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- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thrusday, 03/23/2K 20:12:36 GMT

Here's what I know about sweet iron. I own a horse bit that was made sometime between 1840 and 1860. It is also possible that it could have been made as late as 1870 but the gent I had take a look at it felt that it was an earlier manufacture. The pattern is known as a "Johnny Bit" or carriage bit. Since I have owned this artifact it has always been a dark brown almost the color of chocolate. When I tried to clean it all I did was make it a little glossy. The brown stayed. When I got the bit I had been involved in reenacting and so had pleanty of opportunity to talk to people about old horse tack. I discovered that the modern farriers I met didn't really know what sweet iron is. Frankly I'm still not sure. However, a few years ago I was in Texas and a guy that was in camp told me that sweet iron bits were made by either brushing the steel with a soft copper brush or by hammering thin, soft copper on the steel while the steel was hot. Over the years I took some flak for using a rusty bit but my horse never seemed to mind the taste and even would suck on the bit at times like a kid with a jaw breaker. With all of the abuse I put the bit through it never lost its browning and it never pited. I have always suspected that it stayed brown because of the acid in the sweat of the horse and in the horses saliva. I figure the bit is made from some kind of wrought iron because it would stand up to a variety of weather consitions better than the steel of the day. It would also have been pleantiful and easy to work in order to produce large quantities.
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 02:01:39 GMT

Well, I got my postvise bolted down good and tight. It still does not have a leaf spring in it. I tried a couple of springs which seemed to be doing ok until I started the put pressure on them to attach the moving jaw. Then they snapped off at the base of the tab that went under the yoke. I used a cutting torch as the heat source, but could not quench in oil. We have gallons and gallons of used oil, but it's all sealed away in barrels. The vise is inheirited from my great grandpa, whom my dad tells me used it without a spring. It works this way, but it is a bit or a nuisance. Should I have quenched it in oil?

Also, I have a good start on a candle holder made from the rebar that I hammered the ridges down on. It looks pretty good IMHO. It is two rods twisted together. I want to make the rods bend into a circle for the base and a circle at the top with the drip pans on the ends of the rods.

I'll let y'all know how things turn out.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 03:44:02 GMT

Hey, *I* am a senior and I made a forge. If I do a nice report and include pictures do I get a prize? Let's see, I already have a nice anvilfire cap, I believe the next level prize was a Peddinghaus anvil...

Hehehehe! Take it seriously if you want, but it *is* a joke. I may do the report, but I don't have to get anything. Just don't expect it any time soon.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 03:48:49 GMT

Vise Spring: Stormcrow, Don't quench the spring at all. It should be 3/16" to 1/4" (4-7mm) thick and as wide as the frame of the vise at the top. They taper gently and then are flared (forged) a little wider than the frame so that the edges can be curled around the bottom of the front jaw. They have just the slightest "S" curve so they push out at the bottom.

There is a good chance you overheated the steel AND quenched in water. I'll leave a spring like this soft (air quenched) and if it works then leave it. If it bends. . Then you need to harden AND temper. Steels of this type are often water quenchable IF you don't overheat. Oil quenching saves us from our bad judgment. There is nothing wrong with using a torch but you need a small collection of firebrick to support the part AND absorb and reflect heat. Firebrick absorb at LOT of heat and then give it off gently helping to provide a more consistant heat. Heat the brick until the surface starts to hold a yellow heat and THEN set you picece of steel on them and continue heating. I find that an "L" shape with a vertical leg or wall helps make a corner to reflect and contain the heat.

Anvil. . . No joke. You gotta build a GREAT JYH! AND I'll take that report too!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 04:48:39 GMT


How about "biodegradeble-exothermal-ferrous percussionists"?
grant  <nakedanvil> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 09:33:51 GMT

Well the A 36 had been a thought but I didn't know how practical it was. I have several pages from the blacksmiths journal on different shapes of built up anvils that maybe the route I take Thanks for the help it's always good to hear other smiths point view
Dave L  <jetjockey at ironworks.reno.nv.us> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 11:17:22 GMT

I have always been told "sweet iron' tasted good, enhanced salivation, just a better bit all around. And it was just 'plain iron'.
I did a little checking. Dennis Bright in his Bits and Bitting article calls Sweet Iron "cold rolled steel, a porous metal that rusts". All the suppliers I checked pushed sweet iron and copper as the two best mouth pieces.
Don't take any flack on the old rusty bit, look at the bits coming out of the mouths of the top trainers, they may be silver inlaid, but the mouth piece is sweet iron or copper. And even without the silver, they are NOT cheap.
Nolan  <Ndorsey at ck.tec.ok.us> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 16:18:50 GMT

Cheap anvil: Dave, the quotes I got from J.T. Ryerson and sons on 4140 and 4150 were just a little higher than A36 plate. The are charging a LOT for the cutting. 4150 is commonly used for big drop hammer dies. I figured it wouldn't make a bad anvil. Several of the "NEW" air hammers have 4140 dies.

The point of my cheap anvil designs was to follow the KISS rules, and be both good AND cheap. A monolithic block is always better than built up. Heavy arc welding can be expensive to the small shop/home owner. Hard facing rods ARE expensive in materials, tools, labor and fuel/energy. I list tools because you can wear out a good grinder building anvils AND you will definitely wear out lots of abrasive wheels. See the fellow's article on building anvils on METAL WEB NEWS.

I still think folk's preconcieved idea about what an anvil LOOKS like is preventing a lot of folks from getting started and DOING IT!

Sweet Iron We've gotten several opinions. I see copper on NEW bits and hear of OLD bits that have a wonderful permanent brown color. Rust is not going to last long in the horses mouth but copper oxide is very tough.
Bill Epps opinion was that "sweet iron" was unplated wrought OR mild steel but not plated nickle or stainless. He says the part in the horses mouth stays bright in use. I suspect the old "brown" bits have been copper clad or plated.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 16:57:51 GMT

OBTW: We have a nice Bill Epps demo posted on iForge showing the forging of a bit (if its posted yet).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 16:59:06 GMT

Just an update to all who really care:

Today was a Day to remember for HPL steele. Today, taking a combination of our own ingenuity, and a little but of stubburn bull-headed-ness, we built our Forge. We did'nt have a brake drum readily available, so we used a PlowDisk we found in the back of an old barn. Surprisingly, he worked very well. Rather than an hairdryer, we used the airpump for a Home Whirlpool Tub, and a bit of Electrical Pipe (the type used to carry wires underground) to run directly into the flame. Some Charcoal Brickettes (Just for temporary, we'll be using REAL coal just as soon as we can find a good place to buy it) and a whole lot of sweat.

It didn't take us long (though I managed to singe my eyebrows) to actually get the Coal Fire going... and not long after that SnowBird Hollow heard the first ring of the Anvil in nearly fifty years! Took us about 20 mins to make the forge (that includes stacking the heatbrick we used as a base for the firepot) and about fifteen more to light the fire. It was 1:00 when we put the steele into the flame for the first time... and four hors later... we had a small, yet dependable Axehead, and a badly burned pair of pants(not to mention the leg beneath them... mine of course).

I've been playing with fire my whole life.... I make all kinds of explosives for Celebration, and Napalm for fun... and a coal fire is a very different kind of fire indeed... I LOVE IT. Thank you, Guru, and all the readers who sent us hints and help in building our forge... We'll have that report for you just as soon as we have our project complete.

H(ood)P(axson)L(ee) Steele
HPL Steele  <RafiqSilsila at AOL.com> - Wednesday, 03/22/00 23:41:28 GMT

HPL: Just keep takin't those pictures. A few bricks in the forge to make the fire deeper will help with charcoal.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 00:09:51 GMT

I just took a look at the bit that Bill Epps made. The bit that I have was actually made of three pieces with the mouth shank riveted to the arms. I thought this was strange until I realized the rivets were actually the thined down ends of the shank. The smith who made it had squared off the ends to pins about 1/4" across. These fit into holes in the arms. Works well enough to last 150 years:).

I'm working on a project right now making reproduction midieval spurs. I have been kicking around the idea of using 1/2" rod welded to angle iron to lock into my vice as Bill Epps did for the bit project. I'm splitting the rough stock in more or less the same manner as he did the rod for the bit. I'm wondering if any of you have made spurs in this fasion before and if so how effective is the approach?
Bill   <w.stone at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/23/00 01:08:57 GMT

I'm looking for info on brazing in the forge. Is it a useful technique? If so, how is it done? The books I've looked at just mention it in passing.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/23/00 04:05:42 GMT

Hi Guru,
I saw an idea on using copper tubing as the stem of 5' tall flowers and setting light bulbs on the top for wall sconces. It was just what I now want for my livingroom. I have a sculpting background (wood) and need to buy copper sheet metal and cut is into plant leave shapes to cover part of the connectors. I am using chemical tube "soldering" and need to know what weight of copper sheet metal would be best for a bumpable wall sculpture or what is the difference between that and a similar weight copper foil. I would also like to know where is the best place to purchase this as the only people I have found in town have "24 wieght" in 4x8 ft sheets for $99 and that's well more than I need. I also want to heat it and cause color changes. Any suggestions would be appreciated and if I enjoy this as much as wood, you may hear more from me. Thanks. Terry
Terry McGuire  <tmcgu95 at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 04:52:01 GMT

I got a tough one, literally. I own a 250# niles that has a stuck key. It's the key that fastens the sow block to the anvil block base, and it just won't budge. I have sprayed it down with every lubricant/bolt loosener/magical mystery oil known to man, and have attacked it with a great variety of hammers, drivers, air riveting hammers and assorted implements of destruction. AND IT JUST WON'T BUDGE! The next option is to hang a large bar of 4140 we have lying around from the roof beams and use it as a battering ram against a hardened steel driver on the key, but I'm beginning to get a bit distressed/manic. Is there any secret weapon out there I don't know about? Any suggestion would be helpful, as key is too narrow to torch it out, even with an oxygen lance, and so the "battering ram" is my last hope. With the way things are looking, I'm not very optimistic. Heeeellllppp!
Scott Thompson  <slt at ilnk.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 05:31:55 GMT

Brazing: Nick, The blacksmith's technique of brazing is probably as old as ironworking. There is no hisorical data to support this statement but the Iron Age came out of the Bronze Age and they co-existed for roughly 1,000 - 1,500 years. Soldering was definitely known.

In forge brazing a ground up bronze or brass powder called "
spelter" is sprinkled on the fluxed parts in and around the joint. The part has been cleaned and the flux borax flux heated until liquid on the metal surface. The iron/steel may be hot enough to melt the spelter at that time but since this process is used on light weight objects it is unlikely. The parts are put back into the forge and heated until a low red glow at which temperature the brazing material will melt and flow into the joint by capilary action. The parts are then removed and allowed to cool.

Bill Epps calls this a "penny" weld since some blacksmiths use pennys for the spelter.

