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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 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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I suggest you take the tank to a business that fills Oxygen and Acetylene gas tanks. They can tell you what it is and how/if it can be made safe to cut.
   djhammerd - Tuesday, 02/01/05 00:24:08 EST

Makeshift anvils:
has anyone made a makeshift anvil? I live in ames, iowa, and it seems there are very few (none that I have found) blacksmithing organizations in iowa, so I haven't been able to even swing a hammer yet, but I'm currently working on setting up something to get started. I've just graduated (materials engineering: metallurgy and electronic materials) so I'm short on money. However, I might be able to get a slab of 4140 or 4150 and machine a few accessories into it (hardy hole and maybe a rounded end to take the place of the horn, similar to the plans found on this site). I was wondering if anyone had thoughts or recomendations for this if you'd tried it before.

first forge: what is my best choice for my first forge? I am really unsure of what style is best for my first forge.

also: if anyone knows someone in or near iowa who is willing to teach me some basics and let me swing a hammer a bit, I would LOVE if you could help me get in contact with them. I am more than willing to pay for their time.

thanks much, sorry this was so long
   - dan p - Tuesday, 02/01/05 00:52:25 EST

Ptree- I also can only speak from personal experience. I have a Haberle german made cold saw, and it is a gem. 3 1/2hp 3phase motor, geared down to maybe 40 rpm, and I can pull it thru a piece of 3 1/2" diameter cold rolled round in about 30 seconds. I have had it for over 10 years, and it came out of a production shop before me. The thing is bulletproof, and built like a tank. Makes an abrasive chopsaw look like a crackerjack prize.
I know some machinists who swear by their Deckel Vertical/Horizontal milling machines, said to be the best in the world. They also really like Alzmetal drill presses, Maho milling machines, and many other german and swiss makes.
And my experience with Mubea and Peddinghaus ironworkers says they beat the pants off the competition.
I own a Hebo CNC bar twister/ ornamental base station, and I have had no problems with it- unless you call its tendency to cold twist 1" square until it snaps a problem.
All of these tools are small compared to the giant machines you run at work, but they are production tools for fab and machine shops, and I have seen examples 40 years old and older still making money for their owners of many german machines. Maybe the bigger, more custom machines you have run into are different.
But my experience with german tools has all been positive.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 02/01/05 02:18:50 EST

Sandpile: My recommendation would be to sell it to someone looking for a buoy anchor or heavy gluing weight and just buy another one. Or you can set it in a corner and will it to your grandson as his legacy. These are cast iron and, as far as I know, cannot be tempered or hardened. There was a technique called 'quick chilling' which was used to harden at least cast iron plow shares at one time, but that was done at the time of pouring, not later to my knowledge.

Sean A. Assuming you can cut off one or both ends of this tank, if you will e-mail me at scharabo@aol.com I'll tell you how I would go about making it into a long stock propane forge.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/01/05 03:00:06 EST

Another way to help Keith Barker. Keith is putting up some of the items from his shop for sale on eBay. High bidding will help him financially. Just go to www.ebay.com and look for Advanced Search in the upper right. On it use the option for search by seller. Just do a seller search on kdbarker.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/01/05 03:42:09 EST

Aaron, depends on the location too---that would be a good price in NM and about two times the going fleamarket price in central OH.

O2 tank. The small ones may be a tad small in diameter but SOFA had an entire gas forge building workshop that used large O2 tanks for the shell---made for a heavy forge; but you can weld all sorts of jigs on it...Make sure it is O2 or other non-nasty gas and NEVER!!!!! mess with acetylene tanks---just not worth it! The archives should have long arguments on how to safely work with O2 tanks.

Thomas---every time the Guru says it's warm and sunny we get more snow here in germany.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/01/05 05:00:48 EST

Ken the chinese ones were cast iron and the russian ones were cast steel.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/01/05 05:05:10 EST

Thomas P. I stand corrected. I thought Jock's comments on cast anvils applied to those from Russia as well as those from China. In reading back I now see he was limited it to Chinese only.

Dan P. Something to consider. Go to a steel supplier when supplies machine shops and inquire if they have any short drops (left over ends) of large diameter round stock. If they will let one go cheap (less than retail but more than scrap value) it might form an anvil body. For a hardy hole weld on a U-shaped piece to one side. For a horn use cardboard to make a template of an anvil horn you like. Now spread it out and cut the pattern from plate stock. Form it into the horn shape and weld it onto the other side (leave a hole in the bottom to fill it with water putty). Call it "The Iowa Special".

You might consider going to one of the large Eastern blacksmithing conferences (such as Quad-State) and buying a number of anvils (and perhaps post vises) to take back to IA to resell for a significant markup.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/01/05 09:24:58 EST

Makeshift Forges and Anvils; Dan P:

Thomas and I have used rocks as anvils (okay, dressed stone, but it's simple); however any large chunk of steel, properly oriented, will work. I'm not advocating that you take up medieval forging, but this is just to show you how basic this can be.

Check out- http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h26.jpg (from Matt Amt's "Midgard" site)

The modern anvil is a multi-tool. But you can break it down into its components- a simple block anvil (this one, at about 11 pounds (5 kilos) is far too small for anything ambitious, it’s used mostly for knives, spearheads, and tripods); a separate hardy mounted in one part of the stump, and a bick mounted in another. (As Thomas has pointed out, you may want the bick pointed in another direction). Everything does not have to fit on the anvil, and for most of history people worked with separate components.

Here is a field forge, literally a shallow hole in the ground- http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h24.jpg

Once again, not what I'd use every day, but just to show how simple things can be- dirt, fuel, tuyere stone (or bellows shield) and twinned bellows. This layout works, but it takes two people to operate (I miss the large labor pool of early medieval Europe; but I can usually find a boy to pump the bellows.) I've had wood box forges made with mud, and my current forge (for at least the last 12 years), is also wood, with fire brick and a Centaur Forge firepot set in it and powered by an old copier fan.

The truck wheel forge is quite common (See the Guru's on the 21st Century Blacksmith page) but converted BBQ grills with old hair-dryer blowers are equally popular.

Take your time to read some of the articles on the 21st Century page and some of the other sections here, and check out the bookshelf. There are a lot of answers to questions that you haven't even thought of yet.

Sunny and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/01/05 10:06:23 EST

OK, folks, I'm outta here for a few days, should be back by Friday or Saturday of this week. Y'all behave yourselves while I'm gone.

Ellen, smack their fingers if they start a fight!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 02/01/05 10:36:08 EST

Sandpile, I'd skip the heating stage on the anvil. Just grind or sand out the big marks to level it out and leave it go at that. Most of the reviews on that anvil seem to say it's pretty soft anyway so why take a chance on losing what hardness you have by heating it? You might want to find a block of scrap to let that grandson do his cold work on!
   SGensh - Tuesday, 02/01/05 11:09:45 EST

dan p, you are in a good area to find blacksmith equipment. farm estate auctions frequently have anything you would be interested in (anvils, blowers, forges...)start looking for these estate auctions and go. kansas, missouri, nebraska, ect.. scour the classifieds. i bought an anvil from a guy in ankeny...was a piece of junk though. you have the advantage of seeing what you may be buying or bidding on...i would also comment that the chances of getting good equipment really cheap is very good, if you know what to look for..
   - rugg - Tuesday, 02/01/05 11:46:45 EST

Sandpile, Djhammer, and Ken,
Thank you for the advise i think I will tak it to a local welding shop and get their opinion on the tank. One I find out what I can safely do with it I will drop you an e-mail Ken. Thanks for the offer.

Sean A
   Sean - Tuesday, 02/01/05 13:00:17 EST

Hmmm, Guru is gone and now the babysitter is gone(PawPaw)
I wonder if this is a test to see how well we can behave?
Mebbe I had better stay out till next week. (smile)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/01/05 13:03:34 EST

Ralph I'm sure Atli can arrange a nice slow keelhauling if necessary...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/01/05 13:26:07 EST

European Tools and Machinery:

My industrial experience with German and other European tools was primarily the problem with spare parts. We used some plastic molding machines made in Germany and they worked quite well but if anything broke, you were probably scr@#$d until the spare arrived from Hamburg. Fortunately, we did not run to full capacity and had extra presses but I can remember machines being out of commission for a month or more. Unfortunately, this condition is often no better with "American" tools because most of them are made in another country. However, most of our molding machines were made in good old Cleveland and we could get ANY part overnight if it was needed that quickly.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 02/01/05 14:07:54 EST

Nah, do not really think keelhauling is for me. I am not that fond of the water.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/01/05 15:06:45 EST

Hi, my name is Tim, I'm British, but I live in Denmark. I would be grateful if you could tell me what the rate of fuel consumption for a 1 meter square, side blast coal forge would be. I realise there are many variables, but a rough estimate would be very helpful. Thank you.
   Tim - Tuesday, 02/01/05 15:33:33 EST

I make jewelry, and recently purchased a royersford excelsior No. 10 kick press. Now I need to find dies for it. I keep searching, but nothing yet. Any ideas? I could sure use your help. Thank You.
   PW - Tuesday, 02/01/05 16:10:51 EST

As with the other replys, just dress the face and call it a day.

That is a HUGE forge! That thing would go through quite a bit of coal for sure. Most firepots are about 12"square and about 4" to 6" deep, that would be 1/3m x 1/3m x 1/6m. You did not say if this was going to be a hobby forge, a production forge, a forge used all day or one that is only used for a few hours a week. The size of the fire you keep and your fire tending habbits also play a major roll in fuel consumption. A normal sized forge like I mentioned, used for 8 hours a day, with a normal size fire could go through 10 to 25# or more per day.

The question you ask is kind of like "how much fuel will my truck use in a day?"
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 02/01/05 16:40:14 EST

Most old presses, hammers etc. are equiped with what came with the tool. If you want anything else, you need to make it for the tool. I do not know the maker you mentioned but I would suspect that this is the case with your press.
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 02/01/05 16:43:10 EST

Alas, our keel is too short for any really amusing keelhauling. However, if someone wants to bring in the dancing girls (and they can add a couple of dancing guys for our female members) I'm sure that the Greater Guru wouldn't notice, as long as we cleaned up. ;-)

Coal Consumption; Tim:

I do bottom blast and usually measure in "shovels full" but my comnsuption translates to about a liter per hour by volume. I know some other folks here use a side blast, so lets' see what they have to say.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/01/05 16:53:05 EST

Assuming you are using coal I have not noticed a difference in fuel use between a sideblast or bottom blast.

Not that my statement really answered the question.
But I will try. As Tim said it has a lot of variables. But for general forging I might go thru 1 to 2 5 Gallon buckets in a hard 8 hour day. I seem to use more fuel if I am just dinking around.

   Ralph - Tuesday, 02/01/05 18:14:50 EST

German made machines.
Perhaps I should qualify my experience in that all the German tools were chip cutting machine tools, run in 24 hour, 6 day a week schedule, often at 110% of speeds and feeds. In other words like any other machine tool in a mordern machine shop. Like HWooldridge's experience, spares were often weeks or months away. We even had 4, 200Hp screw compressors made in Germany. Needed to replace the aluminum oil coolers about every 3 to 4 years due to cracking, and they took 17 weeks to get them in from Germany. At least with American machines, even orphans, you can find spares for the simple stuff. I have spent thousands of hours over the last 20 years searching for spares on orphaned machines. At the valve plant we had 450 machine tools, and in 1981 when I started there, the average build year was 1946. At my current employer, we have 1940's and last years! The 1940's stuff is easier to get spares for!
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/01/05 18:16:06 EST

Glass blowing in a forge.

T. Gold.
Hey thanks for the help, i was just currious, and thinking about taking classes sometime. But as for right now, i have too many hobbies as is... the recent venture being kiteboarding.

Thomas P.
WOW 24 hours... thats quite impressive. Yeah, i really see now why you wouldn't use such a basic forge... i figured you'd have to preheat and hold at heat a little while, but not that long.

Bruce Blackistone (atli)
yeah, i can relate. I work with waxing gold crowns, and my shacky hands make it hard to work with the fragile wax. But then again, the wax shards aren't exactly what you'd call sharp!

hey, any info is useful.

Thanks again to all those who replied

   Mike - Tuesday, 02/01/05 19:38:54 EST

Kick Press,

PW, I have a Royersford Excelsior No. 15 kick press which is currently fitted with a Roper Whitney die holding block and a punch adaptor I made to hold the corresponding Roper Whitney punches. I have also made a simple press brake set for it as well as several custom forming tool sets for folding belt clips from Aluminum with it and other tooling as well. As Wayne said you will have to make or adapt other tooling to this press. Even when these machines were new I suspect most tooling was custom made for a specific application. What do you want to be able to do with the press? If we have some idea of what you want to accomplish someone here may have specific suggestions.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 02/01/05 20:08:19 EST

Wayne, I think one meter is the hearth size. The side blast would be a tuyere nose coming in from the side, not a firepot.

Tim, Between 100 and 150 pounds of coal per week. More if you're doing big, heavy work on a fairly constant basis.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/01/05 20:36:56 EST

Ralph, lets see, Pawpaw is rolling, And he did not mention his destination...
Alright, who made the old CSM mad? I think i can here that strop from here!!
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/01/05 21:51:20 EST

ptree - I'll chime in on ISO/German/Swedish parts. I'm working at a 4 year old iron powder plant. The maintenance manager is close to tearing his hair out from unreliability/lead time for parts for the equipment. Working on replacing all he can with American made drives, etc. Makes me extremely glad I'm doing the Quality Assuranc/Systems part of the company. (ISO 9001 registration/system).
Dan P, I'm in PA in a living history group - one of our members was originally from Iowa - brought her father's forge from the farm with her, so they should be available - hunt the farm auctions.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 02/01/05 23:46:48 EST

I own a factory of wrought iron products. Mainly components for railings, stair and fences. I am currently having a lot of trial and error time using my CNC machine to make wrought iron baskets, 12MM, 4 strands...Is there anybody out there that can help me with the process. Basically you set up the machine to rotate in one direction, then in the opposite direction and the do the compresion of the blank...this is what is tricky? when do I compress the black, during the reverse rotation or when the rotations is finished, simultaniously or after? Can anybody help please...

