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 7 - 14, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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Is (partialy) back in business! We can now add sites to the ring and are slowly going through the queue of applications dating back 9 months!

If you have applied to the ring and are "in the queue" and still have the webring code on your page please let us know and we will get you listed on the ring ASAP. We will also send you mail with corrections that will be needed for the ring code to work.

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- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 20:12:36 GMT

I'm doing a project for my gr. 10 welding class, i need to do research on "the history of welding, 2000b.c - 2000 a.d"
forge seemed to be a good place to start, but i can't get any info....can anyone help me out on this one? web sites or any info that anyone can give me would be of great help for me,
thanx a lot

Annie  <punkett_420 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 20:33:07 GMT

Welding: Annie? Did you select the range of that topic or did your instructor? The first thing you will find is that the history of technology is poorly documented. However, we can help you a little.

2000BC is approximately the beginning of the Iron Age. The Bronze age was well developed by that time. Although there was not much welding of bronze, jewlers of the era could weld silver and gold. Both materials were welded using very small charcoal forges or perhaps an alcohol fueled blowpipe.

Wrought iron has been welded from the beginning of the iron age. It can welded using a charcoal fire and with or without flux. The iron is heated until the surface becomes nearly molten or has a slight metled layer and then the pieces are removed from the fire and forged together. This is called forge or "fire" welding. Forge welding was used exclusively up until about 1900 when gas and electric welding started to be used. One advance in forge weling was made late in its history and that was the use of a convex "scarf" that forced swarf out of the joint. This was first properly defined by James Nasmyth in the 1840's. Forge welding has its own type of joints and various techniques. Modern blacksmiths still practice forge welding in great numbers.

It wasn't until WWI that electric welding really took off though it was known much earlier. These processes quickly became very technical and are still improving today.

For a good description of forge welding techniques and joint styles see Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing and for the James Nasmyth info see his autobiography. It is linked on our book review page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/07/00 21:10:15 GMT

Guru: Thanks for getting the blacksmith's ring up again. I had wondered what happened to it until I saw earlier posts here. I applied about eight months ago, so that would explain why I got no follow-up to the automated message until I got yours today.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 01:53:13 GMT

i have a small blacksmith shop in w oregon. i'm looking for a price range , by the foot , on a basic fire point gate and fence 4 foot tall. i understand that we are in different markets so thats wy i say range. right now my shop rate is 35$/hr but i don't want to under bid. thanks, bear
bear  <kinto93518> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 02:03:52 GMT

i have a small blacksmith shop in w oregon. i'm looking for a price range , by the foot , on a basic fire point gate and fence 4 foot tall. i understand that we are in different markets so thats wy i say range. right now my shop rate is 35$/hr but i don't want to under bid. thanks, bear
bear  <kinto93518> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 02:26:54 GMT

Hi. I'm a farmer in Nebraska (from whence cometh the Vise Grip discussed earlier, btw.) I'd like to make and sell some wrought iron work on the Web, and I need some advice. I've been using modern shop tools to work steel for something like 30 years, but have no experience with forge work. Today I have questions in two main areas; the first is finishes. The things I want to make will be for use/display in people's homes. (Mostly, we're looking at types of candleholders.) I'd like the metal to have a dark finish, either black or a "nearly-black" brown. What technique(s) can I use to achieve this and keep the iron from developing noticeable rust for, say, 15 years or more? I've searched the Web somewhat on this subject and did find mention of oil and wax finishes, but nothing in detail about application, effectiveness, longevity or care-requirements. Any wisdom you can offer here would be appreciated, but if you could just point me to the best books on the subject of finishing (and similar URL's), that would be great, too.

My second question is about welding. I appreciate the desirability of avoiding modern welding techniques in wrought iron work, but my guess is that, at least at first, my production will probably combine some new ways along with the old. I've seen some online references to TIG welding of iron work, and I'm curious about whether TIG works better for this than oxy/acetylene with steel welding rod... and if so, how? I do a lot of MIG welding and I have a stick welder, but I've never done TIG. Just be careful what you say, because it doesn't take much to push me over the new-tool-purchase edge :-) As I said about finishes, specific book recommendations or URL's would be great.

Thanks for the forum and for your time!
Gary Hansen  <zz at hamilton.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 02:58:40 GMT

The Blacksmith's Ring: Alan, Thanks for the feedback, glad to be of help. We added 10 sites today and I wrote to a dozen others that need to replace their code or make other changes. In a few days the ring should be 50% larger than it was.

Its a great ring and we didn't want to see it languish. We've written to yahoo/webring about the problem numerous times over the past 3 months with no response. We will continue to write and do what we can without their support.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 03:47:21 GMT

I am the product of a R & D man for the DuPont Co. Metals were his first love. I am a Graphic Designer, Web, Flat, textile, etc. I have been drawn to working with metal for years. I have been welding for 10 years, (gas torch, mig, tig, arc) I love your site, I found it recently through a search for Gas Forge plans. As a newcommer to Blacksmithing types of metal working I was as thankful you were there. Thanks for the effort it takes maintain it ! I recently Brazed some copper leaves to a piece I was working on (substrate: steel) and wish to advance the oxidation process or the copper to a green patina (old 1 1/4 copper pipe, split then hammered and shaped) Other than time and H2O, how can this be done? Thanks again for a great site for learning. Mark Huber
Mark Huber  <carma at cswnet.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 04:04:24 GMT

WELDING: Gary, this is a complex subject when it comes to blacksmithing.

IF you advertise "traditional" work it should all be forge welded, rivited and collared (period, no discussion).

If you use arc welding (MIG, TIG, stick) then your welds should LOOK like nuclear grade work. If you grind welds to hide them then don't leave ANY evidence of the weld OR the grinding. Otherwise leave clean welds alone. Quality and craftsmanship are the same in any field. MIG is best. You can dress welds better by forging afterward if the joint is designed properly.

You don't need TIG unless you are working aluminium or light stainless.

Oil and wax finishes are something you use on quick demonstration items and small stuff. Never use these on architectual or major sculptural work. These are high maintaince finishes. Your customer WILL NOT maintain them.

You may use clear lacquer indoors but all outdoor work needs an industrial duty finish. See my articles on corrosion and its prevention on the 21st Century page.

For wax finishes the work needs an even coat of clean scale. The loose stuff must be wire brushed off. Liquid floor was works great. Beeswax is "traditional" but its sticky and collects dirt. Lacquer finishes for a "natural" look are applied over the same surface. SEE the article on corrosion about "coal plating".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 04:06:29 GMT

liquid was = liquid WAX, above :(

Corroding Copper: Gary, generally it takes strong chemicals (sulphuric acid). However, many homes have the nastiest corrosive there is sitting in the laundry. Chlorox bleach.. rust steel instantly. Does a number on copper and brass too. Neutralize with a mild acid after use (vinegar), then neutralize THAT with a baking soda solution and rinse well between each step.

I've never used bleach on copper but I know it works. Let us know how it turns out so we can all learn. :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 04:13:39 GMT

Price/foot: Bear, that is a tough one and it depends on the complexity of the job and whether or not your customer REALLY wants hand forged. . . $35/foot minimum $100/foot is common in HIGH class work.

If you don't want to lose money sit doen and anylize every step and assign a realistic time. Need to drill holes? How long to find the bit? Forging the picketts? Assign time to purchase the steel, pickup the steel, cut the steel, move the steel, forge the the steel (in how many steps/heats) and clean the pickett. . . Its a hard way to bid but it can be done. Only after doing a bunch of jobs do you want to shot-gun it with per/foot bids.

