should work well. If you really want the wax finish, (and there is no reason not to use it, it's just a good bit of work) either contact me email, or leave another message here, and I'll give you the formula for a wax finish that works well.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 09:56:24 EST

Can steel fuse (not weld) together at a bright orange heat? The reason I'm asking is because the other day, there was a split in my work and to make it tighter for the weld, I hammered it back together at a bright orange heat and it fused together. Do you know why this is?
Thank you
   - colinnn - Monday, 02/16/04 10:24:20 EST

Colinnn & Fusing

Welding does not only happen at a bright yellow going into white:-) Daryl Meiers has done demos of really low temp forge welding, I don't remember just how low, but under the right conditions (slightly reducing atmosphere, and clean well matched surfaces) you can weld very easily.

And about terminology: forge welding is technically described as diffusion welding, words look vaguely familiar. The semiliquid surfaces fuse, or share electrons, the waste is expeled when the metal is struck, and you have a forge weld. What is left when you forge weld is one piece of metal with a fault line where the two materials were joined. Which is why most people recommend not manipulating the steel too much after making a forge weld. Forge welds should only be counted on to have 60%-80% of the strength of the parent materials. After a particularly good weld, or after mechanical diffusion:-) ie forging out the material at temperature, the fault can be functionaly unimportant but is still traceable at a microscopic level I would imagine. Well done patternwelding is one place where forge welds are mechanicly diffused, and the welds IDEALLY begcome functionally unimportant:-) As seen in the ABS master bladesmith destructive blade testing, where a patternwelded knife is bent at a 90 degree angle, and it is not allowed to crack up the blade more than 1/4"?

(Any of you professional Metalurgists seen any studies examining the efficiency of diffusion welding and its effect on the crystalien structure of homogenious and composite steels???:-)
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 02/16/04 11:47:59 EST

Johnstons spray on car wax ( hard shell tyoe) works well and there is no fuss nor muss. Spray on and let dry for about 5 min then buff with soft cloth. Works well for indoor appications.
PawPaw you should know better.... Guru has said often times let the pros develop the finishes...... (smile)
   Ralph - Monday, 02/16/04 13:09:23 EST

Forge Welding

A bit of clarification seems to be needed on this issue.

A true forge weld involves NO liquified steel. Flux is generally used and it does melt. The flux does 2 things. It reacts with iron oxide (scale) present on the surfaces to be welded, which helps in cleaning these surfaces and it provides a physical barrier to prevent further oxidation. When forging begins, the flux SHOULD be driven from the joint exposing clean steel surfaces which then stick together. The diffusion mentioned by Fionnbharr is actually not the primary bonding mechanism. Initial bonding takes places due to the forced sharing of electrons by atoms on both surfaces. This is accomplished by bringing the surfaces into atomic closeness. (Imaging that the surface of two steel plates have been polished to a mirror finish. On the atomic level, there are still mountains and valleys on this surface. To bring the atoms of one surface close enough for electrons to be shared with atoms of the opposing surface, deformation must occur. Deformation is made easier by heating, but this presents problems because the heat causes oxides which prevent electron sharing. Therefore flux is needed.) If you had a big enough press, bonding can be achieved at lower/room temperature depending on the material to be joined. Most oxides are brittle realive to the base metal, so, as deformation occurs, the oxides break, exoposing clean metal to the joint. This is why mechainical working of forge welded joints improves the mechanical properties. In the case of some soft metals like Aluminum, bonding can be achieved at room temp, as long as enough deformation has taken place to exopose the clean metal needed for bonding.

Now back to diffusion. Diffusion does take place, but in the case of iron alloys, diffusion is mostly limited to carbon. Carbon has a small atomic radius compared to iron and the other common alloying elements, so it readily diffuses between layers. This is driven by differeces in carbon content between the layers and diffusion of carbon will slow down/stop as carbon content becomes uniform throughout the billet. Large atoms, such as Ni and Cr, will not diffusion very well becasuse of their size. Therefore, the use of Ni sheet between layers of differing carbon content will prevent diffusion of carbon. If diffusion is a desired result, the diffusion rate can be enhanced by increasing the temperature, but you are limited by the atomic size of the diffusing elements and the matrix.

If any of this is unlear let me know and I'll try and clarify it. For a more in depth study of solid state welding see "The solid state welding of metals" by R.F. Tylecote. Additional study on this topic has been conducted by researchers at Stanford. There are a couple of doctoral papers relating to the topic, but I read them about 3 yrs ago and don't have my own copies.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 02/16/04 13:18:40 EST


Can you provide more info on what you mean by homogenious and composite steels-or is that just plain steel bar vs. pattern welded bar?

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 02/16/04 13:20:30 EST

Daryl Meiers, low temperature welding demonstration at Flagstaff was at a low red heat. About 1200°f.

Ralph, That's one of the things that Guru and I dis-agree on. The bees wax finish that I use is one of the "tradtional" finishes.

   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 14:40:54 EST

Thanks Pat. That helps sort out some of the vagaries.

I do believe the time has come to start a junkyard hammer. I have several possibilities and time now. I will go with a style that uses leaf springs rather than toggle arms. I am thinking along the lines of tralier springs opposing each other but have never seen an example of that. I have seen a design that used one spring arced in a half circle with a toggle linkage to attach the head. I will be using RR track as the hammer and can make any practical size. I have pieces up to 150 lbs of the switch yard stuff. There is some shafting over at the scrap yard I believe, for the anvil.
Drive will be like the NCABANA hammer (Pawpaws) just rotate the motor into a drive wheel.

Any comments on gotchas?
   Mills - Monday, 02/16/04 16:08:39 EST

In that case send your witches brew mix to my home email if you will please...(smile)
Actually I was only sorta kidding about the jab.... I figure that something that works fairly well and requires less effort will be better for beginners as they are more likely to use an easy solution to start with. Me I am hard headed and will always try to find the hardest way to do something... I have proof, all you have to do is ask Dawn she can elaborate.....(VBG)
   Ralph - Monday, 02/16/04 16:25:27 EST


On the way.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 16:38:52 EST

i would like the know the names of the most commen tools used in the art of making a sword, and where too buy then, along with where to buy an anvil.
thank you,
   Steven - Monday, 02/16/04 17:18:04 EST

Guru, I am in the process of coming up with ways to solve the craking, shifting and crumbling of walls. I am thinking about putting in new foundation for a historic barn and shed! I will build my own fitting but what type of metal could I put in before I pore the congrete in the spring!

   - Moe - Monday, 02/16/04 17:24:14 EST

Steven you can buy anvils online, you will want to shop around for them. As for sword making tools lots of people using the site will know.
   - Moe - Monday, 02/16/04 17:26:33 EST

In order of use ( at least in my opinion)
Brain, reference materials, Brain, forge,Brain, anvil,brain, hammer,brain, tongs, brain, files/scrapers, brain,
Oh did I mention brain......?
   Ralph - Monday, 02/16/04 17:28:17 EST

where to buy tools.
Literally anywhere. It honestly depends on where you are. If for example you are in NYC the locations will be different from say the middle of the farming areas. But auctions, hardware stores, online, friends neighbors, garage sales....
   Ralph - Monday, 02/16/04 17:32:49 EST


what type of concrete reinforcment rods should I use. Should I even use them at all? I want to keep these old buildings up. I am located in Quebec Canada. There arn't to many places where I can easily get a hold of metals etc. so I will have to construct my own footings etc.. Thanks for the information on jacks and supports. I will need it when I begin this process.
   - Moe - Monday, 02/16/04 17:51:02 EST

Jen, I use Future acrylic floor finish a lot with excellent results on candle holders and flowers. It dries quick too.
   Jerry - Monday, 02/16/04 18:55:51 EST


There is a FAQ titled Sword Making, Gen X. Use the pull down menu in the upper right corner of this page. After you read it, if you still have questions, come back and ask them.

But read the FAQ
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 19:05:32 EST

Howdy Folks, I have forged a couple of knives out of old files,and,I have just about tore up every drill bit I have on drilling holes for the handles(tangs not hardened) Can yall refer me a brand or type to use for this? Thanks...J
   - jimmy seale - Monday, 02/16/04 20:01:31 EST


If you're going to be pouring concrete footing to support a significant load, then rebar is a must. The sixe and frequency of bar is determined by the amount of load to be supported and the substrate beneath the concrete. Determining what is appropriate is really ajob for a professional engineer, particularly if the structure that is supported is going to have human beings in or around it.

I am NOT an engineer. What I say should only be considered folk knowledge, NOT expert advice. That said, for a one story masonry building on compacted fill or bedrock, I would pour a footing that is a minimum of 12" thick and 30" wide. I would use 3 pieces of #5 rebar 12" o.c., placed on bar piers to be 2" above the botton of the footing. I would use 3 pieces of #4 bar, 12" o.c. and placed 3" below the top of the footing. I would use #4 rebar rings every 32" to tie all the load bars. All corners to be radiused, lap all joints at least 24", and stagger the joints. Use 3500 psi concrete.

The above is for a rim footer or load bearing beam footing. Basically the same procedure applies to pier slabs for jack bases, but make them 30" square or bigger. If there is any doubt or uncertainty about the stability of the soil below the footings, get a licensed engineer to evaluate it for you. The best footing in the world is still only as good as the soil it rests on. Uncompacted soils can compress under load, causing a footing to sink. Clay soils can expand rather dramatically when saturated with water, heaving a footing up. You MUST know what your substrate is.

The best advice I can give you is to engage the services of a good engineer who is familiar with local conditions and with bilding restoration. The money you spend on the engineer will be cheap compared to having to redo the job if shadetree engineering proves inadequate.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/16/04 20:26:10 EST


You will HAVE to anneal the file before drilling. Or you will need to find/make a Whitney style punch for punching the holes. There are no drill bits (that I know of) to drill steel that is that hard.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 20:27:39 EST


If you're drilling holes in high carbon steel, you need to have the steel fully annealed prior to drilling. This is not easy to achieve on a section as thin as a knife tang, as they usually cool too rapidly to achieve full annealing. They need to take about ten or twelve hours to cool from the transition point to room temperature to be fully annealed. If you heat a heavy block of steel along with your blade and then put them touching each other in vermiculite or lime, the heavy piece will help keep the blade from cooling too rapidly.

