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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 March 1 - 15, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has three helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    I built a railroad forge, but now I need coal ,do blacksmith ,use softcoal, hard coal, I thought coal was coal , now that i need it there seems to be lots of differiant kinds . thanks

    paul johnson -- lincore at Sunday, 02/28/99 22:24:07 GMT

    COAL is infinite in variety due to being a organic/geologic product. The best coal is bituminous (soft coal) with low volitiles and high btu. Because all coal has ash the ability for that ash to form clinkers (glassy melted ash) is GOOD as long as it doesn't produce a LOT of clinker. Generaly stoker coal is pretty good. A lot depends on where you live. All Western coal is generaly pretty bad stuff for smithing. Anthacite (hard coal) burns very hot but requires a lot of air to keep burning and is generaly not considered smithing coal. HOWEVER, in recent years it has become available at low cost or FREE in some locations where people are trying to get rid of it. . .

    All you can do is buy a small quantity and try it. Preferably you should have an experianced blacksmith try it. Don't get crazy and buy a ton and THEN find out its no good for use in a forge. There is a LOT of coal that works in particular applications that is worthless in a forge.

    -- guru Monday, 03/01/99 01:15:55 GMT

    Dear Sir, I am a 47 year old sign-guy, interested in smithing. Enjoyed the web page--will ask some questions when I know more what to ask. I already have a 12 inch vice and a 160 pound anvil with somekind of locking bar, but I don't know what it is for. Sincerely, Roger A. Snyder

    Roger Snyder -- SummitFarm at Monday, 03/01/99 01:22:10 GMT

    LOCKING BAR? It may be a "hold down". A lot of blacksmithing requires two hands and one MORE to hold the work! There are two types of hold down, spring or weight operated and a "hold fast" These are a bent bar that you put in the hardy hole and on top of the work and give it a tap. The bar springs and holds the work down. To remove it you give it a tap behind the bend.

    Sounds like you have a good start on tools (are those 12" jaws on that vise?). Welcome to the club. Blacksmithing is a lot of fun.

    -- guru Monday, 03/01/99 01:36:45 GMT

    HELP! I am looking for a tool I think is called "SMITHING MAGICIAN"
    I have been swinging a hammer fulltime for about 21 years and saw
    this tool being used at the SOFA comferance in 97. AT the 98
    comferance I could not find information on this tool. I hope someone
    could help me in my quest. Thank You Marty

    Marty R. -- mre1722828 at Monday, 03/01/99 02:42:22 GMT

    Hi you all, The Gurus Of The Metal!

    Im doing a little damascus steel forging and have to move my housestand and workshop to another small village. Therefore I have to change my fire from coal to gas (my new place will be right in the middle of a small farmers village and right next to a church). Is there a possibility to make a gas forge on my own, if yes how? I have access to propan or butan (morelikely propan), tools scrap material and a few other thing will be no problem. I was already working at a gas forge from a german company named "Angele, Ochsenhausen", they supply blacksmiths with all the needed equipment in "good ole Germany" and probably in a few other countries too. It looked as a regular forge, but instead of the coals they had ceramic scrap lying in it through which they blow a gas and air mixture. The heat is enough for a normal smithing job but not for fire welding. My question now: Do you folks have any idea what I could do to handle this problem and where could I get detailed plans and infos?
    I would appreciate if you could send me an E-Mail in the next days to my following adress: F.Guettler at Ulm-Direkt.Net
    At least I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for the outstanding job you do, helps, hints for pros and amateurs. I wish we had an institution like yours in germany! But thats another story to talk about. Please give me another E-Mail adress to contact you, cause sometimes Im out on the road and then its a little difficult and expensive to write online. Thanks


    Freddie from Germany

    Freddie Guettler -- F.Guettler at Ulm-Direkt.Net Monday, 03/01/99 20:28:21 GMT

    Why are all the commercially made gas forges rectangular, and all the home made ones and plans based on a cylindrical pattern?

    Wayne -- keystone at Monday, 03/01/99 22:44:53 GMT

    Freddie, propane is used very succesfully for fire welding. It is not quite as forgiving as coal but it does work. Many smiths in this country are also being forced to use gas instead coal.

    The Ron Reil web page has a variety of gas forge designs. We also have some rough sketches, Simple Gas Burner and Famous 10 Minute Forge. The forges on the Ron Reil page are mostly "atmospheric" forges (don't use a blower) and the items here are for the blown type. Forges with blowers are simpler to build and mor likely to work the fiorst time. Atmospheric forges are quieter and don't require an electric power source.

    The biggest problem with using a gas forge for Damascus is that the flux disolves refractories (aluminia fire brick and others). A common clay floor tile can be used as a disposible liner or "catch pan" to help prevent damage to the forge.

    CC, email guru at"

    -- guru Monday, 03/01/99 23:01:02 GMT

    Wayne, easily available containers and the popularity of using Kaowool. The fibreous insulation will stay in place in an arch but fall off a flat surface. Some castable is used by molding it in cardboard tubes. . . again using commonly available "molds". Manufacturers finish their forges with an outside steel shell and it is easier for them to fit flat plates than to use a rolled shell.

    I've always built mine rectangular to fit bricks into. I'm planing on building some small forges using castable refractory and they too will be rectangular so they will fit on a replaceable brick floor. The difference here is that I've been making patterns and molds since I was 10 years old, so it is natural for me to make a mold rather than look for an easy way out.

    -- guru Monday, 03/01/99 23:14:39 GMT

    I'm doing a case study on anvils, and I would like to know, if possible, which material, cast iron or any of the steels, would make a better product from mechanical properties point of view.
    Thank You

    Cheryl -- deisya at Monday, 03/01/99 23:26:44 GMT

    Lori - making leaves/flowers - I happened on a website called Fremlin's Forgery that had instructions for making leaves and roses. Now I have the materials all rounded up and laying on the bench...if nothing else I'll have fun pounding hot metal and listening to the anvil.

    Nice site. I stop in most days at lunch. Thanks.

    Steve Alford -- ALFORD-SJ at Monday, 03/01/99 23:54:51 GMT

    Cheryl, if you are studying anvils you should get a copy of Richard Postman's book Anvils in America (see our book review page). From the gist of your question I can tell you've got a LONG way to go on this subject.

    First, door stops are made of cast iron, not anvils.

    Early anvils were stone (probably granite) then bronze and then wrought iron. It is hard to know when wrought iron anvils were faced with steel but it was a VERY long time ago. Anvils with wrought bodies and forge welded steel faces were made up until the early part of the 20th century. Then it became more cost effective to make the top half of the anvil out of tool steel and the bottom half out of mild steel, the last Hay-Budden's were made this way. Cast steel anvils also became common in the early part of the century. In the early 19th century a process was developed where a cast iron body was fused to a tool steel face. This made a cheap but very servicable anvil (when the CI to steel weld held). These were the famous Fisher "Eagle Anvils". Some smiths swear by them other swear AT them.

    Today anvils a made most commonly of cast steel. Most keep the exact grade a proprietary secret. A few are cast from 4140 which I believe is a little soft or else their heat treating is not up to par. Peddinghaus forges an all steel anvil using a similar process to the late Hay-Buddens.

    See my series of articles on anvils on the 21st Century page. The last one on testing anvils will be of most intrest to you.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 00:17:56 GMT

    Thanks Steve!

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 00:20:24 GMT

    where can I find floor plans on mideval blacksmith forges. I am trying to design a complete castle with everything.

    rookie -- saber12 at Tuesday, 03/02/99 03:25:24 GMT

    GOOD QUESTION: I doubt there are any. Are you familiar with Diderots Encyclopedia? It has engravings of 1700's era shops. The illustrations of the many early anvils (all different) are probably typical. However, the bickern or "stump anvil" would be more common than it is later. They are also used a great deal for making plate armour. The shops won't be much different than the earlier period but remember that Diderot idealized and perhaps combined establishments in order to show a complete range of tools and equipment.

    In a castle with a permanent armoury the forge would be built into a wall where a chimney could be located. Thats just about the only permant fixture you need to concern yourself with. Probably on grade level near the stables since horse shoeing would be one of the shops activities. Large doors for the horses and ventilation are likely. Bellows (5 to 6 feet long and 3 feet wide) would be located behind or above and to one side of the forge. Give them about a 20x20 foot space or so if it is a BIG castle.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 04:11:32 GMT

    Trying to find some tricks for glass inlay. Does the surface to be inlaid have to be metal-clean? I have trouble keeping any kind of color to the glass, seems the smoke gets into the glass and turns it brown-grey.
    How about ground glass for flux?

    Rick -- Rikbegley at Tuesday, 03/02/99 04:40:33 GMT

    Man I love this sight! Anyway I have been wanting some hot punches and a couple of hot chisels, I was hoping you could recommed a tool steel to use , and maybe tell me what kind of temper
    to draw in hot work tools? Also I was reading your response to Roger
    Snyder , you were explaning the use of a hold down, or hold fast
    this tool sounds like just the ticket but I still can't quit picture it. Could you direct me to a drawing of one? Thanks

    Kial Gunter -- Kial_Gunter at Tuesday, 03/02/99 15:51:48 GMT

    Rick: Ground glass works ok for flux, but only at very high temperatures. It's not runny enough until very hot. On your glass inlays, how are yopu heating the glass?

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Tuesday, 03/02/99 17:38:15 GMT

    How do you use ash as a flux when welding? Does it differ from using Borax? If so, how?

    Michael -- imortalguy at Tuesday, 03/02/99 19:55:32 GMT

    I would like any information you may have on weave welding with regard to sword making.

    Neville Jones -- Nev at Tuesday, 03/02/99 19:58:11 GMT

    GLASS (What little I know): Glass, is a more universal solvent than water. It readily dissolves metals. Metal (elemental and as compounds) change the color and characteristics of glass. Lead glass crystal is made with lead (just like radiation shielding glass). The lead gives the glass a yellow tinge, makes it heavy, hard and brittle. This combination is what makes it ring. The lead also acts as a lubricant (as it does in metals) making it easier to produce a high polish.

    The same thing that makes glass suitable as flux also discolors the glass when melted in metal containers.

    ASH as FLUX (Michael): I've never used ash. I expect the type of ash is important. The silica that forms clinker from ash in coal is basicaly the same thing used in glass.

    TWO BEST RECCOMENDED FLUXES: Plain old Borax. Borax with 5-10% Flourite. Always use good ventilation while welding but be even more careful when using Flourite.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 21:11:18 GMT

    HOT WORK STEELS: H-13 is quite commonly used. H-27 is considered better by some as it contains Tungsten. Both are quite pricey. See the listing for Atlantic-33 in the NEWS. It is a low carbon high alloy hot work steel that is described by Atlantic as a "non-tempering" steel. I was introduced to it by the Boone family (Dan, Mike and Tom), and just picked up some to try. They swear by it and I've seen it in use. It holds up where many steels would not. Lengths of it have been showing up at hammer-ins all over the East. If you see it, buy it. It dissapears fast.

