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This is an archive of posts from February 16 - 23, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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While searching your site, I didn't see the question and wanted to know: When making a sword, how many times would you fold the steel? To you knowledge, what is the most a sword was folded? Is there a limit to the number of times a peice of steel could be folded before it degraded if it would start to degrade?
Thatnk you for your insight.
   - Sam W. - Thursday, 02/16/06 01:54:23 EST

Sawing cast iron... job done, the problem was a pot hard bit of porosity in the casting, and using the coolant (and being tierd after 10 hr shift!). The next cut was fine 'dry' tried one with the (water soluable) coolant and it just created a boiling paste of C.I that the blade wouldnt touch. Though about cutting them through the 1" section, but the blade wonders enough going through 1" of depth, never mind 9" (the saws not cut straight since I lent it to someone a couple of years ago, and they dropped it of the crane from 4' up, idiots!)
Cheers for the pointers.
   john n - Thursday, 02/16/06 09:03:17 EST

Dear Sir,
We are facing the problem of black stain or carbon stain on cold rolled strip after cleaning from high density cleaning line( cleaning solution using: artho-silicate) during further process ie, during temperpass after anealing.Our every parameters are within norms; Strip also looks like very bright but it becomes blackish near both the edges some times in full coil or some times inner or outer dia.We suspected in the condition of our coolant used during rolling that is metastable oil(Quaker SRO 1000) but the parameters of coolant is also within norms. Thats why we changed the total rolling emulsion now coils are under process so we have to wait for result.This problem we faced when we restared our lines after long shut down maybe near about 25days before that strip quality was very good.
So Sir please guide me to overcome this problem or if you need any technical data please ask me.
   Kishor Warde - Thursday, 02/16/06 09:07:27 EST

Dear Sir
Why strip width not increasing after cold rolling?Why spread is only in forward direction?
   Kishor Warde - Thursday, 02/16/06 09:10:31 EST

Dear Sir,
How to calculate total load over strip during cold rolling process in 4HI mill?
   Kishor Warde - Thursday, 02/16/06 09:12:15 EST

Folds, IE laminations: Sam, Those questions are answered in the references suggested in our sword making FAQ.

Every lamination of steel reguires a perfect forge weld. For some a forge weld is a difficult thing to do and even for professionals a perfect weld is difficult. So my question is, can you forge weld? Learning to forge weld and make these perfect welds is the first step in learning the process.

The number of "folds" thown about by many people and especially in fiction (including movies - Highlander, Kill Bill. . .) is usualy wrong. First, the term "fold" is generally a bad term. The steel is cut, stacked, welded, drawn out then cut stacked and welded again. If the steel is folded the ends have vertical and curved grain rather than flat and a great amount of waste is created.

Depending on the type of steel and the initial billet the laminating is done a various number of times and the number of times is actually irrelevant. What is important is the number of layers per unit of measurement, NOT the total number of layers. If you start with two 1" thick layers how many laminations does it take to get to .003" thick each compared to starting with thirtytwo 1/16" layers? The normal billet is four or six layers to start but a few smiths start with 200 layers of .005" shim stock. In this last case only ONE welding heat is necessary to result in less than .001" layers.

The math runs like this.

Four 1/4" layers equals about 4 layers in one inch until the billet is drawn out to 1/4" at which point the layers are 16 per inch due to the forging the 1" stack to one fourth its original thickness.

Cut that billet in thirds, weld and draw out to 1/4" and you have 48 layers per inch. In the next lamination by thirds. you would have 144 layers .007" thick each. Do it again and you have 432 layers .0023 inches thick. For reference a sheet of newsprint is between .003" and .005" thick.

That is only four welds or "folds"! If you "folded" the billet the number of times suggested in fiction and by the ignorant the thickness of the layers would be less than atomic sized and the point of the process is lost.

Some smiths only double the layers, most triple but the number can vary as well as the starting number of layers AND the number of times laminated. So the only real measure is layers per unit measure, not "folds".

Depending on the conditions in the fire the steel starts to degrade by decarburization in the first heat. There is a tremondous amount of loss in this process and much of the surface of the steel must be ground off to make a good blade.

There are several reasons for laminating the steel. In the Japanese process they generally are making their own steel from wrought iron and highly carburized iron that is close to cast iron in carbon content. These two are laminated over and over to make a nearly uniform product. However, the Japanese do not waste effort and known when its good enough. They also prize the decorative grain that would dissapear if worked too long. In the early European process the laminating was used to make less brittle steel from the available low quality steel as well as to make soft cored swords that were stronger than all hard swords. The Japanese did the same. In modern bladesmithing the laminating is generally done for decorative reasons and has been raised to a very high art far in advance of anything done previously execpt in myths. It is also done for historic reasons but modern steels are used resulting in a far superior product to anything done historicaly.

   - guru - Thursday, 02/16/06 09:54:58 EST

Cast Iron: John N, is sounds like you got iron cast from a lot of scrap. The results can be VERY hard nasty stuff. A friend of mine had swage blocks cast at a foundry that had given up on buying new iron OR good clean scrap and the results were a mess. Each one was a metalurgical nightmare. The one I had included something that looked like metal mushrooms in the bowels. I flattened the block on a shaper with much effort and drilled a through hole just to have one. It was the most difficult 1/2" diameter hole I have ever drilled. . .

There are castings and then there are castings. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/16/06 10:05:38 EST

Ken's rein clips:

Ken, that didn't take long! I have a question on those, and similar, clips. How do you keep them from falling off when not clipped? I've been using a dirt simple squished ring and the spread of the reins keeps them on, unless I squeeze the reins hard enough.

   - Marc - Thursday, 02/16/06 11:00:33 EST

Marc: The value of a rein clip is to allow you to only have to hold the tongs, not put pressure on the tongs - which can lead to blacksmith's elbow. My observation is they are somewhat of only real value when the tongs are designed for the work being done. For example, if you are trying to hold 7/8" square stock in tongs intended for 1" likely the work will comes lose with a clip. Here you may not have a choice but to use a tight hand grip.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/16/06 11:32:09 EST

Thanks, Ken. I understand the use of the clips. Until fairly recently - maybe a year back - I used a death grip and developed tendonitis in that elbow. A looser grip has helped that greatly.

I'm more thinking that when I put the piece back in the forge I usually don't leave the tongs attached. At that point I would unclip the tongs. Your version of the clip, along with Frances Whitaker's and others' look like the clip would fall to the floor pretty readily. Or does the tong stay clamped to the piece until done forging, or mostly done? That could be a problem with a gas forge. I would end up needing tongs to hold the tongs :-)
   - Marc - Thursday, 02/16/06 11:56:17 EST

Tong clips:

One more thing - On the tongs I have ring clips on, and I guess they should probably not be called "clips", I have the reins slightly flared out. This way, I can still grip different sizes. A smaller size means I slide the ring back further.

So far, I only use these on the tongs I use to hold top tools, like punches and chisels. But that's only because I'm lazy and haven't gotten to spending the 3 minutes or so to make a new ring and flare the reins (if needed).

   - Marc - Thursday, 02/16/06 12:01:48 EST

Most swords in the history of the world are not made from "folded steel" so the answer to your question as stated is 0.

Now the steel chosen for the edges in traditional japanese swords from tamahagane was/is *very* high carbon close to a cast iron and with the loads of impurities you expect in a bloomery process. The "folding" process is done enough times to bring the carbon level down from close to 2% to 0.5% and homogenize the carbon content and any retained impurities.

How many times does this take? How decarbing is your forge? What did you start with? Where do you want to end up? How high is up? What have I got in my pocket? You do it until you get it right---and you have to have the experience to recognize when this is.

In migration era European pattern welded swords the billets were often of lower number of laminations though they were often then "assembled" into a blade---one I have read about had 13 seperate pieces in it's construction and 5 of them were pattern welded billets. IIRC in the research that was done to replicate the Sutton Hoo sword for the British Museum most of the billets used in it were of low layer numbers---under 20; but a number of these were then welded together to make the blade.

In European swordmaking patternwelding diminished as better more homogeneous steels became available---though you will have to admit that the shear steel process is a layering process.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/16/06 12:44:50 EST

I forgot to mention that in european patternwelding billets were commonly twisted which affects their properties---in knifemaking twisting is usually done with lower layer billets than other patternwelding designs---if you do a twist you might use a 160 layer billet instead of a 512 layer random pattern.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/16/06 12:48:28 EST

Kishor Warde; If your strip isn't widening, but it IS elongating, it would seem to me that you are running flat work rolls, as opposed to crowned. Where is your mill?
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/16/06 13:23:30 EST

Kishor Warde; With all due respect, the stain problems you describe sound like ones that could be dealt with by a competent in-plant metallurgist. Are you getting bad material from your hot strip people? Has it been properly pickled? Does your CR mill have roll benders? The preceding questions have been asked, not by a qualified roller or metallurgist, but by a journeyman millwright who just repairs a 4 stand Mesta CR mill.
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/16/06 13:48:34 EST


I like them, I work in them, I've never had any real problem with them. There have been cases where they have saved me from, or ameliorated, what could have been very bad burns.

However; different ships, different long-splices. I know of one smith who swore he threw people wearing gloves out of his shop; but let's not go there! ;-)

Sunny and springtime on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 02/16/06 15:46:44 EST

Lets do some simple math---everyone take off their shoes now! Lets say that the smith can do a forge weld every 10 minutes---we won't count set up time, cleaning out the forge, etc or about 50 a day--so for the upper limit of a "good blade" it would take him about 50 YEARS to make a single blade---hard to get good when you can only do it twice in your lifetime! The "National Treasure" smiths who still forge traditional swords in Japan produce several a month and could do more except for regulations.

Now lets look at losses do to scaling; again we will take a low bound of 1% per welding heat---after 800,000 times what do you have left? How big of a billet do you have to start with to have about 3 pounds left after that many heats---is their any industrial forge in the word that would heat it much less a hand powered charcoal forge?

Now a common misconception mixes "layers" for "folds". Now layers can be approximated by 2 to the number of folds/welds --- only takes 17 cycles to get over 130,000 putative layers---putatively as what you get is a homogenous mass with only the latest welds showing up as pseudo layers

Don't take my word for it go out and weld up a billet and experiment! I welded up my first one over 20 years ago and once it "clicks" you may find it interesting and fun.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/16/06 16:10:44 EST

I know essentially nothing about traditional Japanese bladesmithing. However, as computer science grad student, I wonder if the 100,000 to 800,000 could be the number of layers, rather than folds. This would put the number of folds in the range of 17 - 20 which sounds more reasonable.

Then again, I was pretty happy the other weekend to get two forge welds in mild steel bar to stick. Doing 20 perfect welds in a row, well, I guess that's how you get the title of master.
   Dave A - Thursday, 02/16/06 18:08:15 EST

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question about the need for gloves. Apparently I am some right and some wrong. The grandkids all ready know I don't know everything. Thanks
   dan bartholomew - Thursday, 02/16/06 18:09:12 EST

Hi guys I found an interesting tip in a wood working book. The book suggests old circular saw blades etc for making knife blanks as the saw blades are of high carbon steel and of an appropriate thickness for a fairly beefy camping etc knife. Hope this helps someone.
   - Stephen - Thursday, 02/16/06 19:02:18 EST

About gloves,,When I was a kid and an apprentice in a metal shop,the first thing I was told was not to wear gloves on a grinder,lathe,Bridgeport,drillpress or any thing else that spins. Fifty years later the advice still seems valid.
   - arthur - Thursday, 02/16/06 19:04:43 EST

Rotating equipment:

Is just another way of saying,"really dangerous!" The advice about not wearing gloves around them is very sound, indeed. The same thing applies for loose clothing, stray ends anything that can get caught by a rotating piece and pull you in.

When I was teaching, one of the students violated the rule about having long hair tied up under a cap when using the buffing lathe. Sure enough, it snatched her luxurious long hair and slammed her head into the buff. Fortunately, her hair parted company from her scalp before the scalp parted company from the skull, or broke her neck. For the remainder of the year, that big hank of hair pinned to the wall served as a grisly reminder that machines can harm you in an instant. There have been hundreds of much worse stories about people losing limbs and lives due to being pulled into equipment by their clothing. Don't let it happen to you.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/16/06 19:46:05 EST

Stephen: Bet that was an OLD woodworking book (pre 1950s), eh? Modern circular saw blades are usually 4140, which, while tough, is not a good knife steel. Even older blades were made of different things. The best thing to remember is, if it has carbide teeth or any other sort of brazed-on inserted teeth, it is not necessarily a decent knife steel.

I can't resist the Japanese blade myths as well: Since these started as a pile of little chunks of extremely high-carbon steel atop a paddle of previously forged steel, you will get what appears to be an infinite amount of layers after one homogenizing welding sequence. It's not layers or folds, it's just the weld boundaries of many little chunks of steel after a few welding sequences. There is nothing magical, mystical, or in any way out of the ordinary about Japanese swords. Thay are often works of art, yes. Any modern tool steel will outperform one. Not as aesthetically brilliant, no. Brutally honest, yes.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 02/16/06 20:02:09 EST

   steve miller - Thursday, 02/16/06 20:56:44 EST

I am going to attempt to make an engine gaurd for a Harley out of 1 1/4 cold rolled square stock twisted in two different directions. I am just getting started on the project is there anything more to consider than just making it hot enough to twist and going for it. I plan on usign two oxy-act rose bud type torches. Any info would be a gtreat help. THANKS
   Kevin - Thursday, 02/16/06 21:31:38 EST

Kishor: Go to the American Society for Metals and Materials International website and buy the book: Fundamentals of Flat Rolling by Ginzburg. It is all you ever needed to know about rolling steel. Uh...be prepared for sticker shock. As I recall it was about $200.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/16/06 21:46:03 EST

Hmmmm... I never thought about getting the glove caught in the grinder. My main worry was grinding on my hand on accident! Well, Thanks for the what should have been obvious info! I won't be doin that anymore...
   - Megil Anveleth - Thursday, 02/16/06 22:30:53 EST

Dan B. Don't underestimate how right You are. as someone else mentioned, copper conducts heat MUCH better, the demo smith probably would have to experience it Himself to belive it. You can strike an arc with a tig welder on a block af copper 2"x2"x1" and melt the end of a tungsten electrode 1/8" diameter into a ball and not melt the copper surface the arc is struck against because the heat is carried away that fast.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 02/16/06 22:53:32 EST

Steve Miller,

The anvil is a William Foster, perhaps manufactured in Sheffield, England. It is believed the company went out of business in the 1860s or 1870s. Re the numbers, if the first one is an zero, then the anvil weighs 102#.