Modern brazing technique is very similar except an oxy-fuel torch is used to heat the metals. Because copper has a higher melting temperature than brass it can be brazed, or actualy "braze welded" using the same techniques as used on iron/steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 05:38:52 GMT

Copper, Cu, Cuprum: Terry, McMaster-Carr is the answer to your dreams. They have .032" copper in 12"x12" sheets starting at $20. Then there are 12x24, 24x36. . . .
They have a web-site (see our links list) and they will take your credit card (so will I but I'm fresh out of copper ;).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 05:44:03 GMT

Niles-Bement Key: Scott, Stuck wedges have been the blacksmiths bain since they were invented. . . They are the cause of the majority of critical damage to all size of hammers. Your's have probably been in there as long as my 350's. . . Of course my anvil is missing so the only one I have to worry with is the one in the ram that they torched flush!

Hammering on key wedges makes them expand. Not only permanently (upset) but temporarily when you hit them. PULLING the key has great advantages and has been found to work in many cases since I suggested the method a number of years ago. Pulling stretches and makes it smaller. :)

On small machines a common puller slide hammer is used. It is attached either by drilling a cross hole in the wedge or by welding a nut to the wedge and screwing the threaded end into the nut. On larger hammers you may need to weld flinch plates to either side of the wedge and attach a shop built slide hammer with a large cross pin (1.25 - 1.5"). Recently a friend of mine used this technique coupled with TWO 10 to 20 ton hydraulic jacks! It went like this. . .

THE SETUP: Weld a long heavy bar to the wedge. Slide a heavy cross plate 1" or more thick with a hole torched in it over the bar, Fit the jacks and block up against the anvil/sow block. Weld lugs on the bar for the cross plate to react against. Install the slide hammer "ram" (pipe with weight welded on). Weld a reaction lug on the end of the bar.

THE METHOD: Pump up the jacks until you think something is going to break. When it does, start over. While tension is applied heat the part that is on the outside of the wedge. Heating BELOW the dovetail to expand the part is best. You may need a couple rosebuds and several helpers. After things are getting good and hot but BEFORE the heat equalizes. . . Start the slide hammering! When the jacks fall out and break your foot. . . Oh yeah, I forgot to mention to TIE UP and support EVERYTHING!!!! Yeah, then put the jacks back in and pump them some more and keep heating and hammering. . You may even hammer on the far end of the wedge (that you have ground down to reduce the previous swelling) using a relatively SMALL hammer (less than 10#).

ITs a plan. It works if your welding is good and there is enough wedge to get a hold of. All that soaking with WD-40 didn't hurt a thing.

James Nasmyth insisted on a thin hardwood shim between one side of the wedge and dovetail. I don't know if it helped removal but its bound to help prevent breakage.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 06:21:50 GMT

Scott, I agree with the guru that pulling is the best way. I had a hard time removing a wedge from one of my Bradley's when I bought it. I welded a closed loop on the wedge and come-a-longed it out using my forklift as a counter weight. I needed to put an I-beam between the forklift and hammer to stop the lift from moving forward as I pulled. When it came lose it sounded almost like a gun going off. The guru and I helped a freind removed a wedge from a 750# Chambersburg. We used his track hoe bucket to pull the wedge. Matter of fact we welded a piece to the wedge and almost burned up our freinds welded doing it. The anvil had sat outside for a long time and it was badly rusted.

I make it a practice to loosen my wedges every so often and keep them well oiled. I taper all of my wedges on a large disc sanded by eye. It's a very fine line between to thight or to lose.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 14:19:12 GMT

We are looking for Clip Art related to blacksmiths, old trators, gas engines, and steam engines. Any help would be appreciated.
Bill  <billandsarah at triton.net> - Thursday, 03/23/00 16:31:28 GMT

I am enterested on trying to build a sprial stair but i do not know the formula any advice would be helpful. Thank you.
kevin   <Ironman_Mayer at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 18:29:28 GMT

I have a question on anvil "hardness".
I have a 250# trenton anvil made about 1936. It is of the tool steel body type, not a hard plate welded on for a working surface.

Sometime in it's past someone used it for a cutting table and it has several scars to prove it. They are not of any size and 95% of them could be taken off with a surface grind of less than .050" and 100% of them at about .100". I resurfaced the face with a sidegrinder taking off no more than .015" (I am a tool maker by trade and understand about making a flat surface by hand) It is finished to a near mirror (you can see yourself in it but it would take more work to be a true mirror) I know that the surface is fairly hard as a file will for the most part skate off the face. I read in Postmans book that the larger anvils (larger than 150#)tended to be a little softer than the smaller anvils.

The question I have is, I will sometimes take a light tap on the anvil while forging to keep the rythem while I am moving the stock or planing the next move. I noticed that these light blows are leaving a mark on the anvil surface and I have stoped this practice. Is it normal for this to happen or am I just being hyper sensitive? I didn't expect the mirror to last forever but I didn't expect the anvil to mark so easily. Do you think the previous abuse of being used as a cutting table caused the anvil to loose it's temper? If so, the anvil with a small amount of work would be like new again, could it be re-hardened and tempered?
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 03/23/00 20:23:45 GMT

Ringing the anvil: Wayne, I give mine a tap to to keep the rhythm when I turn the work, need to look a little closer of have to think a beat. . . Of course at the end of the day you "think" a lot more than you did at the beginning. :)

Look at the marks and your hammer. Are they edge of face marks. A forging hammer hould be radiused or have a crown that prevents the corner from ever hitting the anvil face in normal use. Marks from the face should be slight circular depressions.

It IS possible that the anvil is a little soft. I would not try to reharden an anvil. The manufacturers had a fit doing it in the first place.

The super fine finish may be problematic too. Is your hammer finished equally well? Two pieces the same hardness rarely leave a mark unless there is a textural differce. But in many cases a little maring may be apparent.

Larger anvils DO tend to be a little softer than small anvils. Its just hard to quench that big a piece of steel. In the case of large anvils a little soft is better than too hard. Minor surface variations are a lot less troublesome than big chips out of the corners.

You could be leaving a little normal marking that shows do to the high finish OR you are just too sensitive. . Keep using it as-is you will become less sensitive.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 21:36:35 GMT

Talking about anvils, I have a question. I have no experience as a blacksmith, but I weld for a living. Why can't a large thick slab of iron be used for an anvil? Is there a particular property of an anvil that cannot be found in mild steel? I know that there must be something about an anvil, but I just can't determine what it would be, other than shape possibly.I am just developing an interest in blacksmithing, and I have a junk of iron 4
welder40  <n/a> - Thursday, 03/23/00 22:15:29 GMT


The remainder of the above post should be as follows:

and I have a junk of 4"thick x 12" wide x 60" long that has a few nooks and crannies in it. Is there a reason not to use this and buy an anvil instead? Thanks
welder40  <n/a> - Thursday, 03/23/00 22:21:13 GMT

Anyone know what type of steel carrage-bolts are made from?
I need to know how hard I can make the heads of them.
They need to be wear resistant. They will be in contact with the ground. If need be I can forge some from drill-rod.
Terry Glenn  <tglenn at pathway.net> - Thursday, 03/23/00 22:29:56 GMT

Anvil Welder: You are pretty much right. An anvil needs depth. A 4" thick 10" x 10" (100mm x 250mm x 250mm) block laying flat is not a very good anvil but turn it on edge and it is not bad. (see our articles on making a chaep anvil and the anvil series in general on our 21st Century page).

However, good first class anvils have a hardened tool steel face that a hammer bounces off of like a spring. This is known a "rebound" and is a measure of efficiency of an anvil. The hardness also resists wear from hard hammer faces. Early anvils had a tool steel plate forge welded to the face (a forge weld produces a continous joint under the entire plate). Later modern anvils are made of solid blocks of tool steel. There are also cast steel anvils AND cast iron anvils. Cast iron anvils are anvil shaped door stops (no matter how big).

Then, there is a strong preconcieved idea of what an anvil should LOOK like that keeps a lot of folks from just using a slab of steel as previously noted. That shape of an anvil, developed over millenia, makes it a surprisingly sophisticated tool. Once you become accustomed to those features it is hard to go back.

The face is hard and flat for forging and making work smooth. The hardy hole is for holding auxilliary tools. The "shelf" on English and American pattern anvils is soft for using a cold chisle and not tearing up the chisle. Many smiths use the step between the face and the shelf for all types of work needing support in a corner. The tapered horn is obviously for bending curves but a surprizing amount of forging AND shaping of delicate items get done on the horn. The small "pritchell" hole in the corner of the face is for punching holes but the square hardy hole is also used.

European anvils typicaly do not have a step in the face and have both a square AND round horn. They also have a round hole larger than the English "pritchel" hole. It is common for modern European anvils to have a block sticking out the base called an "upsetting" block. This is for when you need to swell the end of a long bar.

BUT! If you haven't had all these wonderful features - ANY anvil is better than NO anvil, and your block of steel turned on edge will work fine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 22:54:32 GMT

Carriage Bolts: Terry, same stuff as grade 2 bolts. Same as mild steel. Heads seem hard from work hardening via the cold heading process. But they are no more wear resistant than any soft steel. Bolts made from drill rod will be way to brittle unless very carefully tempered. "Drill" rod is not what modern HHS drills are made of but it gets VERY hard and VERY brittle.

Soft 304 SS (and SS bolts) are much more abrasion resistant than mild steel even though closs in hardness. Abrasion resistance often has more to do with the alloy than the hardness.

It would really help to tell us what you are making.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/23/00 23:01:19 GMT

To Guru and all those that sent suggestions,
Thanks for all the ideas. We once had to remove the bottom key from our shops 300# Chambersburg by welding a cross bar onto the large end of the key and driving wedges between it and the anvil block. But here's the sticker...on the Niles the large end of the key is torched off and an attempt I made early on to drill into it only proved it to be harder than my bit. The other end does not extend past the dovetail but does extend past the sow block, a bit of crazy geometry caused by the sow block being off-center with the base block, hence the need to re-align before I install it in its new home. I am aware of special bits for drilling into hardened steels that actually heat the metal that they are drilling into (almost like annealing as you drill), but they are an expensive item. Then again something like that might be a useful thing to have around (sound of me gagging at the price). On the concept of heating the block, could that crack the base? I have had some bad experiences with how heat affects sharp corners as they go through a heating and cooling cycle, and I would be afraid the complexities of dovetail geometry would make a prime candidate for this. Is there enough meat in an anvil block to counteract this? What type of heat source should I use?
Again, I really appreciate all the help. This is one of the reasons I love the blacksmithing community. Each is just as much of a lunatic as the next, so when someone like me says "goodness! I can't believe I'm having trouble with this cantankerous piece of...machinery", everyone else just hangs their heads, remembers having had the same feeling, and tries to help instead of just curling up in the fetal position muttering "d----d key, D----D KEY!"
Scott Thompson  <slt at ilnk.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 00:12:23 GMT

Ddd d d kkkey: Scott, carbide bits are as brittle as they are hard. Breakage is high. More than one hole would have to be drilled AND taped for studs almost as thick as the key. A magnetic base drill press is the only way. Carbide bits only work with HIGH feed pressure. You cannot do it by hand. IF you can see it and get to it to drill to it you CAN weld it.

