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 16 - 21, 2009 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Hi, This is my first time on your site. Found it through Dan Gray's "how to make knives" site. Cant say I'm just getting started in Blacksmithing, cause until about 30 minutes ago it never entered my mind. Actually until about three weeks ago, knifemaking never entered my mind either. However I seem to always buy good used cutlery (old chicago or dexter or solingen- not stainless mostly)at Goodwill, salvation army etc, and have passed most on to my kids families. figured that being recently semi-retired, I'd learn how to sharpen better than with my old Chicago cutlery electric. Got tired of the chips and scrathes and massive amounts of metal missing from my blades. Got hooked on the knifemaker forums, starting to do a passable (for me anyway) job on the sharpening, consider trying to actually make a knife, and saw the link to your "junk Yard steel" article. I moved into my home 30 years ago, and found myself next door to a backyard Farrier and loved to watch him work. Your site brought back good memories, he passed away about 2 years back. My question for today is this. I recently changed the struts on my wife's car, a 98 volvo. The strut rods look like either stainless or a highly polished steel. I read in this forum about auto springs and other parts possibly being decent tool steel. Would strut rods be good for knives or tools? I will probably just try it and then see what kind of results i get.
anyway, thanks for this site, its been interesting. been thinking bout how to redefine my life at this stage,, and beating on metal sounds like a gas-might just try it.
   jefffox - Monday, 02/16/09 01:08:13 EST

Jeff, Struts are pretty tough steel but the bright finish is usually chrome plating over a case hardened surface. This keeps the sealing surface from rusting and wearing. Same for shock absorber rods.

The spring you took off and put back on. . good steel. Some for the sway bar.

Welcome to the wonderful and sometimes weird world of iron.
   - guru - Monday, 02/16/09 02:27:07 EST

Guys, is this a hoax?
This is a picture of the biggest anvil I have ever seen (excepting maybe the 1400 lb. Fisher). It looks to be in too perfect of shape to be real, making me wonder if it's just a hollow sheet metal shape. Wierd shape, too. Not like a Fisher, not like any wrought anvils I've seen, with an almost sculptural detail on the side below the anvil step. Ken S., Guru, what do you know about this?
   - Vorpal - Monday, 02/16/09 03:56:15 EST

Actually, look at those straps "holding" that anvil from sliding around. Heh heh heh. Yeah right. And if that thing was solid iron or steel, I would think that they would have centered it right above the axle in the middle of the bed of that trailer.
   - Vorpal - Monday, 02/16/09 04:00:45 EST

I can't comment on the authenticity of the anvil in that picture, but I did take note of the way it was secured in the bed of the truck, the sharpness of the point on its horn, and its position relative to that of the driver. Panic stop?
   - Charlie Spademan - Monday, 02/16/09 08:38:40 EST

Dave Boyer - many thanks for the torch tip issue
   - Nathan - Monday, 02/16/09 09:11:15 EST


Howdy Folks-
I've pretty muched moved into my new shop, and one of the things I still need to deal with at the old one is several barrels of acids that I've used for pickling and etching. Do some of you have advice abouty disposing of this responsibly? The acids are mostly sulfuric, though one vat is a witches brew of many acids. Should be no significant amount of metals other than iron.

Thanks for any advice and experience you'd like to share.

   Lee Sauder - Monday, 02/16/09 13:50:03 EST

I have a anvil with the name ( hay Budden) stamped on the side. do you know the origin of this anvil?
   Dean Fisette - Monday, 02/16/09 15:08:43 EST

Dean, Hay-Budden's were manufactured in Brooklyn NY USA until 1928-29. They were on one of the best anvils made.
   - guru - Monday, 02/16/09 15:24:31 EST

thanks for the reply. next question is what is the worth of this anvil? Dean...
   Dean Fisette - Monday, 02/16/09 17:05:40 EST

I forgot to mention that this anvil is in excellent condition
   Dean Fisette - Monday, 02/16/09 17:32:26 EST

Dean, It has to do with weight, condition, and where you are located. Does it have two pritchel holes (the round ones) or one?
   Frank Turley - Monday, 02/16/09 19:20:20 EST

Dean, The problem is excellent compared to what? Just because its all there is one thing. The condition of the edges is another. If the edges have been repaired to get that way then it is worth less than if it had rough edges. Horns get dinged and for SOME inexplicable reason folks insist on pounding on the tip blunting it (more than normal) and mushrooming it. The damage to an anvil is like trying to explain the difference between a person of average looks and someone with exceptional good looks. As a human YOU know. . but an anvil is not human. It is a tool that those who pay high prices for know exactly what a good anvil looks like.

Many anvils have been repaired at factories and large shops as well as in private shops. Repairs almost always reduce the value unless they are undetectable. It is common today to see anvils with cosmetic repairs that should not have been made when the anvil is for resale.

Occasionally provenance (some historical reference) can add to value of an anvil if it is documented.

As Frank pointed out size makes a difference. Both very large and very small anvils are rare and demand higher prices. The most common 125 to 150 pound anvils go for the least but details are still of primary importance. And, Hay-Budden, like most other makers made numerous style anvils. The rarest being those double horned anvils made for export.
   - guru - Monday, 02/16/09 19:51:19 EST

Does anybody have plans for making a shear? Would truck leaf spring be suitable as a blade?
   philip in china - Monday, 02/16/09 20:12:11 EST

Vorpal- A while back someone made what they dubbed the Mile Long Anvil, a big fabricated mother somewhere near 5000lbs. I later saw it for sale due to health of the maker in the Hammer's Blow or someplace like that. Perhaps that is it. If it is i feel sorry for that truck and trailer.

Phillip- One of Francis Whitaker's books, I think the Blacksmith's Cookbook, has basic drawings and a parts list.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 02/16/09 21:06:43 EST

Philip in China,

What do you plan to shear with the shear? A shear for non-ferrous metal could be made quite nicely with spring stock, but one intended to shear heavy plate with mill scale isn't going to work so well unless the blades are a very tough, abrasion resistant steel.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/16/09 22:23:30 EST

I would shear steel sheet and some smaller rods maybe up to 10 or 15mm maximum.
   philip in china - Monday, 02/16/09 23:06:31 EST

Phillip; IIRC "Practical Blacksmithing", Richardson, has several shear designs in it with one smith extolling his due to using it to shear plow points to rough shape with it.

Leafspring---if not microalloyed or fiberglass should make a shear blade.

   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 02/17/09 00:13:18 EST

Shear: I built a big compound leverage shear early in my career using a big piece of 24" 75# I beam and truck spring steel for the blades. It was too springy to cut steel and sort of ripped plastic. . . It would probably work for hot work.

But then a few years later I made a little shear from two small pieces of MG-Midget leaf spring. I drilled a hole for a snug fit on a 3/8" bolt in the two pieces then holes close to the bolt for shearing. These were 1/4" and 3/16". One spring was welded to a small piece of angle iron to clamp it in a vise and a 28" long handle made of thin wall steel tubing (EMT) brazed to the other. Worked GREAT and I've cut hundreds of pieces of 1/4" round for basket twists using it. It requires a heavy vise to clamp it in. The pull put a pretty good spring into a small 30 pound vise and still flexes a 50 pound vise.

I suspect that using straight leverage you can shear up to 3/8" (10mm) this way if the anchor is heavy enough and the pivot beefed up (it MUST be bigger then the part being sheared). At 1/2" you would need a LONG 5 foot or more handle and the shear mounted to the floor. Over that you would need compound leverage or a gear torque multiplier.

