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 22 - 28, 2009 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

Hey guys I havn't been smithing lately because I have been battling a cancer, but I have won again with Gods help. Now hear i am with a question. I have an anvil that does not have a drop from the face to the step. I just bought anvils in america but still cannot figure what kind of anvil that I am in love with. Can I get some help from the pro.
thank you for any advice you could give me.
   Dwayne Kent - Sunday, 02/22/09 00:23:41 EST

Hi, My name is Willy, and I'm from Southern Ontario, Canada. I found your site while gathering information because I am very interested in learning to be a Blacksmith. I really appreciate the info posted here, I have a lot more to look at yet. My interest sort of spurs from my history, because my Grandfather was a Blacksmith. My question is this an odd one indeed. I am just wondering if there is some sort of list kept of men who have been Blacksmiths. Since there is not huge numbers of Blacksmiths (at least not that I know of). Is there any info about the people who were (and are) Blacksmiths? Maybe some historical notes or something like that? I was wondering if there is a way I can find out some info about my Grandfather and his work. I know where he learned and that he apprenticed under one of his family members. One further complication is that he was a Blacksmith Pre-WWII in The Netherlands, but came to Canada in 1951. Thanks for your time and help if it's possible. I'll be checking more of this site out for sure.
   Willy Postma - Sunday, 02/22/09 00:31:54 EST

Willy Postma: Well, lets see now, the current U.S. population is about 300 million, or if you include Canada, a little over 300 million. Now, given that almost everyone of those had a relative who was a blacksmith (I know, I've heard it from every on of them), then I'd say that fifty years ago EVERYONE was a blacksmith!

Sorry Willy, I couldn't resist, other blacksmith will find the humor in it. There actually probably were a lot more blacksmiths than you realize. Few fist were kept, you may find records of compleated appreticeships, union rolls, that sort of thing.
   - grant - Sunday, 02/22/09 03:13:17 EST

Willy Postmas:

A problem also becomes the definition of 'blacksmith'. At one time early auto mechanics, welders and machinist were still called blacksmiths, even though they didn't forge hot metal.

Are horseshoers blacksmiths or farriers? Apparently in some areas the local blacksmith shoed horses. In others horseshoeing was pretty well a separate profession.

On my birth certificate my father's occupation was twice listed as BLAKSMITH (yes, misspelled). At that time my parents had a small manufacturing plant making silage chopper boxes. My mother was listed as HOUSEWIFE, although she put in her eight plus hours in the business and, from what I've heard, was a first rate welder.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 02/22/09 06:08:33 EST

Matt, since you will be using this knife to fillet fish, and the blade will come in contact with the edibles, I would still recommend stainless. While I agree that a good high-carbon blade is the best, I think stainless will be more sanitary and you can keep the blade sharp with a bit of stropping.
A stepless anvil? Sounds like a German Pattern; I have one and love it, too!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/22/09 09:22:13 EST

Some of us are trying to find out what happened to the COSIRA books. I'm going to call and see if I can find out what happened to the web links tomorrow. COSIRA was absorbed into another agency and the government sold off their printing arm that used to print and sell the books. I've got two angles of attack but it will probably take some time.

Thomas P: I'm still looking for that BAR report for you too. That's another call for tomorrow. No luck at the book sales yet.
   Robert Cutting - Sunday, 02/22/09 10:51:46 EST

Blacksmiths in the Family Willy Postma, Having done a vast amount of genealogy work I can tell you that finding out about ancestors' occupations is one of the most difficult things to do. As others have noted above EVERYONE will tell you that "so and so" in the family was a "blacksmith". In most cases they were farmers that took care of their horses or made a few farm repairs. Today every farm has a maintenance shop with welders and often machine tools. This does not mean the farm is a welder OR a machinist. Same thing.

SO, In your case you need to ask questions of relatives (first), then look at the public records, old archived newspapers (for ads or articles). If your grandfather ran a blacksmithing business in Canada there may be a local business or property tax listing that identifies his business. I do not know about Canada but in the US these things are found at the local courthouse or government seat (city, town, county, parhish) and are open to the public. Research is not easy because the folks there are usually very busy and are not paid to train researchers. DO ask questions like "Where do I find the INDEX of tax records for 1955?"

Wills (Last Will and Testament) are also recorded in the local courthouse in many cases. If one exists it may refer to specify property such as "The blacksmith shop on lot 25 of. . ". OR it may list personal items. Often they just say to sell everything and divide the proceeds. . a disappointment for historians.

Census records in the US list occupation but as noted are not highly accurate. They are also not publicly available until 80 years after the census was taken.

I would look into how genealogy research is performed in Canada as it may be different than in the U.S.

Search for those relatives first (also family friends). There may be many that your family is not in close contact with that knew your grandfather OR other relatives better. Contact them, talk to them. Many folks DO NOT like to give what they consider a stranger (even if you ARE related) information. SO you will need to reacquaint you and your family with them, listen to ALL their stories and wait until they are willing to divulge that little piece of information you needed. Ask about old photos, take notes.

Note that ALL history is largely researched and put together this way. Bits and pieces of people's lives gathered from what records were left behind. Occasionally you are lucky and they wrote about themselves OR were included in a history of the times. But for the vast majority of humble folk that just did their job and raised their family it takes patience and dedication to put together even the briefest of histories. It is real research from source materials, not just looking it up in a book.

NOTE: I have already cleared on dead end for you. The fellow who wrote "Anvils in America", Richard Postman, who's early family name was Postma, is NOT a relative. His family was in the U.S. very early and he is sure that the other Canadian Postma's are not relatives as he has contacted many.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/09 12:17:48 EST

Stepless Anvils: Dwayne, Many European types are stepless. Generally it is English and American anvils that almost universally have a step. Most European anvils do not. However, there are exceptions such as French double step double horn anvils (which MANY have been made in the U.S. or England). Both English and American manufactures made these for export to the Continent.

AIA does cover a few of these anvils but as the title indicates it is about anvils IN America and folows mostly major US and British manufacturers. Researching European anvils is much more difficult due to the numbers, regional types and general lack of markings. Most early product markings were requirements of export or import laws to show the country of origin. This expanded to branding, serial numbers, dates and so on. But in places that manufactured for the local market products were not marked. Europe is also loaded with many 300 and 400 year old anvils with no hint or source other than regional style IF they have one.

Email me a photo and I will see if I can help identify it.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/09 12:43:16 EST

where o where can I get a hofi hammer. Not a hofi style, but a hofi hammer, maybe even different weights.
Thanks, John
   john - Sunday, 02/22/09 16:38:10 EST

John, go to iforgeiron.com to place an order. Jock, two emails coming to you.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/22/09 17:02:41 EST

Just had an email to you returned with this message:
Technical details of temporary failure:
DNS Error: Timeout while contacting DNS servers
   philip in china - Sunday, 02/22/09 17:57:14 EST

Does anyone know where to rent or buy the Clifton Ralph power hammer videos on DVD. I suppose I could just get the vhs tapes and have them converted as no one I know has a vhs anymore, but it'd be easier to skip the hassle and copyright issues and just get DVD's.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 02/22/09 18:25:58 EST

Hofi Hammers: John, BigBLU Manufacturing was the official maker of these until there was a parting of the ways for business reasons. The hammers are the same but with the BLU Trademark, made in the U.S., hand dressed, have American Hickory handles AND come in different sizes and styles.

If you want a "genuine" Hofi with his trademark you will need to purchase it from him. They are cast steel and only one size.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/22/09 18:40:20 EST

Judson, Clifton had the power hammer tapes converted to DVD and is still selling them himself. I can't seem to find his phone number here at the shop right now but he's in Gary Indiana. If you can't find the number email me and I'll get it for you. They are worth every penny he charges for them in my opinion. It won't matter how many times you watch, there will be something new to pick up every time. There are also some of his old "home movies" available on the inexpensive UMBA Library DVD's with lots of him forging at conferences or meetings.
   SGensh - Sunday, 02/22/09 19:05:01 EST

Just got a piece of D2, 2"x2"x6". I know some knife makers use it but what other tooling would be appropriate to forge it into?
   brian robertson - Sunday, 02/22/09 19:32:19 EST

Dwayne Kent saying thanks for the info, but as usual i messed up . MY ANVIL HAS NO DROP FROM THE FACE DOWN TO THE STEP. It is sort of sharp under the horn where the horn atached to the body. I read in my anvil in america that this is the way some mouseholes anvils are shaped.
   Dwayne Kent - Sunday, 02/22/09 20:29:22 EST

Making the ball stake: Thanks for the advice, one and all. I decided to do the moderate 450-degree heat (soaked the ball for about 2 hours in wife's oven), plunked the ball in a jig I made for the purpose, clamped the shank material to it, and burned it on with 7014 rod at 140 amps. The rod really bit into the ball, multiple passes made a very solid joint. I've already whacked the stake around very severely, doing some hot raising on it, and it's doing fine.

Thanks to all, again.
   - Eric Thing - Sunday, 02/22/09 20:44:33 EST

More questions still about a large fabricated steel sculpture I'm working on...
I plan on following Guru's advice on using cold galvanizing zinc paint, followed by neutral primer, paint, etc.
It's a LOT of work removing mill scale, grind marks, etc.

My question is about the use of bondo or other auto body fillers to fill small surface imperfections during this final laborious sanding of said large sculpture. Will this have any malicious consequences, either with the zinc paint or on the life of the finish?

Thanks for any advice.
Does anyone know what type of steel wood chipper knives may be made of? there's a whole lot of wood chipping going on up here in new england from december's ice storm.
   - Josh S. - Sunday, 02/22/09 20:51:32 EST

Josh S.,

The best way to ensure Bondo having good adhesion is to apply it directly to bare metal that has been ground with a 24-grit disc to create good "tooth." The Bondo will adhere sufficiently well that no moisture should get under it after it is painted.

If you're really concerned, grind the metal with the 24 grit disc and then prime with the 90% zinc primer. After the primer has dried a full 24 hours, you can apply the Bondo over it and proceed with the sanding primer, oxide primer and topcoats.
   vicopper - Sunday, 02/22/09 21:04:25 EST

Hi Brian

According to alibaba.com

D2 is a high carbon, high chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, air hardeningtool steel which offers high surface hardness, good wear resistance,through hardening properties, dimensional stability and high resistance to tempering effect.
Tool steel for cold working : thread rolling tools , shear blade , milling cutter, high precious mould, AUTO die.

It is also used for stamping and forming dies. It has a longer wear performance. I guess it would be nice for tools and items you want good wear resistance.