Thank you so much,

Sergio Borjas
   Sergio Borjas - Wednesday, 02/02/05 01:06:49 EST

I need to buy 6MM square iron bars to make baskets using my CNC machine for this purpose. I normally buy these bars in China for USD 1.80 a piece, 6MM x 6 meter(20 FT) long. Any body knows where in the United States I can get these small malleable iron bars to make the baskets? perhaps surplus inventory or second hand or scrap will do if the price is convenient. Any suggestions are welcome.

By the way, I must ship the iron bars to Honduras in Central America...


Sergio Borjas
Central America
   Sergio Borjas - Wednesday, 02/02/05 01:26:00 EST


I own a Taiwanese machine for engraving iron bars and flats for ornamental purposes, similar to the German machines from HEBO and Glase. Anybody out there uses these taiwanese machines?: Manufacturer is JAN FAR Industrial Machinery. If you have some engraving dies for the JF-W30 engraver that you would like to sale, let me know and send me some pictures...

Thank you,

Sergio Borjas
   Sergio Borjas - Wednesday, 02/02/05 01:33:02 EST

Does anybody has available a second hand small CNC mill with a 4 rotating axis to make rotary engraving dies for iron flats and bars. I own the engraving machine but would like to make my own dies and designs using MasterCam and Autocad to feed the G codes to the machines.

I work in manufacturing wrought iron ornamental parts used in stairs, doors and fences. The Germans made the machines, I would like to make our own dies...

Thank you for your reply,

Sergio Borjas
   Sergio Borjas - Wednesday, 02/02/05 01:50:13 EST

A big part of coal consumption is how you supply the air. An electric blower will go through twice as much coal as a hand powered one, though having a foot switch so the blower is on only when you are standing on it will help.

Welding in it will use a lot more coal than general work, production will use more coal than hobby, etc.

Sergio, these questions would generally be addressed by Jock, the "Guru" of the guru's den, but he is in Central America right now and so may not get to your question as fast as usual.

I do know that in our area in the USA we have to get 6mm square stock as cold rolled rather than hot rolled. I don't know how well cold rolled will work doing baskets cold though.

When making baskets hot I unwind and compress slightly at the same time.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/02/05 04:54:09 EST

Thomas P: I think Sandpile's experience with the 110 lb Russian anvil shows they are either of cast iron or extremely low quality (untempered) cast steel. Even if it was outright cast mild steel it should not have been damaged in the way cited. I do not have foundry experience, but my understanding is going from casting cast iron or ductile to casting steel is a major step up in processing. Heat treating is another major step up in processing from that. There is no way these Russian anvils could be of any quality at all and sell for what they do in the U.S.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/02/05 05:37:37 EST

Ken, you looked at the price for the russian Ti crowbars? No way they could have sold them here either---but they did! The russian anvils could be a soft steel as heat treating of anvils is a bit tricky. By repute they are much better than the chinese CI anvils and so probably a steel.

Not seeing the piece myself I don't know how badly the face was dinged, what is severe to one fellow might be not so bad to another. Sandpile makes real purty looking knives and so probably has need for a pretty smooth face and so probably judges it's condition from that.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/02/05 08:18:46 EST

Ken, You might want to look at the review that Quenchcrack did of the Russian anvil. As QC is a real metallurgist, I would guess that he would know the difference between cast iron and steel better than most folks.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/02/05 08:47:50 EST

Where do I get a good second hand power hammer in Florida, Houston or any southeast states? I may need one for some of my projects and would like to get ready. Of course I can buy one in China for USD 2,700.00 but would have to wait for 2 months to receive it in our shop.

We are in Honduras and shipping from the Southeast cities cost less...

Thank you for your help,

Sergio Borjas

   Sergio Borjas - Wednesday, 02/02/05 09:33:11 EST

Frank, I do believe you are right, some how I spaced out and saw in my head a side blown firepot :O Hey it could happen! BG

We did come up with similar numbers for fuel consumption though. Mine per day, yours per week.
   - Wayne Parris - Wednesday, 02/02/05 10:44:24 EST

KEN You ain't wrong!!! THOMAS P. I have a very good anvil but the face is too narrow. My so-in-law brought three of his anvils over and one is just as soft as the RUSSKIE. When I bought the #110, I did so with the idea that my grandsons could use it and save the better anvil the abuse. These anvils will not hold up to the lighter hammer strokes,(on cold steel) of a small 11 year-old. I am going to find out if this thing is cast iron or steel. If it can be determined for sure, to be steel. I am going to grind the top. I will heat the sucker and dunk it. I have no use for the super soft state of it at present. I will still need a better 4" to 4 1/2" faced Anvil. I know it is going to be a difficult job of hardening the top of this thing, if it even can be done. If not it will traded off, for something that does not make me mad, everytime I look at it.
BOG. I tried to get that old thing you had sitting there, so lonesome, like in your shop, GRIN.

   - sandpile - Wednesday, 02/02/05 10:58:01 EST

if you had a question on a mechanics test that asked:"if you were hardening a canter punch, after quenching, when would you temper the punch? choice of answeres are 1)immediately. 2)after 2hrs
   - no nothing - Wednesday, 02/02/05 12:47:25 EST

no nothing

The question is meaningless as asked. You asked, "if you had..." Okay, that's the "if", where's the "and"? And, we don't do homework other than our own.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/02/05 13:46:11 EST

I am new to smithing. I have been around it for much of my life but i never took interest til now. The problem I have now is where are good sources for materials. I live in tulsa, Oklahoma. Any help would be very useful, thanks, Jo
   Jo - Wednesday, 02/02/05 14:14:57 EST

Sergio- there are only a handful of those CNC machines in the entire US, so the knowledge of how to use them is pretty rare. I am pretty sure I am the only one on this website who owns one, and I do not do any basket twisting on mine. So I dont think you will get any advice on that one. If you bought your machine from the Taiwanese, then you will suffer from the same thing all of us get when we buy chinese equipment- very minimal tech support. Yes, the german machines cost more, but they do know how to use their own equipment, as the guys who invented the machines were actually blacksmiths. I sincerely doubt the Taiwanese or chinese manufacturers have ever actually used the machines. You could try emailing either Hebo directly in Germany, or their US rep, and asking your questions about basket making there. As far as I know, there are none of the Jan Far machines in the entire USA, so there are definitely no used dies for them here. The dies are so rare that I cant imagine anyone selling them separate from the machine anyway. There are plenty of used CNC mills available in the US, but I think you will find it is a little trickier to make rotary engraving dies than just buying a machine. You would need either a CNC mill with 4th axis and a CNC rotary table attached, or a CNC lathe with live tooling, both of which are pretty pricey, and have a decently steep learning curve. These dies also need to be properly heat treated after being made, and of course need to be made from a decent quality of tool steel. I think in the long run you would still find it cheaper to pay the germans to make these dies for you, even at their high prices. But you could look at www.machinetools.com, or at www.locatoronline.com for used machines. There are some dealers in Florida that sell used machine tools.
As far as air hammers go, there are none available in the US for anywhere near as cheap as the $2700 you quoted. The chinese hammers available here, from Anyang and Striker, both start at about $5000 for an 88lb machine. They are in stock in the US, however, and you could buy one from one of those two suppliers. The only other new air hammers available here are utility hammers like the ones made by Big Blue and Phoenix, which require a separate air compressor to run. Again, these are in the $5000 and up range. I am sure any of these suppliers would be happy to ship you a machine, and they are all on the power hammer page here.
I also doubt you will find your square steel bar here in the US at anywhere near the price you get it from China- and as thomas said, hot rolled square in small sizes like that is virtually impossible to find in the US anyway. You generally need to order tons of it to get it.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 02/02/05 14:48:19 EST

Jo: If by materials you mean steel stock, then look in your yellow pages under steel suppliers. Start down the list until you find some which will deal in small retail orders. Don't be surprised if they won't take a phone order, but will only fill your order after payment. Do your research first so you know what to ask for, such as cold rolled vs hot rolled.

I have two sources. One is a supplier primarily to machine shops. Nice folks to work with as they have learned sometimes small customers grow into large customers. I can buy as little or as much as needed. Second is a scrapyard which sells new and scrap steel. New is usually by the foot. Scrap is by the pound. They do not have as extensive of stockage as the full-time steel supplier.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/02/05 14:53:46 EST

I need to turn out a number of copies of a repoussé brass decorative plate, about 12" X 9". Rather than doing them as 'one-offs,' I'm trying to figure how to work from a mould/matrix. I've taken a silicon impression of the original and produced a plaster positive from that. My idea is to then make a negative matrix of Plastic Steel from the plaster positive to produce exact copies in, say, 36 gauge brass. My local metal fabricator says the Plastic Steel matrix will never stand up to the pressure needed to stamp them in a press, so I'll have to work the metal into the matrix by hand. Any experience working along these lines? Thhink it'll work? Would you recommend wood or metal tools? Any advice appreciated.
   Tom - Wednesday, 02/02/05 14:58:59 EST

Sandpile: Story I've heard is that some years ago now the group up in the WI area forge welded on a new steel plate to an anvil. Old top plate had been ground off by chaining it to a tractor which pulled it down a new concrete road with someone sitting on the anvil. When they dropped the hot anvil in a drum they could not add more water fast enough to keep it from boiling off. From Postman's book on Mousehole Forge, I suspect the British anvil makers put theirs under a waterwheel. I believe it was Columbus Forge which quenched the Trentons by putting them in a pipe and the contents of a water tower dropped on them. Apparently object is to prevent the oxygen produced from the boiling process from forming a quenching barrier - but I am way out of my league here. In any event, be very careful of being scalded when quenching it. You might want to do this at a blacksmithing group meeting for the extra manpower.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/02/05 15:07:10 EST

JO, Check your regional blacksmithing group, The Saltfork Craftsmen. http://scaba.abana-chapter.com
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/02/05 15:31:26 EST

KEN, I probably will built a grate and put in it a feed trough, that has hole in the ends. My house well will pump 2o gal a min. I will fix the grate to where I can have an inch or so of the face in the cold running water. If I don't break the anvil and am not successful at hardening. I have a good buddy that will attempt to weld an hard face on it. We may do that instead, of trying to harden it. I don't like the horn on it.I have already ground it down quite a bit. Sounds like I should use it for an anchor. HUH?? GRIN. The'RED RECLUSE'would call it a piece of S*#@*
   - sandpile - Wednesday, 02/02/05 15:54:41 EST

Anvil Quenching:

I've heard of it being done wioth a local Volunteer Fire Department playing a hose on the face. I've never had to, so I've never asked them; but if the forge ever burns down, I'll ask them then. ;-)

Centerpunch Question:

...and just to complicate things, it might depend on the carbon content and the alloy, both of which can effect the tempering window. (..and what sort of quenchant you used, and whether you have a dirt or concrete floor, and just how clumsy are.) There's a textbook answer, and then there's the real life answer. It's both an art and a science.

Still sunny and a bit warmer on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/02/05 16:02:10 EST

Tom, I would think that your idea should work if you are going to be using 36 gauge brass. depending on how many you need to make, you might go through a few stamps, though. You might even anneal the brass before you start working on it. I'm not familiar with this Plastic Steel, but I imagine it's steel powder mixed with a hard resin, probably polyester, which I think would work ok if your features aren't too small.

sandpile, I've never quenched anything as large as an anvil before. This could get very interesting. also, some calculation can be done concerning the amount of water necessary to quench the anvil. if you feel up to it, you can cut off a small corner or something (maybe from the horn since you said you didn't like it?) and send it to me, I'll do some microscopy and tell you whether it's cast iron or steel, the carbon content, and can give you more insight into how best to harden and temper it. ummm, the piece probably has to be at least 1/4" in^2 on one face, and have at least 1/8" depth behind that face for polishing it, though it could be smaller. good luck :)

Dan Palan
   Dan P - Wednesday, 02/02/05 20:47:55 EST

Cast Iron VS Cast Steel: This is actually fairly simple to determine. Gently hit the anvil face with a small hammer. Make sure the anvil is NOT secured to a stump or stand that would attenuate the sound. If you get a "ding" is very likely cast or forged steel. If you get a dull "Thwock" you have a cast iron ASO. This happens because the graphite flakes in CI attenuate the sound and prevents it from ringing. The fly in the ointment is cast Ductile Iron. DI has been treated so that the graphite is not in flakes but nodules. Ductile iron can ring like steel. Fortunately, making DI is tricky and more expensive than making CI so most producers of ASO's don't mess with DI. The Ruskie Anvils are CAST STEEL....but they are kinda soft.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/02/05 20:55:09 EST

The Silver Mfg. Co. I have recently purchased a forge that has a very uniquie blower. The blower is driven by pushing a handle up and down that turns a large flywheel type pulley with 2 open end belts. I have never seen any forge or blower such as this. I have not been able to find anything on the company. "The Silver Mfg. Co. Salem, O USA" is what is on the blower housing. What I have found is that the company was created before 1900. Any help or info on this would be greatly appreciated.
   Robert - Wednesday, 02/02/05 21:06:52 EST

quenchcrack, there are some things you just can't learn in steels class :) is there a chance that the carbon content in sandpile's anvil is high enough to harden it adequately? if not is it possible to case harden it (I have no idea how blacksmiths case harden)?

on a side note: if they take the time to cast the steel, why not properly heat treat it to make a quality anvil? makes no sense to me.

PS, everyone here has been very very helpful in my pursuit of blacksmithing. Much thanks to everyone for the input and advice.
   Dan P - Wednesday, 02/02/05 21:32:08 EST

Have an anvil stamped "American Trade Made Wrought 139 please help identify and date it. My Grandfather bought it used and had it on the ranch it has been passed down to me and I will pass it on to my son. Thanks, Doug
   Doug - Wednesday, 02/02/05 21:57:19 EST

While I can not assit you on the maker of your forge. I have a forge simular to yours. But my flywheel is only 12 inch in dia. and is under the forge pan.
It seemed to me that I had to expend about 2 times the work to get the blower to heat the coal enough to use.

But if your blower is the type I think it is you may not have that issue.

