WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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

This is an archive of posts from February 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

GURU's MATH TEST & USUAL TEACHING METHODS : I think the gurus test is a good test for a practical understanding. However, at aside from some "word problems" We got in school, math class teaches math from a theroetical point of view. My math teachers would have looked at simply doubling the bottom number on a fraction to divide the fraction in half as a "shortcut" and started a speach on neumerators and denominators and that little squiggle that means congruent, but for Our purposes could be replaced with the= sign. Shop Math as taught in the machine shop course at votech was different. There we learned how the "rubber meets the road". Math was taught fron a practical results oriented standpoint. We weren't using words like numeral , number, intiger and digit, all with slightly different meanings. Yes I was in school in the 60's & 70's and that was "New Math"
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/08/06 00:24:12 EST

how does tempering at very low temperatures work exactly?? I have a limited amount of knowledge in metallurgy, and I am under the impression that martinsite transforms over 100 deg. Does this "cryo-tempering" have something to do with the Van de Walls form of molecular attraction? Does the low temp. cause other phase changes? are there any other "eutectoid" areas below zero? I have a lot more questions so is there a book that covers this process? If not could you please explain. Thanks alot!!
   irondreamer - Wednesday, 02/08/06 00:47:46 EST

Trick questions and math.......
Well half of anything is still half. Now if the question was what is half of half of one inch..........
My head hurts
too much thinking..........
(or is that too much something that rhymes with drinking?
   JimG - Wednesday, 02/08/06 01:41:13 EST

trick questions and math....

in your head and quickly....... half of 99 ?
not many get it right first time :)
   John N - Wednesday, 02/08/06 06:10:31 EST

I was originally going to say 44-1/2 off the top of my head, but I realized that would make 89, so I'll go with 49-1/2
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/08/06 11:03:52 EST

Trick math question: My approach to figuring half of 99 is to figure half of 100 - half of 1 (50 - 0.5 = 49.5). Easy mental calculation.
   Walking Dog - Wednesday, 02/08/06 11:05:34 EST

What is the difference between the different densities of kaowool?
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/08/06 12:25:27 EST

I've got some 4# density. Will this work for a welding forge?
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/08/06 12:37:20 EST

math, yeah its not tricky, just alot of people get it wrong!
   John N - Wednesday, 02/08/06 13:24:36 EST

ok ok i now i told you all i wouldnt bother you untill i got done reading the begginers page again. im a good portion of the way done. i clicked on the vice hyper link and i found something out today. i have a vice i think it is 60 lb. if i can show apic that would be great
   - rc - Wednesday, 02/08/06 13:30:34 EST

Irondreamer - cyogenic treatment of steels usually occurs after quenching and tempering. For higher alloyed steels you do not transform 100 % of the austenite to martensite on your initial quench. Some of it remains and is known as "retained austenite" when stresses are reduced enough, this retained austenite will then transform to martensite. One of the ways to promote the transformation from retained austenite to martensite is to cryogenically treat it by reducing the temperature, usually by using liquid nitrogen. After the cryogenic treatment you have 100% martensite and can proceed to temper the piece of steel. Do not let it sit around - temper it. Stresses from transforming austenite to martensite can be quite large and result in spontaneous destruction of your piece of work into several pieces of steel. Another way to transfrom retained austenite safely is to double temper your work - temper once and the reatined austenite transforms to martensite, temper again and that recently transformed martensite is now tempered martensite.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 02/08/06 13:56:58 EST

My favorite arithmetic problem is how to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. When Gauss was in grade school, his teacher gave the class this problem to get them to shut up. Gauss had the correct anser in 5 minutes. (I hope this is the correct history -- I would hate to be called a liar).

