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 18 - 26, 2010 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Is 440 stainless okay for a blade? my aluminum blade turned out ok, gave it to my friend...he tried to sharpen it so now its nice finish around the edge has aluminum flakes and damage to the edge, so i was wondering how a full tang 440 stainless sword would do thanks guys =) i really appreciate it
   Jeff - Thursday, 02/18/10 00:39:29 EST

i know stainless steel is weak when it comes to longer length blades likes swords but i still want to give it a shot...im scared to work with carbon steel because if im honest with myself im just a mediocre smith, so i'll work up to it gradually =)thanks everyone!
   Jeff - Thursday, 02/18/10 01:01:30 EST

Jeff - Carbon steel is darn cheap. Use leaf spring if you want material for free or nearly so. I just bought 6 feet of 1/4" x 1 1/4" 5160 for something like $22 from McMaster Carr. You should at least give yourself a chance to produce a working sword rather than just a shiny sword-like object.
   - Stormcrow - Thursday, 02/18/10 01:11:28 EST

Why in the nine circles of Hell would the EU ban borax sales?

Are they also behind the sudden lack of 30 minute or longer set time epoxy from stores here in the US? ;-) *shakes fist in disgust*
   - Stormcrow - Thursday, 02/18/10 01:13:31 EST

omg its that cheap
i could hug you Stormcrow um whats the website to order from McMaster Carr? i'll give it a hell of a shot at least
practice doesnt make perfect...it makes habbit "grand master dan"
   Jeff - Thursday, 02/18/10 01:14:49 EST

Google is your frined. :-)

   - Stormcrow - Thursday, 02/18/10 02:07:51 EST

yeah i already found it lol, also i've seen a chrome sword and was wondering about the strength of chrome in a practice sword? whats your thoughts?
   Jeff - Thursday, 02/18/10 02:12:59 EST

Stormcrow, apparently it seems to be because if you are stupid enough to ingest 1/2 kg of borax it will poison you!! Follow this link to see more: http://www.selfsufficientish.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=13882. I am rapidly getting a tiny bit ticked off (to put it very mildly!)with the nanny state that we live in nowadays. Haven't the politicians in their ivory towers ever heard of "natural selection" or "The Darwin Awards"?!
   Andi - Thursday, 02/18/10 06:18:49 EST

I have been blacksmithing for about a Year. I received a Guillotine tool this afternoon. I have some scrap 3/4" X 6" X 3' carbon steel plate that has a vary hard 1/2" X 1/2" steel strip molded into length of one edge that I tried to cut with a chop saw. It was a scrapped ware plat that came off a modern road grinder. I was able to cut down to the hardened edge then I about wore out the abrasive disk trying to get through the hardened edge to make a fuller for the Guillotine. Do you know if there is a chop saw cutting disk made that will cut through the hardened 1/2" of the plate or would I have to torch it? I also have a Keller power hacksaw but I don't believe the Blade will cut it ether (haven't tried it). I also use a coal forge but don't want to go through the re-tempering or even if it would be possible. Any suggestions? Thanks much. tom
   Tom - Thursday, 02/18/10 08:58:26 EST

Protecting us from ourselves: The problem IS that most politicians are 10th generation Darwin award winning families. They only managed to survive due to dumb luck (the gotta-way-with-it factor) and by avoiding doing anything real their entire lives. Modern medicine is also insuring that more survive to reproduce (and even assure they can reproduce).

Chrome is very hard and brittle. Flex what its on and it often cracks and flakes off. Ding the item and the flaking pealing starts sooner.

Chop Saws: The rule for all grinding wheels is the harder the material to cut the softer the wheel. This is so that the wheel sheds the burnt worn abrasive and metal melted to it. Clean abrasives cut, glazed ones just get hotter and glaze more. SO. . to cut hardened material you need a wheel designed for it. Now. . that same wheel will cut soft material OK but will wear rapidly.

Chop saws have a limited cross section they will cut due to heat build up. To cut large sections you need to flood them with a water based coolant. Note that some of these machines are NOT water resistant/proof or electrically safe for such operation. Check with the manufacturer.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/18/10 10:06:10 EST

I got my free sample of pure iron about a year or so ago. Unfortunately it got lost amongst the pile of steel bars of my stock. I shoulda marked it first!
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 02/18/10 11:03:21 EST

The edges of grade blades are made from Abrasion Resistant materials, thus cutting it by abrasive methods is a pain.

Could you try torching it?

Stainless steel is *HARDER* to work than plain high carbon steels You want to work with stuff that's harder to work with to work your way up to working the easier stuff? Sounds backwards to me.

Note that 440 stainless comes in a lot of different grades, (A,B,C...) and some are better for blades than others. Heat treating knife grade stainless is a real pain and should be farmed out to a pro to get decent results.

5160: find out if there is a local place that makes replacement springs for cars and trucks and buy it locally if it's cheaper---getting the straight stock of course, (and some scrap pieces to practive heat treating with too!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/18/10 11:29:19 EST

i was on google looking for a smithing shop in my area when i saw your "Generation X Sword Making" article. you keep apologizing for being to harsh on us and and my generation. but all i have to say about that is "guru stop apologizing! there is nothing to be sorry for. you could have been a little harsher even." yes, i fit in the catagory of -30 D&D playing males. but if any one has more then the two brain cells. you would know that the use of a dangerous tool of any type. be it sword, saw, skidder or any thing else of such danger levels needs experience and cation. and if you think it is "cool" to play around with such things you diserve what ever happens to you.

you may want to direct people to borders as well, because i see you direct people to centaurs forge. borders has books on smithing and they were very helpful. especially when reading is probbly my weakest skill. for myself to understand what they were trying to express that must mean they were fairly easy reads.

and finally i was a little insulted as a martial artist when you said and i quote. "A sword is a weapon. Like a Bowie knife or gun they are a weapon designed for one person to kill another." i must argue that a sword is a tool, as much as any anvil, hammer, or even the common day pencil. its purpose is completely and unavodably clear, don't get me wrong. but i can say you can kill any one with any one of the three items i listed so are they weapons?

oh yeah matt, hand sanding it with sandpaper will take longer but it can make the marks on it stick out like a soar thumb. my grandfather used a wirebrushed on an anceint stove we found and well he damn near ground the markings off. while i used some spare 120 grid and it came out perfectly legiable.

i am sorry i step on any toes but i had to reply on impulse.
Kuusho Rei, beginner jewelry/blacksmith of the school of hard knocks and apprentice treefarmer.

PS. i am kind of appaulled that people with not talent or knowlege of metallurgy ask to be taught by a master. i am sorry that people ask that of you on a regular basis.
   Kuusho Rei - Thursday, 02/18/10 14:49:35 EST

Kuusho; you know if you mention *where* you are at we might be able to suggest something local to your area...

I think the part about the sword being a weapon is that it has no other purpose. An anvil is not designed to be a weapon; it is designed to be forged on. A Hammer is not designed to be a weapon it is used to hammer things. A sword's primary duty was to kill and to kill people at that.

Now while some of us have done such crazy things as using a tulwar to hew overgrowing vines to a fence line; that's really considered abuse of the sword. If it's a tool what is that tool designed for?

BTW if you are in OH, NM or AZ let me know and I can suggest a place to get started.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 02/18/10 15:52:00 EST

People who think politicians are dumb evidently havent met many in the flesh.
I happen to have a mother who was a state senator, and she is not Darwin Award winning material- after all, what would that make me?
Through her, I have met a lot of actual politicians in the flesh- and they are some of the smartest, hardworking people I know. Of course, there ARE dumb ones, but percentage wise, no more than there are dumb blacksmiths...

Anyway, its an urban legend that Borax is illegal in the UK.
It is illegal in the EU to use it in cosmetics. But even there, you can buy straight borax, no problem.

