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

This is an archive of posts from February 23 - 29, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Railings in the UK: During WW2 there were huge scrap drives that resulted in most of the railings in the country being 'sacrificed', although some notible historic buildings were spared! - even today when you walk down any old street you see dwarf york stone walls with the tell tale square holes where the railings were.

They used to have scrap drives for Alu. With big piles of cookware on the street corners ( part of 'sponsor a Spitfire ' srives ) - though apparently the grade of the ally was never good enough for the planes, but it gave a psychological boost to people to think they were doing something to help the war effort!
   John N - Thursday, 02/23/06 09:37:10 EST

Native Iron and colors: Frank, native iron does occur but must be found in freshly exposed rock. It appears as viens as do other native metals. It is rare but was supposedly used by the ancinets. Magnetite carvings are listed as man's earlist working of "iron".

In paint the iron colors are Mars Black, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Ochre. Burnt Ochre is also known as red-oxide and is rust colored. Yellow Ochre is found naturaly in clay deposits and has been a prized yellow for millinia. It was known during the stone age. Natural deposits of it are brilliant. Although it appears to be a dark almost mustard yellow, when thined or applied over white it is very brilliant. It is one of the most important colors used by artists.

Mars black is a thin slightly transparent color that is easily killed by other colors. Carbon black is the best true black. A more forgiving natural black can be made by mixing Burnt Umber and Ultramarine blue. Cool blue greys and steel greys are made from this.

Today's art lesson is brought to you by RUST. Rust that never stops. Rust working even while you sleep. Rust that can be stopped only by the proper application of paint.

   - guru - Thursday, 02/23/06 10:38:22 EST

Just wanted to say Thanks for all the info. Ken, I really appreciate you taking the time to look into my question. I am especially grateful for all the solid background info, it was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again.
   Blake - Thursday, 02/23/06 10:49:17 EST

To avoid confusion; Magnetite is not a native iron but an iron ore. Yes there is *some* native iron that was laid down before the earth had an oxygen atmosphere. Very rare to have exposures that old and usually by the the time they are "exposed" the iron has "rusted" anyway.

It only takes a couple of percent iron content to turn a sediment a lovely red/brown colour but to be ore you generally wanted it to be above 50% iron for the bloomery process.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/23/06 11:38:07 EST

Magnetite was the prized iron ore of the ancient Japanese. They placer mined it. It took several families mining and washing to supply one ironmaster. The Magnetite was reduced to metal in a Tatara. The bloom was broken up and sorted into grades based on the percieved or suspected carbon content. These were forged into billets, and laminated to give the desired properties. The best, high-carbon material was called tamahagane. They also had a pre-western cast iron industry, but I have little real knowledge of that.

Smite is the old English verb to strike, so a smith is one who strikes. a black smith strikes the black metal, iron. A whitesmith cleans and polishes his work. Silversmith, goldsmith, copper smith and tinsmith are self-explanitory.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/23/06 12:55:01 EST

Iron ore gave the Adirondacks mnts their name I can remember vacationing there at my uncles cabin on Schroon Lake the sandy beaches were a red color.
   chris makin - Thursday, 02/23/06 13:04:33 EST

There's some pretty dark black "pigment" (sludge)to be found when one takes apart the steel pipes in my well water system, too. It's drilled 50 feet down into limestone in southeast Michigan. A little bit of sulphur, lotsa iron.
   3dogs - Thursday, 02/23/06 13:17:36 EST

Chain Links. Is there a simple jig that can be used to make chain links? I am looking to make them out of 1/4" round stock and approximately 2 inches long for the application I have in mind - note this is not a heavy load bearing use. Is there an easy way to weld these together? Thanks. Jim
   Jim Warren - Thursday, 02/23/06 13:50:24 EST

The durability of wrought is debatable. It depends on its quality which varied greatly. Relatively pure iron with traces of coper has the best corrosion resistance. At one time wrought was heavily specified for corrosion resistance because of the advertising by the wrought iron manufacturers and the prejuidice against the NEW mild steel by many in the iron industry. Today it is still pushed by a wrought iron processor but with the caveat that it be carefully cleaned and painted every two or three years. With this expensive care it will wear out before it rusts out. Wear from cleaning that often would be just as damaging as rust. There is no advantage in this situation. Low quality wrought has a coarse grain structure that open up and expands the bar when it corrodes. This is a huge mess and generally not repairable.

Wrought's advantages are its softness and ease of forge welding. Its disadvantages are that its grain requires special handling and its softness (it is much weaker than steel). Its softness is just as much of a disadvantage in archetectural iron work as an advantage. Parts are more easily bent and broken off than with mid steel. Designs must also consider the weakness of the wrought.

Wootz or Damascus is only better than nothing except in myths. Except in a few cases modern steels far out perform hand made steels. "Damascus steel" was steel (any steel) from Damascus which was a trading center, not a manufacturing center. Today it is a term for laminated steel which is made primarily for artistic purposes.

Wootz is a steel made by a crucible decarbonization process from cast iron. It was made in India and Turkey among other places. See Atli's article on swords on our Armoury page for details.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/23/06 14:05:35 EST

Chain Links: Jim, it is easiest to start with precut pieces of steel that produce the correct link length. Bending can be done by hand or on a jig.

For jigs see our 12st Century page and Bender article.

A simple two pin bender with a drop on wrench would work.

Welding and preps depend on the type of weld and the strength you need. For forge welding you taper the ends of the link before bending. See Chapter Five of The Revolutionary Blacksmith. Note that normally forge welded chain is welded at the end.

A chain made as if it is going to be forge welded with closed overlaping ends is quite strong and is fine for decorative work.

You can also gas weld a butt joint in close bent links. Welding this type joint goes pretty fast. Electric welding chain is an industrial process.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/23/06 14:21:34 EST

Thanks for the information on the lathe. After reading a few hours I know much more than I did. The web site was great, along with your answers.

I would not ask the apple pie question, I would hate to start a fight over that, but would bet there would be plenty of answers. (ha ha)

As for butane lighters – there was a person on the news yesterday with burns from his lighter. Seems a cop tasered him and exploded it. I guess the lesson is be nice to police people if you have a lighter.

To try to give back a little-
If you do much copying and pasting you might want to check out Clipmate from Thornsoft .( http://www.thornsoft.com ) It keeps all the copies you make and you can go back and paste from weeks before. Only about 35.00 and can download a trial version and use for 30 days.
One thing I use it for is to copy a few days, or month, (depending on how far behind I am) worth of this group and can then read it in clipmate, off line when have time. If get 600 lines in on reading and have to stop, I copy the rest out of clipmate itself, and start over at where I left off. One of the few items I recommend to everyone. It has many more features too.
( this was typed in word, and used clipmate to paste into forum)

Thanks for all your help (membership is planned soon)
   David - Thursday, 02/23/06 14:34:25 EST

Molten iron? do you mean cast iron? If so it was generally poured into pigs dug as trenches in the casting room floor.

Of course to blacksmiths the only use of cast iron was to be converted into wrought iron or mild steel as it can't be forged.

Now if you are talking about wrought iron---it's not cast. If you are talking about steel it wasn't cast in the west until the 18th century and was an expensive commodity, even as late as the ACW steel would often be 5 times the cost of wrought iron.

"Damascus Steel" is a bad term to use because it has been applied to two very different processes: pattern welding and wootz. In much earlier times both processes could result in a better grade of metal for use in blades. Both were expensive to do. Nowdays with modern steel processing we can generally get very nice alloys to use right from the store. Pattern welding is still beloved due to it's looks. Wootz is going through a re-discovery phase and has some interesting properties; but it's still mainly the hype being talked up.

BTW Whitesmith is generally applied to a type of blacksmith who provides products that are filed and ground to be shiny before sold to the customer.

Tin smiths, coppersmiths, goldsmiths and silversmiths worked their appropriate metals.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/23/06 14:47:16 EST

Chain Links
The fomula I use for figuring lenght of stock, courtesy of Charlie Sutton, is twice the outside lenght, plus once the inside width. So a link made from 1/4inch that is 2"x1" would be 4 1/2"
   JimG - Thursday, 02/23/06 16:04:37 EST

does any1 know a good place to order a sword? anyone specific??
   tony - Thursday, 02/23/06 16:34:11 EST

Speaking of the quality of iron ore, how would I measure what percentage of iron is in the ore? I've oft wondered this, but not sure where to start looking for the answer.
   - Tom T - Thursday, 02/23/06 16:42:49 EST

Tony; may I commend you to swordforum.com a series of forums on swords.

May I also suggest you refine your question a *LOT*; do you want an European or Asian sword; historically based design or "modern"; wall hanger, practice or LH combat; custom made or production; can you spend over US$5000 or do you want it under US$500...the list goes on

TomT if you are in the US you will often find that most states have done studies on the ore possibilities in them and recorded the analysis of typical ore samples. I would check with the State Geological Survey or local University geology department. Otherwise you have it analyzed.

One reason that magnetite sand is nice it has a pretty stable content---just the mineral magnetite + any trash that got picked up with the sand (rutile is a common contaminent) and you can be carefull in collection. Some of the more "earthy" ores can be a mish mash of dirt, limonite, hematite, goethite and how much of what is in it?

The old fashioned method is to do a bloomery run on it and see how much and what quality iron you get from it---this presupposes you are a good enough ironmaker to be able to factor out your skills in various runs.


   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/23/06 17:45:32 EST

Modern writers and movie producers, who are NOT experts in their field often state that a whitesmith was a smith who worked white metals, like tin or silver. This is NOT true, and just because it is often so stated on the History Channel does NOT make it true. As stated above he filed, poliched and worked the balcksmith's product until it was white or free from scale and polished to the desired degree.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/23/06 18:04:16 EST

Tom T: There are many ways to analyze an ore. Analysis of Iron ore by several methods used to be a basic excercise in beginning quantitative analysis class. Basically a precisely weighed sample of the ore is disolved in an appropriate acid mixture, and then the iron is measured by one of many different methods. Spectroscopic methods are most used now, but there are many older methods that use only classical wet chemistry.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/23/06 18:09:32 EST

Chain links.

We don't always make chain links in class, but when we do, I usually use Ernst Schwarzkopf's dimensions: 3/8" round x 7 1/4" long. One time in class, I mentioned those figures, and a student IMMEDIATELY said, "Oh, that's nineteen and one third to one." I was taken aback, and I said, "What is?" He said that the stock diameter times 19 1/3 will give you the length.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/23/06 18:30:57 EST

Thumper: On your question on how many blacksmiths there might be in the U.S. today. Really no good answer. I suspect the number who do original, hand-forged ornamental ironwork or studio-type work full-time is a relatively small number. Most tend to be part-timers or hobbiest.

You might contact ABANA at www.abana.org and ask the number of their membership. Then multiply that by perhaps 4-5. Might bring you in the ballpark to those hitting hot iron.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/23/06 19:08:22 EST

The figures I have seen bandied about lead me to believe that there are somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 art/hobby blacksmiths in the USA.
Probably a couple of thousand industrial blacksmiths left, most working at big companies.
I would guess 2000 to 3000 of that 20,000 is actually full time employed, mostly self, doing some degree of forging.
Actual jobs in the art blacksmithing world, where somebody else pays you, and worries about where the money comes from, probably number around a thousand or so. Not all full time, not all paying industry level wages.
Maybe 50 to 100 jobs teaching blacksmithing.

These numbers do not include farriers- just art/ornamental/industrial blacksmiths.
   - Ries - Thursday, 02/23/06 19:22:07 EST

The two dictionaries I looked in (one of which was the OED) give different derivations for "smith" and "smite." Apparently the precursors to "smith" originally refered to any skilled craftsman; "smite" came from words meaning "strike," "throw," or "defile."

My old "Marks Handbook" says that wrought iron and steel corrode at about the same rate. It claims, though, that in WI the corrosion may be generally distributed within the slag inclusions, while steel is more subject to localized attacks and pitting.
   Mike B - Thursday, 02/23/06 21:07:35 EST

What is the thinking on swage block stands? Can you just set a 200pd swage block on a angle iron frame? OR should you use wood in between? What about using lead on the rim of the angle iron so as not to mar the block? Thought about using an oak block but 16"x16"x24" is not an easy find.Any thoughts?
   - Will - Thursday, 02/23/06 21:31:53 EST
hr NOSHADE COLOR="#000080"> Will: There are several small sawmills in my county which purchase direct from loggers. I could order an 8" x 8" x 8' piece of either white or red oak and likely pick it up the next day. Then it would be the matter of cutting it into 24" lengths, aging/curing and then connecting to form a stand.

For 200 pounds, 1/4" x 1 1/4" angle iron would likely work fine - and be a lot lighter.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:04:16 EST


Last two knives I made were 5160, not O1. But here is what I did. I forged as normal, and when I had it down to where I thought it should be, I straightened the blade and tang. Then I brought it back up to heat, and normalized it by just letting it cool in my tongs. After it cooled, I took it to the belt grinder, and then to the stones. I only stoned it with 220 grit, then hardened just the edge. Tempered in my toaster oven. Then back to the stones, 220, 400, then 600. Then I worked on the handles. Sharpen last.
   Bob H - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:10:17 EST

Forgot to say, working it after only normalizing, not annealing, went just fine. And allows you to finish it in a days time.
   Bob H - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:11:11 EST

WI Corrosion Resistance: One of the pieces of "evidence" of WI corrosion resistance that is often put forward is the iron pillar in the Mosque of Altamsh, Deli, India erected in 360-400 AD. Photos of it are shown at some distance of with figures hiding the base. However, detailed photos show a great deal of corosion at its base. I would estimate some 25 pounds of material missing from an area a couple feet square. It once had a lot of surface decoration that is now blurred and indecipherable. Yes, this massive (3 ton) piece of wrought iron has survived and appears to be in relatively good condition but it is not perfect and there is no comparable piece of steel. How well it has survived is pure conjecture.

Wrought Iron is a wonderful old archaic material that is a large part of the history of our craft. But the romance and history of it has blurred many of the facts about it. Myths are not a good reason to base economic decisions.

   - guru - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:27:41 EST

Swage Block Stand.

Two European books, one from Germany and one from Spain, show the same kind of angle iron stand. An Austrian book, Werk und Werkzeug, shows a sketch of a similar stand, probably angle iron.

The construction follows: a stout angle iron, fitted frame as a support when the block is laying flat. Four angle iron corner legs. Four flat iron stretchers on edge at the base, floor level. Four, short in depth, but extra wide angle irons as extra corner supports at the top, riveted to both the upper support frame and the legs.

Tom Joyce built a large wooden support with iron reinforcements. When the block is turned on edge, it fits neatly into recesses so that it doesn't tip. On the angle iron frames, I did not see such a provision for standing the block on edge.

I have an old block that came with its own cast iron stand. The stand is fairly low down and has internal lugs cast in to support the flat block. I think the stand weighs more than the block!