I use to machine allot of D2. It is really tough stuff. I have broke many tools machining it. It requires a heavy cut to get a good finish. I would have to take a .050 to my finish size to get a fine micron finish. My tolerances were +-.00025. I did this on manual machines. I pretty much help my breath each time. I would have to maintain a consistant temp in the steel to achieve this. I broke most tools doing face grooving on a lathe. You had to have the cutters ground with lots of clearance. D2 was not forgiving. A slight chip or rub and break does the tool. It would always dig deep and tear. If you took a light cut you will get a sandpaper finish and tearing. Even with a sharp tool. I tried everything form ways to dress tools, types of tooling, feeds and speeds. I know this isn't a forging answer. It rusts right away to0. Should be oiled after running coolant on it. I just thought some of you would find it interesting.

I am no expert. Mr. Boyer could probably give better info.

   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 02/22/09 21:43:37 EST

Thanks Rusty for the response. D2 sounds way too fancy for a simple horseshoer. But it was free. Tonight I forged a small section down to 1/8"x1"x6" so I guess I have a lifetime suppy of hoof knife blanks.
   brian robertson - Sunday, 02/22/09 21:49:37 EST

Brian Robertson: D2 is nasty to machine, as Rustystuff said. When properly heat treated it has better abrasion resistance than most tool steels, and is slightly rust resistant [but only after heat treating]. Knives, woodworking tools metal cutting tools, etc. are good uses. If You want greater toughness and don't need the wear resistance, use O1, O2, L6, A6, S5, S7, etc.

Forging: Heat to 1925-2000 don't forge below 1700. After forging, heat to 1550 & soak, then shut off heat & cool slowly in the furnace. No further normalising needed.

You won't be able to anneal this material sucessfully without a controlled furnace.

Hardening: Heat to 1825-1875, soak 20 minutes at temperature + 5 minutes per inch of thickness. Air quench.

Tempering: Temper 1 houtr at temperature. 450*f for 59/60 RC or 700*f for 56/57 RC. Double tempering desired with the temperature 25* below the first temper.

The above as per Carpenter Steel.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/22/09 22:38:35 EST

Dave, thanks for the additional info. If D2 is known for abrasion resistance why do knife makers use it? and how do they grind? sharpen the stuff?
I won't make the mistake of cutting it with my chop saw again. What a waste of a blade.
   brian robertson - Sunday, 02/22/09 23:05:18 EST

Bondo, AKA Auto Body Putty: The material holds up fairly well but can vary greatly depending on how well it is mixed and how carefully the parts are proportioned. I prefer to apply it over primer but many apply it over bare metal. For best results follow the instructions on the can.

Note that temperature plays a big part in how fast body putty sets. In cold weather you may want to add a little extra hardener as it will seem to not harden for days. In the summer you can short it quite a bit. Thorough mixing is required but if you take too long you end up with your squeegee stuck in the mix. .

The best system for mixing is to use your squeegee (I still have some old 3M rubber ones 2"x3"x 1/4") or a flexible plastic putty knife. Put the putty on the pallet, apply the hardener, then fold the putty over the hardener. Then swipe up half of the raw mix and apply it over the remaining half, swipe half and repeat. Cutting by half quickly and cleanly over and over is fast, efficient and does a good job of mixing. If you try to stir it around in a circle or some such you get a poorly mixed mess and can use up your short time available.

Apply as needed. I then wait until it is "leather hard" like half dried clay and trim with a knife. Trimming at this stage can save a lot of work later. The make special body rasps with thin metal blades with holes that work well for further roughing. Due to latent surface stickiness it is always best to use one of these prior to sanding THEN wait until the putty is quite hard before sanding otherwise it clogs paper.

If you are trying to get rid of minor texture I would not use bondo. It makes more work than it solves. For minor texture and pits prime heavily with a sanding primer. Dupont Dark Grey High Speed lacquer is the best. The red oxide sands almost as well but it not quite a good for filling pits. The light grey primer has clay in it and does not sand well. These lacquer primers dry quickly and sand very well. However, pits will shrink ans show if the primer is not completely thinner free when sanded. So it is best to apply some thick coats and sand those the next day. Note that the tubes of sanding putty dry slow and are difficult to sand.
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/09 01:01:23 EST

More on Bondo: Also note that while it is reasonably hard it is nothing like the steel you are applying it over. Be sure you have some way to handle your work without scratching it or the paint. There is nothing worse than 1/8" deep scratches in bondo to have to repair in a finished paint job. . . AND it DOES present a possible damage point in the future. People understand scratched paint but deep gouges that are obviously not metal are another thing. So, be judicious about how you use it.

Also note that heavy use of bondo is common on low quality welded work. It is a mainstay product in low wage iron shops especially in Central America. Instead of doing the job right to start with they fix it later. Our friend in Costa Rica has found he must train smiths from scratch because all those with experience are more bondo experts than metalworkers.

In first class auto restoration work they still use solder (now lead free - mostly tin). It might be something to consider in high class sculpture that is going to be painted.
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/09 01:13:52 EST

My message to you was finally rejected with the following code:
Technical details of temporary failure:
DNS Error: Timeout while contacting DNS servers
   philip in china - Monday, 02/23/09 07:59:31 EST

How about that; I always thought that "bondo" was a color for certain Southern Maryland vehicles.

"What color is Boy and Bubba's pickup?"


"Okay; I'll keep an eye out for them."

"Thank ya, Cap'n."

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/23/09 09:23:36 EST

Bondo: general comment:

Bondo is Polyester Resin with powdered filler added to stiffen it and make it spreadable and sandable. You can make SUPER BONDO by mixing a portion of straight two-part polyester resin in with the bondo - make sure the two are compatible.

You can make an even tougher filler putty by mixing a two part EPOXY resin with some fiberglass filler - powder or "flock" to stiffen it to a spreadable consistency.

These are both harder to sand when cured - you can do some scraping and sanding before the putty is fully cured, still slightly soft.

All of the above are hazardous to handle and breathe, including the dust from sanding cured stuff.

Sorry, I didn't take time to read all the above posts, don't know if this is helpful or redundant.
   - Dave Leppo - Monday, 02/23/09 11:12:15 EST

Thanks Robert! I'm actually ready to pay a pretty penny for that BAR report as I reference it so often and ILL is rather slow down here.

Ken; did you eat a lot of homemade coleslaw when you were growing up?

D2 has lots of carbide formers in it and will wear as a knife edge a long time it heat treated right. As "semi-stainless" it helps for blades that get hard use.
It's a royal pain to work however and it does profit from professional heat treat to get all you can get out of it. I have a short sword made for it myself.

Anvil without a drop---is it possible that it's face has delaminated or been ground down till flat? I've seen someone selling an anvil that the face was totally missing. Their price didn't indicate that it was pretty well worthless either...

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/23/09 12:20:47 EST

Brian and D2:

Knifemakers like it precisely because of the abrasion resistance and semi-stainlessness. We grind it with ceramic belts on big belt grinders, and sharpen the same way. It is a bear to deal with, but on small (less than 6" or so) blades it's nigh indestructable and will hold an edge darned near forever, IF you can put one on it.

I have a couple of D2 planer blades I use as sens, sort of a drawknife for use on steel. It'll peel up a curl of annealed steel almost as well as a good drawknife will shave a piece of hickory.

It's not a steel for beginners, and forging it can be fun as it is air-hardening in the thicknesses we like.
   Alan-L - Monday, 02/23/09 12:28:19 EST

When forging D2, it helps to thoroughly pre-heat your anvil face. A cold anvil will suck heat out of thin sections fast enough to harden it while you forge. Trust me, this stuff will get hard just lying in the sun.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/23/09 13:23:45 EST

Now, with this new info on D2, I am intriqued. How much different is the heat treat of D2 as opposed to S7 & A2.
With A2, I draw the temper in my wife's oven Maxed out for an hour(she's not home at the time) for thin sections for thicker stuff I have used the oven cleaning setting, approx 850 f. I appreciate any and all info.
   brian robertson - Monday, 02/23/09 14:41:02 EST

Are you having another hammer-in this year?
   markh - Monday, 02/23/09 15:04:58 EST

anvilfire hammer-in: Mark, we tentatively set the date the same but have decided to move it to mid summer (late June, mid July) due to all the other things going on. Have not yet set a date. We are getting close to having our power hammers ready to assemble and that gives us lots of time to be ready. We also sold the old coal forge Paw-Paw had and removed the stack. I can replace the forge for a lot less than the antique was worth and the stack went through the middle of a drain trough on the roof. . . Had to move and seal it up to stop the flood. Besides which, I like a good bellows but cannot abide a hand crank blower. SO, there are lots of changes going on in the shop and schedule issues to work out. But I think the last weekend of June
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/09 16:52:04 EST

I have a rigid bs14002 14"band saw That I bought for cutting metal. Unfortunitly the speed it way to high approximately 3000 fpm. I was wondering if there is any way to bring the speed down enough for cutting sheet metal 100 to 300 fpm. thanks
   andy - Monday, 02/23/09 19:21:30 EST

SGensh - Thanks for the info.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 02/23/09 19:37:18 EST

ANy comparisons to offer between Kaowool and the Fiberfax line (Durablanket, Fibermat etc?) No, I'm not building a forge, just want to insulate a charcoal retort. Much lower temps involved, maybe 1800 max, more likely 1400, and looking for something cheaper than Kaowool, which these Fiberfax products seem to be. Planned application is as an insulating wrap around the steel retort (which glowed dull cherry in the most recent test) covered by 22ga sheet. To hot for fiberglass but not hot enough to justify Kaowool.

Thanks for any info.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 02/23/09 19:45:52 EST

Brian, according to the Crucible Steel Handbook on tool steels, D2, or AirDi 150 as they call it, can be tempered at 400F for 1 hour per inch of thickness (2 hours minimum) to Rc 60-62. 500F will get you down to 59-61. Double tempering is strongly recommended.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/23/09 19:59:11 EST

thanks. I need to look for a steel handbook or come here for more help in the future.

Is D2 good for other tools beside cutting tools?
   brian robertson - Monday, 02/23/09 20:21:52 EST

Peter Hirst, please contact me, I may be able to help you.
   gary shaw - Monday, 02/23/09 20:32:34 EST

I'm planning on cutting 1/8" sheet into irregular strips, likely 4-5" at widest, and then bending them and making them convex enough to ultimately come to a 3-4' sphere (though it will not be a complete sphere - there will be intentional gaps so that the object suspended in the middle of the sphere will be plainly visible). Do you have any advice on the tools or methods I would employ for this task?

I'm considering making a jig (like the large bowl of my swage block) that I can hammer it into hot, though I know there will be dents and distortion without some uniform press die... I'm hoping what ends up visible from the outside will either grind out or be attractive. :)

Since I have a tiny shop without any power hammers or presses, I'm hoping I can accomplish this with hand power or some jury-rigged press.