I've also found the "get in the door" prices almost NEVER pay. Do the first job cheap and they will want the next at the same rate. OR they will get another naive bidder for the next phase. . . Be honest with yourself AND your customer.

If you have to do ANY of the drawing or design work on a job that may be bid on by others. . ALWAYS get paid for the design/drawing time. If you don't the customer is going to take your "free" time and give it to your competition who will out bid you EVERY time.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 04:25:47 GMT

Thanks, Guru. Can you elaborate on how to achieve the even coat of clean scale required for waxing? Is the scale good under lacquer as well? Also, will an oil finish applied to hot metal darken it? And after applying oil to hot metal, can you apply lacquer over that? (Sounds like a bad idea... paint over oil.) What kind of options exist for darkening the base metal before using lacquer? (I don't want to obscure the texture of the metal any more than I have to.) None of this work will be used or displayed outdoors.

Can anyone recommend particular books that address finishing options at length?

Thanks again.
Gary Hansen  <zz at hamilton.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 06:09:17 GMT

Just read the query re stainless sculpture and would add to the Guru's advice: get a stainless cup brush for finishing any welds, or the bristles from the ferrous brush will embed and your sculpture will have freckles forever. Ditto any other particles of ferrous that it picks up from bumping around in the shop.
John Neary  <jneary at cnsp.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 13:43:52 GMT


One safety aspect that we should mention.

When using Clorine for oxidizing anything, the work should be done outside if at all possible, OR done in a VERY well ventilated area. Clorine combines with several different substances, and frequently produces different forms Clorine gas! Ask a WWI veteran what that stuff will do to you. (if you can find one that's still alive!)

One reason that Clorine is used as a disinfectant is that in it's concentrated form, it is fatal to all known forms of life!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 13:47:55 GMT

Guru and Gary: I once saw some copper and steel garden sculpture with a nice rust on the steel and a beautiful brilliant BLUE patina on the copper. I asked the artist how she did it, and she told me it was the result of plain old miracle grow! just made a paste out of it with hot water and rubbed it on the copper. No neutralization or anything. I bought the piece and gave it to my mother (it's a giant preying mantis that now scares the heck out of small children who get in her flowerbed). After six years outdoors, the steel is a little rustier, but the copper looks just like it did when I bought it. Bizarre, eh?
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 14:45:06 GMT

Natural Finishes: Gary, the scale is a result of bringing the entire piece up to forging heat. Yes you can lacquer over it and YES oil or wax under lacquer is bad. Oil darkens scale to nearly black but lacquer doesn't 'wet" the surface the same and retains much of the blue-grey.

You CAN use boiled linseed oil and put on a "French polish", see woodworking books and plan on taking several months.

There are as many hair brained finishing ideas for wrought iron as there are blacksmiths and those that are published are much the same. Most of the blacksmithing books have them. Lacquer over a CLEAN surface is best but it is still a compromise finish. Everything else from there is down hill unless you want to go first class finish (sand blast, 99% zinc powder prime, neutral red oxide over the zinc and then a water proof color fast UV resistant top coat). Paint it ANY color you want.

Anyone that wants that "natural" look and doesn't want to reproduce it in paint should use 304 stainless and then forget about. Otherwise plan on your work to rust to dust. Please read the articles on corrosion and finishing on the 21st Century page.

ASM has books on finishing metal and there are articles in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. These are all industrial finishes from sources that would LAUGH at putting lacquer over scale (clean or not).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 16:26:58 GMT

how many nail holes are there in a standard horse shoe?
selina pryde  <selinapryde at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 17:18:52 GMT

A question about the liquidlfloor wax. Do you apply it to cold iron, or to warm iron like beeswax?

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 17:25:41 GMT

I am looking for any blacksmith equipment to buy. 25 - 60 pound Power Hammer is at the top of my list. Also I am looking for an anvil up to 1,000 pounds. I am also a hammer fanatic and would buy blacksmith, farrier, and ballpeen hammers that are old. Also looking for a 6" wide jaw leg vise or bigger.
Ryan Wasson  <krw996s at mail.smsu.edu> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 17:40:35 GMT

iron-blueing when I was 14 I met a smith that had a habit of looking in to the "old wives tails" of our trade, one that he looked into was " if a blade will not hold an edge quench in the urin of a red headed boys mule" this may sound dumb but it works,(any urin will work but cow,horse or mule works best) this will apply a hard nitride blueing to the steal, 1800 gun smiths used cow urin to blue there parts. it smells VERY BAD but I've goten a very dark blue finsh on knife blades by repetedly quenching this has the added bonus of acting like a case harding (0.025-0.04) that is not affected by tempering. thought this might be of use ~MP~
matthew parkinson   <swordmett at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 18:23:48 GMT

Looking for Tools: Ryan, You've got it backwards. You should be looking for a 1,000 pound (ram) hammer and a 60# anvil. . . :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 18:44:00 GMT

Horseshoe Nails: Selina, Six nails, I think. Look at this demonstration by Rich Hale

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 18:49:26 GMT

Liquid Wax: Cold, Ralph. Can't remember the best brand but most of the hard liquid floor waxes are pretty much the same.

I also put beeswax on cold. If it has some turpentine added it acts like a paste wax. The problem is it stays slightly sticky and is not really a durable finish.

OBTW Ryan, the Virtual Hammer-In is our buy, sell and trade forum.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 18:57:11 GMT

Hmmm, cold beeswax! I will try that out too. I like the way the warm iron darkens with beeswax, that and the smell too!
I assume that you can lightly buff the object to get a bit of a shine?

Hard liquid? is that like 'jumbo shrimp'!? (grin)

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 19:02:22 GMT

Oxymorons: Hard Liquid = Military Intelligence = Urban Planning
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 19:41:37 GMT

I have some beeswax in cake form that I salvaged from work. They use it to simulate materal when making tooling. It comes in precision sizes and has a hardner in it. Anyway I apply it to hot iron (steel) I heat the work until it I am just barley able to hold onto it then hold it with plyers or tongs and melt the cake onto the work. When the wax is almost solid, I take newspaper and wipe off the excess wax and let cool. It works well for interior pieces as it isn't sitcky and seems to seal the work prety well. As with all wax finishes it is in noway able to stand up to outdoor use.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 20:24:21 GMT

Machinable Wax: Wayne, I don't think there is any beeswax in machinable wax. I think its a blend that includes parrafin and some other waxes. It IS hard and most I've seen is a dark green or red/brown. Good idea though. The harder the wax the better!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/08/00 20:54:10 GMT

I've got some interesting material that I'm not sure what to do with. I have three rods of tool steel intended for making high speed drill bits and router bits. I think it's called M50 or M51. I'd like to use it for something or other but I don't know what it's good for as far blacksmithing is concerned. Each rod is about three feet long and one half inch thick. When I got them a year ago I wanted to make swords from them. After a little research and some tinkering I realize that I'm a long way from being a sword make or even a knife maker. I know steel doesn't spoil like groceries but I would like to work a little of just to see what I can do. Can any of you tell me what this stuff is and what I could use it for?
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/09/00 01:09:59 GMT

M51: Bill, My book doesn't list it. Only goes up to M47. Its a molybdenum high speed tool steel. PROBABLY has more that 1.0% carbon. . Very difficult to heat treat without temperature controls. See your MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for specifics on HSS in general.