You want to heat the part with the (female) dovetail cut into it so when it becomes larger the parts loosen. IF its the sow block then heat from the die side center out. IF its in the anvil you heat the anvil. Heat is tricky in that if both pieces are heated it does no good. Conductivity across a joint is not good but is too good on this tight a joint.

The ultimate route is to pack the part with the male dovetail in dry-ice. Give it a couple hours THEN start heating the other part. When the hot part is less than 200°F the differential will be 240°F. You can get .008 to .010 difference in size that way.

The dry ice will have to be packed in styro-foam and THAT protected from the flames of a torch. You can also heat with wrap around heat pads that they make for preheating weldments.

Same routine as I described yesterday.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 01:15:53 GMT

Guru: I am making small C shaped flint strikers and have been having a problem with very fine hairlike cracks running the length of the piece of late. Making them of spring steel (lift hayrake teeth). these particular rake teeth are a new batch to me, but I have never had this problem with the many many I have made over the years. I left the problem on too rapid of cooling (too cold oil or to hot of metal before plunging, but on further examination I find the cracks to be developing during the forging. I have been very careful to work only in the temperature range of dull red to dull orange and never,ever hit the stuff at a black heat(I know this will crack it) Air temp here has been about 30 to 40 degrees but anvil is often colder in the morning. sorry this got so long but I wanted to give you all the info I could so perhaps you could determine what is going wrong. I could change to another batch of steel, but that seems like giving up. Thanks Very much for your help. Russell
Russell Warner  <rwarner at flinthills.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 01:34:05 GMT

I just got a draft horse and am building a breaking-sledge for her. The bolts will be holding the skids on.I will be using 4x6 lumber for the skids.I am going to cut a groove
up the middle of the bottom of each to accept a piece of "T"
iron.The bolts will go through the iron.
Thanks again,
Terry Glenn - Friday, 03/24/00 02:39:26 GMT

Don't worry to much about you anvil folks. Right now I'm using a half-moon shaped block of 1095 about 5" thick and 6"
radius.It works fine.Kind hard to use hardy tools though.
I also have a 150# forged anvil that has the face split away from the body at the heel.Didn't know it when I bought it.(rust and grease hide small cracks)
Terry Glenn - Friday, 03/24/00 02:55:01 GMT

have submitted many q?? on sweetiron ... the horsetrader im dealing calls it Im looking for a method how to blacken mildsteel for a black finish PLEASE HELP
JEFF  <jeffwadsworth at aol.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 03:15:07 GMT

???how to make mildsteel black ???
jeff  <jeffwadsworth5 at aol.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 03:58:29 GMT

Paint?:) Seriously though I know there is a method called Japaning but I don't know what's involved. It was used on scabards for centuries to prevent them from rusting. I have come across several examples at trade-and-swaps that still have much of the original Japaning intact. Try the military or weapons section of your library. Good luck.
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Friday, 03/24/00 04:25:06 GMT

just starting out building a small shop of my own. built a small, propane-fired forge (12 inch pipe, 12 inches long lined with 1-3/4 inch castable refractory) jet was drilled with a #55 drill and set propane regulator at 5 lbs with a 20 lb bottle right now, using a hand held hair dryer for blower through 1-1/2 inch pipe. when first fired up did excellent, put a coil spring in to heat and cut for tools heated up to orange heat but after about 20 minutes, would not heat over a dull cherry. could change pressure at regulator and did to 8 lbs. but feel it shouldn't need this as it heated good at beginning. any ideas on whats happening after initial heating? could i still be able to change pressure easily at regulator if bottle was freezing up? help


Mike Aumiller
Mike Aumiller  <k_trout at swbell.net> - Friday, 03/24/00 04:27:54 GMT

Cracking Steel: Russell, This problem could be inherited from the original steel OR may have developed during use. Steels vary. If you have been working it at a relatively low temperature I would go hotter. Soak time can also be a problem. Holding steel at a temperature where there is grain growth over time can result in cracks. Those of us with gas forges somtimes put too mauny pieces in and don't pay attention to those that soak too long. In decorative work its not a problem. I WOULD be concerned about the cold anvil and working high carbon steel. You might want to warm it up. Wrap a heat tape around the waist and throw a fire proof welders blanket over it at night. I'm not really positive what causes this problem.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 04:54:15 GMT

Cold Forge: Mike, when the cylinder freezes up you know it. It gets covered with ice and you have NO pressure. It still sounds like a gas volume problem. Too much and you run rich and cold, too little and you run lean and cold. One thing that happens is that the forge heats up and performs differently. The other thing that can happen is that the orifice can freeze up or you have a restriction in your gas line. A little piece of dirt or teflon tape can clog that orifice. Pressure doesn't mean you have flow. We use that as a means of adjustment all the time but it only applies when everything is right. Sounds like you have enough gas but need to experiment. Reduce instead of increase. Blower type forges make a tremondous roar when adjusted just right. Its so bad you have to "de-tune" to reduce it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 05:03:06 GMT

Japaning: Bill, Jeff, thats the original black laquer made from the shells of "lac" beatles (I think). Anyway, its thin black lacquer.

Jeff, if you looked UP there were about 1000 words in various posts on "sweet iron" which seems to be anything NOT plated OR plated with copper.

Oxide blacks and blues are chemicial processes generaly using nitric acid or a combination of nitric and other acids and sometimes boiling the part in it. Its a pain to setup for but any decent gun shop should be able to do it for you. The steel to be blued must have ALL paint , scale, previous finishes or plating removed and be finished as wanted. Blueing works best on clean polished surfaces. Bits with copper may contaiminate the process so be sure to remove ALL the copper.

There are formulae in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and in most gunsmithing references. Centaur Forge also sells books on the subject.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 05:14:52 GMT

i have a hand cranked blower. 16" BUFFALO 200 SILENT.good
condition,undedr cover for last 35 yrs. like to know what
it it worth.
dick mawhir  <dickiam at velocity.net> - Friday, 03/24/00 14:41:00 GMT

Cheap Anvil:I am comming in on this late. I don't know where you are located but some times steel service centers will let you pull a "drop" from their scrap bin if you offer to make a contribution to their X Mas party fund. Believe me this often works. The thickness of the plate, if under the ideal diameter of the alloy will allow you to use just about any alloy for a cheap anvil. A good one to look for would be P-20 plate which has a .35 to .40 carbon mid range with a goodeal of chrome and a fair amount of moly, both carbide forming alloys. The ideal diameter is sufficiently high enough(and a great deal higher than 4140, 4150, and A-36) to give through hardness. P-20 is used for plastic moulds which are subjected to high pressure cycles,highly abrasive compounded plastics and temperature swings up to 650 degrees F. The Germans use P-20 as tough forging die blocks to back up a cobalt overlay in their mechanical forging presses when the production rates are so fast that the die temperatures remain very high.
David Bryant  <davidbry at myriad.net> - Friday, 03/24/00 16:18:24 GMT

Terry Mc Guire\ stuck sow block key. I come from an industrial forging family and when we would ger a sow block key stuck in a steam\air hammer ( from 8000 to 45,000 pounds) we would put dry ice on the sow and heat on the anvil then hope it would drive loose or we would have the welder don the space suit and gang a bunch of oxygen cylinders together on a lance and air (Oxygen) arc the key out which is a spectacular sight from a distance with molten metal spewing as if from the nozzle of a rocket engine. Good luck
DavidBryant  <davidbry at myriad.net> - Friday, 03/24/00 16:30:22 GMT

David Thanks for the input. Steel service centers are good to have as friends but the small guy has a hard time dealing with them. You just have to try them out. Or make friends with someone working there! A donation to the Christmas party fund is a definite try. . .

Folks at our local service center are a pain in the . . . High minimum purchases, won't take a check over $250 unless you have an open account ???. So when I tried to pay $800 cash for an order they said they didn't like handling that much cash! Another local business has a deal on ALL the drops. Typical attitude of those who have bought out all the local competition.

When I was blacksmithing full time I was lucky in that it was before the small local dealer was bought out. It was possible to purchase a single stick of anything on the rack and cutting rates were reasonable. You actually delt with the owner.

If you guys have a small business like this near you. SUPPORT them! You will regret it when they are out of business and you have to deal with a near monopoly.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 17:17:56 GMT

I have been given a basic blacksmithing setup from an old friend. (ie forge,anvil,a few tools, a blower etc) He is an old hand at smithing. But he is too old to be able to teach me. I need to rebuild the forge and probably pretty up the anvil some what. I have only very basic knowledge and only just found your pages. Can you point me to the right places to get this dream of mine going. Thanx Nate S
Nate S  <nathans1978 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 18:03:36 GMT

Guru: I'm just starting my interests in metal working, and found an old Peter wright anvil made in england stamped 106 on it. was wondering where I would get information on the anvil itself, ie. age, if is a good one or not. regards, Lee
Lee   <Dewk at aol.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 18:21:31 GMT


The Peter Wright is one of the best anvils ever made. The 106 stamped on the side is the od english "stone" or "hundred weight" system. The 1 = 112 pounds. The 0 = 0 quarter weight pounds, and the 6 = 6 actual pounds. When the anvil was manufactured, it weight 118 pounds. It may have lost a little weight over the years.

Dating it is a little more difficult without more information, but it was probably manufactured some time between 1852 and 1937.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 19:37:07 GMT

Nate, Getting Started
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 20:25:33 GMT

Silent Air 200: Dick, that's one of the best. I had one for a short while and traded it. . Twas a mistake.

Mint condition I'd quess $200 USD. There is a lot of demand for these.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 22:33:03 GMT

Just recently came into the possession of a Buffalo Forge No. 146 Hand Crank Drill Press. I have it operating, so to speak. All the moving parts move smoothly, everything seems to work. The QUESTIONS are: 1. What does the handle look like on the drill advance wheel, the wheel on the top of the machine, handle look like. It was broken off and after I remved what was left of the bolt I found that a 1/4 20 bolt fit the threads. Was the handle wood, I can turn a new one, or was it a metal handle. I'll need to find one or have it made. 2. What does the drill bit chuck look like on the inside. There is a bit chucked up but I can budge it and I don't want to break something getting it out. 3. How do I convince "herself" that this is an antique and should be in the living room and not in the shop. I would use it as a drill press in either place. Dave Cunliffe 62, history teacher. glofclub maker. woodworker.
C-Dawg  <cunlifd at eoni.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 22:55:50 GMT

Just read your post. I have an old turn of the century Sears, Roebuck post drill with ratcheting downfeed and guess where it is...MY LIVING ROOM! Now I'm a pretty stylish guy, and I think the the piece beautifully accents my home decor (even my Mother sort of likes it). However, before I built my house, my last apartment I had a lathe sitting in the living room. Ahh, interior design! The downfeed handle on mine is wood, and the inside of the chuck is a plain hole, I don't know how this compares with a Champion.
Scott Thompson  <slt at ilnk.com> - Friday, 03/24/00 23:38:42 GMT

Antique Drill: C-Dawg, the handle was hardwood, probably maple, turned to look like any machine handle and was painted black. They get in the way and end up removed broken or lost.

I've used these drills (a lot) with and without and they DO get in the way. I painted the one of mine that needed a lot of work bright red with black pin stripes. Its the one on Paw-Paw's forge trailer I built.