   Mark Novak - Monday, 02/23/09 21:15:56 EST


I bought a cheap Sears 10" bandsaw and replaced the motor with a 60 RPM DC gearmotor (mostly because I had it on hand). Many folks use jack shafts with their existing motor.
   Mike BR - Monday, 02/23/09 22:03:15 EST


That Rigid bandsaw is basically another knock-off of the Rockwell Model 14, designed for wood cutting. A number of manufacturers of the knock-offs have fitted them with jackshafts and multi-step sheaves to get lower speeds for cutting metal as well as wood, but they never get them much lower than about 700 fpm. To go lower would require a secondary jackshaft, as there really sin't room to diddle the size of the sheaves sufficiently to get lower than 600 fpm - I did that much to mine, but it was more expense than it was really worth.

One alternative, if you have the Midas touch for scrounging, is to use a VFD motor setup. If you had to buy that new, it would be cheaper to just by a proper metal cutting saw, though. A variable-speed DC motor form a treadmill could be made to work, I think, at little cost other than a sheave or three and perhaps a pair of pillowblocks for a jackshaft. Those DC motors really scream along at wide open, and lose some power and smoothness at lower speeds, so will need a jackshaft to get about a 1:3 reduction before coupling to the drive sheave on the saw. The better treadmills use about a 2 hp motor with SCR-controlled variable speed. I've scrounged several from dumpsters here, so I know they can be had elsewhere.

One other alternative is to find a low rpm motor and then go to a cogged-belt drive. A number of older motors were 800 rpm, with big, heavy armatures, a plus for equipment drives. With an 800 rpm motor and a 1-1/2" cogged pulley driving a 12" pulley on the saw, you'd end up with around 700 fpm. That's an acceptable, though fast, speed for running Lenox Diemaster II bi-metal blades to cut mild steel and non-ferrous metals. Half that speed would be much better for stainless steel or high alloy steels, but that would require a secondary jackshaft.

   vicopper - Monday, 02/23/09 22:06:02 EST


I neglected to mention that the reason for the cogged belt, rather than a regular V belt is that with such a small motor pulley and a large driven pulley, you won't have sufficient contact area for power transfer with smooth belt. With a cogged belt, however, you could go to as small as a 1" drive pulley to a 14" driven pulley, netting about 400 sfpm blade speed.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/23/09 22:09:08 EST

Mark Nowak,

At 4" wide, you strips would not be very deeply convex so I think you could easily form them cold into a wood block and avoid a lot of dinging and denting. Use a wooden mallet instead of a steel hammer and contour the mallet head to match the contour of the wooden "swage" form and you should be all set. If you have the option, get fully annealed, pickled and oiled (P&O) sheet steel for the job to make it easier.
   vicopper - Monday, 02/23/09 22:13:36 EST

Brian Robertson: D2's claim to fame is wear resistance. There are a lot of other tools You COULD make from it, but if You don't need wear resistance, why bother with the grief of working D2 ?. If You want toughness, any of the other steels I mentioned, or an old file or even better, a piece of spring steel is a better choice. The 2 temper temperatures I mentioned corespond to the 2 toughness peaks [relative to hardness] in the D2 material, but toughness IS NOT it's claim to fame..
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/23/09 22:14:59 EST

"Bondo" - The automotive grade fillers use powered gypsm filler, and this can/does absorb moisture. The marine grade fillers "Bondo Marine" and similar use fillers that do not absorb moisture.

If making Your own filler from pollyester or epoxy resin and powered fillers, read the filler instructions, as some are intended for making bonding agents, and do not sand readily. For more information check out "West System".
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/23/09 22:20:26 EST

Mark Novac: Look at Randy McDaniel's website: http://www.drgnfly4g.com/ He made a sheetmetal egg, there are pictures of the tooling He used to shape it. There may be other ways to skin that cat, but You might not want to re-invent the wheel either.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 02/23/09 22:30:22 EST

Bondo Fill: This varies by brand. The last I looked at had powdered glass fill. The stuff I used in the 1960's had powdered marble (waste from cutting operations). It was the best. Now they use that marble waste to make high dollar "synthetic" marbles with a plastic matrix.
   - guru - Monday, 02/23/09 23:57:23 EST

Insulating a Retort: Peter, Consider that when you insulate the exterior of your retort it is going to get much hotter, possibly too hot. Often you want to use a second shell so that air can pass between cooling the retort but reducing the radiant heat that is difficult to work next to or is heating other objects. Two layers with convection air flow (inlet near bottom, outlet at top like triple wall flue) will reduce the exterior temperature to near ambient without increasing the retort wall temperature which may not be desirable.

   - guru - Monday, 02/23/09 23:58:09 EST

Kaowool: We often get phone calls about using Kaowool for various uses and I often convince folks to go some other route. When insulation is needed there is a paradox in this material that the denser it is the lower the thermal conductivity. It is easy to compress and it is often cheaper to purchase the lower density stuff and force some extra in the space. In other cases like above insulating may be the wrong thing to do. I often recommend sheet metal heat shields with 1" spacings. While this is not cheaper it is lower maintenance and can be used outdoors or in wet locations where kaowool cannot.

The thing that confuses many about refractories is that fire bricks are NOT insulation. They are high temperature resistant but are also highly conductive.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 00:07:21 EST

1/8" sheet into spherical section: Mark, I would at a minimum jury rig a press for this project. With a couple pieces of heavy plate for the platen and the die and some tension bars you can put together a little bench top hydraulic press that will do some amazing tasks (cold). You can go a long way on the fuel savings.

From McMaster-Carr you can get a 20T jack for $100, 30T for $200 and a 50T for $450. I would get the heaviest I could afford as they are useful for MANY tasks. You can build a light tension bar press or a heavy H frame press. I built mine using a 20T and I want to upgrade to 50T.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 00:24:02 EST

HS band Saws: Andy, what the bandsaw manufacturers do is put a worm gear reducer on metalworking saws. Combination saws bypassed the gear box for non-metallic cutting. By the time you build a two tier jack shaft system the costs are close to properly sized worm reducer. Due to the high torque these are usually coupled directly to the lower drive wheel (just like on cut off saws) rather than via belts. If you are scrounging parts you can often find these from old conveyor systems.

The maximum convenient reduction with belts is 3 or 4 to 1. With a really big difference in sizes you can get 6-1 which is about the largest practical reduction. To get 10 to 1 or more then takes a second reduction. (just multiply the factors (5:1 and 2:1 are 10:1, 3:1 and 3:1 are 9:1. . .). Worm reducers do it easily in one step. A single lead worm running against a 40 tooth wheel is 40:1 in one step.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 00:34:28 EST

Durawool source: In my freon tank propane forges I use Durawood supplied by Industrial Firebrick in Michigan. Contact jordan@indfirebrick.com for a quote with shipping on full boxes of insulation or insulating firebrick. I only get the #8 density, but I believe they carry others, and in thicknesses from 1/2" to 2".

I send them my order, they send me a PayPal invoice, I pay and they ship. Usually receive shipment via UPS within 3-5 days. Very good folks to deal with.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/24/09 05:15:30 EST

Guru (or anyone else reading),
I want o get some feedback on Grizzly bandsaws. I want one of the swivel head models. Can anyone give me an opinion? The prices are hard to beat. Thanks
   markh - Tuesday, 02/24/09 09:36:42 EST

Just buy a pint of HTC from Jock and you'll get a nice amount of Kaowool as shipping fill.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/24/09 11:17:15 EST

4x6 Bandsaw: Mark, The 4x6 saw appears to be the same one or very close to the one Paw-Paw had. Yep, you can't beat the price but the life of these saws can be extremely short. PPW's would not cut straight as the guide wheels had too much clearance on the blade. We tried to adjust them but they would not adjust. The bearing studs were clamped to a rough cast surface that pulled the bearings into whatever position the low spot on the casting was. We broke the guide bearings while gently trying to adjust them. . . The saw was nearly given away at auction with almost no use.

There are many problems in the 4x6 or 5x6 bandsaw market. For one, they have been priced so cheap for so long that nobody makes a good one. Where they are made in Taiwan and China it is a cottage industry with dozens of little family shops making saws from locally produced parts. If you look closely at the details of these saws you will see several "brands" with the same castings and differently fabricated parts or even within the same brand you will see differences of hole placement, bracket shapes, small part substitutions.

What this means is that neither you NOR the supposed manufacturer knows what they are getting. Some are well fitted and properly made while others are slapped together in underequiped shops that cannot to a proper job.

The 4x6 saw has become so well know as junk that various makers are now making the same saws with slightly different capacity listings. But they are still a 4x6 saw. IF they were well made like my original Ridgid 4x6 (1960's to 1970's) was they would need to sell for around $600 to $1000 if made overseas. But the knock-offs of this fine tool are so cheaply made that many fail to ever function properly.

I do not know how well made it is or how it holds up but I would save my money for a Jet HVBS-7MW. This is a larger heavier saw. It has a 3/4HP motor and 3/4" blade and comes with a coolant system. Priced around $1000.

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 11:17:21 EST

Kaowool Packing: Sorry, that is not our normal policy. Occasionally we do it for friends and regular customers who we know will use the product.

Due to the fact that we sell cut lengths of Kaowool we often have small scraps and occasionally give them away or put them in Iron-in-the-hat. However, In a decade of selling thousands of feet of cut material each year we have just barely built up a little more than a full carton of scraps. We get enough orders for one foot lengths that it almost ALL goes. The current box of scrap is going to be sealed and put on the shelf for my future use. 0.003% waste is not bad for a decade long cut products operation.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 11:32:21 EST

Dishing strips" while 1/8" is pretty heavy stock for such things the armour making sites might be a good place to get ideas on doing this as it's a rather common process over there having 2 axii of curvature.

In general you will need to planish the outside over a correctly sized ballstake to smooth it down before grinding.

It really helps to have dishing hammers with very gently domed faces. Most things like ballpeens are too "sharp" and leavy you with the "bag of marbles" look. I make dishing hammers from dome headed RR bolts (not spikes!) or forge out the face of a ballpeein (not the peen) as shown in Weyger's "The Complete Modern Blacksmith"

If you are near central NM you are welcome to stop by and use my screwpress, dishing forms, dishing hammers, ballstakes, etc.