Also if it is that old I might suggest not using the forge.
Mine is about that age and the cast iron forge pan has cracked 3 places due to metal fatigue.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/02/05 22:00:25 EST

DAN Thanks for the offer.
Q-CRACK-- This sucker rings like a bell. worst part of it. I called my welding buddy. He said he problem, He would lace a piece on top the horn and a new face. All I have to do is come up with the right steel. GRIN What would be the best? I have some new ends off of big springs(flat) and some tow bar off of a big(100+hp) tractor. I would have to cut it long ways??? Thanks Sandpile
   - sandpile - Wednesday, 02/02/05 22:06:39 EST


YOur idea of forming the brass sheet into the mold is workable; in fact, it is a common method of doing craft work "repousse", though copper is more commonly used than brass. The annealed copper is softer than brass and has a much greater range of movement before it work hardens too much to move further.

You will need to completely anneal the brass before you begin, unless your supplier can deliver it "dead soft" annealed. To anneal it, heat it to a uniform dull red heat and quench in water. YOu will get some firescale discoloring from the heating, but I wouldn't worry about it until the last annealing. You will probably need to do one or more annealings during the working if the detail in the mold is at all deep. By "deep" I mean more than about three times the thickness of the material, across a distance of six times the material thickness.

If you work the brass too much after it begins to work harden, it will surely crack in that light a gauge. It will help if you order an alloy of brass that is designed for deep drawing or spinning, as it will have alloying elements that maximize ductility. Contact a supplier such as National Bronze and ask the sales rep for guidance as there are literally hundreds of different alloys available.

Pure copper would be the best metal for this, but it wouldn't be brass colored. Actually, fine gold is the most ductile metal, and is yellow colored, but probably more money than you want to spend, right? (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/02/05 22:21:01 EST


That thing rings like a bell, so it is probably hardenable steel. Since it is only a bit over a hundred pounds, two guys could handle it okay and it shouldn't be too hard to heat it in a big coal fire and quench it with a 2" fire hose. Using a hose on the face that way should allow you to harden the face quickly enough that you could then let the residual heat in the body of the anvil draw the temper enough to be workable. Darn sure be better than trying to weld a new top plate on it.

In order to get a new top plate welded on solidly enough to be really right you would have to chamfer the sides until they meet in the middle of the face and then use about thirty pounds of rod. After the pre- and post heating and rod and everything, it would be way cheaper to just buy a good Euroanvil, I think. It would at least be great fun to take a whack at hardening it as is, though!
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/02/05 22:28:13 EST

DAN P, Cast steel can be heat treated, if it has the right composition. It has to have enough carbon content to harden and temper properly, and some cast steels are alloyed, the common additions being nicklel, manganese, chromium, and vanadium. There is also a "boron cast steel".* We don't know what the Russian composition is, so we are at a loss to know the quenching temperature. The Russian anvil is described by quenchcrack at being fairly soft, so perhaps it is cast of low carbon steel. Therefore, we may have on our hands, another 'aso'(anvil shaped object).

Case hardening would not do zippety doo, because the high carbon case is just a few thousanths of an inch deep.

Why make a quality anything? Because you can get by making junk and still make a profit. Lots of people do that.

* "Materials Handbook", Brady & Clauser, 1977 printing, McGraw-Hill.

DOUG, Postman's "Anvils in America" believes the Americans were made in Brooklyn, NY, from about 1899 -1911. He had a little difficulty finding out about the company. He pictures one anvil with AMERICAN written on the side, and the weight underneath. The lettering "Trade Made Wrought" is not shown.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/02/05 22:36:00 EST

Tom- You are on the right track. I have used Devcon steel filled epoxy [80% steel]with better results than silicon carbide/epoxy.We used it on a production basis on .004" steel,when production orders exceded 80,000 parts per month it became problematic.This was a stretch forming punchpress operation,with some embosing.Another material is called Kirksite [not sure of spelling]. It is used in prototype & short run forming dies & plastic molds.I haven't used it, but I think it is similar to type metal [reasonably low melting point] as the others stated You will need dead soft material with plenty of elongation.If You are going to try a top&bottom die press operation be sure to alow for material thickness when casting the dies. one way would be to use sheet wax between a finished die and the cast You will pour against it. A layer of polly trash bag on each side of the metal You are stamping is as good a forming lubricant as any.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/02/05 23:14:33 EST

Quenching large object.
We used to quench very large axles, say 450#. We were using oil, and had a 8" pipe line from the pumps to the huge water tube chillers, to the quench tank back to the 5000 gallon tank. You can quench 24/7 with that set up. Its surplus, anybody interested?
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/02/05 23:37:26 EST

RICH-- I will have a bunch of kids and grand-kids here, during XIT(Rodeo and Reunion), we might make a fun time of seeing if we can make soemthing useful of this ASO. I have been working on my 6" vice I got off of the man with the FUNNY RED HAT,Grin. He'd get headed and heeled in this country, running around with horns on his hat.BOG

   - sandpile - Wednesday, 02/02/05 23:40:45 EST

sandpile: Before you go to all the expense and trouble of one of the more extreme fixes, try this first. With the ball end of a ball peen hammer, peen all around the gouges on your anvil face. If you do it right they'll get smoothed down enough not to even effect your work. A number of people have fixed up those russian anvils by doing that. And if it doesn't work, it in no way makes it more difficult to reHT it or weld on a new face.
   AwP - Thursday, 02/03/05 03:18:38 EST

I have a question about repairing a broken die for my power hammer. I've been rebuilding this thing for the past couple of months and I am about ready to be needing a die soon.

The die is about 2 1/2" X 5" and has had a portion of the top, where it contacts the die holder broken off. I was planning to heat it up either in my forge, or with a rose bud, and then build up with some 7018 rod.

I have a couple of questions. How hot should I preheat it? Do I need to stop and clean the welds after every pass? I just gained access to a tig welder. Is there a tig process that would be better than using the buz box with the 7018? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 02/03/05 05:20:06 EST

Sandpile, "Country Blacksmithing" by Charles McRaven goes into details on how he fixed up an anvil including using the local volunteer fire department for the quench. An anvi's worth of hot steel takes quite a lot of *FORCE* to get through the steam blanket to cool it off---tempering is usually not a problem...

Work hardening an anvil face is a known method too but takes a lot of pounding---perhaps a grandkid's worth...

Hitting the anvil on a bench grinder can give you some info on carbon content---just like check out a piece of junkyard steel for knifemaking purposes.

Many items are not provided at their optimal heat treat---some for liability reasons, some for cheapness and some cause they just can't believe folks actually use them like they ought to be used!

As for heading and heeled, them's deer horns, don't think they'd think much out of a cowboy who had trouble differentiating between the two, Fish&Game might want to know about the brands too...

There was a website out there with pics of "cajun blackened anvil" from one smithing group's attempt to forge weld a new face on an anvil---they didn't keep an eye on the base heating up as well as they should have---not a pretty sight

Thomas "ich Moechte ein dunkles bier bitte"
   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/03/05 06:34:31 EST

jo: I also live in tulsa, try Quikservice Steel at 1155 n. peoria. If they do not have what you are looking for there are several steel supply houses in the area.
   - JOHN COTRILL - Thursday, 02/03/05 10:03:20 EST

Hola from Costa Rica! Sorry for the delay archiving the page. My local connection is buggy and my friend's PC has a virus that is eating bandwidth. . .

Visited a pina' plantation (pineaple farm) and have been seeing a lot of the country. Took some ironwork photos while playing tourista.

   - guru - Thursday, 02/03/05 12:07:54 EST

Is is common for hot cuts to need reworked frequently or is there a trick to what steel you use or how they are temepered. I made a hot cut out of a steall that seem to be moderate to high carbon( A novice judge from spark) and it seem that every half dozen to dozen uses I end up resharpening the thing?
   Sean A - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:08:36 EST

Cast Iron vs Cast Steel - Russian Anvils....

Are you absolutely certain that it's one of the Russian anvils and not Chinese? As I understand things, Harbor Freight started with the Russian Steel and then switched to Chinese Iron, with no notification either way. The person that sold the anvil to you may have made assumptions that they should not have.
   Monica - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:15:10 EST

Sandpile - Sorry missed your response about the anvil ringing.
   Monica - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:17:11 EST

it is possible that it is not a good enough metal. But more likely you are cutting metal that is not hot enough. Also when you cut do you cut all the way thru? If so you may be itting the cutter with the hammer.
I usually cut most the way thru and then twist off.
Also I cut on each face of the metal so that the little burr is in the center and looks sorta like a small pyramid. Easier to remove that way.
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:21:39 EST

Dear Guru:
Working on a book about 5th century Ireland - would the book "The Art of Blacksmithing" contain information on how charcoal was made? Also would any of your historians have information on the "spell of the smith"? Apparently this involved the overturning of an anvil (which only a very strong man could do) and it was one of the things St. Patrick asked to be delivered from! Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. I am enjoying the site. For the record, I was born in 1952 and I live in the beautiful state of NH.
   Renee Yancy - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:25:23 EST

I normally cut from both sides but I may be cutting to far, and I normally have it a good bright yellow, dang near white. I try not to let the metal set onteh hardy to long as I figured the heat would quickly transfer.
   Sean A - Thursday, 02/03/05 13:32:23 EST

Renee- for a great description of how charcoal was traditionally made in the british isles, I suggest you read one of the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome-
Swallowdale is the one that has the charcoal burners in it. These books are english childrens books, written in the 30's, and the kids meet up with some charcoal burners up in the lake country hills. They make charcoal the old fashioned way.
The books are well worth reading on their own, anyway- a truly great series of books that, while aimed at kids, are totally meaningful to any adult with an imagination.
   - Ries - Thursday, 02/03/05 14:34:06 EST

Thanks for such a quick response - I will try to find a copy of the book!
   Renee Yancy - Thursday, 02/03/05 14:44:01 EST

SeanA: if you are using a hardy hole mounted hot cutter, what I do on the last couple of hits is to use a brass hammer. Then if it does shear too fast no damage to the cutter tip.

If using a handled hot cutter and hitting it with a hammer I always cut against an aluminum block on top of the anvil, using a hold down if I can.....

You also might want to quench the edge of the hot cutter with some grease or similar stuff. A lot of smiths around here keep a can of Forsner's (sp?) hoof packing handy. It is also good when punching holes.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/03/05 15:03:37 EST

jo: I go to Quikservice steel at 1155 N. Peoria in Tulsa they are a division of Yaffee Iron and Metal. They are the local scrapyard. If you don't find what you are looking for try the local steel suppliers.
   JOHN COTRILL - Thursday, 02/03/05 15:07:10 EST

Thanks will do that to night.
   Sean A - Thursday, 02/03/05 16:05:02 EST

I am looking for info on how I should go about tempering the frizzen of a muzzleloading rifle.
   B Loague - Thursday, 02/03/05 16:17:38 EST

Renee: There is also a short appendix on making charcoal in the back of Aldren A. Watson's "The Blacksmith, Ironworker & Farrier" (orignially titled "The Village Blacksmith". If you e-mail me, I can send the three pages to you as attachments.

One of the reasons Haiti is virtually denuded of trees today is the result of charcoal making.

My understanding is in early New England the blacksmith would accept charcoal as payment on account. Those clearing fields would turn the excess wood into charcoal rather than just burning it.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/03/05 16:23:08 EST

hot cuts,
Sean how sharp do you sharpen it?
What I do to mine is after it's sharp, I take a file and make one pass the long way on the edge. This intentionaly dulling seems to make them last longer for me.
I wish I could remember where I read it to give it proper due, but A hardy is supposed to be softer than a hammer, and a hammer softer than the anvil. The reasoning being it's easier to redress the hardy than a hammer, and a hammer than an anvil.
This answer brought to you by the letters C,S,I, and the colour blue.
   JimG - Thursday, 02/03/05 16:50:18 EST

is blaksmithing the same now as it was in midevil times.
   bob scott - Thursday, 02/03/05 17:26:22 EST

how has black smithing changed since the midevil ages,
   taylor scott - Thursday, 02/03/05 17:32:08 EST

How can I cut the brick material used in the bottom of gas forges..I don't want to ruin circular saw blades cutting the stuff..Anyone got an idea?
   paul Duval - Thursday, 02/03/05 17:42:49 EST

try your local hardware store for a masonary cutting blade that will fit your saw, just be aware that the grit both from the the brick and the blade will kill a saw in no time flat. You can also get masonary blades to fit handheld grinders and the grinders are a little harder to kill. YMMV
   Mark P - Thursday, 02/03/05 17:58:27 EST

Paul, Harbor Freight Tools sells 4 1/2" angle grinders for about $20. They are good for cutting steel and masonry, you can get packages of each types of abrasive wheels from them. These grinders last a whole lot longer than most circular saws, and the cost is cheaper when they do bite the dust. They also fit in tighter places when cutting, which can be nice. If you don't have an outlet near you they have a website you can order from. Normally I don't recommend chinese tools but these have held up good for me and others here.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/03/05 18:06:33 EST

BLoague, unless your frizzen is made of a carbon steel alloy, you will need to "face" it with something that will spark. Some folks use small pieces of files cut to fit, I personally like to solder a piece of spring steel to the frizzen face. These last a long time, and are easily replaced when worn out. You can get small pieces of spring stock from most metal supply outlets, and I believe from www.Admiralsteel.com......others may post some different suggestions here.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/03/05 18:10:29 EST

Hello, my name is Kevin, and I started my blacksmith company about 3 years ago. I am seriously looking at buying an air power hammer, but am not sure how to select the size for me. I have never used one before, and forge upto 1" sq infrequently by hand. I am unsure how to go about deciding on what size/weight of hammer to go with. All I hear is bigger is better, but I've got a budget and floor space to consider. Would I really be limiting my possibilities if I went with a hammer around #100? Thank you for any advise you can give...Kevin
   Kevin - Thursday, 02/03/05 18:26:10 EST

Is it possible for you to find a smith in your area who has a pwr hammer? SO you can see how they work and perhaps learn how to use one before buying your own?

Also it seems to me that 100lber will work just fine for you. ANd once you have lots of time on it then you can more better know if you ever want to go bigger.

I know 'bigger is better' is a common thread but too big is just as bad as too small. For example use you and your shop as the example. You are limited by shop space. so a 300 lb hammer might be way too big.

