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 1 - 7, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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Unless his fingers slipped, Joseph was asking about making a *coal* forge from a bbq. I guess you could, but it wouldn't really be the right shape, and by the time you built the tuyere, you might as well find a plate (table) to mount it to.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 02/01/09 07:52:39 EST

Working too late. . eyes getting old. . . But Mike is right, the shape is not good. The bird bath might be better but may also be difficult to make a hole for air to enter. See our brake drum forge plans for typical arrangements.

Note that coal forges because they are open and the heated gases generally move UP do not need a lot of insulation in the bottom unless built on a wood frame. Aluminum will not do at all.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/01/09 09:30:22 EST

My slack tub has sprung a leak.
Actualy something lay in the corner on the bottom and rusted a hole through it that didn't show up untill todays heat wave (34F)melted the ice from around the outside.
This tub is a galvinized sheet metal trough that was used for leek checking tires.
It looks like I can use some plumbers epoxy to plug the hole for now but, I want to coat the inside with some gas tank lineing epoxy this summer.
What can I use to get the hot dip galvanizing off the inside?
I thought someone here suggested some kind of chemical available at the hardware store but, I forget what that was.
I can remove the rust with one of the CLR type chemicals but I don't think that will take off the galvanizing will it?
   - merl - Sunday, 02/01/09 19:17:28 EST


YOu can remove the galvanizing with muriatic acid, but why bother? The tank lining compound should go right over the galvanizing that is left just fine. The stuff doesn't usually like to stick to fresh galvanizing, but old, etched galvanizing should be fine and will provide a bit of continuing insurance against rust if the lining springs a pinhole leak.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/01/09 22:59:20 EST

Yep, Leave it on. If its hot dip on that big of an item it would be cheaper to replace than to remove all that zinc!
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/09 01:11:15 EST

Two of my 55 gal drums got pin holes recently, and I brazed them closed. In the past, I have brazed patches on galvanized sheet if it is a SMALL JOB. I do it outside, or at least with the doors and windows open. Beware the fumes.

"If "ifs and ands" were pots and pans, there'd be no need for tinkers."
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/02/09 09:03:26 EST

I've managed to get Machinery's Hand books from 1915,1970,and 2001. I was wondering if there was any particularly useful information that might have been dropped between these editions that would make it worthwhile to collect more editions? I haven't had a chance to cross reference all three against each other due to their locations so thought it would be quicker to ask here.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 02/02/09 13:14:19 EST

Robert, Look at my review of Machinery's Handbook. We have cross referenced numerous subjects and features.

Note that if you are looking for a 1st Edition, Industrial Press is selling a reprint copy that is made nearly identical to the original.
   - guru - Monday, 02/02/09 13:45:43 EST

Thanks guys. I'll just leave the galvanizing on then and shlep over it.
Robert Cutting, I have a 1947 addition of Machinerys that is a bit more modern than the 1913 that a freind has and I find it more relivent to the machines I have at home.
As a bonus for me, the '47 still deals with setting up a steam plant and line shaft equipment wich I find interesting and often helpfull to my hobbies.
   - merl - Monday, 02/02/09 18:15:15 EST

I bought my first, and only, edition of Machinery's Handbook in 1970. Still have it and use it occasionally. Nothing newer I care to read about anyway.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/02/09 20:29:43 EST

HOWEVER.....I do own a 1965 Edition of the Chemical Rubber Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Gold Cover aniversary edition. I have used it a lot more than the MH but what would you expect of a metallurgist? Metallurgy is Chemistry for Dummies. Half the elements have been removed!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/02/09 20:32:55 EST

forge welding problem. 1/2" solid rod iron square stock. Bending over on itself 1/2" to double the thickness. Scarfing the toe end, tappering it, leaving a small gap between the rolled over end and the parent stock. Heating it with a NC tool co. one burner gas forge, guage set at 15 psi, fluxing it and waiting till I see the sparking of the flux, and each time I plan out my hammer strikes 1,2, and 3 at the toe, and each time the toe and part way back doesn't seem to forge or join with the parent stock. Is the material not hot enough? Am I over hitting the material. I give about three hits and then turn it over and when I come back the front side once I hit it again, the toe come out and I know I haven't welded the two pieces together. Help, I keep repeating this problems.
   - David - Monday, 02/02/09 20:41:48 EST

Does anyone have any info on Jay Sharp? I have a 2lb Jay Sharp cross peen that I love and would like to get one of his rounding hammers. I see some on ebay once in a while going for over $200. Is he still making hammers? Is he still alive? Why do they go for so much on ebay? I can't find much about him on the net. Any info would be great.


   Pugs - Monday, 02/02/09 21:01:43 EST


Without being there, it's hard to say. Flux doesn't spark, the metal itself begins to spark, much like the sparks you get from an oxy/acetylene puddle. You can also weld just before reaching the sparking heat, sometimes called a sweating or light welding heat (no sparks).

Don't leave a gap where you're hitting with the hammer. It doesn't seem possible that it won't close at a welding heat, but you're hitting it in the wrong place to get the bend to close. The bend, even though hot, keeps the tapered toe away from the parent bar.

You may be hitting it too hard. Hitting to hard right out of the forge causes "shear" rather than cohesion. The first, say three to six blows, should be relatively light or moderate. Once you have cohesion, then you hit harder. To get the end of the taper to weld without leaving shuts, it is helpful to use a farrier's ball face hammer. There's no reason to turn it over right away. Stay on the simple scarf (taper) side. Quarter turns are OK, but not 180º yet. Maybe later. Think about working over an appropriate place on the horn or over the far radiused edge of the anvil. Where the weld takes place, have contact, no daylight. Some molten borax will enter the interstice, even though it is closed tight. If you're using a flux compound with iron filings, etc., it may contaminate a simple loop-weld like this. When reaching a welding heat, get to the anvil "quicker than a snake astrikin'". * Tap the work on the anvil to let some of the surface soup fall on the floor, then hit.

*Vern Olinger, now deceased, operated the Golden School of Horseshoeing in Colorado for years, and this little gem of advice came from Vern.

I haven't heard about Jay Sharp for quite a while. Years ago, he moved from California to Idaho, and his tools were made in Idaho.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/02/09 21:29:06 EST

Welding with single burner NC: While it may be possible it is doubtful. At that pressure in a Whisper Baby you are probably burning the metal that is directly in line with the burner while the rest is not getting hot enough. IF the forge gets hot enough then the best place to heat the stock is far to one side out of the direct blast of the burner.

On the other hand gauge pressure is not a good reference to how much gas is being pushed through a forge. At these low pressures the typical gauge is very inaccurate (often +/- 5 PSI or more).

While it may be possible, I do not know of anyone that has successfully welded with a Whisper Baby. In a gas forge achieving a welding heat is a very delicate balance that most NC's do not achieve. In fact the manufacturer does not warrant a welding heat. The real down side of even attempting to weld in these little forges is the flux rapidly attacks the refractories.

The best welding heat I've seen in ANY NC is in one that was turned off. . Residual heat in a 3 burner model melted, without burning, several bare (unfluxed) bars welding them together well enough that the smith could not pull them apart and ended up cutting them apart with a chisel. It was also a scorching summer day with the forge in direct sunlight. I suspect the ambient temperature with additional heat on the black shell of the forge helped.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 00:43:44 EST

This is killing me. I'm trying to cast some miniature figures that are really small. I'm talking 2inX1inX1in. I'm having serious trouble working out a good cast, any suggestions on what to use to create the mould that's going to hold detail on something that small? Thanks zac.
   Zac Rourk - Tuesday, 02/03/09 01:51:58 EST

Guru, (or anyone else) if you get a minute please check this video out real quick and tell me what you think. I've heard of this idea before, but wow looks like good results this time! I've heard of people easily forge welding with this burner setup.

   - Vorpal - Tuesday, 02/03/09 03:31:35 EST

Saltfork Craftsmen ABA CAST IRON welding meeting/workshop, March 7 - 8, Paris, TX (100 mi. NE Dallas), 9:30 a.m. 33 NE 1st (downtown, Bois D'Arc Forge Blacksmith Shop). Welding/brazing antique cast iron smithing equip. subj. of meeting. Will also discuss/demo MIG and TIG as relates to artist blacksmithing. Instructor, Tommy Dean 30+ yr prof. welder from Longview/Tyler, TX. Bring broken cast iron blowers, etc., you might take them home repaired. Info: Call James Allcorn 903-785-2608 or 903-517-1667. No charge but donations accepted. Local motels offering spl. rates, call for info.
   - James Allcorn - Tuesday, 02/03/09 09:11:42 EST

Hi: I read the FAQ sheet on leg vices and I have a question. I have a 5 inch jaw. I can still read P. Wright, Patent, and Box (on the lower line). Thought the markings are fairly beat up. This vice has been in my family for many years. It was on our family ranch, in the old shop. It seems to be missing the spring, but I can't see where there was one ever attached, and since I can remember it never had one (I am 52). Were they ever made without a spring? If not is there anywhere I might get an old spring or a design for one. Also, the way it was mounted in our shope was, well, not very sturdy. Is it possible to find an original mount for it. We had to sell our old ranch and I took the vice, a hand crank drill press, anvils, and I had all the forge tongs gathered and someone stoll them. The Wright vice looks like in its day it must have been pretty, it has lots of decorative lines and fancy buttons. My experience in blacksmithing is that our High School had a really good shope and forge when I was in school, I am a graduate of the Cal Poly Horse Shoeing school where we learned to make hand made shoes, forge weld, make tongs, and other things. I like blacksmithing for fun. I want to mount this old vice at my knew home. It has been in storage for nearly 25 years. The old drill press I restored (cleaned and painted) and it is in my house.