If you have to drill high carbon or alloyed steel, cobalt drills work much better than regular high-speed steel. Also, it is important to use a drill press and not a hand drill. Hand drills spin too rapidly and you can't get enough feed pressure with them. For a 3/16" bit, a speed of 500 rpm is okay. Much higher and you risk overheating the bit, destroying it's temper. If you are not getting a steady curl of metal or shavings, then you're ruining the bit. Cutting fluid helps, too.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/16/04 20:35:37 EST

Patrick and FauxPaws:-)

I am embareassed:-) to say that I had forgotten that it wasn't really liquid metal on the surface, just liquid flux and liquid scale. (And I learned that here quite a while back:-)

And yes you understood what I was trying to say, regular steel versus laminated steels

So is diffusion welding no longer a term that is used to describe forge welding? You used the term solid state welding.
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 02/16/04 21:29:24 EST

Having obtained enough tools to get me started I now just need to build my forge. Buying a cast iron firebowl will cost me a lot less than buying a tuyere and water bosch but before I commit to a side or bottom blown design can somebody please explain the pros and cons of each design?

   Bob G. - Monday, 02/16/04 21:31:05 EST

I am now moved into a new place in Tennesee and got the computer set up again. I hope to be able to perform my duties as a Deputy Guru. I appreciate the input from others regarding the metallurgy of blacksmithing during my transition. Guess I will have to be very careful about what I say from now on!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/16/04 21:46:47 EST

Fionnbharr, I think Patrick is technically correct. Solid state bonding can take place without the diffusion of carbon, or anything else. As he eloquently explained, the bonding process is due to the sharing of electrons from the iron atoms. I was taught to use the term diffusion bond, but it must have been supplanted by a more descriptively correct term sometime in the last 30 years. It may have been too similar to the term "fusion bond", which distingquishes a welded joint from a brazed joint.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/16/04 21:55:41 EST


Personal opinion, it's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other. I like bottom draft better than side draft, but bottom draft is what I've always used. Side draft is more popular in England than it is here.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 22:03:19 EST

VIC, I don't think even cobalt drills will help much if the tang is not fully annealed. Carbide bit? I've never tried it, I kinda doubt it, but I could be wrong.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 22:05:42 EST

As everyone has said, annealing first is most important.
It is possible to drill pretty hard steel using a carbide masonry bit..you may have to regrind it with a "green stone".
Another alternative is to hot punch your holes, which is both traditional and much quicker....and the blacksmithing solution...toot toot.
Moe..dont forget to bury tie down straps in the cement for your posts.
Bob G, I've heard that side blown is better for charcoal.. Most US forges burning coal are bottom blown...that doesn't sound right somehow....it'll all blow over sooner or later.
   - Pete F - Monday, 02/16/04 22:06:50 EST

Drilling tangs....
One trick I was told about was to chuck up an old drill bit of the correct size and run the drill backwards to spot heat and anneal the tang there you need to drill....
   Ralph - Monday, 02/16/04 22:30:14 EST

Bob G., Clinker is heavier than coke and when forming, it "trickles and coagulates". In a bottom blast, if you're using grungy coal, you will get clinker settling over the tuyere in the form of a small cowpie or flat donut. You might have to clean several times a day. In a side blast, the clinker is forming by gravity below the tuyere nose, so you might have a chance to work a little longer between fire cleanings.

Americans embraced the bottom blast during the latter part of the 19th century. The reasons are obscure; it could be, simply, happenstance. I have a large, 1894 machinery and tool catalog which has one page devoted to "tuyer irons". There is one side blast, which is a cone called, "water tuyer". There are 15 engravings of bottom blast setups without firepots. There are two bottom blasts with firepots.
The ones without firepots consist of castings having an air intake (straight pipe shape or cone shape) and an integral, circular casting with some form of tuyere (air intake hole) in the top.

During the 20th century, these latter tuyere irons were displaced by the firepot with clinker breaker (tuyere valve), ash barrel, and sliding or kicking dump door.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/16/04 23:21:12 EST

You know I think the most common swordmaking tool would probably be the large punch press followed by the CNC mill, I'd bet that over 1/2 the swords made today are made with those tools and a very small percentage are forged by hand...

I'm happy, found a set of tongs at the fleamarket yesterday $3; but my first smithing tool find in these parts; then a friend of my brother sees it and says he finds a lot of that sort of stuff when he's out prospecting...so I may have an ongoing source...I'm going to have to train him to recognize triphammers...

Patrick; I'm closing on a house Wednesday, hope to be forging there this weekend. Still have to build a shop. How is you house hunt going on?

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/16/04 23:32:41 EST


Just start going out with him if he will let you. (prospectors tend to be a bit private about their favorite panning sites)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/16/04 23:38:04 EST

I am a 17 year old student who is interested in becomeing a sword smith. I have smoe experience with welding but i can not find a place that i can learn how to become a sword smith. I live in northern ohio and was wondering if u can help me out in some way. Wheather it be a book or a trade school. pls get back to me. thank u
   jay - Tuesday, 02/17/04 00:26:41 EST

thanks for the best site on blacksmithing I have a small Question I need info on a kenco press model 4 1 1/2 info like parts list and diagrams so I can put this back in service for some projects I have coming up any help will be well recieved
   holgren - Tuesday, 02/17/04 01:12:58 EST


What you said got me thinking (a dangerous thing!). Do you suppose that the side draft preference in England might have to do with the preference for anthracite coal? I've personally never used anthracite, but I've always been told it produces more clinker than bitmus coal. Of course, someone could be lying to me to make me look stupid. It wouldn't be the first time. ;-)

   eander4 - Tuesday, 02/17/04 01:35:00 EST

Many thanks to everyone who answered my questions about setting up a gas forge. Sorry for the late post - I was down a couple of days.
   Roy Turner - Tuesday, 02/17/04 01:40:22 EST

HOLGREN/KENCO PRESS: Contact Taber Industries; Kenco Press Division, 455 Bryant St., Tonawanda, NY, 14215. Phone (716)694-4000 (Are you sure about that model number? How about Model 4 1/2 ?) Good Luck, 3dogs
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/17/04 02:17:06 EST


Might I suggest that you contact Kenco? Their URL is:



May I suggest that you use the pull down menu on the top right side of the page and read the FAQ about sword making?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/17/04 02:19:43 EST

Side draft - I guess that is a possible reason. I've been recommended to avoid bottom draft forges because they clog too easily, which would make sense with the coal that was available. One thing I found interesting in the courses I did was that there was no ritual of making coke out of the coal - just get it burning and get the steel up to heat. Oh, and the amount of sulphur in the coal... Yech! I'd expect to dig out a couple of double-handful sized clinkers per day of running that forge. Um, measured by eye, not directly, that is.

Having gone over to propane (Ron Reil design, sidearm burner) I find I have even less trouble with clinkers After the coal, I got a bit fed up of the speckled rash of burns over my arms whilst using charcoal.

   Peter - Tuesday, 02/17/04 05:22:03 EST

Bottom blown / side blown forges

I have made both in the past and have generally used side blown forges most (the only bottom blown forge I have used, I built (admitted).

Yes I admit a bias in favour of side blown. And that is not just a UK bias against those d**** new fangled colonial ideas :)

I like the versatility of the side blown; from construction, a few turfs with a blow pipe to a ton of brick: to fire construction, small 3’ x 3’ x 3’, large 10’+ (I was distracted when lighting), deep 8’ and 4 – 5’across and could go deeper, long I have never tried but 2” does not seem too fanciful for a single blowpipe. All that from the ‘standard‘forge in The Blacksmiths Craft (Lillco). On a good day you would only need to de-clinker 2 – 3 times ( cool to dull orange, drag the fire off, dig out clinker, drag fire back, return blast , with an optional quench of poker shovel and hand at the end [ mild steel!]).

Its other advantage is that the same forge can generally work coke, mineral coal and charcoal, side blown started with charcoal, mineral coal only came into use 1300’s (?) and pre produced coke much later (1700’s ???). (Alti, TP, any corrections)

Could the popularity of bottom blown forges in the US have originated from either: prospector / miner forges in the ‘pioneering days’ hanging on (cast iron fire pans and blowers), or, the most available forge type during the ‘craft revival’. I will leave that to one of the venerable ones who lived through that time.
   Nigel - Tuesday, 02/17/04 07:48:36 EST

Hi all,
Just wanted to let yall know I'm in Kuwait now and will be in Ft Champbell KY in about 2 weeks and will be there for about a week.Then I'll be talkin' to yall on my computer.Tom if you see this I'll holler at you when I pass through TX on my way to Mexico to rehydrate for about two weeks.Almost home talk to yall soon.
   - Hotmetal,J.R.Clark - Tuesday, 02/17/04 08:46:34 EST

Side/bottom blast conjecture. Beginning I think in the 1860s in the U.S., the bottom blast "inventors" were rushing to the patent office with their non-firepot bottom blast designs. I think the idea was to get all smiths turned onto the newfangled design, so the inventors could
make money. The ol' profit motive.

Some of the designs had a conical air intake that looked suitable to a bellows pipe. So, even though it was bottom blast, the bellows came in from the side, as always. I suppose the side blast was forever and ever amen, because the bellows DID come in from the side. Why change?

