WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 7, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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The following "thread" got started on the crux of millenium leap day and the first of March so there is a little overlap. . The Q&A that didn't apply is in the February archive.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 00:00:2000 GMT

I´ve been around the sword and blade-forums trying to find someone who knows of some realistic, preferably historical, methods of sword testing. Didn´t find any yet. I haven´t made that many swords (after all, who really NEEDS them?) and my testing method so far has been to attack any inanimate object close to the forge and see what happens. It seems to me, that since most military-type swords are made for cutting just about anything but rope, the rope-cutting tests aren´t valid.
Anyone out there got some simple, non-lethal, quasi-scientific testing methods to share?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 20:35:00 GMT

Ollie, I'm no sword expert but you make a good point. When swords were military weapons makers got lots of feedback about good swords. The owners of the bad ones were usually pretty quiet after the sword's debut. As you point out, real battle feedback is harder to come by these days. The first thing that comes to mind regarding a test is to cut meat with it. Progressing up the scale and getting more destructive of the sword, you might then cut meat with a bone in it. I'd bet that swords intended for combat were often tested on live animals. I only mention it so I can state that I don't think anyone should hurt an animal just to test a toy. Next you could try wrapping the meat in various combinations of cloth, leather, chainmail, and plate armor. Then test the sword against an axe. I've heard that a common catastrophic failure for differentially heat treated swords occurs when the edge strikes another hard edge at an angle causing a chip and crack. If the edge of the opponent's sword remains intact and wedges into the crack it can cut through the softer steel behind the edge. I think the guru said something earlier about toughness being the main issue. I would tend to agree with that. Against an unarmored opponent aluminum would be as lethal as steel, and I doubt that any sword could slash through modern body armor except under very unusual circumstances (though I may be wrong about that). The tests can be as scientific as you want using controlled conditions and statistical methods. If you'd like I would be happy to help you design your experiments.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 22:35:44 GMT

Strength of Swords: Yep, I expect you rarely heard back from the customer with the failed product but I suspect life was very short if HE survived. . .

In this age of quantification the first thing you will have to do is take the human factor out. We can't have a fair scientific test of all that slashing and thrusting by using non-uniform humanoid to do the work. FIRST we will have to specify the tests, design and build a standardized testing device with all force factors traceble back to international standards. ISO 9000 will be the primary standard with ANSI as a backup.

But the test specification gets tricky. We will FIRST need to have an international committee that meets several times a year in some awful location like Hawaii or the Virgin Islands until they can agree on the specifications of the tests and produce the test requirement documentation. I REALLY hate to get involved but I nominate myself to chair the committe, Rob and Olle will need to organize and raise the funds necessary to finance the commitee's work. As soon as there is sufficient funds I will go scout out the location for our conference. The goal would be to have the specifications written in oh. . . at least 10 years :).

I'll go out and register ISSSO.com so we can get started. . .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 02/29/00 23:55:07 GMT

Accronyms: I'm really lousy at them. I tried to get it come out to ISaYSSo. . .
While writing the test specification we will have to write a specification for the test sample material (the meat). The committee will be forced to sample various samples of animal flesh until they can determine a specification for uniform representive samples. Qualifications for the members of the committee will require that they NOT be vegetarians . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 00:04:34 GMT

Olle: I really WAS wondering about this testing business myself. Imagine a ham wrapped in mail. . . Whoops more standards. . . After determining the standard meat there must be a standard test armor, recieving inspection procedures and certification of the manufacture of the test sample "armor wrap".

This is getting more and more complicated. . . Hmmm it might take longer than the 10 years for the committee to complete its work. You guys had better raise enough money to set up a trust fund. . .


- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 00:12:43 GMT

At Madison last year, there was a iron casting demo. I thought that the folks were from the Univ. of Georgia. Does anyone recall or know who the folks were, or have a contact.
Barry  <bmyers647 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 00:59:39 GMT


That was the Alabama Art Casting Co. I think I've got their e-mail address. I'll check to see if I do, and I'll post it in another message.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 01:10:38 GMT


Can't find the address, I'll keep looking.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 01:12:43 GMT

A gas forge question. Any suggestions for the door mounting
on a home built gas forge. I have a metal box/frame to contain
the firebrick and kaowool insulation, but am open to suggestions
for the door. Current ideas are a bottom hinged door, or a
counter-weighted sliding affair. Issues, sealing, reliability,
heat loss when opening. Would like to retain a mousehole in
the door for rod stock. Suggestions?

Dave Lawrence
Anothe posting by another archaic implement, Amiga Forever.
David Lawrence  <david.jay.lawrence at worldnet.att.net> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 02:44:16 GMT

Sword Testing; Ollie:

In an 1850's artillery manual I copied there are several "quality control" tests for swords. Sort of "bend X degrees and return to true, hack such-and-such and not twist," etc. Things are a bit messy at work right now with a major project, but I can try to get to it by next week.

On the other claw... Paw Paw has a copy too, so maybe he can post the specs for you sooner than I can. If he can't pick up the ball, nudge me next week.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 03:38:26 GMT

Forge Door: Dave, was thinking about that today as I played with the Whisper Baby. Its door is hinged at the top. The mouse hole is about 2" square. On this small forge its a little large until you get a scroll or upset on the end of a piece of stock. The doors on these forges are very light having a kaowool board of some type about 2" thick. I was thinking a wide narrow "slot" or "T" shaped opening. The vertical sliding doors give you that plus adjustability but are not as simple as a hinge.

The NC-TOOL forges have a little steel of cast iron door in the back opposite the the front "mouse hole" as you called it. I photographed a nice counter balance that Daniel Boone had added to his to keep it open or closed rather than catching on long stock pushed through the hole.

So far my only complaint about the Whisper Baby is that when the back door is open, hot exhaust rises and is sucked into the burner making it flutter (and produce C0). This is their only forge with a single burner so it is in-line with the stock door. The burner needs to be rotated 90° or needs a sheet metal guard. I'll add the guard.

So far I can't get close to a welding heat so I'm seriously thinking about a little recurpurative forge design I've been working on. If a big propane forge like my gas hog can melt refractories a little one should too. Of course I've yet to run the Baby more than an hour.

The bottom hinged door is simple and can serve as a shelf but your "mouse hole" wants to be at the bottom. You would have to remove stock to open the door and leave the door open all the time you work on larger (or bent up) work.

On small and mini-forges many folks just stack bricks for the "door". Its simple and flexible. Just not quite as convienient.

My "mini-forge"
  • Base made of refractory brick for maintainability
  • Body made of castable refractory for economy
  • Body bolted to that base for that maintainability
  • Front vented like Peters little forge but maybe with some kind of door
  • A stainless preheater made of a flatened tube with inlets to the sides mounted in a front vent riser.
  • Preheater is "T" shaped to feed a burner behind the vent riser.
  • Burner slopes 45° into a top entry.
  • The castable refractory has the burner "flare" molded in.
This is a very compact little design but the "T" and vent sheet metal are a bit of a pain to fabricate. You must be careful with recuperative preheaters not to get exhust in the intake. Instead of lowering C0 (carbon monoxide) and increasing efficiency you increase C0 tremondously AND efficiency drops off. What I don't like on the Sandia or Peters forge (see Camp Femby edition of the NEWS) is the back mounted vent. Most forges vent out the door or a vent in the door. Peter's forge was vented out both ends. So why not put the recoop preheater on the end that normaly has the vent.

The old Sandia forge article says there is a 5% loss per 1,000 feet of altitude. They gained that back plus some with the preheat. A 20% heat increase at sea level is the difference in a cute little forge and a WELDING machine. . . Its something really worth thinking about. Starting with 1,200°F (650°C) air is a huge calorie or BTU gain.