The "chuck" is nothing but a 1/2" hole with a square headed set screw from the side. They used to make "blacksmith drills" with 1/2" shanks and a flat. Unlike modern bits that have turned DOWN shanks you could get down to 1/16" bits with a 1/2" shank. Needless to say breakage was VERY common. I've never seen one.

I always fit a Jacobs chuck. They were invented in 1916 and I have a few that old. . .

The auto-feed needs to be preloaded when you start drilling and then the ratchet engaged. Due to the low RPM and high feed pressure these machines are far superior to anything modern you can purchase for less than $1,000. The next best hole drilling machine is one of those 20-21" geared head flat belt drive 1,000 pound monsters from around 1880-1950.

As collectors items these drills are worth more when still on the OEM mounting board. The boards were hardwood about 6" wide and 2" thick. Had a nifty little molded edge and were often painted black.

The item that fails most often is the thrust bearing. I've replaced several with modern bearings that are thicker. This requires thining the thrust block and re-drilling or repining.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 00:06:02 GMT

Scott: I suspect that champion made the Sears drills. The parts would be interchangable except there must have been a hundred different models. . . Every one pattented and all almost alike.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 00:08:59 GMT

On passing by different works of iron, I remember seeing small straps wrapped around two sections of iron to hold them together. How does a traditional blacksmith do this?
welder40  <n/a> - Saturday, 03/25/00 01:14:09 GMT


Those small straps are called collars. They're pre-cut to length, then wrapped tightly while at a red heat. As they cool, they tend to shrink just a little, which makes for a nice tight fit.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 01:20:14 GMT

Hello, I need help. I am a college student who has to do a materials testing project for my glass. I am studying to become a metal shop teacher. What i need to do is find a test that is inexpensive and shows the properties of ductility. I was thinking maybe a test that shows a relationship to the way the metal was cooled, (e.g. in water, oil, and sand.) What do you think? Any advise is greatly appreciated. Thank you
Kenny  <KennyZush at aol> - Saturday, 03/25/00 01:44:26 GMT

Paw Paw After the collars are shrunk fit, do they somehow have the ends welded or joined together? Or do they maintain an adequate grip without joining the ends of the collar together. And I just had a thought as I was writing this - would I be right to assume that the heavier material the collar is made of, the better the strength and grip? Or does the strength and grip have more to do with the installation process?

I'm "new around these parts", and to be truthful I am rather clueless about blacksmithing. Being a welder, I enjoy turning metal into things. It's interesting to read this and other sites and discover things I haven't understood before, hardening and tempering for example. Keep up the good work, both to you and your readers.
Welder40  <n/a> - Saturday, 03/25/00 02:46:39 GMT

Ductility: Kenny, this is the ability to be bent or stretched. The standard test is stretching the material and graphing the percentage of stretch vs. tension (got to measure both). The ultimate yeild is when the sample is pulled in two. No test of this type is really simple. At a minimum samples must be prepared that are uniform (same dimensions).

The first scientific study of materials properties was by the Ancient Greeks. Their study of stings for music and wave theory used varying weights on strings of known cross section. They determined the mathematical relationships between induced load per sectional area and frequency. The scientific study of materials waited 2000 years until James Watt started building steam engines in the 1700's and needed to know the strength of materials, particularly cast iron. Primitive load tests were devised using mules pulling against a beam supported between trees. . . Improvements were rapid beyond this point but the definition of Horsepower comes from that era.

A classic test is to support a bar of known section between two points a fixed distance apart. A load is applied to the center of the bar by a hook designed to apply the load in a known manner. The load is weights hung from the hook. Weight can be added in small increments until the bar bends and fails. Deflection can also be measured and graphed vs load. Measurments can be by rule or dial indicator. Idealy a simple lever multiplier would be used to make the distance measurments.

Use a small bar size so that large amounts of weight is not needed. Here, idealy you would use scale weights. But a bucket of sand would do. Set your supply of sand on a scale and use that to tell you how much you have added to the load bucket. OR set the whole rig on a platform scale. In any case you need to apply scientific discipline to the matter.

Preparing samples in a controlled manner is a bit of a trick. If you are dealing with steel then every aspect of the heat treatment is of importance. How hot, how long to get hot, how fast the cooling rate. Quenchants are not as importance as the cooling rate produced by the quenchant. Hot quenchant cools slower than cold quenchant.

A good test would be to obtain 1/4" round bars of various alloys from different sources and compare the as-delivered strength and avoid processing the bars. . OR to take ONE alloy and process it different ways and do the tests.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 04:34:38 GMT

My earlier question was more about technique than basics. I know what i need to get started. I want to know about what I should start doing that will lead me to knowing more. What types of work should I undertake. How to learn on my own is the nature of my question. I live in Illinois and there are no groups anywhere near me. I basically have to learn as I go and some of your techniques may help me to do that more than hit and miss on my own.
Thanx Again
Nate S
Nate S  <nathans1978 at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 04:35:18 GMT

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have recently purchased an anvil. I is approximately 100 lbs. However the edges are damanged. Do I have to heat the anvil before attemnpting to fix it, or can I use a high impact, low abrasion welding rod. I have been told thart the anvil needs to be 3-500 dgrs, befor I attempt to weld it. The anvil is a cast iron w/ a hardened surface. It is marked I.I.B & Co. Any info would be apprciated.

F. L. Owen
Flake Owen  <owenoffice at rmi.net> - Saturday, 03/25/00 04:42:36 GMT

Collars: welder40, These are prepared several ways. Common collars have a butt joint in the back of the work. Done properly the collar should be tight AND there be no gap between the ends.

Classic decorative collars have a long taper forged on each end and then overlap when installed. These give the apearance of being endless or a solid ring. They also avoid the need for a perfect fit. Still, the length is fairly critical and should be determined by trial fits. The blank and after forged length need to be recorded. Forged length can be trimmed and reforged if too long. If too short they are mearly forged a little longer.

Fancy decorative collars are made by chasing with a chisle or forging in a form to produce a "molding" type crosssection. These must be precisly cut to length. Often special fitting tools are made to clamp and set these collars to avoid destroying the shape.

On jobs where a lot of collars are to be used, tooling is setup to prebend the collars so that they can be worked as fast as possible during assembly. A torch is often used to heat the collars while installing them.

Wrapped collaring is wire or small bar heated and fit to the joint in multiple wraps. The ends of the bar are tapered to a point or decorative shape. Wrapping with round bar produces a nice textural affect.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 04:51:06 GMT

Could you direct me to a company that sells good gas forges that will accomodate resonnably large pieces of work
(N.C) are too small.
Many thanks
Gilles Cordier  <gcordier at superaje.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 06:54:56 GMT

Forges: Gilles, I just posted the second half of the NC-TOOL catalog. They do make some larger forges.

Centaur Forge handles Johnson Forges and I'm sure they make bigger units than Centaur has in their catalog.

Firedesign maker of the Bull air hammers also makes a nice gas forge. It is a well built, heavy duty, industrial unit.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 10:14:13 GMT

Anvil Repair: F.L. Owen, That is an Illinois Iron and Bolt Co. anvil. The process for joining the face was developed and pattented by Fisher-Norris who made the Eagle anvil, the first mass produced American anvil. The weld is made "in the mold" during the casting process. It is the only known way of joining cast iron and steel other than brazing. Any attempt to repair the edges of this anvil is endangering the impossible to repair face to body bond.

Clean it up, work around it, live with it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 10:35:13 GMT

Getting Started: Nate, have you purchased and read the books I mentioned in the twice mentioned article? Have you read my reviews of the same books and understand why I recommeded them? Did you order a Centaur Forge catalog, search for an old MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK?

Have you contacted the Illinois Valley Blacksmith's Association? Just because their headquarters are in the middle of the state in Decatur doesn't mean they don't hold meetings at a dozen different places. Did you get a copy of their members list when you joined so you could find out if your next door neighbor is a blacksmith? Yeah, I KNOW Illinois has some wide open spaces. . I have relatives outside Champagne in Monticello and White Heath. There is a large Amish center near there where they still use horse drawn carriages. . . and have dozens of blacksmiths and wheel wrights.

U of I, Carbondale? Read Dona Meilach's book and see where several of the top smiths mentioned there STILL live and work. One answers questions on this page. I'll bet there is a blacksmith within a day's walk of you (that's a 24 to 30 mile radius). I recommed that folks seek out other blacksmiths because it is much easier path to enlightment. More urban? Big OLD cities like Chicago are full of old blacksmith shops hiding away in the old industrial sections of town and some are still in operation. Don't expect a big western style "BLACKSMITH SHOP" sign on the building. Its not there. If you don't choose to find other smiths then expect a much longer path to knowledge.

Do you have all your tools collected to start practicing? Then do the following. Purchase a couple hundred feet or so of 3/8 and 1/4" diamater mild steel rod. Forge simple objects. S and J hooks can be sold ANYWHERE. You can't make enough. To make them you forge points, scroll ends, bend curves, make twists, flatten ends, cut with the hardy and punch holes. All tasks that LOOK easy but are difficult to do smoothly and cleanly without lots of practice. Forge hooks until you can forge 4 hours straight without feeling tired and then another 4 after lunch. Count how many blows it takes to make a point. How many steps and motions between forge and anvil. Reduce the blows and steps until you think its impossible to reduce and then reduce it again. Get to the point where IF you take ONE more blow to forge a point you know its time been a LONG day and its time to quit. This will take about 500 hooks +/- 100.

Make your own tongs. Make 20 pair in different sizes and styles then USE them. If they are clumsy and you don't like their feel then rework them or scrap them and start over again.

To learn ANYTHING on your own you must have the initiative and drive to DO IT on your own.

Come back when you can tell me what object in Bealer's book is impossible (for practical, not logical reasons) to make the way he described it AND give the reason. Hint, the answer is not in his book.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 12:09:58 GMT

I am building a crucible furnace with a gas burner. I have 400 lbs of bonding clay for the liner. What do you think of this plan? And I also need an idea for mixing the clay and putting it in. I tried a little sample batch, it's going to be tricky to get it mixed up and put in place. I have a steel tube 20" diameter .100" thick and a sleeve made of 22 ga. satin coat that is 12" diameter tapered so I can pull it out after the clay is installed. The clay is 30 mesh from Cedar Heights. One other thing, what is the proper cure method? ie. let it dry out by itself or use a low heat to dry?


Mike   <mmaddeford at kwic.com> - Saturday, 03/25/00 19:46:28 GMT

Bonding clay?: Mike, I'm not sure what that is. refractory clays are high aluminia. Regular clays can actualy melt and boil at forge furnace temperatures.

Castable refractories are mixed with as little water as possible and are sometimes called "rammable" mix. You mix up what you can handle and place it using a maul or hammer handle to compact it into the mold and or the existing refractory. Many of these have a cement binder that helps them harden. They also contain matrial to help make them porus or permeable so that water vapor can escpae. This often consists of coarse ground refractory brick.

We have had a recipe for a home brew refractory mix that includes fireclay, portland cement, sand and vermiculite. The mix is very lean on cement and has roughly equal parts of clay and vermiculite (I think).