I CAN tell you it will air quench and forging it at too high a temperature it will crumble as will many alloy tool steels. Grandpa may a have a more current reference covering this steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 02:23:50 GMT

I beleave you are right about machineable wax but the stuff I am talking about is indeed beeswax. It comes in sheets and in standard thickneses. It is accurate to about +/- 0.0005 for the thickness stated. It is used in layup of plaster tooling and the sheets are used to simulate the thickness of the sheetmetal part that they need an opposite mold of. For example you have a positive compound curve on a strech die and you need the female of a small part of that die on the outside of the die . You would use the wax to make up for the thickness of the part and make a cast or mold from the new surface of the wax and the die. Once the wax is used it is destroyed for further use in it's removal from the project, and it is discarded. It is kinda hard to explain, In anycase it is a HARD beeswax. Good stuff.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 03/09/00 04:02:06 GMT

Guru Im a Irish Blacksmith trying to bring different elements of design into my work Im on the search for Examples of Arabic or Moorish Ironwork ,can you point me in the right direction?I think your website is outstanding!
Seamus  <sraben at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 09:39:03 GMT


Most Spanish Ironwork, shows a lot of Moorish influence.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 12:37:23 GMT

hey I've been looking everywhere trying to find info on sword smithing like tempering, fire welding, and which swords to make springy and which to make stiff if you can get me some info I would be very greatful thanks
edward saunders  <phyrelord at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 13:53:07 GMT

M51: My book only goes to M36 (love old books). Only info that I can add to Guru's response is that most of the high alloy content steels need to be heated slowly due to coef of expansion/thermal conductivity problems. If heated too fast, micro cracks form internally that grow during forging, but in any case remain in the steel and greatly reduce the toughness.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 14:00:09 GMT

i am interested in making "prarie diamonds", rings made from wrought nails. although my blacksmithing experience is limited, i have a forge and a pretty good reference "the practical blacksmith". i need photos, drawings and or instructions. thank you
james franklin  <cellardoor7 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 14:19:28 GMT

I am an amature smith, and would like to know
to what grit is a knife finished before heat treating, and if flux can be used to minimize pitting and scaling in a coalforge (or gas forge).
Dave Bolton  <bolton at skylinc.net> - Thursday, 03/09/00 16:57:06 GMT

Dear Guru:
Sorry, I just loked for your response to my last question, but I must of missed it. Here it is, amd sorry about the redundancy, I have heard that it is rather hard ( impossible) to forge weld stainless steel. Is this true? Also, I was wondering about the specifics of Damascus steel.
Another thing, is there a special way the men of taledo treated their steel to get the rich strength? Your humble Ametuer Blacksmith,

"I looked around and saw nothing but fire and molten steel."
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 18:18:58 GMT

Would be Blacksmiths and Bladesmiths!
PLEASE read "Getting Started" at the top of this page. Order the recommended books or borrow them from your library (if they don't have them suggest they get them), and READ them.

Look on our 21st Century page and our MANY other pages. We have a wealth of information here. Look in the archives or just UP a few postings! 90% of your questions will be found in previous weeks postings!

IF you post a question it is generally answered in minutes or a few hours tops. If you come back a week later you will have to search through hundreds of posts!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 19:41:49 GMT

Forge Welding Stainless: Joshua, Like most materials it takes a specific flux. About 5-10% Flourite powder added to your borax makes it much more reactive and it will disolve those hard to remove chrome oxides.

For specifics on Damascus steel you must do some research. The deffinitive articles were written by a friend, Wallace Yeater and published in (back isssues) of the Anvil's Ring. Damascus steel IS NOT laminated steel. It is a decarburized crucible product also known as wootz. Modern Western blacksmiths make LAMINATED steel which is commonly called Damascus. Please remember that 99% of what you hear on these subjects is BS passed on by people that believe anything, and especialy themselves.

According to our historical blade experts early blades got their strength by NOT being so hard. Folks back then had enough sense to know that when their lives depended on a WHOLE blade rather than a sharp broken one!

The best blades were made of more than one steel. A soft ductile almost impossible to break core was surrounded by hard (and sometimes decorative) steel.

Centaur Forge has dozens of books and videos on the subject.

Archives I should have noted in my previous post that we are now archiving this page weekly. Initialy we archived monthly, then bi-weekly, then every 10 days to keep the size of the log managable. We are now at 7 day intervals and looking at for an automated system. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 20:12:11 GMT

Knife Grinding: Dave, we have an article on "wheels" on the 21st Century page that has advice on grinding, buffing and polishing.

What grit you use prior to heat treating depends on the final finish and how you heat treat. Finished parts can be protected by sealing in stainless foil and the most finishing needed afterwards is some fine buffing to remove discoloration. Hardening and tempering in salt baths is also commonly used by bladsmiths to prevent oxidation. See the Don Fogg web site for information.

If you heat treat in the forge then do so before grinding or only after a rough grind.

Flux will not help scaleing and excessive use will contribute to degrading of the refractories in your forge (flux eats them too). Theoreticaly it should help but it is difficult to forge that slippery surface. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 20:23:39 GMT

I'm trying to locate a source of commercial ingot iron, which is supposed to be an available commercial product, but seems to be hard to find. Alternatively any source of decarburized iron would do, provided carbon is less than 0.01%. Any suggestions?


Dr Stephen Birkett
Dept. of Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
tel: 519-824-4120
email: birketts at wright.aps.uoguelph.ca
Stephen Birkett  <birketts at uoguelph.ca> - Thursday, 03/09/00 20:47:44 GMT

I'm trying to locate a source of commercial ingot iron, which is supposed to be an available commercial product, but seems to be hard to find. Alternatively any source of decarburized iron would do, provided carbon is less than 0.01%. Any suggestions?


Dr Stephen Birkett
Dept. of Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
tel: 519-824-4120
email: birketts at wright.aps.uoguelph.ca
Stephen Birkett  <birketts at uoguelph.ca> - Thursday, 03/09/00 20:48:01 GMT

Ingot Iron: Stephen, I assume you mean cast ingot iron. If so, there are different grades. I'm not sure what the grades are, but I had a project remodeling a 300,000 ton per year iron foundry and I remember that we had different piles of different grades of ingot in the yard. The different grades were to do with purity of the iron. I worked with equipment, not the "recipe". We used ingot as a backup when we couldn't get purchased cast scrap which is old radiators, iron pipe, etc and is MUCH cheaper than than ingot iron. Purchased cast scrap was $128 per ton in truck quantities in 1993 in Wisconsin. Anyway.... if you are looking for a small quantity, I suggest you contact your local iron foundry. They might just give you some. If not, at least they can tell you where they get it and maybe the supplier can drop off yours when they deliver to the foundry. At least that's how I'd go about it.
Tony - Thursday, 03/09/00 22:07:27 GMT

Ingot Iron: Stephen, As Tony mentioned ingot cast iron is available but that is 3% carbon and up. Your 0.01% carbon would be very nearly pure elemental iron. For years I had a catalog sitting on my old desk for an outfit that sold high purity elemental metals until about two months ago. . . .

From my experiance what you are looking for is a laboratory or metalurgical engineering product not a foundry product. You may be looking in the wrong places.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 22:54:31 GMT

Iron, pure: There ARE suppliers of iron to the blacksmithing community of various grades of "wrought" iron. It seems to me that the French manufactured stuff isn't really wrought (which has slag inclusions and long pure iron crystals or fibres) but pure iron. I thought the "Real Wrought Iron Co". web site had a link or copy of an article on the problems associated with using the pure iron but I just looked and it wasn't there. . . They've reduced their page to a single window with no outside links. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/09/00 23:33:29 GMT

I have three "retired" stone saw blades. These blades were used by a local drilling and sawing company to cut through reenforced concrete. Originally they mounted diamond teeth but those are no longer in evidence. I aquired these from a friend who didn't know their hardness or much else about them. I have a 12in., a 24in. and a 36in. Any recomendations on what they could be used for other than really heavy tabletops? And how would you recomend cutting them?
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Friday, 03/10/00 02:21:08 GMT

There is an air cylinder kicking around my shop with a 5 foot stroke and some matching stuff to make a hammer and slides...Is there any virtue to a Kinyon style hammer with a very long stroke? What are the problems? I keep looking at that cylinder and wondering.
Pete Fels  <ironyworks at netscape.net> - Friday, 03/10/00 05:19:04 GMT

LONG STROKE: Pete, You could get some tremondous velocities and enertia. The problem then becomes how the parts take it.