Hey Dave, I see your Amiga OS in my server logs. . . Where the HECK do you find software to browse the web???
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 03:39:53 GMT

Regarding Dave's question on forge doors. I have plans for a forge that I saw demonstrated at the California Blacksmith assoc. fall conference. It's an excellent design: efficient, quiet, HOT, easily reaches welding heat, easily made. (well casing, open at both ends with hinged doors) If anyone is interested I will scan and send. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 13:47:11 GMT

i have an old 200lb fisher anvil, it was made in 1940 and has a 28 marked on base . Is this anvil any good and how can i find more info on it. It seems to be in good shape with no real damage. i am looking at purchasing it. any ideas
PAT  <sweetkrimpet at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 15:15:03 GMT

I was wondering, if you heated an Iron Ring, would the hole int the middle become smaller or larger or stay the same? It is one of my Physics Questions and it's not in the book! Please Help!
Kristi   <Tikisnail at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 15:31:12 GMT

Fisher anvils: Pat, Fisher's are the first production anvil made in the U.S. They are somewhat of an odd anvil. They are cast iron with a steel face and horn rib/tip. The "in the mold" welding process was a patent process. If the face seperates any from the anvil it is not repairable. Some folks love them, others hate them.

As far as value goes they sell about the same as most anvils. Anywhere from $2-$3/pound USD is a typical price. But occasionaly you find them for less and top quality forged anvils (Peter Wright, Hay-Budden) sometimes sell for as much as $4-$5/pound. New anvils sell for $4-$8/pound.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 15:32:00 GMT

Expansion of Iron Ring: It does seem to be a perplexing question but the hole becomes larger along with the entire part. Using the standard rate of (going on memory here) of +.000007"/1"/°F (7 millionths per inch per degree). IE a 1" hole will become 7 millionths bigger per degree F.

IF the ring were constrained in a hole that did NOT expand it would be forced inward. The force would be sufficient to permanently yield the ring.

Coeficients of expansion are not constant. They vary with the temperature range. I'm going by memory on the specific number so look that up!

This doesn't sound like much but on large parts it can be very significant. A 10" part heated 100°F increases size (1,000 x 7x10^-6) .007". It doesn't sound like much but on precision parts it could make the diference between the part fitting and not. One part measured in a cold shop and another while hot from machining may be too far off to fit together. We had some bearing fits on 40" gears that caused all sorts of trouble. A 50° difference in the weather in manufacturing locations made a .014" error! It was one time when the 70°F standard ambient temperature for measuring parts made a big difference.

Other metals have different (often higher) coefficients of expansion.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 16:04:46 GMT

Expansion of iron ring: If I may expand on Guru's correct answer...

Kristi, thermal expansion takes place in all directions. Your physics book should have some statement to that affect! The thickness of the stock that the ring was made from as well as the length of stock before it was rolled and welded into a ring(cicumference). So the thickness of the stock does grow, which makes the hole in the middle smaller as well as the outside larger. But the circumference also grows which makes the hole larger and the outside larger. Since the circumference is usually quite a bit larger than the thickness of the stock, the hole gets larger. Internal stresses in the material affect the numbers, but not enough to change the Guru's answer for most rings.

The coefficient for 1020 steel is .0000065 inches per inch per degree F. For gray cast iron it is .0000058 One of the more interesting differences for me is that 300 series stainless steel is .0000096 while 400 series is the same as low carbon steel at .0000065 (at room temperature)

Another way to think of it from a blacksmiths perspective is to ask yourself how welded steel rims could have been installed on wooden wagon wheels if the hole didn't grow when it was heated. :-)

And how could guys like me get 50 year old flywheels off of rusted shafts to make junk yard hammers if the center holes didn't get larger when we heated them with a torch. Bigger grin.

Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 17:17:42 GMT

Materials Science: Tony, I've never seen a published corelation but I always thought that the fact that 300 series stainless conducts heat slower than carbon steel might have something to do with its greater coefficient of expansion. . . There are a lot of unsolved mysteries in the relm of aloying. . . (no actual science yet). Glad I got the right number of zeros. . .

I can't believe you are still going to use that flywheel. . . :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 17:39:19 GMT

Materials: I was impressed that you knew the coefficient so close from memory! I use it about every third day and still had to look it up. But I only had to swivel my chair. :-) I think the chrome has a lot to do with the poor thermal conductivity, but I'm not sure. I just know that as alloys to iron go up, the thermal conductivity and thermal expansion go down and the electrical resistivity goes up. Where is that unified field theory that Einstein was working on anyway???

On the flywheel, remember when I said it weighed 900 pounds? I was wrong. It's only about 350. I'm using it on the drive side to smooth out the power requirement to the motor. The real reason I'm using it is that it provides just the right reduction from the motor/pulley combination I have and the bearings on the flywheel shaft are still OK. Remember what you said about using what you have? Well, this is what I have. If it were lighter, I WOULD put it on the hammer shaft and get rid of the intermediate shaft. Another reason to use it is that I can mount it low on the frame and couple the flywheel mass to the anvil mass pretty well, so it should help increase my effective anvil mass which I think I will need. My anvil is 350 pounds on a 600 pound baseplate and as soon as we make another scrap tube here at work, I will be able to add another 400 pounds of anvil mass.

Pulleys: Remember how I said yesterday that I wasn't going to use car wheels for flat belt pulleys and that I was going to look for Kart wheels? Well, no can find usable kart wheels and time is getting short and my wife asked me why I wasn't using my old Humvee wheels. So I took another look and they have this nice flat spot where the run flat usually mounts. So even though I said I was not going to use car wheels because they will add mass to the hammer shaft, I am reversing myself yet again, and on they will go. If they don't work well enough, I will go back and make real flat belt pulleys. Cripes, I'm changing my design criteria with the wind! But this is fun!
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 18:05:55 GMT

Is the Yellin show (the one displayed in Asheville)currently on exhibit ? If so where?
John Careatti  <john.careatti at cskcorp.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 18:25:51 GMT

Thermal expansion is a real problem building ships outdoors. We have time-lapse films of ships on the ways writhing like eels as the sun passes overhead.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 18:55:04 GMT

E-mail me! I know awesome ways to test swords. I like collecting them. If you have AIM, my SN is Centaur108. I'm doing this thing for school, and I might want to interview you.
Joseph Gorres  <Centaur_108 at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 19:26:28 GMT

Yellin Show: John, I believe that was put together from private collections for the conference but I will check.

Tony A 350 pound flywheel is not too bad. You should look up (calc) the maximum safe speed in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. Old flywheels have a surprizing low maximum safe speed. Above it there is a chance of it flying apart.

Thermal Expansion Once upon a time. . . We were demonstrating a portable (12,000#) machine tool we had built to machine large pump gasket fits (32"). It was a combination training session and demo so there were both the customer and their employees were on hand. At the end of one day we had finished machining several steps and had setup on the last one and taken one pass when it was time to quit. The next day we came in, checked everything out and fired up the machine. As soon as it start cutting we panicked! SCreeech.. . . silence SCreeech. . . silence, the sound of an interupted cut! The machine was only cutting on one side of the part! We went around and around trying to figure out what was wrong. . . then I rested my hand on one side of the machine's housing. It was warm! 4" (100mm) thick iron castings DO NOT feel warm. . . It was cool every where else. THEN the hot air furnace started! It was winter and the machine was sitting in front of a furnace vent! We taped a diverter to the duck, waited a few hours, and went back to work. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 19:40:05 GMT

Bruce W. this ones for you..Whats the trick to adjusting the wood clutch blocks on a Little Giant 50 lb. I'm thinking, hold down the treadle forcing the pulley forward and then tighten the wood blocks. I know that all machines of the same type are going to be slightly different due to wear but how far should the pulley travel before engaging the clutch blocks? Do you oil the blocks on a daily or hourly basis and use the same sticky oil as the bearings?
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 20:24:53 GMT

Flywheel Disintegration: Thanks for the caution. I already checked it. Safe speed was 770. When it was in it's original use, it ran at 600 rpm driven by a 40 HP gas motor. I'll be using it at 270 rpm driven by an electric motor. It is the stronger one piece design with a thick rim. But since I'm the cautious type, when you see the pics of the JYH, you will see that it is encased by the frame pretty well. 6" pipe on both sides, sandwiched between 10" channels, close to the base plate and I will eventually add a hefty guard on top. Lots of energy will be stored there however and if it ever came apart, there would be serious carnage to the machine. To be real safe, I guess I should magnaflux it, and I will probably do that before I use it a lot, but probably not before March 15. I highly doubt I'll have time to get a coat of paint on it, so I won't be winning the best photo division either. :-(
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 22:08:53 GMT

Tony: When I set March 15th as a deadline I was thinking the conference was in June. Since you are the only best photo entrant mentioned. Lets move it up to April 15th and celebrate with the IRS.