It is sold under the name Sodium Tetraborate, and sometimes under the highly confusing name of "borax".
Try www.greenshop.co.uk where its about 3 pounds for a half kilo.
or on UK ebay.
or, supposedly, a UK store called "Boots" carries it.
   - Ries - Thursday, 02/18/10 17:42:34 EST

Who claimed blacksmiths were smart? If we were smart we'd be politicians. I agree with the guru. Just look at the idiot in the White House.
   wallace - Thursday, 02/18/10 18:54:36 EST

wallace, i have never met a stupid blacksmith. only smart ones and REALLY smart ones (other then me of course!) the smartest guy i know is a smith. he is not book smart but he can fix ANYTHING made out of metal or wood. we are craftsmen and the dumb blacksmiths will take themselves out of the gene pool pretty quick, or they just don't last.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 02/18/10 18:58:01 EST

I certainly hope that Ries is right and banning borax in the UK is an urban legend. (He usually seems to be right, so I guess the odds are pretty good.)

The commercial brazing fluxes I've looked at are a mixture of borax and boric acid, which is what many folks use for forge welding flux. So if there *is* a ban on selling borax as a household product, brazing flux might be an option (assuming they haven't gotten at that too).
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/18/10 20:13:56 EST

Guys I am in need of some real help about a anvil name
   - Charlie Edmondson - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:42:33 EST

Thanks for any help
   - Charlie Edmondson - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:43:07 EST

Guys I am in Guyneed of some real help about a anvil name
   - Charlie Edmondson - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:43:48 EST

Guys I am in Guyneed of some real help about a anvil name
   Charlie Edmondson - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:46:02 EST

its a wbb and company solid wrought anvil
   Charlie Edmondson - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:46:52 EST

Thinking a little more, if there were cumulative toxicity with borax, banning it as a laundry additive might not be absurd. Of course, that doesn't mean that there *are* such issues, that enough residue would be left on clothing to make a difference, or that it *has* been banned.

I tend to agree with bigfoot about the intelligence of blacksmiths. My theory is that blacksmiths are mostly self-taught, and it takes intelligence and initiative to teach yourself a craft.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:49:04 EST

I have a relativly little experience in the fundamentals of blacksmithing, most of my hours being spent on studying the craft. But i have spent a fair few hours over the harrow disk forge, and needing a summer job at 16yrs. I began to wonder, what type of items are marketable in central texas. I have collected quit a few tools, benchtop belt sanders, grinders, metal cuting bandsaw, etc. Any ideas? My level of experience is only moderate so I have decent experience with drawing out and upsetting and so on... Not much practice with sheet metal, but a little. Any ideas? I thought like flint and steel kits on the internet or something. anyway I had another question, when I cut and drift a hole in an axehead it never comes out right, the problem may be my homemade chisel( not saying it isnt me, very well could be). Anyway, the hole nver looks pretty and sometimes its crooked. Maybe need to cut a longer hole so it isnt as much of a stretch for the drift? How do I correct an off center hole? The drift never wants to stay in, so trying to straighten with the drift in just screws up the hole, and then fixing the hole unfixes the straightening. I think there is something obvious I just keep failing to notice as a solution to this.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Thursday, 02/18/10 21:55:26 EST

Books and More Books: While there are many big books stores that carry many books we have ONE that is a key advertiser that carried almost or maybe ALL the books currently in print about blacksmithing and bladesmithing so we send folks THERE. Then our two general blacksmith supply advertisers, Centaur Forge and BlacksmithsDepot ALSO carry quite a few rare hard to get books. All three of these sources carry MANY books that the big chains do not inventory and will need to special order for you. Some books, the chains cannot get for less than list price thus you are going to pay list PLUS 40% and shipping. . .

For books NOT in print I recommend Bookfinder.com. Through them I have bought rare books from all over the world and in several languages.

Last, WE sell Anvils in America, Mousehole Forge and are the exclusive sellers of the Dave Manzer Little Giant Video tapes and The Reveloutionary Blacksmith.

Buying from us and our advertisers keeps us on-line.
   - guru - Friday, 02/19/10 01:03:59 EST

Crooked Holes and Idears. . .

Jacob, punching and or slitting deep holes is a skill that takes practice, a good eye and patience. As you work you have to observe things going astray early so they can be corrected. A few blows too many and a piece can be irredeemable. If you study pros at work almost every blow after the first is a corrective blow. Nobody is perfect so you just have to be good at covering mistakes early. Punch lube is an absolute necessity.

What to make. . . Well, That is the $64 or $64,000 question. . . It is difficult to be the MAKER and the SELLER both. So look for shops that sell gifts, crafts, high end decorator items or landscaping items. Tell them what you do and ask them what they need. A FEW might know. Most will not but it is a start. Then suggest some things that might sell OR bring samples.

Hooks are popular in decorator and gardening stores. Plant hangers (shepards hooks) sell well at some gardening places but the supply is very competitive. A high end item would be an arched trellis. Some green houses hang plants off LONG hooks and occasionally like to spice things up with decorative ones.

Trivits, plain and fancy (hearts are popular) sell well in decorator shops as do nice fireplace sets, log holders, plant stands. . . . up through furniture.

Fancy gift shops might carry all the above but also things sets of napkin rings, kitchen tools (toasting fork or grilling fork, large strainer spoons, dippers. . .). Artistic wall hangings (forged or welded) are occasional sellers.

Then there are tools for other craftsfolk. I've made lots of froes (large and small), split scraping knives, block knives and such that are hard to find.

Whatever you make, it needs to be made well and finished well. Store owners do not want rust finishes or sticky finishes. They want professional finishes that look good and need no maintenance. Generally if they like it the customers will as well.
   - guru - Friday, 02/19/10 01:27:51 EST

A word on store sales: When a buyer wants to know the price of something they often mean the RETAIL SALES price and will expect you to take 40 to 50% less. So have prices with that in mind OR be sure to be clear if you give a wholesale price. To avoid confusion you are best to state out front the LIST or retail price and then the wholesale price.

Many places will take your work on consignment with a 30% markup. This is a good deal for the store owner and usually a bad deal for you. Consignment items often get lost or misplaced, the store can claim they were stolen when what really happened is they failed to record the sale as consignment. Since the store has nothing invested they will not push your products as much as theirs. . . So if you have things on consignment be sure to have a contract and signed inventory sheet. Also be sure to check the inventory about every two weeks to a month. Have a plan to rotate inventory out that does not sell.

Also note that MORE sells better than less. If you have a whole collection of items they will attract attention while one lowly piece may sit alone and unlooked at forever. . .

There are good consignment crafts shops and sloppy consignment shops. While they do not intend to steal from you they will by sloth. Keep an eye on your inventory. It is YOUR inventory.

The best deal is when a shop owner is will to buy your work outright. As mentioned, be clear about prices. The seller has to make money as well ads you. While 50% profit (or 100% markup) sounds like a lot, it is what a business must charge in most cases to get a return on their investment plus overhead, plus cost of handling the money (CC companies charge over 3% before the merchant sees their money and you the bill and start paying interest. . .).
   - guru - Friday, 02/19/10 01:44:09 EST

as for were i live, in colebrook, New Hampshire. "a town in the middle of every thing. your a 3-5 hour drive from any city."(that was our town repersenitive, what a great guy.)

well tulwars i do not recall being the right tool for that job. try a long handle shearing knife. we use a 1'8" blade tip to handle, with a verying tang, the blade is about 1/24"-1/32" thick by the the time we are gone sanding and smoothing it several hundred times over. i honestly lost count how many times i sanded and smoothed my blade. actaully i forgot my exact spects i used. i will send some pictures and my messurements. that is the proper tool for light triming of trees and shrubbery.

what is the condesending word you keep using. "weapon" a sword is not a weapon until it is used to kill or mame some one. anything one this earth can be a "weapon". if i killed my brother with a toaster. then the elidged toaster is a "weapon". only until i used the toaster to beat and kill my brother is it a "weapon". not all toasters are weapons because i killed some one with it.(have not killed or intent to kill my brother.) a sword is not a "weapon" until it is used as such just like anything else. for example my sword is not a "weapon" but a tool i use for exercise and meditation. it is an extremely dangerous tool but a tool none the less. my bokken are "weapons" before my sword or my knife ever will be. i use my bokken to beat down others on a monthly basis. i have been in plenty of scremiches but i would never use a blade against another person other then myself. and then it would have to be something pretty dramatic for me to resort to something like that. he is a quote for you. "a sword is a tool. the art of swordsmanship is using that tool to survive. surviving is to live while others die." i have and still do not deny the fact that a sword is extremely dangerous, while the definition of surviving is much different now then back then. but the point is that it is a tool no matter the purpose now then here or there until you use it for destructive means. either survival, stupidity, or any thing else.