And yes, in the late 13th century, Marco Polo wrote of the Chinese use of "black stones" (mineral coal) for fuel. After this time, the Europeans figured out that they could mine coal and use it.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/17/04 08:52:17 EST

I forgot to say:

The main problem with side blown forges is the 3ft square table needed, or the fact you leave a hole / burnt patch when you’re trying to make a portable forge!
   Nigel - Tuesday, 02/17/04 08:55:09 EST

Do you know where I can find plans or pictures of a side draft online. I'll try to find a copy of The Blacksmiths Craft but I will be stuck at work for a while and am curious (and impatient ;)
   shack - Tuesday, 02/17/04 09:55:25 EST

About the drill bits. I have used a regular hand drill to drill holes in a few tangs with regular steel bits. However, i have ruined most of them completely.
   - colinnn - Tuesday, 02/17/04 10:27:01 EST

Well I guess its hit and miss with me.Some lessons are better learned through failure,such is the case with me.Thanks for the imput,will work harder,and,hopefully improve!...J
   - jimmy seale - Tuesday, 02/17/04 10:39:24 EST

Just browse the net, if it is side blown (or side blast) it will be similar. The book (actually books, there are several) is fairly good but assumes you are undergoing training. There are better to learn from, ((new) edge of the anvil would be my ‘one’ book recommendation, closely followed by wygers (sp) complete modern blacksmith)

Wygers has at least one side blast sketch, but the one I’m sure it has will not be typical anywhere in the EU or US.

Do not assume side draft is the same, some people use it to describe chimney configuration
   Nigel - Tuesday, 02/17/04 11:02:15 EST

Side draft is fairly easy. Make a hearth table, line with clay. about 1 inch above clay is where you want the air nozzle to come in at. about 3 to 4 inches from tip of nozzle you want the clay to dip down making a bowl with the back side of bowl higher than the nozzle. This helps to force the hot spot up above nozzle and provides a clinker collection point.
Fairly simple really
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/17/04 11:40:02 EST

The nozzle on the side draft, would it be horizontal or at an up or down angle?
   shack - Tuesday, 02/17/04 11:51:14 EST

Solid State Welding/Diffusion Bonding:

I am not sure that "Diffusion Bonding" is no longer applied to all solid state welds, but I did hear a differentiation made between diffusion bonding and other types of solid state welds a few months ago. I think the best way to think of this term is that Diffusion Bonding is one type of solid state welding technique. The best evidence for this goes back to the room temperature bonding a described yesterday. It has been demonstrated many times that bonding can take place at room temps in some metals. At room temperature, diffusion is extremly slow. Diffusion rate increase very rapidly with increasing temperature. In some joining techniques, intial bonding can be carried out at room temperature and then the components can be "baked" to initiate diffusion and thereby strengthen the joint. Remember, atomic sizes are critcal in these techniques. One thing I hope to try here at work is room temp bonding of copper alloys, followed by more extensive mechanical deformation at elevated temps (Basically I am hoping to be able to make Mokume in large sections without all the challenges presented when using hand tools). If I do get to try it, I'll let you know the results.

House Hunting:
Congradulations on the new house Thomas. Have you sold the one in Columbus? We are still trying to sell ours in Ohio. Once that is done, it will be a bit easier to find something out hear in WI, but the housing Market in this area is higher priced than in Ohio. Plus, I am trying to find a place to run he big hammer, so that seems to be limiting my options. Does anbody out there have creative suggestions for getting to run a blacksmith shop without having to be way out in the country?

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 02/17/04 12:55:31 EST

To clarify just a bit about the term Diffusion Bonding: This term generally is used when little or no deformation is used. This lack of significant deformation is what seperates it from other forms of solid state welding. See R. F. Tylecotes "The Solid State Welding of Metals", pg 301.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 02/17/04 13:00:14 EST

Diffusion bonding -steel, general comment/information the powder metallurgy industry is based on solid state diffusion bonding of iron/steel particles at elevated temperatures usually 1950 to 2050 degrees F in a nitrogen/hydrogen atmosphere. About 60% of the parts produced end up in an automotive application having replace traditional cast or forged parts. Strong enough for the application and reduced total production costs, but end strength usually isn't as high as a traditional closed died forging that has been peoperly heat treated. Still enough of a traditionalist to prefer forgings over PM, even though PM is currently paying the bills. Also was more comfortable when I could do the motor repairs rather than just stand there and call a garage.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 02/17/04 13:13:48 EST


> Also was more comfortable when I could do the motor repairs rather than just stand there and call a garage.

Those days are LONG gone. I miss them too.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/17/04 13:33:21 EST

Engine block for treadle hammer?

I've seen in the JYH pages that some were built with an engine block for the anvil/base. It's probably not a real good choice for such a machine, but the old JYH goal of keeping costs down made it an option.

But how about for a treadle hammer? I've got an old V8 that came with the house, about 20 years ago. Now that I'm moving to a new house that, for some reason, doesn't have a junk V8 in the back, should I bother moving this one? Or should I let the new owner stumble across it, like I did?

And how much does such a thing weigh? I know - "How long is a piece of rope?". But if I strip all the headers, flywheel, etc. off of it, is there even enough there for a decent TH anvil/base? All I know about it is it's a V8 and is at least 21 years old.

   - MarcG - Tuesday, 02/17/04 13:48:23 EST

Could you give me a list of e-mail addresses of "fantasy sword designers" who might be interested in some designs I have that I have never seen and would be willing to give away.
   Carl Scipioni - Tuesday, 02/17/04 14:11:29 EST


Most designers of such things don't really want to use other people's designs for fear of a later lawsuit for copyright infringement.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/17/04 14:26:27 EST

Frank, while coal is believed to be used by *blacksmiths* around the high middle ages, it was used much earlier---late roman times for other tasks, salt boiling comes to mind. Dealing with the sulfur in the coal was a big problem, learning to coke it before it comes in contact with the metal helps. It also needs more blowing, a charcoal fire can be self drafting a lot easier than a coal fire.

It used to be a common tenet that much of WE technology came directly from the far east; now there is a lot more discussion about indirect and parallel development.

One example: it used to be held that patternwelding in NE was the result of NE smiths trying to replicate the wootz blades they saw used against them in the crusades but not knowing the technology. Pretty good idea until you realize that the hay-day of pattern welded blades was several centuries *before* the crusades!

It turns out that patternwelding is an offshoot of how wrought iron is worked from a bloomery process and so pretty much *every* culture that used direct reduction iron refining came up with pattern welding at some point.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/17/04 14:40:47 EST

Shack, It's horizontal. Another book which has side blast plans is "The Blacksmith and his Art" by Hawley. It shows the kind with the water jacket surrounding the tuyere entry pipe.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/17/04 14:45:46 EST

Carl, do you have a long background in swordmaking? Anything to give us a warm fuzzy feeeling that your designs would "work"---be light, well balanced, good harmonics, no stress concentrators, easy to forge?

Most fantasy designs make *really* *bad* *swords* and so swordmakers will often require a greater than normal price to make up someone elses designs.

You don't usually make up swords on spec----too much time involved to make something you don't know if it will sell, especially if it is as difficult to build and as bad a sword as many fantasy designs are.

If *you* are willing to pay to have your designs made reality, you might ask about custom swordmakers over at the sword forum; but expect each one to cost thousands of dollars, custom hand work by trained craftsmen is much more expensive than factory, "stamp them out by the thousands" work.

There isn't a pool of people just waiting for a good design to show up; quite the reverse there are enough designs out there to keep the current crop of swordmakers busy for a hundred years.

Thomas fantasy designs often make great T shirts though...
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/17/04 14:57:12 EST

That works for you. My preference is a flat base with the tuyer (is that another spelling!!) 1 - 2’ above it, possibly with a ‘sump’ hole carved into the base material to catch clinker. All other shaping is done in earth (garden dirt, low in plant bits) or best, ash. Do not use sand is will glaze over and stick to clinker, and peat is flammable (to a degree). As you work you can change the shape when cleaning out for the first light or after clinker removal (or any time if you’re animal enough).

Try flat and level to start
From before

Weygers (correct spelling) does not have any pics of side blown forges (its still a good book). Pics on side blown forges can be found at


He seems biased in favour of bottom blown forges, but presents both. The ‘modern’ photos are some 50 years old. Interesting lack of copyright info on the book images?!
Try the suppliers on the drop down top right or this for the UK


Thomas P / Frank
I’ve heard that surface outcrops of coal were used in Saxon times, limited use, in limited areas. The mining and larges scale use came later.

Thomas P
Agreed on the fantasy swords (sword shaped objects?)

I’ve got to type less and do some work for me degree, I’ve only spent 1 ½ hours typing (and proofing) this
   Nigel - Tuesday, 02/17/04 15:48:02 EST

Swordmaking.....Jock's FAQ is posted now, and it is extremely well done, I do believe we can just refer folks threre for answers to their swordmaking questions, and THEN, if they come back with a specific question they would be entitled to a specific answer.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/17/04 16:59:43 EST


That's what I've been doing.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/17/04 17:03:55 EST

I have a feeling what you and I are talking about with side-blast forges are the same..... A word-smith I am not.

   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/17/04 17:55:22 EST

Hello everyone, I ercall one of the guru's mentioning using braided steel hoses for the supply lines to thie propane burners. I was wondering if any of you had some vender info you could put up. I am currently using standard 1/4" copper line with compression fittings, but I am not too please with how it looks or functions.

Thanks Much

   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 02/17/04 19:00:00 EST

I was wondering if alloys were solutions or compounds. The reason I'm asking is because today in science, the topic of alloys came up. My science teacher did not have a really good idea of what alloys were. Could you possibly tell me what they are?
Thank you
   - colinnn - Tuesday, 02/17/04 19:22:46 EST

OOoohhhh, good one, Colinnn! Depending on the alloy, they can act like both, depending on heat treatment as well. I'll let one of our resident metallurgists anwer, because I don't know much more and I'm interested too!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/17/04 19:51:50 EST

Colinnn, an alloy is a solid solution. One metal is dissolved in another. The metal that is dissolved is called the solute and the metal that does the dissolving is called the solvent. If the solute atoms replace solvent atoms in the solvent matrix, it is called a substitutional solid solution. If the solute atoms hide the the little holes between the solvent atoms, it is an intersticial solid solution. Now go explain to your teacher where you got all them three dollar words!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 02/17/04 19:53:13 EST

To Hotmetal : THANKS for the effort, and hope you make the trip home safe. Time for a breather.