Hey Folks! You can't win if you don't enter!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/01/00 22:43:53 GMT

THERMAL EXPANSION I just finished building a holding fixture for a checking station out of INVAR 36. It has a very low coeficient of thermal expansion. It's make up is 36% nickel, .6 manganese, .5 cobalt, .25 chromium, and .15 carbon. The ballaqnce iron. This is being used in a temp, humidity, controlled lab. It' also isolated from the rest of the building to prevent viberation. They talk nanometers like I talk thousandths. Thats why it's nice to fire up the forge and measure things by eye.
KID  <kidbsmith at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 00:59:50 GMT


The ABANA2K packet says that the conference is from JULY 12th through the 16th. Am I missing something? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 02:33:10 GMT

April 15? A whole 'nuther month? I can sleep instead of building all night? Ahhhhhh, what a relief! Heck, I can cram a few more projects into that time frame! That will give me enough time to add another feature too. But I can't tell you what it is lest the competition hears. Who is the competition anyway? Who else is building one besides the ones on the power hammer page already?

Bless you oh Guru for the most generous extension. :)

But I must point out that you put the terms "celebrate" and "IRS" in the same sentence without the term "abolish". (grin)
Tony  <lubeeng at lakefield.net> - Thursday, 03/02/00 13:15:25 GMT

archives. instead of repeating a question i would like to know about archived files for making damascus steel
jeff spoor  <flaminganvil at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 14:02:08 GMT

Where can I get a pamplet on sante lab. for a gas forge.
Bob Stevens  <stevenspj at earthlink.net> - Thursday, 03/02/00 15:06:42 GMT

Bob, I think you can get the Sandia Labs recuprutive forge plans from ABANA. Should be on the web site. Gurru has links to it on his link page.
But here is the web site.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 03/02/00 15:37:58 GMT

Pete, I have seen some LG's that have slots cut in the blocks to adjust them closer to the bell crank. I like to have my hammers adjusted so the clutch engages with the slights treadle pressure. Another idea might be to put a turnbuckle in the treadle linkage rod to the clutch fork. As for oil I would use straight 30-W oil a few drops a week on the bell crank. This is one area you don't want to over oil and I wouldn’t apply oil directly to the blocks them self. If you think the maple blocks are over worn call Sid Suedemier at this number, 402-873-6603 for new ones.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 15:43:28 GMT

hello guru's
presently i'm working on a project that requires using
1/4" stainless steel plate. my main question is what
grade of stainless is the best to use. the sculpture
will be outside and we are concerned about corosion and rust.we are looking to use 316L mat'l. any comments
will be appreciated. thank you
frank  <fldtw at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 15:52:38 GMT

Damascus: Jeff, We don't really have a lot. And have yet to sort out the archives into catagories (volunteers??) I can quickly summarize.
  • Grandpa says that all metals that can be forged can be forge welded.
  • Add 5-10% flourite to your borax to make it more agressive for welding those high alloy steels.
  • McMaster-Carr carries Nickel 300 shim stock.
  • When heat treating you need to consider each material seperately and find a range that gives you the results you want. Sometimes you heat for one steel and quench for the other.
  • Anything you do in this area is experimental and YOU must be your own research metalurgist.
  • Every bladesmith should have a copy of the ASM Metals Reference Book.
  • Knowlege is your most important tool
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 16:43:16 GMT

Stainless Plate: Frank, What is going on the stainless plate? Most severe corrosion occurs where two dissimilar metals come into contact.

For general resistance to normal environmental weathering you can consider 300 series SS to be perfect. The worst that will happen if you do not heat treat or handle the stainless correctly is that you may get some minor staining or blushing. Annealing for "maximum" corrosion resistance is for harsh chemical environments.

Although the stainless is generaly not attacked in a disimilar metals situaton carbon steel bolts (plated or not) will rapidly rust and the rust will plate the stainless part. All fasteners and anchors should be of similar material. Brass, cooper, bronze and aluminium all have their own problems in this situation.

When wire brushing stainless you should always use a bruch or wheel with stainless wire. Steel wire will embed small particles of steel and it will rust. . staining the stainless.

Abrasives like sanding discs and belts should not be used on carbon steel THEN the stainless for the same reason.

If the stainless is to be forged then clean all scale from your hammer, anvil and dies.

For smiths that want that "natural" look of fresh forged steel I recommend 304 SS. There is an example of a Norfolk type latch I made of 304 on the 21st Century page. The latch was forged, wire brushed with a soft brush and installed. Twenty three years later the surface scale is just showing a little blush of red in a few places. This is in a location where "condensing" atmosphere is the norm (Door on an old Grist Mill). It is also exposed to the weather and daily use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 17:08:50 GMT

email me with what you would need/wnat on sorting the archives. Perhaps I can do so.(in my spare time!) grin!
Seriously let me know. Will see what I can do.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 03/02/00 17:39:41 GMT

iForge: All (7) of the back demos have been posted!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/02/00 22:08:56 GMT

Can the top die on my Canadian Giant hammer be longer than the width of the ram?If so, how much can safely hang over.
There is about 3/4" clearance on both sides[at the narrowest ] when the ram is inside the guide[wrap around].
Dimag  <dimag at yt.sympatico.ca> - Thursday, 03/02/00 23:44:12 GMT

Die Width: Dimag, The die should be no wider than the part supporting it. There is a risk that striking work off the center of the die will try to rotate the die horizontaly in the dovetail. With added leverage there is a possibility of breaking the dovetail.

There is also a possibility that there is no problem, but I hate second guessing the OEM and his experiance. From an engineering standpoint you want the dovetail end of the die to be the same size as the ram and its striking surface to be somewhat narrower. As far as running clearance goes a 1/16" or a couple mm should be fine.

IF the problem is that you have dies from another hammer and they don't fit I'd use them but perhaps grind the width of the face to at least the same as the seat of the dovetail.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 00:31:22 GMT

Thanks for the ideas. I hope to work on the forge this weekend. I like the idea of a hinged door due to the simplicity, and I think I can counterweight it to be easy to open, and reclose without slamming the bricks. The door I have built so far is a angle iron frame with fire brick inserts. I didn't have insulating board to work with, being a scrounge at heart. Consequently it weighs a bit. I have some ideas around preheated burners and and have worked a little bit with the Sandias forges of Pete L's. I agree, the beast needs to get to a welding heat! I'll have to sketch up some ideas and post them to you for your enertainment. The piled brick is a pain, and I want a forge that is portable, self-contained, and usable on a workbench. I'll take some digital pictures when I'm done and forward them.