S = 1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 100
= (1+100) + (2+99) + (3+98) + .... + (50+51)
= 50*101 (that is 50 time 101)
= 5050

and excuse me for putting this in the guru's den
   JohnW - Wednesday, 02/08/06 13:58:40 EST

Tyler: Out of my league a bit here, but I think kaowool density runs from 4 to 8, with 8 being the maximum. I suspect you might have to triple or perhaps quaduple layer it to have an effective insulation for forge welding, even if you coat with ITC. You might consider the second layer being 8# density.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/08/06 14:02:35 EST

what temature does metal have to be at to melt?
   frank - Wednesday, 02/08/06 14:08:43 EST

Tin/lead solder melts at near 650 degrees. Mercury is a liquid at room temp. So the real question is what temp does ( insert metal type here) melt?
Now is this for a class assignment? If so keep looking as we will not directly answer school questions. We will help you to figure out how to search for the answers. More work for you now, but later in life you will thank us for showing you how to search out answers. For example; I opened up a google web search engine and typed in Titanium melting point.
I got back over 483000 hits. and the 3rd one down had the info I needed. Total time was about 4 seconds. Here is a breif bit from that web site. "Titanium has a high melting point of 3135°F (1725°C)."
So Frank it is easy. you get accurate data, and you will get the confidence of how to do some of your own research.
Not to say questions are not appreciated here. We do like them, but we mostly like to answer questions that are generally not contained in book as clearly. SUch as how a nice sharp looking 90 degree bend is made in square or round stock etc.......

Good luck and hope to see you around more.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/08/06 15:40:42 EST

OK I'm done reading the begginers page of anvil fire.Does any one else got any thing on here they think i should read?
   - rc - Wednesday, 02/08/06 16:05:58 EST

How about spending some time on your English and sentence
construction. I would be embarassed to let others see
the posts that you write if I were you- no wonder you can't get anyone to take your posts seriously. Its obvious
that you can't take a hint.
   - anonymous - Wednesday, 02/08/06 18:31:07 EST

Yes, and all the links from that page, all the books recommended.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/08/06 18:32:37 EST

RC; have you read the sword making page yet?

Aron, addresses are encrypted so that spam address harvesters can't get them from here *unless* you put it in plain text in the body of your message.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/08/06 18:44:33 EST

The Encyclopedia Brittanica comes to mind...
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/08/06 19:19:14 EST

Thanks Thomas i will do that
   - rc - Wednesday, 02/08/06 19:34:45 EST

Ok im not done reading the "sword: page like Thomas wants me to. But i have a serious question involving swords. The other day a class mate of mine saw me on here and asked if i would make him a sword. The first thing i did was laugh at him sit him down in front of the comp i was on and made him read the sword page. After that he still wanted me to make him a sword and i asked him what he was going to do with it. He told me he was going to kill deer and make a suit of bone armor with it. Should I consider making this weapon for him. By the way I really don;t trust him with a weapon of any kind. But I just want some other peoples input on this situation.
THANKS ALOT (the annyoing newb to blacksmithing whos not done with reading the sword page)
RC-red crow
   - rc - Wednesday, 02/08/06 19:44:59 EST

For those who think it is better to repair their Oxy Acetylene sets themselves, the following was published in the local paper:

Super Blast! Balloon blows up on way to party

By Ivan Moreno, Rocky Mountain News February 6, 2006
A couple looking to have a blast at a Super Bowl celebration Sunday got more than they bargained for when a balloon filled with explosive gas blew up inside their car while they drove to the party.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office got several calls at about
11:45 a.m. about a possible explosion or car accident in the 4500 block of South Santa Fe Drive.

What Deputy Mike Reed found when he arrived at the scene was a car with blown out windows, outwardly-bent doors and a roof "pushed about 12 inches higher than normal," according to an Arapahoe County press release.

Sheridan police contacted the couple at their home at 3670 South Grove St., and they were taken to Swedish Medical Center for possible shrapnel injuries and broken ear drums. They told police they had a balloon of an unknown size filled with acetylene — an explosive gas — that they planned to blow up at the party to celebrate.

Norman Frey, 46, was identified as one of the passengers. The name of the woman was not available. They could face criminal charges for possession of explosives or an incendiary device, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's office said.

Don't "mis-underestemate" the power of Oxy-Acetylene.

ps No Vicopper it wasn't me, this time.
   habu - Wednesday, 02/08/06 20:08:10 EST

Anyone know of a source of say 1/4" x 24" x 24" jigsaw cutable plastic material? I am considering cutting out Francis Whitaker style rein clips. They look like a C with nubs on the inside to hold rein end spacings. Plastic needs to have a tad of flexibility. Don't know where to start looking. Suggestions?