    Most hot work steels are tempered at a relatively high temperature (over 1,000 degrees F). Specifics vary with the type of steel.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 21:20:43 GMT

    HOLD FAST: Simply a (relatively large) round or square bar bent at more than a 90 degree angle for deflection clearance. Mild steel works. Drop one end in your hardy hole, the other on the work and give it a tap downward at the bend. Big ones (1 1/2" round) are used on weld plattens and hold better than heavy "C" clamps. Those for wood workers are smaller and have fancy ends. For welders and blacksmiths the ends are just slightly curved so that the very end doesn't dig in and mar the work.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 21:28:10 GMT

    WEAVE WELD (Neville): It may be the British terminology, but I'm not sure I understand what process you are applying to a sword.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/02/99 21:30:19 GMT

    can i use a propane regulator off a torch set to regulate the propane gas flow to the gas forge ,using the e-z burner. thank you

    paul johnson -- lincore at Wednesday, 03/03/99 01:07:23 GMT

    Yes, Gas forges require between 6 and 40 psi (depending on the design and size). Regulators off stoves generaly do NOT work as they are designed for low volume and pressure. If your regulator doesn't have a built in "flash back" check valve you should add one at the regulator.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/03/99 04:18:20 GMT

    I recently inherited my great grandfathers forge anvil and all his tools my father is an experienced welder of 40 years and is willing to show me a few basics about using the forge the only problem is I cant find out where I can buy a small amount of coal to start learning I live in Las Vegas , Nevada if you can tell me where i can find some coal for my forge i would greatly appreciate it.
    thank you for your time,
    jason sabin

    jason sabin -- Bzzbom at Wednesday, 03/03/99 08:51:35 GMT

    Jason, your best local contact would be the knife maker Jim Hrisoulas. He currently uses propane but used coal prior to being told he could no longer use it commercialy in your area. His web site is

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/03/99 14:14:41 GMT

    Hey, I want to learn how to make swords and stuff of that nature, for a living. Where do I look for information, or better yet, can you tell me anything? I don't have a e-mail address(doing this on my school councelor's computer),
    but my mailing address is
    863 Alder ln.
    Weiser Id,

    Iam really interested in this stuff, and would really appriciate any help you can give. Thanks!

    Cody Davis Wednesday, 03/03/99 17:47:34 GMT

    Hey, I want to learn how to make swords and stuff of that nature, for a living. Where do I look for information, or better yet, can you tell me anything? I don't have a e-mail address(doing this on my school councelor's computer),
    but my mailing address is
    863 Alder ln.
    Weiser Id,

    Iam really interested in this stuff, and would really appriciate any help you can give. Thanks!

    Cody Davis Wednesday, 03/03/99 17:47:34 GMT

    Excuse me, Guru, for butting in.

    I just wanted to tell Cody: By all means learn to make swords. Its hard work, interresting, fun. But dont quit your day job!(or school) There are few blacksmiths in the world that can actually make a living from just makin high-quality, handforged steel swords.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 03/03/99 18:40:24 GMT

    I am looking for different ways to dish form steel.(making knee and elbow armor)
    Can you give me some suggestions?

    Johnson -- johnsonj at Wednesday, 03/03/99 21:27:31 GMT

    SWORD MAKING - Cody, sword making is the most technical of the blacksmith's jobs making most sword makers specialists. There is lots of information on the internet as well as books on the subject. See our links page for sword pages.

    There are currently two approaches to blade making. Forging and "stock removal". Stock removal is just what it sounds like. Blanks are sawed out and then the maker starts grinding. Forged blades also require grinding so some of the equipment is similar.

    First you need to study general smithing (see Getting Started).
    Then you need to study metals and how to heat treat them (hardening and tempering). Finally you will need to study some of the art and history of metalworking in general. You would be surprised at how many of us wish we had paid more attention to world history when we were in school and are studying it in detail now!

    Order a Centaur Forge catalog. They have both tools AND hard to find books on blacksmithing AND bladesmithing. If you order one of the general blacksmithing books such as Jack Andrews New Edge of the Anvil you can probably talk them out of charging you for the catalog! Then look at the blade smithing books. Jim Hrisoulas has a fine series as do some other famous knifemakers.

    Start small. Make a kitchen knife. The techniques are the same as making a sword but the size is a LOT easier to deal with. Making good small knives is just as technically challanging as making swords and you will learn a LOT. When you've made a few knives THEN start on that sword project.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/03/99 21:44:56 GMT

    DISHING STEEL PLATE: The best thing to do is to collect a few big sections of log or tree stump and carve forms in the end grain. Then go at it with a BIG hammer! Pine works but hardwood is much better. After our Christmas ice storm in Virginia you could have had as many nice sized trunk sections as you could carry away!

    The forms should not be detailed nor as tight or deep as the bend or dish you want to make. Relatively shallow forms are best. I'd make a round form about 6" (15cm) in diameter and 1" (2.54cm) deep and an oval form about 6" x 12" (30cm) and 1" deep. This can be done quickly with the nose of a chainsaw. Remember not to make the forms too deep. This is a common mistake of many swage block designs. These are another tool that can be used but I prefer wood forms for plate work.

    After the rough dishing the plate can be raised on a "mushroom" stake (a small round anvil that looks like a mushroom) or worked with smaller hammers (such as a ball pien) on the stump. A very short section of RR-Rail can be made into a mushroom stake. They are also available where iron mongers gather.

    Raising is done from the outside and actually thickens the metal as it it brought around. Working from the inside makes the metal thinner while stretching it. This can result in holes and tears in the metal. Both processes require annealing (softening the metal) between stages.

    You could also do the same on a big hydraulic press. Cold, this size work will require a 50 to 100 ton press. Hot will take a lot less force but you have to work really fast. Forms would have to be made of metal to hot press the plate. Wood and plastic can be used for cold forming if the metal is not too thick (16ga or less) and the shape is not too extreme.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/03/99 22:11:43 GMT

    Straightening a piece of cast brass. Is it best to heat it to anneal it first or do it cold? It is not bent very much but I know brass work hardens very easily and becomes brittle.

    jim Woodyard -- jim.woodyard at Wednesday, 03/03/99 23:51:45 GMT

    BRASS STRAIGHTENING: Depending on the alloy and quality of the casting it SHOULD be maleable enough to straighten cold. A lot depends on the accutness of the bend. Work hardening generaly takes repeated deflection or bending. It would be safer to anneal the piece but annealing temperatures damage the surface finish. Non-ferrous metals anneal by heating and quenching. Then you work them cold. Hot working brass and bronze is tricky because the melting temperature is very close to the hot work temperature.

    This is one of those items that I'd have to see to give the best answer.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/04/99 02:50:56 GMT

    My name is Alan, I am 14 years old, I will be 15 in 37 days. I want to try BlackSmithing to see what it is like, I just need to know what kind of forge do I need to melt and heat the metal, I don't want a real expensive one, just a plain and simple one like in the medieval times. Do you know where I could get one, or do you have plans how I could make one? I also was wondering if wood could be used to heat the forge? I live by Saginaw,Michigan and not anyone in my town is a blacksmith. So I don't know what a forge really looks like, I've seen pictures of them but if I'm going to build one, I should build it right so thats why i'm writing this letter.
    Alan from Michigan
    My E-Mail address is Alan010203 at AOL.COM

    Alan -- Alan010203 at Thursday, 03/04/99 00:35:39 GMT

    Alan, Saginaw is a pretty good sized town. I'll bet there is more than one blacksmith in the area! They are often listed under "ironworks" in the phone directory.

    Look on our plans page for the "brake drum forge". These can be built for less then $100 US if you purchase new hardware and a blower OR much less if your are a good scrounger.

    THEN, look under forges on the Centaur Forge page. There are several detailed photos (click on the image). There are also quite a few forge pictures in the anvilfire NEWS.

    The best solid fuel for a forge is coal. Coke also works but the proper grade is more difficult to come by than good coal. Charcoal was used by blacksmiths exclusively for thousands of years! Real charcoal works much better than the briquetts sold for your BB-Q but they will work. Wood is last on the list. It works, but requires a deep fire bed. The flare of the flame is also much hotter and brighter than the other fuels thus making is more difficult to tell what is going on. In many parts of the world wood is still used.

    See the Getting Started article referenced at the top of the page for books you need to get to help learn about blacksmithing.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/04/99 03:08:16 GMT

    Alan: Why don't you contact Matt Balent ( e-mail ---mbalent at he is the editor of the Michigan artists Blacksmith association newsletter. Probably can tell you the name of several blacksmiths in the Saginaw area.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 03/04/99 04:11:58 GMT

    I'm contemplating casting some swage blocks (can't buy the style I want) and was wondering what your recomendation would be as to what alloy to use. The foundry I talked to suggested ASTM 128 ( manganese alloy) but I can't find the composition of it in the Machinery Handbook. Any help? Is it neccesary as it is pretty pricey and the old blocks I've looked at seem to be plain old grey cast. Thanks See you at Caniron! Storming in Sask. tonite.

    muldoon -- mullock at Thursday, 03/04/99 04:24:02 GMT

    I have seen a lot of old blacksmith's hammers at antique shows and flea markets. The v-shaped end is usually badly beaten down and distorted through use. My question is, when new was this end sharply pointed like a chisel, or slightly rounded?


    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Thursday, 03/04/99 18:30:44 GMT

    I would like to know what fullering means

    Marc Gauthier -- apache64 at Thursday, 03/04/99 19:27:29 GMT

    Iam curently Visiting Frankurt Germany and wndering of any blacksmith shops, schools, or museums in the area that i could visit? if you have any information please e mail thanks.

    Jason -- juddfish at Thursday, 03/04/99 20:31:39 GMT

    OLD SWAGE BLOCKS(muldoon): Were cast in grey iron. Today the better ones are cast in ductile iron. ASTM 128 is a cast Manganese steel. Good stuff but better than what you need. Ductile would be an ASTM A536 which comes in several grades.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/04/99 21:42:07 GMT

    BEATEN PIENS (Neal): Most smiths hammers you find in flea markets and junk shops were never used by smiths but most likely in the construction industry or machine shops where they have been severely abused. The pien end of a straight or cross pien hammer normally has a generous radius of about 1/4" (6mm) with square edges on the sides. These should also be dressed round if you use the pien of your hammer (many don't). The actual radius varies and should be adjusted to your personal preference or type of work.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/04/99 21:49:41 GMT

    FULLERING (Marc): Is an intresting term. In the fabric industry it is the process of beating fabric to make it softer and thicker (fuller). The face of the tool used is similar to the tool used by a blacksmith and there probably lies the connection.

    In blacksmithing a fuller is a tool with a cylindricaly rounded face (on a plane parallel to the handle and work). A fuller is used to make metal thinner by spreading the material directionaly (perpendicular to the axis of the cylindrical face). The pien of a smithing hammer can be used to fuller and so can a piece of round rod. The fact that the material is moved in a specific direction means you can make a piece longer and not wider at the same time. Forging with a hammer spreads the material in all directions making the work longer and wider while making it thinner.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/04/99 22:01:49 GMT

    Guru- I'm looking at a bench with alot of metalworking stakes. There is a large assortment of stakes:3 very large (36" double ended); 16
    medium stakes; and 12 very small stakes. The bench is about 30' long and 10' wide. They are in reasonable condition, a little rusty. What would be a reasonable offer on such a thing? I don't want to overpay, but I sure would love to add this to my tool assortment. Thanks for your help! Rosie Posie the riveter

    Posie Franzetti -- pozetti at Friday, 03/05/99 00:40:10 GMT


    WILLA NORRIS -- SPACEKABLOOY at HOTMAIL.COM Friday, 03/05/99 00:53:27 GMT

    VALUE OF STAKES: Typicaly the individual stakes go for $30 to $150 or more each and the bench plate over $100. Nice beak horn stakes are the most popular and sell for as much as new (about $350-400 US). A complete set for one price is generaly a bargain. Like many of us, I'm looking for a set myself.

