WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 - 28, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Charcoal Fire Control
Im having difficulty keeping my fire high enough in my 7inch square 4 inch deep firepot. I would like to have it just about at the top of the pot, but it wants to stay low even when i boost the blower (which just makes the charcoal crackle like fireworks). The pots a small cast iron job from centaur forge with a good dayton blower and store bought tueyre (sp?) (which i guess makes me a rather lazy person) any advice would be a big help.
   - Sebastian B. - Thursday, 02/22/07 23:32:04 EST

My 2 cents: ANYONE who sees an iten , whatever it is, that is offered for sale below it's potential value and believes they know what that item may be worth should just STAY OUT OF IT! Let the seller do the research themself and EARN the money they can get for the item. UNLESS that person intends to buy said item . In that case once the bidding has ended and if they have won the auction they can then offer to pay all the extra hard earned money THEY wish and be a hero, savior, or crusader to the seller. If you are not a party to the sale then it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!
Just MY opinion.
This bit of wisdom brought to you by the color Blue!
   Harley - Friday, 02/23/07 07:09:10 EST

Hot Punch from Ball Pien

Ken I thought about this a little. Wouldn't I need a drift of appropriate size/shape to keep the eye from deforming while I am forging the pien into a punch?

Or have you tried this and it doesn't deform much?

   Mike Berube - Friday, 02/23/07 09:01:03 EST

Anvils, ebay, and on-line sales: Two years ago I bought a small slightly rough but very nice little 120 pound Mousehole anvil at Quadstate for $140. The fellow selling it KNEW he could get double that and had told the owner it was too low a price. But the owner had set the price and said that was IT. I even offered some extra but the seller said his friend was insistent on the price.

The first anvil I bought in the 1970's was a similar anvil and I paid $32 at auction. There were several other bidders and anvils in that size were selling for $50 to $100 at that time. I got a good deal. Should I have offered to give the Widow selling her husbands tools more? She had decided to have the auction and had hired the best local auctioneers. . . But many things still went to dealers at less than market price. Dealers would not go to auctions if they could not buy cheap.

Ebay is an auction. Sellers are occasionally naive about what they are selling but there are also dealers that act innocent and know EXACTLY how to cheat the public. . There are many more of these than the naive. It is the public that needs protection, not the dealers. If there were no dealers selling at less than full market value there would be no ebay.

If everyone knew that every seller at every auction was going to hold out for the highest possible or full market price not only would there be no ebay there would be no auctions anywhere. . people just would not go. (Ken needs to think about that one).

I agree with Harley about staying out of it. I have at least one hundred people a year ask me what their anvil is worth, or IF an anvil someone is selling is worth the price. But I have been asked. I don't butt in.

As to the quality of what Ken AKA Poorboy Tools sells he is up front and tells folks that they are cheap non-professional tools and the buyers could or should be making their own. They are in no way misrepresented. If Ken sold something defective it SHOULD have been taken up directly with him, not in a public forum.

In on-line marketing and selling ANY product there are always a few problems. I have occasionally shipped CD's that are defective or the customer's PC can not read them. I now check those that are not shrink wrapped. We replace bad product with no question's asked. Once in a great while a package does not get to the customer (or the customer SAYS they didn't get it) and we must replace it. Most often this is with large organizations and their internal mail is at fault. I know it is not my problem but we make it right.

   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 09:09:09 EST

Charcoal: Sebastion, These firepots are made primarily for mineral coal. They work with charcoal and coke but are not designed for them.

There are also differences in charcoal. Are you using real charcoal or charcoal briquetts? Briquetts are more sawdust, starch glue (even a little bituminous coal) than charcoal. They are a very marginal fuel for blacksmithing and generally not recommended except as a last resort.

There is nothing lazy about using an electric blower. They are much more efficient to use and cost less than a hand crank blower OR someone to crank it while you are working.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 09:27:17 EST

Jock, would the revers ring true? I mean, there ARE people out there selling cast iron crap from China and listing it as high quality tools. Shouldn't we as "self taught experts" step in and protect people from getting ripped off?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/23/07 09:30:15 EST

Reforging Hammers: Mike, What ken suggested is done by many smiths. All sorts of hammers and punches are made from other hammers. No, you should not have trouble with the eye unless you heat that part more than the rest and hit it with the hammer. Tool steel is TOUGH even when hot.

   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 09:33:02 EST

Thanks Guru.

   Mike Berube - Friday, 02/23/07 09:59:53 EST

Satanite crucible experiment was a success.The satanite didn't absorb any of the silver and it poured like a champ.I suspect the crucible is fairly fragile and wouldn't take much knocking about but it worked.I would recomend firing it before doing the melt since there may be some spalling from air pockets.
   chris makin - Friday, 02/23/07 10:06:09 EST

To all involved in the discussion regarding buying and selling. There is an old saying that rings true (no anvil pun intended) " Let The Buyer Beware " . The smart consumer or seller will make him or herself informed. Today this is easier than ever with the ability to research over the internet.
   Harley - Friday, 02/23/07 10:28:57 EST

Cheap goods on ebay: Nip, I have done the best I could with our articles here. Ken also has an ebay article on anvils. The problem is much more general than just anvils, it is EVERYTHING on ebay. I get emails, snail mails and phone calls from manufacturers in Pakistan and China offering to "make antiques" to my specifications. . . all targeted to ebay. Everything from Rolex watches to automobiles are copied in China. If I get these offers then many sellers on ebay are getting the same offers and SOMEONE is selling or the folks offering would not be in business.

Ebay is the worlds largest den of theives and a snake pit to boot. But it is THE internet market. It is as bad as going to any large crowded open air market in any third world country and has its pickpockets, fences, con-men and drug dealers as well as honest merchants. This is compounded by the fact that every merchant's anonymity is protected by ebay who makes it VERY VERY difficult to file a complaint including that of illegal activity.

Worse yet the general media love ebay and never disclose its dark side.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 10:43:55 EST

CSI Membership - I've been out of the country and just now catching up on orders. Should be done tonight.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 16:11:54 EST

How do you build a dynamo capable of running off from a hit & miss engine. That will run an entire electric driven industrial blacksmith shop with mechanical hammers etc?
   - Baxter Black - Friday, 02/23/07 16:23:37 EST

Baxter (black or john) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamo_theory
   - ML - Friday, 02/23/07 16:27:26 EST

Clapper die Steel: As noted, car or truck axle work. Pieces cut from RR-rail will also work (it is roughly 1060 to 1075 steel). IF you want new steel specs you can use SAE 1050, SAE 4140 up through H13 and S7. SAE 4140 is fairly economical and if annealed to start is easy to cut and weld.

As noted mild steel works but wears and becomes misshappened with time. But for short run quick and dirty tools forging like steel it works well. However, it falls down when forging alloy, tool and stainless steels.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 16:34:18 EST

Nipp & All. EXPERTS.
A) An expert is someone paid to do something he can't do.
B) An expert is somebody 100 miles from home with an attache case.
C) An ex is a has been, and a spurt's a little drip under pressure.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/23/07 16:35:55 EST

To Leaf: You said you used baking soda for electroplating? I thought it had to be acidic?

Also, does anyone know if lemon juice is the strongest acid that is easy to buy? I was thinking of attempting to make carbonic acid, but I figured I wouldn't be able to get it very pure, and then again, it would be more toxic than lemon juice.
   - Hollon - Friday, 02/23/07 16:36:31 EST

Hit or miss engine to run entire shop via electricity. . .

This is not the way to do it. First you have a loss of efficiency converting mechanical power to electric and then electric back to mechanical. . . The way these engines were and steam engines used were to power line shafts which ran the machinery. If a small amount of power was needed for lighting then a small generator could be run off the same line shafting.

Building a stand alone generator for a small application is a tough job technically. The problem is sudden loads, especially motors. This drops the speed of the generator and the voltage drops compounding the problem.

If there are heavy loads such as welders or large motors then the small hit or miss engine probably does not have enough HP.

Small independent systems are hard to build due to load management. The best today use battery systems and electronic converters. The "dynamo" or generator is a purchased piece of equipment.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 16:46:07 EST

"The way these engines were and steam engines used were to power line shafts which ran the machinery."

I have heard the term 'grease monkey' comes from young boys who would scamper around overhead in factories keeping the various gears and bearings on line shafts lubricated.

Now then, where does the term monkey tool come from?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Friday, 02/23/07 17:10:36 EST

Is there any resident experts on nazel hammers? I have some questions about a very large nazel I found. 2000#? I can't find any info on this machine. any suggestions?
   The Dude - Friday, 02/23/07 19:50:22 EST

Hollon you can buy HCL---muriatic acid at a good lumberyard/hardwarestore or perhaps a pool supply place.

You can buy battery acid, H2SO4, sulfuric acid, at a car parts store

WAY stronger and MORE DANGEROUS than lemon juice!

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/23/07 20:19:13 EST

An expert is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is. Then keeps the watch.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 02/23/07 20:41:41 EST

eBay: John Ruskin once said "there is nothing a man cannot make a bit shabbier and sell a bit cheaper and people who buy on price alone are this mans lawful prey". Yup.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 02/23/07 20:44:13 EST

Nazel: The Dude, Bruce Wallace has what's left of Nazel, drawings, literature and some tech info. He has bought and sold more than anyone I know and has rebuilt several. Try the pull down menu under advertisers.
   - guru - Friday, 02/23/07 21:04:03 EST

And I always thought an expert was someone who learned more and more about less and less until he knew everything about nothing.
   Mike BR - Friday, 02/23/07 21:35:09 EST

What is the type of repousse hammer that is used to form the veins of a leaf in hammer and stake repousse? Let's say the type of metal being formed is 14 ga. copper. Also, what might be a good book to have in getting started in HaS repousse?
Thanks, Chad
   Chad - Friday, 02/23/07 22:06:06 EST

hit & miss not a good idea then. How about using a boiler and engine? Steam will generate endless HP.