The stands were fairly short legged when compared to say, an anvil stand, and I think that is because they were used often as an upsetting block when jumping a long bar.

When I got started in all this, I used to visit old shop wherever I found them, usually in the West and Midwest. I never saw a swage block stand. The block, when present, was always laying flat on the floor...which reminds me, for safety, don't leave the block on edge on the floor. It is too easily tipped over by mistake.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:47:50 EST

Mike B; I conceede on the smite/smith. The Oxford English Dictionary seems to agree with you. I was taught that the word smith as a skilled craftsman came from the same root as smite. The OED says that is doubtful, but offers no other origin for smith except smid in germanic and icelandic languages.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:50:12 EST

Swage Block Stands: There are a number of designs for angle iron stands floating around. I refused to publish one here for one reason, it and most others are guaranteed finger choppers. Swage blocks are generally heavy and difficult to handle. The only way to hold most is with your fingers around the edges. Setting them into an angle iron frame is tricky and dangerous and could lead to severely pinching or cutting off one or more fingers. This same design had a slot for setting the block on edge that is nearly impossible to manage much less manage safely.

If you make an angle iron stand for a block that can be lifted by one or two men then it must have adequate finger and hand clearance at the sides. This is a tricky design but it can be made. The same can be done with wood but requires better design in order to be suitable solid (unless it is a simple stump).

I have a fair collection of swage blocks. A big old industrial block that weighs about 350 pounds came with two stands. One at waist height for setting it flat and one about a foot tall for supporting it on edge. I have no qualms about using them because it is nearly impossible for two men to lift and manuver. I have always placed the block using a hoist.

Maring the block? I have never seen one with a finish so nice that you wouldn't think twice about hauling them with a load of rock. . . Generally the flat surfaces are not work surfaces except around the holes.

Wood stumps (logs) similar to anvil stumps make good swage block stands. Another method is to make a large stake and swage stand. This is like a huge stepped butcher's block with levels for swage blocks and stakes. Eric Thing built one like I had planned for many years but never got around to. See his articles on our Armour Page featuring this tool.

Heavy solid wood stands are easily built from framing lumber or rough cut heavy timbers. Pine works fine, oak is overkill. If you pay attention large stumps are often available in many parts of the country. If not, build your own. If solid is too much then a stand like my plywood sided anvil stand shown on the iFOrge page will do.

Until I build my version of a solid swage stand my smaller blocks set on my weld platten, welding bench and a stump. The big block is setting on its edge in its edge stand as it has for 30 years. . . Ocassionaly the smaller blocks and several takes set on the block. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/23/06 22:53:10 EST


Some steels you can normalize and some you can't. The recommended normalizing temperature for 5160 is 1600-1700ºF (bright red, just under orange). When you air cool, lay it on something "unreactive" like a fire brick, a graphite block, or a pile of coke, and cool in still air, no breezes. Otherwise,it may get a "hard zone" where the breeze hits it. A tong jaw may also cause a hard zone. Note that the normalizing temperature is above both the annealing and hardening temperature.

O1 is another ball game. I don't think you can normalize it, because it hardens in air in an internally unstable way. I think it should be annealed after forging. I can't speak from experience, but aus-forging sounds like a crock. I have forged a number of tools from O1, but I follow the manufacturer's spec sheets on all heat treatments.

Other steels that are non-normalizing are air hardening steels, A2 for example.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 02/23/06 23:08:54 EST

Thank you for the comments on the angle iron swage block. I HAD been thinking of building one. Scratch that project, I'll make a wooden stand.

BobH. Thanks for the information on the 5160. That is highly interesting. Are those knives ones you posted pictures of in your album across the street? What did you quench the edge in when you hardened? Also, what temperature or color did you temper to? Thanks much.

I think a lot of these knifemaking techniques would work fine on making chisels, scrapers, flypress tooling, etc. and not having to anneal overnight would be a real timesaver.
   Ellen - Thursday, 02/23/06 23:13:25 EST

When I was thinking about buying a sword to accompany my SCA persona, one of the sites I was checking out was www.lutel.cz.kataloga.htm a Czech Swordmaker - he seems to follow traditional construction methods using modern materials and offers a wide range of European weapons. For relatively inexpensive, there is always Museum Replicas, which is currently concentrating on production in India - can't comment on their long term usability. Regarding Wootz steel, go to Don Fogg's Bladesmith forum,go to page two of Bllomers and Buttons unde Forgeworks and go to the topic title India's Legendary Wootz steel - there is a link for a free pdf download of a 90 page article/book on India's Wootz steel. It will take quite awhile to download with a dial-up line, so I used work which has a DSL line.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 02/23/06 23:46:33 EST

I have a question that several different people have given several different answers to. It has 4 choices.

The question is:

The difference between cold rolled galvanized and hot rolled is:
A. Softer
B. Harder
C. Less flexible
D. More flexable

I say the answer is cold is more flexible. My boss says cold is softer. Who is right? And why? Thank You, Jason
   racinjason68 - Friday, 02/24/06 00:56:55 EST

Thank you for the insight on the swage block/angle iron stand finger pinching potential. Hadn't considered that aspect.
   - Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/24/06 01:08:42 EST

I've recently (just tonight in fact) mostly finished putting together a little forge that I intend to use for billet welding. I want to run it off natural gas, using an atmospheric burner. I can buy one, but I'd much rather make one -- anyone have plans that they've used with success? Please do NOT tell me to do a blown burner... I won't. (Grin) Blown burner + frequent power outages = potential disaster.

Cold, wet, and still in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 02/24/06 05:32:20 EST

Seems to me that cold working ( cold rolled) will tend to work harden so if so it is less flexible.
The sizing spec with cold rolled ( plus no mill scale) would be the thing.
   Ralph - Friday, 02/24/06 06:02:19 EST

I have some cold rolled and hot rolled square stock. The cold rolled edges seem harder and sharper than the hot rolled. There is also a thin layer of oil on the cold rolled and it has a yellowish color. The hot rolled square stock is DEFINITELY softer as I can work it cold, it has a gray color and is bone dry.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/24/06 08:35:52 EST

For a leg vice which is almost as much of a work of arts as functional see eBay #6256498198. Peter Wright, likely from the early half of the 1800s. My SWAG is it will go for over $300.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/24/06 08:41:11 EST

What's the best way to make a swedging tool for a hardie? I've searched through the iForge and can't find anything.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/24/06 08:54:08 EST

Cold Roll and Galvanized: See our FAQ on Steel Product Types.

On some steels galvanizing MAY have an effect on the hardness as the hot dip process is bwtween 900 and 1100°F. This is hot enough to temper most lower carbon steels beyond any heat treat hardening or possible roll quenching that is used to cool and descale. Note however that most steel and hardware found in hardware stores is NOT hot dip galvanized but zinc shot galvanized, a mechanical process that put on a VERY thin zinc coating.
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 09:06:35 EST

Swages, TGN, See:

#45 Tools from RR-Rail

#49 Anvil Swage Tools:

#57 Smiths Tools
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 09:25:37 EST

NG Burners: They CAN be built. Generally you just use much large orrifices. However, even when properly built the amount of volume of gas for a forge may stretch the capacity of your NG supply. Not only is NG provided at very low pressures the pipe size leading to your building determines the total capacity.

We had a big gas furnace installed in an old house that previously had a coal furnace. The 1" gas main (designed for lighting in the 1890's) would not supply nearly enough gas and the furnace that should have been clean and efficient ran dirty and irregularly. My father finally removed half the burners (originally about 3 by 3 foot using BIG 6 burners) and got the furnace to behave. . sometimes.

Blacksmith shop gas forges vary from about 30,000 BTU to 100,000 BTU depending on size. Check with you gas company to be sure you have that capacity PLUS whatever else is running on that line.
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 09:37:51 EST

Cold vs hot-rolled:

The difference is about fifty cents a pound.

You need to specify the galvanizing method, or the question is meaning less. Are we talking hot-dipped or electrogalvanized? Big difference between the two, I can tell you from experience. HDG sheet is actually harder than electro-galvanized cold-rolled panel stock in my experience. YMMV.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/24/06 10:08:10 EST


The Electro-galvanized sheet I used was annealed for easy bending; came that way frm the manufacturer under the trade name Galvanneal™.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/24/06 10:11:51 EST

No, not swages, a swedge. I have a small swage block and have made a couple hardie swages from those demos. I may be using the wrong word here, but what I am looking to make I guess is a fullering tool that has a beveled edge. I'm looking to make right hand side bevel, left hand side bevel, and a center bottom bevel.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/24/06 10:41:44 EST

By the way, this is for knifemaking, in case you're wondering. I've been making hardie shanks all morning!
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/24/06 10:46:58 EST

I quenched in warm ATF. And then tempered in my toaster oven at 375*. Just checked the heat treating info here on Anvilfire, and looks like maybe tempering to 400* may be a bit better. But at the same time, a hard edge from edge quenching only, shouldn't be too bad. The back of the knife is still soft enough.
   Bob H - Friday, 02/24/06 10:48:07 EST

Ooops. Yes, Ellen, that was the two knives you saw pictures of.
   Bob H - Friday, 02/24/06 10:59:29 EST

Bob H,
I really like the "wife's knife". Not that your others aren't great also. Your flint knives are spectacular, works of art.

The nice thing about tempering at a lower temperature is that if it is a tad harder than you want you can retemper it at a higher temperature (doesn't work going down the temperature scale unless you reharden). Some makers temper the knife, take the edge to a stone and if it is too hard for them then they retemper at a slightly higher heat. The goal is to get an edge that you can just barely get a burr on with a coarse or medium bench stone.

Randall knives are supposed to be made from O-1, except for their stainless ones of course. They sure seem to be a fine knife, have handled a few but never owned one. My drop point skinning knife in my album is shamelessly patterned after their "Alaskan Skinner" but it is made from 5160. Holds a good edge, but not as good as the Randall my friend had at that time.

Cold rolled vs. hot rolled. Cold is more expensive, but here not by as much as for Rich. Cold is much closer to dimension that hot. Can be important for some applications. Hot is a little easier to work in the forge, but not if you get a piece which has junk in it. Don't seem to have that problem with cold rolled, but I don't know why. After I heat cold rolled and hammer on it for a bit it seems to work about the same as hot rolled. At least for me. Cold rolled you want to "break" the sharp edges a bit for finish work in my opinion.
   Ellen - Friday, 02/24/06 11:39:48 EST

TGN, what are you trying to do with these swedges, knifemaking-wise? I and many others use a variation on the "smithing magician," spring fullers, and guillotine tools to make the blade/tang junction on both narrow-tang and integral-bolstered knives, if that's the sort of thing you're after.

Bob H.: I temper 5160 at 375* too. Sometimes I even do it at 350*!
   Alan-L - Friday, 02/24/06 11:48:15 EST

Hi I am new to your site.
I have a Miller 175 MIG lately it will put down a good weld and then act like it is not getting shielding gas (pits in the weld and bubbles). Sometimes I will run a good bead and then have the end of the bead go to hell. I have replaced the regulator and have it running at 30 SCFM. I can also feel the wire jumping around in the Gun Liner. It is a 75 mile trip to the miller store. Will replacing the Gun Liner fix the problem?
Thanks in advance….
   Hugh - Friday, 02/24/06 12:05:42 EST

Cold Rolled and Hot Dipped:

If the boss is referring to galvanized steel in both cases, make sure he's not referring to hot dipped galvanized (a possible apples to oranges situation). Hot dipped is what I love to see on anchors, cold rolled galvanized is nice for dustpans. :-)

Wrought vs. Mild on the Shore:

I had an experiment going with several small bars of wrought and mild exposed on our dock, but they seem to have been "misplaced". I guess I'll have to repeat. A number of my “forge finished” early wrought iron pieces (bell holders and brackets, &c.) seem to be rusting just fine at Oakley House, between the swamp and the tidewater. I have observed wrought iron on a lot of historic areas, and it does seem to be more resistant to rust. The corrosion is more linier in the wood-grain pattern and you do not get the same deep pitting like you see in mild steel. However, it does rust, even if it is in a more stately manner. I do salvage* some wrought iron spikes from time to time from a WW II (or earlier) barge lying half submerged near our ship, and the outer 1/4" just crumbles away in the forge, leaving 3/4" - 1/2" of useable stock depending on the quality of the original spike (which seems to vary from spike to spike) and its exposure to the tides ands elements.

Both wrought iron and mild steel have their virtues and vices; you just need to learn how to work them and where to apply them. Better yet, save the wrought iron for reenactors and experimenters like Thomas and I, and some knife-makers, so that around a hundred years from now we can drive the archeologists crazy.

Sunny and getting warmer on the banks of the Potomac. Work session on the Sæ Hrafn tomorrow, at which I will show off the wrought iron “lunch hook” size anchor that we worked on at Camp Fenby.

* If you can pry it loose, it’s not nailed down. Besides, we’re Vikings!

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 02/24/06 12:08:05 EST

Welding Problems: Hugh, a lot can go wrong with MIG.

Wind or drafts can blow the shield gases resulting in a bad weld.

Dirt, scale and rust generate gases that displace the shield gas as well as bubble up through the weld. MIG WIL NOT weld over rust like stick welding.

Paint, same as above.

Cloged vents in the gun can cause shield gas problems. Check and clean.

Rust in the liner can cause problems making the wire run jerky. This can often be blown out with compressed air OR the liner can be removed, cleaned in solvent and replaced after blowing out. I've replaced liners for no reason at all when all they needed was cleaning. Removing the liner for inspection is also wise as they can become kinked and not show through the sleave.

Loose electrical connections at either end of the liner OR the wrong size tip can cause connection problems and make the weld look bad. Check wire size against tip size.

Replaceing the gun might fix the problem but the real problem is probably one of the above.
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 12:37:54 EST

T. Gold: I inquired with the local gas company about a NG forge as I have NG to the shop. Was told the entire set-up would have to be approved by one of their engineers and be equiped with all of the standard industrial safety features.

Have you checked into getting a large outside propane tank?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/24/06 13:04:01 EST

On the term Blacksmith and Whitesmith, it was my understanding that a 'whitesmith' was another name for a person who worked lead. Anyone else heard of this?

I also agree with Nippulini that London has some truly remarkable forged iron work that is well worth any smiths time to peruse. The work in and around the houses of parliament and the tower is fantastic.
As to Englands missing iron work, it is sadly very true that a huge amount of irreplaceable forged work was taken down and melted during WW2. Unless you have had the chance, as I have, to study old photographs of buildings pre WW2 then just how much wonderful work has been lost is hard to imagine. Needs must when the devil rides.
When I went to infants school I passed a low sand stone wall every day that had a row of neat iron squares on its top. It wasn't until I went to the local library many years later and saw an old picture of the school from 1908 that I realised those squares were all that were left of a beautiful iron fence. According to the archives it was made by a local shipyard (Harkers) as a present for the (then) new school (the shipyard had a full time Smith).