Note you may be able to find someone with the equipment to hand where you are as well. If you are not planning to make a bunch of them better to "borrow" than to spend the time and money to get your own set.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/24/09 11:49:04 EST

A friend of mine, blacksmith Paul Thorne, has had one of those Grizzly swivel head bandsaws for something like 4 or 5 years now, and he likes it a lot.
I dont agree with the guru that the little 4x6 saws are all alike- I have been buying Jet brand saws since 1978 or so, and I am on my 4th one- 2 of em still work just fine, and we use em both daily. They usually cut straight right out of the box, and use real bearings, switches, and other parts, all of which are replaceable and adjustable.
We saw stainless steel all day long on em.

I also have a 7x12 bandsaw, but find that we use it a lot less than the little ones- the larger blade takes a bigger kerf out, and is actually slower and clumsier for freehand work like notching or freehand trimming angles, which we do all the time. I have probably cut a fifty or a hundred thousand angles on the end of round and square bar, freehand, on the little 4x6 saws over the years- just tilt it up, sit on the saw, and cut to a sharpie line. The .035 bimetal blades are quick to cut, small enough to cut curves, and will cut most metals.

Remember though, that even a Grizzly or Jet, which cost a bit more, are still basically disposable shop tools- a real bandsaw, made to last, with mass, rigidity, and power, would cost at least a grand- Ellis saws, which are still kinda homemade, are 2 to 3 thousand, and a real Do-All or Amada horizontal bandsaw can cost as much as a new small car.

You get what you pay for, but you CAN do better than Harbor Freight.
   - ries - Tuesday, 02/24/09 13:05:33 EST

Oops! Sorry Jock.... hey does that mean we're friends? You know.... FRIEEENDS.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/24/09 13:17:37 EST

I have to strongly agree with Ries on the Jet bandsaws. I used a number of these saws in the valve shop, and I had co-op students run roughshod with them and they still were good value. We from time to time replaced bearings.
I have one of those at home now, and still use it hard.
I liked it enough to buy a second, which came out of the box with another, house brand sticker, but also a great little saw.
In my opinion, the blade also makes a great difference in the quality of the cut, and I have used Lennox Diemaster II's since the 80's and would consider no other.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/24/09 14:27:33 EST

Jet generally is a better grade but many are not nearly as good. I have seen them with plastic cam rollers for guide bearings and sheet metal parts where rigid castings are needed. When ordering from many of the catalog houses you cannot tell what you are getting because of the poor detail in the photos. When they are all often priced within $50 of each other and the best not being the most expensive they are a real gamble. I've used a dozen of these machines and had the chance to keep several and let them all go except the old Ridgid which I will keep forever. Life is too short to put up with the frustration of trying to maintain and use many of these machines.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 15:58:46 EST

Thanks to all for the info. Would you have any idea what size worm gear reducer would work best with my rigid band saw. Also is it easy to install one.
Thanks, Andy
   andy - Tuesday, 02/24/09 16:51:05 EST

Gear Box Sizing: Andy, Generally (very) if the output shaft is the same or larger than the one on the saw AND the input (high speed side) is as big as the motor shaft the box is about right. Catalogs often give a horsepower rating and that should do as well.

Note that worm gear drives often have oversize output shafts for the overhung load of a gear or chain drive running off of it. So the output is not always the noormal size but larger than usual.

That said, normally it requires and engineering approach to size a gear box. But the above is true most of the time.

As to how easy it is to apply to the saw that depends on the box you find and how it needs to be arranged.

Method 1, Put the reducer in place of the motor mounting and use a belt drive like the machine has now. The problem with this is that the belts may not be able to carry the high torque at low speed.

Method 2, Mount the reducer with the output in-line with the saw shaft and use a coupling. This will absolutely drive the saw for metal cutting but requires mounting the gear box on the side of the saw with the shafts very carefully aligned. It will deliver 100% of the torque from the gear box which may be more than components of the saw are designed to take.

Method 3, Mount the gear reducer below the saw using a belt drive and second (smaller) motor. Then when you need slow speed for metal you change belts to the gear box. If you are careful to position the gear box then the same belt may work for both high and low speed. A smaller motor will reduce torque so the saw is not so overloaded. About half the normal motor size will save the saw and save money on the gear box.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/24/09 17:30:02 EST


I have the Grizzly 4x6 Swivel head bandsaw and I can tell you it is most definitely NOT a cheap piece of crap as Jock intimated. I've been using it for a couple of years now in my full-time shop and it does the job it is intended to do quite well. The main frame is cast iron and very rigid, the table is cast and machined and the base is solidly built. The guides work fine once properly adjusted and stay where you set them. I haven't had to re-adjust mine since the initial set-up, in fact. The saw cuts everything from thinwall tubing to 4" square bar without a complaint, using Lenox Diemaster II vari-pitch bimetal blades.

The only issue I have with the saw is the power switch, which is intended to shut off the saw upon completion of the cut. The switch is located where there is insufficient angular movement to properly actuate the switch fully. I replaced mine with a microswitch and moved it slightly so it functions properly all the time. I don't find this to be a really significant flaw, just a bit of poorly thought out design. The remainder of the saw seems satisfactorily designed. It isn't a top-of-the-line industrial saw, but it certainly beats the crappy little 4x6 saws that HF and the big box stores sell for nearly as much money. At the time I bought mine, I recall the price being about a hundred bucks highr than it currently shows, too. Still a good value, in my book.

The biggest advantage to this saw is the swivel head, which savel me ahuge amount of space and frustration in making miter cuts. The saw will actually swing to slightly over 60 degrees in one direction and over 45 in the other, so it is way more versatile than those cruddy swinging vises.

As for accuracy, mine cuts square within .020" which is plenty good enough for a blacksmith shop. If you need tighter accuracy than that, get a cold saw.

Rich Waugh

   vicopper - Tuesday, 02/24/09 18:11:38 EST

"Ken; did you eat a lot of homemade coleslaw when you were growing up?"

My family on my father's side was Croatian. On my mother's German. Thus, coleslaw was somewhat of a supper staple - usually with good Polish sausage in it and boiled potatoes served on the side (or sometimes in it for a one-pot meal). However, it did come out of a can.

When both parents worked full time, and with six (sometimes more in addition) to feed, it was a quick meal. I still have it about once a month. (Liver and onions less often.)
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 02/24/09 19:37:43 EST

4x6 I have a Chicago Power Tool model, whiich is probably a HF or NT, and its great except for one leetle thing: the motor eats capacitors. Lately I have just been hand starting it, and would replace the motor if I could find onefor as little as I paid for the saw. Electrical issues aside, its great mechanically. I made a couple of modifications to handles and improved the horizontal table a bit, and it does a bunch of jobs reasonably well. Bearings and guides adjust, castings are solid and rigid, the aoto off switch even works. Now if i could just solve the capacitor problem . . .
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 02/24/09 20:04:08 EST

Ken; I was just musing on how well a silage chopper would make coleslaw for a growing boy...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 02/24/09 21:39:28 EST

Ive read alot of the kaowool posts and im still confused. What is the best way to insulate a gas forge?
   - jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 02/24/09 22:27:00 EST

Jacob, It depends on the gas forge type, use and budget.

Kaowool makes a lightweight efficient forge lining. However, you need brick (half thick) or kiln shelf, or castable refractory for the floor. I prefer brick as it is the most durable.

A kaowool forge is normally an arch or tube design. The blanket will not work for a flat roof unless it is made into a wall unit by accordion folding it and sewing with inconel wire. We are going to build one of these this summer to demonstrate how it is done.

Kaowool board is available for this use (flat surfaces) but is quite expensive and difficult to ship. Unless you need $600 worth (36 square feet 1" thick) then it is not worth while. In small production forges they use a formable kaowool product similar to board that is molded to shape.

Kaowool is susceptible to snagging and needs protection in the lower portions of the forge. It also forms dust at high temperatures and should be covered with ITC-100 to prevent breakdown and resultant dust.

Kaowool evaporates like cotton candy in a flame in the face of borax flux so it should be protected from that as well OR no flux used in the forge.

For industrial use a solid or brick lining is preferred for durability. However, these get very heavy VERY fast.

The advantages of the kaowool lined forge is, relatively cool running exterior, ease of manufacture, light weight for portability, and economics (it is cheaper than many other refractories). And while it is low in durability in some respects it does not crack and fall apart like castables and other hard molded to shape refractories.

Note also that while refractory brick makes a very durable forge it is slow to heat up AND once up to temperature the exterior can be VERY VERY hot and difficult to work near unless insulated or shielded. Bricks are also relatively expensive.

Catable refractory is the cheapest to build with but is heavy, has the same heat conductivity faults as brick and is not nearly as durable as fired refractories like brick, or kiln furniture.

All refractories have maintenance issues. Slag sticks to and damages refractories, fuxes and slags eat refractories, glassy ceramic glazes stick to and become part of refractories and weld things to the refractories, while heat resistant they do often crack from the expansion and contraction cycles and break down needing repairs. While Kaowool has its faults so do other refractories and Kaowool is very easy to repair (just stuff a piece in and recoat with ITC-100).
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/09 01:19:49 EST

Kaowool and "Wildlife"

Just a note that these forges, if kept in any buildings that are not vermin proof, need to be kept sealed between uses. Mice, and even birds (!) seem to love this stuff for nesting material. Even if the Kaowool is coated, they can find any small openings that have been poked through. Sometimes they'll carry the material off to the nest, and once they nested right in the gas forge. Eviction proceeded as gently but firmly as possible.

On the plus side, at least the mouse nest, tucked into an obscure corner of your workshop, won't catch fire from a stray spark. ;-)

Cold and clear on the banks of the Potomac. Going from the teens to the 50s today!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/25/09 08:47:36 EST

But I want all my mouse nests to catch fire... unless you see a blazing mouse scampering into a pile of oily rags.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/25/09 11:08:59 EST

Forges and "Wildlife" The real excitement starts when you fire up a forge you have not inspected and a flaming mouse flies out the door! It has also happened when someone tossed an old lunch bag into a forge to start it. . I've also fired up a blower type forge and had a bunch of mad wasps fly out that had built their nest in the blower.

We used Paw-Paws NC-Tool forge one week and when we went back the following week birds had entirely filled the forge through the end port with leaves, sticks and nesting materials. They had not yet laid eggs so we cleaned out the forge. . Two days later the nest was rebuilt in the forge! Now we carefully keep a plug in the end ports. Luckily we did not fire the forge without looking inside.

We had donated a small melting furnace to Bruce's operation one year. While inspecting it the next spring Bruce found mice had nested in the small furnace. Even though it was closed the mice were getting in through the 3/4" pipe burner tube. I brought materials to repair it and coat the insides with ITC-100. While most of the kaowool was still there it was saturated with mouse urine. . I used new to replace the old but it was still a smelly job.

