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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from February 21 - 29, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

The WORST rust: "bubble rust", what I call it, since I don't know the proper term. It's where a hole appears in what was intended as a protective coating, usually paint.

The rain water rusts the exposed steel where the hole is, then the rust swells under the paint next to the hole. The protective coating lifts away from the steel, and holds rain water in there long after the rest of the steel object has dried. Then the process continues, only the hole gets deeper as well as wider. Makes a splendid crater.

Paint with holes in it is worse than no paint at all. The worst case I've seen was a group of second hand locomotives purchased from Canada for a local shortline RR. The locomotives had wide vinyl graphics, which once they started lifting, held small puddles of water. Those locomotives were lighter than when manufactured.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 02/21/04 00:37:39 EST

For those who havn't seen Hephaistos magazine...it's just splendid....but, like Playboy, i only look at the pictures ( it's in German)
   - Pete F - Saturday, 02/21/04 04:32:27 EST

Just to chime in about oxidation as protection. US Steel developed a type of steel to be used on bridges and buildings that would oxidize an outer layer and protect the inner metal. Their corporate office in Pittsburgh is built out of the stuff and that's why the sidewalk around it is rust colored.
   - Wally - Saturday, 02/21/04 06:43:09 EST

Yah, Corten is the name of the weathering steel that Wally mentions. It is a low carbon alloy steel with some copper and phosphorus in it which helps to develop the oxide "skin" on its surface. It can turn various colors depending on the environment in which it is installed...most often the rust color. Picasso's sculpture, a large winged figure in downtown Chicago, is made of Corten. It is eminently forgable...forges a lot like mild steel, bright lemon down to low cherry. It should be installed fire-scale free.

And speaking of scale, oxides, etc., fire scale is pretty hard stuff. It will definitely dull files. So before filing, I like to wire cup or Bear-tex the scale from the work. My dad used to use crocus cloth for polishing his hand tools. It is a fabric which has adhered to it finely pulvurized ferrous oxide, and it is still being manufactured.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/21/04 08:15:47 EST

On rust and Phosphate coatings,
As a manufacturer of valves and fitting for steam and the chemical industry, my former employer "phospatized" all the carbon steel fittings and valves. This was a multi step process that first cleaned off the oil and grease from mfg in a caustic soda bath. Then a rinse, then a pickle in acid to pop the fire scale and rust. A pickle bath uses acid to form hydrogen bubbles under the scale and pop it off by pressure of the gas. Then a rinse, then a bath of phosphoric acid, with modifiers. Then rinse, then imersion in a hot waxy oil. The purpose was to form a microcrystalin surface. The oil was trapped in the samewhat spongy surface and provided quite nice wharehouse rust protection. As soon as the parts were in steam service, the oil burned off and the rust could begin, unless painted quickly.
The phosphate coating without oil was good for a few hours in the salt spray cabinet, The oil by itself also a few hours. The combination was good for hundreds of hours.
The term Parkerize is a brand name for this process. The term Bonderized, is for the phosphate coating, less the oil, which makes a very good primer for steel.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/21/04 10:47:04 EST

Thank You for all the answers on the aluminized steel.
I forgot about the archives. After reading your answers, I went into the archives, and sort of got lost in them last night.
It all makes some sense now. Thank You Again.
   DanD skabvenger - Saturday, 02/21/04 15:27:54 EST

Phosphate coating is also a good high pressure lubricant. Parts that are deep drawn are sometimes phosphated to prevent metal-to-metal contact that causes adhesive wear. Phosphatizing is done in an acid which can charge the steel with hydrogen. Any steel over Rc22 is vulnerable. Hydrogen embrittled steel can crack BEFORE it is put into service. The hydrogen is easily removed by baking at 250F for an hour or so.
Currigan Center in Denver was also made with CorTen. It looked so bad after a few years they tore it down.
Rust blisters are also formed when Iron (Fe) combines with water (H20) and results in FeO and H2. The hydrogen exerts pressure on the overlying layers and forms a blister. Same reaction takes place when you pickle scaled steel.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/21/04 15:54:57 EST


As I said in the archive message, I wasn't pointing fingers, nor do I mind answering question. But sometimes the archives are quicker. (Though I also get lost in them at times! wry grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/21/04 15:57:05 EST

Frank, what is "Bear-Tex"?

Ptree, US Military rifles were "parkerized" for many years, both my 03-A3 and my beloved M-1 were parkerized.

Older firearms were "browned" with a fine layer of rust. It can be a beautiful finish, but like all "rust" finishes needs to be oiled. Winchester rifles were browned until 1900. Then they were blued.

I've heard quite a lot of reference to "Butcher's Wax" here, and I am not familiar with it. What type of store sells it?

   Ellen - Saturday, 02/21/04 17:52:39 EST

I tell friends about Anvilfire all the time,and I tell them to check the archives if they have a question because the answer may already be in there. I just forgot to look frist.
I think it was a combination of both. New posts and archives, that cleared the fog. 8),,8)

Most kitchen cabinet shops that sale "Butcher Block" carry it. Lowes and Home depot carry it also.
   DanD skabvenger - Saturday, 02/21/04 18:17:03 EST

I was wrong.
I was thinking of butcher block wax it is not the some thing. Grin -I worked my fingers before using my brain. GRIN.
I must be coming down with "C R S" disease.
Can't Remember Stuff.
   DanD skabvenger - Saturday, 02/21/04 18:49:34 EST

I used the reference to parkerizing to tie the phosphating(generic term) to the process I was describing. I packed a parkerized M-16 for enough hours to be real familiar. The recent parkerize on the M-16 and later is a macro zinc phosphate, and the process we used on valves went thru several recipes. The best for rust protection and ease of disposal of the nasty effeulent was a iron phosphate. Much finer grain apperance.

Quench, my current employer extrudes axles cold in some cases.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/21/04 19:35:18 EST

ptree, that's gotta hurt!
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/21/04 20:07:39 EST

Bear-Tex is a namebrand for an abrasive charged scotchbrite nonwoven wheel or disc. Blends, deburrs, and leaves a brushed appearance, the course wheels are pretty course:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 02/21/04 21:37:45 EST


Sometimes the combination is a more complete answer than either of the parts. (grin)


Got a source for Beartex?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/21/04 23:03:20 EST

HEY FOLKS, GOT A question,I have a forge with a 23'' firepan,and a Lancaster40 blower, put a piece of 14" pipe to contain the heat-I have noticed that after a while (3-5) Hours there is "some"buildup of"molten-coal" sticks to iron,and can be drug off on the side of the pipe, is it the impurities in the coal or the pipe containing the heat??
   - jimmy seale - Saturday, 02/21/04 23:33:20 EST

DanD: Thanks, I'll make a visit to the exotic woodworking supply house nearby. Bet they've got it!

Ptree: I received a Drill Doctor as a Christmas present. It's still in the box. I'll dig it out for the smaller drills after my busy season is over, but for now, 1/4" and up are a snap with the Starrett 22C. Thanks much!
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/21/04 23:51:38 EST

I need a bender to bend 1/2 inch solid steel rod. Could you please suggest a bender that will achieve this goal. Thank you.
   George - Sunday, 02/22/04 03:30:21 EST

There are a number of benders that will bend 1/2" rod. If you need to bend a few parts, the harbor freight bender will bend 1/2" round. Gives a selection of radius's up to about 3". For a real tool, a Hossfeild bender is a very good industrial tool, and can be powered for more money. There are also about 20 powered hydraulic benders available.
A bit more info on you specific needs will help to define the best answer to your question.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/22/04 09:30:12 EST

I like my drill gage as it really does help to get a point that works.L.S. Starrett does make some of the finest gages around. Mine is a knock off, is nice, but not a Starrett.
Let me know how the drill doctor works when you try it. I friend at work, also a refuge from the my former employer has one and was impressed with its performance. At the old shop we had several of the industrial versions that cost upwards of a thousand, and the did an excellent job. My friend ran the dept. that used them to sharp thousands of drills for our multi-spindle drills. Those old monsters ate about 64 drills a shift!
   ptree - Sunday, 02/22/04 09:35:40 EST

Beartex. I sent for my first ones from a Los Angeles outfit. Then, I saw a similar thing with a different brand name at my local welding supply!

Jimmy Seale, It's a clinker, and it is impurities in the coal, usually Mother Earth entrained. Now you understand that when an opera singer hits a sour note, it is called a clinker.

Bending. George, if it is not a big production job, you can use a bending fork in the hardie hole or vise in conjuction with a bending wrench.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/22/04 10:35:05 EST

Just got my first piece of S-7 for hot slitting chisels. Is there a particularly good temp/color for working S-7? Knowing what happens to some alloys when heated too high, I'd hate to ruin these slitters and punches.

Bright and cold in central OH.
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 02/22/04 13:21:24 EST

I am interested in purchasing an anvil for my welding shop and am looking at JHM, Mankle, Carroll, and NC brands. Some makers advertise a Rockwell C hardness while others don't. Can it be assumed that well recognized brand name anvils are of a certain minimum hardness i.e. a rockwell C 46. Thanks- Chris
   Chris Bauer - Sunday, 02/22/04 13:46:42 EST

Anvil Hardness: Chris, All those brands are primarily farrier's anvils. Their hardness and quality vary. Anvils generaly run in the 52 to 60 Rc range.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/04 14:53:56 EST

Bender: George, What kind of steel, bend and how many? Hard right angle bends are harder than curves. Curves require dies. Bar like rebar can be very stiff and will wear out soft dies.

Blacksmiths generally make bends hot. This is much easier to do but adds the expense of heating. However, in low production it is fast and efficient. Dies can be soft steel. Cold bending requires a lot of power, heavier fixtures and hard dies. Hydraulic presses work well for low production but there are also leverage type devices such as the Hossfeld bender sold by Centaur Forge.

See our Bender article on the 21st Century page for ideas.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/04 15:00:46 EST

Mike, S7 is an air-hardening tool steel with a lot of alloy. Unless you have an optical pyrometer, giving a temperature in degrees won't do you much good. I work tool and die steels at a yellow heat. Stop hitting when it goes red. Frank Turley, any further comments?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/22/04 15:31:56 EST

MikeM-OH, S7. Forge fahrenheit degrees: 2000 - 2050 (lemon); stop forging at 1700 (bright red). Cherry red is too low. Anneal, almost impossible for a full anneal in lime. Do the best you can. Harden at 1725 just bordering on an orange heat; cool in still air. For cold tools, temper usually between 400 and 500. For hot tools, temper @ 900 - 1000, faint red to dark red. Air cool again.

If your forging heat is above 2050ºF approaching a sweating heat, the metal may separate into two pieces in the fire, or it may crumble when hit. Embarassing.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/22/04 15:38:06 EST

I have posted the photos of my fly press in the gallery under "Fly Press". It looks like I was actually supposed to put my name in the box rather than the subject, but I don't know how to change that. If one of you knows how to do that please go ahead.

If anyone is interested in the details of the fly press, I can provide dimensions and material types etc, and more importantly, some of the things I would change.

Thanks for your Vicopper. Also thanks to ptree regarding the info on the valves.

I don't know what the thread on an Acme 2-inch single start screw would be, but if it were 2 threads per inch, it would advance half an inch per turn, just like my press. This seems to ba a manageable sort of motion. A half a turn of the flywheel does about an eighth or a quarter inch of work. I don't think you just spin the flywheel a few turns and let it do its thing when the die hits the workpiece.

I think the big problem with using a large coarse single start screw in spite of having the right speed is that it would tend to bind at the end of the stroke, just like a tightened vise, and you would have to struggle with the flywheet to back it up and take a second run at it. Meanwhile, the dies are sucking the heat out of the workpiece. I try to bump the workpiece into shape with half a turn forward and a quarter turn back, and repeating as necessary. Has anyone used a "real" flypress?
   Don Sinclaire - Sunday, 02/22/04 15:38:53 EST

Butchers Wax is carried by the Kaynes. See their Supplies page.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/04 16:41:35 EST


I've got a few 'real' flypresses. I'm picking up a size 6 tommorrow for which I paid about 40 dollars. In the UK I can pick them up for next to nothing.
Sometimes I preheat my dies with my propane torch but the press will bend the sections that I use even if cold.
   Bob G. - Sunday, 02/22/04 17:38:24 EST

Don sinclaire,
I doubt the a single start 2" acme would be a 2threads per inch. I think more like 4 threads per inch would be standard. I will check my suppliers tomorrow and advise.
Acme threaded B-7 rod is available as an off the shelf item, as are nuts. B-7 is basicly non-heat treated 4140
   ptree - Sunday, 02/22/04 17:41:35 EST

Bob G.
Carry on baggage?
   ptree - Sunday, 02/22/04 17:42:36 EST

Son Sinclaire - I've been using a Kayne and Son P4 flypress for a few weeks. It has a 4 thread screw and moves about 3 inches per full turn. With nothing more than a few bumps out of the wheel, I can get more precise action than 10 minutes of hammering. My dies do suck the heat out of the workpiece too. I'm slitting and drifting a new hammerhead, and I've found the only way to keep even a 2LB piece of metal hot long enough to get a good slit os to preheat a large plate as the "anvil." Woth a warm base, the workpiece has been staying orange a little longer.