Oh, and if you see any of those mini cows, be careful not to step in any microchips…!

I had to save my heard of mini cows from the ranch

   - Baxter Black - Friday, 02/23/07 22:26:10 EST

Chad a rounded chisel punch. Dressed radius on the end. Not sharp.
   - Baxter Black - Friday, 02/23/07 22:32:15 EST

Baxter B. As Jock points out You buy the dynamo. There are large used standby generators available, and they are already powered by an internal combustion engine. Any way You slice the pie You need 2 HP per kilowatt. That is a lot of HP if You are talking about an industrial shop. The lineshaft is more eficient as Jock points out, as the losses going from mechanical effort to electricity and back are worse than a well planed lineshaft. Hit and miss engines are a poor choice for any of this work, as the RPM is always changing. A throttled and goverened constant firing engine is a better chioce. 90 years ago they did make them, and other than the carb being controlled by the governer instead of the intake valve they look about the same. You would need about an 8 horsepower engine to run a generator that would power a 2HP motor, and that wouldn't ammount to much in an industrial shop. For a 1 man off grid shop today I would suggest a compact gas engine drive arc welder with 10 KW aux power, about $3,000 - usefull life about 4,000 hours.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/23/07 23:34:43 EST

I've been experimenting with making some charcoal. I've collected some tar as a by product. Can I use this tar to finish ironwork? Would I be able to carbonalize it on to the steel like I can with wax. Thanks for the advice.

   Dan - Saturday, 02/24/07 01:10:45 EST

Holton: yes, disolve as much baking soda to saturation point, and then drop some copper scraps in to soak until the water turns blue, then conect a battery charger or two with the black to what you are trying to plate and the red one goes to the copper. Works best if the water is warm, around 90f and if the copper anode kind of wraps around (without touching of course)and isn't too far away. You can use pool "PH up" instead of baking soda. Seems to only work for copper, and probobly not good enough to for a chrome strike plate (to chrome plate things they are first copper plated I guess) but it does work,and it's kind of fun plus much less toxic than most electroplating. Got the idea from "the complete metalsmith" by Tim McCriegh, good book, and cheap too.
   - Leaf - Saturday, 02/24/07 02:03:36 EST

Dave makes good sense. Jock and your info is the proper direction.
   - Baxter John Black - Saturday, 02/24/07 02:03:44 EST

Dan, Pine tars, "pitch" and others were used at one time to protect rough items such as anvils. Any home brew is NOT a satisfactory finish. Study modern painting systems. They are based on early "traditional" finishes but are formulated and TESTED scientifically.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/24/07 06:24:42 EST

OK this horse has been beaten a bit but here goes. I happen to agree with Harley and Jock. Correcting an items' value at an auction is none of my business. People should educate themselves before they buy and sell. If I am bidding on an item and the auctioneer says "just a minute, we have updated news " ...."We are going to kill this item for now and might list it later" I'm gonna be more than a little upset. The auction should go on. I've spent the time to at least glance at the sale bill and have decided to take my time out to attend the auction. IF in the sale bill the seller has reserved the right to hold items if they do not bid to their supposed value then so be it. This is all part of the game ( read game ). MY responsability as a buyer is to keep track of my emotions and my money. As a seller, my responsability lies in educating myself to know what I have to sell. If I DON'T know what I have and list it anyway thats my problem. Life is full of Angels and Good Samaritans. I have witnessed this first hand. Online auctions is not the place for this in my opinion. Expert I am not ( unless you count the part that I can claim there are a whole lot of things I don't know much about ). I haven't posted here a lot in recent years and do not wish to contribute to any ongoing wars. I try and keep up with the business I have and that alone is enough for me.
   Steve O'Grady - Saturday, 02/24/07 08:59:43 EST

Be careful with boilers. Make sure to check all the local/state/national/whatever guidelines about boilers in workplaces before setting one up. I believe that OSHA (i think) requires regular inspections of boilers and I believe these inspections aren't cheap at all.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Saturday, 02/24/07 10:00:41 EST


Jerry Henderson has written a 63 page spiral bound book titled, "Nahum Hersom Repousse", available from the bookseller, Norm Larson, Lompoc, California. Namum is still offering one-on-one one-week classes in hammer & stake repousse. He is in Boise, Idaho.


I've not been able to learn much of the etymology of monkey tool nor hardy [hardie], for that matter. There has been lots of wild guesswork on these forums.

My huge, 2nd edition, 1951 Webster's dictionary says that a monkey; "ironwork" is a tup or heavy weight slung from the ceiling and dropped on a peice to upset or jump it when the piece is too long for the drop hammer.

A monkey is also a cinder notch in an iron furnace. Go figger. We've all used monkey wrenches. No clue here, either. A friend said that monkeys call them "people wrenches".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/24/07 11:11:22 EST

Ken: from the oxford dictionary,

monkey (mŭng'k) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. monkeys

Any of various long-tailed, medium-sized members of the order Primates, including the macaques, baboons, guenons, capuchins, marmosets, and tamarins and excluding the anthropoid apes and the prosimians.
One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mischievous child or a mimic.
The iron block of a pile driver.
Slang A person who is mocked, duped, or made to appear a fool: They made a monkey out of him.
Slang Drug addiction: have a monkey on one's back.

   - ML - Saturday, 02/24/07 12:47:35 EST

Thank You Steve O'Grady well stated
Thank you thesandycreekforge I never gave that a thought
Thank You Guru & Harley

What is the forging ranges of 4140?
Is it water hardening or oil
What is the quench hardening temperature range?
   - Baxter John Black - Saturday, 02/24/07 12:58:14 EST

Beating the horse again,,,
Did this topic come up here a few weeks past, But in reverse?
Somebody was trying to E-bay off a suspected counterfeit Peter Wright legvise...
I recall nobody here was upset when many of us tried to educate the parties involved a possible mistake was about to be made...
We dont KNOW if the seller was aware it was likely a fake,
(He probably did, But we dont KNOW that)
Or if the bidder suspected or known it either.
Education is all around good, Free education is a devine blessing. Thank you all.
   - Mike, Who appreciates the "do-gooder" Ken - Saturday, 02/24/07 13:21:44 EST

The seller of the fake peter wright vise marked if for certain with the same stamp set he uses to make his mini anvils. It is a big difference. I do appreciate your opinion and point of view.
   - Baxter John Black - Saturday, 02/24/07 14:37:08 EST

Every state in the US has a boiler code. All but two states have adopted the ASME code at least in part as I recall. Certainly in industry, a boiler used to generate power will be of a size to fall under the reg's, and will require an annual inspection, by a boiler inspector. Boilers require a lot of ,maintenance and usually also need water treatment. Many states are very hard on boilers that are brought in from another state, and many now have outlawed riveted boilers. Having been responsible for industrial boilers for several years, I would NEVER consider one for power for a small shop. A deisel generator, water power solar, and wind would all have to be ruled out first. If I were going off grid, I would do as the Amish did for their pallet mill nearby. They have a semi truck diesel engine, running the air compressor and several machines by V belts. I would do the same for stuff like a air compressor, and a generator, and then run electric power only to things that are remote. I would also have it set up as they do with a remote raditor, so that in the cold season, the rejected heat from the diesel can be used for shop heat. They in fact now have two such engines, and both belt drive compressors, and one also has a large pump drive to run a hydraulic system that is then run to each machine needing it. The second engine also belt drives a lrage blower for the sawdust blower.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/24/07 14:53:50 EST

Baxter John Black, 4140 Chromoly steel

Forge 2100-2200F Bright Lemon
Normalize 1600-1700°F Bright Red (Salmon); above the cherry reds
Anneal 1450-1550°F Bright Cherry Red
Harden 1525-1625°F Quench in oil @ Full Red
Temper between 400°F and 1300°F Blood Red is 1300°F
The more heat you apply, the more hardness you sacrifice.

Temperatures taken from Jorgensen Stock Book, 1988.

Incandescent colors taken from "Metals for Engineering Craftsmen", Rural Industries Bureau, London, 1964.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 02/24/07 15:14:55 EST

I can see that block of iron used to pound in pilings called a monkey since it would rather look like a monkey going up a palm tree and then dropping down. From that block I can also see it related to a monkey tool used somewhat for the same function.

Story I heard is a guy by the name on Moncke in London, England in the mid-1800s patented the first adjustable wrench, which came to be called Moncke wrenches, and may have been corrupted to Monkey. However, if you look at one from the side it does rather look like you are holding a monkey upright by the tail.

On 'hardy' I think it dates back to England when it meant something robust and such tools became known as hardy tools. The hole then became associated with the same name.

On pritchel, in one of those BIG library dictionaries I found a reference to it being related to a pritch or prick, a staff used to punch holes in the ground for planting seed. Perhaps this is also where one of the nicknames for a penis came from.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 02/24/07 16:45:01 EST

Ebay anvil experts: Just saw an anvil on ebay listed as a KOHLSWA but it has what looks like a forge welded top, what do the experts think? Is it a fake? Did they ever make forge welded anvils? I thought they were all cast steel.

Item number: 110095267180
   - Leaf - Saturday, 02/24/07 17:50:30 EST

As Guru has point out in the past typically cast anvils tried to make it look like they had a separate plate, while those with a separate plate tried to blend them in to where they didn't show. Some of the British manufacturers were especially good at it. Anvil is cast. You can see mold seam on the rear foot.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 02/24/07 18:16:24 EST

Ken: grass is allways greener I guess ;-)
   - Leaf - Saturday, 02/24/07 19:25:23 EST

I have recentely moved to a rural block of land along with my 50kg 3 phase Sahinler power hammer. Unfortunatly only single phase power is avalible.Is it possible to change the 10 hp motor to a single phase .
   Jim Blower - Saturday, 02/24/07 19:50:08 EST

Jim Blower 3-Phase:


Check Grizzly industrial (www.grizzly.com), they sell phase converters. Essentially an electric motor driving an AC generator.