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 02:08:26 GMT


    TEMPERING is one part of the heat treating process. In the simplest terms, the part is heated to the transformation point (the steel becomes non-magnetic and hardenable), it is quenched in water or oil (cooled at a rate that freezes the crystal structure) making the part hard. After hardening the part is evenly heated to a temperature that tempers (reduces the hardness) of the part. The temper temperature varies with the type of steel and the hardness desired. The range is 400F-650F for typical plain carbon steel. Higher for some alloy steel.

    The tricky part is the "even heat" and knowing what the temperature is. In the past when using carbon steels it was common to judge the temperature by the "temper colors" that the steel turned (the pretty rainbow of iron oxide running from yellow to purple). This made tempering of critical parts, such as a sword, high art. Today the professional blade maker will use ovens or a salt bath with electronic temperature controls. A salt bath (melted salt) has the advantage of protecting the part from the air and oxidation (See the Don Fogg web site for details).

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 02:24:30 GMT

    Where can I find a set of plans for a bellows, and are there any special relationships between coal fire size, hood size, hood opening(side draft), and chimney size/diameter? I am considering building a coal forge for my horseshoeing business, to aid in welding bar shoes, as well as a growing interest in blacksmithing. Also, if I build a brick forge, what is the best way to connect the bellows to the pot? A metal tuyere, or is there a way to build one from brick?

    Chuck Serquina -- HorshoeHank at Friday, 03/05/99 06:39:10 GMT

    In short, bellows blown brick coal forge plans! :)

    Chuck Serquina -- HorshoeHank at Friday, 03/05/99 06:41:42 GMT

    If I may pitch in here...

    Chuck: the best set of plans I've seen for a traditional brick forge and bellows set-up are in "The Blacksmith; Ironworker and Farrier" by Aldron A. Watson (c)1968, '77 '89, & 1990; W. W. Norton & Co., NY; ISBN 0-393-30683-6; [LoC TT220.W3 1990 682'.0974-dc20].

    Watson gives several good variations on the layout and the chimney, and his illustrations are very clear.

    Clear and breezy on the banks of the lower Potomac. Too *** bad I'm home sick.)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Friday, 03/05/99 16:29:06 GMT

    I was wondering how many forges are their.

    jason Friday, 03/05/99 17:39:16 GMT

    I was wondering how many forges are their.

    jason Friday, 03/05/99 17:46:31 GMT

    Dear Gurus:

    I followed your advice and bought the $500 25# Little Giant, it is on the trailer and I will have it at the ranch this afternoon. I have suddenly realized that I need a couple of questions answered.

    1) My open air shop has a concrete floor that is not very well reinforced, poured around forty years ago. It seems to me that constant vibration may jeopardize the slab, do you think a base made of crossties would protect it? Or should I cut through the existing floor and pour a small area that is better reinforced? I didn't want spend to much time or energy on permanent changes, we plan to move in a few years.

    2) I do not plan to use the hammer for steel that is being held by tongs, at least until I have a great deal of experience with the process. I intend to stick with flattening steel that is long enough to hold in one piece. Any thoughts on some sane procedures to handle short steel with tongs when I am ready? Any recommendations about reading material along these lines? Is this one of those things I will learn along the way?

    3) My hammer appears to be in pretty good condition and is operational now. The man I bought it from showed me lubrication points and some things to adjust. I am sure that I will have other questions, what would be a good reference work on maintenance and repair of the Little Giant?

    I am looking forward to trying it out (if I can get it unloaded) and I appreciate any suggestions from you guys.



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Friday, 03/05/99 19:08:17 GMT

    25# LG (Josh): Most folks find raising the hammer benificial as many are built for short blacksmiths. The wood base if a little larger than the hammer helps absorb shock AND distribute the load. A good foundation improves the hammers performance but is not really necessary in this small a hammer. I've run 50# LG's on a similar floor (no pad) and didn't have any problem. An isolation pad (seperate foundation) keeps from transmitting vibration to the building. Try it on a wood pad and if everything in the shop is rattling then consider doing more. I don't yhink you will have a problem.

    TONGS and HAMMER WORK. It is more important to have a good fit when using a power hammer so take the time to fit the jaws. Then be sure the work is sitting flat and square to the bottom die before depressing the treadle. The best way to handle small work under a power hammer is to forge the work on a big bar and then cut off the small part. Ocassionaly short work has a "porter" bar welded to it. Thats how the short billet is being handled in the picture on the Power hammer Page.

    The only book written about the LG, the Kern Little Giant book is currently out of print. Otherwise, it is JUST a machine. All machines have pretty much the same needs. If the machine is in good condition OIL IT! If it rattles, clanks or squeeks find out why. Be sure to oil the guides, toggle and clutch. The ram should have just enough play in it to run. If it is looser then the slapping will cause guide wear. Look close for oil holes on the toggles and ram. They often get greased or filled by insects and then painted over.

    The biggest problem with Little Giants are the clutches. They tend to be finicky and work erraticaly. They work best with lots of oil on either the wood block OR cast iron cone type.

    Get it running and if you are having trouble ask again.

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 22:40:31 GMT

    FORGES (Jason): Do you mean how many types, brands or shops called forges?

    Forges are generaly typed by the fuel they use. Coal (hard and soft), coke and charcoal can be used interchangably in most "coal" forges. There are minor differences that make a forge better for each type of these fuels. Then there are oil and gas forges. There are a variety of types of each but they all function pretty much the same.

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 22:49:20 GMT

    When did mild steel take over from wrought iron? Without cracking a piece of iron is there some other way to determine weather it is mild or wrought?

    T. J. Marrone -- tjmarrone at Friday, 03/05/99 22:59:38 GMT

    BELLOWS (Chuck): Besides the book mentioned by Bruce, Centaur Forge has a booklet about making a bellows and there is an article with pictures of the pieces of a bellows I built on the 21st Century page.

    Some folks put a commercial metal fire pot in their brick forges. In this case you would run a pipe to the firepot. I use 2" (5cm) or 2.5" (8cm) automotive exhaust pipe. If you check the auto supply houses you can find pre-bent elbows to fit making it a clean job. In common brick forges the air passageway it made into the brick and you would connect the bellows at the brick, directly OR with a pipe. Hanging your bellows up in the rafters puts it out of harms way but requires a long air pipe.

    I am sure there are mathematical ratios between the parts of a forge and its exhaust system but I've never seen any. Side draft flues are the best. Trying to exhaust all that extra cold air when using a hood rapidly saturates the capacity of a chimney and you end up with a shop full of smoke.

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 23:03:21 GMT

    MILD STEEL: It became available when the Bessemer process was invented in 1855 and rapidly replaced wrought iron for most uses. Intrestingly the product sought WAS wrought iron. The last large scale production of wrought iron shut down in the 1960's.

    IDENTIFYING WROUGHT IRON: The break test is probably the most sure-fire. You can also do a spark test. There is a definite difference but it helps to have a sample to go by. Simply grind a spot and watch the sparks. Wrought has long sparks with few branches. Addition of carbon increases the branching of the sparks (up to a point). The sparks from high carbon steel are positively fuzzy with branches.

    Then there is simple observation. If the piece is rusted or corroded there will be a distinct wood grain like appearance. This should be coarse enough to see at a distance (no magnification required).

    -- guru Friday, 03/05/99 23:18:14 GMT

    Thanks, I may have a better handle on it now. I forgot to mention that I got this odd looking tool in the deal that I couldn't readily identify, but it looked important. Centaur's catalog identifies it as a blowhorn stake. It is moderately pitted but not beyond repair. Is it of any value, does anyone use them anymore? Just curious.

    Thanks again,


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 03/06/99 01:31:27 GMT

    Thanks for the info, and a couple more questions...
    What info on clinker breakers do you have? looking for ideas for a brick coal forge with a metal breaker and metal ash dump door, rest made from brick.
    Second, what is the purpose of a smoke shelf in a chimney, and how large should it be?

    Chuck Serquina -- HorshoeHank at Saturday, 03/06/99 07:27:06 GMT

    I', Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/06/99 13:07:11 GMT

    Josh, Yes, they are still used and the most valuable of the sheet metal "stake" irons. Although they are not a blacksmithing tool, many shops have them. See post on 3/5/99 VALUE of STAKES).

    -- guru Saturday, 03/06/99 14:23:08 GMT

    Chuck, another good book on brick forges is the M.T. Richarson collection Practical Blacksmithing. It is full of forge lore and drawings of brick forges.

    The "smoke shelf" in a chimney serves as a check valve. Wind blowing down the chimney hits the shelf AND the higher velocity air flow at the choke point and stops. You still get some smoke but not the full blast. In fireplaces they also act as a velocity increaser making the fire "draw" better. The shelf also prevents rain and snow from falling on your fire. They ARE NOT a cure for an insufficiently sized flue. Old chimneys without shelves that do not draw properly are often pointed out as the reason for the shelf. This is just coinciednce and bad reasoning. The problem generaly lies elsewhere.

    Side draft forge chimneys use a velocity increaser in the form of the restricted opening at the forge. This opens into a considerably larger flue. Sometimes this is at a right angle, sometimes it is sloped upward. Both work. I've seen many without a shelf. I have noted that the commercial steel sidedraft forge chimneys have a shelf. I'm not sure this is necessary for functional reasons or to meet some building code. There are pictures of several of these in the anvilfire NEWS. See the last pages of the ABANA coverage and the AFC coverage. Although these are steel they are good models for the interior of a brick chimney.

    I recommend you make ash dump and clinker breaker from stainless steel. Coal ash is notoriously corrosive. Metal parts permanently installed in the bottom of a brick forge will have a very short life. I'd bolt the "clinker breaker" onto the rod so that it could be removed from the massonry.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/06/99 14:47:26 GMT

    I am looking for an inexpensive way to make some very small closed die forgings. I was looking at the Bull, but am not sure it's capable both because of it's size, and the die sizes available.
    The parts are very small,only about 1/2" wide at best and the longest is about 1.5" long. the material is stainless, but the largest cross section is only about .450" but that is at one end of the part. The bulk of the length is very thin, only about .150" thick. can you make a suggestion. I'm not trying to make anything but these parts, so i'm not interested in being able to use this for anything else. Can you make a suggestion? I really don't want to get into anything extremely costly, have to pour a big base, or use anything requiring a a line shaft. I want something self contained. Thanks

    Dan Sullivan -- HILL812 at AOL.COM Saturday, 03/06/99 15:09:14 GMT

    Dan, the BULL and the other of the new small hammers are not what we call "self contained". Self contained air hammers have a built in compressor cylinder. The Kuhns and Nazels are a self contained hammers. The new small hammers all require an air compressor (see my STILL incomplete review of the new air hammers on the Power hammer Page.