While America had an iron drive like we did in England I'm unsure if it lost the same kind of workmanship as a result as we did, or as extensively either. Which is not a critique but merely an observation of a sad moment in history
   Ian Lowe - Friday, 02/24/06 13:26:16 EST

TGN, what size of fuller you looking for? Forge/grind can do a lot but if you are lazy like me I generally try to find stock with an appropriate shape and go from there. For fairly small "butcher" fullers 1/2" or less I have found that some bearing races have a nice rounded edge when cut and flatened or less problem with welding some large angle iron has a "flat" outer side and rounded edge to the inner side. Just taking a piece of round stock and grinding off what you don't want and welding that to a hardy hole fitting shank will work. If you have some swages you can save on grinding by heating the stock and forging it with one side supported by the swage so the other side gets flattened.

Wrought Iron and Rusting; the US govenment did a study compaing early steels with WI for fencing as the early steels were more prone to rusting away. The upshot was the alloying of steel to be a bit more resistant.

Also I have seen quite a few WI objects that have lain in wet soils for over 400 years, quite rusted but still be recognizable, and a lot of modern stuff that is rusted away to whatisits in 40 years.

One of the problems in using old texts is that the materials they are referring to may not be the same stuff we think of today by that name. Bloomery WI, charcoal smelted, is difinitely different from indirectly refined WI that used coal. Early bessemer/kelly or open hearth steels were different from modern steels---I remember reading how great a step forward it was to use AL to kill steels!

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/24/06 13:27:47 EST

The swedges I'm looking to make will help me keep a consistent bevelled angle throught the knife, rather than having a parallel flat blank. Some knives I have (CRKT and Xicar as examples) have a flat side with no blade edge and a bevel side with a single edge at the point.

Guru, I'm sending you a drawing of what I mean. I just wanted to know what the best way to make them would be.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/24/06 13:28:05 EST

motor from furnace: the last motor I changed in a furnace was a 1/3 hp dayton that ran the large squirrelcage fan via v-belts. You could use it to turn a blower but it would be overkill. Much better to buy an arbor and make a buffer or wirewheel set up from it.

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/24/06 13:29:27 EST

TGN: Aha! That is normally done freehand, either by forging or grinding. It takes practice, but you can go from plain flat bar to wonderfully tapered and beveled blades with nothing but a hammer and anvil. Both of the knives you use as examples are not forged at all, they're strictly stock-removal. Doesn't make them bad, just different.

Wrought Iron and rusting:

Yes, what Thomas said. I have excavated old house sites where the charcoal-smelted bloomery iron nails look like the day they were made, but all that remains of the later square-cut and round wire nails are misshapen lumps of rust with suspiciosly nail-shaped cores. Charcoal-smelted bloomery iron is (was) generally free of sulfur and phosphorus, two trace elements that are very bad for the long-term health of iron.
   Alan-L - Friday, 02/24/06 14:01:08 EST

Nippilini, AOL refused my mail because I have my own (not the ISP's) email address. So my response is here.

The left and right are a waste of time. They are "fool's tools" AND the same tool. . You angle your hammer to the anvil and use the edge of the anvil, not a sloping block. The sloping block still requires you to judge the angle of your blows and that of the work.

The centered (low V swage) one would be easiest to either saw from a solid block, forge it or grind if narrow. To forge it you would make a tool the shape of the depression, make the blank swage with the shank, heat it and sink the form tool using a large hammer.

The centered swage wants to be just deep enough and wide enough for the piece you will be forging. Otherwise the hammer will hit the sloping tool. So if you want to make 1" wide blades you would make the tool 1.125 to 1.25 wide and relieve the extra. For a narrow shallow swage you could hand grind it and dress with a file.

For producing lots of long blades with this section I would go with a small rolling mill or power hammer with diamond shaped dies.

I forge diamond section blades by hand on the edge of the anvil and wavy blades of the same section on the horn and face without special tools. It works best to start with round stock. Wavy blades are bent first, flattened and then tapered. Bend slightly tighter than you want the finished blade as lengthing while flattening reduces the curve. The horn is used because the curves are conical and the insides more difficult to shape. However, once the shape is partialy defined it can be finished with an angle grinder in a few seconds.
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 14:02:07 EST

T Gold,

A solenoid valve and a simple latching relay circuit should solve the power outage problem for a blown forge (I think the Guru has described a version of this here). Or you could use a 12 volt blower hooked to car battery, and keep it on charge in normal use. The latter way would avoid the problem of what to do until the power came back on . . .
   Mike B - Friday, 02/24/06 14:05:26 EST

Swedge or Swage:

Swedge is either a mispelling or an archaic term even though many people prounounce it swedge. Of course we are in an archaic craft so. . .

Where it gets tricky is calling things "hardy" or "hardie" tools. A hardy is a shanked chisel and the anvil has a hardy hole for it. But bottom tools are more correctly called "sets". There are top and bottom set tools. They can be be used as pairs but are just as ofen used alone. The bottoms traditionally fitting the hardy hole but they could be used in stake plate or vise just as well. Often top sets are used with a matching shape in a swage block.

   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 14:42:57 EST

For the curious, this forge is to be run at UH off the massive plumbed-in gas -- which is set up to run such things as a Johnson trench forge, multiple crucible furnaces, gas kilns... Supply is not an issue, and I don't have to pay for it.(Grin) Planning on pushing in as many BTU as possible, since as I said I want to use this little forge for billet welding. Was worried that I would have to add safety features til I remembered that we also have a Forgemaster with no BASO or anything on it. Mike, yes, true, but I do not want to have to do anything of that sort. Lazy, and I have so far spent $0.00 on this forge and don't want to start.
   T. Gold - Friday, 02/24/06 14:43:20 EST

Solenoid Valves: A normally closed valve is used. This would seem safe as it would turn off when the power quit. However you need a latching relay to prevent the valve from opening on its own when the power comes back on.

Latching Relay: This is simply a multi-pole relay with one of the poles used to feed power to its own coil. A n intermitent switch or push button is used to engage the relay which then keeps itself closed. On loss of power OR interuption of the latching circuit the relay opens and must be manually closed to latch again. In machines with a number of safety switches the latching circuit passes through all the switches in series. Any one can prevent the relay from engaging OR can trip the relay.

All it normaly takes is a two pole relay for this type of control. However 3 and 4 pole relays are the most common and it is not unusual to use all the poles in the relay. Spare poles can also be used when one set burns out.

There is nothing intrinsicaly safe about a venturi burner. Yes it does not need power to operate but if the forge flames out the burner keeps dumping a gas-air mixure until the bottle is empty or the gas reaches an ignition source.

My blower forge also has full time ignition to prevent flameouts. It lights when the switch is turned on and goes off when turned off OR stays off when the power is lost.
   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 15:22:00 EST

Thanks for the Welding Problems: reply.

I pulled the liner and found gunk on the outside of the liner. It started about 4 foot from the end. Real sticky took a long time to get it clean. I pored solvent down the gun tube let it set flushed with compressed air and repeated the process.

Put it back together and like magic the problem was solved.
The gunk must have been anti splatter that had slid down the outside of the liner.

By the way the other day I picked up the anti splatter can and it was frozen solid. I put it in hot water thawed the can out and went about my business. I wonder if it is like paint, once it frozen it is no good.

THANKS for the help….

   Hugh - Friday, 02/24/06 17:22:45 EST

Anti-Spatter Spray: Freezing should not hurt it as it is solvent based. It had just gotten too thick. Water based plasticized products are actually cured by freezing which forces out the solvent with the water. Some products can be thawed but others are ruined.

I used anti-spatter spray very little as I found the problems it caused to be worse than those it attempted to prevent. The best use I found for it was to coat my welding bench. This helped keep spatter from sticking to the bench top and gave it a temporary finish (better than none).

   - guru - Friday, 02/24/06 17:47:12 EST

Jock, I've never had a venturi-fired gas furnace flame out yet and I've been working with gas for four years now... however, there is always a first time. Guess that's why they have all that electric eye and flame sensor stuff. This forge will be attended whenever it's running, though -- power outage related concern was more about me running through the suddenly darkened shop to shut off the gas and barking my shins. (Grin)

So I take it no one has a design? Bummer...
   T. Gold - Saturday, 02/25/06 03:52:31 EST

Regarding whitesmith. In Metalworking Trades in early America. Henry Kauffman has a conviningly researched chapter, linking the trade of whitesmithing with the working of iron and steel.
   anglesmith - Saturday, 02/25/06 07:43:02 EST

Marble & Fire

I know the limestone (pre-metamorphic marble) columns at the national Cathedral took a great deal of damage from a relatively minor fire. It looked (as I remember) like about a quarter of the pillar had just melted or turned to dust and slid away. A lot of stones do not have very good refractory properties; and even some that do, like soapstone, still take a lot of wear and tear. Fire bricks are much more useful for most purposes.


I've been thinking about this (always dangerous). May I suggest that, given the vagaries of the English language, the term may have been popularly used for both people who worked bright ferrous metals and "white" metals like pewter, at various times and locations? Look at how people (some of whom are normally sticklers for terminology) will use "damascus" for both pattern welded and wootz. Also, at what point is a blacksmith a farrier and vice versa? I would certainly promote the first usage, the use of whitesmith for one who does fine filed ironwork, without ruling out the possibility that the other usage may have also been current in the Colonial and Early American period. Language is nothing if not slippery!

Cloudy and getting warmer on the banks of the lower Potomac; off to the ship!

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 02/25/06 08:44:05 EST

Nippulini, check out the tools at Poor Boy Blacksmith tools on eBay. I don't think you can make them any less expensive than Ken sells them for.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/25/06 08:52:38 EST

Oh the Times, Oh the Manners!

Bruce is hitting the nail on the head. The farriers were the veterinarians of old. They let blood, floated teeth, put a little turpentine on the navel, etc. Same way with the barber, who also let blood, performed "primitive" surgery, and did a little dentistry.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/25/06 09:27:53 EST

I need a litle help in making steels for flint striking.
I have been asked to make a few sets for the scouts, and made an assumption that high carbon steel, full hard, with serrations would be the way to go. Made a trial piece, and no sparks, at leat with the flint on hand.
Better ways?
   - ptree - Saturday, 02/25/06 09:40:14 EST

Well, checked the I-forge and I think I may have answered my own question. No serretions.
   - ptree - Saturday, 02/25/06 09:46:27 EST

Whitesmith: Somewhere in my reading they were defined as someone that did fine finishing work with files and scrapers on iron that they or another may have forged. I suspect that as a specialty they finished others work.

Silversmith is a term that goes back quite a ways and since there is no pewtersmith that I know of I suspect those that worked pewter primarily were still silversmiths. The work methods of these materials are almost identical, low temperature casting, hammering, filing, spinning. A silversmith that stooped to finishing iron might be a whitesmith. . .

Like many trades there is much overlap. The general blacksmith that I prefer to call a "frontier blacksmith" did it all. They shod horses, built and repaired wagons, did all kinds of ironwork as well as working in copper alloys and finishing work like a whitesmith.

In the film the Wiliamsburg Gunsmith they do both the wood and metal work INCLUDING casting and finishing the brass plate for the furniture. This may seem extream but modern jewelers do the same using a small rolling mill as well drawing their own wire when special sizes or alloys are needed.

I do blacksmithing as well as bronzsmithing and make patterns for casting various materials (clay, plastic, zinc, brass and iron). All these trades are interconnected and often applied to one job. If you have a specialist available then it is almost always more efficient to let them do their job. But when not you must fill in the gaps.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/25/06 09:55:02 EST

Firestrikers. Make sure your flint on hand actualy will throw a spark. Forge the striker part as thin as possible, Ilike it 1/8 of an inch. Quench the entire strike, do not draw temper. I usualy clean the scale off with a fast pass over the bench grinder.
   JimG - Saturday, 02/25/06 11:40:51 EST

Firestrikers, a good source of steel is the springs used on garage doors, cut with a chopsaw the coils are the right size. your local garage door repair shop will have a pile out back. a 4'spring will yield about 60' of 1/4 stock. water quench and buffed on a belt sander to remove the decarbonized scale. Any sharp hard edged stone will work: agate, quartz, glass ect. It is the steel that makes the spark.
   - habu - Saturday, 02/25/06 11:49:51 EST

Yes, Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools is indeed an advertiser here and the link under advertisers in the pull down menu at top right of this screen works fine. There is an impressive line of extremely affordable tools there, and it is a tremendous place for the beginning (or experienced) smith to shop for value and function.

On using marble, limestone, asbestos, a nice sheet of sulfur, etc for a forge, that is merely a great way to prove that Darwin had a wonderfully accurate theory there, and not only for the "lower" species. Do we have to listen to any more of this childish babble? Is this now a teenage chat room for illiterate people who will not listen, will not learn, and won't get off their tailbone to travel across town to see a good blacksmith demo? There comes a time when trying to help these people becomes a total waste of time and obscures valuable discussion of useful topics, not to mention making this wonderful site look trivial and moronic. Off my soapbox and back to work.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/25/06 12:19:39 EST

Forgot to mention the Anvils Ring (Vol. 34, No. 2, Winter 2006, had a nice article on Frank Turley in Australia. Some nice photos of this distinguished looking smith, too. I liked the description "Frank has been fundamental in facilitating a rebirth of blacksmithing". Now it really makes me want to trek to Santa Fe and learn some more from a true Master.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/25/06 12:55:19 EST

Ellen & All,

Aw shucks. Let me hang my head and shove a rock around with my big toe.

The Australian contingent will be at the Seattle conference in early July. They are promised a display booth and work station. I am acquainted with most of them, so we'll have a fine reunion. They are a wonderful group, and they treated me like royalty. Upon leaving, they presented me with an oilskin jacket, steel toed, elastic sided, work boots, and an "outback" brimmed hat made of kangaroo hide (sans the croc teeth). I made sure I didn't wear them on the plane, however, because everyone would have mistaken me for an American. Har de har har.

Yes, weldin at the lower heat is possible, if you can figure a way to exclude most of the oxygen and other gases around the weld. I think that one time in "Scientific American" magazine, they reported that welding was done on highly polished specimens in outer space, without heat, and it's cold out there! The enemies of forge welding are mainly oxygen and "dirt". That's why we use flux (here on earth).

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/25/06 14:58:02 EST

as to "smith's" in the KJV Old Testament try 1Sam 13:19; 2Kgs 24:14; Isa 44:12 & 54:16. Also see Ex 36-40 for names of the best artisans.
   - Linn Davis - Saturday, 02/25/06 16:28:54 EST

I am just getting started and will first make some tools. my question is where may I learn on the site about hardies their kinds and how to make them? thanks Ray
   Ray Fernell - Saturday, 02/25/06 17:29:25 EST

Ellen, you sure nailed that one.