I have seen these cut out of 1/4" mild sheet, but am hoping to avoid that expense. Plastic should work just as well.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/08/06 20:20:53 EST

This time...
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/08/06 20:36:30 EST

Ken, The online metals store in the anvilfire store.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/08/06 20:40:59 EST


If you're going to use plastic for rein clips, it will have to be polycarbonate, such as Lexan™. Acrylic, like Lucite™, will break way too easily. The polycarbonate will fracture too, if you don't sand and flame-polish the edges. All in all, I don't think you're going to find that works all that well to try to jigsaw them out, either.

You need to have a saw with low speed, a hollow-ground, double-cut blade, and you'll need to get a sheet of 3" thick hard Styrofoam™ insulation board to use as a cutting table so that the plastic doesn't flop around on you. The Styrofoam will support the work and the blade goes right into and through it without even knowing it's there. You need the 3" thick so that you don't cut all the way through it, causing it to crumple into little pieces. One piece of Styrofoam will last through hundreds of feet of cuts that way.

In the final analysis, I think it would be more practical and just as cheap to use 3/16" mild steel and have a bunch of them water-jet cut.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 02/08/06 20:43:04 EST

Vicopper: I think you were being facetious in recommending the Encyclopedia Britannica. Current editions are pretty superficial, and not entirely accurate on technical subjects. My favorite was the 11th edition, the last attempt at a comprehensive collection of knowledge. We had it in our home, and I did read it through by the time I was 16. I didn't understand all of it by a long shot though. I think the time I spent with some almost iliterate Filipino smiths was actually more valuable in many ways, even in areas beyond smithing.

The kid is doing what we asked. The last sentence is still very poor, but a lot better than they were a few days ago.

Keep studying, rc!
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 02/08/06 21:29:19 EST

Irondreamer, to add a bit more to what Gavainh has already provided, martensite typically starts to form around 700F and finishes forming anywhere from 100F down to -300F. This has nothing to do with Van Der Walls forces as there are no molecules in metals. Metals are crystals made of atoms. There are no other eutectoids below zero. However, the fact that iron will change phases (and crystal structure) at various temperatures is why we can heat treat it to so many different properties. Isn't it interesting that an element that is so unique and versatile as iron just happens to be so widespread and common in the earths crust? You'd think someone put it there on purpose!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/08/06 21:49:04 EST


The about the only plastic I've made things out of is arcylic, and I agree with VICopper that it won't do what you want.

I do try to pay attention to what things are made of, though. Some plastics I think might be tough enough are HDPE (Clorox bottles), Nylon (sometimes used for hammer (mallet) heads), UHMW (same), or even a hard polyurethane (skateboard wheels). MSC has all of them in 1/4" sheets. If you run across a consumer item that seems to have the right qualities, look for the recycle symbol -- it's usually marked with the plastic type.

Come to think if it, here's a poor boy (sorry for that) solution: Split a piece of 3" or so schedule 40 PVC, soften in boiling water, and flatten into a sheet. PVC strikes me as a little brittle, but might do the job. It would be easy enough to try, anyway.

   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:20:08 EST

Vicopper and Ken,
What are Francis Whitaker style rein clips I have googled them and it came up with odd and end stuff. Just so you know Vicopper and Ken if it is horse related then yes Vicopper is right plastic is to brittle to be used horse back riding. If its something completly different then horseback riding then just ignore my 2 cents worth of input please and thank you
   - RC - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:20:52 EST

seems like you are more intent on rubbing the kids nose in his mess and less on truely helping him. Sure we get lots a repeat questions and the occasional person who does not really want to learn in here. But the constant negative attitudes by a lot of folks is not going to help. ALl it will do is finish off any good reputation anvilfire has.
I know that after a bunch of drivil from some folks it is hard to be polite. So in that case just do not reply. Or if you have had a bad day at work and are grumpy, just do not reply, or if you are feeling particulary crappy due to a nasty disease, just do not reply. I often do not reply to stuff here for one or more of these reasons. Maybe we should all remember this the next time WE need help. Otherwise the answer might be read the Brittanica. Then with the follow on discussion in the member area. What good does that do?
Just my 2 cents worth.