As for Amiga's, I think they go well with a fascination with blacksmithing, silversmithing, and things medieval. Besides, how many 12 year old computers do you know that can surf the Web?
Dave Lawrence  <David.jay.lawrence at worldnet.att.net> - Friday, 03/03/00 00:43:58 GMT

Thanks Jock;
I am building my own dies[slowly]a taper-flat combo.Was just getting greedy for surface area I guess.I'll stay within the width of the ram.
Thank you again,and Thanks especially for this site,awesome place!
Dimag  <dimag at yt.sympatico.ca> - Friday, 03/03/00 00:48:01 GMT

Dimag, One thing you don't want to happen is the top die or wedges to hit the guide. There are some tricks to putting larger dies in Nazel's like cutting off the square corners. We couldn't recommend safe way to do it in your Little Giant . . .
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 00:48:25 GMT

A couple of questions regarding the Little Giant. I ordered new dies for the top and bottom and they arrived today. I made the keys myself with a 1 degree slope. Question: Should the keys stick out both sides or should they be flush ( I made the top key flush so as not to interfere with the guide). Also how hard can the keys be hit without damaging the dovetail? A light hit with a 4 lb. hammer or a light hit with a 2 lb. hammer? Easy tapping or heavier blows? You mentioned this in a previous email so I am being cautious. I don't want the dies falling out of the dovetail though as that could cause damage as well. Thanks TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 03:45:47 GMT

Keys: Tim, This is another one of those "tight but not too tight" situations. The power hammer size makes a difference and so does key fit. One sharp wack with a 2 pounder ought to be enough.

Carefully check the fit of those keys. Key tapers are not measured OR specified in degrees but in fractions of an inch per foot. 3/16 or 1/4" per foot is common. I measured my 100# LG years ago and have since lost the notes. . .

The only dies I've machined I used the keys to support the dies in the shaper vise. This resulted in a perfect match. But I have also ground keys on a surface grinder using the DIE as the support producing a matched pair. The matching can be done by hand but it is a slow process. A bad fit will break the dovetail sooner than hiting the key too hard.

James Nasmyth's instructions for setting up a steam hammer required a thin hardwood shim between the dovetail and the wedge to insure a good fit and to put something compressive in the joint. This technique has long been abandonded but the idea has its merits.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 04:48:14 GMT

Looking for historical links/books that will outline the history of the art of blacksmithing from its roots to today
Jaime Wright  <jaime at badgervillage.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 15:08:27 GMT


I and others have been researching Whitfield family history for many years. We believe we have located the site of a family home in eastern North Carolina from the 18th century. We know, from research, that there was a house on this site during the Civil War that burned around 1910. If this house was originally built in the 18th century, we feel confident it is our Whitfield house, but we can't be sure of its history before the Civil War. We have recovered bricks and various iron implements. We have the remains of a spider skillet and a heavy metal tray-like item (approximately 16" by 20"). However, the item we feel most confident about the possibility of determining a date of manufacture is a door latch. The latch is iron, clearly hand made, and clearly crudely made. It could be from a house or it could be from an outbuilding. Beyond that, I don't know what features to describe that could be helpful. My question is this: if a knowledgeable person examined this item (or pictures of it), do you think it could be dated with any reliability? And if so, is it the kind of thing you can and would do? Our ancestor was a high ranking member of the Revolutionary War state government in North Carolina, so if this unexcavated site is his home, it might have historical value. Moreover, the site has recently become endangered by developers. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
Bryan Whitfield  <rbwhitfield at email.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 17:11:54 GMT

History of Blacksmithing: Jaime, Click on archives on the menu and select last month (the one currently on top) and search for "History of Blacksmithing" I wrote a long post on the subject with bibliography.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 17:36:03 GMT

Old Hardware: Bryan, any date put on such an item would be very approximate. The other problem is that the latch may have been off a door that was scavenged and may date from an earlier era than the rest of the structure.

The item that may tell you more is common nails. As early as 1800 cut nails were common. A large quantity of hand forged nails would date the structure better than anything else. An early roof would have used thousands.

Documentation from court house land records are probably your best evidence. Often early surveys showed buildings and land features (not just the "large" oak at the corner).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 17:48:13 GMT

Guru is there an error on Texas Artist Blacksmith Assoc. or is their site down. I get the same message on my bookmarks and on ABANA.com
Bobby Neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Friday, 03/03/00 21:01:18 GMT

Does anyone know a safe way to remove galvinize for pipe?
I am all to familiar w/ galvinize poisoning!
George Frazier  <pinenut at fidnet.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 22:06:37 GMT

Galvanizing: George, There is galvanizing AND there is galvanizing. All modern galvanizing is zinc (plated, shot peened or hot dipped). The old stuff that would kill you had cadnium in it among other things. It was the cadnium that made it bad stuff to weld.

Zinc, is a major constituant in brass and brazing rod. If you do any brazing or live/work near a brass foundry you are exposed to zinc vapors.

The plating can be removed from small quantities by soaking in vinegar.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:31:30 GMT

TABA web site: Bobby, it seems to have been moved or removed. I'm checking with the server owner and other contacts.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:32:39 GMT

Guru, I take it that other mild acids could be used?
A previous post spoke of removing zinc coating w/ pool acid.
By the way, is Kiwi back? I was very happy to see the updates! Thanks for all the great demos! I'm going to try Bills' apple, Should be educational(to say the least).
George Frazier  <pinenut at fidnet.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:46:03 GMT

Guru, I take it that other mild acids could be used?
A previous post spoke of removing zinc coating w/ pool acid.
By the way, is Kiwi back? I was very happy to see the updates! Thanks for all the great demos! I'm going to try Bills' apple, Should be educational(to say the least).
George Frazier  <pinenut at fidnet.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:48:38 GMT

George Frazier  <pinenut at fidnet.com> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:49:30 GMT

Hello! My friend and I are trying to write a combo fantasy/sci-fi novel set mainly in the days of King Arthur where one of out major characters is a sword-maker. Can you give us any information on historical forging methods or point us in that direction? Thanks a bunch! --SM
Stevie  <xena at yourinter.net> - Friday, 03/03/00 23:52:31 GMT

Mystical Swords: Stevie, the closest thing to a myth becoming real life is the story of Daryl Meier's Presidential presentation knife.

Don Fogg's web site is a treasure trove of factual information on making blades. Then there is Swordforum.com and if you check our Webring Nexus there are several sword and armour rings with dozens of other sites to browse. . .

A word of warning. There is a LOT of BS out there on this subject. The makers such as Don Fogg are very honest about the technology but there are a number of sites selling cheap blades that have what would be an hilarious line of BS if it weren't so factualy WRONG and sometimes dangerous.

The minimal basics:
  • Don't believe a moment of the forging scene in Conan the Barbarian.
  • Charcoal was the primary fuel of the time
  • Metal was lousy then and science lacking. Superstition and old wives tales took the place of science. A good writer understanding metalurgy could use this knowledge to create the superstitions.
  • Metal was lousy. . . Swordsmiths probably spent considerable time at bloomeries checking every bloom for "hard iron" (now known as steel).
  • Laminated steel is not "folded", it is cut stacked and welded, over and over.
  • Myths about quenchants (dragon's blood, virgins. . ) continue to this day.
  • Water powered "tilt" hammers (see our JYH Event page) probably existed then.
  • Iron was very expensive therefore tools such as anvils were not so large as today.
  • So many hours were spent grinding the blade (water power) that blade makers did it lying down on a board or platform made for the purpose.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 00:24:00 GMT

More: Stevie, for a taste of the times see my story "A day in the life of an Apprentice" on the 21st Century page. Forging "technique" has changed little since the begining of the iron age. (See post on history of Blacksmithing last archive of last month - February).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 00:29:17 GMT

Guru, you mean that (GASP!) swords *AREN'T* cast? The anvil *DOESN'T* drip liquid flames? Dang, I gotta rethink this whole thing! ;-)

I spent a good deal of time hammering out the ridges on a piece of rebar. Hmmm... I'll have to see if there isn't a better way of doing this. Without buying anything, of course.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Saturday, 03/04/00 00:50:52 GMT

Hollywood: I actually had a fellow write to me and describe the Conan forging scene saying, "I know THIS much. . . put how do you . .?"