Mike Berube
   Mike Berube - Saturday, 02/24/07 20:33:59 EST

Kohlswa Swedish Anvils are one piece cast steel with no face plate. The one in question is real item#110095267180. I personally know the seller and he is top notch when it comes to honesty and service. You will see the casting seam in a vertical line along the middle rise of the table to face. They are made from a swedish steel that is similar to 4140 tool steel. They are considered the best of the cast steel anvils...opinion of coarse.
   - Baxter John - Saturday, 02/24/07 23:45:44 EST

They do make a 10HP single phase motor but it's quite pricy and you will need a lot of amps to drive it. OTOH a phase converter usually takes a lot of amps too.

Have you though of the afore mentioned lineshaft with a small engine on it?

   Thomas P - Sunday, 02/25/07 00:20:33 EST

Jim Blower: There is a factory reconditioned 10 HP rotary phase converter listed in the Clasifides for sale on the AWS forum, $350. WWW.AWS.org
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/25/07 01:08:28 EST

Converter, Good price. We paid $1500 for a 10HP RotoPhase in 1980. Note that despite the manufacturer's claims these devices vibrate AND are very noisy. But them outside the shop in an isolated enclosure.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 01:45:48 EST

Kohlswa Anvils: These were all cast steel. The "plate" line is where the edges have been dressed. Although most manufacturers did not dress the sides of anvils I have seen specifications for anvils calling to machine the side for a specific distance from the top to provide a smooth work surface.

The is NOT an attempt to look "plated". Manufacturers that do that generally extend a false plate beyond the sides of the anvil and machine those edges smooth as well. This is common on many cheap cast iron anvils. I know of no reputable manufacturer of cast OR forged anvils that does this.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 01:52:56 EST

Boone "Pasture Party" Hammer-In: It was a wonderful day at the Boone's. Great weather, good demos and a huge Iron in the Hat that made ABANA sales pale in comparison. Saw some old friends and got some photos even though we were late for the morning demos (left at 6am to get there at 11am).
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 01:58:02 EST

Just a quick question, because of my bad luck with ordering firebrick by mail, does anyone know of any chain stores, or stores in the boston or providence area that sell fire brick. Hard and soft firebrick would be nice, but right now i need some hard firebrick for a new forge i'm building, to be a removable backwall to the pipe.

Thanks ahead of time
   - jmercier - Sunday, 02/25/07 01:59:28 EST

Howdy all,
I am in the process of building my first guitar. Since I also blacksmith I am thinking about putting an inlay of an anvil on the headstock. Anyone out there have a nice clip art or photo that I could use?
   Lefty - Sunday, 02/25/07 05:32:06 EST

Lefty, I recently saw a short video on making a mokume-gane anvil from coins. It'd be perfect for an inlay also.
   andrew - Sunday, 02/25/07 05:41:38 EST

Try: A. Jandris and Sons
202 High St.
Gardner, Mass.
They are a manufacturer of block and brick and supplier of all types of masnory supplies. They are about 60 mi west od Boston along Rt 2 . About 2 miles off the highway.
Call them first to see if they have what you want . If not they may be able to point you in the right direction.
I got there from time to time and they have always treated me well.
   Harley - Sunday, 02/25/07 07:57:07 EST

Boilers are under tight regs. since that one blew up at the Medina, Ohio Fairgrounds killing 5 people, may be more fear or hassle then its worth.
   - Robert - Sunday, 02/25/07 09:48:58 EST

The ASME, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was founded by a group of engineers dismayed at the number of boiler explosions and deaths. If I remember correctly, the year they were founded there were about 2000 deaths a year. They started writing codes to cover construction maintenance, inspection and operation. The event of a boiler explosion is now very rare. Many so called explosions are in fact fuel explosions from failed attempts to light the combuster, usually after some lame brain has bypassed the gas train safeties.
When I worked at the boiler shop, we got the occasional request to repair an old locomotive type boiler for a traction engine. We did not accept this kind of work.
What gets most people in trouble with the old loco boilers is that they are fire tube type boilers, in that the tubes are flues. The water is inside the shell, and the combustion gasses pass thru the tubes. In these old boilers, the shell is wrapped and riveted. and to withstand the stresses of pressure inside the shell, there are "stay bolts" that run from side to side. Since the water is untreated in these boilers, corrosion is often rampant, the stay bolts thin up and can not stand the load. When they fail, the failure mode is for the riveted seam to fail and unwrap, often causing a 40,000# traction engine to fly over on its back.

I have seen historical stuff that indicates 2 to 3 hours of maintenance per operating hour for RR locomotives in the steam era. Granted, these had a lot of other items beyond the boiler. I had a 30 Hp fire tube at the valve plant, in production 2 shifts and on warm idle third shift and weekends. Brand new, and it averaged about 3 hours a week to keep up with the water treatment etc. The annual inspection was a 16 hour day, to open it up, have the inspection, replace the gaskets and button it up.

I say again, that I would definetly go for the engine.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/25/07 10:05:24 EST


Haveing spent way too many years messing around with railroad musuems, I can tell you that the good ones plan on 100 man days to get a steam locomotive operating for a weekend.

Many RR Museum are making the decision that to continue operating 100 year old steam locomotives, they are going to have to bite the bullet and have all new boilers built.

Tracton Engines:
My favorite horror story is the story told me by a boiler inspector, he was ultrasonic testing a boiler shell, and came to a section that read zero, out came the hammer and he found the hole in the boiler shell that had been patched with bondo!
   - Hudson - Sunday, 02/25/07 11:21:07 EST

I'm looking for information (web sites and / or books) on sheetmetal and copper shaping
   Mark Bowen - Sunday, 02/25/07 11:48:46 EST

Mark, Try metalshapers.org. These guys are mostly autobody folks but they also do artistic work.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 11:56:34 EST

Mark, For books, Try these two from our book review page.

Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht

Metal Working by Paul Hasluck.

I am also reading and will review, Moving Metal, The Art of chasing and repousse' by Adolph Steines.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 12:00:53 EST

Jmercier, I saw some standard fire brick at my local Tractor Supply Store. Hope there is one near you but you can reach them via internet.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/25/07 12:36:28 EST

Slack Tub

Hi All,

I am looking for ideas on what to use for a slack tub. I currently use a 1 gallon steel pail. This was servicable when I was using a torch and could only heat a small section of the piece at a time. Now that I have a propane forge, I need something bigger. I assume plastic is out.

How big is a good size? What shape should I be looking for? Should it be galvanized steel or is wood OK? Does anyone sell slack tubs? I don't plan on needing to quench a length more than 18" or so.

Please give me some ideas, thanks.

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 02/25/07 12:40:17 EST

Is this mouse hole on ebay a fake? Item number: 220084242772. It seems like a good deal to me, but then again thats me.
   - Hollon - Sunday, 02/25/07 12:43:00 EST

Mike Berube,

I've been using a half wine barrel for a slack tube and it has worked well for me. You can usually nuy the at Home Depot and at many landscaping/garden stores for $20-$30.

   Steven Galonska - Sunday, 02/25/07 13:46:09 EST

Mike Berube,

The standard around here seems to be a five gallon joint compound bucket. Not ideal, but I've been using one for five years with no problem. If you come across a stainless steel beer keg or something, pick it up, but I wouldn't spend much money on a slack tub.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 02/25/07 13:53:00 EST

Steven, Mike,

Thanks for the ideas. Mike, have you had any problem with melting the edge of the bucket with the still-hot part which is out of the water?

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 02/25/07 14:11:45 EST

Ebay Mousehole: Hollon, Looks to be the real McCoy. Price is about par. Its a fair deal depending on far you have to ship it. If I was looking for a good portable anvil I would buy it.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 14:15:35 EST

Slack-tubs: Mike, Plastic works fine as long as you never drop hot iron into them OR lean long pieces on the edges. Yes, they DO melt and make a mess. But they don't rust.

Over time if you keep your eyes open you will come across aluminium or stainless tanks, or even a wood half barrel. But as noted, it is not worth putting a lot of money into a slack tub. Just take the opportunity to get a good cheap one when it comes up.

Problems with slack-tubs include melting (plactic), rusting (steel & iron), ice damage (almost all if you have freezing temperatures), shrinkage and coming apart of wood tubs if they become dry, mosquitoes (almost everywhere).

To keep mosquitoes from inhabiting your slacktub use about a cup of liquid laundry bleach per 5 to 10 gallons of water. This will kill existing larva and prevent new ones. It is not recommended for steel or iron tubs.

There is no good safe way to prevent freezing other than keeping the water warm. A "stock heater", a device used to keep cattle troughs from freezing is the best method.

Do not use anti-freeze in the slack-tub. It is toxic to pets and the vapors may be toxic to you if there are enough.

Your CSI membership did not get processed the other night due to need for sleep prior to a long travel day. Will get it this afternoon. Sorry for the delay.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/25/07 14:29:54 EST

My slack water is in 55 gallon steel drums. I have also used 30 gallon drums. They don't last forever, but they are easily replaced. In the winter, I use stock tank heaters, which makes the drums last longer.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/25/07 14:40:05 EST

For clay-based fireplace bricks, the full-sized ones will likely be handled by a brick supplier as they are used to line fireplaces. Half-thick clay bricks used in wood burning stoves can usually be found in outlets which sell them.