I have a wonderful old Diacro bar shear Hand Rod Parter) that goes up to 1/2". It is very heavily built and must be anchored very securely to cut 1/5" mild steel. It has holes for round bar only.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 00:15:43 EST

Phillip: Shears that are designed to cut sheet dont do well with rods, wire or round stock. If you cut rods in a sheet shear they will hang with sheet at that spot. These are different machines designed for different shaped material. For a cheap alternative to a rod shear get a bolt cutter. Should be able to get one of those cheap Chinese ones! right ;))
   - Tmac - Tuesday, 02/17/09 00:25:42 EST

I suspect that big bolt cutters are the easy answer for rods and thena locally purchased sheet sheer. I am using more and more sheet material and a decent shear would be very useful.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 02/17/09 00:54:18 EST

That big anvil appears to be the one that Lee Liles had cast some years ago. I saw it at Quad State. The thing weighs over 2000 pounds. It is a "real" anvil in that it is solid cast steel, but it is so much bigger than any anvil I have seen made by one of the manufacturers of anvils that it appears to be more of a show piece than anything else. The face is somewhere between 8 and 10 inches wide. The biggest anvil I have seen in person besides this one was an 850 lb Hay Budden. I have seen picutres of the giant Fisher, but the biggest Fisher I've encountered was 750 pounds. I have also seen pictures of some very large anvils in Europe. Here in the states I don't see many over 500 lbs but they do show up every now and then.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 02/17/09 09:52:07 EST

Guru et al,

Following the suggestions here, I picked up the 6"x6"x12", 120# slab of 4052 to mount (on end) beside my railroad rail as a slab anvil. It's worlds better than the railroad rail in terms of efficiency. The face isn't totally smooth, but looks to either be cut with a very sloppy saw or a very steady torch. I'm working on that with files and my angle grinder loaded with a sanding disk. I'm not looking for perfect, but better than it is will be good.

What does bother me is the ring. It's a (basically) square block, so it's pretty tough to fasten down with strapping, but even when I do it doesn't seem to help. It's nowhere near as loud as the railroad rail, but definately a higher pitch and it rings much longer. The neighbors can't hear it, even with the garage open, and they complained about the railroad rail, but I think my hearing would be better off without it. Even with earplugs, it is pretty abrasive.

So my question is: Should I weld on some feet (maybe heavy angle iron) and bolt it down tight to the stand? I've got it on a roughly 11"x8" wooden stand (4x8s) so there should be enough of a lip around the stand to hold a little extra width.

- Bob
   RJL - Tuesday, 02/17/09 11:50:36 EST

Big anvils: The one in the referenced photo is another sheet metal anvil. . .

Lee Liles still runs his museum and would not part with his "largest anvil" for anything.

Ray Davis's "Mile Long" anvil weighs 5,280 pounds and is obviously fabricated to the trained eye but IS solid.

See anvilfire NEWS, Volume 26 - Page 10

There is a horse and rider sculpture somewhere out West that is full scale but the horse is standing atop a huge anvil! It think this one will be featured in Richard Postman's ne3xt book.

The "Giant" Fisher from the 1898 industrial exhibition weighed 1200 or 1500 pounds and was stored in the basement of an historical society. I'm told it is not even a "real" anvil in that it is just cast iron, they did not put a steel insert into it. Its just show like the rest of the gigantic anvils. . .

Unless you are doing industrial work with sledges these oversize anvils are tool large to efficiently maneuver around. Since quickness and economy of motion is required when working a rapidly cooling piece of steel these lage anvils are impractical.

IF you want REALLY heavy but practical then you want one of my "Mega Anvils" with solid steel integral base. This brings you up to 700 to 1,000 pounds in a reasonable size to work around size anvil.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 12:22:04 EST

Wheres the 1400 pound anvil from the picture at the Smithsonian (I'm referring to AIA)? Is it still in existence?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/17/09 13:04:52 EST

WRT carbon diffusion, the latest copy (February) of Advanced Materials and Processes Magazine, the publication of ASM (American Society for Metals) has an article on carbon diffusion in pattern welded blades. The title is: Jacquet-Lucas Award: Metallography of a Modern Pattern-Welded Steel Knife Blade, and it is currently a free down load from ASM. http://asmcommunity.asminternational.org/static/Static%20Files/IP/Magazine/AMP/V167/I02/amp16702p24.pdf?authtoken=cb31535fc425fd4bcb22e182921e2963ed861895

Or do a search for ASM, choose asmcommunity.asminternational.org, select the icon for A&MP Magazine, click on it, and access articles now and choose February 2009 and a clickable list pops up.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 02/17/09 13:22:22 EST

Hey guys,
I've just got my hands on a 2 1/4" X 4 1/2" X 10" piece of 4140 that I'm planning on using for an anvil face. Could someone give me some guidance on the correct tolerances for a hardy hole? I'm planning on 1 inch, but was wondering if there are any standard dimensions such as 1.125 etc.? I figure if I make it 1" and any hardy tools I get my hands on could be lightly ground to fit if too big.

One more thing--the pritchel hole. I've seen various sizes and would also like to get some input on what's a good "middle of the road" size?

As always, your info is much appreciated.
   Chris F. - Tuesday, 02/17/09 13:28:08 EST

Used Anvil condition rating standards guide:
Just a suggestion. A lot of posts here, including my own, offer the owners opinion on condition, which I see as having no standards. I suggest there could be a rating guide. One rating for non-collection condition shop users, two one for "collectors pieces". While black smithing is not my forte, I could offer suggestions for such a guide.

I collected guns for a while, and those have a definite scale. The "Gun Blue Book" has the best and newer issues have photos of conditions to guide the novice user. So how about it, one on this site? As if there isn't enough for Guru to keep up on, now I want to load some more on! ;))

   - Tmac - Tuesday, 02/17/09 13:53:06 EST

Info wanted:
Ok, now recently I acquired a 100lb "Henry Wright" anvil. For me it just what I can use, this anvil will do everything I will ever need to.

But it seems to have been used as a welding table, the top surface has arc weld spatter. It is not rough, as the spatter has been hammered smooth in continued use. That is not a problem. But nearing the middle of the top of the horn is a cutting torch burn through, as if a piece of metal was cut there and the anvil was under the cut. I want to weld this up and clean the weld. What stick rod would anyone recommend for this weld. I dont want to use a hard surface rod. I was thinking of 7024 to do this job.

   - Tmac - Tuesday, 02/17/09 14:16:47 EST

PS: Info wanted:
I should have mentioned the size of the burn through,
it is about 1/4" wide 1/4" deep and about 1.5 inch long. While this only a minor distraction and in no way affects the integrity of the horn. I just dont want it there;((. But I dont want to make it worse! This has got to be steel, right, because wrought does not burn like steel, does it?

I guess Life is full of little warts right!

   - Tmac - Tuesday, 02/17/09 14:27:27 EST

Tmac: The horn is usually soft, in your case wrought. Almost any rod that you are comfortable with can be used. I've welded and ground dozens of horns.
   - grant - Tuesday, 02/17/09 14:57:04 EST

Do you have an image of the Mega Anvil that you wrote about? Thanks
   carlton - Tuesday, 02/17/09 14:57:20 EST

Lee Sauder, I did not see a response to your question about acid disposal but it can be very expensive. Maybe you can neutralize it first with some Bicarb?
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 02/17/09 15:07:42 EST

Big Fisher: Nip, Yes, it was last seen in a basement storage. That's the all CI one. The Fisher Museum was trying to get it. . .

Hardy Hole Standards: Chris, There is no real standard in anvil features. However, tool shanks are generally on-size so the hole would need to be about .010" oversize for a nice slip fit. The problem is that some hardy holes are on-size or metric. If someone else's tools have been modified then they won't fit your anvil.

Personally I would make the hole just a tad oversize so that fabricated tools with 1" HR bar shanks would fit as well as any nominal 1" shanks.

Pritchel holes sort of vary with the anvil size and are found up to 5/8". Since it is a farrier's tool feature many later anvil makers are drilling a series of incremental holes (1/2" to 1"). This is best for the general blacksmith.