Steve (Ten Hammers) O'Grady
   - Ten Hammers - Tuesday, 02/17/04 20:35:37 EST

FredlyFX,You can get fittings from Aero Quip or Weatherford.BUT under ANY circunstances Don't rig it directley to the burner! Pipe it out of the forge and then put the flex hose on it-make sure the hose is rated for LP gas,I do use screw in hyd.connections with no problem.Pipe the hard line as far as you can...J
   - jimmy seale - Tuesday, 02/17/04 20:45:06 EST

Thanks Jimmy.

That brings up another question then. My current set up has 2 burners that stick up out of the forge shell about 8 to 10". The plumbing coming off my regulator is 1/4" brass and goes up to within about 6" of the burner ends. I then change it to 1/4" copper tubing, put a large loop in it so it has some foex, and run it to the burner ends. What I was hoping to do was just replace that section of 1/4" copper with the braided steel. It's not actually inside the forge in any way, and the ambient temp around that area is low enough that I don't notice a difference on my hanf when I am opening of closing the valve. I am assuming that it should be fine. What do you think? Here is a link to a picture of the set up: http://fredlyfx.com/new%20forge/completed-plumbing.jpg


   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 02/17/04 21:34:05 EST

Thanks quenchback and Alan
   - colinnn - Tuesday, 02/17/04 22:57:59 EST

Swage blocks.

I've just added a small (16" square x 5") swage block and stand to my collection of tools. I was wondering how many smiths still consider the swage block to be an essential part of a smiths toolkit?

In the UK, used swage blocks are a lot more difficult to find than used anvils. Is this also true across the pond?
   Bob G. - Tuesday, 02/17/04 23:51:12 EST


I don't know that I'd consider it essential, but it makes things a lot easier, sometimes.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/17/04 23:57:42 EST

Colinn- I doubt you have ruined your bits completely- drill bits are RESHARPENABLE! And just like learning how to blacksmith, learning how to sharpen drill bits is one of those things that isnt the easiest, but pays back enormously in satisfaction and pride.
One thing I would suggest for wannabe swordsmiths is a little night school- most areas have community colleges or voc-techs that have night and weekend classes, very cheap, in welding and machine shop. But I want to be a SWORDSMITH, you say. Well, to be a decent swordsmith you need to know a lot about metals, and how to work them, hot and cold. And all of that stuff is taught, in about the shortest time you are going to find anywhere, at community colleges. And they start at the beginning... My old machine shop teacher at LA Trade Tech, Tommy Honda, wouldnt let anyone touch a lathe or a mill until they could use a micrometer, a caliper, and a ruler, file to a line, and sharpen a drill bit by hand.
And believe me, all of those skills come in mighty handy making a sword. Or anything else out of metal.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 02/17/04 23:58:24 EST

Numbered drill bits...
Ok, could someone help me figure out what a numbered hole is? I'm trying to make a burner and the instructions from the net tell me to drill a 1/8" brass nipple with a #60 hole, and increase to #59,58 etc. as needed. Problem is I go to the store and they dont sell them as #'s only as stubborn fractions. What do the #60,59,58 etc. mean?
Also, I plopped down a hardy sum of cash and bought 24 fire bricks to build a brick forge, brass fittings and such to build one or two burners for the forge, a "Victor" welding/cutting kit, a set of Oxy/Acetyl. tanks, a hand cart to keep the tanks on, and several other things i needed like some welding gloves, brushes, etc. I'm guessing I can braze the joints of the burner plumping to prevent propane leakage (before I run any propane through it of course). I bought two small drill bits for drilling steel, should handle brass just fine. They are tiny, I'm not sure how big of a hole I'm gonna need to drill. I'm really itching to start making some decorative iron, the wife already is giving me a project, "make me an iron flower pot holder" she says. I'd hate to let her down.
Thanks, any advice is appretiated.
   - nuked - Wednesday, 02/18/04 01:27:19 EST

ack, Appreciated... I can spell. Really!
   - nuked - Wednesday, 02/18/04 01:30:10 EST

Nuked, the size hole you need to drill (per the instructions you were given) is 0.0400 (#60) followed by 0.0410 (#59) and 0.0420 (#58) respectively. I hope you have insurance. Why are you going to braze burner fittings ?
   - Ten Hammers - Wednesday, 02/18/04 02:13:07 EST

I'm trying to make a forge burner off of Ron Reils page and a brick forge like the one on http://www.ironringforge.com/ForgeSaga/Forge_Building.html
I had thought you would need to seal the joints for all the fittings, but now that I think about it there is probably a good sealant I could buy and just paint it on for much less trouble.
Thanks for the drill bit sizes, that I can understand :)
   - nuked - Wednesday, 02/18/04 02:36:48 EST

Another question. I couldnt find any regulators with a psi gauge for propane. I could use the kind they make for a gas grill, and I'm wondering if I can get away with that in the short term.
Also, earlier in the week I posted a message about the standard replies to people wanting to make swords and I think it came out wrong. I didn't mean the answers ya'll give are boring or repetitive, I meant you guys show ALOT of patience with the same questions over and over... It was meant as a compliment. Thanks again, I'll stop posting and go to bed now.
   - nuked - Wednesday, 02/18/04 03:35:29 EST

Flexible pipe for propane:

Fredly, I used some flexible SS tubing meant for propane water heaters. It's got a bright yellow coating on it. Here's the best view of it:

And a view of the business end:

Unfortunately, I don't have any vendor info. I just found it in my local hardware store. But it's got 1/4" fittings at each end and has that accordion construction.

For this forge I needed something flexible because the roof is liftable to allow me to rearrange the bricks.
   - MarcG - Wednesday, 02/18/04 07:08:15 EST

Nuked; No. The right stuff is too cheap to bother with trying to adapt components that work only marginally. Get a "redhead" adjustable regulator, (appx $25) and a 0-30 psi guage (appx $10)at your local hardware store. Buy propane compatible fuel line and valve; (Make sure the fittings are tight)and the rest of the forge can be made from mostly scrounged parts. You can buy the kaowool and ITC 100 @ the Anvilfire store. It is much easier to set up a forge with a blower because the oriface size, jet placement, etc are not as critical as with the atmospheric forges.
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 02/18/04 07:57:22 EST

Swage Blacks; Bob G.:

the antique swage blocks I've come across on this side of the pond have tended to be expensive and oversized for my needs. (...and size=$.)

I use a small modern one, about 12" X 12" X 4", that I picked up last year, and it has proven to be very useful. Like most modern ones, it has the half-rounds and Vs around the edges, and various dishing patterns (rounds, spoon, shovel) on the faces. I keep coming up with new uses, and it provides some easier solutions. Of course, a FULL set of swages, top and bottom, would also work, but the monetary and time budget dictate against it. For the faces, I find the forms help supplement may various dishing stumps and forms. If I were doing a lot of tennon work, I would certainly want to go for the older style with the multiple piercings through the face, but they didn't do a lot of fancy iron furniture in the 11th century. ;-).

Glad I bought it, certainly worth it at my present levels of skill and interests.

Clear and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/18/04 08:36:48 EST


Having now acquired a family of flypresses (flypressii?) I was wondering if there have ever been any books written about their operation. Seconhand tool suppliers here in the UK have lots of weird attachments available for the presses but nobody seem to know what they are for or how to use them. One of the tools is a Marco notch attachment complete with V broach. Any ideas ( see http://www.homeandworkshop.co.uk/marlco7.jpg )
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 02/18/04 08:39:15 EST

Swage blocks
Re: Bruce's comments.

My block is a 'punched through' (or should that really be 'cast through' ?) design. It is useful as I make and repair gates, I can use it to form tennons of which gates have many. I have never seen a dished face swageblock in the UK except for the tiny ones jewellers use. I wonder what the postage would be on a dozen or so swageblocks that I see on the websites of the US suppliers.
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 02/18/04 08:47:30 EST

I was wondering if axle halfshafts would be good steel for tools and maybe an axe or a knife. Any advise or information would be appreciated. Thanx.
   MICHAEL - Wednesday, 02/18/04 08:58:17 EST

Nuked: What kind of hardware store are you visiting? You MAY find the stuff you need at a small mom-n-pop place, you will NOT find it at Lowes'/home despot. Look in the phone book for industrial supplies and give 'em a call. They'll be in the scary part of town if they're any good. Tell them what you're up to and be prepared to be told everything from "wow, that's neat!" to "you can't do it." Just don't listen to the ones who say you can't. Also: any machine shop reference book will have a list of numbered drill sizes with decimal equivalents. They come in letter sizes too, just to confuse you even more.

Michael: Yes. Axles are usually something in the medium carbon range, often a deep hardening alloy like 4140. Of course, no guarantees on what they are. They're tough steel, just remember not to forge them above a bright orange heat. They may not be hard enough for a good knife, but the toughness would be good for an axe. My various hardies are made of axle shafts.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/18/04 09:12:22 EST

Thanx i appreciate the information...I'm just starting out in the trade. More of a hobby for me than a trade..I'm 23 yrs old and i've been doing this off and on for 8 yrs. I just ordered a 2 burner propane forge too. I'm in the process of trying to set up a place for my shop. Any advice as far as good projects to try for a relative beginner to learn on would be appreciated. I hope to become a regular to the boards.
   MICHAEL - Wednesday, 02/18/04 09:17:03 EST


Numbered drills are primarily used for drilling pilot/body holes for tapped fitments using numbered machine screws, i.i. 6-32, 10-24, etc. machine screws. A good hardware store should carry a set of numbered drills, or you can buy them one at a time or in sets from McMaster-Carr, Grainger, MSC, etc. All of those have online shopping, BTW. Even the dreaded Habah Flate sells them, but you want to buy the best you can get. Lip angles, heel relief and diameter get pretty critical at those small sizes and the cheapies just aren't satisfactory at all.