Now RC did you really read the entire getting started area? By read I mean STUDY it as if there will be a finals exam on it next week read? As that is what is ment. Not a quick scan to pick out basic topic titles. In that area are a list of good study and learning materials. See about finding them as well. I would personally stick with basic smithing for now and let the bladesmithing wait. The skills learned in general smithing will serve you well in blade making later.
But no matter how much you read and study it will not substitute for a trip to a local smithing hammer-in event. Learning to watch other smiths do thier thing. And perhaps even have a bit of hands on instruction under the eye of these smiths is going to be more valuble and quick than a stack of books alone.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:26:11 EST

Frank go to Webmat.com and look up the metal that you are wanting to know about, different metals have different melting temps.
   daveb - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:32:41 EST

Ok this goes to everyone. I am turely sorry about the stupid and constant question i have been typing. I just got done reading the sword page that Thomas told me to and I've realized I do need to go to the libaray and get some books on this subject and then come back and see if I have any questions about the books that I didn;t answer. If anyone has any books that they would like for me to read I will be more than obliged to do so (one book set I won;t read is the Encyclopedia Brittanica collection). I will try my best to answer my own questions with out buggin the heck out of the People who now best in this catagory.
RC for a while atleast
   - RC - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:38:03 EST

Books, movies, hammer-ins, and about 5 years. General rules of thumb I've been told. Although if your familar with shop safety I've been told that knocks off a year.
   Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 02/08/06 22:42:47 EST

For those looking for metal facts, especially new/young readers, here are a couple of good books. One of my favorite books for metal facts is the 1948 edition of the ASM (American Society for Metals) Handbook. It usually can be found used online at place like Abebooks. Why 1948 - the technology is appropriate for much of the blacksmithing community, it's 1 volume versus the latest edition, which is about 12 or so, it gives basic facts about nearly all metals - it had enough information on beryllium in brass to scare me away from working in that industry in the 1970's, even though it was 30 years old at the time. The later editions often have more accurate phase diagrams - they've refined the temperature measurement by 5 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit - guess what, in a coal fire you probably won't be able to control it that close. Also, unless you have a very good and accurate temperature sensor to measure with, you'll never calibrate your eye that close.

If you do work with hot metals and have an accurate quick feedback on temperature versus the steel color, and if you pay attention you may be able to consistently judge temperatur to within 10 degrees of the readout. The melters and the BOF metallurgical observers I worked with in my first job out of college could do that, but most of them had been doing that job for 20 or more years and were my father's age or older. After 1 year of steady work, I was within 20 degrees F about 9 times out of 10. Today, the best I could give would be a WAG, because I went into other areas.

Another good book, is The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel - again, get this one used. My prefernce in that case is roughly the 1970's edition or later. I'd buy an early edition only for historical interest.
   Gavainh - Thursday, 02/09/06 00:07:19 EST

Boy - my post above is a bit of an advertisement for typo's are us :)
   Gavainh - Thursday, 02/09/06 00:28:23 EST

RC, The rein clip they are discussing consists of a roughly C-shaped piece of steel that holds the blacksmith's tong reins together. It allows the smith to hold the tongs without applying much hand pressure. We don't say tong handles, because the length is much longer than an ordinary handle. They are termed "reins". Ken is thinking of a "po' boy" method of making them out of something other than steel.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/09/06 00:54:03 EST

What would be the best finishes for fireplace doors and screen.
   - André boudreault - Thursday, 02/09/06 01:10:25 EST


Francis Whitaker used Chain links as tong rein clips. He also used the same type of rein clips sold by blacksmith depot with the three adjustment grooves.
   - Burnt Forge - Thursday, 02/09/06 01:16:52 EST

Thank you for concept of Schedule 40 pipe. I have a short length of 6" here. Clip I will use for a pattern is 3" wide by 4" high. I have an old jigsaw (the table type which looks like a C with the small blade). There is also a glass shop up the road which sells plexiglass and may have a scrap piece of 1/4" to play with.