Cement curing refractories go through several stages. The cement hardens chemicaly as the water bonds to the calcium componds. Then the mix needs to dry throughly. Especially captured in that steel shell. After a week or two then it can be heated very slowly (get that inner form out ASAP. That steel shell should have holes drilled in it so that trapped steam can escape. The first time you heat it up water will RUN out of the refractory as it turns to steam and then recondenses in the shell or refractory. I'd warm it up to where it starts to steam and then quit and do the same the next day. When steam stops pouring out of the vent holes then it is ready for full time use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 00:33:06 GMT

I was just looking over the Plans section and came across the "Micro Forge". I have the materials to build such a forge but I'm concerned about safety. I know I could strap the cylinder in place and secure the brick with straps also but would a standard fire brick hold up to the heat or do I need to get a special kind of brick? I am also curious about the placement of the torch nozzel. How far into the brick should it be set? Should the brick be hollowed out straight through or is there a depth at which you should stop? How long should you let the torch burn before you insert your rough stock into the forge? How large of a piece can you work in this forge? Is there a "manual" that I could down load that would answer these questions? And since I'm asking so many questions; How are you doing?
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Sunday, 03/26/00 00:58:10 GMT

We are metal caters in a grey iron foundry and are having some problems with availability of fine sands etc.

we are encountering some burning, soft blows and lamination problems: could you please find us any relevant materials on sand density and grade and forward them or the reference,
otherwise any information on optimum sand specs for the casting of fine machinery ie.engine blocks and car parts would be greatly appreciated.

thank you!! :)
Michael Ellerbeck  <melleroz at senet.com.au> - Sunday, 03/26/00 03:54:01 GMT

I have just about no experience whatsoever in metal working, but I have been interested in wood carving for a while and have become interested in making my own knives. I was wondering if there is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to heat treat or temper steel that will significantly increase its strength. I have searched the internet fairly extensively for answers, but have had no success. Also, just out of curiosity, what exactly is spring steel? Is it the result of a prcoess that steel is put through, or is it a totally different alloy? Thanks for your time-
Nick Voegeli
Nick Voegeli  <technokid at thespark.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 04:24:44 GMT

The other day I asked about material for the shank of a cut-off hardy. As luck would have it, I found 1.125" square bars in the scrap yard and took away about 8 ft. They turned out to be high carbon! Now, for my first welding project I will weld a length of bar drawn down to 15/16" to a section of leaf spring upset along one edge to 1". By the way, there is a very good discussion of forge welding in "The Country Blacksmith" by McRaven. Found it in my public library. This is a very good book for beginners.

I do have a question here somewhere. In the scrap yard I found three, half-inch copper rods, apparently from some heavy electrical equipment. I guess I paid about 17 cents for the three of them. Should they be forged hot or cold? I read up above your comments about cold work hardening and braze welding. What other methods are appropriate for copper?
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Sunday, 03/26/00 04:44:36 GMT

Nick: There is a very brief bit of information in the current NEWS about forging electrical ground rod. Are you sure you don't have some of that? It has a heavy copper cladding but is steel inside. A little rust on the ends and it is difficult to tell without a magnet.

Copper/brass/bronze can be worked hot OR cold. It depends on how much displacement is required. If you are draring points or forging leaves this should be done hot. Most sheet stock is worked cold and annealed as needed. The trick to working these metals hot is that they are very good conductors of heat and there is almost no such thing as a cold end. The high heat conductivity makes it sometime hard to heat sufficiently. Judging "hot enough" is a bit of a trick too as there is just the slightest color change before the metals melt and fall apart. Some sort of temperature controlled furnace is a necessity if doing a large quantity of this work.

1-1/8" square bar. Play with some of this before you get carried away. Modern alloys are almost more common than plain carbon steels. If you are going to draw down that size material to less than an inch you should be making the whole hardy tool out of one piece. Its a perfect size since you only need to draw down a little and can then upset the rest with the drawn down shank in the hardy hole.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 14:56:01 GMT

Steels and Heat Treating: Nick V., Spring steels are normally medium to high carbon steels. Most in automotive use are also alloy steels.

Increasing strength is an ambiguous statement in dealing with steel. Steels increase in stength generaly with the addition of carbon and alloying ingrediants. This is contolled by the manufacturer of the steel. From there steel can be hard and brittle or soft and ductile. In between there is hard enough to hold an edge and ductile enough not to break. This is what materials selection and Heattreating are about.

Heattreating is not expensive but takes an understanding of what you are doing and care in doing it. You also need to know what you are working with.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 16:25:49 GMT

Micro Forge: Bill, No manual, this is low tech make do. Yes, the brick is very special. It is an insulating refractory brick (said so in article). These are almost as light as styrofoam. The forge will not work with a heigh density brick (IF you could cut it). Torch nozzel should go half way through or less to keep from melting. Torch only needs to burn long enough to stay lit. This varies with brand and quality.

This is a derivation of the "bean can" forge. Step one, eat a can of beans, two poke hole in side, three - line with kaowool, and last light and stick hole through side.

Both are only suitable for VERY small work. 1/8" inch round or so.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 16:38:31 GMT

Foundry Sand: Michael, this is a very complex subject. I'll get your mailing address and mail some literature to you. I have a small collection of Foundry Magazine that will otherwise go in the trash.

The best source of technical literature is ASM (American Society for Metals International). See our web page for links. Foundry Magazine has the usual gamut of industrial suppliers who's literature can be most helpful.

Foundry sand needs to be graded for the size work being produced. The larger the casting the coarser the sand.

If you are digging local sand the mineral content is important. Foundry sands want to be a "sharp silica" sand. There are many types of sand that are not suitable.

Foundry green sand also "wears out". Besides sand it contains clay to bond it and make it more refractory. Also wood flour to increase the permiability. Everytime it is used it picks up metal scale and the clay and flower burn. Eventualy the sand breaks down and the whole becomes unusable.

In both small and some large foundries in the U.S. "No bake" or "Petro Bond" sand is rapidly replacing green sand. These are much more "fool proof" and take less training to use.

Our local foundry (Intermet, Archer Creek, VA) uses the "shell" molding process for automotive parts and has spent millions on sand processing and molding machinery.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/26/00 17:04:25 GMT

I'm looking for a power hammer like a 25# little gaint or something similar. thanks for any help.
Henry Geiger  <hgeiger at swetland.net> - Monday, 03/27/00 02:06:57 GMT

hi im looking for information on the anvil i am using it is a 200lb anvil with the name crescent on the side i got it for $1 a pound and its a 3 part anvil bottom top and top plate i was told it was a sears anvil sold to the railroad during the mid 10th century while the railroad was being built from atlanta to the mountains of western north carolina the face and edges were in rough condition and not knowing any better i arc welded the holes and edges and then used a side grider to reface and trim it has served me very well for 3 year now but i would like to confirm the origins of the anvil thanks in advance
terry  <terryh at buncombe.main.nc.us> - Monday, 03/27/00 02:22:44 GMT

sorry cant type tonight thats the 19th century around 1865 according to the history of when the railroad was built
terry   <terryh at buncombe.main.nc.us > - Monday, 03/27/00 02:25:07 GMT


Go to the Virtual Hammerin. Somebody named Jan has one advertised for sale.


ANVIL'S IN AMERICA, does not have a listing for a Crescent anvil. There is a listing for a Southern Crescent anvil. The Southern Crescent was a cast-iron steel-faced anvil. It was manufactured by the Southern Skein and Foundry Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. No good dates as to when they were manufactured, but they are listed in a 1925 catalog, and in a 1932 manufacturing directory. One catalog shows elevnin different sizes from 5 to 250 pounds.

The trademark was a crescent moon with a horizontal bar through it.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 03:17:48 GMT

The Boning Clay I have is a Resco product, the package says Cedar Heights Bonding Clay. The bill says "CLAY-BONDING 30 M 100#PAB NRP SW(30/P) " I told the supplier what I was doing and this is what they sold me along with some McConnell sand and Bentonite clay for the molds. But when I opened the Bonding Clay up it wasn't anything like I had imagined. It's almost like modeling clay?? That's why I thought I better ask someone else.

Thanks for your help.

Mike  <mmaddeford at kwic.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 04:33:17 GMT

Clay: Mike, you have probably got what is often called "rammable" refractory. It is fairly stiff. When foundries are repairing cuopulas they "ram" the clay into cracks and places where bricks are missing. Forges HAVE been built with this. I would make a small brick and let it dry, bake it in the kitchen oven then try a torch on it. Be carefull with oxyacetylene it gets a lot hotter than most refractories can stand. For a large mass the drying instructions I gave are still correct. However, foundries use it for patching and after just a few hours start heating the coupula. Of course they know the repair is temporary and will have to be fixed again. A complete reline is too costly in both time and materials so they will nurse things along as long as possible.

What you have should work but test a sample first.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 06:12:57 GMT

thanks paw paw at least i know a little more it does have the crescent moon with the cross bar too bad there are no dates for the company still i am very happy with this anvil i guess thats what counts the most
terry   <terryh at buncombe.main.nc.us > - Monday, 03/27/00 12:27:17 GMT


If you wire brush (lightly) above the bar, you should be able to see the word "Southern" above the bar. Usually the word Southern was above and the word Crescent was below the bar. Also, check under the horn on the foot for a number. Sometimes there is a serial number located there.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 13:24:29 GMT

I am looking for some help on how to stop my anvil from moving around while in use. It is about a hundred pound forged anvil mounted onto a 10" x 16" fir block (2 pieces of an 8" x 10" beam bolted together). I need to be able to move the anvil out of the way when its not in use, as my garage is also used for other work (parking too). I cant drill or bolt into the floor as there is radiant floor heating. I need some way to stop the block/anvil from moving as I work. It is ok when I am working on the face with a downward blow, but when I bend a piece over the edge, or work with the horn, it tends to move and turn about.
Ed  <millerea at cadvision.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 15:06:24 GMT

Casting Sand: Michael, in those "Foundry" magazines, you will find references to the AFS (american foundrymens society) they have numerous publications that can help you out. The bentonite clay is the binder for the sand. You may also want sea coal in the sand to give a better finish and to keep the sand from sticking. It breaks down when the metal flows across it and gives a gas layer between the metal and the sand. Sea coal is what makes foundry men black.(grin)If you want a really fine finish, you may need a refractory wash on the mold. There are many. Sometimes a sugar water solution sprayed on the finished mold gives an adequate finish.

Don't try to use backyard sand if you want good castings. Get good, new AFS graded sand and use the bentonite and seacoal. You will waste much less time.

If you can't get a strong mold, you have the mixture or water content wrong. Experiment. Each pattern has an optimum sand recipe. Or the sand is worn out as the guru mentioned. The sand edges get worn over and don't interlock well, and the clay burns onto the sand and prevents new clay from bonding to it. This burned layer is called the Oolitic layer. Sand can be reclaimed by burning the oolitic layer off or by abrasive processing, but that is only done to reduce the amount of sand thrown away. Used foundry sand is commonly classified as a hazardous waste and is costly to dispose of, so reprocessing is done in large foundries to save disposal cost. To help make sand last as long as possible, you can use new sand mixture next to the pattern and old sand in the bulk of the mold. This new sand is commonly referred to as facing sand.