Mice also love to nest in fiberglass. It is something to consider when building. If there is a hole mice will find it. Where you have standard laped siding and no sheathing under it insects such as wasps get under the siding. Mice follow and eat the insect larva. Their tunnels in your wall insulation reduce its effectiveness tremendously. Mice will also occasionally eat wiring insulation and rubber parts if it is convenient and they are hungry enough.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/09 13:36:06 EST

Guru, you are absolutely right about mice chewing on wiring insulation. We just had an electric meter and wiring fried when mice got into the conduit and chewed through the insulation. We were very fortunate not to have a fire as a result. The mice weren't as lucky....480 volts worth of unlucky!
   Dave Francis - Wednesday, 02/25/09 14:02:00 EST

Many years ago my Father in law bought over 1,000 feet of portable 4" aluminum irrigation pipe. Each length had a large rubber seal in one end. During the first winter mice chewed on a high percentage of seals. It was not noticed until the pipe was installed for the new season. . . "little" 1/8" and 3/16" notches leak a LOT of water at 25 PSI! At about $3 each plus labor it was an expensive lesson. After that a say was put on the calendar every year to remove seals before winter storage.

Varmints: The thing I have the most trouble with is mud daubers and other nest building insects. They will plug air and gas lines and fittings as well as lube holes and hex key holes in machinery. I've had several welding torches ruined by the critters (the debris gets in places too expensive to dismantle, and the sandy grit ruins valve seats). The smaller wasps (like sweat bees) build nests in places as small as welding tip bores.

Besides shop equipment I've had them build mud nests in vehicles and clog vents. Once they clogged the vent on my truck rear axle. The axle seals will keep the oil in but not under pressure. I had the seals and brakes replaced and it STILL leaked. Then a sharp witted farm mechanic reached up and gave the vent cap a twist. . . mud dauber nest material fell out. . . Leak fixed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/25/09 15:51:04 EST

More on Mouse Infiltration:

Our Public Health Service officers use a simple rule for how big a gap under a door or in the siding a mouse can get through: if you can slide a standard pencil under it, a mouse can get in! The little beggars flatten "wonderfully well" as my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors would say.

No mice in the gas forge or smelter these days, but I still have to keep watch! Camp Fenby is tentatively scheduled for late June; hopefully not in the way of the Anvilfire Hammer-In.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/25/09 16:26:56 EST

Out here I've had the mouse problem in the shop and so have been encouraging my cat, a wild king snake and the local raptor to spend as much time around the shop as they want.

More troublesome are the black widow spiders. I have to remind myself not to place my fingers where I can't see them---like when I want to tighten the nuts on the underside of the bench for the postvise mount. I also check gloves and hearing protectors before use.

I was warned to watch out for rattlesnakes in the scrap pile but haven't had that---yet.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/25/09 16:51:44 EST

ThomasP, I once found a spider inside a respirator the exciting way! I am a believer in "Tupperware" style sealing plastic containers for items like respirators and gloves. Keeps them clean and critter free.
The mice are well taken care of by a herd of cats the wife maintains and a viable population of owls, hawks, coyetes, and so forth.
The real blessing is the the owls also love skunks!
It is often said in these parts that in the spring when the mud daubers are nesting it does not pay to bend over outside!

When as a youg man I worked at the airport, we had real problems in the nesting season with birds building nests in the cowlings of the aircooled engines of our small aircraft. I have personally pulled an entire nest from an engine, and less than an hour later had to pull a nest from the same airplane! The nests would catch fire, and if built in the fusalage, could bind the controls.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/25/09 19:01:28 EST

Sorry Guru, uno mas pregunta. Of all the castable refractories and refractory mortars, is there a real difference in performance? Elliscustomknifeworks.com has alot but i dont know which to pick
   - jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 02/25/09 19:27:02 EST

Industrial Firebrick in Michigan features a product called "insulating firebrick". Sounds like that ought to solve the insulating problem with ordinary firebrick, yes?
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 02/25/09 20:05:56 EST

"a blazing mouse scampering into a pile of oily rags"!! Nip! That was great!LOL
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/25/09 20:12:03 EST

"Insulating fire brick"? Ain't that the stuff that is light as pumice? Seems to degrade fast where exposed to dirct flame. Has it's place I guess, maybe, or not.
   - grant - Wednesday, 02/25/09 20:16:05 EST

I have used lots of insulating fire brick, and as forge doors they work well. Light as pumice as Grant notes.
In the big honking industrial gas fired forges we had a lining of firebrick for resistance to abrasion, and snagging and flame impingment. That was usually backed by a layer of the insulating brick. The outer layer was kaowool with a steel casing. The floors were often cast floor blocks of 18" square by several inches thick with SS wires in the mix. The burners fed through cast burner throats made from high temp castable. These could run for weeks and months 24-7, and the outer casing was still cool enough to touch. Failure was generally a roof fall.

We used Kaowool sewn into blankets as noted by jock for the roof of the heat treat furnaces that were used for stress relief, low enough temps and no flame impingement so they lasted for years.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/25/09 20:32:47 EST

Refractories: I thought I was pretty clear. There are hundreds of brands and tradename products. If you want to know about them then get a materials information sheet, MSDS, catalog AND ask the seller. WE sell Thermal Ceramics(R) Kaowool(R) RT, and International Technical Ceramics 100HT, 148, 200EZ, 213 and 296A. See the information in our store. As soon as I get the truck crane OFF my truck bed. . . We are going to start carrying split fire brick and some other refractory products that must be purchased by the pallet (about 800 pounds) as well as stocking Kaowool by the pallet (its cheaper that way).

Insulating brick varies from stuff that LOOKs like Styrofoam and is nearly as light to soft light yellow bricks to fiber blocks (like Kaowool board). . . All are expensive and delicate. Normally they are used in furnace construction where they are behind one or more layers of hard refractory and covered on the outside with common brick as part of a system. At a minimum in a forge these light refractories should be coated with something ITC-100HT and/or 200EZ.

The problem with forge construction is that the temperatures degrade and weaken EVERYTHING including refractories. Inconel 600 is rated for up to 1800°F and the load capacity is rated as minimal at 2000°F. Forges run 2400°F and above. But Inconel fasteners wire is the best thing to use as everything else is rated much lower. Works great in kilns but so-so in forges. You have to assume the wire is near melting. . . but still supporting some load. If embedded away from the hot face and extending out of the shell to cool it may survive.

Kaowool arches work due to being in compression (as do all arches). The kaowool must be sprung into place to "preload" it. The problem is that at forge temperatures the fibers soften and the whole loses strength and can sag even in the arch shape. . . Hard refractories in forges and steel furnaces do the same. The difference is they settle, then when the furnace cools they are put under high strain and crack.

Refractories are just one of the many things that just barely work and make technology possible.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 00:33:53 EST

RATS! (pun intended), I forgot that Fenby is usually on or around my birthday. . .

I consider cats to be vermin in the shop as well. Males mark everything and wreck the finish on tool chests and machinery. I had one jump on a bench and mark my phone, a rack full of key blanks (about $200 worth) and a key machine. Total damage about $1000. We've also had stray females "gift" us with kittens. . . If it were not against the law to trap or shoot "pets" I would reduce the cat population near my shop.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 00:39:33 EST

Ahhh Guru, that Cat population is resident OUTSIDE the shop in my case:) I too consider them Vermin. In our case the population is easily limited by the same predators that limit skunks.
The worse critter I had in my shop was a ground hog. Burrowed under the wal, allowing in all sorts of other critters and burrowed under piles and stuff. Finally after a year of trying I caught it outside its burrow, and I was armed with a 5mm pellet gun...
   ptree - Thursday, 02/26/09 07:42:26 EST

Ground hogs are BIG rats! They are the death of many an old barn in our area as they like to borough under the corners of buildings. They can have huge dens and if the barn is set on corner pilings as many barns in the South are, then one day it just suddenly tilts over. . .

Cats. . . Yeah, I'm on my third shop with no doors. . . IF I have a fourth it will be in sunny Costa Rica where doors or gates and locks are an absolute requirement but where most buildings are still quite open air. You commonly find birds flying around in the grocery stores. . .

Our problem is that there are no or few local predators bigger than the adult cats and Sheri's little Chiuhauha is too timid and much smaller than the cats. . (She had a male Chiuhauha years ago that thought he could take on the biggest dogs. . ).
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 09:20:19 EST

Well here in Bucks County PA the mice simply LOVE fuel lines. Two years ago my BBQ gas lines were chewed through the winter, the next year I took my Pinto out one day and noticed a trail of gasoline behind me. When you're driving a car that is famous for exploding, leaking fuel is something to worry about. I scooted under the gas tank and saw nice little chew marks in the rubber hoses. I guess we need more cats. Rumor has it (in my neighborhood) that an old lady used to live down the street who had like 20 cats. She died and 10 years later, no cats and a huge squirrel population.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 02/26/09 09:30:09 EST

To make ground hogs move out dump used kitty litter down the hole.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 02/26/09 10:18:22 EST

Kin I prefer my method---I used cannon fire down groundhog holes.

Off to the city for medical testing later today/tomorrow.
   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/26/09 11:52:25 EST

That's O.K. Thomas, as long as it's a "green" cannon.
   - grant - Thursday, 02/26/09 12:14:32 EST

I hope everyone is doing well. I have recently become interested in Mokume Gane. First, how do you properly pronounce it? That is, for an english speaking white guy. I know a little bit about it from limited internet reading, but I would like to learn more. It seems like something that would compliment the things i make in my blacksmith shop very well. Is there a way to produce it in a Chile gas forge? Also, is there a high tempature material that can be used as force plates to make the weld in the fire, beside high temp. jet engine alloy (I'm not sure I can get my hands on that)?

Thanks in advance!
   - John L. - Thursday, 02/26/09 12:51:58 EST

I had serious problems with moles when I lived in Tennessee. Caddy Shack made it look easy......
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/26/09 13:31:37 EST

Mokume' Gane' John, I think the vowels are hard and the e's as a hard "eh" or "ea".

The temperature for making laminated non-ferrous material is the same no matter how you do it. Steel plates are used for clamping. You could use Inconel 600 but I think heavy blocks of it are pretty pricey.

Clean the materials very clean - just before assembly), clamp between the plates, heat to the welding temp (just below the melting point of the lowest melting allow in the stack), remove from the furnace and quickly press, clamp or strike with a hammer to set the weld. Remove from the clamps and start drawing out. Hammers, hydraulic forging presses and rolling mills are all used in the process depending on what is available.

The trick to heating in the forge is judging the temperature and heating slow enough. The large clamping blocks will conduct heat slowly compared to the sample. So you will want the forge turned down and you may need to take the assembly out occasionally to give it time to stabilize in temperature.