BTW, I like your press. In the pictures it looks every bit as "professional" as the one I purchased. Are the C clamps sufficient to hold it still? I've had a bear of a time getting mine fized to the floow so I don't waste impact energy torqueing the press around... althoug hit IS funny to watch 400lb of metal dance.
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 02/22/04 17:49:01 EST

Whoops, meant DON Sinclair... typo... Sorry Don!
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 02/22/04 17:50:05 EST

Ahem... FIXED to the FLOOR... ALTHOUGH IT... anyone see any more? I'm going to stop typing now...
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 02/22/04 18:15:02 EST


I can't carry my size 2 let alone my 5,6 or 10!
   Bob G. - Sunday, 02/22/04 18:26:02 EST


Where's the gallery?
   Bob G. - Sunday, 02/22/04 18:31:32 EST

Just hoping:)
   ptree - Sunday, 02/22/04 20:02:08 EST


Hoping for a white Christmass?
   Bob G. - Sunday, 02/22/04 20:04:07 EST


Very nice looking press. It does look like a slow thread, but it obviously works, judging from the results shown. Congratulations!

Bob G. - The gallery is on the drop down menu in the upper righthand corner of your screen, scroll down to "User Gallery (Yahoo)". You'll need to be registered, but that only takes a minute and PawPaw to approve you.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/22/04 20:05:51 EST

Don S.,

I've looked and can't figure out how to change the album name. What I'd suggest is that you make a new album with your name on it, upload the pictures to it, and then delete the old album. PITA I know, but it's the only thing I can figure out to tell you.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/22/04 20:22:38 EST

I has just one large C-clamp holding the fly press down, and it tended to spin around...didn't look too safe, so I added a second clamp. That was enough to hold it. I use the press quite gently because the screw is only 1-1/4 inch.

Mike mentioned his moves down 3 inches per turn. That's a piece of information I was not able out find before. Probably a good thing I did not know that or else I would not have tried to build this. I will have to do some more experimenting...
   Don Sinclaire - Sunday, 02/22/04 20:33:32 EST

I just created a new album under my name, and placed the photos in it with a bit of a description. If anyone wants more information, I would be happy to help.

Thanks to the Guru's for the comments on my project as well as the interesting reading on other items.

I have looked at the junk yard hammer section for a couple of years now, and I will have to build one of those next.
   Don Sinclaire - Sunday, 02/22/04 23:47:21 EST

I want to know the formula or how to calculate the load for coining/planishing. Product is steel.
   Nigama - Monday, 02/23/04 03:37:46 EST

Rugg, the e-mail address you want is rockcomffortprod@msn.com . Debbie Parramore has 17 videos from ABANA conferences, and 39 various other tapes or dvd's. She has a catalogue she will send you if you ask..
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/23/04 08:26:19 EST

Rugg, make that rockcomfortprod@msn.com ;(only one "f" in comfort)
   Ron Childers - Monday, 02/23/04 08:29:30 EST

I recently came across a bucket full of 5/8" x16" wrought iron spikes that according to the owner came from a wooden bridge that was built in 1810.The woodlike grain is very pronounced and they have a light coat of hard rust.He wants $2.50usd each is this reasoable?I bought two and have already forged a tsuba for a tanto out of part of one.
Any tricks to forging and forge welding wrought iron?Should I clean the rust off?I had trouble with cracking on the tsuba.Also I want to accentuate the woodlike grain.
   Chris Makin - Monday, 02/23/04 09:53:41 EST

Chris, Forge wrought iron at a bright heat. Don't peck on it at the darker heats. $2.50 sounds OK assuming that the iron is not "spiderwebbed" with rust in its interior. Removing the rust is not necessary. When you get a scaling heat, a wire brush should take care surface oxides. An acid etch will very much accentuate the fibrous structure.

Wrought iron has different grades. The "single refined" has more impurities, like many wagon tires. The "triple refined" is a higher quality, and resists cracking more that the former.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/23/04 10:12:54 EST

Thanks Frank
I hit one of them with 36grit belt and was down to solid metal in a very short time so I think I'm in pretty good shape there.I think I'll go back and make him an offer on the whole bucket.
   Chris Makin - Monday, 02/23/04 10:45:25 EST

Wrought Chris, $1/pound has been common when you can find it. A little higher for the convienience of small pieces is good. As Frank noted, if its rusted inside then you have a problem.
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/04 11:55:59 EST

Coining and Planishing: Nigama, Those are two extreames of cold working. Coining requires pressures in the range that metal flows cold. 100KPSI is common for steel but depends on alloy and temper. Planishing is done with fast rapid blows of a light hammer.
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/04 12:04:35 EST

How about forge welding the WI anything different than mild steel?
   Chris Makin - Monday, 02/23/04 12:08:43 EST

Working with WI is or can be fun. It works a little differently than mild due to the grain structure. You have to work it at a higher temp as Frank noted so as not to split it . Also you need to keep in mind the grain structure as it will not move against the grain just like wood. Welding is done at a white heat ( that is why I think many descriptions of forgel welding talk about a sparking heat)
At weld temp WI to me seems to almost weld itself.

   Ralph - Monday, 02/23/04 12:51:03 EST

Chris, In the "Blacksmith's Craft" book, Rural Development Commission, London, England, it is noted that wrought iron can take a "snowball" heat, so named because of the spark shower. The lower the carbon, the higher the heat. However, this has often been misunderstood to mean that wrought iron ALWAYS gets welded at a big sparking heat. Not so. Wrought iron can be welded at a sweating, non sparking heat. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to lay high carbon steel cutting edges on wrought iron tools.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/23/04 13:01:29 EST

Thanks again Ralf,Frank,Guru
I'm totaly psyched to go and play with this new medium
   Chris Makin - Monday, 02/23/04 13:10:10 EST

Hi, im thinking about taking up blacksmithing (or at least an attempt) this summer and I've been researching what I need. I read the getting started link on the site but I'm still not sure what type of anvil or hammer to get. I don't want to get something that costs a ton but I want something that will last a while and can handle most anything I could do with it. My ultimate goal in blacksmithing is to make swords and medieval style weaponery to put on the walls in my room (this idea has always appealed it me). Thanks for any and all help.
Jesse. Oh by the way, I'm near Houston, Texas.
   Jesse - Monday, 02/23/04 15:23:48 EST

Hi, im thinking about taking up blacksmithing (or at least an attempt) this summer and I've been researching what I need. I read the getting started link on the site but I'm still not sure what type of anvil or hammer to get. I don't want to get something that costs a ton but I want something that will last a while and can handle most anything I could do with it. My ultimate goal in blacksmithing is to make swords and medieval style weaponery to put on the walls in my room (this idea has always appealed it me). Thanks for any and all help.
Jesse. Oh by the way, I'm near Houston, Texas.
   Jesse - Monday, 02/23/04 15:25:31 EST

hmm apparently I posted twice...oops. Didn't think the button worked, sorry
   Jesse - Monday, 02/23/04 15:27:22 EST

So, on my last visit to Kayne and Sons site (supporting anvilfire advertisers, of course!) I noticed copper, stainless, and bronze fireplace shovels. Pretty! But will I have trouble with corrosion from attaching these to steel handles? What can I do to prevent/reduce the effects?

I would probably use a clear laquer on tools like these, as paying for a copper pan then painting it black seems silly....

Oh: I seen to remember something about copper dust being toxic? Is this true, or am I mistaken? and if it is true, are we talking Zinc toxic (heavy metal poisioning) or cadmium toxic (fall over and die)?


   -JIM - Monday, 02/23/04 15:53:08 EST

Jesse: Check out the link to abana-chapter.com and find your local blacksmithing club. They can steer you in the right direction, plus they may let you use their equipment to get a better idea of what you will want and/or need.
   Alan-L - Monday, 02/23/04 15:57:51 EST

Hey Don, that press looks great.
   FredlyFX - Monday, 02/23/04 16:22:16 EST


I have made kitchen utensils with mild steel shafts and brass ends-spatula, ladle,etc. Since they are for decoration only I used the clear lacquer and it worked fine. Been hanging there for 6 months now with no ill effects.
   - Brian C - Monday, 02/23/04 16:28:07 EST


The problem of galvanic corrosion is negligible unless the item is going to get either frequent or continuous application of moisture. For galvanic corrosion to happen, there needs to be some form of water present to make the current flow happen. Fireplace tools aren't likely to encounter enough persistent moisture for the corrosion to happen in your lifetime. Now, if it was going to be a ladle for saltwater, then that's a different story.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/23/04 17:34:13 EST


There are bound to be numerous blacksmiths in your area, so look up the nearest ABANA chapter and go to a meeting. You'll meet guys with used equipment to sell, and leads on other stuff. This will save you considerable money over new tools. Some of the old stuff is better than what is cvurrently being offered new, too.

In general, don't get a farrier's anvil as they don't have enough mass under the center to be as effective as a London pattern or a Colonial pattern. Any hammer will do, start with a 2# ball pein or cross pein (the basic blacksmith's hammer) for getting your feet wet. When you've worked a bit, and tried out some other people's hammers at meetings, you'll develop a feel for what is right for you.

If you truly get into blacksmithing, you'll very likely find that the desire to make medieval weapons diminishes in the enjoyment of all the other aspects of smithing. For instance, take a look at oldlocks.com to see some pretty amazing blacksmithing.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/23/04 17:41:09 EST

Folks, would like to ask ya'll, I have some steel that came from a shothole drilling machine. What is the compasition?(or best guess) And is it worth messing with? Thanks...J
   jimmy - Monday, 02/23/04 18:59:13 EST

Ron C, thanks for the address....
   rugg - Monday, 02/23/04 19:13:03 EST

Jesse,Being a Texas boy my self,I would like to know how your comming along.Been"trying" to smith for a little while. Still in the early/learning stages myself.But all in all,Don't get discuraged,I have made alot of mistakes AND failures,Mostly taking on too big/detailed of job, using too big a hammer,etc.. I am a "OL roughhand,so bigger "seamed better" Not true! If you would like to talk-325-853-3751...J
   jimmy - Monday, 02/23/04 19:22:33 EST

I just made a bellow, it took me a while becouse I made a streammill for constant airflow without pumping. No questions just wanted to mention that.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Monday, 02/23/04 19:25:00 EST


Is a streammill a water wheel?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/23/04 19:59:38 EST

This might be weird but what is spring steel?
   Forge Something - Monday, 02/23/04 23:21:10 EST

Forge Something.
Yup it is weird. A google search will give lots.
But generally it is a medium to high carbon steel.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/24/04 00:16:04 EST

Jesse, try http://www.habairon.org/
   bgott - Tuesday, 02/24/04 00:52:06 EST

JESSE: Point yer pickup north. Go up to Santa Fe and learn from the best in the west, our own Frank Turley. Then, you can get it right the first time.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/24/04 01:53:40 EST

.....or, is a streammill a millstream that's running backward ? }:<)
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/24/04 01:56:24 EST

i been blacksmithing for a long number of years.i consider myself a real McCoy i shoe horses and forge steel and i also do ornamental iron work .what is your method of bending radius railing
   rocky abessinio - Tuesday, 02/24/04 07:09:00 EST

Lone and All, Speaking of making a bellow, I had a student from Galveston, who when he was small and a crybaby, his ma would tell him, "Quit bein' a beller bag!" Maybe it's a millrace, headrace or tailrace?
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/24/04 08:03:17 EST

Is it best to mix up a full pint of ITC 100, or just a smaller amount? It will probably be a while before I get to building the next forge.