if some idiot wants to make a sword to swing around and what ever. they should go to the local dojo, swordsmen club, or fencing studio to learn how to responcibly care, handle, and use if need be. they need to earn the right to handle a sword and the same goes for making one.

oh i almost forgot to answer your tulwar question fully. damn i almost lost a debate to not fully answering your counter questions. well the tulwars were used for many forms of punishment meanly. and soldiers were given them to show police like athorety in the anceint middle east. and ....... sorry brain cramp i forget the babyloin prince's name but the tulbar was his main weapon used on the epic journey he took.(damn snake took his flower of inmortality)
   Kuusho Rei - Friday, 02/19/10 02:54:52 EST

We are looking for a set of plans to build a double forge (2 firepots) with overhead bellows that would be typical of the fur trade era. Would you happen to have any idea where I could find plans for such a forge?
   Louis - Friday, 02/19/10 08:49:22 EST

A hatchet (hunting axe) exercise is in one of my favorite old books, "Elementary Forge Practice" by Robert H. Harcourt, 3rd edition 1938. He is using high carbon steel, 7/8" x 2" and punching into the 7/8" edge. He is using an undersized, hafted eye punch, wider on the poll side and narrowing, radiused either end. A quote from page 135 follows.
"Bring to a yellow heat, and punch with an eye-punch similar to the one shown in Fig. A. The center of the punch being held directly over the center-punch mark and the narrow edge toward the blade end of the axe. The punch should be removed from the hole after each blow in order to see if the hole is being punched straight. This allows the punch to cool, which prevents it from bending. Fine coal, placed in the hole, will prevent the punch from sticking. When the hole has been punched nearly thru from one side, the punch should be removed and cooled. Punching is then finished from the other side.
...Drive a tool-steel drift-pin into the hole. The bulging sides of the forging should then be hammered down to about the size of the bar with a sledge, and smoothed with a flatter. Always remove the drift-pin before reheating the piece."
Harcourt uses two drift-pins, one undersized for the above flatting step. When the blade is drawn out, the eye will stretch. Therefore, there will be a final drifting with the larger finishing drift.

I have done this exercise. There will be some punch suck-in and some compression of stock width. When flatting, I regained the width.

It may seem a pain, all these steps and making a punch and two drifts. However, by doing so, taking the necessary heats, and working carefully, that's what gets the job done. It requires time and PATIENCE.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/19/10 09:35:20 EST

If you're in the boonies, you might build a forge out of wood with a hole for ash dump either end and filled with clay/earth for a hearth. You must also do some research, because I don't think they had bottom-blast firepots in the 1830's. You would probably be dealing with a bellows with a bifurcated tube becoming two tapered tuyere-noses and entering the side of the forge through side walls of adobe or stone.

Aldren Watson has plans for a bellows in his blacksmithing book.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/19/10 09:46:20 EST

Kuusho, I think what you are missing out on is the DESIGN and PURPOSE of the piece. Swords of the day were carried by people the same way guns are today. And you can't tell me that a gun isn't a weapon. I have machetes for my property and landscaping. I have trimmed hedges, cleared vines, taken down small saplings, dug holes in the earth. By definition, I'd say the machete (which in Spanish is "machete") is a multi-purpose tool. Now, Google "Machete and Sierra Leone".... appalled by the use of the machete as a weapon? That wasn't part of the plan. Just as an anvil isn't designed to be dropped on ones head. A sword (other than ceremonial or stage prop) has only one use in mind, and that is to defend oneself by slashing away at ones enemy (or to take the head from someone not showing respect [Nippon]). And if anyone was caught using a hand forged sword to open a can of peanuts they belong in a padded room.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/19/10 10:05:43 EST

Louis, Duh correction. One bellows operating two forges is not going to work. You need varying heats, so you'd need two sets of bellows. An early overhead bellows had a stitched leather hose leading to the tuyere pipe/nose, shown in Hummel's book, "With Hammer in Hand."
   Frank Turley - Friday, 02/19/10 10:06:38 EST

Jock, about pricing and selling garden hooks. Do you know how hard it is for me to convince people to spend twice as much for MY hand made (in the USA) work when compared to the mass production irons from China sold at Wal-Mart for $5?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/19/10 10:07:06 EST

Kuusho; My background: I got my first sword around 1970. Started forging in 1981. I apprenticed to a swordmaker---(6 days a week in the shop, no pay, 2 meals a day with the family), in 1983.

Perhaps you should consider the fact that people do disagree on definitions at times.

Would you consider an item that has no edge to be a sword? In my usage the sword is *designed* as a Weapon! That makes it a different class than items not designed as weapons; but that could be used as weapons. A toaster is not designed to be used as a weapon---though it can be used as one. Would you call a toaster a sword?

Guns today are carried as a weapon, if you are not carrying it as a weapon you should not be carrying it! (save for the ones designed and used for hunting---though there is some crossover in that area I admit.)

I know very well that in some places and times a sword was a fashion accessory---but still was a deadly one as well, even small swords were used for dueling!

(BTW if you have an interest in executioner's swords; may I commend the Medieval Criminal Justice Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany to your consideration and perhaps their publication "Justice Through the Ages" for more information on executioners.)

   Thomas P - Friday, 02/19/10 12:33:51 EST

jacob i am not the best fellow on here but if you drill out a guide hole for you to slit the eye you can make it way faster and far closer to perfect. it works great IMO. but in the end practice makes perfect. pre heating the drift to about a thosand degrees will help you take a slightly longer heat (at least that is what i do). plus the bit has to be upset alot or else it is going to be long and narrow.
   bigfoot - Friday, 02/19/10 13:52:58 EST

Tools and Weapons: A pocket knife is a tool, a skinning knife is a tool, a butchers knife or kitchen knife is a tool. A sword, most "Bowie" knives (short swords), daggers and switch blades are weapons. They are designed for that one purpose, to kill. They are only a tool IF your occupation is killing. You can play with them like a toy, you can practice fighting with them but that does not change their design purpose, to kill another human, which makes them a "weapon".

Tool use can be perverted. I can kill you with a can opener but that does not class it as a "weapon" other than for the moment. I can use a Sikes fighting dagger as a can opener but that does not make it tool. It was designed with one end purpose, stealthful killing. I can hit you over the head with a large cast iron Stanley plane (about 5 pounds) and likely kill you but that does not make it a made for purpose "weapon".

Almost any object can be used as a weapon but those things designed and made to BE weapons are always weapons unless they are disabled and obviously so. While the saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" meant the word is a more powerful than weapons the rather sensible author did not bandy about with symantics and let the absurd argument that with the right effort a writing pen could be used for murder. . . .

In this forum you will lose this debate. In real debates your spelling would have already lost it.

Back to blacksmithing.
   - guru - Friday, 02/19/10 14:18:42 EST

Double Forge:

First, as noted above, one forge, one bellows. UNLESS it was a huge powered bellows and the air flow was controlled by valves. . But this was not your frame of reference.

A "double forge" would simply be TWO forges. However, I HAVE seen two forges that fed into one chimney. This was a brick affair with the two individual chimneys making graceful curves and flowing into one. Your chimneys would probably be mud and wattle so they would be very simple.

"Firepots" as such would not have been used in the late 1700's and early 1800's. A fire box was simply a bowl shape if clay and if brick a rectangular shape or flat surface. In both cases they were side blown (no ash dumps).

A French style double forge of the time would be a large box (mud and wattle, local masonry. plaster) with paired bellows at opposite ends. The fuel being charcoal there may have been no chimney, just a large hole in the roof OR if built against a wall a "hood" the size of the forge. See Diderot's for many examples. However, this style is more likely for a well established town or place of business.