Mokume' Gane' means "wood grain" or "wood looking" and was developed to complement the grain of hand made steels. Later it was developed into an art form and used to make artistic vessles like vases and repousse' sculpture. Pattern development is pretty much the same as in laminated steel.

To learn to make it with the tools at hand you pretty much have to "do-it". Most makers prefer to use temperature controlled electric kilns. However, many people do it with forges. Get a stack of brass and copper sheet and go to it.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 14:54:54 EST

Cats--Reminds me of an old story from my home town (Columbia, CA). Back in the day, a miner would walk out of Pine Log (about 2 miles and 2000 feet below Columbia, no roads) to Columbia, go to his favorite restraunt, and order rabbit. The cook was able to provide, and the miners gold was good. One day he came out and ordered rabbit. Nothing available. The cook spotted a local cat, made a quick snatch, and prepared "rabbit" for the miner, who swore it was the best he had had. The cook made the mistake of telling the story in one of the saloons, business at his restraunt dropped way off, way fast, and the cook barely made it out of town in front of the miner
   - David Hughes - Thursday, 02/26/09 16:05:24 EST

Weird Al Yankovich did one of his songs based on "Cats in the Cradle". There's a cat in the kettle at the Peking Moon, the place where I ate everyday at noon. . .


Rat is also an international "delicacy" but is considered very low value protein due to the cost of feed (usually stored grain or food the rats have gotten into). Thus a rat fed cat is even much less efficient of a protein source :)
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 16:46:24 EST

I been thinking that Groundhog, out of the various “vermin” we have around Central PA, should be the best eating. It’s an herbivore; not like the Raccoons and Opossums, which eat anything, including my outside cat food.
Haven’t tried it yet; can’t be any worse than pon hoss. (Spell checker didn’t know “pon hoss”. What up wid dat?)
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 02/26/09 18:42:58 EST

One of my favorite ways to address the mole problem involved the liberal use of propane. I will not explain that further due to the liability it entails. However, a good time was had by all. Except the moles.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/26/09 19:19:53 EST

Buy an airsoft gun, shoot the cats with that. You can get a springloaded pistol with like 315 fps at walmart for like 25$ and cats hate airsoft guns.....beleive me.......
oh and for a plastic pistol, with no wind some are actually accurate.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Thursday, 02/26/09 20:04:04 EST

I don't know if our locals eat cats here. I suspect they do. My dog is a great dane and weighs in at 125 pounds . (We weighed him on the coal scale this week). A few admiring glances are cast his way but I think they are weighing up the size of steaks he would make.

Jock regarding the Chiuhauha that would attack other dogs our Dane has been confronted by one. He was very gentle to the little guy whom I suspect he could have swallowed in one gulp!
   philip in china - Thursday, 02/26/09 20:12:20 EST

Moe koo meh gah neh. No accented sylables, Guru-sama.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 02/26/09 20:31:33 EST

John L,

It is customarily pronounced Moh-KOO-meh Gan-neh. Yes, you can do it in a Chile forge, though you will not be able to use controlled atmospheres. You will probably need to choke the forge burners down a fair bit to get a reducing atmosphere.

For the clamping plates, use stainless steel if you can get it. If not, use heavier structural steel. Use the best, toughest stainless steel bolts andnuts that you can buy. Check MSC Indusrial Supply for the bolts, they offer a pretty good selection of alloys. Inconel would be great, but horribly expensive. 316 stainless will be fine.

You will absolutely need some high-quality anti-sieze compound on the clamping bolt threads. With the heat and pressure they will want to bond just like the other metals, so use the best stuff you can get. Jeff "ptree" Reinhardt can probably suggest the best stuff.

You want a material for the bolts that has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion, so that your stack pressure doesn't decrease as the temperature rises. Ideally, the bolts should have no expansion and the plates should have a high coefficient of expansion so that as the temp rises the effective pressure on the stack is increased. Not sure just how you would go about achieving that, though. But the higher the pressure you can get, the lower the temp you can get a diffusion bond at.

Since you'll be working without a controlled atmosphere, you're going to need all the pressure you can manage to get the solid-state diffusion bonding to occur much below the melting point of the metals you're using. If you could work in a vacuum, you could get bonding at about room temperature with sufficient pressure, but in a forge atmosphere that isn't going to happen.

You metal pieces should be as near tochemically clean as possible. Sand with 400 grit, wash with detergent and hot water, rinse with distilled water and dry with hot air, then stack and clamp immediately. The better your mating surfaces match, the easier and better the bond will be.

If you're planning to forge or raise the mokume' gane' I recommend that you use metals that have similar working characteristics. If you use say, pure copper and nickel silver, the two metals have good ocntrast but very diverse working characteristics and may come apart during forging. Or the softer copper may move much more than the harder nickel silver and grossly distort your efforts.

I would recommend you get sopies of Steve Midgett's books on mokume gane and study his methods. They work very well for me and Steve does a good job of explaining the process.

Best of luck with it and let us know how it turns out!
   vicopper - Thursday, 02/26/09 20:47:36 EST

I drill small holes in field corn kernels and wire them 3 at a time to the bait button on mousetraps that I set in the outbuildings. No need to cary fresh bait, those 3 kernels are usually good for several mice. Between My cat, a few strays, an owl or 2 and the local fox population, I havn't trapped a mouse in a few months. My cat does still get an ocasional mouse, but She travels far & wide to get one. There aren't any chipmunks left, and the squirrels that are still near by are real nervous... They chatter like hell when they see the cat.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 02/26/09 20:47:57 EST

Dave Leppo . . .
It's panhaas.
   - Bernard Tappel - Thursday, 02/26/09 21:42:12 EST

Coefficients of Expansion and Mokume Gane: Stainless has a higher rate than carbon steel. Inconel 600 (and carbon steel) is less (13.3 vs. 18 x10-6 mm/mm/°K the same or less that would make good bolts. The Inconel bolts will keep a higher percentage of their strength at Mokume Gane temperatures than other materials and expand less than the stainless. This would create tremendous clamping forces. Brass CoE is 18.7 and copper's 16.6. So a copper/brass matrix would be and average or 17.7 which is about the same as the stainless. So the difference is about 5 x 10(-6) mm/mm/°K.

A stack of copper/brass with SS plates totaling 3" (76mm) at 500°C above ambient would compress:

76 * 500 * 5 x 10(-6) = .19mm (.0075")

That doesn't sound like much but YOU try compressing solid metal by that much. The difference between using Inconell and carbon steel bolts is the carbon steel bolts will probably stretch. If you use high strength alloy bolts they have much higher hot strength than plain carbon.

If you use carbon steel for the clamping plates then the distance that is creating the extra clamping force is only the copper/brass. If you use stainless bolts and steel plates there will be an undesirable loosening effect.

So it sounds like a couple pieces of 1" of 1.5" 304SS and some Inconel 600 bolts (& nuts) would be a good investment for a self tightening mokume gane clamp.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 21:51:44 EST

NOTE that more calculations would be in order to determine the maximum preload on the bolts so they do not fail at the welding temperature.

Also note that a raised center support on the clamping plates would help prevent damage to the bolts if hammering to make the weld is required.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/26/09 21:57:47 EST

Carbon steel plates and stainless bolts are just what I used in my experiments in mokume gane. Probably one of the reasons for repeated failures. The best results I achieved (In a coal forge) had the billet held in a stainless sheet tray surrounded by powdered charcoal in another stainless tray with a miniature tunnel to view the status of the hot billet.
   - Josh S - Thursday, 02/26/09 23:00:51 EST

Dave L - I personally don't know how groundhog tastes, but have been told that it's rather greasy. Growing up, on the one farm we were on, the land lord let one of the town locals come up and hunt ground hog regularly. They took them home to eat, so it can be done. We just never did it.

Regarding bolts and plates for mokume gane, I'm not certain if they're available, but I'd try for 309 SS. 309 is used a lot for furnace parts that are exposed to heat in the steel industry. I'm pretty sure that the belt for our sintering furnace and the ones for our annealing furnaces are 309 and they see regular exposure to 2150 F during sintering. I think the annealing is at least that hot, maybe hotter.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 02/27/09 00:23:08 EST

Dear Guru,

I wanted to know that what is the difference between the properties of cast iron and carbon steel? could you please send me the composition chart. Also i wanted a list of comparision between the standards of ASTM and BS
   swanil mistry - Friday, 02/27/09 07:00:40 EST

For the best anti-seize that I have tested try Dow Corning "MokyKote Anti-seize 1000" Not terribly expensive, can be had in a 1# brush in top can.

I tested many many anti-seizes, and most were worthless above 800F. The anti-seize 1000 is definetly good to 1000F as proven in many tests I conducted at the Valve shop R & D lab. I also found a Titanium Disulfide anti-seize, available in a aerosol spray can worked, but at several hundred dollars a can was not economical.
With the anti seize 1000, slather ALL of the bolt contact surfaces, IE, include the bearing surfaces of the underside of the head and nut.
The 300 series stainless's are very prone to galling, and anti-seize is really needed even at room temp in most cases.
If available, I would look to 416SS,or 410SS as a less expensive and perhaps more attainable high temp bolting solution. The strenght remains to a much higher temp than the 300 series. The 416, being a "free machining" grade has some slightly better galling resistance than the 410.
The 400 series bolting may be referred to as 13 chrome, if bought as valve parts say as all thread and nuts for valve packing studs, and flange bolting.

Just for reference, the second best anti-seize I found was Dow Corning MokyKote GN Assembly paste. Good to about 850F as an anti-seize. It was the all time best extreme pressure lubricant for threaded members such as valve stems, especially when the operating regime is in the elevated ranges of say 300F to 500F. I use it on things like vise operating threads. Lowers friction in this use by about 40%, so don't over torque, just enjoy the reduced force to produce the same clamp force.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/09 07:46:23 EST

Swanil.... is this a homework query?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/27/09 08:08:34 EST

Im sure I read somewhere that you can use 'Tip-Ex' (correction fluid) in the manufacture of the fused non ferrous material (cant spell it, let alone pronounce it!) - im pretty sure its painted all over the stack, and between the clamp plates and the stack.

No doubt a bit of google-fu would verify this, not got time to do it, sorry! - please correct or delete this post as necessary
   - John N - Friday, 02/27/09 12:50:18 EST


It sounds like homework. We don't do homework. At the anvilfire heading, it says to ask the guru "any reasonable question."