1" hot rolled is cheaper than cold finished, if you can find it. You'll need at least a lemon heat and lots of muscle on the twisting wrench.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/16/06 23:44:27 EST

If you're going to make a knife and are not experienced at it I would recommend buying some O-1 of the appropriate size and using that. You will have a known metal, with specific heat treat and forging specs, and O-1 is not an expensive steel. You can buy enough to make 6 or 8 sensible knives for less than $40. You'll thank yourself for having the right sized stock when you get to the grinding and finishing stage. Then you can experiment with junkyard steel if you want, but be prepared to work harder and have a good chance of losing your knife AFTER you've got 10 or more hours in it.

If you're going to twist 1 1/4 square stock by hand you must be the clone of King Kong. That is some serious steel! Not to mention, what are you going to use to hold the other end while you are twisting?
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/16/06 23:57:07 EST

Ellen,,5160 and 1084 are also good choices for beginng knife makers...
   - arthur - Friday, 02/17/06 01:33:56 EST

Arthur, yes I've used 5160....but not 1084. In my opinion, and all smiths have LOTS of opinions, grin, 0-1 is just the easiest to work with, the most readily available, and the cheapest. It is also supposed to be a tad tougher and harder than 5160. Your mileage may vary!
   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 01:36:47 EST

Rein Clips.

I just thought about the ratchet system on suturing forceps used by docs and vets. A three stage ratchet(?) on the end of the reins - a choice of 3 clicks to get the grip on the material right and the fourth squeeze to release. Good for lots of repetitions on the same size material. Anybody know what I mean, as it is hard for me to describe?

Why would you do this? Because you could, and you would be the flashest blacksmith at the hammer-in!

   Big A - Friday, 02/17/06 05:54:49 EST

Marc: You are correct, most reins clips have to be taken completely off between heats. I have seen some tongs with one end of a rein drawn out and formed into an eye. Chain link clip was put in it. Handy, but is one per pair of tongs and is not able to be adjusted by sliding up and down the length of the closed reins.

Personally I haven't used one in years. Simply a possible sales item for me.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/17/06 07:04:26 EST

Tong Tension and reality.

A smith will have a pretty good assortment of tongs, but many times a length of scrap is arc welded to the workpiece. It saves time, gets your hand away from the heat, and it eliminates the pesky tongs. Come on now; who hasn't done this?

If you don't want to get to the arc welder, why not practice a lap weld?

The link on the tong rein end, if used, goes to the other rein end...an angled, saw tooth edged arrangement. Therefore it is adjustable. This is not exactly like suturing forceps, but similar. I made a pair of tongs like this for a farrier who injured his left, tong hand, so he could still work without applying much pressure to the reins.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/17/06 07:49:59 EST

On the subject of gloves, I used leather gloves in the past, but they absorb heat like crazy when they are wet, and shrink when exposed to heat. I started using the kevlar jerseys made by carolina glove. If you grab a piece of hot steel you still feel the heat, but don't get burned. Good stuff.
   Mike Hill - Friday, 02/17/06 11:14:51 EST

Tongs and Holding Devices: First, consider that Vise-Grips were invented by a blacksmith looking for a better tong design. I know several smiths that use them for power hammer work and handling short heavy pieces for sculpture. If you use them for these purposes remember that the production Vise-Grips are no longer long enough for most hot work AND the springs fail due to the heat. However, you can purchase new springs from any GOOD Vise-Grip dealer.

I do not use tong clips but some people use them regularly. The most comon types are just a C shape link that slides down the reins. This works beter than a ring as they are easier to get on and off. There is also the "universal" type that are plasma or lazer cut from from plate. I have never liked these but some people swear by them.

Properly made tongs spring easily in the smiths hand and help hold the work type due to the spring. The spring also cushions the hand. If your tongs are too stiff and do not spring you cannot squeeze them and you have a VERY hard grip. This is not good for you and is not as safe as a springy pair of tongs. Many commercial tongs are made too short OR too heavy to spring easily. Many of the Pakistani tongs are this way. The OffCenter Brand tongs made by Grant Sarver are generaly better proportioned. They are lighter and springier than the imports. The best tongs are hand made with a continous taper to the reins so that they are strong AND springy.

The heavy tongs are OK for power hammer work IF you use tong rings so that you do not have to use that "death grip" which as noted can eventualy cause you joint problems.

Good tongs that fit around the work do not need nearly as tight a grip. I prefer bolt tongs for a lot of work and if I had any of the OffCenter chainmaker tongs I am sure I would use them a LOT. These have the gooseneck similar to bolt tongs and have V's in two directions. This makes them VERY convienient for a wide range of work.

When working in your own shop there is NEVER an excuse for ill fitting tongs. The first task before every job is to select a pair of tongs suitable for the job OR to fit a pair of tongs to the work. Many new smiths think the original shape of their tongs is sacrosanct! It is NOT. If they do not fit snuggly heat and FIT them.

When fitting tongs it is easy to squeeze the reins too close together. The trick I use is to heat the tongs, grab a sample piece with thme then clamp the jaws in the vise around the sample and adjust the reins to fit my hand. I open them a little too far then squeeze with one hand to the right fit. Let the tongs cool and you are ready to go.

Tongs rings are also fitted to the job as well. As smiths we are tool makers. To adjust a tool to fit properly SHOULD be a no-brainer.
   - guru - Friday, 02/17/06 12:10:48 EST

Just came across a William Foster (missing a horn) dated 1889. I'm picking it up for a young helper (especially since it's $50). I'll double-check the date tomorrow when I pick it up for the lad.

Warm and windy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/17/06 12:32:59 EST

Kevlar gloves.

I also use Kevlars - mine resemble terry cloth. The other nice thing about Kevlar is they don't hold the heat. I remember the leather ones, once they got hot it was almost too late. You had to fling them off or the leather itself could burn you. With the Kevlar, I drop the hot piece if it gets too hot to hold and the gloves just cool back to body temp right away.
   - Marc - Friday, 02/17/06 12:52:50 EST

Kevin; what I don't recall being mentioned is that as soon as you heat that cold rolled to red heat it loses it's cold rolled properties and becomes just like hot rolled---save for the original finish and heating red will result in a layer of scale anyway. So you are paying cold rolled price premium and getting hot rolled service.

It is possible to buy hot rolled that has been pickled---had the mill scale removed.

You might want to look at how decorative the twisting can be with a little bit of forging on the stock before twisting.

Good luck and it's great to customize something to *your* spec!

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/17/06 14:52:58 EST


How up on twisting wrenches are you?

I've used a pair of 18" pipe wrenches on 1" stock, (one from each side to counter-balance each other) but you need to make provisions to keep the teeth on the jaws from digging in. (I'd grind the teeth off with an angle grinder, but then what would I use on seriously stubborn trailer balls and nuts?) I also clamp the stock in a 6" jaw, 100# leg vise, just to make sure it's not going anywhere. Thirdly, I use soapstonne or chalk on the wrenches to mark the direction I want the stock to rotate. It seems silly, but in the heat of the moment, you can get confused and rotate it the wrong way, giving the second twist the same rotation as the first instead of a counter-rotation.

Of course, if you can jig it up, the ultimate would be vises at each end and the twisting wrench(es) in the middle, with a lot of clearance.

Hope these hints help.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/17/06 15:23:49 EST

Welding is also taught in some continuing adult education centers. I took two classes, one through the City of Dayton and the other through a county. Both had lots of donated scrap and all the rods you could burn during the shop time. May have just been the instuctor policy, but the county one allowed you to bring in personal projects afterwards and use the shop set-up during class times. Both were well worth the rather low cost.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/17/06 16:53:47 EST

Question on steel. Are the newer automotive leaf and coil springs still made out of 5160? Are they still o.k. for punches, etc?

   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 17:23:24 EST

URGENT NEWS: They have been working on the RR tracks around my house and I've got about 25 completely unused spikes with the paint still on them. The head is marked MC, not HC, and they have a dollar sign on them as well. These spike harden more than the normal HC spikes.
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/17/06 17:52:51 EST


The newer springs are not necessarily 5160. ptree may know more about this. He has commented on the different axle steels in the past. In my 1970 Forging Industry Handbook, these steels are listed as springs: 1050; 4161; 5155; 5160; 9254; 9255; 9260; 51-B-60.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/17/06 18:03:28 EST

Thank you for the ideas. I have two five foot sections to work with. I was thinking about fabbing up a wrench out of pipe and flat bar. Do you think a clamp style would work better than say a square tube made out of flat bar that would have about a sixteenth clearance. I could cut it off when I was done. Do you think two people twisting and one preson running the torches would be enough. Thanks for the help.
   Kevin - Friday, 02/17/06 19:06:27 EST

Ellen, I have no experience with auto spring manufacturing. I do have an info source in the spring biz though and I will see if I can give him a ring on Monday and ask.
If you have questions on axle materials, that I have recent experience with. Also Valve trim materials.
   ptree - Friday, 02/17/06 19:19:44 EST

Thomas P
I got two five foot sections at have the cost of a brand new tewlve foot piece. Will the cold rolled still keep its crisp edges or will they soften like hot rooled square stock is new?
   Kevin - Friday, 02/17/06 19:20:39 EST

Kevin, if you are using rose bud torches, I'm sure you will get enough heat. However, in order to be more efficient, if you can, use some fire bricks, or even common house bricks for a backer. House bricks won't last as long, but for a one time operation will do fine. So, if you lay a few bricks down in a line, and another row standing up behind the first, you make an inside corner to reflect your flame back to the steel. Also, once to heat, that size stock will retain its heat for a bit, so you will have time to move it to a vice, and then twist it.
   Bob H - Friday, 02/17/06 19:25:09 EST

Kevin- I do a lot of large scale twisting- In fact, I have an imported cnc twisting machine- but for certain effects, like what you are doing, which is called a reverse twist, we do it hot, even on the cnc machine. The edges of the cold rolled will stay crisp, especially using a rosebud for heat.
If you have a sturdy enough vise, you can use a two handled wrench, with two guys on it, for twisting, and get quite a bit of leverage. For smaller stuff, like 1", I just use a 24" crescent wrench when twisting hot by hand.
We did some 3" square tube, 1/8" wall, a few years ago- we had to make up twisting wrenches, and we did it with 3 people- 2 on each end of 2 ended wrench, the third on the rosebud. It worked great- the square tube squashes down when twisted, and looks very unique.
   ries - Friday, 02/17/06 19:36:40 EST

Thanks Frank and Ptree, just need to make some punches, and a couple of chisels, looking for cheap. Grin!

Ptree, I bless your name every time I sharpen a drill bit with the Starrett rule and angle measure you recommended. The Drill Doctor sits in the box, unused.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 19:49:13 EST

Ellan what is the starrett rule? I ask only because I am thinking of getting the drill doctor but why if I don't need to and can just sharpen them on a bench grinder? John
   John - Friday, 02/17/06 20:41:07 EST

Hi all hope the weather over there is reasonable and the snow storms have stopped. Here in Australia we are bracing for more bushfires with temperature expected to top 95 F.
I hve recently come across mention of a couple of vidoes and dvds
Armourer's Guild (Spring 2004): Fluting and Hot Raising
and the 2003 fall session and mention that the Clifton Ralph power hammer vidoes had been transcribed to dvd
Any body have any info on where I can buy these from ??

Thanks Greg House
Bywong Australia
   Greg - Friday, 02/17/06 21:14:10 EST

John, I can get you the model number of the Starrett tomorrow. It is a 6" steel rule, nicely graduated as all Starrett tools are, with a sliding end that has an angle on it which is the correct angle to sharpen twist drills to. It is also nicely graduated so you can keep the point centered (you do want STRAIGHT holes don't you...grin!). It's pretty intuitive to use and costs somewhere around $30 IIRC. You can order them online. When you get down to the small drills, 3/16 or less then sharpening becomes problematic at least for me, but those sizes are not expensive to replace.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 22:05:16 EST

John, it is a #22C 6 4r Drill Point Gage. You can see one on Amazon, just look for Starrett Drill Point Gage. Retails there for $42.19. Other places may have it a tad cheaper.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 22:10:46 EST

My drill point gage is made by General, and costs between $10 and $11 dollars. I think it is hardened stainless. I'm not trying to "one-up" Ellen in terms of price. The General is a servicible muli-purpose tool. I've been using mine for quite a few years. The angle is 59.

In the olden days of Manual Arts instruction, the lads were sometimes taught to cut, file, and mark the lip length rule on a shop-made sheet metal drill gage.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/17/06 22:22:39 EST

Frank, I'm glad to know that. Had I known earlier I would have saved $30.....oh well. I have a couple of General 6" steel rules and they are just fine to use. The Starrett is 59 degrees also.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/17/06 22:38:22 EST

To the best of my knowledge, the auto industry is still using reasonably high carbon standard steels for springs. I believe it was either 2005 or 2004, that I ran across an article in my monthly American Society for Metals publication announcing a new microalloyed automotive spring steel - I'm running on memory, but I believ it was relatively low carbon wit typical micro-alloying additions of nitrogen and niobium, maybe something else as well. This type of steel gains its strength from controlled cooling after hot forming. Its attractive to the auto industry because you can form a coil spring hot and then control cool it and bingo - you're done. Traditional forming would require hot forming, cooling, the quench and temper - requires more steps and energy. Only funny thing is that in 1980 I was working as a bar product development metallurgist for J & L Steel. One of my projects was to develop a micro-alloyed steel for the auto industry to eliminate traditional heat treating for springs. We were iniyially looking at nitrogen and niobium at varying levels and processing conditions. Only took about 24 years to get that one semi-commercilized.

Note - just because there is announcement in an ASM publication of commercial availibility, doesn't mean it's been truly accepted by the marketplace for all applications. I expect most automotive coil springs are still in the 60 carbon range with a lot of them being 5160.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 02/17/06 23:40:28 EST

After close to 2 years (don't laugh, I was a jeweler for the previous 35yrs....same sh$@t but smaller), as a bonified (as in, if I don't bend metal it's a lost day), blacksmith FNG, I was wondering, does anyone have any idea how many of us there are in the continental US ?
   Thumper - Saturday, 02/18/06 00:30:44 EST

Thanks for the info. I didn't know when there was a change, just that auto springs either would be or already were some fancy stuff that you couldn't do the typical blacksmith trick on.....forge, anneal or normalize, harden, temper....I just didn't want to go spend $10 or whatever it is now for a coil spring that was useless.......bad for my Scots blood. Grin! Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to the junkyard I go......