    The KA-75 would be your best bet for closed die work due to its having a double cylinder guide system. Capacity becomes the big question. Stainless takes more power than mild steel. If your forgings have a lot of sharp detail this requires more power than is required to just shape a part. Multiple blows will shape a part but can make a mess where coining is performed due to slight misalignments between blows. I'd recommend sending a drawing of the part to Bob Bergman and see if he thinks the KA can do it. Between your discription and the capacity of the machine it is too close for me to call.

    If the KA is too small then your next choice in a new machine is the Kuhn or the Saliner. Bruce Wallace currently has a used Nazel 3B for sale that is more than capable of doing the job and is bargain for the class of machine.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/06/99 15:32:15 GMT


    My previous message misfired. I will try again.

    I have a KO air hammer so I can forge some respectful stuff. However the KO is good for stock up to about 1 1/12" for light production. I want to increase my capacity without putting out big bucks and so am considering a forging press. I have purchase plans from don fogg. The plans are clear but the application is not covered is any great detail.

    My question is how do I get a really good feel for the size forging press that I need. Are there videos available? I doubt that I will ever forge anything larger than 3" x 3".

    dan houston -- sculptnote at Saturday, 03/06/99 23:40:42 GMT

    Dan, a lot is determined by by how much deformation you require. The press used by Don Fogg was built for forge welding and controlably drawing knife and sword billets. Don demonstrated it for general use at the ABANA conference but I missed it (too busy with the JYH).

    In hammers the industrial rule of thumb for mild steel is 50lbs per square inch of cross section. (3x3) x 50 = 450 pounds. For tool and high alloy steels the PSI is considerably greater (70/sqin).

    In heavy industrial forging machines a hydraulic press of 1 ton capacity is equivalent to a 2 - 2.4 ton drop hammer. The problem with this comparison is that the smaller the work the faster the work cools and the faster the machines need to do its job. Thus small machines for doing small work need to run very fast. In a hydraulic press fast means horsepower. To move the ram (relatively) fast you need a high volume pump. When you couple high volume AND high pressure you end up needing a lot of horsepower.

    Wish I could advise you better. All the work I've done with a hydraulic press was cold work. However, there is never a substitute for MORE POWER!

    -- guru Sunday, 03/07/99 00:35:48 GMT

    Dan, I checked a bunch of the video sources (ABANA, Centaur and the Blacksmiths Journal). No press video. ABANA did have one industrial aeropsace video that might have possibilities. . .

    On press capacity we recently looked at the force needed to upset a 3/4" hex tool steel bar. The recomended size machine was 50 tons.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/07/99 00:41:13 GMT

    Thanks Guru

    I got the message! Build big. Build for flexibility, Although I never thought of 3" x 3'as small i do know that there is another world out there.

    Anyway, will probably build a press with variable speed pump, 30 ton, and 2 inches per second ram speed.

    Thanks for the input.

    dan -- scutnote at erols.comn Sunday, 03/07/99 00:51:08 GMT

    Guru, Thanks for the help. I assume by double cyl. guide system, you're talking about the ability to hold match on the parts? These parts are not very detailed. A good way to describe them would be something like a little fan blade, that's not twisted. The heavier section at the one end is to machine a "t" shape to hold them in a wheel. It ends up being a small cutting or chipping device.I appreciate your help. I think I have a lot of good info to get moving. Thanks again. If anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

    Dan Sullivan -- COM">HILL812 at aol>COM Sunday, 03/07/99 01:25:19 GMT

    KA-75: Yes on the double cylinder guides. The KA also has a very compact frame arangement that cannot flex a great deal making it better for closed die work on small parts. The other hammers with open steel frames are subject to much springing. In normal open die work work this is not critical but in closed die work it is not acceptable. Sounds like you're making a little dovetailed turbine blade.

    Dan, sculptnote at, For most of us 3x3 is HUGE stock but in industrial hammers its just a little byte. The piece Josh Greenwood is forging on the Power hammer Page was a 3" dia stainless round that we forged into a 1-1/2" square bar. The 500 pound Chambersburg and the 350 Bradley handled the piece just right. A 100# Little Giant could have done the job but it would have taken many more heats than the two heats used (one to get close, one to finish to size). It probably could have been done in one heat but it was the first time we had run the hammer!

    -- guru Sunday, 03/07/99 03:19:16 GMT

    Hi, I'm a 14 year that loves fantasy books and I've always wanted to learn how to forge. I've been to a couple of alifia river (please excuse my spelling) rendevous and I saw a guy forging at the rendevous. ever since I've been interested in forging, but in between School and Boy scouts I haven't had time to do any research on it. Can you e-mail a list of things i'll need to forge and estimated prices. What type of room should i have for a forge (i mean out door room)? what type of coal is the best coal for forgeing?

    Tampa, Florida

    P.S. Sorry about not giving you my real name, but I prefer to leave my name invisible when I'm on-line.

    Maverick -- Paladin vr at Sunday, 03/07/99 14:20:07 GMT

    Maverick, a Scout master in Florida just wrote to me asking about setting up a program with his troop. If I remember I'll send you his address. You may want to join forces. Your best source of help and information will be local blacksmiths.

    Clyde Payton
    RR 3 Box 124D
    Payton Rd.
    Monticello, FL 32344,
    (850) 997-3627
    Steve Bloom
    PO Box 760
    Archer, FL
    32618-0760 e-mail: sab at

    The Florida group is very active and will be glad to help you.

    SPACE: You need as much as you can get but 10x10 feet (3x3 meters) will do.

    TOOLS: At a minimum you need a forge, anvil and hammer. Then you can add a vise, tongs, bench, hacksaw, files. Prices vary a lot and new equipment is relatively expensive. New equipment will cost $1000 to $2000 US. Most of us manage to setup for a few hundred dollars or less by scrounging and building much of our own equipment.

    FUEL: Check with your local blacksmiths. If coal must be shipped great distances (such as from PA) it will be expensive and inconvienent. You want fuel that you can purchase localy. In many places this means using a propane (gas) forge.

    See my article Getting Started for a list of books and catalogs. Good luck and let us know how you fare or if you you need any more help.

    CC: e-mail

    -- guru Sunday, 03/07/99 16:07:03 GMT

    Hi Everyone,
    Im tracing back some of the root of blackmithing and have found that when Christopher Columbus made his econd voyage he took with him a large number of Blacksmiths.

    Anyone know exactly how many? (or what their name were)
    And how far back has blacksmithing been traced? (with or without it founding art like Redsmithing, silvermithing etc.)

    And where does it originate from? Europe, Asia or
    some other place?


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Sunday, 03/07/99 20:25:03 GMT

    Hello I'm a 15yr old male with a little bit of shop experience from h.s. but not that much.
    Was curious as to the best way to remove scratches from impropper sharpening of a knife blade that I recently bought from another person
    Thanks for any help that you can offer in this matter

    Nathan -- rat2 at Monday, 03/08/99 04:46:58 GMT

    Nathan, all you can do is regrind or hone until the surface has been reduced to below the scratches. IF the blade is hollow ground then you may just have to live with the scratches. It IS possible to work the hollow ground section by hand with stiff abrasive like belt sander belt. See my article on the 21st Century page titled "Wheels" (way down at the bottom).

    -- guru Monday, 03/08/99 05:04:57 GMT

    I'm a part time smith/welder. I make coffee tables, plant stands, etc. Does anyone have experience with CAD software for these kind of projects? IMSI (Turbocad) has 5 products under $100. How do you know which is right?
    Also - where is a good place to get prefab parts - candle pans with chimney clips, fleur-di-lis,and other decorative stuff.
    Love your site! Thanks. Art

    Art Thompson -- athompson at Monday, 03/08/99 14:49:13 GMT

    The exact date at which people discovered the technique of smelting iron ore to produce usable metal is not known. The earliest iron implements discovered by archaeologists in Egypt date from about 3000 BC, and iron ornaments were used even earlier; the comparatively advanced technique of hardening iron weapons by heat treatment was known to the Greeks about 1000 BC.

    "Iron and Steel Manufacture," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    So much for the short view. Scholars currently believe that the development of smelting iron originated in the Caucus mountains (Eastern Mediterainian basin). Of course this may be another of our typically Eurocentric views of history.

    -- guru Monday, 03/08/99 14:55:58 GMT

    Semi-Official Business

    Good Sirs:

    I presently have a project for a museum storage facility which requires a set of window bars in a sensitive area. What I'm looking for is a description and specifications specific enough (and general enough) so that a builder or landlord could take it to the local blacksmith, welder or ironworker and come back with a respectable set of bars. On the inside are hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment paid for by our tax dollars, and the priceless artifacts of our heritage. On the other claw, our tax dollars will be (indirectly) paying for the bars, so I don't want to specify titanium or depleted uranium or kryptonite. Basically, we want to keep the bad people out and the good stuff in.

    The location is semi-arid desert, with temperatures up to 120 degrees F. and seldom below freezing. The window is NOT used as an emergency exit. The window is alarmed, but this is as much because the HVAC must be held stable as it is for intrusion.

    I figured that given the range of experience here we could come up with something that would frustrate folks with a hacksaw (or maybe a Jeep and winch) or certainly slow things down. I saw one facility where the bars wouldn't keep out a Cub Scout pack, and if I just specify "bars at window" I know that's what we're going to get. I'm looking forward to you creative responses.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Monday, 03/08/99 16:39:23 GMT

    Dear Sir, I am trying to build a trededl hammer much like the one I saw in the Blacksmithing gazette page one anvilfire news. I found a large pice of cast 8" round by 36" tall for my anvil. My ram is a 85 pound solid piston from somthing large. My question is would you follow this picture and desine or do you see something that you dont like or would change. I love your site and have lurned alot sifting through all these pages. Thank you Dan.

    Dan -- thornton at Monday, 03/08/99 19:02:29 GMT

    Dan, sounds like a good start. Just be aware of the limitations of your materials. If the anvil actually IS cast iron, remember that everything will need to be bolted or straped to it, you will not be able to weld to it. The weight, if it is solid, is 482 pounds. I would also question the material the piston is made of. Anytime you buy scrap items to build with you should try to determine what the material is before planning around it too much. Try to drill a small hole or make a test weld (if you intend to weld on the part).

    Keep us informed of your progress!

    -- guru Monday, 03/08/99 23:14:12 GMT

    Bruce, my feeling on security bars is that the fastening is more important than the bars themselves (unless they are built into masonry).

    A local outfit made the adjustable "security" bars sold by a national hardware distributor (who shall go un-named). The bars were 3/8" square welded to 1"x 1/8" "plates". The mounting holes were for approximately 1/4" screws! Like many "security" items, these mearly gave a distant appearance of security.

    Our old Grist mill and other local buildings of the era had simple single diagonal bars (made of old iron wagon tire) with bolts that extended through the wall to large washers and nuts. Bolts were either 3/4" or 7/8" carriage bolts (big smooth round heads that you can't get a grip on). In most cases a single bar makes it impossible to crawl through the window and prevents large objects from passing OUT through the window. I had to remove these where we used the interior for living space. There was nothing easy about it.

    The spec needs to consider the wall construction and interior finish.