   - slattont - Tuesday, 02/24/04 08:04:05 EST

Jimmy, If that steel is drill rod,(octagon) with a small hole through it, it is some tough stuff - and hard. You would probably have to aneal it and I think it would still be hard to forge. I may try to make some cutting tools with some I have, but there's that hole in the center. Guess it will smush under the power hammer.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 02/24/04 08:38:21 EST

ITC-100 Usage: Slattont, When I only need a little I use a smallish (1/2") wetted brush and mix a slurry on the surface IN the jar. This is like using cake watercolors. I've built small furnaces in their entirity this way. Leave a little water or thinned ITC on the surface of the contents when resealing.

This method is slow but prerserves the rest of the contents as well as avoiding mixing a large amount.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/04 09:39:19 EST

I am looking for a book by John Lord Bacon that has a section on gunsmithing and related tooling. Anyone know the title? I've found a few books on ABE by that author, but none of the descriptions offer info on that specific subject.
   wendy - Tuesday, 02/24/04 10:04:43 EST

I've got a friend that built a gas forge with a .0627 orrifice. He gets welding heat at 3# of pressure with a blower. Someone he knows built an atmospheric forge with a .026 orrifice and uses 20# pressure to get to welding heat. So which one is more efficient? And no, this ain't no school test! :] I'm a bit old for school. :[
   Bob H - Tuesday, 02/24/04 11:11:56 EST

Forges: Bob, The small orifice and high pressure are required in an atmospheric burner in order to power the venturi effect to draw in the air. In the blower burner you actually need no orifice at all except to create some back pressure in the pipe preventing air mixing in the supply pipe. My first blower forge just had a valve at a big "T" to let the fuel in. Worked fine. My later blower furnaces use multiple orifices to help break down the propane which acts like a viscous liquid compared to air.

In blower burners you sometimes need a larger orrifice for natural gas because of the low supply pressure. But the orrifice size has nothing to do with the mixture when there is an adjustable valve.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/04 11:19:52 EST

Wendy, I have Bacon's "Elementary Forge Practice", but I don't know of any of his books re gunsmithing. Are you interested in flintlocks, percussion, modern? I can refer you to good books on flintlocks, if you get back to the forum. There are also videos available.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/24/04 12:18:34 EST

Book: Wendy, That is a common problem with book descriptions, they often do not tell you much. I am not familiar with this book or author. You might try the Library of Congress.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/04 12:22:02 EST

Hi Guru, my name is Ricardo Silva am 25 years old, I live in Brazil in the city of Ribeirão Preto in the State of São Paulo and I working with knives.
I found his site very interesting. Well, I would like to know how to do the Damascus of Daryl Meier’s "American Flag" pattern with the stars; I would like a lot of learning this technique very interesting, it could solve my doubt!

Thank you, a hug and see you later!

   Ricardo Silva - Tuesday, 02/24/04 12:35:08 EST

Hi Guru, my name is Ricardo Silva am 25 years old, I live in Brazil in the city of Ribeirão Preto in the State of São Paulo and I working with knives.
I found his site very interesting. Well, I would like to know how to do the Damascus of Daryl Meier’s "American Flag" pattern with the stars; I would like a lot of learning this technique very interesting, it could solve my doubt!

Thank you, a hug and see you later!

   Ricardo Silva - Tuesday, 02/24/04 12:36:01 EST

American Flag Damascus Richardo, That is the highest art of making Damascus steel. Daryl worked on developing the technique over a period of two years. Since then others have simplified the method into what is known as "Mosaic Damascus"

Mosaic Damascus Is produced by using small bars of different types of steel such as a plain carbon steel and a nickle alloy steel. The small bars (as big as 1/4" or 7mm) are stacked in a grid pattern and forge welded together. This bar is then forged down to the desired size. These bars are then used to make more complicated patterns. I think Daryl started with shaped bars and fit them together. This is much more difficult.

Some mosaic Damascus is produced in the above manner and then thin slabs sawed off fitted together and forge welded onto another bar like a veneer. To make the stars in Daryl's flags he started by making one bar of star pattern. These were sawed up and stacked to make a field of stars. This bar was then welded into a stack with the stripes. The result was a flag bar. The flag bar and swags or "bunting" bars were welded togeher and then sawed into thin slabs which were then fitted together on a large bar to make the final blade blank.

This method is now used by many others but it requires a high degree of skill, especialy forge welding. The same technique is used by guitar makers to make sound hole rosettes in wood. Layers of veneer and small strips of wood are glued up on a round mandrel to produce a "log" with the rosette pattern. Sometimes details such as flowers are made in a seperate log and then these sawed and fitted into the larger piece. The finished log is then carefully sawed into thin layers which are the finished rosette to inlay in the wood. Many other fancy inlays are made the same way. Mosaic Damascus is similar except that forge welding replaces glue.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/04 13:35:17 EST

Ricardo, regarding Daryl Meier. i was visiting with Daryl at the ABANA Conference in Santa Cruz, California, in 1980, when he produced from his pocket several irregularly shaped slugs, about 2 cm across. They were about the thickness of an average coin. He gave me one of the slugs. Well, there was this tiny American Flag on the slug! Daryl asked me to turn it over, and there was the flag again. The pattern went through the slug. I was flabbergasted and asked him how he did it. He smiled and said that he dreamed about the design every night for one month, and then he knew what to do. When we parted company, a young man who had overheard us, approached me and offered me $200 for the flag slug. I told him, "No thanks".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/24/04 14:14:14 EST

I'm an (whispered tone) carpenter, so I have no blacksmith experience whatsoever. But for a Scout project, I'm trying to make a bunch of steel fire strikers from the flat bar steel I picked up at the local big-box home center. They have it labeled as "Welding Bar", whatever the heck that is. Problem is, I can't get it to spark against a flint. Is it too hard or too soft. I understand the concepts behind tempering and annealing, but which way do I go?
   Rick - Tuesday, 02/24/04 14:39:47 EST

Rick, new concept: wrong alloy. The stuff they sell for outrageous prices at BBHC's is mild steel and as such *can't* be effectively heat treated for a striker. What you need is a high carbon steel, I usually use old files; but old hay rake tine even garage door spring may work well.

You want them just soft enough that the flint can skive off a bit of steel when struck---that burning bit of steel is the "spark". Too hard and the steel will break, too soft and you don't get a good spark. The exact colour to temper will be based on the alloy used and so you may need to experiment a bit with what you end up using.

Where are you at? If you are near to me (NM) or to my old stomping grounds OH I can get you some propper steel donated.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/24/04 14:55:29 EST

Fire Strikers
Then to iForge demo # 51 - Flint & Steel Dragon Striker
   - Conner - Tuesday, 02/24/04 15:36:28 EST

Rick, at least us carpenters have a head start on hitting where we aim. I started out making flint strikers from music wire, which is high carbon, and found in hobby shops. I've also used hay rake tines, but now I have enough old spring stock so that is what I use. What I do is just to heat it all to a bright orange, and quench only the front third. I then take the piece and hold it with the quenched edge up, letting the heat from the backside temper it. Works for me.
   Bob H - Tuesday, 02/24/04 16:13:19 EST

Frank Turley,

You lucky dog! I'd give an awful lot to have one of those slugs, but it sure wouldn't be in my pocket!

Flint Strikers,

Garage door springs will work, that's my source of choice. You can get broken ones from your overhead door company, usually for free. Look in the Yellow Pages.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/24/04 16:37:34 EST

How do I make a sword?
Just kidding. I am over 18 years old and I am fascinated by any kind of medieval metallurgy (Obsessed really) but I am totally ignorant when it comes to actual knowledge about the subject. I have constructed a few devices on my own: a spearhead, a small dagger (made of an old file because I lack the skill to temper my own metal) and even a trebuchette (great for parties). What I am trying to put together is a list of all the common metals, including the common alloys, (by common I mean the metals that were known of before the industrial revolution) in order of their strength and/or melting point. From the strongest to the weakest. I have searched all over the web for information like this but the closest think I could find was lists of strange industrial alloys that have mostly numbers instead of names. I have read through the FAQ and most of the glossary and terminology pages and I feel I am getting close but I still did not find what I was looking for. If I missed something please just direct me to it or just disregard this question altogether.
It seems to me that this is a simple question but my efforts to find the answer have failed regardless. I understand that hardened aluminum can be as hard as soft steel and therefore aluminum's or steel's order on such a list would be ambiguous, So I guess this list would assume that all the metals are of the same grade (ie: copper of medium hardness compared to iron of medium hardness). I am not asking you to do any extensive research on this. If this is more involved that I am aware of I understand. I am not asking for any extensive research to be done in my stead. I am just hoping this is a topic simple enough to answer off the top of your head. If you know of some place I could look to research the topic myself I would be grateful.
   Medicine Soup - Tuesday, 02/24/04 19:45:00 EST

Medicine Soup, it is indeed far more complicated than you are aware of. People who have degrees in metallurgy (several of whom post here) answer such questions as their careers, and still don't have ALL the answers.

To start with, strength and melting point do not have that much of a relationship. Strength as in tensile, or as in hardness/toughness/ductility? Oh,and Aluminum was not known before the industrial revolution. In short, it's not a simple question with a simple answer. I am not trying to be cynical or mean, by the way.

Thomas and Atli, I think this question is for you!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:01:11 EST

Guru, I am not actually the gunsmith, but my friend who does not speak computer is looking for flintlock info. From what I can gather, he's made them before, but was intersted in this particular author. I'll ask him if he want more info. from another source. Thanks again.
   wendy - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:01:58 EST

Alright. Aluminum was not around but bismuth/tinglass was. wasn't it? The metals that I had in mind were: Lead, copper, tin, bronze, brass, iron, silver, gold, steel, titanium, and maybe even tinglass and electrum. I guess I meant strength as in toughness. Or a SEPERATE list in order of melting point. Thank you for your response. You have already cleared up some questions for me.
   Medicine Soup - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:17:55 EST

Guru, Aluminum was not around but bismuth/tinglass was. wasn't it? The only metals that I had in mind were: Lead, copper, tin, bronze, brass, iron, silver, gold, steel, titanium, and maybe even tinglass and electrum. I guess I meant strength as in toughness. Or a SEPERATE list in order of melting point. Thank you for your response. You have already cleared up some questions for me.
   Medicine Soup - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:19:59 EST

How much on average does it cost to buy all the basic tools needed for blacksmithing
   dylan lessel - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:32:03 EST


Has anybody here tried replacing the flyarm (or wheel) of their press with a hydraulic motor? It was a common conversion in bygone times.

   Bob G. - Tuesday, 02/24/04 20:36:39 EST

hi, can anyone tell me how to find plans to build a air Hammer?
   Jim R. Glines - Tuesday, 02/24/04 21:24:14 EST

Dylan: What does a hammer cost? You want the four pounder or the one pound hammer? New or used? Big anvil or small? Gas forge or coal? Build it yourself from parts or purchase new?
   Bob H - Tuesday, 02/24/04 21:44:55 EST

Medicine Soup, The tables you seek are in Oppi Untracht's book, "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen", Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1968. Centigrade melting temperatures are on page 463 and relative characteristics (malleability, ductility, and tensile strength) are on page 464. It would take a lot of typing for me to copy it for the forum, so I leave it to you to do some homework.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/24/04 22:19:20 EST

Medicine Soup, just three words "De Re Metallica" This is a 16th Century text on mining, refining, and assement(1556). It is translated with reasonably modern equivalents, and is one of the first modern 'scientific' treatments of the subject, still far from accurate in a few areas, but will give you idea of the where they were in metalurgy at the highest point in the middle ages, going into the renaissance:-) Beautiful engraved illustrations, it is avaialable from Dover in a reprint, and most blacksmiths booksellers carry it. Pieh Tools carries it I believe, and is listed under ADVERTISERS in the NAVIGATE Anvilfire pulldown menu...
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 02/25/04 00:03:47 EST

I am a brand spanking new apprentice and I need the meaning to these words.
Thank You for your time!
   Dominic Tuttle - Wednesday, 02/25/04 00:23:07 EST

I mentioned last month that I built a small fly press. I have posted pictures of it under the anvilfire.com website in the Members’ Gallery if anyone is interested. Finding a 2-start or 4-start screw is the hard part, but if you have one, the rest is easy, and I can provide details to those who are interested. I don't know how useful it would be if you substituted a regular screw. I suspect it might bind when it bottoms out on the workpiece. Has anyone tried that?
   Don Sinclaire - Wednesday, 02/25/04 01:00:44 EST