Also didn't want to spend a bunch of $$$ on S-7 for this application, although that is a top quality punch/chisel steel.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/18/06 01:33:31 EST

Anyone know the country of origin of KING LA CA anvils?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/18/06 02:47:30 EST

KEN: Los Angeles, California? (That's a foreign country, isn't it ?)
   3dogs - Saturday, 02/18/06 04:49:04 EST

Greg - It's 1 degree above zero here in Michigan this morning.
5160 - I purchased some flat bar stock from a scrap yard this week and the superintendent told me it was 5160 from leaf springs. It is newer stock, not sure why it was being scrapped. I am fairly sure on the type as the scrap yard is attached to a steel mill and they seperate the piles for chemistry.
   EckfordBlacksmith - Saturday, 02/18/06 07:57:13 EST

Drill rules.
The Starret as all things Starret is the very best. The General is also a workable tool. I prefer the Starret as I like my measuring tools to be the very best. I also have a General, and personally I don't think it is as easy to use. Not knocking the General. At the old plant where we had about 30 guys sharpening tools, maybe 10 doing drills, most of the tool and die guys had thier shop made drill measure from vocational school still in thier box. Most also had a Starret and used the Starret, and loaned out the shop made.

We had several cam grinders and Sellars grinders, but for the large, say above 1 1/4", all the drills were sharped by hand. All the drills were lipped by hand as well. Under about 3/16", they were pretty much scrapped when dull.

All this was back in the day of drilling out all the flow passages of several million pipe fittings and a hundred thousand valves a months, all with HSS twist drills.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/18/06 09:52:46 EST

I have a sample of both a 41/4" by 7/8" by 1/4" grinding wheel, and the same size flap wheel coming from Hagemeyer. they are from "Duramark", a new Hagemeyer line made by norton for Hagemeyer. The pricing is good at $0.95 for the hard wheel. As soon as they come in I will use them to end of life and report.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/18/06 10:07:55 EST


I believe that one of the vendors of them said they were Russian.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:32:25 EST

Making a lag or wood screw?
I've tried to search the archives with no luck, I hope I'm not repeating a faq here... if so, a little guidance would be very much appreciated.

The question: Is there a good way to make lag screw type threads without machining equipment (lathe etc.)?
I keep wanting to make screw in pintles, ornamented lagbolt heads, hook and eye fasteners etc. I have several times made sort of square tapered "cut nail" style drive in solutions, but a good solid threaded connection would hold much better. In a couple of cases I've machine threaded the end with a die and put a nut on the back, but if the wood is thick that's not a good solution. There's also the holes and wood screws arrangement, but that seems inelegant and overy complex.
Perhaps there's a wood screw thread cutting die of some kind available?

   John - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:37:52 EST

Ptree, I agree that Starrett is, well, salivatingly nice. But it's nice for folks to have a cheaper alternative to try to see if they like sharpening drill bits that way. Once one knows, they can always move up to the Starrett, and use the General for a loaner. I use my General 6" rules at classes and demos, in my shop it is the Starrett 6" rule, micrometer, and dial vernier (never could master the old scale).

Eckford Blacsmith: thanks for the spring feedback. It's a relief to know the supply of affordable tool steel is still there.....1 degree above? I thought it was cold here yesterday. High of about 60. Brrrrrr! Of course, summer cometh and then the solar forge gets dusted off.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:47:00 EST

Primitive screws: John, You can twist a square bar and get a fair resembalance of a lag screw. If you are carefull you can paper the point and twist it as well. Most folks that need a good lag weld one on.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:50:55 EST

LA King Anvils: These folks are big importers of Chinese tools to the best of my knowledge. I had one ebay dealer try to tell me they were manufactered in Los Angeles. Since the Chinese copies of the Russian anvil are difficult to tell from the real thing AND we have an article on the Russian many ebay dealers also tell buyers the Chinese anvils are Russian. Hey. . they were all communist countries at one time so there is no difference RIGHT?
   - guru - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:56:58 EST

I was thinking about getting my father a welder for his birthday. He wants a little wire welder that you plug in. I was telling him that a straight ac stick welder would be better and more of a value. He is a retired man and has time on his hands for projects now. Which one would you get him?

Chuck in Omaha
   Charles - Saturday, 02/18/06 12:00:28 EST

I have a Beaudry triphammer. I do not know the model or lb hammer it is. The anvil on it is 3 1/2 x 6 1/2 and weighs approx. 2400 pounds. Was wondering if someone can tell me by the info above, or can someone give me a e-mail address that I can send pictures to, so they can tell what I have. Thanks, Brian
   Brian Girard - Saturday, 02/18/06 12:47:17 EST

Chuck in Omaha: I have 3 types of welders. One of them is a Lincoln 110V wire pack, I bought it at Home Depot for less than $400. I use it constantly. It is a good welder for smaller work, easier to use than a stick, and it is portable. Unless your Dad is going to be welding up 1/4" or heavier stock the wire welder is all he needs. Fewer fumes to mess up his lungs, too. And, it is what he asked for. Just my opinion, you'll get lots of them here!

I bought the accessory for it where I can put a 10# roll of wire in it. I recommend that as well.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/18/06 14:02:00 EST

Chuck in Omaha: I agree with Ellen. I have the Lincoln Pro-Cor which is a flux-cored wire welder and I use it a lot. I also have the Lincoln 225 AC stick welder but I use it less than the wire welder. If he is tack welding alot, which I do, or if he works in lighter gages, the wire gun is great. For multi-pass welds, ya gotta get the stick welder. The wire welder and an auto-darkening helmet made a decent welder out of me. Now if it could only teach me to be a better blacksmith......
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/18/06 14:06:54 EST

Is there a good place to get bulk hammer handles?
   Mike Hill - Saturday, 02/18/06 15:13:22 EST

Hello, I have no experience in the blacksmith industry and have a question totally unrelated but regarding coal or coke flashpoint properties. My sister wants to do a line of pottery using coal... she plans to add it to her pieces and then bake in kiln at various temperatures. I am afraid for her safety... what will happen? Is there any grade of coal that will stand up to these temperatures in a closed kiln.
   Mige - Saturday, 02/18/06 15:13:31 EST

Mike Hill: Try eBay. Just do a keyword search on hammer handles.

Anvilcrack: Have no intention of adding them to my eBay store. Just curious as one eBay seller insists they are not made in China. India perhaps? Frankie8acres avoids saying they are Russian since he knows if someone does a Google search on them it may lead to the comments in the anvilfire archives.

I have been told the on-line version of Harbor Feight is a separate entity from the Harbor Freight stores. Same family, just run separately. Stores may or may not match catalog or on-line prices.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/18/06 16:13:48 EST

I just got a Hawkeye #2 trip hammer can you tell me anything about it. Pat. date 1903
   Mark Morrison - Saturday, 02/18/06 16:33:53 EST

Leaf spring steel: There is a spring shop here in town that supplies me with all I want. There are short pieces of New steel, some with a sticker or stencil mark. All those are 5160. The boss told me that the only alloy they buy. Of course on the removed from service scrap, who knows!

Mark Morrison and Brian Giard: Post a picture or two at: forgemagic.com
   - John Odom - Saturday, 02/18/06 16:55:50 EST

I understand. Glad you are not carring those anvils. Maybe India. You would be surprised a very well known anvil is produced in India. Anyway happy forging and keep it up with your poor boy tools.
   - anvilcrack - Saturday, 02/18/06 19:23:14 EST


If your Dad wants a MIG, buy him a MIG. If your local welding dealer has MIller, Lincoln or Esab in your price range, by all means by from them. That way you have stfong local support from folks who know how to answer questions. If not, then I'd recommend buying froone of the better mail-order dealers who handle Miller or Lincoln.

I have both AC/DC stick and MIG welders, and I use the MIG mostly these days. I wouldn't recommend an AC-only stick welder for a first welder, as there's a bit of a learning curve with the AC rods, for the most part. Much easier to learn MIG, particularly true MIG, as in Metal Arc Gas-shielded. The flux-core wire welders work fine, they just make more of a mess with spatter.

The MIG unit I got is the Millermatic 175, a nice unit at a decent price. Gas-shielded or flux-core or flux/gas, will handle up to 5/16" in a single pass and heavier with multiple passes. It is a bit more than a hobby unit, but not an industrial size, either. I got it from an Ebay seller who proved to be exceptionally good to deal with and very helpful. Their store hwich handles Miller and Lincoln both, is:

   vicopper - Saturday, 02/18/06 19:50:06 EST

As a matter of fact I have both a General and the Starret. I would loan out the General:)

Ever see the Starret layout hammer? It has a little magnifing lens to let you see where the exact point of the prick punch is then you turn it and tap. The story is that it was made for the old man Starret when his eyes were failing, and they started to offer it.

When the Idiots bought out the plant they scrapped EVERY single measuring tool they found when all the guys were laid off. Seems they did not find too much, as the Plant Engineer had heard that was thier plan. When he checked the guys tool boxs, he never seemed to see the Henry Vogt Machine Co. engraved on any tools! Course I may have not been too digilent in looking at BOTH sides of the tools these guys had worked with for 30 years+
The plant engineer had a tool box too! Brown and Sharp and starret make really nice tools.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/18/06 21:26:48 EST

If I could have only one welder, it would be stick. A MIG the size of VICopper's would be my second choice, and one of the 110 units a distant third. But it depends on the work your dad would be doing. For welding auto bodies, for example, you almost have to have a MIG.

Also, many folks can make passable MIG welds almost from the first pass, but learning stick takes a substantial time investment. So I agree with VICopper -- if your dad wants a MIG, buy him a MIG. Give him a stick he doesn't want and he might never learn to use it.

If you do go stick, you might want to consider one of the inverter-based units, for example the Miller Maxstar 150. It would cost more than a regular AC/DC unit, but it would draw less power, so you might get some or all the difference back on wiring. It's DC only, but that's not really an issue for stick welding. And it's easily portable and can work from a 110 outlet at reduced power. If the welder will be used only in a shop with an existing 50 amp outlet, by all means buy a buzz box. But if you need to run a circuit to a distant shop, or use the welder away from the shop, it may be worth looking at inverter units.
   Mike B - Saturday, 02/18/06 22:12:32 EST

Mige - The coal will release flamable gasses when heated, and turn into coke, whick does not look like coal.The gasses may burn off slowly, but then again they may ignite all at once [BOOM]. I don't think I would try it in an electrically heated kiln for sure, and I allso think She will be disapointed in the look of the coke. So the short answer is don't try it.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/18/06 23:53:42 EST

Shop Sign. "The borrowin' tools are already on loan".
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/19/06 00:00:43 EST

Anvilcrack: Now you have me curious. What anvil brand is made in India?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/19/06 00:46:10 EST

vaughn brooks
   - anvilcrack - Sunday, 02/19/06 01:09:46 EST

Hey guys,
I am looking for an answer to fusing or eutectic bonding of copper granules to a copper plate. I am a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma and working on project right now. I know if i can figure out how to lower the melting point of the copper by some means at the point of contact it should work. However I cant seem to find what mixture or substance to use for this. If you have any suggestions or If i am totally wrong with this let me. I would appreciate any advice you might have on this subject.
   - Delvie McPherson - Sunday, 02/19/06 04:27:07 EST

Delvie: It may be hard to do with granules, but pressure would fuse two PLATES together at somewhat below the melting point without adding any other alloys. Furnace brazing compounds will fuse the granules to the plate at temperatures below the melting point of copper, but that will form an intermediate layer. The company that specializes in what You are trying to do is Eutectic Corp, Charlott, Nc. 28273 You may want to check with them, they pioneered surface alloying technology.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/19/06 05:17:50 EST

King LA anvils: I had one ebay dealer try to tell me these were made in Los Angeles. . . Maybe there is a town in China by that name like the town in Japan called Usa. King is a big importer of low quality junk specificaly for the ebay market.

frankie8acres is still pushing junk anvils with a line of hype and tricky use of photos. He finally ground and polished ONE to photograph because we forced him to stop using the photos he stole from anvilfire. However, he is NOT selling the pretty one he shows at the top of his ad. You have to look WAY down at the bottom for the current version with the diagonal hardy hole.

Diagonal Hardy Holes: These are a Chinese patternmaker's invention to make it easier to core the hardy hole. No draft is required and any monkey can place the core without disturbing the sand. It is mechanicaly a VERY bad design and despite frankie8arces claim that it puts anvil tools "out of the way" it does not. What is DOES do is create the perfect condition to break the heel off the anvil as it both reduces the amount of material at that point AND presents sharp corners at the stress concentration point. Tools that are normally supported over the center of the anvil will not work or special ones must be made to work with the odd hardy hole orientation.

The only non-conventional hardy hole design that makes sense is the one Grant Sarver proposed and used on his WC-JYH, a hex that old jack hammer or breaker bits fit into. This alows the recycling of this great source of tool steel parts with forged shoulders and the hex alows repositioning of simple hardies and fullers at convienient 30° angles (but not 90°).

Design Decisions: Currently there are many anvils and swage blocks being cast where the patternmaker employed by the foundry is making design decisions. These guys are NOT tool designers or engineers. They only know what makes patterns the easiest to get out of the sand. Although this is a criteria for casting design it is NOT the most important. Patternmakers' decisions have resulted in a large number of totaly worthless swage blocks such as the Saltfork block which is parted down the middle of the working surfaces. Spend a week grinding on it or remachining the surfaces and you could have a working block. . . at VERY great expense. The center parting reduces the size of the flask needed and amount of sand used. But this destroys the usability of the side surfaces. Blocks are easily parted at the corners of either (or both faces) but this takes about 30% more sand. It is the ONLY and correct way to cast this shape.

Similar pattern making resulted in the botched Czech copy of the Austrian pattern anvil from the Otto Schmirler book. In this case the patternmaker had no artistic skills at all and botched the design by moving the hardy hole out on the horn, putting undercuts in the body as well as reducing the clarity of details. All these changes completely missed the best points of the design. There are designers and then there are hacks. These guys are all hacks. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 09:41:57 EST

Coal in Clay: Midge, see Dave Boyer's post above. The coal will melt, gas and burn. If the pieces have ANY thickness they would be destroyed by the expanding gases. The volatiles include gases as well as oils similar to fuel oil and others similar to tar. All have low flash points.

There is an American Indian method of firing pottery in a smokey fire that produces a blackened surface than can be polished. . . I cannot remember the name of the method. It MAY be possible to do this using a coal fire but NOT with coal mixed in the clay. I would not do this in a good kiln as the ash from the coal will melt and stick to the kiln lining like glaze,

Rolling the damp clay in powdered coal may produce interesting effects when fired but there will still be volatiles given off that will require very good ventilation.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 09:57:54 EST

"La" means "spicy" in Chinese. (Actually, there are probably a bunch of words pronounced that way, but I only know one.) They have/had a pop music group called "La Mei" (Spicy Girls).