Everyone tries to equate how hard a power hammer hits compared to how hard they hit. A 50# little giant does not hit as hard a a smith swinging a 4# hammer! And strikers with sledges can move metal as fast as a 100# hammer. But the machines can do it all day and all night and for thousands of blows per hour! The point is, power hammers hit hard but not a hard as you think.

This takes us back to our comparison of ram or hammer to anvil ratios. A typical smith's arrangement is about 50 to one! (200 pound anvil, 4 pound hammer). Power hammers should be 15:1. Some are less, some more. These are those same hammers that don't have the velocity to hit nearly as hard as you do. So, if you use that stroke to create super high velocity then you will need to increase your ram/anvil ratio.

THEN. . . You have to consider the forces created in PSI and now you are really in trouble. . . Metal is only just SO strong.

I've got a couple 4' long 3" dia. (75mm) cylinders myself. I'm going to cut them down shorter (at least one). The trick is that the pistons are put on to STAY on. They are threaded on then cross pined. Since the rod needs to be cut I'm going to torch and grind then weld a new end on when I reassemble it. While I've the cylinder apart (its a well used cheap aluminium one), I'll put on new seals. One of our spring JYH projects ;)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 07:12:18 GMT

I should remember to shop for some flourite soon (same as flourspar?). I think I was told it´s stocked by ceramic suppliers. Is this correct, or where do you usually find it?

Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 03/10/00 11:11:36 GMT

Flourite/Flourspar: Olle, Yes they are the same thing. The mineral contains flourine which is very reactive as are all the elements in that group (flourine, chlorine, bromine). It should be used with good ventilation.

It is used in ceramics and commercial steel making (as flux). Makers or laminated steels use it for those high alloy difficult to weld jobs. You only need to mix a small amount with your regular borax (5 to 10%).

Since it IS a mineral certain sands probably have a quantity of it as a constituant. This may be the reason some old flux recipes call for clean sand. The problem is that there are as many sands as there are minerals and the sand in your backyard my work while the one from mine may prevent the weld from sticking at all. The same goes for clay. This is why most modern smiths should stick to plain borax or a commercial flux and avoid the old recipes that contain ingrediants of ambiguous nature.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 15:04:04 GMT

what is the fastest way to oxidize copper? I've heard that there is a product called copper salts but am unable to locate it. Also heard that nitorgen and phosphorus will do it and tried using fertilizer!! It didn't work
patricia sorochty  <sorochty at aol.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 15:52:02 GMT

Iron, Pure. The product is an attempt to duplicate the material used historically for drawing iron wire for several centuries (till at least 1850). This was traditionally produced in a specialized fining operation which produced a very pure iron product - analysed samples show carbon less than 0.007% (i.e. none) and high phosphorus (0.2%). The traditional fining was done by collecting the first run off iron from the cast iron pig on the end of a long staff - first runoff can now be explained since this would be the iron with the highest phosphorus content, something which lowers the melting point. The collected mass was continually introduced to the blast to completely oxidize it and decarburize it, and remove most other impurities and inclusions. The high phosphorus and negligible carbon produced a highly ductile product that could be drawn to very high tensile strengths (although wastage was high in the fining process sot he material was expensive). If *any* C is present in combination with P it causes cold shortness and the wire cannot be drawn. The traditional forge method is well understood and described by contemporary sources and eyewitnesses. Not being a smith myself, I cannot judge the feasibility of reproducing the fining procedure to get the product I want. I'd also need to find a smith who was interested enough to participate in the project to duplicate historical iron wire. If anyone is interested please do contact me by email to discuss.

Given the difficulties in duplicating the old process, my proposal is to begin with a pure iron product and rephosphorize it to the desired level. The cheapest laboratory grade pure iron is $27 per kg, which is all right for experimental wire-drawing, but not feasible for subsequent commercial wire production. "Commercial ingot iron" is an official industry product that is supposed to be routinely available, but I haven't been able to find a supplier. This is relatively pure iron with C around 0.01%, which is pushing the acceptable limit. Ingot iron is not to be confused with cast irons which have very high carbon between 2 and 4%. Actually a pig of commercial cast iron would be a suitable *starting* material for duplicating the fining process I described above. Also true wrought iron is not suitable - although the iron matrix is very pure the slag inclusions cause problems if wrought iron is drawn to fine gauges...hence it was not used for wire historically.

Once the required decarburized high phosphorus iron is reproduced, the historical wire drawing process will be duplicated and the properties of the wire analysed and compared to old wire. If successful there is an existing commercial market for the product (builders and owners of historical stringed keyboard instruments, museums etc.). This would then required significant quantities of pure iron.

Please do contact me if anyone is interested in this project.

Stephen Birkett
Stephen Birkett  <birketts at wright.aps.uoguelph.ca> - Friday, 03/10/00 16:31:26 GMT


A knife-and-blacksmith friend of mine had met with some Japanese swordsmiths a few years back. As they were driving past a construction site, they had him pull over and they got out to examine the clay revealed by the construction, because it looked like "the right sort of clay". (Or so it was told to me.)

I use what appears to be a fine white silica sand as an occaisional supplement to borax, we have a whole sandbox full of "play sand" that came in 50# bags. It seems to work, and I'm certainly in no danger of running out. However, as the Chief Guru points out, some sands or clays may work better, and some worse. A clay pit with the blessings of Japanese swordsmith's would simplify life, but for the rest of us mortals, it looks like either a long haul of imperical experimentation or sticking with the tried and true. Experimentation is a luxury for those with the time and wealth and patience to entertain failure. In a subsistance economy, or for those who must meet certain levels of production in the modern period, it is a calculated gamble, weighing time and effort against nebulous or unforeseeable advantages.

Good thing people are curious, or we'd still be pounding blooms into ingots with rocks.

In the 60s on the banks of the Potomac. Two more weeks and we'll be stepping the mast on the longship!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 03/10/00 17:29:25 GMT

Long time ago, when I was first learning metal, my instructor got me interested in bladesmithing and all sorts of blacksmithing. Nothing is more beautiful to me then hot metal ready from the forge for the blows of a hammer, into whatever shape I can make it. There just seems to be one problem: I also happen to be a woman. Now, while that shouldn't matter any, I have been laughed out of more than one bladesmithing shop or been put on the grinding line for hours on end just to see if I could take it, which would be great, if I had learned anything (I have learned you have to take a bit of crap if you are a woman in a man's trade, and I can flip it with the best of 'em). But, when it was obvious I was in for long haul, I ran into a LOT of attitude. Again, I know this happens, and it hasn't stopped my dreaming of making blades. So, my question is, how do I learn? Just jump in and mess up a few times (or a few hundred times) has been my thought, and I am not much of one to learn how to do this stuff out of a book....are there any apprecticeships out there? How do I go about it?
Just wanted to run it by ya.
ziyarose  <ziyarose at hotmail.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 20:36:21 GMT

Sorry to hear that you have had such a bad experience! I know what you mean about learning from a book, but.... Yes there is always a but! As I was saying if you got one or two GOOD knife making books, and then in conjunction with trail and error you should do well. There are also several videos out there that help a lot.