Horn Repairs: Yes, wrought will flame cut, just not as smoothly as steel. Your Henry Wright is a wrought bodied and horned anvil. Yes it can be welded but wrought tends to do weird things. The scale melts out and mixes with the arc welding rod flux and you end up with a larger hole than what you started with. It can be filled it just takes a lot more rod and it helps to work as flat as possible due to the WI slag making the flux more liquid.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 15:11:24 EST

Carlton, See our FAQ's page, Index to Anvil Making Articles, Guru's Anvil Making Sketchbook. These are various ideas for making fabricated anvils or anvils as sculpture.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 15:19:15 EST

some more notes on my anvil. it is 28 3/4 long by 4 3/4 wide. looks like the numbers 184 stamped on the side under the name Hay-Budden. seems heavier than that though, small letters FWW stamped near the horn on the main body. also it has two pritchel holes one square, one round. can I send you a photo? thanks Dean.....
   Dean Fisette - Tuesday, 02/17/09 15:19:45 EST

Dean, The square hole is known as the "hardy hole" for the tool that fits it. The small round hole at the corner is called the "pritchel" hole because it is used with a pritchel punch by farriers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 17:11:59 EST

More, Farriers versions of anvils often had 2 pritchel holes one in the usual place near the far side corner and another on the near side not as close to the corner. My Hay-Budden "farrier's" style anvil (below) has the two pritchel holes, and the near side of the step or table has been rounded to blend with the horn. It was also drilled for two bolts in the feet under horn and heel.
Hay-Budden anvil photo by Jock Dempsey><br> 200 pound Hay-Budden anvil</center><br>
This anvil is in
I do not know if the cut off shelf and drilled holes in the base are a factory job or not. Hay-Budden would take special orders for special sizes as well as features.

If this anvil did not have the torch nicks and wear on the horn I would grade it as "very good" as it is very flat and while there is minor nicking of the edges there are no major chips. To be "near mint" it would need sharp or very slightly rounded edges. There are a few old "mint" (never used in service) condition anvils around but they are very few. A mint anvil could have light rust but no signs of wear, chipping, repairs or modifications.

The problem with a grading system for anvils is the slight differences that come into play. The anvil above has a surface finish that I would put at an RMS 32-64. It could still be in fair condition with a 64-125. However, if that was the ONLY thing wrong with it then it would still be a "good".

What I do not like about a grading "system" is that we already have enough trouble with people making cosmetic repairs to anvils that should not be done. However, it raises their market value among the average buyer. While light grinding of the face to remove small pits and rust from an anvil does not hurt it taking off more than 1/16" just to clear a couple low spots may leave the surface soft and the face damaged. I've seen anvils with half to three quarters of the 1/2" steel plate removed by machining. The remaining plate is too soft AND too thin. It will ding and the anvil will show sway from the movement of the underlying wrought. The folks that did this were very proud of the "restoration" of the anvil. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 18:10:12 EST

thanks for the clarification. upon further inspection I found the serial #11-788 on my anvil. any info on this? after seeing your anvil I would rate mine excellent, no chipping or dents, flat surface, sharp edges.
   Dean Fisette - Tuesday, 02/17/09 19:00:06 EST

RJL and the ringing block anvil...

I've solved the ringing problem on my Fork Lift Anvil by standing it either in a box of sand or a container full of water, leaving the top 2" or so exposed. With that size block, standing 10" deep in sand or water should kill the ring. Additionally, sand would keep it from moving much.
   Mike/Marco - Tuesday, 02/17/09 19:36:31 EST

I bought knifemaking unplugged by Tim Lively and wife, and most of his stuff sounds like really solid info, but when he normalizes he points the blade at magnetic north. What does this do?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 02/17/09 19:57:05 EST

Jacob Lockhart: What! That's only needed when there is a full moon! And don't forget the secret chant!
   - grant - Tuesday, 02/17/09 20:06:49 EST

Jacob, when you heat steel above the A3, or lower critical temperature of about 1340F, it becomes what? NON-MAGNETIC! If it does not respond to a magnetic field, why bother to point it in any particular direction? As Grant's tongue-in-cheek reply indicated, the practice of pointing the blade north is pure showmanship.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 02/17/09 20:21:40 EST

ACK! You non-believers! You MUST be sure that your blade is pointed magnetic North AND does not intersect any lay lines. Be sure to shade the blade from direct moonlight or it may be enchanted by fairies (not good for a knife). And none of it does any good unless you properly perform a purifying ritual (Guinnessian, Budwiserian, Zinfandelian - the specifics depending on your religion). Also be sure your quench has the proper additions of Virgin or D9 Cat extract.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/17/09 20:58:47 EST

i have built a new propane forge and burner, and this is my second one, i am uzing a zoeller forge style burner that is supposed to acheive welding heat, i was given the kaowool 2300 degree stuff from a guy that works on kiln making and stuff for his company, i was wondering, he gave me a bottle of this red stuff, he says to spray it on the forge inside chamber and to fire it it off til its white again,
does anyone know what this stuff is?
and what it does?

   - cameron - Tuesday, 02/17/09 21:59:44 EST

RJL, you might try sticking a strong magnet or two to the sides of your block of steel.
My Hay-Bud rings like a bell and will go right through the best hearing protection. Another smith suggested the magnet under the table by the hardy hole and I found that it works perfectly.
   - merl - Tuesday, 02/17/09 22:25:04 EST

Say guru, that Hay-Bud of yours there - I see you describe it as a farrier's anvil. It looks like the tip of the horn is upturned somewhat. I have an otherwise ordinary Peter Wright like that. Some old guy said that was for farriers. If that's so, what is the benefit?
   - Vorpal - Tuesday, 02/17/09 23:01:23 EST

I am looking to buy some flat stock in the Chicago area for horseshoes / example 5/16x3/4 & 5/16 X7/8,concave etc. is there a place on this site for such information????? NO techie blacksmith ya da ya da techie stuff just plain old info. Thanks Ahead of time John Corkery
   John Corkery - Wednesday, 02/18/09 00:29:55 EST

I am looking to buy some flat stock in the Chicago area for horseshoes / example 5/16x3/4 & 5/16 X7/8,concave etc. is there a place on this site for such information????? NO techie blacksmith ya da ya da techie stuff just plain old info. Thanks Ahead of time John Corkery farrierguy@yahoo.com
   John Corkery - Wednesday, 02/18/09 00:31:26 EST

Do you fellas / Gals have any thoughts on a good ceramic forge liner kits, in order to get some heat out of a NC gas forge?? AKA getting close to a yellow heat on 5/16 - 3/8 flat stock. Thanks Again John @ farrierguy@yahoo.com
   John Corkery - Wednesday, 02/18/09 00:48:17 EST

Rectangular Bar: Centaur Forge used to handle a lot of this but I could not find it on their web site. I tried our advertiser TwistedBar.com because I thought they carried it. I also tried King Metals who is bigger than the other two . . no luck. We do have several of those sizes in our on-line metals store in cold finished bar (pricey). But if you need rectangles you pay the price.

IF Centaur doesn't carry it any more I do not know who makes the half round and other shoe stock that used to be available.

Try Central Steel & Wire Company Chicago 1-800-623-8510
They list half round and half oval.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/18/09 01:25:25 EST

NC-Tool Forge Reline: Kits to fit are OEM due to the molded linings and floor and special thickness door liner. We have 1" Kaowool board but by the time you fabed it to fit and purchased the other refractories the OEM kits would look cheap and it would not be any better. A coating of ITC-100 (which we sell and recommend) will help with the forge temperature a little but due to forge performance variations we make no guarantees.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/18/09 01:35:03 EST

Upturned Horn, Anthropomorphism in tools: Vorpal, My anvil just looks like that (rather kinked) from that particular angle because there is a depression on the far side. To see the actual slope requires a side view.

