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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 16 - 31, 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
    Hi, My cousin wants to sell me a Champion No. 2 forge blower but I have no idea what it's worth. It is in very good condition, driven by a flat belt, and has a four inch outlet. It may be too big for my needs. Blacksmithing is more of a hobby to me.
    Thanks, Joe

    Joe Macri -- cromag at Tuesday, 03/16/99 00:08:36 GMT

    I have always been interested in decorative steel, can you please recommend a siutable book that could get me started. I looked with great interest at the bit on Dona's book, but it doesent say how to get a copy or when it might be available. Also can you tell me where to find some information on the rust preventing finishes that are applied the give that beautiful aged patina, is it paint ? or something else.
    Thanks Mark

    Mark Lock -- mlock at Tuesday, 03/16/99 00:32:27 GMT

    Kevin, I've designed a lot of beds and have yet to come up with a nice clean solution. Joints and joinery are the hardest part of decorative blacksmithing. You just have to bite the bullet and make mortise and tenon joints with wedges or pins.
    Joe, big blowers can always be turned slow or the air shunted. Small blowers can't make more if you need it. 4" IS a little large though. Buy it and trade to some other smith that wants something big! $50-$100
    Mark, Dona's book should be available in a month or so. You will be able to order it from suppliers listed here. Read the article on Getting Started (link at top of page). Most patinas are oxidation, rust or corrosion that has been oiled or sealed. To preserve the ironwork you should paint and create an imitation patina. See my article on Corrosion and its Prevention on the 21st Century page.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/16/99 01:39:53 GMT

    Hi all!

    Nateo -- NateOrious at Tuesday, 03/16/99 02:47:47 GMT

    Thanks Jock!!!
    I'll pick it up tomorrow.


    Joe Macri -- Cromag at Tuesday, 03/16/99 03:40:44 GMT

    Come to think of it, Bradley made a point of mentioning in its sales stuff that "the motor is mounted on a separate stand, free from all the vibrations of the hammer, thus insuring long life to the electrical equipment." The motor and pedestal shown as original equipment were humongous. Whether they were figured in as part of the weight for shipping purposes is not clear. So what actually has to be lifted when you go to hoisting the main contraption that is a Bradley today might be a shade under the quoted numbers.

    john neary -- jneary at Tuesday, 03/16/99 05:42:00 GMT

    Guru's Thanks Bruce for info on quenching oil. Also any opinions on my other question on using car leaf springs for knife making?? As I said I also have some circular saw blades that may be a higher carbon steel and thus be highly hardenable for a longer lasting edge. Thanks for all the helpful advice.


    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Tuesday, 03/16/99 12:27:25 GMT

    Just to drop my two-bits in here -- NWBA and other local organizations have a lending library of books and videos. Those $50-$100 books that you slaver over may be only a bit of postage away.

    Used car springs -- they may be good steel, but may also be starting to break down (metal fatigue). I've found a local spring shop that sells me drops and rems (flat and round) for $0.05 per pound. This gives me known-alloy new steel in convenient lengths -- from 4" to 16" long, a few longer pieces. Look in the yellow pages for a shop that manufactures springs...

    I saw Phil Dorr's post looking for projects. While I was starting, this was the biggest concern I had. I made up a list at one point, but seem to have misplaced it. Starting projects were tent stakes and simple hooks. Second was a couple of coat hook kinds of things. From there, my memory gets fuzzy. It might be worth while to compile a sequenced list of projects and the skills they exercise. Guru, do you have such a list? I'd be willing to compile one if there is only the top-of-head sort of thing. Anybody else?


    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Tuesday, 03/16/99 14:54:00 GMT

    I do not have any experience with blacksmithing but my son is getting interested in it and is wondering about how to do this one thing: How would you create an open twist in a square bar with another open, smaller, twist (the other way) inside the first larger one? (And the bar is not hollow)
    Sure would appreciate if you could find an answer.
    Thanks a bunch!

    Astrid DesLandes -- acdeslandes at Tuesday, 03/16/99 16:46:38 GMT

    SPRINGS AS KNIVES: I've made wood working tools from British car springs (broken due to overload). My gouges have been used to chew up loads of hard wood and haven't needed sharpening in years. I've seen knives made of both leaf and coil springs that were very good. I think saw blade steel is better. It all depends on what you are looking for in a blade. There is no "perfect" steel as there is no perfect blade.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/16/99 20:56:21 GMT

    Bob Miller and Morgan Hall..
    Actually the compressor on my BULL is 25 CFM..
    Glad to have you over. Ralph was there too.

    50% duty cycle.. over how much time? 15min on 15 off?
    The compressor I have is on the small end of industial sizes.
    Definetly bigger than HomeBase/home models..

    Nicholas Marcelja -- nam at Tuesday, 03/16/99 21:58:18 GMT

    DOUBLE TWIST (Astrid): I've never seen one made but I've worked on the problem and made one in brass many years ago. The single basket twist is made by welding 4 or more rods together, heating them, twist them tight, then untwist. The stretch from the tight twist causes the twist to open up. Instructions to tap downward while doing the initial twist are not recommended, and and produce unven twists.

    To make the outside basket twist the rods are bent into the shape that would be in the final twist. The individual rods are then welded around the first (smaller) twist. This works well with 5 or more rods where you need a center "core" rod. When forge welded and blended together the two twists look like quite a puzzel. In reality it is just careful planning and hard work.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/16/99 22:00:53 GMT

    Nicholas, the 50% duty cycle should be in normal pump-up time. 1 to 5 min. ON and the same OFF. Motor and compressor both need to cool between cycles. Duty cycle is dependant on the manufacturer but commonly available machines are rated this way if you read the fine print. I only discovered this a few months ago while comparing compressor prices for small shops. It turned out that two 5HP compressors were a better deal than one 10HP compressor. The 5HP units were available in single phase and the small cost difference was made up by the extra capacity of the two tanks.

    There may be HD piston compressors that have higher duty cycles. However, for continous duty, rotary screw compressors are the standard. They provide 100% rated capacity continously from the moment they start. They are also significantly more expensive than piston compressors.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/16/99 22:16:09 GMT

    This may seem to be a silly question, but I'm looking to find out how the chainmail in movies are done. I have heard that most of this chainmail is created from something that is left over from air conditioning stuff. That's about all the information I have on it. Can you help me?

    Wendy -- galvan at Tuesday, 03/16/99 22:38:05 GMT

    Wendy, check the armour sites from our links page or the web-rings. Movie mail is made just like the real stuff (by hand the hard way) with a few exceptions depending on the degree of authenticity wanted.

    For costume purposes aluminium wire (1/16 & 3/32" welding rod, or electrical wire) is used. The wire is coiled around a mandrel then cut into links. The links are then looped together and closed with plires. The aluminium is lighter (prefered by many SCA types) but the color is wrong and can be spotted by anyone experianced in metals at a great distance. In the movie Excalibur the mail was made of copper wire and chemicaly oxidized to make it black. What ever they used came off where the actors salty sweat ran across the mail leaving bright copper!

    In authentic mail, wrought iron or soft steel wire is used and the ends of each link flattened, punched and then bradded (rivited). The tricky part is how the mail is looped together. The more rings each ring loops through the denser and the stronger the mail. This is where the real art comes into play. I know just enough about it that I don't want to make any. I prefer scale armour.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/16/99 23:24:36 GMT


    I think the project list with instructions is a great idea. Enough so that I'd be willing to contribute. Contact me e-mail, and we'll collaborate on it. Da guru can probably find a place to put it.
    (and not where he's thinking, either! grin)


    You're lazy! But, so am I. In fact, I'm lazier. If I *HAD* to make armour for some reason, I'd go for plate over scale. Fewer pieces! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 03/17/99 00:02:29 GMT

    Can solid carbide be worked in the forge? The shop I work in throws alot of broken bits and cutters into the scrap hopper(my source).

    Thanks, Joe

    Joe Macri -- cromag at Wednesday, 03/17/99 01:02:38 GMT

    Movie Chainmail..
    some of the earlier movies used this wool looking stuff painted
    Prince Nevski, a early 1900-1920 film (I think pre WW1) used real
    chainmail.. they raided every museum in russia..
    a great scene where the smith has handed out all the armor.
    finally he gets to put his armor on.. it is too small..

    Nicholas -- nam at Wednesday, 03/17/99 03:49:34 GMT

    I am experienced with a gas forge but I have a 36" Buffalo forge at home. I would like to know if there are different means of quality for soft coal. I have been told that there are factors such as sulfur content and size (and/or dusty) that may make some soft coals more desireable than others. Is this true? Also, what is a fair price to pay for one ton? I live in central NY state.

    Dale -- dbarr at Wednesday, 03/17/99 03:54:59 GMT

    CARBIDE (Joe): Solid Carbide isn't really solid. All carbide is made from the silicon (or other) carbide powder bonded together with cobalt (and other metals). It is called a "sintered" product. It would crumble if you attempted to forge it.

    Jim, Scale armour is made of small easy to handle pieces the majority of which could be cut and formed in quantity with a press (even lazier!). Riviting the pieces to a leather garment is a lot easier than shaping that plate!

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/17/99 04:05:55 GMT

    Dale, As an organic/geologic product coal varies from nearly pure carbon to slightly oily shale in infinite variety.

    Good coal has a high BTU value, low sulfur and just enough of the right ash to form some clinker. It also has just enough volitiles that it melts a little just before the volitiles gas off (that yellow smoke). As the coal melts it conglomerates and forms coke. There are a list of technical specs that will describe this best grade coal but getting a dealer to come up with their specs is difficult today. This is due to declining use of coal for domestic heating which is where most small coal dealers formerly made their living. In a declining market it is difficult to get someone excited about specs on something they may only be selling in small quantites.

    The only sure fire test is to get a sample and test it in the forge. If you are experianced using coal you will immediately recognize good and bad coal. If you have no experiance ask another local smith where he gets his coal OR to test yours for you. Bruce Wallace sells coal by the bag. Try some of his and then compare to what you find localy.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/17/99 04:24:16 GMT

    Just to make folks drool a little, here's what we're using in Winston-Salem, NC

    East Gulf Metalurgical Pea Coal

    Size 7/8 X 3/8

    Moisture 4.0

    Ash 4.22

    Volatile 15.46

    Fixed Carbon 76.32

    Sulphur .66

    FSI 8.5

    HGI 95

    AFT 2800 deg f

    BTU 14,409

    I'm paying $6.90 a hundred pounds, or

    $138 a ton (2,000 pounds) picked up at the G&B Coal Co. dock here in Winston-Salem, NC.