Went to a MABA demo today. The demo was on patinas. Chemicals were sprayed or rubbed on clean steel, and then the colors appeared. Then a quick rinse in water and dry. Another one, from King Architecture?, had a chemical that turned the steel to a copper color right before your eyes! Cool Beans. Then, on top of that, another spray was applied, that gave it a rainbow temper color scheme. Then water rinse. Nice stuff, and a great idea to color metals. They also demo'd a nice, simple powder coat, as well as the first companies clear coat.

And it looks as tho Mankel anvils are now a collectors item. Does not look as tho he will be making any more.

   Bob H - Saturday, 02/25/06 18:40:04 EST

Ray Fernell: I would recommend your obtaining a copy of The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer. He has examples of some hardys and there uses in it. Your local library may be able to get to a loan copy. For a purchase check with Centaur Forge and Pieh Tool Co., forum advertisers.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/25/06 19:02:19 EST

Ray Fernell,

I'm not sure on the net where to learn about hardy

Poor Boy Tools, one of our advertisers, shows his wedge shaped hardy blades. When you order one, he welds on the shank, maybe square tubular? I'm not sure.

I have made quite a few out of large truck axles and moil points. With the truck axle, I forge the shank under the trip hammer. I chamfer the shank corners a little, especially for old anvils, because the hardy holes are almost always out of square. When a snug fit, I guesstimate how much I need for the blade, and crop. At this point, the shoulder is slightly sloppy, so I insert the shank in the hardy hole at a heat, and upset with a sledge hammer in order to square up the shoulder. This is almost like making a rivet in a heading tool. After the shoulder is clean, I draw the blade under the trip hammer and trim the cutting end straight. Time to normalize and grind a little. Harden, temper, and put the final cutting edge on it.

Francis Whitaker seemed to favor what he called the "straight side hardy". It has a bevel of about 25º, not an included angle. If you're standing behind the blade, you'll either get a straight cut on your workpiece or a beveled cut, depending on how the hardy is placed in the hardy hole. Of course, you can vary this by lifting or lowering your holding hand.

Other kinds of hardies are shown in the recent book by George Dixon, "A Blacksmith's Craft: The Legacy of Francis Whitaker", p. 10.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/25/06 19:28:44 EST

Patina's revisited:

The name of the company that supplied the first products in the demo is Scultnouveau, and they can be found at www.sculptnouveau.com. I would like to one day order thier sample packet, which would last me quite a while. A little goes a long ways with this stuff.

One thing I failed to mention, is that several colors could be applied to the same piece. Everyone was impressed, lots of oohs and aaahs in the crowd. And not just from me!
   Bob H - Saturday, 02/25/06 20:06:24 EST

I tried the Duramark sample 4 1/2" grinder wheel today. I found it to be a nicely agressive, wheel and wore about as i would expect with an agressive wheel. Nicely balenced.
I have been quoted at $0.95 each for the 4 1/2" x 7/8" x 1/4" Pn CB7447 at Hagemeyer, in box of 20.
I will try out the flap whel tomorrow.
   - ptree - Saturday, 02/25/06 21:05:42 EST

Hi I have been doing blascksmithing for ten years now, and I have the plans for the appalachian powerhammer, they are ok but wuite vague. I'm going to build my hammer out out of the best materials I can but Iwant to know of the best style hammer to make. A spring helve? Air hammer? Little giant mock up? I want to have lots of control power and speed yet simple. I'm sure I can build a good hammer but I would like to have the most info possible about the different styles,there pro's and con's and where I can get the most accurate detailed plans so I don't waist time building a hammer Im disappointed with. thanks for any direction you can give me.
   kush - Saturday, 02/25/06 21:55:58 EST

Bob H-Did you say no more Mankel anvils? Whats up? They're real nice anvils, a lot of folks have them.
   Ellen - Saturday, 02/25/06 22:45:54 EST

Is there a diagram somewhere for the air pressure valves on a pneumatic hammer? I have found the metal work plans but the valving sketches are a little vague.
   John W - Saturday, 02/25/06 23:45:14 EST

Bob H; If you like that copper finish, go to a shop where they sell stained glass supplies. They have some blue stuff that looks like windshield washer fluid that is used to put a copper color on the lead came. I dribbled some on a polished knife blade once, and up came a real pretty copper color. HMMM, synthetic mokume gane?.......naah
   3dogs - Sunday, 02/26/06 04:40:10 EST

Making a Hardy, and tongs: The number one rule to making most shanked tools is to start large and work down, NOT to upset.

A cheat is to start with a piece of rail-road rail. See You can make a hardy the same as the fuller.

Start by fullering the shoulder with a narrow fuller like the one shown in the iForge article above OR a piece of flat bar with a rounded edge. It does not take much distance from the end of the steel, maybe 1" at the shoulder. This will result in a 3" or longer shank. Work from each side starting but making well aligned. Then fuller and forge the taper for the chisel leaving about 1/4". Draw out the shank on a second heat fitting it to your hardy hole, then finish shaping the chisel and cut it off using a cold chisel (since I would assume you do not have a hardy at this time). The finished tool is ususaly fitted to the hardie hole and shoulder squared up in the anvil. Depending on the type of steel used you may need to harden and temper it. Some tool steels will be suficient as-forged. Do not grind to thin a edge on a hardy it will just get blunted sooner. About a 60° angled edge like a cold chisel holds up best.

Note that this is relatively heavy forging and would have been done in a shop with a striker (helper with a sledge) or a power hammer. Many smiths try to find parts that already have a shoulder and start there. Air hammer bits are often close.

Is you have become better at forge welding than heavy forging then you can forge weld a collar to a steel shank. This produces a narrow but serviceable hardie. When I make collars of this type I wrap and fit a square bar to the part to be collared and then saw it off flush to the first side after getting a good fit. On a 1" shank I would use 1/2" bar. The shoulder collar can be mild steel. After fitting the collar flux heavily. The weld to start is the corner butt joint in the collar. Bump it up gently then take another heat. The mild steel will take more heat than the tool steel so do not overheat. Rotate the work to heat the exposed collar more than the heavier shank. When the pieces are at welding heat work around the collar gently. This is one of the easiest forge welds to make as the joint is closed while heating and oxidizes less than loose pieces.

For the amount of work that goes into a hardie you are much better off purchasing one and putting your effort into making tongs. Although it is more efficient for professionals to purchase their tongs they are a good project for the amature smith. It does not require tongs to make tongs. . . However, it helps greatly to purchase at least ONE good pair so that you have an example to go by.
Many people make arc welded on shanked hardies but this is a hard use tool that needs to be better. Normally they have a shoulder of 1/4" or more all around so you want to start with a piece of steel 1/2" or more larger than your anvil's hardy hole. For making this type of tool it is best to work on a piece long enough to make more than one.

After you make about 6 pairs of tongs you will be getting good enough you want to thow away the first two or three. Make six more. Start by making light tongs for small work. I like the specialized little tongs I made for making hooks. Then make heavier tongs. The most useful of all tong shapes are the gooseneck bolt tong type. Tongs that fit around work are the easiest to use but you need many sizes or at least the sizes that fit the bar you work with (1/4", 3/8", 1/2"). There is no universal tong that covers all work but we all have our favorites.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/26/06 09:16:54 EST

Frank: My philosophy on hot cut hardys is they consist of two elements, the chisel point and the shaft. Don't need to be one solid unit. Don't need to have terribly strong connection as the force is downward, rather than sideways. As such one has the flexibility to add on the size shaft needed. Lately I have been getting requests for offset shafts to use on the Russian anvils.

This also allows the reuse of old tools. For example, not a lot of call anymore for large handled cutters. I can cut off the point and make a hot cut hardy out of it. I can then weld on a plate to the remaining part of the head and it becomes a flatter. Two useable tools out of one with very limited usage. Some might call this tool desecration, but I have little use for 'wall hangers'.

On tongs, I have hand-forged out one pair. My first and last.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/26/06 09:37:07 EST

I wasn't giving a critique. I was giving you a plug, and I was offering my own hardy making experience. To each his own.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/26/06 10:11:27 EST

Ellen, Ken ain't no spring chicken anymore. I THINK he is 65. Starting to work towards retiring, I guess. He has even asked me if I wanted to buy his buisiness. Heck of a nice guy, and very talented. Glad to call him a friend.
   Bob H - Sunday, 02/26/06 11:59:32 EST

Couple of questions here. I work with 3,2 and 1.75lb hammers mostly and have a 100lb Vulcan anvil. How much more effective would my hammeing be if I got a larger anvil? I know the recommended ratio is 100:1, but considering the cost of a 300lb anvil, would I get much benefit from making a weighted base for my present anvil using lead and cement?
   Thumper - Sunday, 02/26/06 12:28:02 EST

Hacksaws in the 1850's?
I've been lucky enough to land a contract as a blacksmith in an historic fur trade fort which re-enacts the fur trade area of 1820's to 1860's. Does anyone know the history behind the hacksaw? When did it start and was it around in that time period?

Thank You
   Louis - Sunday, 02/26/06 12:29:47 EST

Thumper, I would estimate that your hammers are at the limit of what is normally used by hand. Unless you are a gorilla. I did discover that my 167# anvil was a big improvement over my 110# anvil.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/26/06 12:38:54 EST

3Dogs, that was probably cupric chloride or maybe copper sulfate (I guess the latter). That copper color WAS copper. It plated out of the solution onto the blade. That is called electroless plating, meaning no electrical power was used to drive the reaction.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/26/06 12:43:14 EST

Bob H, Ken is a tremendous asset to this site, willing to share his knowledge. Heck, 65 is young, my anvil is around 100 years and still working just fine. I have some rifles over 150 years old and they too work just fine.
   Ellen - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:10:30 EST

In addition to the previous question regarding hacksaws, I would like to know if anyone knows the history behind the post drill. Bealer's book seems to indicate that it came around the 1870's but it seems a little ambiguous. Does anyone know?
   Louis - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:20:32 EST

Louis. Hacksaws.

I have not done extensive research on this, but yes, they had hacksaws, or at least metal cutting saws, during that period. They may not have had the same conformation as the current hacksaw. "With Hammer in Hand" by Hummel shows four metal cutting saws. One is a small wooden frame saw, the type with a winding stick. It's overall length is 10 3/8". The blade is of your period and was made by Worrall & Co., in N.Y. Two iron framed saws with handles extending in the same direction as the frame back, each between 7 and 8" long. There is also one adjustible length saw, 11 3/4" in length, what we presently term a "jeweler's saw", and looking much like our contemporary ones.

The shape of the metal framed saw with extended handle, especially in Europe, dates at least back to the 16th century. However, many of this sort were used for butchering, pruning, and surgery.

Ref: "Decorative Antique Ironwork, d'Allemagne
"Antique Tools and Instruments" Laura Maggioni, editorial coordinator
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:33:17 EST


I can tell the difference between my 84lb Mousehole, my 150lb Haybudden, and my 200lb Fisher. Bigger is Better! I recently took a piece of stock that was 1 1/2" by 1" and whatever long. I worked it down to square, to make it fit the large hardy hole on my Fisher. I worked this stock ON the Fisher. I would not have been able to work it as efficiently on my 150lb anvil. However, Your Mileage May Vary.
   Bob H - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:35:52 EST

There was a hacksaw included within the Mastermyr find. Which was dated around 1050-1100 AD.
We at the Fort I occasionally volunteer had hacksaws as part of our inventory ( was a HBC trading post 1825-1847ish) which if the drawings we correct look the same basic style we have today.
   Ralph - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:48:07 EST

Ellen: Two different Kens going on. I am Ken Scharabok of Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools. The other is Ken Mankel of Mankle's Farrier Supplies (or a similar business name) located out of Michigan.

Thumper: Hammer/anvil ratio is 50/1. IMHO a 200 LB anvil would about max out what can get done by hand. Those over that weight were often in commercial shops utilizing a striker. I suspect that is why you often see a saddle in anvils in the 150-200 LB range - they were being used with a striker when a heavier anvil was called for. I simply can't envision someone putting in a saddle by arm alone.

I started on a 100 lB Fisher and upgraded to a 160 LB Fisher. Really noticed the difference in the mass under the work.

I suspect an anvil in the 160-180 LB or so range should be quite adequate for you. However, there have recently been several Peter Wrights over 300 LBs listed on eBay. A couple of other Big Boys listed also. Latest one appears to be a German Trenton. Price might be right if you can do a direct pick up. Freight would be a killer.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/26/06 13:54:07 EST

Hello to the Guru or Gurus

If I were to form my own u-bolts with 3/8 carbon steel rod.. What would be the proper way to temper them?...say for use with a boat trailer. I would just go out and buy them but ..just wondering since i can't find the right bolt for what I want to do. I would be using a torch to bend them in the jig I made.... Make no mistakes, I am not a blacksmith I am just looking to finish the project that I started.

Chuck in Omaha
   Chuck in Omaha - Sunday, 02/26/06 14:01:07 EST

I am a new blacksmith and hunting for a parts list and a diagram of a champion 400 hand crank blower can anybody help?
   Terry - Sunday, 02/26/06 14:40:33 EST

Quenchcrack....I'm definitely maxed on my hammers (2# rounding being my favorite), 6' 175 and 57 yrs old, no gorilla here, just a die-hard youngster-wannabe!! Bob, 3 anvils? I'm droolin' here!! Ken, thanks for the correction on ratios, I've seen the PW anvils etc, but no one is selling within a reasonable traveling distance of home(at 14mpg it limits the circle somewhat). Still, would like to know if weighting the base would help some till the right anvil lands in my backyard. Thanks, all.
   Thumper - Sunday, 02/26/06 15:09:58 EST

Ken, well I didn't know Mr. Mankel's first name and I couldn't quite understand Bob's post, but I didn't want you to take offense, so.......thanks for clearing the mystery up.

Thumper, I have a 200# Hay Budden in my shop, and also a 75# Cliff Carroll. The 75# anvil is mobile for me. I can put it in my truck and take it with me to a workshop, demo, etc. I did get the steel stand that Mr. Carroll makes for his anvils and the anvil clamps quite securely to that, and I notice a difference in using the anvil between when it is free to bounce and when it is clamped to a heavier stand. YMMV.