Use the old sand to make concrete. Up to 20 percent foundry sand usually passes environmental testing. And you get these different looking gray colors.....
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 15:09:40 GMT

I have some cast iron collars that I want to attach to 1/2 inch rod. What's the best way to attach them? Thanks.
Roger  <riscriven at aol.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 15:20:35 GMT

Walking Anvil: Ed, I use 1-1/2" thick semi-circle wood cut outs bolted to the top of the anvil stand. These fit between the feet of any late style anvil. Each piece has a single lag bolt and washer anchoring them. This will not work on early square based anvils but works on any anvil made after about 1850.

The anvil can be easily lifted off the stand as it is not bolted down. The anvil may tip a little under heavy use but it will not slip or tip off the stand. Many smiths strap down their anvils. I prefer mine loose. Of course some shops also have stumps anchored in the ground with the anvil bolted to it. I prefer to be able to move my anvil close to the forge for small light work and further away for heavy work. Everyone has their personal preferences.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 15:49:26 GMT

I do have my anvil strapped onto the block, although I like the idea of having it mounted the way you suggest. The problem though is that the whole affair, block and anvil, move around on me. Would a larger stump work better? I
still have more of the beam I made it out of and could easily double the size. Thanks.
Ed  <millerea at cadvision.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 17:06:10 GMT

All-Wise & Omniscient Guru!
You were right on both counts in your reply. How do you do it? Those "copper" rods are magnetic. And the 1.125" square bars must be some kind of alloy steel. It took about 10 heats to reduce a two-inch lenght by 3/16". After that I could not draw it out further. That metal doesn't move. A new file slides right off, even after annealing. What do your psychic powers tell you this stuff is? Needless to say, I am reluctant to try upsetting it to make a cut-off hardy. Can it be welded or should I return it to the scrapyard where it came from?
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Monday, 03/27/00 18:00:59 GMT

Steel: Nick, That big bar will not move under most neophyte smith's blows but will yeild under a sledge or power hammer. If after a slow cooling it is file hard then it could be dozens of different air hardening steels. A2-A10, S7. ., H-13, H27. . . It would take some tricky trial and error, spark testing and. . . to determine EXACTLY what it is. In ALL cases it was very expensive steel new. Great trade material to other smiths.

You might be able to weld it while preheated to 540-500°F using a high tech (read expensive) alloy welding rod. Ask your welding supplier about "supper missle rod".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 20:35:08 GMT

Anvil Stand: Ed, Mine are hollow wood made from 2x12's (two sides and the top) and plywood (two sides) reinforced with a 2x4. (All nominal inch size lumber). The sides slope so that the base is. . (let me go measure) 15x15. But what makes it REALLY stable is it is hollow. It can't rock back and forth on a high spot. Now I have a smooth shop floor but for years the original of this stand was used in a gravel driveway, on the lawn and at hundreds of crafts shows. See my sketch on the how to make an inexpensive anvil article on the 21st Century Page.

You can do the same to yours by adding an edge that sticks down below the base just a little bit. When using solid "stumps" the base should be slightly hollowed out with a chainsaw. Same with your two piece "stump".
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/27/00 20:48:13 GMT

Guru, i recently aquired a Champion 400 blower. After a good cleaning it works fine, however I need to know what is the recommended lubricant for the bearings and gears. I put 40wt oil on the gears. Do the bearings need grease or is oil fine.
Also for those that are interested, the March/April issue of "The Backwoodsman" has a good article on building a great bellows.
Clint  <bearsden at tdn.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 01:07:18 GMT


40 weight will work fine.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 01:43:46 GMT

Guru's and Guruetts: two questions if you please.
1. I got some w-1 Drill rod to make up some special pins for my hossfeld, can't find any info on how to heat treat it. Do I need to harden them, what temp/time for hard/temper?? I am turning smallish ends on them for making small eyes up on top of the bender.

2. Whaaat do all the different 'guages' really mean, I got 12 guage shotguns, wire gauge, drill guage, sheet guage, screw guage, B&S, yadada.... I got some SS sheet that isn't on the sheet steel guage? Man am I confused...yep I are!
Tim - Tuesday, 03/28/00 03:07:32 GMT

I need to find a book on little giant trip hammers...Is ther such a thing that can be located?...If so please tell me where...I have a 50lb mayer brothers little giant that i am trying to rebuild for my knife making hobby...Thanks Hal Martin/....... Morrilton, Arkansas
Hal Martin  <hmartin at ipa.net> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 03:47:14 GMT

Thanks for looking into it for me ANYTHING you can find would be greatly appreciated.

my address is

5 Harding Court
Morphett Vale
Adelaide 5162
South Australia

Thanking you in advance
Michael Ellerbeck
Michael Ellerbeck  <melleroz at senet.com.au> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 03:55:58 GMT

W-1: Tim, Most drill rod comes annealed which is pretty soft but for some applications I use it as-is because even annealed it is a LOT stronger than mild steel. W is for water so its quenched in WARM water. Note that precision fits will change (when you quench carbon steel you are freezing it in the expanded condition, partialy). Allow for some growth. Then for a bender draw the parts back pretty far say to about 600-750 degrees.

Refer to your MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for all the various gauges except shotguns. . . At least I know my 410 means .410 inches.. . Your 12ga is .729" . . My gunsmithing book doesn't explain it. The sheet metal gauges have to do with arbitrary sizes that probably had to do with turns of a screw on someone's sheet metal rolls. . . and there are British and American gauges. "OZ" sheet metal is based on a "manufacturer's" square foot (its adjusted) and is the weight of wrought iron sheet that size even if you are buying aluminium. . . Therefore 24oz copper will weigh MORE than 25oz per square foot. MACHINERY'S says to forget it ALL and use actual thickness in inches or mm. They are right!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 04:02:17 GMT

Little Giant Book: Hal, you want the Kern Little Giant Power Hammer book. Its supposed to be available from Centaur Forge or Norm Larson. It has a LOT of information but if your are looking for dimentions for rebuilding forget it. Another great book on Power hammers is Pounding out the Profits by Douglas Freund. See our book review page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 04:08:04 GMT

I have an anvil that needs the edges rebuilt. What is the appropriate welding rod to use?
Art Gallais  <agallais at telusplanet.net> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 05:38:54 GMT

Thanks Guru & David Bryant for the info I have a acct. with Ryerson and PDM I'll have to see whats cooking in both directions on that one and i agree on the kiss theory Thanks Again !!!
Dave L   <jetjockey at ironworks.reno.nv.us> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 09:38:32 GMT

Iīll be doing some joining of small parts soon and i wonder: How strong is a "pennyweld" compared to a forgeweld? Does the brazing have the strength of the brass, or less? Or more? Copper is softer, maybe it "glues" better?

BTW, 12 gauge shotgun: Take one pound of lead, melt it into 12 identical spheres, and you get the calibre. Very old system. The same with 10-gauge or 16 and 20 gauge-calibres.
A twelve-pounder cannon has the calibre of an IRON sphere weighing 12 pounds. Then we just have to find out WHICH pound we are talking about - old imperial, german, swedish...
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 09:42:13 GMT


With regard to welding rods for anvil repair, if you'll be welding down into the forged body of the anvil, use stoody 1105. If you will just be welding on the tool steel face, use stoody 2110. You'll need to preheat prior to welding, pein after welding, and cool as slowly as possible.
Phil  <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 12:36:38 GMT

Gun Standards: Olle, Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. On the issue of standards, I have compared very OLD rules made in the 17th Century to modern precision scales. An INCH has been a well defined measurment for a very long time.

Pennyweld If you get a good clean joint it is like brazing in that it is as strong as the filler metal. Consider carbide inserts in saw blades and lathe bits. A very strong joint.

Anvil Repair Art, you need to know what type of anvil you are repairing before you start. There are several types:
  • Steel Face welded to wrought iron body
  • Steel Face welded to cast iron body
  • Forged steel upper body
  • Cast Steel
The best old anvils are those with a wrought iron body. Those with a cast iron body are difficult or impossible to repair and there is a good chance of ruining the anvil by causing a fault in the weld. There is a chance of this in the wrought anvils but it is much less of a problem. Cast and forges steel anvils are repaired like any hardened tool steel die. Phil's advice is correct.

In general I do not recommend repairing cosmetic damage to an anvil. Dress it with a grinder and work around it. If an anvil is in so bad a condition that it is unusable only then should repairs be considered.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 16:32:47 GMT

Dear Guru After forging several practice blades out of mild steel that came out O.K.,I tried forging a blade out of O-1. I tried to keep it in the lower red range as I had read it was extremely red short, just as I was putting the bevels in and every thing seemed to be going well it fell in half as I was removing it from my last heat. Did I err too far on the cool side while forging ,or did I just work it too much. Thanks for any input you may be able to give. Kinzea L Thompson
kinzea  <kinz at webtv.net> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 16:49:32 GMT

Oh most worthy and wise gurus and guruetts, I am humbly stupid, I asked for info on heat treating W-1 and I meant (really I did) to specify O-1, just a senior moment I guess, Application is Hossfeld bender main pins (at least I thing thats what I was doing?????)

Thanks for the info on guages, I concur with using actual measurements, in inches thank you, better that trying to figure out how many angels does it take to life a cubic cubit! GRIN! Thanks for everyting.
Tim - Tuesday, 03/28/00 17:59:31 GMT

Broken blade: Kinzea, could have been worked too cold but alloy steels tend to fall apart when over heated. At a certain temperature some of the alloying ingrediants become liquid while the rest is still solid. If you wait for the steel to cool before moving it sometimes you can save the piece. IF it shifts on its own in the fire then thats the end. . . and most likely your problem.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 18:01:27 GMT

O-1: Tim, same advice except quench in warm oil. Look in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is you need a specific hardness results. See comments on broken blade above.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 18:05:02 GMT

Guru Thanks for the advice. I guess its back to the drawing board,err, I mean the forge ,for another go around with the O-1. Kinzea L Thompson
kinzea  <kinz at webtv.net> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 19:12:48 GMT

Vorrei costruirmi per la mia officina un maglio per battere
ed una nuova forgia,accetto consigli,eventuali disegni per
la realizzazione.
Grazie a chi si farā vivo!
Romano Gabbrielli ITALY
Officina Gabbrielli  <rogabbri at tin.it> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 20:45:40 GMT

Translation? : Altavista:
I would want costruirmi for my workshop a mallet in order to strike and one new forge, accept councils, eventual designs for the realization. Thanks to who it will be made alive!

I would want to construct for my workshop a mallet in order to strike and one new forge, accept councils, eventual designs for the realization. Thanks to who it will be made alive!

My guess:
I want to construct for my workshop a hammer in order to forge and a new forge, accept advice and, eventualy make the designs reality. Thanks to those who made it possible!