I love it! Its GREAT fiction. But it is FICTION folks. Hmmm I think I have that on DVD now. . .

The Highlander movies are as bad. If you "fold" a billet "200 times" you get an homogenous bar that can't be distinguised from modern forged crucible steel. For inquiring minds thats 2^200 (1.6 x10^60) layers. OR each layer in a 1" thick billit would be "decimal, 58 zeros, two" thick. Thats more layers than there are molecules in the bar. . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 01:33:19 GMT

Early Medieval Blacksmithing; Stevie:

A series of articles that I did are strung together and republished at:

Our Anglo-Saxon Camp will be doing A.D. 500, or "The Arthurian Age from the Other Side" at Jamestown, VA, the weekend of the 18th of this month. Metalworking was highly skilled even in this period. There's lots (too many) books about Arthurian speculation, but go to the library and pull some books about the migration age and the early Anglo-Saxon period. Look at the stuff they did. Take a look at some of the more recent books about the Sutton Hoo find and look at the reproductions, without 1400 years of rust and disintegration. Some of this work was incredible!

HOWEVER: three critical things to keep in mind- First; museums and books tend to show only the prettiest and/or best stuff. The king's gear is a shoo-in, but the common ground pounding, clod hopping peasent's stuff is in the back cabinet of the remote storage facility and published in an obscure report 20 years after excavation.

Secondly; wonders can be performed with minmal equipment, but it takes a lot more skill and time, especially time. See my comment at the end of the first part of "Atli and Tadgh Make a Helm" linked (for now) from the "What's New" page here.

Thirdly; until the Industrial Revolution (and in many places today) we lived in a materials poor but labor rich environment. The 6th century is well before the apprentice-journeyman-master-guild set up, but less formal structures existed to exploit the available labor. They may not be shown the "mysteries" but it didn't take much thought to pump the bellows or hammer a bloom, and simple forges tend to be very labor intensive.

"Trust me; I'll do the thinking and y'all do the fetching, pumping and heavy lifting."

We've had our Viking vessels at the last two Worldcons that were held in Baltimore ('84 and '98) just so the fantasy authors could understand the realities of the period. It's all very romantic in the books, but after a few days at the rowing bench, you start smelling pretty strong! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Saturday, 03/04/00 04:36:28 GMT

I havent read the board in a while, and this is a "bit" off topic, but, to the early question of sword testing, I remember reading that all of the really good japanese swordsmiths used to test their swords on the condemned men. Musta saved on jail space. I'm pretty sure that the county wouldent go for that, but you might try the local butcher(if you can handle it)....

Sword testing might just be the next best way to get rid of all those death row innmates (just kidding)

Sparrowhawk  <sonic40 at the-pentagon.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 04:52:00 GMT

Human Testing: That was actually part of our human knowledge base and worked so poorly that the French immediately adopted the "more humain" invention of Doctor Guillotine for their capitol punishment.

Mechanical Testing The 1850's U.S. Millitary specification mentioned will have huge deficiencies as materials and engineering testing methods were still in their infancy at that time. However, various tests COULD be devised based on some agreed standard (as mentioned I'll gladly chair the committee as long as its a paid position and we meet in the mentioned locals ;). They would run something along this line.
  • Destructive and non-destructive tests including envionmental variables (expected high and LOW temperature conditions).
  • Weight and dimentional measurments for comparison to the optimum (to be determined by said committee).
  • General straightness measurments.
  • Surface finish values.
  • X and Y blade deflection tests. Standard load and load until yield.
  • Column loading (z-axix standard load and load until buckle)
  • Guard and grip impact tests single blow and repeated to expected lifetime blows (10K cycles?)
  • Edge section measurement using templates and optical comparitor
  • Hardness mapping
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Grip weathering resistance.
These are all tests that can be quantified from an engineering standpoint given a set of standards. Each test would be weighted for a point scale and the results given in a range of say 1-100. A one would equivalent to testing an unshaped mild steel bar that met the worst acceptable size/weight criteria. A 100 would be about 10 points beyond what materials science says is possible. Then a nearly "perfect" specimen would score a 90. After testing the current year's submissions (Hmmmm, a a testing organization and fee schedules would need to be setup too). . . after testing there could be a "sword" olympics with martial arts type demonstrations (mellon choping. . . hmm another rules and planning committee) and the top sword makers given awards.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 15:11:41 GMT

I have a powerhammer question. More to the point, a question about the EastCoast PowerHammer. I read the supplement and notice the part about two shocks being too stiff, resulting in the hammer staying up off the work when the hammer is operating full tilt. Has anyone considered making a substitution for the shocks? It looks like the shocks being used are of the automotive type. How about substituting automotive type shocks with motorcycle shocks? Specifically, the rear shocks off a street bike or the monoshock off a dirtbike? I know for a fact that most of the monoshocks out there would have enough travel,plus motorcycle shock usually have an integral spring surrounding the shock. Most motorcycle shocks are adjustable as well, so you can customize the level of dampening the shock provides. Using this type of shock would solve the problem of the hammer staying up off the work because the spring would force the shock to extend on each revolution.
So what do you think? Do you see any drawbacks to using junk shocks of motorcycles? Also, what about automotive air shocks?
THarrod  <Regalis at aol.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 18:15:22 GMT

Sword testing, eh? Yeah, we can do that. "hey Guido, Vinny, we're gonna need more cement"
Mack Heath  <Back in town> - Saturday, 03/04/00 19:07:30 GMT

EC-JYH Shocks: The solution to the stiffness that causes the "float" at high RPM is not springs on the shocks OR air shocks. The shocks used were modern gas-filled shocks that I had not expected to be the only thing available. The compressed gas acts like a spring extending the shocks albeit slowly.

Part of the problem with downward spring force is that the hammer starts in the closed die position and until in operation you do not an open die condition. The stiffness of the shocks also prevent downward over travel which is what you WANT a hammer to do. The solution (un-tested) is to put a flat leaf spring on top of the ram and attach the shocks to the ends of the spring making a roughly triangular linkage.

The spring would give the needed upward AND downward over travel giving the hammer more power. The shocks would still automaticaly adjust for large differences in work or tooling height. Being a FLAT spring makes it easy to fabricate. I made a drawing showing bayonett ends with standard bushings going through holes in the springs but did not post it. The ends probably ought to have channel shaped brackets and use the through bolt mount already being used.

With warm weather approaching I hope to experiment with this modification. You are welcome to try it and report back!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/04/00 20:42:11 GMT

Guru-- Here's one that may be a little off topic, but I need help!! I am looking for a melting kiln. I used one once in highschool, but don't remember the manufacturer. This kiln is a short (less than 3 foot) wide (3 feet across) drum with a hole in the top. No chimney, no doors, just a squat cylender with a hole in the top for a crucible. Do you have any idea where I cold look for something like this? (It's for casting Brass)
Chris  <oneheff at your-net.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 02:21:32 GMT

Bryan Whitfield: I am an Historical Archaeologist (only sometimes hysterucal, but never mind that). In general, metal objects cannot be dated to more than a very wide range, as the guru pointed out. Actually, the documentary search is the best way, but if you must use artifacts to date a site, what you need to find are ceramics. And someone who can tell you the date range for them, of course. From the last half of the 18th century until the later 19th century, almost all refined ceramics (basic white dinnerware, not crockery) was made in England. Fashions changed very rapidly during that time, and either a marked sherd or a piece with distincive decoration (NOT transfer-printed, like blue willow pattern, for example. too much time depth.) If any sherds of white ceramic are available on the surface, take them to the nearest university and ask for the anthropology department. Someone there will probably be able to give you an idea of the age of your sherds, as long as they aren't just plain white.
Alan Longmire  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 03/05/00 02:44:42 GMT

Do you know of a technique to forge a human face? TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 03:13:14 GMT

For Chris regarding casting brass. I once tried to cast brass in my metalsmithing class in college and had to evacuate the entire building. Very toxic! Do so only with someone who is familiar with this metal and it's toxic effects. Better to use bronze. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 03:17:38 GMT

Melting Furnace: Chris, Johnson and NC-TOOL both make them among others. Send Bruce Wallace your address and he will mail you an NC catalog. I think Centaur has Johnson's in their on-line catalog
Alan, Thanks!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 03:18:14 GMT

Face Forging: Tim, Its not hard but you want to prepare your tools ahead of time. Check Bill Epps Tennesee troll on the iForge page for the general technique.