I looked at one of those anvils with the diagonal hardy hole at Harbor Freight. It was counterbored (countercored?) from underneath within maybe 3/4" of the face. The diameter of the counterbore was greater then the diagonal dimension of the hardy hole. Don't know if that reduces the stress riser or just weakens the whole thing, but that's how it was.
   Mike B - Sunday, 02/19/06 10:14:02 EST

Black Pottery.

My wife is related to one of the San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico potters, Adelphia Martinez. I have not witnessed the firing, but it is low fire, done on the ground. At a certain point in the firing, dried horse hockey (cow chips might work?)is put over the coals and pots and the whole is covered with sheet metal pieces to create a smokey surround for the work. A few years back, I hauled a bunch of sheet metal to Adelphia's place for this purpose. Santa Clara Pueblo is another village that uses this method.

It is said that quite early, black pots and shards were found, but the means of doing it had been lost. By experimentation, a San Ildefonso woman known as Maria, rediscovered the method in the early 1900's. I'm sure that better descriptions than mine of the firing are in the literature, because Maria is renowned for her work, and her pieces are selling in the extreme high dollar range.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/19/06 10:59:49 EST

Black Pottery,

Maria Martinez and her son Popovi Da were the acknowledged masters of the black pottery from the San Ildefonso, and taught me the method many years ago. Somewhere, I have slides I took of the whole process, but that was more than thirty years ago. Frank's description is basically correct.

The pottery is made by hand-building from coils and the surface, when "leather hard" is burnished with an agate burnisher until it is shiny smooth. Any design work is done using a yucca brush and a bit or water, which leaves matte areas in the glaze.

The firing is done in and on the ground, over a fire of horse "apples", although we determined that dried cowpies yield the same result. (I didn't have a handy source for the horse byproduct, but did have a friendly cattle rancher) A pit is dug for the fire, and the pots arranged over and around it on pieces of sheet metal; old license plates are traditional, but bare steel sheet works fine. After the fire is going, the entire stack is covered with more license plates, and then dirt shoveled on and around it, to seal off nearly all air. This results in the reduction firing atmosphere that is needed to make the normally reddish clay turn black.

After several hours, when the firing is finished and the stack is cool, it taken apart and the finished pots retrieved. I have a couple that Mari and Po made, (beautiful work) and one that I made; far less than beautiful, but I'm a metalsmith, not a potter! Some may consider it sacrilege, but I use them, rather than display them.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/19/06 11:26:57 EST


I don't consider it sacrilege. It's the same way with Navajo weaving. Some folks hang rugs on the wall. Others walk on them.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/19/06 11:37:21 EST

What is the recommended C-scale hardness of an anvil face and how does this compare with most hammers. In other words, should the hammer be soft enough to not mar the surface of the anfil when hit?
   Ecrab - Sunday, 02/19/06 14:31:29 EST

Delvie McPherson: Look for a book of phase diagrams for non-ferrous alloys in the Engineering/Metallurgy section of your university library. One of the materials science geeks could probably help you.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/19/06 14:37:41 EST

SS fireplace screen,

I would like to use stainless steel 304 mesh for a fireplace
screen. It is very bright and shiny,is there a simple effective way of dulling or darkening this material that that would hold up in this application?

I am trying to avoid mild steel mesh with high temp black spay paint,which I found fussy/time consuming to apply, and left me wondering when I'd get a call back because the screen had sprouted orange. Thanks, Andrew
   - Andrew T - Sunday, 02/19/06 16:03:49 EST

Oxidizing SS: Andrew, If you heat SS to a red heat with a torch you get a nice permanent grey-black like normal scale on steel. This is a durable finish. However, in some cases it will alow some minor discoloration due to rust. The scale will take flat black paint and not show where paint scraps off like bright SS would.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 16:42:43 EST

Brian's Beaudry,

Sounds like it's a 100lber.
The specs I have are 3.5"x6.5" dies, height to center of drive shaft 5'4", speed of hammer 325, size of belt pulley 14"x4", appox HP 3 , weight 2500lbs.

Mine is an older 200lber, it is called a #7. There is a very
faint "7" cast on the slope on the sow block that I did not
notice for a long time. It also has a brass plaque with a serial number that starts with a "7" (7093). Mabey the 93rd
#7 they made?

I think Beau's numbering system is #2 50lb, #3 75lb, #4 100lb, #5 125, #6 150, #7 200, #8 250, #9 300, up to 500lbs.

My #7's head alone, weighs 180 lbs and 210lbs with the die.
Give me a call if want to chat, 563 382 4907, Andrew
   - Andrew T - Sunday, 02/19/06 16:43:44 EST

Thanks for the reply, I had considered that technique, but was concerned about warping the screen which can be difficult to stretch flat. Any cold process ideas? I will do test pieces but it is spendy material.
   - Andrew T - Sunday, 02/19/06 17:03:39 EST

Old license plates: Anyone trying VIcopper's method may want to note that these were STEEL plates not modern aluminium ones. In those days you were issued NEW plates every year and old ones rusted pretty badly depending on the part of the country you lived in. The fancy aluminium ones with little stickers are relatively new (to us old fogies) and now almost a lifetime plate. The Virginia ABANA plates I just retired had been in use since about 1982 (25 years) and been on my Dodge pickup three Dodge vans and a Mitsubushi station wagon. I finally got tired of paying $20 extra every year to advertise ABANA (that's $500 of non-dues support they have gotten from me and was added to the Virgina highway fund. . .).
   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 17:12:03 EST

CBore under hardy hole: This is recycled work. The original patterns had a round bottom and a square top. When they changed to a draftless pattern they continued to use the old core boxes. So the core print is round on the bottom and diagonal/square on the top.

In most good modern cast anvils they leave the hardy hole out and machine and broach from solid. The reason is that if you start with a cored hole you will wreck more tools drilling embeded sand than drilling the entire hole in clean metal. . . Ocassionaly a round core is used to thin the underside of the heel because it is difficult to broach a deep hole.

Yes, the oversided Cbore in the diagonal hardy hole anvils weakens the heel further. Not only are these junkers made from inferior materials but the patterns are lousey. The sad thing about cast anvils is that for the exact same money they can be BEAUTIFUL works of art.

Wonder what kind of spice you put on a Chinese CI anvil? Hmmmm. . . you use lime in the out house. . .

   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 17:30:26 EST

Forge Welding

A typical lap weld of A36 usually takes me three heats to "fade" the scarf points and other shuts. I like to make the finished piece look clean. I don't like to use sparking heats for the finish heats. Sweating heats work all right, and one must move quickly. My experience is to use light or moderate rapid blows when working on scarf points. Hitting too hard may cause shear and drawing rather than cohesion. In taking two or three heats, I will upset for scarfs 1 to 1 times the parent stock thickness. If you take a sparking heat for starters, you will lose stock in sparks and scale, both a weight loss. The other loss is through hammer reduction, not a weight loss.

At a Whitaker workshop, Francis leaned over the anvil and said "What do you want to see?" I asked for a T-weld, but one done on the diagonal, so that the result would show one acute angle and one obtuse. Francis said, "Thank you, Frank." He prepared the scarfs, got the weld, and said, "Less is more; one heat!" I still have the piece. The shuts show, but the weld appears to be solid. Further, I confess that I did not know how to prep for such a weld. That is why I asked for the demo. We continue to learn.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/19/06 18:10:03 EST

I am in absolute despair since I saw a "pencil torch" in a hardware store one day and bought it. 4 pencil torches later, I am very eager to know if there is such a thing as a working "pencil torch". I cant seem to find one that works properly. If you have any ideas where i can get one that works, please let me know.
   - nippon - Sunday, 02/19/06 18:50:07 EST

Nippon: Go to your local welding supply store and get a small air-acetylene torch. It'll set you back a minimum of $350, maybe more. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, but if you pay, you can play to your heart's content.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/19/06 19:45:48 EST

Re: Pencil torch

Yes, goodones exist, I have seen them, and used them. The one I used, once, but did not own was a Weller Brand.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 02/19/06 19:45:53 EST

Anvil Hardness: This is a tricky question. Old anvils had high carbon steel face plates that were hardened as hard as possible. Due to the shallow hardenability of plain carbon steels the surface MAY be as hard as 62Rc on small anvils but 1/4" below the surface it may be much softer. Due to difficulty quenching and the residual heat the larger an anvil the softer the face. Also due to the loss of hardness the deeper you go into the face it is bad practice to machine the surface of these anvils.

Modern cast anvils vary greatly in material from the nearly mild steel of the Russian cheapies to the high alloy manganese steel anvils cast in the US. The high alloy anvils are deeper hardening steels than the old plain carbon plated anvils. The steel is also stronger through the anvil body compared to old wrought iron bodies. So these anvils do not need to be nearly as hard as the old anvils. Due to chippng being an issue on cast anvils the manufacturers try to keep them as soft as can be used. This often means as soft as 52 Rc.

I like a really hard anvil but understand the chipping issue. My big anvil is an old Kohlswa and my first anvil was a small Kohlswa. Both had chipping issues when I got them. However, I work a LOT on the edges and have never chipped one. These anvils were some of the hardese I have ever tested. I do not worry about chipping as most chipping is from miss strikes with heavy sledges. But modern makers worry about it due to warranty issues and libility issues. Hard sharp spalls come off at bullet speeds and can be VERY dangerous, especially if they strike leg arteries.

Ideally both hammer and anvil are exactly the same hardness. But modern hammers tend to be harder than modern anvils. So we learn to work more carefully and dress the corners of our hammers better.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/19/06 19:49:50 EST

Thanks for the input on lag screws! I had thought about trying a taper and twist method but thought maybe there might be something better. I'll give that a go and see how well it works out. It has to be better than the "cut nail" approach. Thanks again.

Primitive screws: John, You can twist a square bar and get a fair resembalance of a lag screw. If you are carefull you can paper the point and twist it as well. Most folks that need a good lag weld one on.

- guru - Saturday, 02/18/06 11:50:55 EST
   John - Sunday, 02/19/06 20:13:01 EST

Regarding lag screws and similar -- I have been thinking about this recently, and I think that forging a round bar to an egg-like cross-section with a point at the small end (teardrop cross-section, I guess) and then twisting down tight with a good even heat ought to make a really fine lag screw. I will try to remember to give this a shot in the upcoming week and report back.

Cool and pouring down rain in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 02/19/06 21:06:29 EST

RE:Anvil Hardness, thanks Guru..At present I have a mind to make an anvil out of some scrap tool steel I can get my hands on and round out my work with some purchased stake anvils. What I do is small scale forging anyway, but I'm thinking something for a 4x6 table as thick as I can get it.
   Ecrab - Sunday, 02/19/06 21:18:29 EST

Smiths in the bible?

I have found the references in Samuel and Isaiah about smiths, but I thought there was another reference. For some reason Tubal Cain, or Tubla Cain comes to mind.

Any help on the reference in KJV?
   - ccharper - Sunday, 02/19/06 21:34:46 EST

Anvil Hardness: Nimba website says their hardness is 50 to 52 Rockwell. Does anybody know what the hardness is on a Euroanvil? Also, seems like Laurel Forge used to cast anvils and swage blocks, couldn't find any of that on their website today. Thanks!
   Ellen - Sunday, 02/19/06 21:50:52 EST

Genesis 4:22
   JimG - Sunday, 02/19/06 22:08:33 EST

A friend of mine is moving from a remote location to a more densely populated area. His new workshop will be a large steel clad building. How can he best protect his neighbors from the noise and vibration of his Phoenix powerhammer?
   Bob G - Sunday, 02/19/06 22:25:57 EST

Lag screws.

Let me know how you all fare on the twisting business. In the "olden days", I worked part-time as a conservator at the the Museum of New Mexico, and I took apart and cleaned flintlocks and percussion rifles and pistols. The wood screws were all different from each other. They were hand filed individually. This method is shown in the video, "The Gunsmith of Williamsburg".

P.S. I forge welded a pistol barrel out of Swedish wrought iron yesterday. A helper held a tapered mandrel made of S7. "What a deal, Schlemiel!"
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/19/06 22:41:26 EST

Ecrab - Anvil hardness: If I were doing what You are going to do I would go for 56 to 58 RC, and put a radius around all the edges. I would ABSOLUTLY stay below 60RC. I have an old Swedish cast steel anvil, different [no name]brand from Jocks, it is hard - and chipped on 1 edge. Had it been radiused properly from the start, it might not be chipped.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/19/06 23:04:55 EST

What about making a pair of clapper dies to thread lag screws? They might be tricky to make, but I'd think you could rough them out and then close them hot on a commerecial lag screw (or several) to make the threads.

The size and shape of the screw blank would be critical, so maybe a another set of dies or swages to help get that right before using the threading dies?
   Mike B - Sunday, 02/19/06 23:23:43 EST

Delvie McPherson - my initial thoughts are "sinter" in a hydrogen or nitrogen-hydrogen atmosphere. You can stay below melting temp and get solid state bonding. Or do the same in a vacuum furnace. Typical temperatures for iron powders would be 1950 to 2050 degrees Fahrenheit - copper would need less temperature. My WAG without looking at any metallurgy books would be about 1750 F. You'll need contact and temperature in a reducing atmosphere to make the bond - pure hydrogen or a nitrogen hydrogen mix will provide the cleanest bond.


Hydrogen has an extremly wide flammibility/explosive range for both temperature and oxygen or air.

Frank - The Gunsmith of Williamsburg - great video!
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 02/19/06 23:39:06 EST

Mortising chisels and such...
I'm working on making a mortising chisel for general woodworking, and found some interesting pictures of a vietnamese smith at work.

Note the "tongs" used in this picture. They look to be very short, only a few inches in length. It an interesting idea. Does anyone know more about how these work? The picture is pretty lean on details.

Additional pointers on methods of making a tanged mortising chisel would be of help.

   - Tom T - Monday, 02/20/06 00:46:34 EST

Delvie McPherson,

I missed your question earlier. Gavainh gave you some good advice regarding solid state bonding. It works pretty well in just a nitrogen atmosphere, allowing you to develop a bond at a temperature about 25F below the melting point of the copper. It is critical that the base and the granules be absolutely totally clean for it to work, though.

I did a fair amount of granulation work with silver, gold and copper when I was in college, using a homemade electric kiln and purging it with nitrogen. I found that the best method for cleaning the granules was tumbling them with crushed walnut hulls and some 400 mesh silicon carbide grit. After tumbling, they were rinsed with acetone followed by a weak solution of boric acid in alcohol. In retrospect, I doubt that the boric acid wash did anyting for the granulation process, as essentially all of it was rubbed off the granules before they were placed on the sheet.