    -- guru Monday, 03/08/99 23:31:57 GMT

    GURU, yes it is a solid base, my question is , well the man I got this piece from said that it was cast steel and I tried your advice about a hole then weld and the weld looked good. that dose not mean it is holding worth a darn. can you weld to cast steel? can I weld and strap and bolt as well? I need to fasten this to a 1

    Dan -- thornton at Monday, 03/08/99 23:32:21 GMT

    Last post did not take all the way. I nmeed to fasten this to a 1"x12"x28" pice of flat stock. The ram I know to be steel. It may be case hardened and is very polished like chrom. can I weld to this or weld and bolt? this ram will ride inside a heavey wall pipe and it fits really good and smooth even with out greese. I got all this neet steel at a large machine shop. The man working on a niels bemmet surface grinder the size of my shop said I could have what I needed because anything under 500lbs. was just floor sweepings to him. Onch again great site Jock hope to meet you some day enjoy your evening. Dan

    Dan -- thornton at Monday, 03/08/99 23:42:56 GMT

    Cast steel is generaly weldable. If is high carbon steel there may be some problem with crystalization at the weld (requires pre and post heat to prevent). A lot of weldable cast items are "Ductile Iron". Ductile is weldable as long as you take care.

    The shiney piston may very well be chrome plated (for a hard surface). I've found that you can easily weld chrome plated tool steels with 304-308 stainless electrode without problem. The stainless is not as strong as the alloy carbon steels but it works well with high alloy stuff.

    Many power hammers have seperate anvils, the anvils are either wedged in a hole in the frame or pulled up against the frame with "U" bolts or bent straps. This reduces stress on the frame (normaly cast), makes it possible to align the anvil and dies seperately AND the straps mean that no holes needed to be drilled and taped in the anvil.

    One man's trash is another man's treasure. Sound's like a heck of a deal. Keep scarfing up the heavy stuff. Its hard to find and good trading material!

    -- guru Monday, 03/08/99 23:53:31 GMT

    i have a friend that is looking for a trip hammer. can you help

    jim -- mtcolors at Tuesday, 03/09/99 00:53:17 GMT

    Hi Is there a relatively simple way to determine where additional mass ceases to be a benefit to the anvil & become only additional machine mass? ie: base for a power hammer I was contemplating using 4" plate under the anvil but don't have enough to do the full size base unless I buy more & unless it's a big advantage I don't want to do that. The anvil is 6 1/4" dia. Thanks

    muldoon -- mullock at Tuesday, 03/09/99 02:38:34 GMT

    Muldoon, hammers have been built with anvil to ram ratios of less than 10:1 but all the better (ie older) commercial hammers were 15:1 or there abouts. Even Little Giants, which were the cheap (therefore plentiful) and popular hammer has a 15:1 ratio not including the frame. In the higher quality hammers such as the Bradleys the ratio is 20:1 or more.

    At 10:1 hammers work pretty good but transmit quite a bit of shock to the floor. Below 5:1 they do a good jackhammer imitation. 20:1 is recommended for modern applications where a floating (on the earth) monolithic (big concrete) foundation is used. In the past hammers had seperate anvil foundations. Today the anvil and hammer set on a massive (but not so deep) foundation. Now we are talking HUGE hammers here, but the theory is the same. 20:1 greatly reduces the transmitted shock.

    Years ago Chambersburg published an anvil efficiency chart. I'll reproduce it here when I get a chance but meanwhile here are some datum.

    10:1 = 40%
    15:1 = 58%
    20:1 = 70%
    25:1 = 80%

    Hammers WILL work with considerably less, even negative ratios! I know of several prototype hammers that were built with pipe for the anvil! In these cases the floor is acting as your anvil!

    Higher mass also holds the hammer DOWN. Every time the ram has to have its motion reversed at the top of the stroke it is trying to lift the hammer!

    Build with as much mass a you can but don't go crazy. The thing to do is set your ram mass based on the amount of anvil you put together.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/09/99 04:09:00 GMT

    My Dad is very familiar with welding and most metal work, but would like to know how to harden steel. He is making teeth for the bucket on his front end loader, for use around the farm. He just wants to know how to make the teeth hard, he is using 1" cold rolled steel. Thanx

    David Singletary -- dbs_qxtr at Tuesday, 03/09/99 05:39:49 GMT

    David, I hate to tell you this but the strength and hardness of steel is determined by the type of steel you start with as muach as how you heat treat it. Plows, disks and harrow teeth are made of high carbons steels such as 1070 and 1080. Mild steel is 1020. The last two digits of these numbers indicate the percentage of carbon in the steel. Mild steel hardens a little but not enough for applications needing a hard steel. 1080 is up in the range that hammers, cutlery and many tools are made from.

    Then you have the thousands of alloy steels designed to be easy to heat treat and stronger than plain carbon steels. I'm not sure what loader teeth are made from but it will be at least 1070 and possibly a shock resistant alloy steel.

    Hardening requires heating the steel to what is called the transformation point. This is a low red and where steel becomes non-magnetic. The steel is then quenched in water or oil depending on the type of steel (there ARE air quench steels!). Immediately after hardening the steel should be tempered. Tempering reduces the hardness, some stress and makes the part much tougher. Tempering temperatures are as low as 400F and as high as 1,000 or more. The specific temperature is determined by the type of steel and the hardness needed.

    If your Dad has put a lot of work into the parts he could hard-face the teeth with special welding rod (check with your welding supplier). This will make the teeth wear resistant but not much stronger. The rod is also quite expensive.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/09/99 13:41:42 GMT

    Greetings. A friend of mine is makeing a forge. He has found
    some lining material.

    Would an 8 lb per cu ft 2" with a max temp of 2000 be ok? Anything over this is $$$.

    For a 24" x 25' roll of the 2000 the cost is $170.00
    which is about 3 relines.

    Nicholas -- nam at Tuesday, 03/09/99 18:04:45 GMT

    What is the median salary for blacksmiths in the Chicago area? Specifically, a blacksmith in the cutting die manufacturing industry? What is a good source where I can find this information?

    Malini Goel -- malinig at klc-ltd Tuesday, 03/09/99 19:59:32 GMT

    Refractory insulation: Forges typicaly reach very close to 3,000F. Occasionaly you can get away with lower temperature refractories but they tend to have a short life. For the latest on gas forge design check Ron Reil's web page

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/10/99 03:57:56 GMT

    BLACKSMITHS pay rates vary widely. However, Chicago is a UNION town. Check with the Blacksmiths and Boilermakers local of AFLCIO (?). They probably can tell you exactly what the local pay scale is.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/10/99 04:02:32 GMT

    My mother recently purchased a cast iron sink. The sink has begun rusting on the edges and since it has been sitting outdoor, we are wondering what we can do to cure the bottom of the sink and possibly stop the rust. Someone told us to burn charcoal on the bottom. Any advice?

    Terrilyn -- tsingle at Wednesday, 03/10/99 05:43:19 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    more brick forge questions....
    As I am not a bricklayer, how was the arch in the ABANA pictures formed?
    Do I build the whole forge body out of brick, or do I build the outer shell and fill the inside with concrete before laying on the fire brick?
    Does the side draft flue need layered with fire brick?

    Thanks again!

    Chuck Serquina -- Horshoehank at Wednesday, 03/10/99 06:51:53 GMT

    Hey i just added a blacksmith chat in mIRC. the channel name is #Blacksmithing .

    Ken Wednesday, 03/10/99 09:08:19 GMT

    Chuck, you need to use as much brick as possible. Concrete is not very heat resistant. It spalls and shatters when exposed to high heat.
    The flue doesn't need to be lined with fire brick but it doesn't hurt to have a few where its expected to get the most heat. Terracotta flue liners are required in most places. In many localities all chimneys are covered by the local building code. You need to check the code. If you come under the code and build a non-code chimney you can be denied fire insurance or the locality can condem your structure. Since forge chimneys are considered industrial in many locals the inspectors may not have a clue what you need and let you do your own thing.

    Building an arch is simple if you know how. A wooden form is made to build the arch on. It needs to be supported such that it can be easily removed once the masonry is set. This means that it needs legs or spacers under it that will come out and it can be dropped down.

    Once the form is in place the bricks are set alternately from side to side (dry). For furnaces and such they make special arch bricks that are tappered but these are not necessary. On a dry masoned arch chips of brick are put in the gaps at the back of the arch and the whole will be self supporting. Motar does the same thing and is a more positive "lock".

    When the arch is complete, remove your form! Ta, da!

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/10/99 13:38:58 GMT

    I am a trapper. I use drags on my sets and need to modify the points drawing them out and putting a sharp point on them to catch better in the ground . How do I temper the points to be strong and not brittle and able to handle a strong pull? I have a forge and some experience from highschool but consider me a beginner novice..I have forgotten what color my metal should be to work it properly. The drags are 3/8 inch mild steel rod in a two prong configuration. Thank you for your help... Mike

    Mike Stephens -- mstephen at Wednesday, 03/10/99 17:56:52 GMT

    I have just finished a blacksmith course up in Canada and I am gathering up the tools of the trade to get started. My question is about a firebox for coal. Does it have to be preformed cast iron or can a firebox be fabricated with welded plate steel?

    Steve Walker -- stevewalker at Wednesday, 03/10/99 18:47:29 GMT

    Can you show me some modern artwork of blacksmithing

    Marnik D'Hoore -- manager at Wednesday, 03/10/99 19:42:10 GMT


    I'm a professional woodworker and I need a bunch of "straps" and "strap hinges" (for lack of a correct term) for a reproduction chest I'm making for someone. The straps will bend around the face, back and end of the chest. I need 21 of them (and a "lock plate") and they range from around 10"-25" total length. I recieved a quote from Horton Brasses for $1100 - Higher than planed. Will probably push the price up to around $2100 for the chest.

    Anyway, with more of this work possibly in the future, is it feasible to do the forging myself without spending a ton of cash getting tooled up for it? And, is making this type of stuff and making it look decent an "easy" skill to get a handle on? My experience is limited to a high school metal working class.

    Thank you

    Ben Finowski

    Ben Finowski -- baf at Wednesday, 03/10/99 22:28:01 GMT

    TRAPPER Mike: Mild steel can be hardened slightly by quenching in water. Heat the points until they become non-magnetic and quench. Warm until a sprinkel of water dances on the surface (this will be 350-400F, to temper a little). Forging temperature for mild steel is orange to yellow. NOTE: Mild steel is not very hardenable. For more hardness some folks use mixtures called "super quench". Brine comes close and cold (near freezing) water will do the same. Geee, where would I find near freezing water this time of year?

    Brrrrrrr, cold and clamy in Virginia.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 03:15:34 GMT

    CAST IRON or STEEL (Steve): Cast Iron has more heat and corrosion resistance than steel but steel works just fine. There are probably more steel forges today than cast iron.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 03:17:59 GMT

    I am trying to weld a cracked hammer hatchet combination. There is a crack about 1/4 the way from the neck of the hatchet part. I beleive the crack goes al the way through to the center were the handle would insert. I have tried welding with a 250 watt older soldering iron but the solder does not stick. What should I do? Keep in mind that the hatchet is somewhat old

    Thanks in advance for any information

    Jamie Evans

    Jamie Evans -- jrobevans at Thursday, 03/11/99 03:25:47 GMT

    DO-IT-YOURSELF (Ben): Blacksmithing is like woodworking, it takes knowledge, experiance AND equipment. Most production blacksmiths have as much or more equipment than you do. You have a planer, HE has a power hammer, you have dozens of wood chisels, HE has dozens of metal chisels. . . You can't beat a man at his own game. There are bunches of smiths around that make this stuff every day. The professionals can make dozens in the time an amature can make one.