    What am I offered? (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 03/17/99 16:58:15 GMT

    Jim Wilson
    >$138 a ton (2,000 pounds) picked up at the G&B Coal Co. dock here in >Winston-Salem, NC.What am I offered? (grin)

    Well Jim, I will give a great big THANKS if you sent a ton(at your exspense, of coarse.) Even tho I like coal better I will be picking up a gas forge this weekend from a friend.


    Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 03/17/99 19:44:11 GMT

    I guess there must be a lot of variation in the harness of hammer heads. I have dressed several old machinist and blacksmith hammers on a bench grinder. Most throw off showers of sparks, but a couple produced few sparks but lots of dust from the grinding wheel.

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Wednesday, 03/17/99 20:38:18 GMT

    I'm a writer doing a historical piece set in 1880s Texas, and one of my main characters is a blacksmith. I've read Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing and found it quite informative. My questions relate more to the everyday, ordinary things like--what would he wear? Jeans, gloves, hat, leather apron? And when would be his busiest time of year? (We're talking cattle ranches in the Texas panhandle--quite isolated). Names of other reference books for that time period would also be a help. Thanks so much, Cindy

    Cindy Scott -- WFACindy at Thursday, 03/18/99 01:33:00 GMT

    Neal, the difference you are observing is probably the difference between plain carbon steel and alloy steels. Plain carbon steel grinds very nicely even when full hard. Many alloy steels are abrasion resistant. Some of this is due to their higher temper temperatures but most is due to additions of chrome and other hard to grind alloying ingrediants.

    The ease of grinding plain carbon steel is probably why knives made from it take exceptional edges while alloy steels are harder to sharpen.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/18/99 02:42:38 GMT


    I'm sure you will get quite a few responses on your question. A blacksmith of the time/place would have done a lot of farrier work and I expect that cycles of round-ups and cattle drives would have created rush periods. A new rail line or industry of any kind would have meant extra work (or more competition). You have to remember that oxen were still used for heavy pulling and were also shod. Unlike horses which will stand on three feet while you shoe them oxen don't like it and were often lifted in a frame! Shoeing oxen was a headache and would have messed up his whole week. Have you looked to see when the oil boom started in the area? This would have had a huge impact and may have tempted the mechanicaly talented blacksmith (or his helpers) to seek work in the oil fields.

    Clothing would have been the same as worn by other workers of the period and not much different than today. Lots of dirt and permanent stains are the norm for a blacksmith along with burn holes.

    An urban shop of this era may have likely had a steam engine with line shafting for running machinery such as a lathe and drill press.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/18/99 03:08:49 GMT

    Its 3-17-99 and the pub seems to have some problems. I sure you'll have heard about it from others but it went out at 9:16pm central time. I try later.........Steve

    Steve Ballmer -- sballmer at Thursday, 03/18/99 03:21:41 GMT

    My forge is kind of a relic, I had sent pictures of it to Jock a while ago. It has the blower mounted on the underside and blows up through. These other square forges I see in catalogs, do they have the air inlet at the rear? I know some are similar to mine but is there an advantage to the rear inlet as opposed to the center on the bottom? Thanks, Joe

    Joe Macri -- cromag at Thursday, 03/18/99 03:31:40 GMT

    I am an amateur smith based in the South of England(UK). I am a member of BABA. I have a good grasp of simple techniques and fabrication and welding. I use a coke forge and mild steel.
    In the distant past, Smiths used to make the local Church Clocks. This would have been all by hand. I have a desire to make a large timepiece myself and have given it much thought. I have written to BABA, but nothing sensible dveloped. I am particularly interested to know how to set about the manufacture of the gears by hand. I would also like to know if there are any books on the subject, or basic designs I could follow to get started. The escapement seams to offer a particular challenge in itself.
    I believe this type of clock is known as a 'turret' clock. The type of escapement I am interested in would be the Grimethorp which was particularly good for large outdoor clocks.
    If you would like any more detail from me please let me know. I look forward to your comments.
    Kind regards
    Phil Hardy

    Phil Hardy -- phardy at Thursday, 03/18/99 15:34:30 GMT

    SLACK-TUB PUB: Our chat is suffering from a case of popularity. Where we archive 100-250 Kbytes of Q&A on this page monthly we DUMP more than that every two or three days on the Slack-Tub Pub! Originaly we could clear the log about every 10 days and it didn't seem to be a problem. Now it is a constant maintence item. When the log gets over a certain size memory limitations cause your PC to hang up. We are in the process of writing software to address the maintainence and provide better service.

    Thank you for notifying us that there was a problem.
    Joe, Your forge is a standard modern coal forge. Side blown forges were common in the charcoal era and are still favored by the British.

    -- guru Thursday, 03/18/99 16:30:14 GMT

    Cindy, 1880s Blacksmith:

    I just talked to one of our NPS Historic Furnishings people at our Harper's Ferry Center regarding the clothing of the period. Jeans, even though developed during the Gold Rush, were not common attire in this period, despite their current prominence. Your average smith was a small businessman, operating out of town rather than riding the range. Most of the time his trousers would have been hard finished worsted wool, usually black. In the summer he might wear linen or cotton canvas, but of a more formal and baggy cut than jeans. The shirt was usually also wool, sometimes cotton or linen, and a pullover cut. By 1880 it would sometimes have the bib front with the double row of buttons that we associate with western wear, or a simple placket front with three or four buttons. Color would usually be white, but you might also have solid colors, checks and sometimes prints. Sturdy black shoes or boots would be worn. (No barefoot blacksmiths in his neck of the woods, especially with horse hooves and hot biscuits [iron punchouts] and old nails bouncing around the floor.) For any sort of formal occasion, such as social activities, church, business meetings or sometimes even dinner (certainly Sunday dinner) he would have worn a suit if possible. If he had a front office, he'd probably have kept a pitcher and washbowl near the back entrance.

    He'd have worn a leather apron, ox or mule hide preferred, but probably not gloves, hat or certainly not safety glasses. Some old line smiths still insist that "gloves just make you careless". You can get used to hot scale, nicks, cuts, burns and occaisional mashed thumbs after a while. There was a different attitude towards safety (and pain) back then. He might wear a kerchief around his brow as a sweat band in hot weather.

    You might also want to pull up our web site ( and click on "visit the parks") to check out Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park. They have a reconstructed blacksmith's shop from around that era. Give them a call and ask for the chief interpreter or historian. I'm sure that they can refer you to further sources, and maybe correct any of my mistakes.

    Phil Hardy; Clocks:

    Have you seen the clock at Salisbury Cathedral? No hands, just a bell, but I love the mortice and tennon construction. Also, there is a clock museum at Colchester. No church size clocks, but who knows what goodies they may have in their library? At a recent Smithsonian exhibit here in Washington, DC, they had a 15th century clock (about a foot cubed) with many of the same construction features as the clock in Salisbury.

    Sunny and breezy on the banks of the Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Thursday, 03/18/99 20:59:26 GMT

    To the smith from Southern England, there is a publisher here in the states that reprints out of print machinery books. The name is Lindsay press, and they have clock making books. They are on the 'net, but I can't remember their web address.
    To Cindy,
    Please remember that the blacksmith was a business owner, and like todays business owners, had relatively more wealth than the average cowboy/worker. Also, blacksmiths were keen thinkers by nature, problem solvers by profession, and were generally kept quite busy.
    Most probably, there was an apprentice. This character would not be dumb or slovenly, the apprentice would be bright and yearning to do more of the actual smithing and less of the coke separating and coal hauling and fire tending and scrap clean up.

    Just my thoughts.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 03/18/99 21:09:37 GMT

    Picked up a book called "MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK, 14TH EDITION". Is that the book you keep recommending? Also picked up "AUDELS MACHINSTS AND TOOL MAKERS HANDY BOOK". BTW, just forged the venturi for a Ron Reilesque burner for an mini forge I'm making, thanks for this site, without it I would have never dreamed of doing such a project.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Thursday, 03/18/99 21:14:25 GMT

    A little about my Forging experence, I'm mainly self tought and have taken a cuple corses at Jhon C Camble folk school Been working for about 10 years.

    I'm curently A grad Student in Historic Archeaolagy at UWF in Pinsacola. I working in the Artifact conservation lab and working manly on Iron artifacts frome the frist spanish Pricido bilt and distroid in the 1500. My qustion is why do some wroughtIron that have been burend survy better than those that were not Items that(Nails espacly) that were burnd while thy do have surfes oxid and light concreation?

    Thank you

    Ford Smith -- fordsmith at Thursday, 03/18/99 21:40:48 GMT

    I am traveling to Turkey. How can I find a list of blacksmiths over there

    dan -- sculptnote at Friday, 03/19/99 00:08:21 GMT

    How can I subsribe to Anvilfire?

    Joe Wilkes -- winweld at Friday, 03/19/99 00:55:07 GMT

    I'm just starting out in blacksmithing and I was wondering if you would know of any coal suppliers in or around Tucson Arizona.

    Jim Gullotto -- JGullottoj at Friday, 03/19/99 02:11:16 GMT

    Chris, YES!!!

    John Wilkes, THIS IS IT! anvilfire! is an on-line publication only. It is also not a "news group".

    Cindy, Bruce (Atli) is our historian from the national park service. His advice is generaly better than most.

    Phil Hardy, You want a copy of "Watch and Clock Makers Tools" . . . something. . Domini Craftsmen. . I don't have my catalogs to look and see if it is still available. It is a reprint of a tool suppliers catalog from 1780 (or so). Watch gears of the time were made with gear cutting machines with a dividing plate. Gear curvatures of the time were just starting to be made using the involute gear form. On larger clocks the teeth were carefully laid out on polished blanks with compass, dividers and scribers then cut out with a jewlers saw. On realy BIG clocks most of the gears would have been cast iron. As-cast gears were common up until the early 1900's. For critical applications the gears would have been cast then filed and hand scraped. Cast bronze gears are known to have been made as early as 400-500 BC.