Commercial shop made is out of the question due to cost. There would be the set-up cost and then they would want to cut all they could out of a 4' x 8' sheet (about 384). I doubt their price would be less than $3.00 each for that quantity. I would need to resell for at least $6.00 - more likely $8, to make it worth while. Also I need to take into consideration this isn't a high demand item. If I can turn them out for say $1.00 I can then list them for around $3.00, making them up pretty well as they sell. Therefore my inventory investment is held low.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/09/06 07:51:37 EST

re: On making a sword for your friend bear in mind you are manufacturing a potentially deadly weapon in two regards. It is intended to kill or main in the first place, and can be just as deadly if not properly manufactured. A broken off sword blade becomes a missile. Are you willing to assume a great deal of potential liability? If something happens as a result of your sword and it causes injuries or dead, are you prepared for your parents to be sued for everything they now and may ever own? Since you are underaged, you are still their responsibility.

Tell your friend to go to any flea market and they can buy whatever fantasy swords or knives they want there far cheaper than you could produce something for them. Let someone else take the product liability.

Essentially I would say the same applies to you.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/09/06 08:23:47 EST

Hello everyone,
I would like to get a bench top lathe and mill. I have used the Bridgeport Mills and Hardinge Lathes at work at times and I'm afraid anything I would get would feel too cheep.... ( toy like ) .... Are the Jet machines or anything around that price ok? I'm thinking about $900.00-$1200.00, is that good?

   Dan Melock - Thursday, 02/09/06 09:28:37 EST

Don Melock: There are a lot of good machinists on this group, but our emphasis is on forging and working metals hot, but not melted.

You would find more help on one of the machinist forums.

I prefer old, machines that were top of the line in their day, rather than new cheap imports, but that is just my opinion.

They take more effort to locate, but they are out there.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/09/06 09:46:58 EST

Dan Melock,

Those benchtop combo machines in that price range are usually too lightweight to do much more than small hobby work with easy to machine metals. They don't hold tight tolerances well because they simply don't have the mass to resist flexing, nor are they powerful enough. They are generally belt-driven, rather than geared.

John Odom's suggestion of older machines is a good one. That way you can get both a lathe and a mill, as separate tools. Each of them will do the job, while a combo machine will do both jobs poorly.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/09/06 10:19:02 EST

Benchtop Lathe-mill-drills.
Jet tools are OK, But they are NOT anywhere near Bridgeport etc. with quality, accuracy, power,etc. Yet even brand new, they dont cost what the good'ol USA machines do.
For hobbyist they can be fine, depends what your demands are. You will probably need to tune-up even a new one for better accuracy.
I have been away from machining a while, You can find better info at one of the many hobby machinist websites.
In my day, the best "hobby size" bench top lathe-mill-drill is the Maximat, I dont know if they are still made. But they still demand top dollar for a good used one.
   - Sven - Thursday, 02/09/06 10:21:54 EST

carbides are not considered molecules??
   - morph - Thursday, 02/09/06 10:53:40 EST


I'm by no means a Guru, but I actually made a rein clamp out of plastic a few years ago - and still use it from time to time. The plastic I used was from the side of a plastic Feed/Farm barrel (of the 55 gallon variety). It was about 1/4" thick and once cut and flattened with a heat gun (or possibly a propane torch, it's been a while) I was able to make some pretty useful throw-away tools out of it. The tools made (A sanding board, a file handle and the tong clamp) are an ugly shade of blue, but they work for what they are.

I also used this plastic to practice stock-removal knife making, and making-fitting furniture to knives. My utility knife/box cutter in the shop still has the blue plastic handle scales on it. One day I'll get around to putting on the fancy wood.

Just my 2c.

Wanted to thank Vicopper again for his Tuyere help, also. At your advice, I've reworked the budget and plan to join CSI next paycheck (March 1). You folks have been too valuable a resource over the years not to spend a buck a week to keep your kids in diapers.