Another concern is your air supply. Unless you get a self-contained.

   Ralph - Thursday, 02/03/05 18:55:27 EST

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually trying to contact a local blacksmith association to see if there is anyone near by to give me some advise. Thanks Ralph
   Kevin - Thursday, 02/03/05 19:29:05 EST


Another question is what angle you've sharpen the hot cut at. I made one with too acute an angle one time, and the edge was softening and curling up with each cut. Resharpened it a blunter angle and it worked fine. Off hand, I'd say about a 45 degree included angle is probably right, but others may have to chime in on that. I've heard you can use a shaper angle with an air hardening steel like Atlantic 33.
   Mike B - Thursday, 02/03/05 19:35:04 EST

Dammit, people! It's not NICE to make Paw Paw fill up to tears. I came how to a stack of checks, and now have over $750 in checks alone, and I don't know how much Rich has got, but I do know that there is more on the way.

Blacksmiths are a lot nicer people than most folks would ever realize!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 02/03/05 19:38:51 EST

I would like to have engraving done on the metal receiver of an old shotgun except have received mixed opinions as to whether I should anneal first and temper later or just engrave without softening the steel first. The suggestions were that if the steel was annealed there would be a good chance the steel would flake apart and when tempering the work would be totally ruined. I've also read that if I do no metal prep before engraving, more than one pass with the tool would resuld in sloppy work since the metal will be to hard for the tool to cut deep enough the first time. Having said that, what should I do? MM
   - MM - Thursday, 02/03/05 20:23:45 EST

Anneal or not to anneal. Have received mixed opinions as to whether I should anneal and temper or just engrave metal in it's hard state. I want to engrave the metal receiver of an old shotgun, some say the metal will basically fall apart or blow up if put into an oven, I've also read that engraving hard steel won't allow graver full depth thus a second pass of the tool would make work look sloppy. What do I do? MM.
   Mark Marino - Thursday, 02/03/05 20:31:45 EST

MM, don't anneal that receiver. If the engraver can't cut it as it is, he is not much of an engraver. Annealing will soften it and oxidize the surface to the point that it will a)be too soft to shoot safely, and b) ruin the finish.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/03/05 20:33:12 EST

Dan, the carbon content of the Ruskie I reviewed was .38%. That could be hardened to about Rc 45 or so if he can keep from cracking it. No, case hardening would not be practical. I learned all that in steels class, by the way; 5 years of college, Masters Degree in Metallurgy, Registered Professional Engineer, 30+ years experience. You?
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/03/05 20:42:00 EST

Quenchcrack: How does the .38% compare to A36?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/03/05 21:45:24 EST

I talked to both my boys. They said "POP don't worry about the ASO, we'll figure out how to heat and dunk that sucker" he he , grin. Sounds like we are are going to have some fun out of the DA*&^&* RUSSKIE, after all. Grin. Better get the horn finished up, before we get it too hard.

   - sandpile - Thursday, 02/03/05 22:09:25 EST

Are there any working Smiths in/around/near Ft. Colins Colorado? Would like to connect. I have plans for a roller mill I'd like to build this year and need help with welding & fabriation. We can make two
   Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 02/03/05 22:30:24 EST

Dan p - makeshift anvil, I made a nice one (118#) out of a 18" section of found steel in a salvage yard. send me your email to boondocker1-@-comcast-.-net (remove the - ) and I;ll send you a few pic's.
   Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 02/03/05 22:33:31 EST

Jerry, check with Dan Nibbelink at Rocky Mountin Smiths group

He has been having a monthly hammer-in at his place just north of Berthoud on 287, all are welcome.
Or contact me by clicking my name below. I have a some welding equipment and my neighbors would love to have you reduce my scrap pile. I'm in Longmont.
   Habu - Thursday, 02/03/05 23:36:47 EST

My hot cuts both hardy mount and handled are much less than 45 degrees. They are fairly thin. The hardy mount is made from axel and was not heat treated Just forged and filed
The handled cutter I use most is sorta small. I made it from
coil spring. I tried various heat treatments but finally just re-forged the cutting end and left it at that.

Of course I honestly know how often I dress the ends as I just do it when it needs it. Same for chisels and hammers etc.
Tools need maintenace so I do it.
   Ralph - Thursday, 02/03/05 23:42:52 EST


I'm interested in setting up a smithy and would like to buy an anvil and gas forge, but I don't know where to get them. I'm running on a tight budget, however, and would like to spend no more than 400 for both pieces - so I need to get them either discount or used.

Any suggestions on where I can get discount or used forges and anvils?

   MP - Friday, 02/04/05 00:26:40 EST

SeanA, S1, S7, H13, H21. All hold up as hot work steels. High carbon steel is cold work steel.

Renee, A book called "Frontier Iron" shows how charcoal was made in large mounds and covered with humus, near St. James, Missouri, for the Meramec Iron Furnace. I don't know about the spell, but with the surname of Turley, I should know. Let us know what you find out.

Scott Boys, We don't do homework assignments. And learn how to spell medieval.

I think the old fossil gunsmiths overcoated the frizzen face by fagot welding high carbon steel onto the wrought iron, and in the early days a worn file was often the source. The steel was also forge brazed on, especially if it was a repair. Then, it needs to be hardened.

MM, Annealing is done on steel at an incandescent (giving off light) red heat, 1,420ºF, or hotter. Your oven only goes to 550ºF or so. So you aren't even in the ball park. Do as we all have suggested. Don't anneal. Your posts indicate that you don't know what annealing is, or does.

Ken, My "old" stock books say that A36 shouldn't go beyond 0.27% carbon, but the quality control isn't always what it should be. A36 is supposed to have 0.60%/0.90% manganese.

Sandpile, Years ago, Tom Joyce and Dean Crumpacker dug about a 5' D. hole in my yard, maybe 4' deep, next to a stock tank. They ran a 3" pipe underground to the bottom for a tuyere, connected up above to a hand cranked blower. They built a huge wood fire, hung the anvil upside down into the fire by chains and porter bars. When the top portion was red hot, it got swished in the stock tank. Usually no temper needs to be drawn, because there is so much mass to the anvil, it slows the rate of heat abstraction resulting in NOT a full brittle hardness, but a tough hardness.

Jerry, Caleb Kullman, a talented smith, is in Ft. Collins.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/04/05 00:42:38 EST

Kevin and Power Hammers:-)

MORE is better, more Power, AND more Control.

I have a 75# Bull utility style air hammer, wonderful control, lacks a little bit in the power category, but I am comparing it with a nice 'little' steam hammer, or a decent sized mechanical hammer;-)

With power hammers you have three basic kinds:
Self Contained Air Hammers
& Utility Style Air Hammers

Each type has its pro's and con's

Mechanical hammers, tend to be cheaper, and give you more bang for your buck. They are for the most part only available used, or as a DIY user built hammer. (There are a few guys who build small hammers and sell them...) They will tend to hit just a little harder than an air hammer of the same ram weight, sometimes Noticeably harder. They also can be run on a smaller motor than an air hammer of the same size, so they tend to be cheaper to run once they are installed. Drawbacks, often they are cranky and need to be tuned up, sometimes daily or even hourly, but once you are a knowledgeable power hammer mechanic, it is second nature to stop for a second and adjust something before continuing. Another common drawback is control, some hammers are very polite and can strike one blow for a user, others will dribble off two or three blows. Some hammers come fitted with a brake to make them behave better, or can have a brake added to them to improve control. So mechanical hammers tend to be cheaper, more common, and hit a little harder, but you are your own mechanic, and not all of them are polite and have decent control. (People who use air hammers a lot, generally fault mechanical hammers for lack of control)

Self Contained Air Hammers - have a built in compressor and need a fairly large electric motor to run them. The hammer runs at a constant speed while the treadle is depressed, 180 - 220 BPM is kinda the standard I remember?;-) These hammers can be had new or used, but it is not recommended to try and build one for your self:-) The stroke length is determined by how far the treadle is depressed, and it also determines how hard the blow is. A stroke length that barely contacts the work piece is going to just tap the work, a stroke that is trying to follow through an inch past the work piece is going to hit pretty hard. Most have wonderful control once you figure out what you are doing with them. So wonderful control, opperates at a good speed for drawing and forging opperations, but tend to be a little more expensive to buy upfront, and to opperate.

Utility Style Air Hammers - this is a wide grouping covering some types of steam hammer down to a homemade Kiyon style air hammer. You can buy new, used, or build one for yourself, but you are also going to need an air supply. The bigger the hammer the bigger the compressor you need to throw it:-) I have worked on a small steam hammer that was being powered by a 350HP desiel rotory screw compressor, rated @ 1000CFM (stuff those wimpy 5hp compressors;-) Even a good used compressor is going to cost a fair piece, but the ability to have all kinds of other air tools in the shop make this a very versitle option. A well built, well maintained, utility hammer is a joy to use, you can vary the power behind the stroke, as well as the stroke length, and you can get one HARD blow, or one soft blow. Utility hammers are great for using hand tooling under, flatbacked/rounders, hacks, sidesets, punches. Many utility style hammers can be set to clamp work between the dies, a fairly useful feature actually... Drawbacks, COST if you can find a nice brand new utility style hammer like a Phoenyx hammer:-)or even a used steam hammer for below scrap price, it is still going to be expensive to get it home, have a foundation poured, and purchase a big enough air supply. Then there is the cost of running and maintaining the compressor.

Like I said I have a 75# Bull utility style air hammer and love it for its control and versitility, but it was a little salty, and it does hit quite a bit softer than a 100# LG (BUT I don't have to worry about the Bull eating my work, like the LG;-)

More on bigger is better!:-) Not only is ram weight important, but so is Length of stroke, and variability of stroke, and how big a throat the machine has. And most especially the size of the dies! I was straightening an arm from a 3pt hitch that got bent, and I have 3"x5" dies, big for modern power hammer dies, and they were TOO small to flatten the bar easily, even with tooling... Good old hammers, some of them had 5" x 11" more than enough room to spread out and use some furnature to do bending on your power hammer:-)

So Kevin what kind of work are you looking to do with a power hammer?

And where are you? I would be surprised if there weren't several professional blacksmiths with power hammers within an hour or twos drive...
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 02/04/05 01:19:34 EST

I'm new to blacksmithing and have recently acquired a Champion Model #400 forge blower. I've taken it apart as much as possible and cleaned it out. The gears are in great shape so are the fan blades. Is there anywhere that I can get a repair manual or guidance on rebuilding the bearings etc. Also how much oil do you put into it. I poured a quarter of a litre of #30 oil in but almost all of it ran out the front where the axial gear comes out and attaches to the fan blades. Do I need a new seal? Thanks for your help.
   Raymond Brounstein - Friday, 02/04/05 02:58:12 EST

Short answer is no there is not. BUt there is an advertising CD ( old ads) that anvilfire sells. It does have some expaned drawings.

These old blowers often did not even match ( internal parts) withing a same year production let alone different years.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/04/05 03:24:59 EST

QC, I am a materials engineer(4 year BS), specializing in metallurgy and electronic materials. most of my metallurgical knowledge is highly theoretical, kinetics and diffusion and mechanisms and all that. very little of what I was taught is what would be considered "practical" knowledge. This is hindered by the fact that I actually work in the semiconductor industry (something like 3 years of experience with vacuums and thin film deposition, but 0 years in anything metallurgical), so my experience with metals is limited to what I've done in labs in college and my limited personal experience. as I said, it's one thing to learn about equations and all that in class, but real life tends to be quite different. anything I can pick up here is much appreciated.

as for my makeshift anvil, I snagged a piece of 6" round 1045 steel from work, weighs about 110lbs. gonna harden/temper it sometime next week and give it a shot.

I also have a question about vises: will I need one right away? or can I put it off for a while? Thanks again everyone.
   - dan p - Friday, 02/04/05 03:41:52 EST

DanP a good postvise is one of the handiest tools you can have in the smithy. Improvised anvils *are* anvils; but a poor or other type of vise is a pain. I would try to get one as fast as is cheap!

Blowers tended toward the old "flow through" oiling. I usually give it a few shots of oil through the oiler hole when I start up in the morning and after lunch and collect the drippings on my concrete floor as proff that the system is working.

MP there is a great deal on heavy hard to ship smithing equipment right over that away---run check it out *now*!
Or to put it another way---unless you tell us where you are at shipping costs might exceed your budget for any of the stuff we painstakingly type in here---most smiths are not touch typists...

Hot cuts: as was mentioned high carbon does not mean high hot hardness, OTOH you can cut hot steel with A36 tools just expect to dress them often. My hardy is made from a jackhammer bit---found one broken off at the shaft/bit junction and drew out a hardy hole shaft on it on a borrowed triphammer. Worked well for over a decade and a half so far and I dress it as needed. Another cutting trick is to make the last blow just beside the hardy edge---learning to do this without fliping hot steel up into your face is left as an exercise for the student with high pain tolerance.

Scott the answer to your first question is "yes and No" searching on this site will give you a lot of info on medieval and modern smithing as we have coached several authors in the not so distant past...

Renee, 5th century wrought iron anvils would be around 50 pounds for a big one---not too hard to over turn. Stone anvils could be sizable though. The strength of the smith lies in his swinging a hammer all day.

Have you seen "The work of Angels" an exhibit catalogue on early irish metalworking?

I do Y1K (and earlier) smithing at times so any questions will be ok---my e-mail address is correct for *this* post.