   Rob Pearce - Tuesday, 02/03/09 10:56:47 EST

Oil Forge: Diesel or #2 Heating oil has been used for forges for a long time. I generally do not recommend using waste oil, especially motor oil in anything.

Using the lighter heating oil you do not need a propane preheat. There have been many forges that were run on oil. Often the oil just drips into the forge chamber, in others it drips or sprays into the air flow. Many smiths have built oil forges using small domestic furnace oil burners. These come complete with a pump to spray and atomize the oil, a fan and full time ignition.

For a good technical article on oil burners see The Oil Fired Tilting Furnace By Steve Chastain. He discusses burner problems such as carbon build up in nozzles, preheating the oil, theoretical temperatures vs. realistic.

Chastain also covers many of the safety issues of running oil including a runnaway situation that can quickly lead to an explosion (excess oil build up in furnace, excessive flames run you out, followed by the explosion when all the oil reaches the flash point).

Many claim oil forges are much better for forge welding than gas. They are easier to get a carburizing atmosphere while still hot enough to weld. However, oil forges need much better ventilation than gas (a full hood and vent stack plus vent fans - not just an open shop).
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 11:24:11 EST

PW Vise: Rob, All these vises, even the little hand held jewelers' and lapidary vises had springs. Since the spring becomes a loose part when the bench bracket is moved it is very common that the spring gets lost (as well as the bench bracket). Yes, they are beautiful old tools and the design is STILL the best blacksmiths vise ever made.

The spring is fairly easy to replace. They can be made of mild steel and work well or from an old car leaf spring if you want. The top of the spring either goes under the loop of the bench bracket OR on older vices it had a rectangular hole punched in it for the tenon type bracket to pass through. The spring is fairly stiff pushing out at the bottom of the front arm. The better old hand forged springs had edge chamfers and a little fish tail with edges that hooked around the rectangular arm section. They also had a gentle reverse curve that rolled against the surface it pushed on. Many later springs were not so well made.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 11:36:37 EST

Small Castings: Zac, Your question needs to be more specific. What material are you casting, clay, plastic, tin, lead, brass, zinc, iron? What is the mold material, plaster, sand, rubber, steel? Are you casting from patterns or an investment? What is the specific shape? A rectangle the size you describe is NOT a small casting but a human figure that fits into that space is.

If casting metal what are you melting it in? How hot is it? Are you preheating your molds? What are the exact casting defects? Porosity, shrinks, run failures?

What is your experience? Have you studied the subject any? Is this a home, school, personal shop or industrial situation?
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 11:46:24 EST

Zac lessen you tell us WHAT you are trying to cast we can't help---are you trying to cast low temp metals or tungsten? "miniature figures" have been cast in tin, silver, gold, lead, zamac,... with temperature differences of over 1000 degF!

Not giving us the details would be like us telling you "We know just what you need to do but we won't tell you unless you can tell us what number we are thinking of"

Now if they have a lot of detail you may need to go lost wax and use centrifugal casting. If it's a low temp metal you may get away with RTV...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/03/09 12:00:10 EST

I have a 1972 Ford. How much is it worth?

Oh wait, wrong sarcastic answer to a different question.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/03/09 12:19:37 EST

Nip about $100 if its running ;)
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 13:12:20 EST

jock, only if it has a full tank of gas..
   - dale csi sec. - Tuesday, 02/03/09 16:04:12 EST

jock,only if it has a full tank of gas.
   - dale - Tuesday, 02/03/09 16:04:57 EST

Heheheh. . .

On the other hand. . Plain old family car Ford Fairlanes from that period (70's) are now considered "classics" and sell for tens of thousands of dollars when all tricked out. My brother had two a few years ago. One was a convertible. Someone made him an offer he could not refuse. He put the money in to land.

THEN. . At one time I had two 1950 Chevy pickups with mostly original equipment. Good old trucks, terrible transportation. Worth a good bit now. We also had half a dozen Nash Metropolitans we bought for $50/ea. Not long after we got rid of most of them they were selling $12,000 restored. . . I think I sold my last one for $100.

THEN once again. . the cars my Dad had years ago were REALLY something. Some rare, some very collectible. The most exotic was a Lincoln V12 from some time in the 30's. Beautiful old car. He also had a hot rod Model A Ford and a Crosby for a short while.

The best car I had was a 1961 Pontiac Tempest 4cyl. It was the first year for this model. Had a lot of innovative features like a transaxel and flexible drive shaft that lowered the "transmission" hump to almost non-existent. It seated 4 to 5 on big bench seats, had 15" tires on a small car and got 28 MPG. The body design had won awards at the Paris auto show. It was considered a "compact" but was as comfortable as any full size car of the time. Pontiac added more chrome, made it bigger, killed the 4 cylinder engine (that had PLENTY of power) and most of you know the result as the gas hog Pontiac GTO.

My most interesting car was a Porche 914 (the small boxy one).
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 17:46:41 EST

They also made a nice 215 cid V-8 in those early years that became quite popular in racing. The Buick, Olds, and Pontiac were pretty similar, but the Pontiac was the only ont with that drive. Should I talk about my "65" Corvair Monza? Loved that car! With Tiger Paws and bigger springs and shocks.......... Had factory quick steering plus I put on aftermarket quick steering arms, wow! Never had to take my hands off the wheel, steered like a gocart! Oh well, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
   - grant - Tuesday, 02/03/09 19:49:17 EST


You got that right about nostalgia!

Rich - The older I get, the better I used to be.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/03/09 20:25:37 EST

First off let me state that my 72 Chevy pickup is a beat up, painted with a roller work truck, but i have been offered $1500 cash on the spot for it:) It only has 90K miles and it does have a very nice hood orniment. And It will carry anything you can get in it, and pull just about anything you can hitch to it. (may not stop it, but will get it rolling:) )

Grant I had a number of Corvairs. The most interesting was a 65 Monza convertable front half and a 66 turbo spider back half. They left out the front seat and door when they reassembled it. Made it about 3' shorter. The guy that put it together cut the weights out and it was a wheelie machine. 4 on the floor with that turbo 185 Hp in the rear:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/03/09 20:31:38 EST

Thank you for the information about burners and forge designs on your site. i just built my first one with your help. i took it one step further though and incorporated it with my heat system in my shop(i'm a cheap skate). i heat my shop with a newmac wood furnace and decided to use it's fire box for my forge as well. kills two birds with one stone, and it's vented.
Thanks again, your information is a great help

   matt willson - Tuesday, 02/03/09 21:00:18 EST

thanks for the tips on plating, powder, etc. After a little more experimenting, I got the bronze wool working. The key is in hitting it in just the right temperature range, and the apparent fact that unlike applying brass, which goes on yellow and stays yellow, the bronze appears to oxidize immediately (in the same temp ranges that say copper sheet heat-colors), then has to be brought back with a little buffing after it cools. Beautiful rich copper/bronze effect, though, and appears heavier and more durable than brushed brass. Has to stand up to heat, though, I want the effect mainly for some andirons I have designed, so paint is out. I may try applying bronze spelter, if I can figure out how to powder some pre-1983 pennies.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 02/03/09 21:55:24 EST

How would an air powered impact wrench work to twist hot bar stock? I thought of it the other day while experimenting with the air chisel hammer to upset stock. I imagine someone has tried it.
   - Josh S. - Tuesday, 02/03/09 22:37:49 EST


For what it's worth, Eastwood sells an "Extreme Diamond Clear" that's supposed to be good up to 600 degrees. Of course, at $800/gallon, it had better be! (They sell it in 8oz cans).

I'm pretty sure old pennies are a copper/zinc alloy, though with only a few percent zinc. (It's also illegal to melt them these days).
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 02/03/09 22:38:47 EST

Turbo Spider Corvair:
I knew a guy that bought one near new convertible Turbo spider, that car, full length would wheelie.