- B Lee
   HPL Steele - Thursday, 02/09/06 12:14:27 EST

Thanks every body for the input to my questions and ill go look at the books that Gavanih mentioned. just so you people know I think im gonna do armor when I finish with welding classes at my ATS school and finish serving my time in the USAF.
PS- thanks ken for the re on my sword question and I don't think I'll even bother with trying to make a sword for a long time. For one i do not want to assume responsibility for a weapon that I made and sold to some one else and there stupidity took the life of some one else, and thanks for telling me what rein clips.
   - RC - Thursday, 02/09/06 12:46:04 EST

About knives and swords:

I have made a few knives in my time. I always use whatever stock I have laying around and forge it into a knife blank, then go through the grinding sharpening process, tempering, etc. Usually at about this stage, the knife looks quite brutal, no scales, pins, etc. With much pride, I show my unfinished work to friends who 99% of the time will respond "Hey, that looks like a SHIV to me!" (A shiv is an illegal knife type weapon used in prisons). Of course it's gonna look like that... it's unfinished. Once handles are made and set and sheath is made, the knife looks more respectable. I'm bringing this up due to RC's comments about making a sword. My question is this: what are the laws regarding bladesmithing? I keep my knives dimension legal (knife edge is no longer than the width of my palm), but what should I do if it happens that a police officer finds an unfinished piece on me? DO I have any recourse to say "Hey, I'm a blacksmith so it's okay for me to have a dangerous lethal weapon?", hey RC... pay attention, you are a minor and being caught and prosecuted for manufacturing lethal weaponry will put you in a bad place and can ruin you for the rest of your life. So exactly what is allowed and does it vary from state to state? Same question would also apply to swords and gunsmithing.

   - Nippulini - Thursday, 02/09/06 12:56:14 EST

I have one more question. Do any of you have a brand of hammer that you bought and like? If so may I know what it is? My birthday is coming up soon and I have already asked for some ferrier nippers to make into tongs and some ITC. I am also going to ask for some books off of this site. Anyone else got any thing they think i should have for a begginer.
PS Will not take comments from Vicopper
   - RC - Thursday, 02/09/06 12:59:21 EST

TGN, GOOD question! I've had similar thoughts regarding "Burglary tools" Most of my portable stuff could easily break a lock or burgle a house. I wonder how I would explain that I'm not going to break into anything.
   Gronk - Thursday, 02/09/06 13:32:39 EST

RC - if you are going to buy things new, don't buy nippers to make into tongs, buy a pair of tongs. You convert nippers to tongs when you find them at a yard sale for a buck. AS far as hammers go it is kind of personal. When I bought the hammer I use the most, which is a Diamond rounding hammer I went to the local ferrier supply place and picked up every hammer on the rack and felt it in my hand. I picked the Diamond because it felt best of the hammers that were in my price range. Getting some books from this site and doing some real studying will help a lot.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 02/09/06 13:33:05 EST

I have an anvil, it is not marked in any recognisable way except for a large hand cut letter C(I say hand cut because the three differnt sections-curl, straight, curl- are all slightly different depths). I was wondering if ANYBODY has ANY information on my anvil. Thank you.
   Sam Salvati - Thursday, 02/09/06 14:23:51 EST

FredlyFX: I guess flea market finds will vary from place to place. Tongs and farrier nippers use to be fairly readily available at $1-3, depending on size, shape and function. Now similar ones are going for $8-10. Over the past two years I have converted perhaps 100 pair of nippers into box-type tongs by simply welding on angle iron or pipe (then splititng it) onto the ends and grinding out the old jaw material within the new ends. Easier than trying to find a pair of tongs for a specific purpose. I can no longer find nippers cheap enough to convert and make a profit on.

In my comment to RC I didn't mean to imply to purchase new nippers and convert them. However, with a tad of arc welding old ones can be given a new life.

I have hand forged out one pair of tongs - my first and last.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/09/06 14:25:24 EST


The laws on the concealed carry of dangerous or deadly weapons vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Thre is no "standard" law, and possible penalties vary just as widely. However, I can give you some generalities that should serve you well enough.

Generally speaking, anything that can be readily used to inflict serious injury will be considered a "dangerous" weapon at a minimum, and may be considered a "deadly" weapon. Any edged weapon will be considered deadly in most jusridictions. Obviously, almost anything can be used to inflict serious injury if you are determined to, but the standard becomes what would be dangerous in the hands of the mythical "reasonable person". (He's the same guy who actually fits the 'one size fits all' stuff, I think.)