Well, the Hofi hammer which I bought a few weeks ago, and which I love, weighs 2.80 # (1.1K). I slide up the handle a bit for some work and slide down the handle for heavier, slower blows. Works for me and I'm not 6' or 175#......grin!
   Ellen - Sunday, 02/26/06 16:00:34 EST

Re: U-Bolts Be a little more specific. Exactly what is the rod? where did it come from? Are the U-bolts to be used to hold the axle to the springs? The hitch to the tounge? Exactly what, and what is the size and application of the trailer?
   - John Odom - Sunday, 02/26/06 17:04:41 EST

I built a spring helve or "Rusty" type hammer. It is a 34-pound version, runs at 180 blows per minute and uses a 1 HP motor. It works OK on stock up to 1 inch square or 1.5 inch dia. Certainly a lot easier than by hand. The anvil is 250 lb, but I later mounted it on a heavy base-plate ( 300 lb) and that really helped. Whatever you build, get the largest dia shaft you can for an anvil. It took quite a bit of messing around with various spring sizes and speeds to get it to run well. I have about 1/2 inch of "daylight" beween the dies at rest, and I would have liked a larger gap, but that needs more limber springs and that in turn means it has to run slower... so it is a bit of a compromise. The slack-belt clutch gives good control. I used ball bearing pillow blocks for several of the shafts and I used UHMW Poly for the ram guides. For more ideas and dimensions Google "Krusty" power hammer made by a bladesmith in Switzerland...he has some good CAD drawings.

My next project is an air hammer of similar weight. Not that I need one, but just to compare how effective that would be.

If I was going to do it all over again, I would probably build the NC Junk-yard hammer that uses the compact spare tire and friction-drive clutch. It has toggle links like a Little Giant and I think that may be a little more foregiving with respect to the die clearance. It also takes up less floor-spave. I had half the parts for one of those, until someone stole my entire scap pile while I was working out of town.

There are others on this website that have provided lots of good input on this subject over the past year. Just search the archives. Good Luck
   DonS - Sunday, 02/26/06 17:12:16 EST


No,no,no. I don't have THREE anvils. I have Five! Just didn't mention the 118lb Peter Wright or the 70lb cast iron one. :]

Ellen, didn't mean to confuse you about Ken Mankel. Heck, I confuse myself enough as it is.
   Bob H - Sunday, 02/26/06 17:16:24 EST

Let me rephrase my question. I have two sets of air schematics. One has a Solenoid valve with 4 ports and an inlet Two of them go to a 3way valve that I guess is an exhaust.It looks like there is an electric switch that goes to the air in and 4way. The other is the Birmingham ABANA modification with a large valve that has 3inlets, 2 outlets, an exhaust, a regulator and flow control valve. There is what I take to be a control switch marked 4 way limit. 1. Is the more complicated B'ham design enough better to warrant the additional plumbing? 2. What does it all mean? What do the various valves do? I will be happy for an online explanation if possible or direction to a web site that would help.
   John W - Sunday, 02/26/06 17:20:09 EST

I just picked up a Candey Otto Royal H Western Chief blower. Out of curiosity does anyone know what their original colour was?? Cleaning it up there are traces of red paint inside and out. It seeme to be all original as well. The bolts are all the same size, the handle looks to be original, crank handle with a counter balancing iron ball on the opposite end, tin fan fins and all metal gears.
I am pretty sure I got it for a good price - 150.00 CDN$.

Brian Scott - Ottawa/Canada
   Brian Scott - Sunday, 02/26/06 18:02:13 EST

Brian Scott
I have the same blower and found traces of deep red paint as well. We have what is supposed to be the Rolls Royce of hand crank blowers. I did have to make a stand for mine, and clean the mud dauber nests from the fan. Cleaned out the oil case with a bit of kerosene, and filled with ATF. Runs like a chief. I gave $50 USD about 4 years ago.
   - ptree - Sunday, 02/26/06 19:08:42 EST

There was a hacksaw in the Mastermyr find but it might have been for non-ferrous use. I just did a fast scan of "Mechanick Exercises" published in 1703 and did not notice any use of a hacksaw in it---a lot of chiseling and filing. My take on it would be that there most likely would be one but it's use would be limited as a chisel is a lot cheaper and easier to make!

As for the post drill Moxon shows a bow drill as a required piece of equipment and uses a spade bit. If you look through "Practical Blacksmithing", Richardson" from the late 1880's/ early 1890's you will see several ingeneous drill mechanisms that do not require a post drill. It seems to me that the post drill would more likely date to the massive explosion of cast iron stuff *after* the American Civil War.

I worked as a whitesmith today and filed the entire surface of the hawk I forged out of a ballpein hamer head yesterday---I did remove the scale first to protect my files though---I was using an old black diamond file that is very likey 50 years old or more. Time to go normalize it one last time and then on to hardening and tempering!

   Thomas P - Sunday, 02/26/06 19:18:02 EST

My reprint of Russell and Erwins 1865 hardware catalogue, ISBN 0-920476-05-8, has hacksaws listed on page 166. They also have a post drill on page 243, but it looks nothing like what we (or I) think of for that term
   JimG - Sunday, 02/26/06 19:47:22 EST

Louis: Take a look at the hacksaw on eBay as #6257621331. Might pass for the period.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/26/06 20:22:23 EST

Is the blower on a pipe legged stand that says TIGER at the top?
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/26/06 21:51:16 EST

John W,

There are two basic shemes for air flow in a DIY powewrhammer; the original Kinyon circuit, and the modified circuit designed by Mark Linn. The Kinyon circuit is what I am using on my hammer, and it works okay, but I have used hammers with the Mark Linn circuit (also called the AFC circuit after the Alabama Forge Council) and they have superior control. I need to acquire a couple of different parts and I will be changing mine to the AFC circuit someday.

AFC used to have a good diagram and description of Mark Linn's circuit on their website, but it was not there the last time I looked. I don't know why it is not there. Larry Zoeller uses that circuit on his air hammer, and would probably be happy to give you a diagram if you ask. Google for Zoeller Forge.

Basically, the KInyon circuit is a counter-intuitive method of driving the hammer. Took me a while to get my head around the concept. The 4-way valve (also called a 5-way at times), is what changes the direction of travel. The hammer is controlled by allowing air to exhaust from the circuit, rather than controlling the intake air. In other words, the whole system is pressurized and at balance until you open the exhaust valve, which "unbalances" the system and lets things move.

The 4-way valve has air supplied to both circuits, and the moving shuttle inside it determines which side gets the air out. The shuttle (also called a spool), is moved by the pilot air circuit; a bit of air to one side of it and it opens one main circuit, put the air to the other side and it closes that circuit and opens the other one. The key to the thing is that there is a spring return in the 4-way valve, on one side. What that does is this: when the pressures on the two sides are in balance, the spring pushes the spool to one side. That side is the circuit which raises the hammer head. This is what makes the hammer able to "sense" when the tup has contacted the work and stopped moving. When the tup stops moving, the pressures on the two sides hit equilibrium and the spring takes over, supplying all the air to the side that raises the tup.

A roller valve, (the pneumatic equivalent of a SPDT microswitch), controls the small pilot-air circuit that moves the main 4-way spool opposite the spring. When the tup is up, it trips the roller valve, which in turn supplies air to the pilot circuit of the 4-way valve that makes the hammer head go down. When the tup goes down far enough to release the roller valve, the spool stays in the same position until the tup stops, when the spring takes over. And so it all starts over again.

The Kinyon circuit is really an elegantly simple, totally counter-intuitive air management system; it depends on the spring in the 4-way and on controlling the air by opening and colosing the exhaust in order to achieve a balanced system that allows the spring spool to work. It DOES work just fine, but lacks some of the very fine control that air hammers CAN have, because the exhaust valve is a ball valve with notoriously non-linear flow characteristics. Also, pneumatic cylinders have different swept volumes on different sides of the piston, because of the rod diameter decreasing the volume of the bottom side. Which is unfortunate, because you need more force to raise the tup than to lower it; exactly the opposite of how a cylinder normally operates. This also results in unbalanced forces when the cylinder is at "equilibrium" in the Kinyon circuit.

The Mark Linn/AFC circuit overcomes that imbalance by using a separate regulator for each side of the cylinder, to balance pressures better, and uses the pilot air circuits to better advantage as well. From my experience using the two circuit types, the Mark Linn circuit is definitely worth the extra parts and trouble.

I hope I haven't served to make this even more confusing than it already is; it took me a lot of head-scratching to even begin tu understand the KInyon circuit, much less the Linn circuit.

   vicopper - Sunday, 02/26/06 21:56:13 EST

Frank - the stand is a single pipe leg post attached to a bell like base which is 16 inches across at the bottom. The blower attaches to the stand with a matching round "plates" which are 4 inches across. The round flange like plate that attaches to the matching round plate on the stand is cast as part of one cover of the blower housing - the opposite side to where the gear housing and crank handle are. The bolt that holds the blower to the stand fits like a skin tight calf skin glove. No there are no words on the stand. Just below where the stand and blower meet are four vertical oval holes two inches long and one inch wide. The edges of the holes are raised and are part of the casting of the leg stand. Is the word cast on the stand in raised letters or is it incised?? I have not yet cleaned the stand and it is pretty dirty and covered with a good coat of oil and dust.
The gears on the inside are marked "No A" on the gear itself and "No 2" and "No 3" on the gear housing. No serial numbers that I can detect so far.

Ottawa - Canada
   Brian Scott - Sunday, 02/26/06 22:21:05 EST

re: Hacksaw - There is one in the Mastermeyr book as noted and as elucidated on by Thomas. I just did a quick check Of Diderot's Trades & Industries, Vol 1 (lat 18th century French publication)and did not run across a hacksaw. Doesn't mean they didn't exist, just not documented in that publication.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 02/26/06 22:29:01 EST

Thanks Vi. Stay warm.
   John W - Sunday, 02/26/06 22:52:09 EST

Vi, I have a copy of both of the circuits. I spent the eveing googling and finally found them both and will be happy to forward them by email to anyone who needs them.
   John W - Sunday, 02/26/06 22:57:06 EST

Air Hammer: I found a really nice set of pictures and the site even has a parts list. After studying this and the Mark Linn schematic it makes sense. The details, like filters, oilers and mufflers along with the technique of plumbing is not covered and you still have to find out what the proportions neede for the weight of the tup. I mean what the weight of the frame, cfpm of air and all. http://magichammer.freeservers.com/
   John W - Sunday, 02/26/06 23:21:35 EST

Dear Guru, I am into jewelry making and want to know the difference between metalsmithing and blacksmithing. I am looking into classes, but don't know which would suit me better.
   Jennifer - Sunday, 02/26/06 23:31:06 EST

Reading here the recent chatter of a Canady-Otto blower, Promped me to wonder...
I have a Buffalo "Climax" blower, Its it has no counterweight ball at the short end of its crankarm, My friend has a Champion 400, it has the ball.
Since I finally de-gunked my gearcase, My Buffalo runs and coasts like silk, I would say equal to the Champion(what is marvel of quality, Greased cup shafts and all).

So the question is, Is the counterweight ball really all that important?
   - Håkan - Monday, 02/27/06 00:37:58 EST

OMAHA CHUCK; If you have to ask, you shouldn't be making your own suspension parts. If you really value your boat, go to a spring shop or a trailer parts supplier. Check the Yellow Pages; Coleman Camper Supply comes to my mind right off the bat. They're really not all that expensive, especially compared to a destroyed boat, or a lawsuit from the guy in the other lane, etc,etc.
   3dogs - Monday, 02/27/06 03:03:12 EST


A blacksmith forges ferrous metal.

Nowadays, the term "metalsmith" can be all inclusive, at least at one college campus. At Southern Illinois University Carbondale, one can major in metalsmithing in order to work with fine metals AND ferrous metals. On other campuses, metalsmithing may refer to jewelry, fine metal fabrication (construction), and raising.

Technically, I understand that "smithing" is not a proper English word, that it should be "smithery" or somesuch. No matter. No one is going to go around saying that they majored in metalsmithery.


That counterpoise ball may help a little on the blower. On one of my Buffalo blowers, I didn't have a crankarm, handle, or ball, so just in case, I forged a tight scroll (a jellyroll) as a substitute for the weight. In the event that you do put a weight on, then you might experiment with sliding and fixing the arm in different positions with the set screw. That definitely changes the amount of throw that YOUR arm gives the crank. Do you have a "Buffalo 200"?

   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/27/06 07:04:12 EST

Follow-on to brake drum forge pan. Via another forum someone in a similiar position was guided through construction. Received report once going it will burn through a 1/4" rod placed across it in about one-minute. That's a pretty good heat output clearly showing it reaches above forge welding temperature.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 02/27/06 07:45:57 EST

Hacksaw History: Louis, Making saws blades has been a specialty for a VERY long time. Ancient Greeks used various saws made of bronze and iron (see illustration of Greek metalworking shop in Blacksmiths and Farrier Tools in the Shelburne Museum. A catalog of Tools For Watch and Clock Makers, by John Wyke of Liverpool, ~1760 reprinted 1978 by The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum includes no less than 3 types of saws in various sizes. The "hack saw" of the period used blades that looked like modern 1/2" blades and frames accepted blades as short as about 6" and as long as the modern 12" (10 and 12" are made today). Except for some decoration the saw was similar to a modern fixed length frame except for the handle being in-line with the blade and being turned wood. The catalog also included a selection of jewelers saws and a saw half way between a jeweler's and a hacksaw. Steel blades very similar to modern ones were available for these. I suspect they were available from the same specialty makers that make jewelers' saw blades today.

By the mid 1800's many tools were starting to look like those made today and in fact most did not change for over 100 years.

At the turn of the 20th Century hack saws were the same shape as those of the 18th century with the exception of the loss of decoration. The handles were still in-line with the blade and turned wood. Sizes were 8,9,10 and 12".

It is only in the last third of the 20th century that artists were hired to give tools a new style and plastic handles become common. Any old hacksaw you find with wooden grips would be suitable for the period from 1850 to 1960.

The saw Ken refered to on ebay is the right style.

Remember, that if you want to be REALLY authentic you MUST use plain carbon steel, files, saw blades and drill bits. . . those miserable things that were all that was available before High Speed Steel and specialty alloy cutter steels. ;)
   - guru - Monday, 02/27/06 11:39:36 EST

Brake Drum.

I was just thinking (and it hurt). Couldn't a guy put a hearth around the brake drum tuyere-iron in order to hold coal and fire tools? It could be square, round, or rectangular.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/27/06 11:42:11 EST

I built a brake drum forge. And I can tell you it works just fine. Only thing I would recommend it to line it with either a refractory cement or furnace cement, in such a way as to create an upside down volcano. Basically, this is just a funnel that allows the coal on top to slide to the bottom. Otherwise, the odd shape of the unlined brakedrum causes a buildup of coke that doesn't funnel to to the bottom. Not as efficient.
   Bob H - Monday, 02/27/06 11:49:27 EST

Brake Drum Forge Controversy:

This is simple, the one we show in our plans has been made by thousands of newbies as a starter forge and it WORKS. There is one article on the web that claims nobody with sense would build one. *I* built one and it worked fine. Maybe the author of the article couldn't make his work. . . They ARE limited but they are cheap to build. However if you vary too much from the plan ten you are on your own.