As for apprecticeships? It all depends on where you are. Also another good place to go for info on blacksmithing related(including blades) items you should try out the Slack-Tub-Pub it is a type of blacksmithing chat room. Everyone I have had opportunity to talk with there will be more than glad to help! To get there just go to the anvilfire home page(you had to go there to get here) and then go to the Slack-Tub-Pub.

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Friday, 03/10/00 22:16:43 GMT

Women: Ziyarose, Its a typical attitude. The result of which is there are less than 2% women in engineering. However, in blacksmithing women seem to be accepted better than you would think. Perhaps it is because of Dorothy Steigler's long time involvent with ABANA. As a past president and current board member she has been a role model for a whole crop of lady smiths. Susan Huchinson drew standing room only crowds at CanIronII, Paige Davis assisted by Corrina Messoff and Andi Steele put on a great show. Lorelei Sims has a web site and made the New York Times anlong with anvilfire in December.

For really good information about bladsmithing from really good folks try the Batson Bladesmithing Symposium & Knife Show sponsored by the AFC in April. Details will be in the anvilfire news this weekend.

Along these same lines, my wife quit teaching after 28 years and is going to school to become a machinist. She got the usual treatment at first but quickly became the person the "guys" went to for help. So far she has a 4.0 average in classes that included CAD, welding and machine tool operation and already has a job lined up. She doesn't learn well from books either. . . and doesn't like asking ME. :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 22:31:34 GMT

Rose, Check out your local ABANA chapter, they will have info on upcomming conferences, most of them have a bladesmith as a demonstrater. You can learn a lot in a 2 day conf. Sorry about your experinces with chavunism sp.
kid  <bsmith at yhoo.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 22:42:34 GMT

More: I just posted the new (mostly empty) edition of the NEWS. However on page 9 you will find info on The Twelfth Annual
Batson Bladesmithing Symposium & Knife Show, April 7,9, 2000

Don't look for anything on the pages inbetween, they are still blank.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/10/00 23:03:28 GMT

I've been making my tools for yr's from junk yard "tool"
steel using the I guess method for hardening an temper.
Recently finished a large table that required the stamping
of numerous sea creature around the edge. I did those with
mild steel since I didn't think I would need any fish,star
fish or octipia in the near future. That gave me stamp fever, so I ordered a bunch of H-13,some jewelers tools and
made some stamps. The data sheet that came with the steel
recommended that it be hardened at 1850F and tempered at
1075F. I have an electric kiln that can be set at those temps. So I followed the instruction to the letter as far as
soak time etc. The first stamps were simple and quick to make. I gave them the abuse test and they took it!!
I was alarmed by the amount of scale,about a 16th or so and
was wondering about carbon migration, was it still H-13?
The data sheet said that there were a few ways to prevent
scaling, the one available to me was "pack hardening in a
NEUTRAL compound or stainless foil" I thought I'll use
furnace cement, neutral??? So I got real ambitious and spent
a day making 3,very detailed stamps.They came out very pited
and most definition in the stamps was GONE.
Is furnace cement not a neutral compond? What is?
Recommendations PLEASE.

Paul Matthaei
Old Ellicott Forge
Paul Matthaei  <shod at ix.netcom.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 02:11:45 GMT

Rose--- Guru failed to mention Dorthy Steigler is a recipiant of the Bealer award. You can't get much more recognition than that.
kid  <xx> - Saturday, 03/11/00 02:22:07 GMT


Furnace cement is not neutral, it is alkaline. ALL cement containing portland cement is alkaline.

The current MSC sales catalog has stainless foil 24" X 50' for $94 a roll. Their web site is at www.mscdirect.com and they're also at 1-800-645-7270. For what you art trying to do, you definitely need the foil.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 02:39:58 GMT


Please let a male chauvinist pig (according to my wife and daughters grin) apologize for the stupidity you've had to deal with. I can only echo the comments of Ralph, the guru, and the kid when I say that the attitude is NOT as prevelant in ABANA. Also, in the Slack-Tub Pub that Ralph mentioned, you will meet at least three lady smiths.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 02:46:00 GMT

Dr. Birkett:

The only very low carbon iron I've ever been able to locate is known in the trade as "mag iron". Used for transformer and electro-magnet laminates. Not sure if the same thing is used in induction motor rotors.

Bruce Wallace:

Are you sure about that weight on a 300lb upright Bradley being around 15,000 pounds? That's more than my 4-B Nazel! Seems like it should be more like 5,000 pounds.
grant  <nakedanvil> - Saturday, 03/11/00 03:27:12 GMT

I was told recently that you can get iron from red clay. I live in the northern part of Kentucky and there's red clay everywhere. I thought the red color came from aluminum. I know that there were several iron processing mills in Southwestern Kentucky in the early part of the ninteenth century but Kentucky doesn't seem to be a big iron state. It's not really important but I am curious.
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Saturday, 03/11/00 04:03:48 GMT

Red Clay: Bill, According to my Physical Geology text book, most clays are decomposed feldspar. But all clays are based on the mineral that they were decomposed from and vary accordingly. They also vary somewhat depending on the particular decomposition process. Red clays (as well as yellow and brown clays )are from Ferro-Manganoids. You MAY be able to extract iron from those clays but the percentage of iron oxide is not sufficient to make it an iron ore.

High alumina clays are whitish. But so are common ceramic clays that melt and boil around 2,000°F. Decomposed limestone also makes a grey/white clay that is not suitable for making ceramics.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 14:29:57 GMT

Weight of Bradley: Grant, its right from the Bradley manual. If you'd looked at the thickness of the castings on that monster at Josh's you wouldn't doubt it. Bradley built hammers in the 1800's the way American machine tools were made in the 1950's. Weight was considered desirable and iron cheap.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 14:53:01 GMT

Grant, Bradley is among the class of a Nazel. One of the best hammers EVER made. The hard part is convincing anyone of the fact. The information given is straight from a Bradley sale's manual. Let the truth be told on anvilfire. I’d give up my Nazel before I would my Bradley’s. Don’t get me wrong Nazel’s are great hammers, maybe a little bit over rated and priced when you could get the same job done with a good mechanical hammer for a lot less money. Just moved a 4B and the hammer itself weighed 11,000 pounds and the anvil was 7,000 pounds. It's hard to believe that a 300-pound Bradley could weigh so much. They were very robust machines built to take the every day punishment dished out by an industrial open die forge shop.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 16:00:48 GMT

WOW! That IS impressive. I've always been impressed by the Bradley's heavy construction, but that is really amazing. With a counterweight on my 5,000 pound forklift I've been able to move the frame of my 4-B, so I assume It's no more than 7,000-8,000. The one thing I really like on an air hammer is that when you need light blows the speed stays the same, whereas with the mechanical in order to get light blows you have to slow way down usually just when you're losing the heat. Most folks who are impressed by a Little Giant have never seen a Bradley.
grant  <nakedanvil> - Saturday, 03/11/00 16:24:23 GMT

question: what is the weight of an eight inch shaft of mild steel, per foot of length..need to know, to figure weight of air hammer anvil
james wolfe  <jwolfe at sonet.net> - Saturday, 03/11/00 17:08:53 GMT

Just to add to the Bradley info. A 500-pound Bradley Upright Helve weighs 18,000 pounds compared to a 500-pound Chambersburg Utility that weighs 10,000 pounds. That’s how much a 200 Bradley Rubber Cushioned Helve weighs - 10,000 pounds. Massive machines, we love those Compacts. How could anyone be impressed with a Little Giant? They’re good hammers but compared to a Bradley, Fairbanks or Beaudry they’re as different as night and day. I'll offer anyone to come to my shop and I'll show them in a couple of minutes the difference. Just turn on the switch and step on the treadle that's all it’ll take.