Numbered drills fall in the cracks between fractional drills, so to speak. As I said, they coincide with numbered screws and wire guages, pretty closely. 18 ga. AWG wire is the same diameter as a #60 drill, etc. As the numbers get smaller, the sizes get bigger. They go down as small as a #80 for jewelers' work. Smaller than a #60 however, and you throw them away when they get dull, because they're too small to see to sharpen them by hand. #60 and up can be sharpened by hand on an Arkansas stone with a bit of practice.

One simple way around the whole problem of drilling a teeny-weenie hole for an orifice is to use a tip for a mig welder. They are turned from copper and come in sizes from .023 up to about .050. You should check the catalogue on them to see what the "actual" orifice is, as a tip labeled for .023 wire is actually more like .032 to allow clearance for the electrode wire to pass smoothly through. The mig tips have a 1/4-20 or 1/4-24 thread, so you drill and tap a hole that size and just screw the tip in to make the orifice. Much easier to change orifice sizes that way. BTW, Tweco brand tips DON'T use 1/4-20 thread, they use a metric equivalent. Miller tips DO use 1/4-20.

If you need to have an orifice that is in between one mig tip and the next, that can be accomplished easily by reaming out a smaller one. For a reamer, take an appropriate-sized darning needle and dress it on a fine sharpening stone until it is square or triangular with sharp edges. Hold it in a pair of vise grips. After it is "sharpened", you can carefully feed it into the orifice while you twist it and it will ream the orifice bigger.

As for brazing brass joints for gas piping, why bother? I have it on good authority (professional engineer in the field) that flared fittings are the way to go with copper tubing. Also, they can be re-fitted many times as you decide you want to change things around a bit.

For a high pressure regulator for your propane supply, see your local LP gas supply place. They will either have them in stock or they can get them. Another source is a good welding supplier. Many shops use oxy-propane for cutting, and use special propane regulators for the purpose. The little regulators for gas grills operate in the range of a few inches of water column pressure (less than 1 psi.) An aspirated burner will require from three to fifty times that much pressure to operate. If you want to use very low pressure you'll have to go to a much bigger orifice and use a blower for the air, as low pressure will not induce enough vacuum in the venturi to pull in sufficient air for combustion.

If you have any further questions, just ask.

At this point, I need to echo something that the Guru says over and over. Get, and use, a copy of Machinery's Handbook. It will tell much of what you need to know about drilling, tapping, reaming, gas fitting, etc.

If you are serious about taking up blacksmithing, I heartily recommend becoming a member of CSI. Your membership in CSI does much more than just help support this site that provides all these answers. It brings you in closer contact with a group of folks who are very serious about both blacksmithing AND sharing their knowledge. Ever wonder what is happening in that Members-Only forum? The only way to find out is to become a member. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/18/04 09:20:34 EST

Michael: we got yer projects right here! Go up to that pull-down menu in the upper right-hand corner and click on "iForge". Plenty of projects, most of which are suitable for beginners. Just be absolutely sure to check out demo #66.

Vicopper's right about joining. For only pennies a day you can help keep this site operating AND see what we're talking about behind that closed door...
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/18/04 09:49:40 EST

Whilst we're reaming our orifices.... Your local welding supply folks carry a tip cleaner kit which consists of a pin vise type gizmo with a hollow body, containing several different size ittybitty drills. I've had mine for about 25 years, now. I think it's made by Tweco or Meco, but I'm not sure. (Probably Wong, by now.)
   3dogs - Wednesday, 02/18/04 09:52:09 EST

Vic, your answer/message to Nuked is/was VERY well done.

Alan L, likewise your explanation of numbered drill sizes. And I'm glad you mentioned Letter sizes as well.

Nuke, If you keep your eyes open, you can find a "115 piece drill bit set" in Habah Flate. The bits themsels are marginal at best, but with the 114 "hole" case, you can replace the bits with good bits from your local supplier one or two at a time. About 20 years ago I purchased the 115 piece set from one of my suppliers. It had all Cobalt Hardened bits in it and at the time the complete set was over $500.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 10:10:28 EST

f-fx,My puter don't like me this morning so I didn't get to see your setup. But it sounds like you have enough piping on the out side to not have to worry about preheated gas.Remember that Propane will cool as it expands to a gas,that is some insurence on the heat part,But,make sure that the hose dosen't have any binds at the fittings,then,gravity isn't your friend!At the fittings check regurly for cracks in the outer covering,PLEASE make sure that it is away from your work area,and any "hot spots" exhaust,etc.."Hammer on"...J
   - jimmy seale - Wednesday, 02/18/04 10:24:56 EST

I am not a wanna-be swordsmith. What I do want to do however, is gain enough skill so that some day I may be able to make a good sword so that I know that I have reached a VERY hard goal. The reason I make knives is because it is a challenge not because I want to go out and kill with them. Anyways, how do you sharpen a drill bit? I have been wondering for a while and any help would be great.
Thank you
   - colinnn - Wednesday, 02/18/04 10:32:50 EST


Look in Machinery's Handbook or any other machine shop handbook for drill sharpening information. There are a few different types of points, depending on what you want to do. The standard point for drilling steel, cast iron and hard non-ferrous metals is the 59º split point grind. This means that the angle of the point is 59º down from being at right angles to the shank of the drill. (Alternately, think of it as a cone with a 62º included angle at the apex.) Once the cone of the point has been ground, the heel relief is ground at about 12º drop from the cutting lip. All the above operations can de done on a small bench grinder with a carefully and freshly-dressed medium or fine grit wheel. It is critical to keep the grinding pressure light or the cutting lip will be overheated and the temper ruined. Also critical is that the cutting lips must be the same length or the bit will cut off center and out-of-round.

If you have frequent need to sharpen twist drills, a tool called a Drill Doctor, available at big-box stores, may be a worthwhile investment. Paw Paw has one and can tell you more about them. For small numbered drills and fractonal drills less that 1/8", I find that sharpening by hand on either a diamond lap or an Arkansas stone works quite well. The angles are the same.

For metals other than steel, and for other substances and circumstances, there are different point styles for twist drills. For very hard material, the cone angle is modified to be 68º down from right angles to the shank. For very thin materials and for accurate holes in wood, a spur-point grind is often used. It is practically impossible to describe a spur point without a drawing, though. There are other point grinds too, and a number of special shank styles as well. See Machinery's for details.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/18/04 11:18:04 EST

Man you are close to becoming an old curmudgion....(grin) Before you know it you will be acting like PawPaw....(another big ole grin)
Actually I wish I could write or at least get my words down on paper, errrr I mean screen as well as you.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/18/04 11:19:09 EST

Nuked, when our chapter did our forge workshop, we used Tweco welding tips for the burner orifice, a bag of a dozen is about $10, saves trying to drill such small holes......all of the gas fittings were off the shelf plumbing parts, joints can be made tight with teflon tape or pipe goop.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/18/04 11:43:25 EST

colinnn, I think the post ries left you was good information. It seems you still have the problem of not listening to people that are trying to help you.
   - Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 02/18/04 12:00:57 EST


I started by making tongs, pokers/fireside tools, brackets for hanging baskets and door latches. Making tools such as hardies and fullers, hammers, chisels, flypress tooling etc are all useful exercises and you will end up with more tools to play with.
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 02/18/04 12:44:09 EST

Miller MIG tips use 1/4-28 threads, not 1/4-20
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 02/18/04 13:25:20 EST


Thanks for that correction. I believe that is correct for most of them except Tweco, which uses 6mm by 100 or something close to that.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/18/04 13:48:03 EST


Thanks for that correction. I believe that is correct for most of them except Tweco, which uses 6mm by 100 or something close to that.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/18/04 13:48:44 EST

Tweco, yes, they were an odd thread so we used an expansion fitting, the one that slips on over the copper and compresses when you tighten the nut, so the metric thread became irrelevant.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/18/04 14:45:42 EST

Michael, Axles. If it is a medium carbon steel or low alloy medium carbon which some of them are, they make good blunt-type tools which can be hardened and tempered. For example: half round fullers, hammers, and counterpunches. But I wouldn't expect them to take and hold a cutting edge near as well as high carbon steel or other appropriate edge-tool steels.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/18/04 15:22:02 EST

Of course since I bought 4 #59 drill bits figuring I would break most of them, I managed to make 4 burners so far and I still have not broken a single drill bit. Talk about Murphy's Law in reverse....... And this was drilling with a hand held drill motor witt the pipe nipple clamped in a vise.
No stinking Tweeco crud for me...(grin) at least not till the next set of burners
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/18/04 15:27:46 EST

what do I need to get started
   - jack corbett - Wednesday, 02/18/04 15:30:59 EST

I've been reading about Oxy-Acetylene safety and there is one question that I have not been able to find an answer for. A number of sources say never to run cylinders to empty as that can allow dangerous mixing of gasses. Some of the sources I've read don't mention this danger at all. How low can I safely run the cylinders?

   Mike Trahey - Wednesday, 02/18/04 16:18:02 EST


Never let your cylinder gauge reach all the way to empty. I cut mine off when the pressure falls to 1 pound. Also, have your guages tested annually for condition and accuracy.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 17:36:03 EST

Jack Corbett,

At the top or bottom of the page, click on the HOW TO GET STARTED IN BLACKSMITHING. Read it all the way through at least twice. That will give you a complete set of instructions.

AFTER you have read it, if you still have questions, come back here and ask them, and we will help you.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 17:37:38 EST

Mike Trahey,

You should never let cylinders run totally empty. On oxygen and inert gas cylinders, the suppliers don't want an empty cylinder, because they have no way of knowing whether the cylinder has been opened to atmosphere and, therefore, contaminated. This means they have to purge the cylinder, which wastes gas unnecessarily.