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/04/05 05:17:22 EST

ptree: Perhaps you should consider importing the Russian anvils, with the guarantee of a good cast steel content and better horn shape and finishing, and then doing the heat treating yourself. You could then offer a low-cost, fairly good qualify anvil to the American market. The market seems to be there.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/04/05 07:47:55 EST

Thanks Fionnbharr (Re: Power Hammers)
To answer your questions. I am located in Burlington, Ontario Canada (1 hr west of Toronto). Right now I have no specific job in mind for the hammer. In the near future I maybe working on a large gate. But for right now I am considering getting a utility hammer to help with a number of operations I do myself right now. Like drawing out long tapers on 1/2 and 5/8 sq bar, and using as a striker when punching, drifting, and fullering. I've done alot of drawing out by hand, and have saved up the cash to get a hammer to save my arm for the delicate work. The striker work for me is time consuming because I'm the striker. So I have to clamp the work, using a holdfast, then punch, unclamp etc. Alot of handling, alot of time. Another option, with a power hammer I could expand into working with larger stock. I must admit, I have no experience in this business.
   Kevin - Friday, 02/04/05 08:17:49 EST

More Questions on Power Hammer Choices:
I am really looking at the Pheonix 100 lb. It has large dies, like you spoke of, which I liked. The control sounds like it is fantastic, and I have talked to a couple of people that have used the 150 lb model and have only good things to say about the machine. But they really suggested I look at getting the 150 lb machine. I just don't know if the extra cost in the machine, and compressor is worth it. probably around $4000 CDN.
You also mentioned about getting a slab poured, the manufacture claims that wouldn't be necessary, which sound handy since my shop right now is still in my home's garage. Do you think it is a good idea not to have a separate slab poured?
   Kevin - Friday, 02/04/05 08:27:24 EST

MP: Use the link for Gettering Started in Blacksmithing.

On anvils, in general, try placing classified ads in local small town newspapers to the effect: Wanted: Blacksmithing anvil and tools, XXX-XXXX. You may find some widow out there who still has her husband's equipment. Next check out www.abana.org for the blacksmithing groups in your area. Usually each has one or more members who dabbles in used equipment on the side. More and more groups are holding regional conferences which usually draw a goodly number of tailgate sellers. Heck, the one at Quad-State takes up a couple of acres. For new anvils, check out the advertisers by using the NAVIGATE anvilfire down to them.

On propane forges: There are generally some on eBay and by the forum advertisers. If you plan to forge weld in one, get a guarantee it will do so and expect to pay extra for the quality.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/04/05 08:34:27 EST

Ken - thank you for the attachemnts - very helpful.

Ries - I have ordered the book "Swallowdale" from Amazon. Thank you.

Frank - I will look for the book "Frontier Iron" - thank you for the tip.

Thomas P. - thank you for the info on the weight of a 5th century anvil. I will try to find the catalogue you mentioned .

Would any of you guys be interested in reviewing some of my blacksmithing scenes to see if they are correct? I am a nurse and I know when I see things in the movies I always think "It wouldn't happen like that." I am aiming for as much historical and archaeological correctness as I can muster. There are no written records for 5th century Ireland, and only scant archaeological evidence. But the fact that basic blacksmithing hasn't changed that much since the Iron Age is fascinating.

Thanks again for the excellent input and suggestions.

   Renee Yancy - Friday, 02/04/05 09:40:35 EST

Sandpile: You mentioned your favorite anvil face is too narrow. Have you considered adding on a side table to it? Go to www.ebay.com and take a look at the photograph in auction #6151218515. Note the extension to the back of this anvil to widen it. I have some 1/2" x 3" stainless which polishes up mirrow smooth. You can have a hunk for my cost ($1.00 pound) and the cost of shipping ($3.85). It could be welded to the side of the plate and then supported underneath with brackets/braces welded to the anvil side if it isn't cast iron. And, yes, yes, I know it would be abusing an anvil. However, I'm like PawPaw: An anvil is a tool.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/04/05 10:19:49 EST

Charcoal Production; Renee:

Here’s a good site for the full-blown charcoal production process:


However, earlier/simpler production methods, in pit clamps, was also practiced; and when the process went to the above ground structures is a matter of some conjecture.

A small pit clamp, about a yard across and a yard deep, is shown in “The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio” (ca. 1540; translated and edited by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi; ISBN 0-486-26134-4). The woodcut shows the collier loading a large lump of root into it.

Pit clamps are still used in the Caribbean, where a hole about 6’ X 12’ X 4’ deep is lined with brushwood, filled with fire wood, covered over with brushwood, tin and dirt (originally it would have been green leaves and grass, instead of tin, and then the dirt) and “cooked” for about two days. In the early medieval period I suspect pit clams were prevalent, and the larger kiln structures were an innovation in efficiency when the incipient iron making industries started to grow in their demand for fuel.

Sunny and warming on the banks of the Potomac. I hope it melts all the snow, since one of the production companies for the History Channel (Atlas Media Corp.) is “shooting” John Wilkes Booth in our antebellum tobacco barn this Saturday. Good news: They filmed portions at Ford’s Theatre (www.nps.gov/foth) and interviewed several prominent historians. On the other claw, they’ve got a psychic. So it looks like Oakley Farm will have a credit line in “Psychic History” on the History Channel. (Yes, you’ll get to see JWB die on my front porch.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/04/05 10:39:20 EST

Bruce, thank you for the excellent website on the charcoal burn in the Wyre Forest - very helpful - there is a lot to it, isn't there?

   Renee Yancy - Friday, 02/04/05 10:59:18 EST

Renee, I'd be happy to review your chapters---as ex President of a Y1K irish living history group and smith. I've corrected my e-mail address to be good for this post.

Have you read Paw Paw, (Jim) Wilson's "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" it has a lot of good info on "doing stuff" written by a smith. He's got it in print and an e-version off the stories link here at anvilfire.

The smith in the 5th Century Ireland was high status; IIRC a king's smith had the right to sit at the high table with the king.! Also I'm sure you have read the triads of Ireland where the "din of a smithy" is one of the three sounds of increase.

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/04/05 11:13:51 EST

Ken and Sandpile,

It could even be welded to another piece of steel, sitting on the same mount as the anvil and then clamp chained to the existing anvil. That would work and wouldn't "abuse" the existing anvil.


Make SURE that you tape the program, PLEASE!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/04/05 11:20:32 EST

FRANK TURLEY-- I have the end of a 1/4" thick tank. It looks like it may have been an anhydrious(SP) fertilizer tank/ There are several openings in the bottom. 2" is the largest at the present time. It is 40" id. and 20" deep. I have an 8' drinking tub and 20 GALS. a minute well. We will be in SANTA FE before we try this experiment. We will get your thoughts and maybe TOMS and DEANS also, if they are available. I would like to do this thing, as an experiment. It would be nice to have a whole gang of folks. Some to do the work and some to do the documenting. It sure as he** won't be an controlled experiment.he, heh GRIN.
KEN-- The good little anvil is a ACME 88+ lbs with a 3 1/4" face. Great horn, bad edges. There is a good, SWEDISH 150 LB. setting on the floor in my shop. I have not been able to trade for it yet, BUUTT I have not give up. It is the best anvil my son-in-law has. (EVIL)GRIN.
   - sandpile - Friday, 02/04/05 11:42:11 EST

Mark Marino: Let me second what quenchcrack said, repeat what I told you earlier, and offer some more comments. Annealing will not cause the metal to fall apart or blow up in the oven/kiln. It WILL make the reciever blow up in your face if you ever fire it afterwards. No engraver worth his salt would have told you that about having to take a second pass. If a REAL engraver tells you the receiver needs to be annealed before and then re-heat-treated after engraving, ask them where to send it for that purpose. It is not, repeat NOT something you can do yourself even if you have access to an industrial heat-treat oven, based on what you've said so far. This may seem like a harsh assessment of your abilities, but you are talking about modifying a firearm. Anything you do to that firearm that involves heating the receiver has the potential to maim or kill you or anyone else who gets hold of it after you. This is not something to mess around with unless you know exactly what you are doing.
   Alan-L - Friday, 02/04/05 12:32:53 EST

I am in fifth grade and I am doing a report on blacksmithing. I wanted to ask a couple of questions. These are the questions:What would you find in a smithie? When did blacksmithing start? How did blacksmithing evolve over time? Who started blacksmithing? How many blacksmiths are there today compared to medival times? What did blacksmiths do in the past centurys? Were there any famous blacksmiths? What do blacksmiths make now? Do people still buy blacksmith products? How did blacksmithing start? I would appreciate if you answer my questions. Thank you.
   C. Sutter - Friday, 02/04/05 13:35:16 EST

Where can I buy a Sinusodial anvil?
   PW - Friday, 02/04/05 14:29:02 EST

These questions sound like a school paper! I encourage you to do your own research.

Smithies vary with time and place, even today one finds great vatiety. The only things I have found in all of them are some kind of anvil, a forge of some kind, and hammer(s) of some kind. Even today, the anvils range from a rock to a block of junk steel to a rectangular block to highly evolved patterns like we usually think of. Forges range from a hole in the ground to modern electrical induction forges under computer control. Hammers have even more variety!

Do some research!
   - John Odom - Friday, 02/04/05 14:37:54 EST

PW Allcraft has Sinusodial stakes 212-279-7077
   - trent - Friday, 02/04/05 14:42:59 EST

Thank you Trent for the information, I appreciate this so much. PW
   PW - Friday, 02/04/05 14:52:16 EST

"Who started blacksmithing?"
Genesis Chapter 4 verse 22.
Good luck trying to get away with that for your documentation if your in a public school.
   JimG - Friday, 02/04/05 15:26:18 EST

Being new to the trade I am not as familiar the different steels as most? and I am curious if anyone knows where I can find a source that would give me an average price for different tyes of steel.

Jim G. Good Reference, i'll have to check that out.
   Sean A - Friday, 02/04/05 16:00:45 EST

Oh by! the way you can site the Bible as reference in public schools, and there are lawers that are willing to fight that again if necessary. Not that I personally like to see the use of lawers, It's rarely an enjoyable experience.
So C. Sutter there is your oldest and most accurate reference.
   Sean A - Friday, 02/04/05 16:06:07 EST

Ken Scharabok,
I wonder if your post re: cast anvil importing might be mis-addressed. I work in a forge shop, and as Pawpaw can attest, we already forge big honking powerhammer anvils, ready for inclusion in any junkyard hammer. I have been trying to think of a way to forge a london pattern on an upsetter. We currently forge and shape about 200# or so in our 10". I have worked all my adult life in shops that forge, where cast is a four letter word. :)
   ptree - Friday, 02/04/05 19:20:36 EST

SeanA, I'll list some tool steel companies from an old steel stock list book. Most of them should be in business, and you can let your search engines find out more. Al Tech;
Atlas; Braeburn; Carpenter; Columbia; Crucible; Jessop; Latrobe; Teledyne-Vasco; Universal-Cyclops.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/04/05 20:18:44 EST

ptree: Reason I mentioned it was your mentioning of having the equipment there for oil quenching. The anvils (hopefully an improved version) would be ready for heating and treating.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/04/05 20:30:00 EST

Pardon me for asking but can someone tell em what happened to KEENJUNK.COM?? Thanks
   - T.C. - Friday, 02/04/05 20:56:06 EST

Ken, I believe A36 has a maximum carbon content of about .26% or so.

Dan, excellent. Forgive me if I misunderstood your comment. No you can't learn the practical from books. You can't learn what's in the books by staying in the shop all day and trying to ridicule those who read books. You need BOTH! Learn from the books, apply it in the shop! Our Blacksmith forefathers are the progenitors of todays metallurgists because they were curious and observant. It is a CRIME not to use what we have learned about metals in the last 100 years in the execution of our craft.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 02/04/05 20:56:35 EST

Ken Scharabok,
The oil quenck system is partially dismantled. We no longer forge the parts requireing oil quench.
   ptree - Friday, 02/04/05 21:56:27 EST


The Junkyard closed at midnight on December the 31st. There is a replacement site at:

   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/04/05 21:59:38 EST

I went to pick up some steel at the local scrap yard today. And what did I find? Why, a plethora of anvils! There were 7 1/2" round anvils about 15" long, 4" round about 3 feet long, 2" X 5" by 3 feet long, all sorts of anvils! Lot's of steel there at scrap prices that would make a decent anvil for someone needing one. I was kinda tempted to buy one just for the experience.
   Bob H - Friday, 02/04/05 22:41:29 EST

Types & uses of tool steels-- Carpenter has [or at least used too offer]a small,easy to use booklet "Carpenter Matched Tool And Die Steels" containing forging, heat treating,& mechanical properties of 12 common tool steels that cover most of the needs You could have for high alloy tool steel. There is a section in the back that lists all kinds of tools & which steels are best suited for them. Having learned the tool& die trade in southeastern Pa.near the Carpenter plant,we used their product,&this book was the bible.AISI grades are listed, material could come from anybody.For less demanding parts,trial&error of scrounged materials is far cheaper.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/04/05 23:01:20 EST

I received another check today for the Keith Barker Fund. Thanks, Bob!

We're going to keep the fund open till Jock returns, because the checks have to go through the CSI account at his bank. So we've got a few days left for those of you who are busy to get your check in the mail.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 02/04/05 23:03:33 EST

Bob H, that's exactly how I found my anvil. I had to extract it from a 6' piece of tool steel but I got it made. Used it today in fact
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 02/04/05 23:07:39 EST

Hi everyone, I was just hoping to get a few questions cleared: on the Beverly B3 shear, what is the correct angle to set up for re-sharpening the blades and can it be done sucessfully on say a 12" disc with a fine enough grit?
   steve - Saturday, 02/05/05 00:09:13 EST

I'm a retired public school teacher.

Contrary to popular opinion a student can refer to the bible. The laws restricting schools apply to GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, who cannot be required to pray, and students can't be required to listen, or placed in a situation where they would be conspicuous or embarassed for not listening. ("Those who don't want to listen to the prayer may go to the hall" etc.)

There was a lot of praying in my classroom. After 9/11 we had a prayer session that was participated in by Christians, Jews, AND muslims, and Hindus and agnostice who felt the need to reach out to something even if they did not believe in it!.

My Jewish students have given me beautiful gifts and they and their parents and rabbis have comended me for my sensitivity. My muslim students gave me a Koran, inscribed similarly by the Imam of the local Bosnian Muslim community. I am gegularly invited to the anual Hindu festival and the Hindu parents and leaders have commended me onmy sensitivity to the hindu students.