Normally the horns on all well designed anvils with soft iron (wrought or low carbon steel) horns slope upwards about the amount of the step in a straight line from the step to the tip of the horn. This is so that during the life of the anvil the pounding on the horn that would make it sag first goes from up slope (new), to level, then to down slope (old tired). This increases the visual life of the anvil. A down slope doesn't hurt mechanically but to the human eye that equates health, youth and vigor with erect anatomical parts an upward slope or even level horn looks better than one that slopes downward or droops.

The anvil is just one of many mechanical things that man has imbued with anthropomorphism. The face and hands of a clock, jaws of a vise or pliers, the eyes, nose and mouth grill of automobiles. Humanoid robots are the ultimate in anthropomorphism. An anvil has a face, body, waist, feet as well as a biological symmetry.. The horn which developed over time to a stylized yet organic looking rhinoceros horn is often considered a phallic device as in "mine's bigger than yours", but could also be recognizably albeit distrotedly female (From a Western point of view. See African fertility sculpture for another viewpoint).

Late all-steel anvils have less trouble with sag than the old wrought anvils and many today are made with the horn level (especially when there is no step). The exception is those designed by connoisseurs of anvil design that understand these details even if they have not analyzed the art or psychology of anthropomorphism.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/18/09 01:57:18 EST

OnlineMetals.com has A36 5/16 x 1 bar for:
$1.85 1 foot
$7.04 5 foot
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 02/18/09 03:08:32 EST


Farrier & Blacksmith horn:

The haybuddy farrier anvil horn shown above is wide and fairly flat on top with a slight gradual curve for horseshoes sizing and finishing as compared to a smaller diameter and more conical horn that is more rounded for Blacksmithing drawing and bending. I know this wasn't your question. Some have round or square clip horns and some do not. Many farrier's prefer the face edge to do clips. I thought that may need a little clarification in real simple language without allot of psychology of anthropomorphism Cow Plopping. As you can see I don't think everything is related to the tally wacker and don't buy into it. Remember the inventor of these theories and terms spent all his time smoking opium.
   Ihavevises - Wednesday, 02/18/09 03:12:24 EST

I try not to comment at all here and just read interesting information.

I believe the anthropomorphism gent above has some valid points. In terms of symbolism such as the fertility idols etc. I think the rest is conjured up by people's misguided minds or perceptions. I believe if things are actually created to be phalic or perceived as such is a result of some level of presence causing deception in the being. This may be organic or spiritual etc... Maybe some confusion or personal frustrations involved in such creations...Who was the author of that? You may clearly see what I consider perverse, but if my mind is on a different plain it isn't reality to me. This is just my belief and you can have yours as well. I could be full of cow doodle.
   Ihavevises - Wednesday, 02/18/09 03:30:42 EST

Oh crap! Now I gotta check my inclination/declination!
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/18/09 03:57:51 EST

Hmmm, I hadn't considered anthropomorphism applying to the anvil... I definitely have "anvil envy" sometimes, however. I am perfectly aware that I do not need anything above a 300lb anvil in practicality, but somehow that 800lb Fisher out there somewhere will find it's way to me nevertheless. Thank you Guru for your thoughts, it's always a treat to check back and see a lengthy response from you, and thank you as well Ihavevises for your views and explanations as well. Ihavevi(s)es too!
   - Vorpal - Wednesday, 02/18/09 04:40:32 EST

How redundant of me. I just said "as well" twice in one sentence. Sheesh.
   - Vorpal - Wednesday, 02/18/09 04:41:47 EST

Tmac: An anvil price guide, such as you proposed, would essentially be worthless from the get-go. For example, an anvil sold in AZ may be worth three times as much as if it were to be sold in PA. Supply and demand at work. Best you could do is high to low.

Today eBay may be the most active anvil market around. However, here you have to consider the sales price doesn't reflect the cost of delivery - which can be more than the cost of the anvil. Even then, one has to pretty well exclude the sales price of those offered by matchlessantiques as reflective of the overall market. Those anvils are cleaned up, inspected for defects, accurately described and come with a money back guarantee of satisfaction. As such, they bring top of the market prices.

What would a SAMSON brand anvil be worth to a collector? Richard Postman has only the report from a reliable source of having seen one, yet they were offered in a full range of weights for perhaps 20 years.

Last evening a local guy brought by an anvil for me to look at. I told him it was a Mousehole dating 1820-1835. His eyes rather lit up thinking he had something special due to age alone. I told him it had no great value as similiar anvils, while not common, aren't rare either. It belonged to his grandfather and he wants to pass it on to one of his grandsons. Value there is more sentimental than market.

Dean Fisette: If you are reading the serial number correctly it would date to circa 1894 according to Anvils in America by Richard Postman. Were it 11?788, then circa 1906. Either would have a body of wrought iron with a steel plate. About 1908 Hay-Budden switched to a forged steel top half with a milder steel base.

John Corkery: Bear in mind NC Tool Company is essentially a farrier supply house. Their forges are designed to heat horseshoes enough to be hot shaped. Achieving above a yellow heat in one is about like asking an old Chevy Vega to do 120mph. If your forge requires relining anyway perhaps you should consider purchasing one designed for high temperature forging, such as Chile Forge - an Anvilfire.com advertiser (click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right and scroll down to list of advertisers).

Just about any new steel supply outlet should have on hand, or be able to special order for you, standard sizes such as 5/16" x 3/4". It is the oddball stuff, such as concave, which will be a problem simply due to what I suspect is a low demand for it today.

Why reinvent the wheel when you can purchase just about any prefabricated horseshoe size and shape from a number of farrier suppliers?

On that anvil on a trailer. That looks to be ptree's photo site. Have been waiting for him to reply. Like Guru, I'm sure it is a sheet metal jobbie. Would be nice to have a bit of fun with it though. Say proping it up at a 30 degre angle, putting a saddle on it, put a blacksmith in the saddle and then take a photograph titled "Anvil Breaking".
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/18/09 07:01:59 EST

Ken: Anythng special about an 1836 Willam Foster 150# other than its a good user? (Good edges, minimal pitting, good rebound very flat. In fact face is so good it looks restored/refaced, but very well done)
   - Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 02/18/09 08:56:48 EST

Anvil Abuse by Welders: I just can't understand the popularity of this practice. Why would anybody, even new welders, abuse a good tool this way? Couldn't they just use anything else? Do they get in trouble for this? Maybe we just tend to notice it more, since we actually care about tools and some folks don't.

Hardy Holes: The one on my old 100 kilo USSR is not only odd-sized but rectangular! I'll run the measurements when I swing by the forge tonight.

Quenching North: The answer is really "magic." Supposedly it keeps the knife blade from warping to one side or the other, but I've seen no empirical evidence (...how about a double-blind experiment in a sealed rotatable room with about 1,000 samples?) to indicate this is effective. However, if you tell the customer or the new owner that it was "quenched to the north" they will usually be impressed by your attention to detail, if nothing else. People like a little "magic" with hand crafted items, as they have throughout history. When I do ironwork for the church my friends are impressed that I start the fire with old Palm Sunday palms (also the source for ashes for Ash Wednesday). I go for the symbolism, but who knows what other effects it may have, especially in the minds of others.

Anvil Horns: Aldren Watson's The Village Blacksmith has drawing of anvils with the longest horns I've ever seen. Far longer, if you compare them to Anvils in America, than the common reality. I guess it just "looks better." ;-)

Anvil Price Guide: While I don't think such a thing would be worthless, I think that Ken has pointed out the fundamental problem: By the time you factor in all of the regional and conditional and shipping factors, it would be a lot more work than it's worth. The antique gun market has a much wider base of buyers, expertise, and price/value history than our rather narrow base of blacksmiths and HEAVY tool collectors. All of my gun collecting friends are perfectly happy to tell you about the times they had, missed, lost or were on the down-side of a "great bargain." Like metal, prices are malleable, and are constantly being beaten into new forms by fashions and market forces.