On the soft firebricks look in the yellow pages in a nearby large city for refractory. Refractory suppliers should carry them and may sell them by the brick. If you need a full box they are sold on eBay, but expect a couple of broken ones in the box. Standard is either 2,300 or 2,600 degree.

2,300 degree soft firebricks are also sold on eBay by the brick, as is castable refractory.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 02/25/07 15:14:47 EST

Slack tub,
Being cheap, and having burst several drywall mud buckets, I proceeded as follows
I cut a free plastic 55 gallon drum top to bottom in half. I laid the half drum on its side, and built up an angle iron frame from scrap. I threw in about an inch of small gravel to protect the bottom, and the angle iron on the end I use protectes the plastic from melting. Since the drum is a half circle, when it freezes, as it is now, it just rises up some. I have been using the same tub for maybe 5 years without trouble. Since my coal forge blower is over one corner, the bits of oil that drop out coat the surface and prevent skeeters. When the oil film gets a little thick, I use my water can to skim the surface for when I water my forge coal. And I still have the other half of the drum.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/25/07 15:53:38 EST

Ptree --

Good point about plastic buckets freezing. I guess there's too much hot air here in DC for it to happen much (grin). Ceramics (pottery) suppliers can also be a source for soft firebrick.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 02/25/07 16:14:09 EST

I'm sorry to chime in so late here, but doesn't a 10hp motor require a phase converter larger than 10 hp? I thought I read that somewhere.
   Mike H - Sunday, 02/25/07 16:17:46 EST

Also -- you can make a stock rest for plastic barrels out of a few feet of angle. Just cut a slit in one leg in the middle of the piece, and cut several inches off of the opposing leg. Bend where the slit is and sit it on the edge of the bucket. Stock in the water doesn't get hot enough to melt the plastic (the majority of the time!), and this keeps the rim from getting tagged.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 02/25/07 16:34:35 EST

off of _each_ of the opposing legs... poof then prost.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 02/25/07 16:35:35 EST


Thanks to all for the ideas. This place is great.

ptree, I like the way you think. T.Gold I think I will use your idea with some gravel in the bottom like ptree.

Guru, no problem, no hurry. Just wanted to be sure all was in order. I know you've been busy lately.

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 02/25/07 17:01:24 EST

Hollon mousehole anvil. I also personally know the seller of that anvil. It is real. He is top notch as well in honesty and service. You would not be sorry dealing with him.
   - Baxter John Black - Sunday, 02/25/07 17:04:46 EST

Most beer kegs are aluminum right? I've taken half-kegs and cut them in half, you end up with two perfectly nice slack tubs. I use one for brine and one for oil. The brine doesn't eat through the tub like it does on steel buckets.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 02/25/07 17:08:44 EST

Slack tubs:
Local hardwear stores .....15 gal galv wash tub not very costly........I have scrounged around in scrap yards, I found an oval ss tub that I think may have been a whirlpool in a locker room, got it for $20.00 holds alot of water . As Frank Turley does I use a stock tank heater to keep it from freezing. Got that for about $30.00. Be resoursefull, use what you can find and adapt it to your needs.
   Harley - Sunday, 02/25/07 18:30:45 EST

IIRC the boiler that blew up in Medina the root cause was letting it get too low on water---not a fire tube boiler BTW, then when the angle of the boiler shifted you had an overly hot boiler wall that had a sudden slosh of water over it producing a sudden spike in pressure.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 02/25/07 19:22:07 EST

I have just moved to a rural block of land with my 3 phase sahinler power hammer. Only single phase power is avalible .
Is it possible to fit a 10hp single phase motor to the hammer without to much trouble
   Jim Blower - Sunday, 02/25/07 20:55:42 EST

Jim Blower, scroll up a little bit to your first post there has been some answers to your question. The format of this forum takes a bit of getting used to if your used to the thread type ones.
   JimG - Sunday, 02/25/07 21:00:55 EST

Thomas P, Was the Medina boiler on a traction engine? I am aware of two traction engine failures. Both fire tube. I thought I remembered the accident you refer to at Medina, and thought it was a locomotive type boiler on a steam traction engine. If so I would wager that it was a fire tube.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/25/07 22:04:40 EST

Thomas P.
I just googled the accident, and the Medina OH explosion was a Case steam plowing engine. I read the boiler inspectors report. The safety relief valve would not open at 250 PSI, even though set for 160 psi, and the pressure gage was reading 25 psi lower than actual. The staybolts were severely corroded and the crown sheet was corroded down to 0.087" thickness from .375". Numerous staybolts only had 1.5 threads engaged, many were at 2.5 threads when 4.5 was the design, and several had been welded, a bad repair for a corroded boiler. All in all a sad story of poor inspection and maintenance. Apparently the boiler had been leaking so sealant had been added. Crown sheet unwrapped and blew the tractor about 15' in the air. To my knowledge, Case only made locomotive type boilers which are fire tube type construction.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/25/07 22:19:50 EST

Mike H. For most aplications the converter size does not have to be increased. For some high starting torque aplications however a larger unit must be used. The equiptment manufacturers give advice in these matters. For a homebuilt idler motor convertor the idler motor probably should be of greater horsepower to get full power from the machine motor, but capacitors need to be used allso to get full voltage on the generated legs. Depending on how much power You need on the machine motor You might not bother with the capacitors.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/25/07 23:18:23 EST

Alternative Power (to the Utility): Small electric power systems can be difficult to operate especially where motors are involved. Sudden high power demands are hard to compensate for. When you are hooked to the electric utility the surges in demand are covered by massive overkill in available power.

Modern small power systems do this by storing power in batteries (another maintenance problem) and using high tech digital power conversion systems to produce the necessary power on demand. These work well but ARE high tech. Microscopic things can bring the whole system down.

These battery systems are typically used with solar and wind power where the supply of power is variable and intermitent. Solar is gaining popularity due to the lack of moving parts and thus low maintenance other than electrical. This is also an area where costs have been dropping due to the increase in manufacturing of chips and solar cells. It is also an area where the power conversion is miserably inefficient and there is room for a lot of research. Cost effective working whole-house systems are available at the currently low efficiencies (something like 2%). With an increase in efficiency suburban rooftops could be providing cities and industry power.

Hydropower is one of the best small power sources available IF you have the right land in the right situation. It is not right for everyone and overall is expensive due to the land requirements. Low head (less than 50 feet of drop) is relatively expensive in equipment needs. Special high water volume low speed turbines are necessary. As the head increases the equipment needed for a given HP decreases. In locations where you have a couple hundred feet of head a very small turbine will produce a LOT of power. This can be used directly OR indirectly. I once saw a shop that manufactured small turbines that had a little 10" diameter Pelton wheel operating a bench grinder as a direct connect device. The little turbine was right on the bench next to the grinding wheel. The same shop also operated a large air compressor on an individual turbine. However, the BEST system is is you have Utility power available and in the process of making power you supply them. In this case you can do what is known as "leaning on the grid". This means you use a small unregulated power source and push against the grid. Being small you have no effect other than turning your electric meter backwards. No governor or frequency control is needed. You also have instant reserve from the Utility to meet demands in load.

Providing your own power or using alternative systems is very interesting but there is a LOT to know. Connecting to the grid to sell power OR just to lean on the grid is covered by local, state/province and central government regulations almost everywhere in the world. This alone can drive up the costs to where what seems like obviously wasted power is no longer cost effective.

I am personally a fan of vertically configured S wind turbines, just because they are different.
   - guru - Monday, 02/26/07 09:59:43 EST

5 gallon bucket slack tub. For years I used a five gallon bucket, well a bunch of them really. In an effort to make them last longer i made a ring about an inch smaller than the opening of the bucket with tabs that fit over the rim and a disk roughly the diameter of the bottom for the bottom this really helps prevent melting through sides and bottom.Worked well but i use the bottom of an old pressure tank now .
   aaron - Monday, 02/26/07 10:23:21 EST

Cheap Slack Tubs: One endless source of cheap tanks is old hot water heaters. Ask a plumber and he will bury you in old tanks ranging from short under the sink units to tall skinny standard models.

Most hot water heater tanks are scrapped due to rust. However, they are glass (ceramic) lined and the rust is usually localized around the heating elements or plumbing fittings. The majority of the tank is sound.

Cutting tanks with a torch is dangerous and precautions MUST be taken. Ventilating the tank with compressed air OR filling it with water are the best methods. It does not matter what the tank previously held. Oxy-fuel cutting torches dump a ton of unburned fuel along with pure oxygen into a tank being cut. Most tank explosions are the result of the fuel gas, not the contents of the tank. You can also chisel or saw a tank in two.

The idea to split the tank lengthwise given above is a good idea to provide an ice damage resistant slack-tub.

I have also seen complete forges built with parts of scrap hot water heater tanks.
   - guru - Monday, 02/26/07 10:42:14 EST

Okay, I did something stupid. My machine vise (50 pound) had a little chip in the inside edge of a jaw. So I did a little weld fix. After looking at it I got the (stupid) idea to dress up both edges of the jaws by welding a line in between, (figured I'd cut a straight line after the weld). So, after doing all this, there was a paper thin line of weld between the jaws. I went to open the vise, felt something slip and now the vise won't open. The jaws DO open, just now I have to loosen the vise and spread the jaws manually. Okay, I said it was stupid. I don't care WHY or WHAT the problem is. I just need to know how to fix it.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 02/26/07 11:56:41 EST

Broke Vise: Nip, The nut in a standard machinist's vise is held by a screw or pin from the bottom of the vise. The nut is keyhole shaped to fit in the arm with the base of the part in a machined slot or broached keyway in the base of the vise. Some have a stop to pull against, others just pull on the screw/pin. It sounds to me that you have sheared the pin from weld shrinkage.