True, a good air hammer has its place; I’d have a hard time getting rid of our 4B. If it did go I’d have to replace it with something nicer, which would be almost impossible to do. The 4B came from Ohio State and it’s pristine. If I did have to choose, it would go before the Compacts. The Compacts are our shop moneymakers. The Nazel is like owning a high performance street rod. You don’t need the power every day, but it’s nice to know it’s there when you need it. We consider it a luxury item, it’s nice to have but we really could do without it. Like everything else but the Bradley’s we’re always open to offers.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 17:39:02 GMT

Weight of Steel: James,

8" dia x 12" = 171.003 pounds = 77.56kg

Mild steel weighs .2835 pounds per cubic inch
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/11/00 18:54:34 GMT

I have a 700lb anvil in need of alittle attention to bring it back up to scratch. I'm pretty certain it is a forged anvil, although I cannot make out the manufacturer's name.
The back edge of the face is quite worn, and there is also a piece broken off the heal, it appears to be just the hard suface material that is broken off, and is about 4inch triangular, and about 3/4 inch thick. What would be the best way to repair it? I have Arc and Oxy/Acetylene welding gear, but not really anymeans to harden and temper such a large piece of steel. - My experience - I have been blacksmithing for about 3 years and I am currently studying a trade course in industrial forging.

Any help would be appreciated.
Paul  <sefiira at netscape.net> - Saturday, 03/11/00 19:12:39 GMT

Hello & Thanks for your help?
My Question
I have recently purchased a new metal turning lath and combined milling machine and all new carbide tip tooling
And I am having a problem with the finish of the all pieces I have turned
The 2”dia mild steel is never smooth it always finishes with very fine groves as though it has been threaded the round nosed finishing tools I am using is positioned just below center of work piece ‘ although I have tried all positions and the steel is turning at the correct speed.
All adjustments on the bed and cross rail have been taken up and there is no chatter of the tool while it is turning, cutting very slowly makes no difference changing speed up and down again no difference
It seems baffling to me how a round tool can produce a very fine grove in the steel
That appears much smaller then the tool itself

Although I have been self employed in the Wrought iron business for 30 years
I have never done any lathe turning till now.
I have had 2 experience metal lathe turners look at the machine and problem, but to no avail.
Thanks again
Harry Towle  <Gates at uk2.net> - Sunday, 03/12/00 00:20:25 GMT

Hello & Thanks for your help?
My Question
I have recently purchased a new metal turning lath and combined milling machine and all new carbide tip tooling
And I am having a problem with the finish of the all pieces I have turned
The 2”dia mild steel is never smooth it always finishes with very fine groves as though it has been threaded the round nosed finishing tools I am using is positioned just below center of work piece ‘ although I have tried all positions and the steel is turning at the correct speed.
All adjustments on the bed and cross rail have been taken up and there is no chatter of the tool while it is turning, cutting very slowly makes no difference changing speed up and down again no difference
It seems baffling to me how a round tool can produce a very fine grove in the steel
That appears much smaller then the tool itself

Although I have been self employed in the Wrought iron business for 30 years
I have never done any lathe turning till now.
I have had 2 experience metal lathe turners look at the machine and problem, but to no avail.
Thanks again
Harry Towle  <Gates at uk2.net> - Sunday, 03/12/00 00:24:10 GMT

I have looked everywhere for a small replica of a oil & gas sucker pump. I have seen a small working model (battery). I also am looking for a small replica of a oil derick.
please tell me where I can purchase these items.
C H Jones  <DOCAD101 at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 01:14:23 GMT

Bad Lathe Finnish: Harry, most of these combination machines are light duty afairs designed for model makers turning plastics, aluminium and very light steel. Carbide tooling requires a VERY rigid machine and generaly heavy cuts at high speed.

THEN there is carbide tooling and there is carbide tooling. Proper selection of an insert is sometimes quite complicated.

I would recommend using HSS (High Speed Steel) cutters on a small machine cutting mild steel.

Generaly finish problems are produced by one or more of the following
  • Too fast a feed
  • Too pointed a tool
  • Tools hanging out too far
  • Improper tool clearance
  • The wrong tool for the material
  • Other tool shape problems
  • Build up of a "false edge" on the tool
  • Machine not rigid enough for the job
  • Grade of material being machined

There is "mild" steel and then there is "mild" sttel. A-36 machines the worst of about any material. Sulphurized and leaded steels are recommended for machining where a fine finish is desired. You can almost machine leaded turning stock with a broken poket knife and get a 64RMS finish.

I haven't been in the market for a while but it used to be that all the combination machines were NOT designed for any kind of professional use. That means no machining steel over 15-20% of the capacity of the machine. In a 6" machine that means 1" stock.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 01:18:48 GMT

770# Anvil Repair: Paul, unless you know exactly what type of anvil you have you can't determine if its repairable or not. Generaly if you have to ask how you shouldn't be attempting to make the repairs. Yes, the face plate is tool steel. Do you have any experiance repairing tool steel dies?

There were almost no anvils forged that large. However a lot were cast. If it is a cast anvil with a tool steel face plate then the body is cast iron and it is very unlikely that it can be repaired without causing further serious damage (such as the rest of the face coming loose). The face joint in this type anvil was made "in the mold" and cannot be repaired.

If indeed it IS a forged anvil then the best thing to do is build up most of that 3/4" (1/2" to 5/8") with MIG or 7018 rod and then apply a hardfacing "buildup" rod to the last part. At the juncture of the body/face you should use a high manganese rod (ask you welding supplier about rods for welding tool sttel). You will need to preheat the entire anvil to at least 400-450°F and keep it there while making the welds. On the heal you may want the put a little extra heat on the opposite side of the build up area so that the whole shrinks uniformly. Peen between every pass and use a descaller and power wire brush to remove all flux. Be SURE to build up enough to grind smooth. Let it cool slowly afterwards. You CAN NOT re-heattreat an anvil of this size. There will be a slight soft zone between the old face and new repair that can't be avoided.

Repairing an anvil is a big job that I generaly do not recommend. Repairing a BIG anvil is an even bigger job. When you start this process you will need plenty of fuel, rods, wire and help. Running out of preheat fuel is a common problem on large jobs.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 01:48:11 GMT

Guru-- I'm a novice smith and I actually have read and followed some of your advice posted on this site. How about that? I made a pair of twisted tongs today based loosely on your instructions. You'd laugh if you saw them but now I understand what I was supposed to do. Anyway, they work fine. I also ordered a copy of Machinerys Handbook through abebooks.com, as you recommended. Just thought you might like to know. I got started using Alexander Weyger's book, which I like very much. You might recommend it other beginners for its illustrations and non-technical approach.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Sunday, 03/12/00 02:54:45 GMT

Book: Nick, Thanks! Its always good to get feedback. The Weygers book is one I don't think I have seen yet. I've got his old book on tool making. Eventualy I'll get the new one and do a review.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 04:34:33 GMT

Guru, I have a small shop which makes railings and columns. Nothing fancy all straight cuts and stick welding. I'm now interested in doing more artistic custom work such as candle holders, wine racks and flower boxes. The type seen at craft shows. Can you recommend some basic bending jigs or tools I could make or purchase? Are there any basic reference books available for what I want to do? Thanks for any help you can give. Rob
Rob Andrews  <Railingman at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 09:11:18 GMT

Getting Fancy: Rob, See our 21st Century page article on benders. Although you can purchase benders most blacksmith work is done on these simple custom benders.