Chris: if you are going to purchase a farriers anvil, then you might want to look at the heavier ones...I believe Cliff Carroll makes a 120# anvil but it is about $400, you might want to check out Euroanvils on the pull down menu for advertisers, they have anvils from $280 and up which may be better suited to you purpose. The lighter, i.e. 70# farriers anvils don't have enough mass where you are hitting to be efficient....
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/25/04 01:12:07 EST

Bob G.
I had a look at the picture of the hydraulic "fly press". It is an interesting conversion. I don't see any threads of the screw below the nut. It looks like it might just be a hydraulic ram pressing on the existing fly press ram, rather than a hydraulic motor rotating the old screw of the fly press. That adaptation would be harder to do since the motor would presumably be fixed in place while the screw would still have to be moved up and down as the motor turned it. A motor would cost more than a ram too.
   Don Sinclaire - Wednesday, 02/25/04 01:13:41 EST

Websters is a great place to start and they will have the correct answers for your homework.
Or a google search. Or even a look thru the archives here on anvilfire
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/25/04 01:28:59 EST

if you had an old drill press handy, I'd wager you could use the drive system from that to make a motor powered fly press....
   - Havok TD. - Wednesday, 02/25/04 03:15:40 EST

Since flypresses reach narly infinite forces when they bottom out, I would think that morotizing one would be a disaster waiting for a place to happen. At least having one "human powered" leaves the element of personal safety clearly apparent, hopefully lessening the tendency to try to overpower the device. Flywheels are impressive in the forces they generate, and a fast multi-lead screw willget those forces operating in so little time that I see no advantage to a motor, only the potential for disaster.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/25/04 08:02:55 EST

BTW, I agree with Don Sinclaire that the press shown is only the frame of a flypress that has been refitted to have a hydraulic, or possibly pneumatic ram. The device on the top is a piston cylinder, NOT a motor. Thus, the machine no longer bears any mechanical resemblance to a flypress at all, it is a straight-line motion device. No scary forces working to cause destruction, as there would be in motorizing a flypress.

Ironworkers, those by Scotchman and others, use a hefty big flywheel to power a ram to punch and cut steel as well as form it. They have to be set up very, very carefully so that they do not jam up. When that big flywheel stops suddenly on work that is too large for the machine or on a misfitted die, the result is usually a destroyed machine, sometimes a destroyed machine operator. All those impressive forces have to be relieved smoewhere, and it is usually done by breaking the frame or pitman arm, sending steel flying. Flywheels are dangerous if you don't fully understand them. Physics isn't just a good idea, it's also the law!
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/25/04 08:11:24 EST

Medicine soup:

Your list is almost in order of general hardness, except for the placement of silver, gold, electrum and titanium. Mercury, Gold, Lead, Silver, Electrum, copper. This is referring to the pure elements except for electrum as found in nature. The various alloys of gold and silver do wildly different things with toughness. For instance, electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. proportions of each vary, as does hardness, toughness, ductility, etc. Add a little copper, and you get something completely different. Add a little copper (0.75%) to pure silver and you get sterling silver, much harder and tougher but less ductile than pure silver.

No titanium in the middle ages. I've never heard of tinglass. I am curious as to what references you've checked that showed aluminum and titanium in the middle ages.

Do you know the difference between iron and steel? Do you know what the effect of carbon is, and why cast iron is brittle and wrought iron is not? These are very basic properties that all depend on ONE element. Any book on metalwork will tell you the answer. Any book on jewelry making will help with the precious metals. Do you have a library near you? All this information is in there.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/25/04 08:30:47 EST

Motorized Flypress: I don't see any reason why you would want to motorize a flypress. If you want a fast press with no feel just go straight to a motor driven hydraulic press. The whole point of the flypress in our work is to have power with control. In a manual flypress you are not generally trying to spin the flywheel up to a great speed. The work is done mostly with just a small turn of the wheel. (Thomas Powers has mentioned this a couple of times already.) If you are sensitive to the machine you can develop a feel for the work it is doing and control your results. Imagine trying to vein a leaf or chase a groove down the edge of a bar with a motorized version and compare it with how simple it is with the manual press. You may use a longer part of the stroke when pressing a deep candle cup or punching a hammer head but that is part of why the screw has such a fast lead. My flypress takes only two and one half revolutions for its full travel. Not every tool needs a motor.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 02/25/04 09:24:50 EST

Primitive Metals: Medicine Soup, Your list is approximately correct except the aluminium and titamium. The periodic table and most chemistry was unknown so the glass you mentioned was an accident of nature like certain alloys. Molten glass is a more universal solvent than water and will disolve large amounts of metals and metal compounds to the point that lead sheilding glass is double the weight of the base glass while still transparent, albiet a little yellow.

Some alloying was on purpose, some was the result of accidents and recycling. Modern archeometallurgists recognize bronze as any copper alloy with any percentage and combination of tin of zinc. Zinc is relatively modern but it does show up naturally in some copper. In the Odyssey the forge of Hephistis is described as having the elemental meals copper and tin. Sheets of soft Tin was used for greeves to protect the shins (probably mostly from underbrush) and both copper and tin were used as inlays on Achilles shield for decoration. Bronze was used for the bulk of the sheild and the rest of the armor. I suspect that copper and tin where used to decorate these too.

Besides the references listed above you will want a copy of a book like MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (see our review page). It lists alloy compositions of many brass and bronzes as well as their strength and melting points.

The strongest all round metal is STEEL. In all times since the iron age through modern times steel has been the strongest metal. It quickly replaced bronze as armor material (it is much lighter) and for blades (it is lighter, stronger, harder). However, there is a great difference in ancient steels and modern steels. Ancient steels were quirky and difficult to work. Laminated steels were invented using soft iron and hard brittle steel to avoid some of this quirkyness. Modern steels are much supperior regardless of the myths about ancient hand worked steels. Whole libraries have been written on steels, their history and processing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 10:35:16 EST

Word Deffinitions: Domminic, Your list is in ANY common English dictionary. Nothing technical is needed. Sounds suspiciously like someone's homework (which we do not do), but I may be wrong. For some basic explanations of heat treating see our FAQs page.

For more complete explaniations get a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. If you are indeed an apprentice in ANY metalworking field you must have a copy of this reference. All machine and engineering courses require students to purchase a new copy and take a course on how to use it. I think the courses are a bit silly EXCEPT for the fact that they insure that the student has at least browsed the book. I have been using MACHINERYS regularly for 40 years and have yet to read all the articles in any one edition. The newest edition is due out next month and we will add it to our current review.

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 10:49:28 EST

Motorized Flypress: These machines are available in the large sizes (see our power hammer page article). The frame, flywheel and screw are identical to hand opperated prtessed. The powering mechanism is unique to power screw presses having large friction wheels that power the flywheel down AND back up. There are limiting and reversing devices built into the linkage. Nothing in it bears any relationship to any kind of drill press mechanism.

A skilled opperator can do delicate tasks with these machines but they are used primarily for closed die production jobs requiring brute force. Small forgings, coining and decorative silver plate requiring coining of large surfaces are the common applications.

The whole point of the small flypresses is delicate control of large forces. As pointed out above there are other machines for other types of work. Power hammers are best for drawing out tapers, hand held tooling work and chasing work requiring many rapid blows. Hydraulic presses are best for slow high pressure squeezing or mashing without feedback (no feel). Rolling mills are best for drawing out long parallel billets and sheets.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 11:02:36 EST

Historical Metallurgy---Medieval/Renaissance: the basic period sources include: "Divers Arts" by Theophilus circa 1120 CE, "De Re Metallica" by Agricola, and "Pirotechnia" by Biringuccio, both in the 1500's---all available in translation published by Dover.

C.S.Smith's "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel, 1535-1786?" gives a lot of translated excerpts of what people thought about steel in those times.

Tylecotes "METALLURGY IN ARCHAEOLOGY" focuses on Brittian but is a good introduction to the field.

A lot of it is sort of sideways info from books like "The Celtic Sword" by Pleiner that has a lot of metallographic analyses of celtic ferrous blades. He also wrote a great book on the NE Bloomery Process.

Alan Williams has written quite a lot of great research on the metallurgy of armour and co-authored a book on "The Royal Armouries at Greenwich, a history of it's technology"

The archives of the archeologic metallurgy mailing list may prove usefull to you also (search on Arch Metals)

Your basic quest is foredoomed to failure as *each* piece of metal found may have a different alloy content and therefore different working properties---very hard to judge among the copper based alloys as their ammounts of tin, lead, zinc (Biringuccio goes into detail on how to "colour copper" using zinc *ore* as they did not have zinc metal at that time), arsenic, iron, etc and so on differ.

The basic things to start looking into is how wrought iron differs from modern mild steels. How WI was made, how steel was made from it, the basic copper based alloys and how they are made and worked.

I found taking materials science classes a great help in getting a background to understand what folks are talking about in the journals and books. Actually working with the stuff is a big help too; but without some "formal" background you may find that some of the ideas you hold are closer to the medieval ones than to how things actually work...

Thomas (sorry about spelling problems, my research library is in boxes 1600 miles away waiting on the move)

Note: I'm off to Germany for 2 weeks and so will be off the forum from Friday Feb 27- Sunday March 14
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/25/04 11:19:19 EST

Tool Costs: Dylan, define "basic". You can do simple blacksmithing with a home made forge, anvil and hammer. Costs also vary with the new and used equipment and the size needed. New forges range in price from $400 to $2000. A good blacksmiths vise is almost as important in the modern shop as the anvil and is used at least as much. New are available but big old ones are better for the same money so it is hard to set a price.

In a modern blacksmith shop certain general metalworking equipment is absolutely necessary if you are going to make a living out of it and even most hobbiests find these indispensible.

The basic smithing tools:
  • 200 pound or greater anvil
  • Blacksmith leg vise(s) 40 pounds or bigger
  • Coal and or Gas Forge
  • 3-4 sizes of hand hammer (minimum)
  • Punches
  • Chisles
  • Hardy and swages
  • Tongs
  • Slack Tub.

Professional shop tools:
  • Oxy-actylene (or oxy-propane) welding and cutting outfit.
  • Small Electric welder (buzz box) or industrial duty machine.
  • Bench grinder (wheel or belt)
  • Power wire brush
  • Angle grinder(s) 4-1/2" and HD 7"
  • Drill Press
  • Cut off saw, shear and or ironworker
  • Oil quench tank and quenchant

Other tools a complete competive shop needs:
  • Air Power Hammer
  • Air compressor (for hammer and hand tools)
  • TIG and MIG welder
  • Plasma Torch
  • Weld Platten
  • Engine Lathe, 8 to 16"
  • Swage Block(s)
  • Hinged anvil swage
  • Cone Mandrel

Special and Optional tools
    Treadle hammer
  • Iron worker
  • Flypress
  • Punch Press
  • Special Belt Sanders (knife work)
  • Buffer setups
  • Vibratory finisher or tumbler.
  • Sheet metal shear
  • Bar and or sheet rolls

Add to the above a truck and a complete set of general mechanics tools (all that machinery needs maintenance). My shops MUST have an overhead hoist FIRST. Unloading all that machinery requires one and it is cheap insurance against equipment handling breakage. A 2 ton hoist on a monorail is a minimum but a rectilinear hoist capable of 5 tons is better. A monorail with auxillary jib cranes will do. My current monorail has two 2 ton hoists and I have a strong back to use them to lift a combined load of 4 tons.

Total for the above, about $30,000 to 40,000 USD not including the shop, crane and truck.

The above lists are far from complete and do not include things like safety and first aid equipment. The modern blacksmith shop resembles a machine shop more than the romantic notion of the ancient smithy. In an ever more globalized economy if you do not have EVERY advantage you will fail to compete no matter how good your work is.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 11:58:52 EST

Thomas, Bon voyage!

Things I learned from my recent trips through airport security:

The metal detectors are set so sensitive that gum wrappers and the magnetic strip on credit cards set off the alarm. Since I wear my Carharts I always get searched but it helps to really EMPTY your pockets. Put everything except your passport and tickets in your carry on (at least temporarily).

My soft Rockports have a steel shank as do many HD soft tennis type shoes. Put them in a pan to x-ray. You are going to have to take them off anyway and they WILL BE x-rayed.

Too many people are carrying ALL their lugagge on-board but it really helps to carry a bag with a minimum of things.