    I'm sure you could pick up blacksmithing if that is what you really want to do. To get good enough to make decent looking hinges that you would WANT to use. . . Might take a year or so if you worked at it.

    Contact Nick Vincent at Nathan's Forge (web site URL in current NEWS). Nick does this stuff full time and is very efficient.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 03:36:07 GMT

    WELDING HATCHET (Jamie): Welding steel requires heating the metal to around 2,800F. Soldering irons only go to 700-800F. It IS possible to solder steel but solder is not much better than glue on a tool like a hammer.

    If the hatchet's value is due to age or being a collectors item then a repair of this type will make it worthless. Unless you are a welder (and I sumize you are not), then someone else will need to make this repair. Any welder or blacksmith should be able to help you.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 04:39:26 GMT

    my skill level is in-about the medium range. my question is pretty
    simple, i hope. I am making a sword out of 5160 grade steel. it
    must be able to stand up to the rigurs of reenactment. so using oil
    to quench the blade, what colour should the heated steel be before i
    set it to the oil bath?
    thank you verry much.

    michael -- smokie at Thursday, 03/11/99 08:02:56 GMT

    Michael: Reenactment swords do not need to cut, mearly not bend or break. The 5160 will do very well as-forged. It is best NOT to judge hardening temperatures by color. The color is effected by ambient light as much as by temperature. The hardening point is when the steel becomes non-magnetic. The important question is the tempering temperature. After hardening steel you must temper it. Tempering is the reheating of the steel to some temperature below the transformation point (where it became non-magnetic). The temperature range from around 400F to 1,400F depending on the steel and the hardness desired.

    For safety's sake you should temper this sword to the lowest recommended hardness (highest temperature) for this steel. Even annealed (dead soft) this is very tough steel. I'll look up and post the temper temperatures later today.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 13:29:24 GMT

    I have a question on Anvil identification. I just bought my first anvil after reading used anvil section in your 21st century section, thanks for all the helpful info. The Anvil is just over 100lbs a small one but better than the railroad rail I was using. It has an approx 5/8" thick hard steel face bonded to what appears to be a cast steel or iron body. body appears to have either been cast in two pieces and welded toghether or cast in mold whose two sides didnt line up perfectly as there is a distinct line down middle front and back of body, Anvil has letter M on one side and C on opposite side and a touch mark that looks like a letter B witha curl at top. Does anyone have any idea what brand this might be just curious as it doesnt affect use Anvil is in excellent shape and rings like a bell with even the slightest tap and I got it for 80 cents a pound so cant complain.
    Thank you for any help in identifying.

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Thursday, 03/11/99 14:15:33 GMT

    One other post if anyone in Florida is in need of an Anvil I located a 150lb anvil in Sanford Fl in my search that appeared to be in excellent condition from photos. Seller want $225.00 for it email me and I will give you sellers email. I was going to buy it but found one locally that didnt require shipping and shipping costs and I couldnt physically go down and inspect it so passed.

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Thursday, 03/11/99 14:22:15 GMT

    I have found your information on the EC-JYC very interesting and have decide to construct one of my own. However before I take off with this adventure I am interested in seeing other designs and plans if they are available. Is there more information available for the WC-JYC, has it "trashed" itself yet? In your hammer page you only show a photo of the WC-JYC, what are its stats, sample work, is it stll in operation? What are the projected life spans for both of the JYC hammers, projected wear and tear, projected preventative maintenance, etc.? I think I like the EC-JYC (new design) the best, has it been built and placed in production yet? I have already been given two in-line six engines and a chevy luv axle. I look forward to your response and thank you for your time in advance.

    Jay Geisinger -- poorboy at Thursday, 03/11/99 14:56:49 GMT

    Jeff, Thanks for sharing the wealth! I'll look up your anvil if someone else doesn't beat me to it.

    Jay, Boy are you FULL of questions! There are several photos of the WC-JYH in the anvilfire NEWS ABANA edition. The last I heard or saw of it was after it was sold at the conference. There are articles on hammers by Andrew Hooper, Brian Rognholt and Bertie Reitveld on the Power hammer Page under Catalog of User Built Hammers.

    Both the JYH hammers and others like them will not compete with the durability of production machines with parts engineered specifically for the purpose, heavy duty castings, forgings and precision machining. However, if you stick to the build it from scrap philosophy it can be a cost effective solution for those that cannot afford a power hammer and have the time to build one.

    On the EC-JYH the axel, bearings and brake as clutch system built from a rather LARGE automobile has the potential to run indefinately. The shock absorber linkage has some failings but parts are cheap and easy to replace. The machine has not been run a great deal since the Asheville ABANA conference but it was run continously for several days before and during the conference. The only problem noticed is that the sheet metal dust covers on the shocks have cracked and should be removed. I expect the "engine block as anvil stand" will show problems next. It turns out that even a "heavy" V-8 engine block doesn't weigh much when stripped down.

    The WC-JYH had some balance problems and wanted to walk (run) across the parking lot at the ABANA conference. This machine definitely needed to be bolted down. I expect its weak link is the connection to the piston and crank shaft.

    To build a really GOOD JYH takes patience and creativity. Finding the right parts can make a big difference in the succesfulness of your creation. It also takes more know-how than it appears on the surface. Besides a little reverse engineering, machining and welding skills are helpful.

    Grant gave me grief about my machined parts (the crank pin and shock connector with bronze bushings), but his machine required TIG welding aluminium parts together (one piece of a piston to another to make the crank connection) and fitting of the pulley to the crank shaft. Both cases are beyond the average back yard do-it-yourselfer. But with determination and imagination both problems may have been avoided. The other alternative is to pay someone to make a few parts or do a little welding for you.

    The EC-JYH-II has not yet been built. It WILL be. There are a few mods I want to make to the original first. Preventive maintence??? Grease and oil (often overlooked on commercial machines with predictable results).

    MUCH MORE. . . . SOON!

    -- guru Thursday, 03/11/99 22:15:40 GMT

    What type of of welding electrode would you weld spring steel with, without cooking the steel afterwards and stress relieveing the weld?

    Maureen Hyman -- mhyman at Thursday, 03/11/99 22:26:31 GMT

    All Hallowed gurus
    Now the snow is melting and my scrap pile is re-emerging to the land of the living. Lo what has we here. I forgot about a piece of 6X6 about 25" in length laying amoung my treasures. The thing weighs about 300lbs. Any Ideas what I could use it for?

    Question deux (2)
    I am attempting to make a draw knife from a piece of car spring. I have the general shape finished. Is there a special angle the blade should be ground to? Should it be quenched in oil or water? I got a copy of the Weygers book he recommended uing used oil to quench and other books say used new oil. Any thoughts on this?

    Slack tub thawed this week in God's country

    Minnesota Jim -- jimn at Friday, 03/12/99 00:35:09 GMT

    All Hallowed gurus
    Now the snow is melting and my scrap pile is re-emerging to the land of the living. Lo what has we here. I forgot about a piece of 6X6 about 25" in length laying amoung my treasures. The thing weighs about 300lbs. Any Ideas what I could use it for?

    Question deux (2)
    I am attempting to make a draw knife from a piece of car spring. I have the general shape finished. Is there a special angle the blade should be ground to? Should it be quenched in oil or water? I got a copy of the Weygers book he recommended uing used oil to quench and other books say used new oil. Any thoughts on this?

    Slack tub thawed this week in God's country

    Minnesota Jim -- jimn at Friday, 03/12/99 00:36:51 GMT

    WELDING SPRING STEEL: To recommend a rod I'd have to know the material. Springs are made of plain carbon steel, alloy steels and stainless steel (also bronze). If the intent is to repair a spring, forget it! It can be done but if the spring poses any danger such as supporting a load or breaking and parts flying (such as on a power hammer) it is a risk that you don't want to take. Springs must be welded with 100% penetration and the material should be pre and post heat treated. E7018 makes a fairly decent weld in plain carbon steel springs.

    300# = Anvil for SOMETHING! Good start on a JYH.

    QUENCHING OIL: Almost any type of oil works as a quenchant. The best I ever used was a high temperature synthetic oil (no-smoke, no flame). I DO NOT recommend motor oil, used or otherwise. Motor oil contains some REALLY nasty additives including cadnium. You are going to fill your shop with that smoke, think about it. I've done it, it was dumb, I won't do it anymore. Vegatable oil goes rancid. That leaves clear mineral oil. Mineral oil is available in commercial quantites. It is used to make "baby" oil and in bakeries to keep the bread from sticking to the pans (yum!).

    -- guru Friday, 03/12/99 01:33:44 GMT

    I'm working on a free standing firescreen. I am concerned about rust but want to retain the natural forged finish. What sort of clear finish can I use that will be heat resistant. Second question, I saw a comment somewhere about using a type of stainless for outdoor door hardware that would require no finish and retain its natural forged patina. Thanks for the help

    Roger -- tandaear at Friday, 03/12/99 05:04:43 GMT

    Dear Guru
    I have no experience in blacksmithing. This, I regret, because I have a deep interest in this trade. However, in the area where I live (North-Eastern Ontario) there are no Blacksmiths, and I have no-one from which to learn. I was wondering if you had any idea of where, and how I could find an apprenticeship. If you would like my resume before giving me any information, write back and I will send you one.

    Yours Truly
    Andrew Fournier

    Andrew Fournier -- corpor_al at Friday, 03/12/99 05:10:39 GMT

    Roger, my opinion has always been that there is no "natural" finish that is statifactory for ironwork (see the 21st Century article Corrosion and its Prevention). However, if you are using a gas forge (or coal that doesn't plate) and you scruplously clean the work with a power wire brush, then clear lacquer is commonly used.

    304 Stainless can be forged and used as-is outdoors (see the 21st Century article Latch). I apply a coat of wax (any kind) to give a little luster. You must be careful to use stainless fasteners and not bolt to carbon steel. The carbon steel will rust and transfer stains by electrolisis. All stainless will show rust stains if any carbon steel contacts it for a period of time while wet or material from your anvil, hammer or tools become imbeded in the surface. This is rare but you should be careful to clean any old scale from your anvil and work surfaces before working with stainless that is going to be used unfinished.

    -- guru Friday, 03/12/99 12:43:15 GMT

    Andrew, The old fashioned apprentice system is pretty much dead in the Americas (See my article on the 21st Century page on the subject). It may be practiced in Europe. However, their school systems are much different than ours and students destined for apprentice systems or the manual trades take many courses focused on the destined occupation.

    ABANA has a Journeyman program that may guide you or put you in contact with someone willing to take on an untrained helper. However, the program as its setup expects someone with considerable experiance. There are also ABANA chapters in Canada who may be able to put you in contact with a local smith. You'd be surprized how many there are!

    ABANA - for contact information goto Chapters then Contacts. I think the Journeyman Program is under Education.

    -- guru Friday, 03/12/99 12:56:32 GMT

    I forgot to mention, there are also a number of blacksmithing schools in the U.S. ABANA has information on them too!