The copper base was cleaned by sanding to 600 grit, microscopically crosshatching the surface, followed by an acetone rinse. Then it was wiped with the boric acid mixture.

The granules were placed on the base and put in the kiln. The kiln was flooded with nitrogen and turned on. The nitrogen was set to feed a couple of liters a minute of gas into the kiln during the heating. I didn't use any hydrogen because I was more than a little bit afraid of launching myself into the afterlife with it.

The kiln was brought up to about 25 or 35F below the melting point of the copper and held there for several hours. The longer it was held at heat, the higher percentage of granules that would fully bond. I can't recall any heats lasting more than about six hours, but that may be faulty memory more than fact. I do recall that one time I forget to have the nitrogen running after the initial purge and that project was ruined. Copper just has an incredible affinity for oxygen.

This process worked much better with gold and silver than it did with copper, as I recall. It also worked better if the granules were slightly flattened before placing, which gave them a larger contact area. I tried it using flux instead of the inert atmosphere, with less satisfactory results but some slight success. I think that's why I used the boric acid wash on it; probably more superstition than science, but it made me feel better. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 02/20/06 01:59:06 EST

ccharper: Go to www.half.com and look for a copy of a book titled The Return of the Blacksmiths. It is basically a religion-oriented book full of references in the Bible on ironworking.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/20/06 02:02:58 EST

What is a Kinyon-style airhammer? It is what will be built during the SOF&A workshop next month. Apparently will be valved to either hit once (as a striker) or multiple strokes.

On anvils, keep in mind in 1908 Hay-Budden switched production techniques from the top plate to a plateless top half. Richard Postman has indicated to me there is some evidence late production Peter Wrights were also plateless. Far as I know all Trentons have a top plate.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/20/06 08:20:45 EST

I found my answer on a Kinyon-style airhammer via a Google search.

For a 50-pounder, what size air compressor is recommended. Right now I only have one of those small (I think 5-gallon) shop ones.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/20/06 10:24:46 EST

Ron Kinyon advertises his air hammer fittings in a kit and lists his phone number in the ad in the Anvils Horn, our local group's magazine. It is 480 986-8576. Call him and ask any questions you like. He is a nice guy.
   Ellen - Monday, 02/20/06 12:07:55 EST

I went to see a farrier about working with him, but it was made clear that it was a lunchtime interview. I took nothing but my body dressed in clean clothing. I washed my face, combed my hair, and used mouth wash.

I passed. The next time I saw him, I was in work clothes. We were in Southern California where farriers do not wear gloves or face masks. My mentor, Al Kremen, was a hot shoer, but not all shoers are. Some are cold shoers, have a large inventory of keg (manufactured) shoes, beat on them cold, and nail on.

Farriers and gloves. In winter weather, I wore thin, deerskin gloves. You can't handle the tools with floppy work gloves or gauntlets.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/20/06 12:20:05 EST


For a 50# Kinyon-type air hammer, you really should have a 5hp compressor, preferrably a two-stage type that puts out around 15 cfm @175 psig, and that has a 60 to 120 gallon receiver. You can get by with a little 2-3 hp shop compressor, the sort that are rated at about 6cfm @90psig, but you will not be able to run the hammer flat out for more than about 10-15 seconeds before you outstrip the compressor's capability to recover.

Most of the Kinyon-type hammers are built using a 2" diameter cylinder, which is about as small as you can get away with for 50#. If you use a bigger diameter cylinder, it uses more volume of air per cycle, but you can also use lower pressure. That way, a 2-1/2" cylinder running on 80 psig could do the same work that a 2" does on 100 psig, but it would use greater volume. Some of the inexpensive 60 gallon upright compressors are single-stage types that will deliver 10-12 cfm @90 psig, and cost about half of what an industrial 5hp Ingersoll-Rand T-30 two-stage costs. With lower pressure, you have less wear on the components, too. Be sure you size the other valving in the system accordingly; never scrimp on the c.v. of your valves, or you'll regret it.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/20/06 12:44:53 EST

vicooper: I will bring home whatever the SOF&A group has designed. Bob Cruikshank said they were merging three plans together (trying the incorporate the best features of each). Some very knowledgeable machanical engineers in the group (e.g., Hans Peot) so I have to make the assumption they know what they are doing.

Two large 220v compressors were in the local ag auction last Saturday. However, it was SOOOOOO cold, it would be some time before they got to them, they came with no history or warranty that I just came home. Fourth year they have had this auction. Nice weekend before and after, miserable weather that weekend (and worse on Saturday).

I don't plan to do heavy-duty work. For example, I can get three hot cut hardies out of a flea market log splitting wedge. You can make a nice little handled hot cut or punch out of an old ballpeen hammer.

I don't know the specifications on my shop compressor. Label has been worn off. Does hold pressure up to 125 pounds.

Will have the hammer here, and hopefully in operation, for the Anvilfire hammer-in.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/20/06 13:14:33 EST

Euroanvil Hardness = 44 Rockwell, Euroanvil Specs
   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 02/20/06 13:26:57 EST

I'm building my first coal forge. I've had 30 hrs instruction and am planning hobby level, general blacksmithing. I was thinking of a 12x14 firepot from Centaur, a metal/firebrick stand for the firepot, a 164 CFM blower from Blacksmith's Depot, a Super Sucker hood from plans here, a 12" flue 18' straight (14' inside, 4' outside), low pressure cap. Does this sound like it will work, especially will it smoke? Any thoughts on parts selected? Thanks,
   Jeff - Monday, 02/20/06 13:46:41 EST

Jeff: Sounds like a good setup to me. I wouldn't worry about the firebrick, though, they tend to make the metal underneath rust out. My forge is the Centaur pot dropped in a 24"x36" sheet of 3/8" steel, 1" angle on three sides, with the whole thing resting on wooden legs and frame. On rare occasion the front top crossmember of the frame will get hot enough to weep pine sap, but then it's a cheap pine 2x4, and those leak sap at 90 degrees on up.

The blower is a good size, the chimney and hood are good sizes too. Make the hole in the hood as small as you can get away with. It should be no bigger than the firepot, and personally I'd go with 10" square as a starting point. You may also want to add a small half-hood at the top of the opening. I tacked a 3" wide bit of sheet steel there on mine to fight downdrafts from the rest of the shop. If warmed up with a half-sheet of newsprint in the hood before lighting the coal, you'll never smell the coal at all. My hood sucks the flame off the top of the firenot only sideways, but slightly DOWN into the hood!

Have fun!
   Alan-L - Monday, 02/20/06 14:20:50 EST

"Short" tongs: Those are not tongs at all but a type of wooden tweezer. These have been in use to handle small pieces of hot iron for thousands of years.

   - guru - Monday, 02/20/06 17:59:54 EST

Jeff: Before cranking up your coal forge you might check for the appliable environmental air pollution regulations for your area. It might take just one complaining neighbor to shut down your use of the forge. Folks today are a lot less tolerant of such things.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/20/06 19:18:56 EST


The anvil tiedown is tricky to explain. The diagram is in "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" by Holford, pp 36-37. It's the best way I've found. I think the book has been reprinted with another book by Holmstrom. The new title may be "American Blacksmithing".

The leg vise is best set up on a free standing timber if you're doing hot work with it. That way, you can get at the work from all angles. A separate timber sunk at a lower level with an inlet blind hole will take the nubbin at the bottom of the leg. Think about binding the two sections of wood together with long lag screws or with iron bands, maybe both. A leg vise or machinist's vise for cold bench work is OK on a workbench. A timber is a better shock absorber, is quieter, and is "less harsh" than a steel support. My 2.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/20/06 20:30:00 EST

Were brass or bronze swage blocks ever made that were about 6" x 18" x 24"? Is there a book that shows pictures of great old swage blocks?
Thank you, David Wierdsma, Stamford, CT
   David Wierdsma - Monday, 02/20/06 21:00:03 EST

In a BAM news letter, (Blacksmith association of Missouri) there was an artical about cleaning rusty steel, parts, or tools, water, baking soda, and a battery charger. If you could send me to a web site that has that info., I would apperate it.
Thank you
   James Thomas - Monday, 02/20/06 21:03:15 EST

James - google Electrolytic Rust Removal. There are a bunch of sites that describe the process.
   Bernard Tappel - Monday, 02/20/06 21:22:42 EST

Euroanvil hardness @ 44 Rockwell(I assume C scale)

The ones I used seemed harder than my 52HRC Nimba. It could be they were heavily work hardened, or that their quality control is random.
   - Tom T - Monday, 02/20/06 21:44:19 EST

Tweezer tongs:

I'm interested in trying out some of these wooden tweezer tongs for purely academic purposes. Any ideas where I can a few more details on their construction, Guru? My guess would be a couple of green wood paddles, connected at the back via some twine, or wire.
   - Tom T - Monday, 02/20/06 21:47:49 EST

Wooden tongs.

I once had an inquiry regarding my smithery school, and in the envelope was a 3" long, wooden pair of tongs with a carved box joint! The guy never signed up for the class, but I still have the tongs. They were very cleverly done out of one piece of wood with what looked like pointed Xacto knife work. Blew me away.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/20/06 21:55:45 EST

Swage Block Photos: I have been photographing them and collecting photos for some time as well as designing them. There are no books particular to this area of interest. A few smiths collect them. However, they are hard to find and expensive (as well as heavy) to collect.

The only brass or bronze block I have seen is a small bronze age block retieved from an ancient ship wreck off the coat of Turkey in the Mediterranean.

For just a few of my photos see Swage Blocks . com
   - guru - Monday, 02/20/06 21:56:56 EST

I have a book by a British author, who's name is Tubal Cain.

The book is "Hardening, Tempering & Heat Treatment for model engineers" by Argus Books Ltd. Perhapse that is where you saw the name...or maybe the author used a name from a religious source.

The book is actually quite good.
   - DonS - Monday, 02/20/06 23:44:22 EST

Frank & Jeff; The two authors' books were indeed republished under one cover. I found my copy on a remainder table back in the early 80's. The publisher screwed up and misspelled Mr. Holmstrom's name as "Holstrom". I reckon that's one reason I got it for $8.00. Holmstrom's "Modern Blacksmithing" is now available as a freebie at http://www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/preservation/smithy/chpt1.htm Holford's book "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" is available from Brian Gilbert on CD(he also publishes ABANA's "The Hammer's Blow)He can be reached at http://hammerguy.home.mindspring.com/ He has some other interesting titles, too, all on CD, and VERY reasonable.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/21/06 03:44:09 EST

Frank Turley: Is there any particular advantage to hot formed shoes vs keg shoes?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/21/06 05:39:34 EST

Tweezer Tongs: A few months ago I mentioned a scene in the classic British movie "King Soloman's Mine", staring Paul Robeson and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. In this film there is a couple second clip of Zulu blacksmiths forging a spear point or knife. The smith is holding the work with wood tweezers, a striker striking with a large rock. Unlike many movie smithing scenes this one looks VERY real as the striker hits where he is told. No mean feat with a rock swung overhead two handed. See digital chapter 10 of the DVD version.

Shortly after that Ken Scharobok pointed me to a 1879 print from a British publication with four scenes of Zulu life. Three out of the four were EXACTLY the same as depicted in the movie except the artist gave the smith modern steel tongs. In the movie they were using wood tweezers. The exactness of the scenes in the publication and in the B movie has made me question the authenticity of the movie scene but the smith and his assistants were definitely well practiced in their tasks unlike modern movie smiths that are better clowns than smiths.

In both the movie as in the photo you pointed us to the tweezers appear to be two half rounds (split from a round) with rounded oval or egg shaped ends. There appears to be a hinge at the back. I would guess it is leather tacked to the wood. In both cases the locations are places where dense tropical woods abound. Many of these are heavy and dense, hard to burn. I suspect there is a preferred wood in the Rose Wood or Ebony type woods. The closest thing in North America is Dogwood or Rock Maple. Of the woods I saw in Costa Rica there are dozens that would do.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/21/06 09:59:23 EST

Ken & All,

It has been said that the hot horseshoer is better than a cold horseshoer, but that is not necessarily true. It all boils down to skill and knowledge.

The advantages of hot shoeing are probably more on the side of the farrier than the horse. For example, the shoe is more easily shaped hot, meaning less hammer effort. The nail holes can be moved slightly laterally or medially by judicious pritchel use. For therapeutic purposes, new nail holes can be made if necessary where there is solid "horn" to nail to. The hot shoer can add heel calks of various shapes, and he/she can draw clips from the edge of the shoe. The clips help to keep the shoe from shifting on the foot, especially on athletic horses. The hot shoer will normally take one or more "hot fits". The pritchel is driven diagonally and "choked" in the lateral nail crease or countersink, and the level shoe is taken to the animal at a low cherry to a blood red heat. It is held by the pritchel and touched on the previously trimmed and leveled hoof surface. There is a "scorching effect" and a little smoke, but this is never overdone by a competent farrier. For the non-horse people reading this, we must remember that the bottom of the hoof wall and sole is not "live material"; it is not the quick that has the blood supply. That is further up the hoof wall. The farrier is able to quickly check the fit of the shoe and get to the anvil for correction blows if needed, while the shoe still has some heat in it.

A competent farrier with a forge can also make a horseshoe from scratch, if needed. This is done in the show horse world, where shoes are made to a certain weight or shape to heighten the horse's action in the show ring. Hand turned shoes, especially bar shoes, are used therapeutically.

Because the cold horseshoer is somewhat limited in the shoe modification department, he or she will usually carry a larger inventory of manufactured shoes than a hot horseshoer. Say, heel calks are needed, the shoer will search for a shoe with heel calks, or he/she will drill, tap, and use screw-in calks.

When I started shoeing in the 1960s, we had a limited selection of manufactured (keg) shoes. Most were made by the Phoenix, Diamond, and Multi-Product companies. The shoe shapes and nail hole placements were not up to snuff when compared with currently made shoes. Some years ago, a Dutch firm, Kerckhaert, did some research on average hoof shapes, front and hind, and came up with a manufactured shoe that had a much better shape than the American brands, and their shoes had better placed nail holes.These shoes really helped the cold shoer, as there was much less beating and shaping than was previously done with the American keg shoes. I am now out of the loop of horseshoeing, but I think the Kerckhaert and St. Croix brands of horseshoes are fairly popular in today's market.

If a cold horseshoer can do a competent job of trimming and leveling a foot and can shape a shoe to fit well, there is no reason his work is not as good as a capable hot shoer putting on the same kind of shoe. My opinion.