   - guru - Friday, 02/19/10 16:18:58 EST

To paraphrase, I may not be able to define what a weapon is, but I know one when I see it.
A sword is a weapon. Even ceremonial swords like the Marines wear are weapons. Ceremonial yes, Why? Cause they were once ISSUED as official weapons.

Ptree who carried WEAPONS in the service of the US, and who knows a weapon when he sees one.
   ptree - Friday, 02/19/10 18:39:37 EST

Kuusho Rei, Methinks thou dost protest too much. Your argument does not hold water. Try walking into a public area or a school holding a sword and then test your opinion against that of the police and the magistrates. Conversely I could walk through the same area with a wide variety tools without challenge. Your argument is as flawed as your grammar and your spelling.
   - Chris E - Friday, 02/19/10 19:25:08 EST

Yes, before anyone corrects me. That is a quote of a misquote. Apologies to the bard.
   - Chris E - Friday, 02/19/10 19:29:31 EST

Thomas, I wouldn't call your particular use of the tulwar "crazy" especily considering your choise of leather attire when at the forge...
I have a good friend that regularly uses his claymore to trim the grape vine hedge around his yard to "keep in practice" he claims. For just what, I'm not quite sure.

When I was in the Infantry I carried a standard issue machettae on my ruck sack, and a Gerber MkII on my web gear. Because I also carried the M203 I left my M7 bayonett at home to prevent any confusion that might cause the unitended and untimely detonation of a 40mm round leaving the tube...
I also carried an entrenching tool. Now this made for some interesting conversations, with my similarly equiped fellow soldiers, during a period of downtime.
With ANY ONE of these three pieces of equipment I could, dig a fox hole, hack brush and trees or, kill my enemy.
Any of those tools could do any of those jobs but, only one was idealy suited to do so.
The entrenching tool is good for digging, OK for hacking and chopping, and poor for killing.
The machettea is great for hacking at the bush, OK for killing (if you have the somache for carrnage) and poor for digging but, better than the Gerber.
The Gerber is the obvious choice for killing IF your trained to use it. I never had to use mine for more than dispatching a fox kit that had become hopelessly entangeld in a camo net and was strageling and, I got in trouble for that one...
While it is visualy intimidating, the Gerber MkII is not a knife made for hacking through the bush.
If you have enough time to dig a fox hole with a hand knife, I fail to see the need for the entrenchment in the first place...
   - merl - Saturday, 02/20/10 01:13:19 EST

...the kit was STRANGELING...
(proof first, then post...)
   - merl - Saturday, 02/20/10 01:26:45 EST

A legitimate sense in which I can see a sword as a "tool": I practice tai chi sword forms, in which the sword becomes a tool to concentrate and move chi through, and a focal point of the meditative movement. A tool used to achieve or promote harmony, perhaps. Bearing in mind the previous comment about mutation of purpose making everyday objects into weapons occasionally, I believe it is possible for definitions to shift in both directions, perhaps even semi permanently in certain places or times. Look at how much of our culture goes back to events, traditions, superstitions of ages past, and how as a rule most people are little aware of it. Actually, there is a debate I believe still running about whether or not art is intrinsically "useful," I for one believe that it certainly can be- and look at the sheer numbers of swords and knives that are increasingly being created, billed, and sold as "art." If art serves a function, may not a piece of art be seen as a tool? Another role the sword can serve in is that of a symbol or archetype- the sword not only as a sign of war or violence, but as an icon of nobility and justice. Sure, maybe not as concrete and objective as we normally think of "tools," but real and powerful nonetheless.
Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I was a little interested by some of the things said... although I am no fan of atroshus speling.
   - vorpal - Saturday, 02/20/10 05:30:27 EST

Merl, when I carried the 203, I carried a special bayonet, that the unit armorer had retained. Broken lug grip, so it would not mount to the lug.
At that time non-issue knives like a big gerber were verboten in Germany in the ARMY.
Seems that the ARMY, and the Germans saw tools with long sharp blades as weapons.
   ptree - Saturday, 02/20/10 07:14:42 EST

While we're at it with symbolism, anyone ever notice the bundle of canes portrayed in the senate floor? I'd guess canes aren't weapons either, today they would be called "behavior modification devices".

I think we may have scared Kuusho away. Otherwise, it's good to note that many that post here have background in martial arts and/or military training.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 02/20/10 07:46:44 EST

My point about that last part is that we ALL are VERY aware that we can use just about anything to kill. For me, I'd like to utilize the quick action of a paper cut to a vital area.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 02/20/10 07:47:55 EST

Under many weapons-related statutes, I think just about anything can be considered a weapon if it's used as one or carried under circumstances indicating it's intended to be used as one. That doesn't add much to the philosophical debate, though.

If the pen is mightier than the sword, does that make it a weapon? (evil grin).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 02/20/10 09:21:26 EST

Art an tools: Part of the definition of between us humans and the "lower" animals was tool making and using. But then researchers discovered that birds use tools and many apes MAKE and use tools. While primitive, they DO it, thus the definition broke down. But one things the things none of lower species does is create ART. As far back as can be determined humankind has engaged in art. We have made sculpture, decorated our homes or special places and applied the decorative arts to making clothing. Primitive cultures that only used hides sewed them and decorated them often with fine stitch work but also with feathers, beads and coloring.

So it is ART that raises us above the lower animals.

Remember, if you are a "decorative" blacksmith that decoration is ART and you need to develop those artistic skills. Otherwise you are no better than a Gorilla with a forge. . .

Sure, many weapons are made to be high art, to be displayed in a place of importance and admired. But you can still take that piece of art off its stand and use it for its original purpose, to KILL. It has happened to our friend Jim Hrisolous. An art piece used to kill. Thus the warning in our sword making article.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/20/10 14:01:20 EST

for sure, I'd imagine Jim H. was very upset by that, I know I would be- I heard that Tom Maringer, who was well known in the custom cutlery world 15-20 years ago, quit making knives and swords for that same reason.

Nice comment about art setting us apart from animals, although I will point out that some gorillas and even elephants in captivity love to paint...

Oh, check this CL listing out, Seattle area, good smithin' stuff for sale, Little Giants, anvils, forges, etc.
   - vorpal - Saturday, 02/20/10 14:21:52 EST

sorry, here's the link:http://seattle.craigslist.org/skc/tls/1609166721.html
   - vorpal - Saturday, 02/20/10 14:25:45 EST

Jim was a little upset about that, and Tom did stop for a while. Tom's back at it now, but is no longer making the bead-blasted gray "tactical" style that caused the problem.

As a bladesmith, I do have to keep things like that in mind. If you seem to be either nuts or a blithering idiot I won't sell you a blade. If you seem normal and responsible, it's no longer my problem, any more than it's the fault of the Cessna corporation that that guy in Texas crashed his plane into a building full of people. I'd actually be more angry than upset. You do your best to keep potentially dangerous objects away from unstable people.

Oh, and I've been known to clear blackberry brambles with a longsword just to make sure I got the heat-treatment and edge geometry right. (grin!)
   Alan-L - Saturday, 02/20/10 14:59:49 EST


You posted the most intelligent commen sense statement I have ever read concerning Tools and Weapons. I have spent many exhausting times trying to articulate this same point.

Ever watch a police program on tv and see officers waking up a sleeping homeless person in a park? They ask this person if they are on drugs or have any drugs, needles or weapons. Then they proceed to search and find nothing but a small vintage pocket knife that is clearly used as a tool to open a can of soup etc. Next thing you know they are screaming weapon and arresting the person. Really are people this stupid? I wonder do these people really lack any common sense? I always carried a pocket knife to school and see no problem with a young person today having a handy important tool at all times. The laws concerning knives in each state are totally redunculous.
   - Cutler - Saturday, 02/20/10 15:24:11 EST

This might go to "art" too. I think one thing that sets us apart is the ability to envision something that we've never seen before. And maybe to communicate concepts and ideas.