Many jurisdictions use concealment as prima facia evidence of the intent to use the item unlawfully. Thus, walking down the street with a cutlass in your hand might be perfectly legal, while carrying the same thing under your coat gets you busted.

Many jurisdictions prohibit the carrying of knives with blades over a pre-determined length, or make folding knives of more than a certain blade-length illegal, or prohibit the carry of automatic knives, or any combination/variation of the foregoing. The only way to know for sure is to contact your local law enforcement agency or public prosecutor's office and ask them. I can tell you the exact laws for MY jurisdiction, but yours will be different.

Heck, almost everybody down here has a "sword" in his car or truck, all the time. People walk down the street carryng them openly, or wrapped in rags. Of course, we call them "machetes", and not "swords", but what's the real difference? When you live on a tropical island, you have to have a machete; it's just another gardening tool down here. They most certainly DO get used as weapons sometimes, and then they become "deadly weapons", and someone winds up doing a ten-year stretch in the prison for it. Or worse.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/09/06 15:20:24 EST

Deady Weapons: Rich answered that well. Standards vary from one jurisdiction to another. Also, a good part of it is subjective judgement on the part of the officer you meet. In Arizona, long knives are legal, so are swords, all types of firearms (except those regulated by the Feds, mostly automatic weapons and sawed off shotguns now). Concealed firearms, then you need to take the CCW Concealed Weapons Class and get a license, which is good for 4 years, then must be renewed. Burglary tools? We have a burglar here who has worked the luxury home area of Paradise Valley for over 4 years now. He uses a rock to break a window. Again, all in the eye of the officer you encounter, but highly difficult to enforce unless he catches you "in the act". Dangerous weapon? It's not unusual for folks to carry a telescoping steel baton (they can be extremely handy when lethal force is not called for). No problems, unless you go into a bar with one. If you do carry a baton, it is A Good Idea to take a recognized class in the use of one. ASP certification is not difficult, then you have some defence if used in that you are trained. Don't hit someone in a lethal area though.

All bets are off if you go into an airport. Everything and everyone is suspect there, but the inspectors mustn't ever single out young males of obvious Middle Eastern origin. That's racial profiling! Geez!

Machetes? That's primarily what they used the Rawanda Genocide to the tune of millions of deaths. Lots of folks here have them and no problem.

In some of our eastern states most of your kitchen knives are illegal.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/09/06 15:48:22 EST

Knife and Sword Laws:

They vary from state to state, and from country to country. Generally, if you're on your own property, you are okay*. If you’re on school property, and you don’t have explicit permission form the administration and sometimes even the local law enforcement, you’re cooked. The Longship Company policy is to charge MORE for a demonstration at a school (in Maryland) if they DO NOT allow weapons, since it makes the demonstration harder. ;-) Some states still have laws prohibiting “Bowie knives, daggers and dirks”, while a normal hunting knife on your belt (especially in a rural setting) will elicit no comment at all.

Concealed Weapons:

This is where they can really get you. An adult with a visible legal weapon, acting in an inoffensive manner, will not, usually, be hassled if he has a good reason for being there. If’ I’m on my way to the Viking ship for a filming, I’m okay. If I’m on my way to a political rally or protest… I might be in trouble.

Concealment is where you run into trouble. The legal assumption is that honest folks don’t have to conceal a weapon, and other honest folk should know that you are armed. On your body and in a vehicle, according to a case I served as a juror on (in Maryland) the three critical elements are: concealment, accessibility and knowledge. If it’s under your seat and you can get to it, but you don’t know it’s there, you’re theoretically okay. However, proving that you don’t know about it is pretty hard with a jury, which assumes that you tend to keep track of knives and firearms in your environment. The best place for transporting any weapon is in your trunk or some other out-of-sight, secure, and inaccessible location. The second best place is in plain site like a pickup gun rack; but then you still might have to hide them, depending on where you leave the vehicle.

As you can see, the law is never precise, and some law enforcement officers, who need to make very snap judgments, will interpret it differently under different circumstances. How you look, how you act, where you’re going, and why you have what you have can make a difference between “You be careful out there.” and “You’re under arrest.” I’ve spoken with a lot of police over the years, and each one has a somewhat variant answer on edged weapons.