    Ford Smith, The alkalinity of the soil resulting from the ash in the fire may have preserved the iron better than a naturaly acid soil. The uniform scale may have also protected the metal. Objects in normal daily use have bright clean wear surfaces that corrode more rapidly than the rest of the object when it stops being used. There are lots of variables that effect corrosion.

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 02:56:16 GMT

    Jim Gullotto, Contact (and JOIN!)

    Jon deMasi,
    648 E Glade Ave,
    Mesa, AZ 85204
    (602) 649-9344

    Mike Cooper
    3533 Banff Lane,
    Phoenix, AZ 85023
    (602) 938-1495
    e-mail: coops at

    Your local guys will know where to get coal better than anyone.

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 03:03:34 GMT

    Dan, ABANA doesn't list a chapter in Turkey. Isn't the Saliner Air hammer made in Turkey? That would be a GREAT start! Call Brian. Maybe you can arrange a factory tour (send photos and we'll run them on anvilfire!).

    Brian Russel Designs
    10385 Long Rd.
    Arlington, TN 38002

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 03:49:21 GMT

    Hi! I've been blacksmithing for 20 years, using propane for the last 10. I'm going to try and build an electric forge, using elements. Have you ever seen or heard of this being done? It should be cheaper to run and totally silent. I'd like your thoughts on this. Thanks

    John Smith -- kforge at Friday, 03/19/99 05:03:20 GMT

    John, I have a little experiance with electric ceramic kilns. They get plenty hot but take hours to get there. A normal firing is 4-5 hours. Currently fuel costs per BTU are highest for electic, propane and oil about the same, coal and natural gas are the cheapest (depending on where you are).

    Anyway you go, the amperage needed is going to be relatively high to reduce that long heatup period. If you have an industrial duty electric service this may not be a problem.

    The best electric heating idea I've seen was a resistance heater. While repairing the Staute of Liberty they had to replace many of the armature bars. A bar abour 3/4" x 2 and five feet long was laid on a table, two leads attached and the current turn on. In SECONDS the entire bar was at an orange heat! This is not hard to do, it just takes tremondous amounts of power. Toward the end of the rivited construction era electric resistance heaters were used to heat rivits. The heater had two copper electrodes that would close on the rivit when a foot lever was pressed. A worker held the rivit with tongs and in a second or two had a hot rivit without scale or burning.

    We could go through all the math on KW to BTU conversion and the required energy for the amount of mass you are heating, however I expect that unless you are considering a very small forge that your electric service will be a limiting factor. The resistance heaters above were probably run off 480 volt circuits to reduce the wire size and had 10 to 1 gains in amperage through the transformer.

    A 1 cuft kiln requires 30A at 220VAC to heat up in 5 hours. That would require 60A to heat up in 2.5 hours and 120A in 1.25 hours. A reasonable 240A in 37 min! OR 120A for 1/2 cuft in 40 min. AND these numbers are for a closed furnace! An alternative for this HD electric service would be a deisel or gasoline powered welder. Of course then you have the noise of the internal combustion engine to put up with and you are back to burning oil in one form or the other.

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 14:13:51 GMT

    John, I forgot to mention, Yes electric "furnaces" are commonly used in big industry. Another consideration is that electric furnaces do not use up the oxygen the way any fired forge does. Unless you use an inert gas purge oxidation is a tremendous problem in electric furnaces.

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 14:18:24 GMT

    Guru, the web-site is FINALLY up. So far the only link that doesn't work (that I've found) is the one with MY picture. hhhmmmm. Maybe there is a god. LOL let me know what you think. BTW I am contemplating a mechanical linkage for the MWJYH pretty much like a Little Giant. Thanks for the closeup pics! Gotta try out the new plasma. grin. Also, would stepping up the speed be feasible with my specs and if so what stroke/min would you reccommend. springs comin' in Rochester MN brian rognholt odin forge

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 03/19/99 14:37:45 GMT

    If you can't find anything out before you get there, then go to the Grand Bazaar in Istambul, right on the Bosphorus. This is where allthings are sold, and by checking with the shop owners, I'm sure you can find plenty of metal workers. BTW, Turkey, not Holland is the home of the tulip, and Istambul has the most beautiful tulip garden, really a must see. Also the Rumeelli Husar (sp?) is worth the tour as are the blue mosque and any of the orthodox churches.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Friday, 03/19/99 14:44:21 GMT

    Uh, Brian? The URL would help!

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 16:25:15 GMT


    What's wrong with ? (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 03/19/99 18:00:49 GMT


    That URL that I put in my previous message works like a champ. And it leads to a VERY nice web page!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 03/19/99 18:12:12 GMT

    Brian. VERY nice page. The problem with your one missing image may be the ALL CAPS "JPG" in the file name. On UNIX systems upper and lower case is treated as completly different characters where DOS uses all caps and WinXX alows their use but doesn't treat "UP" as being different than "up". The page will test OK on your windows system and will run on a windows server but won't work on a UNIX server. Will put you on the links page and on the article about your hammer.

    -- guru Friday, 03/19/99 19:52:51 GMT

    Yes, I'm sure it will grow to include both of those! It's hard to decide what to put on the site without it getting out of control.

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 03/19/99 22:00:36 GMT

    Yes, I'm sure it will grow to include both of those. It's hard to decide what to put up without it getting out of control! Thanks for the UNIX info. I'll forward that to my cyber-tech guy. take care my friends!! brian

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 03/19/99 22:04:40 GMT

    Dear Guru:
    I ordered the Ron Kinyon air hammer plans from ABANA. I am getting ready to order pneumatic parts so as to start building a varied design. One thing I can't seem to find an answer for concerns the rod diameter for the pneumatic cylinder that will lift the hammer and drive it down on the work. The cylinder I am going for has a 2" bore and a 10" stroke with the rod extending 3" out the end of the cylinder. My question is this: What is the best diameter rod to ask for? Is 5/8" diameter good? or does it need to be larger to avoid bending after some period of impacting? I recognize the larger diameter-- the slower the return time will be for the upstroke. How large a diameter would be likely to seriously slow the repetition that one desires on a power hammer?
    I would appreciate some feedback from someone who has some insight in these things.

    Fr. P Felix -- frpfelix at Saturday, 03/20/99 01:27:58 GMT

    Hi! I am in a Jewelry/metalsmithing class at Northern Arizona University, and must do a short research paper on something pertaining to metalsmithing. I've chosen blacksmithing because I am in two historical reenactment societies (SCA and I work the ARizona REnaisannce Festival) and not only does it interest me as a beginning craftsperson, but I have access to blacksmithing demonstrations to help me understand the process better. The Smiths at this Festival I'm sure know a lot of history, but any added info would help. Essentially what I am asking is for any info you can give me on the history, methods, common techniques, and latest trends of blacksmithing to help with my paper. In addition, any paper (as opposed to internet) references you can provide would be helpful and very much appreciated. I know that is a lot to ask, and if it is too much, references would still be welcome.
    Wishing good health,
    Annie Cowan

    Annie Cowan -- succubus7 at Saturday, 03/20/99 04:25:14 GMT

    KINYON AIR HAMMER (Fr): Many of these have been built and though the rod seems light they are made of very strong alloy steel. I think the next size up is 1" (24.5mm) and this takes considerable area from the lifting side. To compensate, a larger cylinder would be needed and air consumption would go up. I prefer to build heavy but when you are dealing with dynamic parts the added weight can reduce durability instead of increasing it.

    While considering modifications check the AFC (Alabama Forge Council) web page. They have instructions for a modified control system that makes the machine more flexible, run faster, and is similar to what is being put on the comercial models (see our links page).

    HISTORY: Annie, You are asking for the history of technology! First, see my article on Getting Started (link at top of page). The books listed are a good start and there are reviews on the reviews page. Bealer's book is a good read if you are really intrested. There are many others. See the address above for the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association. Many local chapters maintain libraries.

    If you could be more specific (maybe after reading Bealer) we can be loads of help!

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

    Annie, if you want a subject that NEEDS research, the development of the oxy-actylene torch is a orphan subject.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/20/99 05:16:04 GMT

    Howdy all, was wondering about clinker,and fire pot design. I'm making a plate to go in the bottom of a middle size brake drum, with holes (1/4")for the air, but all the plans that i've seen on puter, use either a grate, or rod(s) across the hole.Have even thought about making a breaker for it. So does clinker form chunks,or runny like hot plastic. Hope what i'm asking makes sence. Thanks Toby

    Toby -- Kiamichi at Saturday, 03/20/99 11:58:23 GMT

    Toby, a few commercial grates in small forges such as "rivit" forges had a piece with holes in it. The problem with the small holes is that they easily get blocked. Try it, but just don't spend a lot of time on it.

    Klinkers are glassy looking lumps of consolidated coal ash. They vary dependant on the type of coal and forge. Very often they form a doughnut sized ring above the tuyeer (around the air blast).

    The term "clinker breaker" is somewhat of a misnomer. They are more of a vent "unblocker". Both clinker and coke tend to consolidate with a mixture of coal at the tuyeer and block the air.

    In my old portable forge shop there was no grate. I put one in once and it burned out so I just did without. Some coal falls down the tuyeer but most of the time the coal would coke down, conglomerating into a larger mass that didn't fall into the tuyeer. I was using "stoker" coal (small gravel sized lumps) and it was never a real problem. That's one of the reasons that I forgot to show some kind of a grate on the drawing of the brake drum forge. I never had a grate!

    -- guru Saturday, 03/20/99 13:14:30 GMT

    I have some 14ga.Stainless steel I need to weld to mild steel angle. I know I should use stainless wire and Argon/CO? mix in my mig welder but I tried an experiment yesterday just welding it with the flux core wire and it stuck just fine. Am I missing somthing here? Some sortof Galvanic reaction ect.that will caus it to fall apart prematurly. I don't need a stainless weld I'm just sticking this stuff together to build a propane forge out of it. Thanks

    Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Saturday, 03/20/99 13:53:19 GMT

    Ron, if its strong enough now it should stay that way. I frequently use stainless rods to weld tool steels and it seems to hold up. Works great when welding a chrome plated socket to a special handle.