On fuel gas cylinders, running them to empty is just as problematic. Acetylene cylinders are filled with asbestos and a partial charge of acetone prior to filling with acetylene. This is because acetylene, if not dissolved in acetone, has a danger of spontaneously exploding at pressures above 15 psi. When you run the tank down too fr, you will notice the flame becoming yellow and smelling funny. That is the acetone being drawn off and it is past time to refill the cylinder. Propane cylinders require purging if run to zero pressure, which will cost you extra at many charging stations. Plus, you'll start to notice the smell of mercaptan (the odorant chemical) before the tank is at zero, so why go past that?

If you are using oxy-acetylene welding/cutting equipment, you should have a copy of a welding text book. Some of the welding manufacturers sell or give them away, or you can get one at your college bookstore. These books will give you all the safety information you need, as well as some very good information on welding and cutting operations.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/18/04 18:07:13 EST

M-T,accy is unstable@15psi,Run10 and no prob.You will run O2 at 40+- whitch means you will run more O2 than Accy-4-1,I have 307CF-O2 and 135CF accy.Keep the guages right,no prob. When the PSI is on the end the "flame" will drop.Time to change cylenders,No prob.Always crack EACH cylto blow out any debries there isThere are "SPARK ARRESTORS" that Are your FRIEND!!!..hammer down...J
   - jimmy seale - Wednesday, 02/18/04 18:32:07 EST

Robert Ironwqorker,
I know that the post Ries left me with was good information. I was just clarifying that he knows I am not a wannabe swordsmith.
   - colinnn - Wednesday, 02/18/04 18:54:21 EST

Sorry about the 'q' in your name.
   - colinnn - Wednesday, 02/18/04 18:55:10 EST

Asbestos? I thought it was some of that stone lke stuff that is used as a diffuser in aquarium air lines......

   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/18/04 19:19:42 EST


Pumice is also used. Tanks made after the big asbestos scare all have pumice, I think.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 19:24:35 EST

Wire spark plug gauges can be used to ream MIG tips as well, if you snip off the bent part at the end. It's easy to find the right size. I clamped the gauge in a vise, chucked the MIG tip in a hand drill, and went at it. I did drill half-way through from the back first with a 1/16 bit to reduce the length I had to ream.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/18/04 19:40:10 EST

I meant I used a hand-held electric drill. Doubt I could have held a hand-cranked one steady enough.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/18/04 19:41:59 EST

Re axle half shafts, Are you refering to the half shaft from a front wheel drive car, or an axle from a differential rear like a truck? Truck axles, of American make, over 1 3/8" od on the shaft have been 1541H for about 10 to 15 years. Those of 1 3/8" od or less on the shaft have been C1050H for the same time. Both are modified with boron for rapid deep hardness.The 1541H will have Cr., Manganese, and Ni. The large truck axles yeild a large chunk of very high quality steel, that is heat treated to the area of Rc55. These special steels are very prone to quench cracking if the wrong quench fluid is used. Oil will give good hardness for hammers and fullers etc. I and others have made hardies and bending forks from the 1541H, and have had good results so far. If you are speaking of front wheel drive components I have zero experience to offer.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/18/04 19:53:48 EST

Braded steel hoses are still hoses, with a soft, elastomeric tube to contain the gasses. These tubes will fail at elevated temp's just the same as a regular hose of the same material. The steel brading gives abrasion resistance, and cut resistance, but does not make the proof against heat.
Swaglok offers a hose that is lined with ptfe.Ptfe is the generic term for Teflon. This will have one of the higher ratings as to temp. for a hose, but as they are Very expensive, I would still use hard piping from the burner out to a distance that is safe, and then use standard hose.
Don't forget to protect against radiant heat. This can travel quite a distance. A thin polished metal heat sheid will do wonders.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/18/04 20:00:31 EST

I found an usual anvil while searching the area of a blacksmith shop that burned in 1810 to 1820 in New England. Its about 18 or 20 inches square six to seven inches thick with beveled edges on the seven inch sides. It has the imprint of four horseshoes of various sizes two to a side. The imprints ar about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep and show distinct ridges. My guess is that it is about 70 lbs as I carried it out of the woods for two miles. I had to rest in the swampy places. It has been in my shed for 25 years and needs a new home. It must be cast as it is in excellent shape after being buried all that time. Any ideas as to value or what it is. Early settlers here were mostly English but Whaleships were built nearby... Thanks Jim
   Jim - Wednesday, 02/18/04 20:07:08 EST


Sounds like a sawmaker's anvil, or it may be an OLD colonial type. If you can send me some pictures, I'll see if I can give you a better idea. At that time frame, it's probably welded up chunks of wrought iron.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 20:25:07 EST

Body Learning versus Mind Learning.
Humans learn both ways- some things you can learn from a book, with your mind. Other things you have to teach your body by doing them, physically in real time, over and over again, until your body knows how. For instance, you can read all you want about riding a bike- but you have to fall off a few times anyway.
Sharpening drill bits is body learning- If you see someone do it, and then practice a bit, you can pick it up, but it is almost impossible to get it from reading a description. Kinda like forging a taper, or other blacksmithing techniques.
Now I am a big fan of reading- I read about 100 books a year, or try to. Sometimes I just cant keep it down to that few.
But certain shop practices really need to be seen, and practiced in the presence of someone who knows how to do it- A teacher.
Thats why I recommend community college classes and blacksmithing workshops so highly.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 02/18/04 21:41:20 EST

Thanks all. So as I understand it, I can run the gas low, just not out. Turn it off when I notice a change in the flame.
   Mike Trahey - Wednesday, 02/18/04 22:08:58 EST

Does anyone know where I can buy a very sturdy leather apron? I don't care much formthe ones sold for $9.99 on ebay or Harbor Freight Tools nor do I want to send for one in England that's made by Gibbins either....HELP!
   Big John - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:10:15 EST

Odd Anvil; Jim:

Might even be a swage block- the description is a bit fuzzy. You'll want to send a photo to Paw Paw on this one.


"Some people work with their hands and some people work with their minds. The lucky ones get to do both." (UAVTBoW)

Cold and still clear on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:11:14 EST

Big John,

Go to your welding supply, they carry heavy leather aprons for welders. Also, Centaur Forge and Pieh Tools sell them.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:12:05 EST

Ries, you are absolutely correct. I have read a number of smithing books, studied pictures and diagrams, but the three 12 hour days I spend leaning from a Master Smith were priceless. Now when I re-read those same books, it is from a totally different perspective and my progress as geometrically progressed; same way with chapter workshops and forging demonstrations put on by a Master Smith; you need a wheelbarrow to carry the knowledge away.....
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:24:58 EST

Anybody here come across "white bronze" in an historic or medieval context? I assume it's a high tin (or lead or zinc/calamine) copper alloy.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:39:31 EST

Big John

I make my own aprons from leather hides. I takes a matter of minutes to cut out the basic shape. Your local leather suplier will probably be only too willing to select a suitable hide for you.
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 02/18/04 23:44:11 EST

Bruce, not in a medieval context. The Materials Handbook index referred me to an aluminum/copper alloy. For true bronze, a tin/copper alloy, the book says that up to 10% tin, the alloy may be somewhat formable under the hammer. With over 10% tin, the bronze cannot be plastically deformed, so is/was used for casting. A matter of interest.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/19/04 00:42:20 EST

Thanks for everyones help, I got a regulator and all the stuff I needed, and drilled the requisite holes. I didn't have time to set up the brick forge but the burner works nicely. I'll have to add a needle valve in the future, but the ball valve I have seems to work well enough for some flow control. Tomorrow I plan to build a table for the brick forge and set it up and start working on something, prolly a good pair of tongs first. I drilled a hole for the burner for now, but later on I plan to install mig tips. Right now I just want to get something working and go from there. Thanks again.
   - nuked - Thursday, 02/19/04 01:07:44 EST

Thanks much for the info everyone. I think I'll just stay with the copper tubing for now, but keep my eyes open for something suitible.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 02/19/04 02:24:02 EST

These axles are out of a late model jeep most likely since thats where i work. Jeep. I believe them to be rear axles but they may be front out of a 4x4. not to sure. However considering the price i think i can afford to experament a little. Thanx for all the good info. I'm working my way through a few of the projects listed. The rose turned out great.
   MICHAEL - Thursday, 02/19/04 06:15:55 EST

Re: orifices...I switched a comercial venturi burner over from low pressure to high, by first getting a hi pressure regulator, and then soldering over the brass orifice ,and by trial & error finding the right sized drill bit [the smallest I could find in our little town] ..I didn't know from mig tips.. The forge has been going for 3 1/2 years with no problems. I reasoned that the cold gas/air flow would prevent the solder from ever reaching melting temp. and so far so good.. but just writing this down has made me want to get out my magnifying glass [ getting old is the pits!] and inspect the tip.
   tim - Thursday, 02/19/04 08:58:25 EST


> Getting old is the pits

Yes, it is, but it beats the alternative.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/19/04 10:00:28 EST

Do you post event dates on the Homepage? We are a small publishing house in Bavaria, Germany, and publish "Hephaistos" a special interest magazin for artist-blacksmiths and metal-designers. Our company features the non-profit "5th Bavarian Artist-Blacksmith's and Metal-Designer's Meeting" at Kolbermoor, Bavaria, 50 km southeast of Munich, from 5th to 8th August 2004. Is it possible to post it under your communitiy's event dates?
For more information about us see www.metall-aktiv.de, for more about smithing in Kolbermoor www.metall-zentrum.de
Thanks for your reply and your help in advance.