I did find out how dangerous those Covairs were though in 67. I was driving one my friend had. I was moving on about 80 or so, when a strong gust of wind hit me. The front end came up enough that I had no control of it. I floated across 3 lanes, from the outside right lane to the inside shoulder on a divided freeway before it came down. My friend who was sleeping in the passenger seat woke up fast! 2 months later he got rid of that car! I wonder why ;((.

   - Tmac - Tuesday, 02/03/09 23:56:25 EST

Impact Wrench Twister: Josh, The impact will do absolutely nothing. The torque of the tool MIGHT twist 1/4" (7mm) square or a heavy duty truck type might twist 3/8" to 7/16" (10-11mm). The power of these tools comes from the impact. A long springy bar will just bounce back and forth and no twisting will take place.

Where these tools occasionally twist off a stud is from inertia, the armature spinning at VERY high speed as the nut bottoms out, suddenly stopping and pinching the stud then twisting it off. The reason studs often break when you go to remove the nut is the SOB that put the nuts on last spun them on as fast as possible with full power as they bottomed out. This pinches the tapered seat nut into the stud so that it can not be removed without breaking the stud.

. . . from someone that has changed thousands of tires and used impact wrenches for many tasks.

Old pipe threading machines that have lost their dies or are missing other critical parts make good bar twisters. Most will do up to 1/2" bar with a little single phase 120VAC motor.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/03/09 23:56:45 EST

Thanks Guru for the info on on the PW vice. I will see if I can make a spring.

   Rob Pearce - Wednesday, 02/04/09 11:17:36 EST

A ways up the forum, people were talking about lead paint. Misinformation and correcting information.

This morning I was at a meeting launching a new software development project.

Now, the project is a result of new regulations mandated to the states by the EPA which will come into effect this November. EVERYONE who does painting or remodeling for pay will have to undergo training and register with the program. Even some landlords who paint or remodel their own houses will have to undergo the training.

They are figuring that about 10,000 contractors and at least another 20,000 workers will have to be trained in lead hazards and registered in Kansas alone.

I suppose that will cut down on people spouting misinformation about lead paint hazards, but will create yet another barrier to getting remodeling work done.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 02/04/09 16:09:09 EST

How do they define "everyone"? I suspect that WE blacksmiths as manufacturers of a painted product will be called to task on that one as well.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/04/09 17:34:11 EST

Then there's the new statute and CPSC regs on lead in toys (defined broadly). I was just reading that libraries are afraid they'll have to test *each one* of their kids' books for lead (they'd empty the shelves instead). I doubt it will come to that. But if you make items for kids, you may need to look into the new law.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 02/04/09 17:53:01 EST

Frank Turley
"If ifs and buts was candy and nuts, everyday day would be Christmas"
   - Tom H - Wednesday, 02/04/09 18:09:28 EST

I suspect that the only blacksmiths that might be required to take the lead training would be those who would do restoration work. The issue these day with lead paint is OLD paint. The paints available for painting houses and so forth are lead free and have been for several decades. The issue is sanding, scraping or otherwise working on existing paint that contain lead. If a house is older than probably say 1970 it is almost certain to contain lead paint. The issue is "Lead Safe Work Practices". That is work wet when sanding, collect the residue, and encapsulate when possible with a good coating.

Good high quality exterior lead paint was sold by the lead content many years ago, with the premium paints advertised as high lead content. The exterior white paints were designed to chalk. This provided a surface that stayed very white, and did not mold, mildew or stain as the surface was constantly washing off in every rain. This also provided a high lead content in the soil at the house dripline.

Many cases of lead poisoning in families have been traced to hobbies like casting lead figurenes, making lead fishing sinkers and bullet casting.

Had one case in an electronics shop that lead wave soldered, where the maintenance worker presented a high blood lead level in his required testing. He practiced the right work habits and PPE. He did however always have a toothpick in his mouth the he tended to move around with his hands when he worked. Lead transfer is sneaky. Many kids have been posioned by parents that work with lead and it rides home on the work clothing. Same with asbestos.

Lead is a wonderful useful product that plays havoc with small childrens developement, and is bad for adults as well.

Ptree the once certified Lead Risk Assesor, and tester, and also Certified asbestos abatement Supervisor.

Remember, " Life is too short to spend any of it Dead, Injuried, or in Jail. And any combination of the three really sucks"
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/04/09 19:20:48 EST

Dear Guru:

Just read the very insightful and entertaining storyline/development of the EC-JYH. What a joy. Wondered if plans/description exist for building this design, and whether I could get hold of them? I am a 'novice' blacksmith (just starting out at 64), but have lots of scar tissue in welding/oxy-acetylene. Pretty sure I could cobble together a reasonable facsimile of the EC-JYH, with a wee bit of guidance. Egad, got lots of parts and stuff sitting around here already...

I'm up here in Ontario, Canada, a few hours east of Toronto. Please let me know what plans/material might exist (ie: e-book, hard-copy plans, hopefully video). Also, thanks so much for AnvilFire. You've been a fabulous source of info - thanks to your advice I tracked down an early 128# Peter Wright anvil, which although well-used, seems like a good place to start! Thanks,

Rick Kilburn Mail: kerf@rogers.com
   Rick Kilburn - Thursday, 02/05/09 01:20:51 EST

The EC-JYH: Rick, While this machine worked in its own rather odd way it was not very efficient and I do not recommend this mechanism. What it DID do is prove that with some junk, imagination and a little work almost anyone could build a power hammer. Since then many much better designs have evolved.

SEE Catalog of User Built and Junkyard Hammers.

The two best designs are the Tire Hammer (see the NC-JYH and the Costa Rica Tire Hammer) and the Spring Helve (see the Little Rusty and the Spring Helve by Jeff Reinhardt). Note that Jeff has converted his slack belt clutch to a tire hammer style clutch and gotten better results.

EC-JHY Problems:

The machine is huge taking up valuable shop space. If it was a great hammer this could be excused but it is not.

The shock absorber linkage is an energy wasting linkage that goes into limbo stalling and doing nothing if run too fast.

The shock absorber linkage hits one very hard blow to start then hits softer and softer. . .

The two features that worked was the auto differential as clutch and shock absorber as height compensation. However, the tire clutch is a better more controllable clutch and speed control. The shock absorbers might be a good height adjustment in a spring linkage but would still interject a strange dynamic.

The best power hammer linkage is known as the "DuPont" linkage from its inventor. This linkage stores the energy of the stopping the upward motion of the ram and gives it back at the bottom of the stroke. Its horizontal link arms create a smooth controllable motion that can hit very hard OR soft at fast and slow speeds if the hammer has a full range of adjustments (many do not such as the Little Giant).

The DuPont linkage can be used with a coil spring OR a leaf spring and has been done so in both commercial and DIY hammers. See Bow Spring Power Hammer Linkage detail from our CR-JYH article.

Some people will argue that the spring helve is as efficient as the DuPont linkage. It absolutely is not. It is just easier to build. The spring helve does not multiply the stroke like the Dupont and does not have the wide operating range. A comparison is often made to Little Giants which do not have a travel adjustment and while popular were and are a mediocre hammer compared to the better mechanical hammers of the age (Faribanks, Beaudry, Bradley).
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 09:15:34 EST

Guru, Ever run a spring helve? Mine does store energy in the "S" shape the spring assumes when cycling. The control with a decent clutch allows soft to hard blows. While the machine needs daylight adjusted for different stock, so do the Dupont style hammers I have run. The only Dupont hammers I have run are all LG's. The spring helve is as godd as any comparable LG I have run. I have not had the opurtunity to run any other Dupont style.
And, the spring helve is absolutly the easiest of any to scroung and build.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/05/09 10:41:33 EST

So there's a magician who contacted me about putting ridges into the edge of silver coin blanks. His original idea was to use a jewelers saw and cut individual ridges one at a time. (Why is it we always first think of the stupidest way to do things?) I figure a rolling mill of sorts would be easier. I am not taking this job, just trying to find an easier way for the guy to do it himself. Suggestions?
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 02/05/09 11:13:17 EST

edging on coins, what you are looking for is a knurling tool, usually used with a lathe, there are two types, straight, which is what he needs and crosshatched which is the most common
   - Hudson - Thursday, 02/05/09 11:28:03 EST

Re: JYH - Thanks Guru and Ptree for quick responses. Called Steve Barringer and left a message to see what plans might exist for his Tire Hammer design. Also wondering if you have a design package for your Spring Helve, Ptree? Kinda' torn as to which style is better for me since I'm so green (aaarghh), but have a diddly elbow so it's GOT to be some sort of Hammer to the rescue before I turn catatonic at the anvil!! Whichever one will do the trick, both these units (and the Costa Rica unit) are all quite ingenious. Please get back to me? Thanks, Rick
   Rick Kilburn - Thursday, 02/05/09 11:49:42 EST

Lathing is not an option with this guy.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 02/05/09 11:51:31 EST

For information on plans for the Tire Hammer- just goggle "Tire Hammer"
   - Ray Clontz - Thursday, 02/05/09 12:22:33 EST

Lead awareness training: While the regs. haven't been finalized yet, I suspect you will wind up being subject to the training & registration if you do installation or restoration work where you are disturbing old finishes.