    One thing you want to be aware of. Stainless has a much higher coefficient of thermal expansion than does carbon steel. Two pieces of dissimilar metal welded together will act like the element in a thermostat and change shape drasticly.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/20/99 14:04:30 GMT

    Could you please tell me where I can find a decently priced used anvil in good condition? Also where to find a new one and how to derermineif the price is right. I was once told that you can estimate a dollar per pound for a used anvil in good condition, is there any truth to that? My fiance is in Japan and I would like to get him some things to help him get started when he returns in October, but I really don't know that much about it. Help!!!!!!!

    Rachael Kiel -- glstacy at Saturday, 03/20/99 20:33:16 GMT


    Here on anvilfire, you will see messages from Bruce Wallace. Bruce sells used blacksmithing equipment, and you can trust him. I want an additional anvil. I'm waiting to buy it until Bruce finds one for me.

    Contact him, he'll find what you need and the price will be right.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/20/99 23:19:19 GMT

    Found a post vice a my local scrap yard, jaws were off-set by about 1/2", but my real problem comes from the fact the jaws don't open with out a lot of help. Is there supposed to be a spring in between the jaw legs? If so, where and do you have suggestions for making a new one?

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Sunday, 03/21/99 01:48:03 GMT

    We have a steel 300 lb. anvil for sale. If interested email for dimensions and price. We have one left. We also sell cast iron under 100 lbs.

    Iron Garden Works -- wesoneal at Sunday, 03/21/99 07:41:07 GMT

    Trying to find a 600+ pounder (anvil) for a friend. Perhaps someone may have access to one. Thanks for excellent page. Chase

    John Chase -- cpt at Sunday, 03/21/99 15:00:14 GMT

    Chris, Yes there is a leaf spring is in gentle "S" shape. Normally the strap that attaches to the mounting plate wraps around the top of the spring and holds it against the back. The spring puches out at the bottom of the outer "leg" near the pivot. Pivots tend to rust up and need to be oiled and freed up. The spring does the rest.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/21/99 20:00:58 GMT

    Rachael, Bruce Wallace IS the place to go for NEW and used anvils (plus other blacksmithing equipment). He carries Peddinghaus and his stock of used anvils changes rapidly. Centaur Forge also sells Peddinghaus and all the rest of the equipment and books you might want.

    A dollar per pound was the rule of thumb 35 years ago! However, it varies greatly depending on the quality of the anvil and who's selling. Used anvils sell for as little as a quarter a pound up to $5/pound. Top quality NEW anvils sell for $4-$7 per pound. The best are the forged steel Peddinghaus, followed by the cast steel anvils. Unhardened steel anvils are not satisfactory and cast iron "anvils" are really anvil shaped door stops. There is little difference between a used anvil and a new anvil other than warranty. The new Peddinghaus anvils are not finished very well and most used anvils will have some chips in the edges or show other signs of wear. A used anvil in "good" condition will not have any parts broken off but may show considerable edge wear, cuts in the table (not the face) and a few dings on the horn.

    Shop around but buy from a reputable dealer.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/21/99 20:16:46 GMT

    Brian Rognholt, Sorry I did not answer your question about the toggle linkage. I got side tracked by your new web page! The Fairbanks hammers have a better linkage. The arrangement is the same as the LG but the geometry is much better. It is also built better with pined ends and bronze bushings. Fairbanks used shorter side toggles that give a proportionatly better action.

    Leaf spring type toggle linkages are also good. These were used on many commerical hammers such as the Champion and the African hammer on the Power hammer Page is a good example. This linkage reduces the number of parts by making the spring double as the upper arms.

    Toggle linkages increase the stroke of the ram compared to the crank and return much of the energy that would be wasted at the top of the stroke. The mechanical advantage of the horizontal arms compressing the spring varies in a sinusoidal fashion. At rest and mid stroke the linkage has almost infinite mechanical advantage. This drops off rapidly as the angle of the toggle change. The Fairbanks hammers with their short side toggles go through a larger angle change than the Little Giant with its long toggles.

    I have a bunch of Fairbanks images that I plan to post on the Power hammer Page. Look for them in the near future.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/21/99 20:33:08 GMT

    Pressing 1.5 to 2mm steel plate to form a deep bowl shape. anyone know how to cunstruct a backyard press that will stamp out bowls 200mm dia X 100 to 150mm deep.
    When creating a die will i have to make some form of clamp to hold the plate?,
    I have a 15ton truck jack that i guess should give me enough downward pressure to form the bowl.
    As for the die, will a cast die do the job?, or will i need to use something more exotic. (the die will be a male and female hemisphere.

    Would there be any benifit in doing the process hot?, the palate will just fit in my gas forge and i can get a nice even geat on it.

    Thanks in advance

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Sunday, 03/21/99 20:40:58 GMT

    Andrew, Hmmm (.039 x 2 = .080" = 14ga?) and almost 8" in dia. The problem is the amount of dish, a near hemi-sphere. Cold this may take a lot more than your 15 ton jack. Probably 100 tons or more. Less if you carefully anneal the blanks. And THEN there are special steels for this type of forming that are extra maleable.

    For limited production (thousands but not tens of thousands), a pair of cast iron dies will do the job. I have a photo and decsription of a 20ton press Hydraulic Press I built on the 21st Century page. I tried to press shovel buckets from 16ga steel and it didn't have enough force to do a clean job. The trouble comes in the areas where the material must be shrunk and you don't have enough force to flatten out the wrinkles.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/21/99 22:06:57 GMT

    Maleable metal what is its use. I have a lot of forged connections is the metal any good. And what use would it be for.

    Bobby Neal -- bbneal at Monday, 03/22/99 02:03:32 GMT

    Bobby, Maleable iron is produced by a casting process that spheroidizes the carbon (into graphite spheres). This is done by the introduction of magnesium either in the ladle or in the mold. This reduces the diffuse carbon so that the iron no longer has the properties of cast iron. It is weldable, can be bent but I don't think it is forgeable (I'd have to look it up).

    -- guru Monday, 03/22/99 02:15:46 GMT

    I apologize to everyone that is being kept awake by the thumping of my newly installed Little Giant. While West Texas is a long way from most places, I understand that even here, someone must be disturbed. Seriously, I have been forging a large coil spring into blades and have followed the book instructions on normalizing and annealing, but can find no instructions for hardening that includes a cryogenic quench. Is there any advantage for something like 5160, or should I reserve the LN2 for ATS-34 and 52100. Any input is always appreciated.

    Josh Amerine

    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Monday, 03/22/99 02:32:08 GMT

    To the man that was looking for a 600+ pound anvil for his friend, sounds like a fair trade, but I'd have to see your friend first!
    (Sorry, bad joke, I know!)

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Monday, 03/22/99 03:42:16 GMT

    Josh, YOU NEVER USE a cryogenic quench! Shatters the metal! Cryogenic treatment is done AFTER the normal hardening and tempering. ASM (see links page) would have the literature. It might be in my ASM heat treaters guide. Keep bugging me and I'll look it up (if I can remember WHERE I stowed the book). . . I'm jumping back and fourth between two offices and now I'm getting ready to pack up an dmove one that I've used for 20 years!. .

    -- guru Monday, 03/22/99 15:22:26 GMT

    I am looking for a source for hand tied fireplace brooms
    and also the resources to make my own. I have already checked into Jere Kirkpatrick's web site.

    Raquelle -- toni/ at laplaza Monday, 03/22/99 15:56:42 GMT

    josh, using 5160 for knives is an excellent choice. its a rather forgiving steel and can be selectively tempered. the best advise that i was ever given when i started making swords and knives was to start with one type of steel learn everything that you can about it. ie what happens when you do not temper the blade after quenching...make a bunch of sample pieces and experiment with them, keep a log of what you do. there is alot of science that goes into the art of knife making...

    lochinvar -- LochinvarSwords at webnet Monday, 03/22/99 16:22:18 GMT

    I found a blower yesterday, and am curious to it origin, It has North American mfg co. cast into it, it is made of aluminum, the finns of the blower are 21" across, it has a filter on the intake and a 6" outlet with a adjustable port valve also made by North American.Could you tell me any history on this? I was thinking of making a dust collecter from it.

    Justin -- jtt at Monday, 03/22/99 17:54:09 GMT

    I am trying to find some information on the potential for wood charcoal made out of softwood to be used in the Blacksmith industry. What are the pros and cons of wood charcoal vs. coal? What form would the charcoal have to be? What characteristics (heat content, volatiles, carbon %, etc.) are required? How much forging fuel is used in the U.S. and Canada each year? Approximately what is the cost of the various fuels used in forging? Any info I can get would be greatly appreciated.

    David -- davkar at Monday, 03/22/99 20:22:42 GMT



    MICHAEL A. BAYLARD -- JWOODSHOP at AOL.COM Monday, 03/22/99 20:40:38 GMT

    Sorry, I was not clear. The LN2 process I have been using is after the steel reaches room temperature, then into the nitrogen and then onto the tempering sequence for that particular steel. I have had great success using this process with D2. The specifics came from Crucible or Admiral in a flier with some steel I purchased.

    I am ready to harden a few 5160 blades this week and I am enjoying the ease with which it works. Much nicer than O-1. I'll let you know what happens.



    Josh Amerine -- bluemoon at Monday, 03/22/99 20:51:02 GMT

    Raquelle, Would you believe that a fellow named Butch Hutchinson and I made the first hand tied brooms on wrought iron handles back in the mid seventies? I met Butch at a craft show in Southwest Virginia. We did a couple shows together and I asked him if he could make one of his brooms on one of my handles to match pieces of fireplace sets. He made a couple tests (we were both setup to do demonstrations) and he made brooms for me for several years after that. Within a couple years everyone was making them!