Comment on "switch blades": I carry a switch-blade, not as a weapon, but as a tool. Nothing is so handy as being able to pull my knife out and open it with the press of a button while my other hand is holding something (like a ladder or other object my life is depending on).
   - grant Sarver - Saturday, 02/20/10 15:35:13 EST

It was Hollywood and movies like "Blackboard Jungle" and "From Here TO Enternity" that gave switchblades a bad rap..As a weapon,Heck I'd much rather have a Buck 110...
These laws have really gotten rediculus..England went so far as to ban Boy Scouts from carring knives...Personally I can't imagine leaving the house without a knife in my pocket.
   - arthur - Saturday, 02/20/10 17:07:27 EST

for a weapon, a tomahawk can't be beat IMO. it will do a fair amount of damage and is still useful as a tool. but on the topic i don't see why knives are so scary. i carry a fixed blad all the time when i am working with no problems. the police thought it was cool that i could make one out of old leaf springs.
   bigfoot - Saturday, 02/20/10 20:52:44 EST

Alan L,
Hey, did you ever see the SNL skits with John Belushi in the Samuri deli? I'll have the Pastrami on rye, easy on the mustard...HEYYYYYAAAAAAAA!!!
   - Greg S - Saturday, 02/20/10 21:04:23 EST

Animal Artists: These are trained animals given a tool they did not create which they then produce work that is very questionable. They ARE trying to please their. . (masters, captors, owners. . .). No where in nature has this behavior been recorded. I would accept anything from crop circles to mud pies as animal art but it just does not happen.

On the other hand, I give most animals a LOT more credit than most people do. Anyone that has had a dog knows they dream. I've had a couple that you could tell were having a great dream about chasing a rabbit or dog of the opposite sex. . . They whine, bark, yap, wag their tails and RUN in their sleep. Obviously dreaming. The mental processes for this are no different in animals than in humans.

Elephants morn over the bones of their dead relatives. The fact that they recognize very old sun bleached bones as being of THEIR kind requires sharp observation and comprehension.

Many animals have been filmed as young playing. There is absolutely no difference in the rough play of a couple lion or wolf cubs and a couple human children.

Animals can have psychoses, love, fear, hate. . . They are definitely self aware and have memories. How they actually view the world is still a mystery but they are not THAT far from us on the evolutionary scale. I you think about it too much you will seriously consider becoming a vegetarian.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 01:23:53 EST

i once thought about becoming vegetarian because i used to feel like that every living thing even the smallest bugs, had a soul and i realized how many things that humans kill a day and it kinda desturbed me. then i realized that if we didn't kill all those animals then we would be over run with wildlife and the food resource would deplenish and every living thing would eventually starve to death..and im not talking about in say 1000 years, it would be more like 50-100 years. for food animals like cows, pigs, lamb, ect. humans keep the population relitivly normal through selective breeding and controlled envoriments. for human population controll we have war, and diseases. plus we kill each other any way. everything balances out in the end, just like its suppose to be i guess. so enjoy your meat lol.
   Jeff - Sunday, 02/21/10 04:53:02 EST

Many thanks oh Guru for that explanation. I shall take great delight in explaining to the many gorillas that I work alongside, the distinction and superiority of the artist blacksmith.
   - Chris E - Sunday, 02/21/10 05:00:01 EST

so chrome swords...what are your thoughts everyone? i've found a chinese store selling them as practice weapons and as real weapons. at first i was like whaaat? CHROME?? seriously. and then i realized that if it were anywere near the properties of high quality alluminum it would do fine as a practice weapon. so what are your thoughts?
   Jeff - Sunday, 02/21/10 05:13:41 EST

i wonder what the level of difficulty would be to make a sliding sword with lock notches in the handle.

   Jeff - Sunday, 02/21/10 05:38:28 EST

also how should i go about fixing a blade with a rat tail tang? i recently mended an old sword of mine but it has rat tail tang and as we all know those suck. i was told to wrap the tang in leather strips and it would eventually make a handle. but that still doesnt sound like a good solution to me...so what should i do?
   Jeff - Sunday, 02/21/10 07:08:02 EST

Jeff, dude, PLEASE stop looking at cheap crap! You're gonna hurt yourself or somebody else, especially with gimmicky nonsense like that sliding-handle thing.

Chromium is not a metal that can be made into a blade. Those are probably mild steel or a 300-series stainless that has been chrome plated.

If you want a good martial arts practice sword something from Paul Chen will work fine as a compromise between quality and price. If you want better, well, you get what you pay for.

On the rat-tail tang the best thing to do would be to toss it. As I'm sure you know, YouTube abounds in videos of cheap swords of all types breaking and in some cases injuring their wielders. If you want a wall-hanger, cheap is fine. If you're actually gonna swing it around, do some research and pay for the quality. For western styles you can't go wrong with Albion Armoury.

Or you could learn to forge and heat-treat and make your own...

Greg, yep.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/21/10 10:08:45 EST

Why you should not buy cheap swords:

   Alan-L - Sunday, 02/21/10 10:12:30 EST

Tangs: What do you mean "fix"? What's broken? The end of these tangs fits through the pommel and is then upset (riveted or braded). The only problem with this type tang is they are often too small at the shoulder where the guard goes. Good engineering design is for these to taper out until there is just barely enough shoulder to position the guard. Alternatively they should have a VERY rarge radius at the shoulder. This reduces stress and the possibility of breaking.

The sword you linked too is a fantasy item that would self destruct in use. The slot is milled in a milling machine.

Other break down and expanding swords are fictional or myth. They will all bend, break or fold at the joint. Its FANTASY.

I answered the question about chrome the first time you asked it. Look UP.

Your vegetarian argument has no merit. We raise 99.99% of the food animals eaten. If everyone became a vegetarian at once we would not be overrun by cows and chickens. They are short lived animals and would eventually die off if not eaten. We WOULD lose some farmers that could not convert to producing something else. We WOULD have leather shortages and then it would become a thing of the past except for the very rich. It is a very unlikely scenario but life would go on without us being overwhelmed by farm animals or some grand catastrophe.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 10:22:01 EST

vegetarians and blacksmithing,
I had my wife and her niece in the shop yesterday for a lesson, her niece is 15 and just went vegan... trying to find her something to wear on her feet that was safe and NOT leather was imposable, as was finding gloves.she ended up in footwear I did not consider safe (plastic boots) and not useing a glove ... I was freeked out but she had a blast.
vegie I can understand (both my business partners were vegetarians when we went into business) but the vegan thing I just don't get ... leather,and furs OK get why they think that is bad, but honey? wool? dairy?
   mpmetal - Sunday, 02/21/10 11:17:06 EST


I am a new hobby blacksmith. Yesterday I found a package deal from an antique dealer who is wanting to go out of business. I bought hammers, flatters, punches, hot and cold cutters, top swages, and a few other things. On the cutters, flatters, and some of the top swages I noticed the handles were very crude. They were much looser then you would need for hammers. They were wedged in, but no attempt to be even be close to the shape for a tight fit. No wedges in the handles, either. Was this customary for non hammer tools?
Thank you for your help.
   Milton - Sunday, 02/21/10 11:34:16 EST

Milton, Yes it is. These tools are struck, usually by a striker but sometimes the smith. Besides being cheap quick and dirty handles, many suggest that being loose that they will not transfer vibration to the hands holding the tool. These handles also get accidentally struck quite often so putting a lot of time and expense in them is wasted.

Prior to tools of this type having eyes for handles they had a fullered groove for a green sapling or wetted hazel rod "withe" handle. Later these were replaced with a "wire" or rodded handle made from about 3/8" round bar wrapped around the tool then twisted together to form a long flexible handle. Both of these are flexible and shock reducing. The rodded type are still occasionally seen and are more popular in Europe than in North America.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 12:47:11 EST

mpmetal kevlar gloves and maybe machinist boots will do the trick. if the dunham helcor boots are still around they are great. they are made of some sort of heat resistant (not leather) material. they are great boots for the smity IMO. i know a bunch of vegans. any animal product is bad. no wool no down, no honey, or anyting else (i think).
   bigfoot - Sunday, 02/21/10 15:36:27 EST

The general rule for vegans is if it has a "face" its off limits. I don't think honey is excluded. Most will wear wool or other products where the animal is not killed or harmed to get the product but the rules a generally personal.