Books on the subject only cover the most rudimentary bender use. Manuals for commercial benders cover the use of each die. How you put it all together is up to you. Once you see how it is done it becomes much clearer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 14:13:00 GMT

I am in possesion of 1 M&H Armitage "mousehole" #119 need info and value. thanks
joseph carby  <joann at u-n-i.net> - Sunday, 03/12/00 17:28:39 GMT

Value of Anvil: Joseph, It depends on who's buying and who's selling and how long they are willing to wait. On average used anvils are selling for $2-$3/pound depending on type and condition. This is a very common small good quality anvil and unless in near perfect condition will not bring top dollar. However, there are always exceptions.

OBTW- If the numbers on the side of the anvil are 1.1.9 then the anvil weight is 112 + 28 + 9 = 149 pounds.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 18:15:24 GMT

Harry, try takeing a fine cut (to size) at a very slow feed also use cuting oil (3in1 will work) and be sure that the angle of the cutter is correct in relation to the work (30-60deg) also be sure that you are not useing the thread cutting feeds to turn (I did that more than once in school).
as to the lathe not being riged enough if speed ,feed and especially cut depth are reduced you can turn any thing that will fit in the chuck with good results. the rigedness of the lathe will determine the maxmum depth of the cut.
for the correct placement of the tool for turning the cuting edge should be even with the center line of the part if it is below the part will try to pull its self over the tool if it is above there is nothing to cut the part but friction and the tool will prematurely dull or chip.(over heating is also common)~MP~
Matthew Parkinson   <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 18:45:38 GMT

Looking for information on how to build a metal weathervane. Only want to use silhouette for the top feature. How do I put the main stucture together? I have a small metal shop where I make garden , patio and home steel items. Ranging from dinner gongs to shepherd hooks. I am registered as " Whispers and Echoes". I sell locally to garden centers and gift shops.

My main shop tools are a mig welder, heating torch, cutting and grinding tools, hvlp paint system and anvil.

I have been doing this for the past year, I am 55 years old.

Hope you can help.

Fred M. Baltzer  <fbaltzer at istar.ca> - Sunday, 03/12/00 19:21:02 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am trying to find out how sheet metal and wire are measured in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. Do they still use the old Imperial inch-based system, or have they gone metric? If I walked into a do-it-yourself store or metals supplier in the U.K. or Canada, would I ask for metal (or wire) in an inch-based gauge system, or metric? A Canadian tinsmith told me they still work on the old Imperial system, but I need to confirm this, and to find out about the U.K. and Canada. Dare I ask about the rest of Europe? Thank you very much for your help; I'm writing a book on simple metal craft, and need to know this as soon as possible, hopefully before Tuesday, March 14th. Appreciate whatever enlightenment you can give, oh Guru.
Thank you!
Janice Eaton Kilby
Janice Eaton Kilby  <janice at larkbooks.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 19:24:29 GMT

NO STANDARDS: Janice, my Machinery's Handbook gave ME the same advice I was going to give to you.
Always specify sheet and wire in actual measured sizes (inch or metric).
There are too many "gauge" sizes in use. In gauge sizes there are U.S. and British gauges and then there is the "Manufacturers" ounce/pound system that is based approximately on the weight of wrought iron per square foot even though you may be using aluminum. Wire gauges are different than sheet guages. . . And music wire gauges are different than electrical. In the music industry where it is critical they have universaly gone to dimension based specification. In Britian they have a legal sheet guage but still manufacture and use the "Stubs" wire gauge for sheet and wire.

In the U.S. it is common to buy most steel by U.S. guage sizes but then purchase copper by "ounces" where as mentioned the ounces are not of the material being purchased. . . Europe and Asia process materials for both the old "U.S. or English Standard" and for new metric standards.

The actual thickness you are looking for will generaly be available world wide (until someone stops making those specific sizes). Materials are always subject to local availability. Plans should have leeway for substitution and give sizes in metric and English.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/12/00 21:44:56 GMT

Weather Vane: Fred, Sorry I missed your message last night. .

I used the following system on simple weather vanes.
  • A 5/16" rod about a foot long with a point forged or ground on the top end and hardened.
  • 1/4" schedule 40 USP pivot tube.
  • Plug welded into the tube at one end with a clean flat surface with a heavy center dimple for the point on the rod to pivot in.
  • 20ga to 16ga (1-2mm) sheet stock cut to make the silouet and welded to the tube
  • A forged or fabricated arrow
  • Forged or fabricated NSEW "cross" welded to a short length of the same tube the pivot is made of
  • A nut welded to the NSEW "hub" for a setscrew
  • A mounting base made of 1/8" or 1/4" (6mm) plate

BALANCE is the most IMPORTANT feature about a weather vane. The tube and rod pivot system work great but you do not want the lower end of the tube rubbing on the rod. It reduces the sensitivity of the vane and will cause them to squeek. Test the balance with the pivot rod horizontal (I did mine before welding in the end plug). Counter weight the vane until it will hold still at any position you set it.

For an extreme case of balancing see the weather vane on my Portable Forge (21st Century page). The anvil is cut from sheet stock and pieced with 1/16" (2mm) welding rod bars to give a stencil apearance. It acts as a "flag" on ONE side of the pivot. The arrow on the opposite side had the point cut form 3/8" (10mm) plate. I adjusted it back and forth on the bar it was to be attached to until I found the balance point. Then I set it out just enough extra to compensate for the extra bar that was going to be cut off.

A little grease on the end of the rod and you are ready to go. If these are going to be a "stock" item you should have extra rods with different mounting bases.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/13/00 15:05:51 GMT

HI guru,
I was wondering if you recommend using scrap steel and old files for beginner work? Or should I try and get bar stock steel? Thanks!

OBTW= I am starting my 1st blade, a stock removal with local blacksmith. I'm not expecting it to be great, but I hope it turns out!
Joshua Staley  <jstaley22 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 03/13/00 18:14:05 GMT

Scrap: Joshua, It seems we all start with scrap and sometimes it is a good option. However, for decorative work where you need a LOT of bar it is cheaper in the long run to buy some. Scrap tool and alloy steels are great for making all kinds of blacksmith's tool.

BUT, YOU must be the one to determine what kind of steel it is, how to heattreat it and the suitability for use. DO NOT blindly accept lists that say car axels are ##### steel. Some might be, many more will not. It is a testing and trial and error process that takes time and patience. It is a good learing excersise but it requires references and study. USE that MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and learn from it.

Anything you sell should be made of steel of a known type.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/13/00 18:58:45 GMT

Weathervane Balance: While discussing the balance of a weathervane I forgot to mention there are two kinds of balance. Mechanical and Aerodynamic. Mechanicaly the weathervane needs to be as perfectly balanced as possible. Aerodynamicaly you wand as much IMBALANCE as possible. The "flag" portion of the vane must be behind the pivot opposite the arrow. Technicaly it the sectional center of gravity that must be behind center. . . The more aerodynamicaly out of balance the vane is the more responsive it will be. If the vane is aerodynamicaly balanced it will lazily spin around and never point into the wind.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/13/00 20:07:33 GMT

how can I obtain plans and specs. to build a power hammer? - hydraulic,electric hammer
kwhaley  <kwhaley at gis.net> - Monday, 03/13/00 23:45:16 GMT

Hydraulic Forging Press: Don Fogg (see our links page) sells the book describing the press he uses. A forging press is NOT a hammer. Hydraulics are too slow to hammer with so they "press" the metal. There are pros and cons to the different machines. Neither will do exactly the same job as the other.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 00:32:18 GMT

i seem to be coming up with mmore and more of these types of questions lately. (this is scotman) but what type of steel would a weightlifting bar be typically be made of? and what would be some good applications for this steel?