    Last summer I went to a Pennsylvania Artists Blacksmiths Meeting and their project of the month was hand tied brooms. See Anvilfire NEWS, Vol.5 p.2 for a photo of their works. Talk about "everyone" making them!
    BLOWER (Justin): Sounds like that is what it was made for. There are literaly thousands of fan and blower manufacturers selling their wares to millions of industries.
    CHARCOAL (David): I'll answer questions but I won't write a book on the fly! Charcoal was used from the beginning of time for firing forges and smelting furnaces. Its use probably predates the age of metals. Charcoal, like coke has no volitiles. The process of making them drives them all off. Charcoal is very nearly pure carbon. Unlike coal it has no sulfur content to imbrittle the iron.

    Today charcoal has mostly cons. It is not readily available (charcoal briquetts don't count, they have more sawdust and starch in them than charcoal). Due to its low density it takes more charcoal (in bulk) than coal. Its ash (wood ash) is light and blows around more than coal ash making more of a mess than coal.

    The pros are that is contains no sulfur and almost anyone anywhere can make it (any wood can be converted to charcoal). There are several booklets on the subject of charcoal making available from Centaur Forge.
    "BALL BEARING STEEL" (Michael): The specific steel varies from maker to maker. SOME bearing races are made from case hardened steel. In this case you have a high carbon surface and low to medium carbon core. It can be heattreated (obviously) but if you grind through the surface you can be in trouble.

    ANY time you are dealing with an unknown steel you should do some experimentation with a scrap. Most high carbon steels survive an oil quench better than water. Heat the steel until it just becomes non-magnetic and then quench. Then temper in an oven at 400-450 degrees F. This SHOULD give you the maximum hardness. Then test the hardness. If you don't have a hardness tester then forget asking specifics. Not only do different steels require different heattreatment but so do different shapes and thicknesses. Experiment, test, try again. That's why it is called the "art" of blacksmithing instead of the "science" of blacksmithing.

    -- guru Monday, 03/22/99 22:50:39 GMT

    Dear Guru:
    I am a beginner at this, and have never made anything. I am planning to make a sword. The blade is aproximately 133cm long and will be made of carbon steel. I was wondering what material to use for the handel, and how to attach it to the blade. If you have any suggestions on other materials to use I would apretciate your addvice.

    Doug -- D__15 at Tuesday, 03/23/99 03:04:10 GMT

    March 22, 1999 at 52,666 - Corrected two mistakes noted by Mark Layton, both requiring apologies. I corrected the link to Brian Russels web site and corrected the location of Nick Vincent's home (from Vol. 10 of the anvilfire NEWS). I had Uniontown PA, Nick is from Uniontown, Maryland!.
    Sorry guys! I won't do it again!

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/23/99 03:47:02 GMT

    SWORD GRIPS (Doug): There are a number of ways to make a sword grip. In his Damascus Video, Jim Hrisoulas makes a very nice wire wraped handle. A hardwood core is fitted to the tang and bedded in with epoxy resin. It is then wraped with a pair of twisted brass wires and an iron wire. The wrap is very tight so that no wood shows. The end of the wire is anchored under the pommel.

    Swords also had leather covered grips with a spiral of twisted silver wire (SS would work) or a criss cross pattern of single strands.

    Then there are ivory grips. Today you can purchase synthetic polyester "ivory" that has a good color and feel. Of course you can always go with horn. You can also make solid metal grips.

    If you have never made anything like this I highly recommend that you purchase and study one of the blacksmithing books on the book review page and one or more of the knife making books that are available from Centaur Forge

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/23/99 04:01:55 GMT

    Do you have any statistics that would show the average scrap percentage for a forging company?.........Thank you

    Tom Hensley -- forger456 at Tuesday, 03/23/99 14:28:41 GMT

    Doug; Sword Grips:

    I've found sections of ash (or hickory if you're not intent on being smashingly authentic) tool handles work well for sword grips, sometimes with a glued leather cover, but usually without. If you splt the handle for fitting, use a good glue, pins, and metal or leather bands or wire wrap to help support the joint.

    Bone (check your local pet store for steam cleaned "dog bones") also works well when carefully fitted. Beware the dust, though, when grinding or sanding. It's reputed to be very bad for the lungs.

    Just be sure you have a strong tang with radiused corners. (Trust me on this!)

    Atli (who is very fond of his axe!)

    Visit your National Parks:

    Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 03/23/99 17:55:40 GMT

    would you tell me,roughly,the burning temp.of coal and charcoal.the coal is from so.east ohio,and the charcoal is hardwood.with out a bellows.i have built a small forge useing hard fire bricks,and i was going to try to forge some blades.and harden them .how about coke?

    billy potter -- potterknives at Tuesday, 03/23/99 22:22:40 GMT

    Coal, charcoal and coke all burn hot enough to melt steel (over 2700 degs F) and fire ceramics (over 3000 deg F) provided the fire is deep enough and you provide a forced air blast. I'd have to look for specifics but the temperature of combustion has more to do with surrounding conditions and character of the combustion (free air, forced air, pure oxygen) than the specific chemical process.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/23/99 22:53:22 GMT

    I am a retired person who has done electrical welding as a hobby for 40 years. Now I would like to do some blacksmithing as a hobby. I have recently bought a "rivet" forge and a hank crank style blower. The blower was made by Canadian Buffalo Forge Company, Berlin, Ontario, Canada, model 400 - the gears and bearings are in perfect condition - my problem is that when I put an 80 oil in the gear case it leaked out around the blower shaft. I have taken the gear case apart and can find no evidence of a seal on this shaft and I don't think this blower was designed for a seal on the shaft. Is it possible that I should be just using some form of non-liquid gear case grease? Your adive will be much appreciated.


    Earl GIBSON -- egibson at Wednesday, 03/24/99 02:59:28 GMT

    Earl, Leakage is typical of these units. All that kept gross leakage from occuring is tight bushings. Bushings that are still in god condition may be a little loose to act as seals. Overfilling can be a problem too. Seems to me these have an oil level line on them that is too high. As long as the lowest gears pick up some oil the rest will get lubrication by contact and splash. You just have to check the oil level often to maintain it a that low level. Mounting angle can make some difference too. Most of these units were designed for the discharge to be horizontal although I have seen a few that disscharged downward.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/24/99 13:25:52 GMT

    Anybody got the adress for a website on the actual smithing going on in Jamestown, Williamsburg? (Or was it Williamsburg in Jamestown?) Sofar I´ve only found very general tourist information about how to get there. And the Atlantic ocean makes it hard for me to drive that far.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 03/24/99 20:10:17 GMT


    The only website I've been able to find is the same tourist information site you've got. I don't the blacksmith shop has a web site.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 03/24/99 20:38:10 GMT


    That's SUPPOSED to be I dont think the blacksmith shop has a web site.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 03/24/99 20:39:22 GMT

    I know nothing and am embarqued on a profect where I have to heat treat small piece of steel. How do I do it
    Tks for your answer

    robert -- rjuster at Wednesday, 03/24/99 21:55:56 GMT

    Olle, What would you like to know?

    Williamsburg has a very busy demonstration shop with numerous smiths. The shop is headed by Peter Ross. When Peter took over the blacksmith demonstration at Williamsburg it had a lot to be desired. Peter took the shop from a hokey tourist attraction to an acurate representation of an 18th Century shop on an original site. The Williamsburg historical district is owned and opperated by a private foundation.

    Jamestown also has a demonstration shop. It has been many years since I have been there but I understand that it has been improved a great deal. Like Williamsburg they now strive fro an accurate representation of the times. Jamestown is a Virginia state park and is funded by the state park system.

    When I get a chance we will do a feature on the two. I live only a few hundred miles from them (they are very close together) and have visited them numerous times during my life. My first visit there was a school trip when I was 13. I was a little dissapointed in the blacksmithing demonstration at the time. When the fellow needed a hole in the part he was working on he went into the back room and I could hear the distinctive sound of a a small electric drill press! Peter Ross has changed all that! See anvilfire NEWS, Vol 2, p.18 for pictures of Peter Ross at the 1998 ABANA convention.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/24/99 22:31:11 GMT

    HEAT TREATING (Robert): There is a LOT to know about heat treating. I can give a very simple general explaination but you will need to study the subject in depth if the part is critical.

    Heat treating consists of normalizing, hardening and tempering.

    Normalizing is an optional step that is dependant on the type of steel and how much stress is in the part from manufacturing. Normalizing is similar to annealing. The part is heated to the transformation point (where the steel becomes non-magnetic) and is then allowed to cool slowly. Due to the chance of excessive crystal growth, weaking the steel, normalizing is no longer recomended for a lot of steels.

    Hardening is done by heating the part to the transformation point and quenching in oil, water, brine or air. The transformation point varies with the amount of carbon in the steel. Generaly the temperature is lower as the carbon increases but the temperature required spikes back up for the very high carbon steels. The quenchant varies with the type of steel and size of the part. Low to medium carbon steels are generaly quenched in water, medium to high in oil. Special alloys are made that harden in air. Low carbon steels that are hard to harden are often quenched in brine. If you don't know what grade or alloy of steel you are working with you need to make a number of experiments to determine the best heat hardening method.

    Tempering is the reheating of the steel after hardening (the sooner the better) to a temperature well below the transformation point (450-1400 degrees F). Tempering reduces the hardness making the part tougher and also reduces some internal stresses. Tempering temperatures vary widely depending on the hardness desired and the type of steel. Again, if you don't know the exact steel you will have to experiment.

    General metalworking books like Machinery's Handbook and other machine shop oriented texts cover the basics of heat treating. Machinery's includes hardening and tempering temperatures for a variety of common steels. Then there are the ASM books(see our links list). Their Heat Treater's Guide includes articles on equipment and processes. Their Metals Reference Book has specific data for every standard steel. These are expensive references but they can be found in larger public libraries and in any college or university library where they teach engineering.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/24/99 23:00:21 GMT

    I am a new commer to smithing w/welding background & a network of techno help .so where can I find more info on the "midwest JYH" it seems to be the best for my budget & space requirements.I have thanks to the net, made a good gas forge,any help would be welcomed.

    Dennis A Bond -- bad at Thursday, 03/25/99 04:41:12 GMT

    what is an alloy of 0.4% of coal....can you send graphics???

    Claudia García -- cygg at Thursday, 03/25/99 04:58:59 GMT

    Dennis, The Midwest JYH is a design and product of Brian Rognholt. There is an article about it on the Power hammer Page under Catalog of Junk Yard Hammers. I just added a link to his website and his email to the article.