If the vise is on a rotary base then you will need to remove the base to see the pin. The pins vary in design but are usually a threaded part that you can probably make from a bolt with a little sawing and filing.
   - guru - Monday, 02/26/07 12:33:33 EST

NOTE that I said "standard" vise (rectangular arm, open bottom). Many of the round armed vises use different screw and nut arrangements and you would just have to dissassembly them and figure them out.
   - guru - Monday, 02/26/07 12:36:36 EST


I still cannot login to the members part. Should I be able to yet?

Mike Berube
   Mike Berube - Monday, 02/26/07 12:45:18 EST

Hej 'Nipp,
Sounds like you DID something stupid,,,Again.LOL
Like the rest of us, I expect you are used to it by now.

Depends on how the vise is constructed, It could be the reverse thrust collar on the screw is now loose or broken. Does the screw just unscrew out of the vise jaw as you try to open it ?

Or does the screw stay in the movable jaw but the jaws just wont seperate? I would say the nut the screw goes into is loose. Some vises have a seperate nut inside the vise body rather than the body being simply threaded to accept the clamping screw.
Either way you will need to dissasemble the vise to see what style of construction it utilises, From there its repair will be obvious.
Vises are not too complicated.
   - Sven - Monday, 02/26/07 13:26:29 EST

Heat Treating 4140 - What we did at Crucible Steel in the late 1970's was as follows: Under 2" round, austenitize at 1600 F & quench in oil, then temper. Two inch round through 7 and 1/2 " round, again austenitize at 1600 F, water quench, then temper. We were producing to an ASTM bolting specification that required a minimum tempering temperature of 1100 F for 1 hour per inch of diameter. Hardness range was I believe 262 to 321 Brinell, Roughly 26 to 34 Rockwell C. For the large diameter rounds, I needed decent carbon - midrange or better and good levels of chrome and molybdenum to meet my 1100 F min temper temperature. Water temperature was maintained at 100 F or less, and both oil and water tanks were extremely well agitated.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 02/26/07 13:38:33 EST

BTW; 'Nipp,
Did you ever work with the Jim Rose group during the 80s ?
   - Sven - Monday, 02/26/07 14:35:10 EST

Hi I found a old vice at a yard sale it is a Fulton iron and engine works detroit mich. cheney anvil$30.The vice is in the book Tools rare and ingenious buy Sandor Nagyszalanczy on page 133 any info would help thanks for your help
   jimmy l - Monday, 02/26/07 15:12:31 EST

jimmy I: These combination anvil/vises were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I suspect there were well over a dozen manufacturers of them. Their design fault lie in their being cast iron, including the base of the moveable jaw. When it broke it could not be readily repaired. Sometimes a complete one is offered on eBay, but typically just the anvil portion. So-so even as an anvil due to being hollow.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 02/26/07 15:30:11 EST

Last evening on the National Geographic Explorer program it was on swords. I came into the program late. Showed a smith knocked pieces off of what looked like a chunk of foundry bloom and forge welded them into small ingots. These ingots were then forge welded together in a bar, which eventually because the sword. Anyone know who the swordsmith was?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 02/26/07 15:32:36 EST


I'm in! Thanks.

Mike Berube
   Mike Berube - Monday, 02/26/07 17:14:17 EST

Dear gurus;

I have a 110 lbs Russian cast steel anvil that i got a while back from harborfreight tools. When you guys reviewed the anvil you found out that the face on this anvil is not fully hardened but you also mention that the carbon content is high enough to harden it to around +-Rc 45.

Im planning to take the anvil to a shop to have it hardedned but
the problem is that I myself dont know anything about he subject and the guy ill be dealing with probably doesnt have much experience hardening anvils.

So, is there anything specific i should tell him on "HOW TO" do it or what NOT to do?

ie.: less on the edges, more in the center, do not drill holes in it (well thats obvious haha) etc...

Also if you guys know a good place to have this done near Montreal Quebec (im on the south shore) it would save me some time.

Thank you very much for your help.

   Fred - Monday, 02/26/07 17:54:08 EST

Ken: I think it was Fred Champagne. Pretty nice work. I was surprised I hadnt heard of him before.
   JLW - Monday, 02/26/07 18:27:53 EST

JLW: Thank you. That was him.

   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 02/26/07 20:16:48 EST

Fred, I would clean up the russian anvil and use it. If you don't have much experience and good hammer control, the russian is an ok learner. Use it, abuse it and when you have gained good hammer control, and have decided on what you really want buy a good anvil. Save the heat treating money for the good anvil.
   ptree - Monday, 02/26/07 20:42:51 EST

Ken ...it was Paul Champagne in upstate NY. Was a good show ......second time I have seen it.
   Harley - Monday, 02/26/07 20:43:20 EST

Wow very off topic. i am going to try to build a Kerosene forge out of an old grill, and some fire brick this spring. i was going to use a TIG tip as the nozel for the kerosene. do you think it would stay hot enought to keep boiling the kerosene as the forge ran? I would have the kerosene in an MSR bottle with the pump thing in it. It will probally come with White Gas too, so do you think that would work before i can get some Keroscene. also do you think i will need a blower for this. odds are i will be working next to the garage, so i might be lucky enought to get some power, instead of working out in the yard like i did last summer. I also found that a 1" thick piece of tool steel works pretty good as an anvil. i think i have a 4"x4"x10" piece of steel i can use too. it "rings," too. any input would be appreciated. I am the person who was going to try a Gasoline forge too. I am forced to believe that that won't work (vaporized gasoline = fuel-air bomb = BIG boom). Please don't suggeest propane, it is WAY to expensive if this will work. TYVM
   Chris - Monday, 02/26/07 20:43:25 EST

Fred, I agree with ptree. I did the review on that Russian anvil and it will give you a lot of service as it is. No, it will not last forever but you can learn on it an sell it to another newbie when you move up. Save your money.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/26/07 21:03:01 EST

Guru, erase after reading but I don't have a good email for you we still have a little problem with fgets() [function.fgets]: Length parameter must be greater than 0. in /home/anvilpub/wwwroot/chat/viewlog.php on line 82
   Tio Pick - Monday, 02/26/07 22:41:25 EST

I've been out of town for a couple of weeks, just read all the posts I missed and my input is, yes, yes, maybe, yes, definitely no and Ken, don't sweat the small minded people of the world, if God hadn't liked fools so much, he wouldn't have made so many of them!! New stuff, Nip, I told you I was having a rr rail made into a swage block, look what I got for $50.00!! http://www.fmtc.com/~tfl1x/SwageBlock.jpg
The diameters are 2, 3, and 4". There's a little kerf on one side of the cuts I need to dress out cause they went too fast with the h2o torch, but I'm pleased as punch with the results. By the way, the piece weighs approx 30lbs, not 60lbs as I posted before.
   Thumper - Monday, 02/26/07 22:42:28 EST

OFF GRID POWER: My experience in this comes from the dozen years I spent living largely on My boat, not at a dock or with shore power. I used an 1800 watt inverter and 6 golf cart batteries. This invertor will run most motors 3/4 HP or less and universal motors up to 15 amps. The invertor is 93% efficient at full load. The batteries lasted about 4 years average, and cost about $300 to replace with seconds from the Decca plant. They would cost a bit more now. I never bothered with solar, many use it, but on a sail boat it is hard to get enough area to generate enough power to cover all the loads. The single cristal and pollycristilin pannels convert about 25-30% of the sun energy to electricity, while amorphis thin film pannels do about half as well. The wind generator I used would have given Me enough power if the wind stayed above 25 knots, but where I cruised the average windspeed was probably 8 knots, not enough to ammount to much too much of the time. For obvious reasons the size of a wind generator is limeted on a sailboat. I used a high output alternator belted to My propulsion engine, I got about 130A @ 12V at 1000 RPM on the diesel engine, the cooling system heated the water heater and the refrigerator & frezer were belted to the engine allso. 45 minutes 2 times per day covered all My utilities for 1/2 gallon of fuel per day . A cabin could use a system like this, but much of a shop would need a lot more power.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/26/07 23:28:59 EST

Chris: I don't think what You are describing is going to work. The liquid fuel has to be a fine mist or vapor in order to mix well enough with the air to burn hot. The MIG tip will squirt out a stream of liquid fuel. This will not cause airflow like the propane does in an aspirated burner. You need the fine mist of fuel and air blast, or fuel vapor and air blast. If You are buying kerosene/fuel oil/diesel You are going to pay 2/3 or 3/4 as much as You would for propane, not a great savings, and the propane burner is real easy to build, easy to use and works well. But that is just My opinion. The reason I was interested in building a fuel oil forge is because I have a burner gun laying arround to fire it with.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/26/07 23:54:23 EST

Heat Treating Anvil: Fred, The hardenability of a large piece of steel not only relies on carbon content but alloy content. Alloys make the difference between being deep hardening and shallow hardening. These anvils MAY or MAY NOT be more hardenable.

A good heat treater will know how to handle a large piece of steel but he will have a difficult time without specifics about the grade of steel.

Old anvils were heated and quenched under running water. The face hardened and the rising heat tempered it simultaneously. Many modern anvils are induction hardened by heating the face and letting it self quench from the cold mass underneith.

Most cast steel anvils are hardened to about Rockwell 52 to 54 MAX. Earlier cast steel anvils such as Kohlswas were hardened more but had chipping and cracking problems so modern makers have backed off on the hardness.

As a low quality casting there is also the possibility of the result being a total loss. Cost is also significant. You are likely to pay as much as half the cost of the anvil for little or no improvement, or as mentioned possible loss.

As others noted, use it, trade it off. Buy a better anvil if you want a better anvil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 01:49:41 EST

Kerosene Forge: Oil forges are common and built several ways. A blower is absolutely required. Some use drip mix and some use pressure injection. Many use domestic furnace burners (pump, filter, nozzel, blower, ignition - all in one package). Those without ignition are a trick to get going without a significant flare up.