I'm not sure if its a question, request or a comment. Anyone else?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/28/00 22:52:53 GMT

If it's a request, good luck! Imagine what Systran will do to your reply.
Nick  <nbogen at gte.net> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 00:13:46 GMT

i am interested in possily attending a trade school in my area as a serious smithing student.i am currently working in the fine art department of my college, but they do not have the facilities to aid in furthering my studies.my interests lie primarily in ornamental metal working.any school or contacts in the nashville/murphreesboro area would be phenomenal.thanks for your help.
Dianna  <iceix at mindless.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 00:50:17 GMT

Contact Joe Perry. He's the Director of the James E. Ward Agricultural and Community Center in Lebanon. I'd bet he can enlighten you. Speaking of bets, Joe owes me dessert at the Cracker Barrel in Murphreesboro.
Mike  <WCFarm at parod.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 01:19:16 GMT

Oramental Metal: Dianna, Start with your local ABANA-Chapter River Bluff Forge Council and perhaps the Alabama Forge Council. Also check out the schools/education page on the ABANA site.

Then consider some of the steps in my Getting Started article at the top of the page. Although decorative metal work is a specialty that is taught in many schools they over look things like taking a serious welding course before handing you an arc welding stinger and saying do-it-like this.

Courses taught at almost ANY community college or trade school that apply to blacksmithing are:
  • Welding I, Oxyacetylene.
  • Welding II, Electric Arc, MIG, TIG
  • Machine shop I, Basic metalworking
  • MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK (yep its a course)
  • Drafting I (manual layout)
  • Metalurgy I
Many of these courses may not be available to you unless you are signed up for the machine shop curriculum. However if you explain to your counsleor what you want to do and that you got this course selection on GOOD ADVICE, then they may acomodate you.

My wife has just finished most of the courses described above and it ALL applies. If you go to any of the blacksmithing schools you will get a brief course on toolmaking and heattreating (a couple days), you will learn more of the technical parts that you NEED to know by taking an introductory metalurgy course.

If you intend to persue classic traditional ironworking you will have no need of the welding course in your work BUT you will need it every day to produce jigs and fixtures or to build many of your own tools.

Regionaly there are several blacksmithing schools and there are many art schools that have serious metal sculpture courses. Check the ABANA site.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 01:33:50 GMT

More: The Ornametal Metals Museum in Memphis may be of help, Mike's contact is probably good too.

In Metalworking I they use a text book that I have a 50 year old copy of. You actualy get to forge and heattreat a chisle, drill holes, use a lathe, power hack saw and get a good introduction to things you will absolutely need to know in a metalworking carreer. The course just skims the scope of the book. Metalworking, Technology and Practice, McGraw-Hill, should be studied cover to cover by anyone intrested in or doing metalwork.

In the MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK class you work hundreds of problems requiring finding the information from the handbook. The biggest cost of this class is the book. Please see my review. I refer metalworkers to the book at least once a week. Those that have searched for much of the information elsewhere are always elated to find it ALL in one book. For a begining metalworker having a feel for what you can find in MACHINERY'S can be a great advantage. Studying and applying the entire book is quite an education. Hey, how do you think *I* got to be the guru?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 01:57:55 GMT


>"Hey, how do you think *I* got to be the guru?

(VBG) Should I comment?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 02:25:08 GMT

Thank You for the forum, I am just getting back into the farrier business, which I love. Give me a e-mail at carolynhv at aol.com and we will exchange some ideas.
Charles R. Hand  <carolyn at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 03:14:11 GMT

w warren  <twarren at geotec.net> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 04:04:18 GMT

Building Forges: Warren, See our plans page for a simple brake drum forge. As a 15 year mechanic you've probably got enough junk to build two or three. See our Getting Started article for information on contacts and suppliers.

The brake drum forge is a good start and a way to test the available coal. If you can't find good coal then you will want to look into a gas or oil forge.

See our iForge page for nearly 50 step by step projects.

Melting brass and bronze is best done in a gas fired crucible furnace. See the second page of the on-line NC TOOL Forge Catalog. You can also used stacked fire brick, foundry coke and a little blower. Centaur Forge and Norm larson carry foundry books by C.W. Ammen. They are all highly recomended.

Look around at ALL the information on anvilfire. It takes a while to find everything. There are a thousand or so photos of blacksmith doings in our NEWS alone.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 05:32:11 GMT

give me info about blacksmithing!!!
Joey - Wednesday, 03/29/00 14:27:01 GMT

I am currently researching topics for a book based in Hungary c.1000 AD and am trying to find out as much as i can about the blacksmithing techniques of the period. I am primarily interested in weapons and armour but would be grateful for any pointers, books or resources you could tell me about that would describe the processes involved. Also, i would be very grateful for any help on finding out about the metals and smelting processes used and what weapons were commonly used in Europe during the period.
Thank you for any help, no matter what, that you might be able to give, every bit counts.

With Kind Regards,

Michael Goodbody.
Michael Goodbody   <michael.goodbody at virgin.net> - Wednesday, 03/29/00 23:19:10 GMT

Medieval Times : Michael, No science, low tech, LOTS of superstition. You had a choice of wrought iron (doesn't harden), very poor grades of steel of unknown composition and cast iron. Then the materials of the Bronze Age. copper, tin, mecury, gold, silver. The ancient Greeks understood alloying bronze so you can assume that SOMEONE still knew something about it.

Steel was imported AND home grown. The famous "Damascus" steel was actually imported from India. "Hard iron" was also known. This is a relatively new revelation in the thoughts on the history of technology. When iron is made you get cast iron if it melts and becomes liquid. You get "wrought" iron if you capture some before is becomes liquid and forge weld it into billet and work it several times. Cast is brittle and relatively weak. Wrought is few soft but extrodnarily maleable. But it has no or very minute quantities of carbon and can't be hardened. Somewhere inbetween is "hard iron". In the mess that was retrieved from old furnaces was all three, cast iron, wrought iron and steel. Steel was the minority. Great skill was required to find and work the various grades of metal.

Iron and steel were VERY valuable so tools were not huge heavy things. Hammers and anvils were just big enough to be suitable to do the job.

Charcoal was THE fuel and is resposible for the deforestation of huge areas world wide. A few places knew of coal but the vast majority of iron was produced with charcoal and processed into final form using charcoal.

"Atli" may provide some specific references on the period.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 00:52:39 GMT

I got the rebar candleholder completed! It ended up being more artistic and less symmetrical, but I'm happy with it. Learned several things while doing it:

1. It was my first time to twist two bars/rods together. This did not end up being even all the way up, but I don't think that it detracted from it any. I'll have to practice this more.

2. I oxy/fuel welded for the first time. I used baling wire for the filler rod(hey, I'm a Texan) like I saw my dad do once before. It ended up looking pretty good. It certainly looks better than my first arc weld and my first forge weld. I welded the drip pans on. I accidentally burned a hole or two in one of them, but I filled it up with baling wire, and it looks decent.

3. I believe that the 47-minute forge that I built is not the right size/shape for the coal I currently have. It would have worked for a sackful of coal I had earlier, but this doesn't pack down so well. I have a bigger permanent forg in the works, but who knows when it'll get done.

4. Symmetrical circles aren't all that easy to make for the inexperienced.

5. (I already knew this) This is fun!!!

I'm working on another holder of a different design made out of some smooth round rod I found. Carry on.
Stormcrow  <mbhelm at cctc.net> - Thursday, 03/30/00 02:32:55 GMT

After looking over the junkyard hammer pages I got inspired to build one of my own. The biggest problem I had with the EC-Jyh is the size. I called up and engineer buddy of mine and we got to talking about it and thought that we might use an rear axel from an old golf cart. I was wondering what your thoughts on this might be and if you had any advice?
bryan cannata  <bkill at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 02:56:16 GMT

A friend of mine put together an anvil for making armor and helmets. It is constructed from an old fire extinguisher, a six inch by eight inch I beam, and a steel bar about two inches thick and three inches broad that tappers to a rounded three quarter inch point for the horn. He also used some plate steel to weld the horn to and then welded the plate to the extingushers "flat" end. At about the middle of the extinguisher he welded the I beam and then to the other end of the I beam he welded another section of plate in order to secure the thing to a stump. It works pretty well but when you strike any part of it it RINGS so loud that it shakes the fillings in your teeth. He is thinking to cut a hole in the extinguisher, pour in some sand and reseal the hole in order to stop the RING. Mike's a great welder and has a lot of experience when it comes to making things but he's not sure if this will do the trick. What do you think?
Bill   <w.stone at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/30/00 02:56:36 GMT

P.S. Have you had a chance to consider my question re. 3-23-00? This weekend is looking good fore forging and I'd like to try it.
Bill  <w.stone at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/30/00 03:02:42 GMT

SAND IN TANK: Yep, that'll deaden the noise and add some masss too. Its loose mass that doesn't do a LOT but it does make the whole heavier.

SPURS Bill, I never made Bits OR spurs so I didn't answer as you aske d IF anyone had made them that way. . . The design for wrought iron anything requires not splittig across the grain anywhere. Bills technique is a old design for wrought. Which also works in steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 04:37:46 GMT

GOLF CART JYH: They probably have more reduction which would be good. I'm not sure how heavy the bearing system is. But when building low cost with what's on hand you can't expect industrial duty reliability.

Stormcrow It all gets smoother and easier with time and experiance. Circle are what the compasss was invented for about . . . . 6,000 years ago or more.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 04:42:55 GMT

To Guru and everyone else who sent help,
Got the key out of the 250# Niles (Hooray!). Unfortunately the key did not survive to tell the tale. I tried all maner of streching, pulling and heating following as closely as possible to the advice given, but the key just didn't move. As I was nearing the point of tears the question of burning the key out came up. I had been a bit hesitant to consider the concept, because the space between surfaces I did not want destroyed was a bit close. The only other time I have used lances was to open tap holes on cupolas, and felt it was too messy a technique for a key as long and narrow as mine. However, I was getting pretty darned sick of that key (I could hear it laughing at me and telling snotty jokes about me to the keys in the other hammers!), and we had some non-galvanized 1/8" i.d. pipe on the racks. A fitting was brazed on the end and I went to work. It took a good bit of the tiny pipe but it quickly reduced the no-longer-laughing-at-me key to a puddle of slag in no time. The dovetails were unaffected. Now, this was definitely a last ditch effort, so I'm with you guys in recommending anyone else with the same troubles to try all other alternatives first, but I tell ya'...lancing out that key was so much fun, I might remove keys that way from now on, hahahaahaahaahaha!!!!!
Scott Thompson  <slt at ilnk.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 05:18:44 GMT

Thanks. I'll let you know how well the sand works. Also thanks in ref to spurs. I'll let you know on them too.
Bill   <w.stone at gte.net> - Thursday, 03/30/00 05:41:34 GMT

Now youīve done it! Iīve taken time out (possibly forever) from the museum scene to become a professional tool and die-maker.
(Naw, itīs not your fault. I just saw an oppurtunity and took it.)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Thursday, 03/30/00 12:49:55 GMT


Best of luck!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 13:06:56 GMT

The Rutherford County Blacksmithing Association meets on monday nights (about 7:00pm) at the Village of Cannonsburgh in the Burro.
slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 13:18:10 GMT

I thought I had more information with me, but I don't have it at work. There is also the Possum Trot Forge Group that meets at James E. Ward Agricultural & Community Center in Lebanon, but I don't think they have classes yet.
The Rutherford County Blacksmith Association is a forge group of the Applachian Area Chapter of ABANA. For beginning blacksmiths they offer a "green coal" class. This class is informal "basic" instruction in how to safely blacksmith. The cost is (I think) $20 a year for membership and a green coal fee of $15. All members are supposed to bring small safety equipment, Safety glasses & gloves and provide their own basic hammers.
The membership varies from people wanting to blacksmith, to farriers, to some professional smiths, a few farriers, and at least one professional artist.
slattont  <slattont at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 13:36:48 GMT

I really need to find a tempering scale for different metals and different items razors, swords, etc. if someone can find one or make one i would be very grateful. thanks
ed saunders  <phyrelord at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 13:50:29 GMT

Tempering: Ed, You seek MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. Forget tempering by colors. . . It only works on non-alloy plain carbon steels. Alloy steels are now the rule rather than the exception. The addition of chrome and nickle greatly effect the colors produced and the temperature they are produced at. For relatively crude work you can still use it but not for critical work or high alloy grades of steel.