    PLAN ON BUILDING A JYH? We are the sponsor of the ABANA 2000 JYH "competition". Build your hammer and send photos to anvilfire and we will run them on (a not yet ready) ABANA 2000 JYH feature page. The best hammer photo will win a prize for the "most photogenic". So get your JYH to strike a pose and smile! We are also looking for a name for the event and will award a prize for the best name if we use it. Machines that make it to Flagstaff will be eligible for more prizes. Watch this page for rules and announcements!

    -- guru Thursday, 03/25/99 11:34:40 GMT

    Claudia, I'm not sure I understand your question. Can you elaborate?

    -- guru Thursday, 03/25/99 11:37:06 GMT


    JDD -- home Friday, 03/26/99 13:36:54 GMT

    the pub is acting up again
    Just wanted to inform you

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Friday, 03/26/99 13:51:08 GMT


    JAMES TIERNAN -- TAT at 1000ISLANDS.NET Friday, 03/26/99 21:40:20 GMT

    James, We have photos of Little Giants and Bradleys. I've also got numerous Fairbanks and Beudry phots that will soon be posted. There is a review of the Douglas Freund book Pounding out the Profits with ordering information on our book review page. Dougs book is about the only reference on the subject.
    OErjan, I'm working on the problem. Kiwi has had a little legal difficulty and all his computer equipment has been confiscated. Contact me for more information. guru at

    -- guru Friday, 03/26/99 23:42:32 GMT

    Guru, had a a question asked the other day, thought I had the answer in one of my Lincoln welding books. But can't find it. The question was (" what does the H4R designation stand for on a 7018 welding rod") I thought it was for a higher manganese level in the rod composition.
    please reply any one or Guru as well, the ever so humble Apprentice, bowing at your feet, grovel, grovel seeking knowledge, grovel

    jeffspoor -- sktools at Saturday, 03/27/99 01:36:44 GMT


    I don't know the answer, but keep grovelling. Bounce your head on the floor a little harder, he digs that stuff! LOL

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/27/99 02:17:44 GMT

    Jeff, The bouncing of one's head on the floor is Jim's way of rattling his memory into gear! :)

    I can't be sure but the OLD Welding Data Book I have indicates that the letters after the AWS designation are often manufacturers codes and could indicate nothing or everything.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/27/99 03:30:45 GMT

    This is a great web page for a man of iron. At present I am teaching a class of forging and foundry at the local college in our county. I will be passing this web site along to my students. Could you provide me some dates ect on the hammer-in in Flagstaff Arizona. We live about six hours away. Guru oh Guru please keep us in mind about future events. Bigdaddy.

    Bigdaddy -- bigdaddy233 at Saturday, 03/27/99 04:15:42 GMT

    Guru: Hope you will be able to help me with my question. It isn't blacksmithing, but has to do with melting metal. I do quite a lot sailing here in S.W. Florida. Recently got a new (used) 28ft sailboat keel draws 5 ft. Water very shallow & cut off 6 in,makes boat just barely able to use some channels. Want to use old lead +, to put a bulb halves on sides of keel to replace righting moment of removed 150# of lead. Each of 2 bulb halves added to weigh 100# (total 200#). Problem is to melt lead. (We can handle casting/plaster mold). Yacht building books advise"build a roaring fire out of old wood chips". Gas grill, blowtorch,propane torch, charcoal? Can use an old iron pot to melt 100# of lead at a time, suspended from a tripod.

    Raymond Howe -- sail23 at Saturday, 03/27/99 06:43:47 GMT

    Guru: Didn't quite finish my mssg. Was cut off. Just wanted to say that 100lb of lead (we figure roughly) would fit into an iron pot 10" in diameter & be about 3" high.Would appreciate any help you can give us on a practical way to melt the lead Thanks, Regards,Ray Howe

    Raymond Howe -- sail23 at Saturday, 03/27/99 06:52:41 GMT


    Pure lead melts at 600 degrees farenheit, so any good roaring fire will do the trick. If you're going to do it on the beach, driftwood would work. 100# of lead is going to be a bitch to pour, that much, melted is going to be tricky to handle. Be careful. When liquid lead splashes, it sticks in place and stays there till pried off. NASTY burns if it get on flesh.

    A good scrap source for pure lead is old plumbing boots. Roofers replace them all the time and sometimes have a hard time getting rid of them. Wheel weights are not pure lead. They contain zinc, which changes the melting point. The wheel weight alloy melts at around 700 degrees, plus or minus a few.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/27/99 06:54:41 GMT


    I don't have to bounce my head on the floor to rattle my memory. Hanging around here is enough to rattle anyone! I mean, look at the guru! A perfect example! Well, no ones perfect, but you see what I mean!

    (wanna play some more, boss? grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/27/99 07:56:30 GMT


    On melting that lead - The problem is the total BTU's not the temperature. That's a lot of mass to heat up. If the "roaring fire" is in something like a burn barrel with the crucible supported in the top it will increase your efficiency.

    Even a large gas grill will probably not have enough BTU to keep up with the heat loss (the stuff is cooling in the air while you are trying to heat it up). A propane torch will just barely make a warm damp spot on something that big.

    Your best bet is to make a circular enclosure out of refractory or hard brick about 4" in diameter bigger than your crucible. Then use a propane weed burner stuck in from the bottom of one side, tangent to the bricks so that the flame spirals around the crucible. The other way to go is to build a burner like the Simple Gas Burner on our plans page and do the same with a stack of bricks. Both of these methods require a 25-40 pound bottle of propane.

    As Paw Paw mentioned, be very careful. Evan at this temperature melted metal can be dangerous. From an environmental stand point, be sure you don't spill any of that lead. When liquid lead drops onto a hard surface it spatters into dust size droplets and can contaminate a large area.

    Get your melting setup ready and practice making the move from the fire to the pour. Normaly special tongs are used to remove the crucible from the furnace and a pouring yoke(??, long handle with a ring to fit the crucible in the middle) is used to do the pouring. The whole move should go smoothly like a ballet. When time comes for the actual pour everything will be chaotic and the practice will pay off. Metals shrink a lot when they cool so pour slow and smooth. If the lead is starting to freeze while pouring you can pour into the shrinking spot in the middle. Have some molds ready to pour the extra lead into. Short length of angle iron with ends welded on work well for this OR you can make some plaster ingot molds. Be sure your all your plaster molds are baked dry (not just cured and dry). Water in the plaster will turn to steam and make a mess of your part and possibley explode. Think ahead as much as possible. My experiance has been that with one time deals like this that no matter how much you plan ahead you have a panic a pour time looking for that tool you should have had ready!

    -- guru Saturday, 03/27/99 14:04:46 GMT

    Bigdaddy, See the ABANA web site for specifics about the big doings in Flagstaff next summer. AND keep a watch here for more information about the big Junk Yard Hammer Event! Maybe you or your class would like to enter a machine or two?

    See the early editions of the anvilfire! NEWS for reports on the last ABANA conference. If there is any way for you to attend it is definitly worth it!

    -- guru Saturday, 03/27/99 14:18:34 GMT


    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 03/27/99 15:37:34 GMT

    what exactly do Whitesmiths and Ironsmiths do?

    Ellen Macray Saturday, 03/27/99 16:12:56 GMT

    Ellen, Whitesmiths either make or obtain fresh forged pieces like kitchen utensils and clean off the black iron oxide scale and use files and chisels to finish and decorate the piece. All types of decorative grooves, notches and chamfering are done with a file and considered whitesmith work. The Blacksmith or Ironsmith forges hot iron to shape it into tools, utensils and decorative work. The work as forged is a blue black and when oiled is black, thus blacksmith. The blacksmith may finish his work using whitesmithing techniques but he is still a blacksmith. The whitesmith is a specialist producing mostley bright metalwork.

    -- guru Saturday, 03/27/99 17:25:19 GMT

    My father is a blacksmith in TN. I am looking for blacksmith cross
    stitch patterns. Do any blacksmith wives or daughters have such a

    e_stites -- at Saturday, 03/27/99 20:17:00 GMT

    Hot puppies! Another sailor!

    Instead of one large, dangerous and hard to handle 100# plus container, you may wish to break it down into about four, each with it's own heat source, and tend them together for a simultaneous pour. A little tricky, but better than sloshing about 100# of lead! The separate fires, torches or whatever can be built up or eased back as necessary, the containers (I've used #10 tin cans) can all have handles built on ready for the pour, and you're not working against a huge heat-sucking mass when heating. You just need a few more friends, some practice at the moves before you light the fire (Jock knows whereof he speaks) and a mind prepared for all eventualities. For excess lead, carve a stake into the shape of a sounding lead, hammer it into semi-dry ground, and dump any excess into a nice series of sounding leads for your friends. The shrinkage will even give you a cavity at the bottom for the tallow!

    Worked on the longship today and forged tonight on the banks of the lower Potomac. I'm happy.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 03/28/99 04:52:33 GMT

    Ach! What great minds these Viking usurpers have!
    TO ALL: The Slack-Tub Pub is now fixed. As mentioned earlier, Kiwi was out of commission for a while and I had to learn a few new stupid software tricks. Log will now be cleared about every two days.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/28/99 14:35:10 GMT

    Jock & all the other guru's hi
    As Jock knows, I've been constructing the Kinyon air hammer.I've now neared completion, but need some advice on what steel to use for the dies and how to treat it.Thanks for the great site & the excellent tips.

    mike manzie -- manzie at Sunday, 03/28/99 21:12:17 GMT

    Mike, there are a lot of different steels used for dies. At least one of the "new" commercial air hammers uses 4140. My ASM forging manual says 1050 and 4150. The BULL uses H13 welded to mild steel plate using a high tech rod (your welding supplier will know). I used the top cap from RR-rail (1060-75) on the JYH and welded it with some old "who knows?" welding rod. E7018 I think, but may have been 6013. I don't recommend this unless you are on a "no budget" budget. They were a little soft but it is better to need to regrind wear than to deal with chiping from too hard a die.

    I would draw (temper) tool steel dies back about half the steel's working range for toughness. In the case of the H13, it is heattreated before the welding.