Square or round stock can be used. A squareish punch like a cape chisle with rounded corners is used to set down the eye sockets raising the nose between and then a similar flat ended tool to push the jaw down from the front leaving the nose raised on three sides. Eye punches are made and used to do the eyes. Center or point punches make the nostrils and give the nose flare (therefore shape). A sharp chisle makes the mouth and dull ones raise the lips. . .

A lot depends on how much of a head you want. A face is easy a head needs to be pre-forged and then supported. . .

You can also make a negative die (same techniques) and sink a hot piece into it. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 03:26:32 GMT

face forging, isn't that what plastic surgeons do:)
alex  <klownsrbad at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 04:35:22 GMT

I am considering building a small cupola furnace.I would like to know if metal melted in a cupola gains carbon content because of being in contact with the fuel(coke)? Also,would any calcium bearing material(bones)work as flux? I have access to an unlimited supply of raw beef bones and would like to utilize them if I can.Thank you.Bob Miller(Iron Butcher)
Bob Miller  <boblou9012 at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 06:26:55 GMT

ISSSO-After posting the last message I scrolled up and read the rest of the board(will learn to do that first someday).If anyone is going to be in the s.w. PA area and really wants to test a sword on a side of beef,contact me.I can arrange it. I'll get to have fun,and get someonelse to do my work.Or I can supply cattle heads for tensile testing.Maybe I can land an appointment as procuring agent for ISSSO.
Ir,on Butcher  <boblou9012 at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 07:13:15 GMT

My name is Tammy S. Welliver. I am the webmaster and publisher for Jay Reakirt, "The Andersoneville Smithy".
I tried the balcksmith site this morning but was unable to get in. It displays an error message. Please let me know when the site is back up. We are interested in advertising and or linking with your web site and rings.

Jay Reakirt  <jay at andersonvillesmithy.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 14:57:36 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the info on face forming. There is a book available in Centaur catalogue called "Iron Menagerie" code BK59 which has fifteen animals, horse, wolf, eagle,etc.. But no human forms. Being a Farrier for 23 years I have a knack for making horse heads as I know the proper relationships very well from being around them every day. Always looking for new things to learn so plan on purchasing the book. It's the same basic idea for any type of head, study the subject, make the proper tools, then practice, practice, practice... Thanks, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at starsticker.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 15:26:26 GMT

Guru and Bryan Whitfield: I'm about to let you in a a trade secret that will probably get me thrown out of archaeology, since mere mortals aren't supposed to know how we do this stuff. Another easy dating method that can be done without any specialized knowledge is by using window glass thickness. Due to improvements in manufacture, window glass made by the blown cylinder method, in use from ca. 1770s to 1920s, gets thicker through time. An archaeologist named Randall Moir worked out a formula to give a direct date using this fact. First, Take some GOOD calipers and get an average thickness reading for your glass in millimeters. Then, use the following formula: initial date i = (84.22 x Mean thickness) + 1712.7. Round to nearest whole number, and this will give you a date in calendar years. In my experience these dates are accurate to +/- 5 years. There goes my union card. Remember, please don't dig stuff up! surface finds only! And, the Moir formula is only good for dates between ca. 1770 and 1920. Plus window glass only! no mirrors, lamp chimneys, lantern glass, bottles, etc.

Guru: sorry to keep sticking non-blacksmithing stuff in here, but my day job makes me talk of other things sometimes. Thanks for letting me ramble.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 03/05/00 15:48:49 GMT

Iron Butcher: Bob, I think there is a tool via that name. . . Yes, metal metlted in a coupla gains carbon. a LOT of carbon. Scrap steel goes in and cast-iron comes out. If you want to cast steel you need to melt it in a crucible or build your own converter (air or pure oxygen blown through liquid iron) which I DO NOT reccommend.

If you want to make cast iron castings you should start with a good grade of cast iron. This is very fast and fuel efficient. Starting with scrap steel (especially if any is alloyed) produces varying results and often useless castings. It CAN be done but takes lots of knowledge, practice and experiance.

Thanks for the testing offer but ask if they are an ISSSO member first! This subject brings out LOTS of nuts on the net and you may be swamped with requests. You have to be careful what you offer to 15-30,000 people in public!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 17:07:20 GMT

Age of Glass: Alan, not too big a secret! I just never knew the specific numbers. For those of you that didn't understand what he was talking about. . . Glass flows or sags over time. Old panes of glass get thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top due to gravity and flow of the glass. If it is very OLD glass the difference is clearly obvious.

Glass is peculiar stuff and it is included in some flux recipies because it is almost a more universal solvent than water. Lead glass can be twice as dense as plain glass due to the amount of lead disolved in it and still be transparent (albeit a little yellow). Glass does not crystalize therefore it is technicaly still a liquid at room temperature. This is probably part of the reason it is transparent. . . It is also why old soda-glass sags (flows) and be dated.

Don't worry about being off topic. It stemmed from a question about iron that needed to be answered by other means. This is supposed to be a blacksmithing forum yet we have discussed sword making and testing here the past few months as much as they do at a specialized forums such as Swordforum.com.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 17:25:11 GMT

Blacksmith's Ring: As Tammy Welliver pointed out the Blacksmith's Ring is broken. To be more precise it was abandonded by the young lady that established it. She has erased the home page directory and has not responded to mail.

We have applied to the Webring/Yahoo adopt-a-ring program and gotten no response in over a month.

Meanwhile those of you on the Blacksmith's Ring that linked to the graphic on the "home" server now have broken links. I reccomend that you copy our graphic and edit your code. We are also changing our links to the ring's home to a page explaining the situation due to the fact that we generate a large portion of the traffic to the ring. Code for members of the ring to do the same will be available on request.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 17:37:48 GMT

Sorry, but that's not what I meant at all! It only works with flat glass that has been broken and on the ground BEFORE it gets a chance to sag. The point of doing the average of the thickness across the whole piece is partly to account for that sag. The real reason the formula works is because old window glass used to be made by blowing a 4 to 8 foot long cylinder about a foot in diameter (done vertically while standing on a trestle over a lower floor, for obvious reasons). The cylinder was allowed to get leather-hard, and was then slit up the side and laid flat to go in the annealing oven. It is the thickness of the cylinder walls that changed through time due to better glassmaking technology that makes the formula usable. Older glass was thinner by up to 2 mm by the time they quit using the cylinder method. Or to put it another way, window glass with a mean thickness of .95 mm dates to about 1793, while a mean thickness of 1.95 mm dates to about 1877. Of course, in commercial settings you run into plate glass, which is a different animal altogether and is much thicker, even waybackwhen.
Therefore, for the Moir formula to work on an intact vertical pane that has flowed or sagged through time, you must first find out the mean thickness of the whole pane before you apply the formula, or you'll have a pane that was made over the course of about a century :)!
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 03/05/00 20:35:56 GMT

Hmmmm. . . . .:
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/05/00 21:06:05 GMT

From the interest shown it seems like there realy is a need for ISSSO.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Sunday, 03/05/00 21:28:24 GMT