Tobias Schumacher, Verlag Hephaistos
   Tobias Schumacher - Thursday, 02/19/04 10:32:29 EST


It may be early next week before we can get it posted, but I see no reason why it can't be done. So I'll say "Can Do!"
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/19/04 10:44:42 EST


Actually, I should have said, "Kann Tun!"
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/19/04 10:51:06 EST

Tobias; I have seen your magazine, "Hephaistos", and it is a fine piece of work! Welcome. Paul "3dogs" Wilson
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/19/04 12:13:25 EST

As a body learner, I agree totally. I can read a book many times and struggle to do something, but if I can see it done once, I can usually master the technique.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/19/04 18:39:18 EST

Hmm, wonder if those "horse shoes" are "cathedral windows" on that anvil...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/19/04 19:19:25 EST

I saw the i-forge demo information on fly presses on the Anvilfire website, and wanted to see the ral thing. Unfortunately I don't know of any fly presses around here (Alberta) to see how well they work, so I built one. It appears to work, but since it is built out of junk-yard parts it is not an optimum design. Has anyone else attempted to build one? I can provide more details and pictures if you want. Is there a section similar to the "Junk Yard Hammers" where this sort of project can be displayed?
   Don Sinclaire - Thursday, 02/19/04 20:01:48 EST

Thomas, The same thought occured to me. I've asked for pictures.


I don't know of anyone else who has built one, but way to go!

There isn't any such page now, but I think we might be able to talk Jock into it. Let me see what I can come up with sometime in the next couple of weeks.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/19/04 21:09:08 EST


I'd definitely be interested in seeing some photos of your flypress. You could signup for the Anvilfire yahoo photo site and post them there until such time as Jock maybe sets up a page here for such things.

I'm very curious what you used for a multi-lead screw. One of the things that has kept me froom trying to build one is that I have no access to any sort of a multi-lead fast pitch screw. I figure I could put together a strong enough frame with enough steel, but that screw has me stumped. How did you do it?
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/19/04 21:29:23 EST

This project started last year, when I found a large "Acme" screw and nut at the scrap yard. It looks like it came from a machine shop and was rejected. It is a 1-1/4 inch screw with what appeared to be 4 TPI. I planned to use it to fix an old leg vise, but discovered that it was a 2-start screw, and would not have the mechanical advantage needed for a vise, and because of the pitch, it probably work loose with impact or vibration...so it sat until I looked at the flypress demos on Anvilfire.

This screw advances 1/2 inch per turn and the proper 4-start screw should advance about 1 inch per turn, I think. They dont actually mention in the demo how much it should advance- this is only my assumption.

I have a 30 inch diameter 100lb fly wheel on it...a handwheel off a large printing press. It is much too large for the size screw I have, but at $15.00 it looked too cool to pass up. Even the "Number 0" fly presses with a much smaller fly wheel have a larger screw.

If I get carried away with the flywheel, I imagine that I will eventually damage the screw.

I don't know how well a single-start screw would work. That's why I would like to see what other builders have experienced.

I have seen large valves for 12 to 20 inch pipe that have large cast frames, a large screw and a handwheel that might be reconfigured as a press. There used to be dozens of them at the scrap yard a couple of years ago, but now that I am looking for one there are none around. If I recall correctly, they had a fast acting screw as well.

I will check into the Yahoo photo site.

   Don Sinclaire - Thursday, 02/19/04 21:59:43 EST


You're approved. (grin) Make yourself an album and post away!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/19/04 22:20:47 EST


A single lead screw will not be fast enough to make a very good flypress, I don't think. Apparently, your two-lead does work, so that's some information I didn't have before. The four-lead, at the same pitch, would be twice as fast as your two-lead, yes. I think a lot of the force a flypress develops is due to the speed as much as the flywheel mass. I do know that they develop a lot of force. It may be a good thing that your two-lead screw is slower, since it is only 1-1/4" diameter and would not be able to stand the stress if it were faster. That big 30" flywheel would seem about right, maybe just a bit large for the screw size, but since you know what yu have, you can exercise the appropriate care and be okay. I don't think I'd want anyone else using it, though. Particularly not someone who gets carried away with being forceful.

I'll continue looking out for a multi-lead screw, but I'm not too optimistic about finding one here. (grin) I had a hard enough time just finding an anvil here!

I'm eagerly awaiting the pictures being posted. I knew Jim (Paw Paw) would not waste any time getting you approved to post...he wants to see it as much as I do.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/19/04 22:46:22 EST

Michael Porter's book on gas burners for forges and furnaces is now available, I posted the URL for ordering on the "Hammer In" forum. I ordered a copy today and will report back on it. It is $19.95 plus $4.00 shipping.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/20/04 00:21:24 EST

Nuked, I probobly come accross as a grouchy old crumudgeon. I guess I am sometimes. Paw Paw Wilson made the best suggestion. Look in a Harbor freight or Norhtern Tool catalog. You'll see drill sets that have numbered, fractional and lettered bits. Many different uses (orifices, tapping, aircraft rivets etc) for the large selection of sizes. Maybe I came accross as grouchy because you are wading into an area that is truthfully pretty dangerous (compressed flammable gas). Building an appliance to burn compressed flammable gas (or repairing an exsisting appliance) can be fun. I burn coal. I weld with acetelene and a MIG (and occasionally forge weld). Someday I may have a gas forge. Building a gas forge (or obtaining a used one and checking it for safety and performance) means a few pretty important things need to be remembered. Number one, the system needs strong enough (approved) container. National codes tell us what is approved, and we ought to use what's approved. This way if there ever is an accident, our Fire Inspector and our insurance agent will be happy. Pipe (black, not galvanized) works well. It has tapered threads and doesn't screw together really easy like a nut on a bolt. Black pipe is manufactured in many places in the world these days. When you select pipe to use, look at the threads on each piece, and try a dry fit (I know, some places sell nipples and fittings on cards). I have come accross threads that are extremely bad, and fittings that are worse. Look the stuff over to see you have good quality. Pipe threads should start binding in a turn or turn and a half. I have seen fittings that have straight threads (meaning that the fitting will accept the male nipple threads all the way to bottom of thread). This is wrong. Pipe threads are tapered for a reason. While you are in the pipe fittings section shopping, look for thread sealant. Don't let the salesman (or salesman-ette) tell you that sealant is all the same. The sealant you are looking for will have a lable on it that says what is approved for (and you want a sealant that is approved for ALL gasses. Air (not oxygen), natural and LP gasses will be listed on the lable. Good pipe dope like this is probobly all you will ever need and if you keep it capped tight it will last a long time in the can. this sealant works for steel or brass pipe fittings. If you have an LP gas supplier close, I'd suggest you form a relationship with them. They have approved flex lines used for gas appliances. BTW, by gas supplier I mean a company that supplies LP gas to commercial and residential customers. They set and fill the large tanks (1000-1500 gallon tanks) along with filling gas grill tanks and larger ones for recreational vehicles. These folks know gas, fittings, regulators and pipe dope. Never use compression fittings for flammable gas. I use pipe and soft copper (the kind that comes in a roll) for gas appliances. I see you have purchased a torch set, and that's great. You also mentioned that you have tanks. This is another supplier that you really need to form a relationship with (meaning that this supplier won't be the LP gas supplier). Welding gasses present other dangers. If you haven't had any training in them, get training. Proper regulation and usage of welding gasses means good safe work. Acetelene is extremely dangerous stuff, and oxygen is explosive when exposed to oil. Talk to your welding gas supplier about how to transport acetelene tanks. I don't mean to brow beat you, I really don't. I hope you are getting set up properly and are preparing to forge some iron (steel probobly). This area of life (compressed gasses)is used daily all over the world. Occasionally you hear of a house blowing up, which leads me to my final diatribe on the subject. When you visit the LP gas supplier (not the place that just sells tanks for grills) tell them what you are building. Tell them you want a bottle of leak check like the guys in the service truck use. This is a small bottle with a dobber in it. You shake the bottle up and get bubbles. Then you open it and get some bubbles on the dobber. THEN you check EVERY fitting from tank to orifice for leaks. Look the pipe over (meaning pipe nipples, flex line, torch hoses, flashback arrestors, fittings, regulators, valves etc ). Be patient. Leaks come slow sometimes. Check the new torch set for leaks (including all fittings, regulators and guages). Look the pipe over and dry fit. Dope the male ends of the pipe and hand snug. Tighten pipe with pipe wrenches and/or channel lock pliers. Don't damage the pipe (especailly brass). Hold brass fittings with a wrench if they have a place for a wrench. Wipe excess pipe dope off with a roll of paper towels that you should keep in the shop anyway. Be patient checking for leaks. Cheap pipe and fittings are dangerous. Approved flex line for gas (not hydraulic hose)is marked that it is approved. Talk to your suppliers. Be safe. Your life, your wife's life, your kids, neighbors and guests will be greatful (because they will not have an explosion). The internet is an interesting place. I really don't mean to insult your intelegence. You can find all kinds of plans for gas forges. You are responsable for your own safety and those around you. Anvilfire has some extremely intelligent folks answering questions to people that may or may not have any experience in building gas appliances (like forges). Lot of things need to be taken into consideration. This said, I hope you get up and running. If you have no training in torch work, I strongly suggest that you look into a local college or vocational school and take a course on it. Then you can feel comfortable when you use the torch. I have a wife. I make stuff for her and for my kids too. Check for leaks. The Fire boys and EMT's have plenty to do, and they have training for accidents that is ongoing in their professions. We (meaning ME TOO) don't need to give these folks any more training. This said, we are glad we have emergency response teams to help us out. Accidents do happen (and I've had my share). I ain't the brightest bulb in the box. I hope this has been helpful to you. Thanks for the site Jock, and thanks to all who post here for helping me learn.

Steve (Ten Hammers) O'Grady
   - Ten Hammers - Friday, 02/20/04 08:50:00 EST

BTW, soft copper is flared. Fittings are available for flared copper. No dope on the flares. I have a flaring tool that was close to $50.00 years ago. It will last me the rest of my life. I spend a little more on tools than some, but I have a lotta tools that will last me my lifetime and the next guys lifetime too.
   - Ten Hammers - Friday, 02/20/04 08:58:45 EST

Here's another scientific question. It is my understanding that pure iron does not rust, but forms a layer of protective oxide. You see, my science teacher again said that iron is an element that rusts instead of oxiiding. I know that when you add carbon iron, you can get rust happening but could you please just clarify that?
Thank you
   - colinnn - Friday, 02/20/04 10:39:46 EST

Colinnn, rusting IS oxidizing.... one and the same. But you can have a protective oxide layer such as gun blueing or browning. Or it can be destructive, such as a rusted out car body.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 10:53:36 EST

Some of you may be interested in how the Uss Cole got to the Repair station. Here is how. and if not then do not look.