    -- guru Sunday, 03/28/99 21:31:31 GMT

    Mike, I use H13 for hammer dies from Carpenter Technology, Reading, PA.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Sunday, 03/28/99 22:08:32 GMT

    Hello Guru or anybody,

    I am new to blacksmithing. I built my homemade forge out of a brake drum and use a car fan for my blower. I have made all sorts of decorative hooks and some forged knives. I am in desperate need of some borax. I want to weld some of my steel together so I can make other things that are more intricate. Please give me some help on how to find borax!! I've looked all over the internet, hardware stores, grocery stores (to try to find boraxo), craft magazines, etc........ If you know someone who supplies some sort of flux for welding mild steel in a forge give me their number, I am desperate..............I have been searching for 3 months and I found only one supplier, but they are out of stock (Allcraft).........

    Thanks ...


    John Florek -- Sumney at Sunday, 03/28/99 22:23:34 GMT

    John, You may have missed it in the grocery store. In the bigger stores it will be in the laundry detergent section (thats what it is used for). The most popular brand is 20 Mule Team Borax. If that doesn't work contact a ceramics supplier and ask for anhydrous borax. I didn't see it in their catalog but I'm sure Centaur Forge carries flux (or will get it for you).

    -- guru Sunday, 03/28/99 22:55:26 GMT

    John and guru,

    Centaur does carry flux. It's located on page 112 of the catalog.
    They carry several brands.

    I have there EZWeld, and while it works, personally I think plain or 20 Mule Team Borax works just as well.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 03/28/99 23:09:01 GMT

    how does one get started in blacksmithing at 50? Go to school or
    just learn on one's own?

    listak -- jsx6 at Monday, 03/29/99 02:16:16 GMT

    LEARNING (Listak) (See the link to the article Getting Started at the top of the page). You can teach yourself but there ARE blacksmithing schools and you will find folks of ALL ages attending. The schools teach the fundementals but you will need to setup a self study program if you are serious. Modern Welding and machine shop classes are helpful. If you are going into the more technical areas where heattreating is important such as knife or sword making then metalurgy classes would be enlightening. Then there is art and architecture for the decorative smith. I expect that at your age you have experiance in areas that will be helpful. Most blacksmiths are self employed craftsmen that could benefit from some business or accounting knowledge. . .
    BORAX: Sodium tetraborate decahydrate, 20 Mule Team Laundry Booster, $2.96 for 76 oz (4 pounds 12oz) at Krogers. Found it with the Chlorox bleach near the laundry detergent. Turquoise box with red lettering on yellow/white background. Now I've got a box and two thirds. I bought my last box in 1976 and still have most of it.

    -- guru Monday, 03/29/99 02:31:36 GMT

    I'm building a propane forge using 1" 6# fiberfrax durablanket and 3000o refatory cement as a liner. Will 1" be enough or would I gain anything by doubling(2") it all over?Doubling it only on the top ?? I need to reach welding temps as this is for pattern welded blades as well as general blacksmithing. It will be an atmospheric forge.

    Ron Hardy -- rhemail at Monday, 03/29/99 04:23:24 GMT

    Ron, It depends on how big the forge is. Small forges have low heat loss so they heat up rapidly. Large forges with more surface area heat up slowly requiring more BTU's and having time for the outside to get much hotter. The amount of insulation you are using is sufficient for a small forge (about 1 cu. ft.). Reaching welding heat is dependant more on the dynamics of the forge and burner than on the insulation. The mixed insulation types should serve you well. If I were to double anything I would make the floor of brick (4").

    -- guru Monday, 03/29/99 05:38:43 GMT

    I don't know if this would help with something as large as melting 100 lb. of lead, but when I use my melting pot for molding bullets, it heats up much faster if I lay a sheet of aluminum foil across the top to prevent heat loss.

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Monday, 03/29/99 13:25:04 GMT

    Unto the Guru - Hale! I very much enjoy your site and am quite glad that we are finaly exchanging ideas, unlike our forefaters who horded information! I have been a professional smith for about 15 years now, but don't get arround to the conferences and shows much and was wondering; other than the 115yr old shop I learned in (and now live and work in) how many operative line-shaft powered shops remain intact out there? any body else reading these posts still working with this unusual equipment? I have a healthy respect for it, and would suggest anyone who wants to work with lineshafts find an old timer (with all his appendages) and get them to council you before you begin. Hopefully, this question will turn up some of those old timers...

    ever in the din, J. Griswold

    J.P.W.Griswold -- iain_th_mythe at Monday, 03/29/99 16:17:18 GMT

    Help! Need a schematic to build a swadge block for my Hubby. We lost his in our last move from Ca. to Ne. and he desperately wants to replace it, but to do so we need some sort of drawing and dimensions to do so.
    Anyone out in the 'Netland' who may be able to help it would be greatfully accepted. He's going absolutely bonkers not being able to do some of the decorative work that requires a swadge block. Not to mention, that I've been waiting forever for the designs I've created to be put into reality...
    Phoenix Rising Forge
    Dave Holmes, Smith

    Holmes -- JUST_MY_TYPE at Monday, 03/29/99 17:38:25 GMT

    I'm having a problem with my propane forge. It's a Valley Forge single
    burner (hot box? picture is in Centaur Forge catalog somewhere). I just relined it with fire brick. It still wasn't heating as much as it used to so I cleaned the lint out of the little hole where the gas comes out, and now it won't stay lit although the gas volume is much better. Flame shoots out of the front and then goes out within a couple of minutes of lighting it, and once the flame jumped to the bottom of the Venturi tube where it does not belong! Very frightening experience. This was about 12 lbs of pressure where it always used to run fine. My thoughts are that either my regulator/pressure gague is not working, or I did something wrong in the relining, or that something has built a nest somewhere inside the Venturi that is keeping the gas from mixing properly. Which alternative do you think sounds most likely, or is there something entirely different that I've missed? I haven't used the forge for a few years up until a few months ago, but it worked ok (except for not getting very hot) up until I relined it. Thanks.

    michael matthews -- mmatthew at Monday, 03/29/99 17:43:06 GMT

    NOMMA & Fabricator subscribers, Dona Meilach has extended her deadline for photos to April 16, 1999 due to your overwhelming response! Welcome to anvilfire!

    -- guru Monday, 03/29/99 23:24:31 GMT

    I've been experimenting with color case hardening and have had very good results with soft steel, but with steel that has been case hardened before, I can not get it to color.
    I believe this is because of the carbon content and would like to know if it is possible to remove some of the surface carbon without destroying the metal, so that it can be re color case hardend.
    Or am I going in the wrong direction with my thoughts, any information on this subject would be appreciated.
    Thank you.
    todd bounds

    todd bounds -- sabounds at Monday, 03/29/99 23:27:28 GMT

    J.P. I have a bunch of that old machinery including a couple lathes and drill presses. All converted to electric but they STILL have their open flat belt drives! Couldn't maintain them if I hadn't been lucky enough to find a clipper belt lacer and KNEW what it was!
    Mrs. Holmes, Most of the time if you make your own swage block you make your own personal design. This is especialy true of decorative workers. A drawing or a plan is not a problem, making the pattern THEN finding a small foundry to cast it is the trick.

    I've made several of my own swage block patterns but have trouble getting the "loose" patterns cast. I'm making a couple new "boarded" patterns and will have them cast whenever I get the core boxes finished. If you or your husband don't understand the differnce between "loose", "boarded" and "core box" then you will need to study up on pattern making or hire a pattern maker. Let me know if you want to continue this project. OR you can purchase one from Centaur Forge. :)

    -- guru Monday, 03/29/99 23:46:35 GMT

    GAS FORGE PROBLEMS: If you drasticaly changed the volume of the forge the burners may no longer be sized correctly. BUGS, mud daubers and other insects DO build nests in burners and clog orifices.

    THEN, It is possible the forge is TOO clean! A trick I learned from Grant Sarver is to break up a little piece of fire brick and toss it in the forge. The little pieces heat up rapidly and help keep the forge lit. Some porous forge linings with rough surfaces do this naturaly but smooth fire brick is sometimes a problem. I had learned this instinctively but Grant knew to "toss some dross" and the foge would burn better. Try it.

    -- guru Monday, 03/29/99 23:56:26 GMT

    I read about your web sight in this winter's Anvil's Ring. I have been working metals since 1980. I have stepped through your "Getting Started Plan." My anvil waits for this summer's school break to ring true.

    My primary fabrication metals have been silver and copper in jewelry scale work. Although I have been experimenting in larger pieces for several years, larger sculptural pieces of my work are truely play time. I sell my fabricated jewelry to supliment my teaching salary. I specialize in hammer, torch, cold fastening, and chisel techniques. I also studied gun engraving and adapted these skills to nonferous metals specializing in wildlife engravings. On to my burning question....
    As I have long been dreaming of larger scale work, I have observed and read of many approaches. However, last summer I purchased some copper patina solutions from a California outfit. The staff was shocked that I would consider mixing ferous and nonferous metals into one piece. Their point being that if ever your work should hit a coastal town, you don't want your good name on it when it rusts.
    I have several experimental pieces at home. Two that jump to mind are silver gobblets with steel stems and a practice plate of steel with copper inlay. These pieces show no appreciable wear since the mid 80s. However, I live in dry northern Arizona. Having grown up in New England, I began to dought the mixed metal appraoch.

    The only references I have read about electrolisis are short. In the Anvil Ring Five Year Anthology Demitri G stated in two paragraphs that you should beware with outdoor work and ignore with indoor pieces. Alex Bealer's Blacksmithing book noted that you should use rivets of the softer metal in household implements. Neither book refered to coastal conditions.
    The question: How parinoid should I be designing indoor pieces regarding electrolisis between metals???
    I look forward to your input. Chris Contos

    Chris Contos -- contosc at Tuesday, 03/30/99 00:13:52 GMT

    I am interested (after i finish high school) in learning blacksmithing and doing that as a career. Do you have any suggestions on where I could go to study in Ohio?

    István -- vego at Tuesday, 03/30/99 00:21:51 GMT

    I am seeking information on a Peter Wright anvil. It is marked 0 3 14, which I asume is 98lbs. It is in better condition than most anvils that I have seen and has a very distinct, almost shrill ring. What period of time was this anvil made? What is it's value? How was it made?