Many vegetarians will eat fish and eggs. But again, the rules are personal. I could easily be a vegetarian (for health reasons rather than moral) but it requires learning how to cook in a different way in order to get sufficient protein and prevent dietary boredom. This requires a lot of support from others you live with.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/21/10 18:00:54 EST

Sliding Handle Sword:

From the website, at bottom of the page (if you have the time and it's not too much trouble to scroll down and read is:

"Please Note: This item is not a weapon and is for decorative use only. You must be 18 years of age or older to order from us. Purchaser is responsible for complying with local, state, and federal laws as they apply to the items purchased and Overstock.com makes no claim as to the legality of purchasing, possessing, or carrying any specific item sold via this web site (particularly bladed objects). Purchaser assumes all responsibility for loss, damage or injury resulting from the misuse of an item and agrees to indemnify and hold seller harmless from any related claims."

Yep, that sure fills me with confidence!

In tight situations, I'm a great beliver in blunt-heavy-objects.

Vegetarians: I think we should all eat more vegetables, but the advantage of being an omnivore is that when you are faced with a new situation, you can usually make a meal of it. And, folks, humans are omnivores, just like bears and a lot of other species.

"Kill it, skin it, eat it, wear it." (United Omnivores' League)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 02/21/10 19:35:02 EST

Mike BR--The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment
   - David Hughes - Sunday, 02/21/10 20:00:08 EST

I have read where anthropologists believe that the size of the hominid brain began to enlarge when animal protean was added to their diet. What does that imply about a vegitarian diet?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 02/21/10 20:25:17 EST

Frank Wilson, a neurologist, wrote a multi-disciplinary book, "The Hand." His theory is that early man began to get an enlarged brain, because of the use of the hand, not the other way around. Hominids have the opposable thumb, but they can also wrap their fingers obliquely around an pole or handle so that the pole extends parallel to the forearm. Apes and chimps can't do that. Etcetera.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 02/21/10 20:48:33 EST

I was at a cousins wedding reception once where it was anounced that a vegitarian meal was available for any that desired one.
I found that kind of hummorus and, intended to tease the father of the bride who is an avid hunter.
When I asked him about it he just rolled his eyes and remarked that "vegatarian" was just an indian word for "bad hunter"....
   - merl - Sunday, 02/21/10 21:00:55 EST

I'm an amateur beekeeper, and OH BOY would both humans and bees be in trouble if there weren't a lot of very smart folks trying to make our relationship into a symbiotic one.

A lot of folks I know are "vegetarian" thou perhaps a better description might be hyperconscious about what food they eat and where it comes from. "Localvore" is what I try to be, google if needed, now if only I could get avocados and citrus to grow here in Vermont.

Back to blacksmithing? I made 3 pair of tongs this weekend, delivered a pair of big andirons to some clients last week. What projects are other folks working on?
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 02/21/10 21:40:39 EST

For an interesting read regarding omnivores, try "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan isbn 1-59420-082-3 (hc) or 978-0-14-303858-0 (pbk) Good look at the US food industry, "local vore", "organic", etc.

Also, look for books by Loren Cordain regarding the paleo-diet good arguments and research regarding what we evolved to eat and how are current diets don't match the evolution that well.

Chromium as a sword - surely you jest a highly brittle difficult to refine metal. To get it to 99.2 % purity you either need to produce it as electrolytic chromium by dissolving high carbon ferrochrome in acid, filtering it, producing chrome alum crystals, redissolving the crystals in acid and then electrolytically precipitating it onto stainless sheets. Or you could produce it in an aluminothermic reaction. As Alan noted, any sword you see advertised as "chrome" is chrome plated - how good it would be is dependent on the underlying metal and how it had been treated. Considering the typical cost of "chrome" items I wouldn't want to bet that they were even good low carbon steel.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 02/21/10 22:21:59 EST

Dear Guru,

This is my first visit to anvilfire.com, and I have to commend you on the professionalism of the site. My question is in regard to swordmaking - but before you roll your eyes (yes, I read your article on Generation X and swordmaking), I'll say that HOPEFULLY this is not the typical swordmaking inquiry you often get. I appreciate your impatience with these kinds of questions, but please bear with me a moment while I give you a quick bit of background to the question.
I'm nowhere near "Generation X", and personally I have no interest in swordmaking. I do have a brother, however, also nowhere near Generation X chronologically but well rooted there emotionally/psychologically. He happens to have a passion for the subject, and from what I can tell from seeing the swords he has already made, PERHAPS has some potential talent in that area. I am not knowledgeable about the subject, but the 3 or 4 steel blades he has already crafted do look like real swords, although maybe a bit amateurish.
Personally I don't like the fact that he is making swords for the very reasons you stated upfront in your article - the questions about WHY? and so forth. To me, they are weapons, not art (though I can appreciate the artistry in them), and I don't think he has any business making weapons in his basement. However, given that I know he is not going to stop, and as his skill (self-taught) seems to be progressing, which gives him encouragement to continue, I would at least like to try to help channel him into a productive and more formal development of his potential. As I said above, chronologically he's far away from the profile you talked about in your article, but emotionally he's not. And since he is all passion and no direction, I am hoping to help him use his passion to find a direction, as late in life as it is for him to do so (he's already 42).
So my question: where can someone who is serious about learning professional swordmaking go in the New Jersey area to be trained (understanding that it will cost money) under a real mentor/master or whatever you may call it, and have an opportunity to turn what is maybe some potential talent into a real craft and possibly a career?

Sorry if my question has exercised your patience, but it is a sincere one with lots of background that I am leaving out, and one that may actually help someone turn their life around.

Kind regards,
   Lawrence - Monday, 02/22/10 03:55:50 EST

Judson, I am in the process of forging fine jewelry from stainless steel. So far I have 4 ring designs with 4 matching bracelet styles. These are to be sold at one of our piercing shops high end New Hope location on consignment. I am utilizing basic forging techniques, but on a small scale. Rings are made of scrolls, reverse twists, wrapped joints, etc. Open end designes are useful, but for closed rings I am so glad I have a TIG machine. One little jet of TIG arc, a finishing tap-tap on the anvils horn and voila! Pretty ring! I will take some pics once everything is in the display cases.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 02/22/10 08:42:55 EST

Many years ago I ventured into stainless jewelery and very rapidly realized that a TIG machine was the only way to go. . .
   - guru - Monday, 02/22/10 08:55:34 EST

Guidence: Lawerence, People in the business are fairly rare. Folks that are willing to teach are rarer. Be sure to have read my section on education and looked at the resources page. You start with the books and absorb everything you can. Check the blade forums and ask there. The ABA (American Bladesmith Association) has an educational program and levels of qualification.

There are markets for collector's pieces (high end functional art), Fencing and practice blades (must meet safety specifications including alloy, heat treat and dullness) AND wall hangers (purely decorative pieces - which the market os flooded with cheap versions of).

As to wanting to find someone to take lessons from locally that is wishful thinking, naivety or lack of desire. Those that really want to learn these arts from real makers will travel to the ends of the Earth. You can find blacksmiths in just about every county and city in the U.S. Bladesmiths are in fairly high numbers as well but those that deal with swords are much rarer and those that will teach, very very rare. OF those willing to teach most will have students and a waiting list. Of those, you will need to have some kind of connection with them, show a willingness and ability to learn and not waste time.

On the other hand it is a small world. I've met people I went to high school with and neighbors I did not know at the other side of the county as well as in other countries. You MIGHT have someone that will teach you in your backyard. . .
   - guru - Monday, 02/22/10 09:20:42 EST

Thanks for the guidance. Much appreciated.
   Lawrence - Monday, 02/22/10 09:44:34 EST


Send him to the bladesmithing forums, but before that send him to either Peters Valley Craft Center in (gasp!) New Jersey, where they teach intro to blacksmithing AND bladesmithing classes (www.petersvalley.org) OR if he thinks he's ready, to the New England School of Metalwork (http://www.newenglandschoolofmetalwork.com/) in Auburn, Maine. Both offer many classes in all aspects of metalwork, but NESM has the advantage of being home base to one of the finest swordsmiths today, Don Fogg. Peters Valley has many excellent visiting instructors as well.