Looking for temporary snow on the banks of the Potomac.

This mornings project in your National Parks involves www.nps.gov/apis

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/18/09 09:22:32 EST

From my understanding both in research and using logic (uh oh!), the anvil is representative of the female entity (it even LOOKS like a womb... almost) with the hammer being the male counterpart. Even in modern urban euphamism, we say "I tapped that..." or "did you hit that...". The big "F" comes from the German word "focke" to knock or rap.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/18/09 10:31:46 EST

I once owned a 198# Swell Horn Hay-Budden Farrier's anvil. It had the largest horn to face ratio I have ever seen with the face being less than 3" wide and the horn being enourmous and much wider. The face was so narrow it was not much use to me and I traded it off on an anvil that would suit my living history penchant better.

William Foster: I have a 1828 WF anvil missing 90% of the face and the heel. I discussed it with Mr Postman as I was thinking about trying a traditional forge welding re-face of it and He said that they were not known for the quality of their wrought iron and I should first weld the face to a WI slab and then do a WI to WI weld.

Still haven't tried that yet. Seems like a Conferance Friday night type demo and I had an offer but they wanted me to donate the anvil to the club after it was fixed.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/18/09 12:06:07 EST

Peter Hirst: Richard Postman now thinks William Foster may have been the 3rd or 4th largest British anvil exporter to the U.S. Before the Civil War Mousehole was #1. After the Civil War Peter Wright was #1. As I recall, Wilkinson come into the export market fairly late and may have concentrated on the British colonies more than the U.S.

On the wear, from the WFs I have seen on eBay they are about equal to other British anvils of the same period.

I would still question whether a number of British anvils were actually 'exported' or used as a resellable ballast in ships coming to the U.S. to be loaded with a cargo.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 02/18/09 12:16:45 EST

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) PRICE GUIDE::
I dont see where I mentioned anything about an anvil
"PRICE GUIDE". As all prices of anything, that is bought or sold, is stricly LOCAL!

The "Price" of anything, is what a willing seller is willing to "Sell for" and willing buyer is willing to "Pay for" any item!
Now how more local can you get! That goes for everything bought and sold new or used!

I only used the "Gun Blue Book" as a reference to the condition rating standards. They have a very good conditions standard to model from. So that my excellent hanger queen may be may be a match to your garage dog. Now if you are in Fla and Iam in Wa and we are on the phone, or on the i-net talking about this little beauty, that in our collective minds eye we can have a visualization of that " condition" together. Now in absence of "ANY" common standard for condition of Anvils, what I may describe as a "Great" find may actually be what you consider a "POS"

Quite frankly its seems as though that anvils are one of the few "Antiques" that do not have a common condition standard somewhere!

   - Tmac - Wednesday, 02/18/09 13:19:02 EST

Bruce Blackistone (Atli) PRICE GUIDE::
I dont see where I mentioned anything about an anvil
"PRICE GUIDE". As with all prices of anything, that is bought or sold, price is stricly LOCAL!

The "Price" of anything, is what a willing seller is willing to "Sell for" and willing buyer is willing to "Pay for" any item!
Now how more local can you get! That goes for everything bought and sold new or used!

I only used the "Gun Blue Book" as a reference to the condition rating standards. They have a very good conditions standard to model from. So that my excellent hanger queen may be may be a match to your garage dog. Now if you are in Fla and Iam in Wa and we are on the phone, or on the i-net talking about this little beauty, that in our collective minds eye we can have a visualization of that " condition" together. Now in absence of "ANY" common standard for condition of Anvils, what I may describe as a "Great" find may actually be what you consider a "POS"

Quite frankly its seems as though that anvils are one of the few "Antiques" that do not have a common condition standard somewhere!

   - Tmac - Wednesday, 02/18/09 13:19:54 EST

On the Tim Lively discussion, I've made a couple of very strong, functional knives using his same methods (and equipment, too. Material is the right main leaf spring from a '65 Ford pickup--supposedly 5160) and he actually recommended to NORMALIZE the blades with them pointing North--not quench. As I had left my compass at work (long story), and not fully knowing what was going on metalurgically (as I do know now), I normalized in a what is now known to be an East direction. Then just the regular heating past non-magnetic, quenching, and tempering. I've so far chopped up a dead 8 foot apricot branch (approximately 6 inches in diameter at the base), carved up 2 seasoned red oak logs, pruned about 50 stalks of bamboo, cut up some beef, trimmed the fat off of chicken, diced up some celery, and can still shave hair with it after only one, initial sharpening. If pointing it North while normalizing is supposed to make it better, than that "better" part should be something spectacular like never having to ever sharpen or strop it again!

That's all on the "North" subject I got. All other things mentioned in Tim Lively's video are great and he's inspired me beyond words.
   Chris F. - Wednesday, 02/18/09 13:41:00 EST

One other thing I forgot to mention--Tim does what he calls a "triple heat treatment." Phoey! All you need is once.
   Chris F. - Wednesday, 02/18/09 13:42:12 EST

Thanks, all. I think I'm going to give it a multi-pronged attack this weekend. Weld on angle iron feet to bolt it down, build a box around the bottom 6-8" of it to fill with sand, and stick some big magnets to the rest.

If that doesn't quiet it down.. well.. I'm going deaf anyway, right?

- Bob
   RJL - Wednesday, 02/18/09 13:50:57 EST

Hello everyone. I've been enjoying this site for a couple years now, just lurking in the dark corners.
Anyway, I am having some difficulty in locating scrap metal in Austin, TX. Seems that the scrap yards I have spoken with are no longer interested in dealing with artists and they don't want the liability of having individuals wandering around their yards and possibly getting hurt. Anyone in the area know of a good place to get scrap? I appreciate your time and love the site.
   Spain - Wednesday, 02/18/09 16:22:41 EST

Chris F., That sounds like a good blade you have there. I wouldn't scoff at triple tempering or quenching, though! These are methods that have been proven very beneficial in terms of performance. You can get a knife with a finer grain structure, easier to sharpen and more flexible at higher hardness than otherwise possible w/out multiple thermal cycles. You never know, that amazing chopper knife of yours might have brittle spots of retained martensite in it after only one temper, especially if you tempered it with a torch not an oven. You may already know this however, and I will say that I don't always take all that triple trouble on a blade for MY use...
   - Vorpal - Wednesday, 02/18/09 16:39:39 EST

I did actually normalize the blade several times and in the process decided that I needed to "adjust" small curvatures in the blade with a few light taps here and there. I'm using a charcoal forge for all my heating/tempering and so far its working very good.
The only thing I haven't done with my knives is to actually do destructive testing which will be done very soon as I'm really curious as to what adjustments in my hardening and tempering need to be.
   Chris F. - Wednesday, 02/18/09 17:12:10 EST

Scrap: Spain, This is becoming more and more of a problem. Your best bet is to make friends and become a regular customer of smaller steel suppliers and fabricators. Or become a more significant customer for one of the large scrap yards. Even if your requirements are odd money talks.

There is also common sense. A buddy of mine had a deal with a shop that did water jet cutting and produced all kinds of interesting scrap. He made the mistake of telling a friend about his "deal" and the next think you know the friend made the same deal. . But then he was found in the dumpster full of jagged scrap in shorts and deck shoes! THAT was the end of the "deal" for both. It was also the end of a friendship.

It doesn't hurt to show up with steel toed boots, gloves and a hard hat. There is also a minimum sale that is worth while to someone. Below that you are a nuisance. I have often bought a little more than what I was looking for just to sweeten the pot for the seller.