    -- guru Friday, 03/12/99 13:01:05 GMT

    What does the makers mark look like on a Peter Wright anvil?
    How would you rate a Peter Wright as a anvil?(Great to Poor)
    As I remember the Peter Wright is a cast body with a steel face, or am I wrong?
    I have found one 150# available and in my area for a starter anvil at $2 a pound, and I am seeking some insight. -Mike

    Mike Graf -- cmgraf at Friday, 03/12/99 16:43:32 GMT


    Guru is right again....Ontario has (don't quote me) the Ontario Blacksmith Asso, which I beleive is part of ABANA. I have seen several Ontario smiths on the web....didn't keep their email address's though.
    You may also want to try the ABANA blacksmith mailing list called THE FORGE. (Instructions are on their site) Lots of smiths check in their.
    Good luck......Bob

    Bob -- robert_miller at Friday, 03/12/99 18:04:10 GMT

    There's a REAL nice looking ad on page nine (9) of this issue of the Anvil's Ring!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 03/12/99 20:56:51 GMT

    I want to weld up the face of an old anvil. I've read Rob Gunter's plan in several publications, but the vendor's information on 2110 rod says that it contains Chromium. Will this be noticable in the finished anvil? Saw one last week that looked like silver!

    Barry Myers -- bmyers647 at Saturday, 03/13/99 00:58:55 GMT


    That rapid thumping sound that all of you hear from West Texas is my newly installed Little Giant whacking away dutifully at some poor mishandled piece of steel. Thanks for the help. Now that I am rapidly banging steel, I need some recommendations for forging and then heat treating the pretty 52100 that Grandpa sent me. I have a very accurate digital heat treat furnace, a liquid nitrogen tank and the various things that go with my propane forge and LG. How can I get the most in a blade from the the 52100 and my set-up? Any specific recommendations?

    Thanks in advance,


    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Saturday, 03/13/99 01:34:42 GMT

    PETER WRIGHT ANVILS say Peter Wright Solid Wrought. They are the classic wrought iron anvil with a steel face. One of the best anvils made. $2/lb is a good price unless severly damaged.

    JIM! I haven't seen the NEW Anvil's Ring YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HARD FACING ANVILS: All hard facing rod and some standard rods have sufficient alloying ingredients to be brighter than plain carbon steel. Unless the anvil is severely damaged refacing is likely to do more damage than good. Hardface rods may be harder than the current anvil face and can cause problems. Bill Pieh of Centaur Forge recommends McKay 886 build up rod and says "better soft than too hard". Others recommend Shultz Manganese XL and plain old E7018.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/13/99 03:29:10 GMT

    Sorry bout that! (grin) Mine came in today.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/13/99 03:50:41 GMT

    5160 STEEL:

    Tempered at = Hardness HB
    400F = 627
    600F = 555
    800F = 461
    1000F = 341
    1200F = 269

    Ac1 = 710C 1310F, Ac3 = 766C 1410F

    52100 STEEL: It is recommended NOT to attempt to anneal this steel.

    Ac1 = 727C 1340F. Ac3 = 768C 1415F

    I'm short of data on this steel.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/13/99 03:59:30 GMT

    Minnesota Jim: Sorry I missed parts of your question! Working to many late nights. . .

    I've found most spring steels survive oil quench better than water. Anytime you are working with an unknown steel it is best to test a sample before wrecking a piece you've put a lot of work into.

    Angle of the blade??? Hmmm, I always grind them by eye and never had a fixture. . . 10-12 maybe? Any serious wood workers out there???

    Grandpa, you'll have to handle the 52100 question above. I've no experiance with this steel and my ASM Metals Reference is a little light on this one.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/13/99 05:46:48 GMT

    Terrilyn, I'm sorry I missed your question. Cast iron sinks have porceline (a type of ceramic) cooked onto them at very high temperature. Once the finish is worn through and starts rusting there is nothing you can do. The charcoal thing is a myth. Epoxy (2 part mix) is often used to patch chips and worn spots but it is not really satifactory. It is a cosmetic repair that due to being relatively soft will become stained or hard to clean around the edges.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/13/99 12:18:55 GMT

    Guru, I was all set to buy part of a 5"x8"x10' piece of scrap at my local Art Metal Reuse Distribution Center (read: junkyard) when I read your post on anvil hammer ratios for power hammers. The most weight my anvil can be (from this material) is about 500#, my hammer head is already 38# without all the other metal to connect it to the tranny. My garage floor can't handle too much of a beating. Did i misunderstand, or is there info missing?

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Saturday, 03/13/99 14:21:12 GMT

    we own a 5 year old steel frame construction home. The copper water lines are secured directly to the steel floor joists and are now beginning to corrode at the joints. I suspect that this is due to the copper being in direct contact with the steel. What can I do to stop and perhaps reverse this process? Thanks for your help

    B Jones -- bkjones at Saturday, 03/13/99 15:50:18 GMT

    B Jones,

    Nothing that I know of will reverse the process, BUT you can halt the process.

    Loosen the clamps holding the copper pipes to the floor joist and put a small piece of rubber (cut up bicycle inner tube works fine) betweent the steel and the copper. Then re-tighten the clamp. By isolating the copper from the steel, the process of electrolosis will stop. The rubber will also help with any pipe "noise" that you may have.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/13/99 17:20:46 GMT

    I recently purchased a Kerrihard power hammer and was wandering if there are any places to still buy parts. It is in working condition at the moment, less a motor, but I don't know what will happen when I get it operational. Also how can I find out what year it was made, etc. and what poundage it is. It seems about the size of a #25, but I have no way of knowing for sure. Your pages have already proved very helpful to me in getting to the point of purchase, I hope you can help me further. Steve

    Steve Ballmer -- sballmer at Saturday, 03/13/99 18:59:15 GMT

    I am having some luck scrounging parts for my coal forge, but once again I have a question...
    How many CFM should a squirrel cage fan be for a coal forge with a 2.5" x 3.0" square air tube?

    Chuck Serquina -- Horshoehank at Sunday, 03/14/99 00:59:07 GMT

    Chris, sounds like you will be a 10:1 at least which is not too bad. If the floor is tweaky be sure to use a load distribution pad (wooden platform). A 24" x 48" (or there abouts) pad will prevent immediate or localized damage. No matter what you do there is going to be considerable transmitted load and resulting vibration. If the floor or other structure is really questionable you may want to think about where you are going to put the machine. I've run 50# Little Giants on old concrete floors without a problem but it was for a short period. Every situation is different. When commercial setups are considered they plan for the machine run hard and long. In a hobby shop you may only run it an hour of so on a good weekend.
    However, the lighter the anvil the more impact to the floor. This is plain physics that you can not avoid. Load distribution helps.

    Speaking of machine bases and pads. We saw something called a "COW PAD" at a farm supply store. They are a pad for cows to sleep on in barns with concrete floors. The price was cheap compared to machinery isolation pads and the material looked similar. I'm going to buy one to try out but if one of you do first I'd like to hear about it.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 04:56:28 GMT

    B. Jones,

    Bi-metalic corrosion is serious business. Especialy in steel structures. ANY time two dissimalar metals are in contact a weak electrical current results. Much of the time there is moisture from condensation at the joint which acts as an electrolyte. In the electrolyte, metal "ions" from one metal move to the other. In other words metal is removed from one piece and is deposited on the other. Its the same principle batteries operate under.

    In underground piping systems a weak DC electric current is often applied to the pipe to overcome the naturaly occuring current and stop or retard corrosion.

    Jim's advice is sound but it may be impractical to get to all the joints. It sounds like you have a problem that should be discussed with the contractor and the buildings inspection folks. I don't know if the building code covers this problem but it should. Of course, at the same time that steel frame construction is becomming more popular, copper plumbing is becomming less and less common.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 05:13:20 GMT

    KERRIHARD HAMMER (Steve): All the mechanical hammers from the 20th century are out of production and the OEM's have long been out of business. The last was Little Giant and Sid Sudemeier bought them (and Fairbanks and Beaudry) out. Sid is selling off old parts and having a few made as they are needed. He is not manufacturing new machines.

    Power hammers are no different than any other OLD machine. You are on your own. None of the machine tools in my shop have manufacturer support. Thats life in many shops. You buy em, YOU fix em! I've made parts for my 1916 Southbend Lathe using the lathe itself to make the parts! Luckily most power hammer parts are pretty simple and do not require much precision. Of course some are harder than others to replace. Everything up to and often including the frame can be replaced with shop fabricated parts. Figure that in todays market a new 50# mechanical hammer (built like the old ones) would sell for $10,000 - $15,000 US. Even if you have to pay someone else to make the parts the repairs start looking cheap.

    OBTW - I beleive that every blacksmith's first major machine purchase should be a lathe. There's a ton of work for a small lathe in ANY metalworking shop. Old used (wornout) lathes quickly pay for themselves in repairing other tools and machines. They can also be used to make special tooling AND do some specialty work. In the 1918 Sears and Roebuck Blacksmith's and Farrier's supply catalog there is more variety of lathes than any other major tool! These guys KNEW what was important!

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 05:38:55 GMT

    Steve, you hammer MIGHT be able to be identified with the book Pounding out the Profits (see our review). Kerrihards were made in several different designs and it would take a long description or a photo to identify it.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 05:43:01 GMT

    Chuck, small forges run well on 150 CFM blowers but large forges often come with 500 CFM units. It depends on the size of the forge and the size of the work you expect to do. Yours sounds like something near the middle of that range (300 CFM max).

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 05:46:21 GMT

    Howdy all, seen a reference for "Kentucky Red Ash Lump Coal". Was wondering what it was used for , and would it be good for smithing?
    Thanks Toby

    Toby -- Kiamichi at Sunday, 03/14/99 12:52:56 GMT

    I am certain you have answered this question at least 100+ times, but as usual I was not paying attention.... What is a easy quick spring temp. method. I need to make some smallish leaf&coil springs for latches and I have some auto coil springs for material?

    J.B. -- JBALLINSON at AOL.COM Sunday, 03/14/99 15:14:53 GMT

    I would like to know how to treat metal to keep it from rusting after it has been forged?

    J. Carroll -- JMCARR1998 at YAHOO.COM Sunday, 03/14/99 16:33:29 GMT

    TEMPER - J.B., Most spring steels like to be oil quenched but you should probably run a test on a sample of similar size to the part you are making. Heat the steel until is become non-magnetic (use a magnet on a stick to test) then quench (in oil or water as needed). Then temper by reheating to 400-600 degrees F. Springs should be tempered to a fairly high temperature to prevent breakage. One way to control the temperature is to use a large block heated in the forge then set the part on the block. If you polish a place on the top of the block then watch the temper colors you can approximately determine the temperature. Slowly heat until you get a nice blue then set the part on the block and let it soak up the heat. If blue is too soft then reharden the part and temper again. Like Bill Pieh says about anvils, "Better too soft than too hard".

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 17:11:23 GMT

    What is the proper mixture of coal and coke for a coal burning forge?