Once you get him on the appropriate forums he'll find bladesmiths hammer-ins, of which a very good one in Baltimore, Maryland is coming up in a couple of weeks, info at http://www.baltimoreknife.com/brimstone/hammerin2010/index.htm.

This is not to say he can't improve without taking a class, but taking classes is an excellent way to shorten the learning curve from say 10 years to around two weeks. This can be important at age 42...

BUT: As the Guru said, he has to be serious and not an idiot. Swordsmiths as a rule do not suffer fools at all, much less gladly.

-Alan the part-time bladesmith who makes swords but does not teach, and is, well, nigh on 40-ish.
   Alan-L - Monday, 02/22/10 11:13:41 EST

Judson; other projects:

I've been off-stride lately what with shoveling snow and shoveling snow and covering equipment and...

shoveling snow.

I have a chain trammel and some trivets hanging fire (so to speak) for the home fireplace, and a lot of "forge improvement" projects to correct flaws in the new structure, plus posts and sills for the new woodshop. I may work with some friends to display at the art show at BaltiCon this year; having done badly at MarsCon, I have the stock, but it's nice to introduce a few more pieces.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/22/10 15:54:25 EST

Actually, Guru, I am a vegetarian... but not vegan, for one, what the heck would I make sheaths out of? No, not Kydex, I don't like it. Just to be a little more of a smartass, (but no disrespect intended, of course), I would argue that a fair amount of "artists" are, what did you say, "trained animals given a tool they did not create which they then use to produce work that is very questionable." heh heh. I too have great respect for animals.
Gavainh, I really like Michael Pollan, I have read a couple of his books...
Quenchcrack, we owe society as we know it to the fact that some of us figured out how to settle down and farm food, freeing us from a nomadic hunter/gatherer existence. What does that imply about the importance of food plants?

I know it's not a chat room, I just stop by rarely so it's nice to vary the conversation a little from metalwork from time to time with all you smart fellers.
   vorpal - Monday, 02/22/10 17:26:30 EST

Ah Yes TGN shoves 9" nails into a person's head doing no damage whatsoever and then takes them out with a paper cut, what style what *panache*!

"Art blades" try selling an art blade that doesn't have an edge on it. If it was truly just Art then the edge shouldn't matter right? But this does not seem to be the case in reality!

Art in nature: What about the bower bird? Does not his constructed artistic display constitute Art?

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/22/10 18:41:44 EST

May I also commend to your brother's attention the American Bladesmiths Society School in Texarkana AR?

   Thomas P - Monday, 02/22/10 18:44:23 EST

vorpal, I only meant to state that when we were still basically apes, high protean was the key to development of a brain that could comprehend farming and agriculture. No argument about the importance of agriculture and no offense was intended.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 02/22/10 19:12:51 EST

Life and Evolution THEN. . . there is the primary driving force of life on Earth. Just enough radiation that mutations are constantly occurring in all species. Mutations can be good, bad, or neutral. Offspring with bad mutations generally did not live to reproduce (prior to modern medicine). Offspring with good mutations (greater intelligence, better vision, longevity. . .) would prosper, reproduce more and improve the species. Those with neutral mutations would add to the variety of a species or become a new species.

Of interesting note is that the only natural deposit of uranium dense enough to support a chain reaction was located on the African continent which is thought to be the source of man and many other species.

Issac Asimov had an interesting theory about life on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets. His theory was that our moon which is VERY massive compared to our planet thus creating tidal forces and effecting the motion of the tectonic plates has been key in the evolution of life and the fantastic variety of life on Earth. Without the moon and the tides of the oceans there would have been little or no imputes for ocean creatures to develop legs to walk on land. But left to die on mud flats for millions of years with just enough radiation to create various mutations there was eventually one then another and then another mutation that made fins into flippers and flippers into legs and feet. . . The moon makes the tides and theoretically keeps kneading the crust of the Earth bringing a constant supply of radioactive materials up from the depths.

While probability can determine the number of planets that could theoretically support life those numbers drop significantly if you must have a moon such as ours that is relatively huge and rare as well as just the right size (not TOO large). . . Asimov theorized that planets capable of supporting life WOULD have life, the periodic table and basic chemistry says so. But that life would not be so varied and riotous as it is here on Earth. The probability of higher forms drops radically when there is no radiation creating mutations.

So, even though the Universe is infinite (as far as we are concerned) the possibility of intelligent life may really be a miracle.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 01:04:02 EST

Vegetarians- Most o them consume dairy products. All of them are opposed to veal. So if we have cows giving birth so as to lactate, but we take the milk, what are we going to do with the calves if we don't eat them?
   philip in china - Tuesday, 02/23/10 01:56:18 EST

Guru, I think it is important to note that radiation, while it is a source of mutations, is not the only , or even the most important one. General transcription "errors" occur on a very regular basis in the process of DNA replication. These can be caused by many factors, radiation, chemical contamination, and just plain goof-ups. Once the mutations occur, the process of natural selecion takes over and weeds out the weaker (or more accuratly, selects for the more likely to reproduce successfully). I am 100% in agreement that it is all pretty miraculous!

Dave, who was on his way to becoming a genetic toxicologist before mutating into a farmer.
   Dave - Tuesday, 02/23/10 09:19:36 EST

Dave, Many scientists who would argue that there is no all knowing god will also admit that the more they know the more mysterious and wonderful life is. Yep we are all mutants. . .

Eating Green: There are vegetarians for health reasons, for moral reasons and those for economic and cultural reasons. They all follow different rules and as I noted many have there own personal rules. Those that call themselves "vegans" do not use or consume any type of animal product. They are pure vegetarians.

To keep kosher Jews are very careful not to mix meat and milk or milk products. This is derived from a line in the bible that says "Thou shall not cook the meat of the calf in the mother's milk". Its a pretty clear moral point.

As you noted the problem with raising milk animals is the extra calves, particularly the MALE's. Whether goats or cows the calves are roughly 50% make and must be disposed of. In many cultural situations over the years those have been sold to "others" who were not vegetarians. This is one of those moral shell games. It is difficult to be morally perfect.

The fact is that animals are a very poor producer of protein. It requires a much larger amount of grain to feed meat animals than if it was used directly to feed a people. When most meat was produced by 100% grazing on marginal lands where herd animals had existed naturally it made economic sense. Today most cattle is feed largely on grain grown on the most fertile of lands.

In some cultures meat is an expensive and rare commodity. The Chinese have addressed this by producing meat substitutes and using small amounts of meat to flavor dishes rather than the meat being the primary food source. This is true in many other meat poor cultures as well.

After the "mad cow" disease scare I ate no beef or pork for about 3 years. I ate chicken and fish unless I was a guest at someone's house and had no choice. I still do not go out of my way to eat beef. I have friends that for many years called themselves "chicken vegetarians". These were personal decisions largely for health reasons.

Now. . what bugs me is that most people and many restaurants consider vegetarians "kooks" or crazy. In many restaurants vegetable dishes that could easily be vegetarian are flavored with meat. . . Have any of you tried Bush's Vegetarian baked beans? Just as good as the pork flavored kind.

An interesting cultural note: In U.S. grocery stores today most have an Hispanic food section. On the Hispanic side the refried beans have added lard. On the Gringo side there is a fat free refried beans. . It is difficult to tell the difference in taste. My daughter (a religious label reader) taught me this one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 09:44:36 EST

Jock, you said "It is difficult to be morally perfect".. yeah it is.... but are we supposed to be? The idea of perfection is unrealistic. Poor choices and bad morals are a necessity for life. A good balance of both worlds is the key to true happiness. How can one truly value the sweetness of life if one has not experienced the bitterness?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 02/23/10 09:53:51 EST

I am looking for the plans to build a hammer using car/truck rear end I was it some where but can not find it now. Looking to put it on my wish list for 2010
   JRA - Tuesday, 02/23/10 13:58:52 EST

Geez, Guru, Nip, way to go. Good thoughts. Thank you.
Quenchcrack, no offense taken, didn't mean that as an aggressive riposte or anything... you do have a point.