   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 10:57:48 EST

thank you Ralph
   - colinnn - Friday, 02/20/04 11:08:35 EST


I'd be tempted to ask what kind of school you science teacher went to. But you'd better not, you'll get in trouble.

Rusting IS oxidising Each iron atom begins absorbing electrons from the oxygen atom in the air. This produces a compound known as Ferrous Oxide, representad as FeO.

Also known as rust!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/20/04 11:25:32 EST

For that matter, if a light coating of rust is left on a mass of iron/steel, it will also serve to protect the metal underneath, because the oxygen can't get to it.

   Escher - Friday, 02/20/04 11:27:07 EST

Doesn't it depend on the type of rust as to its protective ablities? FeO vs FeO2 or FeO3 ?
Some are much more protective than others. I know that a nice fine grained rust (oxide) will adhere and help slow or prevent further oxidation. But if you have large grain or rough oxides then moisture can and will get in and under and continue its dastardly deeds....
   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 14:38:40 EST

we do not mind trying to help answer good questions.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 14:39:32 EST

One of our goodly folks here (Quenchcrack?) said that scale was resistant to breaking down (I was using it for maple tree fertilization). Some oxides are more stable than others.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/20/04 15:56:08 EST

For normal irons and steels, iron oxide does not provide a long term protection from continual oxidation. For one thing, iron oxide continues to oxidize - I forget the exact sequence, but you have 3 different possible iron oxides: FeO, Fe3O4, and Fe2O3 listed in increasing ration of oxygen to iron atoms. They all have different crystalline structures and densities, so that are different from iron and from each other. So whenever you change from one to the other you will create microscopic fissures in the surfaces that will lead to further oxidation.
The only common metals that come to mind that have robust protective oxidation coatings are aluminum alloys and stainless steels.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 02/20/04 16:11:05 EST

Some types of iron rust have an OH (hydroxide) also. As I understand it these are essentially a hydrated iron oxide or rust with extra water molecules in the crystalline structure, and they may progress even faster than plain old iron oxide rust.
   - mstu - Friday, 02/20/04 16:37:41 EST

Help, what is Alumnized Steel?
Here's why I need to know. My son is replacing his oil furnace. One of the few things that the salesman could tell him about the new furnace is that the "Heat Exchanger" is made of "Aluminized Steel".

Will the heat exchanger eat itself?

I thought that aluminum and steel are not supposed to be mixed. Or is that only when melting Aluminum in a iron pot?

Before any of "Ynz"(You All) ask ? It is An oil Furnace.
He is keeping it (The old one) for spare parts, and we are going to try'"(DO! Not,Try,.Yes, Master Yoda.)"to make the fire box into a forge with LP gas..
SORRY Can Not Mail the burner Assembly to any one. Vic,If you can send me plane tickets. I will bring the Burner Assembly in my luggage. GRIN!! No need to worry about my way home.GRIN!!! My Wife can buy me a ticket home, If she Wants me back.GRIN!!

Thank You
Dan D
   DanD skabvenger - Friday, 02/20/04 17:02:34 EST

Don Sinclaire,
Indeed some valves do have a double lead screw, But often the large type gate valves that will have a long enough stem to be usefull, will operate with a yoke nut that rotates. The jamb nut on top of the handwheel, holds the whole works together.These jamb nuts are usually very thin to allow the nut to strip prior to breaking the amazingly thin shoulder on the yoke nut to shear off. The yoke nut on many of the better quality large valves will have a needle bearing between the yoke(frame) and the yoke nut and also between the handwheel and the yoke. The stems on these valves will often be 410 or 416 stainless, or an exotic like hastaloy or nimonic.Motto? The stem may be ok, but the rest of the system will not be impact worthy. By the way the gate valve stems with rotating nuts will have left hand threads, and the fixed nut globe valves will have a right hand thread.
One exception for a very light flypress would be an Edwards Univalve, with an impactor handwheel. These are designed to be impacted. Still to light for repetitive work as a press. Valve of this size often have a life of less than a hundred open/close cycles.
Good luck.
   ptree - Friday, 02/20/04 17:35:22 EST

First of all, thank you to everyone who replyed to my previous post.

I was cleaning out my forge today and I came across these big lumps buryed in the ashes. They looked to me like blooms but I had not ever attempted to smelt ore. They had a bit of rust on them, and kind of looked like lava rocks. They were very porous and black. They were definitely made the last time I was forging. (NOTE: the last time I was forging I used Charcoal Briquettes, 1045 carbon steel and a glavanized piece of sheet metal to keep the heat in. My forge is outdoors by the way and I sanded off most of the zinc before I used the sheet to be cautious of the fumes. The fire, by the way, was close to 1000 degrees Celsius.)
The thing is, I have never experienced something like this. I am very curious to know what This substance is. Any help would be great.
Thank you
   - colinnn - Friday, 02/20/04 18:07:35 EST


Can't say for sure, but it sounds like a form of coke. Can you take some close up pictures to show the "grain" and email them for me/us to look at?
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/20/04 18:14:34 EST


The aluminized steel has been mentioned fairly recently, but I don't remember what was said. Check the archives if nobody chimes in with an answer.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/20/04 18:20:58 EST


New folks don't know about the archives, and may not know about the FAQ sections. But a lot of basic questions may be answered in either one or the other of those two locations. This is NOT directed at any one person, and it is NOT a complaint. Answering questions is why we are here. But sometimes, you might get the answer a little quicker if you ckecked one of those two "on-line" sources.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/20/04 18:23:09 EST

re: Aluminized steel
DanD - the auto companies went to aluminized steel in the 80's to increase rust resistance. Basically steel with an overcoat of aluminum - the aluminum acts as protection against corrosion in this case because it's coating the entire sheet. The 80's are also when galvalume was developed - a combo of aluminum and galvanized coatings - again for autobody use. They didn't use straight galvanized initially because they had trouble controlling the spangle and it would show through on the paint. Actually - aluminum and steel are mixed quite often - aluminum is a common deoxidizer used when melting steel especially for mid to high level carbon steels quantity used isn't too much usually around .010 of a percent. What you don't want to do is mix aluminum and steel by trying to melt aluminum in a steel/iron container - the iron will be dissolved. Also, aluminum and iron solids in the presence of a good electrolyte, like road salt results in rapid corrosion of the aluminum. (ie don't patch cars with aluminum sheet - use iron) Also, iron and aluminum mix in making aluminum alloys. If memory serves, the aluminum alloy used for beverage cans contains iron additions.)
   - Gavainh - Friday, 02/20/04 18:40:31 EST

Aluminized steel appears , at least in the google search I did, to be steel that has then been clad with aluminum.
So it would appear that it would have the structural strength of steel and the heat xfer of Al but what do I know. I am for sure not a metallurgist....
   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 18:41:41 EST

Dan D, Aluminized steel is not an alloy in the sense of two metals being poured together or melted together. It is a dip-coating of aluminun on the steel at about 1600ºF so that you get an alloying situation where the two metals meet. The coating resists oxidation and scaling up to around 1650ºF. Thanks to "Materials Handbook".

   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/20/04 18:50:44 EST

Paw Paw
Sure I'll take some pictures. It may take a while though since I'm not very good with computers.
   - colinnn - Friday, 02/20/04 19:05:41 EST

Paw-Paw, coke from a charcoal fire????

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/20/04 19:47:48 EST


Some charcoal briquettes have coal dust in them. It MAY be possible for some of that to "cake" together and then coke. I don't know, that's why I asked for pictures.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/20/04 20:00:13 EST

It is the 'magic' fire. the same kind of fire that makes them 'magical' swords.....
   Ralph - Friday, 02/20/04 21:18:29 EST

Colinnn (and others),

Charcoal briquettes are made with such a hodge-podge of oddball ingredients that virtually anything can happen. Frequently, they include coal fines, sand, bits of tires, clay, starches, even wood. (grin) They will definitely produce clinker. I tried using them once and generated more clinker than ash. Literally. That was Kingsford charcoal, BTW. Real sho-nuff dead tree charcoal just makes ash. And sparks. If you live inan area where you can get away with it, try making your own charcoal. It really isn't hard at all, and it is a great lesson in historical smithing, or more properly colliery.

Iron oxide, whether Feo, Fe2O3, or Fe3O4 is still rust. The more complex forms such as hematite (Fe2O3, or ferric oxide) are quite a bit more stable than simple ferrous oxide (FeO). But they are all iron oxides and all iron will eventually become some form of iron oxide if exposed to oxygen. That is the nature of iron.

Rust, hematite or magnetite all have molecules that are larger than the plain iron molecule and that is why rust spots are higher than the surface of the unrusted metal. The complex iron oxides have a bit smaller molecule, as I understand it, and so they don't raise up as much as ferrous oxide. All of them will act as a sort of "blotter" to hold oil or grease, and then they act as a preventative against further oxidation. That is what gun bluing does. It is a controlled rusting in a very thin layer that then acts to hold oil that rubbed on it, thus preventing further oxidation. Gun bluing also involves the use of some metallic salts that make the iron surface change to a phosphated oxide of iron which is more stable than simple iron oxide.

Because any form of iron oxide acts as a "blotter" it will absorb water from the air just as well as it absorbs oil, but the water will accelerate the oxidation. So rust causes more rust.

I'm not a chemist or metallurgist, but that is what I have picked up by studying some books on the subject.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/20/04 21:51:49 EST

I cannot make my own charcoal on a large scale. I live in a city and it is not tolerated. The briquettes, however, work fine for me. I can get my iron up to an orange in hardly any time at all. I'm still looking for a close place to buy some coal/coke.
   - colinnn - Friday, 02/20/04 22:26:51 EST

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