   - guru - Wednesday, 02/18/09 18:58:50 EST

Ken Scharabok, I saw the discussion on the big anvil, but have no idea why you think it is on a site of mine. I don't have a site:) I have no knowledge aof the anvil, but since the link did not get me to the photo I am even further in the dark:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/18/09 19:04:20 EST

Oh, Gawd.....
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 02/18/09 19:31:34 EST

Does mesquite burn hot? Im under that impression for some reason. Also in shop class my teacher made a bet with me, Using my body i had to break an 20x6x3/4 cherry board, i didnt break instead of getting five dollars i got 3 licks!
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 02/18/09 19:40:13 EST

Most dry hardwoods burn at about the same temperature. Mesquite used in charcoal is raw wood used for flavor, not heat. Cherry (and various oils) is used the same way in pipe tobacco. Walnut generates more fleas than any other wood I have ever seen but I think some of the resinous tropical woods are worse from the condition of the long sleeved shirt worn by my friend in Costa Rica when forging with charcoal. Most of their charcoal is made from "scraps" of lumber that many wood workers in the U.S. would pay extraordinary amounts for.

Yeah, you want to hurt a marshal arts expert and make a life long enemy? Replace one of his breaking boards with good clear hardwood like rock maple.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/18/09 20:02:44 EST

Used Anvil Condition Rating Standards Guide:

Sorry; my misreading. When people start talking "condition" I start thinking about price. Part of my mental toolbox for my job.

However, I will again note that the "condition guidance" for firearms is the result of long-standing and wide ranging consensus, which may or may not be easy in the blacksmithing community. If you want to take an initial crack at it; we will certainly appreciate your efforts.

Hardy Hole:

The hardy hole on my 100 kilo USSR anvil was not as rectangular as I remembered. 36 mm (1 7/16") long X 35mm (1 3/8") wide. Hey; what's a "silly millimeter" among friends?

Still I don't find many 1 3/8" shanks for anvil tools. (Usually, I just clam whatever hardy tool I need in the 70# farrier's anvil or in the 100# post vise and work with it there.)

The pritchel hole is 35 mm (19/32") but not as critical for tool holding.

Cold and damp on the banks of the lower Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/18/09 20:43:48 EST

OK I'm cheap and don't want to pay a lot for a coal forge. The parts are expensive to. So, what about a brake drum as a fire pot? Also, I could just weld up some thick plate as a fire pot, but wonder if a cast material would be better. If a brake drum is OK, then are there any things I should know about them or avoid. thanks, David
   David - Wednesday, 02/18/09 20:57:21 EST

Mystical heat treating-
I suspect that pointing north is a very purposeful, meticulous, logical, but unscientific and incorrect tradition. If you were a good smith but knew nothing about metallurgy and heat treated an outstanding knife using 14 different steps, 5 of which were the actual reason for the good results and the remaining 9 totally random and extra, would you use all 14 steps again? If you didn't know which 5 steps were the critical ones, you better believe you'd do all 14.

Mark Asprey at the Atlantic Blacksmith's meet last fall summed up the misunderstood phenomena with the story of how he tempers his tools. He said something like that he only tempers on the evening of the first tuesday of every month and with all the tools pointing the same direction. Really. But the first Tues. is his wife's poker night at a friend's place and his kitchen oven is open for tempering and all the tools point the same way because that is how they fit on the cookie sheet. When you don't know the reason it's mystic. When you do it's science.

   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 02/18/09 21:02:56 EST

Guys, I have an arc-welding question: I'd like to make a ball stake by welding one of those ever-popular mill balls (that, I understand, are made of very abrasion-resistant steel) to a 1" square mild steel shank. The ball is about 3.5" in diameter. It's a scrapper, so I have no idea what alloying materials are in it.

Should I pre-heat the ball, and if so, to what temperature? I seem to remember that it is a good idea to pre-heat some high-carbon or alloy steels before arc-welding, to prevent joint embrittlement, or some other bad thing. I plan to use 7014 general purpose rod.

Reason I ask is that I would like to avoid pre-heat if I could. It is a hassle to put a heavy round object in a forge, heat it to hundreds of degrees and then try to pick it up with tongs, move it into a welding setup, clamp it, etc. Or, if only a gentle pre-heat is required, maybe I could clamp it up first and just play a big propane torch over it for a few minutes?

By the way, I have made mill-ball stakes before, and I pre-heated the ball each time. But they were much smaller and lighter, thus easier to handle.

   - Eric Thing - Wednesday, 02/18/09 21:54:18 EST

Was it here I was reading about tolerances in hardy holes and for anvil tooling. For a tightish fit without sticking I have used 25mm stock in a 1" hardy hole. The two are slightly different and have given me a useful working tolerance.
   philip in china - Wednesday, 02/18/09 22:09:11 EST

David: You can weld up a plate steel fire pot and it will work fine. If You burn it out, You can just weld up another one.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/18/09 22:39:18 EST

Eric: If I was going to weld on that shank, I would tack it LIGHTLY without pre heat, then pre heat to dull red, weld and normalise before it ever cooled down. Leave the 1" shank long and use it for a handle.

If the weld fails, grind off any remaining weld and try again with a stainless or a nickel based cast iron rod.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 02/18/09 22:46:31 EST

Eric, I think Dave has it. The problem with ball mill balls is they are not just abrasion resistant but made to be very hard and used as cast with no machining or working. I like 308 stainless rods for welding odd metals.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 00:14:36 EST

Brake Drums: First, there are brake "drums" and disk brake "rotors". They are not the same thing as one popular YouTuber tries to claim. Both are generally cast ductile iron unless very old then cast iron. Brake drums are occasionally aluminum with a steel or cast iron liner. Many automobile brake drums have a steel plate for the flat part. Heavy truck drums are too deep.

Drums WERE found on all four wheels of most cars and trucks (sports cars being the exception) until the 1970's and then disk brakes started to be used on the front almost universally. Today some cars have them on all four wheels.

A brake drum firepot is a beginners expedient that is good when there are few tools and no welding equipment. They are not a great shape. They just happen to work and have a hole in the middle. I also recommend them for testing fuel. If you plan to use some kind of local coal you need to test it before you invest a lot into a coal forge (or a ton of fuel).

Note also that small truck and auto WHEELS work well and so do disk harrow or disk plow disks. These are both probably better than brake drums and bent wheels are often easy to obtain at tire shops.

If you can fabricate a firepot from heavy plate (1/4" to 1/2") then it will be as good as any. Look at the photos of firepots and copy the shape (a shallow truncated pyramid with flange). The one I made for my portable shop trailer was 1/4" plate and lasted for YEARS. Rust was the biggest problem.

You can also go thinner. Forges have been made from scrap hot water heater tanks. The dished head used for the pan and a fire pot and tuyeer fabricated from other parts of the tank. The ceramic lining slows rust.

The advantage to commercial firepots is when they fail you can order a replacement and make a quick repair. This is critical when in business. They are also very durable and worth the money if your time is worth anything. They are also based on many years of manufacturing experience.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 00:34:12 EST

Scrap strategy: one way to go that worls for me is to hook up with the local middleman: they guy who probably advertises as a salvage business or some such and sells to the big yards. Not a smuch fun as rummageing through a giant pile, but a lot of advantages -- including price, for both parties -- in getting it before it reaches the yard. If the yard is buying for 10 bucks a ton and selling for twenty, the smaller guy could be very happy selling to you for 15.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 02/19/09 07:07:35 EST


EBay listing # 140300987101: 250lb Fisher. This is about 15 miles from my house. I would not pay the “Buy it now” price; not even close, unless I learn otherwise here. I have sent the seller a message asking to come examine in person.
My main question is this: With a Fisher anvil of this size and vintage, If I find the face to be somewhat pitted, can I remove more material to get it smooth than I can remove from a wrought anvil? I already have a PW that is serviceable, but I’m looking for more weight, and especially, a smoother face. The PW has many dings, and to smooth it any more than I already have I risk removing to much of the hardened case of the face. Is it pretty much the same for the Fishers, or can one remove a little more?
I can live with the broken horn, but would not want to pay as much as a non-broken anvil. (I will, of course, decide what it’s worth to me, and live with my decision; just seeking any info anyone can provide)
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 02/19/09 07:33:30 EST

For odd metals welding i prefer 309 stainless. It is the accepted material for a 316 to carbon steel weld. And it works like superglue on odd stuff. Just watch for the slag popping off hot, with great velocity:)
   ptree - Thursday, 02/19/09 08:08:04 EST

Dave, Looks good except the horn. . . Very weird "repair" using who knows what. If the top of the original was still there it could have been welded with carbon steel rods and the bottom with NIrod or Stainless. . Worse, it almost looks like someone tried to extend then normally short horn that may have been undamaged. . just shorter than someone thought it should be.