If you go it on your own FINE. There are hundreds of ways to build things from the dregs of modern society. But do not repeatedly ask if this that and the other will work. TRY IT. DO IT. If you want a sure thing buy a NEW thousand dollar coal forge. If you want a plan that works we have one with several variations. If you want to go it on your own then do so. We have all given our last and best advice on this subject.

The most important point is to be sure you have good fuel available OR are willing to order it and pay shipping. A $12-$15 bag will last one to two days. The second most important thing is to be sure your neighbors are not going to complain. These two items are the best reason for building a low cost forge. To test the available fuel AND your neighbors.
   - guru - Monday, 02/27/06 11:50:05 EST

Suspension U-bolts: Those that I have worked with were high strength steel and had high strength rolled threads larger than the bolt body. This is an engineered component. They are NOT like an exhust U bolt. They are a critical part that is too easy to buy. As 3dogs said, if you have to ask you should not be making them.

   - guru - Monday, 02/27/06 11:55:02 EST

Frank, I built mine with about an 18" X 30" top to hold coal, and hung a tool bar off the end to hold my tongs. I made mine with gas pipe for the legs, that screwed into pipe flanges welded to the top. Nice portable break down forge for demo's.
   Bob H - Monday, 02/27/06 11:55:05 EST

Adding space around a brake drum forge: Frank, this addresses the major problem of not having a coal reserve space. There are folks that build "table" forges that are nothing but a flat surface with the tuyeer attached and no fire pot. Works for them. . .

The problem I have with adding a table to a brake drum forge is that now you are investing more time and possibly money into what started as a cheap and dirty expiedient. Plate has gotten hard enough to come by and is expensive enough new that if you are going to go to the trouble I think it is time to buy a real fire pot to put into the plate.

   - guru - Monday, 02/27/06 11:59:55 EST

Going along with what the Guru said, someone who says these things don't work may not have been doing things right. I am amazed at how some smiths that are so much better than I, that have such a hard time getting a coal fire going. Right there is the reason why some people may put down a brake drum forge or a coal forge. As for me, heck, I am the FIREMAN! I start fires with flint and steel, a bow drill, magnifying glass, fire piston, car lighter, etc. So lighting a coal fire and getting it to forging heat quickly is no problem for me. But it does amuse me to see others have such a problem with it.
   Bob H - Monday, 02/27/06 12:00:40 EST

Excuse me for butting in on the brake drum forge. My first forge was a brake drum with 3 inch pipe. I first piled up a bunch of bricks to hold it then later made a square brick wall about 2ft high, and about 3ft on a side, then put my brake drum in it and filled it with dirt and rocks. the air pipe came out the side. there was no way to empty the ash but the holes in the pipecap were too small to let anything in anyway. Later on I poured on a bunch of the sackcrete that is advertised as VERY hard onto the top and sloped it down to the brake drum about one brick slope in 1 1/2 feet. The top of the drum was about one course of bricks lower than the edge of the table. It worked pretty well. cost? about ten bucks for a coupla of bags of cement, some scrounged bricks, dirt , brake drum (actually a car drum not a truck) 2 one foot 3inch pipe nipples, a end cap with holes made by an angle grinder, one elbow. Maybe $20 all together.
   John W - Monday, 02/27/06 12:21:19 EST

I've seen brake drum forges the brake drum is recessed in to the end of an 55 gal drum as well one built into the top of a clothes dryer. Both leaving the forge table a little too tall for my preference, But would be an easy fix if the shop floor is dirt...
   - Mike - Monday, 02/27/06 13:26:46 EST

Brakedrum Forges:

"However if you vary too much from the plan ten you are on your own."

Guru, be careful! Nobody's supposed to know about "plan ten"! ;-)

Brake drums are a luxury, try starting off with some chunks of 2" pipe, a wooden box, a cast iron grill to keep the coal from falling down the pipe, Play-Dough to seal the ash dump cap, some bricks and a lot of dirt. It didn't work very well, but it worked.

Foe Y1K you sometimes just start out with a hole in the dirt and a pair of bellows.

Brakedrums are a good and sturdy beginners start, and make reasonable firepots for starter forges. I've even seen (literally) kitchen sinks presed into service. At least the price is right.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/27/06 14:17:57 EST

If these folks don't know the difference between a brake drum and a tire rim, I'm not going to let any of them help me change my tire.

I have seen tire rims pressed into service, but plugging all of the little holes gets ugly, the thinner metal heats nmore quickly, and most I ever dealt with were too big for a firepot and too small for a regular forge.

The point is, that a lot of stuff will work, but some stuff tends to work better than others. You have to trim your sails according to the wind and where you want to go.

"The multiplicity of methods of skinning a cat is of small comfort to the feline involved." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/27/06 14:25:34 EST

You are referring to Plan Ten from Area 51, aren't you, Cap'n Atli? (We're Doomed)
   3dogs - Monday, 02/27/06 15:09:50 EST

Could you please tell me how you are suposed to heat stainless steel in order to forge it?
   - Ben - Monday, 02/27/06 16:16:03 EST

You heat stainless steel the same way you heat mild steel- in a forge, either gas or coal.
It needs to get nice and yellow orange before you try and forge it, as it is hard stuff, even when its red.
You dont have to worry about it scaling, though, as it doesnt, much.

We are forging a bunch of stainless today- the shop is nice and toasty as a result.
   - Ries - Monday, 02/27/06 16:55:21 EST

Does anyone have any experiance with or is familiar with the ENCO or Grizzly 12" lathes. I'm sure they're off shore probably Chinese now but some of their stuff is getting better. They list for about $2200. They say hardened and ground cast iron ways. I can see ground but HARDENED? Thanks...Bob
   bob - Monday, 02/27/06 16:59:58 EST

Hi Ben,
I dont do alot of stainless, But when I do, Simply heat in the coal fire like everything else.
I find it does need to be worked hotter than ordinary mild steel.
Be aware, After you are done, The very surface will be blackened and the stainless piece will no longer have stainless properties and then minor rust spots will show up (unless its given a passivating treatment) But its still "stainless" in that it wont continue rusting away.
   - Håkan - Monday, 02/27/06 17:02:37 EST

Guru/Hacksaw History
Very interesting
To this day I very much Fancy Guru's forged hacksaw.
   - Burnt Forge - Monday, 02/27/06 17:07:05 EST

Gurus: A question on the disposal of older propane tanks.
I have an older propane tank, with the seam running around the middle. It started leaking at the valve, and I took it off line and it has set around for several years. Yesterday i took the valve off, and turned it upside down to 'drain'. I would like to cut the top off, but wonder if this is stupid. It would make a nice slack tub or holder for mid size stock. Is it feasable, do I have to cut it underwater? shall I just fling it over the rimrock? Will scrap yards want it? I have abrAsive cutters, torches and bandsaws. Thanks
   - Tim in Orygun - Monday, 02/27/06 19:41:17 EST

Cutting Propane cylinder,,
You will hear alot of negative answers for that, So I will also just say dont do it.
But if you want a slacktub, My favourite is the ½ wooden wine barrel they sell at all the landscape centers. They dont rust and resilient wood is quieter when they get banged around.
   - Håkan - Monday, 02/27/06 19:58:26 EST

Enco and Grizzly lathes are indeed made in china.
My policy when buying asian import tools, which is based on 20 years of hard shop use, is that I only buy from Jet. This is because anything else I bought didnt work to begin with, or broke pretty quick. Jet stocks parts for most of their tools, has techs you can talk to on the phone who know the tools and speak english, and stands behind their tools.
Grizzly is similar- they also stock parts, and will back their tools. I just havent had good luck with Grizzly like I have with Jet- so I spend a few bucks more, and I have been happy.
I would steer clear of Enco, Harbor Freight, and other companies that sell cheapo tools along with misc. hardware.
With any asian tool, you should buy the best one they make. I would not buy a $2200 Grizzly- I have been to their showroom and if you buy their best lathe, at twice the price or more, you stand a chance of getting a decent tool- but the bottom end models are just that- bottom end.
I have a Jet ZX series lathe, and it is a good quality machine- of course, the list price on it is over 14 thousand dollars... But then, a new Hardinge HVLH lathe, also about 12", is somewhere around $50,000, if they will still make you one.

As for hardened cast iron- it is a technique that has been used on lathe ways for well over 50 years. Flame hardening is perfectly possible with high quality iron of the proper alloy. South Bend lathes, made in the USA since 1900 or so, featured flame hardened cast iron ways.

To do it properly you need pretty good quality control in your foundry, and in your flame hardening dept. I would believe it in a better Jet lathe from Taiwan- I would be dubious in a $2200 chinese lathe.
   - Ries - Monday, 02/27/06 20:06:07 EST

Tim, I've cut propane cylinders. After thoroughy soaking them and rinsing them out. BUT, I only drilled a hole in it big enought to insert the blade of my jigsaw. Less chance of any sparks, tho I believe that issue is past when it has been cleaned properly. Torches should not be used, as there is always some unburned gas that can builup inside the tank.

Also, I'm with Ellen. The Lady has a point.
   Bob H - Monday, 02/27/06 22:13:48 EST

Import Tools: My dad was a big fan of Enco and outfitted our entire shop with their stuff. Some worked, some did not. The Tiawan (not mainland China) Bridgeport clone mills worked quite well. The Tiawan "Kinston" 16" lathe was an OK machine.

The Enco "Mill Drill" cost us more money than it was worth to get operational (did not work from the factory) and was a huge money loser when sold. I can list a dozen items the shop fixed before the machine would run, then it was almost never used because it was such a lousy machine. My antique flat belt drive Royersford drill press was the prefered hole making machin in the shop. Enco said would take back the machine if we paid for shipping to New York (a second time). We lost about $2000 on a machine that cost $1500 new. . .

The Kingstone Lathe ($10,000) had a non-standard control transformer which failed, was not available and required me to modify a slightly under capacity off the shelf transformer to fit into the much too small cast cubby hole that was designed to fit around the original transformer. This was a good machine but the electrics are a maintanence headache. Before replacing the transformer they had me looking at the motor. It was a non-standard special as well and also not available from the importer. YOU deal directly with the factory. Hope your Chinese is good. . .

There were also assorted small (expensive) tools that never worked out of the box. Buying these things NEW is just as big a gamble as buying used old American made tools sight unseen at an auction.

The good tools that have come out of Southeast Asia were exact copies of American designs OR were Japanese engineered. The stuff I've seen that was designed for the low dollar market was done so by people with absolutely NO experience in mechanical design and not proven by the manufacturer. Buy at your own risk.
   - guru - Monday, 02/27/06 22:26:14 EST

BRAKE DRUM FORGES: The point is YOU need to go build a cheap & dirty forge, if it doesn't work on the first try modify it 'till it works, then play with some hot steel. Don't try to make it elegant, build the NEXT one better. All it boils down to is something to confine the coal and a way to blow air into the fire. it can be as simple as a pile of packed dirt, and pipe or hollow steel broom handle with an old hair dryer duct taped to the end. You WILL need some good coal or charcoal however. JUST DO IT !!!
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/27/06 23:03:42 EST

I have a tractor and auger that I'm using to drill holes for fence posts. Well with the rock I'm in it's extremely slow at best and generally near impossible. The auger has a bit with replaceable blades on each side but these blades are pretty worn and don't seem to cut rock (north Texas Limestone)very well. I would like to make some blades, rock teeth or something similar to replace whats on there.
What kind of metal and or design would you suggest?
The current cutting plates are about 2.5" wide, 3" long and 3/16" thick. I was thinking about using 3/8" thick steel sharpening and notching the ends to make them more like teeth instead of blades then heat treating them for hardness.
I've read the heat treating FAQ but am unsure as to what exact procedures I should follow.
A little background;
I have a lot of experience at welding but not much technical knowledge in the profession. I understand the general aspects of hardening and tempering but have never actually done it myself.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
   Louis - Monday, 02/27/06 23:17:24 EST

Hello! I was wondering if the Chrome Vanadium adjustable wrenches I bought for twisting hot metal were safe to use, what with heavy metal poisoning and all...Thanks a bunch for the help!
   JL - Monday, 02/27/06 23:45:47 EST

Now for something completely different...

One of our crew, Lydia, has presented me with a problem. She has a set of nice stainless steel measuring cups, and the 1/2 cup size has had the handle come adrift. Examination shows three very small spot welds attached the handle to the cup.

Now, my first instinct, as a YIK certified blacksmith ("Crude, but Effective") is to just drill and rivet with a nice, neat stainless steel or monel rivet (depending upon the local marine supply). My second impulse is 95/5 tin solder, or silver bearing solder. Somehow, I suspect the adhesion with stainless steel might be disappointing, and the next feast ruined when half-a-cup of some stray ingredient gets dropped in the stew.

Alas, she trust me to do something competent (besides asking if she still had the purchase receipt) so I'm open to suggestions.

Chance of snow onthe banks of the lower Potomac.

Vist your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Never talk about Plan Ten: http://www.fas.org/irp/overhead/groom.htm
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/27/06 23:52:24 EST

Bruce, you probably have a lot of experience with riveting, so I would say that'd be a good way to go. Passivate in hot citric acid on the stove. However, what I'd probably do is nip off and get some stainless flux -- fluorspar or similar -- and solder it back together, as you say, and then passivate. My $0.02.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 02/28/06 00:52:02 EST


If it's Cr/V steel, it's probably 6150, which would have about 1% Cr and 0.15% V, not enough to do any harm. It is forgable and heat treatable. Hot work steel such as H13 have Cr and V, and they are designed to contact and cut hot steel. I don't think anybody's keeling over.

I prefer monkey wrenches for twisting because of the right angle of the jaws. I weld another handle on for even leverage. I radius the jaw corners, so there is less damage to the corners of the twisted stock where the wrench is placed.

Cadmium coatings are noxious if heated and vaporized. Burning zinc, as on galvanized metal, is also not good.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/28/06 01:21:40 EST

Thanks a lot,sir!
   JL - Tuesday, 02/28/06 01:25:36 EST

Louis: As a weldor You may try to build up the edges with a hard surface rod. This is commonly done in mining, excavating and rock crushing equiptment. The hardsurface electrodes/wire is probably easier to obtain than a suitable steel alloy, and You dont have to manufacture and heat treat it.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/28/06 01:51:39 EST

Bruce: One thing I would definately NOT try is brazing. Silver solder or soft solder with the apropriate flux is OK. The rivets from the marine store will probably be "POP" rivets, work fine, but look stupid. You can probably get a stainless nail and make a nice rivet out of it.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/28/06 02:00:39 EST

Enco etc. I liked that "Free freight when a check is sent with Your order"from Enco also, but I used MSC more. My MSC Bridgeport clone is OK. I did get some smaller tooling that was poor. Some time ago I posted the story about My Kent surface grinder, It is a darn good thing it came from a "real" machinery dealer, as the first one had to go back, at the dealers expense. Kent brand like Jet brand were some of the better Tiawan made machines of the day, but they werent all perfect.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/28/06 02:23:49 EST

The casting that holds drum on a cement mixer is broken. Cast iron is aprox. 3" square, hollow and aprox. 3/8" thick. How do I repair it?
   Herb - Tuesday, 02/28/06 06:55:14 EST

Bob: At one time chilled cast iron was a manufacturing process fairly commonly used in plow shares. One of the big equipment manufacturers (Oliver, I believe) started out with them. I suspect once cast they would be rapidly cooled, which gave some degree of hardening. My understanding is also some anvils were similarly made. My guess is as soon as they could be removed from the molds/forms they would be quenched top down.