On a side note, will we see more Iforge demos in the forseeable future? I do enjoy them... I'd even contribute one or two if I could.
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 02/23/10 15:29:11 EST

judson, I'm working on three blades right now, from a forged integral with oosic, brass, and zebrawood, to a rabbeted tang drop point hunter with micarta grip and clay temper. Then some horsehide sheaths for all of them. And soon, a hardy bending fork. (Been reading Lorelei Sims.)
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 02/23/10 15:32:12 EST

The EC-JYH JRA, That was the hammer I built and was covered in our very first anvilire NEWS. It is linked on our power hammer page DIY and Junkyard Hammer page.

Some comments on the hammer:

It ran and others like it have worked. But the shock absorber design is VERY inefficient and does not make a good power hammer linkage. It was one of those dead simple, stupid things, that we had been thinking about for 20 yeas and just HAD to try. Power hammer linkages need to absorb excess energy and give it back. . shocks just take. No, spring assist shocks also do not work. I highly recommend the bow spring linkage like the Costa Rica Tire Hammer.

The brake as clutch via a differential works well. However, it is HUGE and take up a lot of shop space. Using it like this reduces the reduction by half so a 1:.414 axel only reduces the speed 1:.207. You DO get nice HD bearings.

The two motors to one input worked perfectly and is a good way to get more HP from small motors. As long as the rated RPM's are the same and the pulley sizes match it works slick. I may use the system on a bar twister and set it up for variable HP via selector switch.

The engine block as anvil is a waste of effort. While engines weigh a lot with shafts, pistons, heads, manifolds. . . the stripped down block only weighed a little over 100 pounds with all those holes. You need as much mass as possible for a power hammer anvil.

I recommend the following for a Junk Yard Hammer.

1) Tire clutch. Unless you come up with the proper flat belt pulleys to do the same.

2) Bow spring linkage.

3) Bundled Anvil

4) Make it cheap. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 16:05:25 EST

I would offer that I agree with the GURU on several of his Junk Yard hammer suggestions.
1. The compact spare tire clutch is slick and works great
2. the bundled anvil is very workable.
3.Build it cheap.
I like the leaf spring center pivoted, guided ram design. Easier to build without machine shop services.
   Ptree - Tuesday, 02/23/10 18:43:54 EST

iForge, We have something in progress to be a surprise. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/23/10 20:14:01 EST

Thank You I will check them all out
   JRA - Tuesday, 02/23/10 21:20:38 EST

One of my friends found some large chunks of metal and we were considering melting them down into smaller pieces and selling them for scrap. They appear to be copper, but I think there is some other metals mixed in. Perhaps zinc or aluminium. I have access to some welding and cutting equipment and figured I could cut a piece off and melt it down with an oxi-fuel torch in a steel box I welded together. My question is how would I separate the metals and is this even a plausible approach to melting copper.
Thanks for your help.
   Mike - Wednesday, 02/24/10 01:43:09 EST

Mike, what you are describing is NOT anything like you imagine it to be. This is not home ec. and metals are not ingredients like liquids that will float on each other like oil and water. I have attempted (MANY times) to do what you are asking.... it will never work. Oxy/acetyl provides decent heat, but introduces WAAY too much oxygen for a good melt. A steel box will simply get melted scrap welded to the sides. A refractory brick hollowed out works a little better, but still the wrong way to do it. Modern melts are done with enormous amounts of electricity passed through special electrodes (the size of rain barrels). Melting (or heating) zinc is a recipe for sure death.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 02/24/10 08:19:31 EST


The scrap yard should be able to sort the metal you bring in and pay you accordingly. I know that the scrap yard near me has a hand held x-ray analyser that they used to sort some stainless and nickel tig rod for me once. They should be able to easily sort our copper/zinc/brass etc.

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 02/24/10 09:16:28 EST

Commenting on radiation, mutations and the possibility that god exists:

There are many different kinds of radiation than just nuclear radiation from unstable elements. The general definition of radiation is anything that radiates, i.e. spreads out from a point source, meaning most types of non contact energy transfer. However the specific type of radiation that pokes holes in DNA chains is called ionizing radiation. This type comes not only from radioactive elements, but also from cosmic radiation and radiation from our sun. The higher end of the UV spectrum is also ionizing radiation (skin cancer etc.). In terms of mutations, as mentioned before there are many many factors which can create them other than radiation, all it takes is an imbalance in ideal conditions, IIRC a temperature difference of a few degrees from ideal is all it takes to make mutated sperm.

In the category of religion, I'm agnostic, no religion makes any sense to me. I think if a god did exist, it would probably be offended at our relating human emotions and characteristics to it (see I just did it). But, I don't deny the possiblity that there is one; consider viruses, objects which have no intelligence or life and only the single purpose of invading living cells to create more viruses. A perfect machine, 'designed' to kill living things.
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 02/24/10 09:59:17 EST

Lawrence, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design has a bladesmtihing course. I believe they even offer a BFA in Bladesmithing. http://pce.massart.edu/courses/spring10/metal-sculpture/index.shtml

The instructor posts work from students on the Don Fogg Forum occasionally, and what I've seen has always been impressive.
   - Stormcrow - Wednesday, 02/24/10 12:02:17 EST


Actually, they're designed to make more viruses. We (and other animals and plants and living things, including bacteria) are just a handy resource. If they're too successful at killing things, they have less opportunity to make more viruses.

Maybe we should continue religion and philosophy at the Hammer-In page?
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 02/24/10 14:31:21 EST

Scrap Metal: Separating alloys brings higher prices; melting stuff generally brings *lower* prices and costs *you* money as well.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/24/10 15:09:00 EST

Lets start by saying I'm a millwright with many years of welding, cutting and fabrication experience. Years ago I made a knife out of a old file in metal shop in high school. That knife has since been lost. So 2 weeks ago I started to make another out of a old file. Heated the file in the wood stove so I could work it. It is almost done except for the handle. My question is how do I temper the blade. I was told cherry hot to oil bath then 6 hours at 400 in a oven. Is this wright? Thanks this is a great site!!
   Tom Counterman - Thursday, 02/25/10 00:34:47 EST

Tom, Over the years the quality of file steel has changed somewhat so "All Junk Yard Steel rules apply"

For this approximate grade of steel you heat to non-magnetic and then quench on edge in oil or brine. If oil works it is safer to the steel than brine. Stir the part in the oil to get fast even cooling.

As soon as possible temper to a minimum of 350 to 420°F. An hour is more than enough. Many just het to the temper point and stop. This will produce the maximum hardness and brittleness. You may need to temper as high as a blue (see our color temper chart linked to the Junk Yard Steel article).

Blades are often selectively hardened and or tempered. This is when the edge is hardened and the back left soft OR when the back is tempered more than the edge.

One method of selective hardening is to quench the edge in a shallow pan that only lets the blade into the quenchant about 3/8". To get the tip you rock the blade on the up-sweep (if it has one). You must continue to quench until the heat in the back of the blade is below the hardening point and then quench the entire blade in another tank.

To selective temper the back of the blade is rested on a hot steel block and you observe the heat colors running across the surface until you get a straw color at the blade and hopefully a blue at the back, then quench to stop the temper. To prevent softening (over tempering) the point it may want to over hang the edge of the block so the heat must conduct radially toward the curved edge. To get this even the blade may need to be moved back and forth slightly on the heat source.

There are many other ways of doing this.

Besides the beauty of the work the two things that really define a hand made knife is the temper and the sharpness.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/25/10 07:22:03 EST

Sure been slow on the Forum lately, must be a huge world wide blacksmith conference going on somewhere.
   Carver Jake - Friday, 02/26/10 11:20:21 EST

End of the month, bills to pay, jobs to complete, . . . I'm swamped with a combination of work for anvilfire and work for others. . . and have to pay bills, get car repaired, travel to attend to business. . .
   - guru - Friday, 02/26/10 12:37:15 EST

Don'tcha just love the shortest month of the year? Forgot to add the snow... crappy weathermen. They gave our area such a scare (12" and such) and it ended up being nothing but some wet roads.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 02/26/10 13:13:22 EST

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2010 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC

Get anvilfire.com GEAR.

International Ceramics Products