RE: Hmmmm... Yeah, I know it sounds like a load of crap, but it actually works! Believe it or don't.
On other fronts, I'll volunteer for a position on the ISSSO! I propose we use lawyers as a uniform testing medium. Must specify with suit or without, no briefcase.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Monday, 03/06/00 01:41:22 GMT


In order to have a truly representative sample, some of the specimens should be equipped with briefcases. Perhaps 50%? The testing protocol should of course specify whether or not the briefcase would be considered a viable target medium.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/06/00 02:29:01 GMT

Guru, as you know I'm putting an overhead crane in my new blacksmith shop. I have a chain question. I bought a chain that is marked "G 43" (it may be C 43). What is the strength of this chain. From its appearance it looks like it will easily support the 10 ton capacity of the crane.
Paul - Monday, 03/06/00 13:11:13 GMT

Hi i have two things number one watch the show on pbs about weapons they have a long segment on the search for the best sword for calveryman they had testing procedures and set levels for performance the best sword was finally developed around 1909 when calvery was going out
number two i am a amateur blacksmith about 2 years experience i do 18th century re-enactments and i am researching blacksmiths during the revoloutionary war period but i am not finding any specific history for the period whatkind of metals were available in colonial america i know blacksmiths were guilded out of england things like that does anyone know of books that will help me with that kind of information thanks in advance
terry  <terryh at buncombe.main.nc.us> - Monday, 03/06/00 14:45:57 GMT

Well folks, here it is; sword testing straight from the 19th century when it really was a matter of life and death. The emphasis seems to be on strength, with no notes on the sharpness. The following is quoted verbatim, with the exception of font size, bold and italic. (At least the section signs came through.)


§ 353. Dimensions. The dimensions are compared with the model, and verified by appropriate gauges and patterns.

§ 354. Proof of blade. The blade is proved : 1st. By confining the point by a staple, and bending the blade over a cylindrical block, the curvature of which is that of a circle 35 inches diameter, the curvature of the part next to the tang being reduced by inserting a wedge 0.7 in. thick in the head, and 14 inches long; 2d. It is struck twice on each of the flat sides, on a block of oak wood, the curvature of which is the same above; 3d. It is struck on the edge, and twice on the back across an oak block one foot in diameter; 4th. The point is placed on the floor and the blade bent until it describes an arc having a certain versed sine. After these trials, the blade is examined to see that it is free from flaws, cracks or other imperfections, and that it is not set, that is to say, does not remain bent.

The scabbard is proved by letting a two-pound weight fall upon it, from a height of 18 inches. The weight should be only one inch square at the base; the scabbard should not be indented.




There's another three pages on the manufacture of the swords, but I'll have to get around to it nearer to next week. The work of the republic awaits!

Sunny, breezy and warming on the banks of the Potomac.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Monday, 03/06/00 14:52:16 GMT

Chain: Paul, Grade 43 is general purpose chain. It IS NOT rated for overhead lifting. Working load limit (WLL)is dependent on size. Size is roughly the diameter of the stock that the coils are made from. WLL for 5/16" is 3900 pounds, 3/8" is 5400, 1/2" is 9200. Different rigging affects the load rating. Only Grade 80 chain is rated for overhead lifting. Consult your sword test specimen (lawyer). :-)

BTW, I think the briefcase would be kind of like a layer of good leather chest plate, so I agree that it should be included in the test to be more historically correct.

My e-mail address WAS lubeeng at lakefield.net. I can no longer access that account since I am changing my ISP, but you might be able to respond to it and not get a reply from me. I will post with the correct e-mail address hopefully in a few days. This one is temporary

Tony - Monday, 03/06/00 15:45:05 GMT

Bruce: Thanks! Like I said, not very specific, "strike with" still leaves a LOT out. Now the scabard test is much better but did not specify the actual shape of the "impactor" which is very important. It could be flat, spherical, parabolic, conical or pyramidal.

NOTE: Please ask before imbeding strange characters in the page. Some may be control codes and do strange (or disasterous) things.

Colonial Metal: Terry, They had two choices wrought iron and steel. The wrought iron came in merchant bar and rolled and slit bar. Merchant bar was 1" x 2". Rolled bar came in a variety of sizes rectangular and square. 3/4" x 2" was available as well as sizes specificaly for wagon and carriage tires. Some was imported but much was made here by the Revolutionary period.

From a recent letter, Teri O'Brien writes:
Where did the blacksmith in colonial times get his material?


Good question.

His fuel, charcoal, was made localy from trees. Charcoal is wood that has been "charred" to remove the water, sap and volitiles (things that make smoke). Charcoal burns hotter than wood. Coal was used later but charcoal was used all through colonial times in America.

His metal and heavier tools like his anvil and hammers were imported from England at first. England continiued to supply tools (especialy anvils) until the late 1800's. Soon after the colonies were established iron ore was found and furnaces were setup to extract the iron. They made "wrought" iron and "cast" iron. Wrought iron is soft and can be bent and welded. It is what the blacksmith's used.

Those early ironworks used wodden water wheels to power huge bellows, trip hammers and rolling mills to make long bars out of the iron. The iron ore was from swamps and bogs and called "bog ore".

Several of those early ironworks are now restored museums. Saugus Ironworks in Lynn Massachuettes is one and Hopewell Village in Pennsylvania is another. There is a book about Saugus called "Pioneer Ironworks". You can also find pictures and information about the early ironworks and their water powered "trip hammers" in a set of books called "Diderot's Encylopedia of Trades and Industries". It was written in the 1700's and is in reprint. Most public libraries have a copy.

Now STEEL was a different animal. "Blister: steel was common, this is wrought that has been carburized until it blisters. It was often processed by forging and this determined the grade. Crucible steel had been invented but would have been the most expensive steel during that time as it would have all been imported (the best that I know). AND there would have been the age old "hard iron" from the bloomeries that very little is know about but it WAS available. All these grades were high carbon of varying degree without much consistancy.

Of course they knew how to case harden wrought. This technique takes nothing more than a wood stove (or fire), some charcoal and a ball of clay. Gun, tool and machine parts were commonly case hardened. I do not know the age of this technique but it is so simple that it may have been used for thousands of years.

There are many techniques that were kept secret or just were not written about. The old verbal and apprentice system of handing down information allowed for discoveries to be made and lost only to be reinvented over and over again. Ironicaly we have created the same system here. I can write a thousand pages on the Internet and tomarrow they could be gone! It happens every day. Web-sites come and go.

Web Page Adoption: If you know of a blacksmithing or metalworking page that has ceased to exist or the owner is going to abandon, please contact us. Send the old address and any information you can. We want to adopt those pages and give them a home. If you are the owner of such a page and can no longer maintain it or are tired of keeping it up PLEASE contact us. We do not want to see your information evaporate into cyberspace!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/06/00 16:08:52 GMT

Thank you for the sword-proof. It reminds me a lot of a 17-century Swedish manual for military rapiers. Unfortunately it is still "whack-and-flex" much the same way I do it. Interresting that the curvature is specified and also that strength is most important, but, alas, all sword aren´t made the same. None of my swords are made the same even if I try, and testing one of them to faliure would give some information but wouldn´t guarantee the quality of the next one.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 03/06/00 16:47:03 GMT

Sword testing - Experimental methods have come a long way since the turn of the century, and even in the last 20 years. The guru is absolutely right about the need for control of quantifiable metallurgical and structural parameters. Once the desired values for those items are determined, controlling them during manufacture will practically guarantee finished product of consistently high quality (quality = utility for the user). However, it's important to test the product under use conditions to determine what those parameters are. Let's face it, opponents aren't going to bend their swords over barrels until they break or conduct an impact test and the loser slits his throat… they're going to hack at each other until someone makes a mistake or his sword fails. Further, if the opponent is armored the sword must be capable of penetrating the armor and inflicting a disabling wound. Sword striking sword/axe/staff/lamppost/etc. and sword cutting through armor, flesh, and bone without failing are the conditions that need to be reproduced as closely as possible in a controlled, repeatable manner. Let me repeat that I think testing on live subjects is a very bad idea. Some Japanese officers tested out their swords during the Bataan death march. Those that were caught later were hanged.
Rob. Curry  <curry at cts.com> - Monday, 03/06/00 17:18:57 GMT

The site address for LAMA has been changed, It is www.lametalsmiths.org .
Bobby Neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Monday, 03/06/00 17:54:15 GMT

What does a 300# Bradley Helve Hammer weight, are there parts such as the rubber bushings and wood beams, What is it 's worth, the hammer is in complete but needs the beams and rubber parts replaced.
Bobby Neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Monday, 03/06/00 18:43:38 GMT

Bobby, Thanks! Will fix it in an instant! DONE! Fixed on both the ABANA-Chapter page and our links page. I'll look for others. . . In the future I will be removing the chapter links on OUR page and refering to ABANA-Chapter only. This is so that the best accuracy can be maintained.