Curious though. Is perhaps the technique there, once the machining is done, it is heated and quenched? Perhaps the reverse?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/28/06 07:09:21 EST

anyone who gets a spare couple of mins this is worth a read... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

read down a bit you see about starting arguments within existing forum members etc etc. This is my first and last on the subject.
   John N - Tuesday, 02/28/06 07:34:14 EST

Canedy Otto forge blower. Frank - did you get a chance to see my last post in regard to your questions about the word "Tiger" on the stand post?? I am just curious if the blowers were originally painted red - inside and out. There are remnants of red paint on the outside cover and on the No 3 gear.

Brian Scott
   Brian Scott - Tuesday, 02/28/06 10:02:05 EST

I think this is a good time for ALL of us to re-read,(or to read)the guidelines that Jock has for this forum. They can be found at the top of this page, right where it says
"Please read the Guidelines before posting a question."
   JimG - Tuesday, 02/28/06 10:03:09 EST

Casting Repair: Herb, If the casting is cast iron then brazing or braze welding is best. If the casting is is one of the ductile irons it can be welded. However, if you do not know then brazing works on both.

If the part is greasy it will need to be cleaned. When brazing the entire part or most of it should be brought up to almost a red heat with an oxy-acetylene torch and the joint fluxed well. Then the joint is brought up to a low red and brass brazing rod melted in. Although a perfect braze joint should have flow and penetration like a good solder joint it often does not happen. When the braze joint is questionable a mass of braze is built up over the joint area where there is room to strengthen the part. The brass is roughly the same strength as the cast iron so a mass of nearly the same thickness will be as strong or stronger. I would go with about 1/4" thick 1 to 2" wide in your case.

After brazing let the part cool slowly. Clean, test fit and file or grind off excess braze that interfers then paint the part. The repaired part should hold up as well as the original.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 10:29:08 EST

Brian Scott,

Canedy Otto. Since many blowers have come and gone from my shop, I am finally getting more curious as to their conformational appearance and changes over time. My two Canedy Otto blowers do not have remnants of paint. One is rusty and the other is bare metal after the grease was removed. I asked about the stand, because my one blower has four curved pipe legs as part of the stand and has the raised cast letters TIGER and 990. It does have the 4" circular attachment plate as part of the upper casting. The fan case has raised letters: KEEP FILLED WITH OIL UP TO PLUG and C997. My other fan/gear case is the same, but without the numbers.

My style may be seen on www.cottonwoodforge.com; click on Products and Services.

The tapered conical stand with the wide, circular flange at the base that you described earlier was quite common with many manufacturers. They had the 4" attachment plate with the bolt hole. I think your stand is a replacement of the original four legged stand...unless Canedy changed the style of stand at some point.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/28/06 11:27:43 EST

"Chilled cast iron" is not quenched to chill it. The molds have special "chill plates" in them to remove the heat from the liquid cast iron fast making for iron carbides rather than graphite inclusions. Chilled cast iron sometimes called white cast iron is very hard and not easy to work with.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/28/06 11:48:06 EST

NOTE: I have edited out a bunch of posts and those that refer to them or those that would seem out of place due to the missing questions.

This is a forum for questions and answers. We generaly answer the most inane, bizarre and off topic questions you can imagine. But we do not put up with those that refuse to read or listen. There are folks here with decades of real life experiance that REALLY know things in some rare and very technical fields. It is a gross insult when you do not take their advise or argue with them in public.

We are also not your free shrink or place to vent your life problems. There are thousands of other forums on the web just for that. PLEASE make use of them.

anvilfire.com was not designed to be a replacement for BOOKS. There are more books available on our craft and metalworking in general than any other time in history. In the past 30 years there has been an explosion of publishing new titles as well as reprinting old ones. There is NO EXCUSE for not studying as many of these as possible if you are seriously interested in the craft. We have in depth reviews of many of these books and point to many of them in our introductory articles. Many of these books can be borrowed from your local library or through ILL for free. Some of the less popular titles are also available from local blacksmiths organizations, many of which have libraries and loan books to members. For a $30 membership you get access to thousands of dollars worth of books and videos.

Not taking advantage of these resources once you know about them as well as the thousands of pages we have on-line shows us that you really are not serious and are wasting our time.

No replies, apologies or comments please.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 11:54:03 EST

Thanks for the reply.
I had thought about using a hard surface rod but was unsure if it would be hard enough to cut through rock.
   Louis - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:09:31 EST

Thanks Thomas P.

I had already sent this information to Ken, it now being archived. My sources were:

"Iron and Steel" Hugh P. Tiemann, 1933
"The Making Shaping and Treating of Steel" United States Steel, 1971.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:16:12 EST

I work for a state department of transportation, and I get to see what they use for various earthmoving equipment cutting edges. From the factory, and for those with replaceable cutters, they use T-1 wear-resistant plate that bolts or welds to the edge. If the bolt holes are too screwed up to resuse, they do cap the edge with hardface rod. I'd use that in your application, and grind teeth and/or sharp edges into it. It will round over and wear away through use in rock, but it does work for limestone of the sort you're talking about. Put a fairly steep edge angle on it, something like 70 degrees, and it will last longer. Shallower edge angles tend to chip out.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:27:11 EST

Lathe Beds: One of the important steps the concerned manufacturer takes is to age their castings. After shake out and initial rough machining to check for flaws like sand inclusions they would let them set "out back" usualy in the weather for a year. This assured that any stresses in the CI had relieved themselves and the casting was ready to be precision machined and finished. High quality manufacturers still do this, others do not.

Thomas is correct about chilled iron. This was made with a heavy slab of iron in the mold as a "chill". It is unheard of today in iron and steel foundries. This is still common in non-ferrous casting to assure good dense metal in critical places that are to be drilled or machined. I've used air cooled chills in molds for casting zinc. The chill was a seperate piece of the CI mold and had an aluminium part with cooling fins attached. Cool air from a venturi nozzel was applied to the cooling fins while the rest of the mold was heated with a torch. Heat was needed to assure good flow but the chill was needed to produce dense metal and to force cooling at a thick boss first so that there was no shrinks in the casting. Oh the fun of foundry work. . .

Most old lathe beds were hand scraped CI and pretty soft. More modern machines use special alloy castings that increase toughness and wear resistance. Meehanite flake graphite types irons cast under very strict conditions is what the best machine tools are made of.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:31:43 EST

I have solved a similar situation with hard-facing rods. I don't remember the exact designation of the ones I used, they were given to me by the maintaince people at a quarry where they used them on the edges of loader buckets.

I have been told that the carbide containing rods are excellent for this service, but I have no personal experience.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:39:31 EST

Louis: I have solved a similar situation with hard-facing rods. I don't remember the exact designation of the ones I used, they were given to me by the maintaince people at a quarry where they used them on the edges of loader buckets.

I have been told that the carbide containing rods are excellent for this service, but I have no personal experience.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:42:13 EST

Lathe question: there is a chance I may be able to acquire a South Bend quick change lathe at a very reasonable price. What should I look for as to potential problems? I know little about lathes but would love to have one and learn.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:54:53 EST

What's the best welding flux, and where can I buy it?
   - Rob - Tuesday, 02/28/06 12:55:26 EST

Augers in Rock: I know little about drilling rock but it would seem to me that augers are for soil and rotted stone. In solid rock they would require tremondous feed pressure and torque to actually cut the rock. Otherwise you are just wearing the rock by scraping action that will rapidly wear steel. In these applications they use carbide tipped steel teeth. The teeth are often steel with a carbide core. As the carbide wears so does the steel but at a much slower rate than it would without the carbide tip.

I am not sure any kind of tooth will work without sufficient pressure and torque.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 13:04:30 EST

Follow up information on lathe: it is in a small home workshop so it has been indoors. Belongs to a retired machinist in bad shape so I can't ask him any questions. Looks good, not abused, and has a significant amount of tooling with it. Not sure of size, capacity, etc, but know it is a smaller lathe (haven't seen it for a couple of years).
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/28/06 13:08:17 EST

Re the guru's comment on metalworking BOOKS, yesterday I received a letter from a prison inmate at my 6 year old address. He must've retrieved the address from an old magazine. He politely asked for books on blacksmithing, because he wanted to pursue that field upon his release. There are many books, but I thought of three how-to books that are in print: Dixon's "A Blacksmith's Craft"; Parkinson's "The Artist Blacksmith"; and Schwarzkopf's "Plain and Ornamental Forging". I'm sending him this information today.

So here's a guy in prison with a dream and probably no access to a computer, but he realizes that there are BOOKS available. Good for him.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/28/06 13:27:43 EST

A south bend is a good light duty lathe. More than adequate for most shops that dont do professional machining full time.
South Bend is still in business, but the new price of a 10" south bend- $12,000 to $15,000- means they dont reallly sell new lathes, even though they say they do.
But there are thousands and thousands of used ones out there, lots of tooling on ebay, and it is easily repairable.
There is a whole south bend forum over on the practicalmachinist.com site, you can read hundreds of discussions about every aspect of south bend lathes.
I would buy it if I were you, then buy the book "how to run a lathe" published by south bend- usually 10 bucks or so, and a great intro.
   ries - Tuesday, 02/28/06 13:44:13 EST

OLD South BEND Ellen,

Knowing what all the parts are is and that they are THERE is the most important.

Two major areas in old lathes. Wear of the bed near the chuck and broken gear teeth are the most serious problems.

Rotate the spindle and the back gear and look for missing teeth on both the spindle and back gear. All it takes is one missing tooth for the back gears to not work. Back gears are used for machining larger diameters and for threading where you need manual control. You can use a machine without back gears but it greatly reduces the value.

Worn ways at the chuck is difficult to detect whithout machining a piece and carefully measuring it. Bed wear results in taper even when work is supported at both ends. The best you can do is use a straight edge and squint. . .

If the lathe is hooked up OR you can get someone that knows how the controls work for the feeds it is good to check that all the feeds work (threading, longitudenal and cross feed). It is not unusual for the clutches to be screwed up or to have broken gears in the carriage.

Moving damage resulting in broken levers is also common. Be sure the tail stock is there and not locked up from abuse.

Much of the wear in a lathe can be adjusted out. However a worn bed or loose spindle bearings are not adjustable.

The value in old machinery is in the attachments. The only parts an engine lathe came standard with are a face plate or dog plate, two centers (and a center adaptor sleeve on later South Bends) and a tool post. All the rest were purchased extra. These include:
  • Lathe dog set (often 1 came with the lathe but not a full set)
  • 4 jaw chuck (most common)
  • 3 jaw chuck (most useful - be sure is has both sets of 3 inside and outside jaws).
  • Left, Right and straight Armstrong tool holders (the right is the most common).
  • Boring, threading and cutoff tool holders.
  • Jacobs drill chuck and arbor for the tailstock.
  • Steady rest (supports long work in the middle)
  • Follower rest (rare - used when making long shafts including threads)
  • Live center or live center set (a tailstock center with ball bearings).
  • Wood turning centers (a handy option).

Most of the above are available new except chucks to fit. These old lathes have threaded spindles and every model was different and even among the same size had different threads. You can still buy chucks but you have to machine the special threaded back to fit yourself. However, this can be done without a chuck!

The tool post and all the tool holders are available new and used. Old time lathes came with just the tool post and machinists forged their bits. However the tool holders are much more efficient use of tool steel and HSS is the only way to go.

I do not put much value in a tail stock chuck as they are often worn out, bent or screwed up. I would prefer to buy NEW. If the lathe has a good chuck then that is great.

South Bends use Morse tapers in the head stock and in the tailstock. In the bigger late model lathes a special bushing was used in the head stock to hold a standard #2 or #3 Morse taper. Standard Morse taper sleaves can be used in the tail stock with smaller taper shanked drills and attachments. I have found it useful to shorten standard tapers so that you get full travel out of the tailstock. When you do this you must be careful NOT to make it too short or you will not be able to extract the taper. All these are available new and are not too pricey.

It is common on old lathes for the base of the tailstock to wear so that it drops lower than the spindle. On a South Bend this can easily be shimmed and is part of normal check out and maintenance.

Up to a 16" tool room lathe is VERY handy in the blacksmith shop. It is the only machine tool you need to build a rolling mill and many other tools. I have an old 1918 model 13" that had a broken feed reversing lever. I fabbed up the lever and did all the machining on the broken lathe! However, I had to have a local shop make new gears for the feed. This is a wonderful old tool. Mine is currently "down" due to flooding and needing a new motor. . . :(
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 13:49:18 EST

Ellen, get on Lindsay Publications' mailing list (if you're not already on it)and/or his website. He's probably got exactly what you're looking for as far as South Bend info and lotsa other stuff, as well.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 02/28/06 14:05:15 EST

Lathe Size: Lathe capacity is given in the "swing" over the ways in diameter and the length of a piece that can be held between centers. The swing may be 1/4" short of the ways but is sometimes at zero clearance. This capacity is only given as a reference and is the maximum that can be held on a face plate (overhanging the edges). The actual diameter that can be turned over the carriage of most lathes is 1/4 to 1/3 of the maximum or given capacity.

My old South Bend "How to Run a Lathe" booklet lists 9" bench and self contained up to a 16-24. This large size lathe is what is known as a gap-bed lathe. A removable gap in the bed allows larger diameter work to be done at the chuck or face plate. Most of the South Bend bench lathes were 9 or 10" lathes.

Small lathes are also wonderful tools and great to learn on. A South Bend bench top lathe has the identical controls of a huge shop lathe. If you learn to operate a small standard engine lathe then you also know how to operate a lathe big enough that you need a crane to load work into it.

My comment about building a rolling mill still applies to the little lathes. You can face and bore the bearing blocks, turn the rolls and make the feed crank on one of these little machines. You could also make your back shafts for the reduction system (turning to fit pillow blocks and reducing ends to fit available pullies).

Ellen, the fact that it was owned by a machinist and has a load of tooling makes it a small gold mine. I would not let it slip by if you can afford it. I have seen small benchtop lathes with "complete" tooling (everthing you could imagine) go for $2400. I paid $1200 for my old 13" in the 1980's and knew the feed was broken. But it had the list of tooling above including a Royal live center set, milling attachment and other odds and ends all of which would fit another similar size lathe.