    Dale -- dbarr at Tuesday, 03/30/99 01:47:11 GMT


    You got the weight right. 28 X 3 + 14 = 98 pounds.

    According to the Richard Postman book "ANVILS IN AMERICA" it was most likely made between 1830 and 1910. That a wide range, but with no more information than you've given, it's hard to tighten it up much. From your description of the condition, I'd say probably at this end of the range.

    It's a forged anvil.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 03/30/99 02:07:43 GMT


    You also asked it's value, and I failed to include that in my first message.

    In near perfect condition, I would not pay more than $1.75 a lb. Probably in the neighborhood of $125 - $150 dollars.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 03/30/99 02:11:30 GMT

    BIMETALIC CORROSION (Chris C.): Yes its VERY real. Also known as electrochemical corrosion. In jewelery you have little problem with it due to the fact that the parts are generaly soldered or welded together and the metals are very close electricaly. Problems generaly occur at joints. Moisture gets in, becomes an electrolyte and one metal tries to plate the other, resulting in deep pitted corrosion. Therefore tight joints survive better.

    However, the electromotive force exists in the joint of any two dissimilar metals. The amount of this force is greater when the the two metals are further apart in the galvanic or electomotive series. Batteries work on this principle. Two dissimilar metals with an electrolyte between them. As one electrode tries to plate the other a current is produced. When the sacrificial electrode is used up the battery stops producing current and often starts leaking electrolyte.

    In decorative work iron and brass is a very beautiful combination BUT NOT OUTDOORS! Years ago a friend of mine was asked to produce a decorative grate for a city street. Structuraly it had to be equivalent to bar grating. His idea was to use forged brass "wings" (pieces tapered to points with a slight "S" curve) as spacers in the grating alternating with steel in other places. The pattern was designed to look like a flight of birds. The design went through several stages of approval (including the city engineer). The first time I saw it I asked about bimetalic corrosion. . . "Oh, thats not a problem. . ."
    The second time I asked about it, the response was, "The engineer didn't think it was a problem but was going to ask an expert."
    The expert says, "Are you crazy?"
    The project was dropped.

    Don't do it. If you want color contrast outdoors, paint it.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/30/99 04:26:30 GMT

    OBTW-One way to get really beautiful corrosion resistant metalwork with color contrast is to make the parts of aluminium and have them color anodized.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/30/99 04:28:18 GMT

    István , Go to any state college and study art, engineering and maybe some metalurgy. The degree will open doors that will otherwise be locked to you forever. Take any "shop" type courses that you can fit into your schedule such as welding and machine operation. In the summer go to the blacksmithing schools such as the John C. Campbell Folk school in North Carolina. Join the local ABANA chapter and attend their workshops (almost monthly demos). Collect all the books that you can aford on the subject and STUDY them. Setup your own small shop and practice!

    NOTE that much of the above can be done before you graduate from high school. Your local community college will have welding and shop classes that you may be able to start taking NOW. Emmersing yourself in the subject (reading, joining ABANA) can start today. See my article on Getting Started, order the books, get started!

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/30/99 04:45:49 GMT

    Istvan; The Guru's advice is right on the $$$, literally. Continue schooling concentrating on the areas mentioned by the Guru. It may not seem like it now, but a college Degree means EVERYTHING! With it you can go many places that would be closed to you otherwise. In the meantime you can begin pounding hot iron and learning the basics. Both schooling and a practical education are required in today's evolving society. By the time you get your degree you will also have four years practical experience pounding iron as well. You will be well equipped to to find work in your field. If you aspire to open your own business take some small business admin. classes as well.
    Didn't mean to butt in on your page Guru, but at 45 and back in school to get my BS Degree, I have some strong thoughts on Istvan's issues. The Guru replied to a question of mine a couple of months back, for that and all the effort that goes into this site, thanks. It is a valuable resource and I learn and enjoy my visits here. Marcus

    Marcus -- marcusiv at Tuesday, 03/30/99 16:18:41 GMT

    I am looking for some information on how to make metal gravers to engrave steel.

    dobbin -- dobbin at Tuesday, 03/30/99 16:45:13 GMT

    Guru, since I'm retired and in the process of setting up a small smithing business to suppliment my pension :) I really got interested in the JYH. I've been following your progress close and the demo with Josh using it sold me! My son and I are in the process of putting together a hammer. Thank you and all the other people who contribute to a fantistic site. Got any idea when your plans will be available? So far we have used what is in the plans section here.

    jerry -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 03/30/99 16:55:24 GMT

    Dobbin, your best bet is to carefully regrind old needle files. Pieces of small taps or HSS drill bits also work. I prefer taps for making small hard tools and special cutter bits. They seem to be harder than drills and are 100% hard where drills have a soft shank. I save used ones for this purpose.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/30/99 21:20:36 GMT

    Jerry, I hope you have found my warnings about the shock absorber linkage. It works but the performance is not what one would expect from a ram of the mass used. Where it excells is in height compensation and controlability. In any case, its sort of like an anvil, any anvil is better than no anvil and any hammer is better than no hammer.

    The "plans" mentioned are not really plans but a guide. You cannot make plans for a true JYH. Every piece you use will be different than every piece I used (even if you TRY). Since I have found that I will not have time to build the "low rider" prototype I'm going ahead with the booklet without it. I AM, however, going to modify the EC-JYH linkage with a horizontal flat spring and run a test. Must post a drawing soon.

    -- guru Tuesday, 03/30/99 23:19:27 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I have been working with bronze castings for several years, but recently have left the foundry to try other approaches. As a result of this, I have been attempting some light smithing. The anvil that I am using is 120#, "Mankel" style. The only marking on it is a single "Y" on one of its sides. Can you tell me anything about this anvil? It is such a beautiful piece of steel that any information would be very interesting to me.
    Secondly, What does one use to create a concave/dome? Is there something that fits in a hardie hole or is this something found only on a swage block? Is there something that I can fabricate? My funds are very limited so any inexpensive suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for your attention.

    Jason Nitsche -- nitsche at Tuesday, 03/30/99 23:53:28 GMT

    for domes(bowls, spoons etc) a stump or wooden block works well. Just heat the metal and use the pein side of a ball pein hammer and after a bit the stump has a nice bowl shape as the hot metal burns out the wood. Least wise I have had good sucsess with this method.

    Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 03/31/99 00:02:54 GMT

    Jason, the end of a pipe that has been radiused makes a good place to sink a bowl. Also an eye bolt (use the eye ) will make a prety good bowl shape also. Weld a piece on to fit you'r hardy hole or put it in a vise.

    kid -- none Wednesday, 03/31/99 00:25:30 GMT

    Jason, Ralph and the kid both give good advise (thanks guys). The end grain of an oak stump or log makes a good anvil for sheet metal or armor type work. If you carve depressions in one be sure NOT to make them too deep. Shallow depressions work better than deep. Don't forget that you can use both ends of the log too! Rings from various sizes of pipe work and don't take up much storage space. Sheet thinner than 16ga can be worked over a sand bag if it is annealed or non-ferrous. Once the initial doming is done then the process becomes "raising". This is done over a mushroom stake (saute' lightly :) . . . A mushroom stake can be made to fit your anvil but works better at a higher position such as in a vise or from a bench block. If you wish to sit to do the raising (it can be time consuming) then a comfortable height is probably lower than the anvil. Stakes are often set in their own stand (or stump) for this reason.

    Centaur Forge sells your Mankle anvil and you will probably find it in their catalog. Mankle's are US made (Texas I think). They primarily make farriers anvils.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/31/99 02:25:53 GMT

    I am interested in blacksmithing, in a personal as well as practical and possibly commercial aspect. I have some basic knowledge but no practical experience. I examined ABANA's list of schools and courses, but most of them didn't go into great detail. I applied to go to Penland, but as the applicants are put into a lottery, i was chosen as an alternate. Meaning basically if someone dies I might get to go. I wanted Penland mainly because I require knowledge in not only basic blacksmithing, but in medieval blacksmithing and reproduction. But alas, looks like I'm not going. Was wondering if you could recommend a teacher or school that would be suitable to my needs. This summer is my main timeframe, but can be worked with. Thanks

    Blayke Humphrey -- Wyrmwood74 at Wednesday, 03/31/99 04:38:35 GMT


    May I proudly reccomend the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina? The have a full summer schedule of blacksmithing courses, all the way from "How do I light the fire?" through to "C'mo, show me something I don't already know!". Their address and phone number are;

    John C. Campbell Folk School
    1 Folk School Road
    Brasstown, NC

    (828) 837-2775

    (828) 837-8637 Fax

    (800) FOLK-SCH

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 03/31/99 05:08:06 GMT

    Hello Guru,
    First off, I have very little knowledge of Blacksmithing, but my fellow jewelers and I are VERY interested in setting up a Blacksmithing shop. I am from Savannah College of Art and Design,and we were curious if you know of any natural gas forges. Our Metals studio doesn't allow us to have propane, and we really REALLY want to set up a forge!!! Is it possible??? Please if you have any info, if you could, fax it to 912-525-6606 (attention Tonya Tarr) or email (ttarr at or call 912-525-6605!!! We would appreciate any help you have.
    Thank You very much,
    Tonya Tarr Lab Tech. of Metals and Jewelry

    Tonya Tarr -- ttarr at Wednesday, 03/31/99 21:50:19 GMT

    Tonya, It just so happens that my son Patrick goes to SCAD! Most commercial forges that run on propane have the option of running on natural gas. In most industrial situations where NG is available they use it rather than propane. In your studio situation the school will have to select the forge and have it installed by a licenced plummer. Get a copy of the Centaur Forge catalog. They carry a variety of sizes of forge.

    So what do you heat your metal with now (brazing, silver soldering)? For small forging you can poke the end of a torch into an enclosure made of refractoy brick or Kaowool, wait till the lining is hot and then stick your metal in and heat it. Just be sure the torch tip is protected from the internal heat. Keep it 1/2" or so from the inside of the "forge" and the fuel mix will keep it cool. Remove the torch when you shut down so that the residual heat doesn't melt the torch.

    -- guru Wednesday, 03/31/99 23:17:45 GMT

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