A gasoline "forge" is not a forge, it is a bomb. Note that the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. armoury is a gasoline/air bomb. "White gas" is the same except without additives necessary for use in automobiles. These will burn too hot and melt many refractories.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 01:59:40 EST

Thumper, Very nice RR iron swage block. Also thank you for the inarticulate insult.
   - Baxter John - Tuesday, 02/27/07 02:25:47 EST

Dear gurus:

Thank you very much for your input.
Its became obvious that paying for this isnt worth it.
Though losing the anvil isnt a problem so I may build an automated rig for flame hardening or theres this oven we have that can go a little over 1000F... (haha some of you must be laughing)

Its back to the books i guess, i have a lot to learn before i attempt anything.

Thanks again,
   Fred - Tuesday, 02/27/07 04:29:50 EST

After a bit of reading, its obvious that i had no idea what i was talking about, our oven/furnace wont cut it... Please don't laugh to much ;)

Have a nice day.
   Fred - Tuesday, 02/27/07 04:37:01 EST

Sven, yes the screw just comes out while the jaw stays in place. The vise is on a rotary base, but when I installed it on my bench, I snapped a ring so the base got welded to the vise, then the whole thing is almost permanently attached to the tabletop in a really strange way (I had no bolts... don't ask). It's a REALLY old vise and has lots of thick old dried grease inside the jaw channel. It was given to me, so I feel bad trashing it. I also messed up the jaw edge dressing, so I stuck some angle iron on it as collars.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/27/07 08:51:58 EST

Oh, Sven... the guy from Jim Rose sideshow is a faker! I know him and his act always involved gaffed props. For example: he claimed to lift a car battery (the battery had the liquid removed and a few plates left). He would also lift cinder blocks (cinder blocks when left in the Cali. desert sun for a while evaps most water weight). I am the guy with the World's Strongest Nipples, currently in Guinness and the only man TODAY to lift anvils (or ASO's) by the nipples. I've also towed full size automobiles.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/27/07 08:54:47 EST

Nip, Vise corners are best smooth and slightly rounded. For blacksmithing work the jaws are best ground smooth as the serrated knurling mars the work. Since almost every crafstperson that cares covers their vice jaws with copper and have done do for over 100 years I am not sure why vices are not available with smooth jaws.

Yep, you have popped the reverse thrust washer or its fixing which varies. Taje the screw out watching for loose parts falling out, pull the jaw out and see. Like the nut there is usually a small pin but sometimes there is a snap ring. These are quite weak as they normally only need to pull the jaw out, not create enough force to break a weld. . .

CLEAN the vise. Old grease full of grit wears our screws. Vise screws should routinely be cleaned and relubed. This is more critical on leg vises but old bench vises were often in very dusty dirty locations and grit gets into their screws as well. I picked up a nice vice a year ago which was hard to operate and with a little cleaning and greasing it works very well. I prefer Never-Seize lubricant on vise screws. Be sure to lubricate under the screw shoulder and thrust washer if it has one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 09:20:24 EST

Baxter John, welcome, you're. Now that's inarticulate.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 02/27/07 10:30:57 EST

Anvil quenching question: I beleive Anvils in America mentions CF&I used a water column to heat treat TRENTONS. I recall they used a 6K gallon water tank, recycliing the water. I suspect they would heat the anvil plate to critical temperature, put it in the column, drop water on it according to a time/weight formula and then pull it out. If so, then how would they have determined when to put it back in as the residue heat in the body reheated the top to a specific temperature? Heat crayon? Temperature gauge?

In Mouse Hole Forge Postman says they used a water wheel. Back in those times (say 1820-1880) how would they have determined temperature for the second (final) quenching? Possibly time/weight also for both? For example, for a 150 LB they would put it under the water flow for ten seconds, pull out, wait 20 seconds and then final quench.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 02/27/07 10:33:37 EST

Ken, Mousehole used water from the FLUME feeding their water wheel. No calculations, no science, just trial and error and hundreds of years of passed down experience.

On plated anvils you just quench to make the plate hard. Since these were not modern deep hardening steels the plate just barely hardens all the way through with the corners harder. There is no record of tempering and the broken chipped glass hard corners of many anvils pretty much tell the story.

The larger the anvil the more difficult it was to get a good quench thus larger anvils tend to be considerably softer than small ones.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 11:02:35 EST

i wonder if you could help me find a supplier of taperd iron rods or bar stock 3/8 or 1/2 dia. to speed up the fabrication time of a tree branch table we are an iron railing fabrication /instalation company est 1946 we do get some requests for many other custom products thank you!
Doug Hayes
419 531 1491
   Doug Hayes - Tuesday, 02/27/07 12:02:14 EST

CSI meeting tonight all CSI members are welcomed to attend at 8:00pm EST. - secretary -
   dale - Tuesday, 02/27/07 13:41:51 EST

Tapered bars: Doug, I do not know of any of the component manufacturers that sell long tapered bar. You would probably need to contract with a forge shop to have them made on a custom basis either using a power hammer or rotary swaging machine. Many smiths can forge long tapers (three or four feet) from short larger diameter billets in one or two heats.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 13:55:20 EST

What is a rotary swaging machine?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 02/27/07 15:01:55 EST

Rotary Swage AKA Rotary Hammer: This machine has a rotating flywheel with cams that drive four rams toward the center of the machine. The dies can be setup for round, square, hex. . Bar and tube is often resized and or tapered on one of these machines. Long tapered tubes like gun barrels and steel utlility and heavy flag poles are forged on these machines.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 15:07:59 EST

i just wanted to no what the merits of tenons are?
many thanks

   Ben - Tuesday, 02/27/07 15:17:20 EST

Tenons: support, strength, also self supporting without other structure to help stabalize and they look nice.
   - Baxter John - Tuesday, 02/27/07 16:10:26 EST

Tenoning: In ironwork this is a form of traditional joinery. Mortise and tenon joints can be similar to those used in wood work to reflect the same. When most iron was wrought iron with grain that did not like to be bent sharply a mortise and tenon joint made a strong joint without bending the metal or welding.

Tenoning of pickets is fast efficient and strong. The headed ends can be similar to rivets on the same piece thus giving it a sense of overall design. This is also a "natural" method of joining that is as basic as the rivet.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 17:47:51 EST

Hey, I have a 150 lb peter wright anvil from 1911, and it is pretty beat up,
a friend of mine's dad is the foreman at a welding shop, and says he can get it refaced, so built up with welds, and ground flat with nice corners, for FREE, so, he says he has done it before and i know he has, he just asked what kind of rods i would like, so, what kind of rods would be best for building up the face on an anvil, i know you can get "Hardfacing rods" but i dont know where to get them, so i was wondering, what kind, high in manganese? or what or doesn anyone know the name of the actual rods that are used, also, will he have to preheat the anvil? and is it something that a shop could do?

   Cameron - Tuesday, 02/27/07 17:57:24 EST

the white gas is used in portable liquid fuel stoves used in camping. I have seen it flare (1 foot fireball in SPL's face). My question is wheather or not if the MIG tip was HEATED before the fuel was injected. this would BOIL the fuel thus turning it into a VAPOR. MY question is if the heat of the forge would be subsantial to keep the MIG hot enough to boil the fuel at the same rate it was injected. Also would it heve enough mass to stay hot long enough to boil the fuel or would it shatter when the fuel "quenched" it. What do you people pay for propane? i mean out here(cleveland, ohio) it is outragous. at least $40 for bbq sized tank, and at very least $25 for refill on bbq size tank
   Chris - Tuesday, 02/27/07 18:44:35 EST

Chris, white gas and gasolene are both about the same from a flamability and volitility standpoint, with both not being good choices for a forge fuel.
Fuel oil would be the liquid fuel of choice for me. But I would still suggest that a propane forge is easy to buy ready to go, for a reasonable price, or to build if you have the required skills and tools. I pay about $50 for a hundred # tank of propane. A BBQ grill tank is 20#. The kind I have is about 5' tall and about 18" in Diameter. Now I did have to buy the tank, for about $113. I do have a pickup truck and take it to my welding gas supplier for refills. They are the cheapest around. If you are looking for propane at the big box store, and are exchanging tanks that would explain some of the high price. Look in the book, and call propane dealers and welding gas suppliers for the best price.
Even a BBQ tank will support an atmospheric single burner for a reasonable time.

For reference, boiling fuel is making vapor. Vaporized gasolene, diesel and other fuels have been used for many years as "fuel air bombs" A very nice version was a bladder of diesel, dropped from a cargo plane, and burst in the air over the jungle. A secondary detonator would then ignite the vapor cloud, leveling about 10 square acres of full grown rain forrest. This is only an example, but if the fireball in your SPL's face, from perhaps a 1/16 of a teaspoon full of white gas has not impressed you perhaps the bomb example will. Use a factory made "gun" for fuel oil, a proper propane burner or solid fuel. Learn to forge and gain good hammer control etc, then after some years of experience and perhaps some engineering classes then design the liquid fueled burner.

"Life is too short to spend any of it Dead, Injuried, or in Jail, and any combo of the three really sucks"
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/27/07 19:08:53 EST

I never said i would vaporize gas i just said that i was the nut who was gonna try it before a bunch of people said that i would blow my head off. also,since i don't have a pickup truck, a 5' propane cylinder doesn't seem very easy to transport. unless my mom let me use her van( not likely for that much propane). how would your "#20" last with a single burner forge about the size of a small grill. or could i just use the old grill burners? LOL i could just use the existing igniter too. Does the burner need to be like a torch or could it be a grill type burner? also could i just buy one of those propane torch addaptors for the 1lb propane cylinders, and buy a hose adaptor? if i do decide to go solid fuel, what is the best way to transport BULK coal WITHOUT a pickup truck. Please don't suggest delivery, because i have no desire to spend $400 on 2 tons of coal at once. TY
   Chris - Tuesday, 02/27/07 20:01:53 EST

Chris, On small one and two burner forges small "picnic" or grill sized exchange type propane bottles will run four or five hours before they freeze up and will operate for several days with breaks to warm up. However, this size bottle will only fire a badly designed forge for a couple hours.