My luggage missed the plane from Miami due to a random security screening. They litteraly DUMP the contents out in a pile then shovel them back in after rifling through the contents. On the way back I carried my camera as well as my laptop. If I had left the camera carefully stowed in my checked luggage it may not have made it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 12:33:25 EST

OK this might be crazy talk but here goes.
I have an ASO of about 50lb it's unfortunately cast iron that I have been using with good success for 3yrs mainly for Knife blades but the occasional pot rack or cabinet hardware etc.I also have a 30Lb vulcan anvil that I picked up for $2.00 there is enough of the face left in good shape to use.Now the crazy part.I was thinking of bolting the vulcan to the top of the ASO (Record tool Co.)and using it that way.Will this in any way improve my forging experience?
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 02/25/04 14:11:38 EST

Chris, This will give you a little more effective mass but not as much as a solid piece. The joint between the two is a point of loss of energy transmission. You would probably be better off with a new solid hard wood stand for the smaller anvil.

The little anvil is very handy. Hang on to it as is. Eventually you will come across another bigger anvil. Like that $2 price, it will be when you least expect it. You HAVE told all your distant relatives you are into blacksmithing haven't you? ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 14:46:27 EST

Alan-L: Thank you. That basic order is what I was looking to start out with. I know it isn't that simple and I intend to get the books "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" as well as "De Re Metallica" as soon as I can. (Thanks Frank Turley and Fionnbharr) From what I have gathered, Aluminum and Titanium were not really used in the middle ages. I found several references to Titanium with an alias of Mithral. (Perhaps this is the source of the mythical metal in fantasy books called mythrill? Fact or fable, I really have no idea.) Aluminum was not around but I thought bismuth was. Bismuth, I thought, was the source of aluminum. Feel free to make fun of my ignorance if I am wrong about any of this.

When I mentioned Tinglass I was not referring to any form of glass. From my research so far, I believe Tinglass was the archaic form of bismuth and/or Antimony. It also was not used much for smithing but was known of in the middle ages. Yes, I know a little about the differences between cast iron (Iron with 1% Carbon or more?) and steel (iron with 0.1% carbon?) but I don't know the exact proportions or even the techniques used in processing the two.

Guru: I was not aware that Zink was a more modern metal. I thought there was an archaic name for it, but I don't have it on hand. Does that mean that brass (67% Copper, 33% Zink?) was not around in the middle ages (other than naturally)? Thank you. You all have been most helpful. I now have some great leads to continue my research. Your expertise is most appreciated.
   Medicine Soup - Wednesday, 02/25/04 15:01:44 EST

Antique Iron Forge Blowers:

I received the following missive from one of our folks in the Manx Viking reenactment camp near Richmond, Virginia (USA). If any of you are interested, send me a message at the address above or at bruce_blackistoneATnpsDOTgov and I’ll forward it to him to put you in contact.


We are reducing household goods in prep to sell & move. I
have two standing hand-crank forge blowers that need to go.
One is an Acme, I forget what the other is. One seems
complete but is locked up (prior owner used it as a lawn
decoration), & the other turns but has a disconnect inside.
Both are free to anyone who will pick them up. I believe
both to be repairable.

If you know of anyone, please give them my email contact
info. I have found no interest locally, and would hate to
see them go for landfill.


A sunny Ash Wednesday on the banks of the Potomac. Still catching up; meetings all day.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/25/04 15:17:22 EST

Medicine Soup. Another book that I have quoted on this forum is "Materials Handbook". My copy is 1977, McGraw-Hill.
Bauxite is the chief aluminum ore. The handbook is amazing, listing alphabetically elements, minerals, and various trees and their extracts. It is an encyclopedia in one volume.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/25/04 15:33:47 EST

Bruce, somehow we've got to nail those blowers down. Surely they are both repairable and it would be a mortal sin for them to wind up in the landfill!

And with everything going on, there is no way I can drive up to pick them up.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/25/04 15:36:30 EST

Thomas P: Thanks. It looks like I have a lot of reading to do. Yes, I guess my original quest is doomed to fail. BUT from what I have learned here I am actually MORE stoked about this than I was before. My quest to learn about Medieval metals and the infinite combinations of alloys is something I am looking forward to more now than ever. Have fun in Germany!
   Medicine Soup - Wednesday, 02/25/04 15:51:36 EST

Titanium AKA Mithral: This is pure science fiction and was not even the author's intent so it is a modern myth.

Tin Glass: This is probably plate glass poured on liquid tin to make absolutely flat glass. This method was used until relatively recently.

Exact Date of Application: It will take a bunch of research to determine when zinc brasses became common but it is much later than earlier. Set an exact date and work from there. "Brass" wire was being drawn in production some time after 1300AD.

The mists of time hang heavy on technology as few writers of early history were technologicaly inclined or cared (much the same is true today).

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/04 16:34:06 EST

Looked up a couple of metals in the OED. It does list "tin glass" as the old name for bismuth; the earliest example of use it gives is 1558.

Something else I find interesting is that "brass" was apparently once the term used for all copper-tin and copper-zinc alloys. The OED describes "bronze" being called a new word between 1755 and 1773.

I guess the term "bronze age" always made me think of bronze as being an old word, but come to think of it, no one knew they were living in the bronze age until the archaeologists told them (grin).
   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:13:50 EST

Re: your tool list.

What's a Hinged anvil swage?
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:26:52 EST

On motorized flypress
At my previous employer, in the 1903 machine shop was what I now know to be a flypress. It had about a 5'flywheel, and stood about 6' tall. it had been motorized at some point, with a friction drive. Both frame arms had been broken in many places and repaired by brazing and scabbing on plates.
I suspect that the motto of this story was that the motor killed it. I suspect that this flypress had been originally built by Mr. Henry Vogt in his own shops and may have been circa 1880 to 1895. I suspect that it was motorized when it was moved from the original 1860 shop next to the Thomas Edison house near the Ohio River in 1903. I may sneak back in and see if it is still there.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:38:10 EST

On the subject of very old forging equipment, There were remains of the original blacksmith shop, that supported the boiler works circa 1920's. There was a track and sheeves on the wall that were said to be the remains of the mule powered forgeing hammer.People I worked with had seen it work in the 30's and described it as a cable operated system that a mule pulled, and that raised a weight that powered the hammer for a series of strokes. The mule was reputed to be trained to pull the weight to a catch, and then back up to the start. He would then self start after the hammer was used! It was reputed that that mule was smarter than half the the people working there, myself included.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:43:48 EST

> The mists of time hang heavy on technology

WHOA! You trying to take my job away frome me, Jock???

NICE phrasing!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:50:09 EST

Well I looked at the ABANA.org site and im a bit confused. Do I need to become a member to go to a conference? I assume im in the student category unless it means apprentinces. Thanks for the help. Also if I'm going to get an anvil (which i am) what size would i probably need? I'm not looking to build a house or anything, but I dont want to get one and then have to get one again later (at least quickly).
   - Jesse - Wednesday, 02/25/04 17:51:46 EST

Guru, My anvil needs to be resurfaced. I have been putting it off for quite a while now.I have had the anvil for a number of years , and use it daily, in my shop, for it is my main one, a 600 pounder. It was swaybacked when I got it , but over time and use, it is swayed about 1/4" in the middle.I can`t straighten anything on it. My question is, should I have it surfaced by stock removal, or risk separating the cap on it,by building it up? It is very old, and I am more than certain that it has a cap.I would like your input on this.I hate to do anything to it, but if you can`t use it what good is it?
   Big Anvil - Wednesday, 02/25/04 18:49:42 EST

Names are a big problem when researching historical items; take "coal", back in the middle ages if you ordered a wagon load of coal you got charcoal, what we call coal was always described as sea coal or stone coal or earth coal.

One term used for medieval copper alloys was latten. Zinc was hard to reduce because the temp it reduces at is *over* the temp it vapourizes (boils) at; so you have zinc gas that immediatly hooks up with oxygen again and you get zinc oxide powder not zinc. Now you can use this powder to alloy with copper some but it's not as easy as tossing in some modern pennies into the melt.

I have a book on "Metal Technology in Medieval India" that goes into how they managed to get around this problem: They smelted the zinc ore in alembics and directed the gas into a cooler *REDUCING* atmosphere area where very fine zinc dust would settle out. This dust could then be remelted to make ingots of zinc metal. Note this method is very different than standard refining methods and really "feels" like it was derrived from alchemy.

BTW look into the difference between the *material* wrought iron and mild steel. Mild steel did not become commercially important till after the American Civil War so medieval Europe smithed wrought iron, wrought iron derrived steels and a bit of crucible steel imported from the east.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/25/04 19:11:08 EST


Yes you need to be an ABANA member to attend most of the conference. I believe there are a few portions that may be open to the public, but all the demonstrations, parties, etc are members only as far as I know. The cost of the conference isn't that bad, considering what you will get to see. Frankly, there is usually more going on that you can possibly see in the time allotted. If you are a student at a regular school, then you classify as a student member. It does not mean apprentices.

As for an anvil, I recommend one of around 200 lbs. Smaller is useable for smaller work, but if you really want to get the most out of each hammer blow, you plenty of mass, and that means weight in this case.

The style of the anvil affects how well it will perform, as well. Farriers anvils have low mass under the center of the anvil face, so they are less efficient than the London pattern or Colonial pattern which are blockier and therefore put more mass under the "sweet spot."

For a good anvil at a very reasonable price, check out the offerings of Euroanvils, listed on the Advertisers section of the pull-down menu at the upper right of this screen.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/25/04 19:12:48 EST

Archeo-metallurgy: There are several websites dedicated to archeo-metallurgy but despite the confidence with which they speak, we must remember this: What is now known about the past may not be all there is to know. We pin dates on the first use of a particular metal but that is only the first date we can actually document. Actual first use may pre-date the documented first use but we just haven't discovered it yet. Adding to your frustration, the mechancial properties of a metal or alloy are not only a function of composition but on thermal history and any cold work that might have been done to it. As a point of interest, about half of the known elements are metals and there are about 25,000 commercially available alloys in the world today. As has been mentioned, many of the alloys from the past ages were naturally occuring combinations. For example, an area in India produced a superior iron for steel. Analysis showed that it had a fairly high vanadium content associated with the ore which promoted deep hardening. When the ore ran out, the iron was no longer available and no one knew what made it better in the first place. The swordsmiths knew there was a difference but had no way to explain it.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/25/04 20:02:41 EST

Is Dover Publications still in business?
   - Gerald - Wednesday, 02/25/04 21:13:45 EST

Yes, you old idiot, it's at doverpublications.com

I swear that I just did a Google search for Dover Publications a couple of weeks ago and got no results...maybe I dreamed it...maybe I was ...

Tough to get old but better than the alternative.
   - Gerald - Wednesday, 02/25/04 21:28:03 EST

Guru, using molten tin as a worksurface to make perfectly flat glass is a process which is still in use industrially, I am pretty sure. Not 100% positive, but I was doing some research on the subject recently and I seem to remember finding the best information on a company page. On a related note, tin is danged expensive! Too expensive for me to make my own colored plate, at least. (Grin)

Warm, cloudy, and breezy in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 02/25/04 22:16:38 EST

This message is for Nuked. Please don't give up asking questions because of a tirade I went on a while back. Some of the questions you asked set me off I guess, and I wanted to be SURE you understood the dangers you were facing. I'm not an expert.
   - Ten Hammers - Wednesday, 02/25/04 23:00:02 EST

Motorised Fly Presses- I am pretty sure Grant has brought back a bunch of gigantic motorised fly presses from Korea, and is using one or more of them to make his swages and tongs. Maybe he will pipe up and let us know, but I could swear I have seen a picture of one he has that is about 12 feet tall and weighs a couple of tons that is motorised.
Aiport Security- I am lucky enough to be working on several commisions for metalwork around the country, and the unfortunate side effect is I fly somewhere at least once a month for the last few years. I can tell you that even with our new TSA, airport security is remarkably uneven. Somedays I am practically naked when I finally get thru, other days I waltz right through the detector with a fair amount of metal still on me. I have never had zippers, pants rivets, a watch, titanium sunglasses, or big snaps on my wallet set it off. Sometimes my big navajo silver bracelt sets it off, sometimes it doesnt. Steel shanks in my cowboy boots make it beep. Big pieces of forged stainless steel, samples of a prospective project, did set off the alarm, however, and get a lot of interest, but in the end they let me bring them on.
   - Ries - Thursday, 02/26/04 00:53:42 EST

Jesse: You do have to be an ABANA member to go to the ABANA conference, but you do not have to be a member to go to a club meeting. abana-chapter.com is not the same thing as abana.org. It's just a list of links to smithing groups around the world, many of whom are not affiliated with ABANA.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 02/26/04 08:19:53 EST

You can see Grant's motorized fly presses "Big Boy Presses" on the power hammer pages using the navigate anvilfire dropdown. These are vastly different than retrofitting a motor to a manual press that was never designed for one. For most of the uses of a small fly press adding a motor makes no sense to me.
   SGensh - Thursday, 02/26/04 09:34:14 EST

Float plate glass is alive and well but it is a *modern* technique, not medieval. IIRC by the time of Diderot they were still rolling out glass on a hard surface to get plate glass.