You can use the bible. You can't claim it is authoritative. In other words you can't push your own religion.
   John Odom - Saturday, 02/05/05 08:35:49 EST

John O,

That's one of the best explanations of the situation that I've ever read.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/05/05 08:52:13 EST

ptree: This isn't directed towards you. Not wanting to explore an avenue of potential profit seems to be one of the reasons American industry/business is declining today. 50-years ago your company may have realized they had an under-utilized capability and sought a way for it to become a profit center. In this case your oil quenching ability. If anvils had come up the question may have been is there a market for cast steel anvils of decent quality in the U.S. today. That answer would likely have been yes. Next question is can they be cast in the U.S. today. Answer is likely no. Who can? Chinese, Russians & Eastern Europeans. Of those, Russian may be the better source. Contact would be made and sample anvils provided (perhaps plaster castings of a London-pattern no-namer or a company long out of business). Steel content would be specific with the degree of finishing desired. They would then be imported to the U.S. in reusable, form-supported boxes to be heat-treated (value added), painted, repackaged and sold in the U.S. Seems like no one wants to make that type of effort today. It is more of a 'let the business come to me' attitude.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/05/05 09:53:36 EST

I have what I think is a jewlers kit with some tap and die punches and a thing that looks like a tiny microscope but it is not.
I would like to send some pics and maybe you could tell me what I have. It comes in a nice wooden box, with several dapper things. Look forward to any help that I can get.
   Laura - Saturday, 02/05/05 10:25:59 EST

Dave Boyer and All, Nothing against the Carpenter matching system, but sometimes you need a trade name index. The AISI used to give them out free, but I don't think they do anymore. Some good tool steel catalogs have such indexes.

An example. Some years back, one of my students, a horseshoer, said that he had been making his hot pritchels out of really good tool steel; "Buster S" he called it. Being curious, I looked it up as a trade name in my index, and found that it was AISI S1. The Columbia Steel Company listed it as "Buster Alloy". Carpenter calls S1 "Excello"; Crucible call S1 "Atha Pneu", etc.

The moral. It's probably best to order by AISI/SAE numbers and letters, as it eliminates the trade name confusion.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/05/05 10:28:51 EST

Ken Scharabok.
Having been through the import thing, with trying to get quality, to spec forgings, and casting from China, India, Pakistan ETC. I will offer the following.
Every single part, thats every single part we set up to buy was rejected on the initial order for non-compliance to the spec's. Did not meet the print. Did not meet the material spec's. Period. Took about 18 months to get usable parts. Granted these were tightly speced parts.:) We had made most of them on steam drop hammers for about a 100 years. They could not hit the spec's on a press.
The idiots that bought my former employer, offshored near everything. They expected that their own company in India, already makeing similar parts, could begin supplying parts in about 12 weeks. They ran out of our parts, and a 72 million a year sales co went to 12 million in a couple of months.
Not trying to blow you off, but I would sooner go to a local foundry, and teach them to make the parts then try to teach a foundry that is thousands of miles, and a language away to make the parts I need.
My current company forges axles. More axles than you can imagine. Buying and heat treating a few anvils in our shop would disrupt the flow thru a already overloaded furnace system that is now used to normalize.
As was usually the case through American history, this is a place for the small guy, who is hungry to make some bucks.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/05/05 11:02:09 EST

For those who wonder how many axles are more than you can imagine, ask Pawpaw.
   - ptree - Saturday, 02/05/05 11:03:44 EST


Not arguing, discussing.

Your point reference the "small guy" is a catch 22 in my opinion.

There are a lot of "small guys" who would like to make some money. But they don't have the resources to lay out for R&D, testing, refining, etc.

This is an area where ABANA could be a great resource, but I doubt they'd be interested.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/05/05 11:43:49 EST

John O, and prayer in schools.
I am glad that you were able to. BUt here on teh Left coast ( yes including OR and WA) you can not. One exception is that the Muslims are allowed a place for daily prayers in the LA CA region.
No religious shirts no prayers nada. Students who do so risk suspension. It has happened.
   Ralph - Saturday, 02/05/05 12:33:08 EST

GOOD MORNING ALL-- QUENCH-CRACK after you re-stated that you had done testing on my type ASO. I got to thinking about ROGER ALLEN, whom I met in SAN ANGELO. He has pottery kilns, big enough to fire 5' X 5' pots. I wonder how hot these kilns can go up to. Surely they will get hot enough to bring this .36 CARBON up to critical. ROGER is the kind of guy that would get a kick out this type experiment. I wonder what heat we are talking about--1550 to 1650??? I have no idea how long it woud take to bring this 110# chunk of iron up to temp.

   - sandpile - Saturday, 02/05/05 12:42:30 EST

Small guy has to be a smaller more versatile factory than ours. We forge 50 million #'s a year, but our equipment is wholly unsuited to anvils, with the exception of those wanna-be powerhammer anvils. Most factorys as large as mine are specialized, and to insert a small lot, say 50 pieces, costs more in disruption than the market will allow to recover. We do small runs of aerospace parts. It is very disruptive, and we charge accordingly. I doubt that the blacksmith market would bear that cost.

As far as a small guy, To set up a water quench of this size, with a little innovative scrounging should not be that hard. Find a surplus fire engine, place suction in decent pond, return water to pond. Use an oil fired forge, with a simple I-beam rail and chainfall to pull the anvil from the forge. I watched just such a setup for sharpening well drill pionts for an old walking beam drill in the 60's.
While casting in eastern europe is cheap, I fail to believe that it is impossible to get a quality cast steel anvil in America. Jock can make the pattern. All you need is a willing foundry. To surface the table takes a surface grinder, look at the surplus sites. Or sell a hardened, unfinished anvil to those rugged individuals who will get the machineing done locally.
All speculation. Anybody have an idea of the cast anvil market in America?
   ptree - Saturday, 02/05/05 12:53:54 EST

I don't think a low-cost, U.S. produced anvil necesarily need be solid cast steel. Fisher and Vulcan did very well. In discussions with Richard Postman he indicated several had tried bonding cast iron to steel tops and couldn't achieve a consistent solid bond until Fisher prefected the process. At the last Quad-State he said someone had, for some reason, cut a Vulcan (as I recall) in half and found pins under the steel plate. Rather raises the question of a compromise. This is admittedly way out of my field: Have a 1/2" high-quality steel plate cut out via laser or water/sand with the hardy and pritchel. Arc weld on runners on the bottom of basically a pyramid shape with the top lopped off and put on upside down to make a key way-type effect with sand cores for the hardy and pritchels. Or even heavy gauge angle iron as the locking structure. Now pour the cast or ductile iron on top of this. The key ways (or angle iron) should lock the top to the cast iron with the bond being at least as good as the welding.

Overlooked in cast steel anvils has been the English Vaughn Brooks, such as carried by Centaur Forge. They sell for over $4.00 per pound.

Bear in mind anvils today don't see nearly the amount of heavy-duty work they once did on a routine basis.

There seems to be a void between the Asian/Russian low-quality imports and the high quality English/Eastern European imports and American cast steel farrier-type anvils.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/05/05 13:34:41 EST

Ken Mankel in Cannonsburg, MI 616 874 6955, hardens and tempers his cast steel anvils himself all the time, He has multiple weights in both Blacksmith's and Horseshoer's patterns. About 12 years ago he replaced the cracked face on my 350 lb Trenton and reduced the hardy hole from 1 3/8" ro 1". Did a great job and it's held up well. Give him a call
   Brian Robertson - Saturday, 02/05/05 14:38:05 EST

good evening i,am in the process of building a new work shop at home i was going to pipe gas in to it from the house to save using propane bottles can this be done do i have to change the burner design and does it give of as much heat cheers
   david hannah - Saturday, 02/05/05 15:02:35 EST


Feel free to emial me the pictures of your find and I will endeavor to identify it for you. Click on my name at the bottom of this message to get an email window to me.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/05/05 15:16:29 EST

Several hours a day, I use my Victor J-27/28 series torch and CA1260 cutting attachment. Although it is the pescribed cutting attach, it seems heavy and bulky when used with the small aircraft torch. I've seen and heard of a eariler Victor 550j, and the Uniweld CA550 attachments, so was wondering if they might be a bit lighter, and smaller. I do know that the series 5 cutting tips are becoming harder to find than the CA1260's series 3 tips. Also, is the ANY other lightweight cutting torch makes which would be better suited for the thin (3/16) sheet i'm working with. Thanks much, -kenny-
   kenny - Saturday, 02/05/05 15:48:02 EST


The Henrob is much smaller and lighter. It also cuts almost as clean as a plasma cutter, leaving a much smoother cut than the standard cutting torch, as well as cutting a smaller kerf.

It's not cheap, but in your situation, I'd sure look into it. Their URL is: http://www.cut-like-plasma.com/
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 02/05/05 15:56:56 EST

Kenny: I second PawPaw. I have a Henrob and it is all it is advertised to be on cutting. They are also on eBay. Saw one for $300 including shipping. That's below the price direct from Henrob.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/05/05 16:43:03 EST

hello i have never blacksmithed before but would like to learn how to fold steel.i have read many of your forums but didnt see anything mentioned,maybe i missed it.is there anyone in my area that can help ,i live in central Illinois,or any literature that you would recommend.any help would be appreciated.
   stephen - Saturday, 02/05/05 18:05:00 EST

hi guys !
I must install an heavy mechanical hammer (160lbs!) in my workshop, but what do you think about this heavy piece of steel for fix it http://www.michel-vaillant.com/site/index.php?v=f
they said it isn'nt necessary to make a special heavy floor with this system .......
have you any comments ????? good or not ???
   Fab C. - Saturday, 02/05/05 19:05:08 EST

American Made Anvils: I doubt it will ever come to pass that a company, other than the very few who do it now, will start to make cast steel anvils in the US. Why? No market. Gentlemen, we are an anachronism; an anomaly. Nobody would bet any of us will be pounding iron in 10 years. The think this is a fad that will fade like hula hoops. Hang onto your tools, they are going to become collectors items.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/05/05 19:19:03 EST

Stephen: Search under Damascus-pattern or pattern welding.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/05/05 19:26:13 EST

Anvils et al.
Other than a nice discussion, why do we feel that there is a need for AMerican made anvils?
ANvils are out there. And are often very in-expensive.
While I am not a shadow of what Thomas can do in finding anvils I was able to make do until an anvil fell into my lap. It was a 149 lb PW in great shape. I had to pay 100.00 USD for it. While I would like a bigger anvil one day I can not justify it as I hardly use my current anvil.
But I am certain that once I put the word out again I will get the bigger anvil with not much problems.

I am not knocking the idea, but if there were that much of a need someone would have stepped up.
   Ralph - Saturday, 02/05/05 19:52:28 EST

American Anvils:
There are plenty of foundries here that could do that job. There is a foundry here in Chattanooga, Eureaks, that makes close spec steel castings in many alloys. Most of the steels run about $4/# as cast and snagged, without finishing or heat treating. That is the problem right there, The ecconomics.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 02/05/05 20:11:18 EST

Charles Lewton-Brain has a book and video on fold forming metal www.ganoksin.com/kosana/brain/brain.htm
   JimG - Saturday, 02/05/05 20:35:22 EST

I have a Peter Wright - In a circle it says, "Solid Wrought". Anyway to positively ID this beast as to date? Thanks for the torch suggs. -kenny-
   kenny - Saturday, 02/05/05 20:36:33 EST

if you can get a few pic to PPW he can see about the age.
That or by Postman's book and look it up your self.

   Ralph - Saturday, 02/05/05 20:49:07 EST

I dunno, maybe my posts don't go thru. I don't get the "no American Anvils" thread. We've had anvils cast here in Michigan since 1972 thru today. There was 3 manufacturers now just Mankel. Ken has them cast here in state, then he machines them and hardens & tempers them in house. I watched as he hardened the face on my 350 lbs Trenton. It was heated in one of his gas forges then set under this, for lack of a better term, a giant multiple head elongated sprinkler head connected by 1 1/2' pipe to his well. No Fire dept. needed. The face was chilled to touch of his hand and the temper was drawn with the residual heat of the base. The temp was monitored using those Tempil crayons that Centuar sells. Very dramatic but very simple. I believe there is at least 6 other anvils made here in the US.
   Brian Robertson - Saturday, 02/05/05 20:57:02 EST

I think you may want to install a good concrete base under that machine ,from what I could tell looking at the site,the steel frame is more of an extension to raise the height of the hammer,they have not increased the footprint of the machine so the ground pressure would be the same,perhaps even more concentrated,as the extension is probably structual steel. If they used plate steel on the bottom of the extension they still have not decreased the ground pressure.The anti vibration attachment would definatley require a good base.Its a nice looking hammer though,I couldnt find a weight on it possibly 3-4 tonne.Maybe some more Info would help the guys that have hammers , to send you in the right direction.
   crosspean - Saturday, 02/05/05 21:15:31 EST

Kevin and more on more is better:-)

It does sound like for what you want a utility style hammer is the way to go. The Pheonix is a NICE hammer, great control, clamp & lockdown feature. Good stroke and decent throat. (Tom the builder of the Pheonix hammers, was the original developer of The Bull Hammer that I have, the Pheonix is heavier duty and has more features) The Pheonix will with tooling do most everything you would normally need a striker for. Try your local blacksmith's group library to see if you can get a copy of Clifton Ralph's power hammer video tapes to watch. Clifton can coaxe some incredible work out of a 100#, and a 250# Murray / Little Giant mechanical hammers in the video. Clifton worked in the steel mills in Gary, Indiana for nearly 30 years as an industrial blacksmith, and was used to working on big steam hammers. What he teaches is not the current style, but you can learn to get the work done. Currently crown dies, and narrow heavily radiused flat dies are popular, and you can do some very nice work with them. Big Blu one of the Anvilfire advertisers sell their utility style hammer with these kinds of dies, and even teach courses on free form power hammer sculpture:-)

Many hammers can be opperated with a wooden beams as their 'foundation' and work alright on a concrete slab. That being said, almost any hammer will, hit harder, run more quietly, and shake less of the building... IF it is securely mounted to its own separate foundation, and it is isolated from the rest of the slab, with some kinda of vibration absorbing material (ie something soft and pliable, tar board, rubber...)

That being said, if it is not practical, try something else, if it makes you crazy go in and put in a good foundation for whatever hammer you choose:-)

If the utility hammer is going to break the bank, see if you can find a good mechanical hammer, they are cheaper, and if you find a good one with a break, and learn to love it, you can do a lot of work with it, especially if you can find one in the 250#+ < range:-). If you cough up for the air hammer like I did, you need to do a lot of work to pay for it...:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 02/05/05 22:42:04 EST

I want to build a forge. Can you help?
I am not shure where to start.
Thank you!
   Mike - Saturday, 02/05/05 22:47:22 EST

American anvils...