Footnote. Keg shoes were called by that name, because when shoes were being first manufactured in the U.S., they were shipped in small, crude, wooden, barrel-shaped kegs. The name stuck, even when referring to any manufactured shoe of today.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/21/06 10:17:22 EST

Kinyon Style Hammer: There are several failings in the original design as well as those added by DIY builders.

1) Anvil mass is expensive and often scrimped on. The original Kinyon designs are way short of mass.

2) Air cylinder specifying is a complicated business. You don't just pick one for its diameter and stroke. Different brands and varieties have seals rated at different speeds. Some will not take the high velocity of a light air hammer. Connecting rods also vary a LOT. For durability the heavier the better. Big BLU currently uses special order cylinders with double seals and heavy duty rods. The rod on the 150 is 1" or more. When you use cheap light duty cylinders expect a lot of down time and replacements.

3) Valves are also not all equal and some that were good a few years ago have changed places of manufacture and are no longer recommended. Trial and error is about the only way to determine the best valve.

4) Proportioning and balance between parts makes a huge difference. Do not expect your DIY hammer to have the controlability and ease of use of a Big BLU. Simply changing one of the hose sizes can make a hyperactive hammer more responsive or a slow hammer faster. These things are not something that can be engineered. You learn them by building, modifying, testing and repeating the process numerous times.

Usualy the challenge of building something for yourself is its own reward. I always want to build my own tools. But you also often get what you pay for. When you purchase a comercial machine you are buying a LOT of experiance.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/21/06 10:29:26 EST

Hot and Cold Shoeing: On top of what Frank had to say all the farriers I know do both. They carry huge inventories of factory shoes as well as make shoes from scratch when needed. There are many specialty shoe types that would be too expensive to inventory in a range of sizes so they are made as needed. Locally we have shoers that do everything from ponies to draft horses. But others specialize in riding horses and do not take on the odd work and corrective shoeing. These folks can get away with cold shoeing most of the time. Others may do nothing but corrective and restorative shoeing, making all their shoes from scratch as well as using more plastics than steel. Folks like Benard Pelletier who does nothing but cure severe cases of founder is one of these.

Many "hot shoers" no longer hot fit shoes. They make the shoes from scratch and adjust as needed but do not scorch the hoof to check the fit. Nothing is as simple as it might seem. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/21/06 10:51:11 EST

Horseshoes continued: Frank has given an excellent explanation of the differences between cold and hot shoeing and he knows more about that than anyone else here. The only two cents I would add, since I make a lot of my blacksmith work from horseshoes, some used, some new, is that when you go to the farrier stores here locally about the only brands you see are St. Croix and Kaeckhart, and some Natural Balance, which merely confirms what Frank was saying about older style shoes being replaced by better designs.

I keep horses and ride as much as I can, and over the years I've had a lot of different horseshoers. Some were better than others. As far as the horse is concerned, the trimming of the hoof is the key. Non horse folks don't know the hoof will grow an inch or so in lenghth in six to 8 weeks and that gets "long"; so it's harder for the horse to walk precisely, and shoes work loose; your mount stumbles, and it's hard on the joints. Just like our fingernails and toenails grow. They need to be trimmed.

Once the hoof is trimmed, the shoe has to fit, and it can be shaped cold or hot, then nailed on. I've had a lot of hot shoers who shoed cold on 3 hooves and then hot on the 4th hoof on the same horse. I like the versatility of the hot shoer myself, and in my opinion, and this is only my opinion, the hot shoer seems to have more skill.

Part of this is due to the fact that some people in states where farriers do not have to be certified just buy some shoes, nails, nippers, and other tools and expect to learn on the job. Good way to have a lame horse till his hooves grow out again. A certified farrier is a good farrier who can shoe hot or cold as need be. Not that some self educated farriers aren't good, it's just that you don't know until you see the work.

The ultimate responsibility is in the horse owner to know what is required, educate himself, and do the best job of looking out for his/her horse that he can. And to recognize good work when he sees it. It helps if your horses have good ground manners; that way a good farrier will come back (grin!)

I've shod a horse or two (generally just one hoof) that threw a shoe in a remote area, no farrier available, and it is NOT as easy as it looks! That is just a temporary repair until you can get to a professional.

All of the above is simply from this horse owners perspective.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/21/06 11:00:06 EST

Poco more horseshoeing.

The guru is right in that lots of shoers do both cold and hot work. I think I separated the two, because I was not allowed to do ANY cold work during my stay with Al Kremen. We even heated, shaped, and re-checked nail holes on resets. I continued in that way during my days of shoeing.

I liked Ellen's additions, although I think the average hoof grows about 1/3 of an inch per month.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/21/06 12:22:09 EST

Tubal Cain is a biblical name---I tell my daughters that they lucked out as I was lobbying for Tubal Cain if we had a son...

That machinist/model maker took it as a nom d' plume.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/21/06 12:27:52 EST

OK, I need some ideas on how to make something to harden long blades with. I've looked online, but they never gives plans and the pictures never give details. I don't need any ideas for tempering, since those pics actually come out. Any input would be appreciated!
   - Megil Anveleth - Tuesday, 02/21/06 13:36:52 EST

Megil Anveleth,

I found a truck valve cover at the dump and welded up the few holes that were in it. Filled with oil or luke warm water, it seems to work OK.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/21/06 13:49:40 EST

Megil, have you tried using more charcoal? Gotta have a deep, clean fire for welding, if you're too close to the air blast you'll get too much oxidation in the weld and it won't take.

Leaf spring can be finicky. If you can weld it to itself you'll be doing well. You shouldn't need a big hammer to weld, either. Firm but light taps are the way to go until you're sure it's stuck. I'd recommend practicing on mild steel before trying the spring, keeping in mind you have a much narrower temperature range for the spring than you do for the mild.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/21/06 14:11:54 EST

Long Quench: For this you can use a vertical quench. Large caped pipes work as do other containers. For water a galvanized steel trash can works. For oil you need more specific containers and they need a cover to close in the event of fire.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/21/06 15:02:33 EST

Whitaker diagonal T-weld

The suspense! So, what did the prep look like for the diagonal T-weld? I've seen you demo the straight T-weld, where you peen out a tab for the scarf on the one piece. Is the method for scarfing for the diagonal similar, just angled?
   - Tom T - Tuesday, 02/21/06 15:19:12 EST

I would *NOT* advise using pipe for a hammer handle---you put a lot more stress into your hand/arm doing that and while you can get away with it a long time sometimes when it catches up to you you will not be a happy camper!

If you break hammer handles often, figure out why it's happening. One thing to look at is to make sure the handles you have don't have grain runout on them---ie the grain should run all the way from one end to the other and not diagonal from one side to the other. learning to hit what you are aiming at will help too.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/21/06 16:12:48 EST

Tom T,

Yes, the "tab scarf" is drawn out from the side of a flat bar in a similar fashion. Whitaker did not upset in the middle; it wasn't necessary (only if you know what you're doing). Whitaker used one end of his cross peen to do this. I usually use a ball peen.

The other bar is upset by first cutting off a corner at the end of the stock, maybe removing 1/4 to 1/3 of the end width. The bar is heated and held horizontally on the anvil, edge up with the diagonal cut up, and by using angle blows on the cut area, you hammer until you get a full diagonal upset. It is then end-thinned to mate with the side scarf.

It is up to the operator to cut and forge the desired
angle. Hold the stock on the hardie, so that you do not get a beveled cut on the workpiece.

On the acute inside edge of the finished weld, it is nigh impossible to get rid of the diagonal shut that results. On the obtuse side, you can sometimes get rid of the diagonal shut with the edge of your hammer face or with fullers. Whitaker did not get into that during his demo.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/21/06 16:24:54 EST

RC: Sorry, but this is one of my touch points - it is farrier, not ferrier.

When people hear I do blacksmithing a common question is if I shoe horses. I say yes, I do. If they come up to me I go Shooo - Shooo - Shooo. Sorry, old joke.

On jokes: Another old one is a town know-it-all coming by a shop every day, examining the shoes recently made and commenting on their good and bad points. One day the smith saw him coming as put one at black heat on top of the pile. Guy picked it up and dropped it immediately. Smith said, "Hot, hum". Guy replied, "No, just didn't take me long to tell that was a good 'en". When I was in Croatia in 2001 my driver/interpreter drove by a place with a sign with an anvil in front, so I had him turn around and go back. Guy was a welder/farrier, although there are few work horses there today. I started to tell him that joke through the interpreter. About half way through he stopped me and said they had that same joke there also.

Megil: Be extremely careful when oil quenching. Larry Wood (with the SOF&A Chapter) was oil quenching in a 5-gallon metal bucket. Wasn't quite enough oil in it so he tipped it a bit. Oil flashed, bucket went over and burning oil spread around his shop. By the time the local fire department arrived his shop was pretty well gone. Now Larry is an extremely experienced smith. As he says, he just got careless for a couple of seconds and paid the price.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/21/06 18:56:37 EST

How can I keep my cast iron bar-b-que grill burners from rusting out? I live in Pacific Northwest, have a Stainless Steel grill where everything else survives but my cast iron burners are shot after only four years! It is not practical to season them like I do my dutch ovens. I always keep the cover down so they do not get rained on, but the moisture in the air gets to them. Using a cover only traps the moisture in and makes it worse on a warm day.
   Linn Davis - Tuesday, 02/21/06 19:43:09 EST

When I was walking around in Ace Sunday I saw a bag a silica sand in the grill section. Will this work for flux, and if it does will it eat through fb? Borax is starting to eat through my hard firebricks.
   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 02/21/06 19:46:35 EST

Linn- you need to buy stainless steel burners.
I also live in the northwest, and cook a lot of oysters on my BBQ, the combination of heat and salt water rusts out cast iron very quickly.
Depending on the brand of your barbecue, you should be able to buy a drop in replacement stainless steel burner.
They are expensive, but cheaper than a new bbq every few years.
You can look at the bbqgalore.com website- they have several styles of stainless burners.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 02/21/06 20:42:03 EST

Alan, no actually I haven't... I was trying to be as conservative as possible, since I've only got a small bit and no money to buy more. I wasn't aware, though, that the weld wouldn't take if there was not enough charcoal... Thanks for that info, who knows how long I would have been out there!
Well, we've got lots of stuff around here, so I'm sure I can find something to quench in.... Well, there's a good long (maybe 7 foot) section of our rain gutter that fell off of our house in a bad wind storm I could use... I still need a LITTLE bit more help though... Do you heat the metal in the forge, or do you heat the entire piece up at one time? If you have to heat the whole thing, please give me some ideas on how I can do that.
   - Megil Anveleth - Tuesday, 02/21/06 21:25:50 EST

Where can I find coal to use in firing close to Texas?
   Dave Smith - Tuesday, 02/21/06 21:34:43 EST

Never mind I just found one. grin
   Dave Smith - Tuesday, 02/21/06 21:36:50 EST

Silica sand is a perfectly fine flux---if you are welding wrought iron. It melts at too high a temp and is not very active to use for modern metals. Why don't you do what a professiona; pattern welder does and make a small Stainless Steel tray and fill it with kitty litter and place it on the bottom of your forge?

Megil; one method would be to dig a simple ground forge; another methos is to make a nice fire in the forge and slide the piece back and forth through the hotspot until it all comes up to temp. Have you thought about making your own charcoal with Pecan tree Trimmings? Not the fire wood stuff but the branches.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/21/06 22:13:41 EST

Megil; Thomas summed it up nicely, but if you want to quench youe need the entire piece at temperature. Movinging it back and forth till you don't see any difference in the color will work nicely.

The one quench and temper line in one of the steel mills I worked in was designed to do that - bars rested on rolls that cycled the steel from front to back of the furnace, the rolls also had a camber so the bars were rotated top to bottom as they went back andd forth, and the unit was fired both above the rolls and below with natural gas burners - sounds complicated, but gave very uniform austenitizing temperatures for bars up to 8" in diameter and 20 to 24 feet long. Material was charged as a single layer only onto the rolls.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 02/21/06 22:43:33 EST

i'm looking for a punch with an anvil design on the punch. do you know where to find one, thanks, julian
   julian - Tuesday, 02/21/06 23:06:00 EST

I have a 170 pound anvil that I would like to identify and learn more about. The markings are only partially ledgible, but it clearly bears a large x symbol underscored by the word patent underscored by solid anvil there is something above the large x that is impossible to make out. The front foot edge bears the numbers 1 8(this 8 is sideways) 6 8 then there is a handling hole centered in the front edge and then another sideways 8 on the left side of the front edge. It also has 120 stamped on the side, wich I take to be the stoneweights. I have pictures, so if anyone has Mr Postmans book and would like to help please post or contact me. Thanks
   - Blake - Wednesday, 02/22/06 00:33:41 EST

It sounds like a Trenton
   - anvilcrack - Wednesday, 02/22/06 01:26:45 EST

I meant to type it sounds like a Peter Wright Anvil. If not I have seen some Trentons with the Patent and solid wrought as well.
   - anvilcrack - Wednesday, 02/22/06 01:32:42 EST


I assume it is 1 2 0, rather than 120. Would confirm it as British. Richard Postman has done a great deal of additional research on British anvil manufacturers and has now documented some 130 which made anvils of one nature or another. However, the largest exporters to the U.S. were Peter Wright, Mouse Hole Forge and Wilkinson. Based solely on the number of those which appear on eBay, PW must had severely dominated the export market to the U.S. The total number of anvils they produced isn't known, but may exceed the combined total of Trenton, Hay-Budden and Arm & Hammer. Heck, they may have produced more anvils than all of the other British manufacturers combined.

SOLID ANVIL doesn't sound right. Perhaps you are seeing SOLID WROUGHT or SOLID WROUGHT ANVIL. It meant the body was all wrought iron (with a steel top plate). Some manufacturers used one material for the top and another for the base. Even here some changed manufacturing techniques over time. For example I believe very early Hay-Buddens were WI top and bottom, middle production ones (prior to 1909) WI top and mild steel bottom and after 1908 a tool steel top and mild steel bottom (plateless). There is some evidence PWs towards the end of production (say 1930s) were also plateless.

PWs were known for having small ledges on the front and back feet. They may have been the only firm to use five handling holes.

PWs are typically stamped PATENT. In the 1860s or so they obtain the British patent for a two-piece body. Prior to it anvil bodies were built up of pieces, such as a central core, four feet, horn, heel and top plate of two or more sections. Apparently some very early PWs were of this technique.

Many anvils have assorted markings of which the meaning has been lost. Might be inspector's stamps, stamps to identify metal lots from a subcontractor, a production run, the anvil crew or a client. It is not all that unusual to see stamps put on in reverse order or upside down.