Burners for forges are a specific type. See our forge burner info on the plans and FAQs page.

The problem with liquid fuels is they tend to go places where they are not supposed to. Out the forge, down your leg. . . . Pressurizing is a bad idea and most folks that have built fuel oil forges have used gravity feed from a tank just high enough to get the fuel to the forge.

Instead of coal you can use real charcoal. It comes in large 50 to 80 pound bags that will fit in the trunk of a car or could even be carried on a bicycle (heavier loads are carried that way all over the world) OR on your back. You can find real wood charcoal at resturant suppliers and places like Lowes.

The advantage to charcoal is there is little smoke and neighbors do not complain. It is also generally always good fuel while coal varies down to stuff that is all smoke and no heat or impossible to light as there is so little fuel value.
On drip type oil forges the drip tube often gets hot and the fuel burns leaving a carbon residue that must be cleaned out. The nozzels are NOT preheated on purpose, it just happens if the oil is dripped directly into the forge. I prefer the oil to be dripped into the air blast just outside the forge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/27/07 20:44:05 EST

Carbonic acid is very weak. That is the chemical name for carbonated water. Carbonic acid is so weak they add phosphoric acid (and other acids) to carbonated beverages to provide the sour component of the flavor.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 02/27/07 21:39:13 EST

Hi, I'm fairly new to blacksmithing and have only been doing it a few months, but I have been involved in other metalworking for years. My problem involves punches. I made a few punches by tapering down 3/8 inch round bar to a dull point. I tempered them by heating them to blood red and quenching the tip, filing the tip and quenching again when it reached full blue. My problem is that when I try to punch through thicker hot steel, the tip of my puch heats up and deforms, and sometimes gets stuck. I was wondering if there are any tricks to keep this from happening. Any help would be greatly appriciated. Thank you.
   Jesse Fresch - Tuesday, 02/27/07 21:51:35 EST

Couldn't find charcoal at Lowes or homedepot(online) or in the phone book. 1 coal supplier. I called them a while ago, and they sell BULK coal for $.10/lb or bagged for $.16/lb. I don't know if that is okay or if it is a rip off. There were quite a few propane suppliers listed. They are probally mostly re-fill services. I suppose $18 for a good, long, summer day of forging isnt that bad, once I get a tank. I use BBQ briquets now, and they are horrable. how is coal to work with? do the pieces fall all over the place when you try to stick your metal in it, because that is the primary reason i wanted a gas forge. Can you poke the piece through the Coal or can you just set it on top. I am only asking because this deteremines whether i go gas or coal. TYVM
   Chris - Tuesday, 02/27/07 21:53:20 EST

Chris, you apparently already have a solid-fuel forge which works. Briquets are horrible. Get some proper fuel and see what you think. $.16/lb has to be cheaper than what you're currently paying for briquets. So even if it's a rip-off it's hard to see how things could be worse than they currently are. Before creating some elaborate forge which may or may not blow up in your face, why wouldn't you try to get the most out of what you already have? After all, what is your aim here? To make a forge or to make stuff hot & hit it?
My car doesn't move the family very quickly when I push it. Should I design a new, faster car with computer controlled EFI or try turning the engine on in the one that I have & see what happens?
   andrew - Tuesday, 02/27/07 22:31:04 EST

Incidentally, if you're ok with spending $18/day - that will get you more than 110 pounds of coal. That's probably enough to fire the forge of an apprentice or two also;)
   andrew - Tuesday, 02/27/07 22:36:23 EST

Chris: I am in southeastern Pa. 20# propane tanks cost about $12-$13 to get filled at a propane service company. These are the companies that are full service, they fill movable tanks there and have trucks to fill permanantly mounted ones. These are the people to deal with. Some will make up hoses with watever fittings You need. The regulator for an aspirated burner needs to be higher pressure than what most gas companies have, so You get that from a welding supply shop. A blown burner can use low pressure if built with large enough suply lines. Soft coal costs about $12/100# bag here. It easily fits in a car trunk, but is dirty. You have to poke the work into a coal fire, or rake the burning coals on top of the steel to get it hot, just laying it on top isn't enough. You can buy a propane forge from Ken Sarabok for not much more than it would cost You to make it, if You coated the inside of it with ITC 100 it would be quite efficient.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 02/27/07 22:57:59 EST

We're changing out the granite display where I work and I was wondering if granite would make a better base in a propane forge than fire brick. The pieces are already cut to about the right size. Thanks in advance for your help.
   Mark C - Tuesday, 02/27/07 23:00:25 EST

How is "Popcorn" surface done, you see it on Japanese tools and I really like the look...?
   - Roger Keagle - Tuesday, 02/27/07 23:03:26 EST

Hello. new to all of this, here goes, how to you get the "Popcorn Surface" found on many Japanese tools, I really like the look, but have tried to find ouw it is done, and there seems to be a compleat lack of this information in cyberspace...HELP !
   - Roger Keagle - Tuesday, 02/27/07 23:09:42 EST


The material wrought iron is weaker than mild steel, so the hole in the monkey tool is countersunk, thereby when used, leaving a fillet around the base of the tenon. For the stock-end and tenon base to get a flush fit to the adjoining bar, normally at a right angle, the receiving hole in the bar should be countersunk.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 02/27/07 23:46:41 EST

How do you do the "Popcorn Surface" ?
   Roger Keagle - Wednesday, 02/28/07 01:31:27 EST

Gads, now I have my question up three times, do I look desparate or what...darn thing kept teling me to try again, so like a total fool, I did ! (make note to take a computer class in my next life !)
   Roger Keagle - Wednesday, 02/28/07 01:35:26 EST

Chris: $7.00 for a 50-lb bag is a fairly normal price. Question is really on quality of it and you wouldn't know that until your tried it. If the supplier will provide you with a coal analysis it can be evaluated for you.

I currently use 20-lb propane bottles. Wish now I had purchased 30-lb ones instead. I have two bottles. When ones goes empty I then have time to get the other one refilled. Since I don't use my forge for long at any one time I simply haven't felt the need to bump up to a 100-lb tank.

I suspect all of the propane services have the capability to refill small bottles at their place of business.

I suggest you click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in the upper right. Scroll down to the list of ABANA chapters. Find the nearest one to you and contact them for their meeting times. You can learn a great deal of information by attending their meetings. It is quite possible there would be both a coal and propane forge at the site. The group may also be able to refer to you one or more members in your general area for hands-on assistance.

Don't know where you are but Anvilfire.com will hold a Hammer-in at my shop on April 20-22, with the 21st (Saturday) being the principal day. I will have two forging sites set up, one with propane (and a powerhammer) and one for coal. I am in West-central Tennessee (Waverly) about six miles east of KY Lake and about 14 miles north of I-40. You can camp on site or there are motels in the general areas.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Wednesday, 02/28/07 06:19:18 EST


If you do find a source of charcoal here is a link with a quite nice, homemade charcoal forge:

   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Wednesday, 02/28/07 07:16:05 EST

Roger, this is a forum where you post a question or comment and check back every so often to get results. Many folks assume this is like a chat room and get upset that they didn't get an immediate response.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/28/07 08:39:29 EST

Granite: Mark, Great stuff for many things, but not forge parts. It will crack and break down from the heat.

If they are very flat the granite slabs are handy "flats" for grinding or honing things that need to be flat. It also makes nice bases for work. . . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/28/07 09:11:21 EST

Punches: Jesse F., You did not say what type of steel you made the punches out of OR the type being punched OR the sizes. A lot of variables.

First, hot work tools such as punches that are used to any significant depth need to be tool steel. The best are made of hot work tool steels that are still very tough at a red heat.

Second is technique. In hot punching you cannot slowly push a punch through the hot steel. Even hot work steel will get soft if hot enough. You must work quickly and in stages and it helps a great deal to use punch lube or coolant. When working alone it is difficult to drive a punch in fast so you must pull it out and cool it every few blows. The traditional punch lube is powdered coal. Modern smiths use grease, never sieze or special punch lubes. You dip the punch in these to cool and coat the punch to start and between each pass.

Third, if the punch is pushed too close to the far side of the work the steel will be cold on the anvil and the punch hot. The punch will swell and stick. Judging the depth is the trick and is done by experience and feel. Normally you punch 3/4's through the part, flip it and finish punching through.

When punching high carbon steel it gets more difficult and tools need to be better. While you can get away with mild steel tooling once in a while on mild steel and wrought you must have good tool steel tools to punch other steels.

See our iForge demo on punching.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/28/07 09:52:50 EST

Popcorn Surface: Roger, I never heard of that one. . . perhaps you are talking about decorative color case hardening, OR it could be an etched folded or laminated steel OR something else. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/28/07 10:07:02 EST


You say a "dull point". Hot punches do have a taper but not a "point". The bottom of the business end is flat. You're working with a truncated cone, so to speak. Using the alpha guru's tips, above, when in use, you get compression of the burr and some shear on the sides of the hole. If punching on a bar, it will lengthen slightly, and you'll get a side swelling. Lotsa stuff going on when you hot punch a hole.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/28/07 10:19:33 EST

I know what Roger's "popcorn" surface is, as I have accidentally produced it on blades during heat-treat.