The face of a Fisher anvil is fairly thick and hard most of the way through. You could take off a LOT. On one this size the plate is probably at least 5/8" if not more. However, the horn insert varied on Fishers from a partial top plate to a T cross section. Sometimes there is a LOT that can be dressed and other times not. The problem is that the partial plate on a rounded surface gets narrow very rapidly and the thin edge is where separation most often occurs.

I'm glad I've got better anvils. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 10:42:43 EST

Mill Ball preheat: this more a wood stove or charcoal preheat than a forge: 450 degF should be fine---basically you want anything in the HAZ that may harden brittle to auto temper.

You probably don't want to pull the hardness all the way down on the millball by overheating.

Stainless rod is generally used for welding to such high C/alloyed stuff.

Scrap Yards: making a deal to go in at lunch when none of the machinery is active can also help. Getting a owner/worker interested in blacksmithing is like drilling a water well and having light crude erupting out of it pushing bunches of flawless diamonds out of the well...

David, ???, the coal forge I have been using for about 20 years has one bought part in it and it was $3 for two jackstands made from 1937 banjo rear end axle covers. Even with inflation that $1.50 isn't that expensive. (I kept the other one as backup; looks like it will end up in a forge for my grandson as the current one shows a lot less wear than I do.)

Smithing can be as cheap or as expensive as *you* make it!
(now in knifemaking you can really profit from *good* commercial equipment...)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/19/09 11:54:12 EST

what GCSE's do you need to take for bladesmithing.
i was thinking of taking bladesmithing becase i am interested in metle work. hope you have a answer for me.
   hayden - Thursday, 02/19/09 14:16:52 EST

General Certificate of Secondary Education ? : Hayden, This seems to be a British educational standard that I cannot help you with. Maybe one of your countrymen that post here can help.

I found the above web site that lists the various approved areas of study. I THINK you can also design your own. Let me look.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 14:40:52 EST

BladeSmith GSRE'e

Art and Design Suite - Its a creative ART you need to be able to draw or visualize.

Design and Technology: Graphics (enginering drawing)

Design and Technology: Industrial Technology

Design and Technology: Product Design

Design and Technology: Resistant Materials ?

Manufacturing (Double)

OPTION Expressive Arts - J367 (You have to be able to SELL it).

AND since most blacksmiths and bladesmiths are self employed entrepreneurs - Applied Business.

I do not know what your minimum requirements are (1?, 5? 12? GSRE's) but the above are the ones that stick out as applicable. Being a craftsperson with sole authorship of a product (you make it all) requires a wide array of study. Selling your work to make a living is another skill and being successful in the business you have built is yet another.

The feeling I got about the GSRE specifications is that you could define many of your own course objectives. This is tough unless you have a really good advisor that understands the system AND you have the skills to sell them on your non-traditional education goals.

Good Luck!
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 15:15:12 EST

I had a question, I live in Logan Utah and I am looking for someone who can make me a sword, but I don't know where I can find someone to do that.
   Eric - Thursday, 02/19/09 15:16:00 EST

Go to Google, type in Swordsmith press enter. While there are more than the market can bear you will not find one in every locality.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 15:27:14 EST

Well I got the Fisher for a dollar/pound. Never expected him to take that offer. Now I just have to tell my wife!
   Dave Leppo - Thursday, 02/19/09 16:26:09 EST

Hey, he didn't have to deal with shipping! Easy is always better. Let us know what you find under that mess on the horn.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/19/09 16:43:45 EST

Eric - I live in Utah, Not that far south of
Logan, but what exactly are you looking for?
   - John L. - Thursday, 02/19/09 16:59:13 EST

I looked at that Fisher as well, it has run a few times on E-bay. I thought it looked like probably a good deal. Congratulations!
   - Vorpal - Thursday, 02/19/09 17:09:24 EST

Eric; you in the $300 sword range or $30,000 sword range?
European, Middle Eastern, Asian, ?, swords?
Display, WMA, EMA, theatrical, ?

Kind of hard to make any suggestions if we don't know what you are looking for...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/19/09 21:29:26 EST

Mr. Dempsey

You're Kohlswa page is being used as an ebay anvil description. I think it is a form of flattery, but I guess it is plagiarism unless you gave permission already.
ebay #230325520765
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 02/20/09 01:12:28 EST

Eric: Can you drill say a 3/4" hole in the mill ball at least 1" deep? On the end of your stake put on a 3/4" tenon the depth of the hole. Thus, your stake will protruce into the ball to help in securing/stablizing it.

Several years ago I make up a number of hardy mandrels using such a technique. I drilled a hole into the base of a scrapyard mild steel blank, then drilled in a counter-sunk hole. A round rod was then put into the hole and the counter-sunk (depression) area used for welding it into the blank. The rod served as a handle for forging. Square tubing was then used for a hardy shaft over the rod.

A 3" stake ball is now on eBay (120379055465).

The local welding shop refers cast iron welds/repairs to me. What I do is to use the oxy/ace torch to preheat and then strike the SS rod arc in the flame. A bit of a combination of brazing and arc welding. So far my welds have held.

Reader's Digest's BACK TO BASICS: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills has a section in it on blacksmithing (pages 350-361). It includes a nice sketch plan for a brake drum coal forge. Chances are your local library can obtain a loaner copy for you if you are a member thereof.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/20/09 07:27:37 EST

Thanks for the reply about scrap, Guru and Peter - much appreciated. I'd like scrap for many projects but right now my priority is to make a swage block-like object using small sections of pipe welded to a thick plate. Hopefully I can come up with something per your suggestions. Take it easy!
   Spain - Friday, 02/20/09 11:40:17 EST

On the whole making up individual swages that will fit the hardy hole of your anvil---AS NEEDED---would probably be a better use of time and materials---and a lot easier to chuxk in a bucket and take on the road for demos...

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/20/09 12:50:21 EST

That is a good idea, too. I'll still need some material, but eventually I'll find what I need, I'm sure. Thanks Thomas P!
   Spain - Friday, 02/20/09 14:21:45 EST

On an oversized hardy hole simply make up shims. Say your hardies have a 1" shank and the anvil has a 1 3/8" hardy hold. Half of 3/8" is 3/16". Cut two pieces of 3/16" x 1 1/8" angle iron about 3" long. Cut down the corner 1" and then flatten out ears. Touch up/deburr as required. Your 1" shanks will now fit into a 1 3/8" hardy hole using the two shims.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 02/20/09 15:41:03 EST

Mr. Dempsey

I like how you resolved the stolen website page. I like the cool new display you gave them.
   - Rustystuff - Friday, 02/20/09 18:29:31 EST

Hi Guru,
I want to make swords and knives as a hobby. My experience is four years of working for a machinist while I was going to college. I have done some welding, mostly mig a little tig and stick and I have worked on mills and lathes a little. If I could get a little advice that would be great.
I want to make blades using the stock removal process.
1)What would you recommend to get the rough shape?
Using a ban saw, acetylene cutting torch or a plasma cutter?
2) What kind of grinder would you recommend to shape the blade geometry? Could you recommend a table grinder.
3) Should I buy a furnace to heat treat or should I build my own? I'd build my own if I saved a significant amount of money.