Most South Bends are not heavy duty job shop machines but they were a fine make for the small shop and almost every school shop in the country had one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 14:12:00 EST

Augering in limestone:

Yes, if it's solid hard rock an auger won't work. thinly bedded, easily crushable shaly limestone is another matter. It'll still rattle your teeth out on a tractor, but it's doable. If the auger has that little central toothed bit that cuts a pilot hole, that tends to crack up the surrounding rock just enough to let the auger teeth get under the loose stuff and pull it up. It's not pretty, but it sure beats using a prybar and sledges!
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 02/28/06 14:25:00 EST

White/Chilled Cast iron?

Does this substance spark like high carbon steel? The reason why I'm asking is that one of the crew (yes, my friends collect scrap for me) presented me with a broken drain cover. The metal felt heavier than usual for its size, and looked like cast iron in grain structure, but was very white and sparked like a very high carbon steel. Upon exposure to the elements it has rusted nicely along the broken and exposed edges, so I know it's not some stainless or odd alloy, but my (somewhat old) spark chart showed a much less lively display for cast iron.

No project for it currently in mind (except for the “you never know when you might need something just like this, and it has some scrap value, too” pile), just driven by insatiable curiosity.

Sunny and cold on the banks of the Potomac. Snow was a no show.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Nobody here has ever heard of Plan Ten.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 02/28/06 14:40:54 EST

Herb, re casting repair.

If its not a safety critical area Dont overlook a 'mechanical' repair, it may save you loads of stripping down on the equipment, a couple of metal straps bolted on may hold it OK, 'metal stitching' gives a very high quality repair but there are not so many people that do it. Pulling the crack / break in the casting back together is a lot stronger than you think due to the 'perfect' irregular fit around the fracture. (assuming the parts not in tension!).
If a cast iron 'box section' has cracked right through you can sometimes get a piece of steel box / pipe which will drive up inside each part like a splint, which can be secured with a few bolts through.

   John N - Tuesday, 02/28/06 15:32:53 EST

South Bend: A few years ago I got a letter from LeBlond informing me that they had purchased South Bend's stock of parts, and to contact them for parts for my lathe.

As I understand it they were in chapter 11 at the time and had shut down all their manufacturing. I believe they still exist, but as an importer and distributor only.

On small South Bends: While the 9" and 10K are nice small machines, the "Heavy 10" is a big step up, since the spindle bore has a #5 morse taper and is big enough to accept the common 5C type collets. It is also big enough for most rifle barrels to pass through if you want to play gunsmith.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 02/28/06 15:49:54 EST

Hmmmmm most of the above is in our Lathe FAQ which I forgot about.

Machining Processes: Many operations can be done on an engine lathe. The reason it is called an "engine" lathe is that almost anything can be done on one.

Facing - squaring up large blocks of any shape stock or the ends of rounds (square, retangulars, hexes, odd ball).
Turning - most obvious, can be straight, tapered or decorative.
Boring - on the spindle OR on the lathe carriage. Turning and boring is used to make bushings for all kinds of purposes especialy repairing other machines.
Drilling - Holes centered in rounds, holes preliiminary to boring, holes in parts clamped on the face plate. Drilling is normaly done with the tailstock but can also be done using the bit in the spindle and a table or flat rest tool holder in the carriage. This is an ocassional use substitution for a drill press.
Threading - chasing external or internal threads of all pitches, shapes (UNV, Whitworth, acme, square, buttress) and diameters. Power threading using taps after drilling operations.
Milling - although attachments are made for this it is almost easier to use a cold chisel. . . However, small Woodruff key slots can be made using a milling attachment in a lathe. Otherwise I do not recommend it.
Grinding - using a tool post grinder (or a die grinder in the tool post) bith OD's and ID's as well as tapers like the points on centers can be ground in a lathe. Small hardened parts can be precision ground on a lathe. The critical thing about grinding in a lathe is to protect the ways from the grit and CLEAN the machine afterward. Lathe ways are not designed to take grinding grit and grint under the carriage can be a disaster. Cover the ways with an apron and tape down the ends.
Spinning - sheet metal spinning is commonly done in standard engine lathes. The wood chucks and many of the needed tools can be made on the lathe.
Polishing - often considered part of turning but can also be done to any round work including spindles, handles and such. Use abrasive strips and paper to just before buffing on a wheel.
Wood Turning - although not fast enough for production work an engine lathe is generally a better machine for wood turning than those designed for the purpose. They are great for precision turning and for heavy slow work like bowls. We saw a beautiful rosewood bowl that was almost spherical turned on a metal lathe in Costa Rica.
Dividing such as making calibrated spindles for micrometers and machine hand wheels can be done on many lathes. The bull gear often has 60 teeth OR is drilled with 60 holes for dividing (60,30,20,15,12,10,6,4,3,2). A straight plunging cut is made with the carriage making a crisp indicator mark. Small gears can also be shaped this way.

Besides all these processes there are also special methods such as tying work with leather thongs to hold it against the spindle center, friction driving thin materials for blanking, pressure forming like head spinning
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 15:57:50 EST

Wow! Thanks all for the wonderful information. I have a copy of "How to Run a Lathe" I bought several years ago. I've known these folks for many years and the family tells me I can have first shot at his tools, but not while he is still alive (which I would NEVER do anyway). My immediate impulse was to buy what I could afford and move it safely to my shop, and then query folks for details and help. I just wasn't sure how much use I would have for a lathe....I have this bad habit of seeing tools and wanting them. Grin! Part of Blacksmithitis I think. A smaller lathe is better for me, but it is on a metal stand as I remember. Knowing how well he cared for his tools and equipment I would expect everything to be in good condition. Thanks again. I know he made lots of small custom antique firearm parts on it until he could no longer work on things.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/28/06 16:10:35 EST

Rob, I assume you are asking about a flux for forge welding. Others here know more and will no doubt add their comments but the most commonly used flux is pure borax (NOT Boraxo), which is sold in the laundry section of grocery stores for about $5.00 for 5 # or so. You may have to look at more than one grocery store as fewer stores are carrying it now. It works good in coal or in gas. The only drawback in a gas forge is the tendency to use too much, and then the excess will drip and eat holes in your kaowool. A ceramic kiln shelf in the bottom of your gasser helps. Doesn't matter in a coal forge.

Some folks, myself included, like EZWeld in a propane forge. It is more expensive, but less messy to use. A little goes a long way. The suppliers listed here on Anvilfire will carry it, and you can often find it locally in a store that supplies farriers with their needs.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/28/06 16:21:46 EST

Blacksmith Application of a Lathe:

Turning tennons (large and small). Works great for candle sticks and such. Also tennons on production fencing or components.

Twisting. Not recommended for small lathes but an old HD monster that is good for nothing else but has good back gears can twist up a mess of bar.

Power Torch. Using the lathe carriage of a long lathe a cutting torch can be used to cut heavy plate clean and smooth. Most of us cannot afford a dedicated machine torch and this works slick.

Trepanning round blanks for candle cups. Cut sheet metal circles from aluminium, brass, copper, steel.

Machining forming tools for candle cups and pans.

Machining or dressing transfer punches.

Making repair parts for vises.

Making round punches and dies as well as holders for punch press or flypress operation.

Making parts for custom benders, rolling mills, tire benders. . .

Turned handles, ferrules, pomels for tools knives and more.

The trick to owning machinery is remembering you have it AND keeping in mind the things it can be applied to. Also remembering that drill press furniture will work on a lathe and vise versa as well as chucks, keys and arbors being interchangable. When you setup a small machine shop much of the tooling is interchangable between mill, lathe and drill press. When you buy one with tooling you are often augmenting another.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 17:39:04 EST

Best Flux: It depends on the job and what is available. As Ellen pointed out 20 Mule Team Borax is the most common. Some order it dehydrated and others bake it themselves. I use it as-is out of the box. Some mix boric acid with it.

Plain borax is good for general welding and brazing. It is used for welding laminated steel because it has no additions that will show in the steel. For welding high alloy steels flourite powder is added.

Some folks add iron powder or filings to borax. Others use silica sand or clay. These two generally are best with wrought iron.

Then there are the patent fluxes and the non-borax fluxes. Most of these work better but cannot be used for laminated steels. Many folks have a favorite and they all work. Those for steel generally are not used with brazing.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 18:02:00 EST

Hey guys, thanks for the info on the Enco/grizzley lathes. I have a S.B. 9' which is a little lite. I was kind of drooling over the enco 12 inchers with free shipping. My motto is to buy only the best tools but sometimes I need a slap to the back of my head to remember.......Bob
   bob - Tuesday, 02/28/06 19:23:33 EST

Thanks Frank. My blower says "fill with oil to air cock". Raised letters on the gear housing. Hope this can add a little bit to your knowledge.
Thanks for your replies and info.

Ottawa - Canada
   Brian Scott - Tuesday, 02/28/06 19:44:02 EST

Another forge blower question. Lubrication. My "new" forge blower had some pretty good build up but not as much asone might expect for it's age. My question about lubrication is can I use something like Gunk's liquid wrench - dry-lube, with added PTFE? It will apparently leave a dry lubricant film that does not collect dust. That's what the can says. Does anyone have experience with this product on gears or machinery of this age. I would REALLY not like to mess up the internal workings of the blower.
   Brian Scott - Tuesday, 02/28/06 20:00:03 EST

Welding cast iron. Friend up the road brought by a broken cast iron steering column arm from a tractor. It had broken a couple of years ago and a local welder merely arc welded the two parts together (welds/beads were about as expected for cold cast iron). I champhered the joint, tack welded with stainless rod, used my Henrob torch for preheating and then arc welded with 312-16 rod under the oxy/ace flame. Metal essentially puddled as if I were brazing. Once four sides were done it needed just a tad of grinder work to make it difficult to tell it had even been broken. I tested weld in vise and it seemed quite strong.

I highly doubt I am blazing new cast iron welding technology here, but this technique isn't in any of the arc welding reference books I have I can find.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/28/06 20:08:25 EST

Hey Ken,

We're in "country boy agreement" on something. I've done small cast iron jobs with the same rod. I think the nickel content helps in some manner, but I'm a self taught welder and a little out of my field here.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/28/06 20:25:10 EST

More Lathe stuff- Whats the difference in a tool room lathe, and an engine lathe? Why do they call them 'engine'lathes?
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 02/28/06 20:49:36 EST

Thanks Guru, and Ellen. I'm not sure if the steel is laminated or not, but I don't think so. What is flourite powder? I'm not familiar with that.
   - Rob - Tuesday, 02/28/06 20:50:08 EST

Frank Turley, and Ken Scharabok,
At the machine co. I used to work at, we had several hundred old to quite old production machines. Most were orphans. We often had to repair broken cast items of unknown material specification. Although the welding engineer liked to to a sprecto test and design a procedure to repair anything, my 30 year experienced master repair welder would usually grind the joint, preheat, tack with Ni rod, and lay a bead of Ni rod. He would then lay a bead of E7018, and then alternate Ni-rod and E-7018 until done. His theory was that the carbon steel and Ni-rod difused together and made a superior weld to repair cast. Don't know the validity of the theory, but NONE of the parts he repaired broke.

The procedure to repair an anvil was pretty cool. First they removed the upper works, say 4 men 2 days, then dig up and use crane to remove the anvil, say another day or so. Then if a little anvil, one that would fit in the 13' by 13' by 70' car bottom furnace for preheat, about 20 hours to heat, then weld till done. Then reassemble.
These were Erie steam drop hammer anvils, and at the 50 to 1 rule guess what the anvil on a 25,0003 drop hammer looks like. Guess how many pounds of rod to repair a really big crack.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/28/06 21:44:13 EST

ptree: I think I understood first paragraph, but senond has me completely baffled.

Frank Turley: I don't think we are really in disagreement on anything I can think of. Just somewhat different perspectives/approaches. After taking the SOF&A introduction course I was hot to go to your school. However, employer wouldn't allow me off the time. Still have regrets on that.

While I have forum's attention, if you haven't already penciled in your calendars remember the CSI-Anvilfire.com Hammer-in at my farm in West-Central TN the weekend of April 22-23. BigBlu (Power Hammers) will be the featured demonstrator/vendor. Unless circumstances change, a tour of nearby The World of Tools Museum is scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Hunter Pilkinton probably has the largest private collection of tools in the U.S., if not the world. Hunter is in declining health and, as such, future opportunities may be very limited. Take my word, it would be worth attending solely for the opportunity to see his collection. e-Mail me (just click on name) to be sent conference details. Net proceeds go to the Anvilfire.com general treasury.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/28/06 22:16:13 EST

Ptree: My guess is big! Grin. Nice welding technique, the proof is in the longevity of the weld. He must have had something going for him with that system.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 02/28/06 22:54:33 EST

SS rods on Cast Iron: The weldor asigned to My building and shift at the plant had the motto:"when in doubt use stainless" There are different types of cast iron, and a lot of different cast iron rods, but in repair work You don't always know for sure what You are working on.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/28/06 23:27:16 EST

Ellen: Once You get the lathe and start using it You will wonder why You waited so long. Even the lightest South Bend is a tougher machine than many of the home/school lathes of that size.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/28/06 23:35:42 EST

Ellen-- 3dogs as usual is right, this time about Lindsay. The website is http://lindsaybks.com/ But they don't list on the Net all the books they have, so get them to start sending you their catalogs. FYI, call to order in the A.M.-- afternoons they are too busy mailing out books to answer the phone. Like Anvilfire, Lindsay is a national treasure. When the geniuses who are currently running the world get finished trying to reduce it to a radioactive cinder we will need the priceless technical info from both venues to rebuild our haha civilization, so stock up now!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 02/28/06 23:37:43 EST

Welding Cast: The problem is that may parts that folks THINK are cast iron ARE NOT. Success stories welding "cast" must always be viewed with skeptisim.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/28/06 23:57:27 EST

Many thanks to Dave, Allen, John and Guru for all of the fast replies on augering limestone.
I am sitting on solid limestone but I think it's of the softer variety. I used to work at a cement plant where we quarried the rock, crushed it in ball mills with water sand and shale then cooked in in coal fired kilns then crushed it again with gypsum to make the final product "Cememnt".
When quarrying the rock you will find different colored layers which are very different in chemical breackdown as well as moisture and hardness. Some is really soft but is also very sticky. Mixed with water it almost has the consistancy of clay and tends to stop up the mills lines and pumps at the plant.
Anyway I've been successful in augering holes but it takes about an hr to cut a 9" dia. hole 3' deep. I think I'll go to my local welder supply and try to find some carbide containing rods and give that a try.
Thanks again and keep those tips coming. No pun intended!
   Louis - Wednesday, 03/01/06 01:00:38 EST

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