The training is pretty minimal, and the registration fee is pretty cheap, but none the less, it is yet another government hassle.
   John Lowther - Thursday, 02/05/09 12:46:04 EST

Nip- more info.
Why, if a lathe is the best tool for the job, would it not be an option?

A used small lathe, capable of doing this job, is available in most areas for $500 or so.
There is no similar off the shelf machine to roll a pattern into the edges of cylinder, but if there was, it would cost quite a bit more.

Give us more information about material- "silver" can mean several different things. Quantitiy? One a month, or one hundred thousand?

If it was me, and I wanted a professional looking result, which will fool people, I would call up James Riser- at www.jamesriser.com/
He is a skilled maker of illusions- and a machinist. He has a whole shop full of lathes, mills, and other machine tools, and while I am not aware of him making any coin tricks, he either knows who does, or can figure it out.
   - Ries - Thursday, 02/05/09 12:55:33 EST

"Lathing or Latheing" This is not the correct word. The word is "turning". "Lathing" is the wood strips that goes under plaster.

A knurl would be difficult on a coin blank as it takes a lot of pressure and thus support. Production edge milling (reeded, graining or crenellation) is done by pressing the coin through an edging die OR by its expansion into the die when struck.

To apply by hand, use chisel, saw or file.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 13:00:21 EST

What about a checkering file? I've used them to make a reeded edge on knife guards. On such a small diameter they may need to be moved a lot but you should get some indexing you can work off of.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/05/09 13:59:16 EST

I am afraid that I have no plans package for my power hammer. I got a plan set for the Rusty, but degressed very far from there. If you are scrounging, you won't be able to follow plans much anyway. Clay Spencer sells plans for the Tire hammer, and they are very well done.
If you decide to pursure the spring helve, Click on my name and send me an e-mail. I can describe the important points easily.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/05/09 14:22:31 EST

Knurling in a Lathe:

If this is a made from a non-ferrous metal or even a annealed dead soft piece of steel of the thickness of a coin, would be a piece of cake in a lathe to a machinist. If a lathe is not available a "3" wheel hand Knurling tool would get it, these look and work similar to a pipe cutting tool. Dies to "roll" a groove could also be installed.

If grooves or knurling are needed to be put on that are on only one spot on the work piece, that can be done by chucking "off center" in a lathe. The further off center the work piece is turned the shorter the cut.

   - Tmac - Thursday, 02/05/09 14:29:45 EST

Rick, Note that Ray Clontz, who posted above is the American inventor of the Tire Hammer and designed the one that Steve built.

The problem with plans for this type thing is it kills the advantage of building a junk yard hammer. The NC-JYH has a number of parts that were handy in Steve's shop at the time but that you may not readily find. The rectangular tube frame was material on-hand. The side links were race car tie rod ends that are replaced after every NASCAR race and were readily available. Even the tire was on-hand.

A good Junk Yard Hammer should cost as little as you are willing to spend. But if you buy all new material and parts plus pay for someone to make parts to detail drawings you can easily end up with a hammer that costs as much as a good used commercial hammer.

The most difficult parts to find are the heavy steel, the anvil, the ram and the frame. Many JYH builders skimp on the anvil (it should be 10x or more of the ram) and this reduces efficiency and adds noise and vibration to your shop. The tube in tube ram design used by many is often filled with lead. You may want to think twice about melting lead when a piece of steel will do. The tube in tube is also difficult to maintain as the guide material wears in. It is also difficult to find pieces that are straight and square enough for this purpose. A good well adjusted guide system makes a big difference in the quality of the performance of a power hammer.

Detail plans also dictate what machinery is required to build something.

We are currently in the process of building two power hammers of my design. We started this project last spring and spent most of the available time and effort setting up shop. . . now we are back to it a year later. The machinery necessary is:
  • Welder (240V 225A buzz box)
  • 4x6 Saw
  • Good metal working drill press (20" or larger - 25" on hand)
  • Bits for drill up to 1.5", taps to 3/4"
  • Small Lathe
  • Small Milling machine or Shaper (for 8" long guide parts)
  • Arbor Press and keyway broaches
  • OPTIONAL - Tapmatic Tapping head
  • OPTIONAL - Portable Magnetic base drill press
  • OPTIONAL - Fork Lift

We subbed out sawing of some large stock for the frame and anvils. This added to the cost. Plus I had to get my heavy truck running. We also subbed out broaching the pulley keyways but I have changed my mind on the motor size and need to rebore, ream and broach the pulleys again. .

The design has a LOT of bolted parts and it seems like we will never quit drilling and taping holes. As part of the project I spent a ton of time and money setting up an old lathe and it turned out that it was in much worse shape than I thought. . . So we moved another lathe last weekend. It is very small (the one shown in the EC-JYH article) but can make the couple crank parts we need bored.

When it is done and tested I will create a full set of detail plans. But this is not a JYH.

Even the hammer workshop built Tire Hammers have a lot of machining. This is usually done by volunteers prior to the workshop. It is one of the major benefits of the workshops. You could spend hundreds of dollars on out sourced machining if you did it on your own and did not have the machinery.

I would start by collecting parts and materials that you can find as cheap as possible. Then think about what type hammer you want to build with the capacity you have and go from there.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 15:38:59 EST

To: Ptree and Guru on JYH Plans: Agree that junkyard means junkyard. As a typical farm 'kid' from the 50's-60's virtually everything was a cobbled together asap using whatever was handy. Expect to be going that route on this project, too, once I get into gear... Building from a few photos, or just a pipe dream IS okay, but I guess it's also okay to take a better/closer look if plans of some sort exist. Noted that Clay Spencer and Co. have built about 200 hammers, probably each one a slight evolutionary differential over the last one. Will take a good look at what he's been up to. Meanwhile, I'm thankful for the quick and informative responses from you both. Had a good chat with Steve in NC as well, which added even more ideas/cannon fodder. In the end, will take a run at building some sort of hammer and once the darn thing is working will get back to you. Thanks again, Rick PS: Machining per se IS my weak spot. Luckily there's a good guy nearby, so hope to contra some of my services with him thus keeping the budget within reason... R.
   Rick Kilburn - Thursday, 02/05/09 16:02:58 EST

I'm working on a treadle hammer the slow cheap route---collecting pieces that look useful for free or scrap rates and then will design it when I have what looks to be enough---I'm getting close as I have a 2'x3'x1" base, a 42" 5.25" dia solid for the anvil, some heavy I beam for the back, assorted springs and flat stock. Now to decide on what to use for the ram and if it will be a vertical or a swing arm. So far I have spent US$40 on it total.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/05/09 16:03:32 EST

Knurling a Flat Disk: In soft metal this might be possible friction driving the part but it would be tricky. To do so on a finished coin would require rubber pads on both sides. If there was any slippage it would damage the coin even with rubber faces.

I like the idea of the checkering file but these are hard to find.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 16:10:50 EST

Rick Kilburn- Goggle- scotia metalworks and look at a tire hammer built by a jeweler/ knifemaker who had no experience building machines- a true juunyard tirehammer built from looking at a picture- NO PLANS- all scrounged junk. Mike makes damascus steel for use in the knives he makes- hammer hits very hard
   - Ray Clontz - Thursday, 02/05/09 16:46:46 EST

Drills and Broaches:

Both Big drill bits and broaches are expensive tooling.
Both jobs could be accomplished with other tools. Much less expensive, even if you bought new factory made tools.

Broaching can be done with a lathe large enough swing to do the pulleys and a poker bar, this is slow, drill the hole first, or with a shaper if you have that. They can also be done with a drill press or just by hand, by first drilling a hole through your work piece of a correct diameter then either filing the round corners or sawing them. I like to use a old power hack saw blade for this job.

Large drilled holes can be done with the use of a shop made single point "fly cutter" in a drill press or mag base drill. For lack of a magnetic base drill, a small bench top drill round colum type will work here, either just turn the base around and clamp it to your work to the base, or fab up a temp steel base, this can either be clamped or tack welded to your work piece. I have done both. Just remember to run a bit through steel, thumb rule is 1/2" drill bit min 1/2 HP
1 1/2" drill is 1.5 HP plus a hefty frame to match. A fly cutter taking 1/16" cuts reduces power requirement in half.