Tell your webmaster that their link to TheForge is incorrect and he should link to:


This is a multi-lingual page we setup since ABANA no longer had a TheForge how-to page. He should also be linked to:


ABANA refers to our page because we host so many chapter sites AND we keep it current. As just demonstrated.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/06/00 18:47:16 GMT

Sword Testing: Rob, I agree. I'm volunteering to let myself be nominated for a compensated position in ISSSO. I'll be the "non real" tester. We'll make a sword and instrument it with strain gages and accelerometers, then we can get a big viking kind of guy or gal and have him or her hack away at a realistic mockup with armor, briefcase, etc and determine the loads imposed on the sword in actual use conditions. We can then use engineering from there to designa sword to meet the loads. As Rob mentioned, with typical modern manufacturing and quality assurance methods, including x-ray and other non destructive test methods, we can turn out a quality product. And if we design the test well, we only have to decrement the lawyer pool by one. I think it might be worth it!

But then, I didn't start blacksmithing to use all of the technology I have available. Sometimes the technology takes the fun and art out of a pursuit and reduces it to just numbers. Don't get me wrong, I am an engineer to the core, but frequently, doing things the "old way" has it's attractions and is a fun learning experience that supports the pursuit of engineering. If we wanted to make a new technology sword, I think we would call it a chainsaw or portable laser.

Have fun!
Tony - Monday, 03/06/00 18:54:24 GMT

Just came back from a mission trip helping build a hospital in Kigoma, Tanzania. Didn't see much metalworking other than emergency repairs to the wheelbarrows that were moving the concrete around, but I did notice a couple things that seem relevant to blacksmithing.

1. Lots of charcoal making. They use it a lot for cooking, and there are lots of charcoal operations out in the countryside. It's transported wrapped with grass in bales about a foot in diameter and four feet long.

2. I examined a few Masai spears; all of them were forged from rebar. Just the basic spearhead shape beat out. The rest of the bar was left "natural" and set into the shaft. No evidence of any real attempt at sharpening or heat treating.

3. Lots of machetes and smaller knives. The machetes (longer blades) had more curve, generally, than I'm used to; the smaller blades, about a foot long, had a straighter edge and more curve on the back. Handles were most always two wood slabs. Again there was no great evidence of sharpening; the preferred carry method was in the hand - with the hand wrapped around the blade!

Steve Alford - Monday, 03/06/00 21:07:12 GMT

Are the briefcases empty or full of papers? This would affect how easily they are sheared through on their way to the lawyer.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Monday, 03/06/00 22:26:36 GMT

Bobby, A 300# Bradley Upright Helve weighs 15,400 pounds. The hammers not worth much with the missing parts. Check anvilfire's power hammer page for parts from Cortland Machine & Tool Co., Inc.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Monday, 03/06/00 23:56:20 GMT

Mr. Guru, would you know what type of steel ball joints for automobiles are made of? I would assume they are some sort of tool steel and I was thinking it might be a good metal to put with L6 and other tools steels to weld up into a damascus billet. Would ball joint steel be suitable for damascus blade steel? The reason I ask is there is a factory locally that makes ball joints and I can take rejects home by the bucket full. Thanks...Armand Bussell
armand  <armandanvil at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 00:00:26 GMT

I have recently aquired a forge and wish to start reviving the lost art of blacksmithing. I am 18 years old and know nothing about blacksmithing. I am also a Civil War re-enactor, and live in fairmont WV. I was wondering how to get started in making blades/tools, as the local libraries have no books on the subject. Thanks! Any help what so ever would be appritiated!! ( What is the diffrence between toughness and hardness, and how do you temper?)
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 04:15:40 GMT

Sorry, I forgot to ask... the forge I recently aquired is in a rathe rsorry state of disrepair. It is a Buffalo Forge of Buffalo NY, and is rusted pretty bad. The forge is complete, yet the firepot is falling apart, and the variable speed blower has no pipe. Does anyone have info on this type of forge? Where to get parts? etc... It would be about 80+ years old. Thanks!
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 04:22:30 GMT

Welcome to the Club! Joshua, Sorry to say that Buffalo Forge has been out of the forge business for many years. Centaur Forge sells a fire pot that fits I believe. The pipe will need to be made up of exhaust pipe or fabricated. You could also fabricate a firepot in a pinch. See our plans page and look at how the "Brake Drum" forge works.

See our "Getting Started" article for books and info.

Tempering is one step in heattreating. Annealing, Normalizing, Hardening and then Tempering (sometimes followed by mechanical stress relieving). The first two steps are often skipped and depend on the type of steel in use.

Hardening temperature varies with the type of steel but is usualy very close to the point where steel becomes non-magnetic or just a hair above. It is then quenched in air, oil, water or brine. Again this is dependant on the type of steel. Oil is usualy a good bet with modern steels.

After quenching it is best to temper as soon as possible (while the steel is slightly warm). Tempering is the reducing of the hardness via reheating to somewhere below critical. This is normaly between 400 and 800°F but can be as high as 1,400°F for air hardening tools.

Full hard steel is very brittle. Tempering it reduces the hardness slightly while reducing the brittleness a lot.

Tough means you can flex or deflect the part without breaking it. Hard means it is difficult to scratch or cut.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 06:23:46 GMT

you don't know where i can find a copy of a Victor Tip chart on line do you? Handy infoirmation abut torch tips and what to set pressures at for certain tips. People in field don't know all this and think between 8-10 acc and 15 to 20 oxy is for every torch tip out there. I was explaining to one guy about flashback and starving for fuel ina torch and he was lost.

jeff spoor  <flaminganvil at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 13:51:44 GMT

The forge I have has a layer of bricks it seems in the bootom and the coal is ontop of that. Should I take the (not sure if right term) fire bricks out? Thanks for your last reply, it helps alot. I believe the serial # on the forbe is 0008. If there are more #'s they are completely rusted off.
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 16:52:24 GMT

Do you know of any blacksmiths near by, or any classes giving in the West Virginia Area? (Sorry about the dumb questions, but I am completely new to blacksmithing... I can't even get my forge up yet due to needing repairs...haha) THanks
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 16:54:52 GMT


I Don't know of an on-line source for the information you're talking about BUT, I have a copy of the Tip Chart from Victor. I could scan both sides and send it to the guru, if he thinks it'd be worth while.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 17:15:22 GMT

Victor Tip Chart: The same should be available from ANY welding supplier that sells victor and is also listed in the welding reference/textbook Modern Welding
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 18:13:23 GMT

Joshua: Look for your nearest ABANA-Chapter

Old forge The big old railroad forges (about 40" square) were quite deep and were sometimes lined with brick to raise the firepot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 18:20:05 GMT

Go to the Victor site
look under General Catalog for the Torch handle & Cutting attachments.
They list tips and pressures.
ALso in these pages there are all sorts of good info. Replacement parts, how to replace them etc.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 19:50:35 GMT

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