Blacksmiths are cheap, do it yourself kinda people. Professional blacksmiths for the most part opperate on a very thin profit margin, and can't afford bad tools, but can't afford really expensive tools either even if they are wonderful. We had great anvil manufactures, they flooded the market with high quallity product, the market shifted and they went away. Blacksmiths, became machinists and mechanics and didn't need anvils any more. There are still a Lot of old anvils out on the market, and many of them still going for below the price of a new anvil... Everyone is always looking for anvils, but EVERYONE is looking for a good deal. There are modern america anvil makers, the number is small, but so is the market. Who among us is willing to pay 6$ a pound for a Rathole anvil, or a Nimba? Not me, even though I would love a Rathole anvil, if I can't find a nice big old shop anvil, when it comes time to upgrade, I will likely get a Euroanvil, and even that I will think long and hard about, as long and as hard as I have to work to buy it... Good anvils were never cheap, and are never going to be...
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 02/05/05 23:49:07 EST

best place to get started is the "Getting Started" section of anvilfire. Upper right screen is a pull down menu.
   Ralph - Sunday, 02/06/05 00:18:24 EST

i am looking at buying an old trip hammer that has the brand name 'pleasant' stamped on the body. i cannot find any information on the web on this brand. could you provide me with any information or a website that would aide in my research.
   shannon casady - Sunday, 02/06/05 00:47:08 EST

Qvenchvs Crackvs; Yup, this is nothing but a passing fad. It passed my way in 1979, when a friend took me down to The Studebaker Homestead for my first Quad State Conference. I go back down there every year, and find it getting bigger and gooder than the year before. Ken Scharabok seems to always be there, too. Meantime, I'll just sit here, holdin' onto my tools. (That's TOOLS, not TOOL, ya bunch of perverts!)
   3dogs - Sunday, 02/06/05 03:24:25 EST

Qvenchvs Crackvs; Yup, this is nothing but a passing fad. It passed my way in 1979, when a friend took me down to The Studebaker Homestead for my first Quad State Conference. I go back down there every year, and find it getting bigger and gooder than the year before. Ken Scharabok seems to always be there, too. Meantime, I'll just sit here, holdin' onto my tools. (That's TOOLS, not TOOL, ya bunch of perverts!)
   3dogs - Sunday, 02/06/05 03:24:32 EST

OOPS, my posting finger twitched.
   3dogs - Sunday, 02/06/05 03:25:31 EST

John Odom: You cited $4/lb. I assume that is for cast steel. What would it be for a cast iron body?

Brian Robertson: Yes, but you are still talking about a one-piece cast steel anvil. I look for a cast iron bodied, steel-topped anvil as a compromise between the Asian/Russian imports and cast steel anvils. Again, way out of my area but I find it hard to believe a decent quality one like this can't be made for sale at $2/lb or so.

There seem to be a definite gap between low-quality and high-quality anvils. What I'm referring to would be a mid-range, DECENT anvil, much like the Fishers or Vulcans. Keep in mind Fisher was the FIRST and LAST major American anvil maker and, as far as I know, it was their major product. Fisher made the largest known anvil produced (1,400 pounds) for a trade exposition. It still exists in a vault at the NJ State Museum. Evidence is they made a fair number of 1,000 or so pound anvils for the U.S. Navy. They were not limited by brute force (e.g., gaint steam hammers), but merely by how quickly they could make new molds.

On steel plates. The place where I buy my steel in Nashville also has a cutting shop with precision gas and water/sand equipment. Simply amazing to watch nothing but water and sand cut through 1/2" stainless like it was plastic. That technology would allow for an amply supply of steel plates. On cast iron bodied, steel plated anvils the problem was always the bond. I believe there are ways around it, such as the nubs under the plate I mentioned.

Is the market there? My target market with Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools is the non-professional and I am doing fairly well with it as a part-time business.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/06/05 08:02:58 EST

PTree, I think that Paw Paw is more the man for axle *breaking* and not *making*...IIRC Patrick looked into having an anvil cast at the local plant that cast a lot of RR trucks, decent alloy for anvils. The price was as expected high and so not in competition with other modern anvils; but might be acceptable for those crazies who needed historically accurate anvils from medieval and renaissance times.

Hey Patrick, could you *forge* a couple of anvils now as a lunch hour project?????

Hmmm, the number of smiths now vs the number in medieval times, much larger population now with "hobby" smithing as a small percentage of same vs much lower population then with higher percentage of "working" smiths---I'd be afraid to hazard a guess. Now if you wanted to campare the 19th century to now...

Stephan, grab a coathanger with one end in either hand. Move your hands together. Now you have folded steel. I assume you mean to forge weld steel, draw it out, fold it together and repeat. Usually referred to as pattern welding by the technical, damascus making by the non-technical (as damascus can refer to two very different processes, one being pattern welding and the other being wootz a crucible steel process), only folks I know who call it folding are folks who believe what hollywood tells them. First thing to do is to learn how to smith, then how to make knives and then how to work with patternwelding. There is a good school run by the American Bladesmiths Society that teaches bladesmithing from beginner through advanced classes. You may want to look it up. Meanwhile look for the local ABANA chapter in your area---they can get you started in smithing.

Sandpile; I'd be willing to drive up and see the "anvil hardening and corn on the cob boil" Let me know when you plan the shindig and if I can pitch a tent somewhere there's no "organic frisbies" or "land mines"...

   Thomas P - Sunday, 02/06/05 08:29:01 EST

ThomasP, My reference to Pawpaw and "more axles than you can imagine" is that he just visited a place with that situation!
   ptree - Sunday, 02/06/05 10:46:23 EST

Anvils. Lotsa' talk. If you're a professional, you will eventually find an anvil to your liking, either domestic or imported, either old or new. If you're a hobby smith, you will likewise find what you like, whether manufactured or make-do.

Ironwork a fad? In the long term, thinking like a futurist, perhaps it will peter out, and the loss of interest will likely be a matter of degree. There will always be a few people who say, "I just LOVE wrought iron!" We are no longer in an iron age, but rather a materials age. In a university setting, one majors in Materials Science and specializes in Metallurgy, Mineral Science, or Ceramic Science. We seem to be making more goods proportionately out of "plastics" and composition materials.

Even back in the 60's, my farriery mentor, Al Kreman, suggested that perhaps one day horseshoes might be made out of a "composition material" that is ductile and has a double-backed, non-toxic adhesive. Ya' never know.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/06/05 11:22:50 EST

Probably many of you may have seen this anvil I made a couple of years ago. I was quite proud of it then and still get a degree of satisfaction using something I made. But Dan P had some questions about home made anvils it so I thought I'd add my two cents. Drop in on thie page of my web Dan and see another possibility - this thing weighs over 150#

   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 02/06/05 12:03:35 EST

Ptree, I know, I expected you would give him the nickel tour...

David, piping gas from the house: is ir Natural Gas?---what kind of flow and pressure can you get? Household NG stuff is usually pretty light duty, may not get a forge where you would like it. But it's still handy to have around for shop heating and soldering and things...

If it's propane off the house tank it should do find if you can get it off the high pressure side of the regulator and have a large enough pipe to the shop.

Round my neighborhood "gas from the house" is either propane or bio-methane,

From the land of the re-fried bean

   Thomas P - Sunday, 02/06/05 12:18:26 EST

Tool steel welded anvil plate: The string discussing the welding of a steel plate to a forged anvil, brought to mind a local Colorado company Dynamic Materials corp., formerly Explosive Fabricators. The company uses explosive devices to provide the energy to bond dissimilar metals together. At a company demo a number of years back they were applying a hardened tip to a railroad switch. here is a white paper on the process.

Stock symbol: is BOOM

It looks like the kind of back yard project that some of the people here might be inclined to try, as the next logical step to anvil shooting.
   - habu - Sunday, 02/06/05 12:44:45 EST

Smithing in Costa Rica> Josh and I spent the day with Johan Cubillios, a blackmith from Venesueala that now lives in Costa Rica. We worked with charcoal in his shop and we each made a leaf. Later we visited the last two old time smiths in San Jose and they put on a show for us. Later we visited and photographed the local quality ironwork. There is LOTS of low quality work to be seen as every home and business has window grills, gates and various guards. The good work is mostly located in the center of the old part of the city. Will have a nice report for the NEWS.

Frank, You will be glad to know Johan's work is coming along quite well.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/06/05 13:25:54 EST

mail: Sorry I have not been keeping up folks. Due to a virus attack and other factors we have a very intemittent connection here.

Pleasantly cool 70 F in Costa Rica
   - guru - Sunday, 02/06/05 13:36:57 EST

THOMAS P. That would great, the more the merrier. I have some other anvils. If this sucker breaks, I have lost the grand total of $70.00 . I would be tempted to buy another to try, just a little different. Grin.
My daughter has a GREAT PYRENEES male dog that just loves to sleep on a lumpy bedroll. He gets kinda of snotty, when you try to run him off. He, heh , GRIN. He eats weird little hats. Just kidding,BOG. He is the most lovable mutt, you will ever find.

   - sandpile - Sunday, 02/06/05 13:51:29 EST

Ray Davis fabricated an anvil that weighs 5,280 lbs. I asw a photo of it and the face is about 5 feet off the ground. I believe it is still sitting on his property in East TX because he can't move it! As for American made anvils, notice I did acknowlege that there are a few being made. They are good products but not exactly a bargain. With the value of the dollar falling against the Euro, the Czech anvils are getting pretty pricey, too. As for the blacksmith fad, well, I hope to be doing it for many more years, too. Gotta get this darned Tennis Elbow healed up first.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/06/05 16:09:39 EST

I cured my tennis elbow with a power hammer. I use my hand hammer for finish work mostly. When I stopped trying to move metal that really needed a striker with a sledge, the elbow magicly got better.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/06/05 16:26:32 EST

ptree, good idea, no room for a PH. Exactly how I got this problem: 3# hammer with a 2# arm. The forge has been cold for a month now and I am wearing the armband 224 X 7. Did prednesone for a week and now that I am off of it, the arm hurts a bit. The only thing worse than dying young is getting old. Pray for our troops.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/06/05 16:51:19 EST

With the realities of manufacturing in america, I really dont think it is possible to make an anvil in the US, even a cast iron ASO, and retail it for 2$lb.
I am friends with Russell Jaque, who makes the Nimba anvils, which sell for a little over 4$lb. They are a beautiful cast steel anvil, and considering the amount of his own time he puts into fiinishing them, a bargain. If you set up a factory, and had to pay somebody to do all the work he does on each one, you would have to charge even more.
High quality patternmaking, foundry work, and heat treating in the USA are all billed out at over $100/hr these days.
Now I personally think Nimba's are such a fine tool, that I bit the bullet and bought one. Yes, it cost a bunch of money. But in the long run, it aint much- if you amortize it over 20 years, its peanuts. And I expect this anvil to easily outlast me and the next two smiths who own it.
We have a warped idea of what anvils are worth, because the market is full of anvils that were made 50 to 100 years ago, when .10 an hour was a good wage. And the czech anvils are not being priced according to what it really costs to make them either- the foundries were built under the communists, subsidised by the state- there are no realistic real estate, equipment, utility, or even labor costs built into the new retail prices of those czech anvils.
So you should take advantage of the deals while they exist- as the living standards in the czech republic catch up with the rest of western europe, they are gonna get to $4 to $6 lb soon enough.
Frankly, I think in the quantities you could sell, a two part cast iron/ cast steel anvil would cost MORE than a all cast steel anvil, not less. Even if we are generous, and allow for 20,000 blacksmiths in america, how many of them are going to buy a new anvil each year? Even if every single one of us bought a new anvil every year, it would barely be enough, volume wise, to make it possible to sell anvils for what some of you guys think is a "reasonable" price. If the base material costs .50 a lb, my rule of thumb is I gotta make a minimum of 5 times material costs in my business. 10 times is better. And when you add in patternmaking, foundry, heat treating and grinding, your base cost is quickly up to $2/ lb and more. Then where is profit, overhead, taxes, insurance, and all the hundreds of other things a business has to pay for today?
   - Ries - Sunday, 02/06/05 17:14:41 EST

Dear anvilfire,
I am enjoying the website.I am one of those people looking for information about making a sword.I thought it was funny that you said one should take a welding class.When I tried to enroll in a welding class at the nearest vocational school when I was 19 years old ,the administrator told me a young lady like me had no buisiness taking a welding class.Now I am 51.I bet no body will say that nowadays.I want the names of books about swords with specific informatin about setting the anvil on the north-south line, best days according to the phases of the moon[ like in Farmers Almanc ,digging post holes so the posts dont fall over and best times to plant beans...]anything with old myths and superstitions and desciptions of excaliber or King Arthur's sword. Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated. Thank You, All the Best to you and yours, Lalla
   Lalla - Sunday, 02/06/05 17:18:09 EST

thanks for your help , guys !!!!
   Fab C. - Sunday, 02/06/05 17:36:17 EST

Dear Lalla:

They wouldn't let me into cooking class either. When I first started teaching it was hard for me to get a girl into physics, even though they often made the top grade if I got them in. Now some comunity colleges have reduced tuition for adults. The welding class is still a good place to start.

On swords: The lore and myths are not related to the actual making of swords.

Contact a local smithing organization. most are glad to have newbies in to learn and most would welcome a woman.
Where, geographicaly, are you located?
   John Odom - Sunday, 02/06/05 18:10:51 EST

Cost of castings: I would expect the steel-iron composit to cost as much or more than the all steel. Cost of placing the plate would eat up any savings since steel isn't that much mor expensive than induction-melted cast iron. There arn't many cupolas for CI left.
   John Odom - Sunday, 02/06/05 18:21:44 EST


Yep, I remember the very early days of EFI. I was working for Bob Morgan and Ray Avedon out north of town and we got involved doing some of the machining for EFI's first effort. Molds to make the base for for a butane backpacking stove. (I still have one of the prototypes-great little stove) The first shot we did in the mold we used a bit much boom and had to mill the aluminum back out of it. It seemed to be perfectly bonded to the steel die. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/06/05 19:08:19 EST

Thanks for all the useful info about powerhammers. I'm pretty sure I will go with the utility hammer in the end. It will cost more, but in the end I think it will run better with less maintainance. With the stand-alone compressor I can use a whole array of other tools with it. I will let you know how it works out when I set everything up in a couple of months. Thanks again.
   Kevin - Sunday, 02/06/05 19:12:02 EST


Small world- Ray Avedon sr. was a client of mine when I was a Stock "Borker", neat old coot but a PIA client. Cheap bugger used to come into my office to use the quote machine and the phone to place orders with his discount broker. My brother worked for him for a while as a mold maker.