Thanks in advance and again,
Rob V  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 02:25:53 GMT

I have ,what I believe to be, The first editions of the first two Volumes ,of the four volume set of "Practical Blacksmithing" by M.T. Richardson. The copy right was issued in 1889 these editions are dated 1891 there are no other publication dates listed which leads me to think that these are first editions. They were published in NewYork by M.T.Richardson, publishing. Does anyone know the value of these publications?
V.Roger Shellman  <vshellman at hitter.net> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 03:36:22 GMT

Weight Lifting Bar: Sman, Not a clue! However, The ones I've seen used in the Olympics can take one heck of a lot of deflection and spring back so I suspect they are a medium to high carbon steel tempered to a spring temper. Testing and trial and error time! The big ones are heavy enough to make some nice hammers!

Early Editions Roger, If the books are in good condition (and I know nothing about the grading system used by book sellers) I would guess $200 USD minimum (for the pair). They are a well known book as they have been reprinted numerous times.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 04:58:26 GMT

Oh Guru,
I´ve got some language-problems when trying to find flourite or flourspar here in Sweden. Could CaF2 be the correct formula?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 09:19:59 GMT

Whoops, disregard the last question. I made a typo when i searched for the stuff before and didn´t find it. It IS CaF2.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 09:24:53 GMT

Flourspar: Olle, When I was looking up Ralph's iron bearing clay question I also looked up Flourite and Flourspar. They are indeed the same mineral and some deposits produce gemstone quality crystals similar to emerald. A place in England was noted as previously being the world's richest deposit of gem quality flourite (currently depleted).

IF you can not find the powder and find lump samples there IS a primitive way to "grind" it. In an article on pottery in one of the Foxfire books they describe a "plumping" mill. The term "plumping" is an English word for the sound the mill makes. A plumping mill is a water powered device that lifts a weight (the hammer) by water power and then drops it. The water fills a scoop shaped bucket on the end of a "sweep" (a long pole). The hammer is attached to the pole by a rope giving the "link" flexability. When it is full of water it tips raising the hammer and then the water spills out dropping the hammer. These are very slow devices that take very little water and were typicaly setup in the backwoods and left to run unattended for days or weeks. Potters would put broken glass in a heavy wooden box under the "mill" and let it run. A week later, powdered glass for glaze!

I'm sure this method has been used for centuries. It has several advantages. It puts glass grinding/milling in a remote location (much safer). The pluming noise is also set away from people in the remote location. The low water requirments support a remote location. It is stone age technology.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 14:23:19 GMT

Hydraulic Press/hammer: Guru, I agree with the generality that hydraulics are usually slow, but Hydraulics CAN be very fast. Injection molding machines are an example. With accumulators and appropriate valving, shot cylinder velocities are very high. A hydraulic hammer is feasable, but I agree not necessarily practical for the average application and knowledge level. Control of force and speed is better with hydraulics (oil), than it is with gasses (air), but the expansion of a gas can give very nice hammer accelerations with minimal control valving and less up front expense.

The main problem with hydraulics and pneumatics is efficiency of converting input power to work output. Moving oil and gas at high speeds creates heat that is lost power. Leaks across clearances in pumps, valves and motors or cylinders also results in lost power and heat. In a fluid power system, generally, you have about the same mechanical friction of a purely mechanical system and add the power losses mentioned above. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fluid power! I am a certified by the National Fluid Power Association as a Fluid Power Engineer. But it has it's place. Usually where high power is required in a small space.

The main losses in a mechanical hammer are due to friction in the drive, hammer guide and spring(s). The slipping clutch is also a big power robber, but obviously necessary for control.

The force delivered from the hammer to the stock is purely mass times acceleration. Mass is controlled by the weight of the hammer. Acceleration is the change in velocity divided by the time it takes for the hammer to go from it's maximum downward speed to stopped on the work. So, generally, the heavier the hammer, the more metal it will displace on the work and the faster the hammer moves, the more metal it will displace.

When the hammer hits the work, everything moves. The hammer elastically compresses, the work is squished (technical term), the dies compress elastically, the anvil compresses elastically, the base and frame bend elastically, and the ground that the hammer sits on moves (hopefully only a very little). All of this elastic movement absorbs some of the energy from the falling hammer and lengthens the time it takes for the hammer to go from maximum speed to zero speed. So the acceleration is lower and thus the force exerted on the work is lower, and less metal is displaced.

Soooo.....To get maximum metal displacement with a given hammer weight and speed, we want to minimize the elastic movements of all of the other parts of the hammer. Make the frame strong and stiff, use a heavy stiff anvil to keep it from moving, use a big stiff heavy base plate and use hard stiff dies. Of course, don't make everything too stiff or it may break. Trade offs, always trade offs! There is no perfect material and cost is always an issue.

Whew! Guess I'm on a theoretical bent today! Hopefully it will add some to the excellent advice you all give. I just wish I had had the opportunity to spend some time behind different hammers before I designed and built(building) one!

I started with a new ISP last night and will post from home soon with the e-mail address to use.
Tony - Tuesday, 03/14/00 14:58:52 GMT

Air vs. Hydraulics: The problem with a "hydraulic" hammer is the (almost) instantaneous stoping and reversing coupled with variable work height. Incompressable fluids do not work well in these situations. Therefore their applications must be relatively slow or have a very complex control system.

Compressed air on the other hand is uneffected by sudden velocity changes and work height variations. It solves all the mechanical hammer coupling design problems in a very simple manner. However, the complexity becomes the device providing the compressed air. Shafts, pistons, seals and valves.

On the other hand, as you mentioned, great power can be put into a small space. This is because the prime mover and power conversion device (compressor, hydraulic pump) is not normaly part of the machine. The exception is self contained hammers. Of course they are much larger than standard hammers.

To me the greatest advantage of an air hammer is the fact that the most complicated part, the compressor, is made by someone else in a very competitve industry. When something goes wrong the replacement can be ANY brand or any age compressor. It doesn't even have to be sized perfectly OR powered by electricity (a gasoline, desiel or propane powered compressor does just fine).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/14/00 16:25:01 GMT

Air and Hydraulics: Guru, I do and did agree with you that a hydraulic hammer is not practical. I just wanted to rhetorically add that it IS possible. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

Hydraulics can easily be made very nearly as springy as pneumatics, either by using air over oil or by adding an accumulator between the cylinder and the valving. Hydraulics do not have to be rigid or instantaneous, or slow! They can adapt to changing work heights, but as you rightly point out, the control gets more complex and expensive and thus is not the appropriate technology to use on a power hammer. Off the top of my head, I'd bet it would be more energy efficient than a air hammer though.

Too bad it would take so long to bring a boiler up to a head of steam for occasional smithing. I think steam would be the ultimate prime mover since I have a cheap source of wood for fuel. All that in-cylinder expansion! Ooooo, the power makes me tingle. James Nasmith (sp?) was a good man.

And think how cool it would be to have a water hydraulic hammer! Well, at least it would be cool to me. Not a water wheel driven helve type. Too bad I don't have a waterfall nearby.... Just need to keep all of that water away from the hot iron.

Man, I love to play with this stuff! Too bad I have to work for a living. I keep telling my engineer wife that she has to make more money so I can retire and do the stuff that rattles around in my (mostly empty)head all day. See Rose, not all men want to keep women barefoot and pregnant. :-)

Tony - Tuesday, 03/14/00 18:05:46 GMT

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