    Mike Ballou -- Up54125 at Sunday, 03/14/99 17:43:04 GMT

    Mike, Most coal cokes down as you use it. In a smith's fire you start with coal, as it burns it produces coke, when the coke burns you get a hot center. Many smiths save some of their coke at the end of the day to use when they need a hot fire for welding.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 19:30:35 GMT

    I am considering building a JYH , but have limited space in my shop.I'm wondering if a scaled down version could be built using a riding mower rear end ? Also could athinner base plate say 3/4 to 1/2 "plate be used if a separate concrete pad is poured for the hammer to be anchored to?

    David Burress -- calerinforge at Sunday, 03/14/99 20:24:51 GMT

    David, Yes a thinner base plate may be used. Depending on the design you may need a few ribs. I'm not sure about the lawn mower axel. Some are well built heavy duty ones while others just barely do the job. That will have to be your judgement call. One advantage of that axel is that it probably has higher reduction gearing. If you are using the "brake as clutch" design you might find that the axel has adequate gearing but that the brakes are not as good.

    See the JYH-II plan on the Power hammer Page (page 10). It has an above ground concrete foundation/base. The idea here is to avoid the heavy plate I was lucky enough to find. A light angle iron frame is welded up and anchors for the parts are hung off the frame. The frame should be filled with as much rebar and such as you can scrounge up. Anchor bolts and mounting plates are attached to the rebar (or plain bar OR old bed springs OR old. . . . whatever!). Then the frame is formed in with plywood and concrete poured in. Basicaly you build the machine on a light weight skeleton and then tie it all together with concrete. Its very similar to building the machine by anchoring the components directly to your shop floor.

    The plan shown is a preliminary design for a machine that has not yet been built. Note that this plan works well for shops with dirt floor too!

    -- guru Sunday, 03/14/99 20:54:17 GMT

    Could a belt sander be subsitituted for a belt grinder? Thanks!

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Sunday, 03/14/99 23:20:10 GMT


    I have a 4" belt, 6" disk sander that I use for a grinder all the time. Use Aluminum Oxide belts in varying grits. Works well.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 03/14/99 23:33:26 GMT

    Recently came into a Bradley 150# horizontal helve hammer. Need to move it soon, and need to know the weight of the machine. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Bill Nevill -- wbnevill at Monday, 03/15/99 02:59:17 GMT

    Matt, these are basicaly the same machine. Belts are the same!

    Bill, Heavy! 8-10,000 pounds maybe. Bruce Wallace just sold two of these. I'll see if he knows the weight.

    -- guru Monday, 03/15/99 04:09:41 GMT

    Jock, Richard R. Kern, who did the Little Giant book, published a magazinelet about power hammers a few years ago, and in Vol. 1, No. 2 he reproduced several pages of Bradley sales material. Shown is an "upright helve hammer" (the helve on this one drives the hammer head up and down in a ways) 150 pound, "approximate weight" 6700. Also shown is a "rubber cushioned helve hammer," (the hammer head is bolted directly onto the helve on this one) 100 pound (no 150 listed for this model), "approximate" weight 6650. Sorry I don't have a scanner but I hope this helps. (I could photo-copy and fax.) All best, John Neary

    john neary -- jneary at Monday, 03/15/99 05:21:23 GMT

    What is the name of the new anvil book that is out.Is it Anvils In
    America I'm looking in the Centuar Catalog but I don't see it I'm
    going to call later but wanted to make sure that was the right name
    of the book. Also while I've got you I find a Peter Wright anvil
    100# its in bad shape on the face the person wants $150.00 for it
    is it worth it. ALso I found and anvil with an Eagle on the side
    what make is it. It's missing the tail boy some of these anvil were
    badly abused. It's going for $60.00 it and another one two peter's
    at $150.00 both need face work.

    Thanks Bobby

    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Monday, 03/15/99 12:53:23 GMT

    Bill, John Neary is correct with the weight of your hammer. I moved 3 Bradley's over the weekend and sold 2. The largest was a 200lb. rubber cushioned helve that weighed 10,200lbs. I had a 300lb. Chambersburg Utility hammer that weighed slightly less than half as much. One thing can be said about Bradley hammers is they made them large. Speaking of large, I also bought a 1-1/2" or 2" Ajax Upsetter from the same shop that weighs about 36,000lbs. It is going to take some serious thinking on how to move this one.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Monday, 03/15/99 12:53:58 GMT

    Gurr: I want to make a few knives kitchen and fixed blade hunting knives first and a couple of woodworking marking knives. Is the steel in automobile leaf springs of high enough carbon content to be hardened enough to hold an edge well? Or would I be better off using old files or circular saw blades all of which I have in my scrap pile, also have some plow disks and harrow teeth. I realize that there are probably more than one type of steel used in springs especially not knowing if they came from a domestic or foreign car but are SAE reccomended steels for springs hardenable enough to make a decent blade??
    Thanks again for your help

    Jeff -- jdegraff at Monday, 03/15/99 13:39:30 GMT

    Saw your post reccomending mineral oil for quenching oil, Do you know of an east coast source for mineral oil in five gallon quantities?? I am in Maryland . Thanks again

    Jeff -- jdegraff at Monday, 03/15/99 13:44:12 GMT

    About the angle to grind on a woodworking tool...sorry I missed the earlier post on exactly what tool...

    10-12 deg sounds very shallow except for knives or maybe a carving chisel. 20-30 is typical for chisels or plane irons. Planer and jointer blades are about 30-33. I also pick the angle mostly by feel, although I do find myself thinking about what sort of duty is coming, how much support will the edge need, is it a hard brittle wood that would splinter instead of curl...

    Hope this helps.

    Steve Alford -- ALFORD-SJ at Monday, 03/15/99 13:53:10 GMT

    Josh Amerine: Grandpa has been out of town for a couple days. The treatment of 52100 depends on how much effort you want to put into it. First: to get the absolute finest grain size, it should be heat cycled about 3 times. ( it is already a fine grain steel ) Cycle one: heat to 1650f and quench in oil, cycle two: heat to 1550f and quench in oil, cycle three: heat to 1450 and quench in oil. At the end of each cycle bring the stock completely down to room temp before starting the next cycle. To harden: heat to 1450f and quench in fast oil or 95f water. Bring down to room temperature. Temper at 400-500f for one hour. Then if you want, use a cyrogenic treatment. If the grain refinement was done, I'm not convinced that the cyrogenic treatment is of much benifit. Could be, but I'm almost from Missouri, and have not been convinced that it does any thing of benefit.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 03/15/99 15:13:16 GMT

    Anvils in America by Richard Postman. All the limited edition numbered and signed copies are gone but there are still a few hundred of the regular edition. The book is available from the author (see link to our review above). There will be a second printing, but you never can be sure!

    Bobby, The Peter Wrights you speak of sound a little pricey if they need a lot of work. If they are mostly usable and you are speaking of cosmetic damage then they are a bargain. The broken anvil sounds like a Fisher-Norris "Eagle" anvil. These had a steel face and cast iron body. They are good anvils when not broken but are nearly impossible to repair. At the price I'd buy it just for the dead weight.

    -- guru Monday, 03/15/99 16:26:32 GMT

    QUENCHING OIL: I forgot to mention that transmission fluid works good too. It doesn't have nearly the additives that motor oil has. I'm not sure where to get the mineral oil. Call a local bakery and ask them where they get theirs. I got what I had as leftover in a drum from a bakery.

    -- guru Monday, 03/15/99 16:30:42 GMT

    Thanks on the advise on the anvils,I just got off the phone with Richard Postman and there are 300 copys left if anyone wants one.


    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Monday, 03/15/99 16:53:59 GMT

    Guru: Thanks for info on quenching oil, I also discovered that the local feed stores carry it for horse laxative in one gallon quantities, a little pricey though $15.00 a gallon

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Monday, 03/15/99 17:29:16 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I am a 17yr old just getting into blacksmithing and was wondering if there are any online resourses where I could find some easy projects to work on. I have a good size, 140# anvil, a variety of hammers, and a propane gas forge. I live in Seattle so information on blacksmithing isn't to easy to get a hold of.
    I know a member of the northwest blacksmiths association and he has loaned me a few books, The Complete and Modern Blacksmith and The Art of Blacksmithing. I've also read all the books my public library system has to offer on the subject. I've gained alot of knowledge by reading, but I'd like to find some projects with steps to follow for my first few projects.

    Phil Dorr -- pdinseattle at Monday, 03/15/99 18:40:01 GMT

    Jeff, I get all my industrial lubricants from MacMillan Oil Company of Allentown, PA, 1-800-395-4645. They blend and sell an oil used for heat treating. It's not sold specifically as a heat treating oil but it's the same thing. Just ask for the oil they sell to Lehigh Universty Metallurgy Lab. It costs about $23.00 for a 5 gallon pail.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Monday, 03/15/99 19:08:15 GMT


    Had a chance to do some damascuss Billet work over the weekend at a friends shop...where I had a chance to use his Bull air hammer. What a treat, nice control. Great air hammer...only downside was the 20.5 cfm compressor only keeps up with the hammer. I had a billet that came out nice & flat, which is more then I can say for my hand work.

    So if you haven't had a chance to try one I would recommend it.

    Bob -- robert_miller at Monday, 03/15/99 19:26:45 GMT

    Grandpa, Thanks!

    Jeff, some of the batch of mineral oil I had got spilled (I didn't know there was any in the drum). Our dog got into it and I can assure you that it IS a laxitive!

    Phil, The Seattle area is THICK with blacksmiths. You just got to look for them. Join the NWBA and go to some meetings. Libraries are not big on carrying a lot of blacksmithing books but there are plenty available today. Check the suppliers listed in the Getting Started article at the top of the page. A new book Under a Spreading Chestnut Tree by Charlie Sutton has projects I think you will like. I have a review copy and will get the review up with a couple others I am working on AND there is a review in the current Anvil's Ring.

    AIR HAMMER RATINGS: Undersizing the required air compressor is an attempt by the manufacturers to get a competitive edge price wise. I can "run" my 350 pound Niles Bement on a 2HP air compressor. I'll also have to wait for the compressor to pump up before and after every stroke! The problem with the way many of these machines are rated is that they figure that if the compressor can "keep up" then it has enough compressor. However, piston compressors have a little known 50% duty cycle. They need a cooling off period equal to the running period (normaly the time it takes to pump up without drawing air). Air compressors targeted for the home or hobbiest market rate the machines running 100% figuring the user will never need that much air or put a lot of hours on the machine. Many also run the compressor much faster than they used to, trying to get more CFM out of the given hardware. Combine the two ratings and you get a compressor that runs continously and may not last long.

    -- guru Monday, 03/15/99 21:24:11 GMT

    I would like to make some beds. I know that I can forge most of the components, but I'm not sure about how to assemble the bed. Most beds that I have looked at, are assembled with brackets and screws, bolts, etc. Do you have any ideas? Thank you.

    kevin Monday, 03/15/99 21:28:07 GMT

    Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot to mention about the oil above from MacMillan. The oil is a food grade oil. I'm not sure if it's mineral oil but I'm told you can cook with it.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Monday, 03/15/99 22:10:49 GMT

    hello all,
    I am in the process of moving to pittsburgh pa, i was wondering if there are any forges in that area looking for a helper, i have not swung a hammer in almost three years ( i drive a semi) I find it hard to find forges that let me work with them. just curious, dave.

    D kempher -- s2956 at Monday, 03/15/99 22:21:21 GMT

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