   - Tmac - Thursday, 02/05/09 16:56:37 EST

In Lieu of a checkering file:
A fine threading repair file would work. These are readily available at most good tool suppliers. Should have a set anyhow! Saved my butt many of times. ;)) But checkering files are available from the Gunsmith supplier Brownells, they are Iowa and online, lots of great hard to find stuff too.
   - Tmac - Thursday, 02/05/09 17:17:59 EST

Two questions:
1) Where will I find the "search" function.
2) What is the optimum temp range for the slack pot?
   Willy Cunningham - Thursday, 02/05/09 18:16:04 EST

I've cut dial and micrometer sleeve markings on a lathe using the bull gear as dividing head but never thought about trying to broach the same way. I've cut keyways with a shaper but never with a drill press. I've used a drill press for very light weight punching (i" dia in paper). But I never recommend them for hard press work as they often end up broken. .

The keyway in these pulleys is rather deep in a small hole (5/8) that I wouldn't want to try by another method. Even on a shaper is would take making tooling. I've got an extended keyway cutter holder for my shaper but it takes about a 2" hole minimum.

I'm looking forward to warmer weather and finishing some shop projects. The old lathe needs a lot of work. When I bought it a number of years had passed since I had last used it in a friend's shop. Everything worked then. In the interim someone broke the cross feed gearing, cracked the nice old combination chuck, finished off the poorly fitting tool post and positively raped the tail stock (the spindle rotates and tapers engage way too far). Nothing difficult to fix but just a lot of replacement part to be made for an antique machine. . .

The only redeeming features of this antique is the long bed (about 5 feet between centers) and the 4 jaw combination chuck. If I can't get the old monster up to snuff I'll make a backing plate to refit the chuck to my not quite so old 13" South Bend (my next setup project).

The old SouthBend is my real treasure. It has all the bits, pieces, attachments and a quick change gear box. When I bought it the redeeming feature(s) were all extra tooling including all the tool holders ever offered.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 18:36:08 EST

Willy, Our archives page has a search function but due to all the overlapping posts does little good. Generally you are better to see the FAQ's page.

Slack tub temperatures vary. Generally they are just cool or room temperature standing water. However, for heat treating the water should be slightly warmed (above 70°F). While room temperature may be higher than that standing water will be considerably cooler due to evaporation.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 18:40:10 EST

Rick, If machining is the weak point, the spring helve has the least required, especially if you are a farm scrounger. I used several old Hydraulic cylinders for the pivots. I used the rear clevis pivot and cap for the pivots as well as cylinder rod clevis's as well. The guides are the hardest thing to do with weak machining. The Rusty style of stacked flats and angles work, just not as accurate as a machined guide.
Email me, I may have some pencil sketches I did for Iforge.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/05/09 18:47:47 EST

To Ray Clontz: Yup! See what you mean. Scotia Metalworks guy is pretty sharp, no make that ree-e-e-al sharp (nice blades,too). Thanks Ray, now I'm totally mixed up. Thankfully, my Grandad always reminded me that the first 99 years are the hardest... Rick
   Rick Kilburn - Thursday, 02/05/09 19:21:38 EST

Nip- One of the other forum I follow has recently had a short thread on guilloché.
Looks like a similar effect, but like a lathe it's dedicated tooling. Cool looking machine thou.
   Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 02/05/09 20:15:33 EST

Tire Hammer- The hammer was designed to be built by some of my blacksmith friends who had the following eqipment
1 cutting torch
2 stick welder
3 drill press
4 4x6 cutofff bandsaw
5 small grinder-if they wanted to clean up the torch cuts -
The first few hammers were built from a concept sketch- The next- maybe 15- 20 were built by smiths who went to see some of the early hammers, and quite a few were built by smiths looking at emailed pictures of the early hammers. none of the early hammers were alike- only the use of the tire and dupont linkage.(different arm lengths
different springs(some off farm equipment-some from motorcycles-As far as I know- All hammers worked very good and the builders were pleased with the hammers- To build one is definately not rocket science- Thumper(a builder) built one using only a O/A torch to do all the welding as he did not own an electricd welder
Note- there are NO machined parts in the early design
hammers. The only REAL machined part in the Clay Spencer version is the aluminum drive wheel on the motor- The early hammers ued a short length of tubing welded to a pulley or sprocket that fit the motor shaft and the od would fit into the tubing and be fairly concentric
   - Ray Clontz - Thursday, 02/05/09 20:16:32 EST

I've cut one or two keyways in cheap zinc pulleys by the simple expedient of stuffing a piece of keyed shaft through the bore and then patiently tapping the step broach through with a hammer and drift. Not a lot of fun, but what I had to do in the absence of an arbor press.

Ribbing coin edges:

If you have a hundred or more to do, I'd suggest taking the time to make a press-through die. Tricky and patient work yes, but do-able with hand tools. A cheap Harbor Freight arbor press should push annealed silver coins through just fine. I'd drill the initial hole in annealed steel plate about 3/8" thick and then chase the ribs with a graver and hammer. A properly shaped and sharpened graver would make the rib cuts smoothly enough to need no finishing.
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/05/09 20:16:50 EST

I followed the link to Euroanvils and noticed that last time the website was updated was back in 2007. With the current economy, I'm wondering if the current pricing is still accurate. Do you know?
   carlton - Thursday, 02/05/09 20:24:07 EST

Key way with a drill press:
I need to clear that up right now. Making the key way slot on the drill press I meant by drilling holes or a hole to remove excess metal before sawing or filing to finish size. If drilling a hole it can only be done if the bit has metal to cut on all the outside dia of the bit. So it is best drilled before the bore is made to finish size. These are all make do methods for lack of the correct tool, a broach or a power key seater. If there is a shop around with a broach by all means hire him. That is well worth the small cost vs the time of a jury rigged tooling slot..
   - Tmac - Thursday, 02/05/09 20:40:08 EST

Euroanvils, Carlton, Follow the links to BlacksmithSupply. If there are current prices that is where they would be.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/05/09 21:05:26 EST

Hi everybody,like Ray said.A friend and I built the first 2 tirehammers,and he was right about most of the tools,but we didn't have a bandsaw.Only A torch, drill press and grinders,Rick don't waste your time on a helve,do the right thing and build a tirehammer,you won't be sorry.My hammer looks like s*** but it has made me quite a bucks in the last 7 or 8 yrs.also uses a 1/3 hp motor,that's right.Tolerances,it don't need no stinking tolerances,just a little slop and lots of grease LOL.I think Clay is probably up to 400 hammers by now and note he's not building a helve hammer.So in closing,if I can build one anybody else can too...Sorry for the long post,but I bring the truth har-har--Best Regards Butch
   - rsilver4 - Thursday, 02/05/09 21:07:07 EST

My tirehammer was the first machine I'd ever built. With advice from my buddy Ray Clontz, I built it with no machined parts at all. The pulley was a 3" round die, from an old Hosfeld type bender, welded to a sprocket hub. The control is something you're not going to get with those leaf-spring, helve hammers. I put a break on mine and it will even perform very nice single blows. Thanks Ray
   Randy - Thursday, 02/05/09 21:53:40 EST

how could i recognize 52100 steel and asi34 stainless at a scrapyard or just laying around
   DON - Thursday, 02/05/09 22:24:37 EST

i'm making a replacement post vise screw. machinerys handbook says to cut the threads to x depth. is this depth the actual depth or is it how much you feed in while the compound rest is set at the 14 degrees for an acme thread- this would be less than x depth since you are feeding in at an angle

   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 02/05/09 22:26:39 EST

Junkyard Steel, Don you can not. You can guess but if you want to KNOW then you will need to pay a metallurgical lab to do the analysis. Otherwise there are certain parts that MIGHT be these materials. The cheapest thing to do is buy new.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/09 00:43:35 EST

Vise Screw: Tyler, First, are you making both parts? If not then do you KNOW what kind of thread the vise used? It is unlikely to be an Acme.

Machinery's also has the formulas for measuring threads by the three wire method. If you are making a thread to a spec then you will need to measure as you go, NOT use the lathe dials. These are only for reference.

However, if they say the depth of cut is X then that is X on a normal axis (not the angle of the compound).

Also note that depending on the age and brand of your lathe some are calibrated in actual travel SOME in diametral change. In one case .125 travel removes .25" and in the other it removes .125". . .

If the thread profile was not made to modern specs then what you are making will need to be hand fitted to the mating part. In fact, most heavy power screws get distorted with use and what was once an Acme or a square thread might now be shaped more like a buttress thread or a rounded Whitworth. I made a part to fit and old press and used a thread sort of like a buttress thread. . The original was a coarse 60° V thread. . . You can't always go by the book.