The thing about Motorized flypresses is that the motor is coupled to the press through a slip clutch---in some ways like a triphammer!---so that when it hits and reverses the worst you get is wear on the contact surfaces. I've used one for coining that the technique was you engaged it just long enough for it to spin up to speed and then let go so it did the smush on it's own, the reversing side would then engage only enough to get it back to starting height.

There is a water driven smithy near Rolf (?) Germany, (you can't miss it there is a 273 kg luft hammer where the driveway hits the street...) that has several "powered" flypresses, drop (board) hammers and triphammers that has a nice video of a smith forging a hoe from 2" square stock using a drop hammer to bring out the blade from the side of the stock then cleaning up with the other tooling.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/26/04 10:36:38 EST

If the ABANA conference is too expensive for you may I commend SOFA's Quad-State Blacksmiths Round-UP held around the end of September in Troy OH (western border bout midway N-S). It is a wonderful conference with around 5 demo's going on, great tailgating and for a nominal fee you can camp on-site bringing the cost down further, (the entry fee is considerably less than the ABANA conference too)

Stop by the flaming anvils and say Hi, if you get to it and watch out for folks trying to stuff you with great food---remember traps are baited with food!

I'll warn you ahead of time, a good conference is addictive and you may find yourself saving up to go to as many as you can.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/26/04 10:42:50 EST

Bruce, Please check your e-mail if you have not yet!
   dragon-boy - Thursday, 02/26/04 11:36:33 EST

Big Anvil: For straightening there is nothing better than a swayed anvil. Straightening is done with the eye, not a flat surface. You can use a flat surface as a reference but it is difficult to straighten on one. If you strike a flat bar on a flat anvil it moves down where struck slightly and inertia sends the ends of the bar UP. You get a kink.

Straighten short kinks across the face and long bows the long way. Any piece of steel with a bow cannot be straightened on a flat surface due to the fact that there is always spring back (unless the full length is above a red heat). For centuries (and even today) swordmakers straightened long swords using small square or round anvils or even wood blocks.

Next excuse for wrecking a perfectly good anvil?

If you are really disatisfied with it I would gladly trade a perfectly flat 300 pound Kohlswa for a 600 pound sway backed antique. . . (see kohlswa.com for photo). It is not perfect but it IS flat.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/04 11:45:20 EST

Memberships: ABANA and most other groups that require membership will gladly take your dues when you sign up for a conference. Membership is required to come under the group's insurance umbrella if they have one.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/04 11:48:41 EST

Uneven Security: There is a good reason for this. If the security was exactly the same everywhere then there is a better chance of coming up with a fool proof way to beat it. If every airport is slightly different then it keeps the possible bad guys off balance. Of course it keeps US off balance too.

Back when I was doing nuclear work we went through security similar to airports EVERY DAY. Normally the metal detectors were set very sensitive and anything would set them off. Durring outages when a thousand extra workers were going through security each day the dectors would be adjusted back little by little until you could take a one pound ball of keys through without setting off the alarm. Later they would be set back to high sensitivity. This sounds backward but it is a matter of practicality. If you are forced to hand search 500 people each shift change everything would stop. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/04 11:58:03 EST

I am in the process of doing some maintenance work on a set of double-action bellows. I have given it a good cleaning, sewed patches on a couple holes in the leather (mouse doors), oiled the leather with neat’s-foot (100%) and rubbed the wood with linseed. My only real problem now is the blow-pipe / nozzle.

The blow-pipe is a typical seamed steel, cone shaped pipe. The original opening was probably around 1.5”, but it has partially rusted out around the opening. I really need to cut off about 2.5 – 3” in order to get it back to square. Any ideas on how I might fix an extension to restore the pipe to its original length and taper? I'll still have 6 or 8 " of good metal to work with. I need to do this without any disassembly of the bellows because 1) it doesn’t belong to me, and 2) it would take more time than I want to invest. Any ideas and suggestions will be appreciated.
   - Don A - Thursday, 02/26/04 13:46:14 EST

Don, take a piece of paper and wrap it around the blowpipe until it makes the size and shape you want. Tape it in place and cut off the bits that don't belong. Untape, and unfold. You now have a pattern you can use to cut the needed part out of sheet steel. Attach with either solder or rivets. Be sure you leave a little gap between the end of the blowpipe and the tuyere! This will help keep the bellows from exploding if and when you get a backdraft.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 02/26/04 13:53:10 EST

Hello. I am examining the idea of building a "Junk yard hammer" similar to the NC style on your power hammer pages. I have access to some 1" plate steel 3'x7'. I can get it cut to my needs. My question is: what would be your suggestion for the size of a base plate on such a home-made power hammer. I would like to keep it minimal in size for space consideration but large enough to properly anchor it so-to-speak.
Thank you.
   Dan - Thursday, 02/26/04 14:31:09 EST

hey, just looked at a chambersburg 200# utility hammer.. it has less than 100 hours of ude on it. i used to work for the guy who's selling it. anyway, ive never seen one of these hammers run. i know that you need a huge compressor to run it. what i need to know is if the ram comes down at full force with every blow, or are the blows controllable with the treadle. i do want to be able to do light tapping, as well as pounding. this hammer is beautiful, not a scatch on it.. he said he wanted somewhere between 5000 and 6000 for it. is that a good price?? he also has two 100# utility specials for sale... basically i need a hammer that can forge up to 3" stock and that has the ability to tap lightly...
i appreciate any replies....


   david brown - Thursday, 02/26/04 16:19:03 EST


Cut back to solid metal, clean the outside SPOTLESS. Make an extension cone that will slip over the sound metal out of K copper sheet. (Let me know if you can't find any, I've got some). Sweat solder it into place. After it cools, wrap it with buckskin, glued into place for appearance. You'll have a sound cone, no obstructions to the air passage and "antique" appearance. (I've got some buckskin too, if you need it.)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/26/04 17:29:26 EST


The NCJYH has a piece of 1/8" steel plate, 12" X 32" for a base plate. It also has a 24" piece of heavy wall steel tubing centered and welded on the back edge to serve as an "outrigger" to prevent side sway. I've never had any problem with it at all. If you use a piece of 1" plate, you should have a nice stable machine. Email me, and I'll take a couple of pictures for you, if you want.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/26/04 17:40:07 EST

Why not just make a leather cone and not worry about metal?
Seems like that would be just as good. Heavy leather and a little glue..... Or am I overlooking something?
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/26/04 18:52:44 EST

I hope no one minds a slightly off topic question, but do you have to do anything different to forge weld copper, as opposed to steel? I know the heat has to be lower, but aside from that, this is pretty much an experiment for me.... any insights would be appreciated.
   - Havoktd - Thursday, 02/26/04 19:07:06 EST


The cone needs to be metal, otherwise it may collapse when the bellows is inflating. Heavy leather probably wouldn't be stiff enough.

The other think Dan could do is just make a complete new cone out of 16 oz K copper. I think that's what I would do.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/26/04 19:58:04 EST

ha, ya a water wheel, tryin to be proper doesnt suit me. Anyhow, I jus attached an oldfashion wood fan to it with a cover then attached a pipe from the forge to the pipe I welded to the cover I pt over the fan. Criticize however ya want, I just tryed somethin crazy.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Thursday, 02/26/04 20:19:45 EST

I like to use a burned wax finish on my forge work. Sometimes on larger pieces where grinding is necessary and heat cannot be applied because of the warping it creates, it is neccesary to use a room temperature chemical process which will blacken the weld/grind spot to the color of mill scale. Wax applied to this surface appears continuous with the rest of the piece. I've purchased blackening chemicals from suppliers but I'm tired of paying $50/gal plus the hazardous materials shipping charge. There must be a clever over the counter chemical which will do the same thing. Help? Thank-You. ----Stuart
   stuart - Thursday, 02/26/04 21:06:25 EST


If it works, it's not crazy, it's innovative! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/26/04 21:30:17 EST

Allô !!!From Montréal Canada
I have a customer who wants interior door handle for bedroom door(rat-tail style). The problem I have is not the handle itself but the mechanism. The handle has to staid at the original horizontal position and it has to come back at is original position when you have opened the door. There is not enough spring in a modern latch bolt. The doors are modern style. I have to put a spring somewhere. I have the tooling and able to do mostly anything but now I have a proplem...I have 15 sets of door handle to do. HELP ME PLEASE...
   André Boudreault - Thursday, 02/26/04 23:21:48 EST

Medicine Soup;
I found this for Titanium. You'll need to cut and paste.

   DanD skabvenger - Thursday, 02/26/04 23:33:47 EST

Is this the nozzle cone? The I do not see how it can collapse.
I am talking real thick leather. And stiff. But either way if you are getting a suction on teh outlet cone during inflation then something is wrong. NASd you will need to address that.
But with all the said. Just 3 small slats of wood used as bracing will keep it open. and it will not rust... nor corrode. And as long as the rest of the bellows are dry should last just as long. But I still think a stiff leather cone will work.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/27/04 00:48:30 EST

RAWHIDE: Ever the tightwad, I look to the pet supply department for my rawhide. Get the biggest rawhide chew toy you can get, soak it in the laundry tub, or whatever, and untie those big knots on the ends. Unroll the hide as flat as you can get it, and staple it to a plank to dry. The stuff can be a bugger to cut, so I just use my saber saw. When you're ready to use it, soak it again, and it can be molded around most everything. I look upon it as sort of an "animal fiberglass". I'm sure Brother Atli can attest to its toughness and durability. The Vikings and others used it very effectively to make their shields. The U.S. Army found that the Sioux War shields, made from the hide flanking the spine of a buffalo could deflect some gunfire, too. I have molded rawhide very closely to a .357 revolver for the stiffness, and then overlaid thin, fine grade leather over it for appearance. Additionally, you can boil down the scrap bits, and make a good glue. And there you have what is probably more than you really wanted to know about rawhide. (Besides the stuff ain't good for yer dog anyway.)
   3dogs - Friday, 02/27/04 04:44:23 EST

Alan, Paw Paw & Ralph,

Thank ye much for the suggestions on the bellows. I hope to see what I can do with it tomorrow. I appreciate the offer on the materials, but in spite of the skills I lack as a smith, I have become quite adept at scrounging junk. I’ve got several pieces of copper and a whole bunch of leather laying around. If I go with either the solder or the braze option, I’ll have to hunt me up somebody with a torch. I know the guy that teaches welding at our local high school. Maybe I can shame them into some “donated labor” since this is for a historic site.
   - Don A - Friday, 02/27/04 08:06:06 EST


Most of the modern interior locksets I have looked at use small coil springs for the latch return. I would think that if you replace the lightweight spring with one made from heavier gauge wire, you should get adequate return pressure. There may not be sufficient room in the lockset for a heavier gauge spring to compress adequately, meaning that you might need to drill the spring recess deeper. It would depend on the lock. Springs of all sizes are available through McMaster-Carr, Grainger and MSC. Or you can roll your own from spring wire.

The design of the handle needs to have as much of its mass located as close as possible to the pivot point, and balanced. Since you are making rat-tail style handles, you have a head start there. If you can adjust your design to allow for sufficient mass opposite the rattail, you may be able to get close enough to balanced to make it work. Another thought might be to fuller the back side of the handle to reduce its thickness where it doesn't show, to decrease the rotating mass. Or forge them from aluminum.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/04 08:24:51 EST

PPW, Did you mean 3/8 or 5/8 base plate?
   Ron Childers - Friday, 02/27/04 08:39:33 EST


Nope. This base plate is no more than 1/8" in thickness. It MIGHT be 3/16", but I don't think so.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/27/04 08:59:39 EST

Dimensions: Ron, Paw-Paw must be having one of those moments. I welded the anvil to that plate and it is 3/4" to 1". The thicker the better. The size should keep the hammer from rocking when in use. I would want a foot bigger than the anvil MINIMUM and two feet wider would be best. If you use heavy anchor bolts you can get by with a minimum flange but it makes the hammer difficult to handle. I like my machinery so that it does NOT fall over while handling it. . .