Color charts for heat temperatures are also nearly worthless. All heat charts are dependant on the ambient lighting. Anything from a low yellow to a red heat all look the same in sunlight. Low "black" heats that can't be seen in normal room light (what ever THAT is) can appear brilliant in a darkened room.

If you are looking for a temper colors chart Jack Andrews' book The NEW Edge of the Anvil has a chart and heat treating information (see our book review). MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has information on a greater number of steels plus a million (maybe a couple million) other things you may need to know about metal working. If you need the last Word on metals and alloys you will need the most current edition of the ASM Metals Reference Book.

To properly heat treat a wide range of steels you are going to need pyrometers and temperature controls for both hardening and tempering. Most smiths learn to deal with a couple common steels in their particular shop environment and then stick with those.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 15:09:28 GMT

what are all these wedges people are talking about?
SmithinScout  <thetoasterking at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 15:39:30 GMT

Wedges Scout, The dies in a power hammer are held in by a long thin wedge. The taper is approx 1/4" per foot. Often they seize due to rust, expansion and contraction from heat or being hammered in too tight. Often they stay in place for decades. When they need to be removed it can be very frustrating and sometime severely damages the machine.

Olle: But, but, but. . . We NEED academic muckity mucks to hang around here! (run THAT through a translator)

Good luck with the new carreer! My wife just quit teaching after 28 years and is training to be a machinist. She is really enjoying haveing goals that can met and seeing the results of her work. AND to show how perverse the US job market is, her new apprentice machinist job will be paying the same (more per hour) as her Virginia teaching job that required a 4 year degree and hundreds of hours of documented "continuing" education. On top of that she had over 20 years experiance "pay steps" and brought to the job a library of at least a thousand childrens books.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 15:52:29 GMT

My reasons for trying a new carreer are much the same as your wifeīs. Seems the job market is perverted here as well. But who am i to complain, I love shaping any kind of metall. Or shaping anything, actually.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Thursday, 03/30/00 16:13:37 GMT

hello all, can someone tell me what the cheapest and easiast way to weld steel is. the welding would be for sculpures and not really taking any kind of abuse but need to look good. any ideas? also is re-bar(sp) soutable for forging. is it steel and if so is it high carbon. thanks for any and all info.
drglnc  <drglnc at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 18:28:56 GMT

Welding: Dragonlance, The absolute most economical weld is arc welding. Small "buzz box" welders are relatively inexpensive. List on a 225A Lincoln is $250. On a Miller $269. A helmet will run about $30. That's for NEW equipment.

My Miller Buzz box is almost 30 years old and the insulation is falling off the cables but is still works perfectly. So does the welding Helmet I bought at the same time. This little machine has probably burned a ton of rods.

There are little 120V AC welders that are suitable for light work if you don't have a 220V AC outlet.

For cutting steel the most economical method is generally a cutting torch. However for small stock or stock that is going to be machined a cutoff saw if prefered. Chop saws (abrasive cut off) are very economical.

Forge welding is actualy cheapest equipment wise but fuel and time costs must be considered. It is also limited to work that fits in a forge and is not suitable for welding plate or sheet stock.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 19:07:56 GMT

I recently sent an order to Centaur Forge for a side draft hood for my forge. After two and a half weeks I called to check on the status of my order and was informed that there would be a three month wait!!
Do you know of any place else where I might purchase one and recieve it sooner??
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Thursday, 03/30/00 23:21:52 GMT

Side Draft: Mark, there is nothing complicated about the darn thing. . . You might try Kayne & Son If they can't help you drop me a line.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 02:23:53 GMT

10th/11th Century Hungarian Blacksmithing; Michael:

Check out my Viking Blacksmithing pages consolidated courtesy of Tyrell at http://members.ttlc.net/~tyrell/index.htm. You may find some useful references there.

A major change in this period is the switch from pattern welded swords to homogeneous steel swords. My best guess is that this represents the spread of the Catalan Furnace smelting system from Spain to the rest of Europe. Where before you were getting 10 or 20 pound blooms of mixed iron and some steel, now you start pulling out 50 to 150 pound blooms. This system was efficient, cheap and simple enough to last into the late 19th century in places like North Carolina. Alternative theories include an incremental gain in skill at smelting and selecting steel under all sorts of systems and conditions, or new and consistent sources of good, sulfur free ore with the right trace amount of manganese (a theoretical basis of the superior reputation of Toledo blades). Many of the blades seem to have been forged in a few concentrated centers in the Rhineland, and were common trade items, with local smiths adding hilts to suit local tastes. (There were even specialist "hilt smiths".)

Spears, axes knives and all sorts of tools and agricultural implements would be local smith work, as well as simple armor (see "Atli and Tadgh Make a Helm" on the Guru's "Blacksmithing in the 21st Century" page for VERY rudimentary armor tooling and methods). The biblical quote about beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks frequently went the other way, too. Just about anything made of non-precious metal would be within the smith's provenance, and even precious metals might be used sparingly for embellishment of weapons. A look at the early medieval Mastermyr tool chest shows general metalworking skills with tools familiar to most smiths today. Copper and brass work, snipped and soldered, was also present. It even had a small metal cutting hacksaw for fine lock work. Two primary differences in tooling from later periods are apparent: several small (as the Great Guru noted), specialized anvils instead of the modern large multi-purpose anvil we use; and no vises, which do not appear until the late Renaissance.

There are regional stylistic differences, but they a minor. At this period, it's hard to tell a sword from Anglo-Saxon England from one from Slavic Russia. This sort of technology was highly transferable, and both economically and militarily necessary for any political entity. Any innate smithing skill the Magyars may have lacked during their migration period could certainly have been obtained by trade or raid. However, the bits, buckles and stirrups required by the horsemen would certainly point to a native smithing tradition.

I hope this gives you a little more feel for the tools and products. As for the processes and the feel of the work itself, the Guru's description of Colonial smithing on the "21st Century" page is a good start, since things didn't change much in the trenches until the Industrial Revolution replaced muscle power with mechanical advantage and steam/electricity. Blacksmithing (like most of my hobbies) is hot, heavy, dirty and dangerous; and the metal moves oh-so-slowly. But in the end, you have actually created something both useful and unique.

Good luck on the book. You'll have to let us know when it gets published.


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, 03/31/00 03:29:28 GMT


What? Leave showbusiness?!

Good luck in your endeavor. :-)


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, 03/31/00 03:35:27 GMT


in the hanner-inn you made a comment that cast iron cannot be welded. I believe you are incorrect. My father was a welder for ten years for M&M Mars, He has welded cast iron with a special cast iron electrode, the electrodes are actually a casting. It works quite well and some nice results can be achieved. We have restored old tractor parts that broke by welding them, also welded a cylinder head for an old hit-or-miss engine. It is tricky to do but it can be done :o)

SmithinScout  <thetoasterking at yahoo.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 03:58:10 GMT

Cast Iron: Scout, Yes cast iron can be welded, however pattent steel faced cast iron anvils can not have their faces reattached by welding. It is a process that can only be done "in the mold".

Cast iron can be welded with a torch and cast-iron rods, it can also be welded with nickle electrodes. Cast is also welded by the thermite process. However, there are some shapes that defy being welded by any economical process. Cast iron can also be brazed which is the most common method of repairing cast parts.

Many folks that THINK they have made repairs to cast iron items have in fact welded ductile iron which is a cross between cast iron and steel.

I've used all the above processes on cast iron and the last time I had to repair our frozen water pump I said the HECK with it and patched it with fibre glass and epoxy. It was a better repair since it took less time, did not distort the housing and will probably hold up to getting frozen better than a weld. . .

I doub't that I ever said "cast iron can't be welded" but there are cast iron items that cannot be repaired by welding.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 04:15:23 GMT

Dear Guru For a beginning blacksmith/bladesmith which do you feel would have the most general utility; a kinyon style air hammer or a hydaulic forging press? I have the cash to build one but not both right now. thank you Kinzea L Thompson
kinzea L Thompson  <kinz at webtv.net> - Friday, 03/31/00 07:09:55 GMT

Hammer vs Press: Kinzea, That's a hard one. A lot depends on your goals. Folks making mostly laminated steel billets enjoy the measured controlability of the hydraulic press. For predictable pattern development those that use them say you can't beat it. However, if you intend to do a lot of near finished shape forging then a hammer is best.

The flexability of the hammer makes it a "first" need tool and the specialization of the press a "second" need tool.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 09:57:23 GMT


I just want you to know i wasnt trying to prove you wrong, i just wanted to bring up a point because some other people may be confused. My goal is to learn not try to stump you. There are no hard feelings here. Also, i have a 110 lbs trenton anvil, the corners are badly chipped and the surface is dished, would it be worth it to weld new corners on and re-grind the face?

SmithinScout  <thetoasterking at yahoo.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 17:25:37 GMT

Excuse me, but why are everyone so concerned about chipped anvils? Unless your a jeweller and so long as there is any straight corner left somewhere it doesnīt matter much! My anvil used to belong to the grandfather of the resently retired village blacksmith at the place where I grew up. Itīs been used, but not abused, for generations, and half of the surface between the horns is quite dished. It is wonderful, thereīs not an inch that havenīt got itīs special uses. Really flat surfaces and crisp corners has their uses, but they donīt all have to be on the anvil.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 03/31/00 19:59:34 GMT

Hey, Rob, this is in no way shouting at you, itīs just a very common question here.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 03/31/00 20:06:11 GMT


I have a hard time with mine, i dont have any sharp corners and i have no way to make things mice and strait, i use the anvil at school and it is worn too but it is flat and has one nice edge. I like that. Im thinking of leaving this one and finding a smaller one thats in better shape. I agree that sometimes its nice to have an anvil that has a history, but mine was just abused at a auto repair shop for 50 years

SmithinScout  <thetoasterking at yahoo.com> - Friday, 03/31/00 22:11:35 GMT

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