Some Trentons have an A in front of the serial number, the meaning of which has been lost. Mr. Postman thinks it just meant anvil # so and so. However, I disagree. I think it had a very specific other meaning but can only do a WAG on it.

Trick you can try. Lay anvil down with horn to right. Dust with flour and brush off excess. Can you now make out the logo better? If you can bring any of it out in this manner you can send me a photo (just click on my name) and I'll attempt to identify it.

You might have a NORRISEZ. It had a large, stylized N super-imposed over the middle of the name.

On anvils, a request on the part of Mr. Postman. Sometime during WW-II one of the large format magazines (e.g., LIFE, LOOK, S.E.P) had a photograph of a large pile of anvils in a scrapyard. May have been related to a story on the wartime scrap iron drive. I believe I have seen it. If you come across it please let me know and I'll put you in contact with Mr. Postman.

He is working on the follow-on to Anvils in America, to be titled More on Anvils. It will be a supplement to AIA, not a revision. I believe he has closed off gathering information for it, but still welcomes new information for his files.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/22/06 04:43:42 EST

JULIAN: Yes, I can tell you how to get an anvil shaped stamp. Get a piece of medium to high carbon steel, anneal it, take a grinder and a file and remove everything from one end of it that doesn't look like an anvil stamp. Harden and temper it according to directions given here and Lord knows how many other smithing sites. If you are serious about metal working you shouldn't have to buy one.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 02/22/06 05:17:45 EST

Ellen, I'm a full time farrier and there are no certification or licensing requirements anyplace in the US as far as I know. Some states such as Il required licensing at one time but no more.

You can go to the American Farriers Association web site to see exactly what the certification test consists of. The fact that a farrier is certified may not tell you what you think it does. The test is limited and really doesn't cover any of the MANY specialties. I've been doing this on and off for 25 years and I've never known of any one who just went out and puchased tools and went into business. There are some who attend a fairly short (8 - 12 week) school and try to get started with that but it's a tough way to go.

I worked for another farrier for about 2 years total before going on my own full time. The farrier who taught me is one of the best saddlebred shoers in the country, isn't certified and has never belonged to the AFA. The AFA didn't even have a certification program until 79 which was right before I started and my teacher was already an old hand. We didn't give the whole certification thing much thought in those days. If you get on the phone and start asking saddlebred owners and trainers about farriers I'm pretty certain that his name will come up especially in the midwest. In fact I have gotten many of my accounts over the years because of my association with him. When I was starting out there were two other farriers that I worked with at times also not to mention the time I spent doing general stable work, assisting with training and everything else that goes with managing horses. If I had no choice but to pick a farrier with no other information about them I'd likely prefer a certified farrier. However, most often it's word of mouth recommendations that gets farriers found and the VAST majority of farriers don't belong to the AFA and aren't certified.

The debate concerning hot vs cold shoeing will rage on til the end of time. Most of us carry a selection of keg shoes and other purchased items that we use often and also carry a forge for making shoes, modifying keg shoes or hot fitting. I do some fitting hot and some cold. I can't always work near the truck and if I'm just putting on light shoes and don't need to do any modifications the forge stays in the truck. When I have to work a long way from the truck and I'm only working with light shoes, I don't even drag the anvil out. In those cases, I use a little gismo called a stall jack which is a small light specialized anvil type thing on it's own stand that I can carry with two fingers. It's short so I can even take it under a horse with me and fit a shoe without ever putting the foot down...not to be done with all horses of course. All my saddlebred show shoes are what I would call semi-handmade. I buy preturned blanks. Actually, I guess they're probably stamped. Anyway, typically the shoes are toe weights and drawing out heavy stock without a power hammer or strikers is a lot of work and starting with blanks avoids that. I finish the heels, roll the toe, punch the nail holes and draw or weld clips. I try to do as much of my forge work in the shop as I can so I csn spend the barn time under a horse where I make the most money. Most of us apply whatever methods and tools that give the best results in the most efficient way we know how though there will always be purists who just like to make shoes. I'd rather buy shoes and make knives or candle holders or something. LOL

One result of all the products on the market is that it frees up some time to think about horses feet rather than beeing chained to a forge day and night. You are certainly correct when you say that the trim is all important. Blacksmithing skills certainly give a farrier more choices and makes them more versatile but, IMO, the most important stuff gets done under the horse.

   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 02/22/06 08:33:25 EST


Re doing the right stuff under the horse, my 1st mentor didn't like way the term "corrective" was used in the world of farriery. He said that every time you pick up a foot, it's corrective.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/22/06 08:52:25 EST


Thanks for the clarification on certification. I have not looked up the requirements so I humbly apologize. In my own field certification requires specific education, a 3 day written examination and two years of work supervised and reviewed by a licensed CPA so I tend to think of certification as requiring more. And I did live in IL once upon a time.....as to an example of self education I would commend the book "Beautiful Jim Key" by Mime Rivas, about the story of a former slave who became a skilled veterinarian, farrier, and trainer. His horse "Jim Key" was a celebrity at the turn of the century due to his intelligence and training. Amazing story.

As to buying tools and getting started, I've seen a couple of shoers --they are NOT farriers---who do work as though that is how they started and have not learned much since. Sort of like learning to weld under a shade tree with a friend. Some folks become very skilled weldors that way; others turn out POS welds.

A good farrier is a superb craftsman, having many skills, and deserves the utmost respect and cooperation from the horse owner. He is your horses best friend. The old saying is as true as ever...."No Foot, No Horse".

Keep up the good work!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/22/06 10:19:29 EST

Hey guys, I just came back from a trip to London England. I had my family with me and it seemed that nobody except myself had any appreciation for the beautiful ornate blacksmithing work put into the gates, statues, old door hinges, locks, so on. I snagged a couple spearpoint tips from the wrought iron gatework that traverses throughout the entire city. To my dismay the points are aluminum. If any of you guys also from the states get a chance to go to the UK, do it. While you're there I know you'll feel like I did, just in awe of the beauty of the craftsmanship of old world smithing work.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/22/06 10:58:54 EST

Certifications: There are many fields where you would think some kind of licensing or certification is required but is not. It is a common mistake to assume so.

Take electrical work. A manufacture may make a product and have the wiring done by any employee. Electricians doing home and commercial wiring are required to be licensed but those working for a manufacturer are not. Part of the assumption is that the product is engineered OR passes a UL test. Neither assumption is necessarily true.

Another is locksmiths. In SOME cities and states locksmiths must be licensed and some bonded. However this is the minority of places. In most of the US (with the exception of a few large cities like New York) you just hang out your locksmith shingle and go to work - no difference than blacksmithing. Back when I took a locksmithing course they asked for a "good guy" letter from the local police department. All they knew was that I had not been in trouble in THEIR locality and did not personally know me at all. Books and materials for that course are now readily available in used book stores or on line if you look long enough. Same non-rules apply to security companies. . .

Back when I was building my shop I designed my own roof trusses. The building inspector asked who was going to make it. The local building supply folks had quoted me less on the trusses (to my specs) than for the lumber so I was having them made. The building inspector said, "Oh that is fine, if ****** is making them then they will be alright." In fact there was a design flaw that I had to correct after the framing was complete.

On my big gas forge I had an aluminium name plate engraved that gives the specs on the forge and the gas supply requirements. It looks very official and I am sure it will be accepted by anyone that that wants to be picky about hooking it up. . .

Never assume a certification is needed and never take the same at face value if it is important to you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/22/06 11:09:25 EST

Megil, maybe I'm confused, were you asking if you had to have the whole piece hot to harden it, or to forge-weld it? If it is to harden, others have answered. If it is to weld, no. You only have to have the actual weld area at welding heat. Go slow getting to welding heat; too fast and you'll have the outside hot before the inside, plus the added air to make it hot fast will cause too much oxidation.

You really do need a good supply of fuel before you attempt a weld, since you'll need to take two or three welding heats to get things even. I use coal, not charcoal, but even so to get a good weld I usually have a fire at least 6 inches deep, with the piece to be welded in the top inch or so. It has to be high enough in the fire to be out of the oxidizing zone, but deep enough to get hot.

You really need to go to a SWABA meeting with Thomas or anyone else sometime. Watching it done by an experienced smith will teach you more faster than you could ever learn by reading. Better yet, start saving your money and telling all your relatives to give you money towards going to Frank's smithing school in Santa Fe for every holiday. It seems expensive until you've been to a class, but then you realize how far ahead of the game you are afterwards.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/22/06 11:19:41 EST

Frank, I agree with your mentor. IMO, each foot/leg should be analyzed and get what (we think)it needs. Every horse is different and each foot on the same horse can and often is different. IMO,it's all corrective or preventative.

Ellen, you're welcome. I don't want to take up any more space here talking about farriery but if any one has something they'd like to discuss, please feel free to bring it up on the hammer-in forum or use my email. I'm often away from the computer for a few days at a time but I'll answer when I get back to the key board. Not that I know everything, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm always happy to talk horse shoeing.
   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 02/22/06 12:03:33 EST

Alan, I want to go to Franks school. I'm just about getting good enough to realize that I'm not very good. LOL
   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 02/22/06 12:15:37 EST

Bits and Pieces - Body putty:

To my knowledge this is not common practice in the US but in Costa Rica (and I would assume most of Central America) they use auto body putty to cover up arc welds on bad joinery on the generaly low quality ironwork. Some fabricators do nice clean welding but others do not and knowing that the welds will be covered there is no incentive to do better work. When our friend Johan went into business in Costa Rica the first thing his assistants wanted to do was bondo up all the joints! This was in a shop that he did not own so he had little control. In his NEW shop he is raising the bar on quality work and has forbid even having bondo in the shop much less using it.

If this is going on in Central America it is probably going on in Mexico and will soon be here. The problem with using bondo (automotive body putty or plastic) is that it is effectly just very thick paint. Like paint it can peal or flake off and will certainly be removed by sand blasting.

It was common in the early 1900's to use cast lead elements on pickets. These included balls, collars and flowers. Lead elements are common on cheap iron fencing of the time. For a period of time zinc elements were ued in place of lead. Today it is not unusual to find aluminium or even plastic elements in fabricated work. Originaly production spear points were ductile iron that could be welded on (still available), then they were aluminium which has the distinction of creating a huge bimetalic corrosion problem. Now they are available in plastic. . .

It is good to know these methods so that when you talk to your customer and they want to know why someone else's work is so much cheaper you can reply, "It is not ironwork, it may be aluminium or even plastic."

If you use arc welding in your work it should be one of two types. 1) Hidden in the design. 2) So perfect and part of the design that it IS what it IS an element of the design. There is no excuse for sloppy welding in decorative ironwork and covering it up with plastic is the biggest cheap of all and REALLY bad craftsmanship.

The world is changing and many of us must change with it. When a friend of ours is asked about "traditional ironwork" he says he is producing the "NEW traditional ironwork". And this is true. It is beautifully hand and machine forged but assembly is usualy by clean neat arc welds that do not detract from the design or flow of the work. It is cleaned and powder coated. The results are beautiful and are indeed the NEW traditional ironwork.

Guess we need a classification system. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/22/06 12:17:53 EST

Long Blade quench
I wne tdwn to my local Home Depot and purchased one of those long plastic window planters for a few bucs and it has worked well for years.
   chris makin - Wednesday, 02/22/06 12:33:55 EST

I am thinking of doing horse FARRIEING. Only one problem with that, I dont have a vechicle to carry all my equipment in if I did become one. Given im gettin a 1989 chevy 1 ton with a 454 and positrack but my neighbor has yet to deliver the goods if you know what I mean. I have seen some of the equipment he uses and well lets put it this way, Carrying around a 20 gallon propane tank in the back of your truck just doesnt seem like a good idea to me. Any of you got any suggestion on other ways I could heat up horses on the job and out of the back of my truck? If so I am all to it and if it doesnt require me to carry around a highly volital gas/liquid.
PS- I dont like to get blown up but I like to blow things up
   - RC - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:00:52 EST

I give up
   3dogs - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:03:23 EST

New Points on Old Fences:

The NPS metals preservation book has an entire chapter on replacement parts. You do what you can, but sometimes aluminum is the only frugal replacement. At least plastic won't have a corrosion problem, but I've learned not to trust long-chain polymers in a setting exposed to sunlight and weather. Ill make a few further comments when I pull it from my bookshelf at home tonight.

Traditional Ironwork:

I like to flatter myself by telling friends that "I'm making tomorrow's antiques today." It does take a certain amount of quality, as well as luck, for anything to survive 100 years in useable condition.

Rain, snow and cold on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:03:37 EST

RC: You seem to have several misconceptions here.
-Hot working isn't he only way to go, but your probably getting into to learn smithing so it makes sense.
-You need a special license to have a propane tank in your truck
-You usually have a few long term customers, rather than a lot of random customers, so odds are you would know the size of the hoof before you got there
-And here's the test. Bend over, and bend your knees, and stand pigeon toed all at once. Now imagine a half to full ton horse fighting you the whole time, up to and even over an hour, while trying to do tedious work. If you still want to be a farrier...
Also if your umpteen, I doubt you want to be driving around with a 20 gallon gas tank everywhere.

Also you need an understanding of how a horse foot works. Its not something you can just pick up.
   - Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:11:55 EST

RC: You seem to have several misconceptions here.
-Hot working isn't he only way to go, but your probably getting into to learn smithing so it makes sense.
-You need a special license to have a propane tank in your truck
-You usually have a few long term customers, rather than a lot of random customers, so odds are you would know the size of the hoof before you got there
-And here's the test. Bend over, and bend your knees, and stand pigeon toed all at once. Now imagine a half to full ton horse fighting you the whole time, up to and even over an hour, while trying to do tedious work. If you still want to be a farrier...
Also if your umpteen, I doubt you want to be driving around with a 20 gallon gas tank everywhere.

Also you need an understanding of how a horse foot works. Its not something you can just pick up.

I work at a very large horse farm and have to watch this guy work and even help every once in a while.
   Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:13:13 EST

Plastic Quench Tanks: This works but you have to be oh so carefull. . . one slip and you have a hole and quenchant leaking all over.

Finding suitable containers for this type thing is not that difficult. Resturant suppliers often have all kinds of scrap stainless containers. Non-ferrous scrap yards often have beer and soda kegs that make great quench tanks. Wood can also be used. Although a cooper's water tight joint is difficult to make you can easily seal a wood trough with silicon caulk and it will work for a very long time. For oil you should always use a metal container with a snug fitting lid. This keeps the oil clean and makes it easy to extinguish any fires by simply closing the lid.