AND if you are making both parts then make one the best you can, then match the other to fit.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/09 00:59:19 EST

I'm making both parts. This was actually a much newer made post vise that had a slow 60 V thread that wore down over the most used 1-1/2" of travel and was slipping when tightened. Replacing with a faster acme thread. I suppose i could figure a formula for how much feed at 14 degrees would equal x actual depth.
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/06/09 01:17:14 EST

i was thinking more like making the nut first, then making the screw to match, but making the screw first and being able to more easily measure it, and then making the nut to fit would be easier.........
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 02/06/09 01:28:04 EST

Tyler: "Normal" is to make the nut first and use it as a guage for the screw. as Guru noted you just use the dial for reference, you should be able to use a dial cailper to maesure the root and then try the nut as you get close. You do know that Enco has Acme threaded rod pretty cheap, don't you?
   - grant - Friday, 02/06/09 02:29:01 EST

Ty Acme threads:
These are some of the most difficult threads to make single point on a lathe. There are all kinds of problems to doing these.
First if you do it, make sure to use what is termed as "free machining" screw stock mostly meaning "leaded" stock. The nut is going to be the tough one though. You will also need to acquire a "Acme thread From" guide. This is used as a template to grind your tool bit. You lathe needs to be tight and a good straight bed, you also may need to have a travling work steady for this job, this prevents bowing and ending up with a bulged screw.

In a machinist tool handbook, there is a chart table of how much infeed travel you get per thousands mark on you dial at various compound degree settings. Use lots of cutting fluid too. and VERY light cuts.

To get a great Acme screw and nut I would buy a threaded rod and nut field/shop grade. There are machine tool feed grade but cost 4 times as much.

After buying the shop grade stock Thrd Rod I would machine to fit ie same dems as your previous screw and nut then shop heat treat by case hardening. This will make a great vise screw and nut with limited wear. This will give you years of great trouble free service.

How ever you do it, this is a great learning project. I have made many machine lead screws and vise screws over the years. I have done it both ways with purchased and shop made. Your choice, but cutting acme threads is a bear even for practiced machinists. ;((

   - Tmac - Friday, 02/06/09 03:23:52 EST

I've never had much trouble machining acme threads. Square threads are the ones that get real finicky about tool reliefs. . but acme were designed to be machinable. As long as your lathe can take a smooth cut with the face width of the cut it just takes a few passes in back gear and some close measurement. A screw the length of a post vise screw can easily be supported with a center. That's how the originals were made.

Note that the threaded portion of the nut does not need to be as long as the engagement. 1.5 diameters will pull the vise apart and is more than many heavy duty bench vise had. Clear (relieve) the rest of tube. This will make machining the thread much easier.

I've never seen a leg vise, late or otherwise with V threads. Even cheap import bench and hobby vises still have either square or acme threads. But I have seen leg vises with worn threads that LOOKED like a V, or round, or buttress. . . When they get like a V they are often slipping.

Years ago one of the things I wanted a bigger lathe for was machining lathe screws. I had ideas of making my own wood working bench vises with really big heavy screws and hand forged and decorated thrust plates. Never got that far but I've turned a bunch of smaller screws (leg vise size).

If I was making a screw pair like this for the first time and didn't have a lot of experience I would use some scrap steel and make a test set. This will give you a chance to test the tools you grind and get used to the lathe.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/09 09:39:00 EST

Hey everybody, thanks for the ideas. The reason I said no lathing (turning.. heh heh) is because I'm pretty sure this guy won't fork out $500 for a few coins to roll. Remember, HE wants to do the work, not me. He did say silver, so I will assume he means silver, not silver colored metal. I like the idea of a checking file and/or chiseling. Way better than the guys original idea of using a hacksaw to make cuts one at a time. Will also send him the link to James Riser.

On another note, I found a neat old asbestos shingle cutter at an antiques store. Looks like it could be converted into a nice shear. They want $120 for it, trying to get them down to $80. Is it worth the effort? Thinking I could replace the blade with something more suitable for cutting hot plate/sheet steel.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/06/09 10:41:46 EST

Nip, It might work for light sheet metal but nothing very heavy. You have to consider the frame strength AND the leverage multiplier. Metal shears either use compound leverage of gears such as on Beverly shears.
   - guru - Friday, 02/06/09 12:21:37 EST

TGN; I tried to sell one of those at Quad-State once and couldn't get $20 for it.

Might work for cutting apples but not steel.

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/06/09 18:18:55 EST

At the valve shop we made full acme threaded valve stems. Made about 100,000 a month. Made them from 316L, 410,416, Monel, Hastalloy, Nimonic and some other REALLY hard to machine materials. We did these by single point, chasers and most were roll formed. We made both left and right hand. Made them from 3/8" to 2". We made them in engine lathes, turret lathes, chuckers, screw machines, and CNC's.
We also made a matching number of nuts. I never saw this as a hard to make part with the exception of trying to roll form the 410 in a screw machine, with cheap black oil as the lube. Did I mention that 85% thread was the standard:)?
We tapped most all of the nuts, and they make a nifty double tap that we used. Has a rough tap, and then the finish tap all on one shank. Works a treat.

The secret to the roll formed 410 acme was the lube. With the right lube, we got fantastic finish and the tooling life was perhaps 5000 times better. The fits were much better as well.

Need a high strenght acme thread? they make this stuff in left and right hand in the material B-7. Thats is 4140 bolt stock. Cheap by comparison to machining your own by hook and crook.
   ptree - Friday, 02/06/09 19:50:59 EST

Hey everyone,
I am a blacksmith/armorer, and I have recently purchased an anvil. it was only $99 for a 55 pound one, which was relatively inexpensive for that size of anvil. The site said that it was cast iron steel that was heat treated. It does not seem to exhibit all of the negative qualities of ASO's. It has a ok ring in the middle, and a great ring on the sides. It is not extemely hard, but it is pretty hard. when filling it, it did not file epasily( it took about ann hour to file off about a 3/5 inch ridge/bump that was on one part of it. Could any one tell me if it is cast iron, tempered cast iron, cast steel, or something else. It seems like a good anvil, but not one of those $600 ones. after a relatively hard hit to the upper edge of the back of the table, near the hardy hole, only an extremely small dent appeared that was not visible from the side. If anyone could help me with this I would be very grateful.
   - kazesamurai1000 - Friday, 02/06/09 22:14:42 EST

Hey everyone,
I am a blacksmith/armorer, and I have recently purchased an anvil. it was only $99 for a 55 pound one, which was relatively inexpensive for that size of anvil. The site said that it was cast iron steel that was heat treated. It does not seem to exhibit all of the negative qualities of ASO's. It has a ok ring in the middle, and a great ring on the sides. It is not extemely hard, but it is pretty hard. when filling it, it did not file epasily( it took about ann hour to file off about a 3/5 inch ridge/bump that was on one part of it. Could any one tell me if it is cast iron, tempered cast iron, cast steel, or something else. It seems like a good anvil, but not one of those $600 ones. after a relatively hard hit to the upper edge of the back of the table, near the hardy hole, only an extremely small dent appeared that was not visible from the side. If anyone could help me with this I would be very grateful.
   - kazesamurai1000 - Friday, 02/06/09 22:15:00 EST

Hey there guru,
I am a blacksmith/armorer, and I have recently purchased an anvil. it was only $99 for a 55 pound one, which was relatively inexpensive for that size of anvil. The site said that it was cast iron steel that was heat treated. It does not seem to exhibit all of the negative qualities of ASO's. It has a ok ring in the middle, and a great ring on the sides. It is not extremely hard, but it is pretty hard. when filling it, it did not file easily(it took about an hour to file off about a 3/5 inch ridge/bump that was on one part of it. Could you, or anyone you know, tell me if it is cast iron, tempered cast iron, cast steel, or something else. It seems like a good anvil, but not one of those $600 ones. after a relatively hard hit to the upper edge of the back of the table, near the hardy hole, only an extremely small dent appeared that was not visible from the side. If you could help me with this I would be very grateful.
   kazesamurai1000 - Friday, 02/06/09 22:18:46 EST

Hey there kazesamurai1000
Do you have a way to post a picture of your anvil online. This will help us identify it. Let us know where you live. This can help too.
Peace Brother
   - ihavevises - Friday, 02/06/09 22:44:53 EST

Hey guys,
Sorry I poster 3 posts of the same thing. I was trying to figure out where my post went after I posted it. The thing said It had not posted because there was nothing to post, after i clicked post. But Now i see where they all went.
   kazesamurai1000 - Friday, 02/06/09 22:45:53 EST

Thread depth: The old thread depth carts you find refer to the "depth of thread per side". A "thread fish" wich is a small metal thread pitch gage (usualy available from General Tools )will say "double the depth of thread" on it. This still means the depth of the thread "per side"
In the Guru's explanation of lathe dail vs. actual depth of cut, the term "per side" is the same as a dial that reads .125 depth of cut but, removes a total of .25" from the diameter of the part. That is were the term "per side" comes in. In every case I can think of, a chart will give you the thread depth in a "per side" dimention and, this would be a staight in movment not one figured from the compound. You would still need a set of thread wires or specail thread anvils for a standard micrometer to determin the finale size and then it's always nice to have the mateing nut to double check the fit BEFOR you take the part out of the chuck. You can find the lead of your screw again but it would be easier to do it right befor not after.
I would first look in McMaster Carr for any kind of threaded rod and matching nuts or internaly threaded bushings you could want befor you spend alot of time to teach yourself to single point threads.
I will say that when I single point I put a 1" dial indicator on the X axis (cross feed) to keep track of my depth and forget about the dials.
If I have to make a very accurate thread form then I will set the compound to what ever angel I need and use the 1" dial indicator as a "return marker" and advance the depth with the compound. Take the first three passes (no more than .002 per side each) and measure the change in diameter of each. This will give you a rough idea of when you're getting close to final size and need to start checking with the mating part. Remember, all the thread charts in the world don't meen squat if the parts don't fit when your done...
Log on to McMaster Carr and 'git er done'
Now I go to bed so I can get up early to go to work and make armor plate kits for our fighting men and women.
   - merl - Friday, 02/06/09 23:32:49 EST

"Cast Iron Steel" That means the folks selling it don't know AND don't know anything about metallurgy. Its either cast iron, cast steel or ductile iron. Cast Iron Steel is an oxymoron.