Chambersburg Hammer: David, These are a very good hammer but the price is a bit high. These have been selling for scrap the past few years. Typical prices are 1500 to 2000 US after the scrap price. They are worth more but that has been the market price. Note that Chambersburg is now defunct and has been sold off in bits and pieces. The guys that bought the drawings want SERIOUS money for copies.

Control on these hammers is like any other power hammer. They take a while to get used to but can be used to do very delicate work. A friend of mine uses hand held tooling under a 500. However, he is one of the top hammermen in the country.
   - guru - Friday, 02/27/04 09:49:51 EST

Latch Springs: Andre, I am having difficulty visualizing your problem. However, on a lever lock a mild steel spring can be used if necessary (usualy gravity does the work). On old locks and latches the spring was just a thin bar welded to the lever parallel to one side. The spring would bear against the keeper (staple).

Long, short travel, leaf or bar springs work fine made out of mild steel without hardening. They have the same spring rate as hardened spring steel.
   - guru - Friday, 02/27/04 09:56:25 EST


One other thing occurred to me while I was daydreaming at my desk. (grin) I'm making the assumption that you are dealing with a standard new style of "passage latch", the type that is actuated by rotating the knob. I can understand how that strike spring wouldn't have sufficient force to move the increased moment of a heavy iron lever handle without some assistance. If, in fact, that is what we are dealing with, then:

1. There isn't probably enough room to increase the size of the existing spring by enough to do what you need, since it translates linear force to rotational force, losing some efficiency.
2. What you want is increased rotational force, to return the handle to its "home" position. So:

What about adding a coiled spring around the square shaft that connects the knobs (levers) on the two sides of the door? Or make a flat leaf spring that works against a small arm added to the connecting shaft? Either way, it could all be inside the lockset hole in the door and concealed by the escutcheon plate.

I hope this hasn't just confused the issue.

   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/04 14:11:00 EST

I read the faq on quenchants, I was wondering how could I get mineral oil cheaper? I use a 55 gal drum thats why I was wondering. I don't need the 55 gal drum becouse of the fact I work with metal that requires less. would the price difference be greater if I use smaller drum? Thank you.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Friday, 02/27/04 16:46:17 EST

Um.. Lone? What are you quenching that needs a 55 gallon drum? For oil quenching you DO need enough to prevent a flash fire, but that's usually less than five gallons. If you do mostly tools, a flat shallow tank works, if you do blades, especially double-edged blades, a deep narrow tank is good. I use half an old oxygen tank (8" diameter by 24 inches tall) for oil quenching blades and anything else that needs it, and an old 30-gallon washtub for a general slack tub of water.
   Alan-L - Friday, 02/27/04 19:43:52 EST

Lone Blacksmith,
If you have a distributer of oils local to you that sells any of the Big name brands of oil, Ie Mobil, Chevron, Castroil etc., then real quench oils of varing quench speeds are available from them. These oils are available in 55 gallon drums, and 5 gallon pails. These true quench oils will give repeatable results from batch to batch of oil, and have the high flash points that are needed for safety.
Always insure that you have enough oil to remove the heat from the heated part, and still stay cool.
Good luck
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/04 20:05:42 EST

I have suggested this before but it bears repeating. There is a safe, clean, non-toxic, non-flamable, water-soluble quenchant available from companies like Park Chemicals or Tenaxol. It is a Polyalkylene Glycol and is sold under various trade names. It can be diluted a little or a lot, depending on what you are quenching. By changing the temperature of the quenchant, you can approximate a fast to a slow oil. It is not cheap, but if you do heat treating in a commercial shop, it will save you money on fire insurance. They may have minimum quantities but a group or an ABANA club could probably buy a sufficient quantity and divide it up. Maybe it is a product Guru could buy in quantity and resell, who knows.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 02/27/04 20:08:18 EST

At the beginning of the week I sent an email requesting information on pricing and how to get our local blacksmith organization on your abana related web site. I have not heard back from any one so I am wondering if you are still offering that service?
   Gary Williams - Friday, 02/27/04 20:19:41 EST

Hey Ron What size is the octagon drill rod you have ? and what would i have to do to get a piece 36" to 42" long?
   Steven Johnson - Friday, 02/27/04 20:40:20 EST

Thanks, i'll look and purchase what your talking about. I dont need any trouble in the shop (grin). I just gotta funny feeling 'bout talking to a guy named "Guru." (grin)
   - Lone Blacksmith - Friday, 02/27/04 20:50:28 EST

I agree that the poly quench like the Ucon NT-NN is probably safer than homemade quench or used motor oil. Have you read the msds for these? Look carefully at the portion re fumes emmitted at very elevated temp's. You may modify that advise a bit.
For all,
if you are going to use ANY chemicals or materials, ask for a MSDS. This is the Material Safety Data Sheet. Even hardware stores can get them for you on paint etc. There are 16 sections, that cover every issue about a product. They tell you about first aid for that particular product, protective gear required, and conditions to avoid. Nice to read this stuff PRIOR to needing the info.
For a MSDS on a product, ask the vendor, or look on the label and call the 1-800 number that will be there.
If you are an industrial user it is federal law that you be provided this info.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/04 20:59:14 EST

the Ucon NT-NN runs around $20 per gallon in drum quantity.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/04 21:00:49 EST

Thanks to Vicopper and Guru for your suggestions. Vicopper you have well visualised my problems and your suggestions are very good...now I have to do some or many test to settle the problems Thanks again
   André Boudreault - Friday, 02/27/04 21:14:37 EST

ptree, thanks for the additional info. However, compared to the fumes given off by smoking motor oil, the UCON is fairly benign. When I was using the UCON products, nobody had heard of an MSDS. I was also told that using a water-soluble cutting oil is almost as good but who knows what's in the cutting oil! As will any chemical, you need to know something about it before you use it.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 02/27/04 21:24:39 EST

Did anyone notice my previous post about forge welding copper? Was it a stupid question? If so, please feel free to tell me I'm asking stupid questions, and preferably why. You won't hurt my feelings any, don't worry.:-)
   - Havoktd - Friday, 02/27/04 21:32:32 EST

The water solubles cutting oils are a witchs brew of additives and biocides. I used to look at the MSDS for cutting fluids and they didn't look too bad. Then I started asking for a "full disclosure" MSDS. The law says that any ingredient less than 1% does not have to be listed. The biocides are less than 1%, but will strip the hide off you at 9000:1. I would not use a soluble oil, as a quenchant, with out looking at a full disclosure MSDS.
The Ucon product is better than used motor oil. I think we should all get, read, and understand the MSDS, prior to using any chemical.
Good hydrocarbon quenchants are available, and I think in small amounts through most oils jobbers. You may have to wait for a stock order, but the prices should be less than $10/gallon in pails.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/04 21:34:38 EST

For general info, NIOSH has a pocket reference to chemical hazards, that is fairly easy to use, its free, and available on-line. Should be in all our reference files.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/04 21:37:13 EST

Havoktd. I don't have personal experience forge welding copper, but yes, copper can be forge welded. As I understand it, the pieces are clamped together between plates of steel, and heated in a controlled atmosphere environment. If all goes well, the metals bond just before the melting temperature is reached. I don't believe flux is used, but all must be kept clean. You can find out more by setting your search engines on 'mokume gane'. Also, look for Phil Baldwin who is an expert in the field.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/27/04 22:43:38 EST

Chapter Hosting: Gary, I get about 100 emails a day, mostly spam. I may have accidently deleted it or it may not have gotten to me. . . Yes we still offer hosting.

More by mail.
   - guru - Friday, 02/27/04 22:57:12 EST

I like to use a burned wax finish on my forge work. Sometimes on larger pieces where grinding is necessary and heat cannot be applied because of the warping it creates, it is neccesary to use a room temperature chemical process which will blacken the weld/grind spot to the color of mill scale. Wax applied to this surface appears continuous with the rest of the piece. I've purchased blackening chemicals from suppliers but I'm tired of paying $50/gal plus the hazardous materials shipping charge. There must be a clever over the counter chemical which will do the same thing. Help? Thank-You. ----Stuart

I'm posting this question again, as I'm needing to move on a job. I may just order the usual stuff and pay the price. But if anyone has any suggestions for darkening grind marks or blackening iron at room temp. I'd really like to here from you. By the way I'm not talking aout a black oxide finish, I'm simply talking about darkening the grind marks without reheating so I when I finish with wax I get the same color I get with forged iron. Thanks--Stuart
   stuart - Friday, 02/27/04 23:08:19 EST

so basically, taking a piece of big copper cable, and forge welding it into a billet is out then, I take it?
   - Havoktd - Friday, 02/27/04 23:17:08 EST


Dilute selenious acid will blacken steel. A number of cold gun bluing solutions use this as the main ingredient. Toxic like the devil, too. Phosphoric acid solutions like Ospho also blacken steel, but only achieve a deep black over rusted steel. Basically, any chemical that will rapidly and controllably oxidize iron is going to be on the haz mat list and cost extra.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/04 23:58:31 EST


Yep, making a billet out of copper cable is pretty much out, unless you can work in outer space. Copper has too high an affinity for oxygen when heated to weld autogenously. It can be diffusion welded, as Frank said, but it requires meticulous cleaning and oxide removal, then layering in a stack and clamping between heavy steel plates and torqued to high compression. Then the edges of the stack are either fluxed or silver soldered to prevent any oxygen being introduced onto the joints and the whole stack is heated to a bit below the meltin gpoint of the copper and held there for a couple of hours or more. The diffusion weld will happen and you will have a solid block of copper. It would be much simpler to just go buy a block of copper to start with,and the end result would be the same.

In order to achieve a pattern in "Damascus" steel (pattern welded) or mokume' gane, it is necessary to have layers of differing metals. With steel, it can be different carbon levels that result in different appearances after etching. With non-ferrous metals, different compositions or alloys are needed, or totally different metals. Copper and nickel silver layered together make a beautiful contrast for mokume' gane.

In addition to Phil Baldwin, may I recommend to you the writings of Steve Midgett, which are quite good. His last book, Mokume' Gane, A Comprehensive Study, is excellent and details the three most commmon processes quite clearly.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/28/04 00:11:49 EST

Stuart, a torch will take the grind marks (not just sooting but heating). Just use light amounts of heat till you get the look you want. Burnt (carmelized, whatever) wax looks great for a finish and the wax can be evened up with a torch as well. Even a weed burner will work for this but you don't get the spot heat from one of them like you do a welding tip.
   - Ten Hammers - Saturday, 02/28/04 05:38:31 EST

Virus Alert: I received an email yesterday that indicated it was from the Guru . It was bogus and contained a virus which, amazingly, Hotmail caught and quarentined before I opened it. Got another one today from someone I did not know. Just for the record, I WILL NOT open emails sent to me without a specific metalworking topic in the subject line. I am happy to reply to legitimate questions by email but take the time to properly address them.

ptree, Yeah, I never bought the idea of using water-soluble oil for quenching. I wonder what high heat does to vegatable oils or ATF? The heat might easily create new compounds that did not exist in the oil as manufactured.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/28/04 09:53:43 EST

ah, ok, thanks for the info. I just got my hands on a couple of big chunks of the stuff from a friend, and was trying to figure out something to do with it. Do you think 3/4" diameter jumper cables would be overkill???
   - Havoktd - Saturday, 02/28/04 11:56:22 EST

As a safety and enviro guy for several large metalworking companies, I have read many msds's for metalworking compounds and die lubricants. I can offer the following;
Almost all water based cutting fluids,(water-solubable) contain biocides and some fungicides. These compounds are present in very small amounts, but who knows what these whitchs brews will do at 2200F?
I have also reviewed the MSDS's from most of the major oil suppliers for ATF and the other common oils. Most have Zinc ditheophosphate, as an anti-oxident and anti-wear agent.Most oils have viscosity modifiers, and some have extreme pressure agents. ATF differs from hydraulic oils mostly in viscosity and the dies. The dies are nasty. I often use the die in concentrate to add to straight hydraulic oils,to find leaks. The MSDS for the die was scary!
With true quenchants available for around $4 to $8 a gallon, why would you use anything else?

"Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injured, or in jail." A quote that should be in uncle atli's very thin book of wisdom
   ptree - Saturday, 02/28/04 14:39:30 EST


> "Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injured, or in jail."

I wish I'd learned that about 60 years ago!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/28/04 17:01:57 EST

how do you layout a curved stair railing on wood stairs
   - david desantis - Saturday, 02/28/04 17:15:37 EST

how do you layout a curved stair railing on wood stairs
   - david desantis - Saturday, 02/28/04 17:15:38 EST

A bladesmith friend of mine mentioned not long ago that he had seen a guy make mokume in his forge out of US quarters (nickle/copper?). Anybody ever tried this or seen it done?
   - Don A - Saturday, 02/28/04 20:37:58 EST

Never tried it, or seen it done, but it does make sense. American quarters are copper core with a nickle coating. I suspect that using them and older quarters (silver alloy) would make for some interesting patterns.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/28/04 20:47:54 EST

just finished putting together my smithin magician 111. have any ideas about putting a stop on it, an adjustable one. thanks, Kerry
   - buffalo creek - Saturday, 02/28/04 21:05:47 EST

Buffalo Cr;
Weld a striking face on top of the top die, then use spacers between the bottom of the striking plate and your guides...or, I've found it handy to put in a spring instead.
QC et al.; Using Jay Kidwell's suggestion, I use used deep fry oil in my quench tank...works fine and it's really cheap. You can either trade it in when it starts to get funky...or put the lid on tight till it calms down and doesn't smell bad anymore.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 02/28/04 22:48:29 EST

Temper Quench?
I feel slightly sheepish asking this after all this time, but the more I read on the subject, the more confused I get... When tempering a piece of steel after hardening, when the desired colour is achieved, should it be quenched? If so should it be quenched in the same quenchant it was hardened in or something else?; and if not, how quickly or slowly should the temperature be taken down?
I anticipate that alot will depend on what steel it is, but is temper quenching ever the right thing to do? Many thanks
Richard T
   Richard Tomes - Sunday, 02/29/04 05:42:33 EST

Hello Everyone

I have a customer who wants me to make him one of my standard penanulars, but out of brass or copper. I normally make them out of 1/4" square stock that is twisted, or out of simple round stock. He wants one twisted, and one out of round stock that is forge welded closed.

I have a couple of questions:

First, can you twist copper or brass square stock as you would steel? And if so, do I need to heat it up, or should I do it cold?

Second. Can I forge weld copper? Can I forge weld brass? (I have oxy/act setup and could just braze the ring closed if it's done from brass)

Thanks Much for any suggestions.

   FredlyFX - Sunday, 02/29/04 06:09:53 EST

Temper Quenching: I always quench into water but I am usually quenching a water-hardening steel. Oil probably would be fine too as long as you are quenching from under 700F. Metallurgically, temper quenching stops the precipitation of carbides (which is what tempering is) and may slighly improve toughness by preventing over-tempering. Temper quenching MIGHT cause some distortion from thermal shock if you quench from higher temperatures into water. I would not recommend quenching after tempering an air-hardening steel due to the thermal shock issue.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/29/04 08:28:27 EST

Richard Tomes, Yes, no, and maybe. The heat rainbow works on high carbon steels and some low alloy steels. The tempering of many high alloys (normally above 5%) is at a higher temperature than 630ºF, the upper limit of recognizable oxide color.

If it's the right steel, and the tool is an end-to-end tool like a chisel or adz, you "chase color" toward the cutting edge. When the desired color reaches the cutting edge, you quench in liquid to stop the colors from running any more. The type of liquid is not overly important as long as it's at ambiant temperature. You are simply trying to "hold your temper". HOWEVER, when you HARDEN the tool prior to tempering, you always use the quenchant recommended in the heat treatment specs for that particular steel.

If the tool is not end-to-end, say a rivet header, you do not chase color. The entire business end is heated in order to look for tempering colors. If you remove the tool from the heat source when ready, sometimes the colors continue to change. If that happens, you quench. If not, it's OK to air cool.

It's not good to temper quench the entire tool if there is any residual incandescent red heat left in the tool from the heat source, for example when you use the "reserve heat" (one heat) method. In these cases, you temper quench in a shallow liquid, as in a tin can, and let the residual red above the business end air cool.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/29/04 08:51:57 EST

Quarter mokume:

I have seen the results and talked to the guys who made it, but have not watched them do it. What they told me was they took a stack of quarters and clamped them in a pair of heavy tongs, stuck the whole thing in a gas forge until little beads of copper started showing, then squeezed the whole mess in a vise. Once it was fused, chipped it off the tong jaws (it stuck to one), then hot forged as for bronze, then etched to show the pattern. Very nice contrast between the copper and the nickel. I don't remember what was said about flux, if any.

I think I'd prefer the stack of quarters just the same, though!

Fredly: your best bet on small-section copper or brass is to twist cold. See a few posts above about forge-welding copper. I'd just braze it and dare him to tell the difference!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/29/04 09:14:05 EST

Could you point me in the direction of tinning copper sheet, like pot and cups and pans? I want to make some 18th century stuff for black powder reenacting. Thanks much, Art Sitter aka 3 Fingers
   art - Sunday, 02/29/04 12:35:37 EST

I NEED HELP BADLY, I've started something i thought i knew what i was doin. But i don't, I forge for a livin but on a much grander scale than what i started here at home. I've got a 55 gal. drum cut down to 24 in. long mounted on a 3ft stand(drum on its side),alittle over a 3rd of the bottom a solid floor with old space heater propane burner in the floor(with burner ports level with floor)the rest of it lined with about 2 to 3in of cer. fiber,a small opening at top of drum and 4x6 opening at front of furnance.Now i know i have plenty of heat, but what else do i need to do to make it work? HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!
   Tony - Sunday, 02/29/04 13:18:28 EST


First off, we are going to need a few pictures so that we can accurately diagnose what the problem is. If you don't have a digital camera, can you take regular film pictures, get them scanned, and attatch them to email for us?

That said, it doesn't sound like you've got too serious a problem. Hang with us a bit, and we'll get you straightened out.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/29/04 13:28:23 EST

i have six 3meter long curves to make for hand rails they have to be made from 25mm pipe i only have a tubella pipe bender can any one offer help or ideas on how this can be done
   smithy - Sunday, 02/29/04 13:43:14 EST

i have built a gas forge from the plans from j.p.reiser ihave been using this forge for about eight months now but i cannot fire weld in it even at high gas psi still no good gets to yellow heat then justs starts to oxodise i think can any body help with burner designs think this must be my problem?
   smithy - Sunday, 02/29/04 13:54:20 EST

Forge Construction: Tony, You claim you KNOW you have enough heat but you don't know what you are doing. I'd say that not only do you not know what you are doing you don't have enough BTU's (heat) for the size of the forge.

Space heater burners are not forge burners. The gas flow in a forge the size you have built would drain a 20 pound propane in a few hours IF you could drain one that fast, you can not. Your forge probably needs about 75,000 to 100,000 BTU's. That means a 100 pound propane cylinder and a high capacity regulator as a minimum.

Go to the Ron Reil forge and burner web site (there is a link on our forge burner plan page) and STUDY what Ron has there. Forges must be proportioned to the burners they use and vise versa. Adequate fuel flow is critical and often cannot be achieved with small 20 pound bottles and the common preset regulators are rarely sufficient.

To make it work you need to look at the entire design and do the necessary calculations.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/29/04 13:58:21 EST

Long Curves in Pipe: Smithy, Curves are always defined in radius not length. However, the length you give indicates a rather gentle curve. The easiest way to make long gentle curves is with a simple bending jig. See our 21st Century page article on Bneders. Jigs for pipe can be made of wood or metal. For large radiuses wood is often the easiest to use.

For large curves a jig can be made of wood. The jig does not need to be the entire length of the the bend. The bend can be made in overlaping segments. Start by making a radius gauge from wood or metal (I use 3/8" (10mm) plywood).

Then make a curved surface by cutting several layers of plywood and gluing them together. The radius usualy needs to be about 5 to 10% less than the finished bend to allow for spring back. Make it just a little undersized to start. You can trim more off later but it is difficult to add material back on. Screw the stack to a larger sheet of plywood. The start point (the block that the end of the pipe reacts against) may need to be a heavy strap bent in a "U" and screwed or bolted to the stacked curve pieces. Make a test bend and check the spring back. If you need to make a slightly tighter bend then layout and saw a little of the fixture. The ability to dissasemble and trim the fixture is important.

I have seen wood bending jigs used in production bending of thin wall pipe.

You can also make long gentle bends with a "bending hickey" such as used by electricians to bend solid conduit. These inexpensive benders come in sizes that fit both thin wall conduit (EMT) and thick wall (pipe). 25mm is a standard NOMINAL pipe size that has a larger OD. If you are bending sturctural tube with a 25mm OD then these benders will not work. A 3/4" PIPE bender MAY work for this purpose.

Again, you start with a radius gauge. To make the large radius bend with the small radius bender you divide the work into short equal segments. Mark it with a felt tip marker. Then make a slight bend, and another and another and so on until you have enough the measure with your gauge. The trick to this method is making every partial bend exactly the same.

You can use the same method in a hydraulic or arbor press. You can make your own bending surface OR adopt the "hickey" mentioned above. In this case you want an adjustable stop or indicator so that you can make identical bends. You bend a short test piece and check the radius. Adjust the stop or indicator accordingly and make another sample. This method works very well and is more repeatable if you need duplicate bends.

I have also used old fashioned tire benders to make this type rail for 1" (30mm OD) pipe. However, we had to machine a grooved roll to fit the pipe and keep it straight.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/29/04 14:33:50 EST

thank you guru for your help on this subject in pipe bending going to use the ply wood
   smithy - Sunday, 02/29/04 14:47:53 EST

forge design i an not using a 20 POUND GAS BOTTLE AND THE FIXED REGULATOR THE BURNER DESIGN IS FROM RON REILS PAGE but i think that the small sized hole in the burner may BE THE WRONG SIZE SO I WILL CHANGE IT AND TRY THAT THANKS TONY
   smithy - Sunday, 02/29/04 14:59:51 EST

I'm looking into buying a power hammer for my shop. I have tried a variety over the years. My experience and many of the recommendations have 90% led to the Kuhn. What is your experience and insight into this vast and uncertain terrain?
Thanks, James
   james - Sunday, 02/29/04 16:55:04 EST

Forge Heat: Smithy, The fixed pressure regulator could be the problem as well as the orifice. Most new burner plans now call for using MIG tips for the orrifice due to their precision and smooth flow characteristics.

Many builders also claim that they cannot get welding heat without coating the lining of their gas forge with ITC-100.

The ITC not only protects the surface from deterioration it reflects more infra-red (heat) than other ceramic materials. This can raise the temperature of your forge several hundred dergees F. More than enough to make a difference in welding.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/29/04 17:55:04 EST

Types of Power Hammer: James, Everyone has a preference. Kuhns are a very good hammer and you pay well for them. They are durable and last a long time. The knock-offs work but often have serious maintenance problems. The only complaint I have ever hear about a Kuhn is that the run faster than some folks like.

The next self contained hammer is the Chinese made Striker. Striker has done a lot to assure that they deliver a good product and are a trusted dealer. If you have used a Kuhn you may want to test a Striker before you buy. They are very similar but have different opperating traits.

The best hammer for the money is currently the BigBlu. These require a seperate air compressor but you can buy three or four for the cost of a Kuhn. As to the air compressor, every shop SHOULD have one so it shouldn't be considerd an "extra" expense.

The operating difference between the self contained and the non-self contained hammer is that the self contained run constantly at a constant beat while the regular air hammer runs fast and slow depending on the treadle and air settings. This makes them a little more flexible.

In the end all these hammers do a LOT of work. Usualy they quicky pay for themselves if you are doing any kind of smithing for money.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/29/04 18:08:16 EST

I just came back in from a trip out to the shop to measure the thickness of the base plate of the NCJYH. I dug down alongside and underneath for a large enough space to get a good accurate measurement.

It is 1/4" thick. Jock, if you don't believe me, next time you come down, bring some money. One hint, don't bring anymore than you can afford to lose. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 02/29/04 18:19:00 EST

Thanks, I use mostly tools, I just like reusin my old stuff. I'm gonna use a shallow tin barrel that I cut down the middle last week.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Sunday, 02/29/04 19:05:38 EST

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