For annealing a handy container is a rural style mail box. These come in a couple sizes and the door closes snugly enough to keep loose vermiculite or ash fill in the box when not in use.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:14:09 EST

RC, so the many thousands of hot-shoe farriers on the road with propane forges on board are nuts? Well, in that particular way, knowing a couple of those guys (grin!). And all the RV owners who cart around not one but two 40-pound tanks on the back bumper? Weldors who tote around a rack of oxyacetylene? Not to mention the explosive power contained in the gas tanks of your truck...

   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:18:41 EST

Don't feed the trolls.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/22/06 13:40:42 EST

Hazzards: A friend of mine puts it this way. Would you rather be in a room with the floor covered with asbestoes or with gasoline? One material the public is rarely exposed to but panics over and is highly unlikely to be damaged by the other we travel with daily and can be killed or maimed by in an instant. . .

I'll take the asbestos any day. I've been covered by and inhaled both. . . (neither recommended). I was lucky the gasoline did not ignite from its own static. . .

Then there are people that carry butane lighters in their pockets. They have been known to leak, fill ones clothes with fuel and then ignite. . . looks like spontaneous human combustion (a myth). BIC had many law suits and repaired the problem but there are a ton of Chinese lighters on the market. . .

RC, FARRIEING might be the verb to make a Faerie or to act like a faerie (make like a faerie?). But is still incorrectly spelled.

A Farrier is an expert in the matter of shoeing horses and problems of their hoof and legs. Farriering (spelled with a third R) is a relatively little used term as shoeing is the most used. . . probably because it sounds too much like "making like a faerie".

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/22/06 14:16:39 EST

I reckon the the moral is; Beware of lisping horseshoers.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 02/22/06 14:25:51 EST

RC: When you talk to experienced farriers ask them about how easy it is to get paid for the work they do.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/22/06 14:42:32 EST


...and their pithy sayings.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/22/06 15:39:17 EST

RC: No problem carrying small quantities of hazardous amterials like propane and or oxygen and acetylene. The Federal regs specificaly allow that needed for use in the trades. Tanks must nbe secured, and the valves protected with cylinder caps if originaly provided. Carying of the propane and/or acetylene IN THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT of any vehicle is prohibited, and for good reason.

As stated above, butane lighters are VERY dangerous for a welder. Even the new "safe" ones will burn through with just a touch of weld splatter! As a fire and Explosion Investigator I worked several such cases.

A one-ton truck is Ideal for a portable Welding or blacksmithing set-up. I hope it works out. Hard on the gas, though.

Plastic quench tanks are problematic. I was using one "temporarily", fortunately with water, and I suddenly had a big mess to clean up with water and slag all over the floor. And I WAS being careful!

   - John Odom - Wednesday, 02/22/06 15:45:09 EST

I own an outdoor hammered copper sculpture which I would like to protect from the florida humidity and sun. What kind of protective wax should i use. Can it be a spray type?
   Bob Kaufman - Wednesday, 02/22/06 15:46:39 EST

I to work around horses. Probly not as much as you do but I know enough. I didn;t know how ever that you need a license to carry around a propane tank in your truck.
I have done what you talked stand on pideon toed and having a horse fight you while you work on them. I have had to clean the bottom of a horses shoes that weight well over 2,000 and what made it worse was HE was a stallion that HAD ( key word) a bad bitting problem.
I really havent talked to him about getting paid.
Heres a tid bit of info for you all. I dont like to drive around with oxy acetylene tanks. Static electricity will set it off. I also dont have a problem with diving around with 20 gallons of gasoline because the goverment has made it to were the tanks must expand and contract under pressure and alot of other things along with heat resistant so if the car catches on fire you have some time to get away before you get roasted. I will however think about what you all have told me.
By the way is having a license to have a propane tank in your truck manditory for all 50 states?
   - RC - Wednesday, 02/22/06 15:48:54 EST

Thomas P, why does the tray need to be stainless steel?
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 02/22/06 16:08:21 EST

Frank I think I would try to avoid a lisping horseshoer who was pithy.

Bob no wax will prevent sun and chlorides from patinating your copper---unless you are applying it several times a week.

Far better to design it so it is *supposed* to change colour and then make use of the environment instead of fighting it.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/22/06 16:14:37 EST

6 inches deep.... alrighty then, I can probably make some charcoal to fit that. Well, I did mean for hardening, but more info on welding was appreciated too. Well, I've had bad things happen to plastic so I'm not even gonna try that. Well, to get money for that stuff, I'm gonna make a knife out of a chisel... That'll be good practice I guess.
   - Megil Anveleth - Wednesday, 02/22/06 16:15:58 EST

Oops, forgot to comment: TP, actually I've not tried to actually MAKE the charcoal, but I have tried it with just a fire... Guess charcoal would be better though. :-D And we've got plenty since we've got pecan trees, just trimmed too! I'll get goin on making that then....
   - Megil Anveleth - Wednesday, 02/22/06 16:18:15 EST

I have a question on knife/or tool forging using O-1. I have read of a technique called Aus-Forging, which was defined as forging below the critical temperature to keep the transormation into austenite at a minimal level. This works out to forging at about 1300F, or a dull red. The steel is still magnetic. More heats are required, of course, but the advantage is supposed to be that the steel can be normalized, or cooled in air, rather than annealed, the grain size is reduced, and scaling is reduced. Then you can clean up the blade and harden by heating above critical and quenching. This particular article claimed that the knife could then be quenched in brine rather than oil, and immediately tempered in a preheated oven at 400 to 450F, thus reducing the needed cleanup over oil plus being safer. It sounds logical (for whatever that is worth) but I would like to hear from folks more knowledgeable than I on the topic.

Thank you.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/22/06 17:18:56 EST

At the of risk starting a bickering match, cleaning a horses hooves, an operation I have to perform often, does not compare with shoeing.
Perhaps the license for carrying propane could be a state or county law, but I have been pulled over for it, once.
Although I do agree with Mr. Scharabok.
Sorry, to disturb the forum.
   Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 02/22/06 17:35:47 EST

RC: Sorry I wasn't clear. Ask farriers how difficult it is to collect for services rendered to the horse owner. You may find they work for cash in advance or on completion of the shoeing only. No credit.

Horseshoeing is far more than just trimming and the shoeing. A good farrier has a very detailed knowledge of a horse's anatomy.

A couple years ago I hauled hay for a friend who was selling it to a jumping horse training facility near Nashville. Signs on door of each stall gave information on the horses, including who was the farrier. Each I noticed was a DVM (Vet).

Some excellent blacksmiths have started out as farriers. Dorothy Steigler comes to mind.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/22/06 18:35:09 EST

I would like to create a backsplash for my kitchen remodeling using copper repousse technique. I don't want to have to do any annealing. What guage copper sheet would you recommend, that would allow me to simply press my design into cold copper. I saw this technique once on TV and the artist then backfilled the panels with lightweight jointcompound before mounting them. Any info you have would help, but mostly a guage recommendation.

Thanks so much,
   Robbie - Wednesday, 02/22/06 18:53:56 EST

Robbie, The most commonly available material would be copper flashing. It is about .021" thick (16 oz.) and dead soft. Widths, 14 and 20". If a supplier has it you may be able to buy just what you need.

This material is easy to work but difficult to keep definition. Work it using standard repousse' methods with pitch backing. To fill afterwards I would use something like epoxy. Joint compound shrinks and would not do well in thick sections.

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/22/06 19:15:47 EST

I've read that much of the UK's ironwork was melted for scrap in WWII. Things were much more desparate there than here, of course. After the war, there was a housing crisis and a lot of rushed, shoddy constrution. Google Ronan Point if you're interested.

With all that in mind, I don't think it's suprising to find cast finials on a London railing. Who knows -- they might even be melted-down Spitfires.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/22/06 19:30:18 EST

Mike B,

We've talked about this before on anvilfire. The U.S. did not get bombed as England did, but we had huge scrap iron drives during WW II. There was rationing. Troops returning after the war needed housing, and suburbia was born. Google Levittown for a look at quick, "cracker box housing".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/22/06 20:22:47 EST

Ellen: I think forging O1 at 1300F sounds like a receipe for disaster. Why not forge it at normal temperatures, air cool it, then temper it at, say, 1300F to draw all the hardness out before you finish? As you noted, when you forge hot, you DO get some grain growth but if you will finish your forging from a higher temperature, air cool, normalize at about 1450F, air cool, then temper at 1300F, you will refine the grain size down to an acceptable level, have a fairly soft structure to file on, and not have to worry about forging cracks.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/22/06 20:59:10 EST

Uncle Atli: I AM tomorrow's antique today!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/22/06 21:03:54 EST

Thomas, strange that we both had a desire to give our son a biblical name. My wife absolutely refused to name our son Deuteronomy as I wanted......
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/22/06 21:22:05 EST


True enough. It's just that with bombing, and the U-Boats and the shipping shortage, and the Nazis across the Channel, I think the British went further than we did in ripping out ironwork that was still being used for civilian purposes.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 02/22/06 21:29:28 EST

Thanks for the input. I appreciate. What about the brine quench? I was suspicious on that one. The forging part sounded like it would o.k. unless it crumbled or cracked, which one could see.

Also, what is your opinion of O-1 vs. 5160 for knives and tools?

   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/22/06 21:36:25 EST

I know this is a little off subject, but after trying to read everything on this forum the last few months, I am pretty sure there is nothing that someone in this group does not know about. Not trying to be funny or facetious, just believe this is fact.

I was wondering about some lathes that are in an auction this Saturday from a University here in Texas.

There are 3 that the best I can tell are from India, but cant find out anything else about them.
Mysoic Kirloskar LTD Yr Built 1970 Type: 1EN2 Size:165x1000 Mach#: 7029
Mysoic Kirloskar Model: EM-2 Mach: 408 Hardened Bed Way
Mysoic Kirloskar Model: EM-2 Mach: 415 Harden Bed Way

Also one Monarch
Model: EE, Date Mng: May 1978, SN: 52025, Spec: 12 1/2 inch Swing, Type: Tool Room, Machine: 10x20, Weight: 3450, Very Clean

Any ideals as to what they would be worth, good and bad points, etc. I realize price is a hard question, but would appreciate your opinion.

All I have seen is pictures, but look in fairly good condition.

Thanks, David
   david - Wednesday, 02/22/06 21:47:06 EST

I am trying to make a demascus ring and am having truble finding ASTM A203E wich is my understanding the best to forg with mild steel to get a good culer patern. what is A203E and were can i get a small amount?
   Kirk Piranio - Wednesday, 02/22/06 22:01:24 EST

Quenchcrack or Guru: I forgot to stipulate the article called for starting with stock sized so that forging was minimal and that the brine quench should be heated to 140F.

   Ellen - Wednesday, 02/22/06 22:11:24 EST

Where does the name blacksmith come from? Thanks
   craig - Wednesday, 02/22/06 22:34:23 EST

Lathes at the auction-
The indian lathes are very odd. Kirloskar is a big diesel manufacturer in India, but I cant find a lathe company with that name. But a lathe from India from 1970 is definitely an orphan, and probably should be avoided. You would need to know a lot more about the sizes of various things- spindles, chucks that fit, tapers, etc, to decide if they were even worth buying at really cheap prices, but without really knowing what you are doing, no way would I go above $500 on any of them.

The Monarch, on the other hand, has the potential to be a great lathe.
The Double E is one of, if not the, best toolroom lathes in the world.
It is relatively small, at 20" between centers, but for work in its size range, it is capable of incredible precision. People who have them, love them. They are not cheap, usually, and they are a bit fussy, especially in the drive components. If you know what you are getting into, and you can utilize the quality, they are great. Tooling is somewhat hard to find, as they have an unusual chuck size- I believe its D-1-3.
They go as low as a couple of grand, and average, in good condition, closer to 5 to 10 grand. One just sold at a government liquidation sale for around 14k, in rebuilt condition, and everybody agreed it was a deal.
Probably not a good beginners lathe, unless you are willing to take the time to become an expert on it- it will pay back if you need its abilities.
My guess is it will go for over 5 grand, but you never know- lots of people have picked em up for $1500 or $2000 needing work.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 02/22/06 22:39:56 EST

Ellen and Quenchcrack,

I understand that if you air cool O1 from 1450, that the metal will harden, and it will not necessarily be a stable hardening.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/22/06 22:57:15 EST

David - Lathe: The only one I have any experience with is the Monarch, They are an excelent machine but have a DC variable speed drive that can be expensive to fix if it gives trouble.Go to Practical Machinist.com, there is a lot of info on that forum about this particular lathe. The one I ran was from 1941, was well worn, but still the best designed little lathe I ever ran.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/22/06 23:06:34 EST

David, that is just one of the wonderful things about Anvilfire, someone either knows it or knows someone who knows the answer. Probably the only thing that would stump the gurus is which side of a fried apple pie to eat first.

All this information in one place and free for the asking.
brought to you by CSI. The support base for Anvilfire. consider taking membership.
   daveb - Thursday, 02/23/06 00:15:05 EST

Disposable Lighters:

I carry one in the tool box, it usually gets used to heat shrink tubing, I found a pill bottle that was just the right size to hold the lighter to store it in.

When I dig it out I always hold the bottle up to the light to see if there is any liquid in the bottle, if there is it means that the lighter has leaked and it's time for a new lighter.
   - Hudson - Thursday, 02/23/06 00:57:52 EST

Oh, I got this one!
Craig: Black smith comes from iron being refered to as the "black" metal as that is the color that it is iwhen it comes out of the ground. Smith of course meaning to work. At least I'm pretty sure thats right.
   Aron Obrecht - Thursday, 02/23/06 02:55:59 EST

Blake sent me photographs of his anvil's markings. It is a Wilkinson's. Has WILKINSON'S arced over crossed ovals, then PATENT, then SOLID ANVIL arced under it. On pages 127-129 in Anvils in America Richard Postman though it was one firm which went through a transition of family ownership. However, on 509-510 he updated that information to his finding several separate firms, all in the Dudley, England area. The crossed ovals are thought to be Queens Crossings in Dudley. Apparently four major roads intersect in a tic-tac-toe fashion. I would date his anvil to cicra mid-1800s.

Peter Wright was also in Dudley. I believe it is about 60-70 miles from Sheffield.

Mr. Postman speculates the Wilkinsons tried to enter the American anvil market already dominated by Peter Wright and Mouse Hole Forge with little success. However, he notes they are common in Australia.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/23/06 03:27:20 EST

Craig and Aron,

Iron is not found free in nature except as meteoric iron; it is mixed with earthy matter as ore and comes in various colors. Magnetite ore can appear as black sand, but I think "blacksmith" derives from the "black" color resulting from the dark scale oxide that appears on the surface of the metal, when it is heated to working temperatures.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/23/06 08:37:31 EST

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