Use it. If it works for you fine. If not, then you got exactly what you described, mystery metal. Its kind of like "mystery meat", if you don't want to know where it came from then don't ask. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/09 01:10:33 EST

man, i should've thought of using a dial indicator! duh. anyway i'm in school for machine tool so thats why i'm machining the whole thing... didn't have any acme thread guages, but i used an optical comparator to aid in grinding the tool to size out of solid carbide
   - Tyler Murch - Saturday, 02/07/09 01:10:54 EST

Tyler, take your time, study the books. Machinery's almost has TOO much on threads especially when it gets into quality classes. But it DOES have the math to use ANY size rod that fits (welding rod) to measure over three wires. Inside threads can be tough. However, what I do on acme and square threads is machine the bore to size, then a pilot for the OD and then thread until I just graze the pilot. Round the corners and polish with some Scotch Brite on a stick.

On a vise screw I would rather have one piece than a piece of threaded rod butt welded to a bar. . . To hog the whole out of solid (rather than forging) gives one the chance to do some creative turning with big fillets, hemispherical surfaces and decorative lining like the old vises.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/09 01:38:17 EST

ptree: Now thats a lot screwing;)) I mean a LOT!
My shop made a lot of valve screws from both SS, steel and Bronze.
That bronze we had to do was the toughest bronze I have ever seen. We rolled, and used die heads and coloapsing taps. And had a bevey of those 2 step Acme taps plus sets of 3. Along with a couple of J&L thread grinders. Then I made some quite large 4 start transport screws. We also single pointed (using Indexable carbide cutting points) machine lead screws and supplied many replacment screws for many of the US made lathes and mills. And a lot of aircraft grade "certified" parts. Lead screws, some 2 start, single point cut machine to grade up to 12 ft.
But NEVER made 100,000 screws per month I doubt we ever made that many in 20 years!! As much as I would have liked to seen an order of that size, I would have had to have turned that job down. I would have not had the space for the raw stock or output!;((

While there may be someone out there willing to off hand, or TC grind a matching pair, inside and outside, of Hi-Speed steel points for an Acme thread without the aidof a template form, it just dont see it in the cards. Maybe a fit for a blacksmith shop but a total waste for anything that has to have a decent fit. Most of our acme threads or even most other production work screws were checked with certified, in a metro-lab, "Go-No go" gauges. And 3 wire may be alright for the odd job, but just dont cut it for a production check.

While trying to cut Acme or any other thread from a piece of rusted scrap/junk that may be bent,using some old steam age lathe that has a 1/4" of play in its old worn out spindle, of a unknown grade scrap from the bottom of some junk pile that has been in the dirt for the last 30 years, that may have come from someones old plow is just plain asking for failure. While that practice may work just just fine for pounding out a nice piece art work or some tool, that just dont work for threaded shafts! Especially for practicing with a beginner, why send a guy out to fail at the onset. I have also been there and done that. :)) It sucks Too!

   - Tmac - Saturday, 02/07/09 01:40:09 EST

By the way just in case anyone cares KO LEE Aberdean SD, the grinder company, failed last spring and the remainder of the production tools were auctioned off last June. They were one of the great US grinder and grinding tooling companies left! ;(( They had survived the last depression too.
   - Tmac - Saturday, 02/07/09 01:52:45 EST

Mystety meat guru? You don't know the meaning of the term until you come here. Suffice it to say I keep my dog very well locked away at night. You know the saying "If you ask it's always treif". If anybody doesn't understand that just email me.
   philip in china - Saturday, 02/07/09 07:20:08 EST

Gua yan to, mai go ro. (I'll explain later, if Phillip can't puzzle out my "spelling.")
   Mike BR - Saturday, 02/07/09 09:01:59 EST

Tmac, To make those 100,000 threaded stems a month, you need to realize that we had a 7 story machine shop a city block square. The first floor was screw machines, 48 of them. Smallest was 5/8" bar to a couple of 8" bar Acme Gridleys.
We also had a little jewel that made stud bolts that were 5/16-18 or /8-16 by about 3 to 4" long. Made about 200,000 a month of those.
We pipe threaded probably 4 to 8 MILLION holes a month in that shop. Consider that we made pipe fittings as well and a half million pipe crosses equals 2 million pipe tapped holes:)
The 7th floor of that city block sized shop was the tool and die shop.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/07/09 09:14:03 EST

Treif, schmeif.... I don't know any Jew that haven't indulged in a nice pork chop, lobster, shrimp and oysters. And don't get me started on combining meats and cheese. Phillip, while in Thailand our tour guide explained that only the black dogs are favored for the dinner table. Apparently black dogs have "magic" that can be absorbed by eating. Sorry about the off the topic chat, if it helps any cutlery that touches pork cannot touch anything Kosher... it has to be buried.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 02/07/09 09:46:17 EST

Thanks for the help. I think that it probably is a cast steel of some sort, because the rebound is good. I read on here that cast iron anvils have little to no rebound. I got it from a automotive supply website, and it was sent to me from a railroad supply store. It has turned out to be a great buy, and doesn't have a flat horn like others in that price range.
   kazesamurai1000 - Saturday, 02/07/09 11:04:37 EST

Old Machinery: I've got two turn of the 20th Century lathes, a 1950's hobby (Atlas/Craftsman) lathe and access to a third WWII era lathe.

The oldest which I am repairing will never chase threads. The spindle is worn and when reshimmed will not be true to the bed. It is also a change gear lathe which is a pain to setup and something to avoid if you have no choice. But it will hog pretty well as old small shop lathes go.

The WWII era lathe is a South Bend Tool Room lathe of the type found in thousands of school shops at one time. Its a nice old machine but the bed is worn out just at the chuck so small short work always comes out tapered.

The 6" Craftsman was never a great lathe even when new. But it is fine for small work and making all kinds of parts. I've bored 2.5" holes with it in 4" square block and made hundreds of odd bits an pieces with it. It mill make one offs as accurate as you can measure. It is a very convenient little machine since you can hold a chuck or any of the attachments to change safely one handed. I've chased threads on it but its also a change gear lathe and worn just enough that you have to be very attentive to backlash. This is my favorite little machine and I have a second "spare".

The last is one of those "steam era" lathes. Its a 1915 13" long bed South Bend with a quick change gear box. It had a hard life but saw little use so nothing is worn out. The spindle is tight and you can (or could) see the original scraping on the ways and dovetails. Yep, its an ancient (almost 100 years old) machine but it operates as well as any late model lathe I've operated and turns out very accurate work. I've turned a number of large screws on it with no problems. Also made several dozen parts with O-ring grooves for a local company. They didn't know or care if the machine making them was 100 years old, they just cared that the parts were right.

These are not machines you put a "machine operator" on with a production job and walk off. The work will likely be bad or the machine end up broken. But they are machines that a half decent machinist can make parts better than those on the machines. They are the machines that built the machine tools of the 1950's that made the machine tools of the 1970's and so on. Every one of these machines has the capability to make a larger lathe spindle than they have. They could make all the feed screws except the long lead screw and can make better feed dials than they came with.

These machines are a century or more of bootstrapping up from the first machine tools of their type and only a couple generations below the absolute best machine tools ever made.

The School Lathe that Tyler is using is 200 years newer than the ones that made the parts he is trying to replace. Besides being a newer tighter machine it has the advantage of the best high speed tool steels. This makes a HUGE difference in accuracy and precision of cut as the tools last and last. There is no reason he should not be able to do a great job making parts for an antique vise much less almost anything else.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/09 14:11:36 EST

A question from yet another beginner, I am attempting a version of the Break Drum Forge, the main difference is instead of a break drum I am using the bell off of a propane tank. 39inch diameter, thickness varies from 3/8 to 7/16 inch, the height of the bowl is approximately 8 inches with a relatively flat bottom, we use many of these to make commercial BBQ smokers, the ends are cut off with a gas powered hot saw. So my question is, do you think it would be necessary to build a true fire box insert? The blower assembly (tuyeer) is made from 3 inch oil field casing (free) as are the legs.
   Big Joe - Saturday, 02/07/09 16:06:10 EST

Big Forge for Big Joe: The point of a fire pot is to make a small deep fire. The depth varies from 6 to 10" in an area about double the depth in two dimensions.