ASTM is only one ball game. Many steels in the USA are categorized by the SAE/AISI system.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/27/09 12:54:08 EST

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll do some experimenting and see what I find.
   - John L. - Friday, 02/27/09 14:17:07 EST

Okay here's a legit question... may sound stupid but I need to know. So, I have a Lincoln FCAW and an off the shelf Harbor Freight AC stick welder (MMAW). I like to use my 55 pound machinist vise to hold what I am welding and use one of the mounting bolts under the bench for grounding. Here's the question: When one welder is off, is it okay for both the ground clamps to be touching with the other one on? I wouldn't think of having both units on, that would be just plain stupid.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/27/09 16:36:07 EST

A stupid question is easier to answer than a stupid mistake is to fix...
   JimG - Friday, 02/27/09 17:01:52 EST

I'm looking for a good clear (lacquer?) coating to apply to my exterior metalworking projects. Any suggestions? Thanks.
   Mark - Friday, 02/27/09 18:32:58 EST

In the meantime while I'm waiting for a good answer, check this out:


Bad things can happen with large neodynium magnets. Warning, it is very graphic.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/27/09 18:49:17 EST

Grounding- Nip, I don't know about your situation but I've got a good story. About a year ago I was welding up part of a larger pergola out of c20 channel in my shop. The assembly was 9'x20', to be added to more of the same on site. As you might imagine it was both heavy and filled up almost all of the free floor space so when I needed access to a tight spot I would slide it around the floor using rollers and levers. After one such move I clamped my trusty Miller 255 mig back onto it to continue fabrication and the welder didn't work. Instead of displaying the voltage and feed all the display on the welder said was HELP. Assuming that there was something wrong I read the welder's instruction manual but it said nothing about digital cries for help. After checking the outlet and breaker, and all the other things that go wrong with welders, I plugged a different tool into the suspect outlet and it ran just fine. Put the welder back on the same outlet and no luck, it still said HELP. Being the end of the day I resolved to call the repair guys in the morning and started to clean up. While winding up the extension cord I'd been using for the angle grinder I found that my last move of the pergola had pinched the cord between the assembly and my welding table, cutting into the cord and 120v current was flowing into the steel and from there must have been leaking into the welder ground clamp thus setting an error code in the welder's brain. The GFIC on the 120v outlet never popped, I'm not sure why, but I was damn lucky not to get zapped.
   Judson Yaggy - Friday, 02/27/09 18:58:22 EST

I'm making my first attempt at a stock removal blade (no forge). Have read books but no actual experience. Have a good belt grinder and bought some straight new auto leaf spring matl to work with.
Grinder throws lots of bright sparks but cuts very slow.
Is this because the steel is already spring tempered? Is the answer to torch heat to remove the temper, rough grind, send to shop for heat treating, and then finish grind? Or, do I have this totally wrong?
Am a complete novice at this. Any advice would be appreciated.
   Dave - Friday, 02/27/09 19:29:09 EST

Welder work ("ground") clamps, at least on modern machines, are isolated from the electrical ground and everything else except the stinger/gun/torch on the other end of the circuit. It shouldn't hurt to keep two welders' work clamps attached to the same bench or weldment. I suspect it's even okay to weld on the same piece with two welders at the same time.

Judson's GFCI probably didn't trip because the welder work clamp didn't ground the pergola. It is kind of surprising that something else didn't do it, though.

What scares me is connecting the work clamp to something that *is* electrically grounded. Or even laying it on top of the welder case. Then if you accidentally strike an arc on something else that's grounded, the electrical ground will complete the circuit. 100+ amps running through 12ga (if you're lucky) wire buried on the walls is a scary thought.

I sometimes use my drill press to jig something up for a quick tack (usually with TIG so I don't have to worry about spatter). I always unplug the drill press first. I've been known to forget the ground clamp, and it would be just my luck to leave it attached to something else grounded.
   Mike BR - Friday, 02/27/09 19:58:03 EST

I had an old (1950's probably) Dayton stick welder, and if it was grounded to the work that I was also using MIG on the mig would not weld worth anything. Even if the stick machine was turned off! I have a new Miller stick machine now but never ground both at once from habit.

At the VOGT boiler shop we had large I-beams in the concrete that served as grounds and as level plates to build boiler on. There were often many many welders grounded and welding on the same structure. Sometimes maybe 7 or 8 at once.
   ptree - Friday, 02/27/09 20:05:03 EST

Does anyone know (or at least have an educated guess) what type of steel those splitting wedges you get at the home depot are made of? I've been looking at them and figuring out how to hold them in a mill vice so I can machine them down into hardy tools.

On the rodent issues--has anyone ever kept ferrets as pets? I had a couple about 10 years ago and there is something either with the way they smell, or something in their feces that rodents absolutely hate--used to dump their crap down gopher holes with great success. (although I think the ferrets would probably be just stupid enough to try and see what the smoke and heat is by sticking their noses into a forge!)
   Chris F. - Friday, 02/27/09 21:20:54 EST

Tempering? I 'm having difficulty with a round punch I made out of 3/4" sucker rod. I shaped it to a point, filed it, and put it in vermiculite for a day. I reheated it, and attmepted to temper it to a straw color, which I thought I did. I used water to quench it for about 1" of the tip, scapped the tip and waited until I saw a straw color. I requenched the tip to water, again about 1", and waited to see the straw color again. Once this happened, I quenched the entire piece in water to stop the process. When I went to use it on some 1/2" square stock, the tip mushroomed a little and bent to one side a very little. It staid that way and seems to not have changed, but I assume I missed something in the process. Do I want a rounded tip? I had filed it straight across the tip so it was flat. Any help please, David
   David - Friday, 02/27/09 21:23:05 EST

David: Your description is a little hard to follow. How big if the final punch? Did you heat it red hot before putting in the vermiculite? Did you heat it red hot and quench it before attempting to "draw" it? You need to be a little more clear on what steps you took before we can help you. Give every detial. Was the 1/2 inch square stock hot?
   - grant - Friday, 02/27/09 21:47:23 EST

Nip: thanks for the link. Ooo, let's see mass X velocity........
   - grant - Friday, 02/27/09 21:48:46 EST

Grant: The punch was tappered to almost a sharp point, about 1/16 " wide at the tip. I did not quench it before drawing it out. I heated it up and shaped it to a point, several heats, and then filed it a little, and placed it in the vermiculite. The 1/2" square stock was heated up to a yellow heat when I punched the hole. The tip balled up after the first attempt at punching the stock. Do I want a balled or rounded tip on a punch? David
   David - Friday, 02/27/09 22:06:21 EST

David, David, David! You're still not being clear. By "drawing" I mean tempering. I've never had the need for a punch that was 1/16" on the end. You'll never be able to keep it cool enough to retain any hardness. I still think you're leaving out a lot of detail. "The devil is in the details"! Be more clear. Still sounds like you did not heat it before putting it in the vemiculite.
   - grant - Friday, 02/27/09 22:32:34 EST


With the stainless calmp plates and inconel 600 bolts torqued to about 70% of max, the expansion of the mokume metals and the stainless should net a great clamping force at heat, for sure. With a truly clean, well-fitted stack of metal, solid-state diffusion bonding should occur far below the melting point of the metals, perhaps by as much as a couple hundred degrees or more. As in many things, fit and finish make a huge difference (witness a pair of Johanssen blocks).

In my experience, hammering to set a bond on mokume gane is always unsuccessful. The soft metals just shear too easily for that to work, and hammering on a steel plate that is above red hot doesn't transfer force all that well, either. But pressure plates and patience almost always do the trick - I've held some clamped stacks at heat for several hours in an electric kiln with argon purge and gotten bonds at temps around 1200F. Steve Midgett has had success at even lower temps than that, which is no surprise since he's the real expert at mokume gane.

The calcs for the clamping pressure developed by thermal expansion could be done nicely by someone who knew computer math far better than I. The bond occurs at lower heat with higher pressure, but lower heat means less expansion. I'm sure there's bound to be a way to create a chart of temp v. pressure and all, but my math simply isn't up to it - I just try it and see what happens. :-)
   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/09 22:51:29 EST

Grant, Grant, Grant. Yes, the devil is in the detail, and you need to pay attention to the details you asked. I answered all the questions you asked to the best of my abilities, and you still didn't answer mine. You need to pay attention to the words you use, like "drawing". It can obviously be used in different ways. I heated it exactly as I describe before. If this is not clear enough for you, and you are unwilling to help me, don't answer it. David
   David - Friday, 02/27/09 22:54:34 EST


From what I read, you never hardened the punch. You annealed it by heating it and cooling slowly, then you heated it to a straw color and quenched. A straw color is only about 450 degrees and you need to get the steel up to a glowing red-orange heat and quench to get it hard. After it is hardened, then you polish the tip a bit and heat it back up until it shows a straw oxide color and quench to stop the heating. That is the "drawing" or "tempering" process.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/09 22:55:35 EST


Getting testy isn't going to get you any answers at all. I found your first post difficult to follow myself, and your second post did nothing to clear up MY confusion about whether or not you had ever actuallyh hardened the punch. I'm not surprised others couldn't follow what you were relating.
   vicopper - Friday, 02/27/09 22:58:11 EST

Dave - spring to blade: The spring will be a bit harder to grind at spring temper than if annealed, but with the ammount of stock You need to remove it will be a real long haul either way. How powerfull is Your belt grinder and how coarse a belt are You using? If less than 1 1/2 HP You might be better off with a 7" or 9" 15 amp angle grinder for roughing in.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/27/09 23:22:35 EST

vicopper - thanks for the info and your response was helpful. I found Grant, the only other responder, to be quiet impatient with my information. I am new to blacksmithing and found Grants responses not to be helpful, and with a poor attitude like " attention to detail, be more clear". Being new at this, I provide the details I thought would explain the situation. Instead of asking me the vague question of providing more details, maybe he should have asked me the appropriate questions, to get the details he needed. Your response was helpful and I will try to correct my procedures. For those of you that have been in the business for a long time, I and others look to you for help and assistance in our development. If I don't explain something well enough, it might be that I don't know enough to explain it better and need help. Otherwise I wouldn't be asking you for help! David
   David - Friday, 02/27/09 23:45:20 EST


I'm glad you got something useful form what I posted.

I feel it appropriate to note here that Grant is one of the most experienced blacksmiths posting on this site,and is a wealth of valuable information. He has been of tremendous help to me and countless others, but he cannot read minds. He asked for more details because your initial post was lacking in information. In order for any of us experienced hands to be able to give useful information, we need as much background information as possible to avoid confusion. While you may think what you said was informative, it really was confusing to those of us who have more experience and therefore have definite notions of what terms like tempering, drawing, annealing, normalizing, hardening, etc mean. When those terms are used incorrectly or out of context it is difficult to know exactly what is really happening - we can only guess. I took a shot at a guess and it sounds as though I was correct, but I was only guessing.