   - habu - Sunday, 02/06/05 20:17:11 EST

Maybe you mean booger.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/06/05 20:30:53 EST

LALLA--THOMAS P. and some others here can help you. There is another site with alot of info. DFOGGKNIVES.COM
There are several sword makers there.

   - sandpile - Sunday, 02/06/05 21:01:16 EST

I have an anvil that is 48" tall with a 16" base tapering to a point. Can you give me some information on it.
   Trudy Miller - Sunday, 02/06/05 21:32:15 EST

sorry, I forgot about the Kings usage. ;)
Thinking back it was Rays Father Ernie Avadon.
   - habu - Sunday, 02/06/05 21:45:26 EST

What you probably have is a cone mandrel. Basically a large cone, like a highway cone, only made of cast iron. It is used to form rings and other curves, but it is not an anvil.
   Bob H - Sunday, 02/06/05 22:09:19 EST


Yep, that sounds like the old man, from what I've heard. I never met the man, though. I sometimes wonder what all those guys are up to these days.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/06/05 23:56:58 EST

Sandpile - rule of thumb for ASTM heat treating of rounds in older furnaces was 1 hour for 1 inch of diameter. My guess is that an electrically heated kiln for ceramics, that would still be a safe conservative rate of heat. If you get it to 1500 F, that should be adequate. If you go to 1600 F and put it in a preheated kiln you might be able to cut the hr/inch. I wouldn't go above 1600 F, but any temperature from 1500 to 1600 should work, and I'm being conservative with the 1500. Without knowing a lot about the kiln I can't make too many other guesses.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 02/07/05 01:25:07 EST

I am building a propane forge from a recycled gas cilynder. I lined the inside with 2" thick kaowool and have a 0.75" thick ceramic shelf. I am looking for an alternative material to line the rest of the forge and the doors. I found some ceramic fiber board, but it is only available in larhe quantities and I only need 2 feet. Any Ideas?
   henniealberts - Monday, 02/07/05 02:49:05 EST

Quenchcrack; .....but getting old beats the alternative.
   3dogs - Monday, 02/07/05 03:46:53 EST

Sandpile, I'd definitely go with a preheat outside the kiln, brushwood is cheap compared to electricity and those heating elements have a limited uselife. Also if you can't move the thing hot how you gonna get it to the quench system?

Lalla, if you want to make swords the books by James Hrisoulas are mandatory study material. Not the myths and legends but the real methods.

If you want the myths I don't know of a single place they are concentrated but a lot of spread out stuff.

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/07/05 04:46:23 EST

Lalla, A thought provoking and difficult (for me) book regarding myth and alchemical thought relating to metals is "The Forge and the Crucible" by Mircea Eliade.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/07/05 09:23:30 EST

Can you tell me anything about cold hammer forging
a knife blade ?

Specifically I have heard that using a cold chisel
or the edge or point of a hammer to hammer an
ordinary steel knife blade until it is drawn out
along the edge between an 1/8" and 1/4" will
harden the edge more if done when the steel
is cold than when it is hot?


   steve - Monday, 02/07/05 12:07:47 EST

Steve, a properly tempered "ordinary knife blade" will break before drawing out. Scythes of certain areas were forged from *mild* steel and than had the cutting edge cold hammered out to both sharpen and work harden it. It does not produce a superior edge ; but it worked better for rocky areas as less would be broken when you hit a rock.

You cannot work harden steel at forging temperature as it is above the dislocation climb temperature.

Why one would want to produce a work hardened edge on a steel that could be heat treated to make it far superior is the question?

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/07/05 12:32:35 EST

Guru, Don't be fooled by that cheap iron work it doesn't stand a chance against the Costa Rican thief. i was Down in Sanjose afew years ago for a mission trip and they just ripped the thing out of the wall. The iron was not fastened in the wall well.
Enjoy the view, it sure is a beautiful area.

Sean A
   Sean A - Monday, 02/07/05 13:27:55 EST

Hello everyone. It's been a while since I have posted due to going to school but I'm back. I was just wondering if anyone knew a good resource for finding Auctions in the New River Valley area in Virginia. I go to school at Virginia Tech and I am trying to see if I can't pick up any usefull blacksmithing tools, scrap, or any other numerous things at an auction. Thanks!
   Michael A. Gora - Monday, 02/07/05 14:07:01 EST

Michael - Look in the phone book under auctioneers & auction houses. Talk to them about the sort of stuff you are interested in.

The ones which handle that sort of stuff will be glad to send you notices for auctions with appropriate materials.

The more interested bidders, the higher the price, the bigger the commission . . .

Be aware that if you don't show up and buy something at their auctions you may get dropped off their list pretty quick.

Looking in the new Topeka phone book, I noticed that several auctioneers list web sites. . .
   John Lowther - Monday, 02/07/05 14:50:35 EST

Steve, Maybe you're talking about so-called "packing" or "refining", which some blacksmiths swear by and some don't. It is done by running the hammer along the edge and a little behind the edge at a dark red to black heat. It is not done on round ended tools, just "flat" ones. H. Holford talks about it in the old timey book, "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/07/05 15:44:44 EST

Dear Guru{s} . I am a budding blade smith . I have made a little over 40 knives so far . I am looking for an outlet to supply me with metal dust in a large voriaty of alloy's . I plan on using this to make art knives . I made my own gas froges and a smeltor also . I just made a 30tn press for this perpose . But I cant find the dust . Is there a supplier , and can you give me the name{s} of them . Please forgive any spelling erers I'm dyslexic . Thank You
Your friend
   Charles "Mike" Powers - Monday, 02/07/05 16:11:05 EST

Mr. Gora: Use the navigation like in the upper right and then go to the ABANA chapters link. Look for those in your area. Normally a chapter/group has one or more members who deal in used tools. Some hold regional conferences with draw in tailgate tool sellers.

Some years ago now Bill Callaway was a demonstrator at Quad-State when it was still at the Studebaker Homestead. He said he thought there were more tools in the tailgate section than the entire state of AZ. Quad-State's tailgate area now takes up a couple of acres.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/07/05 16:12:56 EST

henniealberts- An ugly, yet quite versatile forge door is the 'stack o' bricks' method. I use thin fireplace bricks, two uprights and a header brick. Just slide the bricks around untill you have enough space to work.
   mike-hr - Monday, 02/07/05 16:16:23 EST

Oops . I just posted a question , but I think it was posted at the bottem . Your friend - Mike
   Charles "Mike" Powers - Monday, 02/07/05 16:26:30 EST

Pulley/Sheave Calculation:

I am attempting to calculate the required sheave(s) needed to slow a 1740-1760rpm motor to 328rpm on a Little Giant 50 and realized that my well worn method of using the ratio of diameters is not sufficient for such an arrangement. The v-belt sheave on the motor (or reduction assembly) is using the shoulders of the belt and for which normally the diameter of the sheave is an indication of the relative depth of the belt, and with a similarly designed sheave on the driven component, all that is required is to measure those sheaves and adjust the sizes accordingly based on the needed reduction ratio. The problem is that the pulley on the Little Giant Cluth Assembly is smooth, with zero depth. Because of this, the sheave on the drive is inset (using the O.D. of the belt) while the pulley on the driven clutch is a surface (using the I.D. of the belt).

Is there a formula, thumb-rule, or suggestion for calutlating the correct sheave given the asymetrical use of a v-belt in this configuration? I understand a primary maladjustment of most LG's is that they are operated at too high of a rotational speed. I would like to avoid this error in the re-construction stage if possible to cut down on the trial and error approach later. I have no strobe or timing equipment to measure rotational speed, so I will need to do it mathematically right the first time. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

   CCHarper - Monday, 02/07/05 16:54:22 EST

Look in a V-belt sheave catalog for "pitch diameter" this is the diameter to use in the ratio, against the flat belt pulley OD. Be aware that the flat belt pulley is probably not flat, but is crowned. This subtle crowning is to center the belt. This may cause tracking problems for the V-belt if the pulleys are not very well aligned. Turning the crown off the flat pulley will help.
   ptree - Monday, 02/07/05 17:25:55 EST

dan p..a peice of railroad track works well for an anvil in a pinch, tooling can be added as you learn..my forges are all coal, as they are inexpensive, capable of welding, and they dont have a tendency to oxidize metals...
   HighlanderForge - Monday, 02/07/05 18:08:18 EST

Keith Barker Fund

Two more checks in today. Thanks Dave & Mike!
   Paw Paw - Monday, 02/07/05 18:09:51 EST

as soon as i can figure out this *%#@!$!! computer...ill send this blue print...its an origional portable forge diagram for a civil war gunnery unit...wheres my hammer?
   HighlanderForge - Monday, 02/07/05 18:12:19 EST

hellopaw paw....long time no see!
   HighlanderForge - Monday, 02/07/05 18:13:19 EST


If I understand what you are saying correctly -- one pulley has a channel that the v-belt rides in, while the other is just a flat surface that the ID of the belt rides on -- then you can do the same calculation of diameter reduction by adding the thickness of the belt to the diameter of the pulley. ie, measure the diameter of the pulley from the outside of the belt, and use this diameter to do your calculations. Once you use this method to find the diameter you want, then you can subtract 2 times the thickness of the belt to find the proper pulley size to purchase.

Hope this helps
   - dan p - Monday, 02/07/05 19:54:36 EST


upon reflection, I've realized that all of what I just said is a complete lie. please disregard my incompetence :)
   - dan p - Monday, 02/07/05 20:10:52 EST

My V-belt has been running on my crowned 4" flat belt pulley for quite a few years.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/07/05 20:21:37 EST

Steve from Illinois
Illinois Valley Blacksmiths. We meet every 3rd Sat. 9 am. We are close to finishing our club built shop at historic Funks Grove. We fold steel all day long. Cut, burn and hammer the snot out of it with our (new) 50# LG. We are short of Knife makers if thats what you want. Come on by anyway
Steve from the Corn Patch. Rainy, warm and nothing green in sight
   - Steve Paullin - Monday, 02/07/05 20:30:12 EST

Mike, go to www.dfoggknives.com or www.knifenetwork.com. Both of these sites can provide you with all the information you need. We mostly pound solid iron over on this side of the street.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/07/05 20:38:33 EST

Frank Turley,
If aligned well the V-belt will run on a crowned pulley, Misaligned, they usually run off the side. We converted many machines to run on V-belts from line shaft, and often turned the crown off to allow multiple V-belts to transmit the required Hp.
   ptree - Monday, 02/07/05 20:39:57 EST

I snagged this off an email list I'm on, hope someone can make use of it.

Steve in New York

> ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
> Subject: Historic Westville- job opening
> Date: Sunday 06 February 2005 01:45 pm
> From: Michelle Alexander
> To: list@alhfam.org
> We are seeking an experienced blacksmith to
> demonstrate and interpret traditional 19th-century
> skills. Friendliness and patience in working with the
> public is a must. This is a permanent full time
> position with benefits. Historic Westville is an 1850
> living history village located in southwest Georgia.
> For further information on our site please visit our
> web page at www.westville.org. To be considered for
> this job please send a letter and resume to Historic
> Westville, P.O.Box 1850, Lumpkin, Georgia 31815 or
> email director@westville.org by March 4th. For
> additional information please email or call me at 1-888-733-1850
> Michelle Alexander
> Director of Interpretation
> Historic Westville

   Smulch - Monday, 02/07/05 22:29:26 EST

V-belts & pitch diameters- The pitch diameter is taken to be 1/2 way through the THICKNESS of the belt. For the flat pulley You would ADD 1 belt thickness to the pulley's largest diameter [in the middle]. For the Vee pulley, if the outside of the belt fits flush with the top of the pulley You would SUBTRACT 1 belt thickness.If the belt rides down in the grove, as it will if using an -A-[ 1/2"]belt in a universal A or B pulley, You need to determine the diameter that the belt actually rides at in the pulley, and subtract 1 belt thickness from the outside diameter. For more info consult "Machinerys Handbook" This is sort of like the "neutral plane" when figuring bent parts.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/07/05 22:52:04 EST

GAVAINH How are you. Thanks for your in-put. That is about what I was guessing. I will figure out how to heat this ASO and make a fun day of it. We will cook and eat at least once, while this thing is coming up to temp.We will have to hide to do the cooking or THOMAS P. will have it all eaten by the time it gets done. I fed him once and the conversation, went a little slack till the food disappreared
If I were to use ROGER ALLEN'S kilns, I would have to move the party all the way to SAN ANGELO, That would be too far for the man in the RED HAT, then we might lose the life of the party. BOG. UNLESS he happened to smell the food.GRIN
Huh THOMAS ???
   - sandpile - Monday, 02/07/05 22:53:26 EST

Not sure why San Angelo would be too far for Thomas.
West TX is not far from where he is. ( at least when he is stateside)
   Ralph - Monday, 02/07/05 23:35:25 EST

BTW my wife has a fair bit of family in San Angelo
   Ralph - Monday, 02/07/05 23:35:53 EST

I am in the process of getting my grandfather's blacksmithing equipment back into operation. He taught me a bit back in the mid-50's but I am basically a novice. My question concerns the forge. It is a hand cranked rotary blower made by David Cumming, Chicago, USA. Patented in 1888. I know that it works fine. I have just cleaned it up and regreased the gearbox and it is ready to use. The question is, does this thing have some significant value as an antique to the extent that I should not use it for its intended purpose. I would hate to find that I had "used up" a good tool that had some real value. Did a Google search and an eBay search and came up blank.
   Brummbaer - Monday, 02/07/05 23:58:07 EST

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