To get a deep enough fire bed in your pan you would need about 8" of coal or ramped up to 10" in the middle. Without focusing and controlling the fire the entire pan of coal will try to burn. That would waste a lot of fuel.

So, what you need is to fill the pan with dirt or clay leaving a "pot" about the size of a hot in the center and a lip around the edges of about 3". You would also need to cut down two notches on opposite sides for long pieces of work.

Since that is a LOT of fill you may want to consider using this nice pan for something else and finding something shallower for your forge. It sounds like you have access to all the tools and equipment you need as well as scrap.

There is no "ideal" forge but a common shape is rectangular about 30 x 40 inches with the fire pot centered equi-distant from one end. The "pot" drops below this flat surface about 6" and is a truncated pyramid in shape and there is a rim around the edges of about 4" with cutouts to 2" across the area of the firepot.

The idea is to control the fire in about a foot square area or less while having enough depth as well as fuel reserve to continuously move toward the hot spot.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/07/09 17:16:49 EST

Steam Age Machines:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this old machinery for its use. But you have to keep the stuff hid in the shop from 1. the OSHA people lest your reconfigure the whole machine. 2. From the contract inspectors ;) these guys typically are a bunch of suit and tie guys that dont have a clue, about use of machinery, they just report back, often "machinery to old, unfit for contracts".

That said a lot of "StmAge" machines have features that are well suited for "job shoppers" that are just not available on more of the modern machines. My problem with SA machines is that all the steam has been just plain wore out of them. The worst "common" problem is the spindle bearings "babit" and the spindle is just to far gone for use as is. The other is just how many decades have they have been setting in the earthly elements! As for the "gear changing" which by the way, are called "pick Off Gears" these can be a major problem for people who are not experienced using them. They are just a daily routine "piece of cake" for those who are.

Now we come to the users of this stuff. I hate to say it but, welding shops, auto shops, blacksmith shops, farmers and hobbyists usually have the worst of the worst of the old SA machines. 1 because they got it for near nothing, and rarely use the stuff except for the odd job. 2. They just plain abuse their machinery. Welding shops seem to be the biggest offenders by using them for welding fixtures then complain that they cant machine on them. ;(( Now a person has to keep in mind the concept of a machine of any kind, in that the machine is meant to be a labor and money saving device. To accomplish its job with the lowest possible financial cost balanced with the most labor saving possibilities.

Iam afraid many see them as objects of "beauty" and direct their affections towards them! ;) Hey I find myself in the same boat at times ;((. Then I just have to slap myself a couple of times in the face, and say what you thinking its all about the "job" and paying the nut!!

   - Tmac - Saturday, 02/07/09 22:55:13 EST

Ok, so I have done some blacksmithing but not a lot, I am 20 and I may soon be helping a older couple set up a blacksmith shop so that it is on display for school groups, but in return for me helping they are willing to let me work in the shop. My problem is I cant seem to find a good floor plan for a shop or the best way to set up shop? I know to some extent it is preference, but I have looked and have not turned anything up thus far.

Help please?

Resource I will look myself i just need a point in the right direction.
   Tyler - Saturday, 02/07/09 23:05:19 EST

Phillip, I challenge your mystery with the stuff available from the road side vendors in Panama.
When I was in the service I spent some time there and, I still remember the aroma of some unidentified "meat" being cooked at the road side stands as we drove by in military convoyes. At night it was like a sureal dream with the smells and sounds of this forien contry all around in the dark or by head lites only.
   - merl - Saturday, 02/07/09 23:51:29 EST

Shop Layouts: Practical Blacksmithing by M.T. Richardson has many but most are horse and buggy age farrier or general blacksmith shops (which included shoeing). The Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews has an arrangement for use in a teepee.

The variables are so many that full layouts would be impossible to cover all situations. Here are some variables.

1) Focus of the shop. Is it to represent an actual shop OR be a demonstration shop. There is a HUGE difference. IF a an actual shop then what is its focus? Shoeing, Bladesmithing, Armour, General, Farm Repair. . . .?

2) Era and type of equipment (links to focus of the shop). Is it to have just enough equipment to demonstrate smithing or a full complement of equipment (for the era)? Forge type, with or without bellows defines a lot about a shop. Bellows installation and setup is often screwed up making the forge difficult to use. Old smiths understood ergonomics as well as the mechanics of the arrangement. Few understand it today.

3) Existing building or from scratch made for purpose? Budget for the building or modifications? Size limitations? Code requirements?

4) If for show does the arrangement need to provide display space for a tool collection?

If you have an existing building you must start there. Then you look at the equipment inventory. If it is all to be used then it is different than just being on display. The forge is the "heart" of the blacksmith shop and usually in a fixed location near the center of one wall.

The other fixed item is the bench and vise or stump and vise. The blacksmiths vise often gets used as much or more than the anvil. It should be near the forge but not in the way of free movement. The jaws should be arranged so that long work can be supported in both directions. In a real shop the bench may want to be against a wall and anchored to it but in a demonstration shop the bench may want to be a divider or protective barrier between the audience and the smith.

The anvil should be about 4 to 7 feet from the center of the forge and located so that one can work at it from all directions. In old shops the anvil was often set on a stump that was permanently fixed. In modern shops we have found that flexibility is important.

The complicating issue is bellows on not bellows. In a one man shop the bellows handle is convenient to the forge such that the smith can operate it while supporting work in the forge with the other hand (either long work or using tongs). In a shop where a helper always pumps the bellows the handle location must be such that the helper is not in the way of the smith AND can quickly move farther out of the way. I had achieved this fairly well with very careful layout in my portable shop trailer. During one of its later rebuilds someone moved the bellows handle a foot closer to the forge. It made it a little easier for the smith but was terrible when there was a helper. Bellows arrangement also depends on the type of bellows and forge as well as where it is located (low or high). Hand crank blowers also require space for the handle to travel and a person to operate it.

Other equipment includes drill presses, power hammers, shears, grinders, tire benders and shrinkers, tire assemble horses . . . or not. Hand drill presses need a column to attach to. Shears often need to be anchored to a beam or concrete pad in the floor.

If shoeing is part of the operation then space for this including stalls was part of the shop arrangement. Major farrier shops often had ox handling cages and hoists.

Small power hammers have been part of blacksmith and even farm shops since the 1880's. Locating these near the forge is as important as where the anvil and vise go. Shops that did lots of hardware work often had filing benches with numerous vises and work stations.

If this is to be a demonstration shop for public viewing then the design and layout is critical for public safety, visibility AND comfort. More demonstration shops are blatantly dangerous and poorly arranged than not. A true reproduction shop is a miserable place to invite the public which often consists of 20 to 30 school children. Where do you put them? How do you protect them from sparks and spatter? Remember the weather conditions from blazing sun to dripping cold rain. Standing at the drip edge of a shed roof seems to be the norm for some perverse reason.

So, get out you list of knowns. Answer as many unknowns as possible. Then layout the existing or budgeted space as well as doors and windows.

Next, start putting the equipment in at scale. It often helps to make cardboard templates. Then I draw circles for a person standing (about 24" is average shoulder to shoulder). Then another circle with elbows out. Then another with arms out (which is also the same as elbows in holding work in tongs. These circles are then made into paths. Some place they are for standing room, other places for reach (into the forge, across a bench). Work positions often have a limited range when one can pirouette from one position to another work in hand. These turn the circles into oblongs and arcs. When there are more than two people think about their space requirements. The smith needs all his arms extended space from the paths he walks. The helper will need elbows out for pulling the bellows, sawing or filing. Some space can overlap, others cannot.

I did a layout like this for my portable forge trailer forge area. There was an S shape path around the vise and anvil passing in front of the forge. In use I killed the grass in this path over most two day weekend shows.

If this is a demonstration shop then plan even more carefully and have others review the plans.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/08/09 01:14:52 EST

If you want to build the shop with an audience in mind, here is one that worked quite well over the years. It was small but worked very well for the smith (Virgil Vines) for over 18 years. It was the shop for the Plano Heritage Farmstead Museum in Texas. The entire front wall opened up providing a good view and shade/shelter. (It was always quite messy, but Virgil always knew where everything was.) He primarily demoed small items (hooks, knives, etc.) with some welding now and then.


Unfortunately, the shop is no longer in use. One more piece of our heritage lost to an illness and a myopic museum board.

   Rob Dobbs - Sunday, 02/08/09 02:13:26 EST

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