It's nothing more than spot decarburization from heating the steel to a bit above critical temp in contact with solid fuel. The spots that touch the fuel lumps absorb a bit of carbon, the spots that don't decarburize. The end result looks like frogskin, sort of. Western bladesmiths go to great lengths to avoid this effect, but the Japanese like it. I've heard it called "the soul of the steel." To each his/her own, I say.

So, if you want to make it, place the clean steel in a coal or charcoal forge and slowly add air. Simple steels like to harden from ~1450 degrees F or so, but you are going to take it to about 1600 to get that surface effect. I seem to get it more with 5160 spring stock, so if you use this be sure to quench in warm oil.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/28/07 12:06:16 EST

Brief note. Warm oil quenches faster than room temperature oil, because of the viscosity change.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/28/07 12:23:02 EST

Odd surface colorings. I would think that there would be much more control (along with the work) using some kind of lamination effect combined with etching.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/28/07 12:53:13 EST

Jesse F, Don't try and make a sharp edge on the working end of your hot punch. It's better to have a rlatively soft transition from the sides to the face of the punch. A sharp transition will get hot in deep holes and roll over into a wider burr or flange on the end of the punch which then sticks. If you have a slightly rounded transition between the face and side there isn't any material there to roll over making it easier to remove. In any case don't be afraid to pull the punch and quench or lube partway through the first side of the hole. If your punch has a decent taper on it hammering the sides of the punched material can help release the punch also- just don't have it pointing at anyone because a stuck punch may fly when it releases.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 02/28/07 13:38:43 EST

Chunk Charcoal: I bought my last bag at Wal-Mart.

Propane: Filled a tank up last Saturday---a bit over US$14 gone up by about a dollar from the last time.

Propane Tanks: I can buy a good grill sized tank with new style valve for US$15 at the fleamarket useally a half dozen to choose from.

Do *NOT try to use coal before you've been to someone elses shop and get an idea how to work it. Save you and your parents/neighbors a heap of annoyance!

There are probably smiths close by if you just get to a local meeting and ask about.

As I have stated on numerous occasions: spending a Saturday afternoon with another smith will save you at least 6 months of trying to learn stuff on your own from a book or wensite.

Gasoline: is not something to play around with---too many friends with amazing scars and insurance horror stories. IF I had to use gas for a forge I would get a *NEW* copy of the old gas torches and use that as a burner for a smallish soft firebrick forge or kaowool beancan forge--not letting the "burner" touch the forge but shooting the flame into the side of the forge.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/28/07 13:40:26 EST

Alan, that explanation of the surface texture is interesting to me, and it makes sense because I used to heat treat everything straight in the forge and got the texture, now I heat treat by placing the piece in a flattened pipe placed in the forge covered with kaowool, and I no longer get the texture. For the reason that the steel is not in direct contact with the charcoal fuel. So I learned something new today. Awesome!
   - TM - Wednesday, 02/28/07 13:59:52 EST

Is that "popcorn finish" on the steel or is it on the fittings?
   chris makin - Wednesday, 02/28/07 14:12:58 EST

Chris: On forging with coal neighbors are a definite consideration these days. I suspect not a lot of them would put up with coal smoke waifing across their yard. Unless you are going to be forge welding on a regular basis a propane forge should suit you nicely. Forge welding in a propane forge can be done, but generally the forge has had to be souped up some.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Wednesday, 02/28/07 14:36:16 EST

Poor Boy...If you didn't get an answer about the swordsmithing documentary, try Paul Chanpagne. I saw the same show or one similar a few months ago.
   R Guess - Wednesday, 02/28/07 15:16:13 EST

sorry..typo. It should be Champagne
Best Regards
   R Guess - Wednesday, 02/28/07 15:18:32 EST

Guru, this is not a coloring (at least 'til you polish the high spots) or case-hardening finish. I should have been more specific. It's a surface texture. It may also have to do with spot grain enlargement. Western knifemakers try to avoid it, however it happens.

As for what it's used on, I have only seen it on utilitarian woodworking tools like chisels and plane blades. Oh, and ikebana shears. I suspect it didn't get popular until after uniform modern steels became widely available in Japan, as the best of their tools were and still are made by laminating steel onto wrought iron. I'm far from knowledgeable on Japanese tools, so forgive me if I'm wrong!

I have never seen this surface treatment done on a knife or sword, except for kiridashi (I think that's the word), those little chisel-ground marking knives for woodworkers.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/28/07 16:11:16 EST

The only time I've seen what you are talking about on burnt steel. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/28/07 16:18:22 EST

I think what Roger is talking about is the rough finish on the wrought that is often welded to the high carbon steel.I have handled hundreds of Japanese tools over the years as a tool buyer for a large hardware store and this is the only thing I can think of.Can't say that I've seem anything very popcorn like.
   chris makin - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:12:01 EST

Popcorn. Are they martensite spots? If so, I always thought they were undesirable.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:21:50 EST

I know what you are referring to. Some of it is an acid etch design. They should be able to help you at bladeforums.com with the process and details.
   - Baxter John - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:40:51 EST

I always thought it was due to overheating as well, but the last time I got it, assuming Roger and I are talking about the same thing, I was careful not to overheat by TOO much. The only link to what I'm talking about that I could find on short notice is here:


This is one of my knives. The surface effect is shown in a couple of the pictures, but I kept the pics small and so it's not really easily visible. The spots are harder than the non-spots, and can be ground away. The customer wanted that look, though, so that's what he got.

Roger, is that close?
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:41:42 EST

Anvil should be pre-heated (350d) - not too hot - welded with a rod most matching the steel plate, ground flat, re-heated and slow cooled in vermiculite covering or ashes. google Rob Gunter's anvil repair method and follow. If your friends dad does this, you won't be sorry. About a dozen successful repairs on various size avils over past 3-4yrs. Just my advise.
   David Bernard - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:42:01 EST

Changing the subject slightly, my wife came up with a good zinger last night when we were talking about the current eruption of Stromboli, a volcano off the coast of Italy.

She was asking me about the sort of eruption it was, and so I want on in my usual long-winded professorial way about the history of the place and how it was known as the location of one of Vulcan's forges in Roman mythology. I went on to say it typically just sits and smokes, smelling of sulfer and rumbling, but sometimes it throws things. She smiled and said "No wonder the Romans thought Vulcan worked there, it sounds like most of those blacksmith guys you hang around with!"
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 02/28/07 18:46:39 EST

That is funny ;-)

Gotta love a woman with a good sense of humor.

   Mike Berube - Wednesday, 02/28/07 19:34:24 EST

Roger, popcorn finish:

Is this what you are talking about for "Popcorn Finish"?

This is the result of shot-peening.

   Mike Berube - Wednesday, 02/28/07 19:42:50 EST

Propane forge; I built my own forge and the burner is a one inch pipe with a bell on one end to help the air to enter into the forge. in front of the bell is a 1/8 inch pipe nipple with a very small hole, drill bit size #65 and with about 25 pounds of propane pressure it brings the ole air in quite good, maybe to good. My question is that when I have it turned up like that, the steel looks like it is burnt or oxidized. Can this happen with a naturally aspirated burner? or is it something else that is going wrong? Thanks.
   - Mike Mc - Wednesday, 02/28/07 20:33:26 EST

Hey guys, i'm kinda new to all this stuff and I don't really know anything about cutting torches. I recently found out that they can weld also, and are a whole lot cheaper than a decent welder. I was wondering if the welding cappabilaties are good, 'cause sometimes on high tech multipurpose stuff, one of the options doesn't work to well. I am looking at one that can weld
1/4" and cut 1/2" with the supplied tips, but the catalog says that it will weld up to 3" and cut 6" with different tips. Is this stuff acurate? I would appreciate anything anyone could tell me, thank you. Andrew.
   - Andrew Marlin - Wednesday, 02/28/07 20:56:16 EST

My current "forge" is 7 cinder blocks stacked up, and maybe 10 bricks. A salvaged L pipe is pumped by an air matress pump (by hand). It is about 300 feet away from my house. I think i can do with some improvement. Also i don't think i can tick off our neigbors anymore that we already have (we complained about a gas well they were putting in, and that some of them were pipeing their runoff water onto our property. when heated does coal "stick" together or does if fall over the place like charcoal. I can't make my own charcoal because my family just got a fireplace insert, and they "need the wood". I can't make it out of the twigs from the trees we cut down either, because they obviously think i will start an uncontrollable fire. Good point about the coal price though. can you just set the piece on top, or do you need to stick it into the coke heart of the fire. The grill would be free(we just got a new one), and would let me stand up, instead of squatting while tend the fire. The nice guy on the phone said that blacksmiths "love our coal, because it has a very low sulpher content." and would i have to fill the forge up with coal or just make a pile? TY
   Chris - Wednesday, 02/28/07 22:09:58 EST

Andrew Marlin-- If you are in this for the long haul, get the best, biggest equipment you can afford, name-brand from a local dealer who will stand behind it, no second-hand stuff, no imports except Ireland (Harris). Harris (Harris makes Craftsman but Sears support is a bit lacking), Smith, Victor. Get training at your local community college in how to use the equipment. It is dangerous and must be handled with due care or the cost can be crippling or fatal. The equipment will do what it is factory-rated at if used properly.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 02/28/07 22:43:52 EST

andrew thou oxy acetylene are a nice opption they are more expensive than a good buzz box welder by the time you buy a good set of regulaters hoose and tourches then you have to rent the bottles .you can buy the cheap ones but you get what you pay for.a good 5in grinder and hack saw and metal cutting blades for a skill saw works wonders every time i go to use my ox/ac im out of one.im not saying it can,t be done but nowing how to use torches is a skill unto its own
   jmac - Wednesday, 02/28/07 22:49:01 EST

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