As a beginner to this craft, I suggest you take several hours (it will take that, believe me) and read the myriad of information available here on Anvilfire in all the various areas. Look at the Getting Started articles, the Blacksmithing in the 21st Century pages, and the iForge demos. By studying all these you will get a feel for more of the terminology common in the craft and also have LOTS more questions - new information always generates new questions.

Ask all the questions you want, but be very hesitant to chastise those who know way more than you do and might not appreciate a tyro telling them how to answer questions. Keep in mind that those who answer questions here do so out of a love for the craft and a sincere desire to help others. We don't get paid to take our time to do this.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/28/09 00:15:25 EST

vicopper: I appreciate your response and I'm sure Grant and you are very knowledgeable about many subjects. It is clear that I did not provide the necessary information for Grant that he needed to answer my questions. I have use this web site before and found it very helpful. I am sure Grant and you have helped many people and I do appreciate people that do this work, especially for free. Don't stop. I was taken back by the tone of voice used by Grant from the beginning of his response to me. David, David, David! I did not know what details or information he wanted. I didn't appreciate his tone and in that sense, he can learn something about communicating to others. With all his knowledge, he didn't help me at all. You were able to. I have and will continue to use this web site for information and education. I will continue to read, as you suggested, on getting started, terminology, etc. I don't believe I am a tyro who is quick to chastise. I am over 60 years old and I do know how to talk to people who are asking for assistance. David
   David - Saturday, 02/28/09 00:52:49 EST

David: in my first answer to you I was not vague, I asked you FOUR specific questions which you chose not to respond to. Why would "attention to detail and be more clear" offend you? You need to adjust your mind to the coldness of this medium. We've all taken offense where none was intended on bulletin boards such as this. Theres no body language or facial expression or even vocal cues.

This was my original response to your post:

David: Your description is a little hard to follow. How big is the final punch? Did you heat it red hot before putting in the vermiculite? Did you heat it red hot and quench it before attempting to "draw" it? You need to be a little more clear on what steps you took before we can help you. Give every detail. Was the 1/2 inch square stock hot?

I cant understand why that "took you aback"??

So, I hope you stick around, get to know folks and if you are ever offended by me again, rest assured youre probably misinterpreting me. And have a little more respect for your elder, sonny. (grin)
   - grant - Saturday, 02/28/09 02:30:04 EST

What kind of quality are the anvils with KL in raised letters on the side. Thanks for any help.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 02/28/09 04:29:18 EST


Check out Permalac....
   - djhammerd - Saturday, 02/28/09 05:35:59 EST

Robert Cutting: With the letters being raised it implies the anvil was cast. I am not familiar with those markings. May be a good quality Austrian anvil or a low quality Asian import.

Did you do a steel ball bounce test on it? If you hit the top plate hard with the edge of a hammer does it leave a ding? Does it look like a London-pattern or an Asian ASO?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/28/09 08:02:30 EST

David, to second (or third rather) what the guys have been saying... it was difficult for me to understand the question because according to all your posts about the punch you made, you actually never hardened it. So, in essence, you took a relatively hard strong steel and annealed it to dead soft. The tempering you did softened it even more. The steel needs to "snap" into place with a proper quench. Personally, I use water (i know, most guys detest this), but I always IMMEDIATELY temper after a water quench. I use oil for items of tool steel and for things I know I can't get around to tempering at that moment. I quench in a bucket of gasoline when I want to end it all.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 02/28/09 09:54:48 EST


Your last sentence made me literally laugh out loud!
   - Dave Leppo - Saturday, 02/28/09 11:02:00 EST

It's an e-bay anvil here in the UK and it looks to be cast with a very thick steel plate on the top. I have found the brand listed along side some of the other well known brands over here but haven't found any other info. It is a nice London pattern. I was hoping Mr.Postman had it in his book since the fellow that had the brand listed referenced Mr.Postman as an information source. I'll see if I can go look at it since it isn't very far.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 02/28/09 11:16:53 EST

For the Austrailian Blacksmith Association Tree Project to memorialize those lost during the recent fires they ask that the gum leaves be made out of stainless steel or copper. I have never forged stainless steel and imagine that many types would be difficult to work with. What would be the best type to use? Can you help me source 3/8 or 1/2 round or square stock?
   Tim Mann - Saturday, 02/28/09 12:56:24 EST

Nippulini, A good joke about the gasoline. Problem is, some newbe might take it seriously. Common sense for some is lost on others, as a retired fireman I know.
Thank you all for all the info I have gathered from this forum.
   Carver Jake - Saturday, 02/28/09 13:28:06 EST

Im asking a dumb question please forgive me, Rockwell hardness is not just for ferrous metals right? And what are some of the harder types of bronze, or is there little difference.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Saturday, 02/28/09 14:31:59 EST

Zenni Optical -
A month back someone, can't remember whom, said they'd bought glasses online form ZenniOptical.com
I did the same sortly there after and just got them. $75 for BOTH a pair of metal frames/wmagnetic sunglass clip-on identical to the ones that cost me $200 last year AND a pair of shop safety goggles. That includes shipping, anti glare, and extra stonng perscription surcharge on both. Took exactly 3 weeks to arrive, packed with 2 cleaning cloths. Whoever you were, thanks for the commercial! I'd definitely but there again.
   Mike/Marco - Saturday, 02/28/09 15:48:18 EST

Hi guys! Great site! Quick easy question. I'm researching for a fiction book I'm writing and I've had a hard time finding the answer. What ingredients get folded into the steel itself when making a sword? Alot of vids show different powders and such. I've heard Japanese swords have clay mixed with ash and small portions of rust added. Is this true? Also any real way of including anything biological to the steel without loosing durability? Ty!!!
   Maggiano - Saturday, 02/28/09 15:59:34 EST

Robert Cutting: What is the eBay number?

As Guru has noted in the past, when an anvil manufacturer tried to make it 'obvious' there was a top plate, chances are excellent it was simply a mold feature.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/28/09 16:07:37 EST

Jacob, there are many different Rockwell scales: A,B,C,etc. The differencs are in the type of penetrator (ball (1/16", 1/8") or diamond pyrimid (Knoop or Vicker) and the load in grams. Harder metals use the diamond penetrator (Rc), medium hard metals use the ball penetrator (Rb), and non-ferrous can use Rb or other scales. As for the hardest Bronze, it will be the one with the most cold work. Google for "Copper Development Association". They might have a website with some compositions.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/28/09 17:03:43 EST

Thanks Ken,
I found a member on British Blades that is familiar with them.He has used several and confirms that they are cast with a plate. He says they are pretty good quality.If you still want to check it out it is item number 270351014307
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 02/28/09 17:08:05 EST

Swanil, which grade of cast iron and which grade of carbon steel? There are hundreds of each. Which ASTM and which BS standards do you want to compare? There are thousands of each.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 02/28/09 17:14:04 EST

Robert Cutting: I strongly suspect that anvil does not have a separate steel plate on top of it. Rather looks like the typical cast iron or perhaps cast ductile steel, heat treated, anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 02/28/09 17:59:03 EST


Glad you had the same good luck with Zenni Optical that I did. I am always loathe to recommend doctors, dentists or ppticians, as I just know that as soon as I do that will be the time they screw up. Zenni was just such a terrific value compared to the hosing I get locally that I had to pass it along. I surely do like mine - four pairs for less than half the price of one locally!
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/28/09 22:37:17 EST


All that hype about stuff getting "folded into" a sword is nonsense. Swords are made from one piece of steel or several (in thecase of pattern welded, aka "damascus" blades), but no dirt, dust, bugs, blood or bone is incorporated into the steel. Alos tall organic matter is reduced to carbon at temperatures above 1000F and steel is forged at about twice that heat. Ergo, no organics will be present. Science trumps superstition once again, sorry.

Various things are used as flux to aid in the removal or prevention of scale during to forge welding process. These can be borax, boric acid, fluorides, feldspar, sand, glass, mud dauber nests, lime, ash, iron oxides and other esoterica. After the forge welding, none of them remain, with the exception of metallic elements. Some of the carbon may be picked up by the steel, or the steel may lose carbon to the process - the results can vary widely, depending on a number of variables.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/28/09 22:44:43 EST

Ken S,

I agree that anvil looks like a cast item with a faux plate. Could be cast steel or cast iron, no way to tell from just a small picture.

I will note that you asked if hitting it hard with the edge of a hammer would ding the face. If you hit a Peter Wright hard with the edge of a hammer it will ding the face. Larger anvil in particular, tend to be softer than small ones and would certainly ding if hit hard with a hammer edge. Maybe not a Kohlswa - those things are so hard they chip just looking at them hard. (grin)

With cast iron, a *gentle* hit with a hammer corner will probably ding it.

I'm not picking nits here, I just didn't want anyone running around whacking the snot out of anvil faces with hammer edges, thinking that a good one wouldn't ding.
   vicopper - Saturday, 02/28/09 22:52:17 EST

Feature resembling a plate on 1 piece cast anvils: This is proper design on a cast anvil if the edges are to be milled after casting. On an ASO cast with soft iron, however, there is little point to the entire anvil, let alone bothering to finish the edges.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/28/09 23:43:01 EST

Back from 2 days on the road - Dan Boone's Pasture Party.

David's Sucker Rod: First response is, why dose everyone think:

1) Sucker rod is tool steel (it is NOT),
2) Sucker rod is sufficiently hardenable for X purpose.
3) All sucker rod is the same.

It is junk yard steel. It will vary according to age, application, manufacturer. . . See our FAQ on Junkyard steel. Until you have made a determination of what it is it is just more old rusted iron, not blade steel, not spring steel, not tool steel. . just old iron.

If you can't figure it out well enough then buy new steel of known pedigree.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 00:50:31 EST

Faux Plate Anvil: Dave is correct and I have detail drawings of English anvils requiring the top 2" or so of the side to be machine finished. This would require a machining allowance (never shown on drawings) to make it flush to the side of the anvil. This one looks like is MAY have been machined to near flush but is too rusty and dirty to tell.

To the best of my knowledge no one made a plated cast anvil in England and no one makes them in modern times. Modern faux plate anvils have a very distinct step or the side that is occasionally machined to heighten the effect but they are still un-plated and usually ASO's. A cast steel anvil with a distinct side step is an unfinished anvil (some finishing required).

So, a step looking like a faux plate is either phoney sales hype (no matter what quality anvil) OR an unfinished anvil (no matter what the type). In either case it is the result of slopiness OR ignorance. But if a machining allowance was given it would probably not be machined 100% flush in order to prevent a ragged line OR undercut.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 00:52:29 EST

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