*Generally, but not always. Remember what the law officer sees and expects may not be what’s really going on, so always wise to let them sort it out. (“Drop the axe!” was a little surprising, but I did and he late apologized when I explained that the intrusion alarm was for the OTHER house on the farm which I was going to check out as he drove up. From his point of view, I looked like the culprit, not the local landholder.)

No firm or final answers here, but at least I hope this gives a little bit of guidance. Just my tuppence and 36 years of medieval reenactment. ;-)

Clear and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 02/09/06 15:49:15 EST

Looks like we were all posting at once!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 02/09/06 15:52:23 EST

Rein Clips - Ken, instead of plastic try plywood. My guess would be minimum of 1/2 inch sheet thickness. Relatively easy to cut with a bandsaw. The hard part is finding dimensions that will hold up in use for your cutting pattern. As a safety bonus the plywood won't stick to skin very well if it catches fire (plus fewer toxic fumes) unlike many plastics.

RC - FredlyFX's advice is sound, hammers are a very personal choice, sort of like chosing a dog or a mate. What's works best for you, won't for the next person. And visa versa. (My Latin isn't the best.) With hammers keep in mind that a change of, or to the handle (i.e. sanding or judicial filing with a wood rasp) can make a world of difference in the feel, and performance of the hammer.

Broken overcast and -8 Cel this afternoon North of the Lake (Ontario.)

   Don - Thursday, 02/09/06 16:06:38 EST

Rein Clips- isnt cutting a rein clip out of steel sheet the way a fabricator would think, instead of a blacksmith?
Seems like a smith would just take a piece of round bar, heat it up, bend it to shape, and not waste all that scrap.
The principle of cutting out 6 square inches or so of material to end up with what is basically a C shaped piece of round bar- thats not very eco-concious, now is it?
Its also the exact opposite of Constant Volume Forging.

Most plastic sheets that will function as well as 1/4" steel cost more than steel, not less.

If I was RC (all the crows around here are still black, by the way) I would be asking my mom for the Alexander Weygers book, The Complete Modern Blacksmith, for my present. It is simple and easy to read, lots of good drawings, and it shows how to make a forging setup from junk you get for free. Not a lot of confusing technical details, but enough real info to actually make stuff for an absolute minimum of money.
   ries - Thursday, 02/09/06 16:29:20 EST

I sent a question monday 30 january. Where can I look for the reply Archive goes till 21 December?
   Claudio Tempestini - Thursday, 02/09/06 16:44:07 EST

Ken, why not just make a jig and bend them out of 1/4" or 5/16" round cold? Fast and easy. Won't catch fire either.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 02/09/06 16:54:51 EST

Weapons: well stated cautions above. I had a beautiful silver and ivory trimmed Moro dagger from Mindanao, Philippines. The smith had forged it from the rear axle bearing race of a tank. I watched him rough-forge the blade, then picked up the finished item a month later. I left the Philippines for college in the US. The father of one of my friends asked me to show him the dagger after I talked about it. I was hitch-hiking through Glendale California with the dagger in a suitcase. A cop stopped and asked me where I was going and asked for ID. I had no driver's lisence at 15, but I did have my birth certificate and US passport. He then asked if I had any weapons. I said I had a souvinier dagger from the Philippines in my case. He said let me see it. I did, He took it. I asked for a reciept. He said "What dagger?" After he left, I hitchhiked to the Police HQ. They called him in. He denied ever having seen me before. I could do nothing, particularly since My folks were 8,000 miles away. Still I was lucky, I could have been charged with a crime. Now I usually mail anything that is clearly a weapon to my destination unless I am traveling by car, then I put it in a locked box in the trunk, making it at least not readily accessible.

Because of this incident, I had bad feelings about cops for many years. I had just come from the Philippines where cops were assumed to be crooked. I expected honest cops in the US. The old Mayor Dayley (sp?)of Chicago summed it up very well when he said there will be crooked cops as long as we have to recruit them from the human race." I now have many friends in law enforcement.

Just be VERY careful and be very polite.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/09/06 17:05:01 EST

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