   Michael - Friday, 02/20/09 21:36:28 EST

Nathan do you have a web site for your hammers ??
   - rthibeau - Friday, 02/20/09 22:31:54 EST

Michael: There are knife makers who hopefully give You more info than I can...but here goes:
If You are good with a bandsaw You can save a lot of grinding, provided You are working with fully annealed material.
I think most people are using 2"x72" belt grinders for a lot of the work, but some operations work well on a disk.
You could send out Your heat treating, rather than doing it Yourself.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/20/09 22:36:50 EST

Just wanted to crow about a power hammer success story and say thanks for some help along the way. 3 years ago scored on a 200lb chambersburg general utility hammer. First year got dies machined, and an oiler purchased. Second year cast foundation and set in place. Last month scored on an atlas copco towable 110 cfm compressor to power it. Got great advice from Bob Bergman and guru along the way. Wednesday night fired it up and forged a nice cable damascus sword billet from a 10 inch section of 2 inch diameter yarder mainline. The old boy runs PERFECTLY! no leaks, no packing replaced, no problems... just good smooth serious power.
Now busy counting my blessings!

   wadco - Saturday, 02/21/09 01:06:58 EST

Wadco, Great tool. Wish I had mine (350 Niles) running, just to PLAY with. . . ;)
   - guru - Saturday, 02/21/09 02:33:24 EST

Stock Removal: Michael, This can be done with a file, a bench grinder, OR tools that won't wear you out. the point of modern stock removal is the NOT create HAZ (Heat Affected Zones). This applies to prehardened materials like a file or annealed bar stock that will be heat treated professionally.

Never torch in blade work unless it is to get stock to size to carry into the shop. The HAZ is extreme and hard on other tools and abrasives. Steel often "self quenches" and can be VERY hard on tools.

PROFILING: As Dave pointed out a bandsaw is best. However, bandsaws vary greatly in quality. It needs to be a slow running metal cutting saw to start. It also helps to NOT be a twisted blade cut off type. These use ONE blade size. You cannot but a narrow blade on them that will cut curves. This saw will also be used to cut guards, grip material. . anything you can imagine. You CAN cut simple shapes on a cut off saw but its hard on the saw. Its all a question of money. After sawing it pays to clean up the lines with a grinder.

SHAPING: There are a variety of ways to remove metal. Chip making can be more efficient than grinding but milling machines are large and relatively expensive. I few CNC machines have been applied to making swords. For big blades you want a big high HP grinder. For hand held work a 3HP model with 6" wide belt can be as fast as a cutting torch in reducing steel to dust. Then there are specialist grinders like the Bader and "square wheel" grinders.

FINAL SHAPING: Is done with the popular 2 x 72" grinders with both contact wheels (for hollow grinds), plattens (for custom shapes) and free belts (for convex and general rounding). When absolutely flat surfaces are wanted a disk grinder is often used.

Then there are buffing rigs of various sorts. You CANNOT have enough turning wheels with disks, brushes and buffs.

One nice thing about a machine shop grade belt grinder is that many are designed for wet use. I'm sure you know the advantages of coolant when cutting or grinding.

HEAT TREATING: To do a top notch job on modern alloys you need good temperature controls and readouts. These are the expensive parts of any kiln or furnace. Prices run from the low hundreds to a grand depending on your needs and abilities. Otherwise you are just using the standard blacksmith seat of the pants methods and might as well use a forge.

An idea I had for a sword heat treat furnace was to build it as a tilting model. To get an even heat it is best of the furnace is horizontal and has distributed burners or elements. But long pieces are easy to warp. So heat horizontally on a flat floor or supports then tilt the furnace and lift the blade out vertically by a tang lifting hole. Lifting and quenching vertically will warp the least.

To prevent oxidation and decarburization many bladesmiths no use salt pots. In this case you have to work vertical. Deep pots need multiple heat sensors so you can determing even heating. However, due to circulation they tend to be more even heating than gas/air furnaces.

You can build all your equipment from grinders, sanders and buffers to furnaces. Its all depends on your budget and skills. You can also go the minimal tool route. Did I mention an angle grinder (snag grinder)? You would be surprised what folks have sculpted with these and nothing else. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 02/21/09 02:50:44 EST

Stock removal and no HAZ: I've used long ice cubes as push sticks for stock removal and sharpening after full heat treatment. Never again do I have to worry about burning the tips of knives I spent an hour working on.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 02/21/09 09:46:23 EST

I don't know if everyone as seen this already, but here's something interesting I found on flickr.

   - Hollon - Saturday, 02/21/09 12:12:01 EST

Those are really cool. Now I got to have one. I don't know what I would use it for, but I need one. :)
   - Rustystuff - Saturday, 02/21/09 13:25:17 EST

Great. I finally get the hang of a Fredericks Cross and somebody comes along and raises the bar out of site. Very cool sculptures.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/21/09 15:12:05 EST

Thanks Guru and David for the valuable advice on Stock Removal.

   Michael - Saturday, 02/21/09 16:50:48 EST

Those pieces look suspiciously like high level computer graphics.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/21/09 17:17:44 EST

I agree,
   matt - Saturday, 02/21/09 17:41:52 EST

I was thinking about making a fillet knife and I am not thinking that the 1095 I use for my other knives would be sutabe. I know this site isn't for bladesmithing but I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on what type of metal I should use that is flexable and resiliant.
   matt - Saturday, 02/21/09 17:52:14 EST

Matt, Matt, Matt! For 2,647 years almost any piece of steel with more than 40 points of carbon has been used to make decent edge tools. If you don't care about a little rusting, there is hardly anthing better for making a knife than a good piece of high-carbon steel - IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion. Aren't "flexable and resiliant" kinda the same thing?
   - grant - Saturday, 02/21/09 19:27:12 EST

O.K. I guess flexable means you can bend it and resiliant maens it will spring back. More a mattere of thickness, that.
   - grant - Saturday, 02/21/09 19:30:15 EST

I know about carbon steels and all that but i'm speaking about something similar to stainless but not quite, being I will be cutting fish I do not want rust on my blade as I cut the fish. I would use regular stainless steel however it doesnt have the flexability I am seeking in order to scale fish. I know that carbon steels have been used for thousands of years,as I said the other knives like survial or hunting knives I make are from carbon steel "1095" which I get from old files. If I was able and this metal had good flexability I would use cpms30v steel
   matt - Saturday, 02/21/09 20:26:38 EST

Flexibiltiy in hard blades is directly related to thickness. The very hard stainless razor blades are very flexible. Also very carefully heat treated (and used to be cryogenicly as well).
   - guru - Saturday, 02/21/09 20:30:29 EST

what is the website for that series of blacksmithing books on file

the english township association or something, they have a whole series you can download on their website?

   Cameron - Saturday, 02/21/09 20:42:58 EST

thank you guru
   matt - Saturday, 02/21/09 21:18:40 EST

i have an idea
   matt - Saturday, 02/21/09 21:18:56 EST


The link I used to use is now being redirected to another British site and is worthless, unfortunately. The Countryside Agency, formerly COSIRA, no longer seems to exist.

I sincerely hope someone can find a new link to these valuable books. I have them on CD somewhere, and may have to put an ftp site on my web page for them if no other venue can be found. Be a tragedy to lose them.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/21/09 21:32:17 EST

The problem is that even though they were giving them away there is still a copyright issue otherwise I would gladly host them. AND the books, are still available in print (as real physical books).